Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Behind the Pink Ribbon: October 19th, 2017

I remember the words like they were yesterday. I was sitting in the emergency room at North York General Hospital with my sister. She was angry with me for making her go. Her arm was swollen and she showed me, so I immediately said that we needed to get it checked out. She sat down with me after speaking with the triage nurse. I said, “So, do they have an idea of what it is?” I naively thought that the universe wouldn’t be cruel enough to give my sister a major illness. She looked at me, and said matter of factly, “I have breast cancer.”

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I immediately denied it, saying “That’s not true.” I realized, in horror, that it was. I remembering sobbing. I was unable to contain the grief I felt in that moment. It was the worst news possible, my mother was also dying of breast cancer. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t stop crying, and my sister needed my support.

“How long?” I asked. She knew what I meant.

“I’ve known for a while. A few months maybe.”

“And you didn’t tell me or go to a doctor.”

“No,” she whispered.

“Is it because you were scared?”

She nodded unable to speak.

“I’m scared too, Michele, so scared. But I’m here, and I’m not going to go anywhere. We can’t tell Mummy until we know everything.”

She nodded in agreement. I proceeded to cry some more, still not able to control myself. I literally cried for hours. Michele was shocked at how broken I was over this. Although we all had our moments, I usually saved my tears for sad movies, or for my worry over my mother’s illness. Never in front of my mother of course, I only let her see me smile, or the odd time, at a doctor’s appointment, see my worry, although I learned to control that too and focused on being her advocate. I was her primary caregiver – although I had help with the day to day with the most wonderful “ladies”, I went to all of the medical appointments. I ran my mother’s errands. I handled her finances (mostly just doing the legwork – her mind was a steel trap). I stayed with her for hours in the hospital. But, I just couldn’t wrap my head around this moment.

I couldn’t face the thought of losing my mother, but as sad as that made me, my sister’s illness devastated me. Losing your parents, although hard to bear, is natural. Your siblings are supposed to be there for you in your old age. In those moments, my unassuming sister finally realized how important she was to me. I realized that life would never be the same. Michele said, “It’s tragic.” I couldn’t speak, the lump in my throat was so large, so I just nodded. There was a lot of nodding.

As the clock struck midnight, the day gave way to October 19th. A sad day in our family. It was the anniversary of our beloved grandmother’s death. About an hour into the new day, Michele was finally called in to be seen. She looked at me, and said, “You aren’t coming in yet.” So, like a child, I stood outside of the exam room, mindfully doing what I was told. I knew that my sister was angry with me. She was angry because I was making her face the truth. She could no longer deny that she had cancer. I was shaking, because I knew that the ER doctor was going to confirm our worst fear. I heard him say to my sister, “You know that the news isn’t good, don’t you?” She simply said, “Yes.”

As he walked out of the exam room, he looked at me, and said, “You made her come in?” I said yes. He then said, “You did a good thing.” In that moment, I didn’t think so. It felt like Pandora’s box was opening, and the truth was too much to bear. I went into my sister’s room, and we looked at each other.

She said, “I’m going to fight.”

I said, “I’ll be there for you, every step of the way.”

And then, I broke down again, not realizing that there could be any tears left, and said, “Oh my god, how can we do this to Mummy?”

My mother had been through so much, and finally had a bit more energy. She was bedridden, but brave, and funny and herself. I adored my mother. Admired her. My sister did too, but as she always said, I was a suck up when it came to my mother. I was “the baby”, like it explained everything. No matter how old I was, my mother still introduced me to her friends as, “And this is the baby.” I’d smirk and Michele would roll her eyes….but….

I was the one that my mother relied on the most, particularly with her health. I could deal with doctors. I took the time to learn every facet of her illness. I fought for her. I was her voice when she was too tired to speak. I wouldn’t let the medical system write her off. Caregiving and advocating for my mother was the greatest thing that I thought I would ever do.

I read my mother’s charts, eliminating the scary information that no one wanted to hear. The doctors glossed over the facts with her, not delving too deeply. When I read her charts – growing up and hearing medical terminology my whole life helped – I knew how bad it was. She would ask, of course, what the charts said, so I would read her portions – only those portions that gave her the information that the doctor’s gave – my mother knew all of the same terminology that I did and more, having worked in my father’s office for so many years. I was always so careful not to mention how broken her body was, because I didn’t want to break her spirit too. My sisters told me that they didn’t want to know what I knew. What could I do? I had to keep it to myself. In that moment (yes, I know that I’ve said it a lot), I knew that I would have to do the same for my sister. There would come a time when I alone would know the secrets that she didn’t want to hear about her illness.

We left the hospital with an appointment in hand with a surgical oncologist. It was around 2:30am. When we walked in the door, I bent over a chair and sobbed again. My sister tried to comfort me, but she was exhausted. We slept on the sofas together in the living room. She was afraid to be alone and I was afraid of what would happen if I couldn’t see her. I tossed around all night – too afraid to close my eyes. She slept mostly. She told me to go to work the next day. I was supposed to go to my mother’s, like I did almost every day. We agreed that I would go, and that I would hold it together.

I remember when I walked in, I put a big smile on my face before I saw my mother. She smiled, her big beautiful smile. I held her hand and she asked why I looked so tired.

“No reason Mummy, I just didn’t sleep well. Work was busy, the usual.”

“Dayo – my Dayo, you are doing too much. You need to take care of yourself.” (Dayo was her pet name for me).

“I’m good Mummy, don’t worry about me. Save your energy for you. I’m ok.”

Only I wasn’t. How could I be? But, if you have ever been a caregiver, you know that there are days that you will be. And days that you won’t. It all depends on the people that you are caring for and their test results. You begin to live your life in 3-month increments – from CT Scan to CT Scan. If the results are good – you feel elation. If the results are bad – then you feel despair only you can’t show it. Then you leave the appointment, look at your loved one and say, “The test results don’t account for everything. You are still here. You’ve got this.” Inside, you know that’s not true, but outside, they need to believe you. So you walk with them or push them in the wheelchair and you give them a reason to believe what you are saying, whether you yourself believe it or not.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Get checked out so that nobody has to have a night and a day like October 19, 2017 and so many days and nights before and after that. And remember that behind the walks and the pink ribbons, that there are stories of real people. One of those people was my mother, the other my sister. Their lives deserve to be remembered and so do the lives of so many others.


