After The “But”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does she not have a conscience?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Teachers, Educators, Parents and Children:

***Grab a tissue before you watch*** 

Listen closely to the real “experts” tell us how they are feeling right now as they prepare to head back to the classroom (either virtually or in person).  Listen closely to the real “experts” talk about their fears of the unknown ahead and their growing uncertainty of the future. And listen very closely as they send a genuine, sincere and incredibly powerful message to our teachers about how important they are to them and just how much of an impact our educators can make on a child’s health and wellbeing. 

These “experts” of all ages, races and ethnicities are speaking with truth and honesty from their heart on behalf of youth everywhere to let teachers know how truly missed and respected they are and how much their guidance and support keeps them feeling hopeful both in the classroom and beyond. Thank you to our teachers for giving our children a safe and inclusive place to turn.

Don’t forget to grab your tissue first; you’ve been warned!

#schoolmentalhealthontario #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #kindness #goteachers #staysafe #youvegotthis #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #kindnessmatters 

School: To Be Or Not To Be?

You’ve probably heard the saying before “You can’t please all the people all the time.” It’s nearly impossible for anyone to be able to please everyone at the same time because we are all unique individuals with our own unique set of expectations, experiences and perceptions and that’s perfectly okay. 

This fall will be the first time in almost 20 years that I won’t have a child in my home entering a new school year in the Pre to K, Primary or Secondary School system. Both of my daughters fate were determined for them several months ago as the Post Secondary Educational systems all made the decision early on to begin the upcoming school year mostly online, but right now many other anxious Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children are eagerly awaiting their own fate as to whether or not schools will reopen, will continue online or will do a combination of both.

As a parent I am quite torn with the decision that was predetermined for my girls months ago and especially for my youngest daughter who has already lost so much in her graduating year from High School to now not be able to experience the excitement and comradary that comes along with this next milestone in her life. 

Sadly there is no right or wrong, risk-free decision as to whether or not or even how our kids can safely return to the classroom this fall or if they should continue their studies online, nor am I here to debate it either way but I know that when the decision is finally announced there will be plenty of Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children cheering in support of the decision and many more yelling with rage.

Whatever decision is made (there will be no clear winner or loser), just remember that everyone has a right to their own opinion and even if that opinion differs from yours that no one has the right to judge you for that. We’re all in this together but as I said before we will never be able to please everyone all of the time.

Therefore it is more important than ever, no matter what the outcome is, that we focus our attention on keeping our children (and family’s) mental health and wellness in check above all else right now which may very likely look a whole lot different for each of us as our expectations, our experiences and our perceptions are all unique to us, and guess what; that’s perfectly okay.

#cantpleaseeveryone #ouryouthmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #bekind #kindnessmatters #schoolkids #distancelearning #backtoschool #wearamask

Anti-Semitism Should Never Be Tolerated

Yesterday I posted a picture of the 500 stairs I was about to climb up along the Bruce Trail (Canada’s oldest and longest footpath; 890 km to be exact) and part of the Niagara Escarpment. I didn’t realize when I took the picture and posted it that the graffiti on the signage next to the steps was Anti-Semitic as I was too busy at the moment trying to figure out how I was about to get to the top of the steps without collapsing or having a panic attack from the height. My beautiful cousin Susan first noticed it a short time after I posted it and let me know. Thank you❤!

First thing this morning Rich emailed the picture to a couple of organizations within the Jewish community informing them of the hate speech and within an hour of receiving his email, the Hamilton Jewish Federation (which is where this trail is) got back to Rich to let him know that the local police were already contacted and will be taking the necessary action immediately. (Read email attached)

There should absolutely never be any excuse or tolerance for hate or racism of any kind; never ever!

#antisemitismshouldneverbetolerated #hamiltonjewishfederation #ontariothebeautiful #brucetrail #canada #bestcountryintheworld #notolerance

Signed, Sealed & Delivered


While on route today delivering more lawn signs I made an extra special stop to the home of one of the Managers of Kids Help Phone to drop off an envelope with a cheque in it for just under $8000. 
Like so many others right now, the staff at Kids Help Phone are adjusting to a new way of life by having to work from home (and for the foreseeable future) in order to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of Covid-19 but I didn’t want to have to wait several more months for Kids Help Phone to reap the benefits of the 100’s of generous donations I’ve received and so the kind young gentleman (who I’ve been in constant contact with since the start of my “Class of 2020” Graduate Initiative) offered to have me drop it off to him to ensure it got into the right hands now.

We spoke for a little bit outside his home (and 2 meters apart!) and he shared with me some of his goals he is working towards right now for our youth during Covid-19 and beyond and how much donations like this can help turn these goals into a reality. 

I told him that I will have another cheque for him in a couple of weeks once I wrap up my campaign which is officially winding down this weekend as my mental health is taking a toll right now from it, but as of this evening I am very close to doubling my original goal of $5000 and ya that’s pretty cool with me.

*Feel free to reach out to me before Sunday night to honour a “Class of 2020” Graduate! And if you or anyone you know is feeling sad or angry or frustrated or scared please reach out to Kids Help Phone 24/7. They are now servicing all children, youth, frontline  workers and even adults.  

