It’s 1 am as I begin to write this. I just spent the better part of the past hour bawling my eyes out while Rich held my hand and Maggie tried to work her magic.
Right before this scene played out I had been lying in bed watching my mindless Sunday night Reality TV shows while texting with some friends.
I’d just had a “picture perfect” weekend which many of you may have seen from the #summerofrich pics I had posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing the things I love; being outdoors, enjoying quality time with family and friends.
But as I lay there in bed watching my mindless reality TV and chatting with several friends, the highlight reel of my own reality started playing out in my head and the overwhelming disconnect I’ve been feeling from the world lately, even during these “picture perfect” moments left my mind spiraling out of control faster than the fan spinning beside my bed.
It felt like a big gust of painful emotions blew right through me.
And then I felt an emptiness inside of me as those “picture perfect” moments quickly got tangled up in the blades of my fan, leaving me in a ball of dust on the floor, convincing myself that maybe happiness doesn’t belong to me. That maybe I don’t deserve to feel joy and that maybe I’m truly not worthy of love or friendship or purpose afterall.
This is what living with Depression and Anxiety can feel like somedays.
If ever you feel like your “picture perfect” moments are getting tangled up in the blades of your fan please remember that there is always help available to slow down the speed when it starts spinning too fast.
We took a rest today from any strenuous hiking after our grueling 3 hour hike yesterday where Rich injured his knee, most likely when he went tumbling down the side of a cliff.
His injury from the fall further intensified any pain and tenderness he’s endured in his one knee for like forever; I’m talking long before the #summerofrich ever began.
For years now he’s complained to me about muscle strain in his knee but no matter how much I’ve tried, has refused to speak with his doctor about it or at the very least try wearing a knee brace while hiking or doing any other strenuous activity.
But today he finally relented and took his knee brace for a test drive and a leisurely stroll with Maggie as well.
I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever told you this before, but Rich is the most stubborn person I know!! However, being stubborn isn’t always such a bad thing because stubborn people are often known to embody “strongly-felt” emotions and care more deeply for others; characteristics of Rich’s I wouldn’t change for the world.
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!!)
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)
Today Rachel will embark on a new chapter in her life as she begins her first day of University; working towards her lifelong goal of becoming an Interior Designer (in LA!).
Today you leave behind a once in a lifetime cancelled Graduation trip, a brand new Prom dress with the tags still on, a High School Graduation Ceremony that is still TBA and a summer like no other.
And although today as you begin this new chapter in your life very differently from how it’s meant to be, it will still be filled with new beginnings and endless possibilities.
Today is your day to start anew and wipe the slate clean. Today is your day to focus on the journey forward. Today is your day and I know that you are going to paint the town with every colour of the rainbow.
I think it’s probably safe to say that face masks are here to stay, but for how long, well that’s pretty much anybody’s guess?
For the past 6 years going into any large public spaces has not been an easy task for me. For the better part of 6 years now I’ve managed to avoid going to most Grocery Stores, Walmart and Malls as much as humanly possible but when the need arises nowadays I put on a face mask to help protect myself and others.
Since it looks as though face masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future most (but definitely not all) people have begun to embrace our new norm as more than just a necessity to help curb the spread of Covid-19 but from what I can see they have quickly become one of the hottest selling fashion accessories around and for many people they are also becoming the perfect way to show Self-Expression.
With face masks now being a way of life for most of us, many individuals who were once afraid to express their true authentic self are now using this as an opportunity to show the world who they really are even if the irony is not lost as we are having to do so by covering up our faces.
Self-Expression doesn’t necessarily have to be something creative it just has to be you. It’s a way of transforming our thoughts and feelings into some other form. It allows us to display our individuality, reflect on our beliefs and needs and it’s also a great way to help validate oneself.
As I continue on my difficult journey toward finding Mental Wellness and Self-Discovery I can now do so while sporting my brand new fashion accessory which I have just added to my collection. It is a true and authentic expression of who I am, it is a reflection of what I so passionately advocate for and it is a gentle way to remind each and every passerby that no matter what; “You Are Enough”.
***this is the logo I had created a few years ago which has not only become my signature and the name of my Blog but it has also become the backdrop for my Facebook page “youareenough” and several other projects***