“Breaking Brave” Podcast

This afternoon I was given the opportunity and honour to be a guest speaker on a Podcast. 

My first one ever.  

I felt like a movie star. 

I was introduced to the host Marilyn Barefoot about a month or so ago through a mutual friend who thought that I would be a perfect fit for Marilyn’s Podcast called “Breaking Brave” so she connected us via email and we set up a time to “meet” and get to know one another later that week.

Our conversation was so easy. 

It was heartfelt and inspiring. 

I felt like we’d known each other forever.

Right from our opening dialogue I could feel Marilyn’s energy and compassion shine through.

She is a natural born speaker, motivator and innovator both in her chosen field and on her Podcast. 

But once Marilyn was given the green light from her Executive Producer a few days later to schedule me in for an actual recording of her Podcast it wasn’t too long afterwards when my negative self-talk kicked into full gear. 

Brave? Me, brave? 

How do I foster bravery in my mental health journey?

I gave this a great deal of thought. 

I know that being vulnerable and honest about my personal struggles with mental illness is brave.

I know that by educating others and helping them to understand the many depths of mental illness is brave.

I know that being so transparent about my own mental health is helping to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and that is brave.

I know that the more I talk about my illness allows others to feel more comfortable and less ashamed or alone about their own struggles and that is brave. 

I know that getting up each and every day and fighting for my life and advocating for the lives of so many others just like me is very brave.

I know that I have inspired many because of my willingness to share my story and that too is brave.

Being brave about your own mental health struggles should be contagious but it also doesn’t have to include writing a blog, publishing a children’s book or baring your heart and soul on Social Media either.

For you, “Breaking Brave” in your own personal mental health journey right now may mean taking that first step to ensure you get the help you need, however it is you feel most comfortable doing so, just so long as you do it! And I would be honoured to help take that first step with you!

A special thank you to Marilyn and her Executive Producer Rebekah for allowing me to share my story with your audience today and for showing me how truly brave I am. I am grateful for this experience and for your kindness and compassion.

My episode will likely be aired in a couple of months (I will keep you posted!). To listen to previously recorded episodes of Marilyn’s Podcast go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/breaking-brave-with-marilyn-barefoot/id1555760904 . “Each episode, find out how innovators and trailblazers from every walk of life broke through in their chosen or created fields. A podcast meant to inspire, invigorate, inform and uplift.”~Marilyn Barefoot

#breakingbrave #podcast #fosterbravery #startaconversation #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #firststep #suicideprevention #blogger #author #mentalhealthadvocate #wheredidmommyssmilego 

After The “But”

As my “Class of 2021” graduation initiative comes to a close this week I will have sold AND delivered over a thousand lawn signs since it began last spring and raised over $15,000 for youth mental health. 

During this time I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing and kind people, some of whom I now call my friend. 

I’ve also made some incredible connections along the way. 

I’ve started relevant, much needed and VERY important conversations. 

And I’ve listened as many others have shared with me some of the most heart-wrenching struggles they’ve faced or are currently going through with their own mental health or that of a loved one. 

Overall this has been one of the most purposeful, meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life, especially knowing that I have helped bring smiles to so many faces (both young and old alike) and maybe even brightened up their day. And it also feels really good knowing that in some small way I am helping to make a positive change for our young people today.

BUT, (and there is always a “but” with me), there have also been many, many days throughout this process where the overwhelm of what I do behind the scenes and the hours upon hours I’ve spent making sure that my campaign is the greatest possible success takes a gigantic toll on my mental health. 

And this past week while already feeling vulnerable and defeated has been no exception. 

As many of you already know, I was placing my final order to go to print earlier this week. This included a sign for someone who had literally contacted me last weekend only hours prior to my twelve midnight cutoff. 

We ended up having a friendly chat back and forth for a good hour during which time she chose which sign she wanted to purchase for her son who is about to graduate grade 8 from the same elementary school that I attended, she gave me her address for delivery and before we signed off for the night (which was now midnight) she asked me if it was okay if she sent me her payment in the morning. I said sure, not a problem.

So, in good faith I put her order through with the rest of them first thing the next morning which she knew I would be doing. After our friendly chat the night before I saw no reason not to trust that she would pay me as she had promised (which I’ve done before for others).

