The New Norm

Recently I’ve been contemplating definitions and criteria or qualifications to be deemed a certain word or situation. For example, what is the point at which “the last straw broke the camel’s back”? When does teasing cross over into humiliation? What is the place or situation where one crosses the line from being sane to insane?

In my professional work, myself and others on my team are frequently given short notice (sometimes an hour) to complete a project that even on the best of days takes a couple of days to finish. But it is the nature of our business to move fast and think on our feet. We’ve learned to think creatively and use innovative ways to get things accomplished in a hurry. We often think we’re performing magic, which is a really good feeling to have. But when such feats become everyday occurrences, you can no longer call it magic. And people begin to assume you can perform tricks every day and they wonder why you’re not putting in your best effort when you can’t.

A popular catch phrase these days is “the new norm.” On one hand it can sound edgy and hip. On the other, it frightens me. Because I know from past experience that people can easily form high expectations and assume nothing can overwhelm me.

Many times throughout life I have heard the phrase “God only gives you what you can handle.” I have to tell you, in my life of fifty years I have delivered more monologues to God than I can count. He has a different set of criteria in determining what I can handle than I do. When I was a little girl, my father would tell me times of struggle help us to build character. I’d like to think I have plenty of character at my age and I don’t need any more, thank you kindly. But I also know that I make mistakes, I am not all-knowing or omnipresent, and so maybe I do need more character-building experiences to prepare myself for whatever awaits me when I die.

But today I am very much alive and grateful for that as I have too many things I still want to accomplish. No, I’m not referring to a bucket list, although I have started creating one (on Pinterest, if that counts). And it is these as yet-unfinished accomplishments that have me pondering definitions and criteria.

I was talking with one of my sisters yesterday and after telling her everything I have going on in my life at this very moment, she told me she was tired out from just listening to me. Last week my husband asked me how in the world I have managed to stay out of the insane asylum. To which I appropriately responded, “Because I have you as my rock, honey.” Last night, a friend commented that she would have given up months (or years) ago had her son given her as much grief as my two youngest daughters have given me.

So I wonder, am I insane? I’ve asked my husband this question and he’s appropriately responded, “You’re the most sane person I know.” When I feel overwhelmed and want to sit on a pity pot, my husband will say to me, “You’re the strongest person I’ve met in my life. You can do this.” More proof he is my rock.

In my mind, I am overwhelmed and there is a lot going on but I’m handling it. I’m taking things one day, sometimes one drama, at a time. What else can I do? I’m not a quitter. I’m not suicidal. This is the hand I’ve been dealt. I’m not going to fold. So do these thoughts mean I’m insane? Am I really handling things as well as I think?

Again, I have to wonder, is this level of daily high drama and extraordinary complications in life my new norm? When I get through all of this “stuff” will there be more waiting? Or will I get a reprieve and live happily ever after once my youngest daughter maneuvers these last years of adolescence? I don’t want my personal life to become like my professional life. I don’t want to create so much magic that everyone believes I can handle anything and so they throw more at me and then I end up in the Rest Home for Magicians.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m willing to do the hard work. I’m not a slacker. I show up for life every day. But I do need a rest once in a while. Some days my back hurts from the burden and I wonder, is today the last straw? Is forgetfulness an early sign of insanity? Some days I am more forgetful than others and I wonder, am I getting early onset of Alzheimer’s? Or is it the strain of the burdens I carry that causes such forgetfulness? And then I’m back to wondering if this moment is that last straw. Is today my new normal?

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The Versatile Blogger Award

Ever have a moment that stops you in your tracks and makes you think that maybe someone really IS listening?

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award!

I haven’t been blogging for all that long, so this really came as a surprise. I’ve been very quiet about my blog and have been thrilled as people have “found” me all on their own. So getting this award was a very nice moment (and a wonderful way to end a somewhat ugly week).

There are some protocols to follow when given this award.

Once you are nominated, you have been awarded the award.

How cool is that?!

You are supposed to thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.

I was given this honor by Karaboo, someone I’ve been following for a while. We share many things in common and I’m amazed at how many times I’m reading her blogs and nodding my head. Been there, done that. Karaboo nominated me because I’m so honest with my struggles. And that brought a smile to my face. My whole life I have worked to be honest but it’s not exactly a quality that reaps tons of praise. In fact, some people think it’s wrong to be so honest or that sharing so much can invite trouble. Folks, there’s so much drama and trouble living with My 4 Daughters Plus 2 that I really don’t worry about inviting any more. It’s like those huge family gatherings we had when we were kids and when an uninvited guest showed up our parents would smile and say, “There’s always room for one more.” (Oh – that reminds me of a wonderful story that I’ll have to share in a future blog. Check back for that.) I’d rather dwell on the old adage that Honesty is the best policy. It goes along with respect and courtesy. And we can learn so much from each other when we are honest with each other. I hope my blog someday helps someone to learn from my mistakes and causes another to share in our common successes. Somewhere out there I know another person is reading this and nodding his or her head. Been there done that.

Tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself.

I’ll share these with everyone here. Hopefully I won’t bore anyone to tears.