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Mid-Life Crisis

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Someone that I know had their 50th birthday this year. I asked, in a not-so-serious way if he had a mid-life crisis to go with said special birthday. His answer – daily. While I don’t believe that is the case, I do know that it made me think about why some people have them, and some people don’t. It’s not a good or a bad thing – just something that I always find interesting.

We all know the clichés when it comes to men and women and their respective mid-life crises. Men trade in their SUV’s for sportscars that they can barely get into or out of. Depending on their budgets, the cars range from orange Corvettes on the low-end to lime green Lamborghinis on the high end. The obnoxious colours a mystery. Usually, in addition to their cars, they have done a trade in of another kind. I live in an area where I often see men with canes with their 27 year-old girlfriends. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, and I have seen this, it really is a love match, but that’s 2% of the time.

On the other hand, women who have hit that very same crisis have traded in their button-downs for leopard prints. Hey, I’ve been a fan since my 20s, I peaked early, I get it. They also officially enter cougardom, using cringe-y phrases like “let’s go dancin'” – apparently, in middle-age, you lose the “g” at the end of words. Sometimes, it’s “I gotta be me” – again, grammar goes out the window – words are lost, and the English language suffers. Said woman then goes on the prowl at places like STK and other assorted places where the boys are.

Still others moan about the best years of their lives being over and wonder, what the meaning of life is. Existential crisis, mid-life crisis, it’s all the same. I asked some of my friends about their own mid-life feelings. One said “I just don’t care” (a good friend of mine said this, and I believe her). A guy friend of mine who is of that special age just said to me, I still think of myself as a kid. Happily married, he isn’t into shall we say douche-y cars and women less than half his age. Yet another friend told me it was because he didn’t fear death and he thinks that things go downhill at 70 – although that isn’t always the case – so he wants to enjoy his best years.

I’ve thought about why I won’t have a mid-life crisis of my own. Part of it is because of my experiences. My sister, for example, died at 55. That means her mid-life was 27.5 years of age. My mother lived to be 78 which makes her mid-life 39. My Uncle Max, our reluctant family patriarch lived to be the ripe old age of 102 (give or take a few years). He played 9 holes of golf a day until he was 97.

In a convoluted way, what I am trying to say is that none of us know what or when our mid-life will be. We don’t have that mirror into the future. I don’t know if I’ve passed my middle age in my 20’s or if this is my mid-life. When I mused to a friend who thinks more deeply about things than I do, he said that the reason that I’m not having one is that for the last few years, my life has been so much about other people, that it was never my own and that now is a time to start it.

I think about aging, of course. I look in the mirror and sometimes, I stick my tongue out at myself because I don’t like what I see. I hope that I just age gracefully, and more than one person told me to get botox or fillers or other procedures. I’m just not into that – but if that’s your thing, go for it. One of the bonuses is that you also don’t care as much about what other people think of you – there are some benefits for sure.

Really, the crisis is that we fear is that our lives will end and that we won’t have ticked all of the boxes that we think that we should have and that perhaps, our lives won’t have meaning. But, I also think that we need to realize how much we have done before we hit that special age that we all think of as mid-life and how much there is to come after. Mid-life means that you have life, not that life is over. There are still things to discover and those boxes left to tick and sometimes you will find what you are looking for right under your nose.

I’ve mentioned this before, but there was a day, a very difficult day, when I allowed myself to cry in front of my mother for the one and only time during her illness. It was the day we told her that my sister had cancer. I knew just how bad my sister’s prognosis was, but kept it from my mother and told her that Michele would live. But the question that I asked in that moment was an all-encompassing “What am I going to do?” Her answer was simply that “You’ll live your life.” I knew then, that she knew more than she was letting on, but I carry those words with me every single day. Not just the words but how she said them. The way she looked at me so emphatically. And that is the best advice that anyone ever gave me.


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A Eulogy for My Sister

I had such a hard time writing this Eulogy for you Michele. Nothing I wrote seemed to express how important you are and how for the rest of my life, I will make sure that people know that your life had meaning. I realized that part of the reason that I was having such a hard time was because I always read everything that I wrote to you to get your honest opinion. This time, I can’t read it out loud to you for me to catch mistakes and for you to say whether it’s good or bad.

Michele was my oldest sister, and engaged in her fair of torturing me. She told me constantly when I was a child that I was adopted, peed in my Bunny cup and told me it was apple juice and made me play house by cleaning out her drawers – I was the dummy that fell for everything (except the bunny cup). BUT Michele was also my protector, my guardian angel and my best friend.

Michele was always protective. Once, when I was a child, two older boys from her grade were picking on me. Michele picked one up by his collar and said he would be in trouble if he ever came near me again. They were both taller, and brawnier than my sister, but she had them cowering in fear. As we aged, she protected me in different ways but it mostly helped to know that I had someone, who loved me unconditionally and was always, always in my corner.

It’s so hard to summarize what makes a person special in 1200 words or less, especially a person like Michele. But I’ll try.

She was a candy-loving girl scout. You could always count on Michele to have a treat in her bag but also anything else you may need. I would ask her for the most obscure thing possible, and there it was, in my hot little hands. Treat queen, shopping queen or dairy queen – Michele was one of a kind. She was diabetic for a time and would have a cartful of danishes and chocolate, but would eye dried papaya, look at it longingly and then say, “I can’t have it, it’s too high in sugar.”

She was a quiet observer who had simple dreams. She was content with less. She proved that by always loving a deal. Every year, we would go Boxing Day shopping without fail. In 2017, she ended up in the Emergency Room because of a chemotherapy allergy. The next morning, at 6:30, she got up and when I asked her what she was doing, she said – do you think I’d miss out on a sale?

