Hello from a suddenly chilly north of England. Just as I’d got into the swing of summer dressing it’s behaved true to form and gone the other way – I’ve just had to break off to go and put some socks on when I thought I’d finished with them until October. I suppose it reflects everything else that’s going on because I’m finding I just can’t plan ahead for more than a week at a time at the moment.
So how have you been getting on? It’s been pretty steady here, the boys have finished phase 1 of the landing stage project and tomorrow we have a huge lorry full of wood arriving so that they can start the build. Unfortunately we still don’t have sand or cement so they’re at a bit of an impasse until that is dispatched, I know Mr MC is hoping to have it ready for my birthday on 19th May so the clock’s ticking!
I made the mistake of getting on the scales yesterday and it confirmed that the daily slice of cake and glass of wine habit that I’ve developed (not together) is a bad one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – one of the worst things about midlife is just how quickly the pounds pile on.
Mr MC’s hair has been getting in his way so to the great joy of the youngest he declared on Saturday that he wanted his head shaving which seems a shame as I’m getting quite good at cutting their hair. However I let the boy have the pleasure of it – and excuse the scruffy look but they were taking a few minutes’ break from their garden labouring. Of course they got carried away and ended up with a number 1 crop, I’m not going to show you the end result until it’s grown a bit!
Teddy learned a valuable lesson at the weekend when he decided to chew through an electric cable in the garden – we realised why he’d been a bit subdued when we tried to turn the garden lights on that night! And other than that I’ve been at my desk, I’ve completed my accounts for the last financial year which is something I wouldn’t usually do until next January so that’s one good thing and I’ve started working on a small retail project that I’m finding really interesting so I’m going to share something from it with you.
Reflections on the pandemic – the zeitgeist
You may or may not be interested in this because it’s a bit off topic (if you aren’t just skip past it) but I think it underpins some of the feelings that are coming through in the comments. One of my retailers has requested a report on the mood of the nation. It’s the kind of thing that I produce all the time in ordinary circumstances but it’s much more difficult now. I’ve spent the last couple of days in a tunnel of research trying to find sources of good information. Of course there isn’t very much to draw on yet because we’re still living through this which makes it quite difficult. However specific behaviours are coming to the fore and I found this helped to make a bit more sense of the way our emotions have been swinging around.
It’s something I’ve been sensing all along – as we’ve been chatting in the comments I’ve been saying that the response to the sudden Covid lockdown has felt like the classic grieving pattern that we know as the five stages of grief and loss:
Behaviourists are recognising this but indicating that the general response to the pandemic and resulting isolation has expanded some of the stages, let me show you:
[Chart source: Fresh Perception]
- The period of shock at the beginning has been separated out because the unthinkable has happened on a global scale. Other than as the stuff of movies, this kind of scenario has never been thought possible in our highly developed society.
- The need to blame is also key. When our sense of security was threatened after 9/11 and in the great recession we had people to blame but who do we point the finger at now? There are all kinds of conspiracy theories going around but on a more local level, it’s one of the reasons behind the judgemental behaviour that’s being seen and of course in my world, retailers have to be particularly mindful of this.
- Bargaining has moved up and this is the point where people were altering their behaviour and settling into lockdown reluctantly while trying to fit in one last haircut / one more trip to the pub etc before it was fully enforced.
- Depression provokes the ‘when will this ever end?’ question but it sits alongside a sense of confusion. People are saying that they feel as though they’ll have forever lost their sense of certainty in the world – if this can happen, what else might? How can we ever make plans again?
- At some point most people should arrive at a point of acceptance having processed the fact that lives are on hold for longer than we initially anticipated and here begins the search for a new set of behaviours.
We’re having to rattle through the curve far faster than we would with a bereavement of course but there are similarities in the way that many people are reporting being stuck in a loop, cycling repeatedly through stages three to five. Interestingly the over 50s are likely to be the first to arrive at stage six. However for the older end of this segment there have been fewer lifestyle changes to accept because they’re often more home-centric anyway.
Stage seven is the one that interests me now. As it becomes apparent that we’re going to have to adapt to a ‘new normal’ by accepting that we’ll have to live with restrictions of some kind at least until the end of the year, how do we do it? I’m not thinking about this from a wider governmental perspective because we have little control of that. But how do we manage a summer where contact with others is limited? It’s a difficult thought for those of us in temperate climates because this is the season when we’re ‘out.’ We travel, we go to festivals, concerts and the races. We might visit gardens, beaches, fetes and spend long afternoons at sporting events. We enjoy these things not just in the moment but we thrive on the anticipation too which is where retail comes in, the planning of the journey, the outfit, the provisions and the company. It’s a big part of our seasonal calendar and it’s likely that we’re going to have to skip it completely this summer – so what will we do instead?
