Let’s Get Real


This post contains sensitive material, and may be a difficult read for some folks. Read on with caution.

I’ve been drafting this blog in my head for what seems like a year. In reality, it’s been nearly six months. Emotionally, it feels like a lifetime.

With two cold coffees staring ominously at me in my half-dark kitchen, with the dishes in the sink and a make-shift lunch of bologna on a white tortilla, I figured now was as good as any to finally get real. Real about a topic that most of us shy away from.

We’ll hear a lot of talk about it over the next day or so. And then it may fade into oblivion just to be addressed again next January as a call to action.

But the fact is, we need to talk about it everyday. We need to talk about Mental Health.

I’ve written before about what it’s like to be the person without a mental health illness living with someone who does. I’ve written before about having been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and having overcome many of the struggles. While you are never fully cured of the flashbacks, the triggers or the initial emotional stress, eventually you come to cope and survive living with PTSD. In my life, I’ve learned that my diagnosis has played a role in my identity. But identifying with PTSD does not compare to identifying living with someone who lives each and every day in a war with their own mind.

Imagine. Using that wonderful, creative muscle/organ/tool in your head, imagine. All of those memories you’ve got locked away in that beautiful brain of yours, all of its functionality – your person, your one self – is now a traitor. You count on your brain for the subconscious physical tasks of your body – breathing, lifting, smiling, blinking, sleeping. You count on your brain for your swift survival instincts – when to not touch something hot, when it’s safe to cross the street. You count on your brain to remind you to eat, to send healing neurons when you’re sick, when it’s time for sleep and to wake you when it’s over. You count on your brain to retain the very information that you need at a moment’s notice, or when you’re reminiscing during some idle Tuesday.

But your brain is now the enemy.

The trouble for those of us without a diagnosed mental illness is that we won’t get it. And that we won’t understand.

We can’t. And ultimately, we shouldn’t.

But what can we do? What can we do when they’re at home, not answering the phone and your immediate instinct is to rush to the apartment just to make sure they’re not cutting, or bleeding out on the bathroom floor? What can we do when we’re rushing out and running errands and suddenly a Facebook message stops you in your tracks? That they’re not okay. They’re broken into little pieces, sobbing uncontrollably in a bathroom stall at work and unsure how to get themselves back on track?

What can we do?

We know that they love us. They love us. They hate themselves. And it’s not even that they hate who they are. They hate what their disease is doing to them. And they accuse of us of not understanding, or taking them seriously, because no one does. No one gets it. These are the things they tell themselves.

They sit in little rooms and talk with people with major degrees who attempt to tell them what little white pill to take at what time and how many times a day and assure them that this will help them cope.

They listen quietly and intently across from someone who wants them to talk about how they’re feeling, and are they working on those coping skills they talked about last week?

Our loved ones are right as rain one minute – joyful, laughing, eating, smiling, parading their charisma in all their lovable glory. And then – snap – they are sullen. And sad. Tearful. Mournful. Full of regret and self-doubt. They are churning on the couch, unable to sleep, and incapable of turning off the noise. They are watching TV to distract from the one thing they thought they could count on the very most – their brain. They are battling the very thing we all count on the most.

And you wait, and watch. You snuggle and reaffirm. You lay beside them, stroking their hair. You quietly tuck them into blankets and prop them onto pillows. This isn’t the flu, and it’s not a cold. It’s not something you can cure with dry toast and gingerale. You can’t promise them it’ll be over soon.

What you learn when you live with someone with a mental health illness is that it’s not purely mental. It’s so much more. It’s physical; emotional. It’s watching them sleep for days, then watching them heave over toilets and beg for mercy with tears pouring down their cheeks. You watch their hands shake. Their knees shake. Their lips quiver. You watch their eyes redden, see the back of their hands brush away their shame from their eyes.

For a week, you’ll see them brush their hair, and take daily showers. Get suited up, and march out to own the world. Then the universe crashes and suddenly they’re curled up in the fetal position on the floor.

What can you do? Because you know you can’t understand. And you can’t tell them you understand, because it’s not the truth.