She had such a wonderful relationship with our beloved mother. The three of us spent so much time together over the years. My mother and I would pick on Michele mercilessly. We would jay-walk across the street, but Michele would always walk to the traffic light. We called her the straight arrow – but it was done with love. We would sing, horribly to her, usually something random, like “God Save the Queen” when Mummy would drive us somewhere. Michele would sit in the back seat, shake her head and roll her eyes, but she never complained. I was more like my mother in terms of my Type A tendencies, but Michele was so much like her when it came to strength and determination in the face of unspeakable odds.

Just like our mother, in 2017, Michele was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. The night I found out; I had taken Michele to the ER because she had a swollen arm. I spent so much time caring for my mother’s health that I mentally ran through the possibilities. It couldn’t be congestive heart failure – there was no reason for it. It couldn’t be lymphedema from breast cancer, because Michele didn’t have breast cancer, but it turned out that she did. I have always been given credit for being strong, but that night I fell apart, not able to face that both my sister and my mother shared this burden. Michele stayed strong and promised that she would fight and she did.

She fought through more rounds of chemo than the average person could tolerate. She fought through a hospital stay that nearly killed her. She fought through fear and discomfort with a determination that I’ve only seen in our mother. She never, ever complained. Not when she lost her hair, not when she was overcome with fatigue, never. She was, in the most important ways, my mother’s daughter. My mother was the strongest person I have ever seen but Michele was a close second. During the 6 months crossover when they were both ill, I didn’t know which way to turn, and when I asked each who I should be with, Michele would automatically say our mother and my mother would always say Michele – each selfless, each so strong.

Michele bravely watched as the very disease that she suffered from took our mother’s life. She didn’t roll over and play dead. She lived. She traveled. She went out for dinners and to plays and other surprises that I planned for her to keep her happy and motivated.

I was with Michele through every appointment and nearly every treatment up to the day she died. I held her hand all day that day, and at one point said, “Michele, I love you. Remember I’ve got you here and Mummy has you on the other side – we are both with you. You’ll be ok.” She looked at me for the first time that day clearly, mouthed something, and then, lay down her head and closed her eyes, and peacefully died.

My sister, unbeknownst to me, started asking my cousins and some of our friends to please look after me when she died. Michele knew that when she died, and I lost my immediate family, that although I have a place to live, my heart has lost its home. That without her, I would feel alone and knowing me, would be unable, and maybe unwilling to ask for help. Caring about someone, when you should be worried about yourself is heroic. That was my sister.

I found a journal that Michele had started for me so that I would have something special from her after she died. Procrastinator that she is, she never finished it, but that’s what makes it perfect.  On one of the pages, she wrote “Let me say that I am truly proud of how you have handled everything from Mom & then me. I know I don’t say it because I don’t want you to get a swelled head.  I really want you to know how much I appreciate everything that you have done for me.” Michele, I am so proud of you, you were so much more than you ever realized. You told me that I was your hero. Michele, I love you, and you are my hero. Your memory, along with our mother’s, is my greatest blessing.


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A Eulogy for Michele

I asked my cousin Howie to give a Eulogy for Michele at her funeral. We were all very close, and I know that she would have wanted him to speak. His eulogy was beautiful and heartfelt and perfect for my sister.

I saw two pictures recently that captured the essence of Michele. The first one – a young Michele holding infant, Jill, on her lap. What leaped off the photo was pure joy and love. The joy that Jill brought to Michele’s life and the love that Michele had for her baby sister.  I also think somehow that Michele was smiling so broadly because she knew there would be few times in life like this where Jill wouldn’t talk back to her.

The second picture was a few years later – Michele dressed up in a pant suit, purse in her left hand and the other hand holding hands with Jill. Literally and figuratively, they have always been holding each other’s hands. Their bond was so special and strong that nothing could ever break it.

These two pictures sum up Michele, a devoted daughter to Judy, adoring granddaughter to Nathan and Sara, a loving sister to Jill and a loyal cousin and friend to the people who were a part of her life.

Michele was vivacious, and had a sharp wit about her. Whenever I was about to travel, she must have  marked it  in her calendar to start calling me the week before and each conversation her first words were, “Packed yet?”. She knew I wasn’t but it was her little dig at me. After all, anytime she was set to go somewhere, the bag was probably packed and ready to go from the moment the trip was booked. It didn’t matter where, it didn’t matter when, she was ready to go.

Michele was genuine, straightforward and courageous. I valued her opinion because she never told me what I wanted to hear, she told me what I needed to hear. I drove her to Sunnybrook one day for an appointment with her diabetic doctor. I parked the car and before we got out Michele told me she had cancer. Everything stopped inside of me, she looked at me and said, “Howie…..my mother is a fighter and so am I. I promised her I would fight this and I’m going to keep my word.” Then she got out of the car, and marched into the hospital head held high. Her head was always held high.  Each time Michele would have to change treatments, she would get on the phone with me and say, “I’ve had my pity party, now we move on”.  And move on, she did. Always with Jill at her side and Judy looking over the two of them.

Once her treatments began, the first time I saw her wearing a wig, she pranced around the room showing it off like a crown. That brief action was a testament to how courageous she was and that she was going to fight on her own terms.

During the last nine months, when we had to be especially careful with contact, the majority of our communication was by phone. She always wanted to know where I was going, I would tell her and her response would be “again?” We only saw each other only on a handful of occasions. There are 2 that will always stay with me.  While the weather was still nice, Sandy and I were able to sit on a patio in Yorkville and have dinner with the girls. It gave us a chance to walk together enjoy the weather and just be as though life had not changed.  Sandy and I also were able to spend Rosh Hashanah dinner with Michele and Jill.  It was a special evening and Michele was quite upbeat, teasing Jill about the accomplished cook that she was becoming.

 In the last month, Michele couldn’t speak to me however on Monday I was able to speak with her twice. Even though she didn’t respond I know she heard me. I told her she was brave, courageous I told her I love her.  I know that Michele, Judy, Zaidie and Bobbie will be looking down on Jill to keep her safe and  Michele, I will keep my promise to you to make sure I look after her down here.


