New (Kind-of) Normal

What is normal anymore?

Making adjustments at a rapid pace feels like the new normal. The global pandemic COVID-19 has brought unprecedented change to all of our lives. We are all trying to keep up with the constant news, developments, and changes in recommendations. I heard it described as “running with our hair on fire.”
Yeah, that sounds about right.

Working at home. Different hours. Different days.
Kids completing all schoolwork at home.
Eating at home.

Easter at home.

Easter 2017

Disappointment hangs in the air. As I am faced with needing to make adjustments again. The hopeful action of looking for the opportunity becomes more difficult.

I find myself romanticizing how things were before. Longing for the days when life will return to what it was.

This is normal. However, this is the “normal” process of change. “New” [opportunity, job, move, health recommendation]first presents itself. Excitement builds as we think about all the positives that will come from this opportunity. Plans are made. We have it all worked out.

We quickly realize how difficult it is to create new habits, and to get rid of old ones. Change is difficult and takes effort.

At this point, it is important to remind yourself of the things that excited you about the opportunity, or the positives in the situation.

Keep your hope.

It will be hard.
But you have done hard things before.

As you continue with the change, progress will begin to appear. You will begin see evidence of progress from this opportunity. At this point, the “new” will be your normal. Picture the letter “J,” that is what the process of change looks like. The hope that you start with decreases after implementing the change but as continue through the positive results will be measurably greater than even when you started. The payoff is worth it!

Letter J to represent J-curve of change

I experienced this when I first started exercising regularly after having babies.
I was excited. I thought of all the things being strong and healthy would bring to my life.
After beginning the program, it was hard to get up early. The workouts were challenging. My body hurt.
One thing that really helped me continue when I wanted to quit was doing this exercise program with a group of people. Every day, we would send a message to each other stating that we completed that days workout. What I found was all of these people were also experiencing similar feelings. We encouraged each other daily to keep going.
After a few weeks, I noticed changes in my energy. I could see evidence I was stronger.
As I continued, other people begin to notice changes in me for the better.
The positive effects of exercising regularly are so much greater than the effort it takes to continue now. Exercise is now part of my life. But I continue in a group for those difficult days.

Have you ever had an experience like this?

Here are a few ways to get through the valley of the “J” curve:

First, don’t change everything all at once. In our current circumstances with COVID-19, many things have already changed. Jobs, school, social, etc. Try to keep some things as they were: go to bed at a set time, get up each day at the same time, plan meals, eat meals, read, exercise, etc. These things might look a little different but you can still continue with some of your usual rhythms in these unusual times.

Next, this take this opportunity try new fun things that you have wanted to try. If you are like me, our weekly calendar had so many activities on it, there was no time to try new things.

In January, I started saying this was the year that I truly learned to cook. But I didn’t have the time or the space to try new food and techniques like I wanted. Staying at home for the last 4 weeks has helped me push my cooking skills. We have had some mediocre meals, but we have had some really great meals as well!

Pick, a low pressure, skill that you have been wanting to learn, try, or build. Like cooking or teaching the kids to cook. Or going on bike rides as a family. This might mean you need to teach you children to ride a bike. New has been forced upon you in high pressure ways. Giving yourself something fun to look forward will help your mindset in the valley as change is happening.

Finally, take this time to include others, they are probably struggling too. Start a group text with friends to stay in touch. Or start a group on social media for a book you all commit to reading, recipe share, daily exercise, etc.

I feel like my biggest struggle now is the lack of physical community. I am home with my 4 family members and our dog. I can’t share all of my thoughts with my husband, because that wouldn’t be fair to him. He has other things he needs to get done throughout the day. And my children are little. So, my dog gets to hear my thoughts. I have so many thoughts!

I have found when I send that text to friends that says “Hey. I don’t want to make dinner tonight. Why did I think making Thai food would be a good idea? I don’t even know if I like Thai food.” The response I receive is, “I am tried of making dinner too. How about instead of making a Thai meal, you make a fajita bowl. You always say they are really easy to make. And you really like those when you make them. You can make that Thai recipe this weekend.”

Community encourages progress.
Community also provides accountability.
Accountability helps positive movement in your “new” normal, rather than just quitting all together.

Melissa Miller

Life is in a constant state of change, although it feels more so recently. That means we are constantly making adjustments in one way or another. The question is are you going to spend your time romanticizing about the “good ol’ days” or are you going to be present in the moment attempting to make progress in the situation you have been given? You have a choice.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.

Helen Keller
Learning to make homemade pizza
Evidence of change
New playground
Exploring the water
Alvin interrupting my workout

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