ATHLETES ARE HUMAN BEINGS TOO

Earlier this week, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the French Open. 

In doing so she has opened up some very important and very necessary conversations that need to be had. 

Athletes, whether in College or on a professional playing field are put on a pedestal, made to perform to perfection and always expected to be at the top of their game. 

That kind of pressure can certainly take its toll on anybody’s mental health and well-being, even that of a professional athlete. They may be our heroes but they are also human. 

I give Naomi (who at 23 years old is wise beyond her years) a standing ovation for her courage to step away from the podium and look after her mental health. A decision I’m sure that was not made easily. 

Why is it that when an athlete gets hurt on the ice, or on the field or on the court they are given all the time they need to heal but when their injury is invisible to the world they are criticized and made to feel as though they are weak?

Naomi is here to show the world that our mental health matters too.

Her courage to take a stand and step away from the podium for now in order to take care of her mental health and knowing that it could potentially destroy her career in doing so, I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to come through this stronger and better than ever.

She is showing the world that it’s okay to not be okay and that by choosing herself over her career, asking for help when needed and creating healthy boundaries in order to begin the healing process that she is a human being first; a perfectly imperfect one just like the rest of us.

*I’d like to give a special shout out to Nike and Mastercard, along with several other corporate giants who have sponsorship deals with Naomi for not hesitating to show their loyalty and support to her. Their statements to the press praising Naomi for her courage in sharing her struggles with depression and social anxiety boldly acknowledges that our mental health does matter. Thank you for standing with Naomi. I couldn’t agree more. 

#naomiosaka #tennisanyone #tennis #grandslam #frenchopen #mentalhealthofathletes #athletes #professionalsports #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #nike #mastercard #sponsorships #mentalwellness #selfcare #mentalhealth #depression #anxietyisreal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

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 

Being Present In The Moment

Living with chronic depression and severe anxiety as I do it’s so easy to get caught up in both our past and our future, leaving us feeling very worn down, overwhelmed and vulnerable and often unable to live in the moment or be present in our own life. 

It’s been an incredibly difficult few days for so many of us who have been trying to come to grips with the cruel reality and accept the loss of a precious life that was taken from us far to soon. 

But Jesse, who was wise beyond his short life, left behind so many invaluable gifts for all of us to cherish and learn from, especially the gift of knowing how to embrace every moment by living in the moment and being present in our own life.

He taught us to appreciate life to the fullest and all of its encompassing beauty no matter what. He taught us to focus on the now and to relish life in the moment. He showed us how to be thankful for the small wins, however small they may seem.

He taught us that any random or spontaneous act of kindness can brighten someone’s day and that a smile or a kind word will take you a very long way. He taught us that worrying about our future can take away precious moments of our present day and he also taught us how to express gratitude right here and right now.

These are the kind of invaluable gifts that we all need to hold on tight to. So to honour Jesse’s memory today I’m asking that we all take a moment to be in the moment and to focus on what is right in front of us, surrender to your emotions, feel your surroundings and allow yourself to see something in your presence for the very first time 💙💙💙

#shabbatshalom #jessestrong #stayblessed #staybreezy #fuckcancer #beinthemoment #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #depression #anxiety #yourmentalhealthmatters 

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  

Giving Tuesday

Today is “Giving Tuesday” which has become a recognized day of giving all across the Globe. It takes place on the first Tuesday after Black Friday and is a day for people to give back and/or volunteer for their favourite causes and Non-Profits.

“Giving Tuesday” is also the official kick-off to the holiday season, better known as the “Season of Giving”.

December is about making human connections and bringing good will and simple joy to others, however this December is sadly going to look and feel a whole lot different than in years past for much of the world.

So as we begin this final stretch of 2020 today (yay!) let’s all start by spreading as much hope and kindness as is humanly possible to others during the month ahead, and of course don’t forget to keep some of it for yourself as well. Remember that “no act of kindness is ever too small”.

http://www.givingtuesday.ca

#givingtuesday #spreadkindness #givehopetoothers #youareenough #selfcare #selflove #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #strongertogether #FU2020

Socially Distanced Holiday Traditions

 

For many Jews around the world tomorrow night marks the start of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) which has traditionally been a time for celebrating with our family, friends and community but we all know that this year the holidays (much like Passover and Easter were in the Spring) are going to look and feel a whole lot different which can and will likely cause many people to feel the “holiday blues”.

