Waiting On A New Normal: Navigating Your Mindset When You Feel In-Limbo.

Waiting On A New Normal: Navigating Your Mindset When You Feel In-Limbo.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

(****really important note: this is not a post about waves or policies. this is about what you might be experiencing internally — a feeling stuckness or waiting, despite “logically knowing” you could be acting and feeling otherwise.)

 

 

 

Two years ago this week, I posted this:


A snippet from the caption:

“Today’s Micro Shift For A Mega Difference: Replace NEW NORMAL with FOR-NOW NORMAL.

NOW Normal isn’t the same as THEN Normal. And it’s definitely not the same as what Normal WILL BE months from now, when the dust settles, we emerge from our doors, and enter a post-pandemic society. And hug. It’ll be so, so wonderful to hug.

The words we choose to describe the time we’re in *matter.* Saying that this is our “New Normal” implies that the Now is the Forever…which it’s definitely not.”

Welp, it’s two years later. We have emerged from our doors. Hugs are a thing.

So why does it feel like we’re still waiting for something to happen?

 

PART 1: THE FORGETTING.

Okay, let me amend that: so why does it still feel like *a lot of us are* waiting for something to happen? I don’t want to assume what your life has been like, or is like, or how you’re feeling in this moment. But if the conversations I’ve been having and posts I’ve been seeing on social media are any indication of what’s going on beyond the walls of my own brain, then it’s pretty clear to me that a lot of us are still waiting for this New Normal people were talking about so often a few years back. Stuck in an interminable limbo.

Waiting.

Adjusting.

Planning, just enough.

Acting, just enough.

Waiting.

Waiting.

On a call with my therapist the other day, I admitted to her that I didn’t have vivid memories of the past year or so. This, I told her, was alarming to me. Because this, I told her, was something I’d experienced before. And as someone whose memory is usually crystal-clear (one friend likes to tell me that I remember her childhood better than she does. we met well into adulthood, I just know all her family’s stories and inside jokes), the fact that my memory presents itself as fuzzy and vague is, I told her, a big red flag that something is very off. The last time I experienced this on an intense level, after all, was in college — a time when my life felt so unlike my own that I ended up developing multiple eating and body-related disorders. And while I thankfully haven’t been even so much as flirting with any of those destructive avenues this time around, there’s one thing that I do realize I’ve been doing:

I’ve been shutting down and going through the motions.

 

Relationship therapists and mental health communities will often talk about “avoidant” attachment style, a pattern of behavior within relationships where the person disconnects from their own expression of needs and feelings and becomes overly independent. Others will talk about shutting down emotionally as a response to feeling overstimulated and not knowing how to handle it. I always like to get curious about relationship patterns and studies when I’m dealing with my own inner stuff — if the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the relationship you have with Your Self, wouldn’t it make sense that (at least some of) the same advice and findings might (at least some of the time) apply to that mega-important relationship, too?

You can logically know what you want to do, how you want to do it, every single step on the 200-step list to get you where you want to be. But logic won’t get you everywhere.

“It’s like I put up a physical wall,” I told my therapist, illustrating the wall in front of me with my hand gestures. “I don’t feel any which way about the wall — not angry, not sad. I logically know that I want to walk around the corner of the wall and keep moving forward; the corner’s right there. But it’s like there’s something inside of me that just won’t do it — that’s telling me it’s not the time yet.”

“It sounds to me,” she said gently after some thought, “like your strategy of shutting down and therefore not really remembering is a protective strategy. Is that maybe it? You’re doing your best to get yourself through tough times.”

As I think about this interminable in-limbo, this For-Now Normal I’m so eager to transition into a New one, I have to remind myself over and over again that this is the thing.

For all of us.

We are doing our best to get ourselves through tough times. And I think where we’ve been getting tripped up is thinking that this tough time isn’t supposed to be as tough as it is.

If we’re not in the Before anymore and we’re not in the After yet, we ask ourselves — then why does it feel like we’ve been wherever HERE is for so long?

“Maybe,” I mused to my therapist, a cartoon lightbulb popping over my head, “I’ve needed this moment of checking out a little to help me reset for whatever comes next.”

 

PART 2: THE MOTIONS

Here’s the thing. Transitions, are usually just as tough if not tougher than all the Befores and Afters. Even if we feel as if we’re on the precipice of the other side, that doesnt meant it’ll all the sudden be easy. And even if we’re in a transitional *moment,* that doesn’t mean that *moment* is a quick one.

