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!!)
I had a massage this afternoon, the first one in several years.
My kids had bought it for me as a gift last Mother’s Day.
At the time when they purchased it the Spa was closed due to lockdown restrictions and by the time it did finally reopen, to be perfectly honest, I just kept forgetting about it. That was until a few weeks ago when I hurt my back and thought once I’m feeling better I should get a massage!
Massages, like mindfulness or meditation are supposed to be a perfect way to relax and relieve anxiety and stress, but seriously, have you met me before?
My track record with both mindfulness and meditation have never been met with much success for me and usually do the complete opposite of what they are meant for and now I guess I may as well add massage to that list too.
It was the perfect setting for a massage; the lights were dim, there was a subtle aroma in the air, soothing music playing in the background and the massage therapist was both gentle and calming. So what could possibly go wrong?
I have no ‘F’ ing idea to be perfectly honest with you but as soon as the massage began and for the next 50 minutes or so I felt like I was going to suffocate (and not just because of my mask).
My thoughts were racing all over the damn map and my mind was filled with such chaos. There was no real pattern or focus to speak of, just complete disarray. I tried several times to relax my body but my mind was having none of that nonsense.
I needed to find a way to distract myself and so I tried some of my go-to techniques and tools I’ve learned throughout my journey but nothing seemed to be working. I felt myself becoming more and more vulnerable in a “fight or flight” state of mind which only kept escalating when I quickly realized that fleeing the situation was likely not an option.
So I continued to lay there feeling very helpless with tears in my eyes, trying to estimate how much time I still had left all the while shouting at my mind to just shut the ‘F’ up and let my body cherish this beautiful gift I received from my kids!
I’ve been in a pretty bad headspace over the last few days and my negative thoughts and uncontrollable emotions seem to have me tumbling further and further down into a very dark rabbit hole, maybe for my own protection. Or maybe it’s something else. I’m not really sure how I fell so deep into this particular rabbit hole but I may have begun spiralling down it around the same time I awoke one morning earlier this week with severe and at times unbearable back and chest pain. I have found myself in tears too many times to count this week and I honestly have no clue why I’m even crying half the time anymore unless of course it’s from the unexplainable pain I’m in. I’ve tried climbing out of the rabbit hole many times before but I think that when I burrow further down inside that I feel a sense of protection and safety from any further harm or pain. Being inside the hole feels almost like a fortress and keeps me warm. Maybe the rabbit hole gives me a false sense of security but its okay because I know that anytime I am able to dig or claw my way out that there is always a colony waiting for me at the top, holding out their hand or ready to reach in and pull me out by my ears. #rabbitholes #safety #headspace #itsalrighttocry #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mindfulness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #youareenough
On Friday evening after experiencing several heightened episodes of anxiety throughout the day, I found myself right smack in the middle of a full-on panic attack.
I did my best to try and calm myself down using some breathing techniques but trying to distract myself from what was triggering me in that moment I could barely catch my breath long enough to take some CBD oil; something I don’t hesitate to do several times a day when needed as a therapeutic.
As soon as the CBD oil started kicking in and my heartrate began to decrease to a more tolerable level I curled up under my weighted blanket, still fully dressed from the day but I didn’t care because all I wanted to do in that moment was close my eyes and go to sleep.
But whose kidding who? Like is sleep ever an option for me? Even if my panic attack had just taken every last ounce of strength I had left inside and crushed it with my blanket, I was still preparing myself for a sleepless night ahead.
And I knew if I lay in bed much longer I would most definitely end up having another anxiety attack of some sort, so I reached for my other bottle of CBD oil on my nightstand, the one with the THC in it.
I regretted my decision almost immediately even though it took a while for it to kick in. It did not reduce my anxiety or relax me or even help me sleep, instead I spent the rest of the night fighting off my paranoia and hallucinations and by the time morning arrived I was still feeling the effects from the THC and spent the entire day in bed yesterday with a “hangover”.
They say it’s nearly impossible to OD on cannabis but if there is even a slight chance of that happening then I’m pretty sure I managed to do so. Cannabis is supposed to give you a feeling of euphoria but like every other prescribed medication or therapeutic treatment I’ve taken along my journey, including that of Medical Marijuana, “Shrooms”, Ketamine and Edibles I’ve experienced adverse effects from them all.
By morning my Psychosis had pretty much gone away but it left me barely able to finish a sentence or swallow. I had a headache, I felt exhausted, I was beyond nauseous and dizzy and whenever I tried to stand up I felt myself passing out on the floor moments later. But not to worry because I can always count on my family to look after me, and they did just that while between fits of laughter and snapping pictures and recording videos of me to ensure they captured all the highlights.
