Wife Appreciation Day

Today happens to be “Wife Appreciation Day”. 

To be honest I am feeling very triggered right now ever since I came across this revelation earlier this morning because in my mind I don’t see myself as a wife deserving of appreciation, I just see myself as a burden to everyone, especially my spouse. 

My memories on Facebook this weekend have been flooded with one of the most incredible nights of my life two years ago when I was invited as the Guest of Honour at a launch party for my new children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?”. I was surrounded by so much love and appreciation. 

One of the memories that came up today happens to be the speech that Rich gave that night. I’ve read it probably ten times already this morning as I try to battle with the demons in my head who keep telling me that I’m not worthy of the love and commitment and appreciation others have for me, especially my spouse. 

I wanted to reshare those words with you today that were so eloquently spoken from the heart by Rich, to me, his wife in hopes that the demons in my head get the message!

P.S. For all of you reading this who have an imperfectly perfect wife, make sure you remind them today, tomorrow and forever how thankful you are to have them in your life; I may not always believe it but I am certainly one of the lucky ones because Rich never stops trying.

#wifeappreciationday #burdened #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalwellness #fromtheheart #suicideprevention #facebookmemories #triggers #childrensbook #appreciation #commitment #love #spouses

September 17, 2019

Good Evening

As most of you know I am by no means the writer in our home and my press secretary has been busy working on her own speech all week, so here goes nothing!!

I first met Kim when she was just 18 years young and she began working at the video store I was managing in Thornhill. She caught my eye right away but unfortunately there were MANY challenges standing in our way. Besides the fact that she had a boyfriend at the time and I was busy fending off some lovestruck sociopath, I was now her boss as well, but those didn’t even come close to the biggest challenge we were facing. Ya see, I was close to 9 years older than her (8 years, 7 months and 16 days to be exact). And now that I have 2 daughters of my own who are in and around that same age I can TOTALLY see that challenge from a very different perspective!

But with a combination of male ego, unyielding determination, mixed in with a spoonful of testosterone sometimes you just have to say Screw It and ignore what the haters may think or say and just go for it! By now Kim was just shy of her 20th birthday and had this been in some medievel time she would have likely been considered an old maid already so I saw this as my golden opportunity. But I am still waiting for that dowry!

We recently celebrated 24 years of marriage this past spring and have 3 beautiful kids to show for it, one of whom is busy drinking his way through Europe with some friends as I speak. And like in every marriage or as every parent can attest to there will always be challenging times along the journey which for us surfaced 5 and a half years ago when Kim first took ill.

I have known Kim now for 30 years and have watched her grow and change in so many ways but one thing that has never changed in all the years I have known her is that she has the kindest heart, and she has so much determination and so much will. I know that Kim no longer sees these incredible attributes within herself because of what depression has taken from her but lucky for her there are so many people in her life who love her enough to ensure that she can see what an incredible person she truly is.

I am so proud of you Kim. Jacob, Hannah and Rachel are so damn proud of you too. You may not see what we all see in you but I will keep reminding you of it every single day for the rest of our lives. You may not see that what you do for so many people by writing your blog and opening up to the world about what it truly feels like to battle with major (and treatment resistant) depression and SEVERE anxiety and panic every single day. You may not see how your vulnerability and honesty has helped so many others feel less alone and you may still not be able to call yourself an author and believe it to be true but you are an author, I mean City TV interviewed you for the six o’clock news last night if that isn’t proof enough!

But you know why you are an author…because you had a vision, because you have such a creative soul, because you are so kindhearted and because you have such an unyielding determination and innate will to help others. You have accomplished more than so many others because of all that. You have made your dream come true even through the darkest days of your life. You have found your purpose.

Look around the room tonight Kim and see all the love surrounding you, they aren’t just here for the free food and drinks! They are here to celebrate you!

Jacob Hannah Rachel and we can’t forget Maggie (our dog) and I love you to the moon and back! And now without further ado…let me introduce to you, my beautiful wife and best friend.. children’s author Kim Fluxgold!

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I appreciate you. 

I am truly blessed knowing how many people I have in my life who genuinely care about my well-being. 

I’ve read each and every message (both from my Social Media feeds and those who messaged me privately as well) probably a dozen or more times by now since sharing with you a very heartfelt and vulnerable blog I wrote yesterday.  

I cried alot.

I smiled too.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I know I am struggling alot right now and I’m finding it more and more difficult to cope with my very dark and overwhelming thoughts of suicide.

I want you to know that it’s okay to acknowledge that things may not be okay. That you may not be okay. 

Just know that YOU are not alone.