My expectations formed in 2020 — of a smooth and quick transition from the Before to the After — did not match up with the reality of the During that’s been 2021/22, and that’s both my own doing AND not something to shame myself for. I’m pragmatically positive, looking at the truths in front of me and choosing to believe the ones that feel proactive, not reactive. This is what prevents me from going to those deeper and darker places when times get tough. I’m grateful that my pragmatically positive outlook has carried me through the last few years. And if that part of me needed a transitional moment of “going through the motions” of life in order to clear the slate for whatever’s next, I’m here for it.

That’s not to say if you get into a pattern of habitually checking out, tuning out, or going through the motions, it’s always okay or healthy. That’s why I brought it up to my therapist!

But if you’re someone who is used to always being ON, always having PLANS, always STRIVING REACHING SCHEMING with motivation and drive for days, and over the last couple years, has been HUSTLING SUPER HARD physically mentally and emotionally just to keep your mojo going…well, maybe this moment is a sign that your mojo just wants a nap.

Having high productivity, drive, and vision 24/7 isn’t just not-sustainable, it’s not how a full life works. Life is a mix of highs, lows, and everything in between. The thing that matters is that you focus on responding to and/or maximizing the moment you’re in instead of escaping it. It’s kind of like your classes in high school: maybe you lived for English class and poured your soul into every essay — but you still had to pass Chemistry, which you found boring and aggravating, to graduate.

It’s okay to love some times and go through the motions in others.

That doesn’t mean you’re failing.

It means you’re human.

 

PART 3: THE (FOR) NOW

I’ve started to believe even stronger in the concept of the For-Now Normal, and believe in it in a different way than before.

What if these past two years — and this past year, especially — has been a call-to-action for all of us to remember that every “Normal” has a “For Now” in front of it?

That things can be both temporary and interminably long at the same time?

That as long as you’re not causing yourself of others harm, doing your best to get yourself through a tough time is sometimes the best you can do in the current For Now, before the next For Now comes along?

I’m not telling you to subject yourself to a life of waiting. Be proactive, not reactive. 

And I’m also not telling you that every single thing in your life is a matter of choice. Life is a waltz between circumstance and choice, where at any moment one can take over the leading steps.

All I’m saying is that you, dear reader, dear friend, are in the midst of one of many of your For Nows. 

When you become tempted to tell yourself mean things about the season you’re in, remind yourself:

“The Now is not the Forever. It never is. Sometimes things come easily, some times are tough. I’ve gone through many seasons before this and will go through many seasons after this. What matters right now is that I honor where I am, knowing that where I’m going is just another moment away.”

Do the best with where you’re at, and the best for whatever’s next.

Your For Now is for now, just like your next For Now will be too.

Honoring where you are now allows you to practice honoring where you will be.

Trust it.

 

 


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Laughable Plans: Finding Control When There Feels Like None.

Laughable Plans: Finding Control When There Feels Like None.

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

If you Google search “top 10 most stressful life events,” there are a few repeat offenders that pop up on list after list. Death of a loved one. Marriage. Divorce. Starting a new job or losing a current one. Financial problems. 

And then, there’s MOVING.

For the last few months, this one’s been my Stressful Life Event de Jour. And not just moving. Buying.

(*and yes, it’s admittedly a HUGELY privileged Stressful Life Event to even be able to buy — especially in New York City, which has been touted as one of the hardest places to buy due to its many….uh…let’s just call them *quirky* barriers to entry.)

But this letter to you today isn’t about buying a home: it’s about everything else it’s been bringing up for me, and I suspect life has been bringing up for you, too.

PART 1: LAUGHABLE PLANS.

Let me give you some context: I am no stranger to moving. For the majority of my adult life, I moved almost every single year. I think my own personal record was around 2009-2011, where I somehow fit four apartments into a span of 2.5 years.  And then I met Jeremy and started living in apartments for 2-3 years at a time. Apartments that didn’t feel like a “place” — they felt like a home.

About a year ago, we decided that after all these feelings of “home,” it was time to actually make moves and buy one of our own. Knowing a more permanent situation was on the horizon, we decided to take advantage of the “Covid deals” in the city and rent one last time. I don’t have kids (well, human kids — Frankie totally counts!), but I imagine the mindset we had was similar to that of pre-parents who take a “babymoon” before life changes forever: our plan was to have an “adventure year” in an area of the city we’d probably be priced out of during any other moment in time, while saving a bit more in the meantime. You know. Have one last “hurrah” before a new chapter began. Especially because, of course, things in the world would “get better” soon.

