I Never Leave Home Without My Mask, Metaphorically Speaking

I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed today when I probably should be feeling excitement and joy knowing that in just a few short hours I will have the honour of witnessing my eldest nephew (who was the ring bearer at my wedding 26 years ago) marry his beautiful Bride-To-Be.  

As you all know by now the past ten (plus) days have been some of the most trying and challenging days of my journey and my self-worth has sunk to an all time low. 

I have next to zero self-compassion left in me and I have no clue whatsoever how to be kind to myself.

But I have learned the art of how to fake it til I make it in social settings. 

I have learned the art of smiling through my depression and anxiety in social settings. 

And I’m pretty good at engaging in some great conversation too.

Somewhere along my journey I have mastered these skills and learned how to present myself as “normal” in social settings, but I also know by now how much confusion this often presents for others. 

In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me how great I seemed while in a social setting I’d be a very rich lady by now, but for now I just have to take it as an opportunity to open up important conversations (let’s never forget the many faces of Depression that Robin Williams and so many other famous people wore).

The truth is I may present myself in many social settings that way because I never leave home without my mask on, metaphorically speaking; and trust me when I tell you there have been plenty of bathroom stalls I’ve had to hide in while in the midst of a panic attack or worse, been in a fit of hysteria amongst a crowded room.

This is what scares me most about how I am feeling right now. I’ve been so vulnerable lately that even the most joyful moments will have me running to the nearest bathroom stall or worse.

Anyone living with a Social Anxiety Disorder knows how I am feeling today even though everyone experiences it in different ways, but no matter if you feel awkward engaging in conversations, entering a crowded room, making eye contact with strangers, going to a party or giving a speech in public most individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or becoming the center of attention; and many more, like myself will then spend days or even weeks afterwards depleting even more of their mental energy with negative thoughts, ruminating about how we presented ourselves in thus situation. 

For now though I am just trying to focus on the moment, take as many deep breaths as needed and practice my grounding exercises (oh and have my CBD oil on hand at all times too). My mask, metaphorically speaking will be ready for whatever social distancing I may need tonight. And I know that no matter what, my family will be by my side just in case I need an extra layer of protection. 

#thisisthefaceofdepression #depressionhasmanyfaces #anxietyhasmanyfaces #puttingonmymask #depression #anxiety #smilingdepression  #socialanxietydisorder #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #inthemoment #startaconversation #weddingbells #ringbearer #happilyeverafter

The Most Incredibly Meaningful Birthday

First I just wanted to start off by giving a great big thank you to everyone (both near and far) who took the time yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. You helped make my day extra special and even more meaningful with all your beautiful birthday wishes and kind, encouraging words. 

I have been beyond overwhelmed with emotion over the last couple of weeks as I have mentioned ALOT lately and most of my overwhelm has honestly had more to do with other aspects of my life and much less to do with my actual birthday. 

But as the clock struck midnight on the eve of my birthday the focus completely shifted to my “birth day”. I tried not to overwhelm myself any further by putting any undue pressure on myself or create expectations that would overwhelm me further.

I cried ALOT yesterday, like ALOT ALOT. 

I was overwhelmed ALOT yesterday, like ALOT ALOT. 

I was on an emotional roller coaster ALOT yesterday, like ALOT ALOT but I don’t think I could have felt more blessed, loved or grateful than I did. 

I was pampered and treated like royalty yesterday. 

Lunch with my girls
I have the greatest friends
Another cherished gift from my kids
A meaningful gift from my incredible mother in law
It’s been too long
Wow! What a magnificent cake

I got to feel the warm embrace of other fully vaccinated loved ones living outside of my home for the first time in over 15 months and I never wanted to let go. 

First hugs in almost a year and a half

And I received the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts (including of course our weekend getaway last weekend) from friends and family that I will cherish forever.

A couple of months ago I shared a blog with you describing how I had very few pictures of myself or of my family and friends from infancy to my late teens due to circumstances beyond my control (see blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/empty-picture-frames/).

Little did I know that from that blog would emerge one of the most cherished and meaningful gifts I could have ever imagined. 

