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 

High School Graduation…Finally

Just 2 weeks shy of completing her first semester at Ryerson University in Interior Design, Rachel officially graduated from High School tonight!

It may not have been in the traditional way that we had hoped for but we are extremely proud of all of her accomplishments during her time in High School just the same.

*Ontario Scholar
*Specialist High Skills Major~Arts & Culture
*French Academic Certification

#soproudofyou #highschoolgraduatefinally #FU2020 #virtualgraduation #movingforward #resiliency #perservarance #milestones #inthehistorybooks #onwardandupward #youareenough

Paint The Town

Today Rachel will embark on a new chapter in her life as she begins her first day of University; working towards her lifelong goal of becoming an Interior Designer (in LA!).

Today you leave behind a once in a lifetime cancelled Graduation trip, a brand new Prom dress with the tags still on, a High School Graduation Ceremony that is still TBA and a summer like no other. 

And although today as you begin this new chapter in your life very differently from how it’s meant to be, it will still be filled with new beginnings and endless possibilities.

Today is your day to start anew and wipe the slate clean. Today is your day to focus on the journey forward. Today is your day and I know that you are going to paint the town with every colour of the rainbow.

#todayisyourday #mondaymotivation #paintthetown #ryersonuniversity #interiordesign2024 #futureinteriordesigner #focusonthejourney #onlinelearning #zoom #followyourdreams #youvegotthis  #youareenough #youarenotalone

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

One Final Thank You

Just one final thank you to @cbcthenational for sharing my story so perfectly.  Thank you to @kidshelpphone for making a difference in so many young lives and thank you to the “Class of 2020” Graduates for teaching the rest of the world the true meaning of resilience while learning to face adversity head on in a time of so much uncertainty. You may forever be remembered as the “Graduating Class of Covid-19” but the lessons you will take with you as you transition into the next phase of your journey will carry you far beyond what any classroom ever could.

#classof2020 #graduationday #grads #strongertogether #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok  #makingadifference #ouryouthmatter #pandemicdiaries

Graduation Day

Tonight we should be gathered together in a room bursting with pride and surrounded by 100’s of excited parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, administrators and many more to watch our Graduate(s) take centerstage and handed their diplomas and recognized for their many successes and achievements they have put forth over the last 4 years in High School.

But instead tonight we improvise, still bursting with the same pride though as we quietly celebrate our Graduate’s successes and acknowledge her many achievements over the last 4 years.

Tonight we close this chapter and look forward to celebrating many more of her successes and achievements that lay ahead.

Mazel Tov Rachel and Congrats to all the 2020 Graduates.

#youvegotthis #youareenough #westmountcollegiateinstitutegraduate #bewolves #nextchapter  #paintthetown #2020willneverbeforgotten #graduationday #capsoff #thegraduate #celebratetheclassof2020 #wherehasthetimegone #itisabigdeal  #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #family #memories #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #thecupcakeshoppe #vegancupcakes #champagnewishes

I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying


It’s been a very overwhelming week for me with a lot of mixed emotions. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and emotions with you, along with a handful of the 100’s of special messages I’ve received over the last several weeks and a short video that the management team at Kids Help Phone sent me as a small token of thanks and appreciation. 

But I truly couldn’t have done any of this alone and as I wrap up my “Class of 2020” Graduation Initiative and reflect back on the last 6 weeks I want to make sure that I say thank you to everyone who helped make this Campaign the incredible success that it was. I will start by saying thank you to the nearly 700 young graduates whose smiles and gratitude have been forever captured upon first sight of their front lawn, their front window or even their schoolyard playground decorated with a sign honouring their efforts and a reflection of a time in their lives that acknowledges so much more than a feeling of loss and sadness but of a time in their life when they became warriors and battled through the loss and sadness with such resilience and strength.

Thank you to the 100’s of parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who made sure that their special Graduate’s efforts did not go unnoticed starting from Kindergarten all the way up to Medical School Graduations. And another thank you as well to all of you for acknowledging the incredible efforts of Kids Help Phone with your generous donations which helped raise $10,000 and ensure that more young people feel less alone.