Well, there’s an old Yiddish saying. “We plan, God laughs.”

So, you’re welcome for the comedy show, God/universe/whatever you want to call it.

Without getting into all the nitty-gritty details of every single not-exactly-hurrah-worthy event, what I’ve finally realized is that after two years of SO much uncertainty and lack of control over the state of the world, I think we thought we could “control” our way out of it all. That we could put a surplus of concrete plans in place like in “before times” and it beat the system.

What’s ironic is that the surplus of plans we put in place actually worked in the opposite way we wanted them to. Instead of providing us with more security and ease, they made us more on edge and unsettled than ever. We weren’t loving our neighborhood. The pandemic was faaaaaaar from over. Buying was proving to be even harder than the “hard” we thought it would be. Maybe in a different time it would have all panned out differently, but we don’t live in another time. We live now. Everything began to feel fragile and calculated. 

What’s even more ironic is that it all felt exponentially harder to work through mentally and emotionally than in 2020, the year so many of our lives literally changed overnight, and so many of us felt like we had the most uncertainty.

PART 2: AFTERSHOCKS.

If you’re nodding your head, I want you to know that you’re a) human, and b) not alone. When you have so much uncertainty thrown your way for so long (and two years is definitely so long!), any opportunity to seize control can feel like not only a lifeline but the rarest of opportunities.

It’s not that uncertainty is the enemy, though. Or control, for that matter!! It’s not as simple as good vs. bad. Both certainty and uncertainty have their pros and cons, sometimes in the same breath.

But as a recovering perfectionist AND recovering self-help junkie, I’ve historically had a tendency to either think that you need to totally control every aspect of something in order for it to “work out,” or you need to completely let go. The latter being a favorite of self-help culture: everything happens for a reason, blah blah etc etc.

This is obviously not how life works. You can’t just always have one thing all the time.

So what do you do when you feel like you have no control at all and everything’s spinning haphazardly?

The answer to lack of control, I’ve learned, isn’t total control. It’s finding a way to feel (and stay, even?) grounded while the floor shakes under you and the aftershocks keep rolling. And I’m from Southern California. I KNOW earthquakes. When I was seven, an earthquake hit our city so big that entire houses fell off of their foundation. My friend Joey’s whole house was flooded. My aunt (pregnant with my cousin Ben, so also, my cousin Ben) had to literally climb out a window to get out of her house because the doors were blocked with debris. Phone lines went down, electricity went out, and parts of the freeway collapsed. People died. This was 1994 pre-social media, when all we had were newspapers, TV, and radio — the latter of the two you might not have had access to if your power had gone out. So for days, so many of us….just….didn’t know….so much.

And the aftershocks kept rolling.

But we got up. We got creative. We did what we could. We helped where we could. We climbed out windows and rebuilt freeways and mourned the losses while we moved forward, knowing very well the ground could start shaking again at any moment.

Whether it’s an earthquake, a globally traumatic event, a relationship beginning (or ending), a job ending (or beginning), or a move, there are times in life that present us with what feels like more not-knowing than we can handle.

Whenever I feel like “nothing” is certain and I start to not only fear but expect the proverbial aftershocks of a moment in time way outside of my control, I do ONE thing that IS.

Whether it’s moving my body in the warmth of my little living room on a cold day, or being intentional with my words during a difficult conversation, or doing that one thing I’ve been putting off for weeks  — that little thing ALWAYS brings me back to myself.

No, it doesn’t fix the situation at hand. But it reminds me I have a sliver of agency, during a time when I often forget I do — and that control isn’t an all-or-nothing event.

PART 3: THE DANCE.

I said earlier that there were multiple “not-exactly-hurrah-worthy” events over the course of the last year. But what I didn’t mention is that there were plenty of “hurrah-worthy” ones, too. Going to the theatre more than ever. Cooking so many new, delicious meals. Home workouts (who knew they’d become so fun?!). Weekend mornings uptown. Midday coffee breaks in Madison Square Park and Washington Square Park and Fifth Avenue. Runs through the streets of Chelsea and Soho. Multiple big work WINS. New friends. 

The thing that all of these moments have in common is that they weren’t in the plans. Even the things I DID expect to happen and DID plan for didn’t happen on the timeline I’d set for myself. I had control in the moment, but that control didn’t come from a strict guidebook I was following. The uncertainty actually enhanced these experiences, come to think of it. I appreciated them more. And eventually, allowed myself to go with the flow with the other stuff rather than fighting the tide.

I have no new news to report on the homebuying front, other than the fact that I’m finding peace in doing what I can and then letting the rest be. Like in life. Sometimes control will be there, and sometimes it won’t. Trying to force everything to line up perfectly isn’t the answer — but neither is letting go so much that you’ve lost the hope and joy that comes with expectations. You’ll be able to control certain things, but not all the things. Internalizing and accepting the presence of both those things as simultaneous truths is key to making the moments matter. An investment in both the attachment and non-attachment. An ability to move forward with plans and accepting they might not work out but moving forward anyway.

So many times we try to control our way into the fullest, truest life we can imagine.

But a full and true life isn’t about being in total control.

It’s about controlling what you can, then letting the rest unfold.

A dance between knowing and not-knowing.

 

gaining control uncertainty

Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Tips + Tools

“I think I’m an Apple person. Yep, I’ve decided it. I’m switching out everything.”

This was my husband, about a month ago.

My PC-using, iPhone-carrying husband, tired of multiple brands and multiple systems, decided that he would no longer be using anything that was more than one degree away from Steve Jobs. Everything needed to “match.” He sounded like a close relative of Justin Long in those commercials from the early 2000s.

 

Also my husband about a month ago:

“I’m think I’m a PC person. Yep, I’ve decided it. No Apple for me”

No, that’s not a typo. After going all-in on the Apple ecosystem, my MacBook-using, iPhone-carrying husband decided he was tired of learning new keyboard functions and computer basics after a lifetime of PC use. But, of course, everything needed to “match.”

Goodbye iPhone, hello Pixel.

Goodbye Justin Long, hello PC Man.

Confusing, I know (less so if you know he’s a Gemini, but that’s a whole other conversation). And, admittedly, a very privileged back-and-forth to even be having — one we definitely wouldn’t have been having years ago when we both worked for larger corporations and didn’t rely SO heavily on our own devices. We’re both pretty conservative with our spending, and cringe whenever we see the price tag on a new computer or phone (even the refurbished ones). Some people have to pay rent on office space to run their company, some people have to buy school supplies or specific outfits. Tech is our main business investment, and an investment worth making — especially now that so much of the work we used to do in-person is now virtual.

Jeremy is a brand + business strategist, which means he spends his days growing businesses by hland on who they are, what they stand for, and how that manifests out there in the world. This is both an asset and a roadblock. While it makes him hyper self-aware and inquisitive by nature, it can also lead him down roads he might not have traveled otherwise.

“What’s your favorite movie?” isn’t just a small-talk ice breaker — it’s a way to tell someone else exactly who you are and what you value.

“How do you want your hair cut?” isn’t just about what flatters your face shape or what feels practical/on-trend/whatever you’re going for — it’s about what you want to say before you even open your mouth.

In his quest to “streamline” his technology, Jeremy — my insightful, inquisitive Gemini husband — wasn’t just deciding on a computer or phone.

He was deciding on an identity.

(Or so he thought.)


The whole “your phone/computer/headphones/tablet/whatever is your identity” thing is the exact narrative those early Mac vs. PC Guy were capitalizing on. According to the commercials, if you were a Mac person, you were cool, laid back, young. PC Guy? All business. No fun. Awkward. (cue the dramatic music) Outdated.

Of course, this isn’t true at all. Or rather, the truth of it depends on YOU, the consumer, and your experience. But the idea of a defined and streamlined narrative is so alluring…so aspirational…a lot of us will go to great lengths to make it happen. So muchso, that we’ll even trade in what we love for the promise of a vague “better.”

~

Self-help culture has us obsessed with the big shifts and life overhauls. Do a quick internet search or bookstore browse of mainstream self-help hits and you’ll see phrases like find your calling, unlock your true purpose, and change your life.

All of which imply that you’ve got to leave one thing behind in order to access the other.

The better, brighter, other.

Is that sometimes true? Sure. Sometimes you do need to quit the job, leave the relationship, pack up the house, delete your social media.

But what about all of those other times? The times you actually love your job, are all-in on your relationship, feel so very at home, enjoy “Liking” your friends’ posts…and still, you feel like something is just off?

What about then?

Are you supposed to assume you can’t trust your contentment?

Should you assume that leaving, quitting, packing, deleting are the inevitable answers?

~

The answer, of course, is no. Just like Jeremy eventually realized, who you are isn’t just about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

He didn’t need the phone in his hand to be a full-on personality trait.

What he DID need, though, was an update to his OS: his operating systems.


The phone-person metaphors are aplenty.
I think one of the reasons we’re intrigued by personal computers and cell phones is that they hold so many of our memories. And not just the photos we took at lunch with the fam. We literally use them to help us remember stuff. I know that the second I find out a friend’s birthday, I program it into my calendar. Got an interesting recommendation for a book? Write it in the Notes app or on a desktop “Sticky.” Back everything up to “the cloud” and you’re good to go. If you’re reading this, you’re reading it on a device of some kind — which means that you too have what’s akin to a second brain.

It’s pretty amazing, and yet sometimes I’ve found myself longing for the days of the physical Day Planners and oversized desk calendars. I’ve tried both, multiple times, and while I got a sweet hit of nostalgia as I penciled in my appointments, I ultimately got overwhelmed and had to scrap the analog methods. At first, I left my digital ways behind — but then I realized I still needed to keep my digital calendar up-to-date, so I started to do both. In my quest to simplify, I ended up over-complicating things for myself. So muchso, in fact, that I ironically ended up forgetting things. For me, trying to be a “Day Planner” person actually hurt more than it helped.

 

Even though something new and shiny (or retro and nostalgic) might seem like the easy swap, it might not be the right decision for you.

What might be right, however, is to do an audit of your lifestyle and habits in the same way you’d look at a phone or computer.

 

Think of your own personal operating systems (OS). What’s automated? Do you benefit from those automations? Is your “cloud” backup — the mental and emotional resources you can pull from regularly — up-to-date? Do you find yourself crashing every time you perform a certain activity a certain way or at a certain time?

Inspired by Jeremy’s tech saga and a-ha, I’m currently in the middle of my own OS audit. For me, an “OS Update” primarily involves looking at the role “motivation” and “inspiration” play in my day-to-day decisions. I’ll often use these two things as reasons to do or not do certain tasks and activities, so I’ll spend an unnecessary amount of time trying to drum up inspiration. Not only is it inefficient, it’s actually super exhausting. And while I do love the feeling of motivation and inspiration, I’ve found that I love them most when there’s no larger agenda attached (go figure, that’s when all my best ideas come to me anyway). My OS Update involves building the habit of whatever I’d like to do — write, exercise, cook, read — and not waiting for the go-ahead from “motivation.”

I’ve also realized that when it comes to work, I automatically answer questions with responses I would’ve given a year or two ago. Whether it’s stating my rate or responding to a request, I’ve found myself perfunctorily saying things that don’t apply anymore.

I’ve changed. It’s time for my OS to change with me.

Life is like a computer or cell phone. Things break and glitch. Sometimes, you need something completely new. But sometimes, you just need to upgrade your operating system. Click To Tweet

So, to come back around to Jeremy: he eventually ended up how he began. A Microsoft computer, an Apple phone, and some kind of copycat brand of AirPod-lookalikes as headphones. (Thank goodness for return policies and trade-in programs.) After a record number of backs and forths, Jeremy got everything set up and synced, and now has it all running on the latest version of software — software he wasn’t using before. It all looks the same as it did at the start, but there’s actually a world of a difference.

Turns out, he just really, really needed everything to work as efficiently as possible.

He didn’t need to choose a whole new identity. He wasn’t Justin Long. He wasn’t PC Guy.

His identity was, and always has been, “efficiency guy.”

~

It’s easy to assume that if things aren’t working, then you need to scrap everything and start fresh. Whether it’s the movies you love, the way you cut your hair, the coffee you drink, or the phone you carry, there’s a whole world out there that would love for you to define yourself by your associations. It’s easy…too easy…to assume that if you change what’s on the outside, you’ll change, period.

But life doesn’t work like that.

Things break and glitch.

Sometimes, you need something completely new.

But sometimes, you just need to update your operating system.

 


WANT YOURSELF:

What might an “OS Update” look like for you? Are there areas in your life where you could use a system refresh/reboot? Share in the comments and let us know — or join us over in The WANT Community to discuss this and more on a weekly basis!


 

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

Welp, the NYC streets are packed again, the smells are back with a vengeance, and there are lines around the block for the new Harry Potter Store on 5th Avenue.

Yep. NYC is back in action. And all the signs are pointing to one thing:

IT’S TIME. The transitional moment is HERE.

Pivot or back-pedal.
Reimagine or regress.
Evolve or escape.

If you’re feeling particularly…um…tested lately (by people, by work, by life being life), welcome to the club.

*Because you, along with pretty much everyone else, are in the middle of a transition.*

*And transitions bring tests.*

Tests, in this context, are conversations, instances, or occurrences that give us opportunities to cement our choices in stone.

If you’ve ever put in your two weeks’ notice at a lackluster job and then all the sudden had a pretty great two weeks at work – congrats, you’ve experienced a “test.” 

How much DO you want it, really?
How committed ARE you, really?

Important side note here. Not *everything* is a “test.”

(Side note to the side note, I feel like I want to add this “not everything, because nuance and individuality” caveat to every other thing I write/say, because the internet seems to like to take one thing and make it true for eVeRyOnE. But hopefully, I don’t have to Side-Note my way around conversations with you, and you know this side note to be true.)

BUT, if you have something you’ve said you’re working toward… something you want badly… something you’ve committed to… or just something you know you don’t want in your life anymore, I’ll bet you’ve experienced something that’s made you wonder if you should just stay put and NOT make the thing — whatever it is — happen.

For me, tests have looked like:

  • Multiple work or social invites on the same day: I’ve said I don’t want to go back to overscheduling and overextending myself, so my test is that I’m gonna get multiple chances to overschedule and overextend myself. Do you care more about your mental health or fitting everyone else in? (mental health.)
  • More “meh” workouts than “yeah!!” ones: I’ve said I don’t want to define my badassery by my workouts, so my test is that those workouts that in the past have made me feel super badass are NOT happening. Do you care more about how you feel or about what you do? (how I feel.)
  • More delightful and/or urgent social media content, less “followers”: Ok, this is one I think I’ve written and rewritten about 8xs. I’ve said I want to only create content that lights us BOTH up — meaning, only creating content that either delights me/you AND OR content that lights a vital fire under me/you. After the massive year that was 2020, I got really discouraged by seeing so many people go back to old harmful habits, old negative self-talk loops, or just old un-joyful patterns that they SWORE they’d never visit again. Like, REALLY discouraged.And so I vowed to myself I would only post what brings joy or moves us forward (or both). This has been a non-negotiable for me, and my test has been that my “follower” count has gone down instead of up (and as someone working on a book, I’m also hyper aware of the relationship between publishers and platform numbers). So the question has been: Do you care more about the impact you make, or the numbers you see? (impact I make. every damn time.)

 

There have been more. I’ve been tested quite a lot ?

Because I’m becoming a NEW version of myself.

Just How It Is and Just How I Am are no longer the same as they once were, and I don’t want them to be.

When it comes to moving forward when it’s easy NOT to, I’m actually HIGHLY motivated by regret.

Not in a fear-based way. But rather, a fired-up way.

Whenever I face a test, I stop to get perspective:

If today was the last day of your life, would you regret how you did things?

Is this a decision I’ll look back on one day as a “fork-in-the-road” moment…and regret not ever experiencing the fork-prong-not-traveled?

Or will I look back and be glad that, at the very least, I TRIED to go down the path I chose?

I bet you’ve been tested at least once this year, too.

AND THIS IS THE THING:

Your life will be a constant reevaluation.

It’s gonna change. You will change. It’s inevitable. Remember to constantly reevaluate.

Reevaluate what and who inspires you. Reevaluate your passions, your missions, the person you are out in the world. Reevaluate what truly matters most. It’s a tragedy to live life as an outdated version of yourself, hitting TEST after TEST after TEST and choosing not to move forward, all the while convincing yourself it’s “Just How It Is” and “Just How You Are.”

But Just How You Are can change whenever you want it to.

This is YOUR life. You get to decide where you go and what you do. Any choice can be the “right” choice, really, as long is it’s a choice you can wholeheartedly stand behind when you ask yourself:

If today was the last day of my life, would I regret how I did things?

You do not owe anyone a past version of yourself because that version is familiar.

Allow yourself the upgrade.

Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

“Monday morning, indoor group fitness opens back up in NYC!”

I saw the news headlines plastered all over my friends’ social media timelines, celebratory emojis abound. Not soon thereafter, the emails started rolling in.

As a group fitness instructor for the last almost-14 years, I’ve become intimate and familiar with the so-called “hustle.” The early morning, the late nights, the laughable pay (I once taught at a studio where one person showed up, and I got paid per head, so I made a whole $3 for that class), the long commutes. Teaching through sickness, through injury, through life crisis because you can’t find a sub. 

Not to say that’s all it’s been. Far from it. There are many reason why I’ve prioritized it over the years, and why I’ve stuck with it even when I wasn’t making enough to cover a gallon of gas: the community, the people, the way you’re able to make massive shift happen within a span of 45 minutes that lasts long after your heart rate has settled down.

Pre-2021, I probably would have been thrilled by all the emails rolling in talking about reopening. But this time, this year, in 2021, that was not the case. Anxiety hit. Hard.

I knew. And when I finally did get on that bike for my very first class back, my suspicions were confirmed.

I am not the same person as when I last got up on that bike.

~

This isn’t a post about group fitness at all, and it’s not about the safety logistics of “opening up.” This is about going Back To Normal. 

My experience teaching spin classes over the last two weeks since reopening has been great. Supportive managers, grateful class members, intimate classes of no more than 6. 

And. I am not the same. I can already tell that I lead differently. I facilitate a different experience. I imagine that when I go back to IRL speaking engagements, I’ll have a similar reaction. How ironic that it took the absence of pressure from weekly “stage time” — whether on a conference stage giving a keynote or a spin podium coaching through a breathless push — to feel as if I’ve finally found my voice all over again.

My experience has been one of a multitude of examples thus far in which I feel as if I’m going back in time and seeing my life through a sliding-doors lens, being given an opportunity to take one path instead of the other.

Maybe you feel it, too. Going places you haven’t been for a year and realizing you’ve changed but they haven’t. Being asked questions you would have answered with an emphatic YES or hard NO before, now bringing you hesitation and pause.

A transition has been brewing over the last year+ and can now FEEL everything starting to bubble to the surface. It’s incredible and terrifying at the same time. Because now, right now, in this moment, we get to choose our true New Normal.

Restrictions are lifting in more areas, vaccines are being rolled out in more places, and for some, life is beginning to look more “normal” than it has in 12 months.

My fear is that people will be so eager to “get back” to how things “once were” that they’ll forget all those moments over the last year that made them realize that “how-things-once-were” was, in a multitude of ways, NOT working.

I do not want to buy into the so-called “hustle.” I want to define my own success.
I do not want to say YES when I mean NO. I want to say YES when it means YES and NO when it means NO.
I do not want to distract myself into perpetuity anymore. I want to always be paying close attention.
I do not want trust without truth. I want truth, then trust.
I do not want an existence made of checked boxes. I want a life lived outside the lines that we’re told give it shape.
I want rest.
I want contemplation.
I want deeper conversations and holding someone to their word.
I want racial and gender equity.

I want evolution.
I want forward motion.

This past year has presented us with so many lessons to learn and unlearn. So many systems to dismantle and truths to face about our world, and about ourselves.

And here’s the kicker: they’re not new.

These aren’t new lessons and systems and truths. The difference is that this time, weren’t “too busy” or “too distracted.” We were sitting down and paying attention.

And I worry about our collective attention span dwindling and going back to the way things were.

Don’t let it happen.

Journal about it all (What’s Your Story? by Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond is a great place to start. I truly will never ever stop recommending this book). Keep talking about what you’re learning. Keep evaluating and re-evaluating the systems and structures in your life.

Keep reading. Keep getting involved. Keep setting boundaries. Keep speaking up.

Identify the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be and make it happen.

Do not forget.
Do not stop doing the work.

Don’t go back to normal.
Create an entirely new one.
One that serves us all.

On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

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It all just feels so much more complicated now than it has in the past, doesn’t it?

Or maybe it’s always felt this complicated, we’ve just been too distracted to notice…

The dictionary definition overwhelm – “to overpower in thought or feeling” – doesn’t hold a candle to Overwhelm In The Roaring (20)20s. I’ve written about what to do when it all feels like too much, I’ve written about being overwhelmed by the good things, I’ve written about Ghost Worries. But the nuances of overwhelm in what I’ve been calling the “For-Now Normal” are really something else.

This is an illuminating time we’re in. We’re learning new things and mourning new losses and reaching new milestones and sometimes all three at the same time, and we have very few places to go to recalibrate our system.

