BODYVIVE Was A Trailblazer For Les Mills – Whether They Want To Admit It Or Not

As I write this, I am currently in Cambridge, England, where they have an amazing Les Mills culture. I have been fortunate enough over the past two weeks to have a couple of team teaches of BODYVIVE with an awesome local instructor here, and it has reminded me so much of just what a revolutionary program BODYVIVE was.

In my 9 years of teaching Les Mills, nothing has jarred me as much in recent times as the complete destruction of the BODYVIVE program. As I write this, BODYVIVE is “undergoing a transition” to a new Les Mills program called Tone, except it’s not so much a transition but textbook examples of how NOT to conduct change management and how to completely disregard and disrespect the history of the program it is meant to be succeeding.

And as I see many (but not all) of my former BODYVIVE instructors and trainers alike jump aboard the Tone train and move on from their BODYVIVE careers without so much as a backward glance, I personally believe the influence of BODYVIVE in the wider Les Mills space is something that has not been talked about and acknowledged. So this is where we discuss what BODYVIVE brought to the table in terms of workout trends and instructing skills…

Functional Training

One would be extremely hard pressed to find mention of the words “functional training” prior to BODYVIVE coming into being, particularly as the program evolved. BODYVIVE’s combination of cardio, strength and core was, in its later days, a mixed-impact cross-training workout that exploited the use of functional movement, ie. the movement that we use in our everyday activities outside of the gym environment.

But even in its earlier days, BODYVIVE was all about coaching benefits and relating movement to the things we did on a regular basis, eg. Lifting bags, sitting upright at a desk, even just walking and running properly. Previously these were ideas that never really got a mention in other programs. BODYVIVE helped to give it prominence and purpose.

CXWORX

Most people would know that out of Les Mills’ functional training thought process came this: CXWORX. A 30-minute intense core workout that works every single muscle of our core unit: hips, abdominals, obliques, posterior chain (including the butt).

But what Les Mills International (LMI) refuse to publicly acknowledge even today is this: CXWORX was born out of BODYVIVE. It wouldn’t even exist today had it not been for BODYVIVE.

Attendees and instructors of CXWORX alike would know all the core and hip work that we do on the floor and standing with the tube. That was all BODYVIVE. So before any of you say that BODYVIVE was an easy program for the oldies, think about those tracks you see and do in a CXWORX class and then revisit that opinion.

Inclusive Coaching

Traditionally as instructors, when we have coached alternative movements for our members during a class, we’ve always simply said “if you can’t do this option, here’s another option for you”. However it was recognised in both CXWORX and BODYVIVE that phrasing it this way unwittingly creates subclasses of participants, and might cause people to feel inadequate about taking a lower-impact alternative as it makes them look weaker than other people in the room.

In CXWORX initial module training, we were explicitly taught early on that any options we gave had to be specifically qualified – ie. WHY would one be inclined to take that particular choice over another, rather than just the usual “if you can’t do A, then do B”. It was seen as giving people an easy way out rather than making them determined to stick out the tougher choice.

In later releases of BODYVIVE, we delved more explicitly into inclusive coaching – the principle that every choice one makes in terms of movement is equally valid choice to another choice of movement made by someone else in the room. It veered away from the “us vs them” mentality and brought everyone in the room together as one team getting fitter and stronger in their own way.

I’ve noticed more programs in recent times start to adopt this approach to coaching. I can certainly attest to this helping to broaden and improve my own skills as an instructor and coach more to the people to whom I teach. And I thank BODYVIVE and CXWORX for helping this concept come to life.

Innovative Leadership

But to finish up, it was the leadership of one person that cemented BODYVIVE’s (and in turn CXWORX’s) reputation as a trailblazing program. The contribution of Susan Trainor to the Les Mills universe cannot be understated. And anyone who has watched her on BODYVIVE and/or CXWORX masterclasses readily acknowledges the grace and class with which she moves, as well as the logical and intelligent choreography in every single track that she creates. And we can’t forget her expert precise coaching either.

She has earned the title of LadyVive, MamaVitch, and a host of others. But what she has truly earned from all of us is our gratitude for the knowledge and expertise that she has imparted on us, and we have all become better instructors as a result. Thank you Susan, and thank you BODYVIVE!

