The whole world knows by now that Melbourne has experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Having gone through the first lockdown in February-March and then getting some reprieve afterwards, numbers escalated quite quickly and our premier decided to go to Stage 4 lockdown.
This meant that all businesses were closed except for the supermarket, medical clinics and post office. All cafes and restaurants could run with takeaway service; an 8pm curfew (now eased to 9pm); heavy fines, and only one hour (now 2 hours but not consecutive) for exercise as long as we were 5km from home. Of course mandatory face masks.
This time around this second lockdown has been utterly exhausting. To be fair, I’m over it. Although, I work from home, one of the things that really impacted me this time was the fact that the rest of Australia isn’t going through the same thing as we are and the situation is relatively normal. Chatting with friends and family interstate, it’s weird to see that they’re still going out, enjoying catching up with each other, visiting each other in their homes, and now, travelling interstate for short breaks. I can’t quite grapple with that. Of course, that’s by the by because the most tiring factor for me is that I have not seen my family for months. It’s actually doing my head in.
I am mentally exhausted and can’t seem to think straight or focus on one thing anymore. I seem to go from room to room, one activity to the next and ponder a lot, surf the web and then wonder where the hours have gone. I have been reading Amor Towles A Gentleman In Moscow for weeks now. I pick up a book and can’t focus on the sentences without my mind wandering again.
However, despite this lockdown, I have had some little joys this year that have made me feel as if I have achieved something despite the turmoil. For one, I’ve reached the realisation that back in 2017, I made a decision never to work full time ever again and to focus instead on my health and well being and exploring creative pursuits. Back then, I also decided that I will retire earlier than the national retirement age by at least seven years (fingers crossed) . That decision has basically demonstrated that I had the right thinking back then and that it helped prepare me this time. I made the decision that I don’t want stress, anxiety, frustration, and lack of control in my life. I like to wake up every day and at a whim do what I want, when I want it, how I want it beholden to no one but myself and my direct family members.
If I want to spend an entire day in pyjamas, I will and will refuse to feel guilty about it.
If I want to wear a sequinned top with army pants and boots, I will and I really couldn’t give a shit what anyone thinks.
If I want to jump into a car and go for a drive to St Kilda for some fish and chips by the sea and sink my bare feet into the sand, I will do it.
So this time in lockdown has me thinking about the need to incorporate little joys in my life as much as possible – and not feel guilty about it nor compare myself to others who may be building new business, exploring new opportunities, travelling to exotic locations or whatever. Thing is, everyone is different and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to what they’re doing. Nor worry about what we “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing. I’ve decided to eradicate ‘should’ from my life because really, it was tiring to put that pressure on myself.
For me, little joys are:
- New habit with my husband Andrew where every Saturday morning we wander to a local cafe for a coffee and a pastry then walk to the local park and sit there to watch families and their dogs play in the park while we watch, plan our future or just talk shit.
- Playing with Pud the Cat and chasing him around the house every morning (this is our daily thing before he gets his belly rubbed then falls asleep with paws in the air)
- Afternoon naps on the weekends
- Curling or straightening my hair with my new flat irons (I’ve never had these before and recently bought them)
- Having a laugh with my parents on Viber video calls
- My hour long walks in the park and saying good morning to the locals (and wondering what they look like under their masks 😉)
- Listening to Coffee Break French podcasts three times a week on my walks (it’s delightful)
- Experimenting with different make up looks (learned how to put on eye shadow for the first time in my life)
- Writing my morning pages
- Surfing Ravelry to find new knitting projects
- Starting (and finishing) knitting projects
- Started drinking coffee that is flavoured such as Hazelnut and Caramel – it’s a little treat to myself
- Meeting new people on Zoom who I haven’t chatted with before
- Discovering a new website or a YouTube channel which I learn something new or try out something they’ve shared
- Finding new comments that I had missed from my YouTube channel
- Eating stroopwafels
- Drinking a glass of cold white wine on weekends in the afternoon with some cheese on crackers while surfing Netflix and my knitting in my lap.
- Not worrying about the housework
- Not worrying about leaving the dishes in the sink
- Saying no to odd requests here and there and not feeling guilty about it
- Looking at the birds outside the window with Pud the cat (it’s our thing)
- Taking Pud for a walk on his leash
- Wearing my flannelette shirt with my khaki army pants (my best clothing choice)
- Eating Camembert cheese
I’m sure there are more but these little joys have helped me get through this lockdown. If I continue to do these after things open up again, all well and good however, what I’ve realised that it’s not the actions that have helped me this time, it was the mindset.