Ten months ago almost to the day, as we went into the first lockdown I wrote about how we dare hope. I chose the image of a snowdrop as they were just coming to the end of their blooming season, and here we are again, snowdrops just starting to flower again – the circle of life is irrepressible.
Now, so many months and changes, heartache and adjustments later, I cannot help reflect on what the past ten months have meant to me.
I have been living the lockdown cliché in so many ways: making sourdough, growing vegetables, baking more cakes than my waistline need, having Zoom socials with friends and family, taking my daily constitutional one-hour walk in the countryside I so love, on-line yoga, face-masked trips to the supermarket. I joined the “Scrubbers” sewing hospital scrubs when the supply ran out early in the pandemic, helped make Christmas decorations to cheer up the village – all things I never had time for before and rather enjoy doing (except the supermarket trips, but needs must!).
Professionally I have settled into the same rhythm as everyone else privileged enough to be able to work from home. Video-calls, screen sharing, curated backgrounds… Work carried on with barely a hiccup after the initial crisis management and slow-down while we all got used to working from home.
I have experienced exactly the same impact as my clients have been telling me about: feeling like I am sleeping at the office rather than working at home, screen fatigue, loss of human contact. The impact on our mental health of losing our liberty, being starved of human contact and interaction with those we hold dear. Learning to lead, learn and contribute remotely. Illness and loss of family and friends. I have personally been spared the pressure of caring for children and home schooling, financial hardship, food poverty, uncertainty about jobs and redundancies so many people have had to deal with, and for that I am humbled and deeply grateful.
Working with frontline staff and those who continue to work in health and social care has brought home the dedication of those who help and care for us. We cannot begin to imagine the long-term impact of this extraordinary pressure on a system staffed with exhausted and traumatised professionals. They need all the support we can give them, even if it is just by sticking to the rules and keeping safe. We owe them at least that much and so, so much more.
Global political and climate pressures have of course continued, even escalated, and the pandemic has shown up inequality and tensions in a very stark light, making me reflect on and question my own responses and attitudes.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by everything, to lose hope and perspective. And here is where I do believe we have a choice. We can choose what we pay attention to. We can choose what we focus and act on. Choice is empowering. Allowing ourselves to actively choose is freeing.
Last year I wrote ’Let us work to come out of this stronger – more community, humanity and climate minded, more resilient.’
I have certainly noticed and experienced the joy of a renewed community spirit, neighbourly support, increased fitness, inventiveness, entrepreneurial behaviour, resilience, healthier eating, better quality time with family, more local business support, new friendships, new beginnings. Enjoying virtual concerts, exhibitions, travels and gardens, brought to us by hugely creative and inventive people. We have seen what ‘enough is enough’ looks like on the global political and societal stage and it has lifted my heart whenever someone took a principled stand.
Let us mourn our losses while also focussing on the sometimes surprising new shoots of hope. The human spirit is resilient – we get used to things, we evolve, we adapt, we endure. We even thrive in unexpected ways.
I will choose to focus on what CAN be done, rather than what CAN’T. I will choose how and where I spend my time and attention – where it really matters to me or someone else, where it brings joy.
While storm Christoph brings another round of misery and challenge, I will choose to notice the aconites and snowdrops blooming, the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips pushing through the wet soil and the buds slowly forming on the trees.
Hope and choice springs eternal. May this be a year of renewal.