Tips For Easing Back To School

Here we go again. 

Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is). 

Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).

Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.

And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.

Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids. 

But give them time to adjust.

Change can be very scary.

Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better. 

Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.

Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them. 

It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.

Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.

Reassure them that they are not alone. 

The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.

None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.

Promise them though that you will get through this together. 

Focus on what is in their control right now.

Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.

And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.

Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone. 

Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.

#backtoschool #mentalwellness #transition #change #herewegoagain #fuckyoucovid #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #communicationiskey #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #childrensmentalhealth

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

Gold Medal Treatment

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now coming from the Olympic world.

Simone Biles is probably one of the most recognized and celebrated Olympic athletes in the world today and a true mental health warrior in my eyes. 

I one thousand percent support and admire Simone’s decision to step away from the podium for now in order to focus on her mental well-being but her decision to do so has been met with so much ridicule by the naysayers who are sitting on their butts, most likely from the comfort of their couch, hidden behind their smartphone screens, tweeting out and calling her a quitter or worse. 

It brings us right back to the same place we keep ending up because had Simone broken her ankle during her Olympic performance we would not be having this conversation and instead we would all be empathizing with her and cheering her on as she rehabilitated and got back to the vault. But taking a step back to focus on her mental health never seems to be a good enough reason to the naysayers. 

Mental illness and PTSD can creep up on you ever so slowly and often out of nowhere. She deserves to be recognized for her strength and courage and not criticized and judged. 

You don’t get to the level that Simone Biles has without being mentally tough. She is far from a quitter. She is taking care of her mental wellness and that makes her worthy of an Olympic gold medal in my eyes.

And when she returns, and I believe she will, she will show all those naysayers sitting on their butts from the comfort of their couch what it takes to be a real winner. 

Many people may not fully realize or ever truly understand the trauma and possible triggers (including performing in the Olympics) that Simone has had to overcome being that she was one of MANY young athletes who suffered YEARS and YEARS of sexual abuse at the hands of their “trusted” Olympic Team Doctor “Larry Nassar” who is now thankfully serving a prison sentence of over 100 years for his crimes. 

Mental illness and PTSD are both VERY real and VERY serious. If she is not mentally strong enough to be able to focus on her performance then she could most definitely hurt herself physically and possibly destroy everything. 

Self-care is mental wellness and it doesn’t matter if you can’t physically see her injury; it still matters, even more. 

Sadly though, we live in a world where people judge others on how much money they have, what kind of career path they choose, how big the house is that they live in, how smart they are and even by the amount of medals they may have sitting on their shelf.

But what if for just one second we all took a “step back” and focused on a world where people didn’t see it that way and instead only cared that you are happy, healthy and kind. 

Don’t we all deserve that kind of gold medal treatment?

#olympian #tokyoolympics #mentalhealthwarrior #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #ptsd #endthestigmatogether #goldmedaltreatment #mentalwellness #strongertogether #usaolympian #gymnastics #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #youareenough #selfcare #yourmentalhealthmatters #sexualabuse #selflove #mindfulness #youarenotalone @simonebiles

A Work In Progress

Seven years ago I could never have pictured my life a certain way. 

None of us ever can.

But from very early on in my diagnosis I knew I needed to somehow paint another picture by accepting the tools I’d been given and embrace each one of them, one stroke at a time. 

These tools have helped me to understand that it’s okay if sometimes I colour outside the lines or splatter some paint on my shoes. 

I may still be a work in process but no matter what we are all a work of art.

Not everyone is ready to start painting a new picture right away.

It may take some time (maybe even years) before someone is truly able to put on a smock, pick up their paint brush and make that first stroke.

Some people need to ease into it at their own pace because they are too afraid to change their picture or ask for help in creating a new one.

The question is, how does a person truly know when they are ready? What makes someone ready? 

I’ve seen alot of people who struggle with this. They pick up their pencil thinking they are ready to start sketching their new picture. 

But then they place their half chewn and sharpened down to the nub pencil back in the drawer. 

They try again.

This time they start sketching an image but their picture gets smudged in the process so they desperately try to erase the smudges but the smudges just become more embedded deeper and darker into the paper the more they attempt to erase them.  

And before they know it they have just crumpled up their hundredth piece of paper to toss in the waste basket.

But then one day, maybe even after attempting to throw away that hundredth piece of crumpled up paper into the waste basket they realize that what they need the most is some actual guidance and direction or maybe even an entirely new perspective; one that is outside of their abstract view of what their picture should look like. 

It’s okay if you toss away a hundred pieces of crumpled up paper into the waste basket, using that stubby, chewed up pencil before you are able to create a new picture, one with more depth and composition. 

Because only you will know in your heart when the time comes that you are truly ready to pick up that paint brush, stand confidently in front of your easel and begin painting your new picture; this time using the most beautiful and vibrant colours. 

#acceptance #acceptinghelp #accountabilty #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #workinprogress #workofart #mentalhealth #paintedpictures #abstract

Kintsugi: A Touch of Gold

Metaphorically speaking, sometimes when we fall down we may chip a little. 

Sometimes we may even crack. 

And sometimes we completely shatter into a billion pieces. 