Several days lapsed and my shipment would soon be arriving for delivery (which it did this afternoon) and I still had not received her payment so I followed up with a friendly reminder (people forget or get busy etc., I get it) and as though it was no big deal she told me that she had decided that she didn’t want the sign anymore and could I cancel her order. Like WTF! 

She knew I was placing her order first thing the next morning.

Did she just think the sign and me would miraculously disappear?

Did she not think it would’ve been a nice and simple courtesy to let me know she had changed her mind at some point before I would have possibly delivered it to her?

Does she not have a conscience?

Did she not care that the money from the purchase of the sign was being donated to charity?

In case you’re wondering, I confronted her and asked her those exact questions and guess what; she didn’t care! I’m sure you’re not surprised “but” I trust too easily I guess.

It really set me back even though this had been my first time experiencing this during my entire campaign so I guess that’s pretty good odds eh?

I was really trying through all of my upset and anger to remind myself of all the positive experiences I’ve encountered talking to well over a thousand people over the course of my campaign “but” instead there I went right down the rabbit hole again.

I wish that the word “but” didn’t even exist in my vocabulary and that I could finish both my thoughts AND sentences before the “but”; “but” it always feels like an impossible task. 

By connecting a sentence or statement with the word “but” for me is kinda like deflating a balloon with a sharp object. 

Those words before the BUT, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where I praise myself, see my strengths and acknowledge all the good I try and do for others just end up feeling completely meaningless. 

“But” I will argue that I have a really good excuse for it, I swear I do!

Or at least that’s what my depression and anxiety seem to want me to think.

#afterthebut #depression #anxiety #suicideawareness #gradsigns #mentalhealth #classof2021 #graduationday #stayathomeorder #lockdown #forouryouth #ouryouthmatter #campaign #initiative #lawnsigns #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #selfcare #letitgo #selfdoubt #justbreathe #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether 

2021 Graduate Campaign

As many of you know, last spring I created a series of lawn signs to help honour our 2020 graduates after receiving the devastating news that my daughter’s high school prom and graduation ceremony were both cancelled. 

The initiative quickly grew in abundance and at the end of 6 short weeks I had hand delivered somewhere in the ballpark of 700 signs to the front lawns (and porches) of so many deserving Graduates across the GTHA from Pre-K to Post-Graduate education. 

With the help of so many generous people in our amazing communities together we raised over $10,000 for Kids Help Phone which is why I have decided to launch my campaign again this spring. 

Our class of 2021 (including my other daughter who is just days away from earning her undergraduate degree in Communications) are all feeling the same disappointment, anger, loneliness, overwhelm and sadness as so many deserving graduates did just one year ago. 

I don’t need to tell you just how difficult this past year has been on our youth especially, many of whom are now struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression issues along with other mental health concerns due to the devastation and impact of the Pandemic. 

Our youth need to know that it’s okay to not be okay and that they are not alone which is why I have also decided this year to spread the wealth around by donating the proceeds to several youth mental health initiatives instead of just the one I did last year as the need to support our youth mental health programs is so much greater than ever before. 

I look forward to brightening up our neighborhoods soon.

#graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #payitforward #strongertogether

Ice Cream For Breakfast

Some days you may feel like eating ice cream for breakfast.

Today when I woke up it felt like that was the kind of a day it was for me.

If today feels that way for you too, it’s okay; give yourself permission to eat the ice cream for breakfast but don’t forget to pour some sprinkles on top too!

What foods bring you comfort?

#selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #itsoktonotbeok #icecream #comfortfood #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness

The Corona Silver Linings Anthology

I am so excited to finally receive my very own copy today of the book I was so honoured to be published in a few months ago.

It’s a compilation of stories, poems and images from individuals around the world.

“The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” captures real life experiences, raw emotions, meaningful issues and life lessons that we have all been challenged by or have had to face in one way or another during this past year while looking for those silver linings.

“The Lifewrite Project” is a non-profit initiative which publishes anthologies “encouraging people to tap into their power to write and share their unique stories” while collaborating with different charities related to the topic at hand and raising funds for many initiatives in the process.

The proceeds from this book are being donated to a variety of charities including “The First Responders Children’s Foundation”.

Check out their website for details on any of their upcoming projects. After all there’s an inner writer somewhere inside of us all just waiting to share our own unique story with the world.

