As many other people across the world, I am in lockdown, or quarantine, or whatever it is you happen to call it. I am in the British version of lockdown, as one thing I have discovered throughout this, is one country’s version of lockdown is very different to another.
- I am allowed to go out for essential trips, to the pharmacy or supermarket as infrequently as possible.
- I cannot meet up with people from other households
- I am allowed to go out for exercise once a day.
I have been quite surprised at how well I have taken to the lockdown. Prior to this situation I had been doing quite a lot of work on remaining present and strategies to enable me to remain present, remain mindful, and to find joy in the simple. It also coincided with an increase in a spiritual faith (which, apparently, is often a knock on effect of developing a daily meditation practice). Don’t ask me to explain exactly what form that ‘faith’ takes as it varies from one day to the next! One thing that I have always had running through me like a steel core, is hope. People often say, if I was a stick of rock, I would have something running through me. For me it is hope. Even in my hardest, darkest moments I have always had hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Recently I went to watch The Book of Mormon, and there is a song in it ‘Tomorrow is a Latter Day’. All through this lockdown I have been humming to myself ‘Tomorrow is a Better Day’. If you’d asked me 12 months ago, how I would have responded to this situation we find ourselves in, it certainly wouldn’t have been humming songs!
I do, also appreciate, that I only have myself and my husband to think about, and that relatively there has been very little change to the way we live our lives, as I have been a Stay at Home Wife for 5 years in May. We are very fortunate, in that we have no financial worries, or work worries, neither of us is a key worker and so relative to many other people we do have little by way of stressors to affect us at this time.
It has also coincided with my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and so I was already in a position where I wasn’t able to exercise and needed to sit down and take stock of life a little. This has literally forced me to sit down and reflect on who I am and where I am.
One of the key benefits of the lockdown is, as yet, I haven’t been bored, although I do realise there is more than an element of busy-ness about my days and avoiding periods of quiet. Filling my time with stuff and chocolate, rather than face the quiet. I haven’t once panicked about picking up the virus. I have shouted at my parents for not following the rules, but this does seem to be a common trend with my friends with older parent. I do have about a million projects on the go, or that I am dying to start. I have taken advantage of so much free ‘stuff’. 30 day yoga challenges, meditation challenges, Qi Gong routines, Kundalini Yoga, you name it, it’s arrived in my inbox and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve tried it all, some of which I’ve really enjoyed, some of which I was really glad it was free, because that was really not my cup of tea. I even have a friend from school who does a gig from her lounge at the weekend, which really lifts our spirits. There have been some down days, but these have been more of an exception.
I have finally been myself. My battered, weary, worn-out self. I haven’t had to pretend to anyone that I’m someone or something I’m not, I haven’t had to fit in, or be someone else’s idea of the person I am. I’ve been me. I’ve done a daily (ish) Facebook live for my friends and not once have I bothered about my hair, or makeup and have worn my favourite slopping, staying in jumper for most instalments. My friends have seen the real me, who I now realise, is the person that most of my older friends already knew. It is my newer friends, those who encountered the navy wearing version of me, the one a quest for perfection, the one who strived to be something I’m not, that may be a bit more surprised by what they see.
As with many people I have embraced technology and am spending quite a bit of time chatting to friends on line. Monday night is Mum and Dad, Tuesday and Friday is spent the with the ladies from the Menopause Movement and Saturday evening is ‘Girls Night In’ with my friends from the local hostelry. I think without these I might have gone insane. I always thought I was a bit of a misfit and that I could take or leave other people, however, as time has gone on I realise that actually I do really need people, I need to chat, I need to laugh and smile and as much as anything I really need to get out and see people in real life!
I think I am quite fortunate that I am living in a bubble. We are right in the centre of Bristol and all the shops are shut, all the car parks are shut, there is absolutely no reason to be here. It is the strangest thing, and I wonder if in all of its history, Bristol has ever seen anything like this. As a consequence there is little by way of people, or traffic, there are no queues at the local supermarkets and M&S is doing some great bargains on food. I’ve had way too many of their Easter Eggs at knock down prices. We also have access to a selection of take-away food as several of the local independent restaurants have found ways to continue trading. Our morning walk takes us past an independent coffee shop, we’ve eaten Korean street food, Caribbean food, pasta dishes, burgers. A couple of times we have ventured further afield, south of the river and have been shocked by the sudden increase in traffic and the number of people, and the queues, the queues, at the supermarket. The only downside to our bubble is a lack of outside space, so as a consequence, we take our daily exercise very seriously, as it is our opportunity to get out and experience something different. This being Bristol we have had some amazing sights on our walks, every day spotting something different, from updates to Banksy street art to a rainbow appearing in the windows of the council house.
Hopefully, this coming week, we will get some news as to whether or not we can leave our bubble at any time soon. On the one hand, I am ready to get out and meet people, on the other it comes with a massive concern about the impact. I also don’t know if I’ve ready for people to invade our bubble. Seeing Bristol so peaceful during lockdown, having time and space to breathe has been a real treat and a privilege and I’m not sure I’m quite ready to share it again!