Surviving Tragedy

Things happen. That’s the unchangeable, unrelenting, and (more often than not) unapologetic fact of life. If you are like me, you might even give it the punchier little platitude of “shit happens”. People say it everywhere, and they say it like that makes what’s happening better. As though, if you can shorten a national, personal, or even minor seeming tragedy into a tiny little bundle of letters, a simple phrase no longer than two words, if possible, if that length and simplicity can be achieved than the massive, world-changing and life shaking event doesn’t have to touch you.

I live in America, and have for most of my life, born and raised all over this country because my father was a career Marine. I’ve been involved with the military both on the fringe and as a spouse through a significant amount of my adult life as well and have the gift of never existing in a bubble. I have never lived anywhere long enough to only have the opinions or experiences of that area and my friend groups have never been completely one-sided in belief.

We are hurting today, as a nation and as a people. We have been suffering for a long time, longer than any person’s political career has lasted, and longer, probably, than we have been a country. We are hurting, and while it would be easy for me to use whatever kind of voice I have right here to delve into my opinions on the presidents handling of the massive string of devastating hurricanes followed by this horrific act of violence, or how much I would love to talk about gun statistics and why I am fundamentally for against what I am, I won’t today.

Maybe soon I will have the energy and will to write about why I believe that things are mentally devastating for American in general or about how to survive the political climate and remain a full and okay human being, but today I want to discuss how to continue through tragedy and continue to be empathetic and healthy human beings, how to both give your all and still manage to not feel like everything has been drained from you.

In a very short amount of time America has suffered three major hurricanes, unusual earthquakes, and now this devastating shooting in Los Vegas. On a personal front, this year I lost my grandfather that was very close to me, and my life has moved into a state of transition that is terrifying and has forced me out of any kind of stability. Each time I feel myself looking to my old habits for comfort. Whether that is overeating, laying around and sulking, losing my forward movement. It’s easy to just be sad, to feel hopeless.

It’s a cycle, don’t be lulled into it.

When you give up, when you give in, when you let all of your control slip to you hurt yourself for longer. So, the best thing I thought I could do today, while I feel so down, is to share how I keep it together when things are feeling pretty bleak.

 

  • You are entitled to your feelings

Everyone handles stress differently and pretending you don’t feel the way you do, or that this doesn’t affect you is damaging. When something bad happens in the world it can seem like if you weren’t in the direct line of time, you aren’t allowed to have a feeling. It is human nature to respond to trauma in the world and it keeps us living. It doesn’t make you selfish or attention seeking to be sad that bad things happen. This is a world you are a citizen of, you should care.

 

  • Don’t ignore it

It’s okay to step back from the news for a moment, collect your thoughts and your breath, clear your mental state. It’s not irresponsible to stop watching the news for a few days. What is irresponsible is pretending this isn’t happening. I, personally, find it disrespectful to the victims of a tragedy to pretend it just didn’t happen. It happened and the world is changed because of it, whether that is the whole world, the country, or just your world. Turning yourself to ice and shutting it out only prolongs the pain. In order to continue in a healthy way, you have to feel the pain of tragedy. Feel it and move forward.

 

  • Be Proactive

There is a guilt in the world of loss and tragedy. The surefire, never fails, way to cope with the anxiety of the guilt of not living through a disaster when it is happening is to help. There is a surplus of prayer in the world when disaster strikes (and if prayer is your thing, it is a great starting point), but what the world really suffers from is a great deal of prayer and small amount of action. Volunteering and donating when you can is such a massive help. Even if you don’t have money, donate old clothing, donate a craft you can do (knitting, crochet, sewing, building, anything). If you can’t volunteer where the tragedy took place then volunteer somewhere else. In addition, if you are able to give blood, please do. This is a quick and simple way to make a huge life and death impact on a life for purely altruistic reasons and you can never go wrong balancing your karma a little with some altruism.

 

  • Practice Gratitude

Write what you are grateful for. Write it over and over, add to it when you can, make massive lists. Tell the people in your life you love them, and mean it. Apologize to those that have wronged you and reconnect. Call your mom and tell her that you are grateful she protected you in a world where children are so often hurt by their parents, call the ex you parted with on good terms and let them know you appreciate who they were in your life, call a friend you don’t speak with as much anymore and tell them that even though you lost touch, you love them and they matter in your world.

 

A little bit of light can show the way in the dark. Love and compassion is never a bad thing and is always in too short of supply. Americans and the world are suffering and we are all in this together, we will get through this and I am proud of all of you for surviving the best you can.

Keep your chin up, buttercup.

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The Parfait Way to Start the Day

So, there is this conspiracy the rest of the world seems to be involved in. I’m not sure how I either evaded or was eluded by this seemingly health community affirming thought, but here I am. Twenty-Nine years old, two children, a husband, even two animals, and I don’t get breakfast.

