Jean Croker Petke



I’ve had two rounds of house guests in the last two weeks. A good time was certainly had by all. I love sharing my home with others, but life gets rearranged while they’re here. This is absolutely not a complaint — just a statement of what happens. People sleep in every available space, bathrooms are shared, my kitchen is open to grazers, things are piled here and there and everywhere, and my normal routine is forgotten.

my day’s slow start doesn’t happen

my morning reading doesn’t happen

practicing is very early or very late, using my keyboard and headphones — mostly it doesn’t happen

writing time doesn’t exist

And when the company leaves, I work on restoring order to the house, checking my calendar for the week ahead, doing laundry and more laundry, and getting some much needed rest. I don’t recover from such awesome times as quickly as I used to and it requires more time and energy to return to some state of normalcy.

Going on vacation and then returning home has the same effect on one’s life as having house guests.



Here’s the challenge: How do you get back to your regular routines and responsibilities after a major disruption in your life? How long does it take? What has to happen for routine to return? Why is it difficult?

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful.

Mundane chores
.  They require no thinking or planning and can be helpful in returning to usual. Such things are easy to do and many can be done even though you’re tired.

Permission to rest. No matter the life disruption you’re tired. Being out of one’s usual routine uses more energy, whether the event was good or not-so-good. Rest is critical to your recovery.

Delay the return. Perhaps you only have a few hours. If you’re lucky you might have a couple of days. Pick a time — tomorrow morning, or two days from now — until then you are in return mode. Regular stuff/work doesn’t need to happen until your designated time.

Settle in. Allow yourself some quiet time. Be still. Listen to some music. Read something inspirational. Ponder what’s important in your life. Regain your focus. Regroup. Go to your sacred space.


In reality, these four things don’t happen in order. They’re scrambled together as we move from “what just happened” or “where you’ve just been” to “aah, order is restored and life is back to normal.” But, I believe these four steps are necessary for re-entry into our regular world.

I often hear people say, “I hit the ground running.” I understand the urgency to get much done in a hurry. However, I’m suggesting that if we skip or shortcut the four steps, we’ll eventually have to stop, chill out, rest, and regroup because we’ve run out of energy and patience and perspective.

And the mundane chores are still undone and we have yet to settle.

Your path is waiting for your return.

Until next Tuesday . . .

4 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Greg Schuette -

    Perfect timing as I sit on a patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks for your timely thoughts about what to do next week when I return. Uh-Oh only home for three days then off to St. Louis for meetings for four days.

  • Sandra Powell Emond -

    As always your writings speak to me. Thanks so much for these words as I struggle wondering if life will return to any sense of normality after this past year.

    • jcpetke -

      Thanks, Sandra, for reading and commenting. Perhaps your life will find a new kind of normal this year. Sometimes we can’t go back to how things were. Then we have to accept our reality, our circumstances, and figure out how to have a viable, even creative, life in our circumstances. It’s a challenge but definitely worth the effort.

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