New month thoughts

It’s a new month.  Another one.  How fast is time flying this year?  I am sure for those who are grieving, it is not, and it seems that we are speaking ever less about the fact that all the headlines and statistics are about human beings who are very sick, or who have lost their lives and all the humans who knew and loved them.  For them I would think that time is going very slowly.

For me, it is whizzing by.  It proves that the more you do, the slower time passes.  Being mostly at home is making the time flow by at great speed. But a new month gives a sense of a new start. Although it really did not in April and May I must admit, that was a very odd time where new months felt utterly irrelevant.

It is different this month, it really does feel like a whole new phase of life as we move out of lockdown.  I am embracing that cultural feeling of change and adopting a sense of shifting (thanks to Yoga with Adriene’s monthly calendar).  I have to consciously adopt this sense of change, because frankly, I am one of those who is less keen on being out and about.  The R rate is at 1 in the Midlands where I am.  I am hopeful that that is because the region is very large and that does not mean it is 1 in Birmingham.  But I cannot find any data to tell me what the R rate is here in the city.   And I am very used to being at home, it’s been about three and a half months now that I have been mostly home – except for exercise and two other trips elsewhere (for the record – the bank, the dog groomers).  So I am accepting that feeling a bit reluctant to change is normal.

Monday was the first step and we walked to a local coffee shop and bought a take away coffee.  I even hung around in the queue for Boots whilst one of the offspring waited to go in.  and had a browse in the jeweller’s window.  I can remember every moment of the trip to my local high street.  Which is odd – hopefully it will become less impactful as I do more this month.  I am not quite sure what the next adventure will be, but I am sure it will be small and yet memorable.

What have I learnt so far

At the beginning of the “stay home” phase, there were a lot of articles about what we could all achieve in this time of lockdown.  There was a much-quoted theory that Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst in isolation.  The implication was that being locked into our homes meant we now had the time and space to achieve all the great things we have failed to achieve so far in life because, so the articles implied, we have too much freedom and too many friends and family to hang out with.  I have not written my version of Lear, or anything else for that matter.  Everything I have learnt has been much more introspective.  

I have learnt that we get on well as a family.  It has been a while since we all lived together for any great length of time.  But we enjoy being together and we laugh a lot. 

I have learnt that we all have a good level of emotional intelligence, we can recognise when someone is down or frustrated and we seem to be able to help each other intuitively. 

We all have a strong work ethic, I think I knew this before this started, but the lack of work for some members of the family has really affected mood and wellbeing.  The fledgling plans of returning to work have been greeted with a real uplift in energy.  We are definitely a family that likes to work.

I have learnt that singing helps your mood and that I cannot sing a harmony. Whatever the person next to me is singing is what I can sing, I have no independent singing ability. I am enjoying my virtual choir experience, but I am not likely to be welcomed in a real choir any time soon.

I have learnt that I am good with change, I am happy to try things out and tweak and amend to make things work, or just abandon things and move on.  We have done this a lot with various home routines and work has involved a fair amount of this.  I have also learnt that continually changing is tiring. I have also learnt that many people do not find this easy at all.

I know now that seeing people in the flesh is much better than seeing them on a screen.  Screens are just not the same.  Even seeing someone from 2m away is more soothing than seeing them on a screen.

I have learnt that listening to the news all the time does not help you adapt to a new way of life, in fact it makes you less able to adapt as confusion abounds as we get deluged with not just official guidance, but everyone’s commentary on what that could mean.  But it’s ok to occasionally get swept up in the news cycle, as long as you can get out of it fairly quickly.

I have learnt that I genuinely need a good level of physical activity to make me feel well, being sedentary all day is very unhelpful.  I feel that much more now that there is not even a sense of movement which I get from being in a car.  The days I achieve closer to 15,000 steps are better than the ones where I graze the 10,000 total.

On a more practical side I have learnt to use many more video conference platforms.  I have learnt to make facemasks and laundry bags.  And the reigning lesson has been making sourdough.  A very delicious thing to have achieved.  It may not have the gravitas or the legacy of a great Elizabethan tragedy, but hey, it is making life much tastier at the moment.

Relishing the change of the seasons

I am feeling the pain of the longer nights, reduced sunlight and lower temperatures of autumn.  Partly because autumn in the UK seems to have happened very quickly and has involved a lot of rain.  After a long hot summer the change seems to be harder to deal with.

The other part of the problem is that I don’t think I have a particular “autumn mode”.  I do enjoy autumn with its colours and its dramatic weather, but those are fairly passive things.  Spring is about starting off the new year outside – clearing the garden, deciding what plants we may need to plant.  Summer is about relishing the light and fresh air and being outside at every opportunity.  Winter is about relishing the cosiness of home, about making the most of candles and lamps and warm blankets.

I don’t have that short hand enjoyment of autumn, so I find myself floundering.  I suspect that it is the sheer overwhelming shock of September which meteorologically seems to contain summer and winter combined.  My instinct is to start to wind down in autumn and prepare for the more inside existence of winter and yet September is a month of winding up.  Even if you do not have a school child or teacher in the house, there is no escaping the post-summer ramping up of activity and the ‘new year’ feeling of September.  That is at odds with the instinct to prepare for hibernation.

Maybe I need to stop thinking of September as part of any season, it is a month like no other, by far the busiest month in any year.  One of the most joyous due to a plethora of family birthdays.  One that feels like a new start and gives all the opportunities of January.

The weather’s a bit rubbish, but I need to learn to enjoy the excitement of not quite knowing what tomorrow will bring.  This could be why those more keen on fashion than I, get very excited about ‘transition pieces’?

Here’s to relishing a month of possibility and change and fulness.

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