Tag Archives: the year gone by

SELF CARE IN A PANDEMIC (46): NEW YEAR’S Day…REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR GONE BY – PART 2…

Happy New Year, friends. Welcome to 2021. How does it feel reading that? Perhaps it’s a sentence or phrase that will bring forth mixed thoughts and emotions.

By way of a reminder, I had been writing a recap of the year gone by and seeking to glean some lessons learned. Here’s Part 1 of this post: Self Care In A Pandemic (45): New YEAR’S Eve…Reflections on The Year Gone By – Part 1… ‹ Life as it happens to be ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

I stopped at the point when the United Kingdom went into a full lockdown on 23rd March 2020.

It was a drastic situation that caused for drastic measures and decisive action. I’m not sure that we saw decisive action from the government throughout the pandemic, unfortunately, but I did find myself feeling more grateful for living North of the border in Scotland where Nicola Sturgeon seemed to tighten restrictions more and quicker than in England. That said, perhaps we should have gone into lockdown a lot sooner with what we were seeing in and learning from other countries not too far from home, such as Italy and France. Even with hindsight, the decisions being made were challenging and difficult for all concerned.

The drastic measure of lockdown meant that there was an inevitable but unplanned for knock-on-effect on other important issues. For example, people who suffered from domestic abuse were in fact trapped within their own homes, non-covid related operations and hospital visits had to to be postponed, rescheduled and deprioritised because of the huge pressure upon our health service as numbers of cases rose.

I kept a notebook, a ‘quarantine journal’ as it were to make sure I wasn’t succumbing to the negativity all around me and seeking to see progress in my own life and learn lessons along the way. It’s a keepsake journal that I am still working on, but one of the pages I included is titled “Vocabulary of a ‘new normal'”.

Vocabulary of a ‘new normal’:

It’s interesting looking back on things that were new concepts to our daily lives that have now become common place, everyday things that we hardly think about as much.

When we went into lockdown in the UK, I was in my own flat / apartment where I live alone. I went through the first stint of the lockdown on my own with no human contact (IRL – In Real Life) for around a total of 6 months (give or take a couple of occasions where I was able to visit my family after the easing of Lockdown 1.0 in July, and a socially distanced meet up with friends, or seeing a delivery person or concierge).

I learned a lot during that time, and I see that time as precious in terms of the healing that I was able to focus on for past issues, the reprioritisation and insight I gained into friendships and the lack of awareness and understanding people had of someone in my situation living alone in a pandemic, and the value of daily conversations with my family over the phone.

However, I digress. 2020 brought with it a vocabulary of a ‘new normal’ and some of the key terms that came to the fore during that time that I noted down were as follows:

-Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

Essential Items.

-Daily Walk / One form of exercise only once a day.

Shielding

Virtual Meetings / Zoom / Teams

Furlough / Extension Period

Air Hugs

Covid-19 / Coronavirus / Novel Coronavirus

Covidiot / Covid warrior

Shop your wardrobe

Toilet roll hoarding

Daily briefings

Hand sanitizer / disinfectant / PPE

WFH (Work From Home) / Home Schooling

Super Spreader

-Antibodies Test / Asymptomatic / Incubation Period (14 days).

Honestly, the list goes on…..and on….over two pages. I think I drew a metaphorical line under it because of how much I could have kept on listing.

But you get the picture; things that were not part of our everyday lives – such as facemasks – have now become part and parcel of ‘normality’ as we’ve moved through this pandemic and continue to do so.

I have to say that my favourite new term has probably got to be ‘Clap For Carers’. Do you remember when we used to clap for our health care workers, our delivery drivers, supermarket people, and frontline staff at the height of the first wave (first wave, there’s another term!). Perhaps in some countries you still do.

We’ve seen so many heroes throughout this rough year, and I am so grateful for each and every one of them, and perhaps some of you reading this are among those heroes. We’ve also seen people in all different walks of live reaching out to help communities.

Community Blessings and Struggles:

As mentioned, our communities have at times come together for the greater good. We’ve seen the NHS staff and other health care workers in other countries going above and beyond to help save lives. We’ve seen people helping out with food bank initiatives, charities, reaching out to lonely people, checking in on their neighbours. I’m personally grateful to have had the chance to do a bit of research work with my job around public health and safety at work for reintroducing services and also to be a ‘shielding helpline volunteer’ to help get essentials to residents who are vulnerable because of underlying health conditions. I’ve been grateful to be able to use my writing to encourage other people far and wide as well throughout this year, even if these efforts are a small offering amid much greater sacrifices of others. There is value in all of us playing our part and doing our bit.

However, we’ve also seen tensions and unrest in our communities, from the racial issues coming to the fore of mainstream society (things that minority people like me have had to deal with and suffer through in some form or another throughout our lives) and we’ve seen brief ‘moments in time’ of awareness, activism and insight that should have been there decades ago. We’ve seen tensions in our local communities and have watched divisions in America or perhaps some of you have been living through those, with the recent presidential elections. There have been a whole host of other issues in individual countries, communities and even families and yet we’ve made it through somehow, some with losses and pain along the way, and others with less of a struggle or even opportunity for growth.

