Our front door was always a rotating flow of coming and goings; deliveries coming in, errands flowing out, school routines backwards and forwards, family and friends… it currently stands still, a barrier that keeps us safe as we cocoon inside.
Many (understandable) are fearful of the future and even of the now. However, when I saw this quote it summed up how I felt in this moment. We can’t stop the waves and perhaps we shouldn’t even try – perhaps everything is as its meant to be, however chaotic and alien it may feel. Perhaps this is the break that not only our planet needs, but our minds, bodies and souls need. I read an article that fish have returned to the canals of Italy, that air quality is improving and the ozone layer is fixing itself at a rapid pace.
The word ‘routine’ seems alien, that up until a few weeks a go was essential to our productivity…we pause…we adjust and perhaps if we learn or attempt to surf, to enjoy the tides, to ride high and fall with the flow of the waves…perhaps rather than feel anxious, we can instead feel blessed.
We can’t deny the waves that wash over our planet, we can’t control them and so it makes sense to allow them to wash over us. For me that means enjoying every moment with my family, using technology to face time loved ones further away, living in the now and making do with what we have got, rather than worrying about what we don’t have. I’ve only ever body surfed, but it was a lot of fun and perhaps in the future I’ll take some lessons and learn how to surf for real, until then I’ll watch Moana and take inspiration from lyrics such as…
We read the wind and the sky when the sun is high We sail the length of the seas on the ocean breeze At night, we name every star We know where we are We know who we are, who we are
Perhaps in this uncertain time, as we take time to pause we will also learn a little more about who we are and develop a deeper sense of purpose, that to me seems like a wave worth riding.
As a child I was brought up by two exceptional parents, I’m blessed. I was taught and given a range of experiences and along the way reminded to say thank you for them. At Christmas, after birthdays and sometimes randomly in the year my Mum would help me to create thank you cards for gifts i’d received or teachers who had guided me, perhaps even for a person who has shown me a new skill or given up their time for me. As a result I appreciate all I have as an adult, has good manners and passes these skills down to my son. I begin each day by writing down what I am grateful for and before my son goes to sleep we exchange three grateful moments from the day. Appreciation helps both centre you, tell those around you that you are thankful for them but also, is a foundation for more gratitude.
It’s often in the darker times that we truly appreciate those around us, those who go above and beyond or those who simply give what they can when they can – they are enough. When our daughter passed away I learnt who my tribe was, mainly just by how those who loved me knew how to dance around me. voicemails left saying ‘call me when you’re ready to talk, we can talk about shoes if you’d prefer’ or my best friend who wanted to be physically by my side and I told her it was okay, she didn’t need to come…moments later I picked the phone back up and she made what must of been a lonely car journey to hold me, I needed her.
In August I was also reminded that gratitude is also abundant in the joyful times in our lives – the same dear friend got married. Love for the couple flowed and it was a privilege to be part of a piece of their history. She is still on cloud nine and rightly so, I couldn’t be happier for her. We had many deep chats though watery eyes and glances across the room that day and I realised that a best friend really is someone you can sit in silence with and know that you’ve both had the most wonderful conversation with.
For the last few weeks she and her husband have been in isolation, both of them ill and I have been worried about them. Some how from beneath the cough and chest congestion, from the depths of her sofa…and probably her onesie, she made the time to send my son, her godson a birthday card. She organised presents to be delivered and when he wanted to FaceTime she did the best fake ‘I’m healthy, nothing to worry about voice’ I’ve ever heard.
If you catch yourself feeling sad in moments of uncertainty, if perhaps you have distance between you and you’re loved ones. Reflect on how good it will be when you next see them, how amazing that hug will feel and how blessed you are to have ever had them in your universe. Sometimes its the little things in life that enrich our world and my best friend is under five foot small…. look at what you do have, have had and will have, suddenly with a pinch of gratitude the world can feel like it’s scooped you up and wrapped a big red bow around it. Enjoy the journey and smother yourself in gratitude.
Today is Sunday 22nd March 2020 and this post is dedicated to my son who turned seven today.
A bizarre birthday today, I have enough cake to feed at least thirty people…we are down to three. *An amazing problem to have. Social distancing means his party was cancelled and I’m left with empty party bags, then make up play dates made earlier last week have also now been cancelled. The post being slower than it usually is means only a couple of cards have made it through…he doesn’t care. He doesn’t know too much about the worlds issues as we shield him as much as possible but he is happy that school is closed, knows it’s to keep everyone safe, knows he is loved and then broke me with a thoughtful act of selflessness.
