Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One

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The Stress Questionnaire


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ve seen this diagram before.  It’s all about inflammation.  One of the root causes of inflammation is stress.  I stumbled across a little something on doctoroz.com – it’s a stress checklist so that you can see what the major causes of stress in your life are.  There are about 40+ items – http://www.doctoroz.com/article/stress-questionnaire – try the test yourself to see what’s inflaming you!  Here are my items:

  • Change in health of an immediate family member – always stressful
  • Work more than 40+ hours in a week – some weeks it’s 60+
  • Business or work role change – my role has been changing since April of this year
  • Sleep less than 8 hours – the quality of my sleep has increased, but the quantity has stayed between 5-6 hours – somedays it’s close to 6.5 but no where near the perfection of 8 hours
  • Change in responsibilities at work
  • Vacation – I love travel, but I guess getting ready to go away can be stressful and my next vacation is coming up quickly
  • Change in personal habits (diet, exercise, etc.) – I’m always trying something a little different with this blog and I’m doing the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Plan again more to help myself feel better
  • Change in work hours or conditions
  • Presently pre-menstrual – I know TMI – but it’s a fact of life.  Yes, once a month, I like many women are aware that the whole world is out to get me

Nine out of about 44  – not terrible…but it is evident to me, that work causes the majority of my stress.  Some of the stress factors will be eliminated as time goes on.  Some, I’ll have to learn to cope with. Getting better sleep and more of it, has to continue to be a priority.  I’m not giving up travel though, just because it causes a little bit of stress.  It’s my top favourite thing!

One thing that has alleviated some stress has been my decluttering project.  This week, I began the process of Kijiji-ing/Craigslisting some of my items and I’ve sold a purse today.  So far, I’ve posted 6 items, and as I sell one, I’ll post more.  I’ve also started another pile of things to throw away.  Seeing my progress has been very satisfying, but I can’t wait to finish this little project even though I still have a lot of things left to do.

Today, I’m grateful for the stress questionnaire.  It’s a good little check list to see where your stress lives and it will help me address my own issues and for that, I’m…

Gratefully yours,



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I’m a Ponderer…

I was thinking about stress – one of the nasty health saboteurs that Dr. Oz constantly warns us about.  Managing stress is a very complicated matter and we all deal with it differently.  Some of us disengage, and I’ve done this.  Some of us vent and get matters out in the open and I’ve done this.  Some lose sleep as they let things run through their minds and I’ve done this.  Some of us read self-help books to cope and I’ve done this.  Some of us make healthy lifestyle decisions like exercising and I’ve done this (not as often as I should).  Lastly, some just have that annoyingly positive attitude that makes you want to lose your cookies – I’ve NOT done this.

Even though I’ve written about stress (and it’s contribution to inflammation), I’ve been thinking and pondering that perhaps my November theme should be stress management.  Dr. Oz seems to have some valuable tools to help with it, and I’ve been dealing with a bit of stress and I’d like to get the “Whiz-ard’s” advice on how to reduce this happiness killer.  I know that there is no magical formula, but who doesn’t want to lead a healthier, happier life?  Well, maybe the odd Debbie Downer and Petey Pessimist…

I do always remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for, and today is no exception.  I’m truly grateful to live in a country as great as Canada.  It was a trying week last week, with a shooting and at our National War Memorial (resulting in the death of a soldier) and our Parliament, but watching our party leaders embrace each other the day after it happened as they returned to work was such a lovely and humane moment.  It reminded me that no matter how much we may disagree with someone, at the end of the day, when times are tough, we can still embrace each other and move forward.

