Lockdown continues – how are you feeling?

Hello everyone, I shot myself in the foot a bit on Tuesday with a recap on what we’d been doing so today I thought I’d focus more on how this is feeling instead. Obviously these are just my personal reflections so I’m hoping that in the spirit of social diary, you’ll add some of your thoughts in the comments at the end. What I’m keen to log is: as the lockdown continues – how are you feeling?

A recap to bring us up to date

So, imagining that somebody is reading this 150 years from now let’s recap. By my reckoning today is day eleven of the coronavirus lockdown which started officially at midnight on Monday 23rd March. I’d say that in the fortnight leading up to it and the week that followed, the nation was in a state of high emotion. The feelings of everyone I knew seemed to range from euphoric novelty to panicked hysteria. There was new news all day every day. We were living the stuff of movies and almost everyone was running on a rush of adrenaline.

Once lockdown began (was it really just last week?) there was some relief. We were now operating in what felt like certainty – we’d been told what to do and it was like being parented. The weather was unusually good and social media was filled with banter from the ’employed’ about pretending to work while secretly eating biscuits and watching Homes Under The Hammer. Meanwhile, the self-employed soldiered on and tried not to growl. The keyworkers – well goodness knows how they felt but it was clearly the beginning of a long and lonely slog for them.

There continued to be a lot more news last week as emergency measures were released by the government on an almost daily basis. By Friday evening there was a clear split between those who were still employed or furloughed on 80% of their pay and those who weren’t. This included directors of small limited companies who discovered that they were being left on the ship as most of the nation sailed away on their lifeboats. (If any of you work with Rishi Sunak, please give him a kick).

Lockdown continues – week two

The weather has been truer to the seasonal norm this week which has helped in one way by keeping people indoors but it’s also taken away the uplift that came with last week’s sunshine. So I think I’d say that as we approach the end of week two a new reality is setting in. The novelty of dressing in loungewear and watching daytime TV seems to be paling. The feeling that the experts have a good grip on things has faded. People are finding themselves in a new limbo, having little to do perhaps isn’t as much fun as they thought it would be. In a rush of enthusiasm cupboards have been tidied and jigsaws completed and more than anything now they want a trajectory, a plan for the end. There is an understandable clamour for testing which might help us to feel more in control.

This reflection to date of course is just how I see it from my corner so please feel free to add your own interpretation in the comments. As for next week, it’s impossible to foresee what it will bring so for now I’m going to move onto a more personal level.

How I’m finding it personally

Before I start – please, please don’t think I’m moaning, I know there are people who are having a truly tough time, including some of you. Some people are keyworkers, ploughing on to keep us all going. Others may be bereaved or sick – or home-schooling young children, some as single parents. There are people who are isolating alone or living with unhelpful / unpleasant partners. Others are worrying desperately about elderly parents. I’m just one person and this is purely my observation of how I’m finding the change from my own normal circumstances.

On the whole I’m fine, I’m lucky to be someone who is emotionally steady. As the child of a witty, optimistic father and a panicky pessimistic mother I remember actively choosing at a very young age which set of behaviours to follow. I’ve never had mood swings or been affected by hormones either. Even so, the last two weeks have tested me and I’m learning new things about myself – specifically how important it is to me to work and earn an income.

My annual working pattern means that at this point in the year I have completed my strategic work for our larger agency clients in readiness to move over to new season launch posts on the blog and AW/Christmas planning projects for the retailers I work with.  So as you can imagine I’ve come skidding to a halt. Agency projects are in the creative and execution stages so I’m not needed and retail and blog projects are all on hold. I’ve realised that I’ve never not worked apart from my maternity leaves and then I had my babies to keep me busy so I don’t like this at all.

I’ve always earned an independent income – of course Mr MC and I share the bills but since I went to uni I’ve never relied on anyone to support keep me and I’m really struggling with it. I should add that I’m in no way criticising anybody who doesn’t work, it’s just a particular thing that seems to be ingrained into me – independent earning was a strong early message from both my mum and my schooling.

If you’d put this coronavirus isolation scenario to me before it happened I’d have said I’d be fine, that I’d just bury myself in a book all day. As it turns out I can do that in the evening but it feels wrong during daylight hours – I just feel guilty, after all this isn’t a holiday. Watching TV of any kind during the day just feels to me like the world is ending and of course there’s no forward planning to be done because at the moment it’s all an unknown.

In fact as I’m talking to friends who work in other areas of retail I’m hearing horror stories with regard to the season to come. As the internet abounds with memes of people rushing back to the shops when this is all over, the buyers and merchandisers are sitting with their heads in their hands. They’d usually now be working with samples and fit models to finalise the detail of their last few months’ work. Not only can that not happen but the preceding months of work have been on hold too because most manufacturing countries have been in lockdown for longer than we have.

Interestingly it could work out well. Remember how before all of this began we were talking on here about the end of ‘fashion’? Well one option for retailers in AW20 is to recreate their strongest designs from seasons past so it could be the most commercial release we’ve ever seen. Collections of key pieces reissued – let’s see.

Anyway, back to the feelings stuff. I miss the intellectual stimulation of my work and the sense that I’m making a contribution on both a household and professional level. I think the solution may be to take a ‘holiday’ – we were supposed to be going to Mallorca for Easter so I’d have had a week off anyway. When you work for yourself it’s always difficult to give yourself permission to stop but I’ll just have to take charge!

