Covid-19, Lockdown Easing, A Rural Diary - Weeks 15 & 16 - Open for Business

A New Reality Emerges

These last two weeks have been kind of strange. Having guiltily 'loved Lockdown' for the past three months, in full awareness of how it has been so different for so many others, I've been having to come to terms with the fact that this little idyll that I was gifted is now morphing into something else. The 'bubble' has burst and we are back into reality, albeit a strange version of what we used to take for granted.

'The new normal' has quickly become a well-worn phrase and of which I am already weary. The reality of shopping is perspex screens, hand sanitiser, trolley wiping, apologising every time you inadvertently cross someone's path or step unwittingly too close into their personal space; feeling confused as to whether you should be wearing a mask or not; wondering whether you really need that extra pint of milk/bottle of wine/tin of beans which in the past you would just have popped out for; not knowing how to greet friends anymore - simple acts of affection are now potential biochemical weapons. In short, life isn't much fun. I had been veering towards the life of a hermit even before Lockdown (it's an age thing), then in Lockdown we didn't have to apologise for living it, and now I'm not sure if I can be bothered with socialising anymore. It's all become so stressful and unrewarding.

That said, we were very pleased to see our village pub re-opening on July 4th - not least of all because there was some speculation as to whether it would bother re-opening its doors. The most exciting thing for me about this big event is that the family who run it have re-thought their work-life balance during Lockdown and decided to make a few positive changes. The opening hours and food serving hours have been very sensibly and logically adjusted; a smart new glass veranda shelters people from the High Peak weather and - best of all - they have turned a corner of the pub into a Farm Shop full of locally sourced products from crusty home-made breads to cakes, flours of every description, meats, veg and a tempting array of store cupboard delights. I have already popped down a number of times to pick up a bit of meat for supper, or some milk or condiments. With all the palaver of going to the supermarket these days, it's good just to be able to walk down the lane with the dog and grab some essentials in such a nice environment. Or have a pint and pick up something for supper. I call that multi-tasking at its best! It will also mean that, come Christmas, I will no longer have to trek all over various counties to put together a lovely hamper for the grandmothers. Keep it local, I say....and it means I can to feed my increasingly hermitic habits!


Freneticism

One of the great joys of Lockdown was the Empty Diary. Who did not love that? Well, I certainly did! Life in the 21st century is so damned frenetic with the concept of 'personal space' and 'slow living' trampled underfoot with the demands of clients, bosses, global living, cheap air travel, massive marketing, digital overload etc etc etc.

Gyms have become de rigeur and chasing lifestyle ideals create more stress than enjoying the life you're actually living. It seems that if you're not rushing off to a yoga class or haven't been to a spa or a retreat every few months then frankly you're failing at life! Since when did 'wellness' become a diary date and just one more commitment you have to cram into your already imploding life?

Time. It always comes back to Time. In Lockdown many of us actually found that elusive element in our lives. Time to watch telly, time to play with the kids, time to talk with the teenagers, time to zoom our distant friends and family, time to do the pub quiz, time to do some gardening, time to read a book, time to start growing vegetables, time to think about what matters in your life.

While many are making life changes after Lockdown, there will no doubt be just as many who carry on as they did before, rushing around with their diaries, inboxes and eyes bulging. Already there is a palpable shift in energy as everyone starts moving around again, cars on the streets, people out and about, doing their thing. Life must go on. Even I would have got fed up with Lockdown if it had gone on much longer. All holidays have to come to an end, however good they are. We all need now to roll up our sleeves and get stuck back in - not just the key workers who have flogged on throughout the crisis. Yet it would be lovely if attitudes have shifted just a little bit towards a greater appreciation of Time: the need to get a better work-life balance, the need to indulge in some slow-living, the need just to take time to be rather than do, the need to find out who you really are and live your best life while you have the chance.


Who Am I?

One of the hardest things for me over recent years has been having to accept that my day job as a hands-on mother is coming to an end. All the while I was one of those people too busy to fart, running around with my hair on fire, I could delay the inevitable decision of: What Next? With N's mad 35 years of intense work life also coming to an end in six months from now, we both have to confront some difficult questions. As a mother who has made 'Wife, Mother, Homemaker' her job description, I am facing redundancy like many others on the other side of this pandemic. At least the 'What Next?' question I have answered a number of times before in my life. As someone who struggled to find meaning and direction post education, I have had to re-invent myself many times. I worry more for my husband who has had no such training, steady and secure (if not stressed out of his head) in his corporate job. What do you do when the job that has defined you over three and a half decades of your life suddenly comes to an end? Perhaps it is fortuitous that we are both finding ourselves in the same situation at the same time - or was that in fact good planning on our part?! Or is it simply our destiny? We have travelled a long road together, though much of the middle section has been in separate vehicles. We now have to climb back into the driving seat together and see where the road takes us.

Many people have struggled during these past few months. Many have woken up today without a job. Some may see that as a catastrophe, some may see it as an opportunity. One thing I do know as a result of age and experience is that we have the capacity within us to turn every challenge into a life-enhancing opportunity to learn and grow stronger. Our personal power is entirely within ourselves and when we acknowledge that and take charge of it, the possibilities for change and growth are limitless.

Carpe Diem.






Comments

Linda said…
Very thoughtful post and I wish you the best in navigating the next season of your lives together.

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