Tonight we celebrated Hannah’s Graduation from Ryerson University.
Her continued dedication, hard work, determination and commitment to succeed over the past four years not only earned Hannah a Degree in Communications but it also earned her a very well deserved placement on the Dean’s List for one last time this semester.
Dad and I couldn’t be more proud of all that you have accomplished and we can’t wait to see what awaits you this coming Fall (but first stop, CAMP!!!!) as you embark on the next chapter of your journey at Humber College in Event Management.
We know that whatever path you choose in life you are certain to shine.
~Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead ~ Nora Ephron
Last night Rich and I watched a movie on Netflix called “Words On Bathroom Walls” which is based on a book.
I cried. A lot.
My intention for the evening was to find a wholesome, mushy, lovey-dovey kinda romantic comedy to watch. It was gonna be a perfect distraction. I mean come on, who doesn’t love a good romantic comedy?? Well I’d probably have to start with Rich!! And now I know it was all just a rouse back when he was courting me!
As I began flipping through our endless options of wholesome, mushy, lovey-dovey kinda romantic comedies to watch I happened upon a movie that really caught my eye; and his too.
It had romance but it had a whole lot of substance too.
It was a movie about a boy named Adam who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia in his senior year of high school which he struggles to keep a secret from his new love interest at his new school.
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling”. (MAYO CLINIC)
For much of the movie we live inside Adam’s mind as he desperately tries to fight off his distortions from reality with medical intervention and therapy. We witness both the visual and audible effects of Schizophrenia come to life in the form of a black funnel cloud and deep threatening voices. You could see the distress and fear in his eyes and you could empathize with his pain and sadness.
I battle mental illness every day and even though I can’t tell you what it’s actually like to suffer with Schizophrenia I can tell you that many of his experiences and symptoms really resonated with me. Like alot.
Just like Adam’s character in the movie I too struggle with distortions from reality, I too struggle with extremely disordered thinking and behaviors, I too struggle with being diagnosed as treatment resistant, and I too have struggled for many years with a no win situation while experimenting with one concoction of medication after another which only caused me further mental and physical impairment.
But just like Adam’s character in the movie, I too have also learnt alot from my illness. Just like Adam’s character I too have learned over time that even though I have an illness, I am not my illness, nor should I ever be defined by it. And just like Adam’s character I too have learned over time how important it is to let others into my life and to share my thoughts and experiences with them because in the end I too have learned that by doing so people may really surprise you. And in a really good way.
The movie was genuine, sensitive, compassionate, insightful and real. It shed a very important and bright light on Schizophrenia and mental illness in general which is all too often seen in a very dark and vilified way.
Today I did my first ever Facebook live presentation within a Facebook group called “Parents Unite” whose main purpose is to bring parents together while raising awareness on mental health concerns in both adults and children.
People tell me all the time how brave it is of me to be able to do so many live television/news interviews, radio gigs or other such presentations but here’s the thing, when I do these interviews, gigs or other such presentations I am (for the most part) being fed questions to answer by the interviewers so I’m not actually having to think about what I want to say or fill air time all on my own.
But when you do a Facebook/ Instagram live it’s just you and your thoughts trying to make sense without seemingly rambling on about whatever message it is you are trying to get across to others. And whether it’s someone choosing to talk about something that is irking them or helping to grow their online business or wanting to talk about something on a more personal level, it’s not easy.
As envious as people may be watching me take center stage on live television or through the lens of a Zoom interview, I am actually the one who has been envious of others who seem to have the natural ability to just press the live button at any given moment and start speaking off the cuff.
I often think to myself as I scroll through my feeds or as I am writing a blog and especially while I am listening to someone speak live that maybe today, instead of writing my words down in a blog to post later on that I will open up my Facebook or Instagram page and speak to a live audience, straight from the heart, right into the camera, allowing others watching an opportunity to interact in the conversation live and giving way for even more raw and intimate experiences to occur. But the fear of doing so and the thought of reaching outside my comfort zone has always stopped me.
