Creating a new normal…


On our trip to Belize, we met a woman from Germany who was managing the resort we stayed at.  She towered over the locals and tourists alike with her broad build and booming voice.  She was efficient and determined in a land that is laid back and has a more casual relationship with time.

If I could have gotten her to stop moving long enough to ask, I was dying to find out what made her leave her home country to come live at the edge of the jungle.  I wanted to ask her what it was like to live in a place so different from where you came from – how she managed with the different food, weather and culture.  The very nosiest part of me wanted to know if she came there running towards love or running away from heartbreak – the two most obvious reasons for running away to the other side of the world.

When I was 10 we left California and moved to Germany for a new job for my mom.  It took us two years just to figure out how to dress for a German winter.  We owned zero clothing containing wool and our thin California coats were really more of a decorative item in the face of the deeply damp German weather.

Over the seven years that I lived in Germany, the way we lived changed to adapt to our new surroundings.  We had to create a new normal, with different food and different appliances and different bathrooms.

In my work, the idea of creating a new normal is one of the biggest obstacles people have to moving on from difficult times and having a happy life.  Trying to shoehorn your old lifestyle in to the new family structure or lower income just increases the feelings of lack.

Back in Germany, I quickly learned that the fastest route to disappointment was trying the foreign version of an American favorite.  German hamburgers were gross.  European shirts with English “sayings” on them were hilarious (“Super Cool California Time!”).  Our attempts to re-create an American homecoming float with military jeeps and Army-green flatbed trucks covered in toilet paper “flowers” were just sad and pathetic.

Sometimes the best way to get “back to normal” is to start fresh, to create a whole new normal that looks nothing like your old normal.  When life throws you a curve ball, don’t settle for the crappy version of your old life.  Create something entirely different and good and fun with what you have now.  Let it be good in it’s own way instead of a sub-standard version of what you had.  Let it be super cool time (!) in whatever corner of the planet you find yourself in.

Please share your thoughts.