A Love Letter to 2020

Dear Year,

So… the year of our Lord 2020… What can I say to you as the clock ticks down to your final midnight..?

You have been a year like no other… One of chaos, calumny and confusion, with COVID as the causal link in a seemingly endless chain of catastrophes.

This time last year, Coronavirus was a mere idea… the slightest of sniffles… but now, it has been a cold harbinger of deathly change, born on droplets of disease and disarray.

2020 has been shaped by its spectre and every person who has been battered or caressed by it, has their own anthology of pestilence or nonchalance, with such tales to tell, whether tall or small.

For me, the experience has been defining – bringing in new awareness on waves of tears and bravado, as I have faced then weathered the storm and sunshine of another year in the life.Your gifts to me 2020, are manifold: I have laughed, loved and learnt. I sang, spun and danced. I read, talked and thought. I walked for many miles in sun and rain. I started to run – first wheezily, then easily, when I could begin to exhale confidently. I have cried, raged and despaired. I have questioned, listened and evolved.I have sat in solitary darkness, mired in a wet and muddy gutter of desolation, crying on my feet, then turning my head back up to the stars, with their infinite horizons of iridescent possibility.

I have both fucked up and triumphed. I have hampered and helped. I have been shaken and scared, just as much as I