An Auntie in the Time of Corona

I’ve been blessed to be God Mother to two babies, who have both grown into wonderful women.  My eldest god daughter – Elizabeth, the child of one of my closest childhood friends, is nearly 8 months pregnant with her first child.  We know this craved for child is a girl.  With the permission of her mother, this is the first of my letters to her unborn baby – Lily.

Dearest Lily,

First of all I wanted to introduce myself.  Although maybe you already know me, by voice, softly drifting into the warmth of your mother’s womb.

I’m your Auntie Sandra.  How do you do?  An honorary Auntie no less, but no less for all that.  You see, we’re not related by blood, but I’ve known your mother for ever.  Well, ever since before she was born, too.

As is now, I was the soft voice beyond the womb, then.  The close friend and confidante of your grandmother – her mother in turn.  So, in so many ways, I’m someone who knew your mother from the earliest of times.

Your mother was born before the time of Corona, the strange, up-ended one which you will soon find yourself part of.  And though I’m two generations ahead of you, little Lily, I can vividly remember your mother’s entrance into the world.

She came early – as always doing things in her own softly determined way.  As soon as I could, I made my way to the Special Care Baby unit of the maternity hospital.  And there I met your mother – Elizabeth.  Tiny, but thriving nonetheless.

I remember seeing little Liz, this side of the womb, for the very first time.  She was lying in an incubuator, an unmistakably fully formed personality, looking back at me with the biggest pair of blue eyes, set in a tiny elfin face.

Your grandmother blew kisses at her tiny newborn daughter and told her she loved her.  And so it was, that before I ever spoke to your mum, I burst into tears first…

It was tears that bought me to this page too Lily, to write to you.  Because when I thought that I might not get to meet you too, in a physical way, for what could be a long, long time in the life of a baby, my eyes teared up again, but for sadder reasons this time…

But listen Lily, I’ve chosen not to cling to the sadness, since soon it will be your turn to make your way into the world.  And before that happens, I wanted there to be a little legacy of a letter or two, waiting for you.

Elizabeth & Me, in history

I asked your mother how she felt, being pregnant in the time of Corona and she told me that she wondered what kind of world she was bringing her child into.

That’s a natural protective concern, which so many mothers, along long millenia have felt too.  Precious as you are, little Lily, you’re not the first baby to be born into a time of causality and uncertainty.

And there is your father too, loving you – even though he’s living on another continent, thousands of miles away.  He so wants to be with you, my little love, but in this crazy enclosed time, a virus – something of microscopic size, but enormous magnitude, most likely means that he won’t be here to meet you on this side of the womb, very soon, either.

Whilst this all seems like such crazy, sad, uncertainty; as your great Aunt, I want you to know that actually there’s a whole lovely lot of certainty in your life, all ready and waiting to be embraced.

To begin with you already have four generations of living family who love you – quite literally spanning the globe.  So that, my dear one, is already whole world of love.

You will discover that already you have great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins closely connected to you and caring greatly about you.

There are so many characters you will come to know in your family across the world.  Some you will see yourself in and others – wonder at the differences.

And that’s just the humans – your grandmother and your mother both have a dog.  And knowing those woofling, playful creatures, I can guarantee they’re waiting eagerly to be petted and played with, when the time safely comes.  So you will know the love of animals, also.

As well as people there will be places to discover. Know that your first home is quietly waiting to welcome you.  Your room is ready.  I can tell you now that you will have warmth and food and clothes and toys.

When you arrive in this world, you’ll be cuddled by your mother and your grandmother, certain in their circle of love.  And when the time of Corona has passed, you my child, will be passed from person to post, coo-ed at, adored and exclaimed over.  Not just by a global DNA dynasty, but your mother’s myriad of friends, as well.  And between the happy horde of family and friends, between us we’ll discuss who you look like; then rattle toys at you and play ‘peek-a-boo’, many, many times over.

We will watch you gain and grow and change, and be more you, every day.  But know that already in a life short lived, Lily, that you are unique, special and cherished beyond reason.

And I don’t know if you will know of this time of Corona in a conscious sense.  I’m trusting that this viral storm will pass and it will be relegated to that thing the oldies in your life will rattle on about – how you arrived when life was locked down and we all had to keep our loving distance.

That we do this is important. It’s my first gift to you, Lily, to keep my distance.  And I’m doing it with a happy heart, because that’s what it takes to keep you as safe as can be.

And I’m still here, woven into the loving infrastructure of your world.  We will just now have to do things differently from how we thought they would be.

One day we will most definitely meet and I’m storing a little stockpile of stories ready for when we have that first cuddle, exchange our first words and have that first ever game of peek-a-boo.  And all of these things will be especially special, since we’ve earned them with our loving patience.

No doubt before that day we shall meet via the modern day miracle of video chat, although I’ve already got a sense of you from soft scanned images – grey, grainy and beautiful…

Meet Lily

And as time goes on, I will chart your childhood with more photographs, just as I did with your mother – Liz, with her sister Jenny and brother, James.

And so, it goes Lily, on and on and nothing, not even Coronavirus will change all that.

Bye for now little one.

With much love from your
          Auntie S xx

PS: Peek-a-boo!!!  Just wanted to be the very first person who did that with you 😉 xxx


Sunset, in the time of Corona

Have been inside all day, working hard, whilst keeping an eye on the lush sunlight bathing the outside world with its glorious prescience of Spring.

To my surprise I was actually looking forward to my planned run, later…

As usual, I worked till late and watched the sun sinking rapidly out of sight.

But still there was daylight, so off I went, heading into the sunset, following its slow arc as I ran across fields, down streets and along lanes.

If I don’t recognise the world right now, even more of a surprise is that for this time out there in the air, I don’t even recognise myself… That me, that she, running on and on.

The running was fine, even though my asthmatic chest wasn’t impressed and my feet felt like 2 ton bricks.

But the endorphins and sense of smug achievement propelled me on.
And I returned, in one solid piece, to my door.

Oh – and did I mention that I went for a run today..? 😬

Technology in the Time of Corona

Spent the day time getting to grips with Microsoft Teams…

In the evening had my usual weekly French lesson on Skype instead of at college…

In between, downloaded the Zoom App to play with….

Then I got a WhatsApp call from Pinda Gillett, then Susan Tarney and THEN Samantha Metcalfe… Each person was added to the group…

Cajoled them all into switching to video mode… There followed blank screens, mutes, cut offs and general techno-numpty mayhem, but eventually we all mastered it!!!

Next follows over 2.5 hours of catching up, banter, and SO much laughter! The sort of laughter where you can’t breath and have to hold your sides, cos it hurts…

Pets, children and husbands wondered in and out of view and joined in the chatter.

In the after glow of our inadvertent calling circle, I’m still smiling, and not least feeling proud that we mastered the technology.

Our time together was fun, warm and silly.

And let’s face it, if four old birds like US can manage it – ANYBODY can!!!!

Whisky in The Time of Corona

I’m a whisky wimp… I just find it a hard task to drink the stuff naked and neat…

And there goes all my Scottish ancestors turning in their respective graves…

However, after my most recent visit to the land of my forebears, several years ago, I  discovered MY whisky. It’s Auchentoshan, made in the west of Scotland and not in the traditional Scottish way, so it’s more sweet and delicate on my soft sassanach palate than the usual decoction.

And then there are the whisky liquers… There’s a whole, glorious array of them.  My favourite whisky cream of choice is Arran Gold – your basic, creamy nectar, with an alchemic whisky bite to the back of it… Then there’s Drambuie – for years simply rolled out at Christmas and rolled around the mouth to wash down a fattening slice of dark and unctious Christmas cake.

But on my Scottish odyssey I discovered Glayva – again, whisky for wimps, being sweeter and fruitier and just, so… well.. lush…  I quickly realised that we were a match made in heaven, though I’ve never seen it on a supermarket shelf, so sometimes, at a push I go back to my former lover, the easier to obtain Drambuie.


In this time of Corona, only several days ago, I made a forey into Tescos Supermarket.

There were some gaps on the shelves, but I found all the things I was looking for and resisted the urge to bulk buy or purchase anything I didn’t actually need.

Before I left I thought I’d check to see if there was any Drambuie – the next best thing to my favourite whisky liquor Glavva, which I usually buy online.

I found the shelves of whisky, then I scoured and I craned, I peered and I pried. But alas – no Drambuie nestled next to them… #Sigh

Then suddenly the lights dimmed, and lo! There before me glowing golden on the shelf, was a single bottle of… GLAYVA!

A heavenly choir chorused glorious, joyful alleluias!

I knelt in reverence and gently lifted my prize, caressing it with a kiss of gratitude on the cap…

My prize claimed, I took it to the till.

We lived happily ever after…



Cats in the Time of Corona

So I have a pride of three cats.

And being cats – with little concern for anything but themselves – Coronavirus has passed them by.

For them, it’s still a cat’s life and little – apart from the more frequent company of their human guardians – has changed…

Cats in the Time of Sofa

And here lies two of the three…  A posh male pedigree and rufty-tufty black moggie.  Step brothers, sharing a house, but usually ignoring each other…

But as you can see – cats don’t do social distancing…

Nope – life goes on as usual, with the purring at and hogging of their hu-mum’s lap.

And I sit there, having hastily covered myself with a fleece to keep out the cold. Next thing you know, I’m suddenly covered by cats too and pinned down by purring. At least they’re warm…

And I let them stay, despite the fact that I’m starving and thirsty.  Daft bugger that I am…

But THEY don’t care… They are lost in warmth and happiness and the joint joy of their hu-mum draped in a blankie.  It’s your basic recipe for feline bliss…

And who am I, to get in the way of that?

Yours, snugly,


Running in the Time of Corona

In my series of ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ posts, today I have to record a momentous occasion for posterity…

For the first time in decades I went out for a run, (with the possible exception of being late for a train…)!!!

This shocking revelation has come about because I am left with little alternative.  You see, exercise for me usually involves:
1) Walking groups = now cancelled;
2) Swimming = yup – cancelled;
3) Yoga = cancelled, yet again. Gah!!!

Now I’ve done a bit of running over the years… But it’s really my thing… Far too much like hard work…  Too, um, heavy on the knees… Nope – I’m not one of those kick ass, slender sporty types I often drive by (sitting in my hermetically sealed car), I observe smugly pounding pavements in the latest designer trainers.

That being said, in these Corona crazy times I feel I have not only to do SOMETHING to keep myself healthy, but I’ve got to up my game to stay active and healthy.

Blimey… If you know me… times are – most definitely and shockingly – a-changing..!

So I’ve figured out the Couch to 5K App.  I’d downloaded it to my mobile eons ago, then ignored it.  Why I’d downloaded it, I can’t imagine. I have to say that I associate running with being seriously sporty, whereas I do what I do, in a personal, lazy, ‘I’ll only do what I wanna’ sort of way…  Running it has to be said, is not what I ever wanna do…

Yet I opened the App and read the instructions.  I didn’t understand them all, so I googled some questions and figured it out.  Yep – I know! Check ME out with my fancy smancy technical know how…

And so the moment (to run) came and then it went.  It went because instead of running, I procrastinated – a lot (including spending precious minutes online browsing – thinking, that if I MUST do this crazy thing, that I must buy trendy trainers and all the kick ass sporty gear).

But then I shutdown the shopping Apps and started up the music App.  I clicked  headphones into my phone and plugged the phone into my ears.  And I just, well… started! I tapped the App and started moving – just one foot in front of the other, one at a time…

The Couch to 5K App comes highly recommended and I can now see why – it (in the guise of a celebrity voice) coaches you and supports you through each, short stage. I chose the voice of Sarah Millican, who talked me through a warm up walk; then to run for a minute; then walk briskly for a further 1.5 minutes, and so on.

Oh my god… The first minute was AWFUL… I cannot lie – I felt heavy, wheezy and old!

But I kept going. I smiled to myself (a deliberate physiological ‘trick’ to signal to the body that I was happy); I looked at the scenery; and I just I kept going…

Then I realised I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I was RUNNING! Yes… I was actually running!!!

So check me out, world… Running down a country lane, in trackies and trainers (found lanquishing at the back of a wardrobe)… Kick ass sporty type that I (now, suddenly) am…

Whilst keeping a safe social distance from those I encountered along the way, I acknowledged everyone – to be met with smiles, or ignored, or avoided, or regarded with a worrying air of bewilderment (may be as a 50 something newbie jogger, I just looked weird, instead of ‘kick ass’…).

Suddenly it was time to stop.  And that was my first run, in the bag, done, at 30 minutes.  That achieved, I stopped briefly to take a selfie for posterity / public record, then kept on walking for another 30 minutes.  And if you are not impressed by that, I need to you to know that it means that I am basically awesome.

So are here are the comparison pics:
1) Before – Judging myself for looking old, ugly and sickly.
2) After – Not caring how I look, but feeling blimmin proud of myself.

Running in the Time of Corona

So if I can do it – may be you can too…???
Or maybe there is something else you can try.  For example there are several online celebrities / exercise gurus currently offering their programmes for free, including:

Warning: I’m gonna climb onto my soap box now:
To have the best chance of staying healthy, we need to be active. We should do regular exercise in a way that works for us.  If we have the physical capability – now is the time to not only stretch our boundaries, but run towards them and leap over the damn things!!

We don’t need to be kick ass lycra clad atheletes, but let’s kick the ass out of this crazy Coronavirus and give it as little chance as possible of kicking us to the curb.

OK, OK… I’m clambering off the soap box and making my way back over to the sofa.
For now…
Might just smugly jog by you on another day, though…

Yours, semi-smugly,

Anxiety in the Time of Corona

                                                       Let go to the then…

This is the second of my Love in the Time of Corona posts – seeking purpose and positivity amidst the chaos of a world gripped by the Coronavirus. Today it’s all about understanding anxiety and ‘letting go to the then’…

In the time of Corona – a time unprecedented for so many of us, so many people are experiencing anxiety.

It’s something I will often address with coaching clients, where we will unpick what the psyche is experiencing – which is fundamentally a thought pattern which impacts on our physical and emotional state, by creating stories about the future.

I don’t say that glibly because I know from personal experience what a devastating impact it can have on both emotions and quality of life. However I have observed that people can latch onto the label of anxiety, without potentially understanding what it is.

I don’t like labels, but I do like explanations, and sometimes when I see similar preoccupations with clients too – I explain that anxiety is about creating stories in our minds and then projecting them as ‘real’ happenings in our future. But I am also very clear that is not a label to live by.

So many of us feel the fear… Our thoughts say – in the future – this will happen, and that will happen and it won’t be good…

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. My thoughts start spiralling and I find myself worrying about what will be… how certain situations will pan out… that things in my future may well fail or crash and burn…

And that seems even harder when those around us, in the time of Corona, are experiencing similar symptoms.
So when I feel that way, it’s time to STOP this anxious thinking and to coach myself back to clarity.

What do I say to my coaching clients at times like these? Well – I explain that fear is not reality, it is instead a negative projection of what you have decided could happen in the future.

Early on in my coaching career I was taught an acronym which nicely sums this up; it states that fear is actually:

Fear is living in the future – the worst possible future. It is your brain warning you of the pitfalls of a situation – saying that danger lies ahead. But this is only one dimension of the future. You could have many futures, including positive ones.

Yes – danger, pain and difficulty may all exist in the future, but equally, they may NOT. Resolution, normality and joy may also be in store for you, so why doesn’t your brain remind you of that???

Such thought processes happen for a lot reasons… many of us are psychologically wired up in this animalistic / protectionist way. Culturally too, so often we have grown up around influencers who always point out the negatives, difficulties and pitfalls of a situation.

Life should be a balance, so how shattering would it be to continually either live in the mire of fear or else to constantly expend effort to exert the balance back to trust and confidence in the future? Well many people do and it is completely draining and exhausting, both mentally and physically…

So how about a new tactic? As usual, with the tools that I deploy for myself and hence my clients, this is a simple one and it is this: I release anxious thoughts to ‘the then’…

What this means is that I decide that worrying about future events and how they will end or make me feel is a waste of effort; since my thoughts now will not change the reality of the situation of then.

And at this particularly difficult time, ironically I’m not experiencing any anxiety. Instead I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step up and be strong. I’m here, to the best of my ability, to provide calm and consistent leadership; to remind people of their own inner well of strength; and to support them in whatever way I can.

Yet whilst I’m donning my super hero cape and getting on with all of this, I have my wobbles. I loss confidence and tell myself that I can’t handle all the pressure. But handle it I do and that is immensely empowering.

You see I know from experience that I can trust myself to deal with all manner of situations – negative and positive. Time has proven that I have mastered resources, dealt with situations and at the very least lived through and survived them all, not least, thrived through most of them. So I remind myself of this fact.

And I remind my fearful ego that I can trust myself to deal with what ever comes up for me and that all I am doing in projecting all my possible disasters into the future is making myself unhappy. Yet I want to be happy right now, since ‘now’ – this breath, this space, is what I have, so this means that I have to let go of the future and be anchored in the present, instead.

This is when I decide to let go to ‘the then’ and that I will deal with what ever the issue is then, knowing that when it is time for that issue to be dealt with, it will all happen in good order, despite what the fearful part of my brain says.

Often, just letting go to ‘the then’ is enough to shake my clients out of this anxious cycle. Sometimes it may seem overwhelming, so it will need reinforcing by sharing your commitment to let go with trusted others.

As a coach I reinforce this strategy with a number of emotional release and NLP techniques to both embed it in and speed it through the psyche.

So, to underpin ‘letting go to the then’, here is another acronym: TRUST

To Really Understand, Simply Trust

It is indeed, time to trust and to let go to the then.

With love, from Sandra – Coach and wobbly Super Hero

PS: How about reading more of these Love Letters to Life ‘off blog’? My first book – ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ gathers together my gorgeous wisdom into a neat paperback package that you can read from cover to cover or else dip into at whim. It’s designed to be evocative, entertaining and to make you think – so you can embrace and enjoy your life – more. In 2015 the book was a finalist in the International book awards. It’s been featured in Psychologies mazagine, and The Lady, along with other national and local press.

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