Lockdown lows

It has been quite a while now since I last published a post here. Well before lockdown in fact. My focus had wandered slightly, and although I have lots of post in various states in my drafts, I hadn’t done anything to progress them. They are all good posts but I had lost my mojo a little.

Then we got to Feb 2020, for me the point where things at work started to get a little bit hectic, and more than a little bit strange as we tried to prepare for the unknown. I work for the National Health Service and all of our focus was shifting from the day to day on to news of a pandemic, national guidance, estimates, projections and (it felt at the time and also still on reflection) guesswork.

My work days became longer, my energy and focus zapped before I managed to get home. So all thoughts of blogging were put to one side, and self awareness, self care and adaptation became the order of the day.

I am not going to lie I have found the last 14 months really trying. Lots of changes in all aspects of life, ridiculous amount of change at work. More stress than usual and less distractions, my usual ways of relaxing no longer available. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate change (such irony as the majority of my recent career has been implementing change projects).

My work location changed from my usual base, to one closer to home and eventually, as with many of us, to working from home, mostly through the medium of video calls. This was a benefit in some ways as it removed my commute, but a massive issue for the same reason – which meant my start and finish times were now covering what was my commute.

In lockdown one, we made a concerted effort to clear out our garage and bought some gym equipment. My morning commute was replaced with a morning workout and I reclaimed some of my personal time back from work. In the evening we finished on time so that we could have a walk around the block before dinner.

During this time we started cooking more meals from scratch, had many restarts of health eating, grown our own food. I have developed a new interest in gardening (though I prefer the landscaping and hard labour elements as I have no patience for the growing and nurturing aspects). I have read a lot, built some Lego sets, drank many new beers and wines. Had takeaway food, coffee, wine, cocktails and beer from local places that I love, in an effort to support them and keep them going.

It wasn’t all bad, although work has been difficult and challenging, I have achieved a lot and currently I am delivering some massive projects. Things that will make a big immediate impact, but that will have an impact for many years. Every day working relationships across my service, department and out to patients and providers have all changed and improved. My stock is worth a lot more and my profile higher than ever.

There have been a lot of things I have learned about myself also.
It has to be said, I am not a great people person. My preference is a small number of very close friends, with a number of sociable friends outside that group. That’s where most of my energy goes. I always enjoy meeting new people, and they drift in and out of the sociable group. But the core remains fairly static.

Truth be told, I am a bit miserable and grumpy, think Oscar the grouch but less green and not living in a trash can, that’s my vibe. I do like people, I just struggle to tolerate them. Which means I am ok with socialising but on my terms. One of which is I really, REALLY don’t like being touched. Huggers who greet people they don’t know with hugs make me shudder.

So in some ways, social distancing has been good for me, no contact, larger distance between tables etc. Perfect. I am dreading going back to ‘normal’. But I have realised I need to be more sociable and I *DO* need to have more people in my life.

My online presence is the total opposite of real life me. Online I am very welcoming, sociable and chat to anyone. This is mainly as there is 100% less chance of hugs socialising on line.

Anyway I digress, that core group of friends has really kept me sane during this weird time. Zooms (never every thought I would enjoy this experience), WhatsApps, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter conversations. Following what people are up to and seeing pictures has been great.

But above all else, the one thing that has absolutely kept me sane and grounded during this time has been walking. Mostly alone, sometimes with my long suffering partner, a few times with friends. I have walked miles, along the coast, in the mountains, through town, on the beach, on the moors. If you can walk it I have. I’ve seen familiar places, new views, sunrises, snow storms, fog, rain, explored, got lost, walked the same route hundreds of times.

Every working day I do between 3.5 and 5 miles before I start work. It is great time to think, process, order, plan and focus. It has helped me reset my headspace and get ready for work and challenges.

As lockdown eases I hope to take some of these new habits forward. Gardening I will have to as it now needs maintenance, walking I have always enjoyed. But I am determined to be more sociable and meet new people (and spend time with them).

I hope lockdown has been kind to you, and as we emerge I hope you have some changes that you wish to hold on to. Have you?

Just relax ……

A while ago when I was writing my ‘about me’ for this blog I asked my friends to send me words that described me or sprung to mind when they thought of me. These were then worked in with my own thoughts. This is not an experiment I will ever do again (it wasn’t bad it just made me uncomfortable (I don’t take praise and compliments well)). Continue reading

Finding a new normal.

A few months ago I wrote a post on how I stay grounded when things in my life are challenging. In it I shared with you the steps I take when I feel low and want to connect to when times were good.

The things that I spoke of rely mainly on life being relatively normal, and at that point I had no idea that our whole view on what normal is would change so dramatically, and that life would take such a dramatic turn. Continue reading

The lies we tell ourselves

There has been a lot of Be Kind talk recently, following the loss of Caroline Flack (even though the sentiment was shorter lived than the hashtag) and a lot of it’s OK to not be OK posts.

Most of this sentiment is focussed on us being nicer to others, more understanding, helping others see it’s OK to not be OK. Continue reading

When plans don’t go as we expect … resilience

There is a familiar diagram that shows plan vs reality. It shows that we plan for a smooth journey, linear, a to b, start to finish, dream to reality. But the reality of life is that it is a mess of a journey, up down, back, forth, retracing some steps, facing obstacles along the way that we never thought of. Continue reading

Insomnia – walking through the fog

I suffer with insomnia, I have done since I was 13 or so, in other words a long time. It is a constant companion. It never goes away. There are times that it is worse than others, but it is always here.

So first some context. I average around 3 and 4 hours sleep a night, occasionally 6 or 7 but usually 2-3. That isn’t always all together. Quite often it is in bursts, not a constant sleep. Some days I struggle to get to sleep, others I drop off straight away then wake and struggle to get back to sleep. Sometimes I have broken restless sleep. Continue reading