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It’s Not All Black and White

The events of the last week, namely the murder of George Floyd by a police officer and the incident in Central Park with Christian Cooper, a Harvard educated African American man who request for leashing a dog ended up with the threat of police action for no reason. Seeing these events unfold were horrifying. When George Floyd, gasping for breath called for his deceased Mama, my heart broke even more. I debated whether I wanted to watch the video, and in the end, I chose to. As horrible as it was, I felt it was important to see with my own eyes something that we can no longer turn away from.

There is a famous Latin quote, ‘Culpae poenae par esto. ‘ Let the punishment fit the crime. George Floyd’s was passing a counterfeit bill. Christian Cooper’s was being in the right place, at the wrong time, trying to enjoy his hobby – bird watching. Ahmaud Arbery’s crime was jogging. Two out of the three were guilty of nothing, and the third made a mistake that a white person would have just received a warning for. The punishment did not fit the crime and neither will the police officer with a charge of third degree murder. Anyone guilty of a hate crime, and let’s not kid ourselves, Arbery and Floyd’s deaths were hate crimes, should have also have that as part of their punishment and sentence.

Christian Cooper said something very interesting:

“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake,” Mr. Cooper said, “And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.” He continued with:

“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”

Forgiving words. We all have knee jerk reactions. My first reaction is that Amy Cooper got what she deserved. My friend, who like me, is part of a minority group, said the following about her firing:

“I think people like this should keep their jobs but be on permanent probation. They need to expected to be involved in multi-racial social projects and report back to their supervisors and the community with the hope that this can bring about a greater caring. While keeping their jobs donations will made from portions of their income to social projects. Firing has the potential to increase resentment and more trouble.”

It made me stop for a minute, and think, maybe there is more than one way to look at things. When someone who is racist looks at a black person, their knee-jerk reaction is to think criminal. If you are somewhat open-minded, your first reaction is that Amy Cooper should be fired. But, what if the right answer is somewhere in between? Remember that with anything in life, there is always going to be your version, my version, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Just food for thought.

Cityline host (a Canadian national lifestyle show) Tracy Moore happens to be a woman of colour. She was DM’d by people for speaking out about how white people can make life less frustrating for people of colour. She was told that she is a racist. She used a hashtag that I found interesting #allyisaverb. It’s true. A black person shouldn’t be comforting guilty white people right now, it’s not their job. Imagine if for 400 years, you were enslaved, then freed, then still not having full rights, you finally get some in the 1960s, only to see hatred and bigotry continue on. To see every step forward met with one step back. If you aren’t aware, read. If you don’t want to read a book, find an article. But, don’t make it their job to explain the issues to you. We live in a digital age, use the internet.

Canadians have to stop thinking that we are better than Americans. There are hate crimes here too. As a Jewish woman, I’ve seen so many reports of synagogue being desecrated I’ve lost count. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise. I live in absolute fear, not that I will be harmed, but that the cemetery where my mother is will be desecrated. A non-minority person never has to even think of this. Imagine having to worry that in an instant, something that you poured your heart into could be destroyed by someone who hates you for how you were born.

There is a debate if Judaism is a nationality, race or religion. Many do not consider me white. That’s fine, I’ll take it. As a minority, I feel that it is my duty to speak out wherever it is possible. To realize that ally is a verb. To hope that our adage of “Never Again” applies not just to a second Holocaust for Jewish people, but for all victims of racism, sexism or hatred of any kind.


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My Father and the Little White Box

A few months ago, I received a message from my step-sister letting me know that she had some of my father’s things and offered to ship them to me. This was very kind given that we only met once. My father and I had a strained relationship at best. I am not going to get into the details. It is no longer a factor in my life, and even though I had issues with my father, I do not have Daddy issues. To be fair to someone who cannot defend themselves, those problems belong in the past. I forgave my father a long time ago. I am writing about it today because it is the fourth anniversary of my father’s funeral.

I was curious to see what would be in the box and two padded envelopes that were coming. Maybe a piece of information that would help me understand my father a little, maybe an unseen photo of my mother (likely not) or even my mother’s parents. The box and packages came separately, and when I opened them, it was a lot of family photos from my father’s side of the family. I didn’t really know many of the people. There were a couple of photos of me, and many more of my sisters (the curse of being the youngest child). They also contained his medical diplomas, a cub scout hat from when he was a child, two rings (his medical school ring and a class ring) and finally a digital watch and a couple of other men’s “fashion” watches.

The items themselves didn’t make me feel much of anything. What saddened me the most was that his life came down to a little white box. Imagine living for 83 years, and that is your legacy. I think about my mother, and her life was so much more. Recently, I had a charity come and pick up most of her clothes, some kitchenware, books, cds, toys and a few knick knacks. It was just under 20 boxes and bags. I’ve thrown out 8 garbage bags of things and gave another couple of bags to a senior’s home. Her house is still crowded with her life, her things. My mother had a bigger life. She had interests. She was an artist – a pottery and needlepoint buff. She had so many photos and other treasures. It is all proof to me that she was once vibrantly alive.

My father didn’t have a big life. He was all about his medical practice. He enjoyed gardening and reading, but he was also very introverted. My mother had a presence about her. I remember watching her at her sickest moments, noticing that she still had a spark – a will to live. When I saw my father in February of 2015 for the first time in almost 20 years, it would also be the last time that I saw him. He was gravely ill, but even worse, he didn’t have that energy, that will, that my mother did. My mother’s death left me aching for her presence, but comforted in the fact that I can see that her life had meaning, because of what she created and because of the impact that she had on people. My father’s death left me sad for a person that didn’t have an anchor. When I grieve for my mother, I grieve for her loss and for what I lost. When grieved for my father, it was for the things that I never had. Now what I have is that little white box.


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Project Empty: Try or Cry (2018)

Yes, you read that correctly – I got a little busy at the end of the year when I was going to send my final thoughts on these products, so here are my 2018 empties. As always, I’m supposed to say that this is only my opinion. You are welcome to disagree (although, sadly, I am always right, at least that’s what I tell myself). It is a long one, so get cozy. Just a reminder, buy is a product that I recommend and cry is one that I do not.

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Eye Cream Mini (Cry) – This didn’t do much for my under eye area AND it dried out before I could get too far into the product and it was a mini.