There is undoubtedly more that BODYVIVE has contributed to the Les Mills universe that doesn’t get spoken about. So feel free to comment, and even share this post if you think there might be people who don’t know enough about BODYVIVE’s contribution. And LMI, it might do you a favour or two to hold on to some of those ideas 😉

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What’s In A Group, aka Returning To The Workforce

I have a very convoluted relationship with the concept of groups. For starters, as someone on the Autism Spectrum, I tend not to fit in naturally with groups on a social level (and this has been something I’ve experienced ever since early childhood). 

It comes down to the very root of the word “autism” – to be unique, to be individual, and to do things on one’s own. And that certainly fits me to a tee in terms of how I interact with other people. I have always been someone who has thrived on the more personal types of interactions, ie. the 1-1 style. It’s where I find we develop the most connection with people, and learn a lot about ourselves in the process.

For as long as I can remember, I have been stubbornly independent, always wanting to do things my own way. But being back in a time where ASD and Aspergers were virtually unknown concepts, I was made out to feel that my way was the wrong way. I had no choice but to conform with the other neurotypical kids. And it was constantly awkward as fuck.

Fast forward to today. It’s been a couple of years now since I went through the diagnostic process and finally got the answers I had always been seeking about myself. Knowing that there had never been anything wrong with me in the first place, I at last had the freedom I always sought to just be myself.

And along the way, I found out who my true friends were. Luckily enough, they were the people who had always been there to start with. A wise friend once said something to me along the lines of, 

Just allow yourself to be the good person that you know you are, and everyone will naturally gravitate towards your positive energy”.

I certainly find that this has been the case, and because of this, I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the whole world.

However, I currently find myself in a situation where it feels like I’ve gone back to my childhood in a lot of ways. It certainly brings back some sad memories of the sheer awkwardness and alienation I felt growing up.

Some of you know that I recently returned to the workforce in April of this year, as a way to try to rebuild my financial situation. So right now, I’m working in a mainly administration role for a major financial services organisation on a 6-month contract, and the role itself is something I like doing. There are many other factors at play here that are making things rather difficult with this role, but these are not relevant to this particular conversation.

One factor that has been driving me crazy though is the interpersonal dynamic within the division I work for. My colleagues have all worked together for at least 4 years, so they are a close-knit group. There are a few people in the division with whom there is potential for a decent individual connection, and one in particular with whom I found I had a lot in common. This particular colleague has a thirst for knowledge very similar to mine, and will almost always be on their phone checking out the latest happenings in the world – almost exactly like me.

One problem – they insist that I should hang out with “the group”, being this core ensemble of people that seem to be inseparable, almost like a high school clique. Now anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t do cliques. I am my own person, I have the confidence I need to do things on my own, and the friends that I have in my life are my friends for a damn good reason.

And yet it felt like that for me to gain friendship with this colleague, I had to go through “the group” to do so. So I did a couple of times. And it was the most excruciating thing I’ve had to do.

Here’s the thing… I have next to nothing in common with these people (apart from the colleague I mentioned earlier). I certainly am not wiser about any of them from the group chats that I was so fortunate enough to observe (trust me, there were many other things I’d rather have done at that time).

The sad thing is that at the time, I liked my colleague a lot, to the point that I almost comprised who I was as a person just so I could gain their acceptance and friendship. It was a hark back to the days of high school and university where it seemed more socially acceptable to have friends than it was to be on one’s own.

There is another tricky element to all of this. No one at work knows about my ASD (or if they do, they have not said anything), and it’s not something I’m gonna volunteer proactively unless I am asked. There is still a lot of stigma attached to ASD and Aspergers in the workplace, and right now I need the money (otherwise I would not have gone back to corporate work in the first place).

(DISCLAIMER: I am fully aware that any one of my work colleagues could simply do a Google search on my name, and hey presto this post comes up. I am totally prepared to deal with any consequences of that happening (at the end of the day, this is my own personal blog, I have not named any names/organisations, and because this is my blog, I can say whatever the fuck I want))

In saying that, I have made it clear to a couple of my colleagues that if they want to get to know me as a person, then they need to do it on a 1-1 level. This is how they will find out what I am about. With the aforementioned colleague above, they haven’t seemed to get the hint, and they default to the group setting. I have even said to them “let’s hang out sometime”, “let’s do something outside of work”. And in return…

**CRICKETS**

It’s personally not worth the emotional effort and energy for me to try for something that is always going to be one-sided, particularly when it’s playing by someone else’s rules. A lot of you will read this and say “well maybe you should make an effort to fit in to the group”. You may as well say to me “take your square-pegged self and fit it into any of the round holes that exist in the group”. 

