Monday Motivation: Badge of Honour

I started following a group on Facebook called “Ontario Hiking” soon after its conception last spring that has really helped me to find many new and exciting places to explore on our #summerofrich adventures.

It is run by Lauren Yakiwchuk who spends so much of her free time exploring our great Province and blogging about her personal experiences along her trails.

This group offers many fun and interactive experiences, great tips, lots of beautiful photos and so many helpful and honest reviews of places all over Ontario, some of which are very close to home for me and many more that are hundreds of kilometers away.

Throughout the last 4 years since the #summerofrich first launched (can you believe its been four years) I continue to add many new and adventurous places to my already very lengthy wishlist that I would love to explore one day.

It has become quite a long list and it just keeps on growing. 

Each week I now refer to this wonderful and very informative group of close to 80,000 like-minded members who share my passion for nature, hiking and mental wellness in order to plan our day trips. **I was really hoping that this summer we could take a 5 day hiking trip to the most northern tip of our beautiful Province for my birthday but unfortunately there have been too many obstacles standing in our way this year.

One of the group’s most fun and interactive experiences I’ve enjoyed following most since the group launched last spring has been reading posts from other members who have participated in the quarterly hiking challenges. 

These challenges occur every January, April, July and October. Participants are asked to complete 5 hikes (or walks) during that month. Once you have completed your hikes you can email the 5 locations you hiked during that month to a specific app in order to receive a “digital badge” for “bragging rights” and a chance to win prizes. 

I decided near the end of June that instead of just following other members participating in the upcoming July challenge that I would join in on the #julyhikingchallenge for myself. 

It’s not like we don’t hike several times a month anyways, especially during the summer and I knew that if I participated in the challenge for myself that it would push me (and Rich) on those days when one of us is just not up for it.

We both have such a feeling of accomplishment after our hikes and not only did we challenge each other in July to push through the 5 hikes, we surpassed the initial targeted goal and completed 7 of them instead. That for sure earned us both many bragging rights.

I just received my “digital badge” this morning via email for accomplishing the #julyhikingchallenge and although I may not have won any of the prizes this time around I feel like a baby bird today when they are first born and have no idea the power that their wings have or  how determined they will become in order to learn to fly; and one day maybe even learn to soar.

#mondaymotivation #badgeofhonour #hikingchallenge #ontariohiking  #ontariohikingchallenge #hikingtrails #summertimeselfcare #spiritualhealing #ontarioisourstodiscover #nature #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #babybird #learningtofly #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #youareenough

Developing Resilience in our Youth

It’s #timscampday. 

By purchasing a hot/iced coffee or one of their camp day bracelets today, 100% of the proceeds will go towards helping to make a difference in the lives of our youth.

I loved camp. 

I have so many amazing memories of camp.

My kids have been lucky enough to have also made so many of their own incredible memories from their years at camp too. 

Camp builds leadership skills and confidence in kids. 

It gives them courage and it teaches them resilience.

Resilience is a skill that we develop as we grow and if this past year has proven anything to us at all it’s that kids are so incredibly capable of being resilient beings. 

Resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges or even trauma.”

Our youth have all faced varying degrees of stress, adversity, failure, challenges and even trauma over the course of the Pandemic. 

As parents, teachers, caregivers or even camp counsellors, we all have a very important role in helping children develop the necessary skills to becoming resilient.

Acknowledging a child’s feelings, labeling their emotions, embracing their mistakes and failures, encouraging them to take “healthy risks” that may be outside of their comfort zone or teaching them valuable problem solving skills are just a few examples of how we can play a role in ensuring this skill is properly developed as they grow. 

It’s nearly impossible to avoid stress in our lives from time to time but by giving children the skills and confidence necessary to become more resilient is definitely one of the best ways for them to cope with it.

Feel free to check out my blog below which I wrote a few years ago. It speaks volumes to what camp meant to me growing up and now my own children as well. 

