Stillness

Stillness comes in many forms, but sometimes you have to give yourself permission to seek it.

The dictionary meaning of stillness reads as ‘an absence of movement or sound’.  As we embarked on lockdown this was very much the case.  It felt surreal and as though we were on another planet, it also felt like an adventure in some ways too.  Venturing into the unknown.  The drawbridge was up and we were all at home and all in it together.   It was that pivotal moment when the world stopped, planes were grounded, there was barely any traffic on the roads and people had to stay at home.

It will always be remembered as a difficult time for everyone, no-one will have come out of it unscathed.  For some it will have been worse than others particularly those who lost loved ones.  Some will still be trying to pick up the pieces and to rebuild their businesses and livelihoods for a long time to come. What I do know is that if you had told me that in 2020 we would have a pandemic, I would definitely have not believed you.

So lets think about that stillness – we didn’t ask for it, but we were given it anyway.  I believe in some ways it was actually a gift, that it was one of the few good things to come out of it all.  It gave us time to reflect and to breathe, time to think and to question.  Therefore we must have learnt something from it.

There was an element of initial shock.  We needed time to work out what was happening and to let it all sink in.  For me it was that Monday night that Boris announced Lockdown.  I was emotionally exhausted from helping extract one of our children from Russia and another from Thailand.  There was a lot of floor pacing and sleepless nights before we finally had all of our three back at home. 

I think a lot of us thought it would only last for the three weeks that were mentioned on that first night.  Remember that as a nation we had never been dictated to by any Government in this way, being told to stay at home, that we could only exercise once a day.  Looking back it all seems quite surreal.  However, in our household it didn’t take long for us to get into a really good routine,  I felt as though we had been able to provide our adult children with a safe haven.  I know we will never spend ten weeks together again as a family of five again.  Of course we aren’t meant to as this is not the natural order of things, and another reason it all felt so odd.

I was reminded of the times when they were younger and I was collecting them from school on those dark winter nights.  Perhaps raining, I would scoop them all up and get them home and inside.  It was a bit like that feeling of closing the front door and shutting out the world.

During this time the biggest thing that struck me was there was nothing we could do about the situation we found ourselves in.  It helped that as a country we were all in the same boat.  There would be no bookings on the villa this year and work was on a go slow.  So Mr Foz and I decided to take the good from the situation and relish having the three kids home.  Added to the mix the perfect weather we were given, it almost felt like we were on a sort of holiday.  So gratitude was very high up on my list. Gratitude that even though our work situation was not a bed of roses, the most important things in our lives were all healthy and with us at home.  That one outing for exercise per day became something to seriously cherish and I managed a six kilometre power walk most days.  I also included a daily workout with Joe Wicks and as time went on began to reap the benefits.  The weather played a huge part in getting me through, those sunny weeks were filled with gardening and barbecue suppers.  What I do know is I will never take the freedom of popping out for a loaf of bread for granted ever again.

I should add that when I talk about the kids I am sure you are all aware that they are young adults.  This was the other consideration.  As we opened the front door to welcome them home, it was not to three young children, it was to fully functioning adults, two of whom were used to looking after themselves.  They joked that some mothers would do anything to get their children home for Mother’s Day!  But I had to tone down my mothering skills and let them get on with things themselves, and we soon got into a routine of an evening meal together most evenings.  Thursday night was the only date in the diary with Clap For Our Carers, which we did for the full ten weeks.  Weekends were marked with Saturday night fun – dressing for dinner, card games or fancy dress, usually led by our daughter and patiently adhered to by her brothers.  So it was a happy and harmonious time.

But I am well aware this wouldn’t have been the case for everyone.  I know that lockdown for some was lonely – the stillness was too much for someone living on their own.  I read an article on ‘Skin Hunger’ – which comes from lack of contact.  Very hard and very real for someone living alone, or for the elderly and vulnerable having to shield.  Coming out the other side I can understand that for some people it has left them feeling anxious about going out again  having spent so long in the safety of their own homes.  This is something we must be mindful of as we are out and about.

Stillness for me was also the lack of emails and the lack of post, neither of which I missed.  It made me realise how much we spend our time on admin and things that are of little import.  Of course the flip side of all this was that the kitchen was busier that it had been for years and weekly menu planning was the way forward. 

My link to the outside world was Instagram where I started documenting my daily outfits. #quarantina lasted for sixty one days ending with me wearing my wedding dress which I managed to get into after twenty eight years,  (probably helped by the JW workouts, and my daily power walks).  Doing mad things like joining in the putting out the bins in a balldress!  I also at the request of my followers shared my weekly menu plans.  I made and shared a quarantina playlist on Spotify and planted vegetables.  Having talked about making a Podcast for years, I recorded my first one and have done so each week since.

So I think my stillness came more from the outside than the inside.  I didn’t sit in a hammock and read, I didn’t watch TV during the day, and rest assured I am not judging anyone who did.  Perhaps I should have done, but that’s just not my character.  Instead I kept moving, wanting to jet propel forwards, to keep some sort of routine and movement going.  My daily walk was vital to give me the headspace I personally needed. 

I know that I am not very good at just sitting still and stopping, I will always find something that needs doing and in some way think that I can’t justify doing nothing.  Why?  I suspect it comes from being a full time mum with three children, leading an energetic lifestyle, loving exercise and sport.  But really as the nest empties and I do find I have less to do each week, I should perhaps not fill the gaps, but instead seek the stillness that I definitely felt at the beginning of lockdown.  Guilt free, sitting still and letting life wash over me for a bit.

I am aware that as communities we have experienced ourselves and each other possibly at our worst or perhaps lowest.  All in the same boat but some affected more than others.  When I went to the bakers recently for the first time in weeks, the staff were commenting on how different their customers looked due to not having been to the hairdressers.   Some people are telling me they have gained weight, I definitely think we have all been tempted to eat more, so we will be bearing the scars of Lockdown 2020 in some shape or form, be it physical, mental or both. 

Final word – what lockdown has taught me about myself is that I am impatient and better with a routine.  I get bored of thinking about what to eat and I HATE queuing with a passion, and don’t get me started on face masks.  I have most definitely missed seeing friends and hugging those that I have seen.  Ooh and I may just have had enough of gardening and cleaning.

I am always interested to hear your thoughts and comments.  Feel free to DM me on Instagram or to email me – tina@mushroomlondon.com

Thank you for taking the time to read.  Tina xx