Figuring out what normal means now

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spring sunrise with flower

I begin by posing the question of what normal really means? Is it a standard? Is it a routine? Is it traditional? Is it ordinary or common? Those are definitions that are acceptable, but I have come to believe that it is more a feeling of comfort than anything else. At times, normal can even be boring. 

However, in the past two years, most of us are gaining new respect for what is “normal” in our daily routines. It might seem like we are stepping in and out of the security of our rituals of life. Covid, worldly news, the cost of inflation and weather have us all questioning the normalcy of life. 

Recently, I made a choice to return to the role of a 4-H adviser. As I progressed through the standard steps, “normal” was not exactly as I recalled. My 4-H educator reminded me (with a chuckle) that things had changed. It has been a humbling experience to sit on the other side of the desk and be taught by some of my former students. And yet, I gained a new appreciation for the definition of what was “business as usual” to become a 4-H volunteer. 

Each detail included patient and compassionate advocates and when I left my trainings, I felt renewed by my teachers who were showing me how “to make the best better” in 2022. Many thanks to all of my mentors who have the integrity of the program in the forefront and to the countless volunteers who give above and beyond what is considered normal. 

As I write this Spring Dairy Expo and March are finished. Our event was back home at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. When you go to a cow show, a judging contest and excellent sales managed by Buckeye Dairy Club, it genuinely feels as if we are returning to normal and life is on the move once again. Despite the usual amount of experiences at cow shows and the drama of weather, it was positive to observe and be a part of the passion that builds the spirit of the dairy industry. 

Whatever is returning to normal in your life and whatever adjustments you have made to redefine normal, pause for just a moment and be aware of all we have learned and reshaped to sustain our lives. Sustenance will always be preceded or followed by what is defined as normal. That definition can and will change, but part of the excitement is having a role in however and whenever our “normal” evolves. It is a lesson we cannot live without!

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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

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