Just got home from a long and very invigorating walk with our friends.
As we passed this tree in the forest my girlfriend stopped to point out to me the words which had been spray painted on the tree that read “keep going”. She was certain it was there as a reminder from God telling me that I must “keep going”!
Upon our arrival home from our walk there was a beautifully wrapped gift of self-care on my front porch which was left for me by another incredible girlfriend of mine.
I am overwhelmed and beyond grateful for my amazing tribe. I am truly blessed by all the love and support and kindness I have in my life.
It’s okay to not be okay.
“There is no exercise better for your heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Do you ever feel like you’ve had “one of those days?”
I’m pretty sure you know what I mean right?
We’ve all experienced those days where no matter what, nothing seems to go your way.
Your day may start off seemingly “normal” but then something unexpected or presumably unwarranted happens which leads to a chain of events that quickly spirals into “one of those days”.
I kinda feel like I’ve been living “one of those days” for seven years now though and this week was no exception.
We can’t control everything that happens to us but on many of “those days” I keep trying my best to find a way to survive them.
I posted a pic yesterday on social media which many of you reading this may have seen. It captured the essence of a picture perfect afternoon I’d spent with a couple of friends boating at the lake and smiling through Depression.
What it didn’t show was how I almost didn’t go.
Like one of my friends was literally sitting in my driveway all ready to pick me up to head up north to visit our friend’s lake house for that picture perfect day on the water and I was frozen in panic.
All because of the chain of events which had started early morning the day before and continued into the wee hours the next morning when Maggie suddenly became ill in the middle of the night; just adding insult to injury.
It had been “one of those days” where nothing felt right. I’d just spent the previous 24 hours angry, panicked and crying and it was now trickling into the next day for me.
But I chose to go. I went knowing that if I stayed home I would be giving up even more control of my emotions which is something I absolutely hate feeling more than anything. That feeling leaves my judgment very clouded.
I knew I couldn’t change the events of the day before and that by going I was both acknowledging and accepting that.
I also knew that it would be good for me to go and try to get out of my head, even for just a few hours. I needed to go in order to prove to myself that I can be in control of some of my emotions and that I actually have the power to do so.
What do you try and do to take control of your emotions when you are having “one of those days”?
Today marks the 7 year anniversary of Robin Williams’ suicide.
I often still find myself recalling the events that were taking place that very same evening for me. Over and over again in my mind I replay the image of me sitting alone in my car, completely distraught and contemplating my own suicide just moments before the tragic news of his death even broke.
I have since written many blogs about the impact his death had on me and on society as a whole. I have used the impact his suicide had on the world as an opportunity to educate others on the stigma surrounding suicide, the mask that many people often wear who suffer with a mental illness as well as the importance of our words and language when it pertains to suicide.
I wanted to reshare one of those blogs here with you today (see below). Feel free to search for other “Robin Williams” tributes right here in the search engine of my blog site as well.
In fact science predicts that we are probably holding onto thirteen secrets right now that we have never shared with another living soul.
Holding onto secrets can sometimes be both stressful and harmful to one’s own mental health.
People reach out to me all the time in confidence and share many of their deepest and most intimate experiences and struggles with their mental health or that of a loved one.
I don’t share a thing (unless of course they could be in danger of harming themselves or someone else).
It’s not my story to tell.
Instead I just offer up a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and some guidance if needed.
I love that so many people, many of whom I don’t even know personally feel like they can come to me in confidence and share their intimate experiences and struggles. That is the reason why I continue to share my journey with you.
But last week someone came to me with a different type of secret and it has been weighing me down for the better part of a week now.
The secret was shared with me without my consent and I wish more than anything that I could erase it from my mind.
Holding onto this secret and not being able to share it with anyone has taken a real toll on my own mental well-being this week. It should never have been shared with me in the first place.
The individual knew that by sharing this secret with me would be putting me in a very big predicament. But they went ahead and shared it anyways. It was beyond self-serving and selfish.
The secret also came with a stern warning (after they blurted it out) that NOBODY else apparently knows about it and that nobody EVER could, especially of course the person that would be affected most by it if they ever found out.
That somebody just so happens to be someone I respect deeply and is also a dear friend, but so was the person who shared the secret, or so I thought.
This secret has no direct impact on my own life whatsoever but it could potentially make a great impact on my friend’s life if they knew; for the better that is.
I’ve been so upset all week and don’t know what to do. It’s consuming me. It’s burdensome and my energy reserve has been depleted because of it. I’ve obsessed over it for almost a week now.
Many other people would’ve probably forgotten all about it by now but that’s just not how my overly anxious, compassionate and depressed mind works.