Our loved ones are in there. They really are. Behind the pain, the sadness, the madness, the manic states and the mental cool downs. They’re in there.

When they’re lucid, and happy, and lovely and wonderful and when they’re tired, and scared, and worried and challenging – they’re in there. And all of these things makes them who they are. You have to decide who you are. Are you ready?

I thought I was. And now, months later, I realized I so very the opposite. I thought I could just tuck him into bed on the bad days, and not get cross when our plans would fall through. Buy candy when he was having an off day, and soak up the good days, like cherished, borrowed time.

For most of that, it’s true. When he’s present, and awake and aware, I do snag those moments, those days, to dance in the kitchen. To go out on a date. To make plans and talk about our future. To make grocery lists and invite him to read my work. I offer him my dreams, goals, desires, fantasies, and schedules. I give him everything I’ve got in those precious, precious hours. Because an attack could very easily be imminent. And when it strikes, I suit up right alongside him. And I battle with him, in the only way I’ve learned how.

The attacks can last a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.

Deep breath in. Breathe with me, babe. Slowly. It’s okay, I’m right here. Concentrate on the sound of my voice. I’m not going anywhere. Are you warm enough? Do you want to watch a film? Do you need me to be quiet right now? Do you want me to lay down with you? Are you going to be okay while I’m gone? Blow up my phone while I’m at work, it’s okay. You can message me all night. I’m right here. Who’s my future? I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.

The attacks can be scary. And violent. Never towards me, but unto himself.

“Some days I think, what if I just slashed my throat? Then I think, no, that’s too dramatic. Just slice a vein in your ankle. No, that’s not fair to her. She’d have to find me. So I just went to sleep.”

And then I’ll find out that he became so fed up with the battle, that he took matters into his own hands. Literally. Hearing him bang his head against the wall as if he could jumble his thoughts back into place is the scariest part of all.

I’m in the minority of lucky ones. Because my partner’s severe attacks are far and few between. But for many, many others, these attacks can happen monthly, weekly or daily. My heart bleeds for victims of these cruel, and unrelenting diseases and for their partners who just never know to whom they’re going home with.

What can we do?

We can get real about Mental Health. We can. We can finally step up to the plate and admit that we know absolutely nothing except how to survive. And lean on one another. Lean on each other. In support groups. With our partners. We can do much by just being present.

Both Jekyll & Hyde love me. How do I know for sure? Because Hyde has never hurt me. And Jekyll is always concerned that Hyde has in one way or another.

I’ve got my scars from his disease. The fear of leaving him alone when he’s having a bad day. Those are probably my deepest wounds of all. How do you walk away when your partner is falling apart? How do you forget what he was like when he was manic, loud? Or hyperventilating? You’ll always remember the time that he said I’m afraid I’m letting you down. Or when he told you I’ll never be the man you deserve. His relentless insecurities during his anxiety attacks haunt you days later. You wonder – am I enough for him?

Here’s my answer. Trust.

When he can’t trust what’s happening in his brain, he’s got me. And I trust that he knows that. What I can’t understand, I trust that my instincts will be there when he’s falling apart. And I trust that he’s not going to hurt himself. I trust the medications he’s taking and I trust our relationship. I trust that we have a working partnership and that he knows we’re in this together. He trusts that I’m not going to give up on him. And I trust that he knows we’ve got this. Together.

So let’s get real about Mental Health. Stop being afraid of it. These are good people. Wonderful people. Hard-working, honest, loving people. And they deserve our respect. The respect to say: I don’t understand, and the strength to say: But I am here for you.

Thank you to Aaron for letting me share his story.

“When You Say Nothing At All”

I have to be up in a few hours.

It’s more than likely the reason I can’t sleep.

I thought at first it was because I’ve had a gnarly head cold the past couple of days. Or it’s because tomorrow I snuggle my babies off before school.

But the truth is, I simply have too many things jumbling around and when I can’t sleep, a writer does what writer’s do best. They write about it. It, in this collective case, is all the things I thought I should, or could, say but I’ve found something more powerful than words – when you say nothing at all.

