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

Monday Motivation: Extra Extra,Read All About It

With another “Stay at Home” order in effect for Ontario now is the perfect time to delve into a good book. 

Reading not only entertains us but studies have shown that it can also improve our overall mental health too. 

Reading a good book is a great way for our minds to escape from our day to day stress or racing thoughts. 

It can help us unwind and relax. 

It keeps our minds sharp, improves our memory and cognitive skills and can help make our brains stronger. 

For me personally, I love to read Self-help and Personal Development books; many of which are autobiographical accounts of someone’s victorious mental health journey.

They can be very inspiring, therapeutic and healing. 

They can provide insight into our own limitations and help us grow stronger or become better humans.

Reading in general can feel very empowering, be very engaging and emotionally charging.

It can also enhance our creativity, productivity, outlook, competence and overall wellbeing.

So whether you prefer to curl up on the couch with a good self-help book, fiction, romance or something autobiographical, as you can see, reading has so many healthy benefits to it (just incase you were on the fence about taking up the hobby yourself!). 

So really, what do you have to lose?

What book are you reading now? 

What type of books do you prefer to read? 

#mondaymotivation #reading #books #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #youareenough #selfhelp #fiction #biographies #yourmentalhealthmatters #bekindtoyourself #depression #anxiety 

Monday Motivation: The Importance of Smaller Steps

People often think that the only way to achieve a goal is by taking “big steps” but that isn’t necessarily going to get you there any faster or with any greater success. 

As someone suffering with depression and anxiety I can tell you firsthand that taking smaller steps toward any attainable goal can and will have a much greater impact. 

For starters, small steps help get you started and can feel far less overwhelming. 

But this past week I forgot all that while being faced with extreme overwhelm and instead I found myself trying to push away the overwhelm by taking too many “big steps” (ginormous is more like it) up my ladder and all at once. 

I should have known better that this idea would likely backfire on me and when I finally realized days later that what I was doing was in fact only causing me further overwhelm I was already in dire need to alleviate it. 

It was at that moment that I took a deep breath and stepped off the ladder all together which allowed me to find my footing once again and start back up the ladder using smaller more attainable steps. 

I was so completely overwhelmed that I misjudged how many rungs were on the ladder and that because they were all securely in place there should’ve been no reason for me to try and skip any steps as I began climbing up. 

My missteps could’ve been a recipe for complete disaster but when I regained my footing and began climbing back up the ladder using smaller steps it in turn added up to much “bigger” results. 

Taking smaller steps for me ensures greater success, makes many of my decisions much more manageable and can free my mind from those bigger distractions as well.

I know I have a much better understanding these days as to how critical it is to take those smaller steps (even if my illness tries to persuade me in another direction) in order to create momentum and improve my productivity and performance which can allow me to stick with a goal more easily.

What small steps would you like to take this week?

#motivationmonday #mondaymotivation #goals #simplifiedgoals #attainablegoals #smallsteps #youareenough #overwhelm #vulnerability #mindfulness #therapeutic #selfcare #selfdiscovery #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth

Maybe I Should Become A Watchdog

I don’t sleep much at the best of times and what little sleep I do get is often very disruptive and unsettling and a large part is due to my hypersensitivity to noise or in Psychological terms I guess you could call it “Anxiety”.

I’d probably compare myself to that of a dog when it comes to my keen sense of hearing, not the ferocious Cujo looking dog but more like a cuddly little lap dog! Dogs can hear way better than most humans and can also hear from four times further away and at nearly twice as many frequencies. That about sums me up and not just through the night!

Due to my severe anxiety I am easily triggered by many, many sounds and noises which often result in further upset, irritation, distress and even anger. I always feel like I am on high alert and many of the so-called “normal”, everyday noises that we hear feel super amplified in my head which causes me to be alarmed and frightened for a very good part of my days and night. It can be as simple as a door opening, a car driving by or even the sound of footsteps heard overhead. 

These triggers don’t always coincide with my anxious thoughts or panic attacks, in fact oftentimes it doesn’t at all but it is so hard for me to ever feel completely relaxed. I find it near impossible to ever fully shut off my brain and with every amplified sound or noise I hear I am automatically thinking something tragic has occurred (and if you don’t believe me you can ask anyone who lives with me lol).

I am slowly learning how to stop myself as the noise amplifies in my head before I go immediately into the worst and most tragic place by telling myself over and over again that nothing bad is happening just like the last time I heard the same noise. It’s a process, just like everything else in my life. But if all else fails I think I’d make a pretty damn good watchdog!

#mentalhealthawarenessmonth #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #sleepless #hypersensitivity #noise #anxiety #mentalillness #selfcare

I Am Grateful Today For:

Things could always be worse. At least you have your health. You have so much to be grateful for.

These are just a few of the many phrases I’ve heard spoken to me, or about others over the course of my journey these last 6+ years but as a person living with a Major Depressive Disorder like I do, I find myself especially confused as to how much worse I’m actually supposed to feel?

Hearing someone tell you that things could always be worse is belittling their feelings and experiences, it’s shaming them and will leave them exploding with guilt. Hearing these words may also leave someone second guessing their illness and therefore living silently in fear of exposing it which may also lead them to the belief that they don’t matter.