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New Topic – Re-Evaluation



I spent some time pondering my blog today – hence the picture that I took in Norway glancing out at the water with HUGE mountains reminding me of how insignificant that I am.  It’s a long weekend in Toronto, and one of my favourite ways to end it off is to just take a day and chill out. I always have the intention of being wildly productive, but just taking the time to do exactly what I feel like doing usually wins out.  Today, I read a life-altering, quality book that should be on everyone’s reading list.  “I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends – Confessions of a Reality Show Villain” by Courtney Robertson.  It’s a semi-tell-all from the former The Bachelor Finalist and ultimate winner.  Is it literary genius?  No – but it was very entertaining and a book that I could plow through really quickly.  Thanks Reality Steve for reviewing it on your site, realitysteve.com – that’s how I discovered it.  I usually read more high-brow fare, but every now and then, a little fluff is nice.  Doing my laundry always makes me feel productive, and it allows me to sit around and read while I wait for the washer to finish or in between folding loads.  Oh, the exciting life this blogger leads – you should all be jealous, but it’s such an ugly, tawdry emotion.

Back to my pondering.  Every few minutes while reading the holy grail of all things Bachelor, I thought about what I would like to write about this month.  I was reminded that I have a habit of picking of words ending in “tion” as my topics.  Case in point:

  • January – hibernation (ok sleep, but it has to work for my point to be valid)
  • February – beautification
  • March – nutrition
  • April – meditation (well, it ended up being about meditation so close enough)
  • May – inflammation
  • June – hydration (work with me here, I know it was about getting ready for summer)
  • July – vacation

So, for this month, I’m picking a biggie – re-evaluation.  Some of you may feel that this should be my December topic – au contraire – I think it’s important, as I close in on the last quarter of my year of following Dr. Oz’s advice, to take time now to get back on track with the good changes that I’ve made that may have fallen a bit by the way-side, keep up with what is working, and re-visit some things that haven’t.  I’ll be doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s new 21 day meditation experience, eating Oz-ily and trying a few new things on my road to good health.

So what am I grateful for today?  Long weekends when I can see my closest friends and have a day to myself to just relax even if it means doing a few hated house-hold chores to help me not feel like a total sloth.

Gratefully yours,


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Anchor’s Away On Stress

anchors away

I love when I don’t have to credit images – it removes some of the stress from blogging.  This pic is from my latest trip – and I can tell you that there is nothing stressful about being on a cruise.  Dr. Oz has explained in many ways the negative impact that stress can have on your body leading to the dreaded inflammation, ultimately causing many things even worse than that.  I was under a lot of stress when I went on this vacation and for two weeks, the biggest stress that I had was whether to go for team trivia in the Skyview Lounge or finally join everyone for an art auction on a sea day.  I had people to serve me, bring me fresh towels and tell me where I needed to be at what time.  I’ve never loved the idea of cruises and have only been on 2 in my life.  One was in Alaska and it was the perfect way to experience the Inside Passage, so I highly recommend it. The other, was a Mediterranean cruise and it was nice, but not a great way to see the amazing countries on the itinerary.

This cruise seemed great on paper.  I have been to Iceland before and it gave me the chance to do a few things there to make it feel more complete to me (whale watching, a jeep safari on a vehicle only used in Iceland and seeing more of a pretty little city that I liked).  Who has ever heard of or visited the Faroe Islands?  I’m always a fan of going to little places that no one knows about.  Last but not least, what better way is there to see the fjords of Norway than on a ship? This was an instance where the trip met all of my expectations and gave me exactly what I needed at the exact moment that I needed it.  I needed no stress (check), no blackberry (check), no major decisions (check) and every day to be different (check, check check).  I loved every place that I visited (although I love every place that I go to).

While I was away, I’d love to tell you that I followed everything that I’ve learned on the yellow brick road to good health.  I didn’t.  I ate what I wanted, I lazed around on sea days getting out of bad late and going to bed at different times.  I exercised a little – I forced myself to walk on the walking track on one of the rare sunny days, my cousin and I walked a few kilometres (many uphill) in Akureyri, Iceland to see more of the city and almost our whole group did a pretty long hike to a glacier in Norway (see me getting soaked below). 

