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Staying Connected during the Pandemic

As we face a global crisis with COVID 19, we have all been asked to abide by social distancing. Isolation can be particularly difficult for those who suffer with depression and anxiety. Here are a few tips to help us stay connected.

  1. Text your family a friends to see how they are doing. We can all support one another by acknowledging our concerns and providing words of encouragement.
  2. If you are able, offer to help someone who is vulnerable. Perhaps you could pick up some groceries for a senior or another at-risk person who be unable to get to the grocery store or pharmacy.
  3. Other ways to connect are through social media such as messenger, Skype, Zoom, Whats App or Face Time. Since we can’t visit our family and friends in-person, technology allows us to see their faces, their smiles, and hear their voices, almost as if they were sitting in the room with us.
  4. We can still say Hi to our neighbours and maintain social distancing when out for a walk. For example, you can stand at the end of the driveway and chat with someone who may be sitting on the front step. A cheery “Hello, how are you doing?” could make a difference in someone’s day, especially if they live alone.

If you find your depression and/or anxiety worsening, take advantage of the telephone helplines and internet resources. A good resource in Ontario is connexontario.ca. Visit them online to be directed to the appropriate professional help in your area. If you are in crisis contact the Greater Toronto Area Distress Centre – https://www.torontodistresscentre.com/ – text 45645 – call 416-408-4357

The response time may be delayed due to the high volume of calls during the pandemic. You will find a list of resources in the “Resources and Where to Find Help” tab of the Everyone Matters site. If you are thinking of taking your life, call 911.

In support of “Hearts around the World” which has been spreading on social media, stay connected and stay safe.

World map cutted from white paper and red felt hearts on the wooden background. Love and peace concept. Flat lay, top view, copy space, mock up, toned

Guarding Your Thoughts

The New Year is a time for numerous resolutions like losing weight, getting fit, or changing jobs.  However, it can be also a time of year where anxiety and depression can be exacerbated.  The bright lights and music from the Holidays have passed, the visitors are gone and credit card bills start arriving.  In addition, this January has had very little sunlight which does not help our mood. 

One thing that has helped me cope is to guard my thoughts.  It is easy to go to the negative when we are feeling low.  Don’t let your thoughts define your situation.  Here are a few tips to guard negative thoughts.

  1.  Be mindful of what you are absorbing through media – television, news, twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  It is rare that we hear about “good” news on the news channel.    It is not a good way to start you day when the first thing you expose yourself to is the news which may be filled with stories of murders, car crashes, robberies, natural disasters and war.  I would love to see a news station that features only “good news”.  As for social media, it is easy to become doubtful or even jealous when you see pictures of people’s tropical vacations or cruises.  Remember, we don’t know what else is going on the lives of these vacationers.  They could have battled a serious illness, suffered the loss a loved one, or be recovering from an abusive relationship.  Things are not always how they may appear on the outside.
  • Associate with positive people.  Negative people can suck your energy and may influence your thinking.  Set parameters if there are negative people in your life that you need to interact with. For example, if a phone conversation turns negative, find a reason to get off the phone.  It is ok to say “no” even if it is a family member or close friend.  We are all responsible for out own stuff and we can really sink our own boat if we take on everyone else’s stuff.  It is one thing to be kind and caring when someone is going through a tough time.    However, if they continuously dump on you, it can be toxic to your own mental health.
  • Avoid the gossip chain.  Judging others does not make you a better person.  Gossip is a poison that can be as contagious as an infectious disease.    If you have nothing good to say about someone, better to say nothing at all.
  •  Pause before responding. Lashing out in the heat of the moment can lead to regret.  If you are feeling volatile, betters to take a time out and think things through before reacting.
  • Involve yourself in activities you enjoy. 

Wishing you all a positive 2020!

Wednesday May 27th and May 28th, 2020

To register, please complete the information below and return this form along with course payment   to Everyone Matters via email pat@everyonematters.ca.

Please Note: If  you have a bad cough, fever or contagious infection you will be asked to reschedule.

Course Date and Location: 2-day course Wednesday, May 27th and Thursday, May 28th, 2020 – 8:45 am to 4:15 pm. Chartwell Valley Vista, 600 Valley Vista Drive, Vaughan, L6A 4H2

Fees: $210.00 plus HST ($237.30).  The fee includes lunch and light refreshments.  Payment Must Accompany This Registration Form. Payment Options:   e-transfer (please email answer to security question to pat@everyonematters.ca Cheque payable to Pat Thacker. Please mail cheque and registration form to Everyone Matters, 116 Mill Street South, Brampton ON L6Y 1T3 PayPal – send email contact information to pat@everyonematters.ca to receive PayPal invoice. PayPal accepts VISA and MASTERCARD. NOTE: Registration confirmation will be emailed to participants upon receipt of payment. Everyone Matters reserves the right to reschedule the training due to low enrolment or unforeseen circumstances.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Course Date - Click in the field to reveal calendar (required)

Phone Number (required)

Address (required)

City (required)

Province (required)

Postal Code (required)

Organization Name (required)

Dietary Restrictions/Special Needs


Wednesday, April 1st and Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

To register, please complete the information below and return this form along with course payment   to Everyone Matters via email pat@everyonematters.ca.

