Even when the decorator phones late on Sunday, after you have stripped three rooms, to say he can't come this Monday, will next Monday do!!!
Even when the decorator phones late on Sunday, after you have stripped three rooms, to say he can't come this Monday, will next Monday do!!!
I know, I know. I contradict myself!
But there are times when lowering standards is the wise thing to do. In a crisis the housework might go hang. Obvious.
Can you think of an area of your life which is causing you stress, where lowering your standards might be the wise thing to do?
..to lift your spirits.
This has rarely failed to work for me
No matter what you happen to be doing, do it better! Up your game a notch or two.
Making yourself a cup of tea? Serve it like it's served in a super cafe. Add a flower.
Cleaning the bathroom? Make it sparkle like the bathroom in a boutique hotel - add your best towels, fresh soap...
You get the idea? Whatever you are planning to do after you have read this....raise your standards and lift your spirits. Tell me if it works for you too.
A sunny warm morning after two days of solid rain is always special.
I did the little Marie Kondo meditation before having my first coffee and
Contentment washed over me..
Too often our buttons are pressed, our cage is rattled, or our outrage is triggered.
We can observe or create our own paradise moments to counteract this.
I believe paradise moments happen all the time.
You have to be alert for them, they can be brief and easily missed....
Have you noticed any lately?
Some we choose, and some are thrust upon us!
Some are overwhelming and hard to understand or accept, like this pandemic.
Have you noticed changes in relationships? To have been in lockdown together must have tested many relationships to the limit. But even less intimate relationships may have undegone changes as people respond in their different ways to the new situations.
I wonder if introverts have become more introverted...lockdown and social restrictions could feel like permission to be an introvert! To be an exttrovert may be even harder in these strange times when so many social norms have been upturned.
Many people have changed their online habits, abandoning social media and taking a break from blogs, both reading them and writing them. One poll said that only 12% of British people wanted their lives to return to the same as they were before the virus hit.
Have you found that some friends have gone very quiet? (Hard not to worry about them,) And that friends from way back have got in touch? Lovely to know you are remembered fondly and to catch up with their lives!
Have you learned new things about yourself? I have always been happy with my own company on the whole, but I realised I need human contact more than I knew when I didn't have it for a spell. Those early days of strict lockdown were lonely. I have also realised that one of the reasons I like to be out and about seeing other places and people is that I like to be looking at things which are not my responsibility! Much as I love my house and garden and am grateful to have them, I am very aware that cleaning and maintaining them, insuring them and managing them, the responsibility of all of it is all up to me. Do you think this must be why holidays can be so important to us?
Last week I met friends in town for an outdoor coffee in the sunshine. Wonderful!! Will a holiday be next?
How are you finding the changes? Annd have you changed do you think?
It's all very interesting (though I wish it wasn't happening!)
...about bereavement from Helen Macdonal,. author of H Is For Hawk
She said you don't 'get over it' but 'You slowly become a new person able to hold the grief and love within yourself and continue.'
Some of you will have found as I did that all the time alone during lockdown brought the pain of the loss all back again. I found myself the other day taking out two knives and forks to set the table, and among some papers I was looking through was a card with a beautiful message which Barry had bought to give to me.
You don't get over it, but you do continue..
My heart goes out as I ex[ect yours does, to those who have been bereaved through lockdown and who have to cope alone without the comfort of a funeral and family and friends. So very hard.
During lockdown I noticed I was talking to myself more.
I also talked to people who have died (quite common I believe).
And as I mentioned recently, to people on programmes I listen to or watch.
But when I found myself talking to the ironong board - 'Well I suppose I should put you away I said to it - I thought it's time to pull myself together and get out more!
This week I will be visiting two friends in their gardens and talking face to face! So exciting.
As I write this I realise that part of the importance to me of comments on this blog, especially during lockdown, is the sense they give me that I am not just talking to myself! That the blog is a real conversation with like-minded people. That I am listening as well as talking. That is's an exchange and not a monologue.
It has helped keep me sane during this weird time.
It goes a long way to filling my well.
Thank you all so much.
Many of us have been for weeks on end thrown entirely upon our own inner resources, and my little crisis of confidence came about I think because mine were quite depleted.
Self doubt creeps in. I have become so aware of how important casual so-called
'small talk' is. Human connection at a very simple level: a few inconsequential words, the touch of a hand, a perfunctory hug - things you may not even notice until they are missing.
Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way talks of filling the well, and I have realised how much seeing different things fills my well. On the once weekly trip to the nearest sipermarket my eyes are on stalks! They greedily take in the way the light on the water is different at the next village, and different again on the more enclosed Holy Loch. The road verges vary on different stretches where they are in woodland or in the open, next to the shore or being cut by the council. A glimpse of the higher mountains to the north is exciting, and as we approach the town I see the changes in the gardens in just one week.
What fills the well for you?
I am the kind of person who thrives on plans and challenges and deadlines, but as we all know it's hard to plan in a pandemic!
However Part One of my new plan (see yesterday's post) got off to a good start this morning and gave impetus to my day. I did one round of the Wim Hof breathing method before I got up. It gives me an instant little burst of energy and is really no effort at all. I did dry skin brushing before my shower - very pleasant and I find my skin needs no creams or lotions if I do this regularly. Two routines which just make me feel good.
So, if Part One is gradually and selectively re-introducing good habits, Part Two is identifying the things which invigorate me. I got the idea from Gwendoline's comment on this recent post.
I thought if something so simple invigorated me for at least half an hour (and gave me pleasure whenever I looked at it for the rest of the day), what else could I be doing to get this feeling several times each day? In the absence of outings and meetings with friends and live music and exhibitions it will have to be more domestic, local things. Preferably not online, wonderful though that can be. I want real rather than virtual.
Walking round the garden with that first cup of tea works on a nice morning, provided I focus on what is new and beautiful and not on the work that needs doing!
I am making a little mental list.
What would be on yours?
This is my default question.
Ask What would be simplest and just do it.
So, admit I am struggling, count my blessings and keep going...
I've just remembered this -
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
It's pretty good isn't it!
Today I will paint over the stain on the bedroom ceiling where the roof leaked, and make a coffee and walnut cake in anticipation of the exciting prospect of having actual visitors. May it be soon.
Warm virtual hugs.
Here are a few quotes from Wintering by Katherine May which made me think it is a good book to read just now, in lockdown.
The subtitle is How I learned to flourish when life became frozen.
It (Winter) is a fallow period in life when you are cut off from the world...Perhaps you are in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds... However it arrives winter is usually involuntary, lonely and deeply painful.
Experiencing illness the author says. I am also being forcibly reminded that this is some kind of a gateway into a new phase in my life...I'm worried that its about doing less, about staying home and giving up on adventures for a while. That's not something I want to learn.
That last bit so resonates with me!
Its a good read, slow paced and thoughtful, though she has an apologetic tone which, if it continues (I am at page 131 - about halfway) might get a bit irritating..
Here in Scotland a second day with no reported deaths from coronavirus gives us hope, and a garden visit from family lifted my spirits more than they know. I felt like a great weight had been lifted from me.
I have spent most of the day reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn who knows how to tell a good story! I have really taken to this daft couple and their rash adventure.. Poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, I've not been so entertained by a book for ages. (Thank you Cath!)
Lots of normally avid readers are saying they are not reading during lockdown. They are finding it difficult to focus, or just can't find the right book, or are too distracted by the news.
What's your experience? And have you any recommendations?
I think I may be burning some midnight oil with this one...
It's oriental poppy time.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie has been a really influential book for me. Her Four Questions and Turaround apply to almost any situation, including the current one, and I find they clarify my thinking.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. It's comforting when other people echo your own thoughts and illuminating and inspiring to find new ways of looking at things. It becomes an interesting conversation which I think is this blog at it's best!
Strategy as well as meaning goal setting and long term planning can also mean adapting to new circumstances, which is what we are all having to do. A dear friend going through difficult times said she felt all at sea and to simply heave to until the tide changes, the wind picks up or the fog lifts and the way ahead can be seen more clearly could be a very wise strategy. We're all in uncharted waters, to extend the metaphor!
My strategy is to give my undivided attention to the garden.
(I have stopped moving furniture and playing Mozart very loud, which I have come to realise is what I tend to do in a crisis.)
The garden is maturing and changing and is in need of proper tlc. It is one of the few things I do where I am not thinking of other things at the same time which will be a very good thing, and since Barry died it has been a bit neglected, though superficially pretty and colourful and has given me huge pleasure.
..with plenty of time to contemplate nature.
It has gone very quiet here on the blog too!
I hope you are all well and copiing.
Thanks Mary for this link about Venice.
Have you tried to do your best all your life? Have you worked hard? Have you always done your utmost for your family? Have you considered other people and tried to be helpful? Have you been through some very difficult times and survived? Have you tried to fulfill your potential? Are you politically aware? Do you try to be a good citizen? Do you support good causes? Do you take your responsibilities seriously? Do you strive to make ethical choices? Do you push yourself to be productive? Or creative?
