Breathing Room and Rainbows

It is the strangest feeling to sit with the cursor blinking, unable to find enough words, the right words, any words to properly describe what is happening in the world right now. I’ve been writing, deleting, writing, for what feels like weeks. Feeling battered by the storm of stories, like an ocean full of currents, pulling me one way and then another. On the one hand, loss, grief, heart achingly sad stories that bring tears often more than a few times a day. The stories of people dying alone, without family beside them. The stories of illness and loneliness and hunger and fear and grief. Then on the other, the great coming together of humankind in a mass collective act of compassion, of togetherness, of desire to make the best of a terrible situation. The joy of shared song, voices reaching from one balcony to another. The people looking out for neighbors, delivering food, sharing their skills to bring whatever they have to the story of global community. The overwhelming human need to be the helper, to make it right for whomever we can, even if just our own little families, our neighbors, our friends. These stories are not uncommon ones. They are stories that play out every single day of every single year in towns and cities across the globe but are amplified now, like a transistor radio in a pudding basin. During these unreal times we are physically separated but still deeply connected spiritually and emotionally in ways we perhaps have not been for the longest time.

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In our little house, we are easing into this strange time of staying home. The girls struggled initially with all the plans we had to cancel, the home education trips we couldn’t go on, the friends we can now only see via Zoom or Skype, and particularly the empty shelves in supermarkets. But 2 weeks in we are finding our way through, knowing that staying home is a privilege not afforded to everyone. We are taking a daily walk, waving at all the bus drivers that pass, like The Railway Children, in thanks that they are still driving buses for the people who need them. Chalking rainbows on our front wall. Spending time in the garden, remembering what a gift it is to have a private outdoor space. I am trying to focus on all the stuff I can be positive with – and encouraging the girls to do the same, whilst still making sure there is space to talk about the worries that obviously come up with young children who are going through something we adults have no past experience to fall back on and to usefully reassure with. Some days are easier than others. We are mostly making it up as we go along.

The natural response to everything that is going on seems to be to keep busy. To shelter our brains from the loss of our freedom. In the same way that after a death, we fill our days with all the things that need to be done, almost as though the grief is so huge that our minds know we will crumble beneath its weight, and so we are propelled to do one more thing and another, until we fall into our beds too exhausted to do anything but sleep… Hiding our emotions away in a cardboard box full of to-do lists. I have been guilty of that these last few weeks. I already have an to-do list that has covered several pages in my diary. Jobs that have been sitting for weeks, months, in some cases, years, that I yearn to tick off the list and feel the satisfaction of completion. Things I want to learn but haven’t had time for. I have started spinning, and am finding such comfort and peace in keeping my hands busy. I’ve re-upholstered the dining room chairs with some gifted green stripey canvas, hiding the Sunday dinner gravy spillages and poster paint splodges beneath bright new cloth. I’ve made a huge new stash of family cloth, which has eased our loo roll usage further. I’ve been planning a tutorial to help you make your own, which will be available exclusively on my new Patreon site. Finding new ways to earn a living, when the usual avenues have closed down is another challenge that most of us self employed folk are faced with. Keeping my hands busy helps distract my brain from how unbalanced my books are.

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But among the busyness, I am finding the slower pace of life soothing, and the new, gentle rhythms of our daily life, whilst restrictive in so many ways, still filled with joyful moments. There is a deep gratitude for all the small moments of life, so many of them missed in the hurry and pace of “normal” life. A realization too, that life before COVID-19 was like another world, one that we may not see again. A greiving for that old life, but a quiet excitement for the world that might emerge from these dark days. A new world of compassion and kindness, of communities coming together to protect and support each other, of new ways of working, this new world could have many wonderful and positive possibilities. A rainbow after the storm. We’re hoisting the mainsail, heading out into waves higher than we’ve ever seen, and ready to embrace all that comes with courage and kindness.

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My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If you are able to support me monthly, and would like some beautiful handmade creations in exchange, check out my new Patreon site. If, however, in these financially challenging times, you’re not able to do either of these things, please know that sharing the link to this post on your social media platforms is more than enough. Stay well. Thanks and love, Kate. 

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