“You say it best … when you say nothing at all,” Alison Krauss

Tonight, I caught up with a good friend who let me in on a new musical series she’s launching. An opportunity for people to sit and just get lost in the music. A space so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The series would feature the voice of the musician. The notes of the song. A room with such dense acoustics, the audience is permitted to only take in what the artist has to offer. The sounds of silence.  I love it.

What is it about silence that we so desperately seek and crave?

The fact of the matter is that we fill our everydays with traffic. From meetings, to lectures, to classes, to parenting, to Social Media. We are absorbed by the cackling of the television, and the frequency of the dial. We jump to a notification from our phones. And we leap to grab that call. We are immune to silence. We are consumed by sound, and noise, that even our own thoughts get washed away in the conversation of our daily lives.

What happened to silence?

And then it becomes more than that. It becomes the gentle caress of a loved ones fingers brushing your hair as you both huddle in for a good night’s rest.

It’s the unspoken sanctity of a little one crawling into your lap when they’re not feeling well; you immediately understand their signals of security.

Remember the time her breath on your neck caught the attention of your entire body? Remember the flutter your heart felt when his hand touched yours?

Silence is power. Without saying anything, you can speak more in silence than a laureate could sonnet in a thousand read couplets.

Silence is deadly. You can reveal your character without uttering a spoken word just by the expression written in your eyes and on your soul.

Silence is necessary. When the axis of the world turn out of place, some nights you’ll beg for silence to drown out even the most remote of thoughts from your weary heart.

For me, the silence is resonating. I lose myself in the hours where I have only myself to rely on for conversation. In the days I’m stocking shelves, changing over the laundry, driving down the 401, working on show prep. Some days, I don’t speak out loud at all. The TV never turns on. I don’t crank out a drop of music.

Some days, I invoke silence like a spirit I’ve called home to console.

And what can you do with silence?

The answer is everything. You can find yourself. You can mediate your thoughts. You can reflect on your character. You can make decisions, and you can decide not to make decisions at all. But mainly – you can be quiet and let the traffic around you mute away to a dull roar that barely whispers.

You can sit in silence and hold on to the last thing that is yours – you.

In a world that hangs on your every word, demands your attention, calls for your commands, and desperately waits for the next thing you say – find silence. Find a way to say nothing at all. Find a way to reserve it for yourself. Give yourself permission to bask in the silence and the sunshine and the state of peace you so rightly deserve.

You might find that you say, speak, sound much louder when you say it with silence.



Day 1 – You Are Not For Everyone

Thought I’d lead off 2018 with an optimistic headline.

You are not for everyone. Sounds negative, but reality sometimes feels like that.

When I first got into my career, I never really gave the opinions of others much thought. Not to say I didn’t care. The opposite, in fact. I cared a lot. But I hadn’t really considered how quickly I’d find out that people didn’t like me. And people really didn’t like me. A few, anyway.

My caring about how others perceive me, or feel about me, is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I’m cautious and concerned for people. Genuinely. I want to make people happy. Laugh. I want to remember birthdays. I want to go for dinner to catch up. I want to be humble. And kind. I want to be someone who makes an effort to not be offensive. I want to be likable.

On the other hand, if people don’t like me, it’s all consuming. This is the curse. What did I do wrong? How can I make it better? What did I say? What did I do? How did my mouth get me into trouble this time? And how long will Istew over this? (Generally, the answer is until someone new doesn’t like me.)

But here’s why this blog is relevant today. Day 1 of 365. January 1st, 2018.

It’s relevant because this year, I’ve resolved to make a real, genuine effort to accept when people simply just don’t like me.

Because the other danger of working hard to make people like you, is that you lose sight of yourself. You start shedding your true colours to chameleon to their community. You start to sacrifice your principles, your values on the altars of simply being liked. And when it doesn’t work out – because it won’t work out, it can’t – you’re giving away free rent in your head to someone who, gasp, doesn’t like you anyway. And you know what else? They’re not thinking about you, either.

These are tough, unlikable truths.

