127. Adapting to and Living a New Normal with Kristen Girard

April 23, 2020

“Normal is an expectation. When we open ourselves to the idea of something beyond normal, all of a sudden life gets really interesting.”

In the introduction, I talk about the emerging analysis around what the other side of this pandemic might look like. Although there are lots of predictions or ‘informed conjecture’ (an oxymoron for sure), no one really knows what all the changes are going to look like when this is all over. Or even how soon we can find ourselves on the other side of this world situation.

What everyone agrees with is that it’s not going to be business as usual when this is all over, hence the phrase ‘new normal’ that we keep hearing nowadays. We are experiencing shifts in businesses and society at scale and at whip-lash-inducing speed. And we have front row seats as the new future of work unfolds. Within that unfolding is an opportunity for us to seize.

Now, you may be saying, “That’s easier said than done Lou.” And I can totally relate. I find it helpful to read about or listen to stories of people who overcame seemingly impossible situations, people who figured out a way not just to adapt to a new normal but to thrive even as a result of it.

My guest today, Kristen Girard, is one such person. Her story shows us we can find new paths when things decide to proceed in the opposite direction of what we wanted.

Kristen talks about a disastrous event that happened to her just as when everything else is falling into place for her and she was living a good life. What’s worse is that the problem wasn’t temporary. Rather it’s something she will have to live with for the rest of her life.
You’ll hear about how she adapted to a new way of living and working, what helped her along the way, and the lessons she’s learned through the process, which I think are so applicable to this moment in our history.

Listen via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

Follow Kristen Girard on Instagram, or Facebook.
The painting that Kristen was talking about toward the end of the chat.
Episode 126: The Power of Stoicism with Brendan Hufford
Book Recommendations From Previous Podcast Guests
Follow Second Breaks on Instagram
Follow Lou Blaser on Instagram

A few highlights from this conversation:

Normal is an expectation. But when we open ourselves up to the idea of something beyond normal, all of a sudden life gets really, really interesting. A little scary because normal is predictable. But when we allow unpredictability to come in, that’s when innovation can happen.

This is an opportunity to say, “Okay, Plan A, B, C, and D are no longer options. And it looks like E might not be either. But plan F could work.” So, I had to start relearning how to approach life. Instead of seeing life as a straight road, I had to start thinking, “Okay, if things are not going to work out, I have to release control of the situation.” Which is super hard because we all want to have so much control over everything.

I kept feeling like I was having to squeeze into a box. It took me a long time to realize that instead of thinking about my life as a box, I could start picturing things as being stones in a vase. When you fill a bunch of big stones up in a vase, it can look like, “Oh, it’s full, there’s nothing else you can put in there.” But I can still exist in the water that can go into that vase. Even with all those big stones.

I never thought I was resilient. I used to think that I was weak and that I was a failure because nothing worked. I would do all kinds of things that it felt like nothing ever worked. I can never be good enough. I can never do enough. One day, a friend called and she asked how I was doing. And I was very honest with her. I was told her what my morning had been like. And she gave me this wonderful gift. She said, “Kristen if I was you, I would be on the floor crying. How in the world are you so resilient?” I considered it a gift because she helped me begin to see myself in a new light. I wasn’t somebody who was broken forever.

I realized that even though I still didn’t know the answer to ‘what will I do if this thing happens’, that I was still acting as if the possibility for good to happen was a thing.

I had a lot of time to think and I started thinking, okay, what I kept coming back to was if I, if I go blind, what will I do then? And I would shut my eyes. It’s almost like a practice run. I realized, well, if I can’t paint stories or photograph stories, then I could still tell a story. And that I have many books that I could be writing. If I wasn’t so busy painting, I would be having a good time writing. I may not know it now, but I know I can figure it out or that somebody else will help me figure it out. Things are figure-out-able.

It was such a relief to have an idea of what I would do. And I also started challenging, who am I? I have thought of myself as an artist. And it was warning that I’m a creator. It doesn’t matter what I’m creating. It just matters for me, for my personal fulfillment, that I am creating.


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