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

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

Friendship First

It was 30 years ago today that Rich and I went out on our first “official” date. 

We had already been working together (he was my boss) for the better part of a year but our timing and circumstances just hadn’t quite aligned before then. 

But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe it was how it was meant to be and maybe it’s how it should be because during the time leading up to our first “official” date we were building a genuine friendship. 

We were getting to know each other, trusting and confiding in one another and learning things about each other that we may not have otherwise been given the opportunity to do.

By developing a true friendship and bond first before jumping right into a relationship took away all of our exceptions. 

I can barely recall most days anymore what I did 5 minutes ago yet I can still remember every last moment of our first “official” date.

And maybe it’s because we could truly be ourselves around each other and not have to pretend to be someone we weren’t. 

Or maybe it’s that friendship we developed first, the one with no strings attached that has helped us to grow together as a couple and has also enabled us to support one another through the most difficult and challenging times that were still yet to come.

I’d love to hear some stories from your best and worst first dates. 

#firstdates #dinnerandamovie #twentysixyearsmarriedthisfriday #thirtyyearsago #wheredidthetimego #friendship #whattrulymatters #unbreakablebond #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mondaymotivation #nostalgia

Memories From a Hockey Mom

Boy do I ever miss being a “Hockey Mom” 🏆🥅⛸🏒 . 

This picture (which popped up on my Facebook “Memory Wall” early this morning) not only captures Jacob’s goofy, loveable personality but it also captures the true essence of what passion, commitment, determination and hard work all look like as well.

Seeing it quickly reminded me just how much I miss watching him play hockey (even if being a goalie mom is one of the most stressful things ever lol) and it also reminded me of a piece I wrote (before I started my actual blog) near the end of Jacob’s last season in Minor League Hockey and well, I just felt like sharing it with you one more time.

**Spoiler alert: he has never stopped being part of a team since leaving the Minor League Hockey world; that was until stupid Covid forced him to take a break last Spring.

*Original Post: Feb 1, 2016* 

For the past 12 years being a hockey mom has been a huge part of who I am. I still remember putting Jacob on the ice in his first year of House League all dressed in his hockey gear and hardly able to skate and then, BOOM; the goalie skated by him and they accidentally collided into one another and Jacob broke his wrist. 

Fast forward 2 years, Jacob waiting patiently for his turn to play goalie in a tournament. He did such an amazing job and from that day forward Jacob’s dream of becoming a goalie was fulfilled. 

One year later he joined a more competitive level team with his friends which has now become our family for the last 9 years. He has improved and worked hard to become a successful goalie since then through perseverance, training, coaching and his love of being a goalie. 

Throughout the years hockey has defined our family dynamics, always working our lives around where the next game or tournament is; yes, being a hockey Mom has been a title I will hold near and dear to my heart forever. The ups and downs, I wouldn’t change a thing. But now what? 

With only a handful of games left in what is Jacob’s final year of minor league hockey (and hopefully a few more if they make the playoffs), I am sure he will continue to play for many years to come in the adult world but what about the hockey Mom? Where does that leave me? 

No more schlepping from one end of the GTA to the other, no more car stinking like a pair of dirty socks, no more cheering when the team scores the game winning goal and no more hockey family. 

I have dreaded this day coming for a long time now but I know that Jacob’s commitment he has made to his teammates and coaches alike through the last 12 years will help to define him as he faces many new challenges ahead of him and well, as for me, I will always be grateful for what hockey has given him, and what he has given me; his “Hockey Mom” ❤

#goaliemom #hockey #hockeymom  #memories #champs #mychamp #theygrowupsofast #skill #ilovehockey #determination #hardwork #passion #mentalhealth #mentalwellness 

It’s a New Month

It’s a new month.

A blank slate.

Clear your head.

Write it down.

Fill the pages.

Make a commitment to your journey.

Trigger introspection.

Manifest your goal.

Give it a purpose.

Declare your intention.

What is one intention you have in mind for the month ahead?

#liveeachdaywithintention #april #selfcare #selflove #selfdiscovery #manifestyourgoals #settinggoals #declareyourintention #blankslate

It’s Ok To Let Go Of Toxic Relationships

Not everyone you meet in life is gonna like you. I know, it sounds kinda crazy? Like who wouldn’t like you, right? Sadly though, it’s the honest truth.

But then again sometimes as we venture through life we may also discover that there are people in our lives who just aren’t our cup of tea either (I guess we call that balance).

What makes this discovery feel most disheartening though is that some of the time these people may happen to be some of the closest relationships we have; like family members who we trusted more than anything in the world or maybe a lifelong friend who we once thought would always have our back. 