Not. Gonna. Happen.

As I said above, I am extremely lucky and blessed enough that I have so many wonderful people in my life, who support me and give me their friendship and love unconditionally, and yet they know I am very different to most people around me and fully accept that too (it’s probably why they love me so, who knows).

So at this point in time, my focus is on those people whom I do have in my life as opposed to the ones who seem nice to have. Who knows, maybe if I continue to be the good-natured independent individual that I am, then others might eventually want to see what I’m all about.

Self-Inflicted Broken Heart

Imagine meeting someone for the first time, and then being placed into a situation where you have to interact with them pretty much every day. You’ll often find you get to know them on a somewhat personal level, and a little connection starts to form.

You then realise that you are attracted to them, and that little connection manifests itself into a crush. The interactions start to become internally awkward as fuck as you try to figure out frantically how to back out without getting yourself hurt (because you have been in this very position many times before).

But he then says something kind and seemingly innocuous, and you helplessly get drawn back in straight away like a rip in the sea. You do not even know for sure if he is gay or straight, but you know he seems to like you – and for you that should be enough.

But then the overanalysing begins.

In your mind there are still so many unanswered questions about this new-found friendship that you begin to doubt yourself. You replay every conversation through your head, every word, every sentence, the tone that was used – anything that could help you decipher this mystery and give you the certainty that you crave.

Your mind says logically there is nothing there, but your heart says otherwise. And the emotions you are experiencing right now are so overpowering that they are drowning you. You cannot get this guy out of your head, no matter how much you distract yourself, how much you keep telling yourself “SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT!”

You eventually manage to resurface from the water for a little while, only to be dragged back in by a thought, by an interaction, and the internal nightmare commences all over again. Your mind ends up becoming an overheated CPU with no way to expel the heat, and a fog starts to set in as your brain moves into meltdown mode to compensate.

Your everyday life becomes a struggle, already trying to cope with the extra-sensory awareness of the outside world, while the internal war continues. You will know it will end soon, because it has always ended before, with you rising from the ashes again to move on with the rest of your life.

But in the meantime, I still have to deal with a self-inflicted broken heart. 

Acceptance In Society – The Ongoing Battle Of Neurodiversity

The below post was originally a status update I posted on Facebook on 12 February 2017 as a stream of consciousness post. But I realised later that it also warranted its own blog post. So feel free to read on…
For all the positive things that have happened in my life since I was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum (and believe me, there are many things), there’s also the stuff that I have become a lot more aware of in terms of treatment from other people:

  • Being aware of the distance in social situations that people automatically put between themselves and me that they don’t do with other people, because I seem “weird” or “different” from everybody else…
  • The feeling of being talked down to by other people (including some friends and loved ones) when I try to comment on a topic of discussion and being made to feel like my opinion doesn’t matter or it is not sophisticated enough for their liking…
  • Frequently establishing great relationships with new people, only for them to mysteriously go cold for apparently no reason whatsoever…

I did not ask to be on the spectrum. Much like I did not choose to be gay. This is the way that I am. And having learnt so much in recent times about the concept of privilege, I am now more consciously experiencing firsthand what it is like to be treated differently because of something that you cannot control.
A lot of things made so much sense to me after I was diagnosed, and now I do not feel so forced to conform to neurotypical expectations. In saying that though, the more that I embrace myself and my personality, the more alone I seem to feel.
I am grateful every day for the people in my life who keep in touch and make sure that I am ok. As much as I cherish my independence, the last thing I want is to die one day and not have anybody discover my body until weeks go by.
And as outgoing and outspoken as I might be on Facebook, I am not really a social butterfly in the outside world. If you see me out at a social gathering, I’ll more than likely either be playing on my phone or just sitting back and observing everyone else. 
And I’ll have people say to me “why don’t you go and talk to people and socialise?”. The honest answer is, it takes a lot of mental and emotional energy for me to socialise with someone. So it has to be worth it.
And there’s also the whole “you gotta put yourself out there!”. Firstly, I teach group fitness for a living. I’m putting myself out there almost every day of the week. And it is exhausting to do that for at least 12 classes a week.
Secondly, the fact that I have a blog where I write stuff similar to this is more than a lot of people in the world do. I didn’t have to tell people that I have Asperger’s, but I made that choice to do so in the hope that people out there would understand me better, if only just a little bit.
Something I realised recently is that you do not have to be extroverted to be confident. Confidence is knowing who you are, what you stand for as a person, and trusting yourself so much that others can see it too. 
And because I have gained so much confidence, I get the impression (rightly or wrongly) that people are or have become afraid of me. They are afraid of what I believe in, what my values are, who I actually am as a person.
It saddens me to think that rather than bringing me closer to people, my confidence has in fact created a bigger divide. And that’s one of the many dilemmas that I’ve been finding myself in at the moment.
Do I try to conform and be more accepted by people in the neurotypical world? Or do I stay true to myself as someone who is neurodiverse and acknowledge that true acceptance comes from within?
I think I just answered my own question.