Please Note: If  you have a bad cough, fever or contagious infection you will be asked to reschedule.

Course Date and Location: 2-day course Wednesday, April 1st and Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 – 8:45 am to 4:15 pm. Chartwell Valley Vista, 600 Valley Vista Drive, Vaughan, L6A 4H2

Fees: $210.00 plus HST ($237.3).  The fee includes lunch and light refreshments.  Payment Must Accompany This Registration Form. Payment Options:   e-transfer (please email answer to security question to pat@everyonematters.ca Cheque payable to Pat Thacker. Please mail cheque and registration form to Everyone Matters, 116 Mill Street South, Brampton ON L6Y 1T3 PayPal – send email contact information to pat@everyonematters.ca to receive PayPal invoice. PayPal accepts VISA and MASTERCARD. NOTE: Registration confirmation will be emailed to participants upon receipt of payment. Everyone Matters reserves the right to reschedule the training due to low enrolment or unforeseen circumstances.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Course Date - Click in the field to reveal calendar (required)

Phone Number (required)

Address (required)

City (required)

Province (required)

Postal Code (required)

Organization Name (required)

Dietary Restrictions/Special Needs


In Search of a Perfect Angel!

As Christmas approaches, I have been looking for an angel lawn decoration with white lights.  About 3 weeks ago there was a sale at a local retailer and I found a lovely one.  Last Monday while raking leaves, I learned it was going to snow the following day.  I thought, “Oh, better get my angel assembled”.  After two futile hours, and several attempts of putting her together, I could not make her stand securely.  She was very wobbly and I knew that one gust of wind would send her crashing to the ground.    Needless to say, she was returned and I continued my quest in search of the perfect outdoor Christmas Angel.  After checking several internet sights and retailers, it became apparent that most of the outdoor sparkly angels were flimsy and would not withstand the December weather.  Feeling disappointed, I wondered if I would ever find my angel.  And then it dawned on me.  I don’t need a piece of plastic with sparkles and lights to be my angel.  I have angels all around me; in fact, so many, it is impossible to name the all.

You see the word “Angel” has different meanings depending on the context. In Wikipedia, the term “Angel” is described as a supernatural being in various religions and mythologies.  In Dictionary.com one meaning of “Angel is a person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, as beauty, purity, or kindliness. I will be referring to the latter definition in the context of this blog.

One of my angels used his leaf blower to blow my leaves to the curb and another cut my grass.  Two more angels drove me to medical appointments. Another angel texted me every day when I was undergoing medical treatment.  And then there is the angel who lit a candle for me in every cathedral that she visited while travelling in Europe.  A special angel stood by my side during 2 critical illnesses and gave me reassurance and hope. 

I am grateful for the angels in my life – the ones in my family, my neighbourhood, my circle of friends and my church.  During this Christmas Season, I encourage you to be someone’s angel.  Here are some ways to help the less fortunate:

  • Visit someone who is lonely, perhaps an isolated senior.
  • Donate to a charity such as a shelter.  They are always in need of warm hats, scarves, mittens and toiletries.
  • Buy a toy for a needy child.  There are many organizations that have toy drives this time of year.
  • Volunteer in a soup kitchen.
  • Make a meal for someone who is ill or less fortunate.
  • Donate to your local foodbank.

Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas filled with Peace, Love and Joy. 

One Day at a Time

During the last quarter of 2018 I found myself stuck in circumstances beyond my control.  A routine mammogram saved my life and I had surgery in November.  Needless to say, the waiting for results, referrals and appointments was psychologically draining.  The unknown was tormenting for me.  My mind took me to the dark side where I started to think about my mortality and yes, my bucket list.  Once I got my results, I was able to move on.  I am fortunate to have stage 1 breast cancer with a good prognosis.  I begin my radiation next week for 3 weeks.  What I found interesting about having cancer is that it is easier for me to talk about it than mental illness. I was comfortable reaching out for supports to family and friends and posting updates on social media.  I received a great deal of support and made some wonderful connections. 

