Sisterhood Spotlight – More Love Letters

The Weather Vane Sisterhood is no stranger to mental illness – we have that badge in the bag and we wear it for all to see. We don’t hide our crazy, we advocate.

A little while ago during one of Julia’s bouts of PPD, I was trying to find a way to make her feel more loved, and supported from our family. That is when I came across More Love Letters.

Their mission as it is posted on their website is simple – to make love famous. Imagine going through a rough patch, anything from a sick family member, to depression or PPD if you will. Now imagine while you are going through this tough time getting a flooding of love letters. Letters of encouragement, letters of hope. Just a little note to let you know that you are not going through this alone, and a complete stranger is thinking of you. That is exactly what More Love Letters is.

It is a blog where weekly posts let the anyone who wants to know who they should address love letters to and their background story. You can nominate anyone as well – all you need is to take the time to write an email or a letter to the ladies of More Love Letters and tell them why you think they deserve more love! Once you see who needs your love letters it’s up to you to write what your heart desires. As of late I when I have been feeling down, I write what I would want someone to say to me. Something as cheesy as “Don’t stop believing” to more sentimental. There is something so uplifting by telling a complete stranger that you are in their corner and something so heartwarming knowing that you made someone’s life a little brighter with your words.

After writing all my thank you cards, I still have some umpteen note cards left. These cards as slowly being sent all over the world with notes of love and support. I encourage everyone to join this movement and start sending love letters.

The world is a pretty crappy place sometimes. It’s scary and dark, and sometimes it’s hard to find the love and light in the everyday. But if you can be that love and light to someone else then suddenly you have a little slice of optimism yourself.

The other day I was exhausted, it was a horrible day at work and all I wanted to do was to come home and sleep. On my walk home I had made a plan, home, bath, bed. Which is exactly what I did. I came home, drew myself a bath, and then got into my pj’s. I turned on my computer to watch some much deserved Netflix, but when I opened my computer, the last page I was on was More Love Letters to their recent letter nominations. I came across a nomination for a couple who had been together for 36 years. They fell on hard times with their health, he with a stroke and her with lupus. Their children nominated them for the bundle of letters. Suddenly I felt guilty – I had a rough day sure, but I have my health, I have a roof over my head and food on the table – and yet I was grumpy and complaining.

I decided then to write a letter to this couple. I wrote telling them that their love for each other and their years of marriage was an inspiration. I wrote to them telling them I was thinking of them and sending them love from afar during this bump in the road. My problem of a bad day at work seemed so small and insignificant compared to the troubles that these two were going through.

I encourage you to take time today to write a love letter to those in need – make it a weekly routine. During your Saturday morning coffee, grab a pen and a pad of paper and start spreading the love!

~ Love, Jacqui


How to survive weird work hours

Along with having pretty random jobs, I have also had pretty random hours for shifts.

At one point doing school portraits full-time and working at a gas station part-time I would be up for hours on end and sometimes days with only small naps in between – and let me tell you, that doing an overnight in any kind of work is hard, and requires certain key things in my opinion. So I give you my…

Four Must Do’s to Survive Weird Work Hours!
1. You must find something to keep you AWAKE: I am talking caffeine people! I know this one is pretty self explanatory, but honestly, I used to go for the energy drinks, and still in a pinch I will pick one up if I really need the boost, but you can crash with energy drinks, especially if you are not used to drinking them. Coffee. Tea. Whatever is your thing? DO IT. Keep those beverages coming!
2. Sustenance to keep you from the overnight shift hang-over: The first time you EVER do an overnight your brain feels so funky the next day, I find that you can counteract some of the funk the next day by drinking plenty of good fluids and eating healthier options throughout the night so your brain doesn’t feel quite so bad. You may be depriving your body of sleep and depriving it from a routine that you have been in pretty much your whole life, you should not deprive it in other areas when it is in it’s hour of need.

3. Always have a task: The trick here is to not think about the fact you are up, you think about what you can do next. I find I can process and do more things in the middle of the night than throughout the day if I just stay on task and keep moving.

