Clothing ourselves for Christmas and always

LogoFor me, fashion is a hobby, not a passion. I definitely want to look my best and I have fun putting together the outfits I wear, but I’m more concerned with who I am as a person than what I look like. The Bible speaks of this in Colossians 3:12 where it says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Verse 14 of the same chapter says “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

These thoughts seem particularly appropriate as we approach the busy Christmas season. There are lots of ways to show compassion and kindness at this time of year, whether it be making a donation to your local food bank or filling a shoebox for an underprivileged child, but what about patience? That can be a tough one, especially when you’re trying to navigate a busy shopping mall or you find yourself caught in the slowest line at Walmart while the harried cashier waits on a price check.

One of the ways that I try to deal with the busyness of the Christmas season without losing patience is to plan ahead. I’m almost completely finished my Christmas shopping and while I’m stuck at home over the next few days, I plan to decorate and do some Christmas baking. I’ve also made a list of the various Christmas events that we’ll be taking part in during December and I’ll be shopping my closet to put together outfits and accessories for each one. That way, when it comes time to dress for each event, I won’t have the stress of trying to figure out what to wear. Instead, I’ll be in the right frame of mind to put on the qualities of He whose birth we celebrate at Christmas!

Colossians 3;12-14

 

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Radioactive again

10991307_10153055708750915_6654881605691342497_nI had my 11th PRRT treatment on Monday and once again I’m too radioactive to be in close contact with other people. For a week following each treatment I spend most of my time at home. I sleep in the guest room, have my own bathroom, and stay at least a few feet away from Richard at all times.

There’s nothing funny about cancer and high doses of radiation, but sometimes you just have to laugh. I pose a particularly high risk to pregnant women and children, but since there’s no chance of running into any of them at our weekly senior’s bowling league, I played yesterday but sat apart from the rest of the bowlers. There were some who knew exactly why, but others who were curious. One jovial fellow, noticing that I was sitting alone, commented, “I see you’re sitting back there with all your friends!” I hope he didn’t feel bad when he found out why I was keeping my distance. I thought his comment was funny! Then there are invariably questions about whether or not I glow in the dark! (I don’t) One friend laughed and said I must be a night light! I told him that that must be the reason that I’m not allowed to sleep with Richard! The glow would keep him awake.

In all seriousness though, I have scans the morning after each treatment to determine whether or not there has been any change to my tumours. In the past, I’ve been able to sit down with a doctor immediately afterward to discuss the results, but this time was different. Dr Sandy McEwan, head of the clinical trial that I’ve been part of since 2014 and the driving force behind bringing state of the art NET cancer treatment to Edmonton, has left the program. While I’m sad for myself and the rest of his patients, I’m happy for him that he has been able to relocate to Toronto where he will be closer to family. I knew a couple of years ago when he proudly told me that he’d become a grandpa that that day might come! His departure means that there isn’t time for the remaining doctor to meet with every patient both before their treatment and after their scans. That meant that this time I came home not knowing what they showed. While I was still able to laugh yesterday, the question was there in the back of my mind. Was this the time that the news would be bad?

Thankfully, I wasn’t kept wondering very long. I chatted with one of the program nurses this morning and once again I heard that word that I’ve come to love; stable! There has been no change! Praise the Lord!

Can I wear it 3 ways?

LogoI frequently drop into our local thrift stores in search of used books, but invariably the clothing beckons and I have to take a look! I’ve been more disciplined in recent months, buying less and not filling my closet with impulse buys simply because the prices are irresistible. I’ve accomplished that by asking myself one simple question: Can I wear this at least 3 different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This doesn’t work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases, new or used.

On my most recent foray into a second hand store, this blouse caught my eye.

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Could I style it 3 ways? Easily! It’s light and airy, so I could immediately visualize myself wearing it with capris next summer or perhaps sooner if we take a winter holiday to somewhere warm. It’s also long enough to wear over leggings or skinny jeans with some of my winter sweaters including the Prep Pullover that I showed you a couple of weeks ago. I decided to try it on.

On the way to the fitting room, I spotted this.

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A plain white cotton t-shirt dress. Could I style it 3 ways? I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be a great layering piece and that it might actually look good under the black and white blouse.

