The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Famed children’s book author Eric Carle recently passed away at the age of 91. 

His timeless classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (written in 1969) became a must have in my classroom library when I was teaching preschool age kids many years ago. 

Once I had children of my own I began reading it to them as well from a very young age and it quickly became a favourite in our home. 

When my kids got a bit older and I was no longer teaching preschool anymore there were a handful of children’s books which I had collected over the years that I knew I wanted to hold onto in hopes of one day passing them down to my grandchildren. 

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is one of those books.

It is a whimsical and playful book. 

It’s illustrations are fun and bright and captivating. 

But it also has many meaningful and teachable moments between each page.  

It shows us the importance of transformation and growth. 

It shows us the importance of finding our true self. 

It gives us hope. 

It shows us that in time and with patience we will all find our way in the world. 

It shows us that we are all unique and beautiful in our own special way. 

And it shows us that we all have the capability to emerge from our cocoon, spread our wings and learn how to fly. 

(Oh and it also reminds us that when we eat too much candy we will probably get a stomach ache!)

What is your favourite classic children’s book? 

#childrensbooks #theveryhungrycaterpillar #ericcarle #classics #beauty #caterpillars #cocoon #butterflies #mentalhealth #mentalwellness

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

Dear Teachers, Educators, Parents and Children:

***Grab a tissue before you watch*** 

Listen closely to the real “experts” tell us how they are feeling right now as they prepare to head back to the classroom (either virtually or in person).  Listen closely to the real “experts” talk about their fears of the unknown ahead and their growing uncertainty of the future. And listen very closely as they send a genuine, sincere and incredibly powerful message to our teachers about how important they are to them and just how much of an impact our educators can make on a child’s health and wellbeing. 

These “experts” of all ages, races and ethnicities are speaking with truth and honesty from their heart on behalf of youth everywhere to let teachers know how truly missed and respected they are and how much their guidance and support keeps them feeling hopeful both in the classroom and beyond. Thank you to our teachers for giving our children a safe and inclusive place to turn.

Don’t forget to grab your tissue first; you’ve been warned!

#schoolmentalhealthontario #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #kindness #goteachers #staysafe #youvegotthis #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #kindnessmatters 

School: To Be Or Not To Be?

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.

#cantpleaseeveryone #ouryouthmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #bekind #kindnessmatters #schoolkids #distancelearning #backtoschool #wearamask

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

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

Graduation Day

Tonight we should be gathered together in a room bursting with pride and surrounded by 100’s of excited parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, administrators and many more to watch our Graduate(s) take centerstage and handed their diplomas and recognized for their many successes and achievements they have put forth over the last 4 years in High School.

But instead tonight we improvise, still bursting with the same pride though as we quietly celebrate our Graduate’s successes and acknowledge her many achievements over the last 4 years.

Tonight we close this chapter and look forward to celebrating many more of her successes and achievements that lay ahead.

Mazel Tov Rachel and Congrats to all the 2020 Graduates.

#youvegotthis #youareenough #westmountcollegiateinstitutegraduate #bewolves #nextchapter  #paintthetown #2020willneverbeforgotten #graduationday #capsoff #thegraduate #celebratetheclassof2020 #wherehasthetimegone #itisabigdeal  #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #family #memories #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #thecupcakeshoppe #vegancupcakes #champagnewishes

Pink Shirt Day

Today is “Pink Shirt Day” which is celebrated every year in support of anti bullying. This year’s focus is to “lift each other up” so whether you’re heading off to school or to the gym or to work today let’s all show our solidarity by wearing pink and that we lift each other up. We must take kindness to new heights today, tomorrow and every day and we must celebrate what unites us; not what divides us.

And in case you missed it please check out my blog “Zero Tolerance – Bullying Is Never Okay”; Oct 16, 2019 at: https://wp.me/p965a2-bm.

#antibullying #advocacy #pinkshirtday #campaign #lifteachotherup #showmesomepink #kindness #kindnessmatters #youareenough #bekind #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazondotca

Go Ahead, Colour Outside The Lines

Twenty five years ago (give or take) I received a gift which I have held onto all these years later. It was a book called “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”, written by Robert Fulghum. When I was given the book I was just beginning a new career path (one of many regrets I have) and I was also a newlywed (25 years this spring!) and the book was a perfect celebration of both events even if at the time I didn’t know just how significant this book would truly be to my life. 

As a child we are taught very simple yet very valuable rules but by the time we become an adult we often think we know better and seem to forget the importance of these rules somewhere along the way. But these rules continue to follow us along our journey well into adulthood and in one way or another they will be tested and they will be a constant reminder to us through our failures, our tribulations, our practices and even through our triumphs and successes.

If only we continued to embrace the world around us as we once did in Kindergarten with optimism, adventure and like there ain’t nothing that’s gonna stand in the way of our dreams then maybe by the time we reach adulthood we could appreciate or be bold enough to practice some, if not all of Fulghum’s very important lessons he mentions in his book starting with learning to live our best life by ensuring we create a well balanced life. That means we need to “learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.”  

I know I feel like I lost my way sometime after I reached adulthood and I would give just about anything right now to be able to live a well balanced life by adhering to the same simple rules for which we teach our children to in Kindergarten. For far too long now I have been playing an adult version of Hide-and-Seek which Fulghum describes as “Wanting to hide. Needing to be sought. Confused about being found.”  A perfect metaphor for where I am in my life and that maybe, had I learned back in Kindergarten that it was okay to colour outside of the lines or that it was okay to colour the sky pink or the grass purple I may have been better prepared for what lay ahead. But for now I am slowly learning to embrace a life where “warm cookies and cold milk are good for you” and that taking a nap is all part of good mental health.

No-one can really know for sure what their future holds but this book can encourage us and teach us that no matter what we do or where we end up in our life we must hold on tight to our creativity, we must be open to exploring new boundaries, we must grasp our arms tightly around our imperfections and we must remember how important it is to step outside of our comfort zone in order to live a well balanced life.  And we must also never forget that we are not alone and that “when you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together!”  

***Read the book if you haven’t already and read it again if you already have!

#allineedtoknowilearnedinkindergarten #robertfulghum #kindergartenoneohone #kindergarten #children #innocence #goodmentalhealth #wellbalancedlife #colouring #outsidethelines #embraceeachother #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #youarenotalone