Take it back!

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Here we are post-pandemic and forever changed by so much more than a virus. We are changed by how we interact, who we interact with and when we interact. We have found yet another “line in the sand” as a country where “we decide” for ourselves. I will decide if I vaccinate; the most obvious of all decisions in this moment. How about all of those decisions that we are making quietly, personally, publicly without a declaration?

We are deciding:

  • Who we will spend our time, how and when. Long gone are the days of social pressures that forced us to be with people we don’t want to spend our time with or working for companies that made decisions for us. We are deciding; collectively and independently. We are no longer driven by the pressure of having to make social “appearances” for the fear of ____________.

I find this revealing and refreshing. It is revealing for us all to see who chooses us and who we choose. Who has “written us off” using the pandemic as the acceptable “Exit Door” on a friendship that had long seen its end? Who have we “moved on” past using “self-isolation” as an acceptable reason to end it? It is refreshing (after the sting) to be left with true quality relationships that are “worth the risk”. Relationships on our terms.

We are deciding:

  • Who we will work for, with and where. I am inspired by those that are taking back their freedom to decide and take the risk (while it is low) to move on from an employer that does not align with their values. The test of independence will be to see how those making the change own it when the roles reverse and employers are able to pushback again. Do you stand on your morals? Are you holding true to you when the ball is not in your court and you have to take the risk of holding the line?

It is refreshing to see people live their lives the way they decide; choosing for themselves. In order to make this stick, make sure you set it up for the long haul and not as supplemented temporarily.

Last but never least are those that inspire us to take notice of the freedom to “Take it Back” when we don’t notice that we have given too much. I was inspired by a conversation first with a dear friend that helped me to understand the power afforded if I would just exercise the value I have recognized but not afforded myself. This was further reinforced by one of “The Aunts” that reminded me to define it, protect it and DO IT.

I am “paying it forward” by reminding you that this is the season to “Take it back!” as there are “hall passes” and “escape hatches” everywhere. Open your eyes and your mind to the new possibility to redefine what is not working of you.

Life as I “Take it back!” – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 29

Day 29 prompt:

Iyanla Vinzant states, “There is no greater battle in life than the battle between the parts of your that want to be healed and the parts of you that are comfortable and content remaining broken.”

What emotions does this statement evoke? What feels normal to you?

My answer:

This is a very fair question as we all know people that need to stay “in it”. Those people do not want a solution, they do not want to be saved they want to be the victim of whatever holds them down as that also defines their lives. We all know someone that despite being given solutions decides to stay in a bad situation. Hopefully we are not that person but upon further thought I guess we all are in some regard. I think of the things that I tolerate in my world that others would not and how my life could be better if I would only require change in those areas.

What feels normal is always finding solutions for others and then becoming resentful when they won’t accept that solution. This does not make those people right or wrong it simply explains the angst that I cause myself and the realization that I need to solve for myself, for my life and leave the rest behind. This is always easier to state than to do. It means I have to get uncomfortable with the things that require my effort or push those around me. Instead I find myself making excuses for myself and those around me to explain why we don’t do better or expect more.

Well there is the truth. Straight from my thoughts on to paper, unedited. It is not a “realization” for me as I have always known it. I know what I do, I know what my excuses are, I know what I need to do and I do still make a choice on what I will and won’t direct in my own life. What are those things that do not serve you well that you don’t change? Why?

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 28

Day 28 prompt:

Normal is defined by cultures, religions, experiences, and demographics.

What part of your normal is defined by these outside sources?

My answer:

My normal is defined by my experiences mostly. I belong to a mixed culture that I admire and attempt to own however as I was not raised fully “in it” I am not sure I will ever be able to truly “own it”. I was not raised with religion although I always had a strong curiosity about it. My normal in my early years was likely based on demographics as I was born to two young parents, with little money.

I have built a life around what I admire, what I have experienced and who and how I want it to be. This might explain why I have so much angst and have a hard time finding contentment. I am always wanting more because that is what built this life that never existed before me. To be content is a practice I am having to work at which seems like an oxymoron. How does one “work” on being content?? I am not sure I have the answer but I am searching for the solve.

As we are coming back from being sheltered at home and opening up our country the real lessons learned will be put to the test. Do we simply run back out and do what we were doing before all of this started? I don’t think that is possible so it is fair to believe the we are changed regardless of our own intention to do so. For me, I have always enjoyed being home so this has not been a hardship. I do miss the beach, I miss the movies and I miss my cousins. I think I can solve two out of those three misses this weekend with one invite. I think I will. 🙂

Living life as I know it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 27

Day 27 prompt:

Brene Brown says, “Today I will choose courage over comfort.”

What courageous thing are you doing in your own life?

My answer:

This is a great prompt today because courage can be found in the things we do that take effort. Things that go against “easy”, things that we have to “force”, but are the right thing to do despite it all. Reading it again, yes, “courage over comfort”. Wow! When I think more on this I think first about all of the things that I could do that represent “comfort” and as I think through that list they do not serve me well.

Today I will choose courage over comfort and get back to the life I know I should live despite the efforts and self-discipline. I will do it because it is right, I will do it because I want a better life and that requires courage, that requires effort. The most obvious for me is my diet and exercise as this is a matter of life and death for me and that takes courage in both doing and not doing the right thing. When I am not doing the right thing I know I am risking all that I have fought to accomplish in the last 5 years and in doing the wrong thing it is disrespectful to all of those efforts made. When I choose courage it means I choose to eat the right foods, despite my wants, I exercise every day, despite not wanting to, I choose these things because they will create the life I want; healthy and long.

What is your most obvious “courage over comfort” moment? Why does it take courage to accomplish or realize? Are you willing to be uncomfortably? Why or Why not?

Great prompt from a great thought-leader.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 26

Day 26 prompt:

How do you change your normal? Experiences? Role Models? Do you want to change it? Do you need to?

How can you know these will change your normal for the better?

Was there a time you sought or made a change that you realized was NOT for the better?

My answer:

I change my normal by researching or observing a normal that I admire and want to replicate. I search out those experiences that I can immerse myself in to go as deep as I choose to dive-in. I attempt to replicate those role models that I identify in my life as inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration is something I choose to hold high and admire rather than replicate and knowing the difference is only mine to decide.

Asking if I want to change and if I need to is about exploring if it makes a change for the better that is worth the effort. I have struggled with this most with my diet and exercise programs where I am always likely to go too deep. When I am longing for results and discipline I set rules and expectations of myself that are stringent however when I have to live by those rules I realize that that this is not the normal that I envisioned.

I think we have proven through this pandemic that enforcing a new normal is a much greater effort mentally than physically. We have been forced to change our ways physically; do not touch, stay away from each other, stay home, don’t go to work…all physical limitations however the effect of the physical has been a mental toll that is challenging.

While we will not change for the future those things that did not offer value we will be challenged to embrace those that did. I am reminded of the times during the hurricanes when without electricity our family came together to play games and read together. While we appreciated the togetherness when the lights came back on, we went back to our individual corners of life.

What will you change? Why will you change it? More importantly what part of “normal” that was will you be happy to return to in the future??

Life as I know it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 25

Day 25 prompt:

We perceive “normal” in the context of our own experiences. Someone who grew up with domestic abuse thinks that’s normal until someone who experienced a life without abuse shows you that the state you are in is not “normal”.

What about your normal have you come to realize isn’t or wasn’t “normal”?

My answer:

This prompt is too similar to ones before identifying the fact that normal for everyone of us is about our current condition, state or environment. What one calls normal another calls strange. The real-deal is living the life you want to live, how you want to live it and owning it. That does not mean that you are subscribing to norms or defined by anyone else’s normal it means that you ultimately decide what you want, how you want it and go get it.

It is our human experience and sharing those experiences that can create new norms for each other. It is sharing what we “know better” to those suffering unnecessary circumstances to help pull each other, not only out of a situation but one entire step up in your own life and others.

It doesn’t always have to be a tragic event. In my case I am finding a writer inside of me that years ago I did not know existed and then when exploring this new passion and coming to know other writers that make me realize that writing and being a writer is a norm for others. This realization means that it can also be a norm for me. I just have to give it the time.

Every single blog post has one common theme and denominator; YOU DECIDE. Every single cell in our bodies and moment in our lives exists because of a decision we made to eat, exercise or not, go to the party or not, welcome a new friend or not…it is all about decisions that we make along the way. If you are accepting a normal that is not serving you, you are deciding to live in that unfortunate state and likewise you can decide to change it. You decide.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 24

Day 24 prompt:

My husband’s favorite saying is, “nothing ever goes smooth.” That’s his response to things outside his normal.

What is your response to a disruption in your normal?