  1. In my family, I am the last of eight kids. There are four boys and four girls. I am the fourth daughter. And I have a fourth daughter. I’m still discovering the significance of that.
  2. When I was twelve, my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer. Two years later, she died at the age of 46. One year later, my father was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer. He died a year later at the age of 52. So when I was sixteen, I had no parents. Many of the struggles I write about in my blog lead back to the fact that I’m doing this all by the seat of my pants! But one life lesson I bring with me every day–Life is short really is.
  3. I try to make the most of the hand I’m dealt each day and count my blessings every night. Some days I’m more successful than others. But I have to be earning points for showing up every day and trying. I’m going to consider this Versatile Blogger Award as a point earned.
  4. I truly love my four daughters with every ounce of my being. I cherish the days when they love me back. Like everything else, some days more than others I love them and am loved by them.
  5. I have a two-year-old granddaughter who is absolutely adorable! I don’t get to see her very often, but I have learned so much from having her come into my life. The greatest joy I’ve gained from this experience is watching my own daughter become a parent. Kate is a wonderful mother and it shows. Eve is confident in all that she does and knows she is loved. She has a delightful sense of humor and rarely has a bad day. I regularly tell Kate how lucky she and her husband are, and each time I do I am reminded of the many times I was told that when Kate was a baby. Maybe I did one thing right in my life?
  6. I have been writing since I was ten. (I’m now 51.) I love to write. You’d think with all those years of writing I would be some famous writer. Sorry to disappoint. I have had one book published. I have a novel waiting to be accepted, but there’s a greater chance that I’ll end up self-publishing it just so I can say it’s done. Otherwise I’m going to edit it to death.
  7. My favorite days are pajama days—when I realize it’s two in the afternoon and I haven’t gotten out of my pajamas yet, and I have nowhere I must be other than at home. So at that point I declare it pajama day and watch an old movie or read a good book or write. In the last twelve months, I’ve had two pajama days. How sad is that?

Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Since I’m so new to blogging, I’m still learning the ins and outs of “good” blogs. Following are some blogs I’ve been following for a while and some new ones that I recently discovered. As of this posting, they all can consider this their nomination!

Meandmyanxietydisorder – I know this blogger personally and I am so grateful that she has decided to share her story with those of us who need to understand the world of anxiety disorder. She is very brave and courageous and doesn’t give herself the credit she deserves.

33 Weeks of Ordinary – This blog is written by the author of 33 Weeks of Ordinary. We met when we were in the tenth grade in high school. For me, he has always carried with him an aura of peace and serenity. During some very challenging days when I was a teenager, I could count on his smile to put solid ground under my feet again.

Tales from the Motherland – I eagerly await posts from this blogger. She has the rare knack for being able to put humor into black and white words. And I admire her sense of adventure. She and her family have been hosting some foreign exhange students for the last year and I’ve really enjoyed reading about their experiences with “other nations.”

The Struggler’s Handbook – Another blogger who is successfully delivering humor. I do have a sense of humor but I’m not successful at putting it in written words. So I’ll keep reading and learning.

I’ll drink to that – I recently discovered this blog in a search to find other mothers of daughters. We need to stick together!

It’s Only My Opinion – Another recently discovered blog written by a woman who is the oldest of four daughters. I’m hoping to glean some wisdom from her.

Thank you again, Karaboo! (And Happy Mother’s Day to you!)

May Flowers

April rains bring May flowers…

I had a lot of “rain” in April. It wasn’t a fun month and some days it was too much just to breathe. When the end of the month came, I struggled with the fact that four months were already behind us for the year and I was no further ahead in any of my steps toward a healthier, happier life.

Now a few days into the month of May, I am pleasantly surprised at the bursts of color and sunshine that have popped through the gray.Colorful pansies

I was absolutely shocked to find an early Mother’s Day card in the mail from my daughter living away at college. We haven’t spoken in months and Emily was the last person I ever expected to send me a card on this particular occasion. It didn’t matter to me that she signed the card “sincerely” or that the sentiment was a somewhat twisted (but positive) way of telling me she hopes I have a nice Mother’s Day. The fact that she took the time to make the card (yes, created it online with a photo of her cat), had it printed and sent to her, personally signed and addressed the card to me, and mailed it many days ahead of the actual day—those things brought a huge smile to my face and a warm fuzzy to my heart. My husband was quick to point out that Emily has probably heard through the family grapevine that Brianna is going away to treatment and there will be a car available. I don’t care. It took quite a bit of effort for Emily to get through the huge brick wall she has built and to swallow some of her pride in order to mail that card to me. I see it as a large olive branch and I will grab hold of it. I don’t know where it will lead, but I’m grabbing on just the same.

We are still no closer to Brianna packing her bags to head to treatment, but we are making progress—albeit at a snail’s pace. I appreciate that protocols and procedures must be followed. And I’m grateful that we are not dealing with a true life-or-death situation. But each day that passes is one more day that Bri has to fight temptation at wanting to rebel against this idea that she “must choose” to go to treatment. I consider it a blessing that she is cooperating. And the last two days have been full of surprises as she has taken some responsibility to follow up on some things and even took the initiative to tackle some other things that will need to be completed before she goes. Watching her in the last 48 hours has been nothing short of fresh growth after a good soaking rain.

The coming weeks hold much work and the likelihood of more chaos and drama. There really is so much to do at work, at home, that I feel completely overwhelmed by it all. But how can I ignore the dash of yellow daffodils, the flash of red tulips, and the tender shoots of newly seeded grass in the dogs’ winter spot in the yard? The promise of spring. The wonder of new life. Hope.

… What do May flowers bring?