Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Slurpy McSlurplord, The Art of Not Procrastinating, Kelly Clarkson and Phoning it In

Kelly

I was coming home today on the subway, not always my happy place, when I found myself trapped next to an unusually tall man eating an unusually large meal RIGHT NEXT TO ME.  I shall call him Slurpy McSlurplord.  On the long journey home, I got to enjoy a meal – his – mostly because I felt that I was eating right along with him.  All I heard was SLUUUURRPPPP, SWIIIISHHHHH, PHHHHHTTTTTT, YUMMMM, UM, UGH, OOOGA CHAKA, OOGA Chaka…so I’ve created a little song for the disgust that I felt to “Hooked on a Feeling”:

I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Boy, you just don’t realize
What your slurping noises do to me…

When you hold your dinner
In your arms so tight
You let me know
That your food is all right

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That you’re disgusting to me

Chicken and Ribs and Fries as sweet as candy (POETIC LICENSE)
Its stench is on my mind
Boy, you got me thirsty
For another cup o’ wine or Coke or whatever it is you are drinking in my EARRRRR…

Got a bug from you boy
And I’d like a cure
I’ll just stay a victim
Of your germs I’m sure

All the good stuff
In your carry out tray
I feel like I’m in there with you
The stench from your fingers makes me go boo hoo

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That good subway manners are a possibility

All the good food
In your take out tray
With your greasy fingers
As shiny as a sunny day

I said I’m hooked on a feeling
And I’m high on believing
That you’ll act politely
I’m hooked on a feeling

I actually hated sitting next to him more than I hate sitting on a warm seat…and I really hate warm seats.  Not only did he eat like a cave man, he actually opened his little sauce container with his teeth…yes, it’s nice to know that Cro Magnon Man  exists.  I kept thinking he was going to drop his meal on me.  He ended up just losing his sauce.  In an enlightened moment, I felt grateful that he didn’t lose his cookies, because it would be aimed in my direction.  Trying to get to my happy place, I yelled Kelly Clarkson the way that I do sometimes – in my inside voice (and the way 40 Year Old Virgin did when he was getting waxed…actually so do I, it helps me cope with the pain).
Seriously – are manners really dead?  And seriously, I love Kelly Clarkson – she’s just talented and herself – and in this day and age that’s a rarity.  I went to see her in concert a few weeks ago and she was fun and completely genuine.  Love her – she’s a lesson on why being yourself is a good thing.  She could get rid of the half shaved head, but that’s her choice.  Go see her if you have a chance.  She doesn’t phone it in…
Speaking of phoning it in – did any of you do Deepak and Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation Experience on Gratitude?  You know I love DOPRAH too, but this was completely phoned in and disingenuous, if I may be so bold.  I’ve done several, and admittedly, I’m not the deepest person, and I’ll NEVER be able to meditate properly, but I’ve always liked Deepak’s message.  This time, meh.  He may have had a couple of messages where I felt he was back to himself, but can’t say that I feel that this was time well spent.  I’ll keep doing them, but totally not grateful for this one.  I just hope that they haven’t jumped the shark, so to speak – or is that just a TV term?
I’m also going away shortly – which I’m so excited about, but I did something scary on Monday.  I packed for my trip…yes, all of my clothes and shoes for two weeks are neatly packed and I don’t leave until Thursday.  Does this mean that I’ve learned the art of not procrastinating or am I just getting old?  I don’t know what’s come over me lately!!! I miss the good old days when I’d run around two hours before my plane left throwing things in a suitcase and hoping for the best.  Times have certainly changed.  I’ll be writing about my little adventure when I get back.
Until then, I remain gratefully yours…
Jill


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I Get So Emotional…

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…well not really, all the time, but I thought it was the perfect Whitney Houston song to use as the title for today’s blog.  2015 is not a year that I am going to have many fond thoughts of, in fact, in the words of my home girl Queen Elizabeth  (Her Majesty to you), this is fast becoming a year I shall not look fondly upon.  It has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  For those of you who think that I’m referring to someone more cheeky, annus means year in Latin.  

