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

First Shipment

The first shipment of my “Class of 2021” Graduation lawn signs have just arrived and I couldn’t wait to install the very first one on my own front lawn and show off how proud I am of my “Awesome Grad”.

And thanks to the incredible generosity and support of so many families and friends in the community (and beyond) I have sold close to 200 signs thus far and I am looking forward to delivering each and every one of them to so many other “Awesome Graduates” and proud family and friends. Just knowing that we are all working together to achieve the same goal of helping all children and adolescents in the GTHA have better access to more affordable and attainable Mental Health services and supports that they so deserve warms my heart. 

It also just so happens that today is “National Child and Youth Mental Health Day” (May 7, 2021) so what better way to celebrate today than to help brighten up our neighborhoods, start some caring, stigma-free conversations in the community and let young people everywhere feel seen, heard and supported. 

If you would like to honour a very deserving “Class of 2021” Graduate in your life or help make a difference in the lives of so many other young people who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now please email me at: youthareenough@gmail.com. 

*Proceeds to be donated to Youth Mental Health programs*

#nationalchildandyouthmentalhealthday #childrensmentalhealthawarenessweek #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #strongertogether #payitforward #mygraduate #middlechild #proudmama #classof2021 #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether  #graduationday #youareenough #staysafe #empowerment #empathy #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones

50 days until I’m 50!  

Today marks 50 days until I’m 50!

I have a small favour to ask. 

Think of it as an early birthday gift to me.

I would love it if everyone could do one nice, thoughtful gesture for someone else every day for the next 50 days until my birthday. 

It doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant, after all isn’t it the thought that counts? The sentiment sure would mean alot to me and I bet it will mean even more to that someone else. 

Here are a few “gift” ideas for you!

Say good morning to a stranger.

Buy a cup of coffee for the driver behind you in line at the drive-thru.

Write a letter to someone using a pen and paper and then mail it to them.

Ask someone how their day is going; and then listen intently. 

Tell someone who could really use a good laugh a really bad joke.

Say “I love you” to someone you love.

Tell a child you are proud of them.

Send flowers, just because. 

Donate the clothes you don’t wear anymore. 

Drop off some dry/canned goods at a local food bank.

Say thank you to an essential worker.

Say thank you to a teacher.

Say thank you.

Say “I’m sorry” when you are wrong. 

Support a small business in your neighborhood. 

So, who’s ready for the challenge?What are some other gift ideas you have in mind?

Sometimes doing the smallest of gestures for someone else can be the most meaningful gift of all. 

I’d love to hear how it’s going and how many times over the next 50 days you make someone else smile. And feel free to share this with others because there are plenty of “gifts” to go around.

#turningfiftyinfifty #smallgestures #kindnessmatters #bekind #spreadkindness #birthdaygift #halfcentury #youareenough #youarenotalone #payitforward  #mentalhealthweek #mentalhealth #mentalwellness 

Don’t Let A Few Bad Apples Spoil The Whole Bunch

I listen wholeheartedly and often to stories from people in regards to our mental health system; and just how broken it truly is. 

Maybe you don’t necessarily believe it or maybe you choose not to believe it if you have never experienced it for yourself or a loved one while desperately trying to advocate for them but I’m living proof that too many of the stories I hear are very real and beyond disturbing at times. 

I myself have walked out of many psychiatrist’s offices and emergency rooms shaking my head in disbelief and left feeling even more defeated than when I first walked in which is why when someone shares their own personal anecdotes with me I can feel every ounce of their pain, sadness and frustration.

Recently a friend of mine confided in me about one such experience when she took her son to the emergency room after he came to her telling her that he had been having very intrusive thoughts of hurting himself. 

Before I go any further I just wanted to first say BRAVO to this young boy for having the courage to confide in someone he trusted about how he was feeling. Many of you reading this may not realize just how much fucking strength that takes, like the kind of strength that only superheros are made of. BRAVO. BRAVO. BRAVO. 

Hearing these words from anyone let alone your own child is beyond terrifying and I’m sure she probably felt very much alone at the time but also knew that the safest place for her son to be in that moment was in the trusted arms of a team of knowledgable, compassionate mental health professionals. 

But sadly that is not what happened at all. In fact it was quite the opposite and instead as she stood pleading with the Psychiatrist on duty at the hospital that day to help her child he turned to this young boy and his mom and told them that he should go home. He continued by saying how lucky the boy was to be so privileged enough to not have to deal with the stresses of living on the street or in a third world country. 

