Darkness before the Dawn…


It is in my humble opinion that loss of any kind is a wound that time does not actually heal.  In fact I think that is a rather harsh and insensitive approach to grief.  One that I myself have been naive to believe.  Until now.  Experience is education and within the two we become smarter and wiser.  I’ve learned through losing my sister in law that loss is not something we get over, nor should we.  With time we do not hurt less, nor do we love less.  We simply learn to live with the pain.  We accept it into our daily lives in a way.  And it does not come gently and without force.  If you experience loss (which we all eventually must) then you know exactly that.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year.  And even more than that, a new decade.  2020! (How is that even possible?). So, in a sense, time is relentless.  It seems to be even faster paced than ever before…I can’t be the only one that feels like this.  Loss has a funny way of amplifying things.  Making one feel like more needs to be done.  A feeling of mortality looming.  At the end of every year I have a sense of reflection…like ‘have I done enough?’, ‘did I fill my days to the fullest?’, but this year I’ve had even more reflection involving the QUALITY of time…’have I done enough GOOD?’, ‘have my days left my HEART the fullest?’.  It has left me saying “yes” as much as possible which in turn has left me in a burn out.  In a way being my busiest self has allowed me to avoid some of the things that I’m struggling with.  I need to find that happy medium and I’m working harder at figuring out what it is that brings me true happiness and spend less time worrying about the things that are out of my hands.

So if like me you are feeling a similar angst I’ve created a bit of a ‘game plan’ to get myself back on track both mentally and physically as well as emotionally/spiritually.

  • Get rid of the clutter: This includes the distractions in your life that help you to avoid.  The physical clutter as well as the mental.  Clean out the closets, organize that junk drawer, clear some space in your calendar so you have time to not be “on”.
  • Get moving: Outside is best.  But whatever works to get your body in motion for 20-30 mins everyday. Sweat it out.
  • Turn off the Tech: Get offline more.  Limit social media time.  Instead of tv opt for a good book.
  • Journal: Get a prompted writing agenda if this is new.  I chose “A Mindful Year” but there are tons out there.
  • Get Creative: Do something that inspires you.  My goal is to get back to watercolour painting.
  • Eat Well: Get at those greens.  Cook together with family and try new recipes.  For me this also means less ‘lazy meals’ and more whole foods.   Less alcohol is also on my list.  Moderation is key.
  • Stay Open: Keep your tribe close.  Make sure that communication is at the heart of your relationships and be honest on the crappy days as well as the great ones.  And listen to your body and mind.  If you need to slow down and chill DO THAT.

I’m hoping that writing my ‘game plan’ down and realizing where my goals truly lie will help me to be successful.  Baby steps with momentum.  One day at a time is no joke.  Sincerely, one day at a time.  I think above all else, be gentle on yourself.

“Rhea: Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love!”

In honour of “Bell’s Lets Talk” Initiative here in Canada I think it’s so important to talk about your mental health and create a community in which to grow and heal.  I’d love to hear from you too; what are some tips and tricks that help keep you grounded and living your best life?  What are some of your struggles?


What is Christmas?


What is Christmas to you? Is it the hustle and bustle? Is it finding that perfect gift and wrapping it up for under your tree? Is it church and candles and the blessings of God? Is it family and food and gatherings after gatherings? Is it cringing and wishing it was January? Is it loneliness and heartache? Is it cinnamon and pine? Shopping lists and concerts?  Is it snowflakes and hot chocolate? Children laughing and counting down till Santa? Is it just another day?

Here’s the thing…This year has given me a rude awakening.  I’ve been thrust into a realm of self-analysis.  I have been left questioning myself, my worth, my life and my why in ways I haven’t had to in a long time.  I cracked, I broke, I cried, I lost some faith, I healed, I grew, I learned, I studied, I laughed, I loved and I changed.  With all that change and growth came a new sort of Christmas for me.

This year I’ve really tried to make the moments matter.  The day to day events as well as the bigger occasions have brought forth new meaning.  We truly are here for such a short amount of time and every second is important.  I want to breathe in every last drop of E and his childhood.  He grows so fast.  Time is always a bit of a villain.  I don’t want to waste anything where he is concerned.  I want him to grow up with so much love he pukes on it!  Memories Matter!  They matter so much.  I reflect on happy times a lot more these days (perhaps that’s the meds talking but either way I do!) and cherish my own childhood memories even more.

