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

#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

2021 Graduate Campaign

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.

#graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #payitforward #strongertogether

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

Being Present In The Moment

Living with chronic depression and severe anxiety as I do it’s so easy to get caught up in both our past and our future, leaving us feeling very worn down, overwhelmed and vulnerable and often unable to live in the moment or be present in our own life. 

It’s been an incredibly difficult few days for so many of us who have been trying to come to grips with the cruel reality and accept the loss of a precious life that was taken from us far to soon. 

But Jesse, who was wise beyond his short life, left behind so many invaluable gifts for all of us to cherish and learn from, especially the gift of knowing how to embrace every moment by living in the moment and being present in our own life.

He taught us to appreciate life to the fullest and all of its encompassing beauty no matter what. He taught us to focus on the now and to relish life in the moment. He showed us how to be thankful for the small wins, however small they may seem.

He taught us that any random or spontaneous act of kindness can brighten someone’s day and that a smile or a kind word will take you a very long way. He taught us that worrying about our future can take away precious moments of our present day and he also taught us how to express gratitude right here and right now.

These are the kind of invaluable gifts that we all need to hold on tight to. So to honour Jesse’s memory today I’m asking that we all take a moment to be in the moment and to focus on what is right in front of us, surrender to your emotions, feel your surroundings and allow yourself to see something in your presence for the very first time 💙💙💙

#shabbatshalom #jessestrong #stayblessed #staybreezy #fuckcancer #beinthemoment #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #depression #anxiety #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Ma famille ❤

What does family mean to you?

To me family is always having someone in your life who has your back and sees your shortcomings yet still loves you unconditionally.

Family is showing love and support for one another even through the difficult times and having a strong connection with others who want nothing more than to lift you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

Family is having a feeling of security, unity, acceptance and a mutual respect and understanding. 

Being part of a family doesn’t have to mean that you are related by a bloodline or always having to share the same interests or opinions with each other  either; it just means that you always feel a sense of belonging, a willingness to embrace your differences and the ability to value them no matter what.

#happyfamilyday #family #familymatters #memories #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #mondaymotivation

A Love Letter to Me, Myself & I

*I was asked to do a writing exercise and write a love letter to myself and so I couldn’t think of a better day to practice some much needed self-love than today on Valentine’s Day.*

Dear: Myself & I 

You and I go back a really long time and I guess if you wanna be a bit more precise, it’ll actually be fifty years come this June. That’s pretty noteworthy, wouldn’t you agree? 

Looking back on our almost fifty years together, there’s no denying that we’ve created alot of history. We’ve made so many lasting memories together, we’ve cried together until we’ve nearly collapsed from exhaustion, we’ve laughed so hard together that our belly’s ached and we’ve shared a bond that runs deeper than any two people could ever truly imagine.

But I know I have let you down a alot over the last many years (and several more times throughout our life together I’m sure). I feel like I have disappointed you by detaching myself & I from you and leaving you to fend for yourself while having to rely on the strength of others. 

I should be the one showering you with the love and kindness you so deserve and make you feel empowered. I should be the one encouraging you, rooting you on, embracing you, appreciating you and seeing your own incredible inner strength. 

I should also be the one who is always praising you and admiring your courage and I should be the one who sees how smart and creative you are or how strong and truly brave you are and I should be the one who sees what a caring and huge heart you have. 

I should not be forever telling you that you are not good enough, that you are worthless, that you should do better and that you should be a better wife, mother and friend. I should be the one who is there for you and who wants to take care of you and protect you and adore you.

I want to apologize to you for not fighting harder for you, for not feeling like you deserve me, for making you feel like I have failed you and for making you believe that you are a burden, that you are unlovable and that you are undesirable. I want to apologize to you for making you feel like you don’t belong, that you don’t matter and that you are no longer needed. I also need to apologize to you for allowing you to believe that you are anything less than the amazing and kindhearted and beautiful, worthy soul that you are.

I know how difficult life has been for you over the last many years and so I’m writing you this letter today to let you know that even though you may not be able to see it now I need you to know that you are worthy, that you do matter, that you are beautiful, that you are smart, that you are creative, that you are strong and brave and courageous and kind and desirable and that you are more than enough.

Sincerely yours,

Myself & I 

P.S. wishing my beloved Rich and 3 beautiful children Jacob, Hannah and Rachel a very Happy Valentine’s Day today. You are my heart and soul and you fill my heart and soul with so much sweetness and love (and Maggie too!).

I love you all to the moon and back, forever and a day ❤

P.P.S.  I hope you all have a very happy Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love and inner peace. 

#happyvalentinesday #bemine #selflove #bekindtoyourself #youareenough #youarenotalone #selfcare #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #lettertomyself #therapeutic #loveletter #dearme #youmatter

What is Love?

“Love isn’t about how often you say I love you, it’s about how much you can prove it’s true.” ~ unknown ~

It’s easy to say I love you, they are just words; people can tell you anything they believe you long to hear but it’s their actions that will truly tell you everything.

There are many different kinds of love we will experience in our lifetime but just remember, that no matter what, the only kind of love you ever deserve, is the kind of love that doesn’t come with conditions, prerequisites or agendas attached to it.

#chooseaction #choosekindness #chooselove #loveyourself #bemyvalentine #youareenough #bekindtoyourself

Today Is A New Day

I had a very restless and “catastrophic” evening last night. Somewhere between 10pm and 11 I began to have a panic attack of “catastrophic” proportions which soon morphed itself into an anxiety attack and lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

But if it weren’t for a few of my many incredible friends who just so happened to be checking in with me around that time, I’m not sure how I would have ever gotten through last night. They listened to me and distracted me with their own antics and funny memes well into those wee hours of the morning. 

I am both incredibly lucky and grateful to have so many amazing people in my life who simply want nothing more than to be there for me no matter what, who don’t keep score, who always know how to make me laugh through my tears, who continue to make me feel empowered and who would unselfishly be there for me until the wee hours of the morning.  

Two years ago today I wrote a blog called “What A Catastrophe” which just so happened to show up in my memories on Facebook this morning and I thought I would share it with you all again (and for anyone who may have missed it the first time) after the “catastrophic” night I had. It describes in length just how quickly a depressed and anxious mind can turn anything into a catastrophe in a matter of seconds, sometimes without any warning and often without any real triggers either. 

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/what-a-catastrophe

After last night and with very little sleep, I knew that I needed to find an outlet today and definitely a change of scenery. One thing that has been a tremendous source of emotional wreckage for me lately has been the lack of time in the great outdoors. I really hate winter, like really really hate it but I have also really missed my long walks every day and hiking every weekend since the change in weather hit and so today I faced the dreaded winter air head on and went for a long and very challenging hike with Rich and my girls (Jacob was working but I’m pretty sure Football would have won over a hike either way). 

The weather was perfect (I could have worn a t-shirt lol), the sun was shining so brightly on us and it felt like we were in a winter wonderland.  It’s the moments like today that I hold deep in my heart and it’s moments like today that I need to imagine during my next big catastrophe. And who knows, maybe we can even start a new tradition.

#winterofrich 
#friendship #whattrulymatters #youarenotalone #familymatters #hiking #humbervalleyheritagetrail #newtraditions #weatheringthestorm #youareenough #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #panicattack #hiking #nature #mindfulness #therapeutic

My Velveteen Rabbit

Did you have a favourite blankie or stuffed animal growing up? Did you sleep with it every night and take it with you everywhere you went? Did you feel a sense of panic if it was suddenly out of your reach? Was it loved so much that it became “real”?

One of my favourite children’s books growing up was “The Velveteen Rabbit”, a story that I passed down to my own children when they were very young hoping they would fall in love with it as much as I did and one day I hope that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will too. 

The story was originally published in 1922 but it never seems to grow old. It’s a story of a young boy who receives many presents one Christmas morning including a beautiful stuffed Velveteen Rabbit.  But the boy doesn’t take to the rabbit right away as he had so many new and shiny toys to play with all at once, until one day his nanny grabs the Velveteen Rabbit off the shelf for him to sleep with.

The rabbit had longed for this moment and had only one wish in mind which was to “become”. And “become” he did. The boy grew so attached to the rabbit that eventually “most of his hair had been loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and very shabby”. It was at that moment that the Velveteen Rabbit knew he had finally become “real”.

As a young child I had my own “Velveteen Rabbit” only he wasn’t actually a rabbit but instead a fluffy gray haired dog who wore a big red plaid hat atop his head. Throughout my childhood and into my transition into adulthood that stuffed dog gave me a great sense of safety, predictability and comfort; something I know millions of children around the world during this past year have looked for more than ever before. 

He “became” so real that his fur was also loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and shabby too. He lost his big red plaid hat at some point over the course of my childhood and my grandma replaced it by knitting him a special red and white bow to wear around his wobbly neck to keep him warm. 

His name was Sniffer and he saw me through the worst of times in my life and the best of times as well (he even made a surprise appearance at my wedding thanks to my brother!). A stuffed animal like Sniffer who becomes “real” are so much more than any old toy in a child’s toy box because when they “become” they teach a child about compassion, they teach a child how to love and they can teach a child to be gentle towards others. They also open up a world of imagination and pretend play for a child by giving them a name, a voice and a personality.  

Sniffer did all that and more for me and nowadays he sits comfortably on a shelf in my closet as he is pretty old and fragile. He is also pretty much the only memory I have left from my childhood (a story for another time and place) so I will never just toss him away. 

Just knowing he is there if ever I need him gives me a sense of comfort and ease in an anxious moment. His sentimental value is also both soothing and calming in times of distress. I guess sometimes we all just need a trusting hug or cuddle from an old familiar inanimate object to give us a feeling that we too have “become” because once you “reach that point then no matter what happens to you, you can always be true to yourself” too.

Did you have a special toy or object that brought you comfort? Do you still have it today?

#becomingreal #stuffedanimals #comfort #sentimental #thevelveteenrabbit #youareenough #youarenotalone #childandyouthmentalhealth #mentalhealthishealth #childrensliterature