4. Have some awesome people to work with: Whenever I worked overnight at the gas station, my boss would be in super early in the morning, and she was awesome. Even the guys delivering fuel in the middle of the night were awesome. At one point I even started recognizing the middle of the night regular customers. It helps that even in the job I’m in now when I work evenings, I still get to hang out with some awesome people.

Now these are my must do’s when I work weird hours, what are some of yours?

~ Andreah

Wonderful world of work

So there a couple things you should be 100% aware of when it comes to me… I am not normal. Working in an office environment is not normal for me.

This is so more me.

This is so more me. (Photo credit to UCS and their photo of their studio, which makes me miss college and the studio that I got to use there.)

I have never worked in a normal office environment, and I never thought I would ever be working in a cubicle, let alone being excited about it. I am more the type to have weird, in-between jobs that you never even thought someone would have, and I have had quite a few of those…

Have you ever heard of someone working in a turkey farm? Or know of anyone putting away books at the wee hours of the morning?

No? Of course not. Because no sane person decided that they would deal with turkeys, or put away heavy books at warp speed (or as fast as humanly possible) at 5 a.m. Besides the point of this post though, this is about my job now.

This is the most normal job I have ever had. I work roughly 8 hours a day. I come into work, use a punch clock and then punch out when I leave. I have never had a job like this, and although I have never seen myself in this kind of job, there is one thing I love about this job.

The people are AWESOME.

All of them are so unique, and I have made so many new friends that I can hardly count them all. Even my supervisors are awesome and very helpful people and my manager is really funny and nice.

Now, I haven’t told a lot of people at work about our blog at all, so I am so not trying to butter them up through this. It is just nice to be able to like the people you work with and work for. I have found some really good friends in my colleagues while I have been here, and although I am not going to mention any names, they know who they are and they know (from me telling them on a constant basis) how truly awesome and sweet they are.

They make it easier to come into work on my bad brain days because I know I will smile at least once from something ridiculous someone says or does, or that I say or do, and at work I am one of the more random people.

I am truly blessed to not only have a job but have a job where I actually get along with and like the people.

I know this is just a temporary position, but for the time being I have a found a place in the company full of awesome people, and that works just fine for me.

~ Andreah


A Call for Change

Before I get too far into this post, I would like to preface it with this:

I have the utmost respect for the police, the people behind the badge, the sacrifices they make that I simply could not and for keeping us safe. Seriously. I mean no disrespect to the honour they stand for, the lives they give up to serve and the horrors that I can only imagine they have seen as first responders and the mental health weight they carry from their role serving our communities. I especially mean no slight to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the line of duty.

I am not a cop, I have never been in a situation that required my response rate and ability to make life altering decisions within seconds and I have no idea what it is like to be faced with situations like this.

I would also like to preface this with not being or claiming to be God and therefore unable to truly know all of the events leading up to and during the horrific incident that occurred in LA on Skid Row this past Sunday. This is not a post about race. This is not a post against our brave men in blue. This is not a post taking a stand or a side with or against anyone.

That being said, it is a post about this:

What I have a problem with are the four, fair-sized men, armed with multiple weapons and professional training – some of the worlds best and finest as we are told – losing control of one man. One man that while/shortly after being tazed to the ground was apparently able to manage the energy and strength to wrestle an officer’s weapon from them – in some accounts he only reached for it and did not actually have hold of the weapon. What I have a problem with is the man who was fatally shot was known to officers as was his history and struggle with mental illness. What I have a problem with is the way it seems lives are ranked in order of importance in a situation such as this – determining that the homeless man deserved to die for resisting and struggling with FIVE shots being fired at him, into him. That the officers chose to shoot FIVE bullets into an unarmed man. I have a problem with this being the solution. FIVE shots. Over what one witness claims was the repeated request for the removal of his tent. Here’s where I had to ask myself; How do unarmed nurses, orderlies and doctors deal with mentally ill patients that are clearly out of control or physically threatening them or another patient? And how do they stay safe without killing them? They tactically take them down by each grabbing a limb – in ignorance of never being through it, is this not part of basic training for the police?

