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

Grief a year later…still sucks

This is the final five days of what was her last week. This year I am at work, working on budgets seemingly easy as compared to last year but gut-wrenching when I think about what makes it easier. I am living my life without her and while I have tricked myself into thinking I had this month under my thumb I wake up with a thickness that was stifling all day. As it gets closer I can feel the weight of what is coming. it is not about an anniversary it is a reminder of the worst days to come then and now.

My “plan” was to go to Virginia this weekend and spend the weekend with my stepdad so we are together but the closer it gets the more I am realizing it is simply not going to be possible. The tape keeps running through my mind over and over again; I drive up to her house, and she doesn’t come out on the porch excited to see me…and I fall apart. I walk up to the house and open the door and there is her chair without her in it…and I fall apart. I walk onto the porch, our very special place, and she is not there…and I fall apart. I cannot walk into her room, I cannot sleep there, I cannot eat there, I simply cannot be there. I am not ready.

It is a year later and the grief is different. It is devastating in quieter moments, it is less public, it is harder to explain than it was a year ago. A year ago everyone “gets it”; you have lost your Mom no one doubts the pain, the sadness, the grief. A year later…it still hurts, it is still devastating and it is still grief but it is different. Today it was like walking through a fog with an immense weight encompassing me. I was down all day and while not acknowledging it, it would not relent. This grief was isolating.

This is grief as I am living it right now and ultimately I am having to take my own advice and “meet myself where I am” and today where I am is not ready to face Saturday AT ALL but definitely not ready to face it in her home where I left abruptly a year ago. One year ago, I delivered her eulogy to her beloved community and I literally flew out of there like a bat out of hell. I was running then and I am still running today. I am running from the reality that she is not there because I can fool myself into believing that…well let’s just agree that I am not fooling myself but I am not facing it as aggressively as stepping into her home would require of me.

I am not going to be okay, not today and I will let that be okay. I don’t want to predict tomorrow or the next day or the next…today is enough. One day at a time. My mom and I shared the Serenity Prayer frequently as we would come up on things in our lives that we could not control. I cannot change this and I am not ready to accept it…but I am willing to continue working on it, and that is enough for today. – L.

It’s in the Blueprints…

It’s in the blueprints…it’s our structure…it’s who we are…there are things you can change and some you cannot. Knowing the difference is imperative in both cases.

When you build a house there are walls for the sake of creating space and there are walls that are structural supports. These structural walls cannot be moved, they cannot be changed, they are what they are and we have to live with them. The other walls that make up the house can be changed as our needs or tastes change. If you did not understand these basics of what can and what cannot be changed you would destroy the house.

Structural Engineer analyzes and designs the gravity support and lateral force resistance of buildings, bridges, and other structures. In our lives we are the Emotional Engineers of our psyche, our souls and what ultimately shapes our character. As noted in the Structural Engineer’s definition it’s the support and the resistance that determines the load that we bear. We have to know what we can change about ourselves and what is simply hard-coded or structural.

In my earlier blog I wrote about the book “Unf*ck Yourself” and the author made great points about change and the ability to change your life. Here are some that appeal to me and why:

  1. You have the life you’re willing to put up with.
  2. When you start to view the world through the lens of what you’re willing and unwilling to pursue, rather than what it seems you want and don’t want, things start to become a lot clearer.
  3. “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” — Carl Jung
  4. Stopping your bad habit doesn’t help, unless you replace it with something else, something that actually works in your favor and is an example of the new kind of life you really want to live.

I believe strongly in #1 because what we all have the ability to do is to CHOOSE. You are the architect of YOUR life, you decide. If you don’t like the path you are on then change paths. Oprah’s latest book “The Path Made Clear” has great points worth sharing…

  • Your life is always speaking to you. 
  • Live an inspired life 
  • Your self worth is your job
  • Your potential is always bigger than the problem 
  • You can’t hope for it unless you can imagine it.
  • You can’t love something until you can accept it 
  • There is so much energy tied up in “more” 
  • What you appreciate in life appreciates you

I challenge you to take an inventory of your “walls” and determine where a renovation is needed. 🙂

My Mom and I would always refer to the “Serenity Prayer” when it came to things that were beyond our control. It is the universal prayer for change. I recite it often but find that I use it more to distinguish things beyond my control (the structural walls) versus summoning it to give me the courage to change the things I can (the renovation). (Time to file a permit)…looks like there is indeed more work to be done! Thank God… L.