Lessons:

There have been so many opportunities for lessons this past year of 2020. Now that we are in the first day of 2021, perhaps we have renewed momentum as we collectively face and embark upon a ‘new year’. Perhaps we have gained greater insight into ourselves, our own lives, our priorities and purpose, or perhaps some have barely made it through and have struggled. Either way, the pandemic isn’t over just because we’ve reached a new year, and there is still work to be done, responsibility to be taken and lessons to be learned.

I’m hopeful for the future, but I also think we need to live diligently day by day.

I’d like to take these reflections to a next stage with my subsequent posts as we move from global and local to individual and as we together see how we can reflect upon the lessons we individually have learned and how to move forwards with hope and strength into 2021.

I am considering sharing some guided reflections and journal prompts and ideas for goal setting, so stay with me as we forge ahead, stronger and more courageous as we embark upon these new days together.

Blessings, Peace, and Happy New Year to all. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (45): New YEAR’S Eve…Reflections on The Year Gone By – Part 1…

We’re on the cusp of seeing out 2020. What a year it has been! As I write this blog post, I am thinking of ways in which I can use this space to encourage you. In doing so, I feel it is an opportunity for me also to gain insight into this year, and how to move forwards.

2020 – A Year Like No Other:

Regardless of where you have been in your personal life journey, the events and happenings of 2020 will have had some sort of impact on you.

I wonder if a ‘recap’ is in order, of if many among you may just wish to forget what the past year has brought.

I’m pretty sure we all just faced our first pandemic. I still remember the early days when the coronavirus was an unfortunate news story of an epidemic outbreak in China and a few other parts of the world. I don’t know about you, but living in the UK that seemed pretty far away from me and my daily life.

If you wish to look back at my blog archives to around this time of year, earlier in December 2019 I actually went traveling to the Black Forest in Germany and enjoyed the snow covered mountains of that beautiful region. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of festive European Christmas markets in Germany, and also in Strasbourg, France.

The Year In Which Our Plans Changed:

Heading into the new year, January 2020, my mind was busy brainstorming potential travel plans for visiting the European countries I had not yet had a chance to go to, before Brexit and the UK’s Exit from the European Union finally took hold. Well, today is the day, folks – from 11pm tonight GMT, the UK will no longer be under EU law. It has been somewhat of a chaotic few years politically to get to this point, but here we now are, and in a very different world.

Who knew that all of those potential travel plans for 2020 would evaporate in a puff of smoke?! I remember meeting a couple of my female friends for coffee in January to catch up after Christmas and New Year, and they were telling me that they had already booked trips away to France and Italy and were looking forward to ski trips and summer holidays. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…’ and all that!

I remember being concerned for my friends as one of them had booked to travel in late February, and by that time I’m pretty sure Italy was taking quite a hit from the coronavirus. Suddenly things felt so much closer to home!

The First Lockdown and a New Vocabulary:

In the UK, news of the coronavirus soon overtook what we thought would be the big news story of the year – Brexit – as cases began to rise in Italy, in France and in other European countries.

Words that we didn’t use much in general conversation suddenly became common parlance. Suddenly there was talk of ‘quarantine’ for people traveling back to the UK from abroad, and as the virus spread, this worked both ways with other countries quarantining travellers going to and from the UK.

I am a bit of a ‘clean freak’ as it is, and in normal pre-pandemic times at work I would always be taking extra care to avoid germs, and would use a handkerchief or tissue to open doors, especially when touching those door handles outside the ‘restrooms’ or communal toilets. Gross. Most people didn’t bother, and I don’t think hygiene was uppermost in everyone else’s minds. I guess I’m just a bit more aware of things like that, and I even joked with some colleagues about how I’d take my own bedcovers and cleaning supplies when staying in hotels or traveling so that I could ensure cleanliness! You can’t be too careful, after all….

What might have been a joke to other people, gradually became part and parcel of daily life. I remember talking with a friend at work about our concerns about the virus, and she said that her colleagues were making fun of her for taking it so seriously. Sadly, the virus proved them wrong, and quarantine, lockdown, and hypervigilance to cleanliness has become part and parcel of daily lives.

I was concerned and expressed my concerns with my boss prior to Mother’s Day in the UK in mid-March when I wanted to visit my family. At that point in time the public health message was that coronavirus mainly affected only older people or people with underlying health conditions, and the tens of cases that we read about in the news were mainly only of people aged 65 and over.

Long gone are those days now. The older age group were expressing concerns over being locked in and made to stay at home, but it wasn’t long before we all had to. Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister declared that we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives, and on 23rd of March 2020, the United Kingdom went into its first full lockdown.

Suddenly, the word ‘unprecedented’ also became part of our daily conversations and newscasts, as nothing like this had ever happened in recent history during peacetime. People who remembered the Second World War knew all about lockdown, rationing and quarantine of sorts, but most of the rest of us had never experienced anything like it. We have it easier than previous generations who had to deal with real rationing, shortages and the threat of death from a perhaps more frightening enemy, yet the coronavirus was still having a devastating impact upon our country and across the globe.

(End of Part 1 – to be continued…).

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