What do you want to be when you grow up? Well at 48, close to 49 years old I am still searching for the answer.

When I was a child I had big dreams of becoming a veterinarian because I loved animals but the problem was I sucked at science, refused to dissect a frog and not to mention that I was way too sensitive to work with sick animals. 

At one point during my days of baton twirling I wanted to become a professional baton twirler if that’s even such a thing! But after winning the Miss Congeniality award and twirling my baton in a local Santa Claus parade I was hooked. 

Of course there was the time I dreamt of becoming a cartoonist. I had sketchbooks upon sketchbooks of cartoon characters I had created and cartoon strips to go along with them. I was pretty darn imaginative and maybe even a bit funny. 

Then there was the time I really wanted to become a hairdresser (and to be honest it’s still something I long for). I would play with my doll’s hair for hours on end, styling it and giving them some pretty cool haircuts too, that was of course until I started practicing on real human hair, (I had some pretty brave friends I must say) and I was the queen of french braiding which I still am to this day (or at least my girls think so).

Oh man the list of what I wanted to be when I grew up was endless; a model, a fashion designer, a social worker, an art therapist and even a journalist. Yes almost 49 years now and still searching for what I want to be when I grow up and feeling very inadequate in so many of my life choices but if I have learned anything along my journey over the last 6 years it’s that growth is an ever-changing process and that it’s okay to keep changing and that it’s okay keep growing and that it’s okay to keep pursuing your passions, your purpose and your reason why even if it takes a lifetime and even if you have to go through hell to get there first.

#blogger #childrensauthor #writer #childrensbook #wheredidmommyssmilego  #amazondotca #helpingothers  #advocate #purpose #mywhy #youareenough #noshame #mentalillness  #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #ichooseme #dreams #goals #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone 

How Do You Define Family?

Today is a Statutory holiday in Ontario called Family Day. It is also celebrated  in several other Provinces throughout Canada as well, but not all. It only became a holiday here in Ontario in 2008 but has been recognized in Alberta since 1990 and is a basic reminder to everyone to make time to spend with your family and to reflect on the importance of family values. 

The definition of what a family is can be quite complicated and debated. There is no right or wrong answer as to how you define family and it’s more about what you make of it or what works for you. Family is not always 2 people who are related by blood or through marriage. 

My definition of family has changed a lot, especially over the last 6 years of my illness. I have learned so much about myself and others and what I want and don’t need most of all in my life to help me thrive and evolve.

Family to me is anyone who loves you unconditionally and supports you even when it’s not always so easy. Family means accepting one another; flaws and all, helping each other to flourish and grow, celebrating victories, wiping away tears and making one another laugh through those tears. 

But not everyone is as blessed to have people in their lives (blood related or not) who define family which is why today is such an important reminder to show kindness to everyone you meet because no matter how you define family we all deserve to matter.

How do you define family? 

#family #friendship #familyday #values #youareenough #kindness #youmatter #familymatters #youarenotalone #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #blessings #love #myreasonswhy #myheart

It’s Alright To Cry

Rich and I have been hit with some pretty bad blows over the last several years and this week has been no exception. I’m not gonna share right now just how bad a week it’s actually been but trust me when I tell you it’s been pretty f*@#ing bad. 

When it feels like the walls are closing in around me my illness leaves me questioning everything, it leaves me unable to breathe, it leaves me overwhelmed and vulnerable, it leaves me hesitant and indecisive and it leaves me in tears which are oftentimes over the simplest and silliest of things.
Crying is a natural response to all kinds of emotions and can be quite soothing and calming as well as quite necessary. My emotions are running very high right now and shedding a few tears when needed definitely helps to release some stress. 

Yesterday afternoon is one of several examples of this and a perfect example of just how emotional I am. Rich and I were out running some errands with one of our daughters in a very busy store when I suddenly (and I truly mean it when I say suddenly) became hesitant, vulnerable, indecisive and overwhelmed over the simplest and silliest of things and before I knew it, and before Rich could run and hide from the crazy lady in aisle 5 (that’s me in case you weren’t sure), the tears began streaming down my face and customers began staring (and trust me it’s not even close to the first time this has happened). Luckily my daughter was already 2 aisles ahead!

Although on one hand it felt like an eternity in that moment but once I gained my composure I was able to continue on I felt a sense of calm. Afterall, crying produces endorphins which are better known as “the feel good” hormone so you see it’s alright to cry and as I said above, it can be quite calming, self-soothing and often necessary. 

Trying to keep a sense of humour when life kicks you in the ass sometimes certainly can also help ease the blow somehow too because laughter and tears both have so many healthy and powerful benefits! (see pic of Rich) 

Oh and through all the tears I’ve shed this week, I could have smoked, I wanted to smoke, I needed to smoke but I did not smoke. And by the way, how long is it til 2021?

