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

National Health and Fitness Day

Today’s #summerofrich adventure was a hot one!

It included photo-ops of the enchanted Victorian-like/Cat In The Hat-style “Dollhouse cottages” we saw as we walked along the historic neighbourhing streets surrounding Grimsby Beach

a picnic lunch

skipping rocks

ice cream and root beer floats

and the best photo-op of all; our fur babies and good friends.

Today is National Health and Fitness Day.

Today was a perfect reminder of how much we all need to participate in activities these days (now more than ever) that contribute to both our physical health and mental our well-being.

What did you do to exercise your body and mind today?

#familymatters #hotinthecity #nature #beach #beauty #ontarioisourstodiscover #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #covidfatigue #selfcare #friends #friendship #friendswhoarefamily #exerciseyourmindandbody #youareenough #yourmentalhealthmatters #nationalhealthandfitnessday

#summerofrich in the neighborhood

After spending over 8 hours in a car yesterday delivering signs, the last thing Rich really wanted to do today was drive somewhere too far away in order to go for a hike so instead we stayed close to home and took a walk through our own neighborhood.

It’s familiar. Maybe even a bit too familiar (especially after this past year) because most of the time when we go for a walk in the neighborhood we aren’t paying too close attention to the beautiful things surrounding us like we do when we are on a hike, and too be honest you really can end up missing lots.

I think we take many of those beautiful things, the ones right in our own backyard, for granted.

We both needed to refuel today.

And right away our normally very familiar walk felt very unfamiliar today because we actually took our time to notice the beautiful things surrounding us.

And we took the time to point out and share those beautiful things we noticed with each other.

The clear blue sky above us.

The pretty lilacs on the trees and grass too.

The love birds perched on a fence singing to one another.

The fearless dogs chasing a ball in a big open field.

The sound of laughter coming from the children playing in the park.

Friends enjoying a picnic lunch together, catching up with one another and smiling from ear to ear.

I didn’t capture any of these moments with my camera today but instead I just breathed them all in.

It was a beautiful #summerofrich day in the neighborhood!

Next time you go for a walk in your neighborhood try and notice at least five beautiful things surrounding you.

#walking #youareenough #therapeutic #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #mindfulness #justbreathe #nature #beinginthemoment #beauty #birdssinging #childrenlaughing #springtime #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare

A Perfect Day For A Getaway

Forgot to post our #summerofrich adventure from yesterday. 

I needed an escape from the racing thoughts in my head and a hike seemed like the perfect distraction.

There was plenty of clear blue sky  and a warm springtime breeze in the air. We could hear birds chirping from the trees and ducks singing by the pond. Perfection.

But even with plenty of clear blue sky, a warm springtime breeze in the air, the birds chirping from the trees and the ducks singing by the pond, I could not totally escape the trauma that April 4th represents for me (see blog I posted yesterday if you missed it).

I’m easily triggered by the events that took place on that day seven years earlier and this year had been no exception. As midnight approached the night before last I began experiencing symptoms of my PTSD and quickly found myself trying to fight off a panic attack. 

But aside from all that and the trails being nothing short of a mudslide for the better part of our nearly 2 hour hike it turned out to be just what I needed (and boy were we glad that we had decided to leave Maggie at home!).

Sorry though to have disappointed you Rich, who had been camera ready the entire time hoping to take a snapshot of me falling flat on my butt as we navigated our way through the very slippery and often dangerous mounds of mud; fyi there were several close calls 😋).

How did you incorporate self-care into your long weekend?

#coldcreekconservation #nobleton #hiking #nature #springisintheair #discoveringontario #birdschirping #duckssinging #sunshine #mudslide #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #therapeutic #selfcare

MONDAY MOTIVATION: MARCHING INTO MARCH

When I was visiting with a friend over the weekend (in a garage from 6 feet apart and freezing our butts off, but well worth the price of our sanity) I was being all like cool and optimistic and like a glass half full kinda gal when I told her that now that March 1st is upon us, it meant just one thing; we’ve almost made it through the winter. 

Yup, that’s right, it’s true, I was totally speaking with my glass half full (and from someone who despises winter beyond words) knowing that when March rolls around that we’ve made it through the worst of it and that spring is just around the corner, ready and willing to shine its bright sunlight on the melting snow.

