The following is an article I wrote for Mary Jane's Farm Magazine. I wrote it more than one year ago, and when it was submitted, the editor wasn't sure if it was a "good fit". I presumed it would not be published and forgot about it.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, as I descended down the mountain into cell range, after a three week hiatus on a personal pilgrimage in the mountains of Michoacan, Mexico, I received an email from the editor, "your article is being published -- a two page spread." The synchronicity of it. The timing, and the knowing that I had thrown these seeds to the wind many moons ago, and that they had landed and begun to germinate.
Here's the article .... I recommend this magazine if you long for a simple life. It is a beautiful resource for simple country living, even if you live in the city.
It came up again. I knew it would. I was teaching a group of students whose longing for life blazed forth from their eyes as we sat in a circle and talked about life and how we navigate the day-to-day. I shared some things I’ve learned. And then it happened. I heard myself say it. I just couldn’t stop myself.
"Normal is not what you think it is."
It was a reply to a comment from a brilliant soul, a mother, a dreamer, a world traveler, a wife, a powerful woman entering her middle years: “I just want to be normal.” I saw her longing and I remembered feeling that way myself ... a long time ago in another world I once called my life. When we are surrounded by “normal,” we want it. It’s almost all we can see, and we do everything we can to get it. We want the nice house, the retirement account, and the cute haircut. We want to be invited to the neighborhood social. We want to be popular like we were in high school, but with different things at stake. We want our living room and our closet organization to be Pinterest-worthy. But we find out eventually, when we get those things, those “normal” things that everyone wants, they aren’t quite what we thought they’d be, and we don’t quite feel like we hoped we would, having gotten them. They bring us some happiness. Some. For a moment. But then it wanes, and there’s a “new normal” lurking, and eventually, we find ourselves with an eye on a new something or another … I think I’ll paint the bathroom … I need some new clothes … My living room is so drab, maybe it’s time for a new couch … And then things really don’t go as planned. One day, you wake up with a fever that develops into something bigger, or get a phone call that rocks your world, or walk downstairs in your cute pajamas into your picture-perfect living room and find that the 9 week old puppy has chewed the side off your new couch. And all that happy slips out the back door, unapologetically. No warning. No way to keep it. Just gone. I’m gonna give it to you straight.
Normal isn’t healthy.
Normal is going to keep you chasing the next new nail polish color, diet trend, handheld device, or after-school curriculum for your kid, or even more sneakily, it will keep you chasing the latest, greatest parenting style or selfhelp book. Let’s face it.
Normal doesn’t actually give us what we want most.
Not really. Why not? Because “normal” is filled with looking for happiness outside ourselves, striving to fit in, keeping the peace, being the “good girl,” and not getting too “weird,” indulgent, or heaven forbid, “selfish.” Normal keeps you busy doing mundane things for others while you are stuffing your exhaustion, foregoing self-care for a 2nd cup of coffee and ibuprofen.
But you’re okay, Right?
“Normal” is in the business of constantly bombarding you with finding some misnomer of value in a busy, bouncy, juice box and fruit snacks, superficial, intoxicated, numbed-out world. Normal isn’t actually “functional.” It many ways, it is dysfunctional. And it keeps us spinning. Running. Wanting. Striving. Because, well, that’s “normal.” That’s what everybody else is doing.
But ... Sometimes, because the stars align or something, you’ll never know quite what exactly, something shifts. You wake up one day and say YES to the things that move you. You say YES to taking the morning off work and walking through overgrown pathways, down crumbling sidewalks, picking what others call weeds to place in a small vase in your kitchen window. You say YES to planting raspberries against the sunny side of your garage and inviting your girlfriends over to make jam and talk about the dreams they want to resurrect in their lives.
You say YES to being the not-so-normal mom who won’t bring prepackaged treats to soccer practice, and instead, you send the TV in your kitchen to the homeless shelter and replace it with heartfelt, uplifting, lyrical tunes so you can fill your heart with goodness while you smear heaping tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter to the inside edge of a Mason jar and fill the remaining space with apple slices. You lug your peanut-butter-and-applefilled Mason jars to soccer practice and “ Normal ” Is Not All That ask the kids to gather round for snack time.
THAT is NOT normal.
But it gets worse (better?). You start making your own sugar scrubs and milk baths and refuse to put anything on your body that you wouldn’t consume. You replace your fancy lotion with organic sesame oil, and more often than not, you replace your evening cocktail with sparkling water, lime, and bitters. NOT normal. And you slowly begin to realize that the peace you seek lives within you. That the happiness you’ve been chasing is tethered to the energy you bring forth through your hands as you pick berries or run your fingers through your little one’s hair with conversation about friendships and ladybugs filling the air.
And you realize that your happiness, your wholeness, your ALL-THAT-NESS comes from your morning journaling, your time spent in prayer, your sipping tea in the silent wee hours of the morning time before you practice yoga or go for a walk as the sun rises.
This is what you want most.
And it’s not normal.
But it’s happy. Very, very happy.