And don’t forget to drop by a Tim Hortons today (in Canada) to help “change a life one cup at a time”.

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/our-last-visitors-day-all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end

#youthareenough #campday #timhortons #buyacoffee #resilience #courage #leadership #confidence #ouryouthmatter #campismentalwellness #changealife #onecupatatime

Alone In The Wild

I recently watched a movie called “WILD”, starring Reese Witherspoon (2014). 

It is based on a true story and the autobiography of Cheryl Strayed called “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”.

The movie takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail which spans 2,600 miles (that’s a shitload of kilometers!) in length and runs from the the Mexican/U.S border to the U.S/Canada border. To hike this grueling trail in its entirely would take someone between 5 to 6 months to complete. 

In June of 1995 this remarkable young woman (age 26) decides on a whim to take a much needed time out from her life and ascends on a journey toward self-discovery and healing by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail over a three month period.

At the start of her expedition, Cheryl had just recently divorced her husband and tragically lost her mother (she was only 45 years old when she died) but throughout the movie we also learn so much more about her traumatic childhood and reckless and destructive youth.

There were so many reasons why I wanted to watch this movie (which Rich discovered one night while channel surfing) and so many more reasons why while watching it I felt an instant connection to Cheryl even though our journeys are so vastly different. 

Of course the movie centered around hiking which was a very big draw for me but what led her on that path (trail) in the first place is what connected me so deeply. 

When I think of self-care it often includes alone time. Yes, being surrounded by other people is critical for our well-being but sometimes it can also create stress in your life as well (something I think many of us can relate to more than ever over the past year). 

Taking time to be with yourself is both vital and beneficial in order to tap into our own thoughts, feelings and experiences. 

Along Cheryl’s journey she met many interesting (and sometimes scary) people and was asked by one of them if she ever got lonely out there all alone but it was because of her time alone (and journaling) that she found the freedom to forge ahead and truly explore her own personal growth and development. 

It’s what gave her the strength and determination to discover the power of healing.

Although I love to hike and I find it especially therapeutic for me and although I quite often need space away from others in order to help me heal I don’t forsee a three month hiking expedition anytime soon in my future. 

For starters, I’d barely make it a mile before getting lost! Perhaps maybe a week alone at a spa would be a better place for me to start?

Where do you like to go when you need some alone time?

#wild #hiking #selfcare #selfdiscovery #therapeutic #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #pacificcresttrail #milesfromhome #writer #blogger #author #journey #beinthemoment #journaling #courage #healing #mindfulness #aloneinthewild @cherylstrayed @reesewitherspoon

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

He’s fully vaxxed

So this just happened!

Yesterday, late afternoon while Rich and I were busy delivering lawn signs, we learned by word of mouth that the Walmart right by our home had started a wait list for individuals who have already received their first shot of Moderna.

Once a vile is opened they only have a shelf life of 6 hours before they expire and will basically be thrown in the garbage.

As soon as Rich and I got word yesterday afternoon that the Pharmacy had an opened vile of the Moderna vaccine (Rich and I both had Moderna and our kids got Pfizer) that was due to expire within the hour we literally dropped what we were doing and drove to the Walmart immediately (we were thankfully only 10 minutes away, but sadly we were too late).

These viles are ONLY opened each day for scheduled appointments for people in need of their first shot only. Each vile holds up to 10 shots each but once opened and not used before the expiration time approaches they make an announcement on their loud speaker for any customers in the store who may be interested in getting a first shot. If, AND only if no one else shows up they will begin to call people on their wait list to come by within the next 20 minutes to get their second shot.

An hour ago, Rich got that call and was told to come now (do not pass go!).

Unfortunately for me they only had 3 shots left today and two other people were on the wait list above us so Rich had his shot today and I am now next in line on the wait list.

The pharmacist said it’s very likely I will get a call tomorrow late afternoon as well because as of right now they only have 2 appointments set for people in need of a first shot.

Either way I am grateful knowing that Rich got his shot today and we are all one step closer to life in Ontario getting back to normal.