Yesterday one of the private messages I received from a friend was a short animated video clip written and narrated by Brene Brown (who I admire so much) after reading my blog because she thought it perfectly summed up what I had written. The clip emphasizes the important differences between empathy and sympathy and how showing empathy towards others “fuels” connections, whereas sympathy does not. Empathy is about feeling “with” people. It’s about reaching out to someone for help and having that person say “hey, here I am”. “You’re not alone”. It’s not about looking for the silver lining (a perfect example from my blog yesterday would be someone saying to you “well at least you don’t have Cancer” when you tell them you are feeling depressed). It’s about being honest and saying I’m glad you told me. It’s not about the response, it’s about the connection.

As difficult as this week has been for me I know in my heart that I need to keep writing and sharing my journey, probably now more than ever.

We all need to do our part to raise more awareness, educate others and help reduce the stigma; and yes we NEED to talk about suicide too. 

Asking someone about suicide will help break the silence and can save a life. 

Take a moment today to connect with someone who may be struggling right now. Let them know you hear them. You see them. You feel them. You appreciate them.

Start a conversation and then keep it going; today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that too. 

I also wanted to let you know that my book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” is now available for purchase at Batner Bookstore at 180 Steeles Ave. W. in Thornhill (or through me as well). They specialize in new and used textbooks, workbooks, study guides, course materials and literature. It’s a perfect addition to any classroom, library or children’s bookshelf especially as we begin another uncertain school year ahead and when so many children and caregivers are facing the worst mental health crisis of our lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey. The good, the bad and the ugly. I love you all so much. #shabbatshalom

#worldsuicidepreventionday #startaconversation #youmatter #youareenough #youareworthy #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #yourmentalhealthmatters #empathy #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone @the_batner_bookstore @brenebrown

What’s the Point?

**Triggering content**

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. 

I’ve had to accept this within my own personal journey. 

It’s destroyed many close relationships of mine.

But I know that my willingness to share my most vulnerable and intimate thoughts and feelings with all of you has helped bring about awareness to the many others who do want to understand what it’s like to live with Chronic and Treatment Resistant Depression, a debilitating Anxiety Disorder and Suicidal Ideations Every. Single. Day.

And I also know that by sharing my journey so openly and honestly has helped many more people feel less alone or ashamed. 

So then why do I suddenly feel like I should stop writing? Stop sharing my most intimate thoughts and emotions? Why at one of the most vulnerable points of my journey do I want to stop sharing my story all together?

Because well, it’s not like I Cancer you know. 

These were the words that I heard recently directed towards me during a conversation. Words that may not have necessarily been intended to be said with malice but words that can never be erased nonetheless. Words that dismissed the seriousness of my illness. Words that made me feel as though my need to create healthy boundaries and do what’s best for me are basically selfish because well you know, it’s not like I have Cancer.

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. I’ve accepted this.

But I can no longer keep apologizing because of my “invisible” illness just because it can’t be detected through a body scan or an xray or a blood test and to be perfectly honest I’m just too damn tired to keep having to “defend” myself because I may not “look” sick. 

Depression is NOT a choice. Depression just is, just like Cancer or Diabetes just is. They can’t be rated on a scale of any kind and quite frankly they NEVER EVER should be. They are all just truly horrible illnesses and should be treated as such.

I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and that my purpose in life to raise awareness, educate and bring comfort to others has been overcome by even more pain and guilt and shame.

I know I should just “let it go” and try and focus on the many lives I do touch and those who appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer but sadly, having the ability to just “think positive” when living with Depression or Anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles we face.

I’ve been inconsolable for days now and have been left feeling like what’s the point of writing, sharing my journey or living life?

#whatsthepoint #feelinghopeless #iquit #suicideawareness #feelingdefeated  #yourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone

Monday Motivation: Crushing Your Dreams

Two years ago today, August 16th,  2019 was one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life when the first ever copies of my brand new, hot off the press children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” arrived on my front porch. 

I had just spent the previous year and a half working on it from start to finish which included writing, editing, working with my fabulous illustrator and finding the “perfect” and most patient company to help me self-publish it. 

For the next four plus months I worked non stop trying to get my book into as many hands as possible. I attended one event after another, reached out to  Mental Health Advocates on Social Media, got it on the shelves of some independent bookstores in Toronto, sold it at large retail chains, made several National Television and Radio appearances, was interviewed by local Newspapers, gave book talks at Preschooler/Mommy & Me programs and I had just begun filling up my calendar for the new year with book talks on Mental Health at Elementary Schools as well. 

And I had endless possibilities still up my sleeve.

I met so many incredible people along the way. I also had such incredible support from so many fantastic friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike.

It felt like my dreams were coming true. I felt like I had purpose and I even felt like royalty somedays, especially when I attended my fabulous book launch party that Fall in my honour, hosted by a friend and her husband.  