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (Cry but HMMMM) – This is difficult because I used it at a time when I wasn’t supposed to be using glycolic acids or any type of AHAs. In fact, I am still using Retin A so I should not be using any chemical exfoliant. I can’t recommend this product, but I really can’t offer an opinion. I would say try it if you are not on Retin A or if you do not have sensitive skin, it is a well reviewed product.

Drunk Elephant LaLa Retro Whipped Cream x 2 (Buy) – Here are my feelings on this skin cream. One note, I don’t know how I got my first jar to last 6 months, it is more like 2 months now, but it is a good product.
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Daily Moisturizer (Buy) – This is a very good product if you have sensitive skin. It is especially good if you are on an isotretinoin for acne and your skin is in that very dry phase. It helped me a lot, but at the height of my treatment, I went through one of these every three weeks. It is also tested on animals so I stopped using it in favour of Drunk Elephant which ended up being more cost effective too.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Contour Cream (Cry) – La Roche-Posay makes excellent products that really worked on me. I just didn’t find that this really did any more for me than using the daily moisturizer on it’s own. I did get this free although I don’t remember why.

NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid (Buy if I had to) – This was not a bad product, but the dropper made it really difficult to apply and to judge how much to use. I prefer Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum. It has the perfect pump. This does smell better than C-Firma though if that is what is important to you.

Clinique Foaming Facial Soap (I believe that it is now Foaming Sonic Facial Soap) (Buy but not cruelty-free) – I got this from a friend a couple of years ago. It was fine, did what it was supposed to do. It didn’t majorly dry out my skin or cause any type of skin irritations which is always a concern for me. It was a mini so it was perfect for travel.

Estee Lauder Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask (Buy but not cruelty-free) – See above – I have the very same feelings about this product. Since it is not cruelty-free, I’ll stick with Drunk Elephant.

Ahava Mineral Foot Cream (Buy) – When I first had my ankle surgery and my cast was removed, my foot and leg were SCALY in a see you later alligator kind of way. This moisturized my foot and made it look normal again.

Bite Beauty Agave+ Weekly Lip Scrub (Buy) – This worked well and the sugar exfoliated my lips nicely. It has a delightful taste. I’m not in a rush to repurchase this, but only because it feels like one more step for me. Maybe I’ll pick one up at the next Sephora sale.

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Clear (Buy) – This is an amazing product – I used it every night and it is by far the product that worked the best on my parched lips during my stint with isotretinoins. I will pick another one of these up as soon as I finish with my current night time lip treatment which should coincide with Sephora’s summer sale. I don’t need to stock up on lip treatments. One at a time is my new mantra.

Beauty Bar The Ten Spot Lip Balm (Cry) – This lip balm has a nice scent, but it is just an ok product. There are better out there, but it is a Canadian brand if you want to support it. I’m not sure if they still make this product.

Feet Treat Pedi by Look Beauty Intensive Moisturizing Foot Mask (Buy) – This worked really well on my feet – it was very moisturizing. The little plastic bags though, make your feet feel disgusting while you are doing the foot mask. I would also recommend plunking yourself in front of the TV while doing this – they are very slippery too. Enjoy the moment, relax and take a load off.

Sonia Kashuk Makeup Brush Cleaning Spray (Buy) – This cleaned my brushes so well and was so easy to use. The sprayer worked until the last drop too. I just wish that it was available in Canada.

L’Oréal Total Repair Replenishing Detangling Care (Cry) – I bought this out of desperation at the drug store one day, because I couldn’t find anything else. This weighed my hair down which almost never happens. It did detangle though, so if you have course hair and are ok with a brand that isn’t cruelty-free, this may work for you.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Hydrating (Cry) – I just don’t find that primers do anything for me in terms of wear time or finish for foundation, and this product was no exception. It was a point perk from Sephora. It is not cruelty-free so I would not buy it anyway.

L’Oréal True Match Healthy Luminous Makeup in Warm (Cry) – I think they may have rebranded this True Match Lumi, but I recommend leaving it at the drug store. I found the formula hard to blend and the texture almost felt oily. I’m cheap so I used it up, but I was never happy with my foundation. Next.

Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher in Love Glow (Cry) – The colours were beautiful and went on nicely, but this blush did not have staying power on my cheeks. It is cruelty-free, but there are better options out there that are less expensive.

L’Oréal Infalliable Liner in Brown (Cry, Cry Cry, a thousand times cry) – I don’t think that they make this eyeliner anymore and I can see why. It is terrible. It does a few things that I’ve never seen happen with a liquid liner – it runs and smudges and causes raccoon eyes. If they didn’t discontinue this, stay far, far away.

Tarte Colour Splash Lipstick (Mini) in Soaked (Buy) – This was the perfect lipstick. Great colour, great formula and great lasting power. It also had a really nice finish. It is one of my favourite formulas and once I’ve used up a sufficient amount of lipsticks so that I’m not overwhelmed with volume, I will repurchase.

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick (Mini) in Fig (Buy) – This is also a great formula. Click here for more thoughts on this lipstick (Fig was a great colour)
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/project-empty-buy-or-cry-updates/

Sigma Tranquil Lipgloss (Buy) – Sorry, I don’t have a shade name or photo. This was really good, but it had a really weird brush applicator. I find doe-foots easier to apply gloss with. It still was a really nice product but bought it at Winners so odds are good that I won’t see it again.

Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara (Buy) – I prefer Essence’s Lash Princess False Lash Mascara, but this is a good option if they are sold out. It lasted, didn’t flake or smudge. The price is right too at $4.99.

Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Palette (Cry) – I never loved the shadows in this palette. They had a thick consistency but stayed on with primer. I also bought it in 2007, so I thought it was time to get rid of it! Guerlain cosmetics are not my favourite (except their foundation) and they are not cruelty free, so I will not be buying anything from the line.


