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!!)
Things could always be worse. At least you have your health. You have so much to be grateful for.
These are just a few of the many phrases I’ve heard spoken to me, or about others over the course of my journey these last 6+ years but as a person living with a Major Depressive Disorder like I do, I find myself especially confused as to how much worse I’m actually supposed to feel?
Hearing someone tell you that things could always be worse is belittling their feelings and experiences, it’s shaming them and will leave them exploding with guilt. Hearing these words may also leave someone second guessing their illness and therefore living silently in fear of exposing it which may also lead them to the belief that they don’t matter.
Yes I am blessed that I am both capable and able to walk and talk and breathe and feel and see and smell and hear and taste all the beauty that surrounds me, but as a person who is battling a mental illness, being told that “at least you have your health” hurts very deeply because our Mental Health is just as critical to our well being as our physical health is and those words are also a very disheartening reminder to us all as to how much work is still left to be done to help end the stigma; Mental Health is Health.
But I think what hurts me the most sometimes is when someone who is suffering with depression or anxiety is questioned as to whether or not they feel gratitude. I practice gratitude in my daily life and I am very much aware of all the things for which I am most grateful for. The feelings and behavioural changes though that are associated with a depressed or anxious mind cannot simply be cured by practicing gratitude, but it can definitely help with the process.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) which is the time of year we set aside to celebrate being thankful and grateful for what we have in our lives and to recognize the genorosity and kindness that has been bestowed upon us since the previous year. Well this year, more than ever before, it may be very difficult to recognize or appreciate those silver linings (no explanation necessary).
I can honestly say that this has truly been the worst year ever for me since my journey began. The Pandemic and my illness have both played a huge role in that forgone conclusion but so have several other personal issues, many of which I have never disclosed to this public forum, but still I am so grateful for so much and wanted to share some of that here with you today.
I am grateful for:
Nature walks and hiking
My weekly therapy
Arts and Crafts
Diet Coke and Ice Capps
Things that make me laugh
Romantic comedies that make me cry
My creative soul
A warm and sunny day
My weighted blanket
My Blog that allows me to share my story
Being given a voice
Kindness and empathy
Being born and raised in Canada
My undeniable support system
Strangers who have become my friends
My incredible friends who see me beyond my illness and stand by me no matter what
My large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles whom I never get to see but who love me just the same
My big brother who I know will always protect me
My inlaws and my many beautiful nieces and nephews
My mother in law who is always there to cheer me on
Maggie, for appreciating a good cuddle and belly rub
My 3 beautiful children who have stolen my heart and taught me the true meaning of resilience and unconditional love
And to my Soulmate and best friend Rich, I am beyond grateful for your protection and for always seeing my inner beauty and who continues to make me feel desired and loved
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.
July was definitely a hot one (the hottest one on record actually) and having to take the heat and humidity into account many days in July along with so many Covid related closures and restrictions has made our #summerofrich adventures a lot more of a challenge this year.
I’ve had to scratch a lot of places off our #summerofrich itinerary but with the arrival of August I can see more and more closures and restrictions starting to lift including many of our beautiful Conservation Parks that have Waterfalls.
Which was exactly why we headed to Smokey Hollow Waterfall today so we could capture the beauty of this hidden gem that included many adventurous hiking trails. As you scroll through the pictures you can see joy, you can see beauty and you can see calm but hidden on the other side of the camera today was a very emotional, tearful woman.
What I didn’t capture was the overwhelm I was feeling inside today, the feeling of hopelessness and the thoughts of suicide. What you don’t see captured in these pictures was the breakdown that came next (my family did though and I’m pretty sure so did several hikers too!).
What people don’t often see captured in pictures is just how real Depression and Anxiety are.
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