Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Happy New Year and Admitting Failure

CharlotteWeb

Yup, I’m a failure.  I failed at my year of challenges by not really doing any, and I failed in my reading challenge by only reading 22 of 35 books.  I can actually tell you why I didn’t finish this – it comes down to three books 1) Outlander – it was long (almost 1000 pages) and it took me 500 pages to get into it, 2) All the Light You Cannot See or as I like to call it All the Books I Didn’t Get to Read Because I Had to Finish This Dud.  I know a lot of pretentious people who are going to judge me for not liking this one, that’s OK, I don’t mind. 3) Wicked or as I call it Wickedly Boring – too long and only about 50 pages were at all enjoyable.  Here is where I netted out:

A book about an animal – Emory’s Gift (a lovely book)
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore – Wicked (ugh – see above)
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’ – Oscar Wilde’s Plays
A book considered a ‘modern classic’ – A Thousand Splendid Suns (a truly splendid book)
A book from a series – Top Secret 21 (I read all of the Stephanie Plum books – hilarious and fun)
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists – When Breath Becomes Air (Unforgettable and deeply touching)
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year – London Belongs to Me (Memorable, fun and written by a fantastic person – please read this)
A book someone gave you – After You (Well written chick lit but not as good as Me Before You)
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – Complete – If I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – Complete – Where She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in – Fear Dat (A must read if you are going to New Orleans)
A book with a creative title – Year of Yes (LOVE – check out my 2017 blog coming up tomorrow or Monday for more details)
A book with a short title – E2 (HOOEY)
A book with a title that describes your life – Rude Bitches Make Me Tired (they really do)
A book with a title that has more than five words – All the Light You Cannot See (See above)
A book written by a politician – Crippled America (in my defence, it was a gift and I was too embarrassed to return it to the bookstore)
A book you borrowed – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Amazing)
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages) – Outlander (see above)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday – Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married (not bad, but completely forgettable – I don’t remember anything from it)
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Coreygraphy (It’s Corey Feldman’s biography – need I say more?)
A book you’re excited about – The Rainbow Comes and Goes (Anderson Cooper – need I say more?????????)
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book – I Love You Forever (if you can read this without crying, you are dead inside)
A humorous book – Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal and home girl and this is a fantastic book)
A play by Shakespeare

The Type A in me says that I have to try for 35 books again, so I will.  I’m going to switch some of the categories up since I found some too similar.  Plus, I really want to get rid of more books!  I’ll update you on the challenge for 2017 when I figure out which categories to swap out.

2016 wasn’t all about failure, I did get to travel a lot which you’ll hear more about, I enjoyed my city a bit more and I did get a few things off of my bucket list.  It also had it’s challenges, and no, it’s not about Princess Leia, Prince and George Michael dying, although that’s very sad.  The one ability that I have is to know when to pull up my big girl pants and make a decision, even if it’s a tough one.  I think that sometimes knowing what path that you need to take is half the battle.  I was told that 2017 was going to be a year of change for me, and I welcome it!  I hope that you all have a Happy New Year’s Eve and challenge yourself in 2017.

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2015 -The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

2015  – another year coming to an end, and it’s a time for everyone to reflect on the events that shaped their lives this year and think about what they would like to change in the coming year.  Some of you get to do that in your inside voice, I’m going to share, in general terms of course, what I’ve been pondering.  I’m reversing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly so that I can end the year on a positive note.

The Ugly

  • Receiving bad news about loved ones’ health this year was a doozy.  The way they handled everything became part of the good.
  • My father dying was very difficult on many levels for me.  If you’ve ever been estranged from a parent and they pass, you know what I mean.   The saddest day, was when I realized that my life hasn’t really changed all that much.  My heart goes out to people in this position.
  • There are times in your life when you meet what I’ll call “The White Elephant” – that person that you’ve heard about for years, but never met, that caused havoc.  I met someone that I’ll just call bad people, it also turned into “the good” for me when I got to tell her what I thought of her.  Nobody likes confrontation, but it can, at times, be good for your soul.

