Finding a New Normal

Contributed by Jan LaPitz

At various stages in our lives, for a variety of reasons, our lives take a huge shift, and we must find a new normal.  Whether it be due to empty nesting, divorce, death of a spouse, loss of a job/career change, family issues, illness, etc. The list is almost endless.  We plan for our futures in many ways.   However, are we ever really prepared to adjust to a life changing event, sometimes, a series of events? Some of us are more skilled than others, but essentially no one is totally prepared for what’s around the “disaster corner”, or our perceived life path “detours”…

For over 20 years, a friend and her husband owned and operated an upscale lodge. After experiencing a wonderful successful life, they decided to sell, found a comfortable home close to family, and prepared to enjoy new life style. He suffered a fatal heart attack the day after closing on their new home. Her path with him ended that day. She never lived in the new house and  her struggle to recover from her loss was a steep daily climb out.

However, after three years on her emotional roller coaster she is now preparing for a fresh adventure with a new love. Who knows for how long they’ll share paths, or where their relationship will lead. However, with the aid of various substances and counseling she continues to moved forward, regaining her courage, setting aside her fears, and choosing to open her heart again. She is finding, for however long – no one knows, a new normal.

I believe there are two subjects to explore here. One is the “path” theory. Understanding that we each have our own path, our own walk, our own journey on this earth is, to me, key to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.

For those with children in their lives, we raise our children to the best of our abilities. Regardless of the values we instill, and the directions we point them in, they each have their own path, their own purpose, their own destiny, and they will make their own choices.

The other subject is the choice theory – we make choices. Each choice takes us on an adventure of lessons, experiences, and consequences. We make choices. Those choices are not necessarily good or bad, but yes, there are always consequences to our actions. We make choices based on a variety of circumstances, education levels, and the influence of others, but they are choices not mistakes. And, we are given the opportunity to learn from each choice we make.

Understanding and acceptance of this must come from a much higher level of intellect than most of us take time to ponder on a day to day basis. Often times until we’re faced with a catastrophic event we’ve been so very busy “doing life” that we haven’t had time to ask and answer the bigger, harder questions.   At that point it is almost too late – the world doesn’t stop spinning for us to regroup, rest, take an emotional and intellectual deep breath, and get through our grieving process. The fact that our society, in general, doesn’t recognize or associate grief with losses other than the physical loss of a loved one often times creates a huge barrier to regaining a healthy self.

Women are skilled damage control artists. We’re actually wired/programmed to fix all the problems in our individual day to day worlds. However, we’re not necessarily capable of fixing ourselves. Nor, and almost more importantly, are we geared to believe we’re “breakable”. We won’t break, we can’t break – too many others depend upon us to hold their world together. In fact, we have chosen, often time for very valid reasons, to allow them to be dependent upon us. We have made that choice, because of the path we’ve chosen to walk today. Think about how those choices may put you into a position of needing to find a future new normal.

Be mindful of the fact that you may actually want to find a new normal.  There are the healthy decisions of continuing your education after the kids have moved out; or starting a new business because you now have “me” time – want to devote volunteer hours to your community? Don’t forget to also plan the weekend spa trips with your gal pals.  Now could truly be the time in your life to have the well rounded life you’ve so desired and deserve. Yes, you are worthy of happiness, fun, love, and adventure – “new normals”.

No one can determine what the path of another is, or should be. We can offer a supportive ear, a hug, and endearing, loving words of encouragement to each other. Bolstering each others’ confidence, sense of self worth, beauty, wisdom, and courage to take “risks”, make bold choices, and move forward are essential components of nurturing friendships as we each find our “new normals”.

Finding a new normal seems to have been the norm for me and my friends during various stages of our lives. Some people believe we out grow friendships; we go our separate ways, lose touch; paths differing so much we’re left nothing in common. I believe, to the contrary, friendships cultivated decades ago are more important than ever to ourselves and each other.

Everyone has something to bring to the table of life – sharing our gifts of self with each other, at times, can be everything.

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