[gallery columns="1"] nor·mal (nôrml) adj. Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical: normal room temperature; one's normal weight; normal diplomatic relations.

This is a funny word to me, as it is not one that I feel has ever applied to my own life.  Because of dramas that were created by myself or someone close to me I have, throughout my life, had to adapt, adjust, and roll with the punches in many ways.  I have thought of this a great deal lately - of all my moves, all the upheaval of my 30s, and all of my relationships - trying to discern how much of this I make happen and how much of it just happens to get thrown my way.  How much uncertainty, unsettled-ness and wandering do I manifest through my own choices and actions and how much is sent to me through channels I had nothing to do with?

I have pondered this for a number of reasons.  Events of the past month or so have brought me to a very specific point in my life where a great deal of new-found freedom is now upon me.  First and foremost, moving into a new home in Los Angeles and out of the two homes I was going back and forth between for the past year and a half.  This alone will be the cause of a stillness and rooted-ness I have not known for a long, long time.  Beyond that, between my trip to Cuba and the fact that I am nearing a final resolution to a difficult family drama, certain things within me have shifted and I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this year.  A tremendous amount of weight - much of which I wasn't even aware was there - is drifting away and scattering like a handful of colorful helium balloons being let go in a clear blue sky.  Although I must admit that at this exact moment I feel more like one of those helium balloons that was let go to spiral around the room releasing its air, and now I've unceremoniously flopped on the ground, empty and spent.  This has been a crazy month, and now I am exhausted.

There is still a great deal to be done to get settled in our new home, but it is already in basic working order and most boxes are unpacked.  I would guess we sold, gave away or donated about half of everything we owned, so downsizing is the word around here.  I said a bittersweet good-bye to our Solvang house this week, but I have to say that I already feel so cozy and safe in our new abode, it is difficult to feel too heartbroken.  That home served us very well, and I will miss it, but in many ways this house is more suited for us.  I feel so supremely blessed right now, and I practically burst into tears when I put on my Weepies CD yesterday as I was unpacking - the first time all week I had played my own music - and realized this is my home now.

With this quiet, this stillness and this - gasp - normalcy, the road before me is wide open like it hasn't been in a long time.  I have been daydreaming not only about diving back into work in my new studio, but also about reading more books, watching more movies and having more days that can simply unfold minute by minute instead of having to be planned, coordinated and scheduled.  My life has hardly been filled grand burdens, but it has had a certain kind of hectic pace that I am thrilled to say farewell to.  So now the question is this:  will that be possible?  Can I create a quiet, "normal" life or will some other major or minor storm come barreling into my living room?  Of course I cannot know this right now, but I'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, many more stories and photos from Cuba are on the way.