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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lauren Casey


We’ve all heard this before:

“I feel lost; I am going stir-crazy and I want my life to return back to normal.”

The question remains: What, exactly is normal?

Instead of asking ourselves what is normal, why don’t we ask ourselves: “What is not normal?”

I live in Los Angeles, a huge sprawling metropolis that stretches beyond the eye can see. Cars are everywhere; in fact, you simply can’t get around without one. A lot of its inhabitants are rushing around, setting goals, chasing dreams, becoming the next “big thing” to grace our planet. There is always an element of the grind, the hustle, the security, the rat race.

Enter COVID-19.

To anyone familiar with the TV series “The Black Mirror,” I’m sure you are feeling an eery resemblance of its haunting theme: masks donned, social distancing in place marked by X’s in store entranceways and beyond, one-way shopping carts gracing the aisles of grocery stores in uniform fashion. No one is allowed to touch, to feel, or to move beyond the realm of caution.

Life, as we know it, has changed.

As a woman in recovery, I know all too well about uncomfortable, mind-blowing, uncertain changes and moving toward a life of giving up old habits that no longer worked for me. Cocaine, and its incessant grip on my sanity, sleep and nourishment, was replaced with rest, nutrition and health. Alcohol was replaced with a vivid assortment of sparkling “mock-tails” And, slowly but surely, the darkness I had come to know was replaced with light.

Maybe COVID is entering me into a new phase of recovery, where the need to rush around all the time is replaced with rest, the need to hustle is replaced with silence, and the need to move ahead is replaced with a deep contentment and satisfaction of staying put.

Yes, this will pass, and I am sure things will go back to “normal.”

It’s up to me to decide what my new “normal” looks like in my life. I know one thing it will not look like – the hustle, grind, chasing of dreams in a city known for its celebrity, wealth, stature. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone; I only need to find my inner peace and joy. These things come in many forms – simplicity, silence, nature, integrity, faith, wonder, adventure and the giving and receiving of love.

I pray those who have lost jobs are able to return to work. I pray we can hug our friends and family again, without fear of getting sick or making someone else sick. I pray kids get to go back to school.

And, most of all, I pray that the new normal is not a return to greed, selfishness, and the worship of material wealth – but rather, a return to love.

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