After The “But”

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.

#afterthebut #depression #anxiety #suicideawareness #gradsigns #mentalhealth #classof2021 #graduationday #stayathomeorder #lockdown #forouryouth #ouryouthmatter #campaign #initiative #lawnsigns #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #selfcare #letitgo #selfdoubt #justbreathe #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether 

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 

Nostalgia

Last night we watched the movie “The Last Blockbuster” on Netflix (a bit ironic I have to say). 

It’s a Documentary about the demise of the Blockbuster Franchise (and how they once turned down an offer to buy Netflix; boy do I pity the fool now!). It also highlighted the very last store still in existence today in Bend, Oregon. 

To be honest I was never a regular customer of Blockbuster but boy oh boy did this movie ever bring back like a Gazillion or more memories from my childhood and young adult life; so much so that I kept trying to pause the movie in order to share some of those exciting highlights with the kids and Rich as they popped into my head but if you can believe it, they were more interested in watching the movie than listening to more of my silly (and often tearful) nostalgia!

Seriously though, I would’ve thought my kids could’ve at least pretended to show some interest in my stories, I mean like after all, their parents actually met while working together in a videostore and what about my husband, I would’ve thought he’d have been all ears too seeing as he met his future bride over 30 years ago at a videostore as well!!!

They’re just lucky that they’d already gone to their rooms after the movie was over or I may have tried to take them with me on another nostalgic trip down memory lane when, shortly after the movie ended I became aware through Social Media that my favourite (or a very close second to Judy Blume) children’s book author from my childhood Beverly Cleary had just passed away at 104 years young. Boy did they sure dodge a bullet that time!

What triggers nostalgia in you?

#thelastblockbuster #memories #nostalgia #videostores #videoflicks #dvds #vcrs #newreleases #popcorn #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #ripbeverlycleary #judyblume #childrensbookauthors

Less Is More This Holiday Season

As my kids were growing up they were always super excited in anticipation of the first night of Chanukah and they especially looked forward to spending time with family and friends throughout the “eight crazy nights”, lighting the Menorah, making holiday crafts, eating and baking lots of traditional Chanukah treats, exchanging presents and of course receiving them too. 

When they were younger we often gifted them with a small token gift each night of Chanukah after we lit the candles (not to worry, there were plenty of bigger presents to go around too). It may have seemed like they were super silly gifts, but seeing the excitement and joy light up their faces as they tore the wrapping paper from their new Dora the Explorer toothbrush or their funky new Chanukah pencil set is a feeling that will never grow old as a parent.

Tonight as we begin the celebration of Chanukah 2020 we will continue as always to honour the holiday by lighting the Menorah each night while enjoying the same traditional treats like sufganiyah (jelly donuts), homemade cookies and homemade latkes as well that smell up our clothes and home for days and days, but always totally worth it. 

But this year the holiday season, whether it be Chanukah, Christmas or any other holiday traditions you celebrate are going to once again in good old 2020 fashion feel a whole lot different from years past. 

Many of our traditions, celebrations or even vacations with friends and loved ones won’t be taking place this year and that is going to create a great sense of disappointment and a feeling of loss for many children and adults alike. 

Maybe we can all try to create some new traditions or find different ways of celebrating the holidays instead this year as we focus our attention on the general theme of 2020 which is that “less is more”. 

Maybe we can take some comfort in a more simplistic holiday season instead this year where we share our favourite memories of holidays past over a zoom call with loved ones or make holiday crafts to hang outside our door to brighten up the neighborhood or donate a toy to a child less fortunate.

However it is you choose to celebrate this year or as “grim” as the holiday season may feel for so many let us all be reminded that it is still the “season of giving” and the “season of miracles”.

And to all of us who will be lighting that first Chanukah candle tonight let it bring a “festival of light”, hope and unity for everyone around the world because that is truly all that matters this holiday season.  

#happychanukah #happyholidays #memories #traditions #familytraditions #newtraditions #tistheseason #lightthemenorah #eightcrazynights #festivaloflights #seasonofgiving #seasonofmiracles #santaclausiscomingtotown #togetherapart #lessismore #homefortheholidays #watchahallmarkmovie #youareenough #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealthishealth  

Imperfectly Perfect

My illness lies to me all the damn time but it’s so hard not to believe its vicious lies after everything we’ve been through together in the past six and a half years. 

