If you go all the way back to the beginning of this site, I began with writing about simple living. Living a quiet life. Making deliberate choices. Those are the threads of thought that have been woven through virtually everything I’ve written whether it was about faith, parenting, homeschooling, or some other topic. I want to continue that same thread in this post about choosing to create a better life, not a new normal.
There is a key difference between the two. You choose to create a better life. The idea of a new normal is something that is put upon you. Although I used the term “new normal” in previous posts, I reject it now. I’m not accepting the idea of a new normal. I choose to make my own way in life with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe some people won’t immediately see the difference, but it is profound.
Make Your Own Choices
You make your own choices. You have a choice. Yes, that choice may be impacted by outside forces you cannot control. But you still have the choice.
I’m thinking of the mom who now finds herself considering homeschooling due to the draconian school policies that will be in place this fall. She doesn’t want her kids spending time in a situation like that because she instinctively knows it will be soul-crushing. Outside forces may have pushed her to consider homeschooling in a new way, but it’s still her choice. It’s her choice regarding what will be best for her family, her children, and her own well-being. She creates her own life and makes her own choices. She has the choice to reject the new normal and offer her children something much better.
I’m thinking of the family that has discussed leaving the big city for years but was bound to a job. Now between remote work and increasing chaos in large metropolitan areas the family is seriously thinking about getting out while they can. They are considering what it would mean to choose a better life somewhere else where their kids can play freely outside and life is so much less expensive. They realize they do not have to accept the new normal.
I’m thinking of the single woman who has found life alone in the city during lockdowns to be depressing. No family, no husband, no children, and nowhere to go. The thought of permanently returning to the smaller town or city she previously called home suddenly looks far more appealing. There are people who know her, care about her, and perhaps can offer her a real future. Suddenly the fun of living a single life in the big city has lost its appeal as she realizes what she really wants is a house, a husband, and children. She realizes she has to make that choice and not accept the new normal.
And so on.
Adapting to Cultural Upheaval
We’re in the midst of a tremendous cultural upheaval that isn’t going to end any time soon. We’re being pushed in ways we never expected. We’re being told to adapt to and adopt a new normal we neither want nor believe in. And yet that upheaval is going to impact us in ways we do not expect.
How do we respond?
We start by recognizing what is happening around us. I recently jotted down some notes on a sticky pad. I cannot remember what I was watching when I wrote these thoughts down. I’m thinking it was a video, but I have no idea. I’m simply going to share the phrases I wrote down in a bulleted list because I think they are profound.
- We are entering an era of less
- Big is failing us
- Being scrappy
- Small – Company of One
- More community
- If your life is complex, you are in danger
- I make myself rich by making my wants few – Thoreau
The complexity of our system is collapsing around us. It’s simply not sustainable. Our institutions, our economy, our faith, all of it. It’s going through a tremendous shake-up. I believe we can come out on the other side with something much better, but it is going to take years to get to that point along with people leading us who understand what is at stake. This isn’t going to be over and solved in a few months.
What are you going to do in the midst of it? Choose to create a better life? Or tacitly accept the new normal? You need to decide what you want.
Do you want to create a better life as much as it is in your control? Or are you content to rely on the system and people telling you what to do and when to do it?
Many people felt lost and out of sorts during the lockdown. They aren’t used to being free to choose what to do. Children aren’t used to it. So many people are accustomed to having their every minute dictated to them by a school calendar, work calendar, sports schedules, etc. Their home wasn’t a haven of enjoyment in the midst of the lockdown because home has only been a place to sleep, run out the door, come home, and go back to bed. There was no center of relationships, education, hobbies, and such in their home because their home is basically a glorified hotel.
Does that describe your home? Is that really what you want going forward? Or have you begun to discover and desire something much more meaningful? Even though it was difficult, was the lockdown one of the best things that could have happened to you in terms of how it reset your perspective and expectations of life?
Just remember that the more you rely on the system, the greater the potential to feel paralyzed by indecision as you wait for someone else to give you permission to do what you want to do. In that paralysis of indecision, you abdicate your free will and choices.
How I’m Choosing to Create a Better Life
So how am I applying what I’ve learned in these recent months?
One of the things I’ve realized in a new and profound way is the critical importance of being a resilient person. I consider myself a pretty independent thinker and resilient in terms of dealing with stress and changes. (I’ve had a lot of practice over the years.) But if I am perfectly honest, the draconian measures in my state (Michigan) have sorely tested my resiliency mentally and emotionally now at the end of May.
During the past week, I’ve had to force myself at times to keep going as the strain of some of this has taken a toll on me. I’m so profoundly thankful that we have made the choice over the years to live simply and be scrappy. It’s enabled us to keep going.
And yet I realized there are ways that we still needed to simplify even more, especially going forward as I look at the coming months and years.
There are adjustments I need to make to our homeschooling to make it better for all of us.
There are changes we need to make to our business so it is even scrappier and more resilient.
There are changes I need to make here on this site to make it less of a drain on me emotionally, mentally, and in terms of the time I invest in maintaining everything here. I would really rather spend time reading books aloud with Caroline in the years we have left in our homeschooling than deal with relatively unimportant minutia here. So I want this site to be scrappier and less complex, something I was already working on behind the scenes during the lockdown.
And so on. But the key ideas I’m thinking about now for my own life are scrappy, resilient, and reducing complexity.
A Final Challenge
I want to challenge you to something. Every time you hear someone say “new normal” I want you to stop and deliberately think “choosing to create a better life.” Every time you read “new normal” somewhere, I challenge you to reject that idea and focus instead on “creating a better life” for you and your loved ones.
Become more resilient. Find ways to be scrappy. Simplify. Be deliberate. Pray for guidance to make choices that prepare your family for whatever is ahead.
Remember you have the freedom and ability to choose. Choose to create a better life.