Meet MAJ



This is a blog about a mania for insisting that everything is good.

The Original MAJ, c 1964
Welcome to my little corner of the internet. My personal tribute to my mom (my initialsake, The Original MAJ) and my dad (whose answer to almost every difficult situation in life was to ask me how do you eat an elephant? - obviously, you can only eat one bite at a time.)  

What you will find here: observations about life, positivity, updates on my triathlon and marathon training, dissertations on my adoration of cheese and wine, and F-bombs.

What you won't find here: smack talk about other people.  If I have an issue with you, I won't handle it on the blogosphere.

So about this "mania" crap.

Voltaire’s famous satire Candide chronicles the adventures of a paranoid pessimist, Candide, and a persistent Pollyanna, Pangloss. Candide is constantly thwarting Pangloss and his sunny views; his trademark expression is: "Optimism is a mania for insisting everything is good when we're wretched."

Until about 8 years ago, I was a Pangloss: I had just started participating in triathlon and marathon. Everything in my life was going good, so I had no reason to be anything but optimistic. In fact, everything had gone good for me my entire life. As far back as I can remember, my grades were great, boyfriends were plentiful, jobs got consecutively more challenging and lucrative - you get the picture.

And then, through a series of events both in and out of my control, my life and my health spiraled downward. Everything from divorce to illness to homelessness to financial ruin to cancer - basically, everyone's worst nightmares - happened to me . . . . all at once. I suddenly found myself broke, sick, struggling, and incapable of maintaining any of the elements that once made my life so amazing and adventurous and positive. I became petty and sad and tired.

I became a Candide.  And all I wanted in life was to be a Pangloss again.

Weeks started to fly by, and I wasn’t feeling all that great, and I wasn’t doing anything at all. I remember one day, not long after my radioactive iodine treatment, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck, beaten up, and left out in the hot sun for days, that I suddenly got sick of it. I was so tired I was literally nauseous, but I told myself, I just as well work out, because either way I’m going to be exhausted.

So I did. Little bits at a time. By June of that same year I did my first triathlon in almost 2 years, and my first race since January 2010.  

After cancer, I did nothing all year but finish races and PR.

Since cancer, my attitude toward my various illnesses is totally different.  Which seems silly, because cancer is the baddie, right? Most people consider it worse than inner ear problems, or allergies, or asthma, or apnea, or migraines, or heart palpitations, or depression.  Cancer is The Big C-word. (Not the four-letter word that ends in T that people use for women they really, really dislike – the other one.)

But exercise, which my various doctors recommend highly, is the one thing that not only remained constant, it also made me feel NORMAL.
 
Since cancer,  I have reached almost all of my original triathlon goals: to finish at least a few events in the top 3 of my age group (Athena), to finish a few triathlons in the top 5 of my NON-Athena age group - I placed in the top 15% of a few 5ks, did my first crit and road race, and finished a century at 19.6mph, and won a few trophies.  I ran a sub-10-minute mile in a race, then a sub-9-minute mile in a race, then ran a 1-mile time trial in 7:44.  I swam a sub-2-minute 100, then a sub-1:50 100. I have even come in #1 on the bike portion in my age group . . .  multiple times  . . . and been one of the top overall finishers of either gender. I qualified for USAT Nationals twice.  While I've given up Ironman aspirations, maybe I will actually finish a half Ironman someday.  I even want to attempt to qualify for Boston.

I don't care if I still have almost 2 hours to go.  I mean, hell . . . I've come this far.

Since cancer, I work harder than I ever did before.  Because training is the only thing that makes me feel normal, no matter how bad I feel.  It's the thing that kept me from giving up.   And that attitude has spread to every other aspect of how I live.

To that end, the ultimate, absolute, final goal of this blog is to take every experience, every feeling about which I blog and make something constructive and positive of it - no matter how bleak, bitter, or dark it may seem.

Here's to embracing that mania for insisting everything is good.
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