Today, the UK fell silent to mark one year since lockdown. This has been an incredibly tough year for everyone. The pain and the grief we share all around the world and all the loss many of us experienced will stay with us forevermore. As we come out of Lockdown 2.0, we are now faced with another threat of a third wave since our European neighbours have locked down once more. To say that we are exhausted is an understatement. When we’re just about to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, another hurdle comes to block our way to freedom, but I say, we march on my friends.
To all those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, my heart goes out to all of you. It is important to understand that it is normal and necessary to go through the different stages of grief, no matter how hard it is. Most of all, I believe that people never really go away, that their spirit lives on in our hearts and in our minds. We will honour the lives of the ones we lost, not just on this day but every day of our lives. We will honour and celebrate their lives by spreading love and continuing the good work they have done for so many. When we move on and march forward, it doesn’t mean that we have forgotten them. We move on and live our lives in the best way possible because that’s what they would want for us to do. So onward we go and we march on.
I kept busy in 2020 and I didn’t allow anything to negatively impact my life. I was furloughed for 3 months during the first lockdown but the time flew by and soon enough I found myself back at work with the same routines as before. My other half, Simon, carried on working so didn’t have the same time off I had. It was hard to keep positive at first but Simon is just the perfect partner to go through this pandemic with. We filled our days with work, studying, music, exercise, anime, baking, editing videos and cooking. I always looked forward to him coming home from work while I was furloughed. It was kind of lonely but then again, I also enjoy my own company so I was fine. My lovely piano teacher also kept me going and didn’t stop teaching online. I completed a teaching qualification and continue to study with the help of my tutors to help prepare me for my future endeavours. I focused and worked harder than I ever did before. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t do, I focused on the things I could do and the good things around me. I cleansed myself of the toxic things in my life and it feels so liberating. Upon deep reflection, I learned to let go of the things that only brought me sadness; things that suck my energy and positivity. I stopped watching the news and only read brief summaries of the latest information that were necessary. I refused to let the pandemic affect my vision for the future. My other half and I are very grateful. We kept our jobs and we have learned to appreciate even the smallest things we once thought were insignificant.
We really can’t complain. For those of you who have lost your jobs and find it hard to see a way to move forward and keep going, take some time to gather your thoughts together. This is really the time to take a pause and not act in panic and fear. I’ve been there and I know how hard it is to think straight when all you’re trying to do is keep your head above water. This is a difficult time and these words might seem like nothing right now because it’s so hard to keep hopeful when everything around us have switched off. If you try and look back at the most difficult times of your life before this pandemic began, you will realise that you are strong enough because you made it before and you will make it again once more. I still remember being a fresh graduate during the height of a long recession. Job hunting back then was really tough for most people but I managed to get into management training programmes. The trick is to be open minded and to be adaptable. We sometimes have to yield and go with the flow. Some of you may even think, ‘Easy for you to say! You’re not struggling!’. The thing is, we are all struggling. No matter who you are, how much money you have in the bank or how old or strong you are, we are all in the same place of worry and fear. The virus doesn’t pick and choose it’s victims. There is one thing I do know and that is, ‘This too shall pass.’ so, we need to keep moving forward. We have clean water to drink, food on our table, a lovely place we call home and internet connection which enables us to work and connect with others. The UK government even had a generous furlough scheme in place. No, they didn’t lock down soon enough and no, they didn’t handle this pandemic well. They don’t even look after our amazing NHS and other key workers who work as our heroes saving lives and helping us heal everyday. I understand that they have failed the majority of self-employed people and so many people have fallen through the cracks also and that is truly heart-breaking. My heart goes out to all of you. Still, looking at the bright side, wherever you are in the world, despite the failures and shortcomings of the ones who are in charge, as the ‘Serenity Prayer’ teaches us, we must try and focus on the things we can change and accept the things we can’t.
Spend as much time in bed if you have the time to do it. Cuddle up with your kids and read together. Enjoy the time you have with your children while home schooling together. Read the books you’ve always wanted to read. Write the book you’ve always wanted to write. Learn new skills and challenge yourself. Try the things you’ve always wanted to try. If you fail and don’t keep up with it, so what? At least you tried. Do the things you’ve always wanted to do if you can. You never know what you might discover. You may even surprise yourself and realise you’re good at something; when you’ve convinced yourself all your life that you’re not good at it. For me, it was Mathematics. I’ve recently discovered that I’m not actually bad at Math, but all my life I believed that I was. Now, I see that I wasn’t interested in Math and that I was the one who made the choice to dislike it. I never even gave myself a chance to try and enjoy it. Now, I’ve discovered that I’m actually really good at Math and really love Algebra when, once upon a time, I used to be so afraid of it. I never thought I would ever say that but I discovered this when I decided to fill up my time and brush up on some Math skills. Now, here I am saying, ‘I really love Algebra.’ See, my friends? We surprise ourselves sometimes!
Do you want to just lie in bed in your pyjamas and watch Youtube videos? Then do it! Whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy, do it. It’s all about balance. Just make sure that you don’t stay idle forever. You’ve worked hard and if you feel like you’ve struggled all your life, perhaps a break is something you need right now. Don’t deprive yourself of the luxury of doing nothing because you deserve to take time for yourself.
You have chores to do? Wash the dishes while listening to your favourite podcast, music, audio book or talk show. At the moment, I’m really enjoying listening to ‘TedTalks’.
Do you miss shopping? Why not shop your very own wardrobe and put outfits together? Maybe even declutter your wardrobe? As some of you may know, I started decluttering years ago. It’s a fun process. It’s exhausting but fun. I encourage you to try it!
You miss eating out? Google some of your favourite recipes and have a go at cooking these at home. Wagamama has even published their own cookbook and the ingredients are readily available to purchase at your local Asian food store. If you want to be a little bit more creative, you can start baking! Like many of you, we fell in love with baking cakes and bread. I’ve even mastered the art of making Japanese milk buns and baking cupcakes. My fiance is more of a baker than me though. He really loves baking cakes and he’s really good at it.
You miss the gym? You can try yoga at home or go running outside for some cardio. I really like ‘Yoga with Adrienne from Youtube’. I don’t run as much outside, mainly because I prefer running on a treadmill inside a gym. The British weather is just not the greatest for running (for me, personally).
Have you tried meditation? It’s easy but hard at the same time. It’s easy to sit there with our eyes closed but, it’s so hard to empty the mind. What I do find is that it helps with relaxation. You’ll find that when you’re in a relaxed state, you’ll be in a much better shape to tackle the problems you are faced with.
We are living. We are breathing. To be alive is a blessing when all around the world, we have lost and still, continue to lose so many. It may take a long time to recover from this pandemic but resilience and refusing to let the pandemic take over our lives is the key to making it through this.
Think about how, this may be meant to be. Take a pause and think that maybe, just maybe, where you are is right where you need to be.
So whatever happens, we march on my friends…