But it never takes me long for my half full glass to evaporate into thin air or in this case freeze over into a block of ice when the real reality sets in that in less than 2 weeks from March 1st it will be exactly one year since the entire world was completely turned upside down.

The month of March has forever changed. It will forever be remembered now not for its promise of warmer days ahead where we spring forward into a new season or see Leprechans dancing in the street or children excitedly awaiting the Easter bunny’s arrival but instead March now feels more like an alien from another planet (which kinda makes perfect sense since March got its name from a Roman God named Mars!).

Ok so what if we turned this back around and what if my glass was still half full? What would March look like then? What if we approached the month ahead by dreaming of those Leprechauns dancing in the street and looked at March through the eyes of those children excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Easter bunny? 

What if we allowed ourselves to spring forward and “fall” back into our lives by reliving all the silver linings that have enabled us to get through what has undoubtedly been the worst year ever. (Feel free to revisit my blog “My Silver Linings Playbook of 2020” back in December) https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/my-silver-linings-playbook-of-2020

What if we welcomed March in with open arms like we’ve always done in the past by leaving the back gate unlatched for him? Let’s welcome March back into our lives as though nothing ever happened so he can get in and get his job done quickly and proficiently for those of us who have been stuck inside our homes (and garages) waiting to go for long walks, basking in the warm sunshine and taking some time to stop and smell some flowers along the way. How does that sound to you? 

What do you “normally” look most forward to about March? 

#mondaymotivation #marchmadness #springisintheair #marchingintospring #silverlinings #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #stopandsmelltheroses #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #glasshalffull 

“Too Much”

I’m feeling very emotionally defeated today. I believe in being a truth teller and truth be told, I’m not okay. 

Do you ever feel like it’s all just way too much? Do you ever feel like you are overwhelmed by too much choice, by too much conflict and  disagreements, by too much anxiety provoking situations, by too much noise in your head, by too much noise around you, by too much stimuli, by too much bad news or by too much that you can’t seem to control?

Yesterday was a pretty “normal” Saturday given that we are living in pretty abnormal times. I tried my darndest to escape my “too much” even though my day may not have started until after Noon, which truth be told, is not abnormal for me. Mornings are really tough for me because well, truth be told again, my nights are even tougher.

Once I finally did get moving, Rich came with me to do a few quick errands (which is about all I can handle these days) and then we met up with our friends for a very welcomed, yet crisp mid afternoon walk through a nearby forest (I think the #summerofrich may be officially closed for the season).

When we got back home I read a few pages from my new book and then sifted through an overwhelming amount of messages on Facebook and Instagram from women inquiring about some makeup and beauty products I’m currently selling. 

We then had dinner with the kids and ended the day by watching a silly Netflix original movie (it was just one week ago when we were still enjoying a Saturday night backyard visit with friends instead of watching silly Netflix original movies; and truth be told, it’s gonna be a long winter- insert sad emoji here). 

Although there were several moments throughout my day where I was feeling like life was just “too much”, I didn’t actually admit defeat until the house got quiet and the “too much” turned to anxiety, panic and lots of tears.

Life is a never-ending roller coaster, a perfectly crafted metaphor I’ve used many times before but when the loops, the twists and the sharp turns become “too much”, the ride itself is no longer enjoyable. 

I can’t remember the last time I slept more than 3 hours straight (I’m being quite generous here when I say 3 hours straight because it’s way closer to 2 hours) or when I just naturally drifted off to sleep without a sudden jolt of worry or racing thoughts in my head that quickly brings me right back to a state of wakefulness. The unceasing fatigue and insomnia just continues to add a whole other layer to declaring defeat when the roller coaster ride feels like it’s way “too much”.

It’s dark and rainy outside today, I’m still lying in bed and nothing feels too motivating right now to change that. Today feels all “too much”.

What do you do when you feel like life is “too much”? 

#toomuch #feelingdefeated #insomnia #mentalfatigue #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness 

I Am Grateful Today For:

Things could always be worse. At least you have your health. You have so much to be grateful for.

These are just a few of the many phrases I’ve heard spoken to me, or about others over the course of my journey these last 6+ years but as a person living with a Major Depressive Disorder like I do, I find myself especially confused as to how much worse I’m actually supposed to feel?