Aspergers & Teaching Les Mills – A Personal Reflection

It’s been a while since I wrote a group fitness related blog post. But having gone through some recent events and anniversaries, I thought it would be a perfect time to pick up on this again.

Eight years ago this week, I undertook my training to become a BODYJAM instructor (the first of what would eventually become 8 Les Mills programs in which I would train). And the road I’ve travelled on since then has been somewhat rocky in some parts, but overall an experience that has helped me to grow as a person.

When I initially became an instructor, I was extremely overwhelmed and excited to become part of what is commonly referred as “The Tribe”, ie. the collective of Les Mills instructors around the world. A group of people whom I thought to be just like myself, ready to take on the group fitness world. 

And being the passionate person that I was, I was ready to get my hands dirty and get to know everything and everyone Les Mills-related. However I learnt quite quickly that being new and passionate about something does not sit well with certain people in the group fitness industry.

At the time, Aspergers or autism were terms that were not even on my radar, so in my mind I was just this new instructor who was super keen to get out there and make a great impression on people. Looking back, it seems that a lot of those efforts were in vain, as I started to become aware of certain comments being made about me, people overtly making fun of me. I would be aware of myself making numerous social faux-pas but not really being able to do anything about it.

And to be honest, it cut me. It cut me very deeply, and it took a while to even get my head around why other instructors would be going out of their way to be totally cruel and heartless. I was very naive to the world around me, and was under the impression that everyone in the Les Mills world would be like me – enthusiastic, passionate, respectful and kind to each other. Certainly not the kind of behaviour that belonged back in high school.

And not only did this happen in Australia, but also in New Zealand, where I had started to regularly attend the filming sessions for the upcoming release masterclasses. I quickly got to know a lot of the Program Directors and International Presenters, and like any new instructor, was totally in awe of what they could do. But at the same time, I also viewed them as simple human beings, and yearned to get to know them as people too, and they were very warm and welcoming in return.

Unfortunately, around 2010, the general atmosphere in Auckland as far as I was concerned began to change. I had just gone through a sudden personal financial collapse that had resulted in me aborting a filming trip halfway through, and was trying to pick up the pieces from that (it was a long hard struggle, some residual effects I still experience today). That trip had also revealed the true colours of fellow instructors I had previously considered to be friends, and the extent of the nastiness that I and others uncovered on their part was emotionally devastating, on top of all the other feelings I was experiencing from the financial issues.

But what struck me the most was the treatment of some of the Program Directors and presenters towards me. It was as if I had suddenly become a leper. And when you are the Autism Spectrum, you typically will have no idea why people’s attitudes towards you would change on a dime unless they explicitly say something to you, which was the case here.

So to be effectively looked down upon for essentially no reason by people that you admire, and to an extent idolise, was a double blow for me. Some of this escalated even further in 2011 to the point where I was publicly humiliated at a filming class. It led me to exile myself from Auckland for over 4 years.

Back in Australia, the repercussions of that filming class (I personally refer to it as the “Filming From Hell”) continued to be felt for some time. Even a senior Les Mills trainer here felt it necessary to minimise me and the experience that I had had, and by that point I needed to cut myself off from everyone and everything.

So I deleted my Facebook in 2012. Five years worth of stories, of friends, of pictures. All deleted with just a couple of taps. It was a major shock to the system seeing that disappear before my very eyes.

But it gave me the space I needed to start healing emotionally, physically and mentally. Keep in mind that all through this time, I still had to teach all my classes and still be the positive role model that my members needed me to be. At this stage, I had been trained in 5 programs and was teaching 4 of them. At the beginning of 2012, I had also broken two bones in my hands during a BODYSTEP class, the effects of which required invasive surgery to keep the bones together (I still remember the morning after I broke my hand, I went to teach BODYPUMP with no bar – that was an experience I would never forget).