Even though I am an advocate for mental health education and breaking down barriers , I still feel influenced by the stigma of having a mental illness and have often kept my struggles with generalized anxiety disorder and depression to myself.  It’s time to be transparent.  Just as having cancer is not within my control, neither is having a mental health problem.  This winter has been challenging for my mental health due to concerns over my physical health, a major reduction in sunlight and taking a break from work.  My mind has too much time to wonder.  These are some of the management tools I am using to cope:

  1. A Happy Light (SADS light). These lights which simulate natural sunlight can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy.  Everyone morning I sit by the light with a coffee and read.  These lights are more effective for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I find it is having some benefit for me, even though I do not have this diagnosis.
  2. Nutrition.  After the holidays of overeating and indulging in too much sugar, I am trying to return to healthier eating.  This is not easy for me as I love food and turn to it for comfort.  One day at a time.
  3. Exercise. I have been walking for up to 1 hour 5 times a week.  It really gets the blood moving, gives me more energy and helps to clear my head.
  4. Spirituality.  I heard on the news this week that people with spirituality do better with their cancer treatment than those without spirituality.  For me, this has been a great help for both cancer and depression.  It brings me peace, hope and comfort. 

None of us know what lies ahead in life.  What I have learned from these experiences is to reach out for help and support.  We do not have to suffer alone.  Looking forward to the next chapter in the Book of Pat.  Taking 2019 one day at a time.

February 6th and 7th, 2019

To register, please complete the information below and return this form along with course payment   to Everyone Matters via email pat@everyonematters.ca

 Please Note: If  you have a bad cough, fever or contagious infection you will be asked to reschedule.

Course Date and Location: 2-day course

Wednesday, February 6th and Thursday, February 7th, 2019.  CHARTWELL Valley Vista retirement residences
600 Valley Vista Drive, Vaughan, ON  L6A 4H2  Time: 8:45 am to 4:30 pm.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Course Date - Click in the field to reveal calendar (required)

Phone Number (required)

Address (required)

City (required)

Province (required)

Postal Code (required)

Organization Name (required)

Dietary Restrictions/Special Needs


Fees: $210.00 plus HST, (includes participant manual, lunch and light refreshments. Lunch is not provided)Payment Must Accompany This Registration Form. Payment Options:
  1. e-transfer (please email answer to security question to pat@everyonematters.ca
  2. Cheque payable to Pat Thacker. Please mail cheque and registration form to Everyone Matters, 116 Mill Street South, Brampton ON L6Y 1T3
  3. PayPal – send email contact information to pat@everyonematters.ca to receive PayPal invoice. PayPal accepts VISA and MASTERCARD.

NOTE: Registration confirmation will be emailed to participants upon receipt of payment. Everyone Matters reserves the right to reschedule the training due to low enrolment or unforeseen circumstances. 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Course Date - Click in the field to reveal calendar (required)

Phone Number (required)

Address (required)

City (required)

Province (required)

Postal Code (required)

Organization Name (required)

Dietary Restrictions/Special Needs


The Bucket List – Do it Now!

The Bucket List is something that many people make when they are facing a difficult diagnosis.  Things that one may see on a bucket list may include taking a trip, sky diving, learning to swim or skate, taking up a new hobby, seeing a live play or musical, catching up with old friends and spending more time with family. I would like to share the message below from an unknown author.

There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.

One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.

TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.

This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.

It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.

Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.
…author unknown

So Thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, I realize how lucky I am to be here to celebrate with family and friends.  Last year I had a cardio workup due to a strong family history of heart disease. Earlier this week I underwent an investigative angiogram  to look at the condition of my heart as prior tests were inconclusive.  To my dismay three serious   blockages (99%, 90% and 70%) were discovered  and repaired with stents.  I had know idea I had been a time-bomb ready to go off at any given moment.

This has been a major AHA  moment in my life.  We are all on borrowed time in this world.  I have taken so much for granted and have often had the mindset that if I don’t feel like to doing something today there will always be tomorrow.  I encourage all of you to appreciate today – the sunrise, the air we breathe, the rain, the wind on your face, the beauty of nature, and of course the people who touch our lives along the journey of life.  Every day is a gift. Cherish it!  Tim McGraw’s  song “Live Like You Were Dying”  pretty much says it all!

 

Wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking Care of Ourselves

Have you felt like you were on hamster wheel running, running, running and never resting?  Well that can be a common scenario for many of us.  Running between work commitments, family commitments, and in general “life” commitments can take its toll on our mental and physical well-being.  Ask yourself “When was the last time I had fun”? or “When was the last time I did something for me”?  As little as 15 to 30 minutes a day of “you” time can really help recharge our batteries and boost our coping skills with whatever life throws at us.    Here are some ideas to help you relax.

Take a nice warm shower or bath.
Listen to some relaxing music.
Explore meditation.
Try some yoga stretches and breathing techniques.
Play some sports.
Go for a walk or run.
Read a good book.
Laugh.  Watch a comedy show or even try Laughing Yoga.
Make a good home cooked meal.
Get a massage.
Spend some time in your garden.
Play with your pets.
Take you breaks when at work.  Breaks can help to clear our minds.  It is better to work smarter than longer.

Remember to put yourself on top of your list.  If you sit at the bottom of the list you are likely to wake up one day with no “gas” in your tank.  Self care can make you a happier and more productive person.

Embrace the Day!