norway hike


I ate nuts infrequently and carbs became my BFF again.  Yet somehow, other than stomach pain from all of the food that didn’t agree with me, I felt better than I can remember.  My brain wasn’t foggy, my heart wasn’t racing and I didn’t feel any pressure to be somewhere.  So what did I owe this sense of well-being to?  The fact that between not having any responsibilities and taking almost a complete cyber-break, for once in my life, I felt stress free.  It was delightful and important.  It shouldn’t take a vacation to feel this way, but at least for me it does.  If I can give you some advice (not from Oz, but from me) when taking a holiday:

-Eat whatever you want.  Yes, I gained 3.5 pounds, but in less than a week, they are a distant memory and I got to enjoy my holiday without feeling deprived while the people around me ate whatever they wanted. You aren’t going to be on your death bed thinking, if only I had one more carrot stick, but you might regret not having tried the chocolate souffle on your trip or something that you can only get in that particular locale

-Take a cyber-break – believe me, if there if big news, you will hear it.  Stay in touch with loved ones on occasion, but it’s called a vacation for a reason.  I thought I would be in a panic being so disconnected but instead, I felt relaxed in a way that I haven’t in years.  It helped that WiFi on the ship was a nightmare

-Don’t let weather put a damper on your trip.  You can’t control the weather, so embrace it, and have a good time.  Think of rain and fog as atmosphere.  I had to on this trip

-Allow yourself to relax.  I thought I’d spend time staring out at the ocean, pondering my life.  I’m just not that deep (pun intended), so I started out hoping to see a whale or a dolphin.  Didn’t see either (sigh).  A vacation is about going back to your childhood for a few days when things were easier and there were people to feed you and pick up after you.  Embrace it

-Don’t expect it to be like home.  If you want the creature comforts of home, then take a stay-cation.  Travelling is amazing, but it can be a bit of a culture shock if you don’t like that sort of thing

-Try everything from activity to food and participate in the ridiculous.  I had my nose painted blue and kissed a fish to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle.  It was fun – and didn’t kill me, and I now have that silly memory (including almost falling on a fake Viking during a photo) to remember that milestone forever

Today, I am grateful that I could de-stress and enjoy one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. 

Gratefully yours,




Plop Returns – Thank You Gwyneth Paltrow!

I’m going to start my entry today with what I am grateful for.  Today, I am grateful, once again, to Gwyneth Paltrow.  I’ve missed her so.  Whenever she opens her mouth, I realize how great my life is compared to the trials that she faces, each and every day in her so-called life.  Poor thing – she has so much stress, she definitely is riddled with inflammation.  I still think, based on her latest and greatest quotes, that we still have a lot in common and I’m going to take you through some of the goodies.  