And then, BOOM💥, 2020 hit and it hit hard. I got a concussion on day two of the new year which put me out of commission for close to a month and then the Pandemic hit us all in March and then in June of 2020 I found out, just by dumb luck that my Publisher had closed his business after 35 years, without any warning to his clients or a simple courtesy email or thank you.  Instead he disappeared without a trace and took with him, several thousands of dollars of Grant money which had been gifted to me by a prominent Mental Health Organization along with any additional inventory of mine they had held on to for safe keeping for my personal use and my Amazon account.  

To say I felt defeated is an understatement. One obstacle after another left me feeling purposeless again and very broken. It was the final blow. My dreams felt crushed.

I wanted to give up completely. I didn’t see any point in continuing.

How was I ever going to move forward from this especially knowing I now needed to somehow find a way to republish my book. We were in the midst of a global Pandemic and money was extremely tight.

But how could I give up on my dream that I’d worked so hard for and wanted more than anything? How could I let anyone dull my sparkle?

Surrendering to my current situation was difficult to accept. The “what ifs” controlled my every waking moment, making it even more difficult to forgive myself and somehow find the strength to move forward. 

I took some time to figure out if I could somehow save my dream even though it felt too crushed to repair. 

I leaned on my support system for encouragement and reassurement even more. I didn’t want to give up on my dream even if it felt crushed beyond repair and that my anxiety and depression had taken over my ability to pivot my way through this, especially during a global Pandemic. 

I began slowly trying to rebuild my dream by learning how to use technology I’d never even knew existed before in order to keep my book relevant. I knew that with each passing month of the Pandemic there were more and more people in need of my voice and my book.

I kept reminding myself this was not my fault. 

I am still actively looking to republish my book when I am ready and able to and this time I plan to take everything I have learned through this process into account when choosing a new publisher to work with. I am wiser now.

I am also so grateful to still have copies of my book in my possession which has allowed me to continue promoting it in the meantime. And of course with the help of technology and social media I’ve found so many new and innovative ways of doing so during a Pandemic through guest spots on Podcasts, Book Talks and Conferences on Zoom, pre-recorded story times, Google meet-ups with Non-Profit Organizations and Facebook/Instagram lives.

These obstacles I’ve endured since January 2020 have taught me many important lessons. My dream has never changed. My vision hasn’t either.

It may feel crushed beyond repair but like so many of us have had to do over the last 17 months, I am learning to pivot. Pivots in life do not equate to failure. Pivoting simply allows new doors to open and new dreams to come true.

#crushingmydreams #pivoting #childrensbook #author #dreamsdocometrue #selfpublishing #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #failure #mentalhealthadvocate #blogger #youareenough

Embracing the Brace

We took a rest today from any strenuous hiking after our grueling 3 hour hike yesterday where Rich injured his knee, most likely when he went tumbling down the side of a cliff.

His injury from the fall further intensified any pain and tenderness he’s endured in his one knee for like forever; I’m talking long before the #summerofrich ever began.

For years now he’s complained to me about muscle strain in his knee but no matter how much I’ve tried, has refused to speak with his doctor about it or at the very least try wearing a knee brace while hiking or doing any other strenuous activity.

But today he finally relented and took his knee brace for a test drive and a leisurely stroll with Maggie as well.

I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever told you this before, but Rich is the most stubborn person I know!! However, being stubborn isn’t always such a bad thing because stubborn people are often known to embody “strongly-felt” emotions and care more deeply for others; characteristics of Rich’s I wouldn’t change for the world.

Do you love a stubborn person???

#kneebrace #musclestrain #freefalling #stubbornness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #Maggie #adogspurpose #exercise #physicalendurance #caresdeeply #selfcare

Story Time

Last week I pre-recorded a segment for an episode of “Where Do The Children Play” on Trent Radio 92.7 CFFF FM which aired last Thursday morning. 

The show which runs 3 mornings a week was created for kids and features story time and fun kid’s music. 

The station itself was established and is operated solely by the students of Trent University in Peterborough Ontario.  

I read my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” to their listeners and spoke briefly afterwards about why I wrote it and the importance of not only talking to children about a loved ones mental health challenges but also reassuring them that they are safe, loved and not responsible or to blame for it. 

I have posted the segment below if you would like to hear it. 

Thank you again to Skye Vasey for allowing me to share my story and for all your hard work and dedication to this program.   

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to purchase a copy of my book for your classroom, school library, a preschool setting or for yourself or a loved one.

https://linksharing.samsungcloud.com/haEDOWm6rva4

#yourmentalhealthmatters #childrensbook #ouryouthmatter #wheredidmommyssmilego #mentalhealth #depression #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #youareenough #youarenotalone #wheredothechildrenplay #trentradio

Monday Motivation: Summertime Self-Care Ideas

Today is the first full day of summer and it just so happens to also be “World Naked Hiking Day” too. 

Summertime for many of us often means more time to enjoy the daylight hours, more time to relax and more time for adventure. 

