2020; a Year of Mourning

Many people think of grief as something you go through when someone you know dies. While this concept has validity, grief encompasses so much more than a loss of life. I define grief as a point in time where something significantly changes, and you view it as a divide. What once was, and now the present.

It’s safe to say 2020 has been a year of mourning for all of us. The pandemic certainly brought a divide, along with ambiguous grief. The feeling of uncertainty is quite unsettling. We may be fearful of our health, our jobs, our social health, our friends, our loved small businesses closing, certain industries being strained, etc. Closing, re-opening, “dialing back”, are all phrases we are too familiar with, along with the phrase “unprecedented time”. This season of life we are in is ever changing our and evolving. “New normal” is a phrase that has stigma as well. I heard opinions say they reject the idea this is the new normal and are waiting for things to go back to what once was. The reality is, we may never go back to what once was. It is on us to accept the time it is as now, and try to move forward each day. Whether it is day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute.

Not only has the pandemic brought a divide, the tragedy of George Floyd has certainly brought a season of mourning.

To tie it up into a pretty bow, we had our most significant election yet.

2020 has brought a season of significant changes that will be documented in history books. That has been something I’ve been pondering recently, how 2020 will be transcribed and taught to future generations. What as a society are we learning from this?

I think the biggest thing I’m learning is how to cope with grief. I’d like to admit that I’m an expert on grief as it relates to my own personal life. I have lost many loved ones, and have had a significant amount of large life changes, specific to 2020. I rented my condo and moved to Raleigh, I lost my aunt to a tragic heart attack (and was unable to attend her funeral due to the pandemic), I quit my full time job, I chose to dissolve my long term relationship, I moved back home to Minnesota, I got a job as a server as soon as I got home, and now with the shutdown I am not employed there currently.

2020 has been a year. For everyone, not just me. I think we all can relate to the struggle 2020 has brought to all of us. The uncertainty, the mourning and loss, the pain. We are all in it, we all feel it.

So what can we do about it? This is a time where we need to unify and come together, instead of pointing fingers. If we take a step back, we may realize we are not so different after all. We are all human, we make mistakes, we have emotions, and everything you may be feeling about 2020, has validity.

I wish I could say at the stroke of midnight on December 31st all our problems would be taken care of. Since we know that isn’t the case, here are some of my personal tips for coping with grief that work for me.

  • Have real, meaningful conversations with trusted individuals about your feelings. Make sure you trust this individual to validate your emotions and truly listen to you, rather than jumping to conclusions trying to “fix” a problem.
  • Set boundaries with others. Grief can drain you, so energy conservation is vital. A simple “that makes me uncomfortable,” or “I don’t have the (time, space, capacity, etc.) to discuss that right now” works well.
  • Take care of yourself. Seek movement each day. Don’t get hung up on setting extremes where you must be on a strict diet or training regime. Your energy may be low and setting too strict or high of plans could set you up for failure, and may result in low self esteem.
  • Be mindful of what you are putting into your body. At meal times breathe slowly, practice gratitude, and chew each bite thoroughly.
  • Seek an activity that ignites your sense of “play”. This is hard due to circumstances now, but play can be found in coloring or doing something creative, reading a fun book, playing a game with a family member or friend, getting creative in the kitchen, doing a project, etc. Find something you enjoy doing, and relish in that feeling.
  • Ground yourself. This means practice being present in the moment. Breath work is great for this. If yoga is feels good, try that. A friend recently suggested a really great way to implement a new habit of grounding yourself if it isn’t something your used to. He asserted a way to make a new habit stick, is to apply it to one that’s already there. For example, ground yourself while brushing your teeth. Focus directly on teeth brushing, or maybe listen to a specific song you enjoy, or try repeating positive affirmations in your head. The act is do something intentional each day that reminds you that you are here, and the time is now.

I hope you find value in my tips, and am very grateful that you have read my post. Feel free to leave a comment on any tips that you’ve tried that works well for you. I know I will use all the advice I can get considering the year I’ve had!

Love, light, warmth, and positive vibes,

Annie

P.S. Looking for some accountability, a trusted health professional, and a cheerleader for your health and fitness goals? Schedule a FREE discovery call that works for your time and schedule using the button on my services page!

Doggie Stress isn’t so Different from Human Stress

Good Morning,

Today I want to share how my morning started off with being overwhelmed. I slept in a little bit longer as I stayed up a little bit later. Julean was up before me as he is on a time crunch for work. I got my things together ready to go to the gym, and took Benji outside. Then I noticed while I was outside, I left my keys and my phone inside the condo. I go to the front entry way, call my phone several times hoping Julean would pick up. After he didn’t, I scrolled to see if I could find a neighbor to let me in. Luckily, I was able to have someone let me in.