My answer:

I try to think through why something is not going right and the way to accept that fate is to believe in fate overall. This is confirmed for me when I am late getting somewhere only to realize that if I had been on time I would have been involved in an accident that I am now passing on my route. Yesterday I was sharing this reasoning as I forgot an important ingredient to a recipe at the store and had to drive back. As we were driving back to the store I said out loud, “I wonder why we are fated to be back on the road? What is going to happen?”. As it turned out the “reason” was not going to be as obvious and therefore it was just an extra errand…and that was just fine.

The difference between my husband and I is that he frequently feels a victim of his circumstance while I don’t feel as affected. Instead I am always looking for meaning and that search for meaning allows me to accept the deviations in life without harm.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 23

Day 23 prompt:

T.D. Jakes notes, “If what you see modeled in front of you is in any way deformed or deranged your concept of normalcy is defined by what you see. It is hard to be what you have not seen.”

If you believe this then how can you change your normal? Can you rise above a level-set of normal that is not modeled but dreamt of?

My answer:

I lived this but so did everyone else because our normal, as defined in our lives, was all we knew and it was only when there was something to compare against that you would be able to know something different. I lived this and have chosen a completely different path than what I knew. The start of what I changed was based on what I was able to identify as in-reach but as I have moved into different paths I have hindsight on what it could have been. While I cannot go backwards I am taking that new information to shape the world of my children and grandchildren.

The first recollection of a variation of normal for me was the idea of college. Both of my parents had attended a community college but never finished and ultimately were not in jobs that were the benefit of a formal education. My mom was a secretary and my dad a construction worker. The irony of my story is that in hindsight I think that I have benefited greatly from their careers as I have insane organization skills, learned by my mother who was the assistant to a CEO for years. As for my father, he is a dreamer which makes him a successful builder, able to bring a customer’s vision to life. It was in that learn of dreaming big that I have been able to manifest a life that I could only dream of one day and realized as a surprise once achieved.

Back to the point of college, it was not something talked about in my home or actively pursued as I was moving through high school. I only learned that it might be a consideration as I saw my high school friends considering their options. Back to the point of “normal”, my circle of friends, that would again define my normal, were in similar families and never did I recall conversations about going away to college. Our options after high school, as I recall, were finding a good job or going to our local community college. Ultimately we have all ended up in great careers however none of it through traditional norms. In some ways, I feel greater pride as our efforts were greater and therefore intentional.

This is a great thought-provoking prompt. I am still learning from other people’s norms and through the internet learning how to employ disciplines and practices into my own life. I am a life-long learner and thrive on learning new things and succeed in making those my own reality. What kind of normal defines your original knowledge of normal versus what you have since created in your own life?

Life as I know it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 22

Day 22 prompt:

Gary Kiel (my super-handsome spouse) says normal is whatever is the middle in the group of people you are with at that moment. Normal resides in the middle of two extremes and can change based on the group dynamic.

What group best defines your normal?

My answer:

This is a great prompt and so very true. I have had so many variations of normal in my life and most, it not all, were based on the group of people that I surrounded myself with in that moment. When I am with my work colleagues we share a normal based on the common denominator of the company we work for and in that “normal” is defined as the shared experiences we have within that company. Other industry colleagues might have similar experiences but are different than our normal based on company cultures.

It is interesting as well when we join new groups and are introduced to new norms that we are not familiar. When I joined OrangeTheory a couple of years ago I was surprised at the normal as defined by many of the patrons that would go every single day. That was an admirable normal,as my body was too sore to go every single day, but those that were doing it were handsomely rewarded in the results.

Now is the time, before we “go back” to whatever we considered normal before the pandemic to determine if that is the normal you want to live in or if there is a “new” normal that you have decided to relate to in the future. In my case, I have slipped back into some of the “old” norms that did not serve me well in a previous life and as I sit here this morning I vow to leave those “old” norms behind and get back into those “new” norms that have served me well in the last five years.

Every day, you decide…still.

Life as I live it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 20

Day 20 prompt:

At what point in your life are you in striving and how far away is being content?

Entire prompt:

Joel Osteen notes, “We spent all this time striving and and now can’t be content where we are or with what we have achieved. Enjoy where you are right now.”

My answer:

We are certainly challenged to sit back and take-in all that we have achieved and who we are in this pandemic. Do you find yourself content with your observation? I am although it has been hard to see the forest for the trees at times due to the nature of our current state of being in a place we have never forced to be in. In my case, I look at the home that we have created and I am grateful for it because regardless of stay-at-home orders there is no place I would rather be today and always.

I watched a sermon on Sunday and the pastor said, “the normal you are praying for today, is the same normal you were pray away (yesterday)”. May this time remind us all to be grateful for what we have and who we are in this moment.

Closer to content – L.