Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One

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What’s the Black Ribbon For and Other Ways of Dealing With Loss…

The loss of a parent, regardless of the relationship that you may have had with them is difficult in a way that can’t really be put into words.  When you aren’t close, it opens you up to a different type of grieving.  Maybe it’s the loss of possibility that I’m grieving now or the loss of hope – I can’t really describe to you what it is.  The reality is, that everyone’s experience is unique to them.  I can give you all of the tips and tricks that have worked for me in getting through this last month, but they may not work for you – everyone is different.  The one thing that I know for sure is that in death and mourning, there is no real right or wrong, you have to do what feels right for you.

Since this is a blog about taking Dr. Oz’s advice, I checked his website and found a video featuring Dr. Richard Smith.  He laid out the three stages of grief – these really didn’t apply to me, but I’ll share them with you anyway:

  • Stage one – loss of control, denial and a lack of reality…maybe even anger.  This totally didn’t apply to me.  In some ways, the death of my father has been easier than I thought, in some ways more difficult, but I’ve never, for a minute been angry or in denial over what happened.  Maybe, because it was expected, maybe because no matter how early it was, I did get to say a needed good-bye or maybe because there isn’t a one size fits all on death and mourning, but I never went through any part of this stage.
  • Stage two – persistent sadness and emptiness…this one, I’m not sure of.  It’s a complicated situation.  After the funeral, and when I went back to work, I could easily focus on the job at hand.  As time has moved on, there have been weeks where I felt numb inside.  I could even watch a sad dog video and not cry.  Just numb and in some ways, on auto pilot saying and doing the right things and what is expected of me. I have had a lot of other things that have needed my attention though, and maybe that’s why I feel more myself than I perhaps should.
  • Stage 3 – reinvest with other people.  It’s too soon for this one I think.

Sorry, I wish I could tell everyone that there is an exact process to follow, but there isn’t.  I’m not religious, but one thing that helped me, was taking part in some of the observances that Jewish people following the death of an immediate family member.  The practice of K’riah (literally ‘tearing’) just prior to the funeral, where the mourners rip and a black ribbon and continue to wear it for 30 days has helped me.  It is supposed to be symbolic of loss, and permanent scarring to your life at the loss of one so dear to you.  For me, it was a reminder that whenever I had any doubt, that my father was no longer here.  People would ask me what the little black ribbon was for and I’d explain that my father had passed away.  Each time I said it, it made it more believable to me.  I went to synagogue to say Mourner’s Kaddish (a traditional prayer for the dead) during Shloshim – the 30 days of mourning after the funeral.  I did this 3 times, and again, I’m not religious, but having a process to follow brought me comfort.

The one thing that was most helpful was going to the cemetery by myself a few days after the funeral.  I went because I didn’t have any time at the end of my father’s life to say the things that I needed to say and I wasn’t afforded the opportunity at the funeral.  I spent ten minutes there, but it made everything so much better for me.  I had the whole place to myself, and I just stood there and said (mostly in my inside voice) what I felt at that moment.  It didn’t take long, but for me it was time well spent.  Sometimes, it’s not about getting every question answered or “getting closure” that counts, it’s about taking the time that you need, for yourself.  I know that I may never really understand my father and I know that he likely didn’t understand me, but that’s ok.  I understood, in that moment, that I didn’t need either, I just needed quiet time to process everything and it helped.  What surprised me was how little time I needed there.  I knew that I wasn’t going to get a sign from my father that he was there with me, and I was also ok with that.  I went with no expectations, and I left with even fewer but being there helped a realist like me, in ways that I just can’t explain.  You will never get time back, especially time to deal with complex emotions – so take what you need for yourself.

Some people have gone above and beyond, and I know that I’ve thanked them for everything that they have done – make sure, no matter how sad you may be to do that.  Everyone deserves to be appreciated and when times are tough, and people go out of their way to help, let them know that you value them.  You will get through your loss whatever it may be and there will be days, which may come sooner than you think where you will feel exactly like yourself.  I know for me, that writing about how I feel about this has been cathartic, but I’m at the point now where I just want to write about fluffier, more enjoyable things.  Maybe one day I’ll want to revisit this time in my life, that’s the beauty of having your own blog – you can write about what you feel like, and when it’s time, you can let it go…

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Why Dr. Oz is Still The Whiz-ard…A Little Op-Ed

oz congress

Image courtesy of CNN.com

So many people have asked my what I think of the latest Dr. Oz “scandal”.  If you aren’t aware, a group of 10 prominent American physicians are calling for his resignation from his position as Vice Chair, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center.

