Stop Asking Why

Almost two years ago I permanently marked my skin with a punctuation mark whose meaning seemed to change overnight. A semicolon is no longer just a mark in essays and literature it is a symbol of awareness, support, strength and understanding. It has connected people from around the world who are fighting the same battle. 

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,”


On March 23 the woman who started the semicolon project, Amy Bleuel, passed away.  I found out just three days ago. 

When I heard the news, I went to her Facebook page and read her most recent posts. There were photos of her traveling with her husband, posts about fighting through mental illness, quotes about acceptance, posts about God and even a picture of her Lithium prescription encouraging people to get help. Her last post was three days before she died:

“Depression takes root when the picture of the past is more powerful than the picture of the future.”


The comments said things like,

“You changed my life”
“Thank you for helping others”
“I hope you’ve found your light”
“I’m sorry you lost your battle”

Amy Bleuel died from suicide. The people who followed and were inspired by her did not ask why. She had been battling with mental illness. She created a non-profit to raise awareness of suicide, addiction and mental health. She fought publicly; sharing with the world what she was going through and encouraged others to keep fighting. The people who followed her, who sought her out for advice and guidance did not ask why because they didn’t have to. 

One in four people struggles with mental illness. Many of these people have experienced suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. This select group understands the desire to surrender and how impossible it can be to explain the fight to someone who has never experienced a debilitating and frequently intangible illness. 

We as a society need to stop asking why. There is already an answer. There are not thirteen reasons. There is one. That reason is disease. The question that should be asked instead is how. How do we recognize the symptoms? How do we treat mental illness more efficiently? How do we eradicate the stigma? 

I don’t have all the answers but I do know it’s important to have a voice, to speak out and to let people know that they are not alone. Amy Bleuel did this, she created the amazing Project Semicolon which will continue to raise awareness and inspire people to start the conversation. 

My name is Adrienne Collins. I am one of many. I am one in four. 

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Colombia South America

As I stood on top of broken glass, sawdust, rocks and garbage, I rested my arms on a bar that was covered in dust, tree limbs and graffiti. I looked out at what was once the most popular nightclub in Armenia. I imagined black Cadillac’s escorting politicians and celebrities up the hillside to a resort that overlooked the mountains. I envisioned them walking in to a dimly lit club with live salsa music and waitresses serving fine champagne and bottles of Aguardiente. I could almost smell the smoke from cigars and marijuana cigarettes.

In less than forty years, everything had changed. The roof was caving in, the glass was broken out of the windows, the walls were stained black from fires that homeless people lit within the building and the air no longer smelled of herbs and tobacco. Instead, it smelled of urine and spray paint. This was the Hotel Posada Alemana of Carlos Lehder; a hotel built by one of Pablo Escobar’s partners.

The Main House

The VIP Corner inside the club

On every mountain and in every corner of each city there is evidence of misery and corruption, of heartbreak and disaster, of war and evil. But like this hotel, the foundation of Colombia that was built by drug lords and murderers, is crumbling. In its place there are escalators and cable cars being built to connect the low income communities in the mountains to the city of Medellin. The graffiti painted along the walls tell stories of peace and healing instead of death and destruction. Police officers stand on the side of the roads and hold out their hands with their thumbs up to tell you that you are safe, they will protect you. You can feel change in every corner. You can feel hope.

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Image result for cable cars in medellin

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I did not know what to expect when traveling to this country. People told me that it was dangerous, that I should be cautious and be on guard. I was prepared to get lost, be confused and even scared. I had no idea the kind of beauty I would find amidst all the wreckage. I did not expect to fall in love. The food, the coffee, the music, the different landscapes and especially the people were better than anything I could have imagined. I will return to this place because even though I just left, I can already hear Colombia calling for me to return.

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winery

Fitness Friday – Voodles

I am addicted to my noodle spiralizer. The love affair began when I tried out a recipe for Shrimp Scampi over zoodles (zucchini noodles).


Divine.

This led me to betraying pasta once again by replacing it with zoodles in my spaghetti. It was so good that Kenny and I gobbled it up before I could snap a single photo.

I realized just how smitten I had become when I made a traditional pizza pasta salad (everything you like on top of your pizza thrown together with tri-color noodles and Italian dressing). This time I used seedless cucumber to replace the noodles, turkey pepperoni, black olives, banana peppers, mozzarella and instead of Italian dressing (loaded in added sugar), I used Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette.

