I had to question myself the other day, only days before the big festive day.
“Why was I so behind in Christmas preparations when we had been in iso over half the year?”
Why wasn’t I prepared?
Why didn’t I get to it earlier?
What was I doing ALL THAT TIME?
It’s enough to make you feel down and unaccomplished, especially in comparison to those that share their Christmas achievements, way from, I don’t know, OCTOBER.
But it’s been a tough year. A tough year for many. A tough year for ALL.
Like something I read on social media… we have all been in different boats. Some of us went through the pandemic in a fully-manned yacht… others were swept up in the storm from within the rickety confines of their dinghy.
Everyone has had such a different journey, so it’s important not to compare their covid boat ride, with yours.
Just like all of life, really.
We are all on a different life journey. Things will happen at different times for ALL of us.
We will be sad when others are happy, and vice versa.
We will be well when others are sick.
And vice versa.
Personally, I had both good and bad. Good in that I was fortunate enough to get a job just as the lockdown began.
Bad in that I experienced a bevy of health problems that manifested physically, and then caused me a great deal of mental stress.
When you throw in the worries, routines, and schedules of all those around you – children, partners, parents, family, friends…
No wonder we have barely held on.
I am here to tell you.. if you’ve managed to get to Christmas by the skin of your teeth… it’s ok.
This is your journey, remember. Be easy on yourself.
Look after yourself this holiday season. Be kind to others, but most importantly yourself.
You are here. You have survived. That is more than enough.
From now, until forever more, we will have the phrases –
“A new normal.”
“Flattening the curve.”
It’s unprecedented. We’ve never been through anything like this before, or at least no one has for a century. As we try to adjust to a new way of living, breathing and being, I thought it might be a good idea to re-jig a list I wrote last year, and make it all ‘corona friendly.’
A lot of my earlier points I’ve re-posted here again because they still apply… but mostly I just wanted to put together a little how-to of ways to help you get by in this uncertain time, if not just for all of you… but for myself as well.
I might do gratitude in myother blog, but trust me, I need reminders too.
Because appreciation of life amidst difficulty is a continuous work in progress.
Please feel free to add things that make you smile, or help you simply get by, in the comments below. Some of us will be taking things harder, some a bit easier, but it’s important to remember we are all going through this in one way or another, and also to remember, the bigger picture.
If all you are doing is surviving, you’re doing great.Well done.
But if you need a little something else to keep your mind busy and have you looking forward, then read on…
Drink a caffeinated beverage.
Coffee, black tea, green tea… or just jump to the ‘other’ stuff.
It’s 4pm somewhere in the world, right?
(Alcohol abuse is not condoned here… because if you can’t party with it you’re doing something wrong!)
Put on some loud music.
Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance is strongly recommended (going by my own personal pick-me-up experiences with that song) but really, anything that will get the blood pumping, your fingers tapping, and your feet dancing along.
Music is sweet, and so necessary for the soul.
Look in the mirror and laugh at yourself.
Even if you force a laugh, you will end up doubling over with real laughter over how stupid you look when you’re fake laughing.
Or else, smile really hard. Try not to burst out laughing. No really, TRY.
Was that pimple always there?
I never noticed those lines.
I really need a brow pluck.
All valid thoughts that may arise, but trust me it’s a very awareness-producing exercise. Hell at the very least, you will suddenly know yourself more intimately than you did before.
Go through old photos.
This is bound to make you feel better instantly. What a mind-trip this can be, going back to years and years ago. Go to your memory bank of choice… physical photo album or digital device.
And if you find you don’t have a collection of properly stored photos, well that may just be a nice little project you can do… being productive, clearing and sorting memories from your life, while filling up the current space with pictures of yourself and loved ones.
Take 3 slow breaths.
Do it now. Can you feel that? Your heartbeat slowing?