Yes I am blessed that I am both capable and able to walk and talk and breathe and feel and see and smell and hear and taste all the beauty that surrounds me, but as a person who is battling a mental illness, being told that “at least you have your health” hurts very deeply because our Mental Health is just as critical to our well being as our physical health is and those words are also a very disheartening reminder to us all as to how much work is still left to be done to help end the stigma; Mental Health is Health.

But I think what hurts me the most sometimes is when someone who is suffering with depression or anxiety is questioned as to whether or not they feel gratitude. I practice gratitude in my daily life and I am very much aware of all the things for which I am most grateful for. The feelings and behavioural changes though that are associated with a depressed or anxious mind cannot simply be cured by practicing gratitude, but it can definitely help with the process.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) which is the time of year we set aside to celebrate being thankful and grateful for what we have in our lives and to recognize the genorosity and kindness that has been bestowed upon us since the previous year. Well this year, more than ever before, it may be very difficult to recognize or appreciate those silver linings (no explanation necessary).

I can honestly say that this has truly been the worst year ever for me since my journey began. The Pandemic and my illness have both played a huge role in that forgone conclusion but so have several other personal issues, many of which I have never disclosed to this public forum, but still I am so grateful for so much and wanted to share some of that here with you today.

I am grateful for:

Books

Nature walks and hiking

Bubble baths

My weekly therapy

Arts and Crafts

Television 

Diet Coke and Ice Capps

Flowers

Things that make me laugh 

Romantic comedies that make me cry

My creative soul

A warm and sunny day

My weighted blanket 

Social Media

My Blog that allows me to share my story

Being given a voice

Kindness and empathy

My compassion

My imperfections 

Forgiveness 

Animals 

Being born and raised in Canada 

My undeniable support system

Strangers who have become my friends 

My incredible friends who see me beyond my illness and stand by me no matter what

My large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles whom I never get to see but who love me just the same 

My big brother who I know will always protect me 

My inlaws and my many beautiful nieces and nephews

My mother in law who is always there to cheer me on

Maggie, for appreciating a good cuddle and belly rub

My 3 beautiful children who have stolen my heart and taught me the true meaning of resilience and unconditional love 

And to my Soulmate and best friend Rich, I am beyond grateful for your protection and for always seeing my inner beauty and who continues to make me feel desired and loved

What are you most grateful for today?

#happythanksgiving #grateful #gratitude #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthishealth #mentalillnessawarenessweek 

Happy 18th Birthday Rachel

My baby is 18 today and in the Jewish religion the number 18 is very significant and meaningful. In Hebrew “18” is pronounced “Chai” (‘Hi’) and when translated to English, it the means “life”; so I thought it was only fitting to remind you today how on this day 18 years ago, you made our “life” complete (it says so right there in your birth announcement).

This past year has been anything but easy yet I find myself in absolute awe of you and all that you have accomplished despite it being so challenging and met with so many obstacles and disappointment.  

But as you enter into this next chapter on your journey today that we like to call “Adulthood” just remember that it’s okay to look back on your past, but just don’t stare at it too long. Hold on tight and let your creativity and curiosity continue to guide you as the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Your dad and I are both so proud of the beautiful, smart, adventurous and artistic young woman you are becoming and we are truly mesmerized by your determination and resilience as we watch you work your butt off to keep making all your dreams come true.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world today and always.

I love you to the moon and back! ❤🤗😘

#foreverandaday #daddysgirl #happybirthday #birthdaygirl #babysister #eighteen #life #familymatters #celebrate #adulting #neverstopdreaming #dreamscancometrue #futureinteriordesigner #youareenough #rach #rachy #fluxy #littleflux 

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends


The week we first went into lockdown 5 months ago this week (in case you’ve forgotten!) I had an appointment scheduled with my Psychiatrist to begin a new treatment. The decision for me to even attempt yet another new treatment was not an easy one to make, especially since it’s still quite new and not very accessible to the general public as of now; and not to mention that I had already been part of a clinical study for a more invasive version of the same treatment several years earlier during a hospital admission that I needed to stop immediately. 

The first dose was to be administered by my Psychiatrist in his office at the hospital he works out of to ensure that I could tolerate it and from there I would be monitored closely as I continued treatment several times a week from my home. It’s now been five long months since that initial appointment was postponed inevitably as I continue to struggle deeply on a daily basis. 

As most of you who follow my journey regularly know by now that my relationship with medication and treatment options (both traditional and MANY non-traditional as well) to help ease my symptoms associated with anxiety and depression have been met with many obstacles, extreme challenges and sometimes severe complications to say the least. So when I discovered CBD oil a few years ago and found immediate relief from it while experiencing high levels of anxiety throughout any given day (even if it’s only temporary), I’ve come to rely on it like you would rely on any loyal and trustworthy friend.

Although it’s been far from a cure and (unfortunately) for me it has yet to give my symptoms of depression any type of real relief I’m still so grateful to know that just like my many loyal, trustworthy friends I have in my life, it’s a safe and reliable way to help me cope with my often severe and very persistent daily bouts of anxiety and panic attacks because I really don’t know how I’d ever get through so many difficult days (and nights) without any of them. 