Summer is also the perfect season to refocus our energy on our mental and physical health which may have been lacking over the previous months as well.

So I’ve created a list of some very simple ideas for ways in which you can incorporate the all too important self-care into your summertime routine. 

1. Go for a long hike or a walk in nature (bring lots of bug spray if you decide to go naked!)

2. Use sidewalk chalk

3. Run through a sprinkler

4. Do yoga outside

5. Pack a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the park

6. Roast marshmallows 

7. Visit a farmer’s market

8. Watch the sun rise

9. Go out for ice cream 

10. Star gaze

11. Bird watch

12. Take an evening stroll at sunset

13. Play with water balloons

14. Have a backyard barbecue with friends and family

15. Make a playlist of music that reminds you of summer when you were a kid

16. Play with bubbles

17. Make lemonade out of lemons

18. Enjoy a good book

19. Drink lots of water

20. Take a road trip

21. Get lots of Vitamin D

22. Bake your favourite summertime treat 

23. Dance in the rain

24. Keep a journal of your summertime self-care

25. Discover a new hobby or reinvent an old one

26. Set new goals

Feel free to add anything I may have missed.

What do you look most forward to about summer?

#selfcare #mondaymotivation #summertimeselfcare #firstdayofsummer #summerishere #worldnakedhikingday #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #beinthemoment #takecareofyourmentalhealth #nature #summerofrich 

Monday Motivation: I Am More Than My Mental Illness (Mental Health Week May 3-9)

The truth is I don’t see it often and to be perfectly honest I mostly only see it when others point it out to me but I am so much more than my mental illness. 

I spend most of my waking hours convincing myself that I am incapable, that I am worthless and that I am a burden to everyone in my life. 

I am forever apologizing for my mental illness. 

I am forever feeling guilty because of my mental illness.

I am forever feeling like a failure because of my mental illness. 

I am forever left feeling broken and suicidal because of my mental illness. 

And I am forever feeling like a prisoner in my own mind because of my mental illness.

Being labelled with a disorder of any kind doesn’t make you any less than the beautiful, amazing person that you already are. 

Labeling someone for their shortcomings can be damaging and we should never let it define us. 

Even though my mind literally has a mind of it’s own, my heart will tell you that I am so much more than my mental illness. It even says so right here on this list.

I AM:

Valuable 

Worthy of respect 

Respected

Kind

Generous

Worthy of love

Deeply loved

Thoughtful

Resourceful 

Smart

Funny

Honest

Ambitious 

Creative

Dedicated 

Skilled at all sorts of things 

Resilient 

Driven by integrity and values

A good mother

A good wife

A good friend

Enough 

I am more than my shortcomings.

I am more than my labels.

I am more than my mental illness. 

And you are too.

What do you see in yourself from this list? Feel free to add more.

I AM…

#mentalhealthweek #mondaymotivation #iam #youmatter #itsoktonotbeok #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #labels #shortcomings #morethan

Celebrate with Cupcakes

Tonight we celebrated the successful completion of Rachel’s first year of University in Interior Design and Hannah’s many accomplishments that earned her an Undergraduate Degree in Communications this week. 

This year has not been an easy one. It was met with some tears (well maybe a bit more than some), some moments of anger and some definite moments of frustration but despite missing out on the many firsts and the many more lasts that come along with having the full university experience, you learned to pivot, you learned to adjust and you learned to adapt to the many, many challenges that were presented to you along the way with such resilience and strength.

YOU did it!!! And Dad and I couldn’t be more proud of the both of you. We love you to the moon and back!

#sisters #firstyeardown #undergraddegree #thegraduate #classof2021 #interiordesign #communications #proudparents  #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #cupcakes #celebrate #family #loveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #vegandanishbakery

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet

I’m having a pretty rough day or to be perfectly honest it’s been a pretty shitty week all around and tonight I completely broke, crying my way through the entire evening and supper hour.

I’m sure the announcements made today by the Government haven’t helped my already emotional state I’m in and I know I’m not alone.

But just now (on the eve of World Semicolon Day) while in the midst of feeling like I can’t go on anymore I received a message from a woman who I’ve never met before nor ever had a conversation with and I was quickly reminded that my story isn’t over yet.

My semicolon which is etched in ink on my shoulder forever has also become a symbol of great strength for me.

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence but chooses not to. The author today is me and the sentence is my life.

Thank you for reaching out to me tonight  Rebekah just when I needed it the most and cheering me up with your kind heartedness, your appreciation and your strength in sharing your story with me and for also giving me a gentle reminder that my story isn’t over yet. (Please see pics attached)

Please remember that you matter!

#mentalwellness #mentalillness #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #guardianangel #grateful #youareenough  #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #worldsemicolonday #tattoo #author #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego