Living La Vida Lockdown

(If the Ricky Martin song is now in your head, sorry for the earworm.)

It’s a funny old time, this lockdown. Bringing up lots of memories, days past relived, choices assessed, plans made for going forwards. Time has no meaning, any more – the days punctuated only by the alarm going off in the morning, the click of the letterbox when the post arrives, the occasional arrival of a van, delivering items to people on the street.

It’s no Vida Loca, that’s for sure. The biggest excitement is a trip to the supermarket, where people no longer seem to be bothering with social distancing, as though the past three months have been some awful and ridiculous dream, a figment of our collective imaginations, that we’re all now just waking from.

Lockdown is starting to ease here, though with different restrictions depending upon whether you’re in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. The revelations that a government advisor, at the height of the pandemic and while suffering from Covid himself, travelled 200 miles north to his parents’ house and then made a few daytrips while he was there, have helped to unravel the months of sacrifice and solitude, as have the misleading messages and constantly changing guidance. I think people are sick of it, too – the long queues outside shops when they opened on Monday perhaps an indication of how people just want to do something different.

But I hope we don’t rush back to the world that was.

Great change is happening, groundswells of movement. People continue to protest that Black Lives Matter (as they do, and should, and always have), and there has been a shift in understanding around the nature of work and what, really, is essential, and that the people who keep things running, who care and educate and deliver and feed us, should be paid a proper wage for the work they do. People are also discovering the communities in which they live, helping neighbours in need, supporting others. There is a chance here to continue, to forge a better world.

There has been bad behaviour, too, of course, like the aforementioned adviser and his lockdown trip (symbolic of a greater disarray among our government), or the people who trash our countrysides and beaches for some unfathomable reason. But hopefully the seeds of positive change have now been sown, and we won’t lose this momentum, reaping the harvest of better times in the future.

I’m still going on lots of walks, just as I always have, stories dancing in my head. The inability to focus which plagued me at the beginning of lockdown, perhaps linked to the adjustment of living in a strange new world, has long gone, and there are new stories brewing, new worlds to explore. We also, as a family, managed a trip to the beach. Not a long drive away, an hour or so, to a beach we knew would not be busy. We took everything we needed with us, and left nothing behind. There were other families there, but with enough space that we could all keep plenty of distance. It was good for the soul to be somewhere different, to breathe sea air, to see my daughter laugh as she danced in the waves. These are the small joys to be taken at such a time.

We’re also lucky that we still, as a family, have been able to work. Ineligible for any of the government support programs, we know we’re fortunate to have paid employment during this time. A lot of people are struggling, and the fallout from this will be felt for years to come. Another reason a better world, a more caring world, will be needed.

At the moment, though, I’m staying home. I’m a dedicated shopper, oh my goodness yes I am, but I have no plans to hit the stores anytime soon. This virus hasn’t gone away, just because lockdown is easing. So we will stay safe as best we can, and hope that the others we love can do the same.

So I guess this is a blog post about nothing much, really, because on the surface, that’s what I’ve been doing. But there have been seeds sown in both my personal and professional lives, and I’m hoping, just as I’m hoping to see in the wider world, for some positive results.

Hope you’re all staying safe and well x

Photos from a recent walk and our trip to the coast


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Removing The Layers

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Last week I found a box full of memories.

The clear out continues, and more treasure is coming to light. This week I found an old journal. To be honest, I don’t really keep a journal. However, when I went through a fairly dark, transitional journey in my own life, a dear friend recommended that I write down my thoughts, and gave me a lovely notebook in which to do so.

There aren’t a lot of entries, but each one is like a punch to the stomach. Oh, not because they are nasty or violent – in fact, there’s a lot of love in them, for my daughter, for my husband, even for myself. I muse a lot about the idea of moving back to England, even going so far as to say I was ‘putting it out in the Universe.’ Sitting here in the UK, almost ten years later, I can only marvel. No, the entries hit me hard because they are a written record of a time in my life when I was peeling back the layers of who I’d become, to find who I was again.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but change can come upon us in a variety of ways, and sometimes the layers of expectation and self-preservation can build up, like pearl accretions inside a pink shell. However, instead of ending up as a perfect round pearl, you become something rather misshapen, a distortion of who you really are.

This had happened to me, and I didn’t really realise it until I’d had my daughter and challenged myself with the thought of who I wanted to be for her. And I realised I had lost my way. There is a passage in one entry which reads as follows:

‘I realised that I had reached the end, that I had nothing more to give to the way I was living and so it was time to make changes and move in the direction of who I want to be.’

Yes, that’s a bit of a long sentence, I know. However, it struck me as being very profound. I do believe that the key to making change is to recognise the need for change, and here was the moment where I had done so.

There were a couple of loose pieces of paper in the front of the journal, one of which was a printed out quote given to me by the same dear friend. It reads:

‘Whatever you have forgotten, you can remember. Whatever you have buried, you can unearth. If you are willing to look deep into your own nature, if you are willing to peel away the layers of not-self you have adopted in making your way through the tribulations of life, you will find that your true self is not as far removed as you think.’ Meredith Jordan

Even though I’m still peeling away, I can look back and see how far I’ve come. And that is truly to be treasured.

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Of Doors and Getting Back Into Things

I’ve just come back from holidays. Oh, very nice, you might say – and you’d be right 🙂

At the same time, it was a busy couple of weeks. No sitting around on beaches – instead we had a planes-trains-and-automobiles type trip starting in Vancouver, Canada and ending in Cambria, California, taking in the sights of Seattle, San Francisco and Monterey before heading to a family wedding on the coast.

I’ve written before about how being away can make a big difference, and so I have found it to be again. In June this year I had pretty major surgery, and the recovery process took quite a while. I also published my second book, upped my blog output and was training fairly regularly in a variety of different exercises, as I’m of the use-it-or-lose-it school of thought when it comes to staying active. Since my surgery I had been easing back into my usual life, so taking a break has let me see where I could make some more positive changes to my regular routine. I’m also part way through Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and it’s certainly given me food for thought about how I conduct my creative life and what I expect from it.

I’ll be writing more about my trip over the next little while, including a post about the fact that I really, really dislike flying, plus a few other ideas that have been percolating in my mind. For now, I’ll leave you with this picture of a rather gorgeous door that I took in Cambria – perfect for Hugh’s News and Views latest Photography Challenge – Thursday Doors.

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And thank you to everyone who stayed in touch and kept up with my blog while I was away – much appreciated! xx

A quick update: Hugh from Hugh’s News and Views very kindly let me know that the door challenge isn’t his – it’s actually Norman Frampton’s, from Norm 2.0, and the link to his challenge post for today is here. So pop on over and check out his door, and add your own if you feel like it!