 Briannas Real French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, 12 Ounce

Basically every time I use my spiralizer now I hear pasta singing,
“I should’ve bought you flowers
And held your hand
Should’ve gave you all my hours
When I had the chance”

Apart from the food aspect of my life the exercise part is still going strong; by that I mean, I’m strong. Yesterday I benched 135 pounds. Recently a few men have told me that I should be able to bench my body weight. Well, I did a little research into that and for a woman, that’s just not true. According to this calculator I am at an intermediate level and twenty pounds away from advanced. So, with that in mind I have to ask, 


 Thanks for reading 🙂 

Just Keep Swimming

Almost two years ago I declared that I would never drink alcohol again. I am very hard-headed. I can be extremely arrogant and once I’ve decided on something I dive in, determined to swim. It was a bit of a panicky, floppy, doggy paddle in the beginning but eventually it turned into a calm easy backstroke. After 18 months of stargazing and cloud viewing I ran into a buoy called moderation. If you, the reader have read any of my blog posts before, you know where this is going. I slipped, more than once in the past six months. I am not starting over. I’m not going to reset the clock to saying that I quit drinking last Sunday. But I do want to be honest with everyone who follows me, who knows me and who may be wondering where I’m at with sobriety. I’m also writing this to humble myself and bring myself down a few notches. I inhaled a mouth full of salt water, chocked on it for awhile but I’m breathing again and plan to just keep swimming.

 

Fitness Friday -I’m Back

Have you ever read a review or an article about someone where the author is so harsh and cruel you physically cringe? Well I have one of those authors living in my head (don’t we all?) that loathes me. Over the last couple of weeks the reviewer possessed my body and attempted to sabotage all of my progress. Meanwhile, my new fit persona was trapped inside, fighting to get out. It’s been a real life horror story inside and outside of my head.

The possessed body walks into a gas station and smirks at all of the danishes and doughnuts and begins to make it’s way to the Honey Bun stand.
Fit persona screams, “STOP RIGHT THERE!”
Possessed body, taken aback, stops mid stride.
“Do not, I repeat, DO NOT touch any of that junk. Look over there, there’s bananas.”
Possessed body looks, rolls it’s eyes and grabs the largest cheese danish on the stand.
Back in the car the possessed body opens the wrapper…
“STOP. It’s not too late, throw it out the window!”
Possessed body rolls down the window, looks and then stuffs the cheese danish in it’s face, devouring it like a zombie.
Fit persona cries….

My mother always taught me that kids didn’t have to be out of control monsters; “spare the rod, spoil the child” kind of thing. She said that kids should have a healthy fear of their parents and always rolled her eyes at parents that acted like victims of their children’s behavior. So, it looks like I’ve been sparing the rod and playing victim to my inner fat kid. Now that I’m back, it’s time to instill some fear.

 

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to fill out my survey, I really enjoyed all of your answers, especially the advice portion.

Fitness Friday – Questionnaire


This week I would really love to hear from all of you! How many of you remember those MySpace questionnaires? I have made my own in hopes that people will fill them out and give me new ideas and new things to try. So, if you have the time, here is a Flashback Fitness Friday Survey:

  1. What inspired you to get healthy?
  2. How long have you been living a healthier lifestyle?
  3. What is your favorite exercise?
  4. What is your least favorite?
  5. When do you work out (morning, noon or night?)
  6. What is your go-to healthy meal?
  7. What’s your favorite healthy snack?
  8. Do you count calories?
  9. Do you allow yourself a cheat day/days?
  10. Do you meditate?
  11. Do you use positive affirmations? If so, which one do you use the most?
  12. What’s your biggest motivator?
  13. What is your biggest fitness/health accomplishment?
  14. What is one thing you wouldn’t give up (chocolate, coffee, etc.)
  15. What’s the best advice you’ve received about being fit and healthy?

 

Basically, share all of your tips, tricks and knowledge with me!

Hope you all have a great weekend. Thanks for reading ❤

 

Fitness Friday – Wagons

I have crashed the healthy diet wagon. I have been stuffing my face with bacon cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, ice cream, pizza, cookies and every other thing I felt I’ve been denying myself since January. My stomach hurts, it’s constantly trying to have conversations with people, I’m sluggish and I haven’t had a good night sleep in the last couple weeks.

In the midst of this delicious relapse I have not stopped exercising. Unlike so many times before when I have slipped and fallen, I have not thrown up my hands and played victim to my own self sabotage. Instead, I’ve worked harder, pushed myself further and said some really nasty things to myself which probably isn’t beneficial overall but it does help when trying to finish the last set of squats.

The point is, this will not last. This is my mid-year crisis happening early. I will go back to my chicken breast and vegetables soon enough. Until then, here is a workout photo because as much as I would love to share a food picture or recipe; my chocolate peanut butter ice cream isn’t very photogenic.


(apparently I’m not either)

Lastly, I decided to start doing a “Weekly Tip” and since this is the first week, I have two.

  1. Find a partner. Hell, find multiple partners (don’t be dirty). It is way more likely that you’re going to get out of bed at 6:30am to go for a run if you know someone else is up and waiting for you.
  2. Find a song that you haven’t listened to in 10-15 years and play it while you plank. You will be distracted realizing you still know all the words. For me it was In The End by Linkin Park (yes, that song came out 13 years ago). If that doesn’t distract you, take selfies.

Thanks for reading and sticking by me through all of my trips on the wagon, off the wagon, running next to the wagon, falling behind the wagon and of course crashing the wagon (I’ve never been a good driver). Hopefully I’ll have it fixed and running before too long.