A New Normal

Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash

Today, I’m sitting at a small, round table at Barnes and Noble.

My laptop’s screen glowing bright in the well lit dining section. Coffee brewing, the smell is intoxicating–even though I am not a fan of caffeine. People are chattering, mostly their orders to the barista on behind the counter, asking for a plain cup of coffee and a raisin cookie.

Or a pumpkin spice latte with soy and less foam, please.

And also a blueberry muffin, to go. 

Being surrounded by books is oddly comforting, I’m realizing lately. People quietly flipping through magazines, rustling through the pages of chapter books to get a sense of their contents, and the silent understanding of remaining quiet. I’m starting to realize this is part of my new normal. 

Once it was waking up at 6:30am, groggy and dreams just fading from memory. Faint rumbling and buzzing underneath my floorboards as the garage door creaked closed. Outside the window I can see my dad’s taillights disappearing into the early morning fog.


That was my cue.

A slight chill hung in the air as I stumbled out of bed towards the bathroom in the dim hallway. Light peeked from my parents’ room, signaling my mother was awake and preparing for her drive to the office. Staring at the reflection in the mirror, I assess the damage from the night’s sleep–hair either wrapped up tightly in a silk scarf or not, possibly sticking out in any which direction it chose. Perhaps the occasional bags under my still drooping eyes. My mouth dry, needing attending to. 

I sigh heavily. In my mind, the possibilities of the day ahead play as if on tape. Teeth? Hair?  Shower? Clothes?


Picking up my toothbrush, I add some mint flavored paste and begin brushing lackadaisically. The brush’s vibrations loud in my head and spinning furiously. Am I supposed to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice when I brush? Or is that for hand washing? 

I spit out the residue from brushing and begin to slosh the purple-ish liquid around in my mouth–it begins to burn and I don’t make it to the recommended 30-seconds long gargle. 

I stare my hair down in the mirror. My brow furrows and the will to continue preparing for the day leaves me almost immediately. I go on. 

Spritzing my hair with water is the simplest part. The follicles are thirsty for moisture. I pick up a brush, deciding against the battle to comb it out and begin brushing up the sides, the back, the front, to get something that looks like a semblance of trying. 

I grab the black, stretchy band. A full out fro awaits it. I grab all of the hair I can and gently–or not-so gently–coerce it into a high puff atop my head. Success. 

A faint “Goodbye, Leigh. Make today a great one, honey!” makes its way through the crack of the almost closed door. I echo the sentiments back to my mom and hear her footsteps make their way to the kitchen, then to the family room, then to the garage. The garage door once again growling as it opens up slowly, painfully. I hear her car start below and the groans of the garage indicate that she is gone.


Another cue. 

Stepping out into the hallway, I groggily make my way back to the bedroom. Rifling through my chest of drawers, I pick out undergarments–first a bra, then underwear–then I open the mirrored closet doors, it catches on something underneath it. I pick up my fallen scarf and place it back to the top of the shelf. Grabbing a plain, grey t-shirt and blue jeans, I settle on the fact that today, I will probably not catch any handsome man’s attention. I am okay with that, but just for today. Tomorrow, I will actually try. 


I am already late to leave. Now, I need to hustle. Deciding against makeup today, I wrangle my purse, water bottle, gym bag, book for lunch break and make sure I grab my keys too. Before dashing through the door, I note my unmade bed. 

It will have to do for now. 

Racing down the stairs, lights still blaring in my dad and mother’s wake, I plop my overstuffed bag and water bottle down on the kitchen table–my keys hit the glass and send a spine tingling ding throughout the room. Oops. 

I swiftly pull open the fridge and begin to rummage through it. Grab a fruit. Grab a frozen meal. Grab a snack. Grab another snack for that pesky 3:30PM lull. 



I search for my lunch bag–drat! It’s at work, again. I make a mental note not to leave it at work tonight, as I have absentmindedly done for the past 3 days already. 

