Things I have discovered during lockdown: I am not an artist; the Welsh language is incredibly difficult to learn and Paul Hollywood’s recipe for iced buns is superb.
Like many of us I’m sure I greeted lockdown with enthusiasm, planning to make the most of the unexpected free time. I joined online art classes, planned a daily fitness regime, and determined to do all that stuff I’d been putting off, like, well, you know, stuff.
Then, amazingly, the sun shone and kept on shining, and, instead of bettering myself in every possible way, I lay in the sun reading, while, of course, battling against the ‘tut, tut, time wasting’ voices in my head. Time spent reading is never wasted.
Incidentally, how much more difficult would it have been to survive lockdown if it had rained every day? I am so thankful for this weather that I’ve even helped Husband with the gardening.
Any gardening I do is usually restricted to weeding as I have the touch of death when it comes to growing plants, so when I received a free packet of carrot seeds I planted them, following the simple instructions, but with not a lot of hope. Imagine my surprise when they not only survived but flourished! They are now in the garden, receiving daily pep talks from me and water from Husband who’s more practical about these things, and they’re doing so well.
So anyway, back to my lockdown discoveries. My artwork may be a bit of a flop, but my buns certainly aren’t. (And you can take that any way you want.) I recommend you try them for yourself; you’ll find the recipe on the internet.
Which leaves me with Welsh. I am Welsh through and through, but I was born in Mumbles, a village not renowned for its Welshness into a family that didn’t speak the native tongue. As a child in school I found it hard and I just wasn’t interested; as an adult I find it hard but worth some effort.
I’m not seeking to become fluent; I just want to be able to read my youngest grandson’s books to him. He’s in a Welsh medium nursery school and it frustrates me no end that I can’t read or understand the books he brings home, hence the online course. So far as long as you want to order omelette and chips, or ask Owen why he wants pink parsnips, I’m your woman.
We’re currently in Week 8 of lockdown and it’s beginning to wear a little. Or perhaps I am. I have little enthusiasm for anything except eating and looking forward to bedtime. I know how fortunate we are in so many ways, but it takes energy to count your blessings and energy’s in as scarce supply as flour is in supermarkets.
It’s important to remind ourselves that this period of time, is unique in world history. We don’t know how to deal with it, we’re not prepared, and if we’re struggling it’s perfectly natural and forgivable. And forgiving ourselves is something we all need to learn to do more of.
Lockdown is not a competition. If you’re learning Spanish, can do fifty press-ups before breakfast, maintain a forty-hour home schooling schedule, and still create masterchef-style meals for your family, well done. If you’ve done nothing but eat and binge – watch Netflix, well done. Each of us has to find our own way through the fog – which is what the uncertainty and fear feels like.
I’m writing this during Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is kindness. Be kind to others – even miserable so’n’sos, hard as that may be, because you have no ideas what they might be having to deal with – and be kind to yourself.
When asked to sum up the commandments Jesus said, ‘Love God and love others as yourself.’ He knows how hard it is to love others if you don’t love yourself. He’s not talking about a ‘Cor, I’m great, just look at me, everybody, aren’t I fabulous?’ sort of loving yourself, but an acceptance of who you are, with all your imperfections. Knowing that you are a work in progress.
In some aspects of this living business I’d give myself eight out of ten; in others it would be closer to two. If seeing your flaw as a challenge to be conquered helps you, then go with it. But if that challenge seems like a mountain put it to one side. On another day you may find it’s actually a molehill.
Be kind to yourself.
P.S. If you’ve read previous articles I’ve written you may be aware that I write this as someone who routinely tells herself what a loser she is. Yes, I can talk the talk, I’m just not so good at walking the walk, but I hope I’m learning to be kind to me.