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Project Empty: Buy or Cry Updates

As I mentioned in my previous Project Empty articles
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2019/04/22/project-empty-buy-or-cry-2/, I am trying to use up or declutter a lot of beauty products this year (and next). How many times have you bought the same perfect pink nude lipstick twenty times in one year? Seriously, how many of the same shades of anything do we really need? I have become more aware of this, and spent my money at the Sephora sale almost exclusively on skincare because I am now completely out of my full-sized products and have been using trial sizes. Here are some more products that I have used up in 2019. The opinions are not meant to offend anyone AKA if you love something I hate, that’s totally ok. We are all different.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (Buy) – see the article linked above for my thoughts. Just a reminder, do not stock up on this product as it will degrade and oxidize over time. Buy only as you need it.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream x 2 (Buy) – Click to read my thoughts
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil (Buy/Cry) – I got this in a “Littles” set from Sephora which is a great way to try Drunk Elephant products. I think if I mixed this in with my moisturizer, I would have liked this product more. People rave about it, and I am willing to give it one more chance. I just didn’t think it was the best thing ever.

The Body Shop Shea Body Butter (Buy) – This is a good body moisturizer. It is rich and creamy and I will buy it again because it is also cruelty-free. They always go on sale so wait for one.

Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Skin Daily Therapy Cream x 2 (Cry) – Click here to read my thoughts on this product.
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/ . Not bad, but not great.

417 Foot Nourishing Cream (Cry) – This was thin and not creamy at all. It did nothing to soften my tootsies. I recommend Ahava, this was just a cheaper alternative.

Germaine De Capuccini Synergyage Clinical Intense Renewal Exfoliating Mask (Buy) – This product works well for acne prone skin. My skin is no longer acne prone so I don’t need it. I am also not sure if it is cruelty-free or not, but it is very good.

Avene Tolérance Extrême Masque (Buy/Cry) – Avene is an excellent line of products especially if you have sensitive or acne prone skin. I only had a sample size of this masque so I am not sure if it really works or not. It is also not a cruelty-free brand. If that doesn’t matter to you, then I highly recommend this line.

Ciaté London Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner (Cry) – This was without a doubt, the very worst eyeliner that I have ever used. It is highly rated but I found that it was too thick and smudged like crazy on me. There are way better eyeliners out there that are at least $10 cheaper and won’t make you look like a raccoon.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster Lash 2-In-1 Boosting Eyeliner and Serum in Blackest Black(Buy) – This is hands down, my favourite eyeliner and you can get it on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart or Wal-Mart. It lasts all day and it really does help your lashes (it is not a miracle worker though). If you are looking for a true black, get Blackest Black. Black tends to look a little gray.

Lancôme Juicy Crayon’ Lip Gloss Pencil (Buy) – I believe the colour was plum, but whatever it was, it was the perfect colour and a great texture that had lasting power It was a really nice formula, but the brand is not cruelty-free so I will not repurchase this product.

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara in Black (Cry) – I bought this at Winners (Canada’s TJ Maxx) last year before realizing that I should just go cruelty-free. It is a very dry formula and I bought the waterproof version so it made it even worse. I used it twice and threw it out.

Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara (Cry) – My sister gave me this mascara in 2018. It is not horrible, but it flaked a lot on me. I hate that in a mascara plus the product is not cruelty-free.

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Legendary (Buy) – I got this as a gift in a holiday lipstick set and it is a mini. It is such a beautiful formula, it lasts. The only issue is that the colour didn’t work for me so I had to declutter it. Smashbox makes great lip products and they are very under-rated.

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Curviest Caramel (Buy/Cry) – This is a great product. It has a smooth, hydrating formula and the colours are beautiful. It is not long lasting, but it doesn’t fade after an hour either. It is only a cry because it isn’t cruelty-free.

Klara Liquid Lipstick in 27 (Buy/Cry) – This was another Winners’ purchase. It is a very nice formula for a liquid lipstick. It was fairly comfortable and not gloppy. The only reason it is a cry is because the colour was terrible – it looked like I ate a powdered sugar doughnut and wasn’t lady-like enough to use a napkin after. It was a light pink metallic formula and I think the colour would only suit a 19-year old.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Genius Gel Super-Charged Foundation (Cry) – This was another Winners purchase. In fairness, I used this once and threw it out – it had gone bad and smelled terrible. Lesson learned: Winners has great makeup available but be careful with foundation. I believe that this product is discontinued.

Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Hydrating Foundation in 1.15 (Buy) – This is a really nice foundation that is long-lasting with a nice, natural finish. I wouldn’t exactly call it hydrating, but it is a very good cruelty-free product. It doesn’t cake or crease on me. Their shade selection is excellent.

Becca Velvet Blurring Primer Perfecting Base (Cry) – This literally did nothing for me. I didn’t find that it kept my foundation on any better than not using a primer. I have yet to find a primer that does anything for me. This was a point perk from Sephora so at least I didn’t pay for it.

Maison Margiela Replica Beach Walk (Buy/Cry) – This smelled amazing! It really did smell like a walk on the beach. The cry is because the brand is not cruelty-free. This was a sample. I’m finishing off all of my old perfume, then will look for cruelty-free alternatives.


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Project Empty: Buy or Cry

Like many people, I am trying to be more responsible about my self-care habits. That means different things to different people. To me, it means, buying less of everything. The last few years, I bought far too much makeup. I’m reasonably good about skincare because I know that some have ingredients that deteriorate so I don’t stock up on it – I’d rather not throw away my money. Makeup became an issue and this is the year that I am limiting what I purchase to only items that I need like foundation and buying less of what I don’t (eye shadow palettes and lipsticks). I am also trying to use up products that are not cruelty free. In the YouTube world, this is called a low buy. In my world, it’s called project empty. I’m not a YouTuber, nor am I an Influencer, so I realize that I don’t need to have a million of everything and I should only buy replacement items or something truly unique. I’ve spent a lot less money this year (I’ll compare 2018 to 2019 at the end of the year) and I’m also getting rid of items that do not suit my colouring. Hanging on to them does not “spark joy” in the words of the great Marie Kondo.

