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!

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?

Blog safe and hang out the laundry?

It has been a convoluted journey navigating round the blogosphere in the last two months. I played it safe. Surrounded my blogs in a capsule of security with ‘nice’ decorative photos and a haiku-to-match in order to test the environment of the blogosphere. Bit dull perhaps but it has given me a creative challenge daily and my photos got an airing. What’s not to like? The number of likes gives the clue. But then I am new to this blogging lark and perhaps I didn’t boost the posts. Learning the terminology fast. Even thinking of writing an article on being a newbie blogger to encourage others.

Each day I am eager to get onto WordPress Reader to gaze with awe at the creativity and quirkiness of other peeb’s blogs. Makes me feel quite square and insecure. But I will carry on pushing out those haiku for the time being. I set myself a challenge to get a haiku out there every day until the end of June.

Q: Then what?

A: I don’t know yet. Something is brewing.

Q: Any hints?

A: Er. No. But had enough of haiku for a while! Well, after June 30th.

Q: Have you checked out other bloggers’ sites? Any types you particularly like?

A: Doodling blogs enchanted me and I pushed out one of my own but realised I wasn’t too good at it. Not like the charming doodles in a doodling site I visited. Then there was another doodling site with tens of thousands of visitors which had character doodles involving puns which made me both squeal with laugher and squirm. Quite a delicious site.

Q: Only doodling?

A: Daily photos were a pull too. Probably because I was trying to do the same. There is one gloriously popular site that has a photo and haiku every day as mine does. No. Didn’t copy – just thought of doing the same. And happened upon someone who did it better.

Q: What about Longreads?

A: Dropped into some of them but more interested in daily posting sites to see how possible it is to keep the mojo going. Yes, Longreads will need a bit more time to digest. Can see myself reading more of these once I have established my own blog.

Q: Have you made connections with other bloggers in these two months?

A: Yes. If you mean have people commented on my site?

Q: That and more. You may have looked up a site, perhaps?

A: Yep. While playing with tags for the Reader I typed in ‘Shiatsu’ and met a great blogger who gently reminded me that it would be a good idea to have an ‘About’ page (still on my ‘to do’ list. Too busy creating haiku!). This blogger has a similar interest in walking as I do. And she kindly guest-posted one of my posts on her site. That was a first. Made me feel I was making some progress!

Q: So. Now your blog is two months old. What does blogging feel like?

A: Erm. Is there a word for it? ‘Blogophantastic!

Q: Maybe ask your fellow bloggers.

A: Hey. Good idea. Haven’t tried a poll yet.

Q: Name one thing that drives you mad about blogging.

A: Choosing a theme that fits the content! Driving me mad activating and customising themes and they are never quite right. There are some screamingly atrocious colour combinations too. Spent too much time with the psychedelic colours! Squirm-worthy!

Q: This interview is turning into a Longread. One last question. If there is one piece of advice that you would give another newbie blogger following behind you what would that be?

A: Get off my tail! No, seriously. I would say take your time and experiment. That is what I am doing and enjoying every twist and turn. Every time I see another blogger’s site I learn something. Blogging, I have learnt, is about community. It is also about finding your own unique voice so that people engage with your blog. I did think about a mission statement but that’s far too formal. It is my own unique voice that I need to allow through. Still waiting …

Q: Sure it won’t take long to emerge. Thank you for your time. Hope to interview you in a year’s time and you’re still blogging.

A: No doubt about that but what about I wonder. Might still be hanging out the laundry … at least it will be colourful. Which theme’s colour scheme shall I choose … any advice anyone?

Colourful laundry seen on Camino to Santiago © Sanandi-jacq 2017
Blogsite at end June 2019 @sanandijacq

Remember Terry P and hat!

Recall Pratchett’s hat~

for its wildly creative ~

imag-in-ation.

~ Sanandi-jacq ~

Remembering an author

Terry Pratchett – author of numerous novels in the comic fantasy genre – left his mortal body after a long fight with a rare form of Alzheimers disease on 12th March 2015. Honoured because he had a great capacity to make his readers smile, grin and laugh (and squirm occasionally!) with the images and worlds he conjured up in our imaginations.

He came into my mind after doodling yesterday. Time to get the Pratchett books out of the loft and re-read them.

Also thanks to to all you bloggers who have the quirky imagination to make me smile and laugh. Treasure that.

@ Sanandi-jacq 2019

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.