A Thirst For The #summerofrich

I had planned to give this as a gift to Rich for Father’s Day but (spoiler alert) I guess I just couldn’t wait that long, LOL!

I made it for him and in honour of him. 

So from now on whatever trails our #summerofrich adventures lead us to Rich will always be well hydrated with his new, “one of a kind”, personalized and insulated water bottle that will keep his drinks really cold and refreshing no matter how lost we may get or how hot it is outside.  

Every summer since its conception about five years ago now I like to give a brief synopsis of what #summerofrich is for any newcomers to my page who may be wondering what the heck it is exactly. 

It began with a simple exclamation one (very) early Friday morning at the end of June as we stood waving goodbye to our three kids as they drove away on the bus to camp for the next seven and a half glorious weeks (I actually think 2 of them were staff at the time and may have already left for camp, but not important!).

They were barely out of the parking lot yet when Rich turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and shouted “It’s the Summer of Rich”!, and wasted no time at all getting started. Our first activity on the #summerofrich agenda that year (and every year after that until last summer) was already scheduled for later that morning. We were off to the spa for pedicures.

The #summerofrich meant that he now had a seven plus week break; a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break from the burdensome (I use that term, not him) role he plays as both mom and dad, chef, psychologist, schlepper, grocery bagger and much, much more for the other forty something weeks of the year; a role which he has so selflessly taken on for the better part of seven years now.

Last summer when the devastating (yes it was devastating to many) announcement came that overnight camps would not be running due to Covid-19 I thought for a brief moment that we should cancel the #summerofrich all together seeing as Rich would not be getting his well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break. Then I realized that we don’t have to cancel it at all, we just needed to pivot somewhat, after all we no longer had all three kids away for the summer anymore anyways.

And tada, the #summerofrich 2.0 was born. This past year we pivoted a lot due to Covid restrictions. And although our summers may not be as carefree as they once we’re, the #summerofrich has become an incredible outlet for the both of us. If you were to tell me 5 years ago that I’d be enjoying the great outdoors, hiking trails all over our beautiful Province of Ontario and exploring the beauty of nature I’d have said you were crazy.

It’s now become the perfect way to take care of our mental health, have fun and discover places we never imagined before. 

What a healthy outlet we have found to do together and I’m so glad that sharing our adventures brings so much joy to others as well. Hashtag #summerofrich has created quite a following!

I’m a planner and I love spending time researching and finding new and adventurous things for us to do. I take my job very seriously (hey, you never know but maybe one day we will even complete the entire length of the Bruce Trail, all 900 KMs of it!).

But most of all when we needed to pivot last summer, the #summerofrich 2.0 took on a whole new life of its own and has made many of our adventures that much more meaningful and memorable too. Our kids have even learned to embrace our passion in small doses, call it “Pandemic boredom” but hey, I’ll take it! 

Yes, the #summerofrich may have started out as a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break for Rich during the seven or eight weeks that the kids were away at camp but it’s become so much bigger than that, so much so that as we pivoted this past year we also continued to discover even more adventures with every changing season.  Me and winter do NOT get along but if you add the hashtag #summerofrich next to it then count me in! (And it’s a good thing that his new water bottle can also keep his drinks nice and warm as well!!)

#twopointoh #learntopivot #insulatedwaterbottle #earlyfathersdaypresent #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #nature #hiking #getmoving #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #family #relationshipgoals

Happy Graduation Hannah

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

Don’t ever stop being you🥰❤

#happygraduation #mazeltov #hannahbanana #proudparents #greatjob #classof2021 #neverstopbeingyou #ryersonuniversity #humbercollege #eventmanagement #communications #youdidit #ouryouthmatter #weloveyoutothemoonandback #youareenough

My Self-Care Today

I really needed this today.

I am struggling alot right now.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to so many of you who have checked in on me over the past few days.

It may seem so little to some but to many others like myself who may be struggling right now, the thought could go a really long way.

#summerofrich #milnedamconservationpark #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #selfcare #checkonyourlovedones #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #familymatters #yourmentalhealthmatters #milnedamconservationpark #nature #outdoors #trails #longweekend #maytwofourweekend

Happy 26th Anniversary To My Beshert

Twenty six years ago today we stood before our family and friends and made a lifelong promise to one another. It was a promise to become partners and to love each other unconditionally, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

It was a promise of friendship, a promise of commitment, a promise of forgiveness, a promise of kindness, a promise of laughter, a promise of honesty, a promise of trust and a promise of patience.

