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

SUICIDE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER

*It may be triggering to some*

I’ve been really struggling a lot this past week and it’s been a struggle to write this. 

I get triggered easily. 

When you suffer with chronic depression and daily thoughts of suicide as I do, triggers are very common and sometimes they may even occur through positive life events as well.

I don’t always know what triggers my downward spirals or even feel them coming on sometimes but this past week I am very much aware.

A few days ago I was told of not one, but TWO tragic stories of suicide, within a span of one hour. 

They were both someone’s father, brother, son, friend and husband. 

Hearing these stories and then quickly realizing that I knew one of the individuals who had taken his own life from when I was a teenager has all been too much for me to process.

It’s hit my surrounding community very hard and it’s hit very close to home. 

The more I learned about the pain and suffering of these two men and as more and more tributes began to fill my Social Media pages of the man I once knew, talking about what a truly amazing human being he was, the more numb I became. 

I saw myself in him. I felt every ounce of his pain and suffering. I’ve attempted suicide before. I could’ve been him. I could be him. Many of us could.

There are warning signs of an individual who may be considering suicide,  (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior) but we want so much to believe that “it” won’t actually come to that place. But it does and sometimes there may not even have been any warning signs at all, leaving loved ones completely blindsided on top of their pain. 

Suicide can be a silent killer. What happens when there aren’t any warning signs? What happens when someone is too afraid to speak their truth because of the stigma attached to it? 

Suicide is still very much a social taboo. It’s also very hard to predict at times and very often it can be spontaneous or impulsive.

Sometimes it’s just easier for an individual to not talk about it. I have thoughts of suicide almost daily. I talk about them, but not always. The thoughts will often enter my mind when no one else is around, when I’m feeling most vulnerable and I think to myself, maybe now would be the perfect time?

We may think someone is okay.

Everything looks great to the outside world (and to the social media world of course). They may want you to think that because what you often see or what you want so badly to see is their happiness and excitement from a promotion they just got at work, or the upcoming vacation they booked that they had been dreaming about forever, or a wedding proposal from the love of their life or the all nighter they just pulled studying for a big test the next day or maybe they just received an acceptance letter to the post-graduate program at a prestigious University they’d waited their whole life for.

Living with a mental illness and suicidal thoughts is real life to so many. We need to continue to break down the barriers that may prevent someone from seeking proper care and treatment. We must let others understand that mental illness is a real illness and that it’s not a failure of personal strength or character. We must not forget to check on our strong friends and we must create safe, nurturing environments for everyone in order to break the silence.

My deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the families and loved ones who have been affected by the tragic loss of both these men. They are in my thoughts and my heart ❤.  

If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out to a mental health professional or confidant for help immediately.

#checkonyourlovedones #checkonyourstrongfriends #yourmentalhealthmatters #suicideisasilentkiller #suicide #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #mentalillness #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillnessisreal 

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

Inspire Always

Thank you @marciaagius for creating @_inspirealways; such an awe-inspiring, safe space to highlight women and share in their strength and vulnerability.

Follow them on Instagram to read my story being featured today and to meet some pretty amazing women too!

#inspirealways #strength #women #empowerment #selfcompassion #youareenough #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealthmatters

Zoomed in With Hadassah-WIZO

Thank you so much Rochelle for inviting me to speak to your Hadassah chapter tonight about my mental health journey. (Hadassah-WIZO is a “leading Jewish philanthropic organization dedicated to the causes of health, child welfare, education and youth aliyah in Israel”. Jewish women around the world liaise with other women in their community and volunteer for these worthy causes; myself included many years ago.)

I am truly so very appreciative for the opportunity and for the especially warm welcome by everyone. 

It was nearly a year ago now since we had to postpone my “in person” speaking engagement last May due to Covid-19. You did however at the time present me with an alternate option to speak to your group on Zoom instead. 

But to be perfectly honest I barely even knew what the heck Zoom was a year ago let alone how to navigate my way through it. 

