108 Lockdown days -what have we done?

If my calculation is correct today – 8th July 2020 – marks 108 days of lockdown. That’s 9 days in March, 30 days in April, 31 in May, 30 in June and 8 in July. So, what have I done with the time?

Only one word on the lockdown list
Only one word on the lockdown list. Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Lockdown lists

Initially I planned to be productive within lockdown constrictions. I never imagined we would have over 108 lockdown days. Admittedly there has been an easing over the last week and everything is beginning to open up. At first I saw lockdown as an opportunity to make a list of tasks undone.

Finish that course I started a year ago. Catch up with friends and relatives. Read all the books piling up by the side of the bed. Try out that new vegan recipe. Practise more challenging yoga postures.

I would write a book. Start a new hobby. Go on a diet. Get rid of all the things that don’t bring me joy. Clear out loft and cellar. Blog … for goodness sake get on with the blog.

Never make to-do lists in a crisis.

Days went by. The list of things-to-do settled under a pile of papers. Few items ticked off. The first two weeks were spent glued to screens broadcasting coronavirus updates only punctuated by meals, cups of tea and bedtime.

Time slowed down. Life got simple. To do lists became uncool.

Quiet warped Eden

The world went very quiet. Time warped both disturbingly and deliciously depending on mood.

No cars, no buses, no planes, no trains. Just shanks’s pony for transport. But hey, no pollution for goodness sake! Nowhere to go except food shopping and an hour of outside exercise. All in the clean air and under blue skies. What a revelation!

Blue skies abounded and the sun beamed. The daily weather forecast was light relief after the grim Covid statistics. April and May were unseasonably hot with a a couple of record-breaking days. In the garden we found a new Eden where the grim reaper didn’t stalk. We could grow veggies. Get back to the Good Life. Seeds, seedlings, rain and sunshine became our new vocabulary. More immediate practical dilemmas became our raison d’être. Should we order non-essential seed packets and compost? Should we be buying seed trays, vermiculite and seaweed fertiliser or more toilet roll? After much soul-searching we decided it was ok. Self-sufficiency was ok. Growing veggies was ok. Growing toilet rolls not ok – alas.

Lockdown gardening - Grow your own veg and toilet rolls
Lockdown gardening – Grow your own veg and toilet rolls! Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

A ZOOMING good time

If I was to teach or participate in a group social event during lockdown then to ZOOM or not was the big question. To my dismay I discovered many of my students are technophobes. So my creative plans for my business bombed. Obviously I had targeted the wrong generation. Despite this disappointment I became friends with ZOOM for my own social sanity. For instance I ZOOMED into people’s living rooms and sheds all around the globe dancing with tiny gyrating figures in rectangles. Well, it was weird especially when dancing face-to-face in a breakout room to break the ice! In order to get social solace I joined a ZOOM workshop about online yoga. Yet again not much social interaction just a few terse conversations in the chat box! Further to this experience I ZOOMED-out in an online yoga retreat. Result! All in all a zooming good time!

Zooming out during an online yoga retreat
Zooming out during an online Yoga Retreat. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Lockdown neighbours – friend and foe

We became more neighbourly. Skills were swapped – yoga lesson for a recipe; garden advice for home-made wine. We raised glasses to drown our sorrows and … boredom. Hopes and fears and Covid news stories shared. Thursday evening we jointly applauded the nation’s heroes. However, it was the rats – our common enemy – that made us really pull together with wartime gusto. Rallying together our first attack was with peppermint oil and chopped onions. As a result a calm descended. No more rats’ tails in broad daylight. But the daring foe was hungry and regrouping. Our second assault with rat cages proved more effective. But alas, the pests persisted. Trips to the local wood to release ratty became our daily exercise and numbers were ratcheting up [sic]. Time for the professionals. The war cabinet took time to agree strategy. By the time a decision happened the rats were back at the re-opened restaurant bins.

Lockdown rat
Photo by DSD on Pexels.com

It’s all in the response

Despite all the frustrations resulting from lockdown, there are many positives that have come out of restriction. Perhaps the most important plus is what happens within you. In other words how you respond to the situation emotionally and how that brings about change.

For an introvert this period of social restriction has probably been a gift. On the other hand for an extrovert lockdown may have proved to be hell. However hard or easy 108 days of lockdown has been what is most certain is that the majority of people will have found themselves reflecting on their individual lives. What’s more, people will almost certainly be thinking how normal life might change.

Indeed, we have already seen ‘new normals’ created. But are these changes those we welcome? If not, then we have a responsibility to ensure that in the future we have more of a say in what becomes normal.

The status quo is crumbling. Crisis often creates opportunity to build a better world. Look within at your responses during these 108 days. What changes would you like to be a reality in the future? Certainly a rat-free one!

What is synchronicity?

Synchronicity means ‘the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection’. The origin of this word was coined in the 1950s by Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist who collaborated with Sigmund Freud in developing the psychoanalytic theory of personality. He later disassociated from Freud as he found Freud’s focus on sexuality masked the true nature of a human being.

Here is a simple true-life story that illustrates synchronicity well.

I hadn’t seen my yoga teacher, now in her 70s, for some time. I wondered if she was still teaching. Over the last weekend she was very much on my mind and I thought about contacting her. I had made no move to do so for months. My attitude being let it happen when the time is right.

Earlier this week I had just finished teaching the morning classes. Time for lunch and maybe a visit to a garden centre on the way home. In my pocket I had a note with the name of a plant I wanted to buy: ERIGERON.

Pushing a trolley with a squeaky wheel I trawled round the alphabet and eventually I came to the letter E. No sign of ERIGERON. Odd. I thought it would be popular. I had seen it in Cornwall sprawling across walls like a small voluptuous daisy in several hues of pink and white.

Erigeron in Cornwall © Sanandi-jacq

Giving up on the plant-whose-name-I-couldn’t-pronounce I looked for other plant orphans that might like a home. Whilst moving up and down the aisles adoring plants and wanting to give them all a home, I noticed a familiar couple in front of me. Believe it or not – it was my yoga teacher and her husband also seeking plants! What a happy coincidence!

Delighted at the thought of a reunion I jumped out in front of her (later thinking that was not a wise move). Though a little stunned she was equally pleased to see me again after a year. ‘Well. Well. Fancy seeing you. I thought you had moved on again’.

We exchanged pleasantries and updates on status. I asked her what plants she was seeking.

‘A daisy-like plant with an unpronounceable name,’ She said and took a slip of paper from her handbag.

And there it was in black and white – ERIGERON.

I pulled out my note. ‘SNAP! The very same plant I’m after. What are the chances of that!’

Well, if that doesn’t illustrate the idea of synchronicity … .

Can you recall any tales of synchronicity in your life? What explanation would you give for such events?

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Postscript: The nursery didn’t have the plant. We said we’d phone the other if we found a nursery that did. Let’s hope that is some time soon.

Cat, teeth, car

Some days everything seems to go awry. But somehow in the chaos we are shifted out of the status quo and our daily habits. For a while we experience life afresh. New patterns are formed. Received wisdom is questioned.

Take yesterday. A fairly ordinary working day except I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. The morning proceeded more or less as planned. I had fewer students in my yoga classes but that was accounted for. It is summer after all and people need a break.

Things started to go awry just as I was leaving the morning classes. As I turned out onto the main road from the teaching venue I nearly ran over a tabby cat. I was going at the statutory 30 miles an hour maybe less. A blur of grey and black fur dashed just in front of my wheels and a red collar was the echoing memory. No swerving yet I was observant enough to know I was within inches of inadvertently killing a beloved pet. Running over a pet cat would have crucified my day. But no, I was let off that drama. The cat lived another of its nine lives.

Nearing home I crossed the mini roundabout in a slightly skewed fashion and hit the curb on the other side (rare event!) but continued on relatively unscathed except for my driving pride. Just a little bump. My steering was not as steady as usual my intuition sensed but my rational mind thought no more about it. My stomach was calling for lunch. Body wins over mind.

Salad lunch alfresco with my partner and cat was a pleasant interlude before facing the dentist’s chair. I allowed myself to fully enjoy the present moment to allay the fears of the future encounter with the dentist. Then to the bathroom to diligently circle the electronic toothbrush from tooth to tooth easing out any green flotsam. Funny how obsessively we can clean our teeth if we know they are going to be inspected. Being such a hot day I also had a shower so I could grace the dentist with a pristine presence!

At 2pm with plenty of time to spare, as I hate being late for anything especially appointments and meetings, I got into the car and backed out of the driveway. Thud. Thud. Thud. What the XYZ was that! My partner stuck his head out of the study window and pointed at a car tyre. Dead flat front passenger tyre. What the XYZ am I going to do now?

All yogic calm disappeared for a fraction of a second. Scenarios ran through my head. Can’t get to the dentist. Oh no. Can’t teach tonight. Call the breakdown company. They take an age. But the dentist is waiting … . Present moment awareness kicks in suddenly. Strategic scheming. Partner can give me a lift. At that moment he came out and offered me said lift. Initial issue resolved.

Dentist’s chair. No anaesthetic. Routine cleaning job but boy was it uncomfortable until I let my mind wander over what I was going to do when I left the dentist. I tuned out of the present moment and was in future planning mode. It was only later that I reflected on my yogic training about being in the present moment. In the dentist’s chair the last place I wanted to be was the present moment focussing on every minute stimulus of my gums being poked! My mind was better off in the past or future. What a revelation! It made me think about the importance of questioning received wisdom. Always be in the present moment? Bullshit! What am I missing here? That’s for some guru to explain to me in minimalist language.

Something had shifted in my mind. A questioning.

I had to wait at a bus stop to get home from the dentist’s. It had been years since I had waited at a bus stop. So used to driving a car. There had been a time in my youth where I was anti cars and only took public transport in three different cities – London, Milan and Rome. All great fun and here I was, several decades later, having to use my initiative on the public transport and feeling all at a loss.

Found a bus stop. No good. Destination not featured. Continued to next bus stop. A whole range of buses. Chose the bus I thought was right but realised later, when the bus didn’t materialise at the allotted time, that it only ran at the weekend. Re-scanned the timetables and a few minutes later I was sure I had the right bus. 310 seemed to be the most frequent and had an abbreviation next to it which meant ‘school’. And wonders of wonders it happened to be coming imminently and if I missed that there were several close on its tail. Jackpot! Three in a row.

On a bus. Surprised at the price of £4 for single trip destination. But then I am behind the times and prices have inflated greatly. Up to the top deck. Wandering round the countryside it would seem. At first I felt annoyed then relaxed into the present moment. Marvellous. I get a chance to look inside people’s gardens and houses from the top deck. Wow! This is fabulous. I am seeing these towns and villages from a new angle and perspective. Time has slowed down. I am not focussing on driving. I can observe the countryside and the gardens and neighbourhoods from on high. Time has definitely slowed down. I would have been so lulled into the present moment but an urgency gripped my mind that I needed to get that flat tyre sorted and that meant contacting the breakdown company (which will remain nameless but they are wonderful and over the last few years have helped me and my old car out of many a scrape). FLASH. BING. What kind of a present moment was I in now?

Was I in the present moment of the lulling quality of a bus meandering from town to village to town? Ot was I in the present moment of the emergency of getting a tyre fixed so I could teach another yoga class in the evening?

What does living in the present moment actually mean?

Quirky doodle-based story

Warning: An absurd tale based on a doodled dud photo! Just for fun!

Delilah, carefully navigating a coastal path, found herself soaring above the path into the presence of Ogwin. Ogwin using his Oggswoop (a kind of giant magnifying glass) had swept the coastal paths searching for interesting life (rather like fossil-hunting but the beings are not columns of vertebrae or fin bones!). Today he found Delilah … who was in the mood to co-operate!

Ogwin: ‘Got you. What are you?’

Delilah: ‘Erm. Don’t you mean to ask who I am? Who are you?’

Ogwin: ‘I am Ogwin from the place where sea and sky meet.’

Delilah: ‘The horizon? Don’t be daft …!’

Ogwin: ‘A horizontalist am I by birth. And you are … ?’

Delilah (recovering a sense of the absurd): ‘Have I fallen over the cliff?’

Ogwin: ‘Beamed you up, I did. I can put you back right away. Don’t worry. Just curious. Sweeping the paths to catch specimens for my collection. You be a bit too lively to take home as you are. I let you be.’

He winked and sucked Delilah into the Oggswoop for a few minutes then eased her out onto the coastal path.

No harm done except a slight headache which Delilah put down to over-exposure to uv rays. She remembered nothing of the event.

Back on the horizon Ogwin enjoyed the ups and downs of Delilah’s life-film.

The End.

Lifelong dancing

Life is for dancing. Whatever stage of life you are at – dance. Whatever struggle you are going through with your life – dance. For any reason whatsoever – dance! There is no need to learn specific steps. Your body knows how it wants to move if you will just listen to it. Dance can be the most liberating activity. You may be feeling low, depressed, anxious and alone but put on a piece of music and move your body as it intuits it needs to move and after a while the endorphins kick in and dopamine floods your system and everything changes and you are more liberated and the body feels freer in the joints and muscles. The mood lifts and energy levels return. There is nothing quite like dance.

Whatever age you are you can dance. You may be fairly immobile but you can still dance with your hands. You can dance on your chair and utilise your imagination to take you to another realm of mobility. The mind can move the body, the body can move the mind. In movement liberation of the spirit happens. Moods lift. The joints and muscles become freer. You are moving in the moment.

Dance, dance. Wherever you will be.

Photo collage credit: Sanandi-jacq