I settle carefully back into the reasonably comfortable, but not quite cuddly armchair. I gaze upward, out the window. Through the thin white veil of venetian blinds, I see a broken, horizontally pixelated view of a beautiful blue sky with billowing clouds gathering in the west. The tops of the gumtrees are still. Every now and then they sway a little, just to remind me this is not a photograph.
It looks warm outside. I think it looks warm. My climate controlled environment tends to mask the reality.
An unexpected visit to hospital has given me yet another perspective on this COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are in full lockdown, that means absolutely no visitors at all. And while I am not well enough to go outside, my only connection to humanity is the doctors, nurses and hospital support staff.
In “ordinary” times, this world at arm’s-length was still within reach when family and friends were allowed in. When flowers and care packages were easily delivered. When a familiar face could say, yes it is beautiful and warm outside, in spite of the air-conditioned chill within my four small walls.
I am very fortunate to have a bed near a large window. Even with the blinds, I can enjoy watching as the day begins. The sky brightens from a star studded ink black through charcoal into the grey blue of dawn. The bright azure of midday bordered along the base with the grey-green of eucalyptus leaves warms into a glaringly bright rectangle as the afternoon sun stares fiercely through the glass, eventually fading into a golden glow as it dips below the horizon, backlighting the trees as the shadows march across my room to finally envelope the world outside once again in the comfort of a sparkling night sky.
I never thought I would appreciate quite so much, the world at arm’s-length.
The damp chill of a few rainy days gives way to the comforting warmth of the sunshine as it breaks through the heavy cloud cover, burning it off to bring in a clear sunny, freshly washed afternoon. My coffee offers soothing warmth from within as the bright light radiates surprising heat upon my skin.
Upward the sky becomes more blue than grey. The breeze jostles the last few clouds upon their way across the horizon while rustling the treetops in a dance of appreciation – both for the life-giving rain, and now the clearer sunny weather. The garden around me is almost an iridescent green punctuated by a rainbow myriad of flowers… not a still life painting, but rather an idyllic real life backdrop to soften the less than idyllic realities of our every day.
Trying to juggle a home and work life. Trying to prioritise between family and money. Trying to find a way of managing that limbo between the end of the school day, and the end of an average work day.
To those parents who successfully manage that difficult time of day, I take my hat off to you. Quite often the cost of that after-school care can negate the cost of working longer hours, but not utilising that option can also – understandably – cost your employment.
Now that I’ve made that statement, I think I’ve clarified my own solution… this global pandemic of COVID-19 has forced upon us an unprecedented situation in which we are being forced to re-evaluate, juggle and re-balance our entire lives. Some income is better than no income in a time where one might easily become the other.
This morning the sky is a watery blue. White washed by clouds that can’t decide whether it will be a sunny or gloomy day. The breeze that jostles the treetops has a slight chill to it – a promise of bleaker weather, forecast to be coming. I really hoped to wake to a brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine today, but that was not to be… My mood feels a little like the weather – not quite sure which way to go – bright or bleak.
Recently, our whole lives seem to be teetering in the balance… We hope for a brighter future. We hope for this pandemic to abate, but the news isn’t so great as we hear of communities struggling with a second wave of infection. Just as restrictions are easing in some places and people are getting back to work, economies struggle to support themselves and the hopeful jobseekers within them.
Hope – such an important human quality. Hope is what allows us to find that positivity. Hope is what drives us to find a vaccine for COVID-19. Hope that the health guidelines will improve the situation. Hope is what motivates most of us to abide by social restrictions. Hope for a brighter future.
Hope gives us the power to stay positive. As I finish my few moments of musing, the breeze has dropped a little and the sun has peeked through those wispy clouds. I remain hopeful for a brighter day, and a brighter future.
Today, I contemplate my future. Maybe you are contemplating yours…
Many of us take a break from our regular work or career for a myriad of reasons. Maybe before further studies, you have taken a “gap year“. Perhaps a young mother returning to work after maternity leave. Perhaps an older parent returning to work after spending time at home as the primary carer for young children. Maybe you’ve taken a sabbatical – some extended leave – from your regular employment and are now returning to a new environment or even considering a career change. Or as is the case with so many now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps as restrictions ease, you are looking for a new job – any job!
I find myself fitting into a few categories. I am an older parent returning to work as my young children are now well ensconced in school life. In fact, I am older than many parents of children in primary (or elementary) school, so I am also in the group who may have taken extended leave from their usual career. And thanks to COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world economy, I am now searching for employment (and an income) that will fit into my current lifestyle, requiring flexibility and restricted hours.
I am discovering a whole new world of jobseeking sites. I am so pleased to see agencies actively marketing job opportunities for people returning to work and looking for a balance with business and personal life.
One of a number of options – working from home – allows the flexibility to look after family, and in the current world situation, the ability to continue working without as much interruption as for those in a more face-to-face and physical industry. A great thing – not only for our own financial well-being, but for our economy.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I will be happy to update you from time to time over a “morning coffee musing”, if you like, on the resources and opportunities that I find.
It’s funny, as I chatted with a friend this morning, we talked about “social distancing” and its effects on COVID-19, ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues and the general population.
