Permission to enjoy
Week 9 of intelligent lock down is starting tomorrow. Last Tuesday our government held a press conference in which they presented the road map to slowly and carefully make our way out of this pandemic, and which conditions apply on that road. Certain measures are being loosened, e.g. kids in primary school are going back to school tomorrow, playing sports for kids and teens is allowed under specific circumstances, contact professions (like hair dressers, tattoo artists, massage therapists) can start as of tomorrow again, under strict rules. It’s a good thing, although at the same time, I hope it will remain a good thing. I don’t want for anybody to get sick or die because of this virus or the loosened measures, so I hope people won’t be stupid and forfeit this ‘freedom’. For me personally, nothing much has changed or will change in the near future. It’s okay, I can handle it.
I previously blogged about the similarities I see between my travel experiences and this lock down situation. And I’m still going strong in that regard. Maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this ‘one day at a time’ thing. 😉 The biggest change for me has been working from home full time and not being able to take a train to go somewhere. The ease and effortlessness is gone. But honestly, my life right now doesn’t differ a whole lot from pre-Covid-19 times. I understand that there are people that are struggling really hard, especially the more social butterflies among us. And that’s completely valid. I suppose I’m trying to say that maybe I have an advantage here. I’m alone most of the time anyway and I’ve always been able to entertain myself. For years, I’ve been working hard to be my own ally, to be comfortable in my own presence. And while that’s going with ups and downs, as is with everything in life, I’ve made tremendous progress over the years. Up to the point that I’m actually thoroughly enjoying myself right now. I don’t mind if it continues for a little while longer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hope this pandemic ends as soon as possible! It’s just that I haven’t felt this relaxed in a very long time and I’m trying to enjoy these calmer waters for as long as they last.
So how is my life going?
I work 40 hours a week. I’ve experienced that by going to the office four times a week (I usually work one day a week from home anyway), having a daily commute of 2,5 hours, and having all these impressions and sensory input, my brain gets ‘clogged up’, so to speak. While I enjoy my job and have great colleagues, it doesn’t leave much energy and ‘brain space’ for much else. Part of me likes that, because I’m learning so much at work and I want to put in the work to better myself as a professional. But in order for me to relax, get my creativity going, to nourish that other part of life, I need more than the two days of my weekend! It’s not a complaint, it’s just the way it is.
So in these lock down times, I don’t have my early start at 6 am, I don’t have my daily commute. I don’t have to get my clothes ready or prepare lunch the day before to save time in the morning (obviously, I want to get up as late as possible!). Working distanced from eachother complicates things. I’m glad that we have videoconferencing, but I do miss that face-to-face contact. Yet..I’m in my own surroundings, where I’m home and content so that’s a good alternative in this situation.
I’ve settled into my routine now. I get up at the same time every day. I make a plan what I want to accomplish that particular day and I make an overview of the meetings I have. As I finish a task, it’s very satisfying and motivating to be able to tick that item off my list. Kind of like a bullet journal. I do need to watch my posture more and take more breaks in between. It’s a work in progress.
A downside of this lock down situation is that I can’t go to the gym to exercise. I tried to go three times a week when I was at the office (our office has its own gym!), which lately had been more like one to two times a week, due to the busy work schedule. I miss exercising in a gym. Wow, I never thought I’d say that out loud, haha! But I do enjoy moving my body and clearing my head.
I’ve been slacking for a while in exercising from home, which didn’t make me feel good, so I decided to pick it back up and try to keep going as best as I can. I sometimes put on a YouTube video or do my own routine. I may not always feel like it, but once I get going, it’s fine. And it’s not like I’m at it for hours, its just a short 20-30 minute routine. I’m already feeling better, so I’m motivated to keep it up and stay fit. I’ve also ordered a home trainer. It was supposed to be here over a week ago, but it’s delayed. It would be nice to do cardio that way. Fingers crossed that it will be delivered soon!
And I try to go out for a walk regularly. In the beginning of lock down, I went for a walk every day, but I’m allowing myself not to go when I don’t feel like it. I usually go for a short walk, under an hour. Today, I just felt like walking and walking. I walked for two hours and I felt rejuvenated! I took the photo above on my walk. I loved the contrast between the organic flowers and the metal shed. When I got home, I immediately did my home exercise routine (a lot of abs, because I’m still trying to find them, haha). It felt so good!
This slower pace of daily life has helped my creativity! I’ve been able to do some crafty hobbies and I even bought an airbrush for when I customise vinyl figures. I’m still learning how to get the best results using an airbrush, but most importantly: I’m having fun with it! Because I have no commute, the day seems longer and I feel motivated to get up and be creative for a bit.
Music has always been important to me. Our music collection at home was huge. I grew up with what I consider good music: Queen, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, Roxette, Toto, Supertramp, Tracy Chapman, Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac…the list goes on, haha. Now that I’m over this ‘I need someone to come to a concert with me’ nonsense, I’ve enjoyed a bunch of concerts! Also for this year, I’ve booked some concerts, though I’m not sure if they will really happen. Well, the first one -Within Temptation and Evanescence- would have been in April and has already been rescheduled to early September. I have an Alanis Morissette concert in October and a Simply Red concert in November. I hope they will go through, but I have my doubts. Regardless, there’s no point in fussing over it, so I’ll just wait and see.
I’m not one of those people who has music on all the time. Sometimes my brain is too clogged, sometimes I’m not in the mood and sometimes I’m bored with the music in my iTunes library. But now, in these calmer waters, I felt the need to listen to some music again. I had ‘brain space’ to listen to music!
During one of my ‘YouTube rabbit hole voyages’ (seriously, I spend way too much time watching YouTube!), I stumbled upon interviews with Tarja Turunen. I loved her voice when she was still in Nightwish (I won’t go into the mess the other band members created when they fired her. Such a dick move, but hey…their loss), but she hadn’t been on my radar or anything. I then went down that rabbit hole, hahaha! In the interviews, she came across so nice, engaging, authentic, goofy and awesome, that I got curious about her solo work. I treated myself to Spotify premium to be able to listen to all her work straight away. Honestly, I’d been thinking about getting Spotify premium for a while, but this won me over. And HOLY F*CK is it amazing! I’ve been listening to her music all weekend (almost finished two albums during my walk today!) and I’m BLOWN AWAY! It’s been a long time since I was this excited about (re)discovering an amazing artist. Her voice and music reach me at a deeper level than words can express. I don’t want the spell to break.
One ‘advantage’ of this pandemic is that her concerts in the Netherlands last month were postponed until March 2021. And while I have no idea what the situation is going to be like then, I just somehow clicked and bought a ticket! HECK YEAH! Funny thing is that the hotel room I booked is four times more expensive than the concert ticket, haha, but hey…it’s a little adventure! Another ‘advantage’ is thus that I treated myself to a vast database of music that can keep me entertained for hours and hours! And it’s putting me in a fantastic mood that I’m going to ride out for as long as it lasts.
Daily sonnet reading
Finally, I’m thoroughly enjoying, Patrick Stewart‘s daily sonnet reading on Instagram (and maybe Facebook too?). I personally don’t understand a whole lot of Shakespearean English, but I don’t care one bit. Patrick Stewart could be reading a page out of the phone book each day and I’d still listen. I just love listening to his voice and I love the fact that he’s even doing something like this in the first place.
Call it the silver lining, call it being kind to yourself in these difficult times. Whatever it is, I plan to make the most out of a difficult situation! A gift to myself, permission to enjoy.
How are you doing? What are the silver linings in this situation for you? Also, stay healthy and stay safe!