I also want to say thank to Josh Benezrah for making sure that each and every sign that I ordered was printed and delivered to me with lots and lots of TLC. And to my amazing friend Shawna Smoke who once again helped turn my vision into a reality. You are uber talented. 

And last but not least, to Rich who deserves an extra special thank you by giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “going the extra mile” as he spent the last month putting 100’s and 100’s of extra kilometers on his car, schlepping me to the ends of the earth some days, making sure each sign was perfectly in place on every lawn and letting me scream and cry whenever necessary!

You have all shown me the true meaning of teamwork. Please take a moment to watch the video from @KidsHelpPhone and if you would still like to make a donation you can do so at: youthareenough@gmail.com

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lhefdd0whkgbbqd/Thank you so much – NYC.mp4?dl=0

#keepdreaming #reachforthestars #nextchapter #graduationday #grads #classof2020 #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #wereallinthistogether #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #thankyou #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #selfcare #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence 

It’s Raining On Prom Night 2020


Well it’s official, exactly 1 month after her High School Graduation Trip with her friends was abruptly cancelled (or rescheduled for later this summer but who’s kidding who?) due to Covid-19 the inevitable was finally announced yesterday that my daughter’s Prom was officially cancelled and that her Graduation Ceremony at the end of June has been postponed indefinitely. 

The sudden cancellation of a once in a lifetime High School Graduation Trip last month hit us pretty hard even though we had been closely watching the virus’s force spreading quickly across the world in the week leading up to her trip, nonetheless it fell fast and furious and it was beyond heartbreaking. Since that day soooo much has changed (like everything to be exact) but at least this time we saw it coming and have had plenty of time to process it.

But no matter how much time our High School Graduates have had to process all this it will still never change the fact that they have been robbed of some of the best days of their lives, their Rite of Passage and possibly some of their hardest days too. Everything they have done from Kindergarten up until today has been a dress rehearsal for this one special moment, the moment where they get to spread their wings and fly on their own in order to chase after their hopes and dreams and find out who they truly are.

Yes some of you reading this will question what gives these kids the right to feel sad or angry or frustrated or disappointed or depressed that their High School Prom was cancelled (along with all the stuff leading up to the day) or that they may not get to receive their High School Diploma in a traditional Graduation Ceremony or that this was supposed to be their final swan song to friends before going off in different directions in the Fall when knowingly there are thousands of people who are critically ill and dying around the world and thousands of other people who are risking their own health to help the sick and dying or that millions more could lose their livelihood and businesses? 

Well in short, they have every right to feel sad and angry and frustrated and disappointed and even depressed because we feel how we feel and whatever we (“we” means High School Graduates) are feeling right now is perfectly valid so go ahead and give yourself permission to feel without any guilt or judgment whatsoever, heck, go ahead and scream and cry too while you’re at it.

This pandemic has caused disappointment and devastation to so many of us and whether it’s a concert, a trip of a lifetime, your Wedding Day, your Prom or your Graduation Ceremony that has had to be postponed inevitably or cancelled completely due to Covid-19 just please try to remember that what you may perceive as a disappointment or devastation may not hold the same grading to someone else and that’s perfectly okay but at the end of the day (a very long day) no matter what, “we are all in this together”.

Congrats to all the Graduates of 2020 (from Preschool to Post Graduate). Wishing you the best of luck and much success on whatever adventures lie ahead. 

***And to think, 3 months ago when Rachel found her dream dress for Prom our biggest worry was whether or not it would arrive on time and now I’m left to ponder what we do when it actually does arrive 🤔. 

