I went for a drive today.

Yes, I was alone.  No, I didn’t go into a store, visit a friend, get food (well, except some local honey which is set up in a shack, on an honor system – no people).  I just needed to drive.  Alone.

And cry.

Before today, I hadn’t left my house in over three weeks.  I work from home; I am now home-schooling my four children.  I follow the rules.  By now, we all know the rules, right?

  • Wash your hands
  • Stay home
  • Don’t touch your face

Got it.  Check.

So, there I was, driving in my Jeep, listening to my playlist – which, by the way is a delightfully eclectic mix of hard-core rock, country, soul and pop – and the tears wouldn’t stop.

Why was I crying?  Lots of reasons, really, but mostly fear.  And grief.

I’m scared and I’m not afraid to admit it.  None of us knows what the future holds.  None of us can predict how things will turn out, when this will end, when we will be able to hug our parents, shake hands with our neighbors, or stand next to each other.

Then there’s the grief.  Like it or not, folks, what we’re all experiencing is a grief-like event.

I was walking through my kitchen the other day when that thought popped into my head.  I noticed that some of my feelings felt familiar in some way.  I couldn’t lay a finger on why until it hit me.  I am grieving my former life.  I am grieving human contact, the element of relative safety in my community.  I am grieving not seeing my aging mother, my co-workers, my friends.  Heck, I’m even grieving standing in the check-out line at the grocery store.  And I HATE grocery shopping.

My point is this:

  • Our normal is gone. 
  • There’s nothing we can do about that.
  • We’re probably not getting that normal back.

I don’t say this to strike fear or dread in your already-stressed psyche.  I say it because it’s a brutal truth and the sooner we learn to come to terms with that and forge ahead, the better we all will be.

How can we accept the New Normal?

The first step is to understand that it isn’t something to be feared.  Let’s look at this a different way…

Have you ever started a new job?  Moved into a new house?  Moved to a new state/country?  Gotten married?  Gotten divorced?  Lost a loved one?

If so, then you’re already half-way there.  Your brain, your subconscious and yes, even your body already have the tools and the experience to handle this.

You are already equipped with the ability to accept change and to keep moving.  That’s what this is.  Things have tilted in our world and those who can accept this sudden shift in our way of life will fare much better than those who refuse to accept it.

And, I want all of you to be ready to keep moving.

Eric Hoffer, the American moral and social philosopher, once said, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Just because things aren’t as they once were, doesn’t mean they can’t be amazing.  We just need to get through this change part first.

Here are some excellent ways to remain connected, grounded and sane during your learning:

  • Meditate, pray, quiet your mind.  This could mean finding your own space to just be still, or read from your chosen religious text, or become one with your source, God or the universe.  Whatever your preference, do it as often as you can.
  • Find something that brings you joy, then do that.  Can you draw?  Write?  Sing?  Play an instrument?  Do you enjoy crocheting?  Organizing?  Cleaning?  Talking to your friends on the phone?  Maybe a little of all of those?  Yes!  Do all the things.  Again, as often as you can.
  • Music.  Whether you prefer classical piano, opera or death metal, find your musical soul mate and become engaged.  What I mean is, music is a natural healer.  It helps you cope, takes your mind off your troubles, connects you to a universal language that we all understand.  (See above).
  • Connect with other humans.  This doesn’t mean run out and hug your neighbor or meet for coffee.  This is one of those New Normal things we can practice.  Call someone.  Face Time, use Zoom or Duo or email, even.  There are endless options for virtual connection and now is the time to learn.
  • Take care of your body.  I know this sounds like something Captain Obvious would say, but it needs to be said, nonetheless.  Moms, I’m talking to you.  Sometimes we can be so consumed with taking care of others, especially now, that we forget ourselves.  It is scientific fact that stress and fear create a weakened immune system.  You can read about that here.  So, get enough rest, eat properly and drink (preferably something non-alcoholic).
  • Stay away from social media and the news.  I’m not saying forever.  What I am saying is that we have become a society of over-sharing-before-fact-checking-keyboard-warriors. (More on this in another blog post).  You aren’t going to be any less present by missing one nightly news report or Facebook update.  Give it and your poor, overwhelmed brain a rest.  Trust me, I’m just as guilty as the rest.
  • Learn something new!  There is no time like the present, so just do it.  Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar?  Are you a budding artist?  Do you want to broaden your cooking skills?  How about gaining a new skill that could put you on the path to a new career?

The take-away here is that we ARE all in this together and we WILL get through it.  Let’s just come out on the other side a bit better for the changing.  And the learning.

I would love to hear how you are adjusting to the New Normal.  Leave your comments below!