NEW NORMALS

This past week was kind of hard for me. It started out with me telling myself I needed to stop playing the violin for awhile. I feel like my arm/shoulder should be fairly normal by now but it’s not. I’m not sure if I just need to give it time without playing, or if I did something wrong while I rehabbed and need surgery again, or if I’m never going to be able to play decent without pain. As I was pouting through my week, a good friend died. He lived a nice long life and I know he’s in heaven, but I still felt sadness. Then, as I wrote before in “Our Military”, my son-in-law left today to his first army base. On the whole I’m not a cryer, but I’ve done my share this week.

All of this has made me stop and think about all the “new normals” we go through. Some new normals are exciting: graduating, getting married, having a baby, getting a new job. But along with it you have to adjust to new things: living somewhere new, living with another person, sleeping less, learning new skills. You get the picture. I’m happy I retired this month. Oddly, I’m having a little trouble figuring out how my days should be structured.

Loss is a reality though that none of us can escape. We will lose family members, we will lose those abilities that were so easy to do in our twenties. When these things happen the new normal is daunting. I’m very practical when it comes to death but that doesn’t change the loss you feel. I remember driving back to Ohio after my mom’s funeral and it hit me. She always insisted I call when I got home so she knew I was safe. I realized … there was no one there to call.

I really am feeling much better but I had to ask myself “Why?” So I don’t know if this will help anyone else but here goes. The first thing I told myself to do is just get through that day. Even though you may feel immobilized, at least do the “have tos”. And try to glean at least one thing that was positive about that day. There’s usually more going on in our lives to be grateful for than to get depressed over. I try to never stay down for too long so most days after that hopefully get easier. The second thing I told myself to do is exercise. I haven’t been able to swim laps since November so at least with the weather being better I’ve been going on walks. Short ones with my dogs and long ones by myself. There’s something so good about being outside and moving. So as hard as it is at first I told myself I had to get out of bed and walk. The third thing I told myself to do was enlarge my world so it includes more than just me. When I get down it’s all about me. All I have to do is look around and I see people having far worse things going on in their lives. Now that I’ve got time I’ve been trying to visit some of the people in my church that temporarily or permanently can’t get out. It does make you feel better if you can help someone else.

I hope you don’t think this is easy. It isn’t always. When I was 4 years old my dad died and I watched my mom be clinically depressed for 10 years. She got up every day to go to work, and she was good at that job, but that was all the energy she had. When we lose people we move on, we develop a new normal, but it doesn’t mean that layer of sadness isn’t in the background.

I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but I’d like to share my favorite scripture: Joshua 1:9. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord our God will be with you wherever you go.” I guess for me the most important thing is to realize I’m not alone. Seventeen years ago I went through chemo for ovarian cancer. To this day I’m grateful God spared me and I often have found myself in awe as to why. So I know there are worse things than not being able to play the violin or swim laps. What’s interesting though is I never felt alone. It’s like I had God company with me all the time. So, when I’m down, I rely on my faith to get me through things.

I’m so sorry I rambled on so much. Just chalk it up to me needing to write out my innermost thoughts. This won’t happen often. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized we all have our times where we need to adjust to new normals.