And if you think having littlies makes it impossible to do yoga, think again. There’s a tribe called Cosmic Kids Yoga, and they have hundreds of themed yoga videos for kids, ranging from popular movies like Frozen and Spiderman, all the way to movement based off the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
More info at thislink here, or find them on YouTube.
Write it out.
Having spent my whole life writing it out, I can tell you the therapeutic benefits of getting things out on paper are enormous. You don’t have to be Shakespeare… sure many are sprucing their motivations of starting the next great novel, but all you need to do is BLAH it out.
Just set yourself a timer, and write for 5 minutes straight. No breaks. No stopping. Whatever comes into your head, get it out in front of you.
You will be amazed at some of the crap random shitty unusual scary enlightening thoughts that suddenly purge themselves from you.
If you want, burn it at the end. Or keep it as a little time capsule of your own experience of surviving this corona experience.
Yes you heard me. SURVIVING.
Go for a walk.
Or a bike ride. This is about the only one we can do now. This one is so free, and so easy. We may be limited in our social movements, but the fact that we can connect with nature so freely, so easily, just by putting on some sneakers and throwing on a jacket… just do it.
This will save us all.
Look out the window.
Dream. Just imagine… stuff. Ideas. Wishes. Hopes.
Make a post-corona list.
While you’re dreaming, make yourself one of these. Me and baby girl have started one of these lists verbally, and often we refer to it when we’re struggling in the day to day.
Write, or just plan all the things you want to do when this isolation is over.
Watch how excited you get!
Some on my list for example…
Have coffee in a café.
Walk on the beach.
Give my parents and sister a big hug.
Have a massive shopping day.
Invite everyone to our post-corona party. !!!!!!!!!!
I know we’re not there yet, but thinking about it gives me so much hope.
Sit in your yard.
Sit under a tree. Or on your balcony. Lounge about on the porch.
If you’re limited for space, just open the window when you’re dreaming on the point above.
Take a nap.
If time allows you (and let’s face it, certain family members too) there is no time like the present to get some extra shut eye.
Because when the world starts up again, you ain’t gonna wanna sleep much.
I shouldn’t really need to say this, but sadly so many of us forget the bare basics to keep our bodies functioning at optimal level, and this happens more often than not when we are stressed, or going through sudden change.
Get a funky water bottle (order online through your favourite shopping site) and at least you’ll be motivated to bring bottle to lips throughout the day with something looking so cool.
Read a book.
Oh yes. Hell yes. Do it. Read them ALL. No explanation needed here.
We don’t need any excuses to escape to a magical place away from our current realities.
Take a bath.
Hell to the yeah! Baths are sooo not just for kids. Once you hit adult-age, they become a necessity, to help replenish, restore and reenergise.
All you need to do is turn on the faucet, maybe light a candle, and if you’re feeling for it, pour yourself a glass of wine too…
And lock the damn door. You need YOU time.
Ideas to keep us sane.
Do some online shopping.
There is no time like the present to buy things online, in turn supporting some local and small businesses while you’re doing so. And the rush you get from clicking “add to cart…” ooh. Gets me all heady. 😉
This is so easy. Whether it’s an old tv show, a long-time favourite movie, or some comedian on youtube. There’s nothing like a feel-good watch to lift the mood.
I love watching comedians online… one of my faves, the hilariously ethnic and blatantly honest, Sooshi Mango.
HA HA HA!
Talk to someone.
With technology so prevalent in our society, this one is so easy for us all. Call, zoom, even drive by someone’s house and yell across the yard to them (on your way to ‘essential’ shopping of course)… and just hearing someone else’s voice, will be an instant mood lifter.
(Keeping 1.5 metres distance of course 😉 )
Pat a pet.
That’s my furry Mister F. 😉
This is easy if you have one, but if you don’t?
You can virtually add an animal into your house. Just type one into Google, (eg. lion) and when the animal shows up click on the ‘View in 3D’ button.
Then click ‘View in your space.’
Find the ‘ground/floor’ in your phone and arrange accordingly…
And voila! Animal appears in your room! (As close as you might get to patting a real lion too!)