From Yahoo.ca: “The doctors wrote to Columbia last week, challenging Oz’s position as a faculty member at the university’s college of physicians and surgeons and accusing him of “promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” The letter honed in on what the doctors called Oz’s “baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops.” Some of the letter-writers have ties to the genetically modified food industry.”

I know that some of you will consider me blinded by Dr. Oz’s celebrity, but I’m his side in this case.  Dr. Oz, the physician has to be separated from Dr. Oz, the personality for one thing.  For another, the accusing doctors aren’t going after Dr. Oz because of any great loyalty to the hippocratic oath.  Rather, they have their own agenda – likely ties to special interest groups that support the genetic modification of food.  If their intentions were pure – you have to support them for that reason alone.  When these doctors talk about financial gain, they forget, that most people don’t work on a voluntary basis.  Even the most noble professions get paid.  Dr. Oz has likely done very well for himself financially, but I’m sure the people accusing him of doing things for financial gain would do the same if they were media friendly.

I also want to explain, hopefully, for the last time, what the Dr. Oz brand is.  It’s a media conglomerate consisting of a TV show, a magazine, a website, plus interest in another site and a line of co-authored books.  I work in media.  I understand how TV, digital and print work.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Dr. Oz doesn’t “own” his show – Harpo Productions does.  He’s paid to host the show
  • He also doesn’t “own” his magazine – he isn’t even the “Editor in Chief”.  Hearst Magazines does
  • The content for his show is booked and scheduled by segment producers – not by Dr. Oz himself
  • There is a staff of writers and web producers that work on doctoroz.com
  • He simply cannot check every story or every article on his show or in his self titled magazine.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day
  • His brand provides hundreds of jobs for people – just a little FYI

You have to know that any show that you watch on TV is created for two reasons – to generate an audience and by virtue of that, attract advertising dollars.  It’s the same for print and your favourite websites.  If Dr. Oz doesn’t attract viewers, readers and online users, his show is cancelled – it’s that simple.  There are stories that are more sensational that are presented simply to attract viewers – it’s the truth.  Every TV show does this including the news.  I spoke to our News Producer one day, and he joked that our worst day is their best day.   If you don’t approve of what Dr. Oz does, the simplest way to protest is by not watching or reading.  I get that some of the information that he presents is hooey – that’s why I’ve written, time and time again, that you have to do your research before trying something that he recommends.  Some of what he talks about though, is scientifically proven.  I, for one, support anyone that gets us thinking about our own health.  I promise that I’m not a super fan – just someone looking for some health information and inspiration.  So don’t hate the Whiz-ard – hate the haters – and let’s stop blaming other people when all we are seeking is a quick fix.  There is no such thing.

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A Good Friend – The Ultimate Stress Relief


I was speaking with a friend at work the other day about an issue that he has with his once closest friend.  Instead of interrupting (I’m a girl, it’s what we do best), I let him finish his story from start to finish with the odd nod, a few ohs so that he knew that I was listening and wasn’t dead, and a couple of I sees.  He was friends with someone that he met in his late teens for twenty odd years.  The best of friends, they had so many amazing times together – he was the best man at his friend’s wedding, helped him through the hardest of times and then poof, it was all over.  He barely hears from his friend and when he does, it’s really superficial.  I had to adjust myself to the fact that he wanted a deeper conversation with his friend.  Sorry – sexist I know, and I also had to stop myself from referring him to my blog to read “A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime”.  This guy wasn’t going to have any part of that, and it felt self-serving, so I kept it simple.  I said, “Wow that sucks” – he said “Yup”.  Then, and only after, he gave me the impression that he was looking for more, did I give him a piece of my mind – in four sentences or less.  I basically asked if he misses his friend – he does…if he can get past his disappointment – he thinks he can and why does he want this friendship – it feels like a comfy shoe when it works.  He is going to give it one kick at the can and see if he can talk to his friend.  I’m pretty proud of his for reaching out.  It’s the hardest thing to do.