A lot has happened over a very short period of time, and I’ve seen the best and worst of people.  The one thing that I have discovered in all of this, is how important it has been to use my emotions productively.  This is something that Deepak Chopra talks about in his latest 21 Day Meditation Experience and you know I like to remind you that Dr. Oz highly recommends meditation to alleviate stress among other health benefits.  I still suck at it, but why quit trying?

In my favourite meditation to date, Deeps talks about what you should do in a time of difficulty.  I love that he says that being emotionally productive isn’t about “positive thinking as a solution or constantly trying to maintain an optimistic disposition.”  Rather, he wants us to make our emotions part of our support group.  How can we do this?

  • Be aware that emotions are tied to every choice that you make and you can’t always be rational.  I like being rational, but yes, I would say that in the scheme of things, emotions rule the day
  • Deal with emotions as a contestant companion and advisors.  In other words, don’t try to suppress how you feel – many decisions, good and bad, are made based on feelings and it doesn’t help to try to bury your emotions.  The one thing I have to say is that good or bad, I get everything out.  If I need to cry, which isn’t often, I do it.  If I’m angry, depending on how much something is bothering me, I tell the person.  If I’m happy or grateful, I say so.  Life is far too short to choke down feelings and I’ve noticed, at least for me, that there is something very therapeutic about getting things out into the open…and a good cry never hurts.  Deepak says that it is important to remember that every situation has an emotional component
  • “Pushing down emotions” or try to stifle emotions, they get “stuck” meaning, they just sit in your subconscious like a ginormous unhealthy dinner gets stuck in your tummy

There were a few other deep thoughts, but this was the gist of it.  I loved that he didn’t stress positive thinking or fake optimism as a solution.  I hate when people tell me to look at the bright side or that things happen for a reason.  I think I’ve written about this before, but I think that sometimes bad things happen to the best people and sometimes, you see karma in action.  I’m seeing both of these situations at once – but coping with each is less difficult, because I know exactly how I feel and today, that is what I most grateful for.


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Sleepy-Time Stress

eye twitch

Keeping one eye on the time…

I admit it – I’m a clock watcher and always need to know the time.  It’s productive during the day, so that I can get to meetings on time or meet people pretty close to the time we agreed on, but when you have insomnia, clock watching is just plain stressful.  You think you are the only one awake, in the world, and it’s a very lonely place to be.  I was reading an article in “Dr. Oz – The Good Life” and was a little disappointed.  Not because the article wasn’t well written and totally useful, but the cover tease was “Turn Off Stress So You Can Sleep-Pill Free”.  That is right up my alley – I hate taking sleeping pills, and not sleeping is a huge cause of stress.  When I eagerly flipped to the article, it was all about women who can’t get back to sleep…not my issue at all.  When I do have insomnia, it’s because I can’t fall asleep.  If I fall asleep, and wake up in the middle of the night, I can always fall back into la-la land – after I check the clock of course.

When I first started blogging, in January 2014, my first topic was all about insomnia.  In general, I do sleep better than I did a year ago.  Here are a few things that I think have helped:

-Eating more nuts – for real – I still eat two brazil nuts a day for the selenium and I eat almonds and walnuts every day.  Think I’m nuts?  It seems to work

-I’ve learned, the hard way, that as soon as I get an inkling that I’m about to fall asleep on the couch, I have to get up and go to bed – immediately.  If I fall asleep, for even 5 little minutes, my shut eye pattern is off, and I find it impossible to sleep

-A cool room helps – really, but freezing cold isn’t great.  Once I’m that cold, no matter what I do, I can’t warm up

-Dr. Oz’s sleep experts say you shouldn’t check the time, but I have to, and it helps me fall back to sleep knowing that I still have a couple of hours that I can get in

-There are times, when I just can’t sleep, that I do get out of bed and walk around, watch TV or read, just to get out of my room

Here are some new recommendations from “Dr. Oz – The Good Life: Your Fall-Back-Asleep Prescription (page 108):