But what is likable? Knowing that there is a mess of people out there who do like you. Who do care about you. Who allow you to be who you are freely and without reservation. Your weirdness aligns with theirs. And you don’t have to work on making them like you. They just do. That’s likable.

For me, I want those who tune in to my show to have a great time. Laugh with me. Joke with me. And for those off the air – my partner, my kids, my family, my friends – I want to be present for them; not locked away worrying about who I couldn’t collect in my sphere of friendships. Or who I’d had previously thought were friends. Or could be friends. Or could simply find me likable.

Not everyone will like you. You are not for everyone. But for some, you’re everything. Resolve to remember that. đź’‹


So It Wasn’t The Year You Were Expecting

When I closed my eyes on the night of December 31st, 2016, my life looked exceptionally different than it does today.

There is some comfort in consistency. I’m obviously still a Mama. I’m clearly still a radio kid.

But I went to bed very alone that night. And very determined to wake up to a better 2017.

On the morning of New Year’s Day, I thought I’d have it straightened out. My marriage and soon to be legal separation. My goals and priorities. My objectives for the year. I thought I knew – for the most part – what 2017 was going to look like.

For starters, I was going to get out of my current residence; one where my ex and I had started to plant our roots. In less than six months, I’d have the kids and I outta the house that took me days to plow the driveway; weeks to mow the lawn. Multiple jobs to pay the rent and utilities. Now it was going to be over. The future looked bright.

But within a few weeks of the New Year, I met an illusion. With red hair and a promise. I abandoned what I thought I knew in favour of a new destiny. New Instagram photos. Renewed fire and passion in my heart. Something that had been buried but now reignited.

The illusion evaporated a mere few months later; and like a hangover, I groggily reached for the Advil and set a new path.

When I reflect back on 2017, the year seems little more than a spiral; a vortex of muddled emotions strung on tight rope of all that held dear. What was best for the kids? For me? Where did I go next? What happens next? After all I’d struggled to achieve over the previous decade, how did I end up back at the bottom again, yearning to see the light?

Family and friends carried me through the summer months. They broke their backs, lifting the weight I was unable to hold up alone. I am indebted to each of them. They focused for me, while I tried desperately to regain my footing.

Professionally, the year rolled along with new and exciting challenges and opportunities. However dark my personal life became, work became the veil that I could hide beneath. An escape from reality. The adage reversed; I strove to not bring home to work. For much of the year, I was successful. For part of it, not nearly enough. I try not to live with regret. I regret merging my personal life with my work life; and sometimes being too blind to see the difference.

I lost my TV show this year. It’s tough to translate how I feel about not volunteering anymore. I had been a part of Rogers TV off and on since 2002, and consistently since 2010. It was bittersweet. Packing up my vinyl from the set. Deleting the socials. It was surreal. Had it really happened at all?

The year held various victories for me. For each misstep, a lesson learned. For every point-your-finger-and-ask-why, a chance to do it better next time.

My kids went from grade to grade this year. One started high school. One turned the year-long milestone in her relationship. One headed off to Grade 6; the new Queen Bee in her school. The kids – the three of them – have grounded me into the woman I so hope I am. The one they see me as. The one who perpetually tries harder every day to be the Mama they so richly deserve.

I met Aaron this year. And cliches be damned – for what he and I have tackled, worked through, accomplished, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been together longer. Our first date was tribute bands and beers. From that night forward, we forged a path that has been complete with peaks and valleys, gullies and waterways. The least this has been for either of us is easy. And yet – we’re walking into 2018 hand in hand. I continue to treasure this man who’s become my best friend. My rock. The year seemed impossible at times. He became the voice of reason when the noise of the world threatened to drown out every rational thought I thought I had left. New Years 2018, will look different again, I think.

But what was the real lesson of 2017? If that’s what we’re supposed to take away from the previous year, if we’re supposed to reflect on what we learned and how to make it different for the year to come, then what was it for me? What did I take away from a year I became so bitter during? So angry during? So betrayed, hurt, frightened, alone, afraid, impoverished by?