What? Nonsense! I know, and here’s the kicker, I have the time to make it! I have two children who require feeding in the morning upon my much awaited gift of my presence to my family, I have two animals that get fed by my daughter first thing in the morning (always because I remind her), so it’s not like there isn’t a chance to make myself something while I’m making the littlest bean her bottle or getting the bigger one some cereal (in a Ziploc baggie because she’s not normal) and instead I usually opt to just have a cup of coffee.

Here’s the problem; my disordered part of my brain wants to see all of this as a bonus, as one less meal in the day, one less opportunity to get in extra calories. Sure, why not? It’s not UNTRUE. Except that then, sometimes it leads to me forgetting that lunch is a thing too, so hey now we’ll just have a big dinner, right? Except dinner is after I run.

So, here is what I am getting at, if I let my disordered brain take control I will end up going out to expel the incredible amount of energy it takes to propel my plus sized body into running, while working off of no or very little fuel. Ultimately this means I get more shin splints, I get fatigued earlier, I am dehydrated and I’m getting home and feel genuinely pretty crappy about my performance and find myself wondering… why was it so bad?

So I guess what I’m getting at is that this all starts at the great conspiracy known as breakfast. I’m not likely to ever get up and make myself eggs and some kind of healthy hash, even though I love those things. So this week I committed to eating breakfast and what I found was the easiest way to do it, was to have some fun with bowls.

We’ve all seen Smoothie Bowls all over Pinterest and Instagram. They are pretty! Who doesn’t like eating pretty food? No one, because we eat with our eyes first, blah blah. They are really simply and easy to toss together, especially if you aren’t super inspired by smoothies like me (They are cool and all, but sometimes they just make my tummy feel weird and then I don’t eat for the rest of the day anyway. Unlike smoothies alone they are richer and creamier, and if we’re all being honest, they are prettier.

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Mixed Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

About 1/8th of a block of soft tofu

1/2 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

1/2 banana

1/4 cup Almond Milk

a handful of chia or flax seeds

Directions

This one is as simple as can be, just toss it all in a blender or food processor. If you like them a little thinner add more almond milk. Top with the rest of your banana, sliced up, some chia seeds and granola. BAM!

 

The other recent addiction, and possibly more enjoyed addition has been a classic and always in fashion parfait. Creamy, crunchy, fruity, sweet, just the right amount of tart. These bad boys right here have gotten me right back in the breakfast game, for the first time in a long time I get up looking forward to getting myself going with some calcium, protein, fiber! Not only am I nice and full but it reminds me to eat the right amount during the day and at moderate times, but it also manages to give me a nice little energy boost so I’m not curled up on the couch watching last nights The Daily Show waiting for my coffee to kick in.

Peaches and Strawberries Parfait

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Ingredients

Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Granola

1 Peach

Handful of Strawberries

Directions

So you can either make your own homemade granola, but I’m lazy and have three other people to cook for and only  the baby with eat granola with me so I just buy some triple berry granola. The first layer is granola followed by peaches then slices strawberries then some yogurt and repeat. If you want to sweeten the fruit you can toss them in some sugar and let them sit for about twenty minutes until they are nice and juicy. If the yogurt is a little too tart a drizzle of honey on each layer is also great!

 

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So, get up, go make yourself some breakfast. You deserve it, and your body needs the fuel, especially if you are trying to make yourself more active. These are both fairly inexpensive, delicious and a perfect way to start the day.

 

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Grief and Life

From a young age we are taught what grief looks like. Movies are full of tragic screams and shouts of grief. Women splayed across the ground, tears streaming down their perfect fragile faces. We see men cry for their first time in their adult lives and be moved to erratic and dangerous behavior. We see drama and pain and it’s loud and visible. This is what you should look like when you are sad, right? This is how you should suffer? You should sit in some corner unable to eat? Drink? Speak? You should be unable to enjoy the world around you and humor should be sapped from your life for an indeterminate amount of time.

So when my grandpa died last month, and two hours later I was playing video games and laughing with friends, I felt broken.

It’s confusing, still. People hear that your grandpa died and there is sympathy, but a certain amount of expectation. Grandparents are old, right? I’m twenty-eight years old, so it seems reasonable that I should be prepared and ready for the death of the older generation in my family, and in a lot of ways I am. The thing about my grandpa, though, is that he wasn’t old. He wasn’t sick or slow moving, he wasn’t tired or weak. He was strong, incredibly strong. He had an impressive home gym that he used every single day, he golfed with my grandma, he gardened and kept his home pristine. He was in better shape than most people I knew, stacked full of solid muscle. He wasn’t old and grumpy, he was funny. The funniest man I’ve ever known. He called his fists Dynamite and Sure Death and tried to give every kid in the room a knuckle sandwich. He was so big that he was afraid to hold tiny babies even though he loved kids more than anything in the world, and guys get this! He was afraid to hold them, because he was scared he might hurt them on accident.

