The World, At Arm’s-Length

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.

Recharge Your Batteries

I have been running around like a crazy person all morning – four appointments in four different locations by 10 am… I need my coffee!

I breathe

I stop. I sit. I gaze upward. I breathe in slowly, inhaling the exquisite scent of the flowering Murraya (Mock Orange) trees. Bees dance lightly from one bloom to the next, hesitating now and then to tango with one of their workmates. I am sure they must be intoxicated by the heady perfume that attracts them to these delicate creamy white blossoms. The deep green of the leaves is a striking contrast to the intense azure blue of the sky. I know the calendar has not officiated the change of season, but nature is truly heralding spring this morning. The gentle contented twitter of the birds above my head, the warm sunshine against my back and a soft breeze meandering through the foliage every now and then whispers quietly that Springtime is very near.

The adrenaline that I have been running on this morning is dissipating, being replaced with a sense of calm. Although I am feeling very peaceful, I am reminded by the hum of traffic in the distance – punctuated by the growling of large machinery nearer by – that the chaos of regular life is not too far away.

I know that being able to appreciate these few moments will equip me to take the plunge and dive back into everyday busyness.

My morning coffee musing… Recharging the batteries of our very real lives.

Why don’t you take a moment to tell me how you manage to recharge your batteries. What is your “time out“? Where is your peaceful place?

Life Is A Delicate Balancing Act

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.

First Day Jitters

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…

Teamwork

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“.

My World Is Still Normal

It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.

In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.

Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.

As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.

In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.

I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.

How are you managing your new “normal“?