I’m not myself today

How many of you can say that they always honestly answer that basic question – how are you?  The usual response people give is “fine” or “good.”  But are you really being honest when you say that? Or are you just telling the other person what they want to hear so as to avoid awkward conversation?

May 1-7 is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Having known many people who have experienced mental health issues throughout their lives, I feel it is important that we break the stigma around talking about these issues.  I’m happy to say that my employer is on board with this initiative as well. For the second year in a row, we’ve partnered with Not Myself Today as a means of getting the communication going here in the workplace.  Being an insurance and health care organization, particularly one with nearly a thousand employees here at our head office, it’s important that we be open and honest about mental health.  It’s okay to not be okay.

Many of our employees will be walking around with these mood buttons this week.

Being a Reiki Master, I understand the importance of taking care of oneself, of being mindful of how you feel and when you are feeling unaligned.  Yet despite this, I still have the same challenges.  Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with my job.  The work I do has not changed.  It has not gotten more complex or demanding; yet I’ve struggled with it.  I’ve realized that it’s a mental block that is in place currently.  My moods have been shifting, and I’ve felt down and with no drive.  I’ve lost some of the passion that I had.  I have found little interest in what I’m doing, and I feel it’s beginning to show.  It reached a high point a few weeks ago when I took two mental health days to stay at home and just get away from it all. When I returned to work on the following day, I had a mini panic attack at my desk at 9:30AM… not even 2-hours back to the office.

While mental health days are not always well-viewed in the workplace, I recognized that I needed them.  I needed to take a step back, reassess and find a way forward for my own well-being.  But those two days were not enough.  As part of my realignment process, I decided to take a couple more days this past week, but this time it was scheduled vacation time.  I headed off to do a 2-day silent retreat by myself at a site nearby called La Solitude.  My two days did me a lot of good.  I spent the two days walking through the woods, looking inward and trying to get back on track mentally.  No phone, no internet, no TV, no books.  Just me and my thoughts.  Scary, right?

This is an on-going challenge.  One that I will need to be diligent with and continue working towards finding the right balance for myself.  The couple of days of solitude did me worlds of good, but having now been back at the office for half a day… I can already feel some of the old mental state trying to creep it’s way back in.  And that’s okay.  I just have to be able to recognize it and talk about it.  It’s okay to not not be yourself.  But you need to ensure that you don’t lose yourself down that spiral either.  I’ve identified a few things that will help me on my journey.  I won’t list them here since they are the right tools for me, but not necessarily you.

Any of you reading this now, whether you feel that you truly are good or okay, or whether you’re feeling down, sad, grumpy, lonely, numb, etc… do some soul searching.  Listen to that little voice inside of you and find ways to turn things around.  Sometimes all it takes is to talk to someone.  Or find that one tiny glimmer of light/happiness/joy in your life.  It might be the smile of a child, the nuzzle of a pet, a thank you someone says when you hold the door open.  No matter what is going on in your life, there is some good.  It may not always be easy to see, but it’s there.  When you find it, latch on it it and nurture it.  Help it grow and spread it to others.  Maybe the act of holding the door for that person will be the one tiny glimmer of light in someone else’s life today.  Think about all of the good you can do when we stop focusing on ourselves and spread a little light in the world.

My name is Chris, and I am not myself today.  And that’s okay.




The Reluctant Leader

What makes a person a leader?  This is something that I’ve struggled with for many years.  The easiest definition I could find was the following:

Leader – Google Search

Seems simple enough, but what truly makes a person a leader?  Is it their knowledge?  Their charisma?  Their talent?  There doesn’t appear to be a single all-encompassing answer to that question.  Some leaders have a little from column A and a little from column B; others are purely column A or column B.  And still the rare mavericks have something from another page altogether. Continue reading “The Reluctant Leader”

Day 7 – Happy Birthday Isabelle! (aka The End)

Although this was our third trip to Disney World for my birthday, this was the first year where our dates worked out so that Isabelle would celebrate hers as well.  Isabelle and I are born 5 days apart (well, 1 year and 5 days). I’m the 22nd of August, she’s the 27th.  As a teacher, and due to her return to work at the end of August, we haven’t been able to arrange the trips to allow her to experience the joys of a Disney World birthday.  This year; however, the calendar worked with us.  She only had to go back to school on the 29th, so we were able to shift the dates a bit to get both of our birthdays in. Continue reading “Day 7 – Happy Birthday Isabelle! (aka The End)”

Day 5 – Animal Kingdom

Pop Tart Breakfast Sandwich

Following our day off, our next stop was Animal Kingdom.  Before leaving for the park, I finally got to try something that I’d heard about.  We were staying at Pop Century, as we always do, and there was a new addition to the menu… The Pop Tart Breakfast Sandwich.  This item had apparently been available in the past when people requested it, but never on their published menu.  But that had changed.  What more could one ask for in a breakfast?  Eggs, bacon and cheese sandwiched between two strawberry Pop Tarts.  While I wouldn’t eat this daily, it did make for a fun experience.  Plus, it gives me a great story to tell people.

Continue reading “Day 5 – Animal Kingdom”

Day 4 – A “Day Off” at Disney Springs

One thing we do on every visit to Disney World is to schedule an “off day” mid-visit.  This allows us to rest up a bit and just relax since the other days are what you could call loaded.  We typically leave the hotel around 8AM and often return around/after midnight.  So we need a little downtime to recharge and get ready for the second half.

Continue reading “Day 4 – A “Day Off” at Disney Springs”

Day 3 – Epcot

Epcot was the next stop on our trip.  This was a break from our usual pattern as we typically would visit Epcot on our first day.  It was also a chance for us to continue with the new adventures.  Earlier this year, the Norway pavillion’s Maelstrom ride was re-purposed into a Frozen ride.  Knowing that this was one of the busiest rides in all four parks, we opted to make a bee-line directly to the ride on our arrival first thing in the morning.  Despite the fact that we arrived very shortly after the park opened, we arrived to find the line snaking all the way around the little courtyard.  In all, we ended up waiting in line for over an hour for this ride, but it was well worth it.  You get to immerse yourself in the world of Arendelle, with all of the characters from the movie.


After the ride, I was able to try something I’d wanted to try for some time, but had never taken the time – School Bread.  The Kringla Bakerei at the Norway pavilion sells these delicious, coconutty and custardy items.  I’ll talk more about them some other time when I focus on the food at Disney World.

We always enjoy walking around the World Showcase.  Visiting the 11 pavilions.  It’s the day we walk the most, by far.  I could stroll through the park all day long.  In the span of a few hours, you get to visit Mexico, England, Norway, Japan, China, France, Italy and more.

Apart from the World Showcase, we had a chance to do a character encounter with Baymax from Big Hero 6.  He winked at Isabelle.   Our night ended with supper at the Japan pavilion, eating at Teppan Edo.  Since it’s a hibachi restaurant with tableside grills, we were seated with some other people, including a non-verbal Down Syndrome child at the opposite side of the grill.  He loved shrimp. And I mean LOVED shrimp.  It was adorably cute.

Once the meal was over, we strolled through the pavilions yet again as they have a whole other feel to them in the evening.  We found a nice spot around the World Showcase Lagoon from which to watch the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  This is one of the best fireworks displays in Disney World, and definitely a must-do for anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity.

And thus ended our third day.