The pharmacist also begged me to please tell everyone I know that if they have still not had their first shot to PLEASE call and make an appointment immediately and for anyone who has already had their first shot of Moderna, RUN now and put your name on that wait list!! There is absolutely no reason to let even one dose go to waste!

#moderna #secondshot #summerofrich #getyourvaccinenow #walmart #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #herdimmunity #wereallinthistogether #doyourpart

2021 Graduate Campaign

As many of you know, last spring I created a series of lawn signs to help honour our 2020 graduates after receiving the devastating news that my daughter’s high school prom and graduation ceremony were both cancelled. 

The initiative quickly grew in abundance and at the end of 6 short weeks I had hand delivered somewhere in the ballpark of 700 signs to the front lawns (and porches) of so many deserving Graduates across the GTHA from Pre-K to Post-Graduate education. 

With the help of so many generous people in our amazing communities together we raised over $10,000 for Kids Help Phone which is why I have decided to launch my campaign again this spring. 

Our class of 2021 (including my other daughter who is just days away from earning her undergraduate degree in Communications) are all feeling the same disappointment, anger, loneliness, overwhelm and sadness as so many deserving graduates did just one year ago. 

I don’t need to tell you just how difficult this past year has been on our youth especially, many of whom are now struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression issues along with other mental health concerns due to the devastation and impact of the Pandemic. 

Our youth need to know that it’s okay to not be okay and that they are not alone which is why I have also decided this year to spread the wealth around by donating the proceeds to several youth mental health initiatives instead of just the one I did last year as the need to support our youth mental health programs is so much greater than ever before. 

I look forward to brightening up our neighborhoods soon.

#graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #payitforward #strongertogether

The Three Stages of Covid Anxiety on the Road to Normalcy

A year ago today I wrote a blog just 24 hours after the WHO declared the Coronavirus a world wide Pandemic.

I remember those first few days that followed as though it was just yesterday. There may have still been so many unknowns at the time but one thing was for sure, the virus that had seemed so far from our reach was now here and action was abruptly taken. 

March Break was just getting underway here in Ontario and the sudden closure of the borders meant for starters that Rachel, who was scheduled to fly to Punta Cana in a couple of days for her once in a lifetime High School Graduation trip was no longer going to happen. 

Professional sports and Broadway productions were being shut down; students, teachers and parents were preparing for a “two week” extension of March Break and then one by one businesses, malls and restaurants were told that they too must close immediately. 

The sudden changes, the mixed messages and the fear of the unknown quickly began to take its toll on everyone, even those amongst us who had never experienced bouts of anxiety before were starting to feel anxious and scared. 

In my blog I shared a list of some simple yet effective ideas for how we could try and cope with this new type of anxiety (you know, the kind of anxiety that follows the declaration of a world wide Pandemic!). 

But now, one year in, those simple, effective ideas no longer feel plausible. Covid-19 and the fallout from it has created so many new barriers for many, devastation beyond repair for others and an increased amount of anxiety and other mental health concerns in almost everyone you speak to.

My anxiety had already been beyond crippling for me pre-Pandemic for the better part of six years by the onset of the Pandemic but Covid-19 has really magnified it in so many ways and I know that sadly I am not alone. 

But I also can’t believe that someone like myself who lives with chronic mental health issues on a daily basis, where carrying out the simplest of tasks and activities or attending any type of social gathering that could likely cause me to go into complete and utter panic and despair at any given moment (even those which involve close friends and family) finds myself actually craving many of these missed opportunities that so many of us once took for granted. 

For an entire year now I’ve been following the public health’s advice and guidelines by washing my hands regularly, wearing my mask, staying home as much as possible, social distancing and avoiding any direct contact with family and friends outside of those who live in my home, so like truly, who can really blame me? 