Today is also Mother’s Day in the UK. We as a family don’t really celebrate, acknowledge with perhaps a card and some flowers and then it becomes a normal day. Since the death of my daughter in 2009 I’ve never been a fan.
This morning little dude ran into our room for hugs and then quickly made his way down to the living room to see 4 presents. Social distancing again means family gifts have not arrived. We made a big deal and encouraged him to dive in an open the gifts he did have. He ran off.
Moments later he reappeared from his bedroom with a homemade card for me for Mother’s Day. Nobody asked him to make it
…and it made me think. If my seven year old can think of me before opening presents on his special day, if he can accept many disappointments over the last few weeks…can we not as adults share the food supplies in the shops? Can we not be kind? Can we not stop going out unnecessarily, the longer we do the longer this isolation will continue and the death toll will rise. Perhaps we all need to think like the mini man I’m ever so proud to call my son.
The world needs more kindness. As a result on Instagram I’m running a series on my stories called #kindnessiscontagious if you see anything you’d like to add please message me. Sharing of kindness is worth spreading – Unlike snot and germs. Rather than reflect on what you don’t have at this moment in time, enjoy what you do have. Enjoy family time, the gift of pausing if you aren’t still at work, make memories together and perhaps even step away from the media and enjoy your bubble of solitude. No matter how dim the dark is you can always find a glimmer of hope, perhaps like the quote suggests, be that kindness reminder for others.
It’s 1:20am and I can’t sleep, the unknown has taken over. I’m not panicked, I’m not particularly fearful but I’ve no idea what being a Teacher means. Just after 5pm today I like most of the nation expected Mr Johnson to shut the shop up on schools and was ready to bed down with my family and wait for the storm to pass, which if you read the headlines you may perceive as truth… to me he said much more.
He said “exams in May and June won’t be happening” that’s two years of mine and my students life that were made practically obsolete in seconds… of course they’ve learnt things that will stay with them, but I somehow feel robbed for them so close to the finish line. I truly adore my yr 11 classes and I’m not even sure if I’ll see them again? I doubt they will have a prom, perhaps in these times that seems superfluous but to those that have bought ‘the dress’ and dreamed of that evening they were robbed by a virus.
He said “schools will stay open for those that are vulnerable “ and my heart bled for every head teacher and headship team across the country…what does that even look like? How will that be staffed? What will we teach? How will we know who to prepare for…rolling with it seems vague and uneasy.
He said “we will baby sit the nations key workers children” and my profession and career goals became a blur. On one hand proud to serve my country in some kind of capacity (many thanks to the NHS and emergency services teams for all you do and will continue to do)… on the other hand that’s not why I teach secondary? Selfishly questioning why I should leave my child to help out another’s, worrying that by sending my son to school that I might expose him…where did the plan to wrap him up go?
I also know that this can alter again in the next few days, the dynamics of what was asked are so complex and a national lock down is coming our way but I wanted to write in this moment and capture these thoughts that have separated me from my pillow because I think it will be a huge shift in how we move forward, in my sense of purpose, in what Education is and looks like after this moment.
And then I laugh at the image that I honest created prior to the demand in toilet rolls and as I smile. I know it will all work out. It will be okay. I know it will be an honour to look after each and every child that comes through our school gates and I’m glad that the government is thinking about free school meals and the impacts on financially vulnerable families. I know that our priority across the world is our health. We will thrive and in my classroom we will learn what really matters and perhaps until now that was never on the curriculum.
Ive always like the solar system, science never really appealed to me at school but how can you ignore the beauty of the nights sky? The constellations, the history of how various stages of humanity used the stars and planets as guides, the heat of the sun, the planets lined up like Russian dolls hanging off of my sons ceiling…and the moon. By far my personal favourite, that smiling face of glow and delight that’s force pulls and pushes of tides and if i’m honest my heart strings.
Over the last few months I’ve been tracking the moons phases and can see patterns in my life where the moon is waxing and waning. Whilst I refuse to discuss the chaotic and perpetual negative cycle of fear we are currently being fed by mainstream media, social media and the miserable lady at the bus stop, this quote fed my soul in a way that those outlets haven’t and so I had to use it.
