Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Castaway: The Recovery – Bed Rest and Beyond

I decided to heal at my mother’s place – it was large, had some of the equipment that I needed and was close to the hospital.  There was also some degree of comfort being there.  When I got back from my surgery and I was tired, and sore and a little disoriented, no place in the world felt safer to me than her room.  I plunked myself down on the bed and settled there for just about 2 weeks.   The day prior, I made arrangements with my mother’s former caregivers, and women that I consider almost like family, to come in for a few hours most days to help me shower and take care of me.  I also made arrangements for some things that I thought would be helpful – more about that later.

After surgery, you are in a white soft-ish plaster cast for two weeks that you cannot get wet and the surgeon told me that I was not allowed to bear weight on my leg at all.  He stressed, that it was important to stay quiet and not do anything jarring, so bed rest it was!  I had many people doubt that I could handle it. People said – oh, it’s going to be tough for you.   I knew that in order to have the recovery that I wanted though, that I had to do everything that I was told to do and that was my priority.   The first two days after I had the surgery were pretty hard.  I was feeling weak, unsure of what I could actually do for myself and I discovered that I was allergic to prescription pain killers.  They all gave me hives – so no codeine and no Percocets.  I had to make due with plain Tylenol or Advil.  Most people will not have that problem.  


The things that I insisted on – showers (cleanliness is next to godliness and after three days of little more than sponge baths, I was eager to be squeaky clean) and brushing and flossing.  It sounds dumb, but it gave me something normal to do. I did have to do something to make sure that my brain didn’t turn to mush so I decided even before the surgery to work from home.   It was something that I could do to help pass the time.  I was also lucky enough to have plenty of people visit.  I think it was over 50 people in the 6 weeks that I was non-weight-bearing.

The first Saturday after my surgery, my sister was sick from her chemo and I had to lie there and couldn’t do anything to help her.  I started to cry, because at that point, I not only felt helpless, I felt useless. Once I cried myself out, I thought about my mother and how she had to cope with being in bed for 16 months.  She was so strong, so happy to see people when they came by and so positive.  It was at that very moment, that I decided that I was going to get through the next 6 weeks, and make something good come out of a rather crappy situation. There was a lot that I missed out on – like concerts that I really wanted to go to.  I missed out on a couple of parties and the last little bit of my favourite season – summer.   First world problems but still…

Anyway, after two weeks of staring out the window, working and entertaining guests, I went for my first post op check up.  It was also the first time that I was going to see my leg and incision.  The leg looked pink, but that was from the iodine that they used.  The incision looked like a stapled, puckered clam.  It was a little gross.  They took the staples out, which took less than a minute and it didn’t hurt, it just felt like little stings.  They showed me quickly how to put on the air cast (walking boot) which was a tease since I couldn’t walk for another four weeks, but it was so much lighter and I could remove it to shower – YIPPPEEEEE!  At first, I was afraid, I was petrified, just thinking I could never live….oh sorry, that’s disco going off in my head.  I was a little nervous about hitting my leg,  in the tub but I never did.  The next four weeks went by relatively quickly – again, lots of work, lots of company and I rented a wheelchair and even had a few outings. Each week I felt stronger and stronger which was great.  I was on my way to being ready to walk….but first, just a few helpful hints if you ever find yourself with a broken ankle, limb or anything where you can’t walk around:

-Do what the doctor says – they aren’t kidding when they say not to put weight on it or jar it.  You may have a little oopsie moments – I slipped off my knee scooter and banged my leg – it hurt, but remember, your ankle has screws and a plate – it’s solid even if you are not

-Make your life easy – unless you are in your 20’s, crutches suck.  I rented a knee scooter which was not only fun, it also made getting from the bedroom to anywhere in the apartment so much easier and faster.  I named mine Herbie

-Get yourself a commode – you will thank me.  If you can’t afford a shower chair, it serves a dual purpose – stick it in the tub or shower and scrub away

-Get a shower chair that swivels – it will make your life easier, even once you can  bear weight.  I thought of everything that I would need before I had surgery and ordered it so that I would have it as close to the time that I came home as possible

-I ended up renting a wheelchair with a leg extender for some outings – it really helped and was around $65

-Ask for a wheelchair accessible cab – they wheel you in and your are buckled in so that you can avoid getting in and out of the car – again, make your life easy and save your energy for the things that you really want to do

