Prompt: Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?
I don’t think that ‘normal’ is a term that can apply to anyone really. I think we are all different. Saying someone is normal is almost like implying that they are somehow better than other people, which I do not believe.
For some people, ‘normal’ has a negative connotation. It can bring up ideas of being boring, stale, stuck in a rut or the same old routine. Normal can mean the opposite of exciting to some people.
I don’t know what ‘normal’ is, and I don’t think anyone really does. Is it normal to get married, have kids, and own a house? For some people that’s a dream, for others, it’s a nightmare.
Is it normal to be cautious or free-spirited? I think that whoever you are, what you have a tendency towards and an interest in, is perfectly normal for you because you are a unique human being.
I don’t think it’s normal to stay in one place and never grow. I think it’s important to branch out of one’s comfort zone every now and then and explore the horizons beyond one’s everyday life.
Living in this society, people like me are made to feel abnormal since I am in my 30s, female, and unmarried. It’s hard to deal with the expectation of marriage and wonder if I will ever get there. It’s something that is pointless to dwell on, because it either happens or it doesn’t.
Being single and marrying later or not at all has become something of a norm these days. I could be meant for something else in my life, and doing something as conventional as getting married maybe doesn’t fit into the ultimate plan for my life and what I truly desire out of it.
There are worse things in life than being alone. I have dealt with that status for so long that it feels practically natural and normal for me at this point.
I think most people balk at the idea of normal or a ‘standard’ for living one’s life. Everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different, and that’s fine. It’s what makes up the human tapestry, and makes the world interesting and fascinating. Without differences, no one would ever be inspired, there would be no magic in anything, no mystery. And that would not be a fun way to live at all.
Prompt: Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity— running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in “the zone”?
Being in the zone, like in the middle of a good workout, is really satisfying and gratifying. It makes me lose all sense of myself and makes me feel powerful, like I can change into someone else. I love how exercise brings you into the present moment because you are focused on exertion, and moving the body just feels good. The body was made to be exerted and to be in motion. The body was made to be put to use.
Being in the zone is a great feeling because there is no sense of time. Activities become fun instead of drudgery. It’s like with writing, or reading a really great book that you can’t put down. I used to get into the zone by listening to my favorite band when I was younger. It gave me a feeling of being almost high.
Listening to my favorite band, I felt like I was floating and blissing out. Getting in the zone of music is very easy for me, and for a lot of people. Music can change your mood and uplift you, even if you’re listening to the most depressing shit in the world. I think music gets you into the zone because it touches certain emotional parts of a person, and you can feel it in your body and heart.
Being in the zone is a sort of lost art. People love distraction and spend most of their lives distracted and procrastinating, or getting into the zone of unhealthy things. I like being in the zone of writing of course, but I also procrastinate just like everyone else. Writing is satisfying when you have a good flow of words going, but can be frustrating when you become blocked, and start to feel like the most boring person on earth who has nothing to say.
But there are always new ways to seek out inspiration. I like to think about my dreams and sometimes write about them. Or simply reading a book of poetry, or observing the world out the window, or looking at some photography online. Human beings are fascinating, and lots of inspiration can be drawn from just observing them, or meeting someone new and getting their view of the world. People love to be really heard, and writers are often good listeners, and gifted observers.
Ideas will always come if you just stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Things float to the surface. For example, I know I need to go write out the answer to the question: Who do you want to be? So I’m going to do that in my paper journal. Sometimes you need to write by hand just for fun, and explore a topic that has been nagging at you. Hopefully it gets me in ‘the zone’ of writing.
(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 2/1/2014)
I just finished reading The Help the other night, and one of the reading group discussion questions at the back of the novel is: Who was your favorite character? Why? My favorite character was Eugenia Phelan, nicknamed Skeeter. She was my favorite character because she was akward and insecure of herself at first, but by the end, her true character reveals itself.
She felt strongly about a topic, and decided to interview maids and write a book about it. This decision was very brave and very dangerous, (considering the time period in which the book takes place) but Skeeter was determined to complete her project and write her book. She even worked around the clock at the last minute in order to get the manuscript to the publishing house in New York in time for the deadline.
Skeeter lost her friends, her social status and acceptance, and her first boyfriend. All that did not deter her from reaching her goal. She decided to write something extremely controversial, yet important, with the hope that it would open people’s eyes and create change. And the book she wrote succeeded in creating a dialogue between the maids and the families they worked for.
I admire Eugenia for withstanding so much criticism from her mother for not having found a husband, and for everything about her appearance that was criticized as well. And then for later dealing bravely with her mother’s serious illness and failing health. Eugenia is a strong character. She is patient and empathetic, as well as blunt and honest.
Eugenia published her book “Help” anonymously. She didn’t do it for recognition of accolades. She did it because it was an important topic to her, and it was something that no one else had ever written about before.
It’s hard to believe that The Help is the debut novel of Kathryn Stockett because the characters are so alive and the scenes are all so vivid. She has a great imagination and way with words. I was thinking the other day, how awful it would be to get to the end of my life having never written or published anything substantial- without having left behind some sort of creative legacy.
I hope that one day I find my own story, and finally get it written down, committed to paper and published.