Amongst the depths of the dark we can appreciate the light of day. If we chose to discard the negative surface of fear, underneath we can see glimmers of hope, love and happiness. Stories of human compassion, pure kindness and this is what I’ve decided to put into my bubble. Where people see confinement and lack, I can decide to see the opportunity to be at home, surrounded by my loved ones. I can be thankful for the health of my loved ones and can offer help to those who I’m able to. Like the lady who had a four month old baby screaming and couldn’t find Calpol in any of our local stores…I offered ours, we don’t need it. She does.
Perspective is a difficult thing to see in the dark, but look to the moon for guidance. It allows us to appreciate what we do have, what experiences we have had rather than what we are yet to do. Contrast is a bitter sweet gift, but perhaps we are more like the moon that we realise? The darker times often inform the lighter moments of life and much like the cycle of the moon, it will pass and we will be grateful and full again.
Look after loved ones and do all you can for those at risk, above all be kind even in the loo roll aisle.
I’ve often wondered how an egg shell can be fragile and crack with ease and at other times be solid enough to bring a baby bird safely into the world, apparently it’s all do with its thickness and shape. Designed to move around in the nest and not get squashed…Mother Nature is an awesome and a mighty force.
As humans we too have shells, you can’t see them but they are present. Some are wrapped to protect people because they’ve experienced harm, they build solid walls around them and it can be hard to communicate with them, let alone create a meaningful relationship. Other are fragile, their shells break with ease and you can see the cracks in their smiles, in the way they walk, perhaps a lack of eye contact or through muffled conversation.
As April approaches I’d invite you to become more dynamic in your shell. In fact, I’d encourage you to have a walk in wardrobe of shells. Much like a hermit crab, we need different level of shells (boundaries) for different situations. Sometimes we need to opt for a thick wall to shield us from the world, solitude has its place, but at times we need to invite others in to share our shells, a large open space where we can mix with ease and light. Of course, we get to choose our shell and the level of shell needed for the interactions. On a day to day basis I would select a kinder egg shell. A thin layer of foil would keep the elements at bay, for those dearer to me (who I let in) we could share my chocolate layer and I’d save the joy (the toy) for myself.
Sometimes we all, much like the hermit crab need to be brave – we need to leave our shells to grow. Bare and exposed we would step out of our comfort zones and this is where we would need to be kind and compassionate. If you see someone leaving their comfort shell, increase respect for them. If you see a kinder egg on the shelf, handle it with care and if it does become damaged, much like each other continue to love it despite its broken parts, after all we all have joy inside of us waiting to be recognised.
Despite what you may think of your parents, the chances of them meeting was around 1 in 20,000…for them to stay together long enough to procreate you need to add a few more zeros and then for the sperm to meet the egg, for the egg not to mutate and for a successful fertilisation is not where it stops, it has to be the right sperm with half your genetic make-up and the exact 1 egg (out of 100,000 viable eggs). Anyway, that takes the probability of the chosen sperm and chosen egg resulting in you to 1 in 400 quadrillion. If that’s not a miracle I’m not sure what is?
So if you often say things like ‘I’m not that lucky’ you’re an out right liar. I could add more statistics, like the chances of you being healthy, wealthy or even having access to basic human rights, but I’m not a logical lady and I feel like you get my point…you’re amazing just the way you are.
How you honour that miracle is by feeding your brain with nourishing thoughts – tell yourself what you can do, rather than what you can’t. Change the language of ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’t yet’ and the miracle continues.
Apparently we have one life (I’m not convinced) but if that’s true as a thirty something female living in the UK my life expectancy is around 88 years old, I also have a 1 in 10 chance of living to be 100 years old. If we take the egg and sperm statistics then that’s pretty high. My privileged birth means that I’m being given the largest opportunity of time and life that history has ever seen…I’m not going to waste it looking back.
We each have unique skills, everyone is good at something (or even a collection of skills and talents). You aren’t a one dimensional droid and there is an entire world beyond the nine to five Monday to Friday, be honest with yourself about how you want to live, what you want to experience and make it happen. I’ve got the next fifty to seventy years to make good on those dreams and my starting point, like yours was that I’m a miracle. Don’t ignore your potential, I plan to be doing yoga on my one hundredth birthday and telling stories to my great grandchildren that are worthy of a life well lived.