Accepting the new normal

Life is change. Change is inevitable.

We all know that right? We know that no matter how hard we try to hold on to right now, it’s going to slip through our fingers and then the change will occur almost like we weren’t watching.

I felt this so acutely when my firstborn was a baby. I’d finally understand what she wanted, where she was coming from, what that cry meant. I’d be self-satisfied for about six hours and then she’d do something amazing like rollover, smile or pick up her pacifier and then it was a new game.

And that’s how parenting has been for the last 15 years. Every single time I think I get it, something changes. There’s progress or she learns how to throw a tantrum or she finally learns to stop whining.

But here’s what parenting taught me. It taught me in very real, every day ways, that life is full of change. And I never, not once, got mad at my daughter for learning to walk. I never discouraged my son from his first words. I welcomed the change. I was grateful for it. I recognized that things were occuring as they were supposed to. Sometimes I even awaited those changes eagerly. They assured me that my children were normal, that the natural order of development was in place.

Why then, why oh why, do I resist it in so many other areas of my life? Why do I resist the natural order? Every time I think that I’ve got a handle on life, that I understand my purpose, that I think I can put it on cruise control something shifts. And it’s not all bad. But it’s almost always hard.

The universe always gives me a way to work on accepting change. And instead of thinking of it as change I’ve begun to think of it as the new normal. My friend Linda used this phrase a lot when her mom was diagnosed with dementia. The new normal gives me a way of letting go of the past and not lamenting the change. It gives me a way to happily anticipate what the world offers instead of resisting.

Last week I had a car accident, not so great. But I got x-rays which showed that my neck is fine. Great. Because I’d been really worried about some pain and was resigned to having something major that I needed to take care of. Turns out that I’m mismanaging my stress and it’s manifesting in major pain. Not so great, but great because I can change that. I also got x-rays on my wrist and thumb. And I have a sprain. That’s okay because it will go away and I’ll be fine. No lasting damage. I also found out I have mild arthritis in my thumb. Not so great because it means the pain I’ve been feeling for the better part of a year, that I’ve been telling myself is getting better and will go away, is not going away and will someday get worse, and will someday possibly stop me from practicing and teaching yoga. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic because people in wheelchairs teach yoga. But it’s the new normal. And I’m having trouble accepting it.

But here’s how this development fits into the rest of my life perfectly. For a few months now I’ve been wanting to cut back on my week to week classes and focus on special events and workshops. I’ve yearned to write more, but I’ve always been shy about my writing and wasn’t sure what direction that was going to take.

So before the accident a series of wonderful things happened that asked me to accept change.. A friend asked me to work on her book with her.  And then a friend asked me to volunteer to teach writing for women in recovery. And then I got wonderful feedback about my teaching. I was excited, invigorated and inspired. I was also scared because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it all fit. I couldn’t face the affirmations I was getting from the universe so I spent a little bit of time freaking out. But not for long because BAM, I got rear-ended and the universe gave me something else to think about.

When I step back from the details and look at the big picture I remember to work on acceptance. I remember that acceptance means respecting myself and those around me. I remember that I’m right where I’m supposed to be and all the people around me are right where they’re supposed to be.

I’m learning to smile the moment I wake up and ask the universe, “Ok, what’s today got for me.”

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