Hearing someone tell you that things could always be worse is belittling their feelings and experiences, it’s shaming them and will leave them exploding with guilt. Hearing these words may also leave someone second guessing their illness and therefore living silently in fear of exposing it which may also lead them to the belief that they don’t matter.

Yes I am blessed that I am both capable and able to walk and talk and breathe and feel and see and smell and hear and taste all the beauty that surrounds me, but as a person who is battling a mental illness, being told that “at least you have your health” hurts very deeply because our Mental Health is just as critical to our well being as our physical health is and those words are also a very disheartening reminder to us all as to how much work is still left to be done to help end the stigma; Mental Health is Health.

But I think what hurts me the most sometimes is when someone who is suffering with depression or anxiety is questioned as to whether or not they feel gratitude. I practice gratitude in my daily life and I am very much aware of all the things for which I am most grateful for. The feelings and behavioural changes though that are associated with a depressed or anxious mind cannot simply be cured by practicing gratitude, but it can definitely help with the process.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) which is the time of year we set aside to celebrate being thankful and grateful for what we have in our lives and to recognize the genorosity and kindness that has been bestowed upon us since the previous year. Well this year, more than ever before, it may be very difficult to recognize or appreciate those silver linings (no explanation necessary).

I can honestly say that this has truly been the worst year ever for me since my journey began. The Pandemic and my illness have both played a huge role in that forgone conclusion but so have several other personal issues, many of which I have never disclosed to this public forum, but still I am so grateful for so much and wanted to share some of that here with you today.

I am grateful for:

Books

Nature walks and hiking

Bubble baths

My weekly therapy

Arts and Crafts

Television 

Diet Coke and Ice Capps

Flowers

Things that make me laugh 

Romantic comedies that make me cry

My creative soul

A warm and sunny day

My weighted blanket 

Social Media

My Blog that allows me to share my story

Being given a voice

Kindness and empathy

My compassion

My imperfections 

Forgiveness 

Animals 

Being born and raised in Canada 

My undeniable support system

Strangers who have become my friends 

My incredible friends who see me beyond my illness and stand by me no matter what

My large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles whom I never get to see but who love me just the same 

My big brother who I know will always protect me 

My inlaws and my many beautiful nieces and nephews

My mother in law who is always there to cheer me on

Maggie, for appreciating a good cuddle and belly rub

My 3 beautiful children who have stolen my heart and taught me the true meaning of resilience and unconditional love 

And to my Soulmate and best friend Rich, I am beyond grateful for your protection and for always seeing my inner beauty and who continues to make me feel desired and loved

What are you most grateful for today?

#happythanksgiving #grateful #gratitude #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthishealth #mentalillnessawarenessweek 

A Purposeful #Summerofrich

The “Summer of Rich” began a few years ago as nothing more than a silly declaration from Rich one early morning at the end of June as he waved goodbye to the kids (with tears of joy in his eyes) as they boarded a bus for the entire summer away at camp. 

For Rich that moment meant he now had 7 glorious weeks ahead of him to catch his breath and push the reset button because as I have mentioned many times before that for the last 6 years he has had to take on both the roles of Mom and Dad, along with that of chef, maid, chauffeur, Psychologist, designated Schlepper and countless others too.

But this past May right after we found out the girls (Jacob now works full-time as an Electrician) would not be going away to camp this summer due to Covid-19 I wrote a blog titled “Should The #Summerofrich Be Cancelled Too?” (May 27, 2020) and what it meant for the #summerofrich this year. 

Since its conception a few years back, the “Summer of Rich” has evolved in many different ways; it’s even got its own hashtag which often gets special shout-outs by its many “adoring fans” who seem to genuinely enjoy following our adventures; so how could we disappoint them?

I may have needed to make several amendments to our itinerary this summer and we definitely had to adapt to many other changes because of Covid-19 and having the kids home all summer which also meant that there was much less of an opportunity for Rich to have some well deserved time to breathe or a push of the reset button but through the many amendments and other changes this summer I truly believe that in many ways, the #summerofrich may have actually evolved into something much deeper and with an even more meaningful purpose.

