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

Happy Graduation Hannah

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

Don’t ever stop being you🥰❤

#happygraduation #mazeltov #hannahbanana #proudparents #greatjob #classof2021 #neverstopbeingyou #ryersonuniversity #humbercollege #eventmanagement #communications #youdidit #ouryouthmatter #weloveyoutothemoonandback #youareenough

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

The Gift of Family Time

Is it pretty safe to say that if you are a parent you have probably doubted your role as one at one time or another?

You are not alone. 

Parenting is hard work, it’s a huge responsibility and quite possibly the most thankless job ever, yet it also comes with the greatest rewards. 

As a parent we find ourselves second guessing every decision we make or questioning each and every behaviour of ours which only escalates further doubt. 

We worry we will somehow screw up our kid’s lives forever.

We worry that they won’t love us or that they will actually grow to hate us.

This has been a daily battle of mine over the past seven years and I blame my illness. 

It makes me believe all the doubt and lies. 

Even though I have three amazing kids (more like young adults actually) who are all very busy these days discovering who they are and what they need in order to become their best self. 

They are finding their place in the world.

They are chasing their dreams. 

In fact I’d say they are all killing it right now despite my feeling like I have failed them in every way possible, despite my feeling like my illness has taken away a big part of their innocence, despite my feeling like I’m the worst parent ever, despite my feeling like I’m a complete burden to them, despite my feeling like I have scarred them for life and despite my feeling like they hold so much hate and resentment toward me.

It’s been a really difficult week for me. I’m beyond overwhelmed right now and in a pretty bad headspace, (see blog .https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/suicide-can-be-a-silent-killer/) but despite all that it’s moments like the one we had on Sunday evening that remind me that maybe I haven’t failed them after all, maybe I haven’t actually screwed them up completely and maybe, just maybe I’ve even played a role in them becoming those amazing, generous, loving, kind young adults.  

Maybe I need to be more aggressive when I try telling my depressed mind to fuck off.

I’ve needed a few days to process the emotions that overcame me on Sunday evening when my kids excitedly presented me with an early birthday present (they wanted to give me enough time to prepare for it). 

They handed me an envelope and before I opened it they told me that they wanted to get me something they knew I’d cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world. 

As I anxiously opened the envelope I could not imagine what it could be. I unwrapped the piece of paper inside and saw a picture of a cabin on a lake. 

Their gift to me was exactly what they said it was as they handed me the envelope to open. They had wanted to get me something they knew I would cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world so as they so eloquently put it, they gave me the gift of time; quality family time that is.

They have rented a cottage for all of us for the weekend of Father’s day, just days before Hannah “hopefully” heads off to camp for the summer and just days before my 50th birthday. 

There will be canoeing, campfires, roasted marshmallows, self-care, sunbathing on the dock, laughter and a special #summerofrich “Father’s Day” adventure included in our weekend away but most of all there will be picture perfect memories made that we can all cherish forever.

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

#familytime #familymatters #youareenough #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #yourmentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #cottage #cottagelife #selfcare #mindfulness #therapeutic #beinginthemoment #escapefromreality #weekendaway

Happy 26th Anniversary To My Beshert

Twenty six years ago today we stood before our family and friends and made a lifelong promise to one another. It was a promise to become partners and to love each other unconditionally, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

It was a promise of friendship, a promise of commitment, a promise of forgiveness, a promise of kindness, a promise of laughter, a promise of honesty, a promise of trust and a promise of patience.

We may have weathered many storms since then and we may have tested many of those promises too but still, twenty six years later there is no one else in the world I would rather weather any storm with than with you.

Thank you for keeping your promise to me; especially during the storms.

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

#happyanniversary #twentysix #iloveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #youareenough #strongertogether #familymatters #weddingvows #weddingbells #promises #vows #weatherthestorms #mrandmrs #insicknessandinhealth #summerofrich

A Mother’s Day Hike

After finishing up the last of my deliveries early this morning there was nothing more I wanted to do today than go on a #summerofrich adventure with my family.

A few years ago I made the unselfish decision to choose “me” on Mother’s Day (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3218956211472176&id=100000734852540) and even though we haven’t been able to completely reinvent that day for a second year in a row now, I will always cherish these precious moments I get to spend with them just the same.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my warrior moms! 

#dundasvalleyconservationpark #happymothersday #familymatters #preciousmoments #memoriesthatlast #youareenough #youarenotalone #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #therapeutic #nature

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

Empty Picture Frames

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!

Do you have a favorite photo from your childhood?

#memories #oldphotos #nostagia #lostmemories #feelinglost #fiftiethbirthday #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #friendship #family 

Zoomed in With Hadassah-WIZO

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?

#hadassahwizo #zoom #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #blogger #author #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #purpose #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

It Was Seven Years Ago Today: What My Illness Has Both Taken From Me And Taught Me Too

It was seven years ago today that I uttered the words “I want to die” for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I felt hopeless and alone for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that my life no longer felt purposeful for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt broken for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt unlovable for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I lost my way for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I felt like the world was better off without me for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt an abundance of sadness and shame come over me for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that my life was about to change forever and I felt too powerless and helpless to stop it.

It was seven years ago today that I peered outside my bedroom window hoping to find myself somewhere out there.

It was seven years ago today that suddenly I felt a disconnect from the person I once was and with each passing year she seems to fade further and further from my mind.

But someone new emerged in her place that day instead and even though she still feels all those same emotions today that she did seven years ago her new identity has taught her so much more than she ever thought imaginable about both herself and others. 

Her new identity has learned to embrace the difficult moments as a way to grow and co-exist with herself.

Her new identity has learned how to create more meaning in her life.

Her new identity has learned ways to stop running from herself by using the anchor she has been given when she needs a break. 

Her new identity has learned to recognize the pain and suffering in others with heartfelt compassion, empathy and kindness through the acceptance of her own pain and suffering.

Her new identity has learned how to ask for help and how to advocate for those who aren’t quite able to yet. 

Her new identity has found her voice, one that she no longer takes for granted. 

Her new identity has become stronger and more resilient than she truly realizes or gives herself enough credit for. 

Her new identity has learned the importance of making self-care her number one priority.

Her new identity has learned how to set limits and enforce healthy boundaries which has in turn created deeper, more meaningful bonds with the people in her life.

And she is grateful. Not for all that she has necessarily lost since that very first day seven years ago but for all that she has gained and learned since then. And it’s alot.

#itwassevenyearsagotoday #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfdiscovery #selfcare #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #checkonyourlovedones #bekindtoyourself #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #endthestigmatogether