Tips For Easing Back To School

Here we go again. 

Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is). 

Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).

Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.

And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.

Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids. 

But give them time to adjust.

Change can be very scary.

Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better. 

Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.

Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them. 

It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.

Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.

Reassure them that they are not alone. 

The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.

None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.

Promise them though that you will get through this together. 

Focus on what is in their control right now.

Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.

And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.

Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone. 

Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.

#backtoschool #mentalwellness #transition #change #herewegoagain #fuckyoucovid #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #communicationiskey #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #childrensmentalhealth

A Work In Progress

Seven years ago I could never have pictured my life a certain way. 

None of us ever can.

But from very early on in my diagnosis I knew I needed to somehow paint another picture by accepting the tools I’d been given and embrace each one of them, one stroke at a time. 

These tools have helped me to understand that it’s okay if sometimes I colour outside the lines or splatter some paint on my shoes. 

I may still be a work in process but no matter what we are all a work of art.

Not everyone is ready to start painting a new picture right away.

It may take some time (maybe even years) before someone is truly able to put on a smock, pick up their paint brush and make that first stroke.

Some people need to ease into it at their own pace because they are too afraid to change their picture or ask for help in creating a new one.

The question is, how does a person truly know when they are ready? What makes someone ready? 

I’ve seen alot of people who struggle with this. They pick up their pencil thinking they are ready to start sketching their new picture. 

But then they place their half chewn and sharpened down to the nub pencil back in the drawer. 

They try again.

This time they start sketching an image but their picture gets smudged in the process so they desperately try to erase the smudges but the smudges just become more embedded deeper and darker into the paper the more they attempt to erase them.  

And before they know it they have just crumpled up their hundredth piece of paper to toss in the waste basket.

But then one day, maybe even after attempting to throw away that hundredth piece of crumpled up paper into the waste basket they realize that what they need the most is some actual guidance and direction or maybe even an entirely new perspective; one that is outside of their abstract view of what their picture should look like. 

It’s okay if you toss away a hundred pieces of crumpled up paper into the waste basket, using that stubby, chewed up pencil before you are able to create a new picture, one with more depth and composition. 

Because only you will know in your heart when the time comes that you are truly ready to pick up that paint brush, stand confidently in front of your easel and begin painting your new picture; this time using the most beautiful and vibrant colours. 

#acceptance #acceptinghelp #accountabilty #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #workinprogress #workofart #mentalhealth #paintedpictures #abstract

Focus on the Road Ahead

I took this picture of Maggie yesterday afternoon. 

All I focused on in that moment was capturing the perfect shot of her cuteness overload which I did, even if my pleas to her to smile pretty for the camera were ignored over and over again.

I couldn’t wait to share the pic with Rich and the kids in our private family group on Snapchat. 

But later that evening something other than Maggie’s cuteness overload kept pulling me back to this picture.

I couldn’t put my finger on it right away but then suddenly it hit me.

Suddenly the picture took on a whole new, deeper meaning. 

Suddenly I saw past her cuteness overload. 

Suddenly I was fixated on a much bigger picture. 

Suddenly my mind shifted gears.

For much of my illness over the last seven years I have found myself focused on the past. 

I wish I could change a lot of things that happened to me in my past but I can’t, no one can.

At least though I have learned from my past.

So as I took a deeper, more meaningful look at the picture of Maggie as she stared mesmerized out the front window of my car I suddenly felt my presence in her place in that moment and that maybe my desperate unanswered pleas to get her to look at the camera and smile for mommy was by no means an accident.

Maybe she wasn’t actually ignoring my pleas at all but instead along with all that cuteness overload, deep down inside she was there to remind me in that moment just how desperately I too need to stay focused on the road ahead.  

My recovery depends on it.

There has to be a reason why the windshield is so big and the rearview mirror is so small? Right?

Afterall it’s not what you leave behind that truly matters, it’s where you’re journey is headed next that does. 

#stayfocusedontheroadahead #beinthemoment #adogspurpose #shesmorethanjustadog #infrontofyou #rearviewmirror #theroadahead #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #myjourney #blogger #author #advocate #snapchat #pictureperfect

Happy 10th Birthday Maggie

Oh how I love thee; let me count the ways…

I love the way you roll over for a belly rub every time someone is near. 