I grab for a plastic bag under the kitchen sink and hastily stuff my lunch items into it. Grabbing my makeshift lunch bag, my jacket hanging from the dining room chair, my large bag on the table along with my water bottle I almost missed, I run over to the keypad. 

Punching in the familiar code, I wait for the Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. 

My final cue.

I race out the door, shutting it tightly behind me. My keys jingling as I find the house key to secure it. I bound down the steps towards my car. 

I toss my belongings into the passenger seat, climb into the driver’s seat and shut the door. Turning on the car, the air conditioning, left on from yesterday’s evening heat, blasts me with too cold air. Too cold for the morning. I promptly turn it off, shivering. 

Finding my playlist for the hour-long car ride, I hit PLAY. Familiar melodies bouncing throughout the car, I take off the safety brake and slowly put the car in drive. Driving away, I am careful to avoid the ever-present dip in the road, avoiding a scratch on my front bumper. I look back towards the house one last time. The birds have just landed on the front lawn, pecking for worms. The trees standing proudly and firmly on the green lawn behind me. 

I drive away, assuredly. 

Everything’s different now–I’m still sitting here at Barnes and Noble–thousands of miles away from normalcy. Finding a new normal has been hard. But just as it was before, I will find it again. 

Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash


Twenty-something, lover of Jesus. I like animals (esp. dogs), Fun-Fetti cupcakes and yoga. I love God and do my best to love others. I hate too-warm weather and socks that fall into your shoes when you walk. I'm a huge fan of Christian rap and cold, sunny days.

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  • Fehintola

    This is beautifully written. I love the description in the story and how you talked about your morning routine. I hope you find a new normal very soon. Moving away from family and friends and what is familiar can take its toll (I moved to a different city last year and it took me a while to get my footing but now it’s all good even though I miss my sisters and family sometimes).
    I have learnt to be more independent, make new friends and join a local church community that helps keep me grounded.
    I wish you all the best in your new home and hope you find your new normal soon ❤.


    • Leighann


      Thanks so much for your encouragement, Fehintola! I appreciate your readership and support 🙂

  • Justiya

    My dear sister! First and foremost I miss you so much and I love you. This post was so real and it really had me drawn into what you are saying. I’m praying for you and I know that the Lord will keep you and will bless you with a “new normal”. I can see that your being away is helping perfect your writing and your blog. Keep it up! Oh we need a Skype or FaceTime date soon.

    • Leighann


      Thank you Tiya, for your encouragement, love and friendship! I miss you so much – yes, I will text you to figure out a good time to Skype!

  • Amber Nutter

    So beautifully written. Proud of you. ☺️

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  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 18 𝑜𝒻 31

Obsession. I like to say photography is my love language—I have no idea what that means, but it sounds nice, right? I’m obsessed with taking pictures and learning more about composition, editing and trying new things with my little @canonusa baby. *accidentally deleted my post from yesterday—so here it is again*
  • This is not a drill—it’s a GIVEAWAY! 
Meet Kayla (@kayzilch). Though we’ve met just recently, I immediately recognized her as a kindred spirit (she’s also a Type-4 Enneagram)! Her writing is real, authentic and delves into an array of important topics such as mental health, identity, faith and much more on her blog @tobetruth_. She’s also working to become a certified yoga teacher and is passionate about her work as a freelance writer! 
Meet Meghan (@meghantschanz). I’ve never met a woman so determined and passionate about creating authentic community and tackling tough topics. She’s not afraid to go there and start conversations about real-world issues like sex- and labor-trafficking around the world, feminism (or lack thereof) within the church and equality for ALL. She’s currently working on securing a book deal, with the goal of empowering women around the globe to recognize their influence in society and their ability to make the world a more equal place. 
These women are doing some amazing things and I’m honestly just excited to come along for the ride. I believe in us, the work we’ve been called to do and I hope, after learning more about us, you will too. To celebrate and continue advocating for causes we believe in, we’re doing a giveaway with @causebox. 
Here’s where you come in:

1. Give this post a (♡) double tap.

2. Go follow @meghantschanz & @kayzilch.

3. After you’ve done both of those things, come back here and tag two women whose life, work and friendship you believe in! 
The prize is a summer-themed @causebox valued at $300, packed full of small-batch, sustainable and ethically created gifts made by women and small businesses around the world. 
Winner will be announced Friday (8/24) morning at 10am EST!
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 17 𝑜𝒻 31

Blue. I’ve been looking for a way to fill my ginormous (at least it seems that way) white living room wall. Every time I thought I knew how I wanted to decorate that space, I changed my mind suddenly, determined that there had to be a better way to fill the empty 

I didn’t know this about me before, but it hit me one day, as my parents were helping me unpack my stuff in my new place. My mom began asking me what I’d like my new place to look like, rug colors, mat textures, wall—fixtures and all. I am no good at decorating. Like, I had no idea how to put a space together. I’ve never been on my own before and the idea of having to decide how my space would be...mine, freaked me out. 
But then, little by little I found some pieces that I didn’t hate, and started to put them together. And yesterday, I stumbled upon these little treasures at Marshall’s. I couldn’t resist the ocean hues and beach vibes. I knew it was meant to be. 
All that to say, for anyone else struggling to put your place together after either never having to do it before #livingsingle or maybe putting the pieces of your life back together after a breakup or split—take your time. It will all come together eventually and it will look amazing. And before you know it, it will start to look, like you. ttys
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 16 𝑜𝒻 31

Hot. No, it’s not what you think. As a matter of fact, when I first saw this picture I was horrified. I saw all that was wrong with my body, my hair and my skin—ugh. 
But you know what? No one’s perfect. And thank God I don’t have to be. Plus, my body was/is working just fine, my hair was moisturized, and my skin was poppin’. Trying to shift my moments of self-doubt and body-consciousness to thankfulness and positive self-talk. 
Also, the day this was taken was HOT, so it still counts towards today’s #augusteyecandy.

I don’t know if anyone’s told you today, but you’re made splendidly and you couldn’t be more perfect than you are right now—yes, even in this heat with your mascara running down your face. ttys 
S/O to @kayzilch and/or her awesome fiancé, Michael for this pic 📸
  • 𝒹𝒶𝓎 14 𝑜𝒻 31

It’s crazy to think that I’ve actually posted one picture on IG for TWO weeks straight. Especially considering all that’s been going on around me: moving back across the country for school, moving into my new place, actually starting school, remembering how to (somewhat) adult—throw in a little bit of anxiety, and you’ve got yourself the past two weeks of my life. 
All that to say—we made it, folks. We made it to today. And that is enough. You’re doing great—ttys
  • TW: Anxiety/Panic Attack

Anxiety is like a shadow that’s been following me around since I was about thirteen. I guess puberty marked the onset of racing thoughts, subtle hyperventilation and that queasy feeling you get when something’s just not right. I had my first panic attack at nineteen, during a new hire orientation. It felt like I was having a heart attack—my heart inexplicably began to race, my hands shook and I felt warmth all around me. 
I excused myself to the reception area and, in a panic, asked the receptionist if she could help me. She said to place my hands above my head and breathe. I paced around the lobby and breathed, eyes closed. Inhale. Exhale. I worried for a moment that I would die. Then gradually, my heart began to beat at normal pace again. My breathing deepened and my body cooled down to normal as I continued to pace, slower this time. The kind receptionist gave me some water to sip and sat me down until I was ready to go back to the meeting. 
Anxiety can feel like a high-speed train. Going 5mph one minute and 150 mph the next. It can also be subtler, feeling like you can’t quite catch your breathe and you begin to hyperventilate, in a way that is only recognizable to you. 
Although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, anxiety has taught me the importance of coming back to the present. And how allowing myself to feel what is presently around me, can ground me and remind me that I’m alive. I’m safe. 
I share this story in order to start the conversation. Anxiety is a part of my life, whether I like it or not. I hope you know that first of all:

1. You are loved beyond measure and valuable even with your anxious thoughts and actions 
2. You are not the only one 

Follow Me!