When I got back in, I asked if he heard my phone, and he got defensive and said no. I brushed it off at that point. Then, I notice a canvas print of us on a vacation was no longer hanging up. I automatically assumed he walked in with Benji annoyed and brushed the picture off the wall and didn’t care enough to pick it back up and re-hang it.

As I was meditating this morning at the gym, it made me reflect on the private dog training session we had with Benji last week. The dog trainer talked about how Benji is an anxious puppy, since it appears he was injured by one of his litter mates. (He has a tucked ear). Therefore, he always assumes other dogs are dangerous until proven otherwise, and gets very anxious around them.

The dog trainer explained something to me called “trigger stacking”. This concept is where Benji would go on a walk, and see one dog, and cortisol would be released. When he sees the next dog, he will have an even more anxious response since the cortisol did not have enough time to process through his body. The cortisol is stacked on top of the previous stress response with each dog he sees on a walk. This was eye opening to me as a few weeks ago we took Benji to the CHS’ Dog Day at the Saints Baseball game. I thought it would be a good idea to take Benji rollerblading prior to the event to “burn off some energy”. However, this was the opposite of the right thing to do for Benji. Rollerblading released cortisol as he saw other dogs on the path. Benji was at a heightened state of stress when he brought him to the game.

Full circle back to how I was overwhelmed this morning. Perhaps we as humans aren’t quite so different from our animal friends. My stress started as I slept in a little bit later than normal. This wasn’t a huge stressor since I welcomed the extra hour of sleep. I soon became annoyed because Benji didn’t eat his dinner last night and it was still on the floor. I try to brush it off and realize he probably really needs to go to the bathroom and that’s why he’s not eating. Being at my own heightened state of stress, I did not have the rationale to remember to grab my condo keys. Then, more stress is released as I realized I forgot, and Julean doesn’t answer my phone. Take it one step further as I notice a valued print is on the floor, my rational thinking it completely out the door at this point (no pun intended originally, but kind of punny!), and I make the assumption that it was Julean’s carelessness.

Then, I notice the 3M hook the canvas was hanging on is no longer on the wall. It was neither of our fault’s.

I’m currently working through Headspace’s series called, “Letting Go of Stress” and today’s guided meditation was exactly what I needed to hear and to reflect. I was definitely overwhelmed by stress this morning and it affected the way that I reacted. I have to constantly remind myself I need to respond to stressful situations instead of reacting. I’m interested and excited to keep going through Headspace’s series and see how I can grow my skill of responded to stress, letting go of stress, and not being overwhelmed by it.

We’re not so different from our animal friends, are we? Please share your thoughts! Have you ever experienced trigger stacking?

In gratitude,

Annie

Day 24 – Tiger Blood

Today is Day 24 of my Whole30.  I wish I could say I am feeling absolutely fantastic like I typically am days 20-30, but in reality, grief is taking over my typical tiger blood feelings.

It’s been a rough weekend/week for me.  Friday, I get the news my Grandfather passed.  Saturday, we get news that my boyfriend’s relative passed, and we went out of town Sunday – Monday.  Tuesday I went into work and explained what happened, and was granted bereavement for the rest of the week.  Wednesday I go to the gym, and get news that one of the dogs that I loved dearly also passed.  What is it with this week?  How much grief can a girl deal with?

This is definitely impacting how I meal prep.  It is hard for me to find the motivation to determine what I want to make as recipes, and then make my grocery list, shop, and prep.  My hardest part is coming up with the ideas for meals and recipes, usually once I have a list and know what I’m going to make, it is smooth sailing from there.  I guess most of my brain capacity has been commanded by grief.

I am fortunate that the gym I go to has a cafe that is capable of making a Whole30 meal, which is what I had for breakfast on Wednesday.  Tuesday was a hard day eating wise for me since I just came back from out of town, had to explain what happened to my coworkers, and then take Benji to puppy training class.  I was really crossing my fingers that Cub Foods had a “Just Bare” rotisserie chicken left over for me.  However, by the time I got there, around 7:30pm, there wasn’t a single rotisserie chicken left.  I felt a little crushed.  I did decide just to grab a few chicken breast fillets and grill them at home on my little grill pan, and toss with buffalo and ranch (whole30 compliant, of course).

It’s times like these that make Whole30, even more hard.  Whole30 is definitely hard to begin with, but when you had layers and layers of stress onto it, it can guide you off a cliff. Today, I am fully aware of what is happening.  I guess I was always aware of what was happening but I was just letting it happen the past few days… However, today is different.  I will be figuring out a meal plan, I will be grocery shopping, and I will be setting myself up for success.  It’s 100% okay that I am feeling grief, but something that will help me cope and make me feel better, is fueling my body with nutrient dense foods.

