AND JUST LIKE THAT…THE MUSIC STOPPED by Patrice McDonough

How many guys, single, over sixty and living with schizophrenia do you know of who could fill a church at their own funeral, complete with a choir and a kilted bagpiper!! Remarkable right! But at St Augustine’s of Canterbury Anglican church, on a beautiful summer’s day in August 2017, a full congregation of friends and family had come to show their love for my brother Terry.

Terrence Dillon McDonough
  1953-2017

Can one live a meaningful life with schizophrenia? Was he loved? Did he love?

Terry lived with the tyranny of mental illness. He remained connected to those who would have him, by phone calls, visits, emails and finally any way he could, to stay in touch with those who had meaning in his life. He attached intense significance to coincidences and dates. He even communed with our dead relatives.

It was of no consequence to persuade Terry grandma was dead. Instead hearing him report back on details of Chou Chou, her poodle, and grandma’s health was more interesting and less confrontational. He went to every funeral from his past and knew all of our birthdays. This is no small feat, considering he was third born in a family of nine siblings.

Often an important gift from Terry would be an email of a voiced-over rendition of Willy Nelson or James Taylor. Before his breakdown, in the late 1970’s, he was one of the first computer nerds!  He always sent a little something to show you he was thinking of you and he cared. His self-taught musical talents kept him amused and us too. In the three short apartment years on Bayview, Terry joined the choir at St Augstine’s, where he made friends and helped out with the gardening.

My intention is not to romanticize mental illness.   My brother, Tim, reminds me; “It’s not all good!!”  Around the time Terry had his first psychotic break, he lost all of his friends, his job and was restricted from seeing his wife and his daughter. He never met his daughter formally.   He subsequently ended up living on the streets for over 20years.

Our father was a mental illness denier!! He thought all Terry needed to do was to straighten out his ‘crazy logic’ and ‘pull up his socks’!

Dad with Terry, his namesake. Cute!!

There was no mention of mental illness in those days. I am referring to the early eighties, where people were referred to as ‘a little odd’ or they had a ‘nervous breakdown’. He chose to refuse his meds. The medicine made him dopey and unable to live fully. In those days, living indoors brought out his paranoia. Thus he chose to live in the open air, in a field, rather than any place with a roof or a place full of ‘crazies’, as he put it.

I often wonder how he would have fared today knowing what we know now about how to treat and diagnose mental illness. He was a bright, talented guy, robbed of his health by a disease no one knew how to treat.

This fall I went to the St Joes/Michael Power reunion to reconnect with classmates from my year. There was no one from my year.  Instead I was recognized as Terry’s sister! I heard great stories of his glory days in track and field. One friend, Paul Gilkinson, told me that as soon as he saw it was, McDonough & Glynn, in the starting blocks, he knew his fate would be a distant third.

Terry had a big story and he impacted many. He was our canary in the coalmine. His humanity was a reminder of what could happen to any of us.

Sadness, fear, numbness and anger, we felt all of these emotions, in varying degrees, when we realized our brother had a disabling mental illness that would never allow him to fulfill his dreams. And so we learned to just love him on his terms. His bad luck gave us the opportunity to open up to our compassion, our empathy and to have an understanding for ‘the other’.

We used to talk about all being in the same boat and that ours had a leak in it. The McDonough dark humor, it allows us to distance ourselves just a bit from the problem, thus lessening its hold on us. I can’t imagine facing mental illness without my coping strategy, called humor.

There is no hiding schizophrenic behavior…no veil or filter of politeness and pleasantries. He believed one of my sister’s boys had the devil in him and so he refused to visit anymore. She had been incredibly supportive of Terry and at this point was a bit relieved to hear his proclamation.

We all put forth great efforts to do what we could to make things as smooth as possible for him. Frustrating yet rewarding.  Stubborn, irrational and downright self-destructive behavior, were qualities we all had to deal with when helping our brother. The reward of knowing you did your best to make things better outweighed the downside of Terry’s lack of insight for your feelings

His hardship opened up our compassion to be kinder to each other

Our big Irish Catholic family is a mini society unto itself or more like one big community.  In that we are fortunate. Everyone settles into his or her role. There is no ignoring, ‘the other’.  As my sister Jane, puts it: “We are like a box of Crayola crayons. There is not one color better than the other. If you remove one, then you don’t have a complete set.”  We are all interdependent upon one another in ways only each of us knows in our hearts.