The memorial was beautiful, so many stories and so much love, every story was funny because that was the impression he made and the funeral home couldn’t hold the amount of people that came to say goodbye to him. I’m not a fan to romanticizing people when they are gone, I believe that flaws make us as beautiful and unique as our good side, but I can’t tell you one bad thing about my grandpa. I have a tattoo of an anchor on my hand because he did, he was the perfect man to grow up around and the hole he left in the world still feels too big.

I felt like I grieved incorrectly, I made underhanded jokes with my uncle and poked fun at things. I only cried once or twice and mostly I just enjoyed my family while I was in town. I avoided my feelings in the visible ways, but behind the scenes my anxiety grew and I stopped Whole30 (which is why there was no further update. I made it to day 13 and then my grandpa died and I knew I would be travelling with two small babies and I couldn’t handle the stress. Once I find another partner for it, I will attempt it again. In the mean time Riley finished it! She did the whole damn thing! You can read about it all over at her blog).

I needed to write this because I need people to know that I am coming back, my fitness is coming back on track. Some people could have stayed on track, in fact I probably could have stayed on track, but you fall down nine times and stand up ten, right? I’m okay, and I’m here. My life is in a large state of flux and transition that I will discuss more coming up, along with making monthly goal posts, lots of things are coming. I have lots of ideas and I’m ready to be more present now that I’ve had time to grieve.

Thank you guys for understanding. In the end I want everyone to know that, there isn’t a right way to be sad, to grieve, to process. Five minutes after my mom told me and I sat in the corner of my bedroom disbelieving, my husband came home and I repeated the same sentiments over and over “he worked out every day” “ he was healthy” “How can he be gone?” Then I looked at my husband and told him I just wanted to watch Real Housewives of Orange County for awhile and play video games. I was afraid he would think I wasn’t sad enough, but luckily he never assumed my feelings. If you need to be sad, please give yourself permission. Food and fitness, running and calories, it can wait. It will be there. You have tomorrow. If you don’t process… it will come back worse.

It’s okay to be sad. I give you permission. Give yourself the permission.

-McMaymie

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Starting Always Sucks

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It really does. Starting anything sucks. Even worse? Starting something over, especially if it was something that at one point in time you were fairly successful with. Education, a new diet, cleaning a room you cleaned two days before but is magically destroyed again by the unknown forces of destruction that cohabit with you, and my personal (least) favorite; starting to work out again.

I am an adult woman of a spry twenty-eight years old, four years ago my husband and I moved to a place called Twenty-Nine Palms situated conveniently nearly two hours from the nearest Target, and at least forty minutes from the nearest Walmart, were the average summer temperatures can melt your car tires into asphalt if you are cautious of where you park. I had no friends when we moved there, a two year old, and began therapy for the first time in my life. I was quickly diagnosed with a panic disorder, agoraphobia and this awesome little thing called ADD. My doctor controversially started my on adderall as an adult and it changed my entire life. Suddenly I could get off the couch, I wasn’t depressed eating non-stop and I started something I never expected. I started running, in the high desert. The altitude is one of the hardest ones to run in, it was often impossibly warm even at night when I ran, and my running path was full of hills that I am fairly certain only went upward no matter which way you took them.

There I started using a paid app called Zombies! Run 5k, which was a precursor to running with the main app Zombies! Run. It was fun and engaging and I managed through shin splints, and bad shoes to complete the program. After my first solid three miles of running I was on top of the world.

And then I quit.

I don’t know why I quit, I assume it was because we were in the middle of moving to another state in the middle of Christmas time, stopping for a few weeks in Kansas to visit family and ending up breaking down in a strange state and having to buy a new car for the first time in our lives. Essentially things lapsed. When we arrived in our new home in Jacksonville, NC I struggled to get back into fitness in general and for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I never sought out a therapist until I hit a very serious mental low, something I am sure I will discuss at a later time.

I spent years off of adderall because of this mental low point and being sure that it would only increase my mental issues. As it turns out, adderall has been essential to managing my anxiety. Without it I lay around and can’t make my brain focus on anything long enough to complete a single activity. So now, after the birth of my second child, recently back on my medication I look around and see that the body I struggled so hard for in that high desert, running which I could see rattlesnakes and coyotes, sweating through massive elevations just because I felt strong and empowered has slipped away because I didn’t take care of my mind and my body.

So here I am, four years older, with a, nearly, six year old and a baby. Finally consistently struggling to begin something I started four years ago.

Every time I work out I feel the shake in muscles that once felt so solid and strong, and they are so weak and loose now. I try every time I finish a workout to remember that this is a process, and even if the process happened faster when I was younger, it is still one I can participate in.

So here we are, starting over sucks. It’s a rough, sometimes painful, and usually ugly, red-faced mess, but one day it won’t suck quite so hard!

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