We may have weathered many storms since then and we may have tested many of those promises too but still, twenty six years later there is no one else in the world I would rather weather any storm with than with you.

Thank you for keeping your promise to me; especially during the storms.

I love you to the moon and back, forever and a day!

#happyanniversary #twentysix #iloveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #youareenough #strongertogether #familymatters #weddingvows #weddingbells #promises #vows #weatherthestorms #mrandmrs #insicknessandinhealth #summerofrich

What Does Suicide Prevention Look Like?

**May be triggering to some**

I’m in a pretty crappy headspace right now. 

It’s one of those weeks where I find myself tumbling further and further down a very darkened rabbit hole and can’t seem to find my way out. 

I’ve spent the last few days questioning whether I should even bother, asking myself if life is worth it, wondering why I should even try, telling myself I can’t do this anymore and convincing myself that I should just give up.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 

1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness. So I know I am not alone.

It’s all around us and it’s more than likely that you know someone who may be struggling with one or more mental health challenges at this very moment. 

And it’s also sadly and quite plausible that many more are doing so in silence.

But we can’t ignore our mental health and we sure as hell can’t ignore mental illness either because no matter how hard you may try and hide from it, it will find you. It will catch up with you and at times it will make you question your self-worth, it will make you doubt yourself, it will tell you to stop trying and it could convince you to give up. 

As a society that is right smack in the midst of the worst mental health crisis ever we need to understand what suicide prevention really looks like and most importantly that it is everybody’s responsibility to play a role in it. 

As a society we need to understand that we all have a responsibility to take better care of each other because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to talk openly and honestly about mental health disorders and suicidality because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need more public awareness and education in order to destigmatize mental illness and suicidal behaviours so that those who may be most at risk can feel less alone, less fearful or less ashamed because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to accept each other’s differences because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to be able to openly and honestly express our feelings because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to help someone who may be in crisis and then follow up with additional support because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to make sure that we all live in an environment that is nurturing and safe because that is what suicide prevention looks like.

As a society we need to have proper funding in place to allow for everyone to access mental health supports and services because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to be there for a loved one, a friend, a neighbor or a coworker who may be experiencing the loss of their job, the loss of a relationship or loved one or some other major, life altering change in their lives because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

Suicide prevention means knowing that it’s okay to not be okay. 

Knowing that it’s okay to ask for help. 

And together as a society we need to make it OK.

What does suicide prevention look like to you?

***If you or someone you know is in crisis please call Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 or go to your nearest hospital. 

#suicideprevention #suicideawareness #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #yourmentalhealthmatters #youmatter #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #itsoktoaskforhelp 

A Mother’s Day Hike

After finishing up the last of my deliveries early this morning there was nothing more I wanted to do today than go on a #summerofrich adventure with my family.

A few years ago I made the unselfish decision to choose “me” on Mother’s Day (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3218956211472176&id=100000734852540) and even though we haven’t been able to completely reinvent that day for a second year in a row now, I will always cherish these precious moments I get to spend with them just the same.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my warrior moms! 

#dundasvalleyconservationpark #happymothersday #familymatters #preciousmoments #memoriesthatlast #youareenough #youarenotalone #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #therapeutic #nature

Celebrate with Cupcakes

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let A Few Bad Apples Spoil The Whole Bunch

I listen wholeheartedly and often to stories from people in regards to our mental health system; and just how broken it truly is. 

Maybe you don’t necessarily believe it or maybe you choose not to believe it if you have never experienced it for yourself or a loved one while desperately trying to advocate for them but I’m living proof that too many of the stories I hear are very real and beyond disturbing at times. 

I myself have walked out of many psychiatrist’s offices and emergency rooms shaking my head in disbelief and left feeling even more defeated than when I first walked in which is why when someone shares their own personal anecdotes with me I can feel every ounce of their pain, sadness and frustration.

Recently a friend of mine confided in me about one such experience when she took her son to the emergency room after he came to her telling her that he had been having very intrusive thoughts of hurting himself. 