I do not understand where our society went wrong. When this type of response became acceptable. When this level of violence, of force was a reasonable reaction to this kind of situation. When did this story become more and more familiar as we become numb to it. And while I do understand that the media tailors the main stream news to whatever cause or conflict they would like us to be fearful over at the moment, I also understand that the role of an officer is to ‘serve and protect’ the people of a community – it seems the many kinds and characters it takes to make up said communities is sometimes forgotten, specifically the mentally ill. When a man pleads for his life stating he can’t breathe, or a child raises their hands in surrender, or a homeless man struggles with police in broad daylight, yet their lives are still swiftly taken, I cringe that this is a world where I live. That this is the reality of our society today. That we agree this is how a ‘crime’ should or even can be punished.  The extremeness of our society scares me, as it should you.

Our jobs, regardless of earthly occupation should we ever be so humbly reminded, are to take care of each other. To look after and watch over one another. For the lions to protect the lambs – may they be children, mentally ill, senior, challenged in any way, your sibling who is overwhelmed, a friend that struggles with addiction, the hungry that need to be fed. Our roles as souls, as human beings, are to love one another and help each other thrive, heal and LIVE.

Our roles are to find peace and harmony, not perpetuate and accept fear, life-ending violence and judgement.

What made this life worth less than any other?

What made this life worth less than any other?

My heart hurts because it seems there has been very little conversation about what happened on Sunday. It hurts because on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death, this society seemed more interested in starting actual arguments over the colours of a dumb dress then having any real conversation about our obligation to fix what we have accepted and therefore, have broke. My heart hurts that I am even a little worried at how this post is going to be received, because I know the majority of people don’t want to hear the truth or talk about the hard shit, or deal with the reality of where we are headed as a society. We would all rather talk about the colours of a dress and pretend that what is happening is just what they show us on TV and not what is occurring in our own backyards and in the streets of our own communities as it hits closer and closer to home.

As I said earlier, I am not God, nor do I claim to be – all we have is a bit of unclear video. I was not a direct witness to the details of this past Sunday, nor do I think we will ever have all of the information, as we see in cases such as this. I do not claim to have the answers, but I do have the feeling in my soul that this level of violence and response is unacceptable and that if is not addressed, curbed and improved upon, it will only continue to evolve beyond any solution, if it hasn’t already.

~ Toni


Get what you need

I don’t always have good days, but since being back they have been more frequent, which is nice.
1My one counselor told me to find something that puts a smile on my face and make it a part of me.
2One of those things for me are inspirational sayings.

They’re little sayings usually on photos that capture your eye, and quotes that can spur you forward.
3Every once in a while I need these little signs to help me and give me an up.
4I do my best, but I feel like it is never good enough.

I feel like it isn’t going to get better.
5But wait, the universe is vast, so vast we literally don’t know what it all is or what makes it all up. We don’t.
6I know I can do this, and these little things and sayings in my life help and give me some form of peace, even if it’s only for a little while.
~ Andreah


I wanna talk! You should wanna talk too!

Our family is no stranger to mental health. Julia tells her truth over and over, and she will continue to tell it. She is talking! I love that she talks!

Today I want to tell you about some other truths – I want to talk.

Let’s talk about a co-worker, no she is more than that, a friend who had a horrible weekend. Why? Because her boyfriend’s best friend is currently watching over his ex-girlfriend, a mother of two in the hospital because she tried to take her life and is now brain dead. It affects us all.

Let’s talk about a sister who has battled PPD three times running. Let’s talk about those who still to this day criticize the actions of mothers who just need help to make it through, whatever help that may be.

Let’s talk about a father who battled depression so deep he locked himself in his room away from his family to try and battle it all by himself. It affects us all.

Let’s talk about over 19 million people affected by anxiety disorders. I personally know five of them.

Let’s talk.

Let’s remove the stigma.

I wanna talk! Today tweet, retweet, blog, Facebook bring attention to mental illness and mental health! Let’s make today more successful than it was last year! Let’s continue to talk about it.

This shouldn’t be a one-day topic, this should be an everyday topic. Today is Bell Let’s Talk day.

For my sister, my friend, and my father – LET’S TALK!!!!!!!!

~ Jacqui


Let’s talk.

The Sisterhood is pro-mental health, as everyone should be.

Mental illness affects everyone.

Mental health is imperative for everyone.

