It’s confession time, folks. It’s almost the end of June and I have gotten way off track with my vow to drink more water and my commitment to my word of the year – ‘move’.
It was my first time actually choosing a word of the year (thanks to Mel Robbins’ Mindset Reset back in January) and I felt so committed to making it stick that I not only purchased a My Intent bracelet with the word ‘move’ on it (so I could easily remind myself), I also created a hashtag (#getoffyerassandmove) to add a wee bit of extra accountability.
Then my dog Hank died. Now, that may just sound like an excuse to you. But when all of the things that you typically associate with getting off your ass and moving revolve around your dog (mainly, taking him for a walk, to the park, to the beach – you get the picture), it became paralyzing for me to think about doing a whole lot of moving without him.
Add on to that, my lack of desire to do a whole lot of anything for the past eight weeks and you can see why my goal of drinking more water went down the toilet as well… A vicious cycle. When you feel like crap, you stop doing any of the things that could potentially work to make you feel any better. Once you fall off track with one thing, the rest seems to follow so easily behind. (At least that’s how it seems to work for me).
So, I have a decision to make. I can either continue down this negative, spiralling path or I can choose to make a positive change. I'll start small by recommitting myself to staying hydrated and getting off the damn couch. No excuses... And I have already made progress. I signed up for a five week outdoor yoga class with Joyful Yoga Studio next month and I have a reminder on my phone to get up and go for a walk first thing every morning.
Now all I have to do is show up for myself. Wish me luck... 🖤
I do not have a green thumb. But, like writing, gardening is a form of therapy for me. It makes me feel good. It occupies my brain in a way that I like. AND – most importantly – I don’t take it too seriously. Meaning, if I kill my dill (again this year!), I won’t beat myself up about it. There are not many things that I can say that about… and actually mean it.
In other words, gardening is the bowling of outdoor activities for me. I am competitive about most sports or games (just ask my family), but for some reason my propensity for gutter balls doesn't phase me at all.
My love of gardening – where I am a student with low expectations of myself – is re-ignited each season when I see the construction of the first garden centre. One of the first signs of spring and a gentle reminder to get out of my head and get my hands in the dirt.
I love visiting the garden centres and combing through the well organized rows of options. Even though I usually land on the same thing — yellow begonias, a tomato plant or two and a selection of herbs that includes the aforementioned dill — I simply like to consider all the possibilities. (Like where could I possibly plant this rhododendron where the deer wouldn't eat it). And, even more simply, I just like to be around all the pretty things.
The point of me writing about one of the simplest things that I do for my mental health is just that. It doesn't have to be complicated. The solution can truly be found in the little things... I say it all the time because it’s so. very. true.
Sometimes I lose sight of how easily I could get myself in a better mindset if I could only see through the fog. Whether it’s standing in the perennial section of the garden centre, planting my herbs with my favourite spoon markers that I got from my pal Lori at Farm Fresh Style, or organizing a round of glow in the dark bowling.
Whatever it is for you, when all else fails, look for it in the little things. 🖤
I am a fan of Facebook memories. I'm nostalgic by nature and I enjoy scrolling through the reminders of what I was doing, where I was going and who I was with. Good or bad, I like to take stock of where I was then compared to where I am now. The post below is one that came up in my Facebook memories from one year ago and I thought it was worth sharing again. In a lot of ways, I am the same. And in some ways, I am so. very. different. The one big difference is that I don't even think twice about sharing my personal struggles with mental illness anymore (hence this blog dedicated to just that). I know how much it can help me and others to have these conversations openly. And (for me) that's all that matters.
