New Normal

Sometimes taking time away from a busy, hectic life can bring things into perspective in a way you wouldn’t have known unless you had left. Recently I moved to Colorado Springs from Chicago, IL. With that move comes a lot of packing, saying goodbye, and trying to figure out what your new life means in this new mountainous place. I think for me, there was equal parts excitement of the new adventure and then apprehension for choosing something so new.

My normal was flat terrain, massive cities, blues music, brutal winters, unforgiving summers, traffic like most wouldn’t believe, friends, family, and familiar haunts. My normal was comfortable, safe, fun, and supportive. My normal had late nights, good talks, lunch dates with nephews, and play dates with nieces. My normal knew every street, every shortcut, every bypass, and every detour. My normal knew most tasty stops, delicious dives, and places to avoid. I knew my normal and my normal knew me. There is great power in being known.

A friend of mine, after a change in her life, told me that she was getting back to the “new normal.” I said ‘good for her’ and never really landed on what that meant to her, or even what that could have meant for me.

Recently I traveled to New Zealand to be a part of my best friend’s wedding. The wedding was for Corbin Elliott. I’ve known Corbin since I was 15. We went to High School together, and senior year he moved back home to New Zealand. If you know my story, you know that I lived in New Zealand from 2013-2016. I told myself that after I moved back home to the U.S. in 2016, the next time I would be in NZ would be for Corbin’s wedding. A year and four months later, he was married. I have to say, sitting at the head table, listening to all the people bear witness to Rebecca and Corbin’s lives was a beautiful and hilarious thing. Also, if you knew Corbin, seeing him emote in this specific way on his wedding was quite unique and touching. I’ll never forget it.

This wedding was a gathering of most of my favorite people. We talked, laughed, and danced the night into morning. Many of these people hadn’t seen me in the time I was away and some pleaded with me to stay and never leave them. Coming back to NZ, which really is a second home to me, came with questions. Would I arrive and never want to leave? Would I start hanging out with my friends, remember the good times we had, and find it difficult to remove myself? Would this country seduce me all over again? I have to admit, at first, it looked like this might have been the case. Being back felt REALLY good. The scenery, the people, the food, hell…even the air smelled different. Yet, in the last days leading up to the wedding, I began to feel a change. The change was less bad and more of a peace.

When I moved to New Zealand, I had a moment in my first year on the top of a hill looking out at the countryside. The moment washed over me and gave me a feeling of peace. It was the moment I knew NZ was home. I’ll always have a home in Chicago and I’ll always have a home in NZ. Home is where you make a family, and as cliché as it sounds, home is where you decide to put your heart. While I was in NZ this past week, I told friends that I didn’t have that feeling in Colorado yet. I wasn’t complaining. I had only been in CO for a month and my friends said the same. Yet, in those days leading up to the wedding, the feeling of peace that I felt was clear. New Zealand was my home, but I have a new home now. I have a new normal now.

My new normal has new streets to find, new detours to learn, new restaurants to try, and new failures to experience. My new normal has brand new churches, jobs, friends, and relationships. My new normal has new traditions, new adventures, and new terrain. But, new normal also has family and I’m grateful for that. I think I’m starting to understand what my friend was talking about; Getting back to a new normal isn’t forgetting the past and moving on with yourself. New normal is about understanding the past, understanding that life changes, and accepting where you’re living, working, and making a life. It’s about embracing your current situation and saying, “This is me now, let’s move forward.”

I’ll always love New Zealand and I’ll always love Chicago, but Colorado is my new normal. The feeling of peace I had in NZ this week about Colorado was a step. I realized that I can’t be present here, and keep thinking/living in the past there. If I do, I defeat any progress I want to make. I found closure on my trip in a way I didn’t know that I needed. My trip was great, but it made me understand that I DO feel a sense of home in Colorado, and frankly, I was ready to go home.

The move.

I’m moving to Colorado.