Tomorrow, every time you tweet, include the hashtag #BellLetsTalk – 5¢ will be donated to mental health education.

When you’re on Facebook tomorrow, share images from the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook page – 5¢ will be donated to mental health support.

If you’re on the Bell network (in Canada), every time you make a call, local or long distance, or send out a text tomorrow, 5¢ will be donated towards stopping the stigma surrounding mental illness and starting a conversation about the part you can play in universal mental health.


January 28 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Let’s talk. 

~ The Sisterhood


A new year, a new hope

New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing. Of course, I have goals, but they have nothing to do with a January 1st deadline.

I have dreams, but those are literally farfetched things that won’t happen (e.g. Grow wings and fly to Brazil).

I do have hopes. So here is my list of hopes for the New Year.

I hope I won’t fall down too often, and if and when I do, I hope I won’t beat myself up too much when I pick myself up and keep going forward.

I hope I will be able to let go of the little things and enjoy the moment without worrying so much.
1I hope I can see the bright side of everything and everyone this year.
2I hope I can just be happy, and stop hurting myself, or letting others in to hurt me.

I hope I will have a full day of just smiles, and laughter.

I hope I can grow closer to my sisters.
34I hope I have new adventures this year! Amazing adventures.

I hope I don’t lose sight of myself and my weirdness, because it’s what makes me me.
5I hope that I don’t wonder once this year, ‘What if?’
6I hope for this year to be better, in work, in life, in love, and I hope that I brought the tools from last year forward, so I can do these things.

I hope Joe and I keep getting better with every bump and bruise. I hope we keep becoming more awesome.

I have hope that everyone’s years will be better, and that we all will have an amazing year ahead for families, all our friends and us.

~ Andreah


Ringing in a new you

‘Twas the season of cookies and eggnog, rum and champagne, sleeping late and long, staying up until tomorrow, and eating whatever whenever however with whomever. It was the season of mirth and good cheer and fun and family and friends and appetizers and chocolate and shortbread and brunch. It was the season of merry and plenty. And now it’s the season of SHUT IT DOWN.

There are commercials about it, about stopping the over-indulgences and getting ‘back on track’. They remind you that you’re still awesome, but hey, stop being so crazy and start getting back in line.

There are deals (OH THE DEALS) of 20, 30, 40, 50% off gym memberships, gym equipment, bootcamp classes and find-your-abs-under-your-keg plans.

There are the great sell-offs and purchases of people’s abandoned treadmills and stationary bicycles and weighted-yoga balls and workout clothes. Wanna make a buck? Sell your dusty workout stuff. Wanna get in shape for cheap? Buy other people’s dusty workout stuff.

And everywhere you turn are people helping you make the resolutions that will set your year on FIRE and give you a bikini body in three easy moves in just five minutes every day.

It’s exhausting. And it’s unrealistic.

Can you get a skinnier, toner, more fit you? ABSOLUTELY. You can. You will if you set your mind and body to it. You will if you make a plan that’s reasonable and realistic and if you really want to.

But can you do it the way you’re being sold it? Probably not. Because they’re not selling you change. They’re selling you a NEW YOU. They’re selling you a promise that they have no intention of helping you achieve. It’s mean. And it’s a vicious cycle that happens every year.

For me, 2014 was the year I solidified my love of running and of exercising. It was the year I really started writing again. It was the year I fought alongside my man for my marriage. It was the year we really got into the groove of being a family of five. It was the year we took control of our spiritual health and made a huge change to where and how we worship. And it was the year of rediscovering bits of me that I had lost in the fog of pregnancy, newborn schedules, breastfeeding and depression. It was a year. And now that I’m facing another year, I wonder what I’d like for 2015. What will it look like? What will we accomplish? What will I accomplish?

Instead of resolving to do a bunch of things (2014 was not the year of being able to magically create more time), I thought I would make a list of things I’d like to stop. Things I’d like to knock-off, cut-out, and generally quit. It seems strange, since statistically this is generally what happens on January 10, the day of quitting all your New Year’s resolutions, but for me, I’d like to get a jump-start on jumping ship.

