rainbow drawing outside with chalk

Hold on in There… A Life After Lockdown Awaits

Another week in the UK lockdown has passed but is slowly phasing out with less restrictions e.g. unlimited time to exercise and going for a walk with someone outside of your household bearing social distancing is in place. I recently held a poll on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and followers what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown. The answers to choose from were:

A. Hug from a family member
B. Seeing friends
C. Leisure services resuming
D. All shops reopening

On Facebook, 83% said ‘hug from a family member’ with 59% holding the same answer on Twitter. It’s nice to see the majority of respondents have the same outlook as me. I’m so excited for the moment to hug my mum, dad, and brothers. There have a number of occasions where I’ve seen my mum from a distance and just want to run and hug her. To the honest, I miss all 4 of the above, of course I do! However, the freedom of being close to family is the hardest part throughout all of this. Also, most of my friends live a bit of distance from me too.

Can you imagine what life is going to like after lockdown?

For some, life might not seem so different now or after lockdown. However, for the more active and outdoorsy people there are, the life is come is something to look forward to. Though, at the same time, it’s still quite a scary thought. Many of us want to see our friends, celebrate, get back to the gym etc. but it’s important that we continue to take precautions. I’m sure we can all continue to implement these changes into our daily routines.

What’s the biggest impact lockdown has on travel for me?

At the moment, I’m adamant that I will not travel via public transport. I haven’t been on the bus since mid-March, which is my usual method of transport to and from work along with walking for 40% – 50% of it. Other than really miserable days with rain and wind, nothing bothers me about walking. In fact, anyone that knows me, sees the explorer in me. I’ve found it really difficult to spend a full day in the house without going somewhere. It’s in my nature, I have to go outside! So, planning trips to work when that time comes will mean putting some extra aside in the morning.

Optimising cleanliness and hygiene

As much as I’m fed up of all of this, which I’m sure many of you are too, I’m still taking it very seriously. For example, I haven’t entered anybody else’s house other than my own. Keeping things clean is no change and I’ve always that down to a tee – another thing that’s in my nature! The same goes for handing washing – a dispenser in the kitchen, downstairs toilet and each of the bathrooms upstairs. Pre-lockdown, I kept hand sanitiser in my bag the odd time but all the time now and also in the hallway of the house. I find myself being much wearier of what I’m touching e.g. shopping baskets, trolleys, items in a store that many people will have touched before me etc.

What exciting events in my life have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Let’s start with the best one, New York. Many of you might think “Ah right, yeah, big holiday that.” Well yes, but that’s not why we’re so gutted. New York is the place I’ve always dreamt of returning to and I never knew who that would be with until Danny. When we became homeowners in 2019, we didn’t go away because we were putting everything into this year’s big trip. It’s okay though because I know we will get there, maybe next summer, we’ll see.

What else? Another big one – Kraków to see Alicia Keys. It’s funny actually… a group of us booked to go there for the fact that Alicia Keys was in Manchester when we would’ve been in New York. And now, neither of the two are happening! I haven’t been to Poland before and I love to visit new cities so I’m sure it would’ve been really fun. As for Alicia keys, I can’t even tell you… I was only wondering at the beginning of the year if she’ll tour again and how she hadn’t brought any new music out for a while then… her song played on the radio and she announced a world tour. Out of all the singers I’ve seen live, other than the Spice Girls, Alicia Keys has always been on the top of my ‘got to see’ list from an early age. One day eh!

Better days are coming…

We have come this far, what’s a little while longer? Frustrating I know, when all we want to do is resume to some kind of normality. And that we will, we just need to be a little more patient I suppose. The more people listen to the rules, the quicker that time might be. There’s bound to be low days. If you are feeling down, reach out to the people who you know will do their best to cheer you up over a little chat or video call.