It reminded me that I owe my own friend Babs a little blog mention.  Yes, friendship can be stressful, because people can disappoint,  but sometimes, when you know someone as long as I’ve known Babs, you get to a place in your life where you can just laugh at everything.  For example, work has been causing me a little stress lately, but Babs gave me an excuse to leave early (meaning 6pm) by asking me to a play that she got free tickets to.  We had some much fun chatting before the play started, I almost didn’t want to watch it, but no two people in the world are a cultured as this Torontonian (via Montreal and Cape Breton) and the true Cape Bretoner that I was sitting beside.  The play started and I knew, from the first line, that it was going to suck.  I was right!  The only entertainment that I had for that long hour and a half before the intermission was looking around at the sleeping people around me and looking at Babs and cracking up.  I laughed, not at the play, but because we were thinking the same thing – let’s leave at the intermission.  Sometimes, the best part of friendship are the words that you don’t have to use.

My next moment of de-stressing this week, was today.  I went to my former dance teacher’s for lunch and saw some ladies that I used to dance with.  It was so nice catching up with people that I don’t see nearly enough.  It wasn’t just talking about our history – what’s the most enjoyable was hearing what is going on in people’s lives right now.  For me, the added bonus, is that my former dance teacher knows me in a way that can only happen when you see someone three times a week, almost every week for almost ten years.  It was also a nice reminder of some of the best times of my life.

Last, but not least, my conversation with the friend at work reminded me of a friend that is like an old comfortable shoe.  She is much older than me (7 whole months – hey, in dog year’s it’s 49 months) but I still like hanging out with her.  Sometimes, having someone know you so well, that they know when you’ve been politically correct in your blog is a stress relief.  It’s always nice when someone knows you so well, that they catch the smallest nuance, even when they aren’t speaking to you and for that, and all of the stress relief that she and the other friends that I’ve listed today have provided, I am…

Gratefully yours,


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A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That


Yes, those are roaring Lion King slippers…

This week was a little busy so I didn’t have a lot of time to plan or put some thought into this entry, so you are going to get a little of everything…starting with more decluttering!  Today’s clean sweep included:

Items for Donation

  • 2 camisoles
  • 1 pair of roaring Lion King slippers – fabulous, yes, but never worn
  • 1 cape
  • 1 top
  • 1 pair of glow in the dark Disney boxer shorts (never worn with the tag to prove it)
  • 1 pair of pjs

Items Tossed

  • 53 orphan socks.  I finally realized, that they are never going to be found and it was time to give up the dream of reuniting them with their lonely mates and stop the clutter that this huge pile of singles was creating
  • 7 pairs of socks – even though they were happily paired off, they were old and ugly and it was time to put them (and me) out of their misery
  • 1 pair of slippers – remember Isotoner slippers?  Well, neither do most people – it was time to say good bye
  • 2 camisoles – as loved as they were, they were faded and pilling which means saying adios!
  • 1 pair of pjs
  • 2 bras and 7 pairs of fine washables – enough said

That’s a lot of lonely socks!

I reached my goal of going through all of the clothes in my bedroom by the end of September.  Now comes the fun part – going though all of the other knick knacks, jewellery, papers, music, memories and who knows what else that is cluttering my apartment and my life.  That’s what’s going to take the remainder of the year.  Thanks Dr. Oz, for this project – it’s time consuming, but rewarding at the same time.  If it’s something that you have been putting off, I highly recommend it – it really has helped with stress.  It’s a mindless task, so in it’s own way, it’s meditative and it makes me feel, every week, like I’ve reached some self-imposed, yet attainable goal.

This week, my niece also celebrated her birthday.  It was so nice to get to celebrate with her on the actual day.  Watching her become an opinionated, ethical and hilarious adult has been one of my greatest joys.  She is really something else.  I’ve gushed about her before (the blog about her graduation), but I can’t say enough about her.  She’s talented (a great writer), has great beauty tips, is my IT support, my own private stand up comic – no one makes me laugh more and a great person to have around when I need a life check.  Telling me to stop humiliating myself over my fear and disgust of fruit flies is just one of her nuggets of wisdom.  Happy Birthday to you Jess, you are fabulous and I’m very proud to be your aunt.  I would have written an entire post about you, but I didn’t want you to think I was a total marshmallow.

