Normal is a relative term. It really is. Think about it for a moment. Your routine, your rhythm for your day is yours and yours alone. It is your normal.
The values and situations you grew up with were normal when you were growing up with them. You woke up, you had things happen, they were normal. And the things that happened in your day were likely different than the things happening in your peers day. Their breakfast routine or homework routine was different.
Take my son for example. He is driven farther than anyone in his class to get to school and I am guessing he is among a minority if not alone in the fact that he often gets up at one household yet has breakfast and gets ready for school at another. His normal is different than others in his class. As a 10 year old he is learning a lot of flexibility and gaining the ability to transition through situations pretty well.
It gets me thinking about my own normal growing up as I note the date on the calendar – April 20, 2017. Known better in certain circles as a holiday called 420.
When I was growing up in California, it was the mid to late 70s and 80s, I graduated high school in 1992. (Don’t hurt yourself doing the math – I am 42 as I type this article.) Cheech and Chong were funny guys on the record player and 8 track. There were funny smelling plants in the backyard we didn’t tell everyone about and in the den there was a red tray that I wasn’t to touch. The water filled smelly piece with the black sticky residue was also off limits.
The sweet, slightly musky smell of weed permeated my childhood. It was normal. I didn’t see it as a big deal, it was just there. Large groups of people around me used it. It was just part of life.
The Red Ribbons showed up in my life a few years later and I remember seeing a display put up by the local sheriff with all kinds of illegal substances and thinking – hey, I know what that one is…
Around that time, the smell became not quite so constant. If it was happening, I wasn’t seeing it. Why was never my business and I don’t know that I asked. I don’t remember it being a big deal one way or another.
In high school I was offered some and thought – well yeah, why not? It’s normal. In fact, I am almost 100% sure weed was the reason I passed geometry. My junior year of high school I was “busted” smoking after a football game, in my cheer uniform with some football players. I was horrified to be called into the dean’s office and interrogated. They threatened to call the sheriff and I was horrified at what that could mean. I was a good girl. Good girls don’t get the sheriff called on them.
When I got home that day, my mother was waiting and she was not mad at me. Not for trying it anyway. She was mad at my judgement on timing and placement. She admitted it would be hypocrisy to condemn me for something that was not a foreign substance to her and that she didn’t believe was the worst thing I could be doing. In addition to the on campus suspension I had been awarded, the temporary suspension from the cheer squad and suspicion of “narking” by my peers, I was grounded for a few weeks.
I didn’t smoke after that. I just didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop or a dislike or anything else. What really happened was alcohol took over my life.
As an alcoholic I wanted the chaos and insanity and drama that alcohol brought that weed simply didn’t invite in my life. With weed I passed geometry, with alcohol I failed health. But by God, I committed to alcohol. After all, alcohol was legal so why shouldn’t I overindulge and drink as much as I could? And like an Iowan at a corn syrup…oops I mean corn, festival, I went for it.
For the next 10 years or so I let alcohol dominate me: through a career in the military where I found many of my kind, through passing out while driving and waking up on the side of the road half collapsed out the driver’s door, through alcohol poisoning and lost memories, marriage and divorce, lost friendships, bad, bad choices and more. So much more pain than I can describe, or that you want to hear. Alcohol took me to dark, dark places.
I recovered 14 years and 2 days ago. It used to be a huge, big deal. Now I have a new life and the day itself isn’t as big a deal as the gratitude I have for the life I get to live now.
I am interested in this movement of the legalization of marijuana on so many levels:
- There are so many medical benefits which I saw up close as I watched my aunt recover from breast cancer in a medically legal state.
- I am intrigued by the vast amounts of information and misinformation out there. The fear based op-eds and the scientists and doctors coming out with more and more research.
- The dollars gained in taxes in states like Colorado where medicinal and recreational can be purchased and the dollars spent on crime prevention and jails in states where it isn’t legal.
- Watching Tommy Chong on Dancing with the Stars then reunited with Cheech Marin on stage right here in Iowa a while back was fascinating– a state where you can use cannabis oil to treat certain conditions but you can’t buy it here (note: you can buy CBD oil here), instead you have to trek it in from another legal state across illegal states and pray to whatever you believe in that you don’t get caught bringing medicine to a family member or loved one that experiences intense relief when using it.
- As a glass blower I can’t help but be fascinated by those artists whose work largely heads into the weed market. Their creativity and artistry is mind blowing. If you haven’t watched Degenerate Art on Netflix yet, queue it up. And this 60 Second Docs piece on Robert Mickelson and his work will blow your mind.
I think we as a society are headed into a new normal – maybe more like the childhood I remember even. My family couldn’t have projected what they were preparing me for as I was exposed to all that I was exposed to, but as I see it today it is like seeing an old friend. That moment your olfactory senses are tickled by a scent that brings back happy childhood memories, like gramma’s cookies might do for someone else. Across the nation people are benefiting from the use of medical marijuana and of legal age adults are choosing the mellowing effects of weed over the chaos of alcohol.
It may not be for everyone, but neither is your anti-depressant or pain management pill.
When I think of the lifestyle I want, the life I want for my son, I pray that he never chooses to drink the way I did. I hope and pray he didn’t inherit the disease that took me to places I never wanted to go, but signed a contract in blood with as I took those first sips.
What I want is for him to pursue life the way I have chosen – his own way. I want for him, and for everyone, to know that it is super cool to be you. Just be you, not some expected version that needs to measure up against anything else. I think as we move towards a more authentic state of being, it is natural to also move toward more natural products for our bodies. Our bodies crave the new normal of natural, not the old normal of processed synthetic, toxic mind and body altering substances.
Whatever your normal is today, think about it. Is it right for you? Is it really, really right for you? Are you informed on all sides of the issue you spout off about, vote on or endorse? Do you know your own story and what works for you and what doesn’t?
It is time to live dangerously: define your normal, don’t let it be defined for you.
Jennifer Murphy is a life coach, help captive in Cedar Rapids, but willing to stay because her son anchors her in place and he is so totally worth it! An expert in helping people across the globe prioritize their values and create a life centered on what they value most, allowing them to shed stress, overwhelm and the BS that can suck the soul from their daily lives. Learn more at http://www.nolimitslife.guru