1. Do some belly-breathing – I know I’ll never do this on my own, but I am doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Challenge, and I can always do one of the meditations to get in some deep breathing.  I still can’t do the meditating part properly, but I do deep breathe when I listen to D-OPRAH’s latest

2. Get Out of Bed – see above

3. Note and release your worries – this is a great idea – I’ll try this one.  Sometimes, I may have to type it into Outlook, so that I know that I have time set aside for the tasks, but I think knowing you have your “to-do’s” listed somewhere is comforting, at least to me

4. Take a mental stroll – you are supposed to visualize places that bring you peace – I’ll try it, not sure if I buy it, but it’s worth the effort

5. Listen to something calming – This works – I know you aren’t supposed to have iPads in your room, but I listen to podcasts and they put me to sleep and yes, I am admitting this here, Reality Steve’s (Bachelor Spoiler extraordinaire) Live Video Chats are a must listen an my own brand of Nytol – I fall asleep every Thursday listening to them.  I don’t watch unless he is talking to his dog Maddie – which is cute and priceless.  He’s never boring, but there is something soothing about the way he speaks.  Whatever works right?

6. Call in the pros – AKA see your Dr.

Today was a pretty good day with a lot to be grateful for – I’m off this week from work, I got to see my niece and I got to speak to the Shoe (not her real name, but a really close friend).  Not too bad – and no stress : )


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My Favourite Books

CharlotteWeb

Image courtesy of Harper Collins

I’m an avid reader – I even keep a book diary to record a list of all the books that I have read.  I only started keeping it in 1991, but if I were to guess, I’ve probably read well over a thousand books.  Why do I bring this up?  I was thinking about meditation, which is really being able to tune things out, and listen to nothing, not even your inner voice.  Well, it’s more than that, but that’s the gist for you newcomers to my deepness.  As much as I can’t do this, and I get distracted, I was thinking, I do that sometimes, about how when I read a book I love, I am able to tune things out.  Yes, I’m still listening to my inner voice, but it’s how I relax and de-stress which Dr. Oz and my home boy Deepak Chopra would both approve of.

I’m reading a book that I really like right now, “Wild”.  It’s not the best book that I’ve ever read, but it’s very well written and definitely worthwhile.  It’s the first book in a book club that we are starting at work and I definitely recommend it.  It made me enjoy reading again and also made me think of the ten books that really affected me – here they are:

  1. Charlotte’s Web – my top favourite book ever!  It’s the only book that I kept from my childhood.  Ironic, since I’m terrified of spiders, but it has so many important messages…you may be scary outside, but you can be beautiful inside, unlikely twosomes can become the best of friends, true friendship can last a lifetime, no matter how short that lifetime is, and more.  I always loved and identified with the underdog and this book, read to me in grade 2, was the start of all of this.  Even my beloved, and deceased dog Rascal was the runt of the litter and I loved him as much as Fern loved Wilbur.  I bawled my way through this book (driving my sisters crazy when I was a kid, reading it out loud over and over again) and bawled my way through the movie as an adult.  If you haven’t read it, it’s never too late.  My favourite line?  “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.  THE END.”  Charlotte has always been my inspiration.
  2. The Last Lecture – this is a must read – there is simply no more inspiring, joyful book out there.  Yes, Randy Pausch was dying when he gave his last lecture, but he still loved life.
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha – just beautifully written – it’s as simple as that.
  4. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving is a quirky writer who isn’t for everyone, but this story is amazing.  So many things happen throughout the book, and you wonder why, but it all makes sense in the end.  The book’s protagonist is also an underdog, and you know I love an underdog.
  5. Angela’s Ashes – so good!  You’d think the poverty would depress you, but it’s written with humour and you can get lost in the story.  I loved ‘Tis too!
  6. The Harry Potter Series – trying to pick a favourite is like trying to pick a favourite child – you may have one, but whose dumb enough to tell the world about it?  It’s amazingly creative, shows that good does triumph over evil and the books become more sophisticated as the characters age – what’s not to love?
  7. Marley and Me – You may not agree with this one, but as a dog lover, I adored this book.  Especially the part SPOILER ALERT when the author is getting ready to say goodbye to his beloved pet and he does what I did – strokes his dog in all of his favourite places to memorize how he feels (I did this to my dog when he was trying to sleep, and as always, he was patient with me).
  8. The Book of Negroes – this was a difficult read, but so well written that you feel like you were on the slave ship.  It should be required reading in schools and for members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists.
  9. The Book Thief – Classified as a Young Adult book, there is nothing about this book that meets that classification.  It was also a difficult read, and you have to understand a little metaphor, but a very important book, at least in my opinion.
  10. Julie and Julia – I know, autobiographical fluff, but it’s one of the books that inspired me to start blogging.

