Reasons to be joyful
How to keep the faith in these scary times
Doesn't it feel like the world is changing around us in new and frightening ways, and that we, and it, will not be the same afterwards?
It still astounds me that this corona thing only really kicked off here in the UK around three and a half weeks ago, when back then it seemed like a long distance problem that we were detached from; that wasn't really affecting us yet. It felt like taking precautions back then was an overreaction. People wearing masks seemed mad and paranoid. Now we know everything has been an UNDERreaction. We've survived insane toilet roll shortages, pasta stockpiling, and the ridiculous overpriced reselling of hand soap on Ebay. Many millions of people have died worldwide and it's hard to get our heads around these figures. Every one of those people who died had family, friends; they were loved, and will be missed. It is utterly heartbreaking.
I want to look at my personal timeline to help me personally make sense of just how insanely quick the escalation has been. Things have changed so quickly. Each and every one of us will have a very personal timeline with regards to our work and life situations, our isolation situations, our health circumstances, our family positioning and the changes we've had to make, the friends and loved ones we cannot see, or are now video-chatting with or calling more on the phone.
On Tues 17th March my nine year old daughter had had a chesty cough forever, I have several chronic conditions, and news coverage of corona was really ramping up, so, unable to bury my head in the sand any longer, I went to chat to her teacher about whether she should be staying home. Even then I felt silly, like I was overreacting. Her teacher was very nice, and advised me that my girl didn't have a temperature, but due to her nasty cough we should look at the NHS Guidelines that night and follow those. I made the very hard decision to isolate her for the recommended 7 days; however, by the end of that week all the UK schools were closed and the lock-down was real and present. You know when all the schools close in Britain that things are serious.
As of today - Thursday 16th April, myself and my daughter have been self-isolating for several weeks now. Having her home all this time is usually fantastically wonderful and at times, fraught and infuriating. She is nine going on fifteen, prone to argumentative bouts and a complete ability to detect when I'm tired or poorly and ramp up the behaviour accordingly. It's hard being cooped up all together so much. Yet the feeling of togetherness is really bonding us. As a family we're having trouble sourcing the groceries we need, whilst trying to get care packages to many in the UK who need a bit of help or cheering up. Friends and my partner are being amazingly kind, and the feeling of community that surrounds me now makes me feel overwhelmed and appreciative. During the great wars it must have been a similar feeling; of sacrifice, of community, of making do and mending, and ultimately, of all of us pulling together for the Greater Good.
I'm very prone to extremes of mood and emotion, but thankfully my brain now naturally looks for positives; I think we need these to keep us sane and happy, to keep us motivated, and to ultimately help us find ways of contributing to the Greater Good. Here are some positives that have occurred to me over the last few weeks:
1. Nature has become a wonderful thing to appreciate even more than ever. I have a small garden that's easy to maintain with an ever-expanding array of pot plants. I'm growing lavender and persia in the mist for the first time, and am currently nurturing daffs, sunflowers, hyacinths, fuschias, various wildflowers, candytuft. All you need is a window ledge and a few pots, plus a bit of compost. You can improvise everything else. It's fairly easy to find seeds online or share them by post with fellow gardening friends. There are plenty of communities online that support all kinds of hobbies. Growing your own herbs and veg is now a very sensible thing to consider in the current climate.
2. We are appreciating our essential NHS more than ever, and the weekly clapping sessions in the street are truly heartwarming.
3. The sense of community spirit has really brought people together, especially in this day and age where families are often scattered about. Thank God for social media! People are reaching out to each other constantly, checking in with their friends regarding mental health, and I've been making so many friends on Facebook through chatting to like-minded people. The care packages group I run on Facebook is also helping lots of people and that makes me happy. Even to receive a magazine or a bar of chocolate when you're feeling a bit isolated and low means the world.
4. We're having more time with our children or household. Myself and my daughter are having wonderful times together, and having more time together to play games and dance and bake and argue! We can start projects, and plan weekly things to do like checking out live zoo cams online as part of her 'Science.'
5. People are driving to work less, thus using less petrol, spending less and polluting the air less. The planet can begin to heal a little.
6. When things do gradually go back to normal and we can have social gatherings again, we are REALLY going to appreciate them, and find them incredible and emotional. Hugs are the things most of us need a lot more of these days and you can't put a price on that.
7. My partner is painting his house; I am painting my shed with wood-stain. I've never painted a shed before, and am finding it fun and therapeutic. It can be tough on the arms and hands so I have to do it in small bouts, and keep switching hands. Even my daughter has joined in when the weather has been nice! Things are getting done, and we are rushing about far less. Stick a summer playlist on, and everything is fun.
8. People are having to be REALLY creative right now. Finding new ways to solve problems, have fun, get the services we need, give hope to others. I've seen people visiting family through the window, to keep up social distancing. Businesses are having to find new ways to provide and meet demand. Facebook groups with the purpose of helping support others are popping up all over. I'll say it again; thank GOD for the internet. There was never a better time to hone your writing (on Vocal for instance!) or learn a language, or play an instrument. Youtube is loaded with inspiration and 'how to' videos. I have friends who make cards, do exercise sessions online. I write, and garden, and am a film addict.
The media is reporting how many deaths are happening daily, hourly even, and that is too much for most of us to bear, far too much. I wish the media would also report SURVIVAL rates. That would be helpful. We need hope, whilst also remaining informed enough about guidelines, to avoid complacency. It's likely lots more people will die, and that breaks my heart. I truly hope we will soon 'flatten the curve.' But let us try and rejoice the many who HAVE survived this virus, whilst remembering those who are not so lucky. Let's stay strong, but also let's stay resourceful and creative. Grow a cucumber, make a Youtube video to make others smile, write an article to entertain and give others hope. Raise some money to help others.
We don't know where we, as a planet, and a society, will be after all this. Hopefully we'll all be kinder, have more skills, and feel healthier. I really hope we take some new skills forward in order to help our new world grow and thrive yet again. We have to learn to give in whole new ways. Let's stay safe and remember that we may be in isolation, but spiritually we're all in the same boat. It won't last forever - and see you all on the other side.
I would love to carry on sending care packages to those in need in the UK, so if you have enjoyed this article and are kind enough to want to send a donation, all moneys received will help pay for envelopes, stamps, and food supplies.
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