Retailers have to begin anticipating what the outlook is likely to be as we start to emerge slowly from lockdown. It’s crystal ball time and I’m drawing on every single ounce of retail experience that I’ve gained over the last thirty years, it’s fascinating work. I’m glad I’m at this end of it though and purely as an adviser because the problems that retailers are facing right now feel insurmountable – and that’s without taking any future forecasting into account.
Why you may not be achieving anything
There’s one other thing that a friend sent me on Facebook. You’ve probably seen it but it’s an interesting interpretation of the timeless Maslow Hierarchy. I’m glad I spotted it because I’ve been avoiding social media. By the time I’ve scrolled through Facebook or Instagram I feel as though I’ve been through a spin cycle of so many different people’s emotions that it saps my energy. One of the things I like least is the one-upmanship – in my feed it started with sourdough loaves, moved onto rainbow posters and now it seems to be ‘my homemade face mask is better than yours’. So when I saw this post from Rachel Rhody who is a nurse in Minnesota it made me feel better about not having achieved very much at all and I thought it might strike a chord with some of you too (you might need to read it in an American accent though).
I’ve been seeing so many friends seriously beating themselves up because they aren’t “maximizing” their time in quarantine by organizing their closets, repainting, developing a side hustle, becoming a piano virtuoso, exercising themselves into a lucrative career as a swimsuit model, etc.
Everybody! Seriously. Stop. And breathe. If you’re feeling adrift, there’s a reason. I’m about to drop some first semester nursing school on y’all. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Humans have basic requirements (the bottom of the pyramid) like food, water, air, shelter, sleep, etc. The biological basics. If those are met, then the next rung of the ladder is Safety and Security. If we feel safe and secure, then we can climb up and start on our Love and Belonging needs and on up the ladder we go until finally at the very tippy-top is SELF-ACTUALIZATION which would entail all of the cool aforementioned activities. The catch is, you cannot level up until the needs at the current level are fulfilled. If the needs remain unfulfilled, we remain stuck on our current level until the situation changes.
Friends, in the midst of a pandemic, we are dwelling in the basement of Maslow’s pyramid. How in the heck do you think you’re going to kick butt at the highest levels when we can’t even find toilet paper for Pete’s sake.
You physiologically and psychologically aren’t built to live your “best life” right now. Your only job is to live “a life” right now. A luxury that is being denied many which increases the pressure to really make every day count.
Every day you are here counts.
Every breath you take counts.
Are you eating, drinking water, and sleeping at all these days? If so, that is a triumph right now.
Cut yourself ALL THE SLACK. Focus on the bottom level. Are you showering? Eating a vegetable once in a while? Getting some sunshine and fresh air? Keeping some semblance of a sleep schedule?
Start there. And be extra gentle and abundantly gracious with yourself. We’ll get through this. And right now, getting through is absolutely enough.
I absolutely agree with her, even though I know my blog would be a far better read for you if I was doing amazing things with my time – sorry about that. My internal drive is always telling me to ‘move on, move on’ and it’s taking all of my energy to accept that there might not be anything to move on to for quite a while. And then when I’ve accepted it, I’ll have to try to pass my new zen state on to the boys!
In the meantime here are some retail novelties to give you a few minutes of distraction.
New Boden collection
This arrived yesterday and I’ll hopefully be doing a try-on in Friday’s post if the samples arrive in time. You’ll notice that retailers are increasingly having to rely on back orders because their stock is, quite literally, all over the place. There are two pieces that I’ve already ordered because they’re quite unusual for Boden. I sense that they’re starting to move in a new direction and these may well sell out before they even arrive.
This is a machine washable dress with gold foil detailing and even though it has the fluidity of polyester it’s made from viscose so it won’t make you feel hot. A great dress for summer.
And this cotton top isn’t arriving for a while but it’s such a lovely shape, it will look good both worn loose and tucked in.
New Hush collection
A small drop has arrived at Hush today, mostly loungewear. They’ve done the black and cobalt spotty dress that I tried on in last week’s post in a new print. Any shade of blue is the leading trend for summer 2020 and you can really see it coming through now which is a good thing because it’s easy to wear:
And that’s it for today – thank you for all of your comments, I’ve nearly caught up and I do appreciate the way you’re chatting to each other and helping each other out. A few people have suggested that I take the blog to a subscription model during the pandemic to help cover its costs. I really appreciate that but it’s important to me that it remains inclusive and I don’t want to exclude anyone who might not be able to pay. However you can really help by shopping through the links when you can, it doesn’t cost you any more, the retailer pays but the pennies mount up. My next set of quarterly blog bills will come at the end of June and this way I won’t have any tricky decisions to make so I’m grateful to everyone who supports Midlifechic in this way.
And now I must get back on with my project because I don’t know when the next one will come along. I hope the reflections on the pandemic were interesting, it’s a bit away from the norm but then isn’t everything right now? See you on Friday.
Disclosure: ‘Reflections on the pandemic’ is not a sponsored post
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