The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 11

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(image is a free download to colour in from hello@deborahpanesar.com)

 

I suppose it is telling me something that I am only getting round to starting this on Friday this week.

As I write this we await to hear officially, the changes about to come with our shift into Phase 2 of lockdown on Monday. This will likely mean being allowed to travel 20km for non essential purposes and all small non-essential shops being allowed to open. Over 70’s and others who have been cocooning will be able to have visitors for short periods, under strict conditions such as social distancing and everyone wearing gloves and masks and the rest of us can meet friends in groups of up to 6 indoors for a short time with the same precautions as when visiting cocooners. There will also be more people allowed to attend funerals than the current 10 people, but only immediate family still. Some elements of Phase 3 are likely to be brought forward such as larger stores with entrances onto streets can re-open and some children’s playgrounds, if they can be supervised and disinfected regularly, may also reopen. Marts are also re-opening so farmers can sell livestock. Shopping centres are still to remain closed as are restaurants and cafes for all but take-aways, pubs, hairdressers and barbers.

Small changes but a little normality beginning to return.

The slogan is changing from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Local’, so I’d have to change the blog title anyway but I do feel it has served its purpose now.

Actually we have just heard the distance we can travel for non essential journeys has been extended not to 20km as expected but to anywhere in our own county. Co. Cork is huge so I am not sure that feels like a good or safe move at the moment. It does though allow tourism to move towards re-opening at the end of this month so will possibly help the economy. On top of this we have just heard that instead of 5 phases in the easing out of lockdown we now only have 4 as things are being shifted around. This means one more phase at the end of June and one in July if everything goes alright. One thing that doesn’t change in the current crisis is how fast things change, how often we need to readjust our thinking and how important it is to bend and go with the flow.

I think everyone is a little stunned by the changes to Phase 2 and the relaxing of a lot of the lockdown. I know some small shops and even larger stores that have been caught off guard by being told they can reopen on Monday and who are actually deferring their reopening for some days to get ready properly. It does feel a lot all at once but I am sure we will all survive. No-one says we have to go shopping, drive around the county or rush to book holidays here or abroad after all.

So what has my last week been like apart from this? Much like the others really and I actually expect that to be the same in the weeks ahead even with the new changes to our lockdown. As I said I will continue to choose not to travelling far, use public transport or physically visit shops unnecessarily. I will also continue to meet friends outdoors on the grounds that I don’t want anyone in my house at the moment so wouldn’t expect to be in someone else’s either.

Plans are afoot here to pedestrianise streets in a number of our small towns to give people more space to socially distance, to allow cafes and restaurants to have outdoor seating for take-aways and generally to make it all a bit more comfortable. This would be brilliant but whether any of this happens remains to be seen although funds have been made available to support it so maybe it will.

The amazing weather we had been having has now disappeared with cooler weather and strong winds arriving. It has been incredible being able to eat and have drinks outdoors in the garden most days so I hope summer returns soon. I am much more suited to a mediterranean climate than an Irish one 🙂

It has also been great having the time and space to be outside in the garden, tidying and making some much needed improvements. I have really enjoyed being closer to nature and observing the changes in trees, plants and wildlife, both in the garden and when walking. This is something I always mean to do and which as an OBOD Ovate student I really should be doing, but life usually gets in the way somehow. Last evening I was down in the part of our garden that is given over to wildlife, everything is allowed to do it’s own thing, it is not ‘gardened’ ever and so is a space I watch from afar rather than step in to very often. Yesterday though I stood down in the space and realised that we had inadvertently allowed nature to create a grove of Pine, Apple, Plum, Ash and Hawthorn, all without us doing anything. This is brilliant for me as I now have a grove to work in as well as a stone circle. I intend to hold onto this closeness to nature long after lockdown ends.

We also braved Lidl this week as my husband needed a few things that they had in as specials. Our Lidl is an older store and aisles are narrow so it is harder to move and socially distance than in our newer Aldi. Neither of us felt very comfortable so I think this will be our one and only trip there for the foreseeable future, unless they should get some dumbbells in (which I still need) of course. While we were out I nipped into SuperValu supermarket as it is the only place I can get Ramen and Soba noodles for some reason. This felt ok so it is nice to know that I can shop there for things I can’t get in my shopping delivery. Nice to have some choice without feeling unsafe.

I have just been asked to take part in the trial, track and contact trace app for the virus here so of course have said yes. I needed to answer lots of questions online and now have to access the app and record my symptoms or lack of them daily. This is all anonymous and all data is deleted after the trial but it will at least help get it to a state where it can be unrolled for community tracing. It feels a vital part of our moving forward and living with the virus.

This will be my last blog post in this vein, so this is me signing out. I’ll post when there are any big changes or when I feel the need and am sure I will be blogging about other aspects of my journey in the future, so I will see you all again at some point. Stay safe x

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 10

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I am not sure how much longer I will keep writing the ‘diary’ now. I began as it felt important to keep a record of these times, what was happening, what I was going through etc for myself so I would never forget what it was like. I seem though to have reached the point where nothing much is changing week by week. I am still staying at home, still keeping within the 5km when exercising and still getting our food shopping delivered.

We are now in the second week of Phase 1 of our easing of lockdown. If all goes well and our R number stays low then further easing will take place on June 8th including the distance for non essential travel being extended to 20km. A good amount of a 20km radius from us will be in the sea, so again I don’t envisage a lot changing here although for others it may as they will be able to reach the beach for the first time in weeks. This is lovely for them but will of course will make it busier and potentially less safe for those of us who live here so it’s not all good.

Some non essential retailers and businesses are likely to be allowed reopen but at the moment I can think of nothing I would like to do less than go shopping for anything that isn’t essential. I certainly can’t imagine choosing to go browsing in clothes shops for example. Just the thought of handling things that others have handled and trying on things that others have tried on, leaves me cold. I was reading in one of the Uk papers about clothes and shoes having to be quarantined if they were tried on or returned and not being able to touch things in shops, if that’s the same here maybe the future of shopping looks nothing like the past. I can’t imagine the little clothes shop in our nearest town, run by a lovely Italian who imports beautiful clothes, being able to survive if it is.

I’m wondering if this is to be the new norm? The feeling of not wanting to do things that previously were the norm for example. Or as the virus has less hold on us will things change again and will we become less cautious? Only time will tell I suppose.

There were no deaths from the virus here on Monday but there are still new cases every day. Lower than they were but still there. The problem is we know county by county the number of new cases but Co. Cork where I live is a big county and includes Cork City. Early on we were told where clusters of infection were but now we never get this information so have no idea whether it is safe to relax our guard slightly or not. It does make things harder than they could be but on the other hand it does stop us being complacent.

This all sounds a bit doom and gloom so I apologise for that. I think I just needed to take the time to reflect a little on where things are at the moment.

Having started this blog post by saying nothing is changing I have since discovered that is not true at all. I could have gone back and rewritten everything but then it wouldn’t have been a true reflection of where I am in any way. So I have left it as it was.

As part of Phase 1 we are allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to four people as long as we stay socially distanced and of course stay outside. So, one day this week we went to  lunch in the garden of some friends ,which was really lovely and the first time we have seen anyone, other than in passing by when out walking, for weeks now. I also met a friend for a socially distanced take away coffee. Perched on a wall near the coffee shop we spent a happy half hour catching up. We had been talking throughout on WhatsApp but there is nothing like a catch up in person to make things seem more normal. We had another invitation to call to friends who have bought a new table and chairs so they could have outdoors catchups. We couldn’t go as the shopping delivery was due but it’s there for another time and of course we can also have return visits. This is all a huge change and even though it is not normal in any way we are really lucky to be able to do it and to be blessed with amazing weather so we can comfortably be outside. Long may it last.

Being at home more means I am spending more time noticing changes in the garden, one of which is that we now have a tiny baby bunny. It turned up early in the week and was right down by the conservatory door, all alone. It has entertained us nibbling anything and everything it has come across, things that are growing and leaves on the ground from where we had the hedges trimmed. It’s clearly not fussy. We saw it the other day, half way down the garden with an adult rabbit so it is safe and being looked after.