We are really being asked to physically distance, because there are many other ways we express ourselves socially these days. Social contact is not limited to physical situations. Social (and related) media play a huge part – especially for younger people – in the way we interact. Yet, as the human species, physical social interaction is so important to who we are and our mental well-being.
We are rediscovering the importance and strength of family and social groups. Physical restrictions brought upon us by the pandemic have made us acutely aware of the value of those family members and friends we can no longer hug or comfort. Those who live alone have become truly isolated from our basic human need for physical contact.
Thankfully, we are now able to socialise on a “virtual“ level. These unprecedented times have encouraged individual families – whose members through busy lives – had become almost strangers at times, to reconnect. Facebook groups and the like have helped bring us together in ways that were never before possible. I am able to share everyday news with my whole family at one time… Not quite, but almost like being around the table together.
I know that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19 and all the lifestyle complications and restrictions that come with it. I am thankful for today’s technology – that it allows us to connect socially and visually with those we care about – but I so very much look forward to the day when we can again embrace those people with our arms as well.
We all know – or most of us know – that black lives matter… The fact is, ALL lives matter.
There is so much going on in the world at the moment to contend with… Not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the ugliness of racism. With the very public and tragic death of George Floyd in the United States has come a tidalwave of raw emotion and outrage.
The emotion and outrage is most definitely justified, but I don’t think it justifies turning that outrage into physical acts of rage. Attacks on others who happen to be innocent members of the various ethnic groups that have exhibited this racism does nothing but turn the victims into perpetrators.
We cannot change history. We can, and do, certainly regret events within all our histories, but we cannot change what is. What we can do is learn from those events and show our regret by changing how we behave into the future. Instead of allowing these past injustices to fuel the fire and pave the way to future regrets, let us lament these terrible acts, and allow the existing icons and statues to be reminders of not the worst of our history, but of how far we have come since those times.
I know there will always be racists – it seems to be a part of human nature – but I hope that one day we can all look into each other’s eyes and see the person, not the colour of their skin. We are all the same underneath – we are all a part of the HUMAN race.
Many of us are at different points in our COVID-19 pandemic experience. After almost two months in lockdown, our children returned to school today. Although the temperatures are cooler, we woke to a bright blue and cloudless sky. Barely a breath of breeze jostled the leaves in the tall gums. The usual chorus of birdsong joined us in greeting the day. The only real difference this morning was a louder hum of traffic in the distance as more commuters returned to the office – my partner included.
My brood displayed the whole range of enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the return to school… My eldest was excited to rejoin her friends and was ready for school without a fuss. My youngest was a little reluctant, however cooperative, and we managed to arrive at school, if a little late. My classic middle child suffered a bad dose of the “first day jitters“ to the point where he became physically ill. I was forced to issue an ultimatum – off to school or bedrest (no devices or distractions) all day. Bedrest has been chosen and I’m hoping that boredom today will create a little more enthusiasm for tomorrow.
It is surprising how much our minds can influence our physical well being. For some it is easier than others to overcome unchecked emotions. It can be both difficult and frustrating, for those who genuinely want to help, to understand someone who struggles with their anxieties.
Some of us ventured out into the world, and our “new normal“ today, let’s hope that with a little understanding and a lot of support that we can all get a little closer to our “old normal“ tomorrow.
How was your return to school and working life? I’d love to hear…
It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new working- and learning-from-home week. As I make our coffee and note the coincidental combination of coffee cups that came from the cupboard this morning, it dawned on me how important and far-reaching the concept of teamwork has become. Our lives, more than ever, are a series of interlinking teams, much like a chain driving a series of mechanisms that need to work together smoothly in order for the machine – for life – to move forward.
In our household, our lives before COVID-19 were much more independent of each other. My partner would leave early each morning to deal with the chaos of traffic enroute to the office, and I would deal with the chaos of getting the children to school and organising the household. Then between after-school activities and my partner arriving home later in the evening, we were all so tired and frazzled that we remained relatively independent of each other through until bedtime.
Now we often enjoy a morning cup of coffee together, and sometimes a snack during the children’s break times. My partner is helping our highschooler with her work, as I supervise our primary school boys. The children also have to be mindful of their father in his office, so as not to disturb his work either.
We have all become members of each other’s teams without even realising it, and we are all working together surprisingly well – the machine is running smoothly and our life is moving forward.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented cooperation, and a deeper level of communication has been the key. I will miss this special team we’ve become when life gets back to “normal“.
Can you hear that? That’s right, it’s quiet. No hum of the motorway, no roar of the truck engines. Less screaming from the sirens. Less noise, less pollution. Replaced thankfully, by clearer skies, fresher air and sparkling nights. The perfect opportunity for budding astronomers.
I must say, that positive side effects of COVID-19 seem to have been a healthier environment and the return to community – I have seen more families playing together in the park (while socially distancing from others) than ever. We are chatting across the fence more with our own neighbours in the street.
Physically we have been distanced and isolated from many we care about, but socially through mail, telephone and the internet, we have probably been more connected than ever. Displays of fun, kindness and thankfulness have been inundating social media. Socially distanced “crowds” have gathered to applaud our health workers, celebrities are entertaining for free over the internet, and fun loving Aussies have started the global trend with the “Bin Isolation Outing” Facebook group.
Right now, I am listening to calm waters lapping gently on a quiet beach. My boys enjoy each other’s company while my daughter chatters happily. ￼