But today I reached outside my comfort zone (even after waking up with a sore back out of nowhere and as the day goes on I’m having trouble sitting and catching my breath). I spent about 30 minutes on a Facebook live sharing part of my journey with the Parents Unite community, reading my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” and discussing the importance of having open, honest and age appropriate conversations with children as young as preschool age who may be impacted by mental health issues somewhere within their family unit.
Everything I spoke about today has become second nature to me. They are things I am extremely passionate about and well versed in but not having the ability to edit my thoughts was quite a scary feeling.
As I mentioned above I have dreamed for several years now that one day I could stand (or sit) in front of an audience and speak off the cuff and from the heart with authenticity by allowing my vulnerabilities to do the talking.
And even if I will beat myself up for how I spoke today, for what I said or didn’t say, it’s okay because at least I tried. At least I reached outside my comfort zone, I learned a new skill, I took a risk and I achieved a new goal.
*I was asked to do a writing exercise and write a love letter to myself and so I couldn’t think of a better day to practice some much needed self-love than today on Valentine’s Day.*
Dear: Myself & I
You and I go back a really long time and I guess if you wanna be a bit more precise, it’ll actually be fifty years come this June. That’s pretty noteworthy, wouldn’t you agree?
Looking back on our almost fifty years together, there’s no denying that we’ve created alot of history. We’ve made so many lasting memories together, we’ve cried together until we’ve nearly collapsed from exhaustion, we’ve laughed so hard together that our belly’s ached and we’ve shared a bond that runs deeper than any two people could ever truly imagine.
But I know I have let you down a alot over the last many years (and several more times throughout our life together I’m sure). I feel like I have disappointed you by detaching myself & I from you and leaving you to fend for yourself while having to rely on the strength of others.
I should be the one showering you with the love and kindness you so deserve and make you feel empowered. I should be the one encouraging you, rooting you on, embracing you, appreciating you and seeing your own incredible inner strength.
I should also be the one who is always praising you and admiring your courage and I should be the one who sees how smart and creative you are or how strong and truly brave you are and I should be the one who sees what a caring and huge heart you have.
I should not be forever telling you that you are not good enough, that you are worthless, that you should do better and that you should be a better wife, mother and friend. I should be the one who is there for you and who wants to take care of you and protect you and adore you.
I want to apologize to you for not fighting harder for you, for not feeling like you deserve me, for making you feel like I have failed you and for making you believe that you are a burden, that you are unlovable and that you are undesirable. I want to apologize to you for making you feel like you don’t belong, that you don’t matter and that you are no longer needed. I also need to apologize to you for allowing you to believe that you are anything less than the amazing and kindhearted and beautiful, worthy soul that you are.
I know how difficult life has been for you over the last many years and so I’m writing you this letter today to let you know that even though you may not be able to see it now I need you to know that you are worthy, that you do matter, that you are beautiful, that you are smart, that you are creative, that you are strong and brave and courageous and kind and desirable and that you are more than enough.
Myself & I
P.S. wishing my beloved Rich and 3 beautiful children Jacob, Hannah and Rachel a very Happy Valentine’s Day today. You are my heart and soul and you fill my heart and soul with so much sweetness and love (and Maggie too!).
I love you all to the moon and back, forever and a day ❤
P.P.S. I hope you all have a very happy Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love and inner peace.
Did you have a favourite blankie or stuffed animal growing up? Did you sleep with it every night and take it with you everywhere you went? Did you feel a sense of panic if it was suddenly out of your reach? Was it loved so much that it became “real”?
One of my favourite children’s books growing up was “The Velveteen Rabbit”, a story that I passed down to my own children when they were very young hoping they would fall in love with it as much as I did and one day I hope that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will too.
The story was originally published in 1922 but it never seems to grow old. It’s a story of a young boy who receives many presents one Christmas morning including a beautiful stuffed Velveteen Rabbit. But the boy doesn’t take to the rabbit right away as he had so many new and shiny toys to play with all at once, until one day his nanny grabs the Velveteen Rabbit off the shelf for him to sleep with.
