Culling to a New Normal

Photograph by Jelena Gajdel

People are speaking about entering a new normal, but what is normal?

Sanitizing my handbags and my shoes’ soles are now normal—Lysol serving as my new fashion etiquette. My dedicated leather COVID handbag, which was sanitized regularly, faired no better than my salt-stained winter boots. Lacking in resiliency from the routine spraying, I was forced to say goodbye to all my favourite leather purses and turned my attention to something I could routinely sanitize without damage. Hello, vegan leather.

With my attire now casual, I decided it was time to cull my lingerie drawer, which sounds nicer then it is. My ‘period’ underwear that served me as proudly as the military, dependable and providing safety, I saluted on a mission well done 50 cullings ago. Still, my bras were up for editing. There laid one lacey number that was ridiculously uncomfortable and looked like I was to engage in some sort of french erotica. Tags still attached it longed to be part of a Jane Austen narrative. The Pandemic illustrated to me that the engineering behind a middle-aged woman’s bra is meagre at best. They can send a person deep into space or to the ocean’s depths, but they can’t design a Tata Tent that feels like nothing’s there. In 2020, we’re scant ahead from the days of Jane Russell and the torpedo bra – more rounded, still void of comfort. No surprise, women from the Renaissance were lying around during the plague, all voluptuous and braless. Centuries later, during a pandemic, we may not be lying around, but we’re braless for the exact same reason.

Being Mount Vesuvius, and generating intense heat surges from hot flashes, my sweaters were next. I tossed all of them except for one, reserved for the first sign of a cold or flu. I put that puppy on, and the virus’s duration is cut in half. It’s not COVID tested, and I have no science behind the accelerating healing, but it works.

My Spanx lived through their own self-quarantine and will continue to until the sub-zero temperatures of winter blowback as they serve as great thin winter liners. If I’m going to squeeze into anything resembling sausage casing, there better be arctic temperatures outside.

In the same drawer as my Rack Packs were packages of hosiery that have gone the way of the Legg’s egg. I held onto them in case I had an event. Those events no longer exist, nor do the days of runs, a gusset hanging between one’s thighs or packages labelled white and spice. Course you can always keep a pair around as a laundry hack to remove white deodorant stains off a black garment. It works like a charm.

I got rid of my last pair of high heels, knowing if I wore them a twisted ankle or worse yet, a fall was imminent in my future. I  made room for sneakers, boots and loafers.  Standing in line is the new normal, so any strutting in heels is now in the rearview mirror.

Line-ups are my ‘location’ cyber office. I catch up with correspondence, shoot off business emails, and organize my life. I pack sunscreen for sunny days and a hat and jacket for cold ones. Feels like I’m living amongst chinook winds.

COVID had me do a deep dive into the few cosmetics I had, namely my lipsticks. I did the test where you put a streak of lipstick on top of your hand and rub something gold like a ring over it. If lead exists, the metal triggers a chemical reaction, turning a watermelon pink into jet black. Every single one of mine was contaminated —goodbye, ‘Shocking Coral’ hello chapstick. Lead-free lipsticks exist, but good luck finding them in specific colours you may want. Amidst the Coronavirus, 5G radiation, lead in cosmetics, and a host of other toxins surrounding me, I’m dodging what I can in this new normal.

With pants and bra no longer necessary, neither is cash, which is vanishing and so is frivolity. Saving is increasing while spending is in its shadow. There is no room for Luddites, and working from home is the new office for many and the informalities that go with it. Dressing for Zoom meetings is the new shag haircut—instead of business in the front and party in the back, it’s business on top and sweatpants at the bottom. Suitings becoming a thing of the past. Just ask Brooks Brothers, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Our new normal will have us invest in our spaces no matter how big or small. Real estate agents new tag lines, being, “Can’t you see yourself quarantined here?” Meanwhile, homeowners are bringing back the concept of a pantry, lessening the need for regular grocery shopping.

Marijuana, perceived much like a dangerous hallucinogenic in the early sixties, is now legal, available and deemed an essential service, as is alcohol. Of course, both are sugar, gluten, dairy, and cholesterol-free. Meanwhile, masks, plastic sheeting, duct tape and rubber gloves in your trunk are no longer reserved for criminals. Now you’re a criminal if you don’t carry those accoutrements. Masks are inspiring a no make-up regiment while accommodating for mumbling and profanities without anyone being the wiser.

COVID has been kind to those procreating and to divorce lawyers. Come nine months, the nurseries in hospitals will be packed as will the dockets for the division of property. Self-quarantine has turned into an extreme version of “Love – American style.” Some stories funny, others not so much.

I’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time with my family that I otherwise wouldn’t have, reminding me how blessed I am and how amazing they all are. My daily gratitude regiment is triggered in many new areas that I previously took for granted filled with gratitude making my days exciting and fulfilling.

My new normal will not include jackass behaviour like greeting another by knocking feet or touching elbows. Instead, I have come to observe and reciprocate the ‘smileyes’ – deciphering a smile through one’s eyes by those wearing masks.

I’m also noticing the inconsistencies surrounding me in various institutions and policies.  All void of resiliency noting where the inequities lie, and where positive change needs to exist.

The new normal had those in quarantine experiencing stars twinkling that once were invisible. Mother Earth’s healing was unmistakable. It touched so many people who are now willing to participate in whatever way to maintain this healing committed to practicing an array of green initiatives now that they’ve experienced the contrast.

I have witnessed the tremendous lack of leadership that exists around me and the world recognizing how few true leaders we really have. Most assuming the role shouldn’t be, and those who aren’t in those positions, should be.

There’s a new normal around politics. The public has a short fuse for separation within a system where people attack each other when we’re all in the same sinking ship. Politician’s busy wronging instead of being solution-based will be tossed out of the boat. Spirited debate needs to replace ego and separation. Those that are open-minded and build on common sense with the public’s best interests and transparency will earn their listening. There is noticeable fatigue around judgement and wronging that calibrates at the same level as the virus and is counter-intuitive to what we need, innovation, creativity and solutions.

The new normal was an awakening for many into consciousness and directing them on a path of self-expansion they otherwise wouldn’t be on. With it, an appetite for serenity by turning inwards while chaos exists outwards possessing an acute appreciation that fear and anxieties need not be internalized. One can move forward in love and release the fear. Holding views that align with a loving system which is becoming the new normal, as is our perception of “change.” Which isn’t change at all but rather a paradigm shift.

The new normal doesn’t sanitize where we came from but illustrates how flawed it was. We need to think expansively as we have a chance to reimagine the world. One we want to live in and have for our children and our grandchildren. There has never been ‘a normal’ for many on the planet. Not with the existence of poverty, war and abuse. We can change that.

My new normal has shown me that violence, war, nuclear weapons, ego, greed, separation and abuse, can’t fight a virus, and we need to examine why they are allowed to exist. Things like colour, creed, gender don’t matter. We’re all one, our differences, only variables. Even the Coronavirus has confirmed that.

Frankly, what was our normal was nothing to brag about. The Pandemic brought us to a place where we can now design a united, compassionate, intelligent, and innovative paradigm. Releasing the weight of low calibrating energies. Time for the antiquated dust bunnies to be released allowing humanity to expand. I find comfort in culling towards a new normal. 

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