Here is the post I wrote on June 8, 2018:
i drafted this two weeks ago — while i was having a particularly down day — and i never shared it... it’s been sitting as a draft because i convinced myself that the people who told me i shouldn’t ‘overshare’ my struggles with depression and anxiety were right.
but they weren’t right (for me).
and i have to do what’s right (for me), especially when i’m struggling... and it feels right (for me) to share it now:
i am, once again, going to get real about my mental health struggles.
after a series of down weeks, today was an exceptionally down day. and down days are especially difficult when you feel like you have to be ‘on’.
being ‘on’ on a good day is tiring for me. being ‘on’ when your anxiety is at its worst is completely effing exhausting — and can often result in confusing physical symptoms (and feeling like you just want to either ‘sleep it off’ or run away. to just keep driving...)
so here i am. my insecurities are through the roof. the irrational thoughts that always accompany my anxiety have gotten the best of me — they are loud. they are persistent. and i simply can’t drown them out.
i spend so much time wishing in vain that i wasn’t this way... being this way keeps me in my head and keeps me from so many things. it keeps me disconnected. it keeps me from fun and success. it keeps me stuck — stuck comparing myself to other people, stuck worrying (and making assumptions) about what other people think of me and stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy of not being or feeling like i am ‘enough’ (in my job, in my relationships, in my life).
i’m not going to stop sharing. because (for me) it’s helpful to share and to feel like (maybe) i am helping someone else by sharing too. and — if you can do nothing else when you’re having a particularly down day — it is so important to simply reach out. reach out in any way that works best (for you).
A lot can happen in one year, my friends. I am happy to say that, despite some serious ups and downs since June 2018, I have made some smart decisions (for me) that I am really proud of.
I trust that I am being honest with myself, I'm making a conscious effort to surround myself with the right people, and I know I'm headed in the right direction. 🖤
I’ve never openly talked about being bullied as a kid. I think part of the reason is because, at the time, I maybe didn’t see it as that. I don’t think we had that language when I was growing up. At least not in relation to the people in our day-to-day lives. It was more something that we saw on television. Nelson Muntz was a bully, for example. Not the kid who made fun of me at the bus stop.
I dreaded the bus as a kid. And all the way through to high school. When I think about being bullied growing up, I relate it almost exclusively to my experiences either at a bus stop or traveling on a bus to or from school. And honestly, just thinking about it makes my hands clammy. I always felt like an outsider at the bus stop. I wasn’t confident enough to strike up conversations at the beginning of the school year (you know, to establish important bus stop hierarchical relationships that would last for the remainder of the school year) and the kids who lived in my neighbourhood all their lives saw that as a weakness and pounced.
Not literally. The kind of bullying I experienced was never physical. And maybe that’s also why I never viewed it as bullying at the time. Nobody was stealing my lunch money or hitting me on the back of the head. I thought if it wasn't physical, it wasn't bullying. But it was... It was verbal. And it was awful.
Now that I've brought him up, Nelson Muntz wasn’t simply a bully character, he was a bully character who was meant to be funny. And that's dangerous. There may have been a storyline or two here and there where he learned his lesson or we found out that he had a heart, but for the most part, he went back to his default bullying behaviour and his antics were always designed to make people laugh.
What is that teaching kids about being mean? It hurts my heart just thinking about it.
(Disclaimer – I’m using the past tense here because it has been ages since I’ve watched The Simpsons and I am basing these statements on pure memory, not any sort of extensive research on Nelson’s character... Also, maybe, just maybe, Nelson Muntz has changed;).
I feel like the only show that addressed bullying in a meaningful way when I was growing up – and that I was watching – was the original Degrassi series (the one with Spike, Lucy and the Zit Remedy). That show was ahead of its time in addressing issues and I bet if I were to watch it today, it would still ring true. (Maybe it’s time to pull out those DVD box sets my friend Sara gifted me in university;).
But as much as I’m talking about being bullied in school, make no mistake – dealing with bullies doesn’t end there. I think this was another misconception of mine growing up. Bullies exist as adults too... It’s sad, but very true.
And that’s why it’s so important to have these conversations with kids. So they don’t carry this bullying behaviour into adulthood – into their workplaces, their personal lives, their homes. That’s why we wrote Hank’s T-Shirt. To add to the anti-bullying conversations that parents are (hopefully) having with their kids – the bullies, the bullied, and the ones who don’t even know what bullying is yet.
Because we live in a world where there is so much happening behind the scenes in people’s lives that we know nothing about, why wouldn’t we all choose to be kind? 🖤
As a mental health advocate, this blog is dedicated mostly to my experiences living with depression and anxiety.