Those are the books – the ones that I remember and had the most impact.  I’m grateful to have read each and every one of them.  I’d love to hear your favourites too so leave them here, or tweet them to me @JillSchnei!


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Change Is In The Air

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I knew that 2015 was going to be a year of change.  I had that feeling on December 31st.  I just wasn’t quite sure what that meant for me.  So far, it has been difficult, but sometimes, not to sound like Polly Pureheart, those difficulties spur you to explore the unexpected.  One day, when my mother wasn’t having a great day, I told her that I would cook for her.  She would just have to be there for me and tell me step by step what to do.  After checking her life insurance policy, she agreed.  Not nice Mummy!  I spent the afternoon making soup for the first time, spaghetti sauce for the first time (beef stinks when it’s cooking – I’ll try to keep my chick-a-fish-a-veg-atarian self away from Elsie the Cow for the rest of my days), baked chicken breasts (not the first time, but only about the third time making this dish) and egg salad (BLAH – too smelly for me to ever eat).  You know, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It’s just weird how someone just knows how much of everything to add without a recipe (my mother, not me).  So far, she’s survived the experiment.  I made the soup – pictured above, at home for myself.  It was ok day 1 but on day 2, I was about to gag on it.  It did have a lot of Oz approved foods – fresh onion (pre-biotics to super-charge my probiotics), carrots, celery, cabbage, snow peas and a package of dried vegetables and barley.  I probably won’t make it more than once a year, but it was nice adding something to my limited recipe book.

This will also be a year of trying new things.  It means a Zombie “Escape the Room Challenge” and Axe Throwing.  It means doing things that I’ve never tried before, even if they are outside of my comfort zone.  It means committing to a cut off time for work.  It means that in the interests of decluttering, that I actually un-friended someone from Facebook.  Not a big deal, but it was time to do a little tune up.  Why have someone there who clearly I haven’t had a conversation with in years?  I’ll be doing a little more of that in the future – but it was a start.

I also recognize that in order to live in a relatively healthy way, I have to learn how to cope with worry.  I dealt with being sick for most of January (which I wrote about).  This didn’t worry me, but it kept me from being able to write as often, or as clearly as I may have wanted to.  It left me a little fatigued, but that’s partly stress.  A huge work project finally came to an end, which caused me a lot of sleepless nights – but it went well, so that’s a relief.  Last, but most importantly, my family and I have to cope with a challenging situation – I can’t get into details, yet, but it’s not easy.  Luckily, we are supporting each other and for that, I am grateful.  Here are some of Dr. Oz’s tips for coping with worry (from doctoroz.com):

  • “Get More Sleep: One common complaint of distress is lack of sleep. It can put your brain on edge, which forces it to go into survival mode.
  • Meditation: The well-documented effects of regular meditation include lowered blood pressure, less heart disease, decreased chronic pain, and increased mental clarity.
  • Yoga: Dr. Oz recommends doing the 7-minute sun salutation yoga exercise every day. Not only does it keep him in shape, it keeps his mind focused and clear.
  • Teas and Other Calming Foods: Some foods and teas have natural components that help soothe the brain.”

