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 

Less Is More This Holiday Season

As my kids were growing up they were always super excited in anticipation of the first night of Chanukah and they especially looked forward to spending time with family and friends throughout the “eight crazy nights”, lighting the Menorah, making holiday crafts, eating and baking lots of traditional Chanukah treats, exchanging presents and of course receiving them too. 

When they were younger we often gifted them with a small token gift each night of Chanukah after we lit the candles (not to worry, there were plenty of bigger presents to go around too). It may have seemed like they were super silly gifts, but seeing the excitement and joy light up their faces as they tore the wrapping paper from their new Dora the Explorer toothbrush or their funky new Chanukah pencil set is a feeling that will never grow old as a parent.

Tonight as we begin the celebration of Chanukah 2020 we will continue as always to honour the holiday by lighting the Menorah each night while enjoying the same traditional treats like sufganiyah (jelly donuts), homemade cookies and homemade latkes as well that smell up our clothes and home for days and days, but always totally worth it. 

But this year the holiday season, whether it be Chanukah, Christmas or any other holiday traditions you celebrate are going to once again in good old 2020 fashion feel a whole lot different from years past. 

Many of our traditions, celebrations or even vacations with friends and loved ones won’t be taking place this year and that is going to create a great sense of disappointment and a feeling of loss for many children and adults alike. 

Maybe we can all try to create some new traditions or find different ways of celebrating the holidays instead this year as we focus our attention on the general theme of 2020 which is that “less is more”. 

Maybe we can take some comfort in a more simplistic holiday season instead this year where we share our favourite memories of holidays past over a zoom call with loved ones or make holiday crafts to hang outside our door to brighten up the neighborhood or donate a toy to a child less fortunate.

However it is you choose to celebrate this year or as “grim” as the holiday season may feel for so many let us all be reminded that it is still the “season of giving” and the “season of miracles”.

And to all of us who will be lighting that first Chanukah candle tonight let it bring a “festival of light”, hope and unity for everyone around the world because that is truly all that matters this holiday season.  

#happychanukah #happyholidays #memories #traditions #familytraditions #newtraditions #tistheseason #lightthemenorah #eightcrazynights #festivaloflights #seasonofgiving #seasonofmiracles #santaclausiscomingtotown #togetherapart #lessismore #homefortheholidays #watchahallmarkmovie #youareenough #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthishealth  

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

Remembering Terry Fox


Today we set out for a #summerofrich adventure in honour of Terry Fox who passed away 39 years ago today after his courageous and well-fought battle with Cancer that he so bravely united Canadians around the world with as he ran his Marathon of Hope across Canada with a prostetic leg, never allowing anything to get in his way of raising money for Cancer Research. 

Our #summerofrich adventure didn’t go as I had planned today (that is a whole other story) which left me feeling quite defeated but then I began to reflect back to that little 10 year old girl in me who still remembers the day in early July 1981 when I received a letter in the mail from my parents (while I was away at camp) telling me of Terry Fox’s death. I remember feeling a great sense of sadness (like so many other proud Canadians) upon hearing the news of his death as I had been following his remarkable and inspirational journey since the beginning. 

If I have learned anything from my own journey over the last 6 years it’s that life doesn’t always go as we plan and that sometimes we may feel defeated but Terry Fox’s strength, spirit, determination, courage and bravery has taught us that it’s ok to accept defeat sometimes and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves sometimes because somethings you just cannot avoid.
That reflection is what helped me to hold back many tears today as I honoured Terry Fox’s legacy, someone who still remains to be seen as one of the greatest and most prominent heroes in Canadian history as he reminds us that anything is truly possible if you try. 

#onthisday #marathonofhope #theterryfoxfoundation #terryfox #fuckcancer #youareenough #youarenotalone 

Another Happy Graduate

When I receive pictures like these ones it completely warms my heart. Today a group of amazing Teachers and EA’s surprised some of their “Awesome Grads” from Our Lady of Victory School in Toronto with a small Graduation ceremony outside their homes toting presents, balloons and a “Class of 2020” Graduation lawn sign.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a smile is worth a million more.

#graduationday #grads #classof2020 #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #smiles #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #youareenough #youarenotalone #bekind #kindnessmatters #thankyou @kidshelpphone @boorola

Our Own Walk

About a month prior to the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic I had registered my family to participate in a Walk for CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) in support of #MOBYSSinmotion; a confidential mobile Walk-in-Clinic for Youth and a wonderful resource for our young people who may be facing crisis right now.

CMHA has played an important role in my life over the last 6 years and I had donated some proceeds from my book sales last year as a thank you for the services they provide to both adults and youth in Canada which was why I wanted to participate in the event and why I didn’t want today to go unnoticed so I found a picture perfect place for us to enjoy a beautiful hike on our own in honour of the walk/run/bike event since it was of course cancelled. 

Oh and I should also mention that it was 5 months ago today since I had my last cigarette!

#cmha #cmhayorksimcoe #MOBYSS #hiking #waterfalls #felkersfalls #waterfallsinontatio #niagaraescarpment #ontarioisourstodiscover #thegreatoutdoors #mentalwellness #selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #wereallinthistogether #strongertogether #summerofrich #summerofrichcoronastyle #family #familymatters #nosmoking #wheredidmommyssmilego

Stop The Presses

I placed my final order of signs first thing this morning which will be printed and then delivered later this week. I knew a week ago that I needed to wrap up my Initiative for the sake of my mental health but as I wrote in my blog last week “How Can I Say No?” I struggle a great deal with saying No.

