Nap Time

To chronicle my sleep patterns in a word I’d best describe it as haphazardly. 

In short, it lacks any type of direction, it’s random and very disorderly.

I’m up until all hours of the night wandering aimlessly, worrying and anticipating doom. 

My body seems to have made the necessary adjustments needed for someone living on minimal amounts of sleep each night but still it continues to urge me to get some rest when I can.

Most days it loses that argument because even a short catnap feels burdensome to me. My mind fights the urge to nap but certainly not for lack of trying that is.

Napping is good for your mental health. Experts will tell you that taking a short afternoon nap can help clear the chaotic thoughts and burnout from your mind, it can improve your cognitive ability and even boost your mental agility.

But still, napping gets a bad rap.

People perceive napping as laziness instead of seeing it for its many health benefits. 

I wish I could nap more often. I feel guilty as it is when I can’t get out of bed most mornings. But it’s okay to nap, or even lay in bed a little bit longer if that’s what your body and mind need. 

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing we can do in order to recharge. It’s not a waste of time if your body and mind are begging you to do so.

Do you find having a quick catnap when you can rejuvenating?

Thank you to everyone who continues to reach out to me, check up on me and leave beautiful messages of support this week as I continue to try and get through this very difficult time*

#napping #catnap #recharge #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #negativethoughts #burnout #mentalagility #siesta

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

Monday Motivation: Badge of Honour

I started following a group on Facebook called “Ontario Hiking” soon after its conception last spring that has really helped me to find many new and exciting places to explore on our #summerofrich adventures.

It is run by Lauren Yakiwchuk who spends so much of her free time exploring our great Province and blogging about her personal experiences along her trails.

This group offers many fun and interactive experiences, great tips, lots of beautiful photos and so many helpful and honest reviews of places all over Ontario, some of which are very close to home for me and many more that are hundreds of kilometers away.

Throughout the last 4 years since the #summerofrich first launched (can you believe its been four years) I continue to add many new and adventurous places to my already very lengthy wishlist that I would love to explore one day.

It has become quite a long list and it just keeps on growing. 

Each week I now refer to this wonderful and very informative group of close to 80,000 like-minded members who share my passion for nature, hiking and mental wellness in order to plan our day trips. **I was really hoping that this summer we could take a 5 day hiking trip to the most northern tip of our beautiful Province for my birthday but unfortunately there have been too many obstacles standing in our way this year.

One of the group’s most fun and interactive experiences I’ve enjoyed following most since the group launched last spring has been reading posts from other members who have participated in the quarterly hiking challenges. 

These challenges occur every January, April, July and October. Participants are asked to complete 5 hikes (or walks) during that month. Once you have completed your hikes you can email the 5 locations you hiked during that month to a specific app in order to receive a “digital badge” for “bragging rights” and a chance to win prizes. 

I decided near the end of June that instead of just following other members participating in the upcoming July challenge that I would join in on the #julyhikingchallenge for myself. 

It’s not like we don’t hike several times a month anyways, especially during the summer and I knew that if I participated in the challenge for myself that it would push me (and Rich) on those days when one of us is just not up for it.

We both have such a feeling of accomplishment after our hikes and not only did we challenge each other in July to push through the 5 hikes, we surpassed the initial targeted goal and completed 7 of them instead. That for sure earned us both many bragging rights.

I just received my “digital badge” this morning via email for accomplishing the #julyhikingchallenge and although I may not have won any of the prizes this time around I feel like a baby bird today when they are first born and have no idea the power that their wings have or  how determined they will become in order to learn to fly; and one day maybe even learn to soar.

#mondaymotivation #badgeofhonour #hikingchallenge #ontariohiking  #ontariohikingchallenge #hikingtrails #summertimeselfcare #spiritualhealing #ontarioisourstodiscover #nature #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #babybird #learningtofly #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #youareenough

Body-Shaming Yourself

A few years ago I opened up about an eating disorder I had in my late teens and early twenties (see blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/i-had-an-eating-disorder-and-it-still-weighs-me-down-everyday/) and I spoke in great length at the time about how I never really figured out the root cause of it even after I recovered. 

But the truth is that even though I may have recovered initially from my battle with Anorexia and Bulimia in my early 20’s it has never truly left me; it’s just transformed itself in other ways. 

I never battled with my weight before the onset of my eating disorder, nor did I have any issues with my self-image. 

It probably didn’t truly present itself again until I began having children in my late 20’s and early 30’s and it has especially spiraled out of control since my battle with Depression and Anxiety began seven years ago.

Right from the start of my mental health journey and my diagnosis I was treated with over 20 concoctions of antidepressants for a solid two years straight which eventually led me to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression and also left me with a weight gain of close to 100 pounds. 

And although half of that weight gain almost disappeared instantly when my husband and I finally made the decision together, along with the guidance of my Psychiatrist to wean me off all my medications, my weight has continued to be an uphill battle for me throughout my journey and just one of the many road blocks in my recovery. It all too often leads me back to those same destructive behaviours I exhibited as my 18 year old self battling an eating disorder. 

I’m struggling alot these days with these tendencies and it seems to have magnified itself by a thousand this past week when I needed to go dress shopping for an upcoming family wedding and I had a panic attack and complete breakdown which left me crying in a sea of dresses on the floor of a department store changeroom.