I’ve signed up for Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Experience in March.  I also have 3 other meditations streamed.  As I’ve mentioned, I will always struggle with it, but so many doctors recommend it, that I’ll never stop trying.  I’m already a tea lover, so that’s never an issue, but I am going to see what foods help cope with stress.  I’ve also got to give yoga another try – maybe a laughing yoga class, because I have such a hard time taking it seriously?

Today is Family Day in Ontario, and as always, I like to end on a note of what I am grateful for.  Today, in honour of Family Day, I am grateful to my family, frousins and friends that are like family.  I’m lucky to have all of you.

I


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Humanity and Positivity

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Today’s outpouring of support and humanity in Paris was truly one of the most inspiring things that I’ve ever seen.  People held pens in the air and signs that said “Je Suis Charlie, supporting the right to free speech and freedom of the press.  A Muslim woman held a sign that said “Je Suis Juif” and said she was doing so because hate is wrong and that the city must stand together.  World leaders linked hands and walked down the street showing no fear, but likely causing a security nightmare.  It actually brought tears to my eyes to see people, for one day, forget about hate, forget about ill feelings, forget about race and colour and religion and realize that “Nous Sommes Charlie” – we are all the same.  A few people should be called out for not showing up – our Canadian Prime Minister  and Barack Obama, you should have been there.  Not that either is reading my little blog, but I thought I’d put it out there.  The important people showed up though – the people of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world.  I’ve had the opportunity of travelling to the City of Light three times, and will go there again and I encourage you to go there too if you have the means and the interest.  Don’t be afraid to travel – that’s how you learn about other cultures and how we learn embrace differences.

I feel weird talking about myself on a day like today, but yesterday was a little positivity experiment for me.  I wasn’t allowed to complain once.  I may have slipped and said it was cold – but is that really a complaint or is it an observation?  It’s not hard to be positive on a Saturday when the stresses of commuting and work are almost non-existent and you get to hang out with some of your favourite people (more on that in my next blog).  I avoided the news at all costs, because other than today, there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate in the media.  It was a little harder than usual to not complain because I wasn’t feeling 100%, but it actually felt good to hold my tongue and to be more mindful about what real problems are.  It really made me think about what was truly worth complaining about and how many times a day that I’m tempted to whine.  I’ll be trying to have another complaint free day next Sunday – wish me luck.  Thanks to Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra for also inspiring the experiment.

Today, it’s hard not to be grateful when you see something so positive come out of something so horrific, so today, I’m grateful to the people of France for standing together and showing the world the meaning of Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité.


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So, We’ve Come to the End of the Road….

Pondering

In the words of the immortal band, Boyz 2 Men,  that I’ve never been a big fan of, we’ve come to the end of the road.  I’ve committed to writing this blog for a year and that time has now come to a close.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue on or not, that remains to be seen and what is life without a cliffhanger?  This year, there have been peaks and valleys.  I think I’ve learned more in the past few years, then I have in the sum total of my life and this year was no different.  Here are some life lessons for you to consider as we change calendars:

  • The worst thing to live with is regret so don’t put things off, you never know what tomorrow will bring
  • It’s better to be kind sometimes, than to be right (and it pains me to say that)
  • No matter how type A you are, some things are beyond your control (huge pain saying that too)
  • It’s ok to be selfish at times (as long as it’s not to the detriment of someone else)
  • You have to try things that are either outside of your comfort zone or that scare you – life is too short not to try things at least once
  • You know how I like to quote cheesy songs, so in the words of Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney’s “Ebony and Ivory” – there is good and bad in everyone.  I felt that I had to quote Stevie Wonder at least once since I got bored and left his concert

Here are some peaks for my year:

  • Keeping up with this blog no matter how out of control my work load was.  It helped me cross one item off of my bucket list
  • I kept my New Year’s Resolution to make my health a priority – I had a mammogram, had blood work done, and changed some bad habits (although there is still room for improvement)
  • Finding Deepak Chopra – it’s the first time I’ve connected to anything self help and although some of what he says is beyond me, or could be construed as hooey – like Dr. Oz, you can pick and choose and find out a lot of insightful information
  • The trips that I took.  The ultimate peak was hiking to a glacier
  • Knowing that I can take a cyber break and be ok (and you can too)
  • Finding something to be grateful for every single day
  • Having moments where I actually felt good again
  • The people that I spent time with including family and friends (old and new and those that I got to reconnect with)
  • Getting to watch my niece graduate from college
  • Seeing my mother at her 75th birthday party

Here are the valleys:

  • ?
  • Let’s not focus on the valleys – we all have trials and tribulations to deal with and after the trauma of 2012 and 2013, life really wasn’t so bad this year

Here is a quick summary of my Oz Journey:

Pounds lost – 17

Items banished through decluttering – 214

Items sold on Kijiji – 3

Meditations that I tried – 63

Times where I actually meditated – 1 (I think)

Bottles of probiotics used – 3

Bottles of Vitamin D used – 1.5 (they were big bottles)

Containers of flax – 3

Nuts consumed – can’t count that high, but maybe in the hundreds of thousands

Shampoo mohawks made since I found out they could damage your hair – 1 – I slipped

Times per week that I exfoliate my skin – 1 as Dr. Oz recommends

Reams of paper shredded – 1

Number of page views – almost 5,000

Number of posts that I’ve written – 176 including this one

Knowledge gained – immense

Gratitude to you, my readers – immeasurable

I wish you all good health and great happiness in 2015 and whether I continue on with this blog or not, I will forever be…

Gratefully yours,

Jill


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Soaring Like Beagle and Other Holiday Angst

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Image courtesy of picgifs.com (and I’m pretty sure Charles Schulz deserves some credit)

As I’ve written time and time again, Dr. Oz loves meditation and introduced me to my homeboy Deepak Chopra or Deeps as I affectionately like to call him.  I’m currently reading one of Deeps’ earlier books, “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire”.  As I’ve been voraciously reading the book, I found, in parts, that I had to suspend my own skepticism and embrace things that I usually find to bordering on hooey.  There are many wonderful parts of the book including a very true equation for luck.  If you decide to pick up the book, you’ll find it on page 123, “Opportunity + Preparedness = Good Luck”.  So true – I can tell you that I’ve been told, that I’m pretty lucky when it comes to finding jobs, or rather having jobs find me.  Au contraire, my freres – it’s all part of the divine equation that Deeps laid out so succinctly in his book.  I believe that Randy Pausch also highlighted this very fact in one of the best books ever written – “The Last Lecture”.  There is some degree of the universe helping me out, but most luck that I’ve experienced is self-generated, where opportunity met preparedness.

Yes, there are many amazing parts to the book and he breaks down meditation, providing this klutzy meditator with some tools to help me increase my health with this Oz approved practice, but there is some stuff that’s just beyond me.  He lost me with identifying archetypes.  I think mine may be a princess of some small nation like Denmark.  Mostly because you get all of the benefits of British Royalty (like a lovely tiara and some travel) with none of the crazy stalkers and paparazzi following you around.  I have a feeling that’s not what he’s thinking about though.  Then came the moment that I realized that I may lack the depth to pursue my goal of listening to the vibrations of the universe…In one of the blondest moments of my life, I read, “Become an eagle; experience the world as a soaring bird” (page 162) as “Become a beagle…”.   Yes, I pondered the statement and was wondering if it was possible to experience life as everyone’s favourite beagle – Snoopy.  A good five minutes of thinking later, I re-read the sentence, and boy, did I feel like a dummy.  I’ll keep trying, but I’m not so sure I’ll ever get this stuff right.  My good friend gave me a Chopra Centre gift card so that will definitely help!