The rabbit had longed for this moment and had only one wish in mind which was to “become”. And “become” he did. The boy grew so attached to the rabbit that eventually “most of his hair had been loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and very shabby”. It was at that moment that the Velveteen Rabbit knew he had finally become “real”.
As a young child I had my own “Velveteen Rabbit” only he wasn’t actually a rabbit but instead a fluffy gray haired dog who wore a big red plaid hat atop his head. Throughout my childhood and into my transition into adulthood that stuffed dog gave me a great sense of safety, predictability and comfort; something I know millions of children around the world during this past year have looked for more than ever before.
He “became” so real that his fur was also loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and shabby too. He lost his big red plaid hat at some point over the course of my childhood and my grandma replaced it by knitting him a special red and white bow to wear around his wobbly neck to keep him warm.
His name was Sniffer and he saw me through the worst of times in my life and the best of times as well (he even made a surprise appearance at my wedding thanks to my brother!). A stuffed animal like Sniffer who becomes “real” are so much more than any old toy in a child’s toy box because when they “become” they teach a child about compassion, they teach a child how to love and they can teach a child to be gentle towards others. They also open up a world of imagination and pretend play for a child by giving them a name, a voice and a personality.
Sniffer did all that and more for me and nowadays he sits comfortably on a shelf in my closet as he is pretty old and fragile. He is also pretty much the only memory I have left from my childhood (a story for another time and place) so I will never just toss him away.
Just knowing he is there if ever I need him gives me a sense of comfort and ease in an anxious moment. His sentimental value is also both soothing and calming in times of distress. I guess sometimes we all just need a trusting hug or cuddle from an old familiar inanimate object to give us a feeling that we too have “become” because once you “reach that point then no matter what happens to you, you can always be true to yourself” too.
Did you have a special toy or object that brought you comfort? Do you still have it today?
Last night I watched a movie on Amazon Prime called “Brittany Runs A Marathon”. My family has started rating the movies we watch lately by how much mom cries during them (especially the ending) which isn’t really a fair assessment to be honest because I cry while watching just about anything these days. But if we go with their rating system (maybe instead of Rotten Tomatoes we use Salty Teardrops?) this one was as close to a 10 as they come.
The movie is based on a true story (which usually ups the ante right there) about an overweight woman who feels dissatisfied with pretty much everything in her life and soon gets a wake up call from her doctor when he reveals to her that she doesn’t need Adderall like she hoped but instead needs to lose 50 pounds as her physical health had started to become unhinged too. And even though being the “fat girl” sidekick was always her safety net (or so she thought) she decides to take her doctor’s advice and eventually leads Brittany to take up running, eat healthier and stop using drugs and alcohol to numb her pain.
The movie is about so much more than a weightloss journey though and runs much, much deeper than that. It was an inspiring, heartwarming, super funny, thought provoking and very, very relatable journey to me in so many ways even if I’ve never run a day in my life (or ever had the desire to!).
The storyline brought with it lots of important life lessons (and plenty of stereotypes too), all of which resonated with my own journey through life. It was an emotional journey and one that proves just how hard it can be to fall in love with yourself. It taught us the importance of body positivity, learning to love the body we’re in and self-acceptance. It taught us about the hard work and difficult steps it takes toward achieving our dreams while continuously focusing on small yet attainable goals no matter what. It also showed us that it is perfectly okay to accept help from others, to never judge a book by its cover and that it’s more than okay to walk away from toxic relationships in our life that no longer serve us or who can’t see our worth.
I wrote a blog a couple of years ago (see link below) where I opened up about how I struggled with both Anorexia and Bulimia in my late teens and early 20’s. But truth be told my eating disorder has never truly left me and it continues still to this day to be a constant struggle in my life.
My self-hate is very strong-willed and even more stubborn. It has stopped me in my tracks many times over from believing in my dreams and achieving many of my goals. It very often stops me from loving myself or accepting help from others. My self-hate has also blinded me from seeing through some very toxic relationships over the years as well and learning to accept and love my body has been as torturous as learning how to love my mind except there is no where to hide from your body.
