Thursday, April 4, 2013

The "New Normal"

I’ve written in a previous post that that “normal” should never be the goal, but that we should be re-defining normal and actually living with intention. Having had two extended stays at the “other Club Med”, the ordinary things in life became rather intense for me today in a good way. I went to bed about 8:00 last night since I hadn’t gotten much sleep at the hospital; and I slept uninterrupted until my usual 5:30 at which time I got up, took my vitals on my own (yes, doctor, I am just as paranoid about my health and have no desire to be camping out in the ER!), took a nice shower, made some coffee, and cooked up my own breakfast.  Now, breakfast for me usually is a pretty low-key affair consisting of fruit and yogurt, but I was hungry, really hungry, so I made some potatoes with bacon and onions and a couple of scrambled eggs. Admittedly, this is still a pretty non-eventful breakfast. Unless, of course, you’ve been eating from a tray in a hospital room for about a month all told. Then, the smells, the texture, the very details about each bite just became intensely satisfying. It literally made me cry…and why? I can’t say exactly. I mean, I am a pretty good cook, but not that good. Why it would elicit tears is beyond me.

I’m sure gratitude plays prominently into the mix, but without digressing into the paralysis of analysis, it just comes down to redefining what ‘normal’ is. Normal used to take pretty much most everything for granted, including the simple act of drawing an uninhibited breath. Today, I found not just breakfast, but so much more to be vibrant and downright fascinating. I found myself smiling a whole lot more than I might have otherwise. I was also appreciative of both the good and the bad side to wearing a surgical mask in public.  So many people are a bit scared seeing someone wearing a mask that they make eye contact long enough to register the mask and look away very quickly. They won’t talk to you, but in making my grocery run, two workers at Smith’s (my local grocery chain) made a point of greeting me and engaging me a bit. That hasn’t happened before when I've been behind the façonable yellow mask.  In fact, when my daughter was here, the only people that would talk to me on my walks around the block were panhandlers.  Everyone else, including the family with small children made haste to run away, literally.  Run away from the guy with the skull cap, glasses, and mask. See if I give out candy next Halloween…and all this time, I thought it was the fancy hair-do! Go figure.
'Normal," today, isn’t just something I’m having to redefine because of what I can and cannot do thanks to temporary physical or medical limitations. It’s something you and I both have the choice of discovering and it’s a product of outlook, of attitude, of refusing to be defined by circumstances or expectations. It’s accepting that perfect will never be something we can achieve. And that’s not something advertisers and retailers and a host of others want us to believe, but let’s be clear about this: perfection is the harbinger of death. You can perfect a technique, you can perfect a look, but when you get to that stage of being perfect, you stop trying. The act of struggling is what keeps us alive and, for better or worse, it brings us together. To struggle, to strive for achievement and productivity is to find meaning and to live. Is it any wonder that when people retire, they find something to keep themselves engaged? Those who don’t find some way to continue participating in their culture or family languish and fade away to their demise. I look at my own grandfather who taught himself computer skills and to self-publish; and well into his 90s, translated Turkish literature, selling it on (Click here to see the list of titles that with the able editing help of my grandmother, you can still enjoy.) He wasn’t into making money on it, but he was active, lucid, and contributing. Had his eyesight not given out, I seriously have to wonder if he’d have made it to 100. He was just that kind of guy and one whose positive example I want to emulate.

Of course, the other part of the new normal is a bit of attitude. I used to be so sober-minded that people called me, “Your Seriousness.” Where’s the fun in that?  So, part of my new ‘normal’ attitude has an edge and is a whole lot of fun.  Here I am “pole” dancing, replete with my admirers stuffing dollar bills into my waistband. Not exactly what you thought pole dancing was all about, was it?  And just imagine the kind of coordination and lack of inhibition that took!
And here’s something that just came in the mail today to poke fun at myself. I think I’ve found my sideline business for those of us afflicted with the side effects of chemotherapty, but haven’t lost our sense of humor.
So meet the new ‘normal.’ It’s going to look different tomorrow than it does today, but one thing for certain, it’ll be a whole lot funner than yesterday!

Today's music:  "Good Life" by OneRepublic.

Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could  really be a good life
Be well, stay strong, and much, much love to you all J