I love the way you run and hide when I say I need to brush you. 

I love the way you sit beside me at the dinner table with a “please sir can I have some more?” look in your big brown eyes. 

I love the way you come running as soon as you hear someone unwrap a piece of cheese, even if you are upstairs in a deep slumber. 

I love the way you chase away the bunnies and squirrels in the backyard.

I love the way you get so excited when we take you on a car ride (until you realize you may be going to the vet or groomer!)

I love the way you hide all your bones under our pillows or in the laundry basket thinking no one will ever find your clever hiding spots.  

I love the way you get so excited when it’s time to go for a walk unless of course it’s snowing or rainy or windy outside!

I love the way you have a gazillion toys but only want to play with the same two.

I love the way you get camera shy and turn your head away when someone tries to take a selfie with you.

I love the way you snuggle up beside me at night, leaving no room for me to move in my king size bed. 

I love the way you jump onto daddy’s pillow every morning as soon as he gets out of bed. 

I love the way you peer out the window, always on the lookout for an Amazon delivery or to bark at the neighborhood dogs as they pass by.

I love all the ways you engage in our conversations and know just when I need some extra TLC. 

I love the way your brother and sisters still vie for your attention every single day or when you cuddle with them on the couch.

And I love the way your tail wags uncontrollably as you jump to the sky and screech in excitement when you see daddy pull up to the driveway or open the front door. 

I could go on and on all day about all your silly antics. You bring so much joy to our lives and have been a constant source of unconditional love, emotional support and healing to us all. I ruff you to the moon and back, forever and a day.

P.S. wait til you see what we’re having for supper tonight! 🥩

#happybirthday #tenyearsyoung #dogsarefamily #adogspurpose #shesmorethanjustadog #weloveyoutothemoonandback #maggie #princessmaggie #maggilicious #spoiledrotten

Monday Motivation: Humanity

Should humanity only be defined by the human race or could it be that sometimes those who teach us the true meaning of humanity may not even be human at all?

What does humanity mean to you?

#mondaymotivation #humanity #whatishumanity #humankindness #kindnessmatters #adogspurpose #pettherapy #showcompassion #unconditionallove #givemeyourpaw #givemeyourhand #alwayslookforthegoodinothers #selflove #forgive #youareenough #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones

Could Maggie Be Depressed?

Despite the fact that February is the shortest month of the year, for many humans though, February can often feel like the longest and most depressing one as well; and especially this year.

Aside from the most obvious reasons why February can feel like the longest and most depressing month of the year when it’s actually not is due in part to many of us having to suffer through bitter cold temperatures and shortened hours of daylight each day; most of which seem filled with grey skies and falling precipitation rather than sunshine and rainbows.  For others, February also feels long and dreaded because of holidays like Valentine’s Day that can bring with it a feeling of sorrow instead of love. 

Of course this year February comes with an added bonus. We are now eleven months into living in a Global Pandemic and that in itself is enough to make any month feel like its never ending and for any human to display some signs of depression. 

But what about our pets?  Can they feel similar effects due to the winter blues or maybe even the effects associated with living in a Global Pandemic? In short, yes they can and we have started to notice lately that Maggie seems sad and possibly even a little depressed. 

She has never been one to enjoy the winter weather or bitter cold temperatures (she’s just like her momma) but still it’s difficult to know for sure if that is what’s causing her sudden change in mood and several odd behaviours without first ruling out anything that could potentially be physically wrong with her because it’s not like she can really vocalize her sadness to us.

But once we have ruled out all other potential issues, I may have to call upon the world renowned “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan for some much needed help.

#dogsanddepression #pettherapy #sixthsense #maggie #februaryblues #dogwhisperer #cesarmillan #nationalgeographic #pandemic #overwhelm 

A Dog’s Sixth Sense

 

I’ve been living with a severe anxiety disorder on a daily basis for more than six years now (yup old news, I know) and I’m pretty certain by now that it’s something I will live with for the rest of my days. But I also suffer with a panic disorder and although I don’t experience panic attacks quite so often, they seem to be happening more and more frequently lately.