#worstyearsofar #twentytwentysucks #thirtythreedays #smokefree #nosmoking #laughter #tears #crying #panic #anxiety #depression #suicide #smilingthroughdepression #myreasonswhy #itsoktonotbeok #family #youareenough #masksoff #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #thisisreallife #endthestigmatogether #empowerment #selfcompassion #selflove 

It’s 3AM

Having an anxiety attack sucks whatever time it is; day or night, but the feeling you get when you’re all alone and already feeling very vulnerable because it’s 3am and you can’t sleep and you just wish there was someone to talk to and that your husband would stop snoring really takes the cake!

#anxiety #anxietyisreal #anxietysucks #anxietyattack #cantbreathe #maggiecuddle  #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #thisisreallife #cantsleep

A Crafty Kinda Day

I hope you can tell from the picture (it’s a glass frame so you may have to zoom in to get the full effect) that the central focus inside the frame is a semicolon with positive affirmations encompassing it. The semicolon has been a huge part of my story for several years now and I have shown my support to the Project Semicolon Movement for close to 4 years now. For those of you who don’t know, Project Semicolon is a “nonprofit organization known for its advocacy of mental health wellness and its focus as an anti-suicide initiative. Founded in 2013, the movement’s aim is presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression,suicide, addiction, and self-injury. They are known for encouraging people to tattoo the punctuation mark semicolon (;) as a form of solidarity between people dealing with mental illness or the death of someone from suicide”, which is what I did in July 2016 (see photo).

I’ve been struggling a lot over the past week and I figured I could use some inspiration today so I made it a “crafty” kind of day. It’s ok to not be ok, it’s ok to talk about the hard days and it’s more than ok to tell someone you’re struggling because we all deserve to feel hope, we all deserve to feel worthy and we all deserve to feel like our story isn’t over yet; 

My tattoo on my left shoulder

You see, a semicolon is not just any ole punctuation mark that an author would use to end a sentence, it instead indicates a brief pause, and for me that brief pause is a symbol of my life and the need to catch my breath in order to continue the rest of my story. We are all authors to our own stories and it’s ok if you need to take a pause between sentences. 

#selfcare #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #semicolon #projectsemicolon #youareenough #breathe #pause #keepgoing #youmatter #crafts #yourstoryisntoveryet #tattoo #chai #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #author #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazondotca 

Therapy: All The Cool Kids Are Doing It!!!

Today I’m having a particularly hard day. I can’t say that there’s been one thing in particular that has made the start of the new week so hard for me but often when someone is suffering with Depression and Anxiety there doesn’t have to be a good reason, it just is. I probably experienced every negative emotion known to mankind before noon-time today and cried at least three times before then as well.  

I wasn’t sure I was gonna make it past noon today with so many overwhelmingly negative and unwanted thoughts going on inside my head causing me a great amount of fear, guilt, anger and sadness to erupt all at once so I sure as hell was grateful that I had an appointment already scheduled to see my therapist this afternoon.

Over the course of my illness there has been one constant in my journey and that is therapy.  It has not always been good therapy and some of it has left me shaking my head in shock and anger and some has just been downright awful but through a lot of trial and error I finally found the perfect balance for me a couple of years ago and my lifesaver. I’m not ashamed to tell people I go to therapy (well that’s probably quite obvious by now seeing as I divulge every intimate thought and feeling to you!) and it makes me feel sad when some people are reluctant to see a Therapist or make excuses as to why they can’t see one because whether it’s going to see a Therapist, a Counsellor, a Life Coach, a Social Worker, a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist when you are feeling overwhelmed or sad should be just as normal as going to see your Doctor when you have the flu!

I know that therapy can be very expensive if not covered by OHIP (in Canada) or an insurance plan (if you even have one) and we all know that there can be long wait lists for OHIP covered Therapists and Doctors however there are still plenty of places to start if you need help right away including Distress and Crisis Helplines and Hospital ER’s. I have found myself in many Emergency Rooms, too many times now that I’ve stopped counting, but during several of those visits I have been given access to free community-based group and individual programs and sometimes I was also placed in one on one care with a Counsellor who work with outpatients.  

It’s not always easy to talk to a loved one or confidant about what you are feeling and very often when a situation is bigger than you then you may need an outsider to listen to you who can advise you from a non-judgmental place and with an unbiased perspective. A therapist et al can help to validate your experience and not make you and your problems feel unworthy while being in a safe place to process your thoughts. They will give you different tools for working through difficult situations, allowing room for your personal growth, teach you coping skills, give you insight and model for you what healthy boundaries and healthy relationships should be and sometimes just being able to say things out loud can help you understand your thoughts and feelings in a whole new way.

