Updated: May 19, 2020
That's the only way I can describe the last 60 days. Every single day as repetitive as the last. Sometimes I throw in a curve-ball and have Shreddies instead of Cheerios for breakfast. I know, maverick. Other days I might wear my, suddenly more grey than I realised, hair up in a messy ponytail rather than the messy bun it's grown accustomed to. Other than those 'just for kicks' changes, each day has practically been the same...give or take a Shreddie or two.
Lockdown has had its ups and downs, but I have also found it the perfect opportunity to go back to basics. In my previous blog, I talk about missing human connection and how, for an extroverted introvert like me, being so removed from any form of physical interaction with another human has left me a little discombobulated, yet the loner in me is revelling in this new way of life.
"Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."
Although I am missing people, my introverted self is having a whale of a time. It took me a while to adjust to spending such a considerable amount of time with myself. Regardless of how much I've wanted to in the past, I've always felt that time is wasted if I were to spend it sitting down watching a film or 'resting'. There is always someone to see or something to do and for a long time, my life had been on 'where the heck did that day go' mode; always trying to fit everything and everyone into an already jampacked schedule.
I like to keep busy and am someone who has become used to filling the gaps of my hectic days with a variety of tasks and catch ups, but this sudden empty diary has in fact been a blessing more so than a curse. I've finally managed to start and finish a book after not picking one up for over two years. I have painted my nails and sat on the sofa on many occasions with face masks that claim to plump and smooth and rejuvenate smeared all over my skin. I've seen many documentaries and binge-watched Dead To Me, Afterlife and Killing Eve in quick succession. I've put my record player on and lain there listening to music whilst doing nothing but being present in the moment. I've spent many hours out walking alone and found a new love of podcasts and when I miss a human, I pick up my phone and call someone I love. These things may seem inconsequential to some, but to me, finally having time to do the mundane or self-care activities I've neglected over the years has been truly refreshing, and much needed I've come to realise.
For so long life was on fast-forward, but now I have been able to press pause for a little while and in doing so, feel a sense of calm during a somewhat chaotic period of time.
Although I am still working from home Monday to Friday, it's the weekends I have come to cherish since being in lockdown. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where within a few feet, I can be surrounded by nature; luscious woodland and panoramic views of patchwork quilt fields and the delectable sea if I squint hard enough. I've even had a deer leap out in front of me whilst on one of my explorations, which although scared me momentarily, left me with a Snow White-esque air about myself as I continued the remainder of my walk.
"Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." Rainer Maria Rilke
I live in a little rural village in west Cornwall and have really felt the community spirit since lockdown, and I believe this is why I haven't felt truly isolated. There is always someone to nod at or say a friendly hello to, as we each clamber into the hedges to ensure there is adequate distance between us as we pass. On a Thursday night at 8pm, the entire village erupts and everyone is out on their doorsteps clapping and whooping, banging pots and pans and smiling to one another as we share the same thankful, yet peculiar feeling of what is currently going on in the world. There is a vibe throughout the village where support and a smile is just a stones throw away. Everyone is equal because everyone is vulnerable and I feel this has given, not just my village, but the world a wake up call that no one is invincible and everyone needs a little support now and then.
My love for walking has meant I have spent pretty much every day since lockdown out and about exploring what's on my doorstep. And if I am to be quite frank here, I'm glad I haven't had the option to hop in the van and drive to a different location each weekend. I have found so many hidden gems since spending day after day walking the same loops. On occasions when I feel brave, I may take a different, less known where it might end path, and have always been pleasantly surprised when I have a sense of familiarity and can work out where I am. I have a couple of loops I do during the week because I know I can fit them in around working. Then, on the weekends when I have more time on my hands, I head out and explore a little further afield.
The weather has definitely helped to not feel trapped within the same four walls. Having the capacity to go for a walk, or sit out in the garden with a cup of tea is something I am truly blessed to be able to do. I know there are many people who are unable to enjoy self-isolation and feel lockdown is the complete opposite to a blessing when, for example, they live in a city in a multistory block of flats with no garden or park nearby to occupy their children. I know I am fortunate to have such wonder just a stones throw away from my house, and lockdown has made me even more grateful for my surroundings.
Although to begin with it felt very much like groundhog day, and admittedly I still feel it on occasions; especially when I long to meet a friend for a walk along the beach, pop to the shop for a mooch, or head out for a ramble with my beloved Cornish Ramblings group. But on the whole it hasn't been too horrific. Having nothing to do has allowed me to create new things to do that I wouldn't normally have the time to do! And as such, has given me the opportunity to create new ideas and bring back the creative juices that had dried up when I was too busy to sit down and give myself the time to think.
Lockdown, self-isolation, global pandemic, quarantine, stay at home, stay alert, social distancing. These are all words I have become so adjusted to saying or hearing, yet now I sit here and type them I am suddenly filled with the anxiety I felt when this all began two months ago. It may be the same loop different day as I head out for a social-distanced walk yet again, but when you think about the magnitude of what's going on, it really is such an overwhelming time of our lives. I have certainly felt overwhelmed plenty of times recently.
I am lucky to have a supportive team of colleagues and am prepared for a shortfall of productivity on occasions, which is to be expected when you have a global pandemic happening outside your door. I've learnt to be kinder to myself if on some days I don't achieve a considerable amount, and remind myself almost daily that we are all just trying to survive the best way we can. I've been able to adjust my mental health and feel it is sitting comfortably for the time being. However, there have been many days where I have felt completely over-whelmed and anxious when it all suddenly becomes too much. So please, don't be hard on yourself if you need a day off or if you decide to mix your Shreddies and Cheerios together just for kicks! We've come so far and jumped over hurdles we've never contemplated having to jump before. Be proud of how far you've come and how much you achieve each day, regardless of how small in comparison you feel it is to someone else.
"Saviour small victories"
Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones and throw a smile at a stranger; you never know who could be struggling or who needs a friendly face to remind them that everything will be okay.
"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."