  • “You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing,” she shared. “It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it.”  I can totally relate to this!  I was at a dinner party recently, and I was, for the first time in my life, carving a chicken.  My “friend” took a picture of me doing this onerous task and captioned it “Jill?  Is that u?” and posted it on facebook.  It was dehumanizing in a way that I just can’t explain.  It wasn’t a true war like what Gwynnie has to go through.  It was just the raw animal power of knife going through chicken flesh.  Then to be mocked for it?  Dehumanizing.  Something did become defined out of it though – I learned that when at someone’s dinner party – don’t volunteer to cut the chicken, even if it’s on your plate.  I bet GP doesn’t cut up her own farm-raised, free range, antibiotic free, and flavour free chicken.  I hear you sister – social media is war
  • On The Met Gala: “I’m never going again. It was so un-fun. It was boiling. It was too crowded. I did not enjoy it at all.”  I know – being at an event where you get to where a couture gown must have been traumatic.  Poor thing.  I’ve had to go to a bar mitzvahs, weddings, kids’ birthday parties and even a baseball game or two where I felt exactly the same way – minus the couture, of course
  • “When I was twenty-one, a friend gave me a book called Diet for a New America by John Robbins, which exposed the brutal practices of American factory farms. That, coupled with a lecture from Leonardo DiCaprio (when he was nineteen and I was twenty-one) about how such animals are kept and processed, made me lose my desire for factory farm pork and beef right there.” [My Father’s Daughter]  I am an animal lover too!  I also think that they are treated horribly at factory farms and that we should be more conscious of being kind to all creatures great and small.  I, on the other-hand, received a lecture, not from Leo, but from a homeless man on the subway.  Incidentally, when I was 21, my friend gave me a wedgie – we all have our crosses to bear
  • “We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden—a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.” [My Father’s Daughter]  I have an old pizza box from 1999 next to my plant – kind of the same, no?  By the way, my plant’s name was Robert – like Robert Plant. The pizza was a good investment at the time, but thanks to Dr. Oz, it is just an occasional treat.  Can Gwynnie even eat pizza?  What if, perish the thought, she accidentally had canned cheese on it?  Her body would be in a state of war with itself
  • “I first had a version of this at a Japanese monastery during a silent retreat—don’t ask, it’s a long story.”  I can’t ask GP and you can’t answer if it was a silent retreat.  That’s our Gwyneth, such a silly little bear all stuffed with fluff
  • “You know, I use organic products, but I get [laser treatment]. It’s what makes life interesting, finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu.”  EXACTLY – it’s finding that balance that GP talks about, like our mayor, Rob Ford, with a crack pipe in one hand and a double cheeseburger in the other – all balanced!  I need to get more balance in my life
  • On aging, in 2002: “Beauty fades! I just turned 29, so I probably don’t have that many good years left in me.”  I am going to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I have no good years left in me.  I should have ended it all at 29 while I still had a life like Gwynnie.  We all know that life doesn’t begin at 30, it ends at 29
  • “One evening when I had my wood-burning stove going, I realized I hadn’t thought of dessert.”  One day, when I had my kettle boiling, I realized that I too, hadn’t thought about dessert – I just thought about how my dandelion tea was going to taste like dirt, but cleanse my liver #firstworldproblems

I don’t mean to bully Gwyneth, but seriously, the girl needs to learn how to keep her yap shut or hire a better publicist.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about her again soon.  Until then, I am…

Gratefully yours,



Overwhelmingly Stressed?


Courtesy of me!!!!!!!!!!

I’m not going to repeat my self and tell you that stress causes inflammation…oops I just did, but I just saw some interesting clips on doctoroz.com to help out if you are feeling overwhelmed.  The last few years have been a bit overwhelming for me, if truth be told.  Family illness and togetherness comes with it’s own set of feeling stress.  Worry is tough and worrying about a family member (maybe more than one) has become a regular part of my life.  I am close with my family, sure they drive me crazy, but whose doesn’t really?  When I was younger, I’d fixate on the perceived perfect families around me. I understand now, that was an illusion – that no family is perfect and I am grateful for the one that I have.  But, the worry…

Speaking of worry – how about a job market where options are shrinking and demands are maximizing?  I love my job – truly.  I am never bored – I often get to do really cool things, it’s creative, I’m constantly learning…but the demands are even greater than the reward.  I went to the doctor for my first physical in the fall.  My blackberry (again, please don’t make fun of my little device) rang as my doctor came to get me.  It was my client.  I told him that I would call him back, that I was at the doctor.  He wanted to know when… Here is what I said, “I’m not sure, I’m hoping to be in the office in an hour and I’ll be sure to call you just as soon as I get there.”  Here was my dream reply, “As soon as the doctor finishes my pap smear – I could stay on the phone if you’d like.”  He really is a lovely guy – but like most people – he wants what he wants when he wants it.  Part of my problem is that I’m a natural people pleaser and want people to have a good experience if they are working with me. In this case, I should have put my needs first and let the call go into voice mail.  That was my choice.  Which leads to something that I learned from Dr. Oz.  When you are Type A (which I am) you feel the need to control everything.  The truth is, you really control nothing.  Control, like a David Copperfield magic trick, is just an illusion, because we don’t have control, what we have are choices.