I learned I wasn’t anything to anyone by stretching myself so thinly that I could only be somewhat to some people.

I was so consumed by what I considered misfortune that I was entrenched in my own misery. I was half a person. Half the time I could hide how frustrated I was. The other half I spent screaming like a wild animal (and that’s both literal and metaphorical).

And before it did take over my life, I had one last card in my hand. And it turned out to be the Ace.

In November, I gave it all up and left it all behind. My Facebook. My home. My hometown. My phone number. And my pain.

In 2018, I’ll wake up in a new apartment, in a new city, with my three wonderful babies. In 2018, I’ll remember that it doesn’t always happen for a reason you’re supposed to understand right away. In 2018, I’ll resolve to let it go sooner, to stop lurking in the corners of self-pity, to refuse beating myself up emotionally over the things I can’t change. In 2018, I’ll remember that 2017 nearly broke me. More times than once. But phoenix and ashes, right?

And while we’re on the topic of seeing the good – I did see the Dixie Chicks in 2017. I surprised my Mama with Tim & Faith tickets for her birthday. I surprised my Kid C with Katy Perry, introduced Kid B to Rascal Flatts and took a trip to the city with Kid A to see Kesha. I also lived on the beach, covered the Much Awards, interviewed dozens of artists, danced, laughed, and sang with multiple friends and family.

Balance. Good with the bad. Rotten with the great.

And when it became too much – when the scales were tipped so far from my reach I could do nothing more than to jump with both feet on my side of the teeter totter – it was time to let it go in a big, massive, life-altering way.

Wishing you all the best for 2018. Whether it becomes the year you expect, or not. 💋

Entertainment Around The Region

promotionsLots going on this weekend as we lead up to Valentine’s Day!

Tonight – celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Hillside Inside! The 4 day festival kicks off tonight downtown in the Royal City. Feast your ears on rad artists and musicians as you dream about Hillside this summer!

Also this evening – Rhapsody Barrel Bar is back with their Women in Music Showcase. Great food, excellent song, and tonight features Lori Yates!

PLUS – get prepared to hear Major Tom call Ground Control from his tin can – KWHYDRO is presenting Classic Albums Live at Centre in the Square! These folks will take you through David Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust – note by note!

And if it’s the laughs you seek – well, Blackball Comedy is featuring their Anti-Valentine’s Day All-Female line up TONIGHT in Cambridge! Incredible comics roasting the love holiday and featuring special guest headliner Erinn White.



  • The Bluemoon:
    • Vanyah in the Tree Room; King Roller in the Blue Room!
  • Dallas
    • I’ll be hosting Ladies Night!
  • Maxwell’s Concerts and Events
    • Spoons!
  • Rhapsody Barrel Bar
    • Pretzel Logic
  • KW Boathouse
    • Magnetic Revelators with Jillian Elizabeth
  • The Order
    • Underground Bass with Marty McFly


  • Delicious Date Night with Chef D
    • Kitchener’s Farmers Market
  • Comedy:
    • Queer and Feminist Comedy Presents: Jess Bealiu & Natalie Norman
      • Open Sesame



  • Ethel’s Lounge
    • Elliot and the Audio Kings
  • Maxwell’s Concert and Events
    • Bob Marley Tribute
  • Rhapsody Barrel Bar
    • Initials
  • Jane Bond
    • Boiler Room: The Dilla Edition
  • Kitchener Ontario Stake on Strasburg
    • Stake Dance!
    • Playing the hits of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s


  • Jim Gaffigan
    • Centre in the Square



  • DogLoversDays Indoor Dog Event at Bingemans in Kitchener
    • The 2ND Annual DogLoversDays Indoor Dog Event at Bingemans in Kitchener…BRING YOUR DOG! “Doggie Social event of the Year”!
    • Tickets sold at the door – $10 and under 13 is free. Part of proceeds are shared with OVC Pet Trust
  • February Dog Trim for Rescue at Pet Valu in Elmira!
    • Join us Saturday, February 11th for a nail trim to support Save Me Rescue!
    • Becky of Scrubbles Pet Wash and Spaw will be here offering $5 nail trims from 12 noon to 3pm.
    • Please call us at 519-669-1350 to make your appointment today. Walk-ins are welcome, but may be subject to a short wait between appointments.
    • THEMUSEUM’s annual FUNdraiser is BACK!
      Saturday, February 11, 2017 | 8:30PM