I have tried and tried for years now to reap the benefits from using THC and other similar treatments but I think that after what happened to me this weekend I have tried for the very last time and I am just grateful that at least my regular doses of CBD oil still helps me in some small way.
Yesterday morning I went to an aqua fit class which I have been doing very regularly throughout the summer months, but until yesterday I hadn’t been to class for a couple of weeks. It was to be one of our last classes of the season and afterwards we were invited to stay for the afternoon relaxing by the pool, enjoying each other’s company and feasting on a delicious catered lunch hosted by my friend whose pool we have so graciously been using all summer long.
There was a chill in the air yesterday morning, something we hadn’t felt before then but it is September after all and to be expected. I wasn’t sure when I awoke yesterday morning if I could find the strength to push myself to get to the class at all as I had not had a good night the evening before; and knowing just how crisp the air felt, I lay in bed filled with anxiety, curled up under my weighted blanket until about 20 minutes before class was to begin, telling myself all the reasons I shouldn’t go. It’s not like this was anything new to me, I go through this crazy babble and negative self-talk every single time I leave my home, even when it’s something I know I will likely enjoy.
Well I made it to class as you already know even though I was a few minutes late and when I arrived everyone was in the pool warming up but I took my time to ensure the best and most successful outcome. I slowly and cautiously approached the water and then I gently dipped my toe in the water (as though it was my first time ever getting into a pool) to check the temperature.
We’ve all heard the saying “Dip your toe in the water” before and yesterday I both literally and figuratively did just that. I more often than not have to tread very lightly in everything I do because I can (and do) easily get overwhelmed and become very vulnerable whenever I try and push myself too much or take on too much all at once which just winds up sabotaging my health and wellness further. Some days may be easier than others to push through my depression and anxiety (but not lately) and having learned the art of how to fake it til I make it or smile through my pain can sometimes give me the strength to “dive right in” like I did yesterday (thanks also to Jenn for making the water super warm).
The “Summer of Rich” began a few years ago as nothing more than a silly declaration from Rich one early morning at the end of June as he waved goodbye to the kids (with tears of joy in his eyes) as they boarded a bus for the entire summer away at camp.
For Rich that moment meant he now had 7 glorious weeks ahead of him to catch his breath and push the reset button because as I have mentioned many times before that for the last 6 years he has had to take on both the roles of Mom and Dad, along with that of chef, maid, chauffeur, Psychologist, designated Schlepper and countless others too.
But this past May right after we found out the girls (Jacob now works full-time as an Electrician) would not be going away to camp this summer due to Covid-19 I wrote a blog titled “Should The #Summerofrich Be Cancelled Too?” (May 27, 2020) and what it meant for the #summerofrich this year.
Since its conception a few years back, the “Summer of Rich” has evolved in many different ways; it’s even got its own hashtag which often gets special shout-outs by its many “adoring fans” who seem to genuinely enjoy following our adventures; so how could we disappoint them?
I may have needed to make several amendments to our itinerary this summer and we definitely had to adapt to many other changes because of Covid-19 and having the kids home all summer which also meant that there was much less of an opportunity for Rich to have some well deserved time to breathe or a push of the reset button but through the many amendments and other changes this summer I truly believe that in many ways, the #summerofrich may have actually evolved into something much deeper and with an even more meaningful purpose.
For many of us September symbolizes new beginnings, refocusing of our energy and lots of change. With a new school year set to resume and a new season upon us very soon, this September also brings with it a whole lot of added fear of the unknown and so much uncertainty.
September is “National Self-Care Awareness Month” and during a time in our lives that is driven by a whole lot of added fear of the unknown and so much uncertainty, self-care and self-awareness are super important (more than ever before) to our wellbeing.
As most of you know by now my life has been on a pretty steady downward spiral over the last several weeks and I am still having a very difficult time right now just trying to get through another day. And even though I know how essential self-care is for our wellbeing I have to keep reminding myself of this daily.
We often neglect our own wellbeing by putting the needs of others first and we often forget that setting healthy boundaries can be extremely beneficial to us as well. Practicing self-care and being self-aware is not selfish, it is simply enabling you to pay attention to your own feelings and to be able to relay your needs to others; without guilt.
Self-care isn’t just for a person or persons who may be feeling overwhelmed or vulnerable, nor should it be something you reward yourself with just for achieving a goal; self-care is important for everyone and is an ongoing process. It could even be as simple as taking a nap, reading a steamy novel, listening to your favourite song or eating a bowl of ice cream for supper.
What are some of your favourite self-care practices? Do you think you could come up with a list of 30 ways that you can practice self-care in the month of September? (one for each day of the month)