waterfall with rainbow iceland

I’m writing this on Good Friday, almost three weeks into lock down, which I’ve been seeing through alone.

It has been a bizarre experience. The shock and uncertainty compounded onto a number of Life Challenges I already had on the table, and suddenly there was no room for anything other than panic.

My experience was initially very much dominated by my ego. Long before the lock down came in, I was going through a separation with a partner who I had been with for almost three years. That experience in itself was difficult, stressful and a big upheaval. In addition to that, at the end of January I put in an offer on a property that was accepted. I was obviously very excited about this but also holy moly people are not lying when they say getting on the property ladder is one of the most stressful things you can ever do.

The lock down came in just before I could reach the exchange of contracts stage of my property transaction, so everything is now on hold. It has meant that I have had to stay in the flat I’ve been gearing up to leave for three months. Luckily my ex-partner has been living at a friend’s house while I wait for the sale to go through, so we’re not in lock down together. That could have been very difficult for both of us. It also hasn’t stopped me from at times wishing they had moved back in, because at the beginning of this dealing with the fear and stress alone felt impossible.

The sudden and indefinite pause on My Big Plan felt like a personal affront at first. The universe was out to scupper my plans and to stop me from getting what I want, of course it was! Wait…

It has been frightening to accept that the process is completely out of my control. It has been hard to accept that I’ve got to now live amongst memories I am feeling ready to forget. I have had to really dig deep for some inner strength to help me endure the constant I Am Completely Alone feeling, and to accept that whilst this is uncomfortable, I can tolerate it. I’ve got to tolerate it.

Slowly, I was able to get my ego to calm down and to see things a little more clearly.

I started to focus on what I needed. Basic things like enough sleep, water and greens. Exercise; I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, a lot of pilates and getting out for a run or walk each day. That’s not driven by hoping to emerge looking like a goddess. That is simply what I need to maintain good mental health.

I’ve learned to appreciate how lucky and privileged I am. I haven’t lost my job like some people have, I’m not trapped in a dangerous situation like some people are, I have a support network, which some people don’t.

Yesterday, a friend mentioned the word ‘resilience’ to me when we were talking about the experience of lock down and it got me thinking. I don’t necessarily think that resilience is what we need in order to get through this (although it definitely helps). I think that we’ll all leave this experience with a lot more of it than we had before.

Resilience for me is a bit like core strength; it’s something you build very slowly over time and you often don’t notice any difference until years have passed.

I think some other ‘things’ we’ll gain from this after it has passed are fortitude, acceptance and tolerance. I feel this can only be a good thing and our collective behavioural norms may be a little softer and gentler when we are eventually in a position to go back to normal.

Normal; strange concept now isn’t it?

What Divoc Is Going On?

yukka plant in pot on balcony

It’s all very strange and stressful, so I am trying my best to keep good habits. I’ve been spending twenty minutes every morning doing a few yoga and pilates moves before starting work for the day, I’ve been doing my best to eat healthily (and give myself treats too) and I’ve been trying to accept that pretty much everything right now is out of my control.

Unfortunately I have no new photos right so I’m re-using this one of my yucca plant and I shall tell you for why! This yucca plant has grown so much since this photo. It’s a nice reminder that things are always changing. Either that or I’ve been in lockdown for too long.

That’s the funny thing really though; everything is always out of our control. I am in no more control right now than I was three months or even three years ago.

Anyway, I’ve had a bad day today. All of the uncertainty and fear has really gotten on top of me and I’ve felt a lot of sadness all day. So I decided to write a gratitude list, and then I thought, why not stick it on the ol’ blog.

Things I am grateful for right now:

  • My family. I’ve had daily video calls, messages, memes and a steady stream of updates on my four month old niece and it has all given me so much strength.
  • My neighbours. I’m only sorry I didn’t get to know them sooner! We’ve got a group WhatsApp thread now and are all pitching in to look out for and help each other.
  • Social media. I always knew social media would have its hey day. After many years of resolutely defending Twitter against ignorant criticism, I’m happy that, albeit under very difficult circumstances, people are finally getting to understand that social media can be a real force for good.
  • Technology. Imagine if the vast majority of us couldn’t work from home right now, if it just wasn’t possible? Thanks to technology, there is a real glimmer of hope for the economy right now.
  • Nice weather. After my pilates session and a couple of times throughout the day, I’ll take ten minutes to just stand on the balcony and soak up the sun. Really wouldn’t be anywhere near as relaxing if the weather was still doing what it did a few weeks ago.
  • Stardew Valley. I know that Animal Crossing is all the rage right now, but Stardew is the one for me. It is so relaxing and wholesome and nostalgic. Sometimes, and I’m not afraid to admit this, I just open the game and leave it on for the enjoyment of the background music.

I hope you’re all finding the inner strength and resilience needed to get through this fog of uncertainty, and I hope you’re all staying safe.

Wild Flowers Update

wild flowers growing in pot

A few weeks back I shared my excitement with you at some flowers I had planted showing their first signs of life:

This photo below was the then taken about three weeks later, I couldn’t believe how much they had grown and how exciting gardening was. I also couldn’t believe how quickly I somehow managed to start killing the lavender.

Now here they are below, taken earlier today, looking like they’re making a break for it out of their plant pot!

Some of them now have buds on the ends that look like they will start flowering soon. Have to say I think I timed the planting perfectly!

These flowers were a Christmas gift from O’s aunt, they’re from a company called BeeBombs. They sell packs of native wildflower seed bombs, which can be planted pretty much anywhere and grow into flowers that help bees thrive. I think it’s a great idea.

We got two packs so we’ve planted one in this pot and spread the other round the communal garden at the back of our flat. I just hope the building maintenance team don’t cut the grass any time soon!

Photos & Thoughts

yorkshire dales in the snow

Logging on today for a brief brain dump, and to share some of my favourite photos from the past two and a bit years (two and a bit years is the amount of time that I have now not really been blogging, still really enjoying the break).

This photo is from my first holiday with O, we went to the Dales between Christmas and New Year and did a 9 mile walk through heavy snow. Worth it for this picture and also for feeling the benefit of the heating kicking in when we got back to our Airbnb.
This view was a five minute walk from the place we stayed in Reykjavik, Iceland. What an absolutely incredible country, one of the best and most adventurous holidays I’ve ever had.

We’ve had some fantastic trips abroad, but I’ve equally enjoyed the long weekends we’ve spent in the Dales just doing walks, going to the pub and getting the fire going. It’s the best thing ever.

Changing the subject, recently I’ve been catching up on the X-Men films in preparation for Dark Phoenix coming out in the UK. It has completely brought back my love for the X-Men, so much so I bought a couple of comics today when we passed a shop selling them by pure chance. As a kid I enjoyed all of the Marvel characters and story lines, but X-Men was always my favourite because of the threats and prejudice they faced. My favourite characters were Nightcrawler and Rogue. I cannot wait for this next film to come out, very excited to see how they present Jean Grey’s backstory!

I had a crack at sketching Storm from the cover of one of the comics too – I’m trying to practice my drawing and am documenting my sketches over on Instagram. It’s been a lifelong favourite hobby and I don’t want to lose the skill.

You can see my half-finished go at Storm below.

Let It Grow

balcony plant life lavender vintage pot

This year I decided to try and grow some garden plants. We don’t actually have a garden, only a small balcony, but you can still do quite a lot in such a small space.

My track record with plants isn’t great, I once killed a succulent by over-watering it. Succulents are probably even easier to keep alive than cacti! Nevertheless I am determined to get better at this and to do my small part in keeping plants alive and thriving (and also bumble bees!).

Currently, we have a yucca plant, some lavender and a large pot containing a variety of flower seeds. I don’t know what any of them are but I know they are ‘bee friendly’; they were a Christmas present from a relative.

Something I didn’t know about growing new plants and flowers, is how exciting it is. When I first saw the greens shoots poking through I couldn’t contain myself. I counted 7 of them yesterday, there are now 20!

Here’s some photos:

I’ve planted the yucca in quite a large pot in the hope it will grow much bigger.
I’m using a nice jug to water them all. Not sure what to put in the spare pot yet as it’s very small! I’m thinking about some basil or another herb.

And here’s a photo of the large pot with the miscellaneous bee-friendly flowers growing in it from yesterday:

Look at them go!

I’m really excited to see what sort of flowers they grow into. Expect another update on my compact-sized garden very soon.