I mentioned something like this happening in a previous post. Since knowing that I would be moving back to the U.S., I’ve been looking at places that would not only be most likely to have a job for my career in Social Work but a place that I could hang my head for a while. Continue reading “The move.”

Where is God in Senseless Death? Explained.

If you’re a Christian, you’ve most likely heard this question or sweat through a half-sense, convoluted attempt at an answer. Don’t worry. Everyone wants to know the answer and very few can offer a consoling response. You’re not alone in the slightest. In fact, I would wager that nearly everyone has asked this to themselves, or out loud while screaming, fists raised to the sky, whether you’re a Christian or not. Continue reading “Where is God in Senseless Death? Explained.”

Travel and my Extroverted Trips Away

The month was August. I know because I was sweating, but I wasn’t really doing anything but sitting down. It’s the kind of heat that makes you get up, but if only to find a colder climate. I’m sitting in a chair, wicker, and thinking about the marathon I’m about to take part in. Part blessing, part excitement, part energy maintenance. I knew what I was getting myself into, and maybe that’s what made me crazy. Continue reading “Travel and my Extroverted Trips Away”

Beauty in the Flatness

-running
-parking
-watching the sun set and rise
-watching a storm roll in hours away
-farming
-building
-biking
-wind energy loves flatland

As some of you know, I live in a very flat state. Illinois. I’ve lived here all my life and sometimes, the flat gets a bit old. Some would say that it is the flattest state. Well, you’d be close. We’re number two. Florida? Number one. That’s right. I don’t really get it either. Maybe most of it is under water and that makes it pretty flat. Either way, Illinois is still a proverbial coin. Pretty much as flat as the state quarter we’re printed on.

For most of my life, I have resented in some way, the flatness of this great state. Listed above are some of the marvellous things about our flatness. I think that sometimes, we crave the mountains, hills, canyons, or rivers to the point where our own beauty fades into the background. There’s still beauty in the flatness. Being able to place a lawn chair outside on a tepid summer night and watch our sun disappear into the still horizon is a majestic thing. Likewise, being able to have an unhindered view to the start of a day, viewing a burning sun rise in the east…is a gift. In some topography, you have to hike to see the sunset/rise. You have to hike up a hill/or even a mountain in order to get a clear view of the rise/set. Some would say this is the payoff to the hike. Me? I’ll chuck the chair in the backyard and drink to the end of another day.

Granted, I love hiking. Love. Why do you think I enjoyed living in New Zealand so much? Frankly, watching a sunset on a mountaintop sounds glorious, and I have done this. I’m just saying, to you who are in a “normal” topographical environment, there is good here. Just look.

Loads of other things are easier. Parking. Oh man. Try starting your manual drive car on a steep upward incline and tell me that flatness is overrated. Do it. Running. Flatness is AMAZING when you’re training. Sure, inclines are good to add variety maybe, but for me, nothing can beat the constant, even, plateau that midwest roads/sidewalks give you. When running in NZ, I actually tried to find a flat area to run and became disheartened when there were very few in…running distance. Biking. Same thing. I could bike for miles if given a flat straight-away to disappear on. Farming. Architecture. Wind Farms. All these things rely on good, solid, flat ground. Sure you could build on a hill, but I personally wouldn’t trust a house on a cliff. You can also farm on hills, it just makes it more difficult. Irrigation, plowing, collection, etc.

I guess there is a broader lesson in this. We shouldn’t chase what we don’t have. There is beauty where you are. Being content is a serious discipline. Being content requires control. Once you are, you realize that the things around you start to come into focus. Once distant, vanilla objects suddenly are given vibrancy, life, purpose, and color. We are happier. We are less needy. Less wanty.

If you live in Illinois, or Florida…or Kansas for that matter, find the beauty. It’s there, trust me.

#thereislifeafterflatness

PS: If you still can’t hack it, head here. Plenty to do in this flatland.