Maybe you’re one of the people privileged enough to own a spin bike so you can ride to nowhere, or maybe you have a large backyard or a multi-story house, or maybe you’re in a studio apartment. Maybe you live with other humans (and/or pets) to talk to in person, mask-free. Maybe you’ve moved in with family, or family’s moved in with you, or are Air BNB-ing it long-term for the time being.

But no matter what your situation, you’re being forced to make do with whatever’s in your immediate surroundings, repurposing them to create escapes and releases and comfort and coping mechanisms when all they’d usually be are the norm.

~

To be overwhelmed, I’ve learned, isn’t necessarily a numbers game. It’s not to feel as if there are too many things going on or too many boxes to check off your to-do list. My to-do lists have varied over the last year from page-turners to one simple box to check next to the words “make lunch.” If overwhelm was merely about the numbers, I promise you, I’d be spending way less of my days overwhelmed than I currently am.

No; overwhelm right now is maybe what overwhelm has actually been all along: when your thoughts and feelings not only *feel* overpowering, but they morph and shape-shift so often that you lose sight of where you end and your surroundings begin.

Overwhelm is the place you go when you feel like the world is playing a game of tug-of-war and your arms are the rope. Pull, pull, pull, back, forth, back, forth. It’s not the tug-of-war itself that’s the issue; it’s the way your head and heart are trying to compute what the hell is going on. Internal alarms and ticker-tape thoughts and flickering lights and total blackouts from an over-processed processing machine.

~

I’m up at 5am this morning writing this, every so often glancing over my right shoulder and out my window to see the silver-blue light of morning rising. I look down at the streets, snowy and snow-plowed; someone walks by maybe every five minutes, maybe. Because, pandemic and 5am and bone-ass cold.

I’m up at 5 because I was up at 4:30, because every single human I admire claims to wake up early for whatever reason they deem important. Writing, meditating, moving. But whatever they do, they all claim this is the time they feel they KNOW. The time the doubt and fears fade and they just do what they do.

In many cultures, 4-5am is the time “at which the boundaries that separate the physical realm from the spiritual realm are at their weakest” (quote from this article). “Witching Hour” is usually considered in the 3am or 4am hour, a time that folklore once associated with supernatural happenings. Many articles I read about this time have to do with some sort of spiritual awakening – literally, your spirit waking up – and talk about how many artists, writer, and poets abide by an early waking time.

I always thought it was because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by the world – work, kids, tasks, partners, friends, colleagues, pets, traffic, the list goes on.

But maybe it’s because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by themselves.

~

After listening to a few podcasts a few weeks back interviewing my favorite writers – all who said they were early-morning-people – I announced to my husband, Jeremy, that I was going to wake up at 4:30am the following morning.

He asked me why.

“Because I want to. That’s when the writers wake up, and I want to write when the writers write.” It had never occured to me that I could just make a choice like that and go with it.

It’s been a few weeks now. The first week, I stuck to every morning – now, it’s morphed into about 3 times a week, which is a rhythm I can get behind. The main thing I notice that at this time, at this moment, is that my brain just can’t. It won’t access the overwhelm that plagues most of my days – maybe because it’s tired, or maybe because it hasn’t “warmed up” yet. It’s New York City, for freakin’ crying out loud, a city not only built on overwhelm but thriving on the bet it will make you feel all the things at all the times. It’s 5am but I’m still in the middle of the human-made chaos. Still looking over the same avenue.

And yet…and YET. In this moment, all I feel is the silver-blue light and the soft inhale of the morning and I just KNOW.

To the time known as “dawn,” I apologize for judging and ignoring you. I’ve been so resistant to waking up at 4:30 or 5am unless absolutely necessary, like to catch a plane or teach an early class or finish a project by its deadline. Never did I think “because I want to” was “absolutely necessary.”

I wonder how many other things I don’t do because of what I’ve deemed them, or not – or deemed myself, or not.

I wonder how much knowing I’m missing out on because thinking gets to me first.

~

So the lesson here is: sometimes you don’t need to “muster up the courage” or “stop overthinking things.” Sometimes you just need to wake up so early that your brain doesn’t yet have the capacity for self-doubt.

And I wonder if that’s been the trick to overwhelm – good, bad, in-between – this whole time. Whether you wake up early or not.

Find a moment.

Just a pocket.

Sit in silence.

Stare out the window.

Make time to be.

Overwhelm yourself with knowing, before life overwhelms you with thinking, and beat it at its own game.

 

overwhelm waking up early

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