The Bad

  • It’s so sad when you reach a certain age and see your friends and family going through some of the same things that you are going through.  Death, sickness and job loss is always tough – it’s hard going through it and it’s hard watching other people go through it.
  • I like my job, I even like most of the people that I work with, but I let work get the better of me again this year after promising myself that I needed to lessen my load.  Being at work until 9 every night made me realize that I have to put my needs, and health first.
  • Not blogging as much as I should thanks to the late work nights.
  • World events – Paris, the Middle East, even the homeless situation right here in Toronto.  Rising crime rates, mass shootings every other week, and a miserable winter – I wish that there was a good news channel.

The Good

  • I am proud that I got through such a difficult year with more perspective and yes, my sanity.  I still have a sense of humour and now I also have the knowledge that I can get through just about anything.
  • Focusing on conquering my fears and setting new goals for myself resulted in me getting my driver’s license (finally), getting first aid certified and trying a host of things like axe throwing, archery and rib boating that I never would have done in the past.
  • Seeing the way people in my life have handled bad news gave me a new respect for them.
  • Traveling with the Frousins – always a good thing.
  • Decluttering really does make you feeler freer and the process, even though it’s a lengthy one, is very satisfying.
  • Learning to cook – it’s very relaxing for me – I never thought that I would say that!
  • Life in general – if you have one, it’s always a good thing!

I usually think of New Year’s as a time to start fresh and make resolutions that I sometimes will keep.  This year, I have a different outlook.  2016 is a brand new year, but each day, we can change our lives.  We don’t need a new calendar to do it.  I wish you all health and happiness and all the best for the New Year.

Until 2016, I remain, gratefully yours,

Jill

 


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You Say Good-Bye, I Say Hello!

Happy 2015 Everyone!

I just wasn’t ready to say good-bye yet, so you’ll have to put up with more of my Dr. Oz-ing.  It’s my blog’s one year anniversary and I’m going to have to change some things over time.  I have to make it look prettier, make the writing a little snappier and spare my Facebook friends by setting up a blog page on the social media giant rather than clogging their news feeds with my musings – stay tuned for that in the upcoming weeks.  I’ll also be interviewing people that inspire me, and hopefully you.  Lastly, I’m doing away with the monthly topics.  I found them too hard to stick too and sometimes, it just didn’t interest me by the end of the month or I wanted to explore the topic a little bit more but it didn’t fit the format.  Sometimes being a little more free flowing is better.

Since today is the first day of a brand new year, I thought it only fitting to do a little fun research.  Did you know that there are more than 1 billion search results for “New Year, New You” – you read that right.  Think about this for one minute – “New Year, New You” – is there anything truly wrong with the old you?  “You…Only Better” enjoys more than 682 million search results.  That tells me that no one is happy just being “YOU”!  Maybe if we stopped pressuring ourselves to magically change every January 1st, those dastardly New Year’s Resolutions could just change into small improvements that could lead to healthier, happier lives.  The reason why resolutions rarely work is because people get frustrated when they can’t achieve a goal immediately – that’s why gyms clear out January 31 and only those that are truly dedicated stick around.

Why not make small changes to your habits throughout the year to help you meet your own personal objectives?  Or even just make one or two resolutions that are achievable?  Losing weight isn’t truly an objective, sure it’s measurable but it’s not specific.  It becomes an end game for people and when it’s not coming off quickly, they give up.   Last year, when I decided to make 2014 the year of being healthier, I broke it down into components:

  • Get my blood work re-tested after my first physical since I was 21
  • Get annual mammograms which reminds me, I have to make an appointment for a physical
  • Be more mindful of my iron intake because after being tested, my iron levels were a 7 – normal is 70 – it’s way too low
  • Eat much less processed food – I can count on two hands the number of frozen dinners that I’ve had since March – they are way too high in sodium and shouldn’t have been part of my weekly diet
  • Eat more whole foods – this was pretty easy for me – I’m a vegetable lover
  • Keep up with my good habits like flossing every single day – it really makes a difference
  • Recognize that with the pursuit of good health, it’s not all or nothing, it’s a lifetime of forming good habits, and sometimes enjoying a few bad days here and there

Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but the end game is good health, not arbitrary numbers on a scale that can be pretty fickle.  We’ll see how everything goes after my annual physical.  I’ll keep you posted.