By the end of 2012, I felt ready to come back into the outside world. I got myself certified for BODYPUMP. I created a new Facebook account, and slowly broadened my contacts again. On my previous Facebook account, I had amassed over 1000 friends, mostly instructors from around the world whom I didn’t know from a bar of soap. But this time, it would be different.

I adopted the mindset of being very choosy and picky about the people I added to my Facebook account, and to this day I still maintain that level of caution somewhat. The experiences of the previous 2 years were enough to make me ever so careful about whom I spoke to, whom I could trust, because I knew that everything I would say could be used against me in some way. And that scared the hell out of me.

That period of 2012-2013 was to mark the start of a shift in behaviour with me. I had come to realise since the Filming From Hell that not everything was all roses and sweetness in the Les Mills world. I knew that the programs themselves were awesome and I loved teaching them, but not so much the stuff that operated around it. I was sick of the egos that permeated the industry. 

I made it my sole focus in every class to be there for the members, and the members only. No associating with Les Mills presenters/trainers outside of a professional environment, apart from the ones that were already friends and whom I could trust. No being around people who consistently displayed negative energy and lack of respect for other people. 

In essence, I had to start focusing on myself and my strengths, rather than what other instructors thought of me (and believe me, that took a long time). It completely changed the way that I approached the outside world.

At the start of 2013, I added CXWORX to my program repertoire. I ended up getting certified for SHBAM and CXWORX in the second half of the year. Things were on the up.

2014 was another turning point – it was when my stepfather died and also when I discovered that I had Aspergers. I’ve written about this previously at length, so I won’t go into the details here. I also trained and certified for BODYATTACK that year.

2015 I trained and certified in BODYBALANCE. I also achieved Advanced status in AIM2 for BODYPUMP and BODYSTEP. Again I’ve written at length about those experiences previously in my blog.

And the Autism diagnosis was officially confirmed. The Aspergers knowledge is what really has allowed me to come to terms with a lot of what had happened in my life thus far, but just as importantly, the events of the last 8 years. Just having that knowledge has empowered me to speak out without fear of judgement or repercussion. It has enabled me to stand up for what is right for me and for my loved ones.

The years post-diagnosis in my group fitness career have been challenging in their own way, but for vastly different reasons than elaborated above. I learnt that I will never be able to fulfill the expectations that Les Mills want from an “Elite” instructor, but moreover I realised that I am ok with that. I just go out there now and teach to my strengths, of which I have several. They may not meet Elite criteria, but they nevertheless provide my members the best experience that I can possibly give them.

There are a lot more events over the past 8 years that have occurred in my career to this point, in addition the ones above. There are also more details I could add to a lot of these, but they do not really have much relevance here. This is not intended to be a rant or a bitchfest or a pity party, just an honest and open post of some of what I have experienced and endured.

I have loved what I done for the last 8 years, and I believe that I will continue to love it for a long time to come.

Empathy Helps Humanity

It has been almost a week now since the US election. And while I have had time to process it (and I am feeling better), some of it does weigh a little heavily inside me still. 

One of the things that is helping me to move through this is the compassion and empathy shown by other people, not just on FB but out there in society. The knowledge that most people are going through their own individual grief process for a kinder, more compassionate society that seems to have been left behind. 

Unfortunately there have been those who have not shown that level of empathy and compassion, and it does horrify me that some people will simply say “get over it”, “grow up”, “just move on”.

No, no and no. 

We as human beings are designed to express emotions, not repress them. We as human beings need to know what we feel deep inside us is not wrong.

What is wrong though is dictating to people what they should and should not be feeling in times of grief and sadness. We will move on when we feel ready to (and some of us are at that stage already). 

As someone with Aspergers, those emotions can come on very strongly, to the point where I will often be told “you’re just overreacting”. No I’m not. I am reacting in the way that feels natural to me. The sad thing is, societal stereotypes have dictated that I need to keep my emotions to myself, to bottle them inside and portray a strong facade. Repressing emotions is dangerous enough for neurotypical people, and the danger merely intensifies for neurodiverse people. 

Emotions are not a sign of weakness, but they are a sign of humanity. Let’s maintain that humanity.