My heart broke in a million pieces as I heard her speak these words, words that I know are spoken all too often by ignorant folks who still believe that depression and/or suicidal ideations are nothing more than a chemical imbalance that can quickly be fixed by taking a pill or going for a long walk but when these words are spoken by a mental health professional and to an impressionable and vulnerable young mind no less, there are truly no words.

I know this is thankfully not the norm but it happens more often than it should because even one time is too many. I myself have had many amazing, incredible and compassionate experiences with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals (and thankfully I still do) to help me through the darkened days throughout my journey but those bad experiences can and will never be erased from my mind.

When seeking the help of a mental health professional try and watch out for signs that indicate that they are competent, invested in your wellbeing and most importantly a good fit for you. 

Make sure they are not overconfident, dismissive or arrogant. Make sure that they are not quick to prescribe medication or diagnose you. Make sure they take into consideration your own unique circumstances. Make sure they do not threaten to use their power to treat you with unnecessary treatments that you are uncomfortable with. Make sure they properly inform you about the many side effects of the medications they do prescribe to you and that they also properly wean you off the ones that aren’t working for you (weaning off certain meds can be very dangerous and must be done slowly and cautiously) and make sure that they work together with you and for you and alongside your loved ones which should include regularly monitoring your progress, making a plan by offering up next steps and new or appropriate solutions and may at time also include them turning to colleagues or outside support for guidance so not to miss out on something.

Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself (or a loved one) and make sure to ask lots (and lots) of questions especially if something doesn’t feel quite right or you don’t understand something. It can be a very long and burdensome journey, trust me, I know, but it’s your journey and no one else’s and having the proper support behind you that you so deserve while on your journey towards healing can make a huge impact.

#brokensystem #youareenough #youarenotalone #youmatter #youthmentalhealth #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #speakyourtruth #courage #mentalhealthprofessionals #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #checkonyourlovedones

Moment of Joy

I’ve been receiving an increasing amount of messages in recent days and weeks from both friends and strangers alike who are in need of some real emotional support for themselves or a loved one from someone who can relate to their feelings of debilitating anxiety, sadness and defeat; most of whom have never known or experienced these feelings before and they are scared and overwhelmed and vulnerable and unmotivated and lonely and helpless and stressed and angry and frustrated and sad and simply fed up. And they are not alone.

Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and at different times throughout the Pandemic but living in Ontario right now (and many other beautiful places around the globe) it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to try and stay positive anymore or to find moments of joy in our life and it’s showing up in both our physical and mental health in one way or another.  

Can we even find joy in our lives anymore? 

I know that I for one could really use some joy in my life right now. 

This picture (posted above) is pure unadulterated joy. Having my kids receive their first vaccines this week (because we live in a “hot spot”, woohoo!) felt incredibly joyful and I even went so far as to tell them that it felt even more joyful than the day they were first born. 

Did I go too far? Was it too much? 

I mean given that we’ve been living through a Global Pandemic for more than 13 months now I felt like my feelings were pretty justified, no?

It almost felt like a rebirth or a revival and that in more than a year I could finally see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been trying so desperately to get through and even though it’s only a tiny light for now, any light is at least a start.

What has been your moment of joy this week, even if it was for only a brief moment in time? Comment below and spread some joy!

P.S. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to practice self- care. 

P.P.P.S. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and when it’s your turn to get the vaccine, GO!

#momentsofjoy #shabbatshalom #lightattheendofthetunnel #joy #herdimmunity #vaccines #covidbegone #spreadjoy #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

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 

Ice Cream For Breakfast

Some days you may feel like eating ice cream for breakfast.

Today when I woke up it felt like that was the kind of a day it was for me.

If today feels that way for you too, it’s okay; give yourself permission to eat the ice cream for breakfast but don’t forget to pour some sprinkles on top too!

What foods bring you comfort?

#selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #itsoktonotbeok #icecream #comfortfood #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness

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

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 

Were We Just Too Naive?

I wanted to reshare a blog with you that I wrote exactly one year ago today when, for most of us, our biggest fear at the time surrounding the Coronavirus was whether or not we had enough toilet paper on hand “just in case” we were forced into a 2 week quarantine.

None of us could ever have imagined how much our lives were about to be turned upside down or forever changed and we definitely could never have predicted we would still be dealing with the devastation from the Coronavirus in its entirety a whole year later.

Were we just too naive?

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/should-i-add-it-to-my-list