#staysafe #stayhome #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #togetherapart #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #covid19 #coronavirus #prom #riteofpassage #graduationday #youareenough #twentytwentysucks #thegraduate #ryersonuniversity2024 #interiordesign #dreams #goals #wellearned #historyinthemaking  

Pink Shirt Day

Today is “Pink Shirt Day” which is celebrated every year in support of anti bullying. This year’s focus is to “lift each other up” so whether you’re heading off to school or to the gym or to work today let’s all show our solidarity by wearing pink and that we lift each other up. We must take kindness to new heights today, tomorrow and every day and we must celebrate what unites us; not what divides us.

And in case you missed it please check out my blog “Zero Tolerance – Bullying Is Never Okay”; Oct 16, 2019 at: https://wp.me/p965a2-bm.

#antibullying #advocacy #pinkshirtday #campaign #lifteachotherup #showmesomepink #kindness #kindnessmatters #youareenough #bekind #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazondotca

The Suicide Epidemic On University And College Campuses

 

***May Be Triggering***

I try not to divulge too much information about my family as I have always said that their stories are not mine to share but today I feel like I need to share maybe a teeny bit in order for others to feel like they are not alone. 

I’ve witnessed my child breakdown in his first year of University upon coming to the realization that the program he had worked so hard to get into was not in fact what he wanted for his future.  I’ve witnessed my child begin to panic about her future 3 years into her degree upon realizing that she needs to start figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life sooner rather than later and I am now witnessing my child in grade 12 feverishly working day and night on several different art portfolios in order to submit them to various schools in the next 7 weeks in hopes of being accepted into her dream program for next September.

I’ve witnessed holes being punched into walls, I’ve witnessed overwhelm, I’ve witnessed sadness, I’ve witnessed anxiety and panic, I’ve witnessed silent cries for help, I’ve witnessed disappointment, I’ve witnessed frustration, I’ve witnessed fear, I’ve witnessed anger and I’ve witnessed vulnerability in the last several years.  As a parent this is truly heartbreaking when you are left feeling helpless to their pain and knowing that all you can do is try and lift them up, guide them and hope that everything will be okay even though you can’t really know for sure. 

For many of our youth today we may not be enough especially when they are living remotely in another city, province (state) or even further. Many are often too scared to ask for help for fear of being judged or ridiculed by their Professors, their peers or even their own families and for those who do find the strength to reach out for help are often being turned away because our University and Colleges don’t have enough supports in place to handle the growing epidemic on campuses both near and far.  

Over the last several years I have listened closely to other frightened and concerned parents tell me about their child’s feelings of overwhelm, their anxiety and their depressive behaviours due to the pressures and frustrations of University, many of whom may be living away from home for the first time and are also feeling vulnerable and abandoned by the lack of programs and supports in place for them. And sadly I have also read countless stories about yet another child who took their own life because they may have succumbed to that said pressure and frustration.

Our youth are under too much pressure today feeling the need to keep up with their peers and sometimes there is a huge feeling of pressure when trying to satisfy their parent’s expectations of them and of course there is the pressure from society in general who often imply that a University degree is the be all and end all. It seems like every other week I am reading another story about another suicide on our University campuses, including this past week and it is beyond devastating. 

Last month I read a news article about a University of Toronto student who had reached out for help when she was experiencing suicidal thoughts just days after news broke that another student at their sister campus had taken their life. The way in which the mental health support team handled the situation left this student feeling more like a criminal and even further traumatized when she found herself being handcuffed and arrested by the campus police for divulging the location in which she had planned to die. 

The University of Toronto just made the top 20 list of the best Universities in the world! Not just in Canada, not just in North America but the entire fricken world!! That is quite an incredible feat and although they deserve it for excelling in teaching, research and international outlook, they are more than lacking in the area of compassion for mental health.

But they are not alone as there is not enough training and support to go around for the amount of students in crisis and in need of urgent care. This student was told right before the mental health support worker called the police for fear she may harm herself or someone else that it will most likely take several months for her to see a doctor/therapist.  Something needs to be done and fast! How many more students have to die before proper support is put into place to help them? We need to do better, I know we can.
Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com 
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
#itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #yourmentalhealthmatters #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #checkonyourlovedones #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocateforchange #ouryouthdeservebetter Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.