“A New Normal”

I have heard people use the term “a new normal” when there has been a change in their life.  Oftentimes, there’s been a loss of a loved one, an illness or injury, or some sudden alteration in the daily life that they’ve been living.  In the process of grieving, rehabilitating or recovering, there is a realization that what was routine is no longer available, is unattainable, or is just very unfamiliar in every way.  So, are we expected to find a different way of life?

Most of us have experienced a transition during our lifetime, whether planned or unexpected, have we not?  It may have involved us directly, or someone else’s circumstance or choice required us to adjust and make changes.

There have been immediate family losses in my life – deaths of my parents, my sister, my twin brother.  I miss each of them.  There are many memories.  Holidays and birthdays are different from our traditional family gatherings of the past.  We plan family reunions and random get-togethers with loved ones – those who remember the way things were and those who we’ve been blessed with since through marriages and births, who have never met their great-grandparents, aunt and uncle.  We do our best to share the old family traditions and talk about how things used to be, and we create new ones that honor our ancestors and establish moments to help us move forward.

I have discovered over the past year that I need to find a new routine for my daily life. The catapult to this discovery was our move back to Pennsylvania.  I lived my whole life in Western PA before deciding to move south.  We emptied the nest after the last son went off to college, packed up our belongings, and drove to the beach.  I cried the entire 12-hour drive – there was sadness in leaving family behind, including young grandsons; there was excitement of a new adventure, there was exhaustion from planning and packing; and there was anxiety because a hurricane was approaching as we traveled through the Carolinas.  After we settled into our new home, we lived thirteen years of the southern life of warm weather, beach walks, awesome friendships, and community involvement. It was an amazing life.  Eventually, though, I realized my heart ached to be back home with family, which doubled in size through marriages and increased with each blessed birth of a grandchild.  So we (my husband was a bit reluctant at first, but he loves me and understood) put our future plans in reverse, initiated the process of relocating (read here sell a house, buy a house, find a new job, and set up temporary separate households) and headed north.  Everything about what I did each day had to be readjusted.

Having experienced thirteen years of minimal cold and snow (yes, it snows sometimes at the beach), it was quite an adjustment as winter arrived.  It certainly wasn’t my first  northeast December-to-March, but my blood was quite used to southern temperatures. My body put up quite a fight when I stepped out into that long-forgotten Pennsylvania climate.  I’ve always liked boots and scarves and sweaters; and I looked forward to the times when temperatures dipped a bit at the beach so that I can don my newest fashion finds.  The reintroduction of  lengthy cold weather brought on the frequency of dressing in winter’s wear and the beginning of my understanding for the need of  a different wardrobe.  I found myself in the same outfits multiple times, mixing up whatever cold-weather pieces I had, and layering – sometimes 4-5 tops in a variety of sleeve lengths and textures. It amazed me how creatively I could put clothes together!  I got accustomed to this new style, but anxiously awaited warmer weather and simpler attire.

An additional facet of our relocation was the motivation (or lack thereof) to exercise.  In South Carolina, I  ran on flat roads, on the beach, and participated in many of the community’s 5K, 10K, and 13.1 races.  The distance increased as I trained more, but the incline of the routes remained level.  Pennsylvania has hills! There are hills of all heights and elevations. I have attempted to run my usual routine, only to be challenged by the smallest of slopes. My runs became walks.  Then came the inevitable arrival of daylight savings time and shortened hours of sunshine. One excuse after another consumed my evening recital: “too cold,” “too dark,” “too late,” “too tired,” “too much to do,” etc.  The purchase of a small walking treadmill was to address those “too’s” and encourage me to do the recommended daily 30-minute cardio workouts inside.  A new workout was developed, and I did my best to stay focused.

There’s opportunity in change.  We don’t always like change, do we? It’s an interruption to what we’re used to doing, but it may be a blessing in disguise.  Activities of daily living can get a bit too ordinary or can be taken for granted.  I live with purpose, always seeking to find enjoyment in all that I do: relax and read a book in front of the fireplace, lounge and watch a movie under a cozy blanket, sit and have a conversation with a friend at a local eatery, stand on the sidelines and cheer the grandchildren, create family functions to be remembered and shared with future generations, reconnect with teammates to play softball, and, yes, find enthusiasm once again to run and pass the test of the Pennsylvania hills to accomplish my exercise goals and please my healthcare provider.  Transformations that we may look back on someday and be able to say “Thank you.”

I will continue to pursue my quest to find order and embrace the opportunities afforded me by our decision to move back to our home state.  I will grieve the loss of my family members and a life we left behind near the sand.  I will trust that God has His hands on me and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be – forging “a new normal.”


Do you have a story about change in your life?  I’d like to hear from you.  Let’s connect in the comments below.  Your story may inspire others to find their way.  Thank you.


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