I have grown in so many ways because of my illness which has also afforded me the privilege to have met so many incredible new people who I am now honoured to call my friend. 

Over the last many years I have also been blessed with the opportunity to restore many old (but never) forgotten relationships too and I am super grateful to have strengthened many of my current relationships even more.  

But it never takes away the pain; the pain that is of being faced with the hard choice of letting go of toxic relationships in your life, whether it be a family member or a friendship (or maybe a friend who felt like family). 

When it has come to making the difficult decision to end a toxic relationship because it just no longer feels right or begins to drain you mentally or is bringing you down instead of building you up or is leaving you feeling unsettled or making you feel nervous or unsupported or as though you can’t be your true authentic self anymore; it’s okay to walk away. 

The decision to walk away is one I have never taken lightly especially when some of these former relationships have been a part of me forever or as close to forever as they come. 

It also doesn’t mean that you don’t still love them or wish them well on their own journey forward but being able to create these healthy boundaries for yourself may be the best decision for you both in order for the both of you to make space in your hearts to find “your people”.

#toxicrelationships #friendships #family #lettinggo #findyourpeople #healthyboundaries #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #selflove #ichooseme 

Can I Ask You A Question?

I have always been very inquisitive and intuitive about the world around me (which has also helped me to become a better writer over time). 

I like to ask a lot of questions (just ask my kids if you don’t believe me!). 

Asking questions (especially open-ended ones) affords us the opportunity for learning, clarity, awareness, productivity, growth, curiosity and creativity. 

I probably should’ve pursued a career as a Detective or a Talk Show Host maybe?

How can we learn, gain clarity,  awareness, productivity, growth or be curious and creative about life if we don’t ask questions?

We encourage children to ask questions from the time they are able to speak. And even though it may feel like a nagging sensation pulling at your sleeve sometimes or a big pain in the ass at other times; what would the world be like if we discouraged our kids from exploring the wonderment of their surroundings or seeking the curiosity from their growing minds?

I’ve been made to feel ashamed for asking questions and when I was growing up I oftentimes felt too shy, too fearful, too embarrassed or too much pride to ask a question out loud. 

Asking questions should always be encouraged. It opens up important dialogue and no one should ever make you feel shame for asking too many questions. 

I only wish more people felt okay to ask me more questions about mental illness. My mental illness is a big part of who I am today. I will never stop encouraging others from asking even the most difficult questions about mental illness especially those who may have a hard time believing how real it truly is. 

It means the world to me to be able to help others and in order to keep the dialogue surrounding mental illness moving forward I must also be able and willing to answer the difficult questions with an open and honest heart so that others can learn, gain clarity, grow and become more aware. 

Just because we are adults now doesn’t mean we should ever stop learning or be unwilling to expand our want for knowledge each and every day. And keep in mind that there is no such thing as asking a stupid question!

#askmeanything #questions #askquestions #nosuchthingasastupidquestion #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate  #blogger #author 

Enjoy Every Joy Ride

I try, I really do try and relish in every good moment and experience that life has to offer me. I’m very mindful of these moments and experiences and I appreciate the opportunity when they present themselves or allow me to escape and feel moments of joy.

I was afforded some of these moments over the weekend especially while spending some quality time with my family on Saturday afternoon, enjoying some fresh air, a change of scenery and even a bit of exercise too. It was so welcomed after a very difficult night before.  

My plate is completely full right now and so these moments where I’m able to escape from my racing thoughts or overwhelm for even a short while are appreciated so much more because sadly they don’t seem to last very long and often feel so few and far between.

My emotions are likened to being on a roller coaster ride with so many ups and downs, twists and turns and often scary, heart palpitating moments. 

I never know when the ride is going to slow down long enough for me to catch my breath or feel that adrenaline rush of joy again. 

At least I was afforded the opportunity on Saturday because by the time Sunday rolled around that sinking feeling you get from the plunge of a roller coaster was in full swing again. I found myself plunging the moment I awoke from a very restless night sleep and it caused my thoughts to start racing to a very dark and scary place and a mistake was made in the process that led me toward more pain and sadness which I am unable to shake off still today.

I guess that’s why when those moments of joy do come my way I am so much more appreciative of them. We all need to learn to relish in those moments even if only for a moment in time.

#mondaymotivation #relishinthemoment #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #appreciatejoy #mentalhealth #selfcare #depression #anxiety #familymatters 

Dead Ends

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” ~ Coco Chanel 

It’s been nearly a year now since I last cut my hair and I have to say, it felt quite liberating. 

I’ve never waited this long in between haircuts before but then again I’ve also never lived through a Pandemic before either. 

My hair feels lighter and healthier than ever today now that all the dead ends are finally gone. 

As I watched every last one of those dead ends of hair fall to the floor it almost felt like a metaphor for how we should be living life. 

Just as it’s important for us to trim away the dead ends of our hair regularly to allow for it to grow back stronger and healthier, I do know that it’s just as important to cut off the dead ends (metaphorically speaking) from our lives as well in order to give ourselves the courage and confidence to keep growing stronger and healthier too.

How are you prioritizing your mental health today?

#cocochanel #selfcare #deadends #haircut #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youareenough #youmatter #ichooseme #liberating #growth #strength 

Keep Talking About Suicide

*may be triggering to some*

I’m struggling to stay motivated these days but if I’m to be completely honest here (which is something I always try to do in my writing), it’s been an ongoing struggle of mine for the better part of seven years now.

Living with depression for as long as I have, I’ve become really well versed in what I am supposed to do to feel more motivated and even though I may try and practice many of the strategies and tools I’ve been given in order to do so, I more often than not find myself unable to focus or concentrate or stay on track for very long because, well in all honesty again, depression is very strong-willed and always seems to find a way to kill my motivation, distract me from my day to day tasks and completely suck away all of my mental and physical energy.

I just finished reading a book titled “So-Called Normal” by Mark Henick. I have been following Mark’s story for quite some time now and was very much looking forward to the release of his new memoir. 

The book captivated me from start to finish, I hung onto his every word, especially as I learned more and more about his life as a young boy and awkward teenager where he grew more and more depressed.  

I was first drawn in by his story several years ago when I happened upon a Ted Talk he did where he discussed the importance of talking about suicide and stigma after he had several attempts at suicide during his formative years. 

His Ted Talk is now among one of the most watched Ted Talks around the world along with the story of his suicide attempt at the age of 15 that went viral after he began searching for the “faceless man in the light brown jacket”  (available on YouTube) many years later who had so bravely and selflessly saved him from jumping off a bridge in his small town in Nova Scotia where he lived (he now resides in Toronto with his wife and three young children). It had not been his first suicide attempt but it thankfully did become his last. 

Some may argue that reading a book about suicidal ideations and suicide attempts could be triggering, maybe even give someone like myself some new and innovative ideas on how to kill myself. But it’s not at all. In fact it’s just the opposite.

For starters, noone needs to put these ideas into my head; trust me when I tell you that they get in there all by my own doing and noone has ever put these ideas in my head; ever. 

After Mark’s final suicide attempt he set out on a mission to prove to his High School’s administration team that by sharing his story with his peers was not going to encourage someone to attempt suicide if they weren’t already thinking about it in their own mind but could instead bring other’s hope. By not talking about it can and will just make others with those same thoughts in their head feel even more alone.

Since that fateful day back in 2003, at the age of 15 Mark has not stopped talking. He has kept sharing his story over and over again to platforms on both a National and International scale and has since turned it into both his passion and life’s purpose. 

It’s probably what I have admired most about him for so long now and even more so since reading his story in full. He is so inspiring and has such strength and resilience which is why I felt I needed to share his story with you all. 

With every page I turned or new chapter I read I began to feel more and more motivated to continue sharing my own journey; because if truth be told, my very strong-willed depression has been telling me alot lately that I should shut up and just stop talking.

There was one paragraph in particular that really stood out for me and really made me truly understand how important it is for me to keep motivated and to keep talking. It came about 3/4’s of the way into the book when Mark himself began questioning whether or not he too should continue sharing his story, the same story he’d been telling audiences all over the world for many years by now. It was on that day when someone said to him: “It might be your hundredth time saying it, but it’s probably someone else’s first time hearing it.” that he knew he couldn’t stop talking. Yup those words really resonated with me, like a lot. 

Maybe now, after reading his book I can also find the strength and motivation to follow up with Mark from our last conversation we had back in September when he had reached out to me to be a guest speaker on his Podcast “So-Called Normal’.

At the time I was feeling quite intimidated by him, afterall here he was living his best life and making a difference in so many people’s lives and here I was just days past yet another visit to the emergency room feeling very suicidal and my strong-willed depression had me second guessing what I could possibly have to offer his audience. 

But after reading his entire story in great length, I now know that he still has days where he struggles too or other days where something may trigger him as well, but he has learned through sharing his story that he can get through those urges and that gives me hope and a much deeper understanding of just how truly motivating it can be. 

#motivation #socallednormal #memoir #tedtalk #markhenick #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #blogger #author