Dr. Oz’s brilliant guest told a control freak to name 3 things that she had control over and she would get $3,000.  She had answers, but instead of being things that she truly had control over, she was told that these things were choices.  I thought I at least had control over things like my health, but the truth is, I can make choices that will optimize it or make it worse.  Control over my thoughts?  Hogwash, my mind wanders more than I care to admit, and I am one of those people that can do a few things at once.  I can choose to focus though.  This is so painful for little old me to admit.  The guest (I’ll look up his name) had three steps to decreasing stress:

  1. Let go of the illusion of control – as I mention above, we just don’t have any.  You can say that you can control how you communicate with someone.  Na-ah – that’s a choice silly!
  2. Stress is self-created.  You don’t manage stress, you have to prevent it and you can do this by remembering that stress is a learned behaviour.  I’ll have to  ponder this a bit..I’d also add that it’s a reactionary behaviour.  You become stressed at times, by a situation, not just by learning.
  3. Examine your belief system, not others.  Have integrity and don’t judge.  We can all be judge-y wudge-y, but you can choose to mind your own business.  I say live and let live.There are too many people who sit in judgement of others and they are usually the sexist, egotistical, lying, bullying bigots of the world.  I’m going to make sure that I don’t join their ranks.

He also mentioned that when you are stressed, you aren’t enjoying your life.  I’m going to think about what he said and take time to smell the flowers.  I posted the ocean picture above because that’s where I feel the most calm.  I don’t even love a beach holiday – I find it stressful doing nothing, but I really do love the ocean…maybe it was from growing up in Atlantic Canada.  I’m going to have to work on de-stressing, but that, like everything else that I have been learning, will be a process.

Until next time, I am…

Gratefully yours,


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Sigh – Stress




Image courtesy of diversifiedhealth.ca

Thanks to Dr. Oz, I’m now aware that stress causes inflammation in my body.  There are ways that your body shows you that it’s stressed and let me tell you, they are all unpleasant.  Here is what the good doctor highlighted in a recent episode of his show:

  • Thinning hair – we aren’t talking male pattern baldness, we are speaking about women with thick heads of hair losing more than the usual 100-125 hairs a day.  You can tell by looking at the drain or your hairbrush.  Fortunately, if it isn’t because of a typical medical condition, it can be helped by coping with your stress.  If you continue to lose hair, you should see a doctor.  I thought my hair was getting thinner, but I think it had more to do with highlighting my hair.  I’m going to do highlights 6 months of the year and simply dye it the other six months to keep it healthy.  I also noticed a difference once I started taking iron – it helped too.
  • Stomach Aches – your tummy is one of the first places that the body shows stress.  This is because of surging hormones that change how the stomach and small intestines work.  This can cause unpleasant side effects like diarrhea and cramps.  I personally get the odd tummy ache with stress, but I get nauseous and thoughts start racing through my head.  They kind of do that on a normal day too, but these thoughts are all about what I have to do and they don’t calm down until I feel like I have a handle on what needs to be done and sometimes this takes days.  Again, this is just your body’s way to telling you to cope with your stress.  
  • Redness and rashes – this includes breakouts on the chin too – hello – were you talking about me Dr. Oz?  He spoke about the fact that stress brings on inflammation and more stress=more inflammation.  The inflammation damages your skin cells which is the perfect environment for your pores to clog up.  He recommends using moisturizer whether your skin is oily or not.  I do this – and believe me, it hasn’t helped.  I am going to a dermatologist to see what else I can do, I’ve been on antibiotics for years and they aren’t much of a help.  i refuse to take Accutane and the change in weather has caused another flare up – boo!

Stress is a killer – literally, and we all need to figure out ways to cope.  Normally, I can deal with it, but according to what my skin is telling me, I need to try harder.  I’ll put it on my to do list!  It’s a little full right now, but what’s one more item?

Today, I am grateful that I get to go to a party – I love socializing and seeing friends is supposed to lower your stress.  Until tomorrow, I am…

Gratefully yours,