This holiday season, in a world of so much chaos, I especially wanted to put more effort into spreading cheer and kindness and love and less effort on ‘the perfect holiday’ and the commercialism of Christmas.  Within this effort I’ve let my house get messy.  I’ve danced in the kitchen to jingle bells a million times a day with E.  We’ve covered our windows with home-made santas, angels, reindeer and snowflakes.  We’ve made snowmen, foraged for greenery, sipped on cider and hot chocolate, made dozens of cookies, visited with friends and loved ones and created crazy chaotic memories.  I wanted to spend more time and less money! In an effort to do this I created a tradition I hope to carry forward for many years…Cousin Christmas!

Right now I have 6 nieces and nephews…they range in ages and interests alike…I wanted to have a day with each of them individually to do some sort of Christmas activity so that they’d get to spend more time with E and to give them a bit of a treat. (Little did I know that I would in fact be given the best gift.). We made an array of projects…bath bombs, grinch cookies, birdseed ornaments, Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with Christmas light sprinkles, tractor track wrapping paper, and apple cinnamon garlands.  (The youngest of said cousins will hopefully get to partake in these memories next year once he’s a bit older plus I’ll have a brand new niece or nephew to spoil next year too!!!). E loved these days…having kids over to play with him is always a highlight and he really likes project days! Perhaps the kids got a wee bit spoiled…more sugary treats than normal and less rules than usual…(shh don’t tell) but I hope more than anything they had as much fun as we did.  These days were action packed and filled to the brim with a lot of excitement and some chaos.  I’m not gonna lie, they definitely tired me out! But they also gave me a serious dose of reality.  Of learning what Christmas in fact means to me.  It’s the moments.  It’s being IN THE MOMENTS.  It’s taking time for each other.  It’s letting some of that OCD slide and falling into childhood again. It’s family. It’s kids and creations.  It’s anticipation. And it’s Love.

I’m encouraging you all to find YOUR meaning of christmas.  Get inspired by random acts of friendship and love.  Take time for each other.  Don’t waste what little moments we have here and now worrying about perfection.  Be Christmas.  Be Love. And be what you can when you can.  Giving memories and giving of yourself is so much more than anything that you can buy and wrap in sparkling paper with ribbons and bows. Once again it has hit me that simple really is the best.

Blog, Mom-ing

Lost & Found


I’m back! After a very long spring and summer hiatus I finally have some reformity and transformity in my life.

I’ve been rather transparent with my mental health journey in the past and I work hard to maintain as much of a balance in my life as I can but I truly needed to practice what I preach and take a good long hard look in the mirror these past months.  Dealing with depression and anxiety is no joke, it’s crippling at times…and it’s a constant work in progress.

I’ve struggled with the decision to go back on my meds or not and after a lot of research and soul searching I’ve decided to try different avenues for now. I fear the side effects of antidepressants more than anything at this point.  What I’ve done instead is perhaps a bit hippy-dippy…I’ve stocked my home with essential oils to diffuse and roll-on, I’ve amped my gut health vitamins and nutrients as well as be more consistent with my multi-vitamins. (Did you know there’s a direct relationship between your gut and your mental health? My regime now includes probiotics AND prebiotics.). I’ve also started to take time 3-5 times a week to study some personal growth “textbooks” (which right now include a lot of Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection” and Sarah Knight “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck).   I’m slowly learning what it means to trust myself and stand up for myself.  I’m a perfectionist in the most ugly ways of that word.  I am learning to be kinder to myself.  Asking for help is THE HARDEST thing for me.  It smells and tastes like failure and I really need to change my perspective on that (once again, practice what I preach!). I have a lot to learn and a long way to go but I needed to take that time to focus on my health.

I’m all about the simple things, the little pleasures and the morsels of happy-inducing that flutter through our lives daily. I had gotten to a place of so much pain, bleakness, guilt, worry, regret and just plain old despair that I couldn’t shake the dark cloud that had made its home over me.   I needed to refocus and get back to a healthier head space. I needed to do this for me and my family. So that in turn led to way less blogging and photographing for the blog (which can I just say has gotten a lot harder with my impatient helper!! Lol!)…BUT I’m back! I’m still working on me but I’m breathing a little bit easier everyday! So the lost has been found.

I encourage you to take the time you need for your own heart and health too!  It’s a day-to-day process and it takes compassion and persistence.  It ultimately starts with you but there are many ways to get help…don’t go it alone.


When the bottom falls out…

Picture this, you’re carrying an extremely heavy load, all tucked into a box. There are a million things in this box.  Somethings heavy, some as light as air.  Your box never changes size, it just gets fuller or empties as life persists.  You must carry this box from point A to B to C etc…now imagine the bottom of that box is beginning to get worn and ragged and is starting to fall apart. What do you do?

In the wake of so many local and beyond local tragedies and excessive loads that so many people I know (me included) are carrying, I felt compelled to write a post and share some thoughts on getting through those really rough times that life inevitably throws at us. Sometimes we are assaulted by life’s cruelties and some people especially seem to have to carry extremely heavy loads.

First and foremost you need to remember ‘you are not alone’.  You really aren’t.  Just like in the box scenario, if the bottom starts to fall out call for help.  Call anyone.  A friend, a relative, a helpline, a doctor…anyone.  You cannot carry that load alone.  It’s impossible, not failure.  Remember that above everything…’you are not alone and nor should you have to carry it alone’.  Just like “A joy shared is doubled,  A struggle shared is halved.” We as humans are not built to do this life alone.  We are meant to live, work, play, and love in packs/groups/tribes.  There are people and resources out there to get you and that load you’re carrying the help you need.  It may not be easy but trust me it’s worth it.     YOU are worth it.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Canadian Mental Health Association: 613-745-7750 (MB division: 204-982-6100)
  • Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: 204-784-4073
  • Your Life Counts: 289-820-5777
  • Manitoba Suicide Line: 1-877-435-7170
  • Manitoba Mental Health Education Resource Centre: 1-855-942-6568

Sometimes in the midst of disaster/tragedy/struggle our minds go into complete overdrive and so begins the cycle of never-ending anxiety and often despair.  Through the years I’ve learned some very basic tools to get me through those really aggressive times, especially at night, when the mind snowballs and won’t shut off and let us sleep, this in turn making for even more anxious days ahead.  Simply put, you need to stop your mind and stop that pattern.  Lots of people use meditation and deep breathing.  I find that what even works more simply is to ‘stop and think of 5 things I can hear’…’stop and think of 5 things I can physically feel’.  It seems so juvenile and trivial but it nearly always works long enough to calm my mind, slow my breathing, and relax my body enough that I can sleep.  Everything seems easier in the light of day.  So when you’re laying there at night and the world rushes in and your box starts to get even heavier, shut it out and think of 5 things…

Once you can stop the cycle that your brain inevitably wants to take you through with anxiety you are able to think clearer and this is when you need to focus on a new mantra of less worry.  Self-talk in a positive way is so extremely important.  Remind yourself that a) you are not alone. b) you can get through this. c) you are worth it. d) it WILL get better. And breathe. REALLY breathe.  Fill your lungs slowly and release that air slowly.  Focus on one thing for one moment. And ask for help.  Please ask for help.  No matter how little or big your struggles are there is someone there to help.  No matter the task or request, someone is there to help.  There are medications, counselling and mental health therapies that DO work.  Keep searching until you find the help you need but don’t do it alone…you need to fix and strengthen the bottom of that load you’re carrying but there are tools/supplies/resources out there to help.

We have to talk about it.  We have to share our loads. We have to reach out and ask for help. We have to be kinder to ourselves. We have to take care of each other. We have to have faith in brighter days ahead.




Travelling with a Toddler…the good, the bad and the ugly!

Blessed.  I am so deeply blessed.  This winter I was lucky enough to get to escape the never-ending Manitoba winter and head south for a couple weeks with my hubby and two year old son.  We planned a 3 day (one way so 6 days travel total) road trip down to visit my parents in Texas and I knew that I needed to be extremely organized and ahead of the game in doing so!  Here’s what I did to get ready for an extremely long amount of quality time in the truck with my kidlet and what worked the best and what was the hardest hurdles!

First off, if you’re planning a trip with young kids (or even just with adults really) I cannot say enough good things about the Utility Totes from “thirty-one”.  They literally saved my life!  I have two of them which I packed to the max and placed on the backseat floor for easy access.  I bought a few plastic baskets from the dollar store to place inside of them to keep things sectioned off and organized.  One utility tote held snacks and the other activities for my youngster.  I was able to keep things super organized and in tact for the entire trip with this system!


I also bought a canvas basket organizer to use for our diaper changing station necessities.  E isn’t potty-trained yet so I wanted to keep wipes, diapers, paper towel, hand sanitizer and hand lotion at my fingertips so that we could easily grab what we needed for bum changes at our fuel and ‘stretch’ stops!  If your child is still in diapers when you travel let me tell you, you have to change their bums a lot more frequently than you would at home…we learned that quickly…oy!


After a lot of research looking for “the perfect” carseat lap desk I decided to make my own for E.  I sewed a small pillow case, stuffed it with batting and glued strips of velcro to it and to a cookie sheet. (I wanted to be able to remove the pillow for washing!). It worked so well.  It was firm enough to play tractors on, to color, to eat his meals and snacks and to read on.  Things I had read about a lot of different styles of lap desks online stated that they were too flimsy and that the children weren’t able to do any activities on.  This homemade version ended up being so much cheaper to make and worked perfectly!