Are you pretty stressed right now?
I wonder, could you just quietly and maybe without telling anyone, cut yourself a bit of slack/give yourself a gap week or month or year/let the world spin without you for a while/step back a bit/switch off - literally and/or metaphorically/go awol and simply watch the world turning and the seasons changing....just until coronavirus runs its course?
Would the sky fall in do you think?
Would anyone even notice?
Just a thought..
PS. Recipe for coffee and walnut cake tomorrow.
..is so helpful!
I hesitated to write about my difficult feelings in the last few posts. Like most people perhaps, I am trying to put a brave face on things, acknowledge that I am one of the lucky ones, accept that these are unprecedented times and so on and so forth, but.....denying one's true feelings can lead to depression I think, and I know others must be feeling similarly about the loss of freedom and real contact with those they love.
My friend Anna's beautiful funeral service was videod by her family (several of whom are in lockdown in other countries) and sent out to her many friends. I watched it today with tears streaming down my face, grateful for the technology which made it possible and for the skill with which it was done.
I washed my hair (third home haircut now) and changed out of my gardening clothes for my birthday video call with the family. I put on a bright shirt and a necklace, and felt better for it.
I cooked myself Risotto di asparagi e scampi - not as good as Heather's but good all the same.
Am spending the evening answering all your kind and interesting comments. My heart is full.
Today I realised that what I am feeling is deeply sad.
It actually took a bit of thinking to realise that sadness is my dominant emotion right now. Just naming it has somehow been helpful. I am very much a 'glass half full' kind of person and if I feel a bit down can usually talk myself out of it, but this sadness can't be talked away and no amount of distracting activity seems to assuage it.
Like grief perhaps, I just have to learn to live alongside it.
I am sad for all the people who are suffering, and who will suffer, and whomI feel I should be helping.
It's an emotional time - do you know what your feelings are? Have you named them? Would it help?
Trying to make the diffcult decision about Venice I found myself looking for signs. On the seat of the otherwise empty bus was a bottle of antibacterial hand gel which is in short supply in local shops! Was it a sign?
In the Burgh Hall was an exhibition by a Signwriter called Frank Carty and this one struck a chord.. Could it be a message?
I'm not really making light of it - people are dying and many thousands of lives are being affected - but 81% of people who test positive for the coronavirus do not need any treatment at all.....the death rate appears to be 1-2% and 0.1% of Italian towns are affected.
March is my writing month, and I can do this work anywhere. We have put off the decision until the last minute and are listening of course, to the advice from The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
I read with interest this blog post and the two most recent posts on Venezia blog and the interview with Sars expert Dr Sarah Borwein, which encourages caution while warning against panic, and I've marvelled at live web cams of quiet Venice in the sunshine today.
Is anyone else having to reconisider their travel plans?
I am looking back at this post as I ponder the option of whether or not to go.
NB I may not be blogging for a few days!
I want to work again but have I got time?
I have been rethinking some practical things which take up a lot of my time and energy.
I pay someone to cut the grass and hedges now. I have withdrawn from the Open Gardens scheme as I can no longer keep the garden to that high standard. I feed the birds with only one feeder fixed to the window. I pay to have the outside of the windows washed once a month.
My late hustband (first time I have used that phrase - he was actually never late!) did a lot around the place. He cooked, shopped when he went swimiming which was three times a week, he gardened and stacked wood and brought in logs and fixed things and set mouse traps and took things to the recycling. When I could no longer drive because of my eye condition he drove me to the ferry and was there to meet me when I came back, and willingly took me wherever I wanted to go, he delivered paintings to galleries and, and, and....
I now do the work of two people. I am not feeling sorry for myself I am just saying that's how it is. That's the reality.
These are the practicalities. I haven't mentioned the fun outings, the shared meals and coffee breaks, the conversations, the love and the laughter. But that's a whole other story.
The point I want to make is that Barry generously gave me time to paint and to write. I want to paint again and have committed myself to a solo exhibition, so I must figure out how to get back to work and keep the house and garden going.
Something will have to give.
When circumstances change we have to change too.
Barry would also have got rid of that dead mouse in the cupboard! And climbed into the loft to find the source of the mysterious stain on the bedroom ceiling.
Off to do it now!
Any practical tips from readers who have experienced big changes in their circumstances most welcome....it is truly amazing how adaptable we are, don't you think?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)