Due to a medical issue with a family member, I’ve been living through one of those phases for a couple of weeks. My comfortable every day routine has been replaced with worry, stress, adrenalin, family visits, and many, many trips to the hospital. Over time, as the issues seem to be leveling out a bit, and I’m not operating in full-on super woman mode, I have been realizing how much we all crave normalcy in times of crisis. Thankfully, at least for now, my brother appears to be stabilizing, and I can not believe how excited I am to spend time this weekend doing boring things like clean the house, grocery shop, and do yard work. Chores and activities that usually annoy me to the point of complaining, instead are bringing me joy. This is because while I’m doing them, I know for that moment in time, everything is ok, and I have a sense of the regular me – calmer, more able to sleep, more pleasant to be around.
Each of us, of course, has our own sense of “normal” — just as everyone’s moments of crisis can be different. For my brother, I know the normal he craves is to be well enough to get back to the comforts of home, away from the beeping and sterility of the hospital. For the awesome ICU Nurse we met, who one day was dealing with an irate patient who was yelling at her and throwing his food, I image she was craving peace and quiet with her family after a long 12-hour shift. For the woman I saw in the hospital lobby, using crutches because for whatever reason she had lost one leg, I can only imagine she craves being whole and able to walk regularly again.
Crises come in a variety of forms – of course the death of a loved one can put our everyday normal life on tilt for months, even years. The loss of a job can mean that regular activities must be put aside while all of our energies are focused on finding ways to pay the bills, putting food on the table and finding new employment. Certainly moving to a new home, or taking in an elderly parent, can toss our worlds into a jumble until we can find our new normal.
When our lives are topsy-turvy, finding comfort and ease of anxiety or pain can come in funny ways. Things like finding the time to sit in jammies on the sofa and watch tv, or digging in the dirt in the garden, taking the dog for a walk, washing a sink full of dishes, or even putting in a full, uninterrupted day at work – all can give us the sense of peace that we need. Activities we regularly take for granted become accomplishments we crave.
We are all familiar with the lessons that times of crisis teach us. That life is short, and we need to make the most of each day. To hold close and love those in our lives because any of us may need to leave all to soon. To be kind, and charitable. This time around, I’ve learned a lesson I didn’t expect. That the little, sometimes irritating, every day normal life chores and activities are not to be assumed, dismissed and even complained about. They are to be embraced.
So tonight, when I head out to the grocery store, and tomorrow, when I am cleaning my bathrooms, I may just take a deep breath, pay attention to the little joys like finding blueberries on sale and seeing my floor sparkle, and I will pause and smile. And just be thankful for normalcy.