Plus, I need to feed my body to keep crushing my goals at the gym.  Below I’ll post a few videos from Wednesday.  This probably isn’t the type of post you’re expecting, usually the last week of Whole30 is more of “oh I feel so absolutely great, here are all of my non-scale victories, everyone I know and their Mom should do a Whole30!”

I try to be as honest and consistent as possible with my posts.  I pour my heart out into these and I explain exactly what I am going through.  And again, I would like to thank you so much for reading.  I am honored you spent time to understand what I am going through.

And now, Wednesday’s Workout Videos:

My last post was absolutely accurate, this is what keeps me, me.  If I wasn’t working out, I would not be in a good headspace for sure.

That’s it for today, have a wonderful day.

What Keeps Me, Me.

Life always takes us by surprise. Just when you think everything is going great, there is something that pulls the rug out from underneath you. It knocks you of your feet and you need to figure out how to stand back up again. I’ve noticed my life is a little bit of a rollercoaster, that somehow balances itself out. I say this because whenever something very bad happens, something equally good happens in a short time proximity.

This past week I have been dealing with a lot. I always am dealing with the hardship of my Mother, as her mind slowly gets taken away from her. Piece by piece, day by day. It’s hard to out into words how you witness such a strong beautiful woman who had it all together, decline into a form where she no longer can go to the bathroom.

Layering on that, my Grandpa has been declining rapidly on a slippery slope. And with a heavy heart, I will share he passed away on Friday night.

Grief is such a vast topic, everyone grieves differently and there’s different types of grief. With my Mom, I call this ambigious grief. I grieved her the day she got her diagnosis, and every day beyond that.

I had shocking, sideswiping, rug pulled out from underneath me grief, when my oldest brother passed away. I couldn’t believe it, and went through a longer denial stage of grief.

With my Grandpa, I’m not saying it was any easier, but he was 95 years old, and his last week was in the hospital. We knew his time has come.

If you search grief in Google, you’ll maybe discover the Kübler-Ross model, otherwise known as the 5 stages of grief. They are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

These are general stages, I do not believe everyone grieves in this perfect order. I do firmly agree with the model on the last stage of grief is acceptance.

With my Grandpa, it was much easier to get to acceptance. I think what made this easy, is the night of his passing, he visited me in my dreams. This was so very special and I absolutely cherish it.

Thinking about my brother, it took a long time for me to get to acceptance. Even when you may think you’re at acceptance, that doesn’t mean you will never have a STUG: Subsequent Temporary Upsurge of Grief.

For example, whenever I hear the band Green Day I think of him. Funny enough, when I hear someone say the word “moron” I think of him. There are other things I could list out, but I believe you get the point.

Grieving my Mom is very hard to explain. Her physical body is still here, and I am her legal guardian. I don’t have a Mother I can go shopping with, or talk about boys, get pedicures, etc. I do have my Mother’s physical body here on Earth, and I’m not sure where her mind and spirit have gone.

This is why I call her grief ambigious, it truly is hard to explain. I’m at acceptance in the sense that I know Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death, there’s no cure, no treatment, and we know little about the disease in general. What is interesting is how I am grieving her soul and spirit, and I will have a different experience when her time comes.

To wrap all of this together, I want to bring up the concept of a Mind-Body link. Your mind is 100% linked to your body, and will affect your output if your mind isn’t in a good stage. For me, there’s also an inverse relationship of this. It helps keep my mind at ease, if I push my body. I cope by keeping up with my workouts, meditating, and nourishing my body with foods that make it happy.

I let my coach know what happened Friday evening, and she was surprised I was at Sunday Conditioning. Without hesitation, I said, “This is what keeps me, me”. I know who I am, and I need to workout to keep my mind right. I have two short videos to share of the workout I did Saturday morning.

This was a special workout since I was working out not just to get stronger, but to focus my mind, and to cope. I video-ed some Step-Ups and Glute Abduction.

I also have good metrics to report on my check-in. This is Check In #3, and while I have lost a total of 2 inches, and the number on the scale went down short of two pounds, I will post my pictures because that’s where I do see the true body composition change.
Weight: 142.5 lbs

  • Chest: 36″
  • Waist: 27.5″
  • Butt: 37.5″
  • Thigh: 22″
  • Bicep: 11″

Again, I’d like to close with gratitude. My last post about fear preformed really well. I am honored and grateful you have read this. Thank you.