Many people think that anxiety and panic attacks are one in the same, but they are not. They often exhibit some similarities when it comes to symptoms (i.e: heart palpitations, chest pain, numbness or tingling sensations, shortness of breath and nausea), but unlike many of those regular symptoms that seem to follow me around on a daily basis, a panic attack will come on much stronger, often very suddenly and involve intense and overwhelming fear (panic). 

The other day I wrote a blog describing a panic attack that I had experienced the night before (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/today-is-a-new-day) but what I left out was that I have not just been experiencing them more frequently, I have actually been experiencing them EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for the past week or so, and last night was no exception. 

As I lay in bed feeling anxious last night (surprise, surprise) my thoughts quickly intensified and without any further warning a feeling of panic and impending doom set in and before I knew it I was in the depths of a full blown panic attack, fearing that something very, very bad was about to happen. 

Rich lay helplessly beside me, holding my hand as tears ran down my cheek. I was hyperventilating and felt like I wanted to pull my hair out and jump out of my skin. The next thing I remember happening was Maggie laying on my chest licking my face. I truly believe that dogs can sense their human’s emotions and body language. They just seem to know when the right time is to snuggle up beside you or even help to wipe away your tears. It’s so much more than just a sixth sense and I’m really grateful to have this added layer of protection in my life when I need it the most.

#panicattack #panicdisorder #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #itsoktonotbeok #emotionalsupportdog #pettherapy #sixthsense

Monday Motivation: Lend Me Your Ear

Sometimes all you need is for someone to just be there, not to fix you or to take away your pain but to just simply listen with an understanding heart and without judgment.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is an empathetic ear to lift you up.

Sometimes when we let others share their hurt without any interruption can bring so much comfort.

Sometimes just knowing that beneath all your hurt someone is listening can help you feel less alone.

Sometimes if we just allow someone to be there for us in silence shows how much they care.

Sometimes this can make all the difference.

#imallears #ihearyou #imlistening #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #empowerment #empathy #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #youmatter #youarenotalone

A Fresh Coat of Paint

Rachel has been hard at work prepping her new classroom before the start of the Fall semester and her first term in University. It may not be the ideal situation or one that many of us would have chosen for our children but to quote the Schmuck himself (AKA: The President of The United States) “It is what it is!” 

So for now Rachel is trying to make the best of a pretty shitty situation by creating her own oasis in our living room and claiming it as her new workspace and art studio, starting by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls. 

A fresh coat of paint can be beneficial to our mental wellness and can bring with it a calming effect and a sense of comfort and ease. Having a clean and orderly space, reducing the amount of clutter in it and being surrounded by bright, natural lighting can also become a healing sanctuary for our mental wellbeing. 

I’m just not so sure that Maggie is thrilled with Rachel trying to take over her favorite spot in the house where she sits on her throne and keeps a close watch on the goings on outside but that’s for the two of them to work out! 

#interiordesign  #ryersonuniversity #nextchapter #classof2024 #onlinelearning #onlineclassroom #afreshcoatofpaint #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youareenough #childandyouthmentalhealth #mindfulness #makingthebestofashittysituation

Happy Ruffday Maggie

Our “fur” baby turns 9 today and I’m pretty sure that her one birthday wish this year is for all of us to take a very loooonnnggg walk for a good solid 8 hours and leave her the heck alone curled up like a ball on daddy’s pillow. Happy Ruffday Maggie. 🐕🐶🥩🧀🎈

I wanted to reshare a blog I wrote 2 years ago with you today called “A Dog’s Purpose” (see link below) in honour of Maggie’s birthday. In the last month Maggie has been a pillar of strength and support for each one of us in one “purposeful” way or another and even though she has no clue what this Pandemic is or why she has suddenly been overwhelmed with an abundance of walks and cuddles she has truly made each day a little easier and a little brighter.

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

#maggie #morkie  #happybirthday #ifdogscouldtalk #nomorewalks #partofthefamily #adogspurpose #adogslife #pettherapy #cutenessoverload #toocuteforwords

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/04/21/a-dogs-purpose (April 21, 2018)