Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Life After Lockdown

As I sit in my bed, snuggled under my duvet on a July evening as the rain beats down at my bedroom window - such is a British summer, I'm struck by how much has changed since the last family life update I wrote back in March.

I ended that post with the sentence "Hopefully next time I write one of these posts, the virus will be a distant memory and things will be back to normal"...so convinced was I that something as awful as this couldn't possibly last for more than a few months - it was just too overwhelming a thought to comprehend.

I almost expected to wake up one day and hear that someone had made a big mistake, that it wasn't real after all and life as we knew it could resume - I often still find myself wishing for that to happen.

But here we are. It is real, and instead of expecting it all to be over and done with in a few months - I find myself wondering if it will even be over with in a few years! My most hated phrase these days is "The New Normal" - it implies to me that this is how our lives are going to look forever now, and I can't stand the thought of that. I have a physical reaction every time I hear those words spoken.

The past few months have been a blur, in all honesty. There were days that everything felt fine - days where I was so grateful for our little bubble, for our health and for the fact that our work-from-home/homeschool lifestyle allowed us to suffer minimal disruption compared to many.

Then there were some very dark weeks - when family tragedies, mental health and lockdown pressure became far too much to handle.

In all honesty, I think we've come out of lockdown as different people in many ways - far more than I could list here. I feel as though my priorities are different now. Things that used to keep me awake at night no longer ping up on my radar...yet simultaneously anxieties that I thought I'd long since overcome have resurfaced with a vengeance.

My mental health feels in a far more fragile state than it has done in a long time, but yet I also feel more self-assured and confident than before too. Perhaps because I've realised what a true waste of energy it is to spend any time at all caring about what other people think of me or my life - in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter one iota.

Since the lifting of the lockdown, we've been very cautious. We made the decision to take things on a week by week basis - reassessing what we're comfortable with doing and what we want to keep away from each Sunday evening.

So far the changes have been minuscule - we haven't returned to any restaurants or bars and don't yet have any plans to, we haven't been to any theme parks or many days out at all. So far we've had one family day out which was at a local open air seaside fairground - we enjoyed the day but felt it was too busy and that people weren't sticking to social distancing enough for our liking, so it's put us off wanting to do anything like it again any time soon.

Instead we've been going to play parks in the evening after everyone else has gone home, and sticking to forests and secluded spots where we don't need to worry too much.

We did have Tyne's belated Battlefield birthday with some of his friends which was lovely, and he was absolutely delighted to be able to see them again - but that's been our only catch up with friends so far as I'm still too nervous to mingle too often with people.

Holidays have been on my mind a lot lately, as we're all really missing traveling - we usually go away somewhere every couple of months so to not have been anywhere yet in 2020 feels very strange to all of us!
 Our much anticipated Florida trip has of course had to be postponed. I was hopeful at first that we may be able to make it, but it became clear over the last month or two that it just wasn't going to be sensible - once they announced the cancellation of the Halloween parties, we finally went ahead and officially postponed.

As it stands we're scheduled to go next September instead - which would be lovely as it would mean we'd be spending my 40th birthday there - but as of right now, I'm not feeling particularly confident that it will be safe enough by then. I really hope to be proven wrong!

I've been changing my mind about doing a European holiday every other day - as much as the idea of a break appeals to me, I think this weeks situation with Spain has finally convinced me that it isn't the best idea to travel anywhere right now. It's a personal decision of course and I don't judge anyone who chooses to go abroad, but I think I'd be too anxious to enjoy it.

We're looking at having a little caravan holiday in Cornwall in September and perhaps visiting somewhere in the UK we haven't been before such as Northern Ireland or York. Even the thought of that makes me nervous but I think a break and a change of scenery would do us all a lot of good.

One positive thing to have come out the last few months was that it helped me to really think about what I want to achieve in life - what no longer sits right with me about the work I do (I've become quite anti-capitalist since becoming more politically aware, and this jars with elements of blogging -  the elements that earn me a living!!!),  what I love about the work I do (raising awareness, connecting with people, doing public speaking on topics that I'm passionate about) and what I'd like to do going forwards.

With that in mind, I was spurred on to decide on a whole new career path which I' m so excited about - and this coming week, I'll be returning to education to qualify. It's going to take me a year to qualify in my chosen field, and then I intend to study for a degree with the Open University starting in 2021.

I'm incredibly nervous about all of this as it's been almost 15 years since I was last in education and this is all a completely new field unlike anything I've ever been involved in before (I will talk more about it at some point, but right now I prefer to keep it just for myself....I've been finding a lot more value in privacy lately too) - but I'm also excited and ready for the challenge.

I honestly don't think I'd have made these new life choices if lockdown hadn't happened, so for that - at least - I'm grateful.

I hope you've also been able to take some positives away from this difficult period. If nothing else, 2020 will certainly be a year none of us will forget in a hurry.

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