I mean who can really blame anyone by this point for feeling “blue” (regardless of your religious beliefs or faith), seeing as it’s now been more than 6 months since we have been able to “traditionally” celebrate squat with our family, friends and community. 

Over the last many years, holiday gatherings and celebrations of any kind have been incredibly difficult for me and whether it’s the social pressures, the obligations or the expectations that come along with it, together they all just seem to exacerbate these feelings further.

Depression brings with it a high level of discomfort that is truly unexplainable to many who have never experienced it before. This is also where having a severe anxiety disorder comes into play and when you mix the two together it can make life feel pretty lethal sometimes. 

We will still be celebrating the holidays this year just with a lot less social pressures, a lot less obligations and a lot less expectations than usual and for me this is somewhat of a relief which I know may sound selfish to some. 

We will bring in the New Year as always and still with many of our same traditions as always but just at a more socially Covid accepted distance but still just as meaningful and sweet.

Wishing everyone celebrating (however that may be) a very happy, safe and healthy New Year.

#happynewyear #roshhashana #backyardcelebrations #traditions #socialdistancing #togetherapart #youareenough #mentalillness #mentalhealth #checkonyourlovedones #healthyboundaries #mentalwellness #holidayblues #shanatova

Things Change, People Can Too

Two years ago this coming July I wrote a blog titled “Distress Centers, Demi Lovato & Doug Ford” that I wanted to share with you again today because I feel like it is quite relevant to our life right now. A lot has changed since I first wrote this blog including my reference to being a smoker for over 30 years because as you all know by now, I no longer am! 

Something else that has changed since writing this blog on July 29, 2018 was my great dislike at the time for our then newly elected Premier of Ontario; Doug Ford, but over the last six weeks he has really grown on me ALOT as he continues everyday to prove to the people of Ontario (and Canada) what the true definition of a leader and a mensch are.

He has stepped up to the plate and  gone above and beyond what’s in his actual job description and shows his genuine concern and compassion “for the people”.  I can’t say for sure I will continue to feel the same way about him after the crisis is finally over but for now I don’t think we could ask for a better man (or woman) for the job.

Something else that this particular blog touches upon is addiction, our mental health and asking for help. Our mental health is imperative right now and figuring out ways to ensure that we take the very best care of both our bodies and minds. 

I fear that more and more people are going to come through this Pandemic with new or worsening addiction and mental health issues, both young and old. And being in quarantine many may not realize that if they are feeling vulnerable, alone or scared that help is just a text or phone call away. 

But taking that first step to reach out to someone can feel next to impossible for many, but will also be the greatest thing that you do for yourself so if you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, Kids Help Phone and 310-COPE are just two of many helplines that are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; they are the definition of an essential service!

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/distress-centers-demi-lovato-doug-ford

#dougford #demilovato #kidshelpphone #helplines #ourpremier #essentialservices #addiction #mentalillness #mentalhealth #selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #masksoff #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #endthestigmatogether 

Where Will You Be Next Year


Tonight, as we gather around the table for our Seder, you may be feeling a bit sad or overwhelmed as you look around the room missing loved ones that you long to be with right now.

Traditionally at the close of the Passover Seder we sing or read the phrase (depends how drunk you are) from the Haggadah “Next Year In Jerusalem”  which signifies a Jewish person’s experience of living in exile and their desire to see the Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. And the symbolism here (and throughout the entire story of Passover) to what is happening right now around the world (See blog “Why Is This Night Different?”; April 1, 2020) is really quite surreal.  

The state of the world has made me see this holiday through a completely different lens which may have only taken me close to 49 years and a world wide Pandemic to truly appreciate and understand the importance of Passover and in light of what is going on around the world I hope that when you reach the end of your Seder tonight and read (or sing) the words “Next Year In Jerusalem” that you know that you do not need to physically be in “Jerusalem” but instead you should see Jerusalem as a representation of hope and possibility, of peace and opportunity and a great reminder that we have overcome so much adversity and will do so again. 

“Next Year In Jerusalem” may we all be in the presence of our loved ones wherever that may be in the world; in good health and happiness.

Wishing everyone who celebrates a happy and meaningful Passover. 