1. Quit talking trash about myself. I eat a cookie, I eat five cookies, I eat the rest of the cookies and not only does my stomach hate me, my brain is a royal jerk about it. It berates me and tells me in no uncertain terms that I suck, that I’m a failure, and that I’ll never be thin and pretty and lovely because ALL THE COOKIES. In truth? I shouldn’t eat so many cookies, but I shouldn’t be a jackass about it either. It happened. It’s over. It’s time to remember the good things I did do and move on.

Voice in your head

2. Quit wishing away the day. I’m not saying I should stop and smell every damn rose, but I should stop wishing for nap time and Ben time and bedtime and then alone time. I should start enjoying the time I’m in. I have the energy and space and now the emotional and mental capacity to do it, and I’d like to stop living in my depression-era head space. I’d rather live here because I can. I fought long and hard to enjoy this moment. Now I need to stop wasting it.

Living for the weekend

3. Quit glorifying the busy. Oh, I’m a real winner at this one. I can tell you, in great detail, exactly how busy I am. But in reality, I’m as busy as I MAKE ME. No one else. Me. I am busy chasing children, sure, but am I chasing them effectively, efficiently, in the best way for them and me? Probably not. So, I’m gonna stop being a martyr of the schedule and start being the freaking empress.


4. Quit coming up with new excuses. I feel like I’m stocked up for excuses on why I can’t/don’t want to/aren’t able to write my book. There is no reason why I need new and inventive ones for the roster. The old ones don’t hold water and work just fine for being weak and ridiculous.

Just Do It

5. Quit avoiding running. I stopped running when I started having weaning depression because from where I sat on my comfortable couch inside my warm house in my bare feet and pyjamas it was SO HARD. And then dear friends Heather and Bethany asked me what they could do to help me get back to being happy-brain me and I said, I need to run. Bethany instantly said, Tomorrow? And we did. I went. I ran. And when I got back I was blissed out on the high of it. I love running. It is in me now. And I need to stop abandoning it just because my brain forgets how awesome it is. I will be running until I am physically unable. Period. Enough trying to run away from running. Toni, Bethany, and another good friend Andrea and I will be doing a half-marathon in May just to solidify my commitment to quitting running avoidance. It should do the trick.

oprah-winfrey running

What are you going to quit this year? And what will you ultimately give yourself in the process?

~ Julia


I didn’t know

I’ve adopted a mantra in recent years, brought about by my mental health journey and my miscarriage heartache, and my living a small life full of big joy as a stay-at-home mom: Tell your truth. Tell it all, no matter how hard, awkward, painful, or real.

It’s a scary mantra, for sure, and is not for the faint of heart. I know many a mother, all strong, incredible women, who refuse to admit to more than a select few of their journey with mental illness or miscarriage or hardship. That talking about their truth is scarier than the truth itself. That kind of quiet, though, doesn’t work for me. And so, for me, I tell my truth.

I talk about dark days and low lows. I talk about broken brains and medicated pregnancies. I talk about dead babies and wide chasms of grief. I talk about rough patches and the fight of marriage. I talk. I talk. I talk.

I’m certain there are people who wish, sometimes or all the times, that I’d just shut up. (Sometimes I am those people.)

I also know, though, that there are people who have felt a relief that I’m a truth-sharer. That it gives them licence to share their truth – with me, with their doctor, with their partner, with themselves (sometimes, the hardest of all truth-sharing). That it gives them hope because they are not alone in their scary truth. That they are not crazy. And if they are crazy, then there’s hope because other crazy people walk among us and are living seemingly regular lives. (Note I didn’t say normal lives…there is no hope for that, let me tell you! 😉 .)

In keeping with my truth telling, I have another confession for you: I am suffering weaning depression. 

I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

I know tons about PPD and PPMD, about how they are jerks and liars and life-taker-overs, and how you have to be mega strong to fight and win over them, but that winning is possible and that having more babies after them is possible (See?! CRAZY.) and that life after is possible.

But weaning depression? Really?!

Things have been kind of ridiculous at the Mills’ house lately. A little over a week ago, I cut this guy off from my boobs:

Noodle night, anyone?

Noodle night, anyone?