You know, Dr. Oz has a huge section on how to avoid weight gain and to enjoy the holidays in a healthy way. I’m going to spend some time reading them and reporting back, but I think it’s also one of those times of year when maybe, it’s ok to say, I’m just going to give in to the dark side. I love seeing my friends and family during the festive season, but I, like many think that maybe we are taking the commercialization a little bit too far.  I celebrate Chanukah and for the most part, appreciate the simplicity of the holiday.  I was in a book store yesterday and saw a doll called “Mensch on a Bench”.  Instead of being amused by this “Elf on a Shelf” take off, I was a little taken aback.  Christmas and all of the trappings are great and meaningful if that’s the holiday that you celebrate, but Chanukah is the “Festival of Lights” – all you need is a Menorah and maybe a dreidel or two and you are good to go.  We don’t have an equivalent to Santa Claus – there is not Hanukah Harry, so Mensch on a Bench makes me feel like we are having a “me too – see, we can be fun” kind of moment.  I’m not religious in any way shape or form, but I don’t believe that we have to shape things in a certain way in order to enjoy the holidays and the more simple celebrations are just as meaningful.  I love the Christmas decorations and nobody sings a Christmas Carol better than Kelly Clarkson.  I love going to Christmas parties and joining in the fun of the season, but I am happy with the traditions that I grew up with too and have never felt that I was missing out on anything by having Chanukah. What could be better than Chinese Food and a movie on December 25th? OY VEY – is all I have to say about this Mensch on a Bench business.  Just enjoy yourself, no matter what holiday you celebrate.

Today, I’m grateful that I got to spend time with my family to celebrate the festival.  We went to visit our cousin who had a little accident and it was just nice to be together, even if it was in a hospital.  I’m grateful to my poor mother for pushing through back pain to prepare the best latkes ever and for always making the holiday about what’s important no matter what religion you are – spending time with loved ones.


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A Dose of Holiday Gratitude

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My “reflective” photo

The holidays make people reflect about what they are grateful for and Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra, my homeboys, buds, brothers from other mothers, etc. recommend you state what tickles you to remind yourself of all of the good in the world.  I do this quite often in my blog, while others, I’m not naming names (Shoe) keep a journal.  I’d like to give you a dose of what I feel grateful for at this moment in time:

  • I found this Sesame Street video on my cousin’s Facebook page.  If you can’t feel grateful for the Yippers, well, I don’t know what you can be grateful for
  • There was a huge snow storm in Toronto, and unlike previous years, we didn’t have to call out the army to dig us out #torontostrong
  • I was grateful that although I cancelled plans on a friend who lives just too far away, I ended up getting a dinner invitation to my mother’s – timing is everything
  • I’m grateful that I got to see my Mommy AND she was finally able to sew a button on my winter coat for me – it’s been hanging over my head for months
  • I’m grateful that I got to see my niece AND I found out that she too can sew a button – it’s always good to have a back up
  • I’m grateful that I got to see my oldest sister today AND I know that she can sew a button.  It’s all about connections
  • I’m grateful that I got to speak to my middle sister AND I suspect that she can sew a button.  I need to know that I’m surrounded by domestic goddesses since I’ll never be one
  • I’m grateful that I got a seat on the subway, and my coat was so thick, it didn’t matter if it was warm or not
  • I’m grateful that I got another gift off of my list – wasn’t that a Hall and Oates’ song?  “Because your gift, your gift is on my list” – oh it’s “Your Kiss is On My List” – silly me
  • I’m grateful that I had the time to blog today
  • I’m grateful that today, one person got exactly what I was saying
  • I’m grateful that I got to see “The Mindy Project” last night and that it was basically picked up for a full season
  • I’m grateful that in 6 business days, I’ll have two weeks off!!!!
  • I’m grateful that I got to shop my mother’s pantry because it saved me a trip to the store.  I’m also grateful that I have a mother who is generous enough to let me shop the pantry, although, if she would let me organize each shelf alphabetically by product, it would make me so happy.  She won’t – weird – because she’s type A too
  • I’m grateful that I’ve committed to getting my Christmas cards written over the weekend – I’d be even more grateful if I had someone to write them for me – everyone always calls me to translate my chicken scratch.  I’m also grateful that I buy my cards on Boxing Day so that I never need to worry about having enough for the holidays

That’s about all that I’m grateful for – but not so bad, since it covers off only one day.  Until next time, I remain

Gratefully yours,

Jill


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Identifying with Stress

care bear

Courtesy of Google Images

I was thinking about stress all of this month – everything from the stupid stresses (warm seats on the subway) to ones that are more real.  The one thing that I noticed that I do, a lot, is generalize what is causing me stress.  I say (and have heard others say) – “Work is stressing me out” or a person is “stressing me out.”  Very general – right? Dealing with stress so that it doesn’t cause the inflammation that Dr. Oz has taught me to fear is important, and in some weird way, writing about it, when I can, has been cathartic.  Maybe it’s my “feditation” experience with frequent Oz guest, Deepak Chopra.  I call it feditation, because I am the worst meditator in the world.  I fall asleep because I usually do it at bed time, I worry that I’m not pronouncing the mantras correctly in my inside voice and I fear being a fake.  I do think taking the 20 minutes a day to do the Doprah 21 Day Meditation Experience does help me think about things in a different way.  I got a lot out of each of their small, daily lectures.  I think that’s how I came to the conclusion that I was generalizing my stress too much.  It’s time for me to makeover my thoughts.  Here are some examples:

The Before – Work is stressing me out

The Makeover Thought (AKA, recognizing what is causing these feelings) I find work is causing me to worry because…I’m in a new-ish role, in a new-ish department with a new-ish boss with a new-ish team.  My work load is very large and I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel.  I worry that when I get so busy that things will fall through the cracks and that I will disappoint people.  I have less free time and feel that I sometimes forget to reach out to people that matter to me because their emails get lost in the mess that is my inbox.

The New Reality – I am pretty good at what I do, so maybe my best simply is enough and I have to accept that I can’t do everything.  I have to learn to delegate more and respond less.  The world isn’t going to end if I don’t get every single item off of my to-do list.  I also have to realize that I’ve achieved every career goal that I’ve set for myself and maybe it’s time to learn to be happy about that.

The Before – My family/friends stress me out

The Makeover Thought – I am worried about the health and happiness of the people in my life.

The New Reality – I can’t control whether people are healthy or happy, I can only control my reactions to them.

The Before – It’s a weekend, and other than going out and doing something fun, I haven’t been productive.

The Makeover Thought – I need to clean my apartment, run errands, get some stuff on Kijiji, go to the bank, dry cleaners, pick up a gift…and the list goes on and on.  How will I ever do everything?

The New Reality- I will get through the list, but maybe, every now and again, it’s ok to just veg out.

I think  being more specific about what’s been causing me stress, has made me feel better.  Maybe a little Deepak also helped.

Speaking of silly stress, I went to a Stevie Wonder concert with my frousin, GK, on Tuesday.  Stevie Wonder is one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen – there is no denying that.  The man plays the piano like a dream, the harmonica, and probably a slew of other instruments that I will never in a million years be able to master.  He is charming and inspirational and everything good.  People who were at the concert were glued to the stage….except me…I have to be honest, I didn’t know most of the music and I was getting  bored very fast and I love concerts.  Every time GK looked at me, I’d shrug my  shoulders.  I was counting the songs knowing that there were going to be 25 in total.  I was mentally calculating that each song was approximately 5 minutes in length and there were 15 left after Sir Duke (the only song that I knew before the intermission).  By the 8th song, GK texted me to ask if I was enjoying the concert, and as ashamed as I was to admit this, I wrote, “He’s very talented….but I wish I was at Pink!”  I felt like the most uncultured concert-goer in the world, but the fact of the matter is that she felt the same way!  There was a point where Stevie sang a really weird lyric and we both looked at each other and cracked up.  We decided to leave WAAAYYYY before the concert ended.  We were both stressed that the other would want to stay – sometimes, its best just to fess up.  It was so nice, and de-stressing, at that moment in time, to be understood.  This week, I’m grateful to GK for being my partner in the great Wonder escape and for just being fun to being around in general.