Family and friends, see you all soon (I hope), I can’t wait for a hug!

river view with purple sky during sunset

Using the Lockdown as a Time for Reflection

Lockdown is treating us all in different ways. I’m enjoying the Monica in me, the extra time to clean, tidy and organise. I’m like a crazy woman running round the house with the music on full volume. My poor neighbours! As far as food is concerned, I’ll make it short, I think I’m eating too much of it… yes the scales do agree. Through it all, I’m lucky to still be working so I’m glad that holds onto some kind of sanity I have left.

Positive reflecting

Lockdown has sent a lot more ‘me time’ my way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on – what’s important, what really matters, and coming to the realisation that I’ve eaten more packets of crisps than ever before. Seriously though, just the other week I had a sudden phase of calmness. I’d usually have something on my mind to worry about and it took one moment for everything to come flooding in to remind me that happiness is everything. No matter what that means for you, it matters, always.

Some of my time has been spent looking back at memories, reconnecting with old friends, getting closer to those who I wouldn’t tend to call or video call pre-lockdown life. The thing is though, it’s mainly my mum and dad that I video call and I spend the first 5-10 minutes laughing because I can’t help it. Does anyone else get that or is it just me?

Still missing friends and family of course

I can’t wait to go out and celebrate with my friends. Celebrate what? Just life itself and obviously that’ll be when it’s safe to do so. The moment where I get to hug my mum and dad is something I often think about. Ahhh, it makes me a bit emotional. Grandad’s anniversary is in a couple of weeks so I’ve got to stay in happy spirits. And in the back of my mind, is a reminder of uncle Dom’s anniversary next month, which will mark one whole year since he passed away.

If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that time flies. I knew it already but wow… even though many of us are feeling a bit bored and fed up at times, I think it’s gone so fast. And for me, the positive reflection has really helped to get more of the positive mindset back that I missed. It’s hard to find things to occupy you 24/7 but remember that this wasn’t all for nothing. It’s important to stay safe and help to save lives.

Hold onto the people and things that help you

Who and what had made you happy throughout the coronavirus outbreak? Remind yourself of whoever and whatever that might be whenever you feel a little low. Here’s to more singalongs to myself, dancing whenever I feel like it, a clearer perspective and remembering how good it feels to smile as much as possible no matter what’s happening in the world.

close up of pink petal flowers

Things to Do During the Coronavirus Lockdown

As surreal as the lockdown in the UK might feel right now, there are plenty of things you can do to stay occupied. Unfortunately, for the most social groups of people this is probably quite difficult. Also, it can pose challenges for those who are out of/can’t work. I’m lucky enough to be working from home so I still have some kind of routine. It does feel strange not having to travel to and from the office and I miss seeing my colleagues face-to-face.

For the past 10 days I’ve had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms so I’ve stayed indoors (self-isolating). The only places I’ve been includes the bins at the front of the house and going into the back garden. Those who are on the COVID-19 high risk list have been urged to stay at home (shielding), whilst others are staying 2 metres apart (social distancing) and under restrictions to only go outside for:

  • Shopping for necessities
  • Exercise
  • Medical reasons
  • Traveling to and from work if ‘absolutely necessary’

Take advantage of the time you have to relax

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to just relax and chill, now is the time to understand why you should do it more often. ‘Me time’ is really important. I’ve talked about ways you can relax before. Pamper yourself or take the time do something you usually put aside because you don’t always have the time e.g. reading a new book, starting a blog etc.

Clean up and tidy up

I always find something to rearrange whether it’s clothes in the wardrobe, the cupboard under the sink, the medicine cabinet, you name it, there’s always something. Why did I have 6 boxes of plasters in the medicine cabinet, who knows? I love to organise and keep the house clean and tidy so this an everyday hobby for me.

Binge watch TV series or films

Okay, I’ll admit, I do this anyway. But there’s no harm is watching more right? Make the most of those Netflix subscriptions. I’m making the most of some girly series at the moment, including a bundle of Gilmore Girls episodes (my 3rd time watching the whole series from start to finish). And as Disney+ is out in the UK, you might as well sign up and be ready for all of your Disney favourites. I’m so looking forward to reliving my childhood!