I’ve had a lot of empties over the last little while and need to play catch up. Similar to my other Buy or Cry articles, I’ll let you know if I would re-purchase the item (buy) or not (cry). I’m supposed to tell you that these are just my views and you can think what you want. All true – but I’m right about everything!!!!!!!!!!!! Actually, I have really sensitive skin so you aren’t going to see a lot of variety in skin care. I have a fair complexion; even if I like a formula, certain colours may not work for me. You are also going to get an honest opinion about the product whether it is cruelty-free or not. Just my little warning….Now here we go:

Lancôme Hypnose Drama Mascara (Cry) – I received this mascara as a gift. I know that people swear by this brand’s mascara, but I always find that it flakes on me so I would not re-purchase it. It is also not a cruelty-free brand if that is important to you.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Extreme Zero Smudge All Effects Mascara (Cry) – This must have been a point perk or gift with purchase based on the small size. I checked the website, and I don’t think that they make this exact product any more. The wand was tiny and perfect for your bottom lashes. It was a great formula too with no flaking. Unfortunately, Estée Lauder is not cruelty-free so I couldn’t purchase the mascara, even if it was available.

Becca Mini Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in Moonstone (Both) – This is a great formula from a cruelty-free brand. The only reason that it is a cry is because I prefer the Vanilla Quartz shade which is a little lighter. If you have a lot of highlighters or it just takes you a long time to go through one, I strongly suggest the mini-size. In Canadian dollars, the mini is $27 and the regular size is $46, making the larger size the better deal, but unless you put it on with a spatula, this will last you at least 9 months and will ensure that you actually use up your product so that it will be fresh.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in paaarty (Cry) – This was a 2017 Sephora Birthday Gift that I finally used up. The colour was nice – it was a neutral pink. The formula was nice, easy to apply, pigmented enough to not need to build it up, but not so pigmented that I felt like a clown. The major draw back was the lasting power. I found that it disappeared on me in about 3-4 hours. It is cruelty-free if you still want to try it.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon in Night Mauves (Buy) – I got this in a Sephora lip box in December 2017. Those boxes are one of the reasons that I have far too many lipsticks so I decided to stop buying them. I believe that this was a full size. It is a unique formula – it really feels like you are wearing nothing on your lips and has the lasting power of a liquid lipstick. It does not make your lips feel dry like a traditional liquid lipstick would. The colour was perfect. If I ever get down to a reasonable amount of lipsticks, I would 100% repurchase this cruelty-free product.

No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Berry Blush (Both) – No 7 lipsticks are not available in Canada. I first tried them when I went to Europe and fell in love with their formula and perfect colours. I would always stock pile them when I went to Europe or the USA. The reason that this is getting de-cluttered was simply because it smelled off. I bought it in October 2016. I also cannot find information on whether the brand is cruelty-free or not, so I’m going to take a break from it. If that is not a concern of yours and you want a great drug store brand, this is it.

Bésame Cosmetics 1930 Noir Red Mini Lipstick (Both) – Bésame is one of my favourite brands. This came in a mini-lipstick set that I received as a gift. The formula of the lipstick is perfection. Their customer service and packaging is also perfection. The only reason that this is a cry at all is because the colour is way too dark for me. If you have a deeper complexion or just like very dark lipstick, then this will work for you. I highly recommend this cruelty-free brand.

Empty!

Joico Daily Care Leave-In Detangler (Buy but….) – This product did exactly what it promised – it detangled my very tangled hair. It did not weigh my tresses down, nor did it make them feel greasy. It is perfect except….it is not cruelty free. I believe that the issue is that the brand sells in China. I’ve read that China may eliminate the need for animal testing in the very near future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Eau De Parfum 30ml plus sample (Both) – I loved this perfume. It reminded me of old school sun tan lotion. It is beautiful and unique. I got compliments every time I wore it. Alas, it is not cruelty-free. Hopefully, one day I will be able to buy this beautiful fragrance again. Until next time Tom….

Empties

Bath and Body Works 24 Hour Moisture Cream in In the Sun (Both) – This is a great body cream. The scent is the perfect affordable complement to Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc. It has that same amazing sun tan lotion scent that just screams summer. The issue? It’s not cruelty-free. I have a ton of Bath and Body Works products to use up. They always do those buy 3 get 3 free (really who needs that much body lotion?) and I have some that are gifts. I won’t need body lotion for a very long time.

Ahava Dermud Intensive Foot Cream (Buy) – This brand is cruelty free and vegan. This foot cream saved me when I had my cast off after surgery. My foot was as dry as a lizard and my skin was flaking off – it was gross. Within a week of using this, my skin was back to normal and it has really helped with heel cracking too. It isn’t cheap, but I have not been able to find anything that works better on me.

All Empty – All Cruelty-Free

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream (Cry) – This was expensive and it just did not work for me. I actually felt like it made my under eye area even drier.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (Buy) – All Drunk Elephant products are pricey (this one is $100). This one happens to be worth it and lasts for about 3 months. Do not stock up on Vitamin C serums, even if it is on sale or Sephora is doing one of their Rouge/VIB events. The product will degrade in time and they have a very short shelf life.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum (Cry) – I got this is “The Littles” gift set. It was worth the $110 to try more Drunk Elephant products and see what I liked and didn’t like. The little container held a lot of product – this lasted me for almost two months. It was long enough to see that this just did not work for me.

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser (Buy) – This is a great face cleanser and a little goes a long way. This one tube has lasted me for almost 6 months which makes it cheaper over time than other drug store brands. It is $40 but you can save by buying it at the Sephora sale – it will keep if you buy one or a spare but don’t go crazy and buy ten. It leaves your face satisfyingly clean without drying out your skin.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream (Buy) – I wrote about this product in my last Buy or Cry. Here is the link to learn more
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

Are you on a low buy or doing a project use up yourself? Tell me what your favourite products are.


