When is “Normal” Not Really Normal?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I’m sitting outside writing this blog post.  There’s still snow on our deck and all around the yard but it’s 57 degrees right now and it feels like summer to me.  I am in bare feet.  (This is heaven as I’ve had a least 2 pairs of socks on and Ugg boots and/or slippers for the past 4 months).  It’s funny how 57 degrees feels quite chilly when it occurs in September, on the heels of hot humid August, but today it feels warm.  And, how last month, after a week with high temperatures in the teens, 25 degrees felt warm.  It’s all relative, right? What we acclimate to eventually becomes normal.  And then anything that falls outside that “normal” range suddenly feels very different – even if it used to be “normal”.

I equate this to how many of us live our lives today.  We are so busy with all our work and personal responsibilities that we rush from one thing to the next.  We spend so much time rushing that this pace becomes normal.  It reminds me of when I first left my corporate job and started my business.  I spent 15 years in the corporate world; much of it being overscheduled and overworked so it seemed like all I did was rush around.  I rushed to work, rushed to meetings, rushed home, rushed through dinner, went to sleep, and started all over again the next day.  Weekends were also rushed so I could do all the things I didn’t have time for during the week.

When I started my business, I was still in this mode of rushing. I remember so clearly one morning, about a month after I started my business, I found myself rushing from the gym to Starbucks and then feeling all anxious because there was a line at Starbucks.  And then it hit me – I had two hours before my first scheduled call of the day.  Why was I rushing?  Because that was what I’d spent the past 15 years doing and it had become my norm.   I knew I didn’t want to be that way and didn’t have any reason to be that way anymore but it wasn’t easy to change.  I had to remind myself that rushing was not the norm anymore and had to consciously force myself to acclimate to my new normal -a much more even paced way of living my life.

What I learned from all this and was reminded of with the change in temperatures is that we often don’t even realize what’s become the new norm until something changes to wake us up.  I wasn’t paying attention to what became normal (rushing) or how it actually made me feel (awful!) because I was too busy to notice.   I never wanted to become that person who rushed around every day and rushed through my life but I had, without even realizing it.  I never want to become the person who thinks 20 degrees is warm but if I spend enough time in 2-degree weather, I will become that person.    And so as I sit out here and feel like it’s suddenly summer and it’s only 57 degrees, I am reminded to pay attention to the environments I’m allowing myself to become acclimated to so I can be sure that whatever it is that’s suddenly normal is the normal I actually want my life to be.

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