Tom’s 50th Fort Henry:                                         Terry, Erin, Jane, Patrice, Maria, Tom, Connie

And then, one day, just like that, one of our crayons was taken. The music stopped. Now we are eight.

We knew something was up when my sister, Erin, tried to reach him and there was no response. The superintendent of Terry’s building relayed the inevitable.The fact that the Ikea catalogue had not been picked up from the front door for days and no music could be heard through the walls, were warning signs of no life within. One lady, whose son used to jam with Terry, noticed there was silence where there used to be guitar playing and singing.

The harsh reality of living in his field with colo-rectal cancer for years, came to an end when my sister, Erin, and her boys trekked out to Finch & Keele to help Terry dismantle his camp. Thanks to family help and medical intervention, Terry’s last three years were filled with indoor comfort and purpose. He was able to ‘live the life’, and make happy choices, while recovering from Cancer surgery. He had gathered so many friends in his short time, living independently, in his bachelor apartment overlooking Mount Hope Cemetery.

In our family culture, we know how to behave around death. We talk about grief and share our mourning with each other. We have had lots of practice. Our brother, who went to everyone’s funeral, was going to have a damn fine send off! We planned a funeral Terry would have been proud to attend. In fact, the minister agreed to include a self-recorded version of the Irish Blessing, rendered in an Irish accent. So, in fact, Terry was there, in spirit!!

My heart is filled with gratitude for those who offered their generosity of spirit and compassion towards my sister Erin and I while planning Terry’s celebration of life. From the funeral director, to the pastor, to the choir and even Terry’s choir mate, Jamie, who piped the coffin in and out of the church, you gave us gentle leadership.

Big families, big surprises!! My sister, Maria, had kept in touch with Terry’s estranged daughter, Kate. Imagine meeting your brother’s daughter at his own funeral! So many hugs and tears. The girl cousins couldn’t be more thrilled to add a new family member to their mostly male clan. Both Kate’s parents suffered from schizophrenia. Is it no wonder she has gone into genetic counseling?

We were all a little more comforted having her there. Kate was grateful to hear all the endearing funny stories about her father.

I will no longer have the excitement of spotting the canary in the coalmine, wearing his infamous yellow raincoat all around town. Terry’s life dimensions were seamless. He talked with everyone, alive or passed. He was entertaining, full of grit and possessed a curious spirit.  Judging from the tears and the stories that day, I’d say he was loved and did love.  Our rainbow of colors shines a little less brightly, but we are grateful for his colorful legacy.

Terry staying connected

 

Spring Fashion Forecast 2015 – Workwear to Weekend #2

Spring Fashion Forecast 2015 Marsal pantsuit #3

Get your Fashion Game On – Groovy Baby!

SFF 9-5 Girls 70's homage as inspiration for trends #12

We’re all pretty thankful the hair has not come back in style…nor the makeup. The clothes have a different spin, but the fun loving florals, fringe & maxi skirts have made their reappearance in 70’s fashion. One of the most popular Spring trends for 2015

If you have been noticing Denim in all manner of styles, that would be part of the trending everyman ‘blues’. Dark denim jeans are often paired with a lighter denim shirt. Add a denim shirtdress to your wardrobe and you’ll be comfy & on trend!

SFF chuky black sandal #9Jonathan-Saunders-Spring-2015

What could be more comfortable than the return of the chunky heel & platform shoes. A must have for the season!

When you & your girlfriends join us at SIP Wine Bar for our interactive Fashion networking nite, Carmine has agreed to let us decorate with  a disco ball & 70’s music. Nostalgia, oh yeah!!

 

If any of you gals would like to model the outfits, generously provided by Sense Of Independence & Poor Little Rich Girl, please contact me so we can make arrangements. As some of you may already know, part of my manifesto is to use Real women as models. Just like the Dove Beauty Campaign! So don’t be shy 🙂

Finally, compare the images of the three ladies, Lily, Dolly & Jane (remember?) with the ones below.  Both feminine & fun. We have come a long way with style, a more self conscious effort to individualize our look.

I welcome your input for this event! If there is something you wish to add, let me know. It’s all of you who make the party!

