If you haven’t kinda noticed by now (but I thought it seemed pretty obvious lol), I don’t tend to post pictures of myself very often and the simple truth is that when I see myself on the other side of the camera I get completely freaked out. What I see in front of me and what the rest of you may see tell two very different stories.
What I see in front of me is someone who is lost, someone who is full of fear and self-doubt, someone who has been broken for far too long, someone who is worthless or not good enough, someone who is overwhelmed 99% of the time and someone who is complete and utterly defeated right now.
My journey over the last 6 years has been hard and I tend to lose my focus a lot, probably because it’s just so easy to get side tracked along the way from your destination when someone is always looking directly at you in the mirror and seeing the ugly truth about you even if others may try and tell you it’s all just lies.
My illness prefers to believe the lies though and would much rather just accept the negative rhetoric than believe that I am worthy or capable. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said; “Life is a journey, not a destination” which is something I need to remind myself of often and now more than ever. I need to also remember that our life’s journey is filled with many days, months or even years of pictures that seem too out of focus to see beyond our struggles and heartaches but it may actually be those pictures that help us find some of our greatest destinations along the way.
We are barely 2 weeks into summer now and so far it certainly feels like it’s gearing up to be a very hot and humid one. For most of the last couple of weeks it has felt like we are living in the desert but I’m definitely not complaining one bit because I would much rather feel like I just walked through the desert carrying a camel on my back than have icicles forming on my eye lashes in the frigid cold, dead of winter any day. The thing is though that when it’s this hot and humid outside everyday it can become a bit more challenging to plan for some of our #summerofrich adventures and especially (this year) when so many of the places on this summer’s itinerary are still closed or need to be reserved in advance.
As much as I feel the necessity to plan everything (probably to a fault) I also have a very difficult time doing so in advance of the day because of my illness. Any sort of planning I do in advance will often make my head spin in a million different directions and the pressure I put on myself to ensure that my plan is perfectly executed can become extremely overwhelming especially if things don’t go as I had hoped. It can quickly and very easily turn a simple idea into me feeling like I have once again failed in the self-control department.
So today I didn’t plan, and instead Rich filled up the pool in the backyard because today felt like a perfect day to just lounge by the pool reading a good book, picking some cherries off our cherry tree, taking a quick dip to cool off and enjoy a refreshing cocktail. I’m pretty sure these are some of Rich’s favorite #summerofrich days.
It’s hard to believe that we are already 6 months in to 2020 (time sure does fly when you’re having fun!) For most of you reading this you are probably thinking, fun? What fun? Ya, ya I know, it has not been much fun at all to say the very least and over the last few days I’ve spent a great amount of time reflecting on the first half of the year (see blog yesterday: A Labour of Love) and now I am trying to figure out what my life looks like moving into the second half of the year or which direction I will go.
I have learned a lot (an awful lot) about myself, others and life in general since the New Year began and so many days in the past 6 months I have found myself going to bed thinking “Why Bother?” And as I continue to figure my journey toward personal growth I will somehow find the direction I need to go.
What direction do you want to go from here? What have you learned so far in 2020?
In mid December shortly after I did my interview on Global TV’s “The Morning Show” to discuss my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go? and the impact that Mental Illness can have on a family I decided that I had to take a much needed Mental Health break to regroup as it had just become too much for me (which I wrote about several times in late December and early January on my Blog).
I figured it was the perfect time to take a break right before the start of the busy holiday season and right before the start of a new cycle of upcoming events I had booked for the new year. One of the first things I wanted to do at the beginning of 2020 (after my much needed rest) was to start exploring more ways to market my book; my list I had made months earlier was only getting longer and it felt endless and mostly unattainable to me that I began a downward spiral and giving up seemed like the best option.
January hit me like a ton of bricks and literally knocked me off my feet and there I was on the first of the month stressing out that I needed to get back to my list like I had promised myself three weeks earlier and then BOOM; January 2nd the stress and overwhelm of so many things combined turned to panic and before I knew it, February was here and I had just spent close to a month in bed recuperating from a concussion caused by fainting 3 to 4 times the day after the new year began. And aside from the personal marketing I was still doing on my social media pages and Amazon account, February was no better for several other reasons and then before I knew it another month was gone and I really began feeling like giving up was truly the only option.
But there I was, heading into March and finally starting to tackle my list once again and rebook events and book talks I had to cancel because of my concussion and well at this point in time the next one hundred plus days of 2020 need no further explanation. When I decided to create my book from a poem I had written as nothing more than an ode to my children, I never really considered trying to have it published through a “Traditional” publisher. I knew that by trying to go that route could take years and I also knew that I would have to basically give up all my rights and vision to it.
I’ve had a really difficult week and a bit just now and I am feeling very defeated, worthless and sad and once again giving up feels like the only option more than ever. My book was written as a “Labour of Love” and I never set out to publish it with the intention to become a New York Times Bestseller. My best intentions were to help other families like mine feel less alone in their journey and help children understand and cope with their feelings when someone they love is suffering with Depression, which I believe I have done.
Albert Einstein once said “Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value.” which has always been my main goal since the beginning by striving to help others. With every single page (from the front cover to the back) I had a vision that was brought to life by my incredible illustrator; the bright, colourful and truly inviting illustrations represent each one of my family members and the story itself is so personal to me but recently I did speak with a “Traditional” publisher who basically wanted to take my “Labour of Love” and recreate it for what they promise to be “A New York Times Bestseller”.