#kidsmentalhealthmatters #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #kindnessmatters #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #suicide #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #togetherapart #staysafe #stayhome @kidshelpphone @bellletstalk 

Modern Family Farewell

MODERN FAMILY FAREWELL

Who else watched the series finale of Modern Family last night? If you have been following the series for the last 11 seasons then last night did not disappoint with its usual silly humour and quirkiness mixed in with an emotional tribute and send off. 

I loved watching Modern Family all these years for how very relatable it was for so many families and how it taught us about inclusivity and how being different is okay, it taught us that no 2 families are the same and that too is more than okay. It also taught us about love and acceptance and most importantly it taught us that we are all imperfectly perfect.  

I simply loved the ending as they showed the outside exteriors to each of the three homes turning off their porch light, but quickly flipping one of the lights back on as a nod to a scene earlier in the show when dad Phil tells his family that no matter how near or far they venture away from home, the porch light will always be left on in order for them to find their way back home; basically letting the audience know that family is number one and that no matter what, we will always be there for one another because that’s what family does. 

And when we get through all this I know there will be millions of porch lights left on to help each and every one of us find our way back.

And if you’re wondering, I had a really good cry as I sat curled up on the couch next to my family who I’m pretty sure already know that our porch light will always be turned on.

#modernfamily #sitcom #family #familymatters #youarenotalone #youareenough #anothergreatserieshasended #checkonyourlovedones #togetherapart #stayhome 

People In Glass Houses

Today I went for an afternoon stroll with 2 of my kids, Rich and of course Maggie which has become a very important part of my Covid-19 Self-Care kit. I’ve been walking a lot recently through an industrial area near our home because, well it’s sadly pretty quiet these days. But today as we were making our way back home just talking and being mindful of our surroundings some loud mouth, egocentric dumbass drove by and shouted to us from his car window “6 feet apart morons, 6 feet apart.” I probably should have just laughed it off like the rest of my family did knowing that we were doing absolutely nothing wrong but when I saw he had car full of passengers, who for all we knew were not immediate members of his household, I was ready to turn around and chase after his car like a dog chases a squirrel up a tree! 🏃‍♀️🧘‍♀️🏋️‍♀️🤸‍♀️🐿🐕

#selfcare #rantover #walkaway #dumbass #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #bekind #choosekindness #youareenough #mindfulness #togetherapart #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing

It’s Okay To Cry Over Spilt Milk


Last night I had a meltdown of epic proportions. I knew that it being my 6 year Anniversary since the onset of my illness yesterday (See blog “The Anniversary Effect”; April 4, 2020) that it wasn’t gonna be an easy day. But I did just what any good doctor would order me to do and got out of bed (eventually), took a 2 hour walk through my neighborhood and then treated myself to a warm bubble bath when we got home. 

But like clockwork everything changed without a moment’s notice and almost as soon as I stepped out of the bathtub I found myself crying over “spilt milk” again, even if most of what I was crying over wasn’t really worth getting upset about at all; but you see, the truth is, it really feels like there is plenty of spilt milk to cry over these days.

At any given moment we may find ourselves feeling sad, scared, disappointed, angry, worried, distracted, exhausted, restless, short tempered or impatient (did I cover enough adjectives?). I find that since first becoming ill my patience has become next to nil which can often stir up plenty of other emotions quickly. And now with each passing day I’m pretty sure that most of us are finding ourselves losing their patience too in some way or another or with someone or another. In other words, we are all starting to get on each other’s nerves.

It’s ok if you’re not quite ready to admit to it yet though and since there is no real guidebook for us to follow on how we should feel during a Pandemic, we all get a free pass. So with no Playbook or guidelines to follow on how we should react or be feeling right now let me reassure you that whatever the heck you are feeling is perfectly valid. 

Even if you’re living with June Cleaver from “Leave It To Beaver” we are all learning together how to coexist with others on a much different level than we were before and you may be feeling very claustrophobic, frustrated, on edge and downright snappy toward one another as we test each other’s patience and deal with each other’s anxieties and ever changing moods. 

It’s hard, it’s super fucking hard right now but “we’re all in this together” and the one thing that is gonna make this nightmare just a tad bit easier is ensuring that we all work together as a team, within our individual homes, and create a Playbook with your home team. (I really do miss sports)

This experience is no doubt gonna change us all and we are all going to have to make some changes in order to get through this Pandemic together and maybe a good place to start is by developing a “Playbook” for your home team and make sure it includes several “strategies” and “plays” that can help reduce some of your household stressors and anxieties. 

Ask your teammates what you need from them right now and moving forward to help make this time together more successful and remember that it’s still ok to cry over spilt milk while figuring it out, but by figuring it out together hopefully we will create some stronger, more adhesive family units by the time this is all over.

So what are some things you need in your Playbook?

#wereallinthistogether #family #playbook #teamwork #teammates #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #anxiety #depression #spiltmilk #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourstrongfriends #covid19 #coronavirus #togetherapart #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #unitedasone