-Lose your modesty – it’s over-rated.  I needed help showering and wasn’t going to sacrifice being clean so that people wouldn’t see the girls. Use a handheld shower if you have one  and cover your plaster cast with cheap plastic wrap and a garbage bag so that it doesn’t get wet

-You will have intense nerve pain at some point and it feels like someone is lighting a fire under your foot.  It’s horrible.  I survived on Advil but had to take it regularly (every 6 -8 hours whether I was feeling pain or not, to make sure it didn’t get out of control).  Speak to your doctor if you are having really bad pain and they will help you out – don’t just do your own thing

-Keep yourself busy – go out if you are feeling up to it.  Work from home if you can.  If people want to visit, let them.  There is nothing worse than looking at a clock

-On the flip side, you do need rest.  I had a guardian angel who had ankle surgery and kept reminding me that it was normal for me to not feel my best and that I would be more tired than usual.  I had another friend who fractured her arm who told me that the first three weeks after a fracture, your body burns off a ton of energy helping you heal so don’t be afraid to eat but….

-Watch your salt in-take.  You aren’t moving around and you will get swollen and swelling is painful.  Eat healthy foods – it’s not a time to binge on chips and bon bons.  You need protein and calcium and vitamins and minerals to heal

-You will be pretty sedentary the first two of weeks, and you will need some cushion for your tushion (AKA your bum).  It will hurt.  Turn as often as you can, and if you are lying on your side, place a pillow in between your legs so that you don’t get any bed or friction sores.  Once you can do the one-legged stand, try to be as active as you can

It is hard, but remember, you will survive.  


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Plop – Revisiting My Take on Goop

plop

The people who know me best know how much Gwyneth Paltrow and I have in common.       I’ve written about my respect for her several times before, indeed citing some of our greatest similarities, minus the size of my wallet of course.  Check these out if you know not of what I speak – https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/plop/https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/plop-part-deux-dos-due-zwei-twee/  Gwynnie does have it tough, don’t get me wrong.  Just recently, Goop was called out by NASA for spreading misinformation about using NASA technology in healing stickers sold on her site.  She also enraged GOOPIES (get it, like Groupies, only snobbier) at a recent Summit for the brand in NYC.  Not only did many get upset and leave the meeting of the fabulous minds due to lack of Gwynnie time and ill treatment if they only spent $500 on their ticket, there were ridiculous line ups for treatments promised when they booked their day of grace with the chosen Hollywood Health Nut.  Lastly, some of her adoring public is thinking about consciously uncoupling with Gwyneth when she admitted on Jimmy Kimmel’s show that she really has no idea about what is being sold on her site.

I would never abandon my Gwynnie though, and decided to take some of her advice (even if she doesn’t take it herself) and live the Goop-ie life for one week.  Here are some of the things that I tried…