Today, I’m grateful that I decided to be very unproductive.  Every once in a while, it’s exactly what’s needed. New year, lazy you!


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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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4 Tips to Staying Healthy and More!

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I always make New Year’s Resolutions and was looking for something to inspire me for 2015.  I know, they are usually unrealistic, but I try to make my resolutions “objectives”, meaning that they are measurable.  I came across an old interview with Dr. Oz on a local Hawaiian newscast and he had 4 tips for staying healthy that seem like a pretty solid starting point for my 2015 list:

  1. Get some physical activity daily – and even better if it’s vigorous.  He doesn’t mean you have to exercise 7 days a week, but make sure that you are doing something to develop your strength.  As we age, we are more prone to falling and strength training (even just carrying a heavy grocery order) can help you avoid falls.  I really have to worry about this – I’m a klutz  – and can find a pothole to trip over even on the smoothest sidewalk.  I’ve mentioned before that  Oops is my middle name.  Point taken Dr. Oz – I’m seeing my trainer 3 times this week to get the ball rolling on this one.
  2. Eat whole foods.  This basically means food in their original forms.  This means eat broccoli, not cream of broccoli soup.  I love veggies, so it’s not an issue for me.  I did eat a frozen dinner last week, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  In general, since March, I’ve been much more mindful of eating whole foods, and even try to be careful to buy foods that are GMO free where possible.  I’m turning into one of those people that I used to mock, but you gotta do what you gotta do…I silently mock myself when I buy organic, GMO free peanut butter if it makes you feel better.
  3. Be thoughtful about the relationships that you have.  We all need to do a better job with this.  I know I try as hard as possible to be a good friend and family member, but I can’t be perfect – no one can.  Lately I haven’t been perfect about keeping in touch – work gets in the way but that’s a whole other blog topic. On brighter note, I have bumped into a lot of people from the past and have been reconnecting with them – it’s been really nice.
  4. You have a purpose and vision in life – basically some life goals.  I’m type A – DUH of course I have them, but I think one of the things that I have realized is that career-wise, I’ve really reached all of the goals that I’ve set for myself so perhaps it’s time to focus on something else.  Health has been a bigger priority and this blog has been a tool to help me make attaining optimum health one of my “purposes” in life.

That’s it – just 4 easy little steps and I expect to see all of you at my 100th birthday party.

In other visions for myself, if you think that I’ve given up decluttering just because I haven’t been writing about it weekly, think again.  Today, I decluttered my wallet, getting rid of 67 (that’s not a typo) receipts and 2 loyalty cards.  I had one in there for a bagel shop – buy 12 bagels with cream cheese, get one free.  I’ve had one bagel with cream cheese in general and from there in particular in 2 years.  At that rate, it would take me 24 years to get the free bagel – not worth the space it was taking in my wallet.  I’m going to be more discerning about which cards that I take…my wallet will thank me.  I also sold 3 items on Kijiji totalling $100!!!!  I got rid of 2 purses and one pair of sunglasses and best of all – they are no longer taking up space in my house.  If you are making it a resolution (or objective) to declutter – consider selling some of your “in mint condition” household items and clothing – even just some knick knacks that are turning into dust collectors – your trash is someone else’s treasure.  I’ll write some tips on how to use these services at a later date.

I have a lot to be grateful for this week.  I got to celebrate my nephew’s birthday with my family yesterday which was very nice – I’d write a big mushy article about him, but he won’t read it anyway – he’s 19 and not interested in reading this : )  My sister outdid herself with the brunch – down to the caramel apples she made for everyone.  So good – it’s almost a whole food – there was an apple in there buried under the caramel.  I also got to go to an annual Christmas party that my dear friend Shoe’s (not her real name) parents put on.  Her mother is Greek an one of the best cooks, aside from my mother, in Toronto, or quite possibly the world.  It is always a really nice time and an opportunity to have some interesting conversations with people that I sometimes only get to see once a year.  It’s so relaxed, not one of those parties where there is tension – just a fun night.  Thank you Shoe for always being a great friend and for including me and my sister every year.