Sure you won’t be patting anything, but you sure as hell will be entertained seeing a zoo of animals pop up through your phone, in your kitchen!
Engage your mind with puzzles and games.
I bet no one thought jigsaw puzzles were going to rock in our technologically advanced 2020, and yet hear we are, chasing down 1000 pieces online and spending big bucks on the last Disney ones we can source…
Whether it’s a puzzle, a sudoku riddle, a crossword, or anything else that gets your mind ticking, it’s going to keep you engaged and thinking, and that is something we should never stop doing, isolation or not.
Or colour in. If you have those mindfulness pictures, great, if you don’t, print any old diagram off the net.
Doing something you haven’t done for so long, is great for the mind and soul.
And if all that doesn’t tickle your fancy… how’s about going back to your childhood?
Boardgames. Jenga, jenga, jenga…!
You don’t even need to go to Bunnings for supplies.
Start in your yard. Observe. Pick. Weed. Look around and respond accordingly.
Listen to nature, she’ll point you in the right direction.
Get the creative juices pumping. Start a new project. The options are ENDLESS.
Write a novel.
There are online courses just waiting for you, and I should know. A great starting point is the Australian Writers Centre.
As I mentioned earlier you can organise your photos during this time of iso, and there is no more creative way to do that than by scrapbooking. You can order items online from Kaisercraft or Riot, both places I have used in my own scrapbooking, and where I have accounts with both. (P.S. it’s free!)
This is a great one. I’ve recently started following Jamie Oliver and Marion Grasby on facebook… Chinese egg drop soup anyone? 3 minute tomato pasta sauce? All these and more I will be making soon!
Leah Itsines is another local gal I follow, and her meals are easy, delicious and so easy to source ingredients for (as well as being great for meal prepping – winning!)
Type in their names on facebook, insta or YouTube to start getting food inspiration ASAP.
Start an exercise routine.
You don’t have to tell me you can’t hit the gym. ‘Cause you know what I’m gonna say.
Go online peeps.
Sam Wood and Rachael Finch are just two of the people I follow on insta, and there you can find video links as well as where to sign up to become members and receive further workout benefits.
It’s never been an easier time to be in isolation. We can do this, while still doing almost everything else that we want to from the comfort of our homes.
Uneven door? Need to fix a handle?
Having a house that you tended to yourself, will be the most satisfying thing once all of this is over.
And then you’ll be able to call your friends over for post–corona drinks, and to observe your fancy house handy work too. 😉
Purge purge purge.
If you think clearing things from your life is not a creative pursuit, think again.
The intense therapeutic benefits that come from removing old, useless, redundant items from your life, and bringing in room for new, or just giving you air to breathe, well –
It can bring a new lease on life.
Start small, always start small. A drawer, a stash of papers. Don’t think of the big picture here. When it comes to cleaning, clearing or tidying, it’s best to always zoom in on a small task that you can achieve, because looking at the entire wardrobe that needs clearing and sorting, well you’re gonna be putting that task off for months, if not years to come.
But start with the right corner of that top shelf? That is do-able. That you might be able to knock off in 15-30 minutes.
And then when you get that down, watch how motivated you are to clear the left hand side of the top shelf.
And so on and so forth.
Then, just reap the mental benefits of all that SPACE.
Learn a new/old instrument.
Alright, buying an instrument at this time might be a little tough, but if there’s one laying around your house (most people have one they’ve deserted at some point) a really inexpensive way to tinker with the thing is to look up YouTube videos. Yes, YouTube! (I may need to rename this post The YouTube guide to getting through iso…)
A world of possibilities!
Make a jumper or a scarf, a beanie even, for that first day in Winter (that’s most likely for us in Australia isn’t it?) where we’ll be allowed out of our homes to go do WHATEVER, WHEREVER we choose.
Pick a bright colour. Look up some knitting templates online. Here I found some for you.
Finally, remember to keep things in perspective.At our core we are made up of atoms. Energy, air, and yet in human form all we see is hard matter. Think of all those who have come before us. Think of the future generations who will follow. Imagine the Universe. Imagine God. Just imagine Mother Nature if that is what you please.
And then see yourself as this tiny little invisible dot on the world map that is living an existence in amongst all of the shared past, present and future histories of anyone who has ever passed a breath.
Sure, you matter.We all do. But how much do your problems hold weight? All the little trivialities of our life, what has become of our day-to-day… it is hard. But how much will it matter tomorrow, next week, next year, or in 20 years?
If it still holds you down, speak to a professional. (This you can do online too).
But if your problems suddenly seem pointless and irrelevant…
Christmas has always been one of my most favourite times of the year. There are carols, festive movies, everything is red, green, gold and sparkly, and let’s face it, by December Melbourne weather is starting to show us some decent warmth.
Holidays are near, and LOVE IS ALL AROUND.
I know and I feel that to be true. But I’ve been thinking a lot about another group of people.
It’s the time of year where people start talking about a fresh start, a new beginning. More so now because we’re not just entering a new year next year, but we’re entering a new DECADE.
People don’t just get together and celebrate Christmas work parties and KK catch ups with friends… celebrations occur. The end of the year brings good news in work and school results, people use the timing of festive happiness to celebrate and bring forth happy news from other areas in their life…
All in all, this December I am seeing a lot of good news stories.
And I LOVE it.
But there are not all who love it.
And by that I mean that they are not loving anything, nothing at all.
I feel particularly this year for the people who are struggling.
There are people in hospital who don’t know how they are going to get through the month, relying on machines to help them live… let alone wasting time thinking of what New Year goals they are going to break in the second week of January.
There are people who are missing loved ones that have departed. This Christmas may be the first for them without someone they love, and seeing Christmas cards in stores and Hallmark moments being broadcast all around as the ideal Christmas with the perfect family, would make this such a hard time.
Then there are those that are estranged from family, and that all too common question “Where do you celebrate Christmas?” makes it almost a disappointment to speak that they aren’t spending it with family. Having people nosy into your personal business, isn’t the merriest of feelings.
The approaching new year also makes you reflect, and often people don’t like what they discover. Looking back at the year that has passed can make one feel like a disappointment if they feel they haven’t achieved what they set out to… the absence of a goal or achievement can be hard to swallow, and a bitter reminder that a year has been lost. Looking forward to a new year then can be overwhelming, and a fresh start mentality is difficult to focus on and is far from their mind.
This year, I am really feeling for all those who are struggling.
I am not a professional, and I don’t know what to do in every difficult situation… but as a person who has gone through hard times, I can offer some personal advice…
Take every moment at a time. Don’t look too much into the future and worry about what’s to come. Just focus on doing the best you can at this point in time with what you have.
Focus simply, on gratitude. Focus on the little things, and on what you DO have. Think about the roof over your head, the comfortable bed that you sleep in, and that person who calls you because they love you. These are the things worth thinking about. These are the things that matter.
Stay off social media. Reading other people’s ‘highlight’ reels is not going to help. A word of caution: if you find yourself comparing your life against someone else’s, remember that what someone posts is just one moment in time, and it provides absolutely no backstory or context of actual reality. Most of the time these repetitive highlight reels come from serial posters, who require self-gratification in the form of constant likes and comments… that is, they are suffering for some reason and need their ego inadvertently stroked to make themselves feel better… They need the attention constantly on them or else they risk suffering a meltdown.
Feel proud that you have beautiful things that you could share, but you don’t. It’s called self-command and privacy.
And as much as I do love this festive season… this too shall pass. It all does. Just hold on. Hold on knowing that like one of my favourite quotes:
“Good times and bad times have one thing in common, they never last forever.”
Don’t be disheartened by this quote. Feel humbled you are able to grace this earth.
I hope you have a great festive season, and just remember… moment by moment.