  • Earthing – Gwynnie said she didn’t know what this was really, maybe some electromagnetic energy force field that’s only available in the ground.  I knew she was just kidding, after all, she was on Jimmy Kimmel and we all know what a joke-ster she is, so I decided to try Earthing for myself.  I pondered the name first, that’s just how deep I am, and thought, well, this is something that I can only do on Earth – not Venus, Mars or Jupiter, just Earth – coolio.  Immediately, I felt a connection to the land.  It can also cure a multitude of maladies like insomnia, arthritis, inflammation and depression.  According to Clint Ober, simply put, “Earthing therapy rests on the intuitive assumption that connecting to the energy of the planet is healthy for our souls and bodies.”  I decided to walk bare-foot through the park, or tip-toe through the tulips, if you will.  I kicked off my Naot sandals (not on Goop’s list of must have, I must invest in one of their choices) and plunged forward into the grass.  Immediately, I jumped back after stepping into a big pile of doggie doo – GROSS!!!! I found a bird bath and joined my fine feathered friends for a quick rinse before I tried again.  I got squeamish thinking I saw a worm and a deer tick.  Earthing isn’t for the faint of heart, so I gave up, running like a girl back to the safety of the pavement and my sandals.  Verdict – caused more stress then it cured.
  • Jade Egg Practice – wanting a deeper sense of connection to myself and all of the other side benefits of the Jade Egg suggested on Goop including some kegel help, I decided to try it.  When I saw the $66 price tag, I immediately thought, I can’t spend that much money on my hoo-hah why not try a regular hen’s egg?  Same shape – right?  Except every time I did it, the egg kept cracking – what a mess!  People on the subway also looked at me strangely because every time I tried to shove my way into the doors, another egg yolk appeared at my feet.  Verdict – don’t use regular eggs, and skip this whole thing. 
  • IV Drip  (available at the Goop Wellness Summit) – I wasn’t able to charter a private jet to fly down to LA to partake in a weekend of wellness and GP disciples, so I thought about just getting an IV drip which they promise will rehydrate you!  Then I thought about it and went with nature’s hydration, scientifically proven to help you bring more water to your little cells – good old water.  Verdict – OH PLEASE!
  • Meaningful small talk – My Gwynnie has meaning behind all of her conversations, so delving deeper into Goop, I found an article on how to have meaningful small talk.  All 8 steps would be overwhelming for a mere mortal like me, so I decided to start with one small tip – ask for advice, because it makes people feel good about themselves.  I’ve started at a new work place, so I thought this would be a great way to get to know people.  I went to the Executive VP’s office and asked him if he knew the best place to find a gun-metal coloured purse would be.  I’ve been looking everywhere for one!  Instead of feeling like an expert, he ordered me to leave his office.  I then walked into the Sales VP’s office and asked him if he thought I should go with Mac Lipglass for a tried and true colour (my fave is Love Child) or go with Charlotte Tilbury?  He never heard of either but I’m sure it made him feel important to be included in such a riveting conversation.  Verdict – mixed.
  • Spirituality (Understanding How to Move and Manipulate Energy) – GP is a spiritual goddess, really!  It pours out of her pores.  The first thing that I think of when I see her, aside from the awful hunchback she will have later in life if she keeps slouching, is how she is a child of the Earth – so in touch with herself.  I read this article and felt overwhelmed by the ten steps, so I focused on one for more energy: “Make a list of different feelings. Free associate with each feeling. What is your relationship to that feeling? What are your beliefs or images about those feelings? Where do you tend to feel those feelings, if at all, in your body?”  When I wrote down my feelings, particularly about Goop, the first was bored.  I saw myself yawn as I was thinking about my feelings.  I felt my arms stretch back and my mouth open wide enough to catch flies.  My relationship with boredom – too boring to think about.  My beliefs are???? Not sure, can’t answer that one.  I think it’s find something less boring to do.  Verdict – MEH!

So, after basking in Goopie brilliance for one week, I learned several valuable lessons – never go to someone who is not a health care practitioner for advice or someone who has no clue what she is talking about for that matter for mental advice.  Stars like Gwynnie and Cameron Diaz, will never be my go to girls when I need treatment for something.  Remember Goop isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a business.


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Back to Oz-ish

Gail Blog

My brilliant Frousin + Kiwi

I’ve been a little obsessed with travel and other pursuits, but from time to time, I’m going to revisit why I started this blog – overall health, and Dr. Oz.  This was written months ago, but I couldn’t figure out when to post it.  Now seemed like as good a time as any before I start a slew of travel related posts.
Dr. Oz provides his viewers with a lot of advice on nutrition.  I have tested some of his advice from time to time, but have found a number of places where there are inconsistencies.  One day, he’ll recommend something as a super food and the next day, he’s moved on to something else.  There are a couple of times where I’ve just disagreed with him – like recommending coconut oil where there is no scientific evidence that it has any health benefits.  In fact, there are more studies that suggest it’s high levels of saturated fat can actually do you more harm than good.  Before I try any more of his recommendations, I thought I’d speak to a trained dietician – and why not go to one that I know, trust and love – my cousin Gail!  You may remember her from previous blogs since I’ve turned to her before.  We sat down over Italian so that I could get answers to my latest barrage of questions.
First off, I’ve noticed a lot of people giving advice on nutrition.  Can you tell me what the difference is between a dietician and a nutritionist?
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even you.  It’s not a protected title.  Dietitians have a license protected title.  In order to be a dietician, you need to have a degree and have completed an internship of one year including clinical, foodservice and community work.  We have to write a test (usually 6 hours) based on the standards of the province that we are practicing in.  Dietitians have to upkeep our knowledge and belong to the College of Dietitians which is there for the public’s protection.  We, as dietitians, have to stay on top of studies and understand the most up to date information in our field and it must be practice specific.
A nutritionist is someone that can, for example, read a food label, but they do not understand the science behind it.  In the USA, dietitians are called nutritionists so that’s also where some of the confusion lies.
So, I can be a nutritionist in Canada?
Yes!
When should you reach out to either?
A nutritionist is cheaper for a reason.  It’s like going to a holistic doctor versus a medical doctor.  The content of education is different.  A registered dietician bases opinion on scientific data driven by studies.  They are not trying to sell anything like supplements or cleanses.  A nutritionist isn’t covered by medical plans.  A dietitian can be covered by OHIP (or other provincial equivalents) for specific conditions or consultations but if you are consulting them privately, it can be expensive.
You can consult a dietitian when you want to make lifestyle adjustments with diet, and this isn’t just for weight loss.  Weight loss may be a by product of the plan, but medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer,  IBS, Crohn’s or any psychiatric conditions (eating disorders) can benefit from a dietitian.
Is there a danger or risk to seeing a nutritionist?
Yes, particularly if they are recommending fad diets, selling products, creating fear of certain foods or touting elimination diets that have no scientific validity.  They can sometimes offer poor advice that could cause long term problems.  Dietitians often have to deal with issues caused by unsound advice from people calling themselves nutritionists.
What are the ethical standards for a dietician?
There is a huge list of ethical standards.  In Ontario, we are governed by the College of Dietitians of Ontario.  We are covered under the Health Care Professionals Act (the same act that covers psychologists).
What is the worst piece of advice that you’ve seen a nutritionist provide?
Telling people to go on elimination diets is a huge issue.  There are no tested studies and there is no validity to them.  Once you end up eliminating foods that you may not be allergic too, people often get confused and no longer know what to eat.
So what do you think about Dr. Oz?  I know, we’ve talked about this before…
Don’t watch Dr. Oz!  He has a certain pressure to sell his show and it shows in his advice!
For more valuable advice, including Gail’s healthy take on body image, check out her blog on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gailkardishRD/