#cbdoil #friendship #youareenough #depression #anxiety #anxietyattacks #panicattacks #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #therapeutic #selfcare #suicidalthoughts #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether 

It’s 11:11

Monday Motivation

It’s 11:11. Time to make your wishes come true! We all make wishes subconsciously throughout our day, probably numerous times per day, that which we hope to fulfill.

Many of these wishes are just a fleeting moment in time like when you find yourself wishing it would stop raining outside or maybe you wish you could take a vacation.

Then there are the wishes that are done with more of a conscious mind like when we wish we we could find a way to have more money or wish we could somehow find a way to better our health or then there is the wish of so many who are longing (and wishing) to find that one true love to share their life with.

In order for our wishes to come true, they need to become more than just idle thoughts. They take vision, they take a mental image, they take intent, they take direction and they need to be written down and read out loud many times a day.

Wishes can and do come true, so tell me one thing that you wish for right now? 

#makeithappen #mondaymotivation #whatdoyouwishfor #makeawishescometrue #makeawish #thepowerofwishes #writeyourwishesdown #saythemoutloud #eleveneleven #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #dreamer #desire

Silver Linings

 
Like students everywhere, Hannah recently finished up her 3rd year of University “online” and was scheduled to begin working this week (the same position as last spring) for a Jewish Organization to help organize their annual Spring event/walk. Well as you may have guessed it, both the event and her job will not be taking place this year (just praying that her summer job at her “home away from home” will still happen, even if only for a few weeks!) which has now left Hannah, like many University/College students (and adults too!) restless, anxious and bored.

In a recent blog (Your Big Win; April 17, 2020) I wrote that while in quarantine no one is expecting you to be learning a new language or painting the Mona Lisa or becoming a Rocket Scientist but there is certainly still lots of room (and time) for exploring new activities or rediscovering old hobbies to help keep our minds healthy and our bodies moving. 

In fact Hannah has been doing just that and more. She even discovered this week that she has a hidden talent, one that if not for her restlessness, anxiety and boredom during a World Wide Pandemic would she have possibly ever explored! #silverlining

What was your silver lining for the week???
 

#mypetitepicasso #anotherartistinthefamily #proudmama #middlechild #lisasimpson #create #therapeutic #mindfulness #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #uja #campnbb #selfcare #pandemic #anxiety #rediscoveryourself #stayhome #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #togetherapart #covid19 

It’s Okay To Cry Over Spilt Milk


Last night I had a meltdown of epic proportions. I knew that it being my 6 year Anniversary since the onset of my illness yesterday (See blog “The Anniversary Effect”; April 4, 2020) that it wasn’t gonna be an easy day. But I did just what any good doctor would order me to do and got out of bed (eventually), took a 2 hour walk through my neighborhood and then treated myself to a warm bubble bath when we got home. 

But like clockwork everything changed without a moment’s notice and almost as soon as I stepped out of the bathtub I found myself crying over “spilt milk” again, even if most of what I was crying over wasn’t really worth getting upset about at all; but you see, the truth is, it really feels like there is plenty of spilt milk to cry over these days.

At any given moment we may find ourselves feeling sad, scared, disappointed, angry, worried, distracted, exhausted, restless, short tempered or impatient (did I cover enough adjectives?). I find that since first becoming ill my patience has become next to nil which can often stir up plenty of other emotions quickly. And now with each passing day I’m pretty sure that most of us are finding ourselves losing their patience too in some way or another or with someone or another. In other words, we are all starting to get on each other’s nerves.

It’s ok if you’re not quite ready to admit to it yet though and since there is no real guidebook for us to follow on how we should feel during a Pandemic, we all get a free pass. So with no Playbook or guidelines to follow on how we should react or be feeling right now let me reassure you that whatever the heck you are feeling is perfectly valid. 

Even if you’re living with June Cleaver from “Leave It To Beaver” we are all learning together how to coexist with others on a much different level than we were before and you may be feeling very claustrophobic, frustrated, on edge and downright snappy toward one another as we test each other’s patience and deal with each other’s anxieties and ever changing moods. 

It’s hard, it’s super fucking hard right now but “we’re all in this together” and the one thing that is gonna make this nightmare just a tad bit easier is ensuring that we all work together as a team, within our individual homes, and create a Playbook with your home team. (I really do miss sports)

This experience is no doubt gonna change us all and we are all going to have to make some changes in order to get through this Pandemic together and maybe a good place to start is by developing a “Playbook” for your home team and make sure it includes several “strategies” and “plays” that can help reduce some of your household stressors and anxieties. 

Ask your teammates what you need from them right now and moving forward to help make this time together more successful and remember that it’s still ok to cry over spilt milk while figuring it out, but by figuring it out together hopefully we will create some stronger, more adhesive family units by the time this is all over.

So what are some things you need in your Playbook?

#wereallinthistogether #family #playbook #teamwork #teammates #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #anxiety #depression #spiltmilk #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourstrongfriends #covid19 #coronavirus #togetherapart #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #unitedasone