The Last 3 Years Groomed Me for this Moment: Lessons on how to Redefine Normal

The past three years have prepared me for this moment. 

Or at least giving me a good crash course on what it is to redefine normal.

Three years ago, my mother passed away after a lengthy illness.

Me and my momma, Bishop Gwendolyn P. Mack circa 1987

No lie, it was tough readjusting to life without her. I had been one of her main caretakers. I cooked for her, took her to her doctor’s appointments, I fussed when she wouldn’t eat right. I gave her play-by-play updates of my son’s football games. She was a huge fan. 

So this redefining normal after her loss was huge.

And if redefining normal after her loss wasn’t hard enough, my only sibling—my sister passed away a year and two months later. Very tragically and very unexpectedly.

Redefining normal went to a DEFCON Level 1 overnight.

Redefining normal meant going from being a nearly empty nester to becoming the guardian of a preteen. It meant combining households and having my dad and adult nephew move in with us.

It was a whole lot of change that came at us fast and without warning.

Sorta like this pandemic that’s landed at all of our doorsteps. 

If we’re honest with ourselves, Covid-19 has already changed us. It’s already redefined normal. And I believe some of these new norms will stick well past the all-clear has been called.

Here’s what I’ve learned about redefining normal. I hope this helps you find a path forward during our current health crisis.

  1. Resistance is futile. Resistance is nothing but denial. Resistance says my life hasn’t changed and I can still do what I used to. Resistance says I will carry on as if nothing has changed. Listen, resistance will wear you out mentally and physically. I don’t know how many temper tantrums I threw because my new normal was not one I had envisioned for myself. That’s my truth. The levels of my anger and pissivity skyrocketed. And the longer I resisted, the longer I denied my new existence, the longer I harbored anger, the longer I delayed healing. For myself and those grieving under my own roof. The lesson here? If you’re a hugger, get used to finding a new way to greet people. If you’re used to constantly being on the move, sitting still will be extremely difficult. The sooner you make peace with this new reality, the solutions and workarounds will appear.
  2. Self-care should be practiced. I say should because, in times of upheaval, self-care is usually the first thing that flies out the window. I regained close to 30 pounds during that three year period. I relapsed into some bad eating habits. Eating habits I learned during previous times of crisis. I resorted to what I knew and what offered immediate comfort. Eventually, good sense kicked in and my self-care resumed. It happened when I stopped resisting. Look, this is a tough situation we find ourselves in. Currently, no one has witnessed or lived through anything of this magnitude before. And if we’re honest…many of us are scared. We’re uncertain of our futures, our ability to earn incomes, take care of ourselves and our families. So it’s real easy to resort to some unhealthy patterns and coping mechanisms. Take it from someone who has been there, acceptance ushers in good self-care practices. And self-care is a must.
  3. Curveballs will still get thrown. Even when you’ve come out of denial and start taking care of yourself, life will still throw you a vicious curveball. And I do mean vicious. Wicked may even be a better word. Just when you think you’re out of the woods and you’re making progress—WHAM! You get blindsided. Once this pandemic dissipates, there’s talk of a possible recession. That’s a serious curveball. All of this will have you muttering expletives under your breath. Or you might go ahead and yell them at the top of your lungs. No judgment here. But here’s what I’ve learned. When the curve balls get thrown, you’ve already been strengthening your pivot muscle. That’s the muscle that allows you to shift to acceptance a whole lot quicker so you can see solutions a whole lot quicker. And solutions bring a measure of peace. This whole redefining normal process has been conditioning you to recover much faster from those curveballs so you can return to a place of peace.

My best to you and yours as we all walk through redefining normal for our personal lives, our businesses, and our world.

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