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Challenges

CharlotteWeb

Another year, another theme for my blog.  I’ve made one major change – at least major for me…the title is still “The Whiz-ard that is Dr. Oz” but the tag is “And Other Stories”.  I can’t just follow Dr. Oz’s advice, I mean I’ll still try some of his suggestions, but I have other stories that I would like to tell, and let’s face it, I was cheating a lot.  I’d like to do a post and not relate it back to the good Dr.  You’ll still get a healthy dose of health, but I also think growing and changing is healthy too so you’ll be getting some non-health related information from me. More Gwyneth blogs, movie recommendations, recipes my way and some inspiring interviews.

Once I decided that it was time to make some small changes, I also had to think of a theme (not a resolution) for my beloved little blog for 2016.  I sat on my “What Will Become of Me Couch” and pondered.  I lay on my sucky pillow (I’ve had it since I was 2 – I know gross) and had some deep thoughts, then fell asleep.  I sat on the subway and felt the earth move, but realized it was just a bump on the tracks.  I went to my thoughtful spot and thunk, I mean thinked…oh you know what I mean…

So drumroll (in your head) please…this year will be about CHALLENGES!!! Give me a Kermit the Frog YAY!.  Tough audience.  Last year was so challenging, that I thought I should put myself through even more!  In the words of my muse – I know wrong sex, geniuses – Dr. Oz, I want to eliminate stress by trying new things and challenging myself with things that I already love to do.  Some months, I’ll do one challenge, others more.  I’ll have several that last throughout the year,  and I’d love for you to try them with me and comment on how you are doing.

The first challenge is going to be something that I love to do, big hint it has to do with the picture at the top of my blog.  No, I’m not going to befriend a spider – it’s a reading challenge.  Reading is a big stress relief for me and I love it so I thought why not start with a reading challenge.  I belong to a modified book club at work.  Ok, it’s just me and my pal MJack at work talking about books and swapping stories (pun intended) about what we think about them.  She has great taste in books and was the first person that I thought of when I was putting Challenge #1 together.  I always love her picks and you’ll see them peppered throughout the year so MJack – this challenge is dedicated to you.

The Book Challenge (from several lists but mostly goodreads.com):

I’m going to read the following in 2016 and keep you posted on my progress:

A book about an animal
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’
A book considered a ‘modern classic’
A book from a series
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists
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
A book someone gave 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 – CompleteIf I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – CompleteWhere She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in
A book with a creative title
A book with a short title
A book with a title that describes your life
A book with a title that has more than five words
A book written by a politician
A book you borrowed
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public
A book you’re excited about
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book
A humorous book
A play by Shakespeare

Yup, that’s right – 35 books in total for the year.  I’m an avid reader, but GEE WHIZ that’s a lot.  I’ve finished two – but I picked easy reads, because I spent 2015 reading very difficult books including Nightingale recommended by MJack and brutal, End of You Life Book Club which you’ll hear more about, a little bit of Deepak Chopra and other assorted Debbie Downer style books.  I’ll give you lists of some of my favourite books, and tell you which you should put down because they suck and never get better.  Your welcome!  So join me – you don’t have to read 35 books to play along, you can even just send me your recos based on the list above.

