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My name is Amy Landino and I'm an author, influencer and keynote speaker.
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A couple phrases have started to play on repeat…
They show up in every conversation. And, if you’re like me, all three have slowly started to chip away at you. Conversation after conversation, they’re starting to break me down. It’s not that I don’t find validity to the words- it does feel like a new normal, I do want everyone to stay safe, and I completely agree it’s all unprecedented… and yet, we don’t need to keep saying it over. And over. And over. Hearing the same slogans on repeat begins to wear down one’s mental spirit. Slowly, it can start to feel like we’re all living in a very extended episode of The Twilight Zone. You can only hear “new normal” so many times before you start to question if you remember what “normal” was in the first place.
To stop the madness, I have a proposal. Or, really, a challenge. Next time someone asks how you are, try to avoid the three above statements. Rather than lamenting our upside down world using these buzzwords, repeating the same news headline you’ve ranted about to the last 10 people who asked, try going a little deeper. Share the feelings behind the words. Or, better yet, turn the questions around… Why is the new normal bad? What don’t you miss about the old normal? How do you find certainty in uncertain moments? When do you feel safe?
Every conversation we have – in quarantine or not- is a choice. We can take back power from this pandemic by actively choosing the life we want to lead from this point forward. How? By being present in every conversation you have rather than continuing to rely on catch all statements. While we may be physically distant, we don’t have to be mentally or emotionally. Why? Because, newsflash, it’s not just the pandemic that has led to all our conversations feeling stale. Lack of depth existed long before the world shutdown, it’s just much more obvious now. Pandemic or not we’re all guilty of getting stuck in cycles. When it comes to our relationships, cycle syndrome has (unfortunately) always been normal. Now we have the opportunity to hit reset. We can create an improved normal.
Yes, we’re living in an unprecedented time. At least that’s what I am reminded every time I turn on the TV or read an article or email about this pandemic. Unprecedented. We. Get. It. We’re all well aware – without turning on the news – that these times are unprecedented. We feel it. We’re also all very acutely aware they are unknown and uncertain. But I want to remove the “un.” I want us all to set our own precedent for how this can be. The truth is, we cannot control the state of things (beyond doing our part and staying home – so do that, please), but we can control the state of our surroundings. And, in this time of being closed in your home your surroundings are people (even if only virtually) you let into your bubble. So, set the precedent in those relationships. Choose wisely, choose thoughtfully. Who you let into your ears via phone calls or eyes via Zoom will affect you. In quarantine or not we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, and let’s face it we’re investing a lot more time in those 5 lately. For better or worse these people are our main source of socialization, whose energy affects ours. So, let’s use the craziness of the world to get crazy with our own level of vulnerability. Look around, see the actual friendships you’re growing – and reinvest intentionally.
Whether we do it consciously or not, we make commitments in all of our relationships. Some are more formal and binding than others, like in marriage where we declare vows publicly, but most are unspoken agreements. Rarely do we make friendship vows… but maybe we should. Allow me to recite the “I dos” I am choosing to make in my friendships for an improved normal:
My “why” has always been the people in my life. They’re the essence of who I am and inspire me to be better constantly. Not being able to hug every last one of them is torture. However, rather than frustratingly focus on how not normal things are right now I plan to show up for them tenfold. My improved normal is just taking all the energy I’d normal pour into physical outings with them and show up more emotionally.
In the (slightly adjusted) words of Rodman Edward Serling, we’re now in an area called the Twilight Zone. We’ve entered another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination…
…It’s your zone, make it what you need it to be.
Sara is a collaborator to her core with over a decade of communications experience in companies ranging from nonprofit to corporate and retail. She strives to place herself in roles that help further generate change and growth. At the end of the day, she hopes that by putting words to use she can generate more. Based in Columbus, Sara is a wife, new mom, dog mom, and emotion advocate!
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