What is the one reality you need to come to peace with?

Well, lockdown has been great for this. It’s been a great leveller. This reality; it’s really something actually.

REALITY CHECK x 10.

Hmm, I guess I’ve realised I don’t actually need all those things I thought I needed.

I don’t need more; I already have everything I need.

(I realise that I am speaking from a place of privilege here; I have a nice roof over my head and a garden and I’m in this lovely bubble here in the South Wales Valleys where neither me or my parents have to go out and see people. We can do all our work out of the confines of this dinning room).

But, yeah, as long as you have your health, and your family are ok and you can contact them and your friends. That’s really all you need.

I’ve realised too, that I really didn’t appreciate how special it was to be near actual people and have actual face to face interactions in reality. IRL!

My aspirations and ambitions for the future have actually shifted as a result of this experience though.

I don’t feel in a rush to get back to my old life.

Of course I wan’t to go out to meals with my friends and play roller derby and go swimming with the triathlon club… but knowing I can’t go back into schools and interact with young people in real life means I am really quite content with this work from Wales life (again I realise I am very lucky and privileged here!).

But, with regards to life ambitions. I’ve never been someone who had a 5 year plan. I was never someone with a 6 month plan either to be honest. I only ever strived to have some travelling adventure in the diary to look forward to and that was enough for me to be content…so it does feel really weird that my calendar literally has no future travel plans in it. I can’t even put in a date for when I go back to England…

I’ve always been a ‘live in the moment’ type of person, which I think maybe makes this whole situation a bit easier for me. For example, I’ve never really aspired to get promoted in work, or to have more responsibility; some people might say that’s because I am a woman and we aren’t confident in our own abilities and we hold ourselves back where a man wouldn’t.

The truth is I am confident that I could work at a higher grade, but I don’t want to. I did a PhD, not because I really wanted to, just because I didn’t know what else I should do. I was told that because I got a first it was the natural next step. I never stopped to think about the extreme effect four years of PhD would have on my mental health. I don’t regret my PhD but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend lol.

For me trying to get promoted and have more responsibility it’s not worth the stress. I’m so grateful for my PhD because without it I wouldn’t have been able to have this job; this job that I love. But I still find this whole ‘Dr’ thing embarrassing. I don’t feel like I deserve it and I don’t like using it, again I realise this embarrasment and awkwardness surrounding my title might because I am woman, or maybe it is just my personality. But I don’t want people to see I am a ‘Dr’ and feel like I am trying to say I am better than them, or smarter than them. I am just stubborn, that’s the only reason I have a PhD. But I digress, the stress, the responsibility of working ‘at a higher level’ it’s just not worth it for the effect it will have on my mental health; I’m cool with this level :P.

Life is short and I have enough money to be happy; besides I am getting anxious now just at the thought of having more meetings about stuff, even if they are virtual lol.

I like to just get on and do the stuff, I actually really like doing the thing.

The real problem for me is being forced to make a plan, to sit down and think and not just throw myself in, head long. I need constant supervision, to stop me going off on tangents (probably the ADHD). I like doing all the things, but I have to be careful as I do get easily overwhelmed and then it gets so bad I can’t do ANYTHING…

But, If you too are a ‘grafter’ that’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the end, we can’t all be high level managers, someone has to actually DO the things!

Society says that at 35 I should have a husband, and kids and a mortgage; that after 10 years in a job I should be promoted and be line managing someone, and have more responsibilities. The reality is that I am currently single and back living with my parents…society would perhaps say I am failing…but I dunno, I don’t think I am, and that’s all that matters.

And anyway, the reality is we are in a pandemic and people are dying. Those people didn’t get a choice. I still have a choice about how I want to live, so I will make the most of it.

I will make the most of my reality, of this moment, of this life; while I still can.

Final thoughts on this reality

Don’t let society dictate your timeline.

Decide what you want your reality to be. Make peace with it.

The only expectations you have to live up to are your own.

(Can you tell I have just been watching series 1 of After Life ? :D)

What is truly worth focusing on today?

This a tough one, I find it very hard to focus just in general. So easily distracted, I am.

But actually working from home in my parents dining room (with my Dad working on the same table as me) has been ok!

I would even go as far as saying I am actually more focused here than in my office in work.

Because I have no commute to my ‘office’ I literally get up out of bed and get straight into my workout gear (I usually go for a run or do a workout in my lunch break), go downstairs and check my emails in the ‘office/dining room’ with my morning coffee.

With my coffee I flag any emails that need to be addressed, write some ToDo’s for the day in my notebook (from tomorrow it will hopefully be a new snazzy Bullet Journal – I’ll do a post at some point about my attempt to bullet journal in the future).

Then I go into the kitchen and make my porridge and then I eat that in the living room while watching the news (I can only handle a few minutes of the new in the morning if I am honest) and then I am good to go. I start work straight after that.

I take a lot more breaks here in lockdown but the actual work itself is done in less time, I think because I am able to be more focused.

I really struggle to work from home back in England because I have a small flat so the ‘office’ is in the living room, which means I can see the TV and all sorts of other cool stuff I can be doing instead of work, right there in my eye-line. Here in Wales all I can see is this screen, this table and the window to the outside.

Another reason I am able to focus better now is because just before the lockdown I invested in some noise cancelling headphones. These were a great investment, thoroughly recommend especially, if like me, you suspect you are ADHD. Also, my parents (especially my Mam) they watch the news A LOT, like every hour! So I am so grateful for the headphones because I can tune the news out, which is definitely a plus for my mental health right now.

For work, I can also just tune out and do 25 min blocks using the headphones by using the ‘Forest’ app which is really good, because after you use the app for long enough they actually plant an actual tree…

I have also signed up to ‘Brain.fm’ which is a similar app but with a different calming/focused music each time. This focusing music in combination with the noise cancelling headphones has meant that I am actually able to be actually really focused and productive here in Wales. Yay.

Also, I find having 2 or 3 things that I am trying to achieve in one day is actually better for me than just having 1 thing to do. The problem for me and my (ADHD?) brain is that I get bored of a task so quickly, especially if it is monotonous data entry or analysis, so if I can do a 25 minute burst while listening to the Forest app and then have a little break and then come back and sit down and do something else for another 25 mins then that makes all this admin stuff a lot more manageable.

Usually in my job I am out in schools or community spaces talking to people, I am a very social person and my job is being a communicator. So normally I avoid this type of daily screen work like the plague/coronavirus, it’s a bit like torture lol. But actually this extra time we have now to do all this admin is good in a way, because now all this ‘boring’ stuff I’ve been putting off, I have no excuse not to do it and it is quite interesting, in manageable chunks at least 🙂

In terms of what I need to truly focus on today… Well, I think for me it is just making sure to be present in the moment.

Just doing one thing at a time. Breaking it down and chunking it!

So if thats data analysis work I will focus on that and close down all the other windows on my computer and just have that document open on my screen. I will move my phone off the table and all the other pieces of paper relating to other tasks will get filed away so they aren’t in my eye-line.

When I go for my run outside later, I will remember to look at the sky and smile at each person I run past at a safe distance. Then later when I am reading in the garden in the Sun or sat on the sofa with the dogs watching TV I will focus on being present and grateful that I am alive and I have a job I love.

Journal Prompts

I am still feeling really uninspired at the moment so I had a look online for some journal prompts to inspire my writing of this blog.

The problem is that for someone like me with ADHD (self diagnosed :P) is that I then spent about 30mins reading through all the possible prompts on about 20 different websites; deciding that each prompt and suggestion wasn’t appropriate/I wasn’t in the mood to write about that particular subject.

So, yeah, perhaps journal prompts aren’t for me and this blog needs to be more natural and not forced…Just stuff I feel like writing about when the mood so takes me.

AND If this means I don’t write anything for days then so be it.

However, with all that being said I did actually find a journal prompt site that did have some good ones on. These were on discobumblebee.com and were on the subject of depression and anxiety.

I guess in these difficult times of self isolation and self distancing journalling might be a good idea. Even if you don’t normally suffer with depression and anxiety, you probably are experiencing it at the moment.

It’s actually a great opportunity for everyone, because we all need a little help with our mental health, especially now. Journaling can give perspective, perhaps. Anyway, it seems like a good place to start to think about what we have to be grateful for; even though this whole situation is really pretty sh*t – we are human so we have to have hope.

So here is my first ‘successful’ attempt at a post inspired by a journal prompt:

‘List 20 things that make you smile’

  1. Cwtches with my doggie siblings
  2. Creme eggs
  3. Rolo yoghurts
  4. Nutella
  5. Starting a new book (actual books preferable over Kindle books)
  6. Buying new books (many kindle book buying binges have already occurred during lock down!)
  7. Listening to audio books while running (especially thrillers)
  8. Matt Haig’s books/quotes/audiobooks/insta/twitter posts
  9. Travelling (preferably on planes but trains and boats are cool too. Not a fan of buses or taxis!)
  10. Long walks/hikes in the mountain or by the coast
  11. New shoes (specifically those with make me look like a gangsta)
  12. Phone calls with my parents
  13. Voice mail conversations with my friends in far flung countries
  14. Decaf coconut lattes (specifically from Pret on the Uni campus)
  15. Astronomy themed clothing
  16. Dancing (kitchen dancing will have to do for now!)
  17. Dead lifts (#GetThemGains)
  18. Singing/ rapping (specifically to Lady Gaga, Eminem or the Greatest Showman soundtrack)
  19. Roller derby (I miss my lovely roller wenches :/)
  20. Looking at the sky/stars/moon