#thecoronasilverliningsanthology #thelifewriteproject #author #writer #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #youareenough #silverlinings #grads #covid19 #coronavirus #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #yourmentalhealthmatters #kidshelpphone #lawnsigns #initiative #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #amazondotcom

My First Facebook Live

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.

Could I try a Ted Talk next?

https://m.facebook.com/groups/parents.unite18/permalink/871850973660675/  (link to Facebook live)

Or check out the Parents Unite group on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/parents.unite18/?ref=share

What is one topic you could talk about to a live audience for about 30 minutes without any preparation?

#facebooklive #speakyourtruth #fromtheheart #parentsunite #tedtalk #socialmedia #author #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #childrensbook #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok 

Four Million Reasons Why

I read an article the other day whose title immediately caught my eye. It read:

4 million cries for help: Calls to Kids Help Phone soar amid pandemic.

As I continued on to read the body of the article my heart sank further. 

Since the onset of the Pandemic last March, Kids Help Phone has seen an upsurge in calls from young people. Statistics show that calls, texts and their many other online resources have more than doubled since the previous year and they are now receiving over 800 calls, texts etc. every day from all across Canada (with Ontario making up for approximately half of those calls received each day).

Callers have been as young as 5 years old with a good majority of the calls coming in between midnight and 4 am. Many of these call are related to feelings of isolation, loneliness, self/body image, virtual learning, missed milestones and an overall deterioration of their mental health. And of all the calls received by their large team of trained counsellors per day, there is at minimum, 10 calls where police are being dispatched for “active suicide rescues”. 

These stats are truly heartbreaking but I am so thankful at the same time that our youth have a safe place like Kids Help Phone to reach out to in order to help them survive a Pandemic. Knowing just how many of our young people have become so withdrawn, angry, frustrated, anxious and sad (and rightfully so) is beyond scary. 

I hear from speaking with so many concerned parents in my community (and beyond) how their kids are staying up all night gaming with friends online just to feel some sort of connection and how so many more have completely checked out from their daily routines, especially online learning. The concerns over the emotional and financial impacts that isolation and lockdowns are having on our youth are growing more and more concerning by the day and suicides among our youth are increasing at alarming rates. 

As spring quickly approaches, (at least according to Wiarton Willie, the adorable little Groundhog that is, who just yesterday predicted an early spring, yay), I had recently been giving a great deal of thought to starting another Graduation Initiative again this year for the Class of 2021. 

I will afterall in just two short months have another Graduate in my home, who as of yesterday received the disappointing news in an email from her University informing her (what we already knew in our hearts) that they will be postponing her Spring Convocation Ceremony until such time when large public gatherings can once again take place safely. 

I know how much disappointment, anger and sadness this reality caused my other daughter last spring when both her Prom and Graduation ceremony were cancelled, along with millions of other young people’s around the world but after reading the article and taking note of the imminent crisis our young people are facing due to the Pandemic I felt a great sense of pride knowing that the 10k that I along with the help of 100’s of incredibly generous and kindhearted people in and around my community helped raise and donate to Kids Help Phone last spring, that the money went to a very worthwhile cause.

I now feel as though I have at least 4 million more reasons to take on this initiative once again and who knows, maybe with the help of my amazing community we could double the amount of proceeds we raised last spring.

Services like Kids Help Phone are needed more than ever before and even though it may only be a stepping stone toward other resources or long term services for some, our young people deserve a fighting chance and are going to need all the help they can get long after the Pandemic is over because although many of the imminent issues at hand may one day dissipate, the lingering effects and fallout from the Pandemic are sadly going to affect much of our younger generations for many years to come.

If you or someone you know needs a safe and confidential place to start please call Kids Help Phone at: 1.800.668.6868 or text: 686868

#kidshelpphone #ouryouthmatter #helplines #lifelines #classof2021 #graduationday  #grads #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence 

Living Inside My Suicidal Mind

***WARNING: Content may be triggering***

I know that Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But what if your problems keep adding up and what if they no longer feel temporary?

But what if you can no longer shake off those unrelenting thoughts?

But what if you believe that suicide is your only option in order to feel any kind of relief or be at peace?

But what if you feel like your mere existence is hurting those around you, especially the ones who love you the most? 

But what if the pain in your heart is too intense and overwhelming to stand for one second more?

But what if you’ve made a plan and just want to figure out a way to execute it?

