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)
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!):
Being alive 🙂
Being with my family and not alone in lockdown.
Having my own room, with a well stocked book shelf and comfy bed.
Cups of tea and decaf coffee with oat milk.
Unconditional love from my 3 doggo siblings.
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).
Having a garden and being able to sit in it, especially when the Sun is shinning.
Looking at the sky.
This dining room, and dinning room table. A separate space to do my working from home and my bullet journalling.
Working internet so I can zoom with my friends, write this blog, google facts and do my Spanish lessons on Teams.
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.
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 :/).
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.
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’
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.
Ok this is the 2nd journal prompt from the Morning Journaling website- so I thought I would give it a go.
I guess in lockdown here with my parents, what are we like 4 or 5 weeks in?
I’m sleeping in my old room, surrounded by my old fluffy toys and I am 35, so that’s a bit weird I guess.
So yes along those lines I think one of my main thoughts that has been getting the best of me is that I am regressing lol….I am single, back in Wales and perhaps a bit scared that that is going to be it for a long time. I will be single and adrift, without direction or another person to direct my love at.
It’s actually not such a sad thought to me though, it scary but I am not sad, not anymore anyway.
This fear, is also really interesting. Like I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a bad thing.
It’s very cliche to say but I am using this lockdown to actually try enjoy this extra time, where I am literally forced to remain single…I can do whatever I want…I can just take the time to assess what it is I really want.
What do I love about myself?
What I need to go forward?
What do I want my life to look like in the future?
Do I need someone else?
I am still not sure what I want to be honest.
So I just have to keep going with what feels right.
For right now.
There is some fear that this might be it.
But there is also a kind of fire in me about what could happen, it feels like I am on the edge of something and that’s exciting.
Ok, I found another journal prompt website on marcandangel.com and the first one is the title of this post.
It’s about forgiveness. It’s a bit deep and scary this subject, but I guess that is the whole point of this, the act of the journaling; to stir up your thoughts, bring them to the forefront of your mind, make you see them and embrace them.
It forces you to think about the impact these deep, inner thoughts might be having on your wellbeing and your actions going forward.
I think the only thing that comes to mind for me personally is that I need to forgive myself for being so in love with someone, and still not being ‘over it’.
It’s taken me three years to get over the betrayal, and I am still not ‘over it’ and still that feels like too long to just be sad.
I am just so annoyed at myself, I am annoyed that it still feels like the volume has been turned down now, on my whole life.
Why has it taken me longer to ‘get over it’ than the time we was actually together as a couple? That’s mad.
And I do beat myself up about it, and I shouldn’t!
I should forgive myself for loving him so deeply. And forgive him for leaving.
For replacing me.
I think I shouldn’t still think of him; almost everyday, but I do.
I have to accept I may never be over it…I guess I just have to embrace all that I’ve learned from having my heart broken; from trusting someone so completely and then having that destroyed.
Because in the end it changed me into the person I am today. Maybe the problem is I don’t know if I like this person?
I think I miss that other ‘Sadie’.
The Sadie from before. She wasn’t so cynical and jaded. She trusted in people.
She loved with an open heart and so completely.
She was all in.
I don’t think I’ll be all in again. But I have to forgive myself for that.
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’
Cwtches with my doggie siblings
Starting a new book (actual books preferable over Kindle books)
Buying new books (many kindle book buying binges have already occurred during lock down!)
Listening to audio books while running (especially thrillers)
Matt Haig’s books/quotes/audiobooks/insta/twitter posts
Travelling (preferably on planes but trains and boats are cool too. Not a fan of buses or taxis!)
Long walks/hikes in the mountain or by the coast
New shoes (specifically those with make me look like a gangsta)
Phone calls with my parents
Voice mail conversations with my friends in far flung countries
Decaf coconut lattes (specifically from Pret on the Uni campus)
Astronomy themed clothing
Dancing (kitchen dancing will have to do for now!)
Dead lifts (#GetThemGains)
Singing/ rapping (specifically to Lady Gaga, Eminem or the Greatest Showman soundtrack)