Seven years ago I completely shattered into a billion pieces. 

I didn’t even see it coming. 

It happened so fast and it feels like every day since I have been desperately searching for a way to mend those shattered pieces of my life.

For the first few years of my recovery I believed that the only way for me to truly heal was to find my way back to the life I was living before I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety. 

So much has changed in my life in the past seven years, some for the better. 

But as I began to slowly try and pick up those shattered pieces of my life and put them back to where they were before, I realized it was an impossible task and then I began to understand something else, that even if it were possible, I no longer wanted to go back.

I’ve come to learn more and more recently about the Japanese artform called “Kintsugi” and how it seems to relate so much to my journey. 

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pieces back together using gold. It’s built around the philosophy that as we learn to embrace both our past and imperfections, we become more beautiful as a whole. 

It believes that no matter how broken we may feel at certain times in our lives, healing is possible and that by embracing both our past and our imperfections we will find hope and new meaning too.

It also shows us that we are no less valuable just because we may have a few chips or cracks in us.

I have spent the last many years desperately trying to figure out ways in which to mend my shattered pieces and turn them into a work of art, something that could be more meaningful and even more beautiful than before. 

Maybe, without even knowing it I have somehow already adopted many of the Kintsugi practices into my healing process along my journey by continuously trying to show the world all my chips, cracks and shattered pieces instead of hiding them. 

Now all that’s left to do is add a touch of golden highlights in order to give me the strength to believe that even when life feels like its been shattered into a billion pieces there is always hope in finding a way to mend them.

#kintsugi #japaneseart #atouchofgold #shatteredpieces #strength #hope #beauty #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

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

Invitation Only

“The act of forgiveness takes place in your own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”~ Louise Hay

Forgiveness is a gentle act and a gift of self love. I have learned over the last several years that holding on to anger I have toward someone who has hurt me only creates further pain. 

Forgiveness means no longer feeling burdened by your past. 

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation, approval or making space to welcome someone back into your world, it just means choosing to rise above it by moving forward, free of bitterness and resentment. 

Forgiveness allows you to put the situation behind you for your own well being and integrity. It means taking back the power and control you have over yourself.

The past few years I’ve had a big shift in the area of my relationships and whether it be a friendship, a family member or even an acquaintance; it can get very complicated. 

Some shifts in my relationships have brought with it a sigh of relief, a feeling of anger and plenty of sadness but through my own personal journey toward healing and with time, they have also brought forgiveness.  

I’ve learned that holding on to the bitterness and resentment is only hurting me. 

Forgiveness doesn’t always happen right away. For some people or in some circumstances it can take a lot longer to forgive, but it’s never too late to learn the art of forgiveness.

As I move into this next chapter of my life I am now making a conscious effort and a very selfless decision when it pertains to my own mental health and well-being that I choose who I get to invite into my life.  

I’ve always let people walk into my life very easily, sometimes too easily and I’ve done so without actually stopping to ask myself first if I really have the energy or mental capacity needed in order to have a healthy relationship with this person at this moment in time. 

I’m a pretty open book (that’s an obvious one) and I wear my heart on my sleeve (also pretty obvious) which, at times has left me feeling very vulnerable and indefensible in some of my relationships and sadly it’s come back to bite me in the ass many, many times. 

By learning how to forgive others who have held way too much unwarranted space in my heart for far too long has really afforded me the ability to make so much more room in my life for the people who genuinely want to be there and vice versa. 

It’s opened up space to have real and honest relationships with people who can truly accept my limitations and vice versa, who see me as perfectly imperfect and vice versa, who don’t question my boundaries and vice versa, who support my endeavors and vice versa, who want nothing more than for me to be happy and vice versa, who are there to listen when I just need to talk, without judgment and vice versa and most of all, who love me for being my true authentic self and vice versa.

I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to the amazing relationships I have in my life right now. And whether you are a friend, a family member or even an acquaintance of mine I hope you know that you always have an open invitation.

#forgiveness #learningtoforgive #mentalhealth #wellbeing #inviteonly #theactofforgivness #mentalwellness #family #friendship #selfcare #selflove #rsvp #openinvitation #relationshipgoals #youareenough #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 

Be Your Own Best Friend

“Noone is judging you harder than you already judge yourself.” ~ unknown

This is me in a nutshell.

It’s led me to feel defeated, hopeless, worthless and emotionally scarred for more than seven years now. 

I’m my own worst enemy. 

We all make mistakes.

We all experience failure.

We all have shortcomings.

All we can do is try our best to be our best.

We are only human.

We are all imperfectly perfect.

We should treat ourselves the way we would treat a best friend.

However, first I need to learn how to forgive myself, how to trust in myself more, how to see my full potential, how to be kinder and more compassionate with myself, how to be the loudest cheerleader in the room, how to be my biggest fan, how to embrace my flaws, how to stop judging myself and how to love myself unconditionally.

After all that’s what best friends do for each other.

I need to become my own best friend.

Are you your own best friend?

#beyourownbestfriend #loveyourselffirsst #unconditionallove #selfworth #selflove #selfcompassion #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness