There is no normal (is there?)

I started this sketch with the words:

“There is no normal. We are not going back to normal. We never had normal.”

And then I thought about it, and realised making sweeping statements isn’t quite what I want to do here.

After all, some people really do want to “go back to normal”. Maybe you’ve even said or thought that in the past few weeks.

But today i want to ask the question.

Do we?

Do we, do I, want to “go back to normal”? If so, what does that look like? How does that feel? Why do we want it?

On Monday of this week, I felt like I had the most incredible day. I…

  • read a Brene Brown book, and thought a lot about how it applied to me, and journaled about it
  • listened to several podcasts
  • did my situps and pushups (nearly to 100 of each)
  • visited a friend I hadn’t seen since before lockdown – drove to their house, went in, had tea, chatted, caught up on life
  • drove into Glasgow, parked, went to the hairdressers, and got my hair done
  • called a friend to clear some things up, and to talk hurt and expectations and healing

Six months ago, that would have felt like a “normal” Monday. Maybe even a little quiet.

This week, it felt ground breaking. Not just for the healthy decisions of all kinds (mental health, spiritual health, relational health, physical health), but for the sheer AMOUNT of things I did in one day.

I was encouraged it didn’t feel exhausting. I wasn’t worn out by the end of the day – there were some hard things, but overall i was revitalised and refreshed. Little steps on things I’ve been working on throughout lockdown, and little things I didn’t get to do for a few months (like driving into Glasgow and getting my hair done!).

But I thought, I don’t want this to “feel normal” in the sense that I’m going backwards to what it used to be.

I was amazed by each one. I was amazed I chose to read a good book and listen to some solid podcasts and have the mental space to think about how they apply to me. I was amazed at the simplicity and beauty of stopping by to visit a friend. The wonder and excitement of actually getting my hair done. The choice to ring the friend for what could have been a really hard conversation but ended up being a healthy and refreshing one.

And “normal” would have felt like presuming on these. Of course you can visit someone. Of course you can go into their house. Of course you get your hair done when the silver is coming in. Of course , of course.

But there’s no ‘of course’ anymore. And I don’t think I want there to be.

I will begin to settle into new patterns, and some of them will be familiar. I didn’t have to think very hard about driving into Glasgow – it didn’t feel weird, or strange. I went into a sort of auto pilot and got on the motorway and turned off the motorway at the correct junction and parked in the parking garage I always use. It wasn’t mind blowingly new.

But if my goal is for everything to feel “normal”, to feel like it used to, then have I really learned anything? Am I going forward, or going backward?

When this all started four months ago, I felt really unsure about the concept of “going back to normal”. I had an idea in my mind this wouldn’t just be a few weeks or a few months. I felt like the world as we knew it was changing – maybe subtly, maybe in small ways – but disruption was happening.

And disruption is not a tidy little concept for TED talks or a new app or product by a tech company.

We talk about the disruption of the motor car and how it edged out horses and carriages. The disruption of the mobile phone and handheld devices.

There can be a new and exciting element to disruption: but most of the time, there are scary, hard, difficult, confusing elements too.

A podcast I listened to recently suggested that this is the largest worldwide disruption since World War II. That the last time the entire world was shaken up over something together, so massively, for so long, was 75 years ago.

It certainly feels true: and I still find it hard to be trying to process things while I am going through them. In WWII times, people just did what they had to, and processed it later. (Many of them didn’t really process it at all, they just did the next thing.) There’s pluses and minuses on both sides. Some days I’m weary of reading yet another article, listening to yet another podcast, suggesting how we’re supposed to think or not think. What covid is, or isn’t. What we know, or don’t.

But we are where we are, there’s no going back. And really when I think about it, did we ever have “normal”, anyway? What does that even mean? 

What it seems to mean – the way I’ve heard it used especially recently – is, “what I’m used to”.

The things I had. The places I could go. The way I do things.

And all of that is still in confusion.

No, I don’t want to live in a constant state of disruption. Eventually, I’d like to settle into new patterns and not have to think about the mind blowing concept of arranging an appointment at the hairdressers. But there are things I don’t want to go back to, and that’s what I want to be on my guard against. There are things I want to keep, and for me those centre around being honest, and real. Authentic.

Brene Brown says authentic means being the same person no matter who you’re with. Not exactly the same, maybe: you cover different topics or open up a bit deeper with this group of friends or that person, but in the end all of your friends and family and co workers and clients and people you see regularly would tend to use similar words to describe you.

That’s what I want, more than anything. More than I want “normal”.


I want it for myself and for others, and I want to figure out what it means and how to be it.

Because then, no matter what happens, we remain transparent about how we’re really doing. At least so far, people are still doing that, and I love it. When I ask someone how they’re doing, they’ll tell me if they have had a bad day, or have been struggling with anxiety, or they had good news and yet were working through the fear it wouldn’t work out after all.

Maybe that’s why I resist the concept of “normal”: because to me, that included a mask of a different kind. Not the physical kind, but the one where we put on this face for work and that face for home and this face for church and that face when with that one friend….and all the while rushing about without any time to think about who the real me actually is.

I’m still working on it myself, and I trust you are too.

Do you feel like you’re being more your “authentic self” than before? Or is that hard?

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Popped into a fave local coffee shop in York this week and this was the mug they gave me. ❤️✨

Wasn’t feeling so superwomanny when I got it - this week was very full, plus period cramps and multiple migraines and my ankle being wonky and more travel than I’ve done in a while. I had intended to get coffee but the cramps were so bad I had to go for mint tea and just sit until they faded enough for me to walk again. 

At the same time, I also had an amazing time during this week with the @weare_pf Board meeting in person for the first time. Getting to know each other better as humans and sharing ideas and making plans and most of all appreciating that the weight of all the business decisions doesn’t rest solely on my shoulders. 

This is just one of your reminders that being a superwoman looks different at different times, and whether you’re striding along strongly or sitting weakly with mint tea, your superwoman status still applies. 

#justkeepgoing #superwoman #muglife #wegotthis #onedayatatime
Every single time I go sailing past this lighthouse on the mull-to-Oban ferry I think “this time I’ll just watch it and not take any pictures” 

And then something wild happens like A SAILBOAT GOES BY and of course I have to capture that, surely I haven’t taken that photo before (spoiler: I have), and then I have about seventeen lighthouse photos to add to my collection of seven thousand lighthouse photos from the last twenty years. 

But, I figure, what’s the harm anyway. It’s my photos and my memories and it brings me joy. I love the lighthouse as a visual of my journey from the mainland to the island (or a reminder I’ll be back soon). 

So, see you soon lighthouse. Thanks for standing there. 

#lismorelighthouse #eileanmusdile #lighthouse #lighthousesofinstagram #oban #ferry #calmac #isleofmull #sailaway #sailboat #scotland #travelscotland
I read. A lot. My list of “books to read” has over 100 titles listed, and every time I mention a book I’ve appreciated, I get another recommendation of a new one and the list gets longer. 

One of the books recommended to me years ago was “The Buddha in Me the Buddha in You”. She mentioned it had some helpful principles about how we navigate life - and whether you’re a buddhist or not, there are principles you can learn from and apply in life.

I wrote it down, forgot about it, and moved on with life. Read lots of other books.

And then when I broke my ankle, and was sitting and resting a LOT, with loads of time for reading, I went back to my list and started reconsidering some of the titles on it.

When I looked up “The Buddha in Me the Buddha in You”, the subtitle was “A Handbook for Happiness”, and that struck me.

Dealing with an injury is difficult. Sad. Wearying. It can be hard to find happiness and every day feels about the same. (Very Groundhog Day.)

So I bought the book, and put it by my bed. I started getting into a pattern of reading a chapter every morning with my coffee.

I thought I’d share some of the principles I appreciated and which are already helping me as I continue to navigate my life right now: 

[the full post on these is too long for an Insta post so click the link in bio or story if u want to read more!]

Thank the spoon - a spoon stirs up the mud in what had appeared to be clear water. Same with life: hard things stir up what you haven’t dealt with yet. So you thank them. “Thank you, spoon”

The Fundamental darkness (FD) - the “Survival Obsessed Self” who responds in a way based on survival but not growth

There’s a gift in the struggle - He describes it visually as “the lotus flower in the muddy pond”. You can focus on the mud, or on the flower, but they’re both there.

Nam - myo - ho - renge - kyo : The happiness soundtrack - I pulled out the core concepts of each of these words as they applied to me, and they are: 

Bloom in the struggle
Flow of life

#karensnotes #buddhainmebuddhainyou #books #reading #happysaturday 

[full note link in bio!]
The snow is swirling the wind is howling IT’S FROZEN OUT THERE 
#snowing #happyspringeveryone #inlikealion