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

ATHLETES ARE HUMAN BEINGS TOO

Earlier this week, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the French Open. 

In doing so she has opened up some very important and very necessary conversations that need to be had. 

Athletes, whether in College or on a professional playing field are put on a pedestal, made to perform to perfection and always expected to be at the top of their game. 

That kind of pressure can certainly take its toll on anybody’s mental health and well-being, even that of a professional athlete. They may be our heroes but they are also human. 

I give Naomi (who at 23 years old is wise beyond her years) a standing ovation for her courage to step away from the podium and look after her mental health. A decision I’m sure that was not made easily. 

Why is it that when an athlete gets hurt on the ice, or on the field or on the court they are given all the time they need to heal but when their injury is invisible to the world they are criticized and made to feel as though they are weak?

Naomi is here to show the world that our mental health matters too.

Her courage to take a stand and step away from the podium for now in order to take care of her mental health and knowing that it could potentially destroy her career in doing so, I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to come through this stronger and better than ever.

She is showing the world that it’s okay to not be okay and that by choosing herself over her career, asking for help when needed and creating healthy boundaries in order to begin the healing process that she is a human being first; a perfectly imperfect one just like the rest of us.

*I’d like to give a special shout out to Nike and Mastercard, along with several other corporate giants who have sponsorship deals with Naomi for not hesitating to show their loyalty and support to her. Their statements to the press praising Naomi for her courage in sharing her struggles with depression and social anxiety boldly acknowledges that our mental health does matter. Thank you for standing with Naomi. I couldn’t agree more. 

#naomiosaka #tennisanyone #tennis #grandslam #frenchopen #mentalhealthofathletes #athletes #professionalsports #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #nike #mastercard #sponsorships #mentalwellness #selfcare #mentalhealth #depression #anxietyisreal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

And That’s A Wrap 😥

Last night I watched the series finale of “Mom”. 

I, like millions of its viewers was not ready for it to end. 

I’ve been watching “Mom” every Thursday night (and in reruns) since its first episode aired 8 years ago. 

The show centered around a group of ladies from all walks of life who develop the most unlikeliest yet deepest of friendships and the most unbreakable bonds brought together by one common goal; sobriety. 

The writers of “Mom” spent time building this strong and very relatable group of characters and brought us along on their unique journeys, cheering on their many triumphs and saddened by their many setbacks with new storylines each week depicting the real-life struggles of people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction; something so many of their fans could relate to and a very relevant and critical mental health discussion today. 

This has rarely been seen before in a half hour sitcom but “Mom” managed to do so by sensitively tackling very difficult topics and using humour to keep the audience coming back for more. 

It gave us an inside look at what recovery looks like.

It showed us that recovery is never a straight line.

It showed us that recovery is a lifetime journey.

It taught us to persevere.

It taught us that we all make mistakes and that it’s okay to fail sometimes.

It taught us to keep getting back up again after we fall down.

And it taught us that there is always a “solution”.

I often found myself relating to so many of the storylines and felt such a strong connection to my own mental health journey. 

These ladies taught me the importance of sharing my story and to keep on sharing it again and again.

They taught me about forgiveness. 

They taught me about hope. 

They taught me that life is filled with endless possibilities. 

They taught me that recovery is possible. 

And they taught me that with the right people in your corner you will never be alone.  

I’m sad it’s over and I had a good cry during the closing scene. I’m really gonna miss seeing these ladies each week at their AA meetings and coffee dates afterwards where they shared more than just a piece of pie. It’s where they celebrated “love, friendship and laughter” and it’s where I always felt like I had a seat at the booth right there alongside them.

#momfinale #alcoholicsanonymous #addiction #friendship #triumphs #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #theresalwaysasolution

A Quick Rant: A Fairer, Healthier World, My Ass

Today is World Health Day. Its campaign has become a day of recognition around the Globe since 1948 and was first created by the World Health Organization (WHO), a name that has become increasingly more and more familiar to all of us since the Pandemic started. 

This year’s campaign is focused on building a “fairer, healthier world” for everyone but living in Canada right now it doesn’t feel fair at all.

The vaccine rollout in Ontario (and Canada) has been a complete and utter disaster (imo) and I can’t believe that I am actually about to say this after what we have all witnessed over the past year in the United States but I am beyond envious of all my friends and family living south of the border right now as I witness the success of how their vaccines are being rolled out (and Israel, well they deserve a fricken gold star!). 

Earlier this morning both Rich and I were able to book appointments to get vaccinated simply because the Government has now deemed our postal code a “hot spot” along with several others in our region which has afforded us and anyone else in these select few areas who are between the ages of 45 and 59 years old to do so as well. 

I’m not gonna lie, once we both received our confirmation emails with our appointment times set in place I became super emotional (surprise, surprise there were actual tears) that this was actually about to happen.

I am beyond grateful to be given this opportunity and I feel that it is my duty to get vaccinated when my time comes in order to help stop the spread of Covid-19; but I’m angry all at the same time.

I’m angry that teachers and admin staff have not been prioritized to receive a vaccination first or the factory workers, grocery store clerks, wait staff in restaurants, construction workers, immune compromised individuals, those in more marginalized communities, the 20 something year olds who have been blamed most for spreading the virus and everyone else who works in an essential service and CANNOT work from home.

I just hope that soon enough all Canadians (and many other parts of the world) can celebrate World  Health Day together by actually building a fairer, healthier (and more united) world to live in.

Ok, Rant over

#worldhealthday #vaccinations #vaccinerollout #ohcanada  #ourgovernmenthasfailedus #weallmatter #anotherlockdown #covidfatigue #staysafe #covid19 #coronavirus #pandemic #wearamask #overwhelm #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate @fordnationdougford @justinpjtrudeau @celliottability @slecce

Memories From a Hockey Mom

Boy do I ever miss being a “Hockey Mom” 🏆🥅⛸🏒 . 

This picture (which popped up on my Facebook “Memory Wall” early this morning) not only captures Jacob’s goofy, loveable personality but it also captures the true essence of what passion, commitment, determination and hard work all look like as well.

Seeing it quickly reminded me just how much I miss watching him play hockey (even if being a goalie mom is one of the most stressful things ever lol) and it also reminded me of a piece I wrote (before I started my actual blog) near the end of Jacob’s last season in Minor League Hockey and well, I just felt like sharing it with you one more time.

**Spoiler alert: he has never stopped being part of a team since leaving the Minor League Hockey world; that was until stupid Covid forced him to take a break last Spring.

*Original Post: Feb 1, 2016* 

For the past 12 years being a hockey mom has been a huge part of who I am. I still remember putting Jacob on the ice in his first year of House League all dressed in his hockey gear and hardly able to skate and then, BOOM; the goalie skated by him and they accidentally collided into one another and Jacob broke his wrist. 

Fast forward 2 years, Jacob waiting patiently for his turn to play goalie in a tournament. He did such an amazing job and from that day forward Jacob’s dream of becoming a goalie was fulfilled. 

One year later he joined a more competitive level team with his friends which has now become our family for the last 9 years. He has improved and worked hard to become a successful goalie since then through perseverance, training, coaching and his love of being a goalie. 

Throughout the years hockey has defined our family dynamics, always working our lives around where the next game or tournament is; yes, being a hockey Mom has been a title I will hold near and dear to my heart forever. The ups and downs, I wouldn’t change a thing. But now what? 

With only a handful of games left in what is Jacob’s final year of minor league hockey (and hopefully a few more if they make the playoffs), I am sure he will continue to play for many years to come in the adult world but what about the hockey Mom? Where does that leave me? 

No more schlepping from one end of the GTA to the other, no more car stinking like a pair of dirty socks, no more cheering when the team scores the game winning goal and no more hockey family. 

I have dreaded this day coming for a long time now but I know that Jacob’s commitment he has made to his teammates and coaches alike through the last 12 years will help to define him as he faces many new challenges ahead of him and well, as for me, I will always be grateful for what hockey has given him, and what he has given me; his “Hockey Mom” ❤

#goaliemom #hockey #hockeymom  #memories #champs #mychamp #theygrowupsofast #skill #ilovehockey #determination #hardwork #passion #mentalhealth #mentalwellness 

Can I Ask You A Question?

I have always been very inquisitive and intuitive about the world around me (which has also helped me to become a better writer over time). 

I like to ask a lot of questions (just ask my kids if you don’t believe me!). 

Asking questions (especially open-ended ones) affords us the opportunity for learning, clarity, awareness, productivity, growth, curiosity and creativity. 

I probably should’ve pursued a career as a Detective or a Talk Show Host maybe?

How can we learn, gain clarity,  awareness, productivity, growth or be curious and creative about life if we don’t ask questions?

We encourage children to ask questions from the time they are able to speak. And even though it may feel like a nagging sensation pulling at your sleeve sometimes or a big pain in the ass at other times; what would the world be like if we discouraged our kids from exploring the wonderment of their surroundings or seeking the curiosity from their growing minds?

I’ve been made to feel ashamed for asking questions and when I was growing up I oftentimes felt too shy, too fearful, too embarrassed or too much pride to ask a question out loud. 

Asking questions should always be encouraged. It opens up important dialogue and no one should ever make you feel shame for asking too many questions. 

I only wish more people felt okay to ask me more questions about mental illness. My mental illness is a big part of who I am today. I will never stop encouraging others from asking even the most difficult questions about mental illness especially those who may have a hard time believing how real it truly is. 

It means the world to me to be able to help others and in order to keep the dialogue surrounding mental illness moving forward I must also be able and willing to answer the difficult questions with an open and honest heart so that others can learn, gain clarity, grow and become more aware. 

Just because we are adults now doesn’t mean we should ever stop learning or be unwilling to expand our want for knowledge each and every day. And keep in mind that there is no such thing as asking a stupid question!

#askmeanything #questions #askquestions #nosuchthingasastupidquestion #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate  #blogger #author 

Dead Ends

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” ~ Coco Chanel 

It’s been nearly a year now since I last cut my hair and I have to say, it felt quite liberating. 

I’ve never waited this long in between haircuts before but then again I’ve also never lived through a Pandemic before either. 

My hair feels lighter and healthier than ever today now that all the dead ends are finally gone. 

As I watched every last one of those dead ends of hair fall to the floor it almost felt like a metaphor for how we should be living life. 

Just as it’s important for us to trim away the dead ends of our hair regularly to allow for it to grow back stronger and healthier, I do know that it’s just as important to cut off the dead ends (metaphorically speaking) from our lives as well in order to give ourselves the courage and confidence to keep growing stronger and healthier too.

How are you prioritizing your mental health today?

#cocochanel #selfcare #deadends #haircut #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youareenough #youmatter #ichooseme #liberating #growth #strength 

What is Love?

“Love isn’t about how often you say I love you, it’s about how much you can prove it’s true.” ~ unknown ~

It’s easy to say I love you, they are just words; people can tell you anything they believe you long to hear but it’s their actions that will truly tell you everything.

There are many different kinds of love we will experience in our lifetime but just remember, that no matter what, the only kind of love you ever deserve, is the kind of love that doesn’t come with conditions, prerequisites or agendas attached to it.

#chooseaction #choosekindness #chooselove #loveyourself #bemyvalentine #youareenough #bekindtoyourself

Reaching Out For Help

**Update: here is the link to my interview** https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2021/01/29/telephone-counselling-set-up-due-to-pandemic-mental-health-issues

*Warning: May Be Triggering To Some*

I’m struggling more than usual right now and it almost feels like it’s beyond repair. 

My tears have all but dried up at this point and I feel as though I have nothing left to give of myself. My safe place no longer feels safe and I find myself looking for desperate ways to escape from these painful thoughts and feelings. 

I wish there was such a thing as a magic pill that I could swallow which would stop these desperate thoughts and feelings from taking control of me instead of wanting to end my life forever.  

I haven’t been able to shake these desperate thoughts and feelings for the better part of a week now. I’ve tried escaping them by going for walks at unreasonable hours, writing and most importantly trying to lean on others for support, including my Therapist, but I feel like such a burden right now which has made it that much more difficult to do.  

But I also know that reaching out for help is so important, especially as I desperately try to hold on in order to survive right now. This feeling is also why when I was approached to do an interview today with City TV News I knew it was maybe a sign. 

The interview was about a new telephone Helpline being set up in York Region to provide counselling for those suffering, specifically through Covid related issues due to restrictions, isolation etc. I knew it was something I needed to do for both myself and the many others who are feeling desperate and scared right now. I knew I needed to continue to be that voice and let others like me find hope and strength in knowing that reaching out for support is more than okay, in fact it’s beyond okay. 

I had put the link to this new service (which is free) on a blog the other day titled “Going To Therapy is Cool” @https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/going-to-therapy-is-cool and feel free to check out my Interview on City TV at 5 or 6pm tonight. 

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”~Maya Angelou 

Bang On

When you haven’t had your hair cut in literally like forever and it is literally unforeseeable as to when you will be allowed to get a hair cut again and your anxiety and depression are literally causing you to start pulling your hair out, you begin to look for new ways to refocus your energy. 

My life feels so out of control right now and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Making a small change or altering one small aspect of your life when you feel like you literally have no control over most other aspects of it can be very empowering. So today as I stood alone in front of my bathroom mirror staring down at myself and overcome with sadness in my heart as I attempted to blow dry my hair, I reached for a pair of scissors. 

I’m not quite sure exactly what I was hoping for in that moment as I began to snip away a layer of my hair. Was I hoping to further hide my pain behind a blunt new set of bangs that would hang below my brow or was I about to create a light, wispy set of bangs that I could sweep to one side and give me that boost of self-confidence instead?

Making even one small change in your life can allow for bigger changes to follow and even if my new set of bangs are not life altering, the more I snipped away toward that light, wispy set of bangs, the more damn empowered I felt!

P.S. it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to become a hairdresser!

#bangs #empowerment #selfcompassion #selfcare #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #depression #anxiety #masksoff #selfexpression #change