In ‘normal’ times, what changes would I really notice in 100 days? Not many, I reckon. But we are not living in ‘normal’ times, are we?
100 days ago (January 16, 2020… so I can keep my dates straight in the years ahead) I was on a plane, heading to New Zealand with my family – making the most of the Chinese New Year break to go visit my favourite place on the planet. Footloose and fancy free, as the saying goes. The longest time away on holiday we would have had as a family, with plans to explore and adventure and just breathe in all the being outdoors and away and in heaven.
My time in NZ will go down in my memory as some of the very best days of my family life. And they will also always carry the stain of a murky shadow; a storm building on the horizon at the end of a glorious afternoon, rolling closer, threatening to break at any moment, making me nervous as to whether I should risk a little more fun, or just gather everyone up and run for home before we got drenched (with the children screaming that I am ruining their fun.)
I started thinking about writing this post after I read the hugely impactful Guardian newspaper article 100 Days That Changed The World. It’s taken me the 2 &1/2 weeks since to get anywhere close to being able to process my version of those 100 days… Three things prompted me to start putting pen to paper (so to speak…)
Firstly, I stumbled upon the fact that today, April 24, is both 100 days since I left Shanghai and exactly 100 days until my birthday. Something about this seemed significant to me. (I’m very well aware no-one else on the planet thinks this matters, at all…I’ve tested it out for significance on a couple of people and they did not bat an eyelid!)
Secondly, I am becoming more and more aware that I have no desire for things to ‘go back to normal’ – prompted somewhat by this piece written on Medium (Read it – it’s US focused but relevant elsewhere and I found it to be hugely thought provoking.) I want to use this ‘pause’ to re-evaluate what I want to bring into my world. I want to use this time to change things up.
Thirdly, I was speaking to a good friend earlier this week and they told me that they felt I came alive in my writing. It’s true. I love having the time and space to process my thoughts into written words… and up until now, during this ‘crisis’, I have chosen to not ‘allow’ myself this luxury. Well, it’s clear I’ve reached a breaking point, so it’s time all my disparate thoughts came tumbling out so I can let them go and see if my head clears a little. Here goes…
At the start of the year (& the decade, let’s not forget that it’s a whole new decade going on here…) my intentions were: to choose slow, to move towards minimalism, to focus on the essentials (I wrote about it ‘humorously’ in my last blog post here).
In many ways, COVID-19 has walked me towards all of these goals… but I have not felt ‘at choice’. It also foisted so many other changes on me that I could never have been prepared for (multiple location shifts, work pattern adjustments, “home schooling” in multiple formats over multiple weeks, fear of my kids getting ‘lost’ in a healthcare system I would never understand… mainly due to my own language deficiencies…) that I am now at the point of being able to see, and say, that I am (mentally) exhausted.
I know I have been, and still am, drinking too much – to numb the sadness, the anger, the anxiety…
I’m finding it hard to focus on anything other than very practical day to day matters (like food and laundry… things I can ‘control’)
I have walked myself right into the gender based stereotype of a 1950’s housewife (baking bread, home schooling, nagging the kids – constantly) while getting more & more narky with the husband as he gets to ‘waltz off to the office’ (my words) each day – as he’s the one with the ‘full-time job’ (his words – and you can imagine how well they went down with me…)
And by feeding my saboteur ‘the pleaser’ this emotional diet for the past few days / weeks / months I’ve made it all the way through ‘martyr’ (the one role I swore I would never take on) to breaking point.
And so now, it’s time to regroup and start making some different choices.
The next 100 days
The image at the top of the post is my favourite poem ever, by the magically talented nayyirah waheed. (So few words, so much emotion.)
I am taking the next 100 days, up to my birthday, to ‘be easy‘; to come home to myself.
There are things I need to do for myself personally (meditate more, start to run again, do some stretching, run a bath more often...) and things I need to do for myself professionally (I’m a thoroughly average stay at home mum, and a much nicer person generally when I do good work, I need to actively remember that) and so I’m stepping ‘into choice’. I’m actively working on what I can choose to change in the next 100 days.
And as my new (online) yoga teacher tells me, recognising what is going on and what you need is the first step.
If I show up (which I have been doing… it’s Saturday now, so day 2…) then I am already half way home.