Normalcy….When Nothing is Normal

I wake up every morning thinking nothing much until I realize it’s 7:30am and no kid is up and ready for school – oh wait, that’s right, there’s a pandemic happening. I’ve been struggling to keep things normal when nothing is normal. Some might say don’t bother, it isn’t possible. But for me, this is how I cope. Focusing on the little things I can control while letting go (as best I can) off all that is out of my control.

Each morning I take the dog for a walk and look for new things blooming around the neighborhood. As I’m walking it’s hard not to notice the quiet when I’d normally hear and see school buses going by, kids walking to the local elementary school and people racing off to work. It shakes you back to the non-normal situation we are facing – but hold your ground. Take in the beauty and peacefulness around you while ignoring the lack of cars, busses and kids.

I’ve been hearing lots about working in pajamas but that just feels not normal. I find how I get dressed in the morning sets the tone for my day. Wearing pajamas – or sweats for that matter – makes me feel lazy and unmotivated. So, I stick to getting dressed for my job as if I was going to a bustling office. I try to keep my daily work schedule as normal as I can – albeit while adding a new role as teacher.

And while I realize keeping up on what’s going on is important, I’ve had to turn off the TV to quell my anxiety and to feel “normal”. Particularly at night after the kids have gone to bed and I am trying to unwind. I just need quiet – relaxing quiet. Sorry Anderson, nothing personal, I just need a break.

This weekend I spent time cleaning out my vegetable garden beds to prepare for planting. Coronavirus can’t take my garden away from me – and while I am busy digging I forget it even exists. I even went to virtual church this past weekend. I didn’t realize how much I needed it – a little hope and inspiration for better days to come.

As a nurse, I was trained to remain calm and collected during very un-calm situations. Maybe that is helping – or maybe I am screaming silently inside and don’t even realize it. We all cope with stressful times differently and do what we need to in order to get through. We have to be kind and accept how others cope. These dark times can teach us bright lessons. I hope you have found some ways to put some “normal” back in your days.

Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Managing Editor at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking and, of course, her sons.

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