Decluttering and time with family are two very healthy things that are Oz approved that you can do for yourself to make your life better and healthier.  I’ve had a little of both this week and I’m very grateful for that!

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The Vice-O-Meter



Image courtesy of oprah.com

I was flipping through an old issue of O Magazine (they are timeless, I tell you) and I found a fabulous little article called “The Vice-O-Meter” which tells you how a few common health impediments rank in a scale from 1-10.  I keep forgetting the Dr. Oz is in Oprah’s magazine and this article had some really easy to follow details.  I’m going to share what the items are and how they ranked for me.  It’s a fun little exercise – you should do it too to see how you rank and what an easy solution may be. See the diagram at the top for more details. A lot of these vices can lead to inflammation, so it’s important to be aware of them for your overall health.  Here goes:

  1. Nail Biting (2.5) – I don’t bite my nails – I’ve already established in a previous blog that shoving my dirty nails in my mouth grosses me out.  If you are a real nail biter, it allows bacteria and germs into your body (and not the good bacteria).
  2. Wearing contacts for too long (3) – I don’t wear contacts so this isn’t an issue for me but if you do, switch to a new pair when you are told to, it can cause a lot of eye problems.
  3. Rubbing your eyes (3.5) – who knew that this would be worse than wearing grungy old contact lenses?  Doing it a lot, over time can cause things problems with intraocular pressure resulting in short vision or glaucoma.  Yikes!  I think this is one of those things that I’ll have to be “mindful” of.
  4. Listening to loud music (4) – Guilty – I love concerts and loud music.  Just one little musical exercise class can damage your little ears.  I’ll try to turn down my tunes – this one is hard!
  5. Walking in high heels every day (5) – safe!  I’ve been walking in comfy shoes because of plantar fasciitis.  You should too – but we are all going to wear heels from time to time – just be smart about it.
  6. Consuming more than one drink a day (6) – I thought that this would be ranked higher since alcohol is linked to cancer and other assorted diseases.  I’m lucky if I consume more than one drink a month so I’m safe on this one too.
  7. Snacking straight from the package (6.5) – semi-safe.  I don’t do this anymore, I’m too busy with Dr. Oz eating, but even before that, it was something that I did very rarely.
  8. Speed eating (7) – GUILTY – I often have to rush from one meeting to another (if you are bored and lonely, hold one – it’s a great way to get a bunch of people that you always dreamed about hanging out with in a room).  This means there are times when I get exactly 10 minutes to wolf down a chicken salad or rice bowl from Freshii (love that place).  This can lead to obesity as your mind needs 20 minutes to register that it’s full.  I still think chewing your nails is worse, but Dr. Oz doesn’t agree, so I’ll have to be more mindful of this.
  9. Drinking diet soda every day (8) – safe!  I have a Diet Crush Cream Soda about 12 times a year.  I’ve kicked my soft drink addiction.  Apparently they can lead to weight gain.  I’m not sold on this, but I bet that there are a host of other issues with them. 
  10. Not getting enough sleep (9) – guilty.  Although I am having a better quality of sleep, it’s still not for the optimal amount of time. Continuing struggle.  I also need to learn how to put down a good book and stop playing Candy Crush so that I can be in bed earlier.  My entire January blog was about sleep so I’m not going to write anything else about it today.  Check in my archives for more details.
  11. Constant sitting (10) – guilty – I have an office job.  I do try to get up and walk where possible.  

I’m guilty of less than half of these 11 items – not bad, but plenty of room for improvement so that I can decrease inflammation in my body.  Again, do the exercise, it’s interesting to see where you need to improve.

Today is the eve of the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada – one of my favourite holidays.  It’s pressure free!  As of 5:00 pm tomorrow, I’ll have 3 days off and today I am grateful for that!  The weather will be a bit frightful, but I’m still excited and…

Gratefully yours,



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Day 19: You Being You, Me Being Me – Expressing Yourself


Image courtesy of chopracentermeditation.com

This meditation was all about basking in your glory.  I often lie on my “what will become of me couch”, mirror in hand and look at my reflection with a muted “Hello Gorgeous” coming from my lips.  It’s so hard being perfect.  Actually that’s another meditation experience, I got a little confused.  It happens when I get side tracked by a mirror.  Damn you Dr. Oz, your “You Being Beautiful” book made me so lovely, that I can’t even concentrate.  I don’t think my ridiculousness is what Oprah and Deepak had in mind for this experience.  I’ll get back to be serious.

