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  • Donnie Holliday

New Rhythms

New Rhythms

I have never been accused of having rhythm. Ever. It’s just not a thing that I have. That scene in Hitch where Will Smith is teaching Kevin James how to dance, and he tells him “this is where you live,” yeah, that’s about the extent of what I have when it comes to rhythm. If I’m clapping along with a song, I’m the dude who’s watching whoever is leading the song to make sure I’m on beat.

Merriam-Webster has multiple definitions for “rhythm.” Two really stand out to me:

  1. an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech

  2. movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements

When I read those 2 definitions, some words and phrases really jump out at me:

recurrent/recurrence

strong and weak elements

(natural) flow

related elements

I haven’t written a blog post in a long, long time. So why write one now? And why make it about rhythm?

Because of how much the rhythm of life has changed over the last few weeks. Words like “ordered” and “regular” found in the definitions of rhythm above have completely different meanings now than they did two months ago. Quick – what day is it? See what I mean?

The “natural flows” of life right now are so different from the “regular recurrences” that marked life just a few weeks ago. The rhythms have completely changed.

I see this in my daughters’ sleeping habits. Without the “regular recurrence” of me waking them up before the sun comes up to get ready for school, the natural flow of their sleep patterns has led them to sleep until well into the morning every day. (It’s almost like school starting so early contradicts kids natural sleep schedules, but that’s a discussion for another day.) I hate that when in-person school begins again I’ll have to interrupt their peaceful slumber.

I see it in my social media usage. A couple weeks ago, I realized I needed a break from Facebook. Since then, I get on in the morning to check for any notifications and to see if there’s a cute pic of my girls in Memories that I’d like to share. That’s it, and I have to say that I haven’t missed it. At all. To the point that I’ve decided that’s my new Facebook usage. Whenever life gets back to normal, I’m making that my new normal for Facebook.

And that really is the motivation for dusting off the blog. The new normal that I am in right now looks nothing like what normal looked like several weeks ago. The new normal does not include waking up when it’s still dark outside. The new normal does not include shoes for most of the day and for all of the day most days. The new normal does include helping my girls with their school work during the day. I’m reading with my first-grader and dusted off my math teacher skills to help my sixth-grader. The new normal includes a lot of sitting in my driveway watching my girls color with chalk or ride their bikes. The new normal includes sitting peacefully on my front porch watching the wind blow in the trees while having a phone conversation.

At some point, we’ll all go back to work and school, but when we say things we’ll get back to normal, what we mean is that we’ll all start a new normal. Let’s be honest, many of us will never wash our hands like we used to. I started a while ago saying The Lord’s Prayer while I wash my hands to make sure I was doing it for at least 20 seconds. That’s not going to change. That’s a new rhythm of life that I have begun to lean into and will continue leaning into (and maybe “leaning on” is a good way of viewing it also) even when I’m out and about the way I once was.

Take some time to be introspective enough to look at some new rhythms of life that have become part of your new normal, and then ask yourself which ones of those rhythms you don’t want to let go of. Notice I didn’t say which ones you have time to keep once this season is over; I said which ones you want to keep. If we’ll make these rhythms of life part of life now, we’ll want to keep them later.

And I think we’ll be better for it.

I have learned that taking a break from work to help my girls with schoolwork is tremendously refreshing for me. When I do some math with one or read with the other and then go back to my work, I am more productive. Taking a break without putting my brain into hibernation by doing nothing mentally has actually proven to be more refreshing for me. I will remember that when my office is actually my office again.

I have learned that the discipline of gratitude is something that brightens my day. Acknowledging the things that I am thankful for keeps a smile on my face. Seeing other people express their gratitude (CCF has a Gratitude groupme) has been a very uplifting thing to be a part of. I will continue to lean in to this rhythm of gratitude even when I can be thankful for going out to eat again.

I have prayed more for health care professionals than ever in my life over the last several weeks. I have already determined that the first time I am at a restaurant and see someone with a hospital/medical ID, I am going to pay for their meal. I hope and pray that as we showed appreciation for service men and women after 9/11 that we will show appreciation for all the heroes that are so important to the health of all of us now.

I am being more present than I have ever been recently. When my girls “interrupt” me, I try to stop what I’m doing and give them my undivided attention. I know that it is not the case for everyone, but my life is moving at a much slower pace right now. I am leaning into that by just trying to be where my feet are instead of looking ahead. And I have no plans to jump on a treadmill that’s set at 10mph when this season is over.

So what rhythms of life are you establishing or can you establish during this season that you can make part of your new normal during this season and when we get to the next new normal?

I’m not saying everybody should learn a new language, organize every square foot of their home, or learn the secrets to French cuisine. That idea, that everyone should achieve the same, or that you’re less of a person if you don’t achieve what other people are achieving is the reason so many of us hate standardized tests, but that too is a discussion for another day.

You do you.

I heard a song earlier today that had the lines, “If all you ever do is the best you can, then you did it man. That’s something to be proud of. That’s a life you can hang your hat on.”

“Hang your hat.” That’s what you do when it’s time to relax. When it’s time slow down. That can be a recurrent flow – a rhythm – if we let it. And we can do that during this new normal and in the new normal that follows this one.

We all have new rhythms right now. May we find the ones that we can lean into and lean on during this new normal and carry them over into the next new normal.

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