Hi gang! It’s been a while, and it’s all got a little bit weird. How’s everyone getting on? Feeling weird? Me too. It’s Tuesday, and usually Tuesdays are so busy I don’t have time to think. I should have 2 dogs staying in the house, a pup visiting for the day and another half a dozen to visit and walk. Instead I’m sat in my window seat trying to find the motivation to do anything. I was meant to write this blog in February… I started, but life was so busy it kept going to the back of the queue, and now the blog I had planned seems well… just a bit irrelevant. We had set out a plan for 2020 that meant that we wanted to showcase where we lived a bit more, inside and out, so people could get a real idea of where their dogs stay and what experiences their pups have while they’re away. So, I was going to blog about the beach being on our doorstep and what changes we’re making to the house now we’ve settled in and focus on how pups spend their days when they stay here. Fun, huh?! The problem is, no pups are staying here at the moment. Everyone’s holidays have been cancelled and that means our bookings have been too. The beach being on our doorstep is something I’m so thankful for, perhaps now more than ever. Every evening, no matter what’s been happening during the day we take a walk round the beaches. Sometimes the walk is longer, sometimes we do a quick loop, but we always migrate there. And we are doing our best to get stuck in to house projects during the day. Tom is out in the garden most days, levelling it and working really hard to make it a more useable space. I’m painting and decorating my way through the weirdness. It feels productive which makes my brain feel a bit better.
Last week, I was really struggling with this whole lockdown concept. I’d get up in the morning and feel so lost that I’d struggle to get anything done. What are you supposed to do? Why do I feel so guilty about sitting and doing nothing? If I know I should be productive why don’t I want to do it? I missed my friends, I missed being outside and I missed hanging out with the dogs SO MUCH. I knew that I had to do things to take a load off of my mind. I’m an overthinker. When I feel sad and I have nothing to do I dig a big emotional hole for myself where I tend to become too wrapped up in my problems and get a bit (a lot) delusional. I think that I’m the only person in the world feeling the way I do and sulk. I knew I had to break this cycle I just had to get myself there. So, I gave myself a bit of a talking to and I’ve made myself do a few things:
- Stop putting huge expectations on the day.
This is a huge deal for me. I have high expectations. So, in my head when I knew this lockdown was coming, I expected to be simultaneously building my website, painting all my bathrooms and running 5k a day. When I realised that I had no motivation to do real work because I wasn’t doing the day to day and I was drinking wine and eating ice cream rather than running anywhere I got really angry with myself. Which isn’t very fair — no ones done this before, you can’t expect to be the best at isolation when you don’t know what that means. So, I’ve changed tact. The expectation on each day is that I do ONE productive activity and ONE form of exercise. Except on Sundays. Sundays are for sleeping.
- Exercise is important but you don’t need to go wild.
Moving is important for me. It stops me overthinking (and digging that emotional hole) it keeps me present (no emotional holes are dug in the present) and it’s a big part of my day to day normal life (I walk EVERYWHERE) I also really enjoy moving. So, 4 days a week I’m committing to a Joe Wicks workout. It’s 30 minutes of doom, but I always feel better for it. And I make sure I go out for a walk every evening. That’s it.
- People keep saying you need to get dressed properly. I like slouching in joggers so deal with it.
Showering and brushing your teeth are important. I also brush my hair and run some straighteners through it. But what are you trying to prove wearing jeans in a lock down?!
I’m also not going to be putting on any make up for the foreseeable. It’s a waste of mascara.
- Cooking and music help
It’s my medicine and so cooking big meals at the end of the day while dancing to my fave playlist is where it’s at for the foreseeable. A big glass of wine makes this a winning combination.
Getting to grips with my rules for surviving this thing has made me feel a lot more content. And I should point out these are my rules for me. Lots of people are in very different situations right now, and while we all trying to work things out, we’re all also living different lives. I’ve had to press pause on Oh Doggo, and Tom’s been furloughed so we’re in the house with a lot of spare time. However, you might be a key worker trying to get to grips with crazy shift patterns, or working from home and trying to get a routine and balance between work and play, or you might have 3 kids under 6 that you’re trying to keep occupied and home schooled. If you need more structure than me, that’s ok. If you need a massive to do list to make you feel better, great. If you want to use all your spare time to do exercise in your back garden cool. And if you like wearing jeans or your normal 9–5 work clothes on your sofa and put on make up to go to Tesco, I might not get it, but if it makes you feel better, that’s ok. You do you.
Now that I’ve put myself in a better place, I’m beginning to see the positives in all of this; and how as much as this situation isn’t ideal, in a lot of ways, we’re very lucky. We’re lucky to have each other — I couldn’t imagine living on my own right now. We’re so lucky to have the beach on our doorstep. We’re lucky we live in a house and have the space to do our own thing. We’re lucky we have a garden — it’s not in any fit state at the mo, but it’s a bit of outdoor space that we can spend time in. We’re lucky that we have a full fridge and jobs to go back to once this is all done. Lots of people don’t have those privileges. And lots of people don’t have the privilege of being able to manage this as the new normal quite yet.
Last month, just before my birthday when things were starting to change Tom and I had a conversation about what we could do to help. Oh Doggo was set up with a vision of kinder business, business that collaborated and served the community. We put out a post on social media saying we were here to help. We delivered bread to our neighbours. We offered our spare time to people struggling and sent Whatsapp messages to our neighbours, friends and family every time we were in a supermarket (I’m sure it became very annoying) asking if anyone needed anything. We even made dog biscuits for all our customers with the idea of sending them out to cheer every one up, and I made a list on my phone of all the nice things I could do to make others feel better about all this stuff. And then, just like that; I lost my mojo.
Well, it wasn’t just like that really. I knew the lockdown was coming but when it hit and I had to contact everyone to say we’d have to cancel all of our services for the foreseeable future I suddenly realised I hadn’t prepared myself for how I’d feel. Lost. Scared. Angry. I couldn’t help anyone like that. But after a bit of soul searching, I invested some time in myself, and although I’m not feeling 100% the most super duper person ever and I still have a wobble every so often, I’m feeling a lot better and ready to do a bit more.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is; there’s a lot of pressure surrounding this time to be a superhero. Go on social media and we’re all being told we need to grow, bake and cook all of our food from scratch, read every book in the world, craft all the crafts and re-decorate your home quicker than you can say changing rooms. There’s also a ton of pressure to be kindest, most intuitive and empathetic person in the world. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for being kind, I love kindness. When I see it in the wild it makes me well up with joy. It’s wonderful and lifts everyone’s spirits. I’m also all for productivity. But when both things are being shoved down your throat while you’re not feeling yourself it can all feel very overwhelming. So, if you’re a mere mortal like me, and all of this feels a bit much right now, I’m here to say that’s ok. Work it out. And once you’ve worked it out, you’ll be in a much better position to help, be thankful for the good stuff, and the little things.
I came to the conclusion last week that this thing is going to be a walk not a sprint and we need to take our time. Spending some time working all this stuff out also means we’ll have enough energy through the rest of this to look out for others, practise kindness, and work out how to best use this extra time. Some people will get there quicker, and that’s ok. We’re all different, and while you may be struggling now and may need some support from them, they might need you later down the line. Those things that I wanted to do to make our community feel like a kinder more connected place are still there waiting for me. And I can still get stuck in, its never too late. In fact, it’s the perfect time, because I’m in the right place and capable of helping. YAY!
The best bit about all this is when you’re ready and getting into the swing of things you can spread some joy too. While I was working out my jam, I realised that spreading kindness doesn’t have to be big stuff either. Texting a pal you haven’t heard from in a while is a simple way to check in and make someone’s day. We don’t all have to be superheroes; social media is fibbing.
So, if you’re feeling like me, and like you’re ready to do a bit more to help why not try a few of these joy spreading hacks:
- Donate to a food bank
Supermarkets still have food bank donation points running, and you can find out what food banks need right now online. It’s a really easy way to do a nice thing
- Set up a WhatsApp group for your street so you can check in on your neighbours
We’re really lucky to have a hub of lovely neighbours. One of them popped a note through our door the other week asking if we wanted to join a street Whatsapp group. It makes you feel more connected at a difficult time and means you can help out if anyone is stuck for something… and vice versa!
- Surprise doorstep deliveries to make your pals smile
On our daily walk we’ve been taking bags of dog biscuits and planning routes that mean we can leave them on our pup pals doorsteps. You could do the same for your friends and fam; doorstep cakes, doorstep flowers, doorstep puzzles as long as you aren’t making special trips or having a social gathering while your at it you can leave a treat on their doorstep or in their front garden and make your daily exercise and their day a little bit brighter!
- Send letters to family and friends and become pen pals
I saw this idea on Instagram and think it’s a really sweet! It’s bound to cheer everyone up, who doesn’t like happy snail mail?!
- Donate to charities and local crowd funders
I know this isn’t something that everyone can do right now… money is tight and if you aren’t in a position to do so that’s ok. But if you’re working from home it might be something you would want to consider. So many charities need help right now, and there are some amazing crowd funders out there supporting frontline staff with food and PPE.
- Support local business
Local business has been hit hard by all this weirdness. Oh Doggo is on pause, and a lot of other businesses are too, but you can still give us a like, follow or comment on social media! Love a business that is on pause at the mo? Why not give them a shout out? Or tell your friends and fam about them and encourage them to use them after the lockdown?
There are lots of small businesses still operating delivery services, lots of retail independents are online, and tons of small businesses are doing wonderful things to help frontline workers at the moment, so a treat for you could also mean a treat for someone who needs it! Win win!
- Send regular texts to family and friends and set up house party/Zoom dates
I fell of the wagon a bit with this last week… but now I’m back and ready for action! It’s so easy and makes everyone feel a bit better in testing times.
These things are really small gestures, but that’s the point isn’t it? At times like this we all need the little stuff to pull us through. And once you’re feeling like you’re in the right head space to do this kind of stuff it does wonders for you too! Focusing your attention on these little things makes you feel brighter, more focused and happier. Not to mention all the good vibes it’s spreading to other people… Just imagine the joy you’d feel from finding a doorstep treat or getting some snail mail from a pal!
If you feel like you can do more… do more, the people volunteering their time are superheroes, the people applying for and working in frontline roles right now are superheroes. It’s amazing to see brilliant people in action, but don’t forget the little stuff means something too. It’ll help us survive the lockdown.
So, remember the little things, take care of yourself out there and we’ll see you on the other side.