The concept was so new to me (I had only just participated in my very first Zoom call ever during our Passover Sedar weeks before this which my kids had set up).

Presenting myself over Zoom felt very overwhelming and intimidating and so we decided that it was best to wait until they resumed their meetings again in the Fall when life would be back to “normal” and I could attend “in person”. 

Well as I look back now at our conversation last spring it seems we may have both been a bit too overconfident in our assumptions seeing as it is now one year later and life is still so far from “normal”.

But the good news is that I’ve had plenty of time to practice and learn many new skills since then which now includes navigating my way around Zoom.

It’s still a very far reach outside my comfort zone and I will certainly never claim to be an expert in the field any time soon but since this is as normal as life is gonna be for who the f*@k knows at this point I will take every opportunity I’m given to continue sharing my story with others, to keep educating people about depression and anxiety, to keep opening up important conversations about mental illness, to keep spreading awareness about suicide prevention and to help ensure that someone listening feel less alone. 

What is one new skill you have learned this past year?

#hadassahwizo #zoom #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #blogger #author #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #purpose #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

It’s #summerofrich season

It’s the first day of Spring and not a cloud in the sky. A picture perfect day to resume our #summerofrich adventures with a 10km walk.

#firstdayofspring2021 #springtime #springisintheair #notacloudinthesky #summerofrich2021 #longwalks #hiking #10k #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare

Shut The ‘F’ Up

I had a massage this afternoon, the first one in several years. 

My kids had bought it for me as a gift last Mother’s Day. 

At the time when they purchased it the Spa was closed due to lockdown restrictions and by the time it did finally reopen, to be perfectly honest, I just kept forgetting about it. That was until a few weeks ago when I hurt my back and thought once I’m feeling better I should get a massage!

Massages, like mindfulness or meditation are supposed to be a perfect way to relax and relieve anxiety and stress, but seriously, have you met me before?

My track record with both mindfulness and meditation have never been met with much success for me and usually do the complete opposite of what they are meant for and now I guess I may as well add massage to that list too.

It was the perfect setting for a massage; the lights were dim, there was a subtle aroma in the air, soothing music playing in the background and the massage therapist was both gentle and calming. So what could possibly go wrong? 

I have no ‘F’ ing idea to be perfectly honest with you but as soon as the massage began and for the next 50 minutes or so I felt like I was going to suffocate (and not just because of my mask). 

My thoughts were racing all over the damn map and my mind was filled with such chaos. There was no real pattern or focus to speak of, just complete disarray. I tried several times to relax my body but my mind was having none of that nonsense.  

I needed to find a way to distract myself and so I tried some of my go-to techniques and tools I’ve learned throughout my journey but nothing seemed to be working. I felt myself becoming more and more vulnerable in a “fight or flight” state of mind which only kept escalating when I quickly realized that fleeing the situation was likely not an option.

So I continued to lay there feeling very helpless with tears in my eyes, trying to estimate how much time I still had left all the while shouting at my mind to just shut the ‘F’ up and let my body cherish this beautiful gift I received from my kids!

#massage #massagetherapy #anxiety #fightorflight #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #meditation #mindfulness #therapeutic #selfcare #selflove 

The Face of Depression

Hello. My name is Kim and I suffer with a Major Depressive and severe Anxiety Disorder.

This is the face of someone who struggles with depression and anxiety every single day. 

I’d even go so far as to call me a poster child for depression and anxiety.  

But I can put on a face, any face you want for that matter. 

I can smile and laugh and act silly and I’m pretty funny too. 

If you didn’t know me, you may never “know”. You may never know by just looking at me on the outside that depression and anxiety are controlling me from the inside. 

But underneath that big smile or silly child-like behaviour is someone who feels completely broken, who doubts her own self-worth, who wonders why she is adored by so many and who fights to stay alive each and every day.  