I bought a container at the dollar store that had a lid and a handle and threw a bunch of small plastic garbage bags in the bottom of.  We used this as our garbage can, removing the full bags to dispose at truck stops and then refreshing with a clean bag from the bottom.  This system was so simple yet so essential.  It kept the truck clean and organized!


Onto Activities…I knew that I would need to have quite a few new and interesting items planned to peak and keep my little’s interest for the long trip.  We also have a tv and DVD player in our truck (hello millennials…) and we packed some Disney movies along with Paw Patrol and Curious George videos.

Some activities that I packed that were a hit were:

  • Search and Find Books…the best!
  • Tractor reference Books (including the ever popular Market Book and Auction Books)
  • Story Books
  • Coloring Books with Crayons and Markers..the ‘color wonder’ type a friend gave us were awesome!
  • Sticker Activity Books
  • Re-usable Sticker Boards (Melissa and Doug)
  • Small Tractors (I kept them in a clear ‘lidded’ container which I wrote which items we packed onto the lid so I knew what needed to go back into the box when cleaning up)
  • Whiteboard and Markers

Activites that I packed that were a miss for on the road but great for when we reached our destination:

  • Lego (really tho, what was I thinking for planning this for a car activity??!!)
  • Travel Games (Trouble, Pack of Cards, Dominoes)

I packed a couple small soft-sided coolers for the refrigerated items and had plastic plates (some with divided sections for E), plastic cutlery and one sharp knife to use to use for cutting up fruit etc.  The small snack cups with rubber, split lids came in so handy for passing snacks to E and for other things like holding markers.


Snacks that we enjoyed on the road:

  • Protein balls
  • Mini muffins
  • Hummus and Veg
  • Crackers
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Gold fish crackers
  • Cookies
  • Jerky
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Licorice
  • Fruit, apples and grapes
  • Buns with Sausage or Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Lots and Lots of Water Bottles (Frozen to keep the coolers cold and a large case left room temp.  We would refreeze the cooler packs in the hotel at night) Another thing that works GREAT for keeping your coolers cold is filling empty box-wine bladders with water (just press the spigot button and let water run into the bag) and then freezing them.  This genius idea was brought to us from my parents when we arrived in TX!

We also let E pick out a treat a few times when we stopped at gas-stations.  This was such an easy activity for him that made him really excited and passed the time before and after the stops in the truck.  He’d plan what he was gonna pick before we would stop and slowly devour his “treat” after! And let me just say, let your kid pick the ‘sour patch kids’ even though they are 100% sugar…the faces you get from your little one add hilarity for miles!!!

My little guy has a special blanket and loves his stuffed animals so were sure to pack a few of them for quiet time and if by chance he’d nap.  We also were sure to dress him in comfy clothes and halfway through the trip I even put a plush blanket behind his back in the carseat as he was getting red marks on his back.

He really was a champ and travelled great.  There were a few times where he was cranky from being trapped so long but we’d try to stop and do some stretches to avoid this.  I found that an 8hr drive day was the perfect amount of time (we did a couple much longer days which were hard on all of us).  My biggest advice is be organized.  Have things your child loves to do and get creative with road games (there’s tons of great ideas online for older kids too)…pointing out landmarks, special vehicles (like tractors if you have a farm-nut like us), lights and landscapes.  At two (nearly three) years old E was kept interested in his surroundings.  And when all else failed we would watch “Sing” for the 8th time!! And be flexible!  Your little one is on holidays too…so with that said, we let E have much more snacky food than he normally gets, he got to have juice boxes, special little treats and a happy meal or two from mcdonalds (or old mcdonalds as he calls it) and strict routine was kind of sent wayside (although we did stick to nap time once we arrived at our destination and tried to keep him on point with mealtime eating…bedtime on the other hand was a bit of a disaster!!)


(Checking out the sunset with Noma and Bubba.)

I have to say travelling with a child is immensely gratifying.  I’ve been to TX a bunch of times but travelling with a little one means you are ‘forced’ to check out new locations and kid-friendly spots which ultimately bring out the kid in everyone.  We had an amazing vacation and I’m still reminiscing hard about the memories we made.  Here’s hoping this trip went well enough that hubby will want to take us back again soon (like next year soon??!!). Blessed.  Grateful.  Refreshed. And ready to tackle the rest of this Manitoba Winter! (Although spring is welcome ANYTIME!!)