      Dress up and indulge in a high-energy, disco-themed evening featuring live music from Bee Gees re-creation band at an ALL NEW secret location. Buy your tickets before January 1, 2017 and receive access to a free Learn to Do the Hustle & Gin Tasting evening in partnership with Dixon’s Distillery on January 25, 2017! For tickets visit THEMUSEUM.ca, and for exclusive lounges and sponsorship opportunities, contact: RSVP@THEMUSEUM.ca

Got something coming up I can promote for you? Drop me a line! 

Socials: @careonair 
Find me on 570 News, Daytime & Music Tonight (Rogers TV), Explore Waterloo Region

Entertainment This Weekend!

Still looking for what to do tonight and tomorrow?

TONIGHT: The Grand River Blues Society winners Silvia Dee and the Boyfriend are having a fundraiser at the Blue Moon in Petersburg. The band was hand-picked to represent Kitchener in Memphis, so be sure to drop into the Moon and drop a few bucks into the hat.

Plus – Alice Cooper fans, tomorrow night at Maxwell’s Concerts and Events you can feast your ears on the Eyes of Alice: a tribute to the godfather of Shock Rock.

And Shawn Kellerman is performing live at Rhapsody Barrel Bar.

TOMORROW:  The Stagg Band is at the Duke of Wellington, Amberwood performs at Maxwell’s Concerts and Events and you can round out your weekend with Pete Temple and the Cornerstones Sunday at the KW Boathouse.

Don’t forget tomorrow is TRI-CON KW! It’s Waterloo Region’s annual Cosplay, Interactive Experience and all things nerd convention! Special guests include the stars of the Canadian TV series, Killjoys and new this year is the Underground: Masterclass EVA Gauntlet! Tickets are still onsale now. Don’t miss out. It all kicks off at TheMuseum tomorrow in Downtown Kitchener.

COMING UP: KWMP is presenting Suessical the Musical in February and Drayton Entertainment is getting ready to debut Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in March at the Dunfield Theatre. Tickets for both shows are now on-sale.

Entertainment This Weekend

From my Around the Region Report on 570 News:

First weekend of 2017 and you’ll be busy. Promise!

Get out of the cold and into Victoria Park – Honorah plays tonight at the KW Boathouse in Kitchener. Just up the road, Must Stash Hat takes the stage tonight Bobby O’Briens in Downtown and if you take a quick left, you can stop in and catch Romeo Sex Fighter taking over Rhapsody Barrel Bar!

In Uptown Waterloo, you can join the folks at Beta for DJ Blend for tonight’s CLOSING PARTY, and across the street you can hit up Starlight for Fresh Fade Friday featuring DJ Flash and Surreal on the tables for the best in old school jams and hip hop.

Don’t forget – this weekend is the Wedding Trends Bridal Show at Bingeman’s and there’s also a FREE SKATE tomorrow afternoon at the Cambridge Ice Centre kicking off at 3pm.

Plus – Mayor Berry would love to see all of you Sunday afternoon in Kitchener City Hall for the New Year’s Levee. Admission free carnival games for the entire famjam. It starts Sunday afternoon at 1:30.

As always – I’ll be on-hand tonight as your MC at Dallas alongside DJ Kris.

And don’t forget – this Monday on Music Tonight we’re featuring Alysha Brilla! Tune in! 10:30pm.

Have an amazing and safe weekend!

Please send your listings to musictonightfans@gmail.com to be included in my weekly updates! 

Around the Region – heard Thursdays & Fridays on 570 News

Entertainment Updates – Thursdays on Daytime; Rogers TV Waterloo Region Cable 20

Music Tonight  – Mondays at 10:30pm on Rogers TV Waterloo Region Cable 20
What’s On – Quarterly Blog on Explore Waterloo Region