Oprah starts off with a lovely quote from her favourite poet.  I too. have a favourite poet – his name is Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran and if you think that their music isn’t poetry – keep this in mind – some of the lyrics rhyme!  Well, here is what you doubters get to hear from the Divine Ms. O’s library, ” Playing small doesn’t save the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others.  Now is our time to give voice to our truths, our creativity and our unique purpose.”  How inspiring is that?  This makes up for a very few disappointing days where I didn’t relate to the topic or the meditation.  Thank you Oprah – this was one of the defining moments for me.  Basically, if you really need this translated, never be less than you are to please other people.  Don’t play dumb – being smart can inspire others.  This isn’t all that I got out of this quote, but part of this process is having your own thoughts and feelings about what you have learned.  

Deepak had a hard act to follow today, but he didn’t disappoint me either.  I always knew, by the play of jingly wind chimes when he was about to come on.  He reminded the avid listeners, like me, that your being is the greatest gift that you have to give.  Just remember that at birthdays or the holidays – no more presents to buy – EVER!   This is when he gets into basking in your glory:  “Being is silent, but when you express who you are, your being flows out into the world, then others can bask in your personal expression and feel inspired to find their own way of expressing themselves.”  OK – I get it – you are supposed to inspire others, kind of like those chain emails that we get from time to time that we are supposed to pass along to others or suffer x days of bad luck.  The biggest difference is that we are supposed to gain inspiration too.  Isn’t it nice when things are not abstract?  

Here is a warning to parents out there – everything that you say to your children stays with them good and bad.  If you tell one child that they are perfect and wonderful, they will believe it but if you tell another child that they are problem or a source of worry or even that they will never measure up, that will stay with them too.  I had a nice balance when I was growing up – my mother always told me that I was as good as gold (except when I wasn’t), but sometimes, there isn’t a trickle down effect to each of your parents.  I had some self-esteem issues that at one point, I can’t continue to blame my father for, but I can tell you from experience that words sting.  I always try to be sensitive to children, particularly, my own adult niece and nephew, so that they know, even when they are having a bad day, that they have a big fan in me.  No one is perfect, and we are all guilty of being a word that rhymes with witchy from time to time, but this was a nice reminder that kindness helps and heals.  I know that DC is right that when he says after hearing certain things your whole life, that when you finally discover who you really are (sorry if you are in your 20’s, you won’t know it until your 30’s or even 40’s) that it may come as a shock.  

Deepak believes that a shock can come from the idea that their true self is wise, creative, loving and universal may sound unbelievable but it’s true for many of us, except for the odd jerk – hello kids at a York Region high school that beat up a classmate because he happens to be a different colour.  SHAME ON YOU for being bullies. Anyone who is racist, sexist, homophobic or just plain mean, I can’t hold out a lot of hope for.  People can be redeemed, I’m sure of that, but you have to really want to be.  Going back to the great man himself, he states that to be human is a statement of potential to be awakened mainly because no one can be who you are.  Self-expression is as important as breathing and it happens when we don’t judge or restrict this flow of the self.  Basically, love yourself and be who you are and be kind to yourself so that you can be kind to others.

He would like us to encourage others to be themselves and do this by thinking of a time when you wanted to say something, but your inside voice said that you would sound silly or that no one wants to hear what you have to say.  This is the voice of self-judgment.  DC doesn’t want us to be held back by our own issues and we can do this when self-expression comes more easily.  it can also come when we encourage someone else to speak and express themselves.  You are giving that person a gift and as you give, you will receive.  This meditation was one of my favourites and I was struck by the truth in what both Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra said.  

Today, I am grateful that I got the chance to review this meditation again, since it was so profound.  I am also grateful that I get to see one of my former interviewees for this blog, and a favourite cousin tonight – I’m really looking forward to seeing her (and you too AK)!

Gratefully yours,