I’m guessing that we’ll all be finding out more about ourselves as this goes on so I’d be interested to hear in the comments how this has struck you on a more personal level. You may be feeling a bit worthless like I am or you may find yourself feeling panicked or unmotivated; alternatively you might be giddy and full of joy. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, it will be different for us all and I suspect it will change along the way too so this will be an ongoing conversation.

Other than the feeling of being useless that’s bubbling under I’m fine. I’m cheerful and I’m so glad that we have the boys at home because there’s always someone who’s bumbling around and in the mood for a chat. We have a good weekend planned. As you know a takeaway is a real novelty for us – it isn’t an easy option around here and there are no delivery services so it just isn’t something we do but we’ve discovered that a Chinese takeaway in a nearby village is still open. Cue high excitement, even from the boys, so on Saturday we’ll be liberating some good wine and cider from the cellar, having a takeaway and playing some new board games.

Words of wisdom

I’m sure lots of you will have read the interview with Terry Waite this week which was really humbling. He gently reminded us that he was isolated for 1,763 days in appalling conditions and suggested ever so politely that we all need to stop complaining. Here are some extracts from the interview with Sky News.

“I slept on the floor and much of my time was spent in the dark. I had no books or papers for almost four years and no communication with the outside world. Looking back, I wonder how on earth I survived it.” Much of what he learnt then, he says, can help us cope now. “No self-pity. There are many people in worse positions than you. Take one day at a time. And keep hopeful.”

“In isolation it is easy to become introspective and depressed. All of us, when we are honest and examine ourselves critically, will discover things about ourselves of which we are not especially proud. I had to learn how to grow a greater acceptance of myself and work towards a deeper inner harmony. There was plenty of time to work on that.”

“It can be bad, but it need not be a disaster. You may become rather introverted, but remember we are all a mixture of light and dark: we’re human. It may feel empty but take solitude in the right spirits and it can be a formative experience.”

“In those far off days, I wished I could be surrounded by books and music of my choice. Well, today, in lockdown, I have them and what’s more, I have the time to enjoy them. There was little exercise I could do fastened to the wall, but I managed. It’s important not just to sit around all day. A walk is still possible.”

In his first week in captivity he had his own clothes and would place his trousers under the mattress to keep them creased. The guard thought he was mad but Waite says: “It’s important to keep your dignity. Dress well, even when you’re alone. Today in lockdown it’s important to keep yourself well. Don’t slob around all day in pyjamas and a dressing gown. Dress properly and develop a routine. It’s important to have a structure – get up at a certain time, eat regular meals and so on. More than anything remember this – you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.”

That was a great kick up the bum for me and of course I was delighted by his thoughts on getting dressed. Stop with the loungewear everyone!

Uplifting things

I’m just going to end with three other small things.

A bear hunt

Firstly I wondered if you’d heard about the ‘bear hunt’ that started in New Zealand but is now spreading around the world? It’s for families with small children but I’m sure it makes everyone smile. The idea is that you place a bear in your window so that when parents take small children out for their daily walk it gives them something cheery to look out for. It can be a teddy or a china bear or just a picture but it’s a lovely idea.

Lockdown continues - how are you feeling?

I think I’ve said before that our family has always used the phrase ‘it’s a bear hunt’ for anything we’re going through that we know will be tough. It comes from Micheal Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s children’s story which I’m sure you know…

Lockdown continues - how are you feeling?
… the message of ‘we’ve got to go through it’ is a good one to help all children just now and it will serve them well throughout their lives.

Cows out to pasture

Meanwhile up here it’s been the week when the dairy cows are finally released from their winter barns and set out to pasture. This video from one of our local farms at Low Sizergh is just perfect. It isn’t often you see joy in a cow but I think this is exactly how we’ll all feel when this is over. It’s only 40 seconds so take the time to just watch it through and enjoy the emotion.

A Jar of Wishes

Now this came from one of you but I’ve lost track of who it was so do remind me in today’s comments. The idea is to find an empty jar along with some squares of paper and a pen. Each time you think of something you’d like to do when this is all over, write it down and pop it in your jar of wishes. We’ve been discussing it over dinner for the last few nights and the boys have been so taken with the idea that we’re starting it this weekend. I’ve cut up some old revision cards so everyone has their own colour. Some are things we’ll do together, others are things we’re looking forward to on our own or with friends.

The ideas don’t have to be elaborate, in fact we’re finding that they’re often just the things we enjoy but take for granted – Wetherspoons seems to feature highly with the older two! Just imagine the day when you can spread them all out and decide what you’re going to do first, it will add extra piquancy to regained freedoms.

That’s everything from me for today. I hope you enjoy your weekend. I think the school holidays start tonight for most of us – I don’t know if that makes things better or worse. I’m busy working out how to make Easter weekend feel a bit special when it comes. We won’t be in Mallorca as planned so maybe we’ll do something with a Spanish theme. Do keep in touch and share how you’re finding this strange time especially if you’re struggling in any way, big or small. This is a great place to let off steam – we can all support each other through this so please do join in by responding to other people’s comments too, even if it’s just a gesture to show you understand.

Disclosure: ‘Lockdown continues – how are you feeling?’ is not a sponsored post

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