A blog about ignoring self-improvement advice; staying home (again); little personal wins and big global successes.
The current situation
It’s week two of lockdown in the UK. The kids have broken up from virtual school for the Easter holidays, so at least the next two weeks will be free of arguments about half-hearted homework.
The sun is shining, which means the parks and beaches are filling up with people having cheeky, potentially fatal picnics. This is social apartheid – the separation of those with gardens and those without. It’s incredibly difficult for people in vulnerable situations, living in cramped conditions or with volatile partners. But the infection and death rates are still going up and we must stay at home.
There are so many subjects I could write about lockdown: the repetition of our routine; the mood swings; health concerns; the cancellation of our summer holiday; job uncertainty and the financial squeeze. Believe me, the list of topics I would like to moan about is endless. But I will save all of that for my morning journal – not for public consumption – where I have my daily rant. I am well aware of how lucky we are. We are together, where we should be. We have food, shelter and our health.
Self-improvement be damned
At the beginning of this crisis, I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn a new skill. I looked at the time stretching ahead of us and imagined coming out the other side being able to play the guitar (I have two – don’t ask), and glockenspiel (I have one of those too). I imagined a beautiful weed-free garden, lovingly restored with my own hands.
Well, f**k that. I’ve changed my mind. Just getting through the day without us killing each other is a win. I am used to spending time alone during the working week and now I’m surrounded by people 24/7. OK so they are MY people, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying.
Yes, I have productive days when the housework is done, and I’ve cooked two enjoyable and healthy meals. But I also have terrible ones, when everyone argues, no one pulls their weight (most of all me) and I go to bed at 8 pm, just to get the day over with.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I get frustrated after a couple of hours. Neo in The Matrix says ‘I know Karate’ after plugging in and downloading the Karate app. I’m going to have to wait for that to become a reality before I become a master at anything.
It’s not that I’m too busy to learn a new skill – time is the one thing I have in spades. I just don’t need the self-imposed pressure. Now is the time to go easy on ourselves.
This is not a criticism of the self-motivated. If you are inspired to learn something new, I salute you. But I doubt you’ve waited for a pandemic to do it.
Advice from a non-expert
My advice: don’t give yourself a hard time and stay off social media. That’s where you’ll find people bragging about their new-found love of origami, posting photos of their kids making ventilators out of shoeboxes.
Now is the time for self-care. If between all that cooking, eating, housework and home-schooling, all you want to do it rest, eat again or read for hours on end – if those less ambitious activities fill you with calm – do that.
I dyed half my hair this week. It felt like the right thing to do at the time.
Take one day at a time. Focus on today’s problems rather than tomorrow’s and don’t dwell on how long we’re going to be in this situation.
Focus on the little wins
I have crossed ‘learn Mandarin’ off the to-do list and now focus on one small achievement at a time.
It turns out I hate gardening. It’s like housework but colder. However, I have managed to plant four of the twenty plants I bought before the garden centres all closed. Rather than beating myself up EVERY SINGLE DAY for not having planted the rest, today I am patting myself on the back for keeping four of them alive.
Other little wins I would like to brag about:
- I delivered groceries to my parents (while keeping my distance obviously) so that they stay home and safe
- I was accepted onto the NHS Voluntary Responders scheme and am waiting for my first assignment
- The kids did some housework
- I made my first carrot cake and it was delicious.
Good news from across the world
Each week I will scour the internet for good news. I would love your help to do this, so please send me any uplifting stories you find and I’ll include them next time.
Independent beer brewer BrewDog has started making Brewgel hand sanitiser. So far they have packed and donated over 50,000 units to the NHS and local charities.
LVMH has halted its usual production of perfumes by Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain to make hand sanitiser, which it’s giving away free to hospitals in France.
Diageo is providing ethyl alcohol for manufacturers of hand sanitiser for free in multiple countries. Enough to make 8 million bottles of the stuff. I still can’t get hold of any!
Several fashion houses including Burberry in the UK are reassigning factory space and workers to the making of face masks and other protective clothing.
In Tunisia, 150 women have isolated themselves in a factory for a month to make anti-virus face masks.
A 102-year-old woman has recovered from Coronavirus in Italy after spending more than 20 days in hospital.
For two consecutive Thursday evenings, households in the UK have stood on their doorsteps and at their open windows and clapped for the NHS and other key workers. Rousing videos were shared widely on social media. A rare moment of unity in this dystopian world.
Parts of China are showing pollution levels of up to 30 per cent lower than usual.
Wuhan in China where the pandemic first began, is beginning to partially open after more than two months of total lockdown.
Still here, still listening
Last week I offered to listen if you wanted to share your thoughts. A couple of people sent me messages on Instagram and email saying they appreciated being heard. The offer still stands. I’m not going anywhere and am happy for you to vent at me over whatever medium you prefer, on socials, below in the comments or at email@example.com.
Do you have any positive news stories you’d like me to share? It would be lovely if we could celebrate the good news and lift our spirits.
As Jerry Springer used to say, take care of yourself, and each other.
Much love, Vx