As mask mandates and restrictions ease, the question on my mind is what is the new normal going to look like as the pandemic lingers? Do we want to go back to life as it was before the pandemic? Do we want to appreciate the way life seemingly halted and forced us to just breathe?
As I listen to the news and read about each state’s changes in the next phase of this pandemic, I am still leery of throwing all caution to the wind. I have family with sensitive immune systems, friends who still haven’t had their vaccine yet, and concerns of my own about the use of continued cleanliness procedures that require chemicals that are so strong. I personally don’t want to be breathing in the fumes of the chemicals that are capable of eating the nail polish off my fingers while I scrub the table tops in my art room. Would you? My mask is required to be on at work, and I am more than happy to comply as things start to wind down. I certainly don’t want to catch a cold during the last few weeks.
My biggest fear with the new normal is that society as a whole will hit the ground running at a faster speed than ever before to compensate for the so called slow-down of life since March 2020. My worry is that those who have dealt with trauma, have social-emotional needs, and loss during this time won’t have the time or opportunity to process what has happened before the world picks up and carries on at record-breaking speeds. You can’t just forget that a pandemic has happened. It’s not an every few decades kind of occurrence.
I know for me, I want to continue with some of the routines I have established during this pandemic because I have felt fulfilled. My family, near and far, all participate in a zoom call once a month to check on each other and cheer each other on in our next endeavors. I relish the time with them and look forward to the zoom call each month. I make myself go to bed and get up around the same time each day. Prior to the pandemic, as much as I tried to stick to this, it did not always happen. It’s become so routine now that even when I don’t set my alarm, I still wake up around the same time. My body clearly needed the rest. I also continued to feed my need to be creative, and have felt my cup filling up from the satisfaction of creating. I purposely make time for this on a weekly basis now.
Last, and most certainly not least, I have truly enjoyed the time with my dogs. The chance to walk with them more often, to play tug and chase, to be silly, and to snuggle with them has been absolutely priceless.
As this next chapter begins, consider what you want to continue and what you want to leave behind. What will your new normal be?