But what if you can’t close your eyes at night because you’re too afraid of what you might see?

But what if you’re anxiety is paralyzing you with fear and keeping you from living? From breathing? From loving? Or from finding hope?

But what if your depressed mind keeps telling you that you are helpless? Worthless? And have no purpose?

But what if all this sadness and despair are so completely unbearable and feels as if it will last forever?

If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out to a trusting friend, therapist, counsellor, loved one or call Canada Suicide Prevention Hotline @ 1.833.456.4566/ Kids Help Phone @ 1.800.668.6868 Help is available 24/7/365

#itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #checkonyourlovedones #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #mentalhealthcheckin #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #dontsufferinsilence #yourmentalhealthmatters #youmatter #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #BellLetsTalk

Little Things Matter

A few days before the new year I wrote a blog where I talked about how making resolutions only leads me to further feelings of failure and defeat so instead this year I decided I would try to write down one small simplified goal or daily intention each day in my newly purchased 2021 daily planner instead

(see blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/28/monday-motivation-a-simplified-plan).

Well we may only be 5 days into the new year so far but I’ve decided to give myself bragging rights today because I have kept a promise and followed through on that promise to myself every day since the new year began.

These simplified goals and intentions may seem like no big deal for some or “not good enough” to others or even super silly but for someone like me, these baby steps are a stepping stone toward a path of healing and self-love. 

And hey, haven’t we always been taught that it’s the little things in life that matter the most?

#littlethingsmatter #simplifiedplanner #simplifiedgoals #intentions #promisesicankeep #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety

My Silver Linings Playbook Of 2020

In case you didn’t get the memo, 2020 has been a pretty rough year for all of us in some way or another. For myself, this year started off with a great big bang and it honestly feels as though it never lets up. Infact, just days ago Rich and I found ourselves taking note of this after facing several new challenges of late which have only added on to the many recurring and verifiably overwhelming obstacles we have already been facing this year; all of which seem likely to follow us right into the new year.  

Life fucking sucks right now in more ways than you can possibly imagine and in more ways than I’m willing to share publically at the moment. But as mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting as this year has been, today I am going to focus on the “Silver Linings” that have come about while being smacked in the face by so much adversity in 2020.

As I mentioned in a recent Blog (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/noone-knows-what-the-future-holds-valuable-lessons-learned-from-2020) this year has taught us many valuable lessons and given us many teachable moments as well and many of these lessons and moments have given us opportunities to create a silver lining during the Pandemic too.

For starters the Pandemic gave me the push to get out and start walking almost every single day and explore my surroundings more than ever before. It also gave me the incentive to go on probably double, if not triple the amount of hikes than all the previous years combined and for a good 8 months I walked between 5 and 12 km almost every single day since the original lockdown began in mid March until about a month ago when the weather began to change. I don’t do winter very well!

Another silver lining and great accomplishment for me this year was when I decided to create my “Class of 2020” Graduation lawn sign Initiative back in April to celebrate our very deserving 2020 Graduates and give many, many families and friends a way to honour them as well. And thanks to the incredible generosity of so many of those friends and families in the GTHA I never could have imagined that I would also have successfully raised over $10k for Kids Help Phone at the same time. It was definitely a very proud moment for me in my lifetime. 

It also led to several other accomplishments as well, like the opportunity to share my story to many platforms and with many amazing non profit organizations as well and one such piece of my writing was recently published in a new book called “The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” where others just like myself from all over the world got to share some of their stories, experiences and life lessons during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The book was just released a few days ago and is now available for sale on Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/Corona-Silver-Linings-Anthology/dp/149583090X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pl_foot_top?ie=UTF8&fbclid=IwAR15369DXWJcmlYdbEVKpLtl1S6frObLa2cwQIJbhQ4IeRItDONNABJe2y8

And finally, 2020 has also given me the opportunity to spend actual quality time with my kids, something that as many of us know all too well becomes more and more challenging as they get older.

We have watched many movies together, taken several hikes together and engaged in many valuable dinnertime conversations together too. My kids have been great teachers for me this year and have taught me a thing or two about the true meaning of resilience.

What has been one of the silver linings in your life this year or one of the best things to have happened to you or for you this past year?

#silverlinings #2020 #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #selfcare #happynewyear #soulsearching #spiritualhealing