Until next time, I remain,

Your bookworm

 


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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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My Fearless Challenge AKA The Niagara Falls Nightmare

butterfly-02

Image courtesy of niagaraparks.com

Dr. Oz recently did an episode of his show on conquering fears, which, if you were paying attention, I wrote about a few weeks ago.  This year has been all about conquering fears for me. I’ve gotten my driver’s licence, signed up for driving lessons (starting next month), I’ve confronted the past and made my own type of peace with it, and I’ve decided to take the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge.  I’d like to say that my inspiration for doing this is to help prevent cancer for our future generations, but I’ve had to face another fear this year – my mother’s breast cancer, that had been in remission, had spread to her bones.  The very definition of fearless, my mother delivered the news to me casually over the phone several weeks after she found out.  As I started to cry, she reminded me that she had no intentions of going anywhere.  Then she told me that she had an appointment with an oncologist.  The only fear that she showed was when I decided to tag along with because she knew that it was then that I would find out that she slept through her appointment time the week before.   She thought it was hilarious – me – not so much.

My mother’s sense of humour through all of this has been amazing.  She reminds me daily that she doesn’t just have cancer – she has a life too.  She makes the best of her situation which means having friends over more and going out less.  Cancer is a bit of a roller coaster to say the least, and there have been good days, and bad.  Lately it has been Cancer Schmancer.   It’s there, but it’s not the be all and end all that it would like to be.

Watching the bravest person alive (yes Mummy that’s you) go through this battle inspired me to face my own fears.  Doing the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) Fearless Challenge is my most important project.  When my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, I stayed up nights pouring over websites and getting so much scary information that I didn’t know how to process it all.  I decided to streamline my research to only a couple of sites that I knew to be reputable.  One was the CCS’s cancer.ca.  It had great information and gave me a complete picture of the resources available.  When I went to oncology appointments, I’d pick up CCS booklets.  The more I read, the less scary the disease became and I was finally able to calm myself down enough to sleep at night and to stop pouring over websites.

I did the same thing back in March when I found out that my mother’s cancer had spread.  I read all of the research and resources, but used cancer.ca as my go to.  I picked up more booklets at the hospital and once again, they brought me some semblance of comfort along with my very supportive friends and family.  I’m so grateful to the CCS for having this information available.  They also became a client and that’s when I found out about the Fearless Challenge.  I want to give back by helping raise money for this very worthy charity so here is what I’m committing to.  I’m going to do all of the things that I’ve ever chickened out on in Niagara Falls.  I’m going to (in order of least afraid to most afraid):

  • Go on the Whirlpool Aero Car – I chickened out on this years ago, even though this doesn’t scare me at all now
  • Take a ride on the SkyWheel helping me face my fear of throwing up and getting dizzy.  I have terrible motion sickness – everyone else is afraid of heights, I’m just afraid of barfing at 175 feet above the ground in a closed car
  • Meander through the Butterfly Conservatory – this is the absolute worst thing ever for me!!!!  I hate insects and you can tell me that a Butterfly is beautiful – but it’s just a bug with huge wings that flits everywhere willy nilly.  I’m going to see if Hazmat suit is available for the day.  At the very least, I’m covering myself in black clothing from head to toe and wearing leather gloves even if I have to go on the hottest day of the year.

This is where I do my schlocky sales pitch – please check out and support my Fearless Challenge or sign up for one of your own.  Check out my page and the site for inspiration http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR?fr_id=19672&px=6422179&pg=personal&fb_ref=Default  Help me make cancer a little less scary for others.

Thank you!!!!