As most of you know who follow my journey regularly I love walking and hiking and way back at the start of the Pandemic in March I began walking several miles every day and hiking on weekends as much as possible (#summerofrich). I even started exercising a bit from home as well and it felt empowering but as the weather began to change over the last few weeks I have basically stopped exercising all together and it has drastically increased those feelings of self-hate and brought with it many of the danger signs that accompany an eating disorder.
I also have a very poor relationship with food itself which has most likely stemmed from several childhood traumas surrounding food (see blog below) and it seems to have created a lifetime struggle with food and self-worth which is something that I am overwhelmingly conscious of around my children as I never want them to have the same toxic relationship with food as I do. I just want them to love who they are from the inside out.
Spoiler Alert: Brittany eventually runs a marathon (it is the title of the movie), the mother of all marathons no less. But the movie is not about how she reached the finish line of the New York City marathon (fun fact: they actually filmed the marathon scenes during the 2017 event!), it was about her incredible transformation (both physically and mentally) toward loving herself and kicking that “fat girl” sidekick to the curb that allowed her to get there. It was about how she kept tying up the laces of her running shoes, tripping over them from time to time as they came undone and learning to tie them back up again every time she fell down while running just one block at a time of the congested and mean streets of New York City and letting the people in her life who saw her worth cheer her on from the sidelines.
I loved watching Brittany’s journey toward finding self-love. She deserves to wear that medal around her neck, not for the weight that she lost but for running all those miles toward her own self-truth, without compromise.
Maybe one day I will be able to run that same marathon too?
Yesterday I was feeling a bit under the weather and BEYOND exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep but as physically exhausted as I felt all day I knew that as soon as I were to get into bed that all bets would be off. So I decided to take something to help me fall asleep because I needed to sleep BEYOND badly.
I’ve been prescribed sleeping pills in the past but like all other medications I’ve tried they really never worked properly and within days I would build up a tolerance to them anyways. This did eventually lead me to start abusing some of my prescribed meds, taking upwards of 8 to 10 pills a day, just so I could feel numb and maybe get a few solid hours of sleep at night.
Well that didn’t end well at all on so many levels and once it was discovered that I had been stashing away certain medications in my home Rich began having to hide all my prescriptions and distributing them to me every day and I guess it’s a good thing that I have also since been flagged from being prescribed certain medications all together unless under proper supervision.
But that’s okay because they never really helped much anyways and so nowadays when I do take something for sleep I go for more of a natural remedy instead. I fight with myself to take anything most nights because truthfully they don’t really help much either.
It’s almost 4 am as I am writing this and I should be fast asleep since I was so BEYOND physically exhausted yesterday and I did take a sleep aid before I got into bed but my case in point, sleep remedies don’t work for me.
Ok maybe I’m lying a bit because after taking something to help me fall asleep last night I did in fact fall asleep within an hour of taking it and I got a solid 1 hour of sleep!!! 1 whole glorious hour of sleep! And then I woke up and have been up since before 11 pm, which is about the same time most of you reading this were just about to doze off to dreamland for the night!
I’m starting to think that sleep is kinda, sorta beyond overrated anyways? 😢😢😢
Let’s all take a moment today to wish the world’s most recognizable character and the most lovable mouse on earth a very happy 92nd birthday.
I have always been a really big fan of Mickey Mouse’ (like ginormous) and that feeling has never waivered.
To me Mickey Mouse embodies all that is good in the world. He is a symbol of family, friendship and fun. He welcomes and accepts everyone he meets into his home (which just so happens to be the most magical place on earth) with a warm embrace.
He brings smiles of joy to millions of faces, both young and old alike and he believes that no dream is impossible and that “if you can dream it, you can do it!”
Let’s celebrate and appreciate Mickey today for all of his amazing and special attributes that he has brought to the world over the last 92 years and all that he represents because we could sure use as many warm embraces (virtually for now) and welcoming smiles (under your mask) more than ever before right about now.
I wish I could be with him to celebrate today; how about you?
What are your most cherished memories of Mickey and/or the Magic Kingdom?