3 Comments

Castaway: The Final Chapter

On October 3, 2018, I was given the clearance by my doctor to take my first steps. I had already made a physio appointment for the next day to help get me moving as soon as possible. The doctor also warned me, in a slightly condescending way, that if I didn’t do what I was told, I could potentially lose mobility and flexibility in my ankle. His exact words, “We babied your ankle for six weeks. Now you have to be aggressive or you will not recover properly. You need to be out of the walking cast in one week.” Determined to show him that he misjudged me as a potential princess, I asked if I could take my first steps, then and there. He nodded and I got up, almost squealed in pain, but I wasn’t going to show any sort of emotion and then tried to walk while using my wheelchair as a crutch. I underestimated how weak I would be, how painful it was to try to walk on my now inflexible ankle and how poor my balance would be. I took my note for physio, plunked myself down in my wheelchair, and my cousin, kindly took me home. All I could think about was how was I going to take off the walking cast in a week. How was I supposed to walk more than 5 steps?

There wasn’t a lot that I could do that first day, but I committed to standing, at the very least, as often as I could, using a walker to help me maintain my balance. I only took 5 steps that day. Better than nothing but not the strides that I was hoping for either. I eagerly waited for physio the next day wondering what the difference between passive and active exercise would be. I showed up at Totem Life Science and was told to wait in my wheelchair for Katie, my physiotherapist. I wasn’t afraid of the pain that I knew would come, but I was afraid of losing my balance a little and re-injuring myself. Katie is a young, positive, skilled physiotherapist. She got me to stand, then walk around the examining table. She looked at my ankle, and showed me the passive exercises that I was supposed to do. They were the ones that I could basically do lying down. I had to rotate my ankle every hour, ten times in each direction. Point and flex the foot the same amount of times, then use an exercise band and do the same thing. I was also supposed to ice it, pretty much hourly. I walked a little more, but felt very thrown off by the cast. I started to understand why I needed to be out of it so quickly – it made me feel unbalanced and it was also hurting my hips. She told me to bring my walker, if I had one, and my running shoes the next day.

I did all of the passive exercises, every hour on the hour like I was told. I iced my ankle, and I went back to physio the next day. Katie told me when I got there, that I would be walking out the door that very day and that I was going to do physio in my running shoe. My ankle was sore, and I had my doubts, but Katie said – trust your ankle – it’s solid, remember that it will hold. So I did. I walked back and forth (with the walker) and did everything that she told me to do and being out of the cast made it so much easier. I asked what else I could do at home, aside from the passive exercises, and she said just walk as much as possible and ice my ankle as much as possible. She said try to walk without the cast when you can. I committed to doing everything that I was told to do and more. I used my mother’s walker which was way too short, when I got home and walked the corridors of the the condo. I knew that there were about 180 steps end to end, and I did the walk three times that afternoon. It hurt, more than I can tell you, but I did it. Then, I did it again, two more times that day, happy to see some progress. Over the weekend, I did it 6 laps, 4 times a day. I pushed the walker away and used I forced myself to walk to it. I did all of the passive exercises all weekend long.

When I went back to physio, Katie could see that I made a big effort and that my walking improved and I stopped using the air walker in 6 days. She was able to spend the time doing ultrasound therapy and massage versus watching me do the assigned exercises. She would add new exercises to improve my balance and my dorsiflexion (ability to move your foot upward so that it is closer to the shin which is crucial for walking). I added single leg squats, regular squats, sideways walking and balancing on my leg to my passive exercise routine. If you don’t work on dorsiflexion, you will limp, have issues walking up and down the stairs and have the potential to injure yourself. Speaking of which, within two weeks, Katie had me try the stairs. My mantra became up with the good and down with the bad. This essentially meant leading with my good foot up the stairs, and the bad foot down the stairs. Once I could figure out the stairs, I did them as often and possible and walked outside so that I could get used to different terrain. I walked as much as I possibly could.

In addition to twice weekly physio sessions, I also saw Stacy, a chiropractor, who was a great support in my recovery. She is one of the owners of Totem Life Science and referred me to Katie. She was also the person who explained to me that the intense, burning pain that I was having was nerve pain. I went to Stacy once a week for additional massage and ultrasound therapy. It really helped to speed things along. By November 5, I was able to go back to work and by December 20, Katie and Stacy both told me that I was well enough to no longer require physio. Here are some tips to remember if you are recovering from ankle surgery and starting to walk:

Everyone is different and will respond differently to treatment and physio. Not to sound cheesy, but recovery is really a marathon and not a sprint and you can’t compare where you are to someone else. Worry about your progress and only your progress.

Do your exercises at home religiously. Don’t shortchange yourself. If you do them at home, your physiotherapist can focus on the “hands-on” therapy that they are so skilled at rather than babysit you as you do the exercises you should be doing on your own. They are trained professionals and will know if you aren’t doing everything that you are supposed to at home. They notice your range of motion and gait. By ignoring the exercise, you hurt only yourself and you will have a longer recovery.

It will hurt – there is no way around that, but the ability to walk is worth it. The pain gets better in time.

You will notice huge changes the first week, and like me, you will get so excited and then….. After the first two weeks, the hard work really begins when you have to really focus on your dorsiflexion. It is the very last thing to come back, and you need to keep pushing through this part of your treatment and your progress will slow.

Lose your pride. I walked with a walker inside and outside. I used canes, had my air cast on to help keep my distance from people. One thing that I didn’t care about was how people saw me. I wanted to walk and I wanted my mobility back as quickly as possible and if it meant that people would see me in a walker, then that was fine. I also knew that I had the good fortune of knowing that my situation was temporary. Others do not have that luxury.

People watch and be sensitive – I always give up my seat on the subway to people who are older, pregnant and have mobility issues. When I was on public transit with a cane and cast, I was offered a seat maybe 60% of the time. People can be rude, but that doesn’t mean that you should be. Use your injury to be a more thoughtful rider.

When I went to my final orthopedic appointment on November 21. The doctor kept saying look at the nice veins! Your ankle looks really good! Look at the flexibility, it’s really coming. He told me that he was impressed with my progress. This was the very doctor who a few weeks early looked at me so skeptically. I wanted to say, you doubter! I showed you! Instead, I just said the truth – I had a great physiotherapist and chiropractor and I listened to them and did everything that they told me to do. My ankle gets a little stiff and sore here and there, but overall, I couldn’t be more grateful for the ability to get myself around pretty much like I used to. They say it takes a full year for the swelling to completely go away, so I’m trying to be patient.