Embracing the Normal Life - 1010 Park Place
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Embracing the Normal Life

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I heard someone talking about the upcoming Olympics and realized I was in London, as a spectator, less than four years ago. The timing seems impossible as it was right after the last Olympics that I experienced a deep personal setback that hit me emotionally, financially, and spiritually, and surely it takes more than four years to rebuild from something like that. Then again, had I put the same time and effort spent rebuilding my life and my children’s lives into perfecting my athletic skills, I might be off to Rio with a decent shot at gold.

Happily, I’m at a point now where the crises of the last four years are over. If I’m to believe a psychic I saw (and after forking over $200, why would I not?) the chaos is over for good. I wake up most mornings and realize that the most dramatic thing I need to handle is watching the latest installment of The Bachelorette while drinking a glass of rosé. You’d think this would come as a huge relief but instead it’s quite unsettling.

After a crisis, it’s surprisingly hard to adjust to normal life.

Don’t get me wrong–crisis sucks–but when you’re in crisis mode, the only thing you must handle is the crisis. You don’t need to worry about your investment strategy, or pesticides, or the diameter of your waist. You don’t bother with things like To Do lists. (Writing down “File a restraining order” or “Go to chemo” on your cute Kate Spade Dear Me paper, just feels sort of wrong.) The only normal activity one can’t ignore is the ever-present laundry. I’m quite convinced that in the midst of the apocalypse, I’ll be asked to throw in one more load.

Once you’ve been through a crisis, it takes a while for the body to adjust. Now, when I engage in normal activities, like helping the kids with math homework or mowing the lawn, my mind goes searching for drama: My kids will fail school! I might get lyme disease from the grass! I think it takes a while before normal feels normal again.

I try to practice normalcy. I go to the gym, write on a schedule, and have walks and lunches with friends. I do regular things, like washing the dishes, that are so commonplace, even my anxious mind can’t convince me of trouble. I also do a lot of that Eckhart Tolle “woo woo” thing to distinguish my thoughts from my self. I censor myself from viewing potentially upsetting content. The only thing I can watch on Netflix right now is the documentary on Christian Dior.

This year, when the Olympic games kick off, I will be nowhere near Brazil. I will not have to worry about Zika virus or terrorism. I can put up my feet, pull out some chips, and engage in nationalistic pride from the comfort of my sofa. Hopefully, I can simply enjoy being normal this time.


8 Comments

  • Susan Tolles June 8, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Ah, the joys of being “normal!” Thanks for sharing your heart so beautifully, Jen. And may your chaos be gone for good!

    • Jen Lawrence June 9, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Thank you, Susan. I hope it’s all behind me too! xo

  • esrcornell June 9, 2016 at 7:41 am

    This is really interesting, Jen, and makes me wonder about my own life and my crises of not so long ago. I continue to live in a somewhat amped up state – often of my own making – and must consider that it is either residue from so many years of back to back trauma, or perhaps an unwillingness to fully let go of the familiar (discomfort) in favor of the unfamiliar (“normal”)… something to think about as I head off on a 4 hour drive to NYC this afternoon. Thank you…

    • Jen Lawrence June 9, 2016 at 11:38 am

      That’s what I realized. I was doing things like not leaving enough time for meetings or doing way too many errands at once to try to create little adrenaline rushes that felt comfortable after so many years of them. Relaxation felt scary since I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I never thought I’d have to practice being “normal” but I guess anything you’ve not done for a while takes effort. Safe travels to NYC. xo

  • Pat June 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I like your analogy to the Olympics and the four year “training” to rebuild after crisis. I can really relate to this piece as it seems like I have been fighting for so long, my adrenals are in over drive. Thank you for the reminder to seize the day and embrace normal life.

    • Jen Lawrence June 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Thank you for your comment, Pat. So many of us work so hard to get back to normal but still live with the expectation of fight or flight. It often hard to relax and accept that things are fine. All the best in your pursuit of the normal life. xo

  • Irene June 12, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Maybe what you call crisis, I refer to hurricanes. It’s like a horrible, fearful storm, that you do what you can to hang on. Then is passes and stuff needs to be picked through, repaired or tossed to create a new normal. A new normal that you walk tentatively into at first until you realize that you are creating it and can fill it with joy. Best wishes on your new normal!

    • Jen Lawrence June 13, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you, Irene. The hurricane analogy is a terrific one. There is a lot to pick through when it’s over. You are grateful the wind has stopped, but you aren’t the same as you were. I love the idea that you can fill that space with joy!

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