And it wasn’t as hard as we had feared. And it wasn’t as tricky as it seemed. And in magical turn of events, he sleeps through the night now for the first time in 15 MONTHS. 

Guys, we won the lottery. I weaned Isaac at 15 months and there was uninterrupted sleep waiting for me as a prize. KICKASS.

But then? Then? Then I started to fall apart.

As in, the past week and a bit have been brutal. And crap.

Of course, there’s the sore boob problem. The we’re-still-making-milk-what-the-hell-are-you-doing problem. The we-look-like-we’re-surgically-enhanced problem. The if-Ben-so-much-as-looks-at-me-the-wrong-way-he’s-dead problem. They really, really hurt. I think I’m turning a corner with this, but I can’t be sure because I can’t think straight because MY BOOBS HURT. (Cue all the people who’d wish I’d shut up…it’s okay, I get it. And I still love you.)

But there’s this other problem that I don’t remember happening with Sophie or Lillian’s weaning: depression-like symptoms, rearing their ugly heads, as if I had never fought them and beat them all those months ago. As if I weren’t still medicated. As if I weren’t still working all of the steps and tools and processes that saved my life and continues to save my life today.

As if.

I feel like I’m itching in my skin again – I can’t sit still, yet I can’t do anything because everything is overwhelming and hard again. I want to scream at the babies all the time even though the hijinks and antics they’re pulling don’t bring me to my knees anymore. I want to run away from home and become a writer and a crafter and a knitter and an anything-but-stay-at-home-mom-er. I want to eat all the chocolate and butter and bread the world has to offer (Read: bring me a piece of buttered toast slathered in Nutella and you can pretty much have whatever you want). I want to eat nothing because I’m tired and I don’t want to cook or prep or clean. I want to sleep until there is no more sleep to be had. I hate sleeping because I’m having trouble falling into it and staying in it (cruel irony, here – the moment I’m given full nights of sleep is the moment I lose the ability to sleep.)

I’m struggling. And I hate it.

At first I thought I was crazier than normal, like my period was on its way (SHUT UP, JULIA!) and I was PMSing (apparently, symptoms after weaning can feel like a brutal case of PMS). And then I thought I might be pregnant (I took two tests…no fourth miracle post-tubal-ligation baby for us!). And then I decided to Safe Google (i.e. not random googling, educated googling – I went to sites that I knew did less panic-inciting and more researching and educating).

Weaning depression has not been documented in many studies, but it has a lot of anecdotal evidence behind it. Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress mentions it on her blog and states that through her years of running her website she has “heard from many women whose postpartum experiences were just fine until they stopped breastfeeding.” The Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness website also covers this topic, saying that “a large percentage of Moms report experiencing mood changes related to weaning, and some Moms dip into full blown depression after weaning their babies.” I also found some fellow truth-tellers (like her, her and them), who bravely shared their stories and gave me hope that I’m not simply crazy and that there are other survivors out there.

I sit here stunned. Stunned that this crappy brain of mine is giving me a crappy experience again. That the life I was kicking ass at is crumbling a little again. That my ability to handle things with little-to-no help has all but disappeared and I’m left reaching out my hand to Ben, asking him to forgive the anger and crazy that’s pouring out of my mouth all the while begging him to let me lean on him (he said yes, by the way…because he’s awesome…and a life saver).

I didn’t know this existed. Had no idea.

But, now, it’s part of my journey. It’s part of my truth. And it is in this vein, this spirit that I share this with you, even the ones that wish I’d stop being an oversharer already.

Feeling low after weaning happens to a lot of women. There is a theory that it is related to the dropping levels of oxytocin, the happy-hormone that is at an all-time high while breastfeeding. The low can feel as awful as a mega bout of PMS or as bad as depression. It should be treated with grace and seriousness and help, as all mental health issues should be.

And it’s happening to me.

If you are experiencing this, or have experienced this and didn’t know what it was, or are thinking about having babies or breastfeeding babies, or if you know someone who has boobs who might use them one day to feed their babies, I’m sharing my truth in hopes that it will lend relief, understanding, and support to the person who feels lost and needs it, just as those brave women that I found as I Safe Googled my way through yet another gift of motherhood. I’m hanging in there, so have other women, and so can you.

~ Julia