“I think we’re coming to the end of an adrenaline-fueled crisis and we’re going to have to find a way to settle into this rhythm. . . .We’re trying to find our footing in a new normal.” – Brene Brown (quote from April 2020, but still true)
The impact of COVID-19 have been reduced in most places, and many of us are resuming normal activities after being confined for more than a year. For me, it’s a “new normal’–not quite the life I had before. The reentry into normal life has been wonderful for the most part, but has also been challenging in some ways.
I feel like someone who left my normal life here on earth to launch into outer space where there is no social life. Life out there would be very different. That is how the pandemic felt to me. And now we’re reentering our normal lives, like a reentry from outer space. BOOM! Back into society. Suddenly I’ve had a lot of social events.
I’ve been seeing friends and relatives, going to showers, weddings and a funeral. I’ve hosted out of town company at my house. I’ve gone to concerts, restaurants, and church. And it’s been great. I’m happy to see people and do things. Even funerals have their purpose. It’s better to have closure and to be with people we’re close to when a loved one dies. Friends have said it was very hard to bury a loved one during the pandemic without being able to gather in mourning.
But all these activities can be a challenge, especially for an introvert like me. During the pandemic I had more than enough “alone time.” Then suddenly, very little. For me, it’s been an adjustment. Recently, I couldn’t sleep as I anticipated going to a wedding and reception the next day.
And I struggle with knowing how to interact with people in this stage of the pandemic. There are situations that don’t feel safe. For instance, I feel uncomfortable being with people who have chosen not to get vaccinated and aren’t wearing masks. I try to keep distance between them and me. But what do you do when that person reaches out to hug you, which happened to me at the wedding? How cautious should we be? When should we wear masks? We’re navigating such situations as best we can, trying to keep safe and trying to keep others safe, without being paranoid.
In defining my new normal, I find there are some changes I made during the pandemic that I want to keep. During the pandemic, I did jigsaw puzzles in the evenings while we watched TV. It was a way to relax before bedtime. I stopped this habit as restrictions lifted and we started to get busy, but after a few nights of insomnia, I’m doing puzzles again.
In looking at my life, I’m asking what do I want to be doing now? How do I choose from all the options? What are my priorities? Who do I want to spend time with? I don’t want to fall into old patterns just because that’s how I did things pre-pandemic.
I’m intentionally doing some things differently. During the pandemic I found that I don’t need to be at the stores so often. The other day, I thought of going to the store, as I needed several items. But I didn’t need anything urgently. I stayed home and spent the day decluttering and catching up at home. In creating a new normal, I’m looking at old patterns to ask if I really want to do that now? My neighbor and I have for many years been going to farmers markets on Saturday mornings in the summer. Now I think about how much produce I need and whether I really want to go that day.
As the pandemic ended, my husband Ken and I set an intention to see a polo match this summer. The opportunity arrived this past week. In the past, we would have invited someone to go with us, partly to make the per-car fee “worth it” and partly to add to the fun. But as the event approached, we decided we wanted to keep it simple. We didn’t want to fuss about food, worry about keeping others happy, or change out of our casual clothes. So we went alone. It was fun to watch the interaction between pairs of horses and riders and their efforts to move the polo ball to the goals. It was relaxing to be out in nature on the horse farm, especially as the moon rose in the horizon. We had picked up gyros and we had wine, watermelon, and cookies from our freezer. Afterward, there was an informal musical performance by a female guitarist/vocalist. I let myself feel the pleasure of being at that beautiful setting with good weather. I blinked back tears at one point, thinking about how this was something we couldn’t do for two years. As I create my new normal, I will continue to seek out opportunities like this that give me joie de vivre.
Rather than reenter our lives on auto-pilot, this can be an opportunity to fly in a purposeful way. We have the opportunity to curate our lives and to design our new normal.
How has the reentry into normal life been for you? How do you want your new normal to be?