I have found the need to emotionally detach myself from both parties because on one hand I’m angry and on the other hand I’m feeling so beyond overwhelmed with guilt knowing what I know.
I’m not concerned about the one friendship who clearly stepped over the boundary of trust and confidence by placing me in this predicament in the first place because that is not true friendship.
But what if I do decide to share this secret with the person I care deeply about, knowing how much they deserve to know and the next thing I know is there’s a hit put out on me!?🙂
Have you ever held onto a secret that completely weighed you down?
“The act of forgiveness takes place in your own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”~ Louise Hay
Forgiveness is a gentle act and a gift of self love. I have learned over the last several years that holding on to anger I have toward someone who has hurt me only creates further pain.
Forgiveness means no longer feeling burdened by your past.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation, approval or making space to welcome someone back into your world, it just means choosing to rise above it by moving forward, free of bitterness and resentment.
Forgiveness allows you to put the situation behind you for your own well being and integrity. It means taking back the power and control you have over yourself.
The past few years I’ve had a big shift in the area of my relationships and whether it be a friendship, a family member or even an acquaintance; it can get very complicated.
Some shifts in my relationships have brought with it a sigh of relief, a feeling of anger and plenty of sadness but through my own personal journey toward healing and with time, they have also brought forgiveness.
I’ve learned that holding on to the bitterness and resentment is only hurting me.
Forgiveness doesn’t always happen right away. For some people or in some circumstances it can take a lot longer to forgive, but it’s never too late to learn the art of forgiveness.
As I move into this next chapter of my life I am now making a conscious effort and a very selfless decision when it pertains to my own mental health and well-being that I choose who I get to invite into my life.
I’ve always let people walk into my life very easily, sometimes too easily and I’ve done so without actually stopping to ask myself first if I really have the energy or mental capacity needed in order to have a healthy relationship with this person at this moment in time.
I’m a pretty open book (that’s an obvious one) and I wear my heart on my sleeve (also pretty obvious) which, at times has left me feeling very vulnerable and indefensible in some of my relationships and sadly it’s come back to bite me in the ass many, many times.
By learning how to forgive others who have held way too much unwarranted space in my heart for far too long has really afforded me the ability to make so much more room in my life for the people who genuinely want to be there and vice versa.
It’s opened up space to have real and honest relationships with people who can truly accept my limitations and vice versa, who see me as perfectly imperfect and vice versa, who don’t question my boundaries and vice versa, who support my endeavors and vice versa, who want nothing more than for me to be happy and vice versa, who are there to listen when I just need to talk, without judgment and vice versa and most of all, who love me for being my true authentic self and vice versa.
I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to the amazing relationships I have in my life right now. And whether you are a friend, a family member or even an acquaintance of mine I hope you know that you always have an open invitation.
As many of you know, last spring I created a series of lawn signs to help honour our 2020 graduates after receiving the devastating news that my daughter’s high school prom and graduation ceremony were both cancelled.
The initiative quickly grew in abundance and at the end of 6 short weeks I had hand delivered somewhere in the ballpark of 700 signs to the front lawns (and porches) of so many deserving Graduates across the GTHA from Pre-K to Post-Graduate education.
With the help of so many generous people in our amazing communities together we raised over $10,000 for Kids Help Phone which is why I have decided to launch my campaign again this spring.
Our class of 2021 (including my other daughter who is just days away from earning her undergraduate degree in Communications) are all feeling the same disappointment, anger, loneliness, overwhelm and sadness as so many deserving graduates did just one year ago.
I don’t need to tell you just how difficult this past year has been on our youth especially, many of whom are now struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression issues along with other mental health concerns due to the devastation and impact of the Pandemic.
Our youth need to know that it’s okay to not be okay and that they are not alone which is why I have also decided this year to spread the wealth around by donating the proceeds to several youth mental health initiatives instead of just the one I did last year as the need to support our youth mental health programs is so much greater than ever before.
I look forward to brightening up our neighborhoods soon.
I’m not in a good headspace. It’s not like this is something new to me or unexplored before; but I’m just not “okay”.
I’m feeling very unsettled and my heart is heavy. If it hasn’t already been difficult enough for me living each day of the last seven years feeling like I’ve lost a big piece of myself then how can I ever begin to shake off this heaviness I’ve felt for the last several weeks? A heaviness that feels way bigger than just one piece of my life has gone missing. In a sense I feel like I’ve been robbed and to be completely honest, in a very real way I believe I have.
I’m turning 50 in just a little over two months. I’ve never really been too hung up on the whole age thing and let’s face it, if I had been then I probably would’ve never agreed to go on a first date, let alone marry a man who’s close to nine years older than me.
My social media feeds have been preparing me for my upcoming birthday since the beginning of 2021 as several times a week I witness one or more of my friends from my childhood and adolescence reach this special milestone. And it’s been kinda exciting and nostalgic to reminisce with many old friends, see old photos and feel part of this exclusive club; the one that significantly links me back to my childhood and adolescent years, a time and place that I have some of the fondest memories of with friends and extended family.
But a few weeks ago when one of my oldest and dearest friends was about to turn 50 I felt a trigger of emotions come over me and it hasn’t left me since. It feels heavy and unsettled and fills my heart with so much sadness, anger, resentment, hurt and emptiness.
These triggers have taken me even further back in my life than just seven years ago, like way, way back; right to birth.
You see I wanted so desperately to pay tribute to my dear friend with a walk down memory lane in the form of a photo collage and to be able to celebrate our nearly 40 years of friendship except, here is where the trigger of emotions really began to go off the rails for me because how can I make a collage of memories from an almost 40 year friendship without a single photo or memory from our younger years.
I don’t want to get into too many details right now as to what actually happened to every single one of my photos and childhood memories I possessed before the age of 19 because well that’s where the triggers really start to go south for me.
Let’s just say that if they had been lost in an accidental fire or went missing during a home invasion I could make room for forgiveness in my heart; but neither of those two scenerios actually played out.
There isn’t one photo of my first year of life to be found, not one school picture or memory from any of my birthdays to be found either. There are no photos of me sitting on my grandpa’s lap playing his trumpet or baking cookies with my grandma to be found. There are no photos of my childhood home in Montreal or Toronto for that matter, no photos of me from the many summers I spent at overnight camp as a camper (I do have a few pics though of my summer as a camp counsellor back in 1989). There isn’t the abundance of photos that were taken of my precious dog who meant the world to me during my adolescent years, no photos capturing the silly antics of me and my brother to be found, no photos of family outings, no photos of family friends or relatives and no photos of me and my besties growing up. It’s as though my childhood has been completely erased and sadly it all could’ve been prevented.
The only photos I do have in my possession now (which I sometimes like to post) are the few that have been sent to me by old friends and family (please keep ’em coming!).
My kids have begrudgingly posed for pictures and may get somewhat annoyed at times by my wanting to document every single milestone or seemingly insignificant moment from their childhood, adolescence and young adult lives but I see them, I see them periodically flipping through old photo albums and the hundreds of saved pictures on their computers. I see them laughing and reminiscing and looking back fondly at those silly memories and keepsakes and I definitely know now that one day they will totally thank me for it because memories may fade over time but a picture will tell a story for a lifetime!
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?
This picture (which popped up on my Facebook “Memory Wall” early this morning) not only captures Jacob’s goofy, loveable personality but it also captures the true essence of what passion, commitment, determination and hard work all look like as well.
Seeing it quickly reminded me just how much I miss watching him play hockey (even if being a goalie mom is one of the most stressful things ever lol) and it also reminded me of a piece I wrote (before I started my actual blog) near the end of Jacob’s last season in Minor League Hockey and well, I just felt like sharing it with you one more time.
**Spoiler alert: he has never stopped being part of a team since leaving the Minor League Hockey world; that was until stupid Covid forced him to take a break last Spring.
*Original Post: Feb 1, 2016*
For the past 12 years being a hockey mom has been a huge part of who I am. I still remember putting Jacob on the ice in his first year of House League all dressed in his hockey gear and hardly able to skate and then, BOOM; the goalie skated by him and they accidentally collided into one another and Jacob broke his wrist.
Fast forward 2 years, Jacob waiting patiently for his turn to play goalie in a tournament. He did such an amazing job and from that day forward Jacob’s dream of becoming a goalie was fulfilled.
One year later he joined a more competitive level team with his friends which has now become our family for the last 9 years. He has improved and worked hard to become a successful goalie since then through perseverance, training, coaching and his love of being a goalie.
Throughout the years hockey has defined our family dynamics, always working our lives around where the next game or tournament is; yes, being a hockey Mom has been a title I will hold near and dear to my heart forever. The ups and downs, I wouldn’t change a thing. But now what?
With only a handful of games left in what is Jacob’s final year of minor league hockey (and hopefully a few more if they make the playoffs), I am sure he will continue to play for many years to come in the adult world but what about the hockey Mom? Where does that leave me?
No more schlepping from one end of the GTA to the other, no more car stinking like a pair of dirty socks, no more cheering when the team scores the game winning goal and no more hockey family.
I have dreaded this day coming for a long time now but I know that Jacob’s commitment he has made to his teammates and coaches alike through the last 12 years will help to define him as he faces many new challenges ahead of him and well, as for me, I will always be grateful for what hockey has given him, and what he has given me; his “Hockey Mom” ❤