What do you think?

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Even though I might have broken my 3 ways rule with the white top, both pieces came home with me and here I am wearing them with my light grey High Skinny jeans from cabi and a pair of black booties that were also purchased second hand.

Show yourself a little love

LogoI’m easily frustrated by the messages that advertising and social media give women about their bodies. Perhaps that’s why I was so moved by a poem that I ran across this week. Written by Hollie Holden, it first appeared on her Notes on Living & Loving Facebook page in June 2016.

Today I asked my body what she needed, 
Which is a big deal 
Considering my journey of 
Not Really Asking That Much.

I thought she might need more water. 
Or protein. 
Or greens. 
Or yoga. 
Or supplements. 
Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks, 
Her roundness where I would like flatness, 
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes 
That form a bundle of 
Never-Quite-Right-Ness, 
She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?

Do you stand in front of the mirror and find fault with what you see? If so, I would urge you to stop being so hard on yourself. Take a few minutes and think about all the amazing things that your imperfect body can do! Think of it as a tool that can help you live life to your full potential. Listen to it, honour what it needs, treat yourself to a healthy lifestyle, but don’t beat yourself up over minor imperfections or natural signs of aging. Life is hard enough, without being at war with your own body!

Advertising seldom presents natural healthy bodies. It sets us up for disappointment, so it’s up to us to ignore the nonsense and aim for something more realistic. Doing anything less convinces us that we’re not good enough, that we’re not what we ought to be, and disrespects the amazing bodies that we’ve been gifted with.

We can have a closet full of beautiful clothes but if we don’t love the body that we’re putting them on, we’ll never be truly happy with how we look. Don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of joy! Show yourself a little love today!

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NET Cancer Day 2018

November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, the disease that I’ve been fighting since 2013.

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Neuroendocrine (NET) tumours can arise in any organ that contains neuroendocrine cells including the stomach, intestines, lungs, liver, pancreas and appendix. While most commonly found in people over the age of 60, NET cancer can affect both men and women of any age. Though NETs is the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, the symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health conditions. As a result, NETs is frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety, menopause, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma, or diabetes.

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Compared to most cancers, NETs is slow growing. It was estimated that I’d already had the disease for ten years when it was detected. I had been experiencing many of the common symptoms which include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, pounding of the heart, and wheezing or shortness of breath off and on for at least seven or eight years . Neither I nor my family doctor had any idea why. Like many general practitioners, he had never encountered a NETs patient before.

Almost 50% of patients visit a doctor 5 or more times before receiving a correct diagnosis! A recent study found that 58% of patients have advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer by the time they are correctly diagnosed. There is currently no cure for the majority of NET cancer patients, including me. Neuroendocrine cancers are complex and unpredictable. Once diagnosed, they require an expert and experienced multidisciplinary team of health care professionals to ensure the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, many patients, even in the world’s most developed countries, have difficulty accessing that kind of care.

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So what’s with the zebra? Everyone recognizes the ubiquitous pink ribbon as a symbol of breast cancer, but not all cancers are pink. Medical students are taught when hearing hoofbeats, to think of horses, not zebras, so the zebra was chosen as symbol of our lesser known disease. There are some patients and advocates who think it’s silly and would like to see us stop using it, but I think we need to take advantage of every opportunity to draw attention to our cause and if that includes zebra stripes, I’m all for it.

What can you do to help? You can help us spread awareness by simply reposting this on your blog if you have one or posting a link to it on your Facebook page. My fellow zebras and I thank you!

 

A quick and easy wardrobe winterizer

Here on the Canadian prairie, there are lots of things that need winterizing at this time of year. I cleaned out the flower beds before the snow came and Richard took care of other winterizing tasks around the yard. He winterized the travel trailer to make sure that the water lines don’t freeze. We switched to winter tires on the vehicle, added antifreeze, and ensured that there’s a windshield scraper, a shovel, and other emergency gear stowed in the back.

LogoWardrobes need winterizing too. I did my big closet switch early last month reluctantly moving most of my summer clothes into storage and bringing out my warmer ones. This year, however, I’ve added a quick and easy wardrobe winterizer to my closet which is going to allow me to continue wearing some of my summer tops all year round! The Prep Pullover from cabi is a modern twist on an arm warmer and can be worn over sleeveless summer tops and t-shirts to ward off the winter chill.