I am not alone. I know I am not alone and I bet you see faces just like mine everywhere you go, possibly right inside your own family unit or staring back at you in the mirror. 

You never know who may be suffering in silence, quietly fighting their own battle or smiling through their pain.

So be gentle, be kind, be loving to each other because you just never know who is smiling at you through their darkness.

#youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #smilingthroughdepression #chronicillness #chronicdepression #severeanxietydisorder #checkonyourlovedones #kindnessmatters #yourmentalhealthmatters #selfworth #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #author 

With Wisdom Teeth Comes Wisdom?

Very early this morning (and after a big winter storm overnight) my youngest daughter had all four of her wisdom teeth removed (could there be any better way to spend your Reading Week/Mid Winter Break from school?). 

Her brother and sister both had their wisdom teeth removed a few years back (a week apart) and my husband had his taken out early on in our courtship, but I on the other hand have never had the pleasure of having mine removed, mainly due to the fact that well, they’ve never actually grown in.

Wisdom teeth have been referred to as the “teeth of wisdom” from as far back as the seventeenth century because they most often don’t appear until a person reaches adulthood (somewhere between the age of 17 and 25 years old) “when a person matures into adulthood and is wiser than when other teeth have erupted”.

And wisdom teeth also signify that “the carefree days of childhood have given way to the responsibilities of adulthood.” (From an article written by “Dear Doctor” titled “Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?”).  

So what does someone like myself, someone that is, who has the wonderful ability to turn every  waking thought or action into a negative one? It’s a pretty easy answer; I tell myself that maybe if my wisdom teeth had grown in then maybe I could’ve been able to make wiser, more sensible or more insightful choices when I began my transition into adulthood. 

Yup, you are probably shaking your head right now or even laughing at what sounds pretty darn crazy to most people reading this but to a depressed mind it may not. 

I have joked half-heartedly in passing many times over the years as to how unwise I must be for having never developed my “wisdom teeth” but could there be some truth in there, afterall there is always some truth in jest. So maybe it’s not actually that “with age comes wisdom” but maybe it’s that “with wisdom teeth comes wisdom” instead?

**Oh and my apologies for not having any fun pics or videos to share as my husband wasn’t allowed in the recovery room with her! (Damn you once again Covid.)

#wisdom #wisdomteeth #nonethewiser #withagecomeswisdom #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #selfcare #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters 

“BE THE ADULT YOU NEEDED AS A CHILD” 

Since my diagnosis with depression and anxiety I have constantly worried that my children will one day grow to resent me (or maybe they already do) because of my illness. I fear that my inability to always be “present” in their lives or that the many boundaries I’ve needed to set in place for my own self-care could one day cause them to feel as though they were not good enough. 

I hope they know how much I love them and how much I beam with so much pride over each and every one of their incredible achievements and accomplishments but as their mom I can’t help but feel that I have failed them by not being the parent they deserved.

I stumbled upon this quote recently “Be the adult you needed as a child” ~Ayesha Siddiqui~ and it has been consuming me with so much guilt as I try to grapple with these feelings but not just from a parent’s perspective but from that of an adult child who grew up never feeling good enough.

I never want my children to feel this way or to carry with them the burden that I myself carry from my own childhood. I never want them to look back on their young adult years and feel accountable or take responsibility for my illness. I never want them to lack the confidence it takes to create their own healthy boundaries and I never want them to feel manipulated or consumed by guilt. 

I’m trying to be more gentle on myself, I’m trying to forgive myself more and I’m trying to let go of alot of the guilt that has being weighing me down from my own adolescence and childhood knowing in my heart that it’s not my weight to carry in the first place. 

Instead all I truly hope for is that my kids will always believe in me and know that I am trying my very best to be the parent they need and deserve and to ensure that no matter what, they will continue to grow and thrive by feeling as though they are more than good enough, because they are.

#youareenough #youarenotalone #selfcare #healthyboundaries #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #parentingplaybook #familymatters #mom #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #blogger #ayeshasiddiqui