Do some gardening

If you have the tools available, why not take the opportunity to venture into garden. It’s never really been on my to-do list before. However, since we moved into the new house last year, the back garden has been an area I like to spend my time in, when the weather is nice enough. I’ve had fun tidying the garden, cleaning the patio, and painting the fence.

Keep in touch with family and friends

The most important one on the list. Check in on your family and friends. And don’t forget about your neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. There are many options such as: a call, text, social media, instant messaging like WhatsApp, video calls e.g. FaceTime etc. Some groups of people are also using quiz/gaming apps to keep them in high spirits.

As miserable as everything seems at the moment, do something that you can look back on and know it was time well spent. Think about the positives and have a forward-thinking perspective to keep you motivated.

field of spring flowers

There’s Always a Reason to Smile

In the midst of all the Coronavirus (COVID-19) worry across the world right now, there ought to be something out there to create some happiness. It all seems quite surreal doesn’t it? I’d like to play my part and share this post which stems from the idea that there are plenty of reasons to smile, 4 of which hold a lot of relevancy to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindness

As the Coronavirus outbreak increases, I’ve seen panic buyers at the shops, some selfish acts – overbuying and not giving others (mostly those which are more vulnerable, havie children, elderly etc.) the chance to purchase essentials items. However, I’ve seen many acts of kindness amongst all of the madness. Stores across the UK such as Iceland, M&S and Sainsbury’s are offering an hour in the morning for the elderly and vulnerable people to shop. There are also people in their local communities working hard to create packages for the people most in need. And it goes without saying that, the NHS are doing an incredible job looking after those who are hospitalised and emergency services are increasing their efforts to help.

Spring

20th March 2020 marks the first day of spring here in the UK. It’s a time of year that always makes me smile. As we slowly move away from the wintry weather (or at least we hope) it’s exciting to look forward to the sunshine and brighter days. There’s something about the appearance of colourful flowers and daffodils that makes me smile. It also means we’re closer to summer. Even if we don’t know how summer will play out at the moment we can still hope for good things. One thing that comes to mind is the old buttercup challenge from my childhood, you know the one where you would put a buttercup under your chin to see if there’s a yellow reflection to show if you ‘like butter’?! My grandad used to do this every spring when I was a little girl. It’s the littlest thing but it makes me so happy when I think about that.

Relaxation

I know this is harder for some than it is for others. If the stress is hitting you hard at the moment with work situations, money, concerns about your health or of a friend/family member, find some relaxation techniques that work for you. For me, a long soak in the bath and a cuddle from my favourite person in the world helps. The biggest kick in reality is that, sometimes there isn’t much you can do to stop situation. But together, we can help it e.g. self-isolate when necessary, social distancing, listening to the expert advice etc. Throughout it all, try your best to stay calm, surround yourself with positive thoughts and keep in touch with friends and family members to check in on them.

Music

I really do believe that there’s a song for every kind of mood. There’s music to help you concentrate, relax, sing your heart out in the shower… you know what works for you. Listening to music is something I do on a daily basis. I’m not quite sure what I’d do without it. It has the power to boost my mood and helps me put my thoughts into perspective. On days like today it’s important to find the the things that help to better your mood and keep you in high spirits. Let music be a part of it!

Look after yourselves everyone and remember to be kind, especially in all of the craziness that’s happening in world right now. And remember, the impact a smile, or doing something to make someone smile has. Especially, for those who need it the most right now, it’s something small, but very meaningful.

tablet glasses and phone on a table outdoors

Travel to Wherever Life Takes You

You come into the world as a tiny baby. Months go by and you’re learning how to roll over, crawl, make your own kind of noises to communicate in your own language etc. More time goes by and you’re walking, and eventually you’re talking in actual words. Your parents don’t want you to grow up. You start off with nursery or primary school. By the time you know it you’re in high school. After then, everything really is down to you.

