10 weeks in. Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown......where even do you start? It is so different in so many different ways for every single person, no ones situation is the same and everyone’s experience of this situation will have been totally different. From the NHS key workers who have been living apart from their families during this time in order to keep them safe, or the people who received a letter stating their vulnerability who may not have left their homes for the last 10 weeks. My 90 year old Grandma who has had to rely purely on the generosity and support of her community. It’s not easy for anyone by any stretch of the imagination but with it have come some really, really lovely things and it is in those things that I think we find our strength. My experience of lockdown will have been very different to what others of you may have experienced but I want to share the top 5 things that I have felt most grateful for during this time. Gratitude has a way of grounding you when you feel like your mind is moving at 100 miles an hour so I like to hold onto it every once in a while.
10 weeks have passed so far in the UK’s lockdown with things being eased and changed everyday at the moment. Primary school students in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 look set to return to school on June 1st. June 15th will see the return of some secondary school students and many shops will start to tentatively reopen. We can now have up to 6 people in one garden at a time, social distancing rules permitting and we can travel for exercise. Some days it feels like a whole new world, some days it feels like nothing has really changed.
Of those 10 weeks that have passed by 8 of those were the last 8 weeks of my maternity leave! It’s not what I envisioned, its not what I hoped for but equally it’s not what anyone envisioned. For the last two weeks I have been at work or working from home as it is more commonly known at the moment. Some days and weeks have been really hard, lacking motivation or feeling upset because of this forced confinement, but some days have been lovely and when it gets really hard I like to remind myself of the fact that this will never happen again (fingers crossed, but I think the odds are stupidly high to have two pandemics in one life time), so we've got to find the silver linings. For me the five things below have been real shining lights.
My job/my profession: so over the last ten weeks teachers have been praised and applauded and then vilified! I don’t care what any press report says or doesn’t say but I know that schools up and down the country have been bending over backwards to try and support their students over the last 10 weeks in every single capacity possible and I have never been so proud to call myself a teacher as in recent weeks. I have missed my job during my maternity leave and have enjoyed going back to work even though it is not in anyway the same as when I left. Not the conventional response I know, one that has bought a varied response from various people over the past months but part of the job is building relationships with young people. Engaging with them. Helping them, supporting them, building them up and trying to give them as much feedback as possible that will ensure a hard working and resilient next generation of young people. If lockdown has taught me anything it’s that relationships matter and if I am fortunate to be able to create meaningful ones through my job then I don’t ever want to take that for granted. For anyone who thinks teachers don’t work hard, I dare you!!
My team: the people around me who I value the most. Not Sofia from ten years ago at University that I keep promising to get together with, and then worry constantly over what she thinks of my life and what I'm doing, nope! My team are the ones I speak to the most, value the most, treasure the most and ultimately would be lost without. Lockdown forces you to communicate in different ways, phone calls, FaceTime and if I can only FaceTime one person a day then I’m doing to choose wisely! Does it bother me that my circle feels smaller? Some times, but ultimately these are my one and on-lies!!! In many ways it seems that life has gone quieter, or maybe it allows you to focus your energy in the places you want to put it and on who, rather then trying to spread yourself so thin!
Exercise, ahhhhhhhhhh you wonderful thing and yet some days (even weeks) I do my very best to avoid you, why is that? But, I will always be grateful for you, especially the feeling you get after it! Running, walking, workout classes, HIITT: all these things I love. I love moving and I’m just so grateful for it. If nothing else, lockdown has offered more time in various places, whether that’s saved time on a commute or not having to work so late in the evenings and so with that time it has been possible to add in pockets of exercise. It always makes me feel better.
Generosity of others: when I think about this too much it brings me to tears. There is so much good in the world and you don’t have to look very far at the moment to see it. People in my village leave boxes of books outside their homes for free or activities for children to keep them entertained. There are pictures and posters in all the windows, for 10 weeks we have stood on our doorsteps and clapped, banged, whistled as loudly as we could for our NHS staff. Both my Grandma’s live alone and a good distance away from us as a family, but whenever I speak to them they tell me of how well they are being looked after by their neighbours and people on their street. They bring them shopping and the key essentials, they check in to make sure they’re ok. People leave parcels on the doorstep and my dad makes sure that anything they can’t get is delivered by the global conglomerate Amazon. It’s wonderful and heart wrenching to think of these people so dutifully helping out my Grandmas as they are both in their 90’s. But equally they are just two in a country of thousands who are being taken care of by their communities. Going back to my first point as well, schools! Schools, delivering food parcels to the most needy and vulnerable within their school communities. Everyone trying to do their little bit for each other. There are so many amazing stories out there it really does make me so happy that even during the worst of times random acts of kindness are happening everywhere
The seasons and passing of time: this has been a feature throughout my whole maternity leave and stayed into lockdown. Since my daughter was born last year I instantly became super aware of time and it’s passing. Hours, days, weeks, months, these were seen and celebrated as milestones but equally the passing of time builds endurance and experience. This is so beautifully demonstrated within the seasons in nature, in the birds, in the wildlife around us that maybe we were all too busy to notice before. I have baby robins in my garden meaning that mama robin has been sitting on and feeding those chicks nearby for months. I have watched the trees, bud, bloom, blossom and walked through blossom carpets as the trees have shed their gorgeousness. I’ve seen swifts circling overhead as they have now returned as part of their migration pattern to the UK for the summer months. All these things help to show and shape the passing of time as we have all anxiously moved from day to day to day in lockdown. Time is a healer, time allows the power of hindsight, time allows for reflection, time allows for planning, longing and ruminating. Things will always pass, as will this too when lockdown is a thing of the past and no one mentions COVID 19.
What are you grateful for?
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