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.

My Profession: The Reality Behind Social Work vs. What People Think I Do.

As I sit here, killing a sinus infection, there is not much to do besides knock off some Netflix, rest, drink water, and sleep again. Needless to say, I’ve been getting some writing done and this post has been sitting around for years. I decided to finish it up.

I can spot it right away. I’m at a social gathering and I’m telling someone I’ve never met what I do for a living. I tell them I’m a social worker. “Oh..” is their response. When you’re as good at reading people as I am, you try not to laugh at how blunt their reaction comes off. “Oh..” translates into, “Right, so you take people’s kids from them. You make almost no money. You’re a male in a female dominated profession. Wait…why are you a social worker?? You could do anything??” Continue reading “My Profession: The Reality Behind Social Work vs. What People Think I Do.”

Shia LaBeouf: Artistic Narcissist or Viral Genius?

If you haven’t heard already, Shia LaBeouf has minutes ago wrapped up his 72 hour marathon watching his movies. The thing is, he set up a live stream of himself…watching his movies. yeah. In New York City’s Angelika Film Centre, he sat through, in reverse chronological order–I can only assume so that people would see his better works first, for three days. AND, you could watch him watch his movies for the entire time that he was watching his movies…wherever you were in the world. HERE is a link to some of the feed that was recorded.

I can only assume that millions have tuned in to see what the big deal was about. He made news headlines, the story hit viral on multiple sites, twitter exploded with people who were watching or were in the theater with Shia watching, facebook tossed around his live stream site, etc, etc. Some were tasked to watch as much as they could to take snapshots of all the best moments of Shia watching his films. At roughly 7pm East Coast time, the marathon ended with Shia getting up and walking out of the theater to everyone applauding. He shook three hands on the way out, but then it was over. As quickly as it began, it ended.

I would say that I watched about 30-40 min of his live stream. Some yesterday, and some today after work. I made sure to catch the end of it. I have to say, I had some thoughts about the whole thing during and after it was all over. It’s not news to me that in the past five years or so, Shia has been branching out artistically. He will do things to make people think, or to seemingly shock and awe people. People would think him weird and odd. Some would say that he has mental issues or that he’s “not all there.” I wouldn’t be so quick to label Shia in this way.

Continue reading “Shia LaBeouf: Artistic Narcissist or Viral Genius?”

King of the Forest

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Recently, I attended a weekend retreat for the internship I took through the Maxim Institute in Auckland New Zealand. Alumni Weekend. A time where interns, past and new get together and laugh about old stories, update each other on what the internship has done for them, eat, drink, and you know…be merry. Obviously it’s so much more than that, but I want to talk about something that greatly touched me over that weekend.

Continue reading “King of the Forest”

The Conveyer Belt of Life

Chicago beckons me back with the lake on her right, and the giants on her left. She’s my kind of town and my kind of home. Chicago, I’m coming.

FLG30

I’m going home tomorrow for the first time in over a year and a half. Until now, the longest I had been away from home was five months. I feel that I have been doing well in New Zealand. I am always asked one of three questions when people here find out I’m American, and sometimes I get all three.

  1. So what brought you to NEW ZEALAND of all places?!? (Said exactly how you think it’s said.)
  2. Wasn’t there any work in Chicago?
  3. So you have any family here? You moved here on your own?!? Why?!

Those are all fun questions to answer, and I never tire from answering them…

Continue reading “The Conveyer Belt of Life”