With surprise, I realize that yesterday, I felt “normal” for the first time in 7 years. I have never liked the word “normal”, and preferred to use the word “typical” even before my brain hemorrhage. Whenever I think of the very word, “normal”, I hear it spoken in a comically shrill tone. Normal implies that anything else falls short of some arbitrary standard. As an introspective person who has always felt “different”, I hate the implication that “different” is somehow, less, than! How interesting is it then that in the immediate aftermath of my stroke, I so desperately wished to be “normal” again, yet I adored when friends would happily say, “You never were normal, why strive to be that way now?”! This is perfectly phrased and is now a concept that I embrace. It is with great joy and renewed fervor that I recover from an incredibly successful lengthening surgery for the contracted tendons in my left hand. I could move my fingers on the evening of the surgery and can toss a ball to my baby son, Alexei, as of the first day of therapy. The surgery has relaxed my entire left arm and hand so greatly, and I’ve already regained such mobility. I plan to have the same procedure performed on my Achilles tendon in March, in fact. Due in huge part to this newly gained relaxation in my left side, I felt “normal” on Wednesday. I now realize that “normal ” for me means feeling balanced physically, mentally, and spiritually. “Normal” does not necessarily equal feeling exactly as one “used to”, pre-stroke, baby, divorce, injury, etc.