Before I go any further I just wanted to first say BRAVO to this young boy for having the courage to confide in someone he trusted about how he was feeling. Many of you reading this may not realize just how much fucking strength that takes, like the kind of strength that only superheros are made of. BRAVO. BRAVO. BRAVO. 

Hearing these words from anyone let alone your own child is beyond terrifying and I’m sure she probably felt very much alone at the time but also knew that the safest place for her son to be in that moment was in the trusted arms of a team of knowledgable, compassionate mental health professionals. 

But sadly that is not what happened at all. In fact it was quite the opposite and instead as she stood pleading with the Psychiatrist on duty at the hospital that day to help her child he turned to this young boy and his mom and told them that he should go home. He continued by saying how lucky the boy was to be so privileged enough to not have to deal with the stresses of living on the street or in a third world country. 

My heart broke in a million pieces as I heard her speak these words, words that I know are spoken all too often by ignorant folks who still believe that depression and/or suicidal ideations are nothing more than a chemical imbalance that can quickly be fixed by taking a pill or going for a long walk but when these words are spoken by a mental health professional and to an impressionable and vulnerable young mind no less, there are truly no words.

I know this is thankfully not the norm but it happens more often than it should because even one time is too many. I myself have had many amazing, incredible and compassionate experiences with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals (and thankfully I still do) to help me through the darkened days throughout my journey but those bad experiences can and will never be erased from my mind.

When seeking the help of a mental health professional try and watch out for signs that indicate that they are competent, invested in your wellbeing and most importantly a good fit for you. 

Make sure they are not overconfident, dismissive or arrogant. Make sure that they are not quick to prescribe medication or diagnose you. Make sure they take into consideration your own unique circumstances. Make sure they do not threaten to use their power to treat you with unnecessary treatments that you are uncomfortable with. Make sure they properly inform you about the many side effects of the medications they do prescribe to you and that they also properly wean you off the ones that aren’t working for you (weaning off certain meds can be very dangerous and must be done slowly and cautiously) and make sure that they work together with you and for you and alongside your loved ones which should include regularly monitoring your progress, making a plan by offering up next steps and new or appropriate solutions and may at time also include them turning to colleagues or outside support for guidance so not to miss out on something.

Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself (or a loved one) and make sure to ask lots (and lots) of questions especially if something doesn’t feel quite right or you don’t understand something. It can be a very long and burdensome journey, trust me, I know, but it’s your journey and no one else’s and having the proper support behind you that you so deserve while on your journey towards healing can make a huge impact.

#brokensystem #youareenough #youarenotalone #youmatter #youthmentalhealth #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #speakyourtruth #courage #mentalhealthprofessionals #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #checkonyourlovedones

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

Moment of Joy

I’ve been receiving an increasing amount of messages in recent days and weeks from both friends and strangers alike who are in need of some real emotional support for themselves or a loved one from someone who can relate to their feelings of debilitating anxiety, sadness and defeat; most of whom have never known or experienced these feelings before and they are scared and overwhelmed and vulnerable and unmotivated and lonely and helpless and stressed and angry and frustrated and sad and simply fed up. And they are not alone.

Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and at different times throughout the Pandemic but living in Ontario right now (and many other beautiful places around the globe) it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to try and stay positive anymore or to find moments of joy in our life and it’s showing up in both our physical and mental health in one way or another.  

Can we even find joy in our lives anymore? 

I know that I for one could really use some joy in my life right now. 

This picture (posted above) is pure unadulterated joy. Having my kids receive their first vaccines this week (because we live in a “hot spot”, woohoo!) felt incredibly joyful and I even went so far as to tell them that it felt even more joyful than the day they were first born. 

Did I go too far? Was it too much? 

I mean given that we’ve been living through a Global Pandemic for more than 13 months now I felt like my feelings were pretty justified, no?

It almost felt like a rebirth or a revival and that in more than a year I could finally see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been trying so desperately to get through and even though it’s only a tiny light for now, any light is at least a start.

What has been your moment of joy this week, even if it was for only a brief moment in time? Comment below and spread some joy!

P.S. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to practice self- care. 

P.P.P.S. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and when it’s your turn to get the vaccine, GO!

#momentsofjoy #shabbatshalom #lightattheendofthetunnel #joy #herdimmunity #vaccines #covidbegone #spreadjoy #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok