Tonight we celebrated Hannah’s Graduation from Ryerson University.
Her continued dedication, hard work, determination and commitment to succeed over the past four years not only earned Hannah a Degree in Communications but it also earned her a very well deserved placement on the Dean’s List for one last time this semester.
Dad and I couldn’t be more proud of all that you have accomplished and we can’t wait to see what awaits you this coming Fall (but first stop, CAMP!!!!) as you embark on the next chapter of your journey at Humber College in Event Management.
We know that whatever path you choose in life you are certain to shine.
~Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead ~ Nora Ephron
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.
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!
I feel so grateful by the overwhelming response I’ve received in the past few days since launching my Class of 2021 grad sign campaign. Wow! The heartfelt messages of support and sincere words of appreciation for taking on this project again this year to honour our most deserving graduates yet is just beyond words.
One of the organizations I wish to support in this year’s campaign through the generosity of your donations is “Phillips House”; home to North York General Hospital’s child and adolescent outpatient programs.
The redeveloped (and first of its kind in Canada) 15,000 sq. ft. Georgian-style mansion, located near the hospital has been transformed into a serene, healing space that promotes health and wellbeing. Their outpatient services and day programs focus on the treatments of mood disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, eating disorders and other mental health conditions.
I first learned of Philips House by a mom I was introduced to online several years earlier who has since become one of it’s main contributors through her group called “The Maddie Project”.
“The Maddie Project” is a volunteer based organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the mental health needs of children. They focus on ending the stigma surrounding adolescent depression and help to make mental health services more accessible and affordable to adolescents in need.
“The Maddie Project” is named in loving memory of Maddie German Coulter, the daughter of the mom I spoke of above who lost her battle with depression in 2015 at the age of 14. Through the amazing commitment and support of the community they have raised over 3 million dollars to date which helped build “Maddie’s Healing Garden”, a 1.2 acre green space that now surrounds “Phillips House” and provides patients with a calming, natural setting for therapy, meditation and physical activity.
Maddie’s story really touched my heart deeply. At the time of her death my 3 kids were all very close in age to her and it really hit home. I could feel the pain and sadness of her family, of her friends and of her community at large but as someone who struggles every day with chronic depression and understands just how unforgiving it can be, I felt her pain most. She was a young, beautiful, energetic, bright shining light with so much life ahead of her but I am grateful to “The Maddie Project” for continuing to shine her bright light on our community through healing, education, advocacy and giving hope to all the other “Maddies” out there.
I will be placing my order in a few short days so if you would still like to purchase a graduation lawn sign or make a donation to help make a difference in the life of a child or adolescent who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now or in need of some extra support during these most difficult days still ahead please contact me today at: email@example.com.
Thank you again for all your kind words, continued support and encouragement throughout my campaign and throughout my journey itself.
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.
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.
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.
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!
She, along with millions of youth are all dealing with so much emotion right now from anger to sadness to frustration to anxiety to disappointment and depression; all feelings which are perfectly valid and perfectly okay to feel as we continue to self-quarantine; unable to see our friends or family, unable to watch our favorite sports, unable to swing from the monkey bars, unable to participate in extracurricular activities or unable to attend Proms and Graduations.
After hearing so much emotional feedback from my blog I wanted to come up with a way in which we could still somehow honour our “Class of 2020” Grads from PRE-K to Post Graduate while at the same time making sure that no young person ever feels alone during Covid-19 and beyond.
I truly believe Kids Help Phone has helped revolutionize the meaning of #togetherapart by providing ongoing, confidential Mental Health support to our youth via phone, text and online as well; throughout Canada, 24/7 for the last 30 plus years now. They were made for this Pandemic and now they need our help more than ever to ensure that they can keep up with the ever growing demand for their services.
I find myself left with a heartwrenching feeling lately knowing that our young people (under 25) are at their most vulnerable right now while trying to navigate their way through this new norm and that this crisis could leave the greatest effect on their future selves between now and when this is all over; my only hope is that they all come out stronger than ever. But for now we need to keep lifting them up and reminding our young people every single day that their feelings matter, that it’s okay for them to feel sadness or disappointment, that it’s okay to be scared or unsure and that it’s more than okay to ask for help.
So let’s all celebrate a special someone in our life or community with a “Class of 2020” Graduation sign for your front lawn or anywhere else that you wish to display it and let’s make sure that every young person knows that help is never further than a phone call or text away. Please feel free to share 😘
*All proceeds/donations for my “Class of 2020” Graduation Campaign/Initiative will be given to Kids Help Phone*
*Signs will be set up or delivered right to your front lawn or porch; options available for image to print too. etransfer is preferred; $30 each*
*Available in Thornhill & GTA*
*Choose from 6 different designs*
*Kids Help Phone is always open: 1-800-668-6868, Text: 686868, or connect with someone online; adults welcome too*
*Message me on Facebook/Instagram or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to place your orders*
There is still so much uncertainty right now pertaining to the rest of the current school year and for 2 of my kids this isn’t really an issue given that my son is done school already and one daughter is just completing her last few weeks of her 3rd year of University which is now being done all online, but then there is my youngest daughter who is just a few short months away from her High School Graduation and it’s beyond heartbreaking to think that she could miss out on the best and most defining moments of her High School career.
March Break is now officially over for us Ontarions and early this morning my daughter should have been returning home from her Graduation trip to Punta Cana with her friends, but instead she is at home unable to return to school for another 2 weeks, but whose kidding who, it’s going to be much longer than that and there has been quite a bit of buzz over the last few days that school could actually be cancelled for the remainder of the year.
As of right now there has not been any concrete plan put into place for this very possible and very devastating scenario, the one where my daughter doesn’t get to go to her High School Prom or attend her Graduation Ceremony but ya at least she has the accessibility to finish up her school year online if need be. But not every child can do so, in fact many children and their families don’t have computer or internet access in their home and have always relied on the available and free resources from our schools and libraries.
And right now many parents are panicking and rightfully so, but can we just take a step back for a moment (we have nothing better to do right now anyways). We as parents are under a tremendous amount of stress, overwhelm and anxiety about how they are going to be able to “homeschool” their children when the reality is, we aren’t meant to homeschool our kids unless that was the path you had already chosen for them. And an even bigger reality right now is that if school is to be cancelled for the remainder of the school year we honestly have so much more to be worried about than learning fractions or Shakespeare (he needs to be scraped from the curriculum all together!).
I really don’t think I need to tell you what it means if this pandemic continues right through to the summer. Right now we need to support each other as parents and remember that many parents may be doing this parenting and social distancing thing alone or maybe they are coping with the stressors that come along with having a child with special needs or maybe they are new to Canada and haven’t yet grasped the English language or maybe they are dealing with some physical or emotional issues.
Whatever it is that someone else may be going through we need to stop judging each other. Whatever way you are able to get through today and tomorrow and the day after that, remember that you are a good parent and doing the best you can to survive these unprecedented times.
So for now while we wait for what’s to come in the next few weeks try to focus on some kind of routine, but one which allows room for lots of flexibility and lots of outdoor recess and naptime. Now is as good a time as ever to slow down because we ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Also let’s remember that our main objective as parents and human beings right now is to keep you and your family safe as best you can.
There will be so many opportunities for teachable moments throughout the day and maybe it will happen while you’re baking cookies, laughing at a TV show or taking a walk outside or maybe while you’re playing a game or painting a picture. Homeschooling needs to be about self-care which as I said above is much more important right now than fractions (and for sure Shakespeare; sorry to my Shakespeare fans).
So considering my illness feels like it’s hit an iceberg and is causing me to suffer with daily headaches to boot, I will continue to try my best to be the best parent I know how by ensuring that my kids all get an A+ for doing their part in watching way too much Netflix while they help to flatten the curve.