The Strangest of Times – Staying at Home Week 9

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I like siting in the garden and quite enjoy doing ‘big’ things like building a new bed, a path or a wall, but hate the fiddly stuff, so as a non gardener I am fascinated by the fact that this year I am lovingly nurturing lettuce. They were purchased, planted in small pots and have now been transplanted to larger ones so they have room to grow. The photo is an early one and some are now big enough for us to be taking leaves for our tea. Some lettuce plants are also in a small bed in the garden and I visit daily monitoring their growth and comparing the potted ones with the garden ones. Now it seems it’s not only lettuce I am growing. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with some friends online about growing coriander from supermarket seeds. We all took a different approach. Both of them bruised their seeds as recommended by his Indian father, one soaked hers and planted hers in a pot, the other planted his straight in the pot. I researched online and placed mine between sheets of wet kitchen towel and waited for them to sprout. After about two weeks of nothing happening I got fed up with watering mine and with nothing happening, threw them away. At the weekend I was sent pictures of both sets of coriander plants, tiny little shoots peaking above the earth. So I have now bruised seeds and have them planted out in pots. Three weeks time all being well I should have tiny shoots appearing. If I am still writing this blog by then I will let you know.

This week I actually managed to do a live online yoga class. Really gentle yoga that worked on the psoas muscle. I have had an ongoing abdominal injury for well over a year now. The ‘it settles, I do something and it goes again’ kind of injury. Nothing serious but annoying enough to stop me doing lots of things such as a lot of exercises in the gym and also now Zumba which I am really sad about. Anyway, the psoas muscle connects to the abdominal muscles and by the end of the session of slow stretching, the right side of my body which is where the injury is, had felt tight at the start had loosened a little. So far so good πŸ™‚ I woke up the next day and was aware my ribs were sore, by the end of the day I could hardly move. I couldn’t get out of the chair, cough or laugh without it hurting. Not an injury but muscles that hadn’t been used for the last months being woken up. So much for slow gentle yoga! I am doing it again as soon as this settles enough for me to move πŸ˜‰

We are now a few days into Phase 1 of easing the lockdown. Online there were pictures of queues at DIY shops and MacDonald’s which opened 6 of its drive throughs in Dublin. For me though the only difference it made was that the small garage in my village opened and I was able to get my car serviced and so keep the warrantee valid πŸ™‚

I tried to do Yoga Nidra this week, something I usually love but found it hard to settle in to. I am used to doing it at the end of a yoga session and not as a stand alone so this may have been part of it, maybe it wasn’t right for me today, or maybe I am just too scattered to relax in to it at the moment. I’m going to let it go for now and come back to it another time, see how I feel then. Like everything at the moment it seems best to simply acknowledge it, let it go and move on.

On a positive note I have managed to read not one but two books recently which is a huge improvement on how I was a few weeks ago. My concentration seems to be improving as far as reading is concerned at least.

I am still working with Air which is the energy that connects to the mind and so governs the intellect, reasoning, memory, thoughts, knowledge and comprehension. It is interesting that I have now begun working with yoga which focuses a lot on the use of the breath, the inhalation, the exhalation and the sigh, the cleansing breath to release as the body is allowed to settle.

I’m not sure how long my Air phase will last but I am certainly less ‘scratchy’ than I was last week, a little calmer and feeling a bit more like myself.

 

The Strangest of Times – Week 8

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I’m beginning to find it harder to know what to write here now as the days are all starting to merge into one and it is getting difficult to recall what has happened and how I am feeling. This may of course be a bi-product of the lockdown as I read somewhere the other day that confusion and forgetfulness are common when the brain is not being used in the same way as it is used to. Not too sure mine is being used at all really.

So how have I been spending the time? The garden is getting a tidy up in areas that we have been putting off for years. We have actually finished sorting out a large corner in the front of the house. I say finished because we started this about a year ago. The guys that cut our hedges have, for the last two or three years, been itching to get in there and cut it all back. Every year I stop them telling them we have plans. Last year we cut back overgrown shrubs, cleared brambles and ivy and there it sat. Until the last few days that is, when we moved large stones to form a border, raked earth, made a small curved bed and filled the remaining space with gravel to connect it to the drive. Our stone Buddha was moved from the back of the house and ornamental grasses planted in the bed. What was really lovely was that the whole time we were working we were joined by a Robin searching for nesting materials and any bugs we dug up. Nice to be working in harmony with nature.

I think this work in the garden fits with the clearing out and decluttering that was suggested as part of my work with Air πŸ™‚ I kinda think the author, Denise Linn, had rooms in the house in mind but as the garden is part of my home for me it counts. We have also been rescuing plants, shrubs, hedging from overgrown ivy which definitely counts as clearing out.

Although we are still getting home delivery for our shopping we made an Aldi run this week to get some things we can’t get online. No browsing, structured list each according to shop layout, a trolley each, a quiet time of day and we were in and out without a bother. Our wine rack is full, we have nuts, seeds, hand soap and hand cream plus of course a few things that were on neither list of course, but no browsing and nothing from the middle aisle πŸ™‚

I also had to pick up a repeat prescription this week and our pharmacy has a system where you text and they have it ready for you at the pick up time you request. This is a million times better than going in, ordering and having to wait around while it is done so I do hope this is one thing that carries on after the lockdown.

I have been doing some art work this week and am enjoying working on a new piece. It helps that I took a photo that really called me to work with it, so it is something I actually want to do. All our exhibitions are cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future so I have no purpose for doing this other than that I want to, which is lovely.

Also I have begun to read again, not snippets online but an actual ebook. I get ebooks online from our library and usually get through one every few days. Since the lockdown I have had to renew every book I’ve borrowed at least once. I had only been managing a about a chapter before I lost interest and found my attention wandering, but the last couple of days I am up to four or five chapters which is a huge improvement. It would be nice to stop feeling scattered and unable to concentrate on anything for long, so I really hope this continues. It does feel a step in the right direction.

I have noticed that I am getting a bit ‘frayed at the edges’ and that others seem to be the same. I have been getting a lot of ‘your lockdown is easier than ours’ online because the sea is within our 5km, but this is hard for all of us wherever we live. I think we all need to bear in mind, myself included, that we really have no idea how anyone else is feeling or how they are coping with the lockdown. We still have a long way to go with this.

The weekend saw a welcome break for all of us hereΒ withΒ our village community online Bingo. This was 2 hrs of much needed craic. We had all registered online, been sent bingo cards for two games, prizesΒ of chocolates, wine, spirits, vouchers were donated and last night everyone logged on to the youtube channel and the fun began. Prizes for a line and a card and spot prizes throughout, online live chat and a good bit of banter made the time fly. Β A lot of work went into the preparation and execution but it would be really good to do it or something similar again.

The coming week sees the first easing of our lockdown. Garden centres, hardware shops, opticians. garages, electrical, phone and computer repair shops and a few other ‘essential’ services can reopen. This is good news as my car is due a service, We can also meet up with four other people outdoors as long as we maintain social distancing. We have pretty much been doing this anyway, by chance, when coming across neighbours or friends when out walking but it’s official now anyway. Golf and tennis are also allowed reopen but only to those within 5km. We are all still staying at home and exercising within 5km apart from shopping, medical etc so this won’t mean any change for me at all except I have had a friend, who lives locally, ask if I’d like to go for a socially distanced walk one day. I will, as a new person to chat to while walking, even if it is from either side of the road, could be nice πŸ™‚

 

Weathering the Storm by Moon Books

Weathering the Storm by Moon Books

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One of the things I have been involved in over the past weeks is writing a contribution for the latest Moon Books Collective ‘Weathering the Storm‘.

This is a collection of articles by over 20 Moon Books authors,all of whom have given their time freely, which we hope will help you to weather the storm we are currently experiencing. It is particularly aimed at those who are isolated or lonely but in fact has something for everyone.

It is available in e-book format only and the cost varies according to the country or outlet but on average is around one pound sterling.

You can download it from most outlets on Friday 15th May or by following this linkΒ 

So go on what are you waiting for?

Still undecided? Then just to give you a flavour of what is inside the ebook:

Weathering the Storm

Contents

Part 1 – Psychology Matters
Life in Crisis – Cat Treadwell
Cultivating Resilience in Dark Times – Irisanya Moon Anxiety and Paganism – Nimue Brown
Loneliness: a journey – Elen Sentier
Happy Birthday to Me – Melusine Draco
Transpersonal Therapy; Crisis and Growth – Natalia Clarke Bobbing in the Sea of Uncertainty – Frances Billinghurst Weathering Transformational Trauma – Kenn Day
Staying Strong in a Time of Crisis – Yvonne Ryves
Hall of Mirrors – Imelda Almqvist
Part 2 – Spirituality Matters
The Reconnection Point – Mabh Savage
Everyday Magic for Difficult Times: Healing Our Relationship to Nature, Self, & Our Natural Rhythms – Maria DeBlassie
Help from the Ancestors at times of crisis – Danu Forest
Energy Connection-Energy Healing – Chris Allaun
Spiritual Journaling in Difficult Times – Andrew Anderson
Guided Visualisation: Weathering the Storm – Lucya Starza
Finding Calm in the Chaos: Crystal Allies for Easing Anxiety – Robin Corak Blessings of Solitude – Dorothy Abrams
The Signs of Hope in Urban Nature – Lucya Starza
Part 3 – Practical Matters
In the Kitchen – Rachel Patterson
Plague Diary – Ellen Evert Hopman
Herb Magic – Alaric Albertsson
Growing Sacred Food in a Small Space – Luke Eastwood Soap Making and Self-Care Recipes – Rebecca Beattie Self-isolation Survival Kit – Scott Irvine
Upcycle / Recycle – Rachel Patterson
Internet Resources – Debi Gregory

Now what are you waiting for?

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 7

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I have mentioned in previous blogs that we are doing all of our shopping online and getting it delivered. We have just noticed that it takes us far less time to put away the shopping when it’s delivered than when we shop ourselves. So far we have not worked out why this is. When the shopping arrives it can either be loose in crates or inside a huge plastic bag in the crate. We either lift the bag out and return the crate to the doorstep or take the shopping out of the crate and put it on the floor so we can return the crate. It’s all very slick, no contact with the driver and although it is way more expensive than shopping ourselves in Aldi or Lidl it is safer or at least feels safer. Bit puzzling why putting it away should be quicker though.

The other thing about shopping online is that we do the order the day before the delivery, adding anything to the cart or removing it depending on what we need. What this means is that by the time the delivery arrives I have forgotten what we ordered. This plus the fact that there may be substitutions or missing items means every delivery is a surprise.

Since the start of the lockdown we have been blessed with dry sunny weather, not over warm most days but great for getting out in the fresh air in the garden or for a walk. The last two days though it has been cold and wet and I have realised that I do not feel like doing anything much. I know in theory that we feel better when the sun shines but this is the first time I have noticed the direct affect it has on how much I want to move around and do things.

Luckily the cold and wet didn’t last long and yes, the desire to move and do things returned with the sunshine and relative warmth. I have gone from someone who didn’t like getting soil on her hands and always wore gloves while gardening to someone who has had dirt under her nails. I should say here that that isn’t because I don’t like getting my hands dirty but because I don’t like slugs and worms. The new found dirt is only potting compost but it’s a start πŸ™‚

Outside in my workspace I was drawn to pick up a set of Soul Coaching cards by Denise Linn. I rarely work with cards so when I am drawn to a pack then I know there is a good reason for it and the message is likely to be an important one. The card I drew was Simplicity. I was then guided to find the book Soul Coaching which is a 28 week course working with the elements, that I have worked through before and found useful. On opening it I found the first few weeks work are with Air and the first week’s work is on Simplicity πŸ™‚ Reassessing, clearing out, simplifying things are the key messages so even though at the moment I am not planning to work through the whole course it seems there are clear messages for me about working with Air and doing some clearing out to simplify my life at the moment which in so many ways makes complete sense. It is after all a time where everything is stripped back and less complicated than it has been for a long time but it seems I still have more to do here which is completely ok.

Journeying this week found me burying something in a white box and I had the real sense that even though I couldn’t see what the box contained, I was burying a part of the past, a part I no longer needed which again would fit with the idea of clearing out and letting things go. This is a good thing, whatever it is I am to release as it makes space for something new to come in which is always exciting.

This week brought the beauty of the last Supermoon of the year and unlike during the previous one, one had fairly clear skies and a beautiful view of the moon both in the evening and at dawn the next day. By some miracle I woke for dawn and actually saw it for real. As always I went straight back to sleep but luckily my husband stayed awake and took pictures of the moon and the dawn. so I could experience it virtually Β πŸ™‚

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We have eight more days of the present lockdown and then on 18th May things should relax a little more. Whether this happens or not depends on the number of cases in the next few days. Deaths are thankfully falling as are the number in ICU but unfortunately Β each day brings large numbers of new cases still. The sooner testing the general population starts for real and some proper contract tracing happens the better. It’s the only way that a true picture of how we are doing will emerge.