After reading that particular blog, my brother set out on a mission to hunt down pictures from our childhood. Along with the selfless aid of my sister in law, my two nephews, Rich and my three kids they spent hours upon hours exchanging emails and texts with one another, reaching out to dear friends and family who were a big part of our childhood and formatting the layout and design together (all behind my back) in order to create an album for me starting from where my life began on June 23rd 1971 in Montreal, Quebec to present day, 50 years later. 

Another wow moment
Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤
Wolsley Ave, Montreal West, Quebec
So many emotions
My brother’s Bar Mitzvah
He’s always got my back
The book wouldn’t be complete without #summerofrich

Believe it or not, these are only a handful of pics I chose to show you from this magnificent book. I honestly have no words to describe what yesterday truly meant to me and how deeply touched I am by all the kindness and love that surrounds me (and not just on my birthday) and I am so thankful to everyone who continues to go out of their way to show me day in and day out that I am enough ❤

(And a special shout out to my friend Jenn for this fricken awesome Cameo video). https://v.cameo.com/A2kP4m5ujhb

David and Annie from 90 Day Fiance

#fifty #finallyfifty #birthdays #celebratethemoments #iamcherished #grateful #iamnotalone #youareenough #family #friendship #memories #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #childhoodmemories #tearsofjoy

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

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

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Famed children’s book author Eric Carle recently passed away at the age of 91. 

His timeless classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (written in 1969) became a must have in my classroom library when I was teaching preschool age kids many years ago. 

Once I had children of my own I began reading it to them as well from a very young age and it quickly became a favourite in our home. 

When my kids got a bit older and I was no longer teaching preschool anymore there were a handful of children’s books which I had collected over the years that I knew I wanted to hold onto in hopes of one day passing them down to my grandchildren. 

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is one of those books.

It is a whimsical and playful book. 

It’s illustrations are fun and bright and captivating. 

But it also has many meaningful and teachable moments between each page.  

It shows us the importance of transformation and growth. 

It shows us the importance of finding our true self. 

It gives us hope. 

It shows us that in time and with patience we will all find our way in the world. 

It shows us that we are all unique and beautiful in our own special way. 

And it shows us that we all have the capability to emerge from our cocoon, spread our wings and learn how to fly. 

(Oh and it also reminds us that when we eat too much candy we will probably get a stomach ache!)

What is your favourite classic children’s book? 

#childrensbooks #theveryhungrycaterpillar #ericcarle #classics #beauty #caterpillars #cocoon #butterflies #mentalhealth #mentalwellness

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

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

Happy 10th Birthday Maggie

Oh how I love thee; let me count the ways…

I love the way you roll over for a belly rub every time someone is near. 

I love the way you run and hide when I say I need to brush you. 

I love the way you sit beside me at the dinner table with a “please sir can I have some more?” look in your big brown eyes. 

I love the way you come running as soon as you hear someone unwrap a piece of cheese, even if you are upstairs in a deep slumber. 

I love the way you chase away the bunnies and squirrels in the backyard.

I love the way you get so excited when we take you on a car ride (until you realize you may be going to the vet or groomer!)

I love the way you hide all your bones under our pillows or in the laundry basket thinking no one will ever find your clever hiding spots.  

I love the way you get so excited when it’s time to go for a walk unless of course it’s snowing or rainy or windy outside!

I love the way you have a gazillion toys but only want to play with the same two.

I love the way you get camera shy and turn your head away when someone tries to take a selfie with you.

I love the way you snuggle up beside me at night, leaving no room for me to move in my king size bed. 

I love the way you jump onto daddy’s pillow every morning as soon as he gets out of bed. 

I love the way you peer out the window, always on the lookout for an Amazon delivery or to bark at the neighborhood dogs as they pass by.

I love all the ways you engage in our conversations and know just when I need some extra TLC. 

I love the way your brother and sisters still vie for your attention every single day or when you cuddle with them on the couch.

And I love the way your tail wags uncontrollably as you jump to the sky and screech in excitement when you see daddy pull up to the driveway or open the front door. 

I could go on and on all day about all your silly antics. You bring so much joy to our lives and have been a constant source of unconditional love, emotional support and healing to us all. I ruff you to the moon and back, forever and a day.

P.S. wait til you see what we’re having for supper tonight! 🥩

#happybirthday #tenyearsyoung #dogsarefamily #adogspurpose #shesmorethanjustadog #weloveyoutothemoonandback #maggie #princessmaggie #maggilicious #spoiledrotten

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