What do you appreciate most about your life right now?

So I haven’t written this blog or done a morning journalling task for a while. What can I say? Lockdown life is distracting. I have actually taken up bullet journalling though, so I am doing some form of journalling and creating, which I am sure is helping keep me sane.

To answer the question from the Day 4 of journalling prompts above… I am very very appreciative of being alive and being free to live my life how I wish. We are in the middle of a pandemic, but even on working days I have the freedom to structure each day as a chose. I am with family (even if we do bicker a lot lol) and I appreciate them and this roof over my head and the company of these beautiful doggies, who show unconditional love and are constantly hilarious.

It’s what week 7 or 8? of lockdown … and the message here in Wales is still very much ‘Stay Home’ …which I am glad of because ‘Stay Alert’; like you may as well not bother with a message at all. hmmmm. I do appreciative many more things…

I think I will do a Matt Haig inspired list of what I appreciate most right now (P.s. I thoroughly recommend you read his books, specifically ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, ‘Notes from a Nervous Planet’ and ‘The Humans’ – the message of these books has been so useful to me during lockdown in order to cope with the anxiety of it all and to really get some perspective- I plan on reading them all again over the next few days!):

  1. Being alive 🙂
  2. Being with my family and not alone in lockdown.
  3. Having my own room, with a well stocked book shelf and comfy bed.
  4. Cups of tea and decaf coffee with oat milk.
  5. Unconditional love from my 3 doggo siblings.
  6. Reading more. Right now I am reading ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins which is also really good (a quote from this book is below).
  7. Having a garden and being able to sit in it, especially when the Sun is shinning.
  8. Looking at the sky.
  9. This dining room, and dinning room table. A separate space to do my working from home and my bullet journalling.
  10. Working internet so I can zoom with my friends, write this blog, google facts and do my Spanish lessons on Teams.
  11. A whole conservatory to do fitness workouts in, decked with weights and a rowing machine. Specifically enjoying the ‘Les Mills On Demand workouts’… I’ve even tried the ballet inspired one and the boxing one is good for those days when I am in ‘a right mood’; so much to chose from.
  12. Being able to just put on my trainers and go running (I’ve been able to do this 3 times a week through lockdown but my friend in Italy was only allowed out for the first time yesterday to go for a run :/).
  13. The fact I can actually do my job from home and that I now actually have time to do the data analysis and read the evaluation forms from past events. This has been heart warming. Especially the comments from children regarding what they have learned in the planetarium shows. I often don’t get time to actually look back or celebrate the work I do; so it’s great that this situation has given me the chance to take a moment and assess and be proud of my work and not be rushing to the next event.
  14. The freedom to dream about future adventures and have hope. To be in a situation where I have the choice to decide which bits of ‘this life’ I want to keep when life goes back to ‘normal’, and which bits I do not.

I’ll finish this post with a quote I just read in my book. It felt very apt and really hit home to me. It’s a quote which shows how powerful reading is; how it can allow you to live another life to the one you are currently experiencing. It really can take you anywhere in the world and make you into anyone. You can travel in books, even if you cannot travel in real life. Reading books can be something you do to survive and this message seems very relevant in these ‘strange’ times:

‘Books were my companions’…’I am grateful I could learn something, no matter how I came to do so. It was a way to know that lives could change, that they could be filled with adventures. There were times I pretended I was a lady in a novel or a romance myself. It might sounds foolish. But it made me feel part of a world that otherwise I could never belong to.’

Sara Collins from ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’

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.