Friday 8 January 2020
Home-made cheese and onion, with chutney and a few brussels all washed down with a dark fruity stout- could there be a better way to end a very long week…
With a third national Lockdown, schools closing and exams cancelled, it’s certainly been a challenging 5 days, but I do feel okay. And okay for me at the moment is a lot better than usual.
Yes, on a more serious note, my mental health has been on a downward turn in recent months and threatened to spiral out of control over the holidays. For the first time ever, I went to bed on Christmas Eve dreading that Christmas Day would be a ‘1 out of 10 day’, terrified that I would not be able to paint on a cheery festive face and make sure that everyone had a lovely time. I live at a comfortable ‘5 out of 10’ most of the time. Not great, I concede, but sufficient to function and ‘fool the crowd’.
“Above all, I hope that I can be as happy as you always seem to be!”, a pupil wrote on a thank-you card to me a couple of years ago. And I recall feeling shocked and an utter fraud. I almost ran after them shouting,
“Please please please, let me be a role model for anything but this…because this is a lie and a sham. I actually can’t remember what ‘happy’ feels like!”
But I didn’t. I just smiled, pinned the card onto my board with all the others and faked on with the day!
But something about corona virus has knocked even this stoic ‘get on with it’ spirit out of me and, to my horror, as the sun rises on 25 December, I feel the dark cloud of despair descend and although I do drag myself out of bed, I am gripped with a panic about ruining the day for everyone.
Until this happens… people arrive. It’s mum and an old friend, and just these relatively new faces really cheer me up. Thereafter I have the meal to prepare and the busyness and sense of purpose, not to say challenge for this self-confessed cooking calamity, drive the darkness away and I am able to ‘keep calm and carry on’.
And Christmas continues in this way. Friends call on Zoom. The teens’ Dad visits. And all of it is a wonderful change and distraction from the news and the gloom and the horrible uncertainty of our covid-world. It also gives me a wake up call. I need to be occupied and I need goals and diversions. Parenting is tough; single parenting even more so. My hobbies are a life line because, they give me space to be me again. Not only a Mum marking the march through life with the lines on her face. No the me who still feels 25 on the inside and loves that when she runs, she feels the strength in her body and the oxygen in her lungs. Loves that when she plays music she is part of the noise and feels her emotions soar. Loves that when she tackles some tricky maths, or reads a great novel (or even writes a blog post) the numbers, concepts and words dance around in her mind forming and re-forming and making new thoughts and ideas. But at more basic level, my hobbies keep me busy. If covid has taken some of this away; I need to put something back
So my resolutions for 2021 are formed. Forget ‘Dry January’, writing a novel or training for a half marathon! These are simply about well being and routine. I commit to: drinking at least 2 litres of water a day, running at least a mile a day (The Ron Hill idea), and doing 2 yoga workouts per week.
And after a week of my new regime, I am feeling okay; focused and stable. I enjoy ‘Yoga with Adriene‘, a rare space of 40 minutes that seems, luxuriously, about self-care. The water; well probably my favourite thing of all, as it gets rid of the scourge of daily headaches. For the first time in years, I walk past the the anadin-extra shelf in the supermarket, without adding a weekly box to my trolley. As for the running – well what a week to start! Weather- wise, it is more than ‘grim up North’ as January 2021 gets into gear, it is the bleak bloomin’ mid-winter. How much do I feel like running as I arrive home in the cold, ice and fog? I struggle to think of anything that seems less appealing. But I make myself do it – it’s only 10 minutes after all. And, once out, I love it. Crisp, energising and peaceful. Just very very chilly. I could probably do with some gloves! Maybe, if I keep on saving on the anadin -extra, I’ll treat myself to a pair! In the meantime, I’m off to enjoy my cheese and onion pie…