Here’s the thing I told them that I will never change the integrity of my “Labour of Love” and take away from my vision or intent no matter what. This conversation set me back, I mean it set me way back, but it didn’t end there because the other day I went to look something up on my current Publisher’s website and saw that they were “temporarily closed” due to Covid-19 which I found odd but it was only upon reopening their website again that very same day that Google told me that they were now “permanently closed”. 36 years of self-publishing books, gone or more like disappeared I should say because their phone number and email addresses have both been disconnected and they still hold money and product of mine!
Is someone trying to send me a sign? And if so is it a good sign???
Yesterday I posted a picture of the 500 stairs I was about to climb up along the Bruce Trail (Canada’s oldest and longest footpath; 890 km to be exact) and part of the Niagara Escarpment. I didn’t realize when I took the picture and posted it that the graffiti on the signage next to the steps was Anti-Semitic as I was too busy at the moment trying to figure out how I was about to get to the top of the steps without collapsing or having a panic attack from the height. My beautiful cousin Susan first noticed it a short time after I posted it and let me know. Thank you❤!
First thing this morning Rich emailed the picture to a couple of organizations within the Jewish community informing them of the hate speech and within an hour of receiving his email, the Hamilton Jewish Federation (which is where this trail is) got back to Rich to let him know that the local police were already contacted and will be taking the necessary action immediately. (Read email attached)
There should absolutely never be any excuse or tolerance for hate or racism of any kind; never ever!
Just one final thank you to @cbcthenational for sharing my story so perfectly. Thank you to @kidshelpphone for making a difference in so many young lives and thank you to the “Class of 2020” Graduates for teaching the rest of the world the true meaning of resilience while learning to face adversity head on in a time of so much uncertainty. You may forever be remembered as the “Graduating Class of Covid-19” but the lessons you will take with you as you transition into the next phase of your journey will carry you far beyond what any classroom ever could.
I’m pretty sure there are lots of people who choose to scroll past many of my posts on Social Media and lots more who have probably “unfriended” me over time because of the content I share may seem completely irrelevant to their lives or make them feel uncomfortable.
When I first started to share my story almost 4 years ago I would always fear what others would think of me when I shared many intimate details and experiences of my journey with you and to be perfectly honest, there are still many days now where the fear of being judged or shamed gets to be too much for me and I vow never to write again.
But it’s on those same days that I need to remind myself that l cannot lose my voice and especially not now when the mental wellness of so many is on a rapid decline and the rate of suicide is rapidly increasing.
I chose to share my journey, not as a way to gain attention to myself or for others to feel sorry for me but instead as a way of letting people know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to not be okay. I also began to share my journey as my way of trying to squash the stigma surrounding mental illness and bring about more awareness, education and change.
I am sharing my journey more than ever right now hoping that my story helps even just one more person scrolling by who is suffering in silence, or just one more person who needs to help a loved one who is struggling or just one more person who chooses awareness and change in their life instead of judgment and stigma then that will help even just one more person begin to feel accepted and less ashamed!
Today we set out for a #summerofrich adventure in honour of Terry Fox who passed away 39 years ago today after his courageous and well-fought battle with Cancer that he so bravely united Canadians around the world with as he ran his Marathon of Hope across Canada with a prostetic leg, never allowing anything to get in his way of raising money for Cancer Research.
Our #summerofrich adventure didn’t go as I had planned today (that is a whole other story) which left me feeling quite defeated but then I began to reflect back to that little 10 year old girl in me who still remembers the day in early July 1981 when I received a letter in the mail from my parents (while I was away at camp) telling me of Terry Fox’s death. I remember feeling a great sense of sadness (like so many other proud Canadians) upon hearing the news of his death as I had been following his remarkable and inspirational journey since the beginning.
If I have learned anything from my own journey over the last 6 years it’s that life doesn’t always go as we plan and that sometimes we may feel defeated but Terry Fox’s strength, spirit, determination, courage and bravery has taught us that it’s ok to accept defeat sometimes and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves sometimes because somethings you just cannot avoid. That reflection is what helped me to hold back many tears today as I honoured Terry Fox’s legacy, someone who still remains to be seen as one of the greatest and most prominent heroes in Canadian history as he reminds us that anything is truly possible if you try.
When I receive pictures like these ones it completely warms my heart. Today a group of amazing Teachers and EA’s surprised some of their “Awesome Grads” from Our Lady of Victory School in Toronto with a small Graduation ceremony outside their homes toting presents, balloons and a “Class of 2020” Graduation lawn sign.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a smile is worth a million more.
Tonight we should be gathered together in a room bursting with pride and surrounded by 100’s of excited parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, administrators and many more to watch our Graduate(s) take centerstage and handed their diplomas and recognized for their many successes and achievements they have put forth over the last 4 years in High School.
But instead tonight we improvise, still bursting with the same pride though as we quietly celebrate our Graduate’s successes and acknowledge her many achievements over the last 4 years.
Tonight we close this chapter and look forward to celebrating many more of her successes and achievements that lay ahead.
Mazel Tov Rachel and Congrats to all the 2020 Graduates.