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Why I’ll Never Be an Axe Murderer…

Axe Murderer

Hitting the board for the first time…

I’ll never be an Axe Murderer.  Lizzie Borden, I’m just not.  I’m a lover, not a fighter for one thing and for another, my aim just plain isn’t good enough (and blood and guts are a little bit of a gross out for me).  As part of my 2015 plan to try things that I’ve never tried before (very much Oz approved), I agreed to go with a bunch of women to Axe Throwing.  Well, it was a great evening BUT, I certainly wasn’t a natural.  As you can see from the position of my axe (I feel so macho saying that) – it did hit the board, but I only got a hole in one, bullseye or whatever you want to call the middle part of the board two times that night.  Some people were just naturals at this slightly aggressive activity – I’m not saying that makes them psychotic, but there first step is admitting that you have a problem…right?

The day of the throwing of the axes made me have to face a very mild fear – or maybe just slight discomfort…fear works better because one of my last blogs was about an episode of Dr. Oz about dealing with life’s little scary moments…Everyone that I knew bailed on the evening, except for the organizer.  There were going to be another 14 or 15 people that I had never met before.  Even scarier, it was pouring torrential sheets of rain (I hate damp clothes).  For a very fleeting moment, I considered cancelling, however, good manners and the fact that I like a challenge spurred me on.  Of course I got to the restaurant before the organizer/one friend that I knew, so I plunked myself down, and chatted, remembering that I spend half of my working day meeting or talking to people that I’ve never met before.  It was a great group of very welcoming people – once again, our Zombie Room Escape planning hostess had nailed another evening.  It was so nice to not have to tell people about what was going on in my life and so nice to not have anyone complaining about this or that.  Just a lot of fun, a lot of axes thrown and some even hit their target.

Trying new things or meeting new people can be stressful at the best of times, but being able to say that I did something that I’ve never tried before, and didn’t let the fear of unknown people or activity stop me from just showing up was the best part.  If you ever have a chance to go throw some axes around – do it!  If I can come home with every limb attached, so can you!


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Happy Birthday Barb!

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Yes Blimi, that’s your jacket!

I grew up with 3 older sisters, two, by birth and one by proximity.  I met Barb when I was about 3 years old.  Her parents were my parents closest friends in Sydney, Nova Scotia where we both grew up.  Not being a true Cape Bretoner, unlike my good friend, I didn’t have any family in the Steel City, and Barb and her family, became that.  Even our beloved grandmothers knew each other and had tea together every time they were in town for a visit.  My first memory of Barb is a day that my big sisters took us to see Blackie and Brownie – the friendly, neighbourhood dogs.  That started Barb’s love of animals – especially her gentle giant of a German Shepherd – Kyla.  Ok – maybe just a giant – that dog’s bite was worse than her bark – sorry Babs, but Rascal was the best!  I digress, but even though that was the first time I met Barb – we ended up spending a lot of time together over the years.  From Mrs. Simson’s plays at Hebrew School to Susan Ross’s Dancing School (best show I’ve ever seen in CB), we both got to wear some flashy costumes.

Barb was the one who prepared me for the departure of my sisters when they had to leave me to go to school.  She understood what it was like to be the abandoned, youngest child.  With my sister’s being one year apart, and each being six and five years older, I just got used to one being gone when the next one left.  It was pretty devastating for this baby of the family, but Barb was still going to be there for two years.  She was the one who drove me to school and home again, because my mother just wasn’t a morning person.  She was the one who introduced me to two songs (they were the only songs I heard in her car) – “I’m Your Man” (Wham!) and “How Will I Know” (Whitney Houston).  Sometimes, we did get to hear “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” but it sounds almost identical to “How Will I Know”.  She drove me to GA’s Dairy to get magazines, and she generally just helped me get through a couple of tough years.  Eventually, Barb had to move too, but that didn’t mean that would be the last that I would see of her.  I still got to see Barb during the holidays, but it was a couple of tough years for me without my other sister.

When I moved to Toronto, Barb once again took me under her wing.  She spent a lot of time with me at school and became a fixture in my residence.  She gave me the tough advice that no one ever really wants to hear, but you need to listen to.  She moved me in and out of residence 5 times.  She was the one who checked in on me my first summer living on my own.  She was the one who walked the long halls of Yorkdale from Roots where she worked, to Wishful Thinking where I worked, to make sure that I was doing my job.