It’s up to you to make decisions for your future. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the right or wrong ones. They’re your decisions and you’re going to make them. Mine was to attend college and university to study the subjects I was truly passionate about and wanted to do well in.

Did I love the whole college/uni experience? Nope. But I didn’t entirely hate them at the same time (okay maybe with college I did). A good thing though, was that I had quite a few friends at college. Completing college and uni was what I always wanted to do. I told myself to get to the end, for me and no-one else. I’m not on earth to prove myself to anyone, as hard as that can be at times to remember.

Wondering what’s going to happen next? Travel to wherever life takes you.

I remember finding out I was going to uni two weeks before the first term began. Those weeks of waiting really made me so anxious. The dread. The constant questions like, “So, what are you going to do with your life if you’re not getting into uni?” I was clueless – I didn’t have an idea in the slightest what was going to happen. Back then I wish I would’ve replied, “I’m going to do me.”

I guess by being me is what got be that place. There was some potential. The three years were… okay. I’m glad I met a friend who I still keep in touch with today. But I don’t think I got the entire ‘uni life’ experience. I walked in alone. And there was a lot around me that I didn’t enjoy. But I graduated so that’s something that can’t be taken away.

After this point, more challenges came my way. One, two, three, twenty-something interviews later to be where I am today. From a sales assistant from the age of 16 to a learning support administrator, marketing assistant, and now happily in the position of marketing coordinator and content writer.

So, I’m kind of stubborn…

Some say I’m stubborn and to be honest I can be. But I’m also just true to myself. When you’re told how/when/why/where you should do something, you stop to think, hang on a minute this is my life. So I’m going to live it my way. And I’m so glad I stuck to that. I didn’t get amazing college or uni results like what you see on the news. They always show the ones at the top of the class getting into the most famous and high up institutions. What about the rest of us eh?

There’s so much pressure in the world, we’re expected to achieve certain things to be valued as ‘intelligent’. I know there are certain areas that are my strongest. But I’ve also got my weakest just like everyone else.

Following the crowd has never been my style. I was bad at it and that’s because being like someone else isn’t what’s going to make you happy. Until you see you for who you are and focus on the things that make you happy, you’ll realise you’ll felt nothing like it. You look back and wish you would’ve had the courage to take certain steps sooner. But the important thing is that you got there in the end.

Talking steps independently…

I’m the type of person who likes to do a lot of things on my own without anyone holding my hand. If I went alone to get the coil fitted I can do anything, right? It’s funny, whenever Danny makes a comment I always say “It’s cos I’m an independent woman like Beyoncé!”

I walked into my first day of high school on my own being aware that only a couple of people from primary school would be there. I’d spent some dinners alone but that didn’t make me a ‘loner’. Some people knew who I was. And some didn’t. Some days my friends just had things going on. I faced bullies alone. I didn’t tell a soul. It took my brother to figure it out.

In primary school, on several occasions I would wait until I was alone in a room to cry my eyes out when granny passed away. I used to get the bus on my own up to visit grandad at the hospital. And to this day I’ll go to see them at the cemetery alone. But my dad or Danny do like to come along when they can. Dad knows to wait in the car for a while though. And Danny always gives me some time for just the 3 of us.

A lot of the time, I go shopping on my own. I take it upon myself to take myself for a walk! Sometimes I go to the gym alone and sometimes I don’t. It’s nice to have a mixture of both. Obviously when I need help or support, the people who love me most recognise when to step in.

Let the people who care for you be there for you.

Sometimes, I’m wrong to think I must have it all together on my own. If you’re lucky to have someone who wants to be there for you, don’t stop them, let them in. My person for that is someone who’s going to be in my life forever. Not just someone who’s in your life temporarily. I’ve learnt that keeping your friends group small is good for me. No drama. I see certain people as the ones I shared memories with. But it doesn’t matter that we’re not friends kind of friends, you know? It’s never going to be like that again and I’m fine with that.