More tips of Spring Fashion 2015 to come.  Don’t miss your chance to get in on the early bird discount .

https://springfashionforecast2015.eventbrite.ca

https://www.pinterest.com/patricemcdonoug/fashion-finds/

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 2.37.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 2.36.50 PM

Spring Fashion Forecast 2015 – Work Wear to Weekend

Sex and the City 2

This weekend we turned the clocks forward! And that means longer evenings, thoughts of shedding layers and new Spring fashion. Ahhh, a breath of fresh air!

Imagine yourself sipping wine in your new spring outfit just like the Sex in The City girls pictured here.

We might have to tweak their outfits a little, but the hint of a new season is in their bright colors.

The story of Spring 2015 is varied, from 70’s styling to the must have trench, to over sized pants & tops paired with chunky shoes

Our Abbey Road homage features a confident business woman wearing a pantsuit in Pantone’s color of the year, Marsala.  You can’t walk into a women’s clothing store now without seeing bright shades of yellow or chartreuse, pictured here in wedge boots.  Love the pop of color

Spring Fashion Forecast 2015 #2

With the season upon us, before we know it we will be jonesing for switching over our wardrobes to lighter brighter outfits.  I invite you to join me and my new Social Media partner, Meghan Wels, to come out to our third Fashion Nite of networking, pizza & wine a Sip Wine Bar & Authentic Neapolitan Pizza  ( 2 Broadway Avenue, Toronto) Vince & Carmen have generously agreed to have us host our Spring Fashion Forecast Work Wear to Weekend

Details are in the works as we speak.  Please do save the date of April 14, 2015, from 7:00PM – 9:00PM.  Tickets will be available on Eventbrite.  Stay tuned for updates!

Wrap Yourself In Style last November, was a huge success. Ladies were treated to an interactive Fashion workshop complimented by participating boutiques in the Yonge Eglinton area, Lamania & Poor Little Rich Girl.

Poor Little Rich Girl & owner Sara Puppi (2094 Yonge Street Toronto) will return for the second time to share a hands on experience of their Spring fashion line. If you visit PLRG you will see:

A perfect mix of party dresses, trendy casual pieces and funky accessories at a wide range of price points creates the ultimate fashion playground. And while there’s much to choose from, dresses are our specialty. An ever growing roster of designers ensures that there is adress for every occasion – whether it’s for girls’ night out or a milestone event.”

Our new participating sponsor is also in the neighborhood.  Sense Of Independence,   (511 Eglinton Ave W Toronto) owners & sisters Naomi & Michelle Shamash describe their boutique:

As for labels in the store, we carry a mix of Canadian and U.S. designers. While the store has a casual vibe with a focus on everyday wearable items, we also offer a great selection of dressier items which are perfect for a night out.”

I can’t wait to celebrate an evening of Wine & fashion with all of you fashionistas.  More to come. Stay warm!

pantonecoloroftheyear5 #5 blogpost

Personal Branding – You Can Brand You!

Personal Branding DIY: Learn From 8 Women You Know

MARCH 8, 2013 BY  3 COMMENTS
  • Personal BrandEight women.
  • Eight personal branding strategies.
  • Eight ways for you to be inspired.

Learn something from each woman, then go ahead and do it yourself.

[This is the third article in a series about personal branding. Read the other articles here: The Beginner’s Guide To Personal Branding and Why Personal Branding Is Crucial for Your Small Business Success].

Copy and paste your personal brand

The women in this article show you that personal branding stems out of strong will, hard work, goal focus, the ability to stay in sight as well as the ability to not being stopped by criticism.

A common attribute is that they havecreated strong personal brands for themelves, many of them out of nothing. And that leads us to the bottom line of this article: if they can do it – so can you.

Each lady has a different lesson to teach you. Feel free to copy and paste whatever you like into your own personal brand building. I’m sure they don’t mind.

Let’s DIY! (And remember: men can do it too!)

1. It’s possible to completely change how people perceive you

Michelle personal brandLearnt from: Michelle Obama

Frequently known as an “angry black woman“, Michelle Obama did some serious rebranding when moving into the White House. Now she’s the First Mom, caring not only about her own but for all American families, and act as a role model for healthy eating.

DIY: It takes effort and perseverance to change an image that’s been stuck in people’s minds for a long time. But along with well-designed branding strategies, it’s possible to highlight other traits and make them outshine less preferred characteristics.

2. Even when no-one’s willing to hire you, you can create a living and a reputation for yourself

JK personal brandingLearnt from: JK Rowling

Being an un-employed single mother, JK Rowling was living on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Today, she’s the best selling author in UK in history and has established the Volant Charitable Trust, which combat poverty and social inequality.

