Stepping out and stepping up the courage

As I wrote last week, July is about me moving out of the fearful, home-focussed me – actually it’s been more “home-captive” – into the normal me, who is out and about and seeing life. 

This long weekend (my weekend includes a Friday) has been a great start.  I am still a bit nervous, I have to admit, but I am pushing myself ever so slightly and hopefully I am taking enough precautions to not contract coronavirus, whilst also working on reducing the fear that will only become less helpful as time goes on.  So far the adventures have, as predicted, been small yet memorable, but there have been quite a few.  

I started with a long walk with one of the offspring in Wyre Forest park, which is about 45 minutes drive from home.  I have not been that far away from home since the start of March, never mind about driving there myself. We treated ourselves to coffee and cake from the takeaway café at the end of a good march around the forest in the rain.  The first food I have eaten out of my house/garden since 15th March.

Saturday was a huge step as we decided to go back to our favourite café in the village to give them a bit of support on what they admitted was a nerve-wracking day of reopening.  It was just coffee, we were there as a family, supporting each other.  There was a grand total of 9 other people in the place, including all the staff and everyone was very well spaced out. It was lovely to be back, but it was far from normal.  

I have seen friends and family as well – but all outside, either in our garden or on a walk with our excited dogs happy to be out with more humans and a variety of dog treats – my dog claims everyone else’s treats are better than his own.

Possibly the high point of the weekend was an impromptu coffee and croissant early yesterday morning on our now traditional early Sunday morning walk.  The café was open, and it was a delightful interlude in our usual routine, and empty cafes seem like a good way to build up courage and some mental resilience.  

The fear that I have caught the virus is still there in my mind, but I am soothing the agitation with the knowledge that I was not back to normal contact with people by any stretch of the imagination and that this worry is probably very normal after three months of being safe in my house with very little contact with the outside world.  

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.

Buying more intentionally

One of my goals for this year was to be slower in life, to do things with more intention and more deliberately.   A surprising manifestation of this has been in shopping.  I am not a  lover of shopping, I found it stressful – there is too much choice, too much expectation to be buying things to make life better.  That never sat comfortably with me.

Somehow this year, I am enjoying shopping.  I have not yet managed to totally overcome the impulse to just buy things mindlessly and then feeling guilty afterwards, but a few things have definitely helped.

A decision to be more ethical in my purchasing, specifically about environmental impact of what I buy has been a transformation in my mindset.  The fashion industry is one of the major environmental culprits, guilty of mass-producing clothing in appalling working conditions, using and damaging a wealth of natural resources and all with the intention of forcing a complete change of wardrobe every month or so.  It seems that a seasonal wardrobe is no longer enough, we now have transition wardrobes, party wardrobes, holiday wardrobes.  I struggled hugely and refused to buy anything for ages and then overbought on impulse. I have found a form of clothes shopping I love – charity shops.  Not just any charity shop, but a specific few close to home, which I visit in a specific ritual involving hanging out with a teenage son, him browsing for vinyl and DVDs and us both having a fortifying coffee before we even contemplate shopping. So, a new wardrobe and a shared hobby with a teen.  Great result.

It is rather odd to realise that I look forward to clothes shopping, but I do.  I changed work hours this year and changed them to make sure I could still go shopping.  Ok, the coffee and hanging out with the teen are crucial parts, but still, there is also weekly shopping involved.

And it turns out that I have so much to say about shopping that this is going to be a two-part blog post – which is astounding me.  Part two tomorrow.

assorted clothes
Photo by Kai Pilger on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Being where they know your name

Remember the 80s American sitcom Cheers?  I need to re-watch that, I can’t quite remember why it was funny, but it was.  The theme tune mentions a bar where everyone knows your name.

It came to mind yesterday when one of the offspring and I were chatting about where to meet for our ritual Monday afternoon coffee.  We had a choice between the place we usually go to and somewhere with better cake.

The usual venue won out because, he said, “they recognise me there”.  I really wanted the excellent scones from the other venue, but feeling that you belong is much more important than cake in the end.

The choice of our usual venue came about despite the fact there is better coffee elsewhere and it is one of the chain coffee shops, not one of the interesting independents.  But it’s the one that first appeared on our high street, so the younger offspring has been going there since he was teeny tiny.

I moved homes and towns and schools a lot as a child.  A lot. My children have never moved home or school apart from the natural progression from one stage to the next. Those two facts are definitely linked. I really relish and appreciate the fact that a teenager can choose to meet at a coffee shop where he is known and which he has known forever.

Sometimes it’s good to stretch out for new adventures, other times it’s better to feel comfortable and amongst familiar faces in familiar places.   It is perfect when you have the choice between the two.

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I missed out on this – but it was worth it.

 

 

A garden for me

I love green, being surrounded by leaves calms me and makes me feel I am miles away from a city, not in the middle of suburbia.  One of my goals for this spring was to make a quiet place in the garden and we did that this weekend, creating a seating area at the bottom of the garden.

It’s not quiet because it is far from the house, but because it is surrounded by green, which makes it feel quiet.  About 10 years ago we planted a new hedge to disguise the fencing panels.  A decade on and we have a wild looking, huge beech hedge interwoven by a rampant jasmine plant and an even wilder field maple and something else hedge – I forget what the other tree was, but it is green, the birds love it and I feel as though I am in a wood when I am near it.

The cotoneaster hedge which was there when we moved in is less interesting maybe, but the dunnocks love it and it is huge and old and serves to stores old branches and twigs under, I have no idea what lives in that pile of branches, but hopefully someone has found it useful.

A couple of years ago we pulled up all the flowering plants in our two borders which we were so hopeless at weeding around and looking after and planted some fruit trees instead. And then promptly did not weed around them.   The husband did a grand job this weekend of weeding and mulching one of those borders, which looks beautiful now.

And he built the seat that is now installed at the bottom of the garden.  Which gives a whole new perspective of the remaining unkempt border. The poor cherry tree in the middle of it is surrounded by all sorts of plants which have resolutely refused to disappear.  From the top of the garden it looks a mess, from the bottom it looks like an interesting wild border, with bees buzzing, some flashes of colour and a sense of lushness. We have decided to let it be for another year and see what happens.

Creating my perfect garden has involved clearing the path through it, so I can carry a coffee without getting caught on a bramble, and putting even more seats into it, so I can sit and drink the coffee anywhere.  It’s not a gardener’s garden, it’s a sitter’s garden, perfect for taking a break and sitting in the green.  Perfect for me.

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wild and interesting

 

 

 

Writing slowly

Well maybe the title is misleading.  I don’t write slowly, in fact I write quickly, but I write in order to slow down.  I have discovered that posting a small chunk of writing to a blog, makes me slow down as I sit quietly and ponder and jot down thoughts. So I am a bit addicted to this way of making me feel productive, whilst still being a bit more deliberate and a bit slower in my actions.

The aim is to give myself time to think and to challenge myself to put that thinking in a more public domain.  But also to write quickly and relatively succinctly, to prove to myself that I can blog without spending hours on it.  It may indeed be obvious that this is a time challenge as much as anything.  How much can I write in the time it takes me to drink a coffee?

So far it has been a fun experiment in writing whatever springs to mind, but I am now wondering how real bloggers write so prolifically.   At some point I will need to plan out blog posts.  So, a new way of sitting and pondering and still feeling productive presents itself.  Let’s grab another coffee and get planning.

 

 

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