Although I am walking and still working out a little with resistance bands and light weights, made from water bottles filled with stones, I am clearly Β not doing as much as I was in the gym and at Zumba as I have noticed that I am losing muscle tone 😦 I guess this isn’t that much of a problem in the scheme of things but it is interesting how quickly muscle tone can go and maybe an indicator that when this is all over I will actually need to get myself back into the gym instead of playing at it here. Unless that is, by then I really won’t care. As I am writing this I am wondering if maybe this is what I need to let go of and leave behind after all I am not getting any younger and by the time I can safely get back into a gym I will be even older of course. I am sure with the help of Air I will discover this over the coming days or weeks now.

 

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 6

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 6

 

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I was reading in the paper about some of the things people are looking forward to when this is all over. This is something I have been trying to avoid doing as, at the moment, there is no telling how far ahead ‘when this is all over’ will be and also because I am not at all sure how good it is for my mental health it is to be looking ahead for things that might not be possible, for months, or even years. It also goes against my trying to be in the moment, to focus on the here and now and so at the moment there is nothing I am letting myself dream of in the ‘future’.

Having said all of this, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of the fish and chips that had just been delivered from their local chipper and I immediately thought how lovely a plate of really good fish and chips would be. Simple things perhaps πŸ™‚

I have noticed that when I get stressed at the moment I feel it on a very physical level. My body tenses, I feel the tension in my muscles and my jaw and it takes a while for me to get my body to relax again. This would likely be in keeping with something I saw online where a someone was talking about a trauma release exercise she had been taught and how physically her body reacted when she did it, even though she had been unaware of any trauma. I suspect that by the time this is all over, we will all be holding stress and trauma in our bodies, storing it up bit by bit. On the grounds that it is better to release things sooner rather than later I have been spending time sending Reiki to myself to release any stress and trauma I am holding now.

One thing I must keep in mind is that I have found when I share the fact that I am not ok, that I am finding something difficult or stressful, then the stress actually drops away quite quickly.Ok rant over. Sometimes it is just good to get it out rather than bury it. Burying anger or resentment is something that can make us ill over time so is never a good thing to do. It is also healthier at the moment to get this out, either out loud to someone, or if that is not possible, then in writing somewhere and so release it energetically.

There are many of good things that have come out of the lockdown, one of which is the amount of online classes, workshops and advice to be had, including those on mental health and dealing with stress. I think as time moves on and restrictions keep being extended these will become more and more necessary.

At the moment I am being extremely selective about what I watch and how much time I spend online but am delighted that Earth Soul Yoga, the yoga centre in our nearest town is now doing these. I have already tried the gentle Somatic Yoga session for my spine and am really looking forward to Yoga Nidra. I am rubbish at watching any of these live normally and much prefer to catch up when it suits me but I will make an exception for Yoga Nidra.

My husband, presumably fed up but me saying I should have got some months ago when I saw them in Aldi, has been making me home made ‘dumbells’ this week to use in my ‘gym’. So far I have dumbells of varying weight made from a plastic water bottle, an empty liquid detergent bottle and most recently an empty olive oil container. These are all different weights so will make things a bit more varied for me πŸ™‚

In the past when I could still get materials easily I made shamanic drums. I have several that ‘belong’ to me but for some reason have neglected them for quite some time. This week though I have been drumming a lot and at Bealtaine I lit a fire in the fire pit in my stone circle, called in the spirits and drummed. I am glad to have found my way back to this part of my practice and of course, now I have, cannot understand why I have neglected it for so long.

Another part of my practice that I have found again is my work as an Ovate with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I am not very far back into it and having been here before, have no idea how long I will stay this time, but it’s nice to be back anyway.

With only 2km to exercise within we have been unable to take our usual walk to the woods that, this time of year are filled with wild garlic and bluebells. Instead we explored the woods in our village which we discovered are full of bluebells. This was such a wonderful surprise and had it not been for the restrictions we would never have found this. IMG_0512

What a difference a few days makes though, in this case from the start of the week to the end. We have now been told our space to exercise will, from Tuesday, be extended from 2km to 5km and those over 70s who have been cocooning have been told they may now exercise outside or go for a drive up to 5km. This feels as if it will give people a little more room to breathe now as the lockdown has been extended for another two weeks. I know people who are already planning the places they will drive to; the woods or the coast to sit and watch the sea for instance. We have also been given a plan of how the lockdown will unfold slowly, so have been given the light at the end of the tunnel, although everything of course depends on the virus being under control.