Well (and I say this cautiously) it’s starting to feel as though we’re coming through to the other side of the great coronavirus lockdown. I hope you’ve had a good weekend and that you’ve managed to start meeting some of the people you’ve missed so much. We’ve caught up with a few friends and clients now (although the weather hasn’t been great here so some conversations have suddenly been cut short by torrential downpours) even so, it’s felt good to talk. It feels as though people are busy learning the lessons of lockdown and trying to make sense of it all. I’ve noticed that some subjects seem to crop up again and again so I thought I’d mention a few today, just in case you haven’t had a chance to go out yet. I wonder if those of you who have met up with people have noticed the same thing – or if other subjects have dominated your conversations – if so, please do share them in the comments. And because the survey told me that the thing you want to see most is what I’ve been wearing on a day to day basis, I’ll intersperse the topics with a few recent outfits – I warn you, they’re not particularly exciting though.
Learning the lessons of lockdown
People either seem to have had either a good or a bad lockdown…
… there’s no in between. Nobody we’ve spoken to has been indifferent to it, most have embraced it and because they tend to have children the same age as ours, felt grateful for the extra time spent as a family. A few have hated it, either because we know them to be extroverts and they’d rather chew their leg off than spend time at home or because they’ve suffered a loss – occasionally a relative but more often a source of income.
A lot of people seem to be more worried about the outcome for the generation below us than themselves…
… so many young people have had to return home either from uni or from the early stages of their career. It’s hard to see what’s ahead for them and just how long they’ll be back in the nest. Many are completely reconsidering their paths and most parents are comforting themselves with the fact that time is on their side.
There’s a divide between furloughed returners and those who’ve worked through lockdown…
… particularly when they’re in the same company and the furloughed are coming back refreshed, brimming over with stories of best lives lived. This doesn’t seem to have been considered by HR departments and it’s causing real tension.
T-shirt (past season); trousers (gifted AW20); & Other Stories sandals (SS19)
People have had very different experiences financially…
… with some having been at home on full pay with lower outgoings and others with reduced income. I think we’re all going to need to be particularly sensitive to this over the months ahead.
Lots of people have loved living by their circadian rhythm….
… I have to agree that even though I’ve worked right through, being able to go to bed and wake when I want to has been one of my favourite parts of lockdown. A friend described it as a ‘soft’ start and end to the day and she’s right, that’s how it feels.
The impact on people living with life-threatening conditions has been awful…
… two friends of ours who are living with cancer had their treatment stopped. One is now at the palliative care stage and the chances of her ticking off her bucket list are now unlikely. I can’t say too much here but it’s tragic.
More people seem to have grown closer than disconnected…
…when lockdown began there was a lot of talk about the likelihood of a rising divorce level. The couples we’ve seen seem to have grown closer and their families too; our legal clients are echoing this saying that the rush to divorce just isn’t happening. There seems to be a new acknowledgement of who matters most and a realisation of who your real friends are.
Not everyone’s learned Mandarin…
… very few people seem to have achieved anything significant but I notice a lot of people talking about how important nature has been to them and everyone (except us) seems to have been watching Springwatch.
However lots of people have found it easier to exercise at home…
… I wonder how gyms are going to do after this – so many people seem to have taken up running or yoga or sessions with Joe Wicks. They’ve got into the habit of exercising under their own steam and they’re saying that it’s saving them both time and money. I’ll be going back to the gym as soon as it opens but probably not as often as I used to – it’s so much quicker just to run a 5K.
Nobody seems to have a clue about how this will turn out…
… even the people who usually seem to have all of the answers are floundering. Although most are now getting back to work there seems to be a feeling of suspension… that we won’t really know anything concrete until the summer is over. It’s as though we all think that the ‘Back To School’ season will put us on track as it did when we were young. September 1st – there’s a lot riding on you!
There’s a lot of talk about changing life on a permanent basis…
… but I couldn’t find anyone who knew how they were going to put this into action. I noticed that everyone seemed to mention ‘busyness’ and yet when you consider a return to normal, it’s hard to know exactly what you can take out, especially as nobody knows what normal will look like yet. It seems to me that this is the most important thing we can reflect on if we do end up having a summer of suspension.
I suppose this brings us to the definition of happiness and working out what that means on a personal level. I’m always pleased when I come across someone who posts words rather than pictures on Instagram and last week I discovered @rainbowsalt. It’s a thought feed run by a young Canadian woman called Bianca Sparacino. Most of her writing is about love and loss and it seems to be targeted mostly towards the generation below us but even so, I really enjoyed this piece that she wrote about happiness so I thought I’d share it with you:
You’re going to realise it one day, that happiness was never about your job or your degree or being in a relationship. Happiness was never about following in the footsteps of all those who came before you, it was never about being like the others. One day you’re going to see it – that happiness was always about the discovery, the hope, the listening to your heart and following it wherever it chose to go. Happiness was always about being kinder to yourself, it was about embracing the person you’re becoming. One day you will understand. That happiness was always about learning how to live with yourself, that happiness was never in the hands of other people. It was always about you. It was always about you.
She then expands to talk about sadness and there have been times in my life when I would have really appreciated reading this – and I appreciate it now for the beauty of the writing:
Here’s what they don’t tell you — happiness is going to find you many times throughout your life, but happiness will also leave. Happiness will leave to help you grow, to help you feel things it only ever would have masked within you… Sadness will make you face yourself.
Then, after days, or months, or years, after lessons have tangled themselves around your questions, after understanding has melted into your skin, you will hear a familiar knock within your chest. You will feel a familiar sense of Spring thawing within your ribcage, laughter will no longer crack within your throat. Slowly, but surely, happiness will tiptoe back into your life. It will sneak through a window you didn’t realise was open, it will tuck itself with the wind to greet you on a rainy day. It will hide within the ink of your favourite book, dance within the melody of your favourite song. Happiness will thrive within the spaces between seconds, between the horizon and the sky. You will find it at the bottom of coffee cups, in the salt of the sea. You will appreciate its presence, you will feel its warmth. Yes, happiness leaves; but when it comes back you are always stronger, for you have understood what it means to make it out of the wreckage, you have learned how to survive in the dark.
Beautifully said don’t you think? I dedicate it to the readers who have shared hard times both in the comments and directly with me over the last few weeks – may it give you hope and comfort.
Hush t-shirt (SS19); Hope skirt (gifted SS18); & Other Stories sandals (SS19)
I know this has been an unusual post but as we rush to come out of lockdown I do think it’s worth reflecting on what an incredible opportunity this has been to press pause on our lives. It’s time to be deliberate about what we choose to add back in and what we don’t. I was talking to Mr MC about this last night and we realised that we’ll have to throw ourselves back into our usual routine until next autumn when the youngest heads off to uni. However then we’ll have a chance to make some real changes and so we’re taking note of what we’ve enjoyed most about lockdown – and what we haven’t – so that we can use it to shape our next chapter.
I’ll leave you to mull it over – and let me know if you’ve noticed any other topics cropping up in the conversations you’re having. It’s so interesting to hear what people have to say – most people’s thoughts have been distilled by the twelve weeks of quietened life. I’ll be back on Friday but then I’ll be moving to one post a week until the beginning of September – and before then I’ll dig a different pair of sandals out(!)
Disclosure: ‘What I’ve been wearing and learning the lessons of lockdown’ is not a sponsored post
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