Today is the last day of my spring break. Tomorrow, I go back “to school,” which is, of course, a completely amorphous term at present, but there it is, nonetheless. Tomorrow, the Vulcan, deemed “essential” by our statewide Safer at Home order, will have to go back to work, which means he can potentially come into contact with all sorts of people who may or may not be sick. Tomorrow, life is supposed to “get back to normal,” even though I think we all agree Normal is pretty conclusively in the rearview.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about how to navigate this Land of New Normal, and how/what my “schedule” should look like/feel like in a world where time (as in Big Hand, Little Hand time) has a vague meaning at best. I have given up using my Old Normal planner because looking at my calendar with all the X’s through events that have been cancelled, and staring at my day-timer and thinking things like, “Well, I could grade from 10-11. Or should I go for a run, and then grade from 1-3? Or maybe spread it out–45 minutes in the morning and 45 in the afternoon?” is downright depressing.
I think the hardest thing about New Normal is that there isn’t a normal yet. In two weeks, we’ve gone from business as usual to statewide “shelter-in-place” orders. Every day is completely different. I’m still grappling with what I actually have control of, if controlling that thing actually matters, and if so, how can it help me or anyone else?
A couple of things that are helping me (today, anyway):
- “Look Like You Tried.” For the past two weeks, I think most of America has been on my “I’m not leaving my house, so why bother?” train. I haven’t worn so many sweatshirts in a row since I was in college and, let me tell you, make-up is something other people do. But the last few days, this mindset has been getting me down–I don’t feel great, and the mirror confirms it. So last night, I went through all the steps of my Old Normal skin care regimen. This morning, I pulled out some of my “cute” winter-break style comfy clothes–bulky scarf, fun earrings. Don’t get me wrong–I’m still wearing fleece leggings, but I feel presentable. I would run to the store (I mean, in a world where I could do that) in what I’m wearing and I wouldn’t be ashamed to be recognized. And, even with just myself and the Vulcan at home, I do find I feel better.
- “A Plan Doesn’t Have to Be Scheduling Out Every Minute.” Like I said. Time doesn’t mean what it meant two weeks ago. But not having a schedule doesn’t mean not having a plan. This morning, I dug out a planner I tried and gave up on because it was lacking calendar and day-timer features Old Normal required. This planner IS, however, just about perfect for New Normal. Spot for a to-do list, place to list important times (like my one Zoom meeting and my yoga class), ways to track food, water–a place to make notes of plans for exercise and self-care. Basically, everything I need for a day in the life of New Normal. This can be my plan–it has flexibility that New Normal affords as Old Normal didn’t/couldn’t. I feel like I’m accomplishing without drowning in the unrealistic expectations of Pinterest-perfect folks who want to plan out literally every minute of the live-long day. (And if you are intrigued, this is the planner I have. It’s kind of perfect for right now…)
- “Things are scary and hard. And I can’t change that.” I’ve written this post about fifteen different times in different ways today. A major feature? Tomorrow is frightening. The numbers of ill are climbing with alarming (though not unexpected) speed. People I love—my husband, my father, my brothers–are all essential workers who will have to go into the world tomorrow with this reality. There is nothing I can do to keep them safe. Except pray. And use my CDC-approved, DIY disinfectant liberally. And stay home myself, to try to protect other people’s parents, spouses, and siblings the way I hope they are protecting mine. When things get scary, it is hard to “Act Normal.” Sometimes, just hanging in there is the best I can do, and that is okay.
So, now I am in the New Normal. I will get up tomorrow and I will get ready. Because I will try. I will do my best. A while back, I wrote down this quote when I was going through a particularly rough patch, but it seems especially appropriate now:
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes, courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’Mary Anne Radmacher
Have courage. I’ll see you tomorrow!