In Search Of A New Normal

10:32 AM

It seems that life as we knew it has become yet another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic and while I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing, it’s definitely disconcerting and wearying. I’ve heard myself say and think the words, “I’m over this” so many times I’ve lost count.

Lying in bed last night, I realized I needed to start searching for a new normal and figuring out what I want the new normal to look like. I recently stumbled across the graphic below on social media and it went a long way towards giving me a working mantra to help me begin to think about moving forward:

I’ll be the first to admit that accepting what is, as in life as we know it being over, has been a challenge. So is letting go because I kinda liked my life before it was interrupted. I found myself frequently thinking things were on some kind of temporary hold. All those headlines (April 1st became April 15th then April 30th and now I hear sometime in May) have been seductive and had me thinking that once the magical date arrived, we’d throw the switch and the party would resume and I’d go back to “life as usual.”

But can it? Will it?

I don’t think so. It seems unlikely and again, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing but rather a scary thing.

But what I do know is that I cannot stay in a perpetual cycle of hand-wringing, aimless wandering and useless conjecture about when we might get back to some semblance of normalcy, old or new.

Coping Methods
After more than a few sleepless hours last night of mulling over where this is all going to go and what my place in the new world order might look like (and really, I still have no clue), I decided to do a “brain dump” this morning. A brain dump is the process of dumping everything out of your brain that’s bugging/worrying/aggravating you. It’s all the little disjointed thoughts that don’t seem to have any relation to other thoughts.

I basically wrote down everything that’s been nagging at me about this situation, but I’ve also used this exercise to target a specific problem I had no idea how to solve. Once everything is written down, I can often begin to see patterns and associations between those disjointed thoughts. And sometimes, I’ll see an answer or a path forward just from what I’ve written.

Other times, it takes a little longer. In these instances, it’s as if I have extra space in my brain and I use the room to begin working through the issue(s) at hand. Obviously, this pandemic and all its far-reaching effects on our lives is not going to be solved with one brain dump, but I also found myself feeling a bit of relief from the constant, nagging fear and worry.

Now that I have a written record of it, my brain and emotions can rest for a bit before finding something new to fret about. With that said, I also realize I get to must choose what I feed—my faith in what will be, in the possibility of an even-better new normal in life or my fear(s) that life will never be as good as it once was.

I see a lot more brain dumps in my future, especially if it helps me to keep the fear in check. I also see a lot more creative efforts. I’ve been exploring other art mediums, jewelry making, and such to keep myself entertained. I don’t know what I’ll pursue just yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll share it with you.

I also know it’s important for me to reach out to friends, be it a text or a phone call, to see how others are coping. The conversation always starts out about the virus, but I am trying to push past the pandemic to other things like art, music, recipes, sharing quarantine accomplishments and so forth. Life is more, far more, than the current case count of our state, and it helps me greatly to focus on something other than pandemic.

Lastly, I find it’s crucial for me to have [more] humor in my life. From Shelby’s antics while chasing those persistent squirrels away from the bird feeder to my husband’s dry humor to funny posts on social media to funny shows on Netflix, all of them help to fill the void left by my old life and soothe my worry over what the new one is going to look like and when it’s going to get here. (Ha! As if it will simply arrive on a specific date.)

How Are You Doing? 
I’m wondering how you’re doing and what you’re doing to pass the hours of the quarantine. How are you coping? What helps you to keep the fears at bay and have you given any thought to what life is going to look like on the other side of this and what you want your new normal to look like?

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment below!

I’ll leave you with a photo of a tired pup lounging on the couch with her head propped up on a deflated ball. She chased squirrels all day long yesterday and it just wore her out!
Sweet, tired Shelby!

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7 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve been doing some major walking (10 miles a day) even in rain and a bit of snow, dumping my brain. Exercise is what keeps me sane. I had come to the conclusion just a few days ago that I was in charge of me and needed to move forward. I’m 71 and can’t waste time standing still. I gotta live my life. Part of my plan is to never shake hands with anyone ever again!�� I haven’t added anything new to my daily routine (Being retired my daily routines haven’t changed that much) but I have ditched a few things (running to the store many times a day to “shop”, watching the new cycles, etc.
    I am concerned that I will become fearful of travel . Still have to work through that (France with Laure sounds like a good plan).
    Wishing you well Laure. Hugs!
    ....and I only divorced my hubby once!🤪

    1. Walking is a fabulous way to settle the mind! Ten miles?! Wow! Clare, you've addressed a concern of mine as well about the travel, but I think it comes down to whether or not we will let the virus steal yet more from us...or not. Obviously, precautions and care will be necessary, but maybe now we'll be a little more aware of our surroundings and be more careful not just for ourselves but others. I foresee masks becoming standard travel equipment. Maybe even gloves. But I think it will come down to choice. And I foresee myself giving the middle finger to this virus and getting on the $@%& plane anyway! (Glad to hear you haven't kicked Al to the curb—yet!)

  2. I am retired too. The virus hasn't done so much to my routine except that I miss seeing my friends and family. This virus came at a good time for me, if that can be said. I work in my garden daily which I always do but this year it seems to have taken on a fervor I don't usually have. Maybe the unusually warm weather (that has now turned cold) is a factor too. I dug out my old sewing machine and made masks that have been requested. Sewing makes me crazy but I felt that it was easy and helpful so I made some. As to travel, I doubt it will stop us but I will probably be more cautious and wash hands better. ha...

  3. I still work as a psychotherapist for two days of the week, so am spending time Zooming, Skyping and telephoning clients, and my cats have invaded my therapy room with joy. My husband, the one person I am in lockdown with, has been using his shut-at-home surfing the net or watching superhero movies. My beloved granddaughters are out of bounds and at 18mths and 4 yrs, they don't manage videoconferencing well. Initially I felt very lonely and bored, and then it suddenly occurred to me that this is the ideal time to start writing the first of my fantasy novel series I have been worldbuilding on and off for about thirty years. I found a brilliant writing coach to keep me on target, and she is doing her job. So most days now, I get up early while it is still quite dark, (like about 5.30) I shower and dress, light candles in my summerhouse, and write with a cup of coffee, losing myself in my imagination for a couple of hours. I am in Perth Australia, and up to half a dozen bandicoots (little grey marsupials that are very cute, often with babies in their pouches) come to check me out and beg a crust or two as I write. It is giving me great joy, and who knows, I may yet finish my book and publish it.
    My work with clients gives me a chance to connect back into the real world, and to ride along some people who are having a pretty tough time of it, and to chew the fat about some of these difficult problems like the terrible political leadership in some places, and the tragedies and amazing success stories too. I have a brother in Barcelona who warned us what was coming, and we luckily have had the chance here to flatten the curve. My lovely cousin in Florence is peddling out to buy food every two weeks, and doing her best not to add to the death rate. My climate-change researching brother does radiocarbon dating at the University of California Irvine, and he told us people have been buying "carbon-dates" like crazy- trying to book in their samples and send them through before their own universities closed down. Hoarding carbondates instead of toilet paper. I too dream of that trip to France with Laure, not sure if Australians will be allowed to travel out of Australia by then, or what France will be like. But we will have to wait and see, as my Dad used to say when we asked what was for pudding.

  4. I'm so glad my husband and I can get excited over seeing a ladybug nymph to into its chrysalis stage and harvesting wild California poppy seeds to scatter in our back yard (the seed pods pop open in your hand!). Without nature I'd be in a big funk, but nature is always there. Just wish my family could visit too.

  5. I'm also retired. I miss volunteering, but am enjoying painting greeting cards instead of buying them as well as bookmarks. I include an encouraging Bible verse on each. I'm at ease (although missing the camping trips that have been cancelled), taking one day at a time and at peace because my Lord is always with me.

  6. Laure, your thoughts are so tender and heartfelt, and also quite wise. I think the brain dump approach is great - I'll have to do some more of that. I have a painting I bought in the living room here that is the artist's Dad sitting with his legs crossed, contemplating something, his chin in his propped up hand, and surrounding him swirls words and letters in all colors. Your 'writing things down' reminded me of this fun and surrealistic work I've got here.
    As for me, I wasn't able to get to Florida this Spring - due to airplane cancellations and got rebooked 7-8 times before the Spring was gone, the Summer was here, and it no longer made sense to try to go. Darn it! On that topic, airplane air is really really clean now, so do plan to fly - whenever and whereever you want to go. I had the whole backpack/kitbag ready: single-use gloves, box of masks, cleaner, etc. Will just hope to make it in the Fall season, as planned.
    I'm lucky my work is rather solitary, done online mostly. It's tax work, so everyone still needs it. I'm also painting more, spending time on bluebirds and polar bears lately (not in the same piece), and having fun listening to operas online. I'm reading novels like crazy - about twice my usual consumption, with my Kindles and my public library access to Manatee County Library. And I'm working out by online class also - which really is fun and not an expensive option, really geared up from my health club in Norway. The summer's arrived, and nature doesn't have COVID so Norwegians have, since March, been literally flocking (with distance between them) to all the paths and trails that surround and back up every town and village in this land. It's been quite an education to discover some lovely long nature trails and paths near where I've lived for ...20 years! Didn't even know they were there, and am definitely going back to them soon! Since Covid has not taken over Nature, I'm also so happy to get out in it and, well, "forest bathe." This is a 'real thing' Laure - definitely check it out! Cheers and see you on the upside of life again soon, I hope. You're a star in our art-starving world.


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