Balance in the New Normal

2017 has been a new year for all of us. We struggle to remember to write a different year on checks, we’re looking toward another birthday, we have a new President. We aren’t all experiencing things in the same way and there are varying degrees of familiarity, shock, and comfort with all that has happened in the first six weeks of the year.

Beyond the political and social, I wonder about how people are doing. Or, maybe more accurately, how they are doing what they are doing? What are they thinking and feeling? How are they staying in a place that feels normal?

I have to remind myself that not everyone thinks like me. I wonder, do you have any quirks?

Here, I’ll start, I don’t like to step on or drive over the painted wheelchairs in parking spaces. I also cannot keep myself from turning tails-up pennies to heads up for the next superstitious/hopeful person. Sometimes I whisper thank you to green lights and when I pass people on the street I’ll think, “You once toddled across a floor to someone else’s profound delight. I hope you are still loved like that.”

I may seethe and say awful things sometimes, but mostly I think about good things. Trying to figure out how to manage the unpredictable flow of questions and commentary as a parent has become way more complicated for me since the election. There are times when I feel like I genuinely lack the air and spirit necessary to get to the end of an explanation of hate or indifference. I have no intention of giving up, but giving myself a spiritual head rest is critical.

The other day I stood outside and waited as a mix of snow and misty rain landed on my hair. It reminded me of the thing in middle school where we’d pretend to crack an egg on someone’s head and revel in the creepy sensation of hands acting as dripping eggs. That whole thing was a natural way to experience something outside of reality. No drugs, no lies, just touch and trust. I let myself feel the weight of the snow on my hair, the way it made certain strands thread together and press down on my temple. Droplets fell and landed on my eyelashes and cheeks. I smiled and listened as cars passed.

I was drawing a bath for Briar to soothe her sore back, we swished the Epsom salts in the water together and marveled at how strange it felt. We wondered aloud why it helped. I didn’t lament not understanding science or the human body, I just shrugged, smiled, and said, “I have no idea, but how cool, right?” She beamed back at me nodding.

Finley and I drove to Target the other day while her sisters were at dance class. She had a small purse clutched in her hand as we ventured to find a treat. We walked up and down the aisles for twenty-five minutes. After many stops and starts she looked at me, “I guess I don’t really ned anything.”

We talked about how sometimes there might be a sensation of craving something new, but that in reality it might be the foreign feeling of having everything that you need. I ended up buying her a book that I thought we could read together (I’m a sucker for Mo Willems) . She devoured it. I melted listening to her pronounce the French words peppered throughout. She would stretch her mouth and raise her eyebrows and over-enunciate, “flaaan-eur” and I would catch myself holding my mouth open as she did.

I suppose in the end there are no recipes or easy how-tos on handling the need to be engaged politically and the desire to be sustained personally. For me, it’s been realizing that it is ok to shift gears as I need to because a huge part of my own political activism is deliberate participation in the lives of my girls and my own self-care.

What about you? How are you managing it all?

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