Eventually everyone grows up, and sometimes, things change, but Barb and I were tied together because of the deep friendship between her Mom and Dad, and my own Mother.  They all eventually moved here, and once again, the holidays were spent together.  I had the privilege of holding Barb’s twins when they were born.  I loved them from the first time I held them – they were as light as Tom Brady’s footballs.  I’ve watched them grow from adorable, funny little girls to gorgeous,  funny young ladies.  They are still, like my own little nieces even though they too are ready to move on to university.  As time has moved on, Barb and I have drifted here and there, but somehow, like family, we always manage to find our way back to the comfort that you have when you know someone almost as well as you know yourself.  In fact, I think that we are better friends because of it.  I trust Barb to keep my confidence, and I know that she feels the same way.  You can’t put a price on a friendship like that.

We have each had some difficult times over the last few years, but have been there for each other.  It’s brought me so much comfort.   It’s knowing that there is someone in the world who knows your whole history.  It’s knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll always have an extra older sister, but knowing that I may be able to step in and be the same help to Barb that she was to me.  It’s knowing that someone can keep a secret and never hold a grudge.  It’s laughing at the stupid in-jokes that we find so hilarious and that no one else would get (Second Noah).  It’s the interesting way that Barb has of reading and observing people, pointing out things that I would never even notice.  It’s knowing that wherever life may take us, we’ll never be far from each other’s thoughts.

Dr. Oz would approve of this message of gratitude – today, I’m grateful for you, Barb – Happy Birthday to You.  I wish you a lifetime of health and happiness.  I leave you with this reminder – no matter how old I am, you will always be older than me : )

Gratefully yours and with much love,

Jillsy xoxo


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The Fear Conquerer – Part 1

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I’ve mentioned, several times, that 2015 has been a time of change in my little piece of the universe.  Admittedly, some has not been joyous, but some has, at the very least, taught me some important life lessons.  I can’t be bothered being preachy today, but I can say, that conquering fears, which incidentally, was one of the topics on The Dr. Oz Show today is definitely on my agenda.

Hello Dolly’s which you see pictured above, aren’t very scary.  But, when you have me making them, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.  My issues with cooking and baking have been numerous.  I hate getting my hands dirty (literally), baking is too much of a science for someone as creative as me (ok – maybe a stretch), I can’t stand slimy things…the list goes on and on.  While cooking has never been a joy or passion of mine, in recent months, I have discovered, that there is a certain order to it that can be soothing. There is nothing more satisfying to someone type A like me, than practicing “mise en place” – putting in place.  I’ll never be a chef, and I may only make several things well, but I am learning.  For Mother’s Day, I made Lidia Bastianich’s Baked Ziti and it was a great, easy to follow recipe https://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1070.  It’s not winning any healthy cooking awards, but it is really good!  I love Lidia – I have a real soft spot for her and love watching her cook.

Just because I like cooking, doesn’t mean I like baking.  I’ll never enjoy the dusty, musty, boringness of it.  I hate rolling and patting things down, I’ve almost broken a mix master and there is no real way to keep things straight.  We were having a bake sale at work to raise money for supplies for a dinner at Ronald McDonald House.  A team of us are going to prepare and serve dinner for the residents.  As always, I was thinking that I would just donate money, but I decided conquer my fears and make something.  Well, Hello Dolly, you were calling my name.  On paper, and for the average person, it’s pretty basic.  For a novice like, me, an 8 minute prep lasted a half an hour.  Try figuring out what 3/4 of a cup of butter is supposed to be.  Well, had I been smarter, I would have just cut a slab using the 1/4 and 1/2 measurements, but I’m not mathematician.  Placing parchment paper was also a bit of a nightmare.  It was all just a little much for me…but I did it.  I didn’t quit when the going got crumby (pun intended).  See picture above – not perfect, but done!  And they sold out.  All I have to say is never again.  Good bye Dolly.

I also managed to FINALLY get my driver’s license after so many years.  Part of it was fear of driving in Toronto, part of it was a little fear of writing the test with a bunch of 16 year olds, and some of it was probably fear of failure…but I wrote the test, wasn’t the oldest person in the room and am now the proud owner of Government Issued Photo ID.  In Toronto, we have a graduated licensing system, so I have my G1.  To get my permanent license, I need to do 20 hours of in class (helps with insurance) and two road tests, but in under 2 years, I’ll have that.  I can hardly wait to do the in class – talk about your fears – it’s a Saturday and Sunday from 9-3:30 – YUCK.  Fear of lost time is a hard thing to live with.

I can only deal with so much fear, so I’m signing off for now,  plus I have to go watch  Dr. Oz  so that I can learn to conquer my fear of spiders.  Tune in soon to find out how I’m going to conquer some more fears and how you may be able to help!


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

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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.