Blog Posts

When the usual rules don’t apply

This has been the longest gap between installments since I started; well over 4 weeks. The irony being I’ve had more time than ever, but was less inspired. Lockdown has provided endless chatter and everything there is to say about the pandemic has already been written, sung, danced, clapped, and zoomed. As usual, the most noise is coming from people who are not key to anyone’s survival, recovery, or support system. Still, in the midst of all this, like everyone else, I have bills.

Initially, I tried to look at the situation in a positive light for my business. The world and its wife would be transferring their attention to the internet, so this seemed like the ideal time to double down on my promotion and marketing efforts. But, when it came to it I was flailing in confusion the same as everyone else. I am not a key worker nor a professional entertainer, so it was an effort to find a meaningful purpose that did not feel like exploitation. Whilst people were panic buying, forcing themselves to play an instrument, learn a new language or skill, binge-watching, and dressing up to put the bin out; I instead went inwards.

Before lockdown, I promised myself that this space would slowly but surely transform into something less conversational and more instructional. I wanted to start using it as a platform to not only highlight my writing, grammar, and style but also share useful copywriting tips, maybe even exercises to further demonstrate my expertise and knowledge. That did not happen. I was drawn into every news story; from the latest death toll figures, expert opinions, goats gone wild in Wales, various conspiracy theories, to the dreaded increase for Zoom meetings. The persistent hunger for my face either for videoconferencing or social media was pushing my anxiousness to the maximum.

As a writer surely I should be writing (in my pyjamas if necessary) not worrying about wearing a bra, doing my hair, and putting make-up on to look presentable online. Whilst I could see the benefits of people wanting to cheer themselves and others up, there was another side to lockdown that highlighted stark differences between the extroverts and the introverts. I am a born extrovert but I was still not comfortable with ‘putting myself out there’ especially with my emotional state indelicately racing from okay to pants (depending on the statistics). This is a pandemic for God’s sake, self-promotion in the face of overwhelming uncertainty (as if being a freelancer didn’t provide enough demands) feels…selfish.  A shift was required. I made the decision to pause, journey within, and use the time to figure some shit out.

The road to self-discovery is not straightforward, the trick is to keep doing the work and not judge the material that presents itself. For me, amongst other things this has included increased activity in the kitchen and trying recipes I did not believe would be attempted until my dotage.

These are fermented vegetables, this is where lockdown led me. I started having a real conversation about my health, well-being; what I could and should do about it. I also signed up for a free trial course on nutrition. I rummaged in drawers to find old exercise DVDs to keep my yoga sessions going. The constant chatter about staying active fed into guilt about my sedentary lifestyle habits since the gym closed and outdoor movement was restricted. I had good intentions I wanted to implement and keep going, but of course, there was a need for treats as well; enter carrot cake…

…and chocolate Mousse, yummy!

Don’t judge me, I never said I was perfect.

There are other good things that happen when you are forced to pause. Increased, regular contact with loved ones, reduced or no contact with negative influences (because seriously, who needs the extra stress right now). I’ve also been journaling like a crazy woman, some days it just pours out providing much-appreciated relief.

I’ve revamped my list of things to do; it’s now a weekly commitment to get things done instead of a daily one, which is proving to be more manageable so far. I’m also giving some serious thought to my next hairstyle and whether or not I should visually record the journey. I’ve got afro hair, so as my friends will attest, this could literally mean anything. Plus it would give me the opportunity to get ‘comfortable’ with and test the idea of a visual online presence on a subject largely unrelated to writing. This approach might tackle my apprehensions about being seen, judged, then managing said perceived judgments. I’ve been reliably advised to run into issues not away. We’ll see, baby steps.

The best discovery has been guided meditation. All previous attempts failed because I was trying to create the stillness required on my own. It’s much easier when someone else’s soothing tones take you through the process; either as a start to the day or as an aid to sleep. Life is not perfect, it wasn’t before and it won’t be when the pandemic is over. In the meantime, there is space to breathe and squarely face up to the internal challenges lockdown has brought with it, but only if we dare to look.

 

 

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