I have also been amazed at the number of different shades of Aquilegia there are this year, maybe they are like it every year but I am too busy to notice. We have purple and white, pink and white, pale pink, deep maroon, dark pink, plain purple, lilac, white and purple and I am sure some I have missed. They are nearly gone over now but the foxgloves are on their way. Between the two they do kind of take over the garden, dwarfing some of our pots but I would hate them not to be there so am happy to put up with the overgrown areas for the weeks they are in flower and let then seed so we have some next year before tidying up. Were have tried transplanting then to the world area but they aren’t having it at all 🙂 IMG_0723

The other plus of being home and not being able to work is that I have managed to get back to my Ovate training with the OBOD. Looking back I can see I began this 5 years ago and I am at best half way through. The saying that it is the journey not the destination couldn’t be more appropriate than it is here.

Of course one of the highlights this week was the space launch of Crew Dragon which we watched live on television before standing out in the garden to see if we could see it pass over. I saw a flash of light about 8.40pm which would have been right and then at 10.10 we watched the space station fly overhead but sadly didn’t see the Crew Dragon again. Nice to simply know it was there flying high above us though.

And finally to finish on a note of positivity, many of the restaurants and cafes here are opening at weekends to provide take away meals. One such cafe ‘Cracked’, in our nearest town is celebrating opening six months ago. Their food is lovely and we are all delighted to see them still in business having opened and then had to close due to the virus. To celebrate their six months they had an Facebook draw for a picnic box for 4 people and I won it. I never win anything so I am delighted. On the grounds we have seen enough people this week it will feed the two of us for the whole weekend 🙂

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 link 

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 4

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I keep coming across the idea that having a routine is important when we’re stuck, safe at home. I was talking to a friend online the other day about this and she was saying how important having a routine is to her. This got me thinking about my own routine or rather lack of it, for about the only routine I have now is to sit and enjoy a coffee first thing in the morning followed by checking in to see how I feel and what, if anything, I need to be doing that will help with this. Feelings and emotions seem far more important to me at the moment than imposing a routine upon myself or those around me.

Maybe the need for routine depends on what we were doing before all of this and as I am self employed I was already working from home so probably already had a more flexible routine than others. I also balk at the idea of knowing what I am doing too far in advance after years of having had a full diary. I still enjoy the spontaneity of not having anything planned and even though I have no-where I can go I still enjoy the sense of having a ‘free’ day…….. every day 🙂

This enforced lockdown has really emphasised to me how lucky I am, for as a therapist I have all kinds of resources I can call upon to help shift any emotions quickly as soon as they arise. As well as this I have Reiki which I can use to support me at all times. I am very aware that by working on myself I improve the energy in the space around me i..e in my home, and so improve the health and wellbeing of those I live with too.

I also have Reiki friends who support each other and with them I am part of a WhatsApp group that joins with other groups around the works to send healing to the Earth and to each other at 8pm every day. It feels as if the longer this goes on the more important support networks of every kind are becoming.

I have been doing some distance work with a friend this week and so have been using my workspace to work rather than as a gym, which is a bit of a novelty at the moment. While I was out there I found myself drawn to a set of cards. Now I don’t work with cards very often but my favourite ones are the “Osho Zen Tarot’ which are not tarot in the strictest sense but are more to do with self awareness and self development. Drawing a card from this pack I got the card No-thingness. I drew it for myself but the summary of the card feels very fitting to share here as it is all about being in a space where there is nothing, no plans, no sense of direction and no idea what may lie ahead. A void if you will and like all voids it is full of potential, full of infinite possibility. It was a good reminder to me to just relax into this space,  to treasure each experience here, and to be aware that amazing things may come out of this time and space. In other words to make the most of it.

This week we ventured out in the car for an essential visit to the pharmacy 11 km away and a slightly less essential visit to the garden centre. We are lucky as the garden centres and hardware shops have been allowed to re-open since the Easter weekend, as long as they adhere to social distancing etc. The visit wasn’t strictly essential but was as far as our patio tubs are concerned and we came home with bedding plants, potting compost and some lettuce and rocket plants.  Enough to give us something beautiful to look at over the summer and something to supplement our online shopping, as long as we can keep the rabbits from eating them that is.

It’s felt a longer and to some extent more difficult week than other weeks have been. I had a couple of days where I felt really rushed and pressured. This was how it felt from my perspective anyway which was a crazy way to be feeling as there is nothing to be rushing for nowadays in any way. The feeling passed and I have had one whole day where I have done pretty much nothing at all, almost as if I needed to make it up to myself.

The weather isn’t helping at the moment either as the last couple of days have been been much cooler, darker and rainier.  With the sea mist rolling in, visibility is down to very little and so it feels as if everything is closing in, not back to winter but towards it anyway. We are even back to lighting the fire in the evenings which in itself is a little depressing. I know though that as soon as the sun shines and we can see the sky this will all change again.

I try to only read the news in the morning for a quick catch up and then check in the evening to get the latest Covid19 figures for Ireland. It is though getting increasingly hard to stay optimistic and positive through all of this when hearing that the lockdown is likely to continue for a long time (today I read the UK are suggesting a year) for those with underlying conditions and/or over 70. At the same time we are also being told that there doesn’t seem to be very little if any immunity for those contracting Covid19 and that the chances of finding an effective vaccine are low. I am really getting to the point where I need a little light at the end of the tunnel now and suspect I am not alone in this. If this is my life for the foreseeable future I don’t like it one bit.

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 1

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 1

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This is not a diary since the start of the strangest of times but begins where my last blog left off. I have decided a general summing up each day is probably the best way to go….for now anyway. Maybe some of what I do can help others, who knows, for these days are all unknown.

Monday 23rd.  I am counting the days since I last had coffee with a friend. My friend was tested yesterday and is waiting for the results. I have read incubation is 2-14 days. Today is day 13. I have everything crossed. I get allergy asthma and have had a slight purr for a few days now so over the last days I have been watching every cough, wheeze, sneeze and washing my hands over and over again.

On the way to get our new rotary drier today we got diverted due to roadworks and ended up going a long way out of our way. During the detour we realised that a) we had no idea where we were b) we could easily have ignored the detour and gone a different way, a way we  knew and c) none of it actually mattered in any way as we had absolutely nothing else we needed to be doing at all.

Our holiday, as I said in my last blog was cancelled completely yesterday. Conversation has ranged from will we ever be able to go somewhere again, to if we had postponed it until next year we have no idea how our health will be (we are not getting any younger and are in the at risk age group after all) to, will we even be around when this is all over. We are allowed some doom and gloom sometimes although for some reason I really believe we will both be ok.

Tuesday 24th Today I wrote a catch up blog starting with when we first became impacted by the virus. This is something I had been thinking about doing and of course I do have the time now so no excuses.

Found myself coughing a lot this morning but then realised I had forgotten to use my inhaler. All good once I had. Had a good laugh to myself about it, panic over.

Gym: My real gym is still open having created timed slots, enough individual spaces for a small number of people to workout with small weights etc, time in between for disinfecting each workspace and any equipment used. They are doing their best but it is too much of a risk so I have set up a ‘gym’ in what was my treatment/teaching space, outside in my log cabin.

It is nothing special, simply foam roller, yoga mats, resistance bands and a pilates ball, all things I had at home anyway. I now think I should have picked up some light weights in Aldi a few weeks ago but I didn’t so I’ll manage. What this space gives me though, apart from chance to move, is some routine. I plan to go to it on days I would have gone to my real gym if I am not walking due to the weather plus maybe an extra day because at the moment there is no Zumba.  I have downloaded some Spotify gym playlists to my phone, and so I have music.

Today was my first real workout, just a warm up, resistance bands, squats, lunges and stretching cool down but I really enjoyed it. Could feel my body buzzing afterwards. We were so made to move.

