Unbelievably, it’s now the 8th Monday of this strange period in our lives; and the 1st Monday I’m back from my (virtual) holiday. While I was away I spent some time reflecting on what I have learnt during this time, and in particular what I will keep and what I will leave behind. Long walks, even in company, provide lots of opportunity for reflection.
When this all started almost everything in my life changed completely. Like most people, all the things I did that filled my time were suddenly out of bounds. No face-to-face time with family and friends. An end to weekly visits to spend time with granddaughter. No trips to the farm (which we had to reluctantly but rightly close), no face-to-face meetings, no working groups with others. No attending conferences to learn from. No concerts, theatre, outings. No trips out to visit gardens or walk in woods or along the coast. No long walks. No trips away, anywhere.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that I have experienced anything like the hardship suffered by most people during this time. Those who have had to deal with the sudden removal of all their income. Those who live in unsafe or cramped conditions. Those without shelter or food or comfort. Those living with physical or mental health problems. And of course those many who have died or experienced bereavements. But we each have to deal with whatever our own lives throw at us.
For the first week I really struggled with how I was going to get through this, and it was to deal with this sudden and unusual empty diary that I put together an attempt to fill what felt to me like a void.
My blog headings (garden/allotment; exercise/staying fit; craft/making; house/home repairs; admin; kind deeds/something for others; stay sane!) have stood me in good stead. The point of them was to provide me with a shape for my days and weeks (and now months) – structured weekdays and something different at the weekends. It was also to help me come out the other side of this with a sense of having achieved something rather than having simply passed through the days. Ironically, all the things I had wanted to do in the past but struggled to fit in suddenly became my saving.
The headings helped me achieve all of that, and have now become a firm habit – and therefore they are no longer needed.
Time for some change.
I still want to distinguish weekends from weekdays. I still want to end my day/week/month feeling I’ve achieved something. This blog helps me track that – I can see immediately what I’ve done with my time.
My new plan is to continue with the routine I/we have adopted, and I know what I need to prioritise and what I can drop.
To keep will be:
- daily and weekly cleaning routines – the house is cleaner than it has ever been before, and I think this will help us not just avoid this virus but also to be more healthy generally
- daily walks have to be a top priority – the deterioration in my affected leg was clear to see following the couple of weeks when I didn’t walk every day, and I can’t afford that happening again. I need to walk somewhere for at least an hour. Every. Single. Day. No excuses.
- solitude – I think I’ve known this for a very long time, but this period has confirmed for me that I am (perhaps fortunately in this time) someone who needs and thrives on solitude. Working on the allotment or in the garden, or sitting listening to a R4 play while knitting sewing or crocheting gives me the time I need.
- yoga – this is a relatively new self-discovery for me. A yoga session at the end of the afternoon provides the perfect transition to a quiet evening. For a long time I’ve avoided taking phone calls or doing anything unsettling in the evening, as a way to improve the chronic sleep problem I’ve had for many years. It seems to help me. My late afternoon yoga session marks a physical, mental and emotional transition from whatever the day has brought up to a winding down from the day.
- emphasise the positives – there’s no point in dwelling on what I can’t do now. I choose to focus on what I can do, and making the most of it. Of course what I write here reflects that, and without a doubt my privileged position in being able to make such choices.
I have decided to add in a practice I adopted many years ago, long before I retired. Which is the Monday morning planning meeting with myself. It’s a time to think ahead and plan what I would like to achieve during the week ahead. I make a list, and use this every day to help me decide what to do that day. A nice cup of tea helps of course.
So from now on, I’ll be writing about all sorts of things that take my fancy. Pretty much as usual then. And quite a bit of what I want to write about is how we can avoid ‘getting back to normal’, and instead move forward to something altogether better. Because I truly think that is one of the options open to us. I’m not saying I’m optimistic we’ll achieve it, but as the song goes,
You gotta have a dream, If you don’t have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?
Stay home. Stay safe.
I hope this finds you well, and that I’ll see you tomorrow xx