I know I’m not alone in my negative self-image or body-shaming thoughts and especially lately as we all begin to emerge from our cocoon that has left many of us bearing several extra “Pandemic Pounds”.

It’s no secret by now from all the pictures that I post how much I shy away from the camera. Seeing pictures of myself only sets off a destructive mindset and binge of body-shaming.

It’s a vicious cycle of bullying, negative self-talk, anxiety and suicidal ideations. Self-shaming or the act of body-shaming whether it be towards ourselves or someone else is a real and very dangerous problem which Social Media and the mainstream media have only made 10x worse.

My illness has pretty much destroyed any ounce of self-confidence I once had, it continues to tell me how worthless and helpless I am, it loves to focus on the negative and boy oh boy does it ever hate to hear compliments. 

I wish I were able to squash my destructive mindset once and for all and begin to see the same beauty in me that others do; and to believe that I AM ENOUGH from the inside out.

Tell me one thing you love about your body.

#bodyshamingyourself #bodyshaming #eatingdisorders #anorexia #bulimia #depression #anxiety #suicide #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #selflove #innerbeauty #imperfectlyperfect #mondaymotivation

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 

Good Mental Health is a Balancing Act

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It takes a lot of trial and error. 

I know my weaknesses.

I know my limitations.

I know what makes me happy. 

I struggle to accept help from others.

I struggle to set boundaries. 

I struggle to say no.

I’m overwhelmed.

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Balancing one’s mental health is “learning to find a way to do the things we have to do and the things we want to do without changing the hours in the day.”

I can’t find my balance right now. I’m tired.

I’m feeling hopeless.

Quick to anger.

Anxious.

Guilt.

Sadness. 

I’m an organizer, a fixer, a multi-tasker. 

But I can’t concentrate.

My brain is scattered.

I can’t complete a simple task.

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It’s not something that can be achieved in a day.

My mental health depends on it and so does my mental wellness.

I’m deserving of both. So are you. 

But it may take a lot of trial and error in order to get there. 

How do you balance your mental health and wellness?

#mentalhealth #mondaymotivation #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #balancingact #overwhelm #vulnerability #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #selfcare #hopelessness #suicideprevention #blogger #trialanderror

Inner Child

Children are curious, dreamy, creative and determined little creatures.

They see the world through much different eyes.

They see the world as beautiful and innocent.

They love fearlessly.

They live in the moment.

They express themselves with sincerity. 

Somedays I just need to talk to my inner child in order to help me understand life again.

#mondaymotivation #innerchild #dreamy #beinthemoment #acceptance #bekindtoyourself #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youmatter #trueself #youarenotalone #soulsearching #selfcare #selfreflection #forgiveness #healing #reflections #nineteenseventysomething

Friendship First

It was 30 years ago today that Rich and I went out on our first “official” date. 

We had already been working together (he was my boss) for the better part of a year but our timing and circumstances just hadn’t quite aligned before then. 

But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe it was how it was meant to be and maybe it’s how it should be because during the time leading up to our first “official” date we were building a genuine friendship. 

We were getting to know each other, trusting and confiding in one another and learning things about each other that we may not have otherwise been given the opportunity to do.

By developing a true friendship and bond first before jumping right into a relationship took away all of our exceptions. 

I can barely recall most days anymore what I did 5 minutes ago yet I can still remember every last moment of our first “official” date.

And maybe it’s because we could truly be ourselves around each other and not have to pretend to be someone we weren’t. 

Or maybe it’s that friendship we developed first, the one with no strings attached that has helped us to grow together as a couple and has also enabled us to support one another through the most difficult and challenging times that were still yet to come.

I’d love to hear some stories from your best and worst first dates. 

#firstdates #dinnerandamovie #twentysixyearsmarriedthisfriday #thirtyyearsago #wheredidthetimego #friendship #whattrulymatters #unbreakablebond #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mondaymotivation #nostalgia

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

A Perfect Day For A Getaway

Forgot to post our #summerofrich adventure from yesterday. 

I needed an escape from the racing thoughts in my head and a hike seemed like the perfect distraction.

There was plenty of clear blue sky  and a warm springtime breeze in the air. We could hear birds chirping from the trees and ducks singing by the pond. Perfection.

But even with plenty of clear blue sky, a warm springtime breeze in the air, the birds chirping from the trees and the ducks singing by the pond, I could not totally escape the trauma that April 4th represents for me (see blog I posted yesterday if you missed it).

I’m easily triggered by the events that took place on that day seven years earlier and this year had been no exception. As midnight approached the night before last I began experiencing symptoms of my PTSD and quickly found myself trying to fight off a panic attack. 

But aside from all that and the trails being nothing short of a mudslide for the better part of our nearly 2 hour hike it turned out to be just what I needed (and boy were we glad that we had decided to leave Maggie at home!).

Sorry though to have disappointed you Rich, who had been camera ready the entire time hoping to take a snapshot of me falling flat on my butt as we navigated our way through the very slippery and often dangerous mounds of mud; fyi there were several close calls 😋).

How did you incorporate self-care into your long weekend?

#coldcreekconservation #nobleton #hiking #nature #springisintheair #discoveringontario #birdschirping #duckssinging #sunshine #mudslide #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #therapeutic #selfcare