Yesterday the emails were still pouring in non-stop; and even as I took some much needed time for myself to go for a hike I panicked at the thought of all the emails I would have to return when I got home. And knowing that I was taking my final orders that day made the panic worsen at how I could possibly get back to everyone on time. 

I did get back to everyone and when I told them it was to be my final night to take any new orders, everyone responded very quickly but it still didn’t help the fact that I would be letting many others down who would continue to contact me today, tomorrow or even next week. 

I knew going in that my Campaign would only be short term but now as the school year is beginning to wind down I feel like I am letting so many people down and disappointing so many others by simply saying No. 

I truly never imagined 5 or 6 weeks ago that my little idea would take on a life of its own, a life that has now exceeded every expectation I had and crushed every goal I made; but then why do I feel so guilty, why do I feel like it’s never enough or that I should be doing more?

There is still time to contribute to my Class of 2020 Graduate Initiative and help make a difference in a child/youth’s life. Please feel free to make a donation at: youthareenough@gmail.com.

All of the proceeds will go to @KidsHelpPhone 

Continue to follow my journey at:https://youareenough712.wordpress.com 

#lifewithdepression #lifewithanxiety #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #guiltfree #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #negativeselftalk #selfcare  #ichooseme #youarenotalone #graduationday #grads #classof2020 #ouryouthmatter #lawnsigns 

Haters Gonna Hate


As of the end of day today I, along with my Co-Pilot Rich will have delivered approximately 300 lawn signs (give or take a few) across the Greater Toronto Area (and beyond) and we still have lots more to go. It’s been an incredibly overwhelming experience for me so far but more importantly it’s been an incredibly successful and rewarding one too. 

Every time I drop off a sign on someone’s front lawn (or porch) honouring one (or more) of our “Class of 2020” Graduates I have either been lucky enough to witness the surprise and gratitude on their face myself when they first see the sign or shortly thereafter I receive some of the most amazing and heartfelt messages and pictures of both support and appreciation from the recipient’s family where I find myself imagining the moment instead.

Either way I can tell you that it feels amazing knowing I have in some small way made a young person smile (and even do cartwheels). But yesterday someone tried to knock me down and when you’re already feeling vulnerable, it basically leaves you completely deflated (see blog: “Yesterday”; May 23, 2020)
Shortly after I delivered one sign in particular yesterday a woman messaged me to say how disappointed she was at the size of the sign (insert SMH) and then continued by saying how the sign looked much bigger in the photo that was taken for our local newspaper (SMH again). I politely replied to her that I’m sorry she felt that way but I guess the editors of the paper purposely enlarged the photo of the sign to get the readers attention (I’m also pretty sure there’s a name for that, however I’m no expert in the field of Marketing and Advertising). 

I guess that now I know for the next time there is a Global Pandemic and our kids have to endure more loss and disappointment in their lives I would insist that there be a Legal Disclaimer attached to any pictures in the paper saying “Size May Vary”. 

I continued to tell “The Hater” that the lawn signs are all a standard size and if you are to compare them to every other company lawn sign in your neighborhood it is the same size and maybe even a bit bigger than others. But I also told “The Hater” that the point of the sign was not for its size but rather a small tribute to their child (or children) who are missing out on so much in their lives right now. I also told her that sadly she has forgotten what these signs were meant to represent in the first place and that I have only received kindness and support from 300 other families thanking me for doing what I am doing for such a great cause (SMH). @kidshelpphone

I know I shouldn’t let this “Hater” take up space in my head or try to knock me down. You can’t please everyone all of the time and some people get satisfaction from being hurtful and what’s even worse is that some people live with so much hate in their hearts which is just so sad, but besides all that, haven’t we always been taught that “Size doesn’t matter”!!! (SMFH)

#kindness #kindnessmatters #graduationday #lawnsigns #classof2020 #ouryouthmatter #hatersgonnahate #youareenough #nowords #shakemyhead #smh @bellletstalk 

Giving Back Feels Good

“It’s better to give than to receive”. I placed an order this morning for another 100 +++ more “Class of 2020” lawn signs which are set to be delivered later this week to so many deserving Graduates…and I’m not quite done yet. You still have a bit more time left before I place my final order so contact me if you would like to honour a special Graduate in your life.

Giving back feels good and whether you’re giving of your time or giving of your money, if giving back has the potential to change even just one life for the better it’s all worthwhile. @kidshelpphone

Honour Thy Graduate

I’m getting ready to deliver another trunk full of lawn signs to so many awesome “Class of 2020” Graduates. When I first started my Initiative a couple of weeks ago I never could have imagined the outpouring of support and appreciation I’d receive from so many parents, grandparents and loved ones alike.

Many of these parents and loved ones, like myself, are feeling truly helpless right now as we look for ways to help our child(ren) cope with their feelings of loss and disappointment from missing out on so many significant events in their lives and so many meaningful milestones.

The interview I did last week for the Thornhill Liberal is now available online. It is a perfect reflection as to why I began this Initiative and after reading it, it has given me the extra push I needed today to make sure I continue to put a smile on the faces of as many “Class of 2020” Graduates as I can and to raise as much money as possible to ensure that no child ever feels alone during Covid-19 and beyond.

https://www.yorkregion.com/community-story/9986006-vaughan-mom-sells-graduate-signs-amid-coronavirus-cancellations   

#youarenotalone #youareenough #startaconversation #checkonyourlovedones  #togetherapart #stayhome #flattenthecurve #grads #graduationday #classof2020 #covid19 #itsoktonotbeok #selfcare 

@kidshelpphone @bellletstalk