Things happen. Life happens. Travel to wherever it takes you and follow the things that make you happy.

Do Things for You in Your Own Time and in Your Own Way

I’ve realised that a lot of my thoughts today are coming out pretty randomly. You know when you think things in your head and you’re like I’m going to share that with the world? Or is that just me? Well let’s take example…

I mean, am I right?! Then the thoughts got more serious which brings to this post about why you should do things for you and find your own way.

Always remember where you come from.

Anyway more to the point, another thought came into my mind today, a more serious one. Why do we feel so pressured by society, by others around us to do things in a particular order, by a certain age, and feel the need to ‘have it all’?

I’m 24 years old. I’m a young woman who has grew up on council estate ever since the day I brought home from the hospital as a baby. I don’t live in my dream city in the world but that doesn’t mean to say I’m ashamed of where I’ve come from. I’ll never try to be bigger or better than the person I am deep down.

One of my brothers always likes to joke around saying I’m ‘posh’ if I say words in a different accent to him. But he knows I’m truly the girl from her home city. One day I’m going to move out (next year). And I’ll be calling what’s home now mum and dad’s. But just as they say to my older brothers, this will always be our home.

Finding a real love for writing.

I got my degree at the age of 21. I could’ve got it at 40 or not at all, I like to think I’d still be proud at wherever I was in life. In fact, I know I would be. It’s important to find your passion and work hard towards something. But not everyone knows what that is for them. It wasn’t until 3 years ago when I shared my first blog post about happiness and aspirations that I realised what my ‘thing’ was. And it was and still is a love for writing.

Writing stories in primary school and high school was nothing compared to those essays in college and university. Wow they were a different kind. But I realised that my love for writing wasn’t all about the evaluations on the subject I studied or dissertation topics. I didn’t even get the grade I wanted at university. But I accomplished something new which was very hard-working and quite difficult not to get down at.

You’ll have people tell you all sorts but keep doing what you believe is right for you.

It was during and after university where one of the biggest challenges approached me. I felt like I always getting things wrong. Making the wrong decisions. Feeling terribly anxious. And reading into every little detail about not only studies but life in general. It hasn’t been until this past year that I’ve really found myself.

After feeling worthless, not because of the people around me but the lack of opportunities in the employment world. Turns out that I wasn’t getting things wrong. Even with people telling me that I need to get a move on or the looking like a waste of space to others. I was finding myself and finding the right way to go for me, not for anybody else.

background shot of girl with blond pony tail

Living for the moment…

I’ve always believed in travelling on my own path. And part of that is living. We’re not just on this earth to exist, work, and pay things. We’re alive so we should be living. Some will say but I can’t afford it or I’d love to do that. Well why can’t you?

For some people, it can be possible. If you do things the right way you can do so many things. Take me for instance – saving for a house doesn’t stop me having fun. My priorities are in order but I still see my friends. Sometimes we stay in. Sometimes we go out. I still love to travel, it gives me something to look forward to. Some people have children and other commitments. And one day I’d hope to have those. But right now I’m living to take opportunities while I can.

The future can be scary but it can also be amazing.

You can’t predict the future. And you can’t go back in time. But you can always make tomorrow a better day. That’s the motivation I try to wake up with each morning. I’m happy to see that I’ve killed a lot of my fears away. Some big and some small. But they’ve all counted in making me who I am today.

The biggest fears and challenges, the negative what ifs, can test you so much. What if you  put your all into something, do something great, and become closer to reaching new moments you never thought you’d have? That sounds much better, right?

As for the future, I plan to continue to remember what it means to have each day. Take the people who we always say we ‘lost too soon’. What are the things they would’ve loved to have seen you do, or that they never had the chance to do? Make a difference. Smile. And carry on being you.