Until 5 years and 10 months ago I had never been to a Therapist; I never felt that I needed to but now I look at therapy or life-coaching from a totally different lens and I truly believe that at some point or another in every person’s life that seeking the guidance of a professional for a little extra emotional support could really help keep us balanced. We all go through ups and downs in our lifetime and we could all use some tweaking from time to time and there ain’t no shame in that! Oh and by the way, no matter how hard today has been for me I did not smoke!! 

If you or someone you know needs immediate help start here or go to your closest emergency room:

Toronto Distress Centres- 416-408-HELP(4357)

Gerstein Centre- 416-929-5200

Kids Help Phone- 1-800-668-6868

Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com

#Smokefree #twentydays #hardday #helpline #distresscentres #therapy #therapyiscool #itsoktonotbeok #itsoktoaskforhelp #startaconversation #youareenough #noshame #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #mentalillness #selfcare #mentalwellness #masksoff #depression #anxiety #dontsufferinsilence

So Long January

January is behind me now and all I can say about that is good riddance to you and don’t let the cold air hit you in the face on the way out.  I had big intentions for January which included great forethought and planning after purposely taking some much needed downtime for myself for much of December. Yes January, you really let me down big time but you also taught me a thing or two about myself as well. 

I spent the month resting and for the better part of it I needed to do so in order to recuperate from my concussion but at the same time I got quite comfortable doing so, possibly too comfortable. As someone who battles with depression everyday, it’s not ideal to want to be in bed all day and night, even if you may need to.  I have to say though that one thing that helped me survive the month of January was believe it or not, Social Media.

I’m not afraid to admit it but I love Facebook and I’m not gonna apologize for it either, nor do I have any intentions to use it less, in fact I need to use it even more… intentionally.  Facebook and other forms of Social Media have become a place for me to express myself, engage in meaningful conversations, inspire and be inspired, motivate and be motivated and a place where I have created many genuine and intentional friendships as well.  

Social Media has allowed me to speak my truth, help others speak their truth and when I need a little extra emotional support I know that my online community is always there for me. Trust me I have lots of emotional support from my “real” friends and family too but just knowing how many people I have cheering me on from the sidelines is a true blessing.

Since starting my blog and publishing my book I’ve needed Social Media more than ever and I have learned how to navigate it with the greatest intent of continuing to keep building a bigger and better platform to ensure my message is heard and heard loudly. I’m having a hard time getting back on track and just so overwhelmed right now but hopefully February has much better intentions for me!  At least there is one thing I know for sure that February has in store, only 47 more days until Spring!

#bekindtoyourself #startaconversation #socialmedia #facebook #twitter #instagram #blogger #childrensauthor #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazondotca #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #goodriddancejanuary #intent #intention #buildingaplatform #mentalillness #selfcare #mentalwellness

Let It Go

Yesterday was a good reminder for all of us just how fragile life truly is and that we should never take it for granted. Yesterday was also a reminder that no-one on this earth is invincible and that tomorrow is never promised. Today as the world mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant, his beautiful daughter Gianna and their seven friends that perished alongside them we must remember that Kobe was so much more than a basketball hero; he was a son, a husband, a father, a humanitarian and a legend.  One of his many mantras that he lived life by was “live today to inspire tomorrow” and boy did he ever live up to this in so many ways for so many people.

When I heard the news of Kobe’s passing through a text message from our son I was at, of all places, a Shiva for a friend’s father who had recently passed away at the ripe ‘ole age of 93.  For those of you who may not know what a Shiva is, it is a week-long mourning period in the Jewish faith which begins immediately following the burial. A Shiva allows for a parent, a sibling, a spouse and/or a child of the deceased to accept visitors during this period of mourning to give their condolences and to provide comfort to the mourners.

As the news began to spread feverishly around the world many people looked to find their own ways to comfort one another and find meaning from this tragic loss of life. And in that very moment, as I was surrounded by a room full of mourners I found comfort and meaning in one of Kobe’s many life messages as I suddenly found myself face to face with a grievance from my past by someone who had wronged me many years ago and who just so happened to be standing two feet in front of me!  In that moment I needed to make peace in my heart because after all, tomorrow may never come. I’ve held a lot of anger and resentment toward this individual for all these years but suddenly it felt so insignificant and unworthy.

Throughout the better part of my illness I have spent a lot of time examining and re-examining past relationships including this one and I know that in order for me to move forward I need to learn how to let go of the pieces of my past that affect my wellbeing the most because life is too short and so yesterday I took another step toward finding peace in my heart after our brief but purposeful encounter!  
#itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #kindness #lifestooshort #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #purpose #letitgo
Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Family Time

I don’t remember the last time all 5 of us (and Maggie) just hung out together all evening watching tv, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. We, like the rest of the world are a little sad tonight. Life can change in an instant. Hold your loved ones a little closer tonight.  #grammys #ripkobe #ripgigi #youareenough #family #makingmemories #familymatters

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