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Here are a couple of the ways I’ve worn it so far.

In the first photo, I’m wearing the sweater with cabi’s Align Tank and a pair of faded jeans from Gap that I’ve had for several years. I added a homemade necklace to finish the look. Like the sweater, the Align Tank is from cabi’s Fall 2018 collection. In the second photo, I’ve paired the pullover with a sleeveless blouse from Uniqlo and dark wash jeans from Old Navy.

Though the Prep Pullover works well for very casual occasions, I decided to see if I could dress it up. After playing around in my closet for a bit, here’s what I came up with. I’m wearing the sweater over black leggings and the Treasure Dress from cabi’s Fall 2017 collection. What do you think? Does it work? I added a pendant necklace that mirrors the colour and shape of the pattern in the dress.

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Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post. I do not sell cabi nor do I benefit in any way from mentioning this brand on the blog so frequently. Obviously, though, there’s a lot of it in my closet!

How to buy a winter coat

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When you live in Canada, a winter coat is more than just a fashion item. It’s a matter of survival! So how do you choose one that best meets your needs? There are many factors to take into consideration.

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Style

The first step should be to determine what kind of coat will best meet your needs. While there are jackets made specifically for high intensity winter sports, you might only be looking for a coat to wear around town and back and forth to work. Some jackets include a mix of features allowing them to serve both purposes, looking great and performing well on the ski slopes as well as around town!

Insulation

A major consideration when searching for a winter coat is what kind of insulation it should have; down or synthetic. Synthetic is generally somewhat bulkier and weighs more than down does, but it’s less expensive and is better in wet weather.

Outer Shell

The outer shell provides protection against wind and precipitation. Again, there are two main options to choose from. A weatherproof shell made from Gore-Tex is the best choice for an area with lots of wet weather while a coat with a water resistant exterior treated with DWR is sufficient for an area that sees more snow than rain.

Hood

An insulated hood goes a long way toward providing adequate warmth on cold winter days. An adjustable hood that is equipped with toggles so that it can be tightened when the wind picks up is ideal.

Pockets

Whether you’re looking for a casual, around town coat or a more technical winter jacket for outdoor sports, pockets are just plain practical! Look for one with insulation on the outer side of the pockets that you might use to keep your hands warm. Many winter coats also come equipped with an audio compatible, inside pocket that allows you the option of listening to tunes while out and about. This pocket can also be a safe spot to carry important cards or spare cash when you’re going to be too active to carry a purse or a bulky wallet.

Cuffs

Rib knit inner cuffs are ideal for keeping cold air from going up your sleeves.

Closures

A storm flap either outside or behind the zipper is another very important factor in weather resistance and warmth. Two-way zippers are a great addition to any coat longer than waist length as they allow the wearer to sit down in comfort.

Fit

Once you’ve found the kind of coat that will best serve your needs and determined that it has all the features needed to ensure that you’ll stay warm in the worst of weather, fit is the final consideration. It’s always a good idea to leave room for layers underneath.

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This one, purchased earlier this week, ticks all the boxes for me. It’s long enough to cover my hips which is important when spending any amount of time outdoors at low temperatures, but unlike a full length coat, I’ll be able to wear it for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It has synthetic insulation and is cold weather rated for -30ºC (-22ºF). Here on the prairie, our winters are dry and the snow is powdery, so the Hyper-Dri HD1 shell, which is breathable and water repellant in light rain and snow, should serve me well. The zip off hood with faux fur lining can be cinched in to keep my ears toasty warm and there’s a hidden drawcord in the waist so that it can also be pulled in for a fitted look and to keep cold air out. Storm cuffs in the sleeves serve the same purpose and I can use the zippered front pockets to warm my hands. A flap behind the two-way zipper will keep cold air from entering there and when it’s particularly cold out, I can turn the collar up and zip it right to the top to keep my chin warm!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a brand new winter coat. I wore the last one for many years and finally replaced it with a second-hand one from the thrift store two years ago. I am not a fan of our long, cold winters, but with this brand new coat, I’m ready to face it head on!

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Bring it on, winter! My new coat and I are ready!