I can at the very least see a light now at the end of this very turbulent and dark tunnel with the vaccine rollout underway (even if it’s been a complete and epic fail here in Canada) but it still doesn’t change the fact that this past year has on a whole been the most difficult and trying year for many of us and after enduring months and months of Covid-fatigue has only added more fuel to the fire for someone like me who already had a very anxious mind beforehand. 

At first, once the initial shock wore off (although I still find myself often shaking my head in disbelief) we may have found some joy in staying home, spending quality time with our kids or taking a few weeks off from our hectic lives; I mean sometimes big changes in our lifestyles or behaviours can feel easy in the beginning, right? But this was never something any one of us ever wanted to get used to.

But we have all had to adjust and pivot in so many ways since then and so now, here we are, one year later still watching cautiously from the sidelines with some light at the end of the tunnel as life slowly (very slowly in Canada) begins to push toward some type of “normal” again except that now many of us are starting to face yet another very real anxiety; one that comes with a fear of what normalcy will actually look like, a fear of the future, post vaccination and a fear that we will never be able to get back to the way life was before the Pandemic because abnormal sure feels like the new normal to me.

Do you fear that life will never feel “normal” again?

#ayearinreview #covidfatigue #willlifeeverfeelnormalagain #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #abnormalisthenewnormal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

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

MONDAY MOTIVATION: MARCHING INTO MARCH

When I was visiting with a friend over the weekend (in a garage from 6 feet apart and freezing our butts off, but well worth the price of our sanity) I was being all like cool and optimistic and like a glass half full kinda gal when I told her that now that March 1st is upon us, it meant just one thing; we’ve almost made it through the winter. 

Yup, that’s right, it’s true, I was totally speaking with my glass half full (and from someone who despises winter beyond words) knowing that when March rolls around that we’ve made it through the worst of it and that spring is just around the corner, ready and willing to shine its bright sunlight on the melting snow.

But it never takes me long for my half full glass to evaporate into thin air or in this case freeze over into a block of ice when the real reality sets in that in less than 2 weeks from March 1st it will be exactly one year since the entire world was completely turned upside down.

The month of March has forever changed. It will forever be remembered now not for its promise of warmer days ahead where we spring forward into a new season or see Leprechans dancing in the street or children excitedly awaiting the Easter bunny’s arrival but instead March now feels more like an alien from another planet (which kinda makes perfect sense since March got its name from a Roman God named Mars!).

Ok so what if we turned this back around and what if my glass was still half full? What would March look like then? What if we approached the month ahead by dreaming of those Leprechauns dancing in the street and looked at March through the eyes of those children excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Easter bunny? 

What if we allowed ourselves to spring forward and “fall” back into our lives by reliving all the silver linings that have enabled us to get through what has undoubtedly been the worst year ever. (Feel free to revisit my blog “My Silver Linings Playbook of 2020” back in December) https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/my-silver-linings-playbook-of-2020

What if we welcomed March in with open arms like we’ve always done in the past by leaving the back gate unlatched for him? Let’s welcome March back into our lives as though nothing ever happened so he can get in and get his job done quickly and proficiently for those of us who have been stuck inside our homes (and garages) waiting to go for long walks, basking in the warm sunshine and taking some time to stop and smell some flowers along the way. How does that sound to you? 

What do you “normally” look most forward to about March? 

#mondaymotivation #marchmadness #springisintheair #marchingintospring #silverlinings #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #stopandsmelltheroses #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #glasshalffull 

Ma famille ❤

What does family mean to you?

To me family is always having someone in your life who has your back and sees your shortcomings yet still loves you unconditionally.

Family is showing love and support for one another even through the difficult times and having a strong connection with others who want nothing more than to lift you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

Family is having a feeling of security, unity, acceptance and a mutual respect and understanding. 

Being part of a family doesn’t have to mean that you are related by a bloodline or always having to share the same interests or opinions with each other  either; it just means that you always feel a sense of belonging, a willingness to embrace your differences and the ability to value them no matter what.

#happyfamilyday #family #familymatters #memories #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #mondaymotivation

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