#summerofrichcoronaedition #labourdayweekend #itsstillsummer #youareenough #nature #hiking #therapeutic #selfcare #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #nationalsuicidepreventionawarenessmonth #silverlinings #iloveyoutothemoonandback #silvercreekconservation #brucetrail

Home Alone


I don’t remember the last time I was home alone for more than maybe an hour since mid February which is well before Covid-19 hit; and sadly there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight right now. 

Over the last month both my depression and anxiety symptoms have made me feel even more overwhelmed and vulnerable than ever and my thoughts of suicide have become more and more vivid as well which has left me urgently begging for a break from all of the day to day chaos that has been erupting behind the scenes at home.

So first thing this morning Rich and the girls headed up north to spend the day with friends at their cottage (Jacob worked all day and then went to his baseball game), leaving me home ALONE for the whole day and night! And even though I had 2 appointments previously scheduled for this afternoon (one being the always enjoyable Mammogram) that I needed to go to I was still able to spend most of my day just being mindful. 

I went for a long walk in the morning, I ate whatever I wanted (Fyi: Mac & Cheese for supper is still one of the best comfort foods around), I read, I did some writing, I went to both of my appointments and I enjoyed some much needed & very peaceful “me time”.

For the last 6 years I have felt as though I have failed as both a parent and a partner. I have spent all these years feeling like a burden to my family and I am consumed by guilt day in and day out. I blame myself for every bad thing that happens to the people I love and cherish the most and no matter how hard I try I feel completely worthless almost all of the time. 

Me wanting and needing to have just one day to de-stress a bit and spend a day by myself so that I could try to loosen the noose around my neck (it’s a figure of speech!) seems selfish to some and probably makes me look like a bad mom and wife to others but I keep trying to remind myself how important self-care is (remember you should always put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane) and even if one day won’t make everything better, it’s certainly a great place to start. And I’m pretty sure from the sounds of it that today was a pretty great day for some much needed rest and rejuvenation up north as well.

I’m going to go now and enjoy my last few hours of alone time while I get ready to watch “Big Brother” and “Married At First Sight” which are my Wednesday night favourites.

Do you ever feel like you have failed as a parent or as a partner? Does it consume you with guilt? Shame? 

#selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #itsoktonotbeok #youareenough #selfcareisnotselfish #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #masksoff #suicideprevention #ilovemyfamilytothemoonandback

Going On A Bear Hunt

Today’s #summerofrich adventure was quite the adventure.  We headed to a trail near Port Perry and when we got there it was closed (the website gave no indication that it was closed), so we went to another trail a bit further away; and guess what? it was closed too! (Again no mention of it on their website; but it was under construction).

By this point we figured since we had come all that way we might as well venture to yet one more trail (I mean what are the chances it would be closed too!). Thankfully it was not; Yahoo!!! As we reached the start of the trail we saw a sign that read (in pics) “beware of bears”! Ya well who doesn’t like to be a bit “risque” sometimes so off we went into the forest, but with every step we took we started to get more and more nervous (well Rich did lol) which was only about 5 minutes into our hike.

There were no other hikers in sight (maybe they had already been eaten by a bear) and we tried hard to ignore every rustling sound coming from the woods but THEN we came upon piles and piles of bear poop (Don’t worry I saved you from any pics!). So it was at that very moment that we hightailed it out of there and back to safety!

It looks like a hike just wasn’t in the cards for us today (good thing I did an aqua fit class this morning) and instead we headed to Port Perry’s Main Street and walked along the Pier and did some window shopping instead (that’s pretty mindful in my opinion, wouldn’t you agree?) which is where our adventure continued.

Once we had enough window shopping we decided to grab a quick bite to eat on a patio close to the water which was also our first time doing so since patios opened back up. We placed our order and THEN came the lightening, the thunder and soon followed by a terrestrial downpour!

Luckily the umbrella over the picnic table kept us pretty dry for most of the time (and it was too late to make it back to the car anyways), but then the wind turned directions and we were getting soaked! 

You can’t fault us for trying today, it was certainly a memorable day and nothing a big scoop of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream from one of the local shops couldn’t fix.

#summerofrichcoronaedition #nohikingtoday #bewareofbears #imisspatios #portperry #scugogtownship #icecreamyouscream #peanutbutterandchocolateicecream #thunderandlightening #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness