It’s been another long nervous week with news of virus infections rising, local lockdowns implemented, and news coming in from Europe of other nations re-imposing lockdown measures (France, Germany). All week I’ve been holding my breath and tensing for the confirmation. And it came on Saturday night – Halloween, aptly enough. Another four weeks of lockdown across the UK. Schools are staying open at least but everything non-essential will have to close. Even travel within the UK is discouraged. And all this covering the four weeks leading up to my birthday. But at least we know now, and we have a few days to get our heads in order before we take a deep breath and go under again.
The week started well with a run in the park. Now the clocks have changed, the mornings are lighter (at least on sunny days they are) and it’s easier to think about getting out of my warm bed and down to the park to run. The park was particularly beautiful on Monday morning. The trees were starting to look autumnal, the sky was blue, it was cold but not too cold. It was a good day for a run. The only negative was the muddy nature of the running track. There had been a lot of rain and the paths that had been hard and cracked in the summer were now soggy mud slicks, slippery and littered with fallen branches from the overhanging trees. It added an extra dimension of “fun” to the run, having to dodge the obstacles, and try not to slip in the muddiness.
I was supposed to run again on Wednesday which was another sunshiny morning, but I let myself be lazy and stay in bed for an extra half an hour. If I’d known there was a string of grey days coming, I would have been a bit more motivated to get out. Although I did get out, but just for a walk. I had something to think over, so I walked to a different park and stood there and watched the sun for a few minutes while listening to Niall Breslin’s Wake Up, while thinking about a job I’d seen that I was thinking about applying for.
In one of those serendipitous moments where things come together, I’m staring at the sun under a clear blue sky, thinking about what’s involved in changing jobs, and Niall says “Fear stops most people from ever stepping more than one foot outside their comfort zone. Because fear and criticism will always be there in some form. The best thing to do is say, Hello Fear, how’s it going? And then do whatever you were afraid of anyway.”
And I got that dizzy feeling of release you get sometimes when you realise you’ve made a big decision.
I know that applying for a job means nothing, but it’s a start. It means putting my head above the parapet and asking people to notice me and recognise my skills and achievements.
This week I had a small angry explosion. I happened to be in our bedroom with a stick in my hand (I’ve discovered this stick is useful for closing curtains so in the morning and the afternoon I am wandering the house with this stick). I’d just closed the curtains when I saw the patch of plaster on the wall that swelled off the wall after a roof leak a few years ago. We fixed the roof leak, but never the plaster. At the time Husband said, “It’s fine, don’t touch it.” I said, “It’s not fine, it’s wrecked,” and with a small tap of my hand, knocked a big chunk of plaster off the wall. He got grumpy because now we’d need to fix it (we need to fix it anyway?!). At the time (it was in The Before), he was in charge of house fixing things. He made one attempt to get a plasterer in and when that wasn’t successful, just left it.
So here I was, standing in the bedroom with a stick in my hand, looking at this gaping broken plaster. And so I grabbed the stick in two hands and whacked the broken plaster, knocking more of it off the wall. I explained to Husband later that I would keep whacking at the broken plaster every day until I had knocked all of it off the wall. Now he is back on the case to find a plasterer. I’m not sure what will happen with builders and lockdown though. But at least I can get rid of that shitty broken plaster that causes a little twist in my gut every time I look at it.
On Saturday I had my Ikigai catch up session. We started with 45 minutes of yoga, and I realise I haven’t done any yoga for some months now. It was nice to move in yoga again and see how my body was feeling. Then we had a chat about where we were at. Two of the practices we’d talked about were meditation and gratitude journals. I admitted I had given up the gratitude journaling, because it was actually creating feelings of guilt. At this time of great uncertainty and hardship for so many families, when there is so much unemployment and people struggling to get by, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to be counting my blessings in this way.
But it was interesting to hear what everyone else had been doing since our last get together before the summer. Several of us have done (or are doing) the Couch to 5K programme and some of us may get together (social distance permitting) to run together. We’re also going to set up whatsapp group to keep ourselves accountable. It’s that crazy thing – if I promise it to someone else, I’m more likely to keep my promise than if I promise it to myself.
As demonstrated by my not following through on going for a run on Wednesday. But if I’d publicly declared my intention to run to someone else, then I probably have done the run.
I’ve probably read more poetry this year than I have for any year since leaving school. Something about this strange pandemic time turns me back to poetry, for human truths revealed and distilled in beautiful language. For anyone going into lockdown this week, I’m sharing this poem that I saw on the Tube the last time I travelled. If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s that we can cope with all kinds of things we didn’t think we could. And now is probably a good time of year to remember to breathe. A good time to be slow.
I’m looking forward to breathing the kind air on the other side. How about you?
Now I’m off to finalise that job application.