Seeking Normal – Day 16

Day 16 prompt:

What is your level-set? Why?

The prompt is a long-one this morning so I set the question above and offer the entire prompt here. Admittedly I do not like the way I originally wrote the prompt so I am revising as I rewrite it below. 🙂

  • Everyone’s normal is predicated on their upbringing. There is no “normal”, this is what we all come to realize early in life as we are introduced to people outside of our household. If you come from a wealthy family, your “normal” may already be planned for you, while if you are from a poor family, you may be working to leave that “normal” behind for you and your family.

My answer:

Based on how you were raised, you define your first concept of normal. This quickly becomes what you are used to and when you see examples of normal that our outside of what you “know” you are left with a condition to compare against. These early realizations occur when we are young. I remember realizing that what I knew as “normal” was very different than my friends in the neighborhood and in elementary school. At that point I did not know better from worse, I just knew it was different.

As I have become an adult I have come to realize that what may appear from the outside as a “better normal” is tested as when you look beneath the surface you come to realize that normal is not defined by wealth, health or relationship status. There were many years, especially through my 20’s, that I attempted to hide my “normal” as I felt it made me “less than” those around me. As I continued to evolve as an adult I was fortunate to realize that my childhood experiences served me extremely well in the varying environments I would experience throughout life. I was better equipped than those around me because of the early-experiences in my life.

To answer the specific prompt, “What is your level-set? Why?” My level-set or normal is very different than the way I was raised. This was a normal that was created intentionally as I was determined to live it different. It is hard to change your normal because the very act of changing what is normal in your life requires a path through uncharted territory. I had the courage to do it because I knew that what I experienced early-on was not the life I wanted to live as my “forever”. I knew this because I had the benefit of observing other lives that were more appealing and if I am being honest, less devastating.

I still work on this life that I now consider my normal, daily. It takes a great deal of discipline and sometimes that discipline feels like “force” because it is. I have a great deal of fortitude and summon it often. My weakness is where I am not able to control the environment because I rebel and am hesitant to follow. I revel in controlling my fate, which in itself is an oxymoron because the very definition of “fate” is “the development of events beyond a person’s control“.

This prompt created discord from the moment I read it. I didn’t like the way it was written, I didn’t like what it represented and ultimately it forced me to seriously contemplate. It is when I am pushed into a place that is uncomfortable that I find my reveal. I learn things and ultimately admit things about myself that I may not have readily seen previously. The example of this is in the last paragraph where I actually use the word “rebel” in describing myself. Many years ago when taking a Personality Test it described me as “rebellious” to which I was almost offended. When discussing it with those that had also taken the test I told them that the test was wrong as I was not “rebellious”. They quickly corrected me…ha! Over the years I have also come to realize and own my rebellion.

Rebellious is defined as:

“…showing a desire to resist authority, control, or convention.” or “…(of a thing) not easily handled or kept in place.”

Yep…that is me…try to hold me down…but be ready for the fight…rebellious is my level-set/normal.

Life as I have lived it – Miami Gangster

Seeking Normal – Day 14

Day 14 prompt:

How do other people affect your normal? How do you control those affects? Do you choose who’s in your life and what role they play?

My answer:

Other people affect our lives in all roles we play. While we would like to believe that we can control everything, we know better, and in this case there are too many external factors that ultimately limit out ability to control who is in our lives. For example, you cannot choose your family, your coworkers, your neighbors or even the most remote of interactions like who gets behind you in line at the grocery store. For this reason the effort and practice that we need to deploy is about controlling how we react and what we tolerate.

In my life there are people that have and do ultimately affect me negatively however I have made a concerted effort to remove those people from my life. Where I don’t have the freedom to choose I have chosen to limit my interactions and ultimately to control my reaction. I have learned that people will show themselves without my assistance and my intervention can appear to be part of the problem versus a solve. I have also learned that saying nothing at all, or in this case not reacting, makes more of a statement than words ever could.

The reason this prompt is important in the discussion of “normal” is that if you do not take steps to control your reactions or continue to allow people in your life that do not serve you well, your reaction becomes your normal. A normal over time makes you a victim of those people. Becoming a “victim” in any sense of the word is never okay especially when you can control and deny the victimization.

The more I write about this topic and others the more I realize that the common denominator is ALWAYS your ability to DECIDE. You decide everything in life. You decide if you stay, if you go, who you go with, how you go…YOU DECIDE. It is the power of that decision that ultimately affects everything. This is a topic for another day but I must say that it is where I have seen people NOT decide for themselves that they play victim to their environment. NOT deciding is also a decision and if that is the choice you make, own it, don’t make excuses, don’t blame others, own it and where you don’t need to explain, don’t, just decide.

Life as I decide – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 13

Day 13 prompt:

How much effort do you put into normal? Is it a routine, discipline or a “flying by the seat of your pants” kind of normal?

My answer:

Well as I have previously indicated, I put a lot of work into normal on a daily basis. I like rules and routines and thrive on lists and plans. Therefore I work to make my normal something as tangible as possible. This is key to my success in life but also defines my greatest weakness, disorganization.

I do not like to “fly by the seat of my pants” in any environment. Not even when I go out, I like a clear list of where I am going, a list of what I am going to get or do while I am out…I love plans! I am sitting here thinking about how I even apply this to things like shopping dates, theme parks, concerts, etc. I always scope out the website to understand where I am going, the best times to go, and in the case of a theme park I look to see what is the optimal route to avoid crowds. Organization is in every single thing I do in this life.

AND THEN…when it is not organized I am useless. Well not literally but ideally. I do not thrive in a messy environment. I do not thrive without an agenda. I do not thrive in spontaneity. I am truly a creature of habit and like to control my environment versus my environment controlling me. CONTROL…well that is a topic for another day! 🙂

This prompt really resonated with me. I didn’t expect it but as I allowed myself to simply answer the prompt with what came to mind I learned a thing or two about myself. Please do the same. Answer the prompt exactly as you read it and with the things that popped into your mind at that very moment. Don’t edit! Don’t polish it up. Let it be raw. This is where the truth lies.

Life as List it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 8

Day 8 prompt:

Is wanting control in every single aspect of our life normal? Control over every emotion, person, stressors, etc. that are in my life…

My answer:

I could not have known a year ago when writing this prompt journal that it would be put to the test in a pandemic that has taken our entire idea of normal and turned it upside down. Control is what we do not have right now and it is truly showing the character of a nation. We cannot go outside of our homes, or shouldn’t, and that is where the control in our lives exists. Controlling our exposure to the virus means doing our part to stay isolated.

I don’t know if “wanting control” is normal but it creates comfort because when you are “in control” you are not a victim of other environments. Having the choice is a pivotal characteristic of control. When you can choose, you have control. It is where we don’t have choice that we find ourselves victimized. I don’t want to be anyone’s victim and that has as much to do with how I react to those things that I do not have control over as having control. I guess it is fair then to say that having or wanting control over all things is “normal” because ultimately no one can take away your control.

Ironically outside of this time in our lives where everything is about the virus that is holding us prisoner as a nation you always ultimately have control. Taking control is about responsibility. Where do you assume responsibility? Where do you surrender? Ultimately you decide and that is control regardless of environment.

Life as I control it – L.

Discipline you either have it or you don’t…right?

As I came home very late tonight from a very long day at work I was debating if I “had it in me” to do my scheduled run. Before I could even contemplate it, I was changing into workout clothes…it’s discipline, right? Sometimes it’s obsessive, sometimes unrelenting and sometimes crushing…yea that describes discipline in all forms. The point is that I did the run, despite any number of excuses that I could have come up with and have been very justified in honoring; I did the run. It is self-discipline, it drives me.

Discipline is the requirement for the reward. If you want anything bad enough you have to have the discipline to persevere. This is more than simply doing “it”. It is doing “it” when you are tired, sick, sore; it is doing “it” when don’t want to even better than when you do! Tonight’s run was supposed to be a relaxed pace however I pushed to the max of that pace and came out with my fastest yet; on a night after working 11 hours being away from my home for 13 hours…I had my fastest pace in almost two weeks.

I have always been someone that loves rules. Give me a set of rules and I will follow them to the letter. That is why I was the BEST dieter EVER!! I could follow a diet to the letter; measuring every ounce, counting every calorie until I didn’t…and then it was the complete opposite of discipline! It was debauchery at its finest. I could lose the weight like a BOSS but I would gain it back like a BEAST.

When I think about my level of discipline I realize that it does not apply to all things equally. For example, speeding…hmm…I definitely do not follow speed limits but I do keep two hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 and keep my eyes on the road (most of the time). I am sitting here trying to think of what else I am utterly undisciplined at in life and I really cannot think of much as it is a core value of mine.

This is not to suggest that having discipline is premium to lacking discipline. Lacking discipline allows spontaneity and creates a space where things that otherwise would not be possible can and are; this is the place imagination is piqued and dreams are realized. It is the box, right? We are told to stay in our box, our sandbox, stay in our lane; you name it…don’t wander. But when you do…this is where change happens. There were a few times I wandered and the reward was exponentially better.

Last year when I took on my first half-marathon of the season I was trained to do intervals; run/walk, run/walk, run/walk…but something came over me and pushed me to just run and run and run and 13.1 miles later I was crossing a FINISH LINE never having stopped once. It was beyond my wildest comprehension and it was because despite my training and discipline to follow the plan I did what felt right and just ran. The reality is that it was because of the discipline in my training that it was even possible. It was my Forrest Gump moment!

My level of discipline is forceful. I push myself beyond my comfort-level and that is why I get results beyond my expectations. I also sometimes get more than what I bargained for but in the end I always get a result. I am not suggesting this is the “way” but it is a “way”, it is my “way”. The issue if there were to be one is that when I am not following my discipline I feel like I am failing. It is a tremendous amount of pressure to put on oneself but I am hungry for the rules as heartily as I am for the reward.

As I am getting older I am trying to find the gray in my world of black and white; the wander in my world of guardrails and the space outside of the box as this is where the joy lies. Discipline is control and lack of it is surrender… L.

Life by my rules – L.