Coming back into the house I saw a bee, yesterday when we went out we saw a butterfly and last evening there was the amazing sunset. It’s brilliant how nature can brighten up things for us isn’t it. Of course now we’ve slowed down maybe we will have more time to look and realise what is around us.

Wednesday 25th Today’s excitement has been getting our first online shop delivered. It arrived within the time slot booked, a couple of things substituted and a few things missing, mainly a few items of fruit and veg. I forget that so much of what we eat comes from elsewhere. Garlic from Spain, and Ginger from China I think, are nowhere to be seen. We were though missing blueberries, mange tout, and plums. I’ve no idea where these come from, perhaps I should know. Fish is also missing and is likely to be throughout as the fishing boats are no longer going to sea. This is a shame as fish is so good for us. I’m sure we’ll manage though as long as we can get other healthy forms of protein. It can’t be forever after all.

Thursday 26th Gym day again and new ways to use the resistance bands. So pleased I kept the insert in the box which has loads of instructions on. Great to have new things to try.

The sun was shining so we went for a walk on the beach. Lots of cars but not too many people, family groups all keeping to themselves, the odd picnic and some elderly friends who had travelled separately, brought chairs with them, set them up apart from each other by their cars and were having a good catch up. Everyone was being sensible and as the tide was way out we got a lovely long walk, lots of sea air and some sunshine. Simple things these days 🙂 The picture at the start is the beach. I can’t take you there but I can share this with you.

Friday 27th I have had an itchy, dry,  uncomfortable throat for a few days now and don’t feel 100%. I know it is most likely hay fever or allergy asthma so I am taking antihistamine and using my inhalers carefully. Easy to fear the worst. I looked up hay fever symptoms and early virus symptoms and guess what – they are the same! Oh well.  I’m fine 🙂 Best not to look things up, I really should know better.

There is so much being offered freely online, art lessons, dance, gym workouts, music, maths, languages that it’s beginning to be a little overwhelming. People are very kind sharing everything online, in WhatsApp groups etc etc but I think it’s time to start filtering things out and ignoring everything that doesn’t seem important or useful.

Beautiful weather again so we went for a walk from the house. I think this is something we will do every day it’s dry, along with opening all the windows, as fresh air suddenly seems vital.

4pm tonight was a live briefing and we now have more restrictions. A lockdown in all but name. Life is closing down even more but what we are being asked to do is pretty much what I have been doing anyway, so for me nothing much will change at this point, unless I have missed something.  For others though this brings yet more change.

Actually we have just found out all golf courses are closed now which means the 15 hrs or so a week I had to my self have just vanished. Luckily we have space in our home and we have the garden, it does seem important that we both make sure we have time to ourselves over the coming weeks so I guess there is change after all.

Tonight we stood in our back garden and watched the ISS fly over us followed by the starlinks. The sky was clear and we watched the stars slowly appear above us. Best of all was the bats that were flying around the garden. This is the first time we have seen them for ages. Have they been here all the time and we have just not noticed? What else have we missed through being too busy to stand still and look?

My husband just happened to look out of the window around 9.30pm and saw this,

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a red crescent moon. Someone said to me, when they saw the photo on Facebook, that our ancestors would have seen this as an bad omen, today though it feels like nature is showing us how amazing the world is despite everything that is going on.

Saturday 28th I feel really out of sorts today for some reason. Not sure what it is but recognise there are bound to be days like this. For now it’s best to sit with it, acknowledge it and try not to get caught up in it all. Eat well, exercise, sleep well and let it pass.

Sunday 29th My Zumba teacher has managed to work out Zoom and to test it out we had an impromptu dance around complete with all the laughter that goes with Zumba this morning which was just what I needed. Dancing bare foot on carpet, dressed in warm clothes is not the usual way I do Zumba but really who cares.

Looking back on this blog earlier this morning I found it hard to believe that it was only Friday that the deeper restrictions came in. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we adapt to new situations when we have no real choice and when instead of resisting them we allow ourselves to go with the flow and make the best of them.