On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma decided the Florida Keys was a good place to visit during the off season, a time when locals get to take a breath, catch up on everything and even get a little relaxation time in paradise. Although Irma herself has come and gone, like the wind (that she was), what she left in the wake (well actually flood) still resides. It’s ok to be IRMAfied still.

It’s well known that September is hurricane season, and it goes from June 1st to November 30th but most don’t concern themselves or even think about it until September. However, this go around, it will probably be on everyone’s mind well into and maybe even past this month, November, through December and even into the following year, 2018.

Many of the beautiful parks have been used for debris staging areas and any other available open area. The bicycle paths were and may still be impassible, the pools and beaches were and may still remain shut down and even our own beautiful waters that surround our islands were not places to swim for awhile.

Enough about Irma, right? No!

Everyone’s life in some way was or still is being affected by Irma. Maybe you are still IRMAfied today as you read this article. Or maybe you are the one and only person who’s life went untouched by her.

Most consider November late Fall, but here in the Keys, it’s still very much like summer. Except a huge difference this year is it’s a bit more congested than previous years. The roads are busy with disaster relief vehicles and repair companies and many organizations rearranging charity events to accommodate the “new normal” that’s fallen upon the island chain.

Stress levels have risen to a height that seems never ending within the general local population as frustrations rise. So many decisions, so much loss, not enough people power to get it all done and patience wearing extremely thin. This is a great recipe for a disaster of a different kind.

Stress can lead to illnesses of various kinds and all the trash around can pollute the environment, the air and water surrounding all who live here. With parks and beaches closed, various water areas questionable, sidewalks and bike paths blocked with debris, what is a person to do for that fresh air workout they routinely enjoyed. And how about a lack of time to workout in your usual fashion because when you’re not working, well, you might be working on your home repairs or helping out a neighbor with theirs. How about that awesome 1, 2, 3 or 4 week plus cleanup you’ve been doing? Now that’s a fun workout right??!!

If you think about it, you’re doing lots of squats, lunges, pulling, pushing and rotating of your body all over the place. So don’t worry, you haven’t missed any workouts!! You may have even lost a few pounds and skipped a few meals.

You’re not alone

Now, are you staying hydrated, eating right, finding a quiet moment to release pent up energy by crying, screaming or talking to family or friends? If you look around you’ll find even the most together person you know is having a rough time. Don’t think you’re alone because you had no damage or you had a tremendous amount of damage. Everyone is still IRMAfied even now in November. It’s ok to feel this way. Own your thoughts and emotions but do something constructive with them. Have a bit of anger or frustration, take a walk or go for a walk around your neighborhood or someone else’s where you have a clear path. Still have some clean up to do, some heavy lifting perhaps, then remember to use your legs and not your back. Put your exercise knowledge to good use. It’s not just for the gym or your daily workout routine. Now’s the time to see what you’ve learned. Not feeling very strong, feeling tired and beat up? Guess what, 9 out of 10 people you know probably feel the same way. Again, you’re not alone. Question is, what do you want to do about it.

How do you take being IRMAfied to a new level, which is the “new normal”? I won’t tell you it’s easy. But I will tell you it’s possible to work though. For every problem, there lies a solution. If I’ve learned nothing in life I have learned that everything in life is possible.

The Keys Strong Solution

Only days ago, I remained unconfident myself, that things will get better. But I’ll tell you the Keys Strong solution. It starts with finding your way to keep it real. It takes ridding yourself of the anger and frustration of what happened nearly 2 months ago. So have a good cry or 2 or 3 or however many are needed. Go out to a party with friends and dance the night away. Get out off the rock just to see some different scenery, go shopping in a mall miles away, go out to dinner with a friend and talk until late in the night. Scream into the wind or out on your boat or dock, just let it out, let it go. Get it out of your system. It’s the emotional cleanse everybody needs.

When you’re all done with that and you’ve had enough of all the negativity that befell upon you beginning days before IRMA visited, get up, wipe the muddy dirt off and find a pen and paper. Yes, these 2 magical tools are all you need to get back on track.

Write down everything you need to do. You don’t need to write down what you want, you already know it. Focus on the needs for now. Your mind is not a note pad or a sketch pad so stop cluttering it with all that stuff. Put on some music, maybe open a bottle of wine or stretch, to wake up your body and mind.

Being IRMAfied is a short lived problem

Being IRMAfied is a short lived problem with long term solutions, but it takes effort on your part and mine too to make things happen and in the happiest way possible. The motto, the chant has been Keys Strong since IRMAfication began. Don’t let it just be that, make it a formidable action representing who you truly are and how you feel. Go outside, get things done, go back to business or work and mostly, get back to living!!

Before you know it the “new normal” will subside and the new you will rise up out of the rubble, strong, confident and happy. Look around at the new growth on the dead trees of weeks ago. If they can grow back and survive so can all of us in the Florida Keys!

So, say goodbye to being IRMAfied and say hello to YOU!