Fist of all…. hello! I’ve been away from Self Help Daily so long I feel like I almost need to introduce myself. Don’t worry, I haven’t been mad at you… you didn’t say or do anything wrong.
In fact, it’s not you. It’s me.
Well, more to the point – it’s summer. This happens every summer, like clockwork. I get ridiculously busy in the garden, we have 110 places to go, and my Kentucky blog keeps me hopping with SO many events and activities going on. Granted this year has been worse than ever because not only has all of that been going on, I’ve had more work to do. Even those of us who have the luxury of working from home can run out of hours at the end of the day.
Not complaining mind you. I am not – and will never be – one of those people who complains about having to do anything whether it’s working in the garden or working at my computer. I thank God every day I’m able to do both.
The next time you feel like complaining about being busy, visit a Nursing Home.
Anyway, I’ve gained on all the craziness and am now ready to get back down to business. For better or worse, you’re stuck with me.
You know what’s on my mind today? Normal. I started thinking about this popular, yet elusive, subject about a week ago. An online buddy e-mailed me about some stressful things going on in her life. Apparently she’s had a great deal of stress and anxiety at work and at home (never any good when life double teams you). Within one paragraph, she mentioned life getting back to normal three times.
Then in the next paragraph she mentioned not knowing what normal felt like two times.
I couldn’t help thinking, by this time, that she was expecting a suitor to show up at her door that just wasn’t going to show.
We’re all like her in a lot of ways, aren’t we? Seriously, how many times have we all wished for things to get back to normal or for our situation to be more normal? Heck, don’t we even sometimes wish for people in our lives to be more normal?!
The problem is, in our minds, we paint a much grander picture of NORMAL than it actually is. We envision pretty much a modern day Garden of Eden. Everything’s peaceful, beautiful, and totally free of anything remotely stressful. We envision having more money than we can spend, more hours in the day than we can use, and… come to think of it – even though we’re eating more food than usual, we’re losing weight!
That’s not NORMAL, though. That’s a fantasy.
In reality, normal is different things to different people. When I think of “normal,” I think of everyone in my family feeling good and being happy. No bickering, complaints, or clashing of wills. Everyone has everything they want and more than they need. Health, happiness, and harmony – it’s all I really ask for. Well, that and a full coffee pot. My normal may not seem all that ritzy to the next person, but to me it’s Heaven on earth.
Just because there are extra cares, concerns, stresses, or anxieties in your life doesn’t mean it’s suddenly ABNORMAL. It’s just a little to the right or a little to the left of NORMAL. Your peace of mind will be a lot sounder if you can truly grasp the concept that a great number of your days are going to be spent to the right or to the left of normal. If I were to be completely honest, but we haven’t just had “one of those days” in our family or even “one of those weeks.” We’ve had “one of those years” – and it’s just July. One broken refrigerator, 1 broken washing machine (3 times), 2 broken lawn mowers, one nasty case of poison ivy, one gall bladder surgery, one dental extraction, 2 broken cars…. the list goes on, but I’m getting a migraine!
We’ve been to the left and to the right of NORMAL so often this year it’s almost like we’re line dancing through life. To the left… to the right.. to the left… to the right… That’s okay with me, I’ve gotten good at this dance by now.
Waiting for the Inevitable Return to Normal
Some people ride the tide and wait to be carried back to “norm,” while others fight, kick, spit, and try to swim upstream like they’re salmon.
I’ve found that when you’re doing the left/right dance, it’s best to stay busy. Be proactive.
When we say we want life to be normal, we’re actually saying that we want __________ to be gone or ____________ to be better. We want solutions to problems – and, a lot of times, we want the problems to fix their darn selves. WORK for it? FIGHT for it? CHANGE? You’re kidding, right?!
Your Action Plan when NORMAL is Eluding You:
- Don’t panic. Keep breathing – in fact breath deeper than normal. It helps keep you calm. Seriously. When in stressful situations, our body kind of has a mini-panic attack. The pulse races, muscles get tense – it’s as though our entire body is ready to take off at any given moment. The fight or flight reaction kicks in and our body is convinced it has to gear up for whichever way we decide to go. When we calm down and take deep breaths, our mind tells our body, “(S)he’s got this. Cool your heels.” Your pulse will slow down and the entire body will relax. You’ll feel 110 percent better instantly.
- If there’s something you can do to actually help bridge the gap back to normal, do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as making an appointment with a doctor, mechanic, dentist, or (ahem, ahem) washing machine repairman (as in one that knows what he’s doing!). The amazing thing is as soon as we do all that we can possibly do, not only do things start “getting better,” they start “looking better” almost immediately.
- Keep living. Keep loving. Keep laughing. If we were to only enjoy life on the days when everything’s going right, we’d be miserable grumps most of the time.
The third point brings me to one last analogy. I read a wonderful story recently of a farmer who lost his arm in an accident on his farm. The picture accompanying the story showed this farmer showing of his prosthetic arm – smiling ear to ear and looking like the happiest man in the world. If one were to look at the picture, without reading the story, they’d feel sorry for the man. They might even wonder why he’s smiling so broadly.
Easy! He’s smiling because he’s glad to be alive. He actually came thisclose to dying that day. Closer than thisclose but I have no idea how to illustrate that. At the end of the story, I realized that the start of every single day must seem like an unopened gift to this man. As I got up from the article and began to cook supper, it hit me – the start of every single day IS an unopened gift. Not just to him, but to all of us.
Whether that day is filled with exactly what we wanted or filled with things we never asked for, it’s still a gift. It’s hard to be unhappy when you find yourself smack in the middle of a beautiful gift that’s denied to many.
The farmer said something that really stood out to me. He said, “I do everything I used to do. I just do it differently now.” Just is the word that seals it for me. It’s so matter-of-fact and so beautifully simplistic. Almost in a by the way tone, he says he just does things differently now.
This man didn’t just dance his way back to NORMAL, he redesigned the entire dance floor. He was an inspiration to me and I hope that the thought of him will serve as an inspiration to you.
Keep smiling and, by all means, keep dancing. It’s the only way you’re going to get anywhere…especially if NORMAL is your destination.