DIY: Use your creativity when going through rough times. Hard work and inner strength conquer most difficulties. Believe in yourself when no-one else does.

3. Remain human when you’re on top

Oprah personal brandLearnt from: Oprah Winfrey 

Many people may have concerns about Oprah’s omnipresence influence in the world, but still, no-one seems to actually dislike her. Why? Oprah’s show is all about emotions, she shows that she genuinly cares about the things she discusses, and she’s been very open with her weight struggle. Despite her tremendous successes and wealth, she’s one of us. Women can relate to her problems and joys. Her warmth passes through the tv-screens into the living rooms of people all over the world.

DIY:  Being likeable is the key word in branding. Make people press the like-button for your personal brand, whether it’s online or away from the keyboard. Keep your promises, be nice to all who deserve it and don’t forget those who helped you in the past.

4. Live and breathe your personal brand

angelina personal brandLearnt from: Angelina Jolie

Besides from being one of the best paid actresses in the world, Angelina Jolie now promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Special Envoy and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. Ms Jolie has been highly involved in charities serving children in the third world. For example she donated the profits for the image rights of photos of her newborns.

DIY: Incorporate what you do best into your everyday life. May it be ice-skating or chess, be known for being that man on ice or that brainy chess-lady. Don’t hide your talents. Put them out on display for everyone to see.

5. Don’t lose track of who you are, no matter which situation you find yourself in

martha personal brandLearnt from: Martha Stewart

While being the domestic godess in her own empire, Martha Stewart was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators, and was sentenced to serve a five-month term in a federal prison. As expected, she didn’t fall into despair. Instead she continued to be her own efficient self and became an informal liaison between the administration and her fellow inmates. People Magazine wrote: “with the drive that would make her a billionaire, Stewart took her lemon of a sentence and made lemonade. Heck, she made a lemon soufflé.

DIY: Don’t be a chameleon, don’t blend in too much. Stand out and stick to your values, even in environments where conformity is common. Focus on your goals, not on others opinions.

6. Jump at the right opportunity of branding yourself

victoria personal brandingLearnt from: Victoria Beckham

In 2007 when Gucci took her on, Victoria Beckham topped the worst dressed lists. The unconfirmed story says Gucci’s act stemmed out of pure self-preservation since mrs Beckham had begun to be the threat that could destroy their brand: she was seen and associated with their clothes, and what Victoria wore was instantly rejected by Gucci’s regular customers. Gucci concluded they couldn’t stop Victoria’s obsession with their clothes (she paid for them herself) so they decided to try to change her from within. They sponsored her outfits and gave her a complete make-over. They even supported her own fashion brand, and made her into the fashionista she’s considered today.

DIY: You’ll never know what the future holds for you, but you can prepare yourself to jump when the opportunity arrives. Just as Victoria Beckham jumped on the Gucci train, so can you when something good comes your way. The most important thing is to keep your eyes open, so you don’t miss it. Get rid of self-doubt and second thoughts. The road to success is trying!

7. Set your priorities straight and be open about what they are

marissa's personal brandLearnt from: Marissa Mayer

The same day Yahoo! announced her as their new CEO, Marissa Mayer revealed that she was pregnant. When the baby was born, she went on a historically short maternity leave of two weeks, but she claims her priorities now are “God, family and Yahoo! – in that order”.

DIY: Not only do you need to clarify your priorities for yourself, you also need to clarify them for people around you. It gives people an idea of ​​where you stand and what kind of person you are.

8. Always re-invent your personal brand

madonna personal brandLearnt from: Madonna

Known for re-inventing both her music and image for every new tour, Madonna says she’s her own experiment, her own work of art. She expresses her personality through multiple styles, yet pursuing the same professional standard.

DIY: A person evolves and develops over time, (just look at the characters in your favorite book or soap opera), and so should your personal brand as well. Just like Madonna, it’s possible to change direction or style, but still remain true to your inner persona. Re-invent yourself regularly to make sure your brand is fresh enough to be seen and considered, but keep-on going with the same goal in sight.

Impressed yet?

Do you want to learn more about these strong women and their personal brands (including one stunning bonus lady)? Head over to Personal Branding 2.0: Up-Level Yourself to dig deeper into the personal branding soil.