From Summer to Autumn

Francisco Gaspar / October 10, 2018 / Blog Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker / 0 comments

I can’t believe that fall is upon us once again. I hope you all had a wonderful summer. This time last year I was in New York, lost on subways, strolling through Central Park, and thinking about starting the CMHAW (Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker) program. What was I getting myself into? Would I enjoy the program? I wonder what my classmates will be like? What does CMHAW stand for again? I had many questions and only time would answer them. I had left my little home in Tofino, BC to prepare for my next adventure, which was becoming a student at Stenberg College. Today, I can say it has been quite the adventure. The program challenged me and allowed me to open my heart.

Fall forest strolls

A walk in the woods has become to Francisco Gaspar the best way to cope with stress and reflect about mental health.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…” – Henry David Thoreau

One of my favourite things to do is to go for long strolls in forests, especially during the fall because the leaves are all sorts of colours and you can’t help but think about how wonderful life is. These strolls have been my saving grace throughout school. When I feel the weight of school work, personal life pressures and working early morning shifts at my cafe job, I felt anxiety with every exhale. But allowing myself to truly feel these emotions and to wrestle with them have transformed how I cope with my stresses.

Being in a program that teaches us to work with compassion and determination has contributed greatly to how I respond to the challenges of life. I have learned so much about myself and continue to do so as I gain more experience in the mental health field. I encourage you to walk in nature and allow your mind to just be, to set goals, to witness beauty that can alter one’s perspectives in positive ways.


Before I conclude I would like to talk about the word “adventure”. For most of my life, I have associated that word with travel. It always involved booking flights, embarking on strenuous hikes, exploring foreign places, and meeting people from all over the world. Now, I apply it to many things. School is an adventure. Working hard is an adventure. Waking up every day and getting excited about achieving goals is an adventure. Going through this program with my classmates has been an adventure.

Despite having class throughout the summer, I must say I’ve had a lovely summer. I shared many laughs with my classmates and am grateful for the new traits I learned. When we would get off a little early and I would catch the sunset on my Skytrain home, I was reminded of how time is fleeting and how most of my questions have been answered since sitting on that bench in Central Park. Like leaves and most things, change happens and that is a great adventure.