We have stepped into a large pile of transition. It's pretty stinky. You may want to keep your distance.
I’ve been having a little trouble sleeping. This is not normal for me. I’m a pretty good sleeper. Maybe a little bit of a light sleeper, but I can sleep. This week though, things are different.
I’ve been falling asleep fine, but I wake in the middle of the night, feeling completely antsy, especially in my upper legs. It’s like they can’t stay still. I flip and flop trying to find the position that they can relax in, but I haven’t been finding much sleep past that point of the night.
It happened a night or two last week, and perhaps a few nights the week before. This week, it’s been every night and I find myself wondering, “Is this my new sleep normal?”.
Now, I will first off say that I don’t think it is. I think that my anxiety is heightened right now and is deciding it would like to be nocturnal. The result is that I lie there in bed, my brain tired AF, but my body is like ready to run a marathon.
Should I just get up? I mean, I have no kids to get up with in the morning for school anymore. That’s a new normal. My kiddos are both seniors and so they have had the bittersweet experience of graduating early. So, my mornings are mine a few months earlier than expected.
I no longer have to wake up at 6AM in order to get a meditation in before everyone else wakes up. I don’t have a crew to make breakfast for anymore, which was one of my greatest pleasures, as it was the only meal we were all home together for. Now we have dinner together, and the teens get to sleep in.
What does my new normal look like and how do I gracefully handle a transition that has been thrust upon me so quickly and so furiously?
Theoretically, I could get up with my jumpy body at 3AM and run a few miles in the middle of the night and then sleep in late. Do you think that would work? I’m not sure, but it’s got me thinking…what does my new normal look like and how do I gracefully handle a transition that has been thrust upon me so quickly and so furiously?
I spent the first six weeks of 2020 in my therapist’s office, addressing the huge transition that would be happening when I became an empty nester in September of this year. Well…I may not be an empty nester yet, but both kids are now high school graduates and are eager to start working and figuring out what their plan is going forward. They simply don’t need the same kind of support from me that they needed while they were in high school.
The hilarious part is that me seeking help from my therapist was, proudly, the first time in my life that I foresaw a future transition that I knew would be challenging for me, and I was attempting to address it head on. Go me. Apparently, the Universe has other plans, and none of us have a say in it at all.
Our new normal, it seems, is a lesson of our human instinct to want to control everything.
Our new normal, it seems, is a lesson of our human instinct to want to control everything. Spoiler alert: WE CAN’T. Not anymore…well…really not ever…but pre-Covid-19 it was easy to pretend that we were the queens of our own queendoms.
Now, Dr. Fauci is saying that we shouldn’t shake hands “ever again”. EVER AGAIN. Think about that for a minute. The handshake is our gateway to knowing another person. It is our primary way of greeting, and once familiarity is created, usually the more intimate hug follows. In my circle of friends, hugs are primary.
The idea of not hugging my people anymore is difficult for me. Although, oddly, through this experience I have found a sense of relief in not having to hug everyone. I now know that I like space with people I don’t know very well…which is normal I think…I just happen to live in a very huggy community. Hippies…you know?
So, our new normal may mean that we are not as touchy feely as we once were. It may also mean that we will have a greater understanding as to why people in China have been wearing masks around normally, ever since the first SARS outbreak.
It may mean that we don’t get to go to concerts or any large gatherings for a little while. That’s a big deal for us. For my birthday every year, I always ask to go to High Sierra Music Festival. I look forward to that every year.
My Hubbie is a huge Phish fan. When will he get to see them play again? Will my kiddo be able to start school in the Fall and have a true Freshman college experience of living in a dorm?
What about our surf competition in September? All the surf camps that I volunteer at each Summer? What about air travel? When will we feel comfortable doing that again? Will I ever be able to hold my friends’ babies again? I freaking love babies. That would break my heart.
The truth is that we have a new normal that is being formed all around us, right now.
If I start diving into all of those questions (and believe me, the list is endless within my tornado brain), my anxiety spikes. (I apologize if I’m stressing anyone out with this blog post.) But just as I was addressing the transition that was supposed to happen this Fall, I feel it’s important to address these current changes, head on. No hiding.
The truth is that we have a new normal that is being formed all around us, right now. We are sitting in a swirl of our old normal, which is exiting and perhaps we are clinging to, and the new normal, of which I’m sure we will have a certain level of resistance to. But we shouldn’t.
We are not the first people to go through such a cultural changing transition, and we won’t be the last. In fact, we should not be surprised by this change. The only thing that’s constant is change, right?
While we’re all feeling pretty dang trapped by this situation, I am trying to find a sense of freedom within this new normal. If you think about it, the second that we decide to loosen our grip and just let the new normal develop as it will, we are liberated. Because the truth is, it’s not up to us. And it won’t be for a while.
We are not the first people to go through such a cultural changing transition, and we won’t be the last.
Life will change. We will change. Instead of being terrified, I’m deciding to ride this wave and watch in wonderment (as opposed to terror) as it takes me into uncharted waters. What will this all look like? Surely, there will be pros and cons and in fact, I’ve already found one pro – I don’t have pressure to hug strangers anymore. Oddly, I didn’t even realize that I felt pressure surrounding that and yet, there it is. One piece of my new normal fitting into the puzzle.
Have you noticed any pieces of your new normal yet? In the comments, tell me one thing that you see changing.
And hang in there. This process is going to take a minute, but try not to worry, we’re not alone. We’re all in it together and that’s definitely another pro to add to the list. We got this.
Up top is one of my surfboard relief paintings, Three Dollar Board – Pink, 8x10, Acrylic on Canvas, framed in a natural wood floater frame. When I was making my surfboard collection, it was simply about the joy I find in surfing. But now, they take on a new meaning as we all have to ride this wave and go with the flow into our new normal. Each surfboard is hand molded and shaped directly onto the canvas for a three-dimensional look. Click here for more info and to purchase.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.