#passover #sedar #whyisthisnightdifferent #plagues #family #traditions #haggadah #feast #youareenough #stayhome #wereallinthistogether #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #covid19 #togetherapart 

Put Your Heart On The Line


It’s Monday today which is probably the most dreaded day of the entire week but maybe we are too quick to overlook all of it’s good qualities too. Mondays may be blue or manic or even hated by many but Mondays also signify a day filled with endless possibilites, new beginnings, new adventures and a day for bringing hope.
But today may not feel like a “normal” Monday for many of us.

It may no longer be in competition for the most dreaded day of the week anymore because right now every day feels like Monday and right now Mondays don’t feel much like a day filled with endless possibilities, new beginnings, new adventures or a day for bringing hope either and for many more of us this coming week may feel just like a typical dreaded Monday morning.

The week ahead for millions and millions of us should be filled with family, traditions, religious rituals, food (and lots of it), maybe a day or two off from school and work and for some of us it may even have included a visit from a furry life size bunny rabbit. 

But instead of being all of that and more we are left with a feeling of emptiness, sadness, anger and frustration knowing that we will not be able to celebrate those traditions and religious rituals with family or friends this year and if you were to ask most kids and adults today where they wish they were right now I bet they’d tell you in school or at work and ya those visits from the Easter bunny and the traditional Easter Egg Hunts will be missed my many young ones around the globe.

So today probably is one of those dreaded Mondays, but well deserved this time and one which also deserves hitting the snooze button a few dozen times on and one in which many of us may need a Mental Health Check In for. And whether or not you are doing really great ❤ right now or you are having a really hard time 💙 like myself please don’t hesitate to reach out for support 💜.  Put our hearts out on the line today and remember we’re all in this together.

#manicmondays #bluemonday #everydayismonday #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourstrongfriends #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #wereallinthistogether #passover #easter #happyholidays #zoom #youareenough #covid19 #coronavirus #stayhome #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #togetherapart 

It’s Okay To Cry Over Spilt Milk


Last night I had a meltdown of epic proportions. I knew that it being my 6 year Anniversary since the onset of my illness yesterday (See blog “The Anniversary Effect”; April 4, 2020) that it wasn’t gonna be an easy day. But I did just what any good doctor would order me to do and got out of bed (eventually), took a 2 hour walk through my neighborhood and then treated myself to a warm bubble bath when we got home. 

But like clockwork everything changed without a moment’s notice and almost as soon as I stepped out of the bathtub I found myself crying over “spilt milk” again, even if most of what I was crying over wasn’t really worth getting upset about at all; but you see, the truth is, it really feels like there is plenty of spilt milk to cry over these days.

At any given moment we may find ourselves feeling sad, scared, disappointed, angry, worried, distracted, exhausted, restless, short tempered or impatient (did I cover enough adjectives?). I find that since first becoming ill my patience has become next to nil which can often stir up plenty of other emotions quickly. And now with each passing day I’m pretty sure that most of us are finding ourselves losing their patience too in some way or another or with someone or another. In other words, we are all starting to get on each other’s nerves.

It’s ok if you’re not quite ready to admit to it yet though and since there is no real guidebook for us to follow on how we should feel during a Pandemic, we all get a free pass. So with no Playbook or guidelines to follow on how we should react or be feeling right now let me reassure you that whatever the heck you are feeling is perfectly valid. 

Even if you’re living with June Cleaver from “Leave It To Beaver” we are all learning together how to coexist with others on a much different level than we were before and you may be feeling very claustrophobic, frustrated, on edge and downright snappy toward one another as we test each other’s patience and deal with each other’s anxieties and ever changing moods. 

It’s hard, it’s super fucking hard right now but “we’re all in this together” and the one thing that is gonna make this nightmare just a tad bit easier is ensuring that we all work together as a team, within our individual homes, and create a Playbook with your home team. (I really do miss sports)

This experience is no doubt gonna change us all and we are all going to have to make some changes in order to get through this Pandemic together and maybe a good place to start is by developing a “Playbook” for your home team and make sure it includes several “strategies” and “plays” that can help reduce some of your household stressors and anxieties. 

Ask your teammates what you need from them right now and moving forward to help make this time together more successful and remember that it’s still ok to cry over spilt milk while figuring it out, but by figuring it out together hopefully we will create some stronger, more adhesive family units by the time this is all over.

So what are some things you need in your Playbook?

#wereallinthistogether #family #playbook #teamwork #teammates #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #anxiety #depression #spiltmilk #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourstrongfriends #covid19 #coronavirus #togetherapart #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #unitedasone