America, WTAF? – The Morning After

Everybody is unique in the way they are created. Here are just some of the qualities that make me who I am:

  • I am the son of a white French man with suspected Mongolian and Scandinavian ancesty, and a mixed-race French woman with African and European ancestry.
  • I am on the Autism Spectrum with Aspergers (and that in itself spurs off a number of other qualities)
  • I am a gay male

I’m sure others out there can add more qualitative items to that list. Our differences are what set us apart from everyone else around us. But they can also unite us at the same time. I was always taught from a young age to celebrate diversity as much as possible. Being on the spectrum made it difficult sometimes to comprehend that, particularly during the bullying and teasing that I endured during high school. But somehow, instead of keeping me down, I managed to pick myself up and simply find another path to where I needed to go.

Some will call that the path of least resistance, but I prefer to term it the path of most knowledge, as it is the path I forged from the knowledge I gained by being knocked down in the first place.

It has now been 24 hours since the USA went to the polls to elect their new President. I faced a restless night’s sleep as my brain was completely overloaded with so many different conflicting emotions, and it was extremely difficult to allow any space inside.

As an Aspie, my mind is always switched on, even when it is crying out to be turned off. And when it experiences emotional overload as it progressively did yesterday, well, let’s just say that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that I would get any rest.

I eventually got myself off to sleep around 2am after looking at meaningless stuff and chatting to people (I specifically told myself to stay away from any social media, as that would have made matters much worse). And when I woke up in the morning, some of the fog had cleared, but the heaviness of the heart remained (and it still does even as I write this).

The last time I felt anything so disheartening like this was when Australia elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in 2013, on the wave of backlash against Julia Gillard and the Labor Party. It was an extremely cruel night to endure and I actually had to switch off social media for a couple of weeks as it was just too much to bear at the time.

I take so much comfort in the fact that there are people like me who are going through a similar wave of emotions. I am certain that people who voted for Trump do honestly believe they made the right choice for them. But as with anything in life, that remains to be seen for sure. The indicators thus far aren’t exactly encouraging though.

I also take comfort in the fact that while Donald Trump might have won the Electoral College vote, Hillary Clinton by far won the popular vote – in fact, the most number of popular votes for any presidential canditate in history. There are people even today who still insist that Bernie Sanders would have done a better job.

The benefit of hindsight is 20/20, but no one can ever predict what an alternative outcome would have been (and quite frankly it is futile to do so). In saying that, I do honestly believe that with the level of discontent and lingering hatred in the US electorate, even Bernie would not have been enough (remember that Bernie united behind Hillary in the end too, and encouraged his supporters to do so).

I think about all my close friends over in the US who feel the same way I do, and I have already offered to them to come stay with me here in Melbourne. Yes, Australia has its own fuck tonne of issues to contend with (not much dissimilar to the US), but nothing on the magnitude of what they are experiencing over there.

I had a long chat with my mum this morning just after I woke up. There is nothing like a mother’s voice to help reassure her child that everything is going to turn out ok, no matter how dire the circumstances are at the time. She is someone who has been through a lot more in her life than most people, and has always come out stronger every time. She is the person I look to for inspiration in how to be a survivior.

She has recently returned from 11 months in France where far-right extremism is sweeping the country, to the point where the previously fringe far-right Front National party is widely tipped to win the French Presidency next year. And for a country that prides itself on the values of Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood, this is an extremely frightening thought.

I realised today that I will actually be in France next year in May after the second run-off vote for the Presidency has occurred. I certainly hope that common sense does prevail, but I dread that the French people will make the same mistake that has just been made in the US (and also in the UK earlier this year with Brexit, an event which I also found very disturbing).

A dear friend of mine on Facebook who is currently in the US covering the election posted that on his feed, he had seen all different stages of the grief process in one hit. And that in itself is not surprising, as everyone deals with grief in their own personal way. But the observation was made that no one had hit the stage of Acceptance yet.

The way I related to this was seeing it as the death of someone who was dear to oneself. We may see them take their last breath, but we don’t actually accept it until the funeral has occurred and they are either buried or cremated (this is what happened with me when my stepfather died, although unfortunately I was not there to see him pass away, which made things even worse for me).

Donald Trump was elected on November 8, 2016. I see this as the “death”, so to speak. He will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017. I see this as the burial/cremation. The point where I know that it has actually happened and I can accept and move on.

But as we all move on, we also need to deal with the ramifications of what occurred during the election and what will unfold. Times will be rocky, but it will be our differences that help unite us in that period.

America, World, once we have grieved, once we have accepted, we unite as one common society, differences and all. And that includes me and all my unique differences. I am always happy to talk about it with any of you, as engaging in constructive and positive dialogue will help us all move forward.