Just got home from a long and very invigorating walk with our friends.
As we passed this tree in the forest my girlfriend stopped to point out to me the words which had been spray painted on the tree that read “keep going”. She was certain it was there as a reminder from God telling me that I must “keep going”!
Upon our arrival home from our walk there was a beautifully wrapped gift of self-care on my front porch which was left for me by another incredible girlfriend of mine.
I am overwhelmed and beyond grateful for my amazing tribe. I am truly blessed by all the love and support and kindness I have in my life.
It’s okay to not be okay.
“There is no exercise better for your heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
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!!)
I had a massage this afternoon, the first one in several years.
My kids had bought it for me as a gift last Mother’s Day.
At the time when they purchased it the Spa was closed due to lockdown restrictions and by the time it did finally reopen, to be perfectly honest, I just kept forgetting about it. That was until a few weeks ago when I hurt my back and thought once I’m feeling better I should get a massage!
Massages, like mindfulness or meditation are supposed to be a perfect way to relax and relieve anxiety and stress, but seriously, have you met me before?
My track record with both mindfulness and meditation have never been met with much success for me and usually do the complete opposite of what they are meant for and now I guess I may as well add massage to that list too.
It was the perfect setting for a massage; the lights were dim, there was a subtle aroma in the air, soothing music playing in the background and the massage therapist was both gentle and calming. So what could possibly go wrong?
I have no ‘F’ ing idea to be perfectly honest with you but as soon as the massage began and for the next 50 minutes or so I felt like I was going to suffocate (and not just because of my mask).
My thoughts were racing all over the damn map and my mind was filled with such chaos. There was no real pattern or focus to speak of, just complete disarray. I tried several times to relax my body but my mind was having none of that nonsense.
I needed to find a way to distract myself and so I tried some of my go-to techniques and tools I’ve learned throughout my journey but nothing seemed to be working. I felt myself becoming more and more vulnerable in a “fight or flight” state of mind which only kept escalating when I quickly realized that fleeing the situation was likely not an option.
So I continued to lay there feeling very helpless with tears in my eyes, trying to estimate how much time I still had left all the while shouting at my mind to just shut the ‘F’ up and let my body cherish this beautiful gift I received from my kids!
Hello. My name is Kim and I suffer with a Major Depressive and severe Anxiety Disorder.
This is the face of someone who struggles with depression and anxiety every single day.
I’d even go so far as to call me a poster child for depression and anxiety.
But I can put on a face, any face you want for that matter.
I can smile and laugh and act silly and I’m pretty funny too.
If you didn’t know me, you may never “know”. You may never know by just looking at me on the outside that depression and anxiety are controlling me from the inside.
But underneath that big smile or silly child-like behaviour is someone who feels completely broken, who doubts her own self-worth, who wonders why she is adored by so many and who fights to stay alive each and every day.
I am not alone. I know I am not alone and I bet you see faces just like mine everywhere you go, possibly right inside your own family unit or staring back at you in the mirror.
You never know who may be suffering in silence, quietly fighting their own battle or smiling through their pain.
So be gentle, be kind, be loving to each other because you just never know who is smiling at you through their darkness.
I’ve been in a pretty bad headspace over the last few days and my negative thoughts and uncontrollable emotions seem to have me tumbling further and further down into a very dark rabbit hole, maybe for my own protection. Or maybe it’s something else. I’m not really sure how I fell so deep into this particular rabbit hole but I may have begun spiralling down it around the same time I awoke one morning earlier this week with severe and at times unbearable back and chest pain. I have found myself in tears too many times to count this week and I honestly have no clue why I’m even crying half the time anymore unless of course it’s from the unexplainable pain I’m in. I’ve tried climbing out of the rabbit hole many times before but I think that when I burrow further down inside that I feel a sense of protection and safety from any further harm or pain. Being inside the hole feels almost like a fortress and keeps me warm. Maybe the rabbit hole gives me a false sense of security but its okay because I know that anytime I am able to dig or claw my way out that there is always a colony waiting for me at the top, holding out their hand or ready to reach in and pull me out by my ears. #rabbitholes #safety #headspace #itsalrighttocry #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mindfulness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #youareenough
When Sunday night rolls around many people often become stressed or overwhelmed thinking about tomorrow; You know, as in Monday, that most dreaded day of the week.
But last night in the midst of what was probably my 50th anxiety/panic attack of what had been an incredibly difficult week on so many levels, I almost felt a sense of relief come over me when I realized that it was Sunday night and that this week would soon be over.
For me, Monday couldn’t come fast enough. I wasn’t looking at Monday as the most dreaded day of the week but instead I began to feel like Monday was more of a fresh start and the perfect time to try and refill my cup that had sat empty all of last week.
Mondays don’t have to feel dreaded. Maybe Mondays are really meant to be an opportunity to replenish our mental, emotional and physical energy instead?
Studies have shown that chewing gum while feeling stressed or anxious can actually lower your cortisol levels, improve negative moods and blood flow in the brain, increase your level of peace and calm and may even enhance your cognitive performance and alertness.
So next time you’re having a stressful day or feeling anxious, try “popping” a piece of gum in your mouth and “chew” on this!
It’s no secret that there has been a sharp decline in many people’s mental health (probably millions by now) over the past year due to Covid-19, both in children and adults alike.
Signs of mental illness are manifesting themselves (more than ever before) into symptoms of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, thoughts of suicide and eating disorders just to name a few.
Sadly, many people though are still choosing to suffer in silence today due to the stigma attached to mental illness and in many cases, affordability to seek Professional care.
I am a HUGE advocate for therapy and I know firsthand that taking that initial step may be hard. I also know that finding the right fit for you may take many tiresome hours of trial and error.
Up until six (plus) years ago I had never been to therapy, it was never something that had ever been a part of my vocabulary before but shortly after I became ill in April 2014, my doctor highly recommended I speak to someone immediately and so I obliged.
The process of finding the right therapy though took me three grueling years of trial and error and left me shaking my head some days and feeling even further defeated on many, many more.
But I am here to remind you that it takes great strength, vulnerability and a willingness to find that right fit and build a good rapport (which goes both ways) in order to reap the many benefits of therapy, whatever therapy may look like for you.
People seek out therapy for all kinds of different and difficult reasons and although a therapist may not give you all the answers, a good therapist will always help you find them.
But you also have to be ready to put in the work; you have to be ready to be open and honest with both yourself and a therapist; you have to be ready to commit to setting aside the time and energy needed to invest in therapy and you have to be ready for whatever may come from talking about difficult things.
It’s okay to ask for help and although medication can help to reduce some symptoms of mental health conditions for many, the added benefits of therapy will go alot further in gaining insight into or help you to address some hidden causes of your illness and not just mask them.
Therapy may also be beneficial in helping you to learn how to create healthy boundaries for yourself and others, it can help you to better process some difficult life events, work through unhealthy relationships or habits, ease feelings of guilt, help you to achieve goals, gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of yourself and it can also be a place to vent your frustrations about the people in your life who won’t go to therapy themselves.
I see my therapist weekly and it is one of the most important and much needed self-care strategies in my life right now. I know I am safe when I am speaking with my therapist and that I can share anything with her without feeling judged or stigmatized.
If you are ready to take that next step I would be more than happy to help guide you toward the many available options; including the free and online ones.
Below is one such example that I was asked to share with you. It is a new service being offered through the Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe Chapter. It’s a free telephone counseling service which operates weekdays from 8:30 to 4:30; there is no referral needed and no wait lists.