My husband, dog and I are two weeks into our new normal. The first phase of the new normal was living in our house without HVAC for three weeks after the flooding from Hurricane Matthew. In retrospect, it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. The second phase of our new normal is living in a one bedroom in-law unit that our wonderful neighborhood friends offered us for the next few months. Well, this new normal has been quite the adjustment for all three of us. More so than I ever anticipated. Yet, how do you really anticipate limbo, change, or uncertainty? You can’t.
I feel compelled to preface this post with – I’m aware that this is a first-world problem. We have running water, a hot shower and a private bedroom to sleep in. We are not terminally ill. We still have a home to hopefully return to in a few months. For this, I am extremely grateful. In other words, I know it could be a lot worse. But there is a toll being taken each day we are in our new normal. On the other hand, there are many blessings that fuel us forward.
My learnings from the new normal:
- Be open to learning. Our normal weekend breakfast is bacon and eggs. I have become accustomed to baking bacon in an oven for the last few years. We don’t have a conventional oven in our temporary kitchen. I have had to learn how to make bacon the old-school way on an electric cook top in a skillet (I’m am a hard-core gas flame lover). I have burnt the first five attempts of bacon that my husband contently ate without complaint. This morning? I finally made perfectly crisp bacon without burning. The satisfaction of learning to adapt is tremendous. I could have thrown in the towel and eaten at IHOP for the next twelve plus weekends. But I was open to adapting my approach and a perfectly home cooked breakfast in our little home was quite satisfying.
- Have something old. It’s nice to have something just like home. For my husband and me, it’s our coffee maker and coffee. We really like strong black coffee made from French roast beans. Even though there is a coffee maker in our temporary home, we brought our tried and true Capresso coffee maker with a thermal carafe. This very small piece of our old normal makes me look forward to waking up in the morning. Something to tie us to the old and the new. Nothing to adjust to, except for the coffee cups. One common thread that makes the day just that much better. Keep something from the past as you move forward.
- Accept what is different. There is no changing what is. Acceptance is the only way through. Our dog Baci barks insanely when we leave or arrive. This is out of character for our loving little dog. The thing is that there are about 5 homes that border our new place. Each has its own set of dogs. We didn’t have any neighboring dogs at our house. She is trying to maintain her new territory by protecting us. I was and am still a little stressed as I arrive home or leave for work. But accepting that this is Baci’s new normal and understanding that she is just trying to protect us in her own small way, requires we accept it as love and move on.
- Sharing. When you go from living in about 3000 square feet of space down to 700, some compromises must take place. My husband used to play music in his office first thing in the morning. He now works at his computer in silence. I didn’t ask him. He just put my needs first. I wait until he is finished with the computer before I jump on to do my work. He only has a few hours in the morning to sit at a desk and use the computer, so I’ve adapted to let him have his time. We have to tag team a lot more on basics like laundry, washing dishes, and taking care of the dog. Sharing has brought us closer, as there is a new appreciation for each other’s needs and space.
- Make it ours. My husband did an incredibly sentimental thing by bringing the picture I bought for our anniversary over to the new place. It’s a picture of a tree scrawled with our name and date of our wedding. It really makes it more our home rather than a temporary spot. I bought flowers at the grocery store to bring life and beauty to the new space. We brought a plant from the house and put it in the window above the sink. We are trying hard to make it our home rather than a transient space. It makes it more comfortable and familiar. We are making it ours.
This adaptation has taken some time. We are slowly settling into the new normal. Being grateful for each other and our own little resistance to change has been enlightening and powerful.