One such lie that it repeats over and over and over again is how much of a burden I am to my family and how much better off they would be without me. 

It constantly triggers countless negative thoughts and emotions in my head that pull me in a million different directions which can strike at any moment, especially during the dark and lonely nights. 

Last night I shared with you one of the most meaningful and proudest moments any parent could ever imagine. A moment that should prove to all the untruths once and for all that my illness is nothing more than a big fat liar because I must be loved, I must be needed and I must truly be cherished.

When we first become parents we aim for perfection and we strive to provide for our kids a near perfect life, but how realistic is that really when we live in such an imperfect world? 

And truth be told, there is nothing wrong with being an imperfect parent, infact being such is actually perfectly perfect even if my illness tries to tell me otherwise. 

I have been overwhelmed with so much emotion since Jacob unveiled his tattoo to us last night. My kids have been living in a pretty imperfect place for the better part of six years now and although my illness keeps telling me that I am a burden to my family and that they are better off without me this gift from Jacob has shown me that being “good enough” or being “imperfect” may just be the greatest and most perfectly perfect gift you can ever give to a child after all.

#mythreereasonswhy #empathyandkindness #mygreatestloves #iloveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #thegreatestgiftofall #itsoktonotbeok  #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #imperfectlyperfect #youareenough #youarenotalone 

A Boy And His Mom

My heart is overflowing tonight. There are no words to describe how I am feeling right now.

This is Jacob’s latest tattoo that he got yesterday. The picture was originally taken while on a family vacation in Washington D.C nine years ago during the week of his 13th birthday (but he swapped out the Washington Monument for the C.N Tower).

Thank you for this incredibly meaningful and very moving gesture. You are always so full of surprises. 🤗🥰

#imnotcryingyourecrying #soproudofyou #justaboyandhismom #arealmensch #anunbreakablebond #youareenough #iloveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #myfirstborn #piranhatattoo

You’ll always be my babies ❤

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been” ~ Mark Twain

#youareenough #iloveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #tbthursday

Happy Birthday Mickey

Let’s all take a moment today to wish the world’s most recognizable character and the most lovable mouse on earth a very happy 92nd birthday.

I have always been a really big fan of Mickey Mouse’ (like ginormous) and that feeling has never waivered.

To me Mickey Mouse embodies all that is good in the world. He is a symbol of family, friendship and fun. He welcomes and accepts everyone he meets into his home (which just so happens to be the most magical place on earth) with a warm embrace.

He brings smiles of joy to millions of faces, both young and old alike and he believes that no dream is impossible and that “if you can dream it, you can do it!” 

Let’s celebrate and appreciate Mickey today for all of his amazing and special attributes that he has brought to the world over the last 92 years and all that he represents because we could sure use as many warm embraces (virtually for now) and welcoming smiles (under your mask) more than ever before right about now.

I wish I could be with him to celebrate today; how about you?

What are your most cherished memories of Mickey and/or the Magic Kingdom?

#happybirthdaymickeymouse #mickeyandminnieforever #waltdisney  #dreamtheimpossible #disneyworld #magickingdom #dream #family #friendship #cherishedmemories #mentalwellness #youareenough #origamiowl

**The jewelry featured in pics are from the new Disney Collection at Origami Owl** https://kimfluxgold.origamiowl.ca

Happy Covid-Halloween

Halloween, like every other holiday or celebration since March is going to look and feel, well, in Halloween terms, something like that of a “Ghost Town” around here tonight.

The Government and Health Officials in Ontario have “strongly recommended” that anyone living in a “hotspot” area (which I do) refrain from taking your little “Witches and Goblins” door-to-door Trick or Treating this year or give out candy as well (and just to add further salt to the wound, it’s finally on a Saturday night!!!).

Well even though my 3 little “Pumpkins” may be young adults now and well past the “battiness” of Trick or Treating, I can’t help but feel a “haunting” sense of sadness today mixed with a “monstrous” dose of nostalgia. 

Have a sweet and sugar-coated Halloween today everyone, however it is you may be celebrating! 👻🍫

**Feel free to share some of your favourite Halloween memories and pics!

#covidhalloween #makethebestofit #youcanstilleatcandy #halloween2020 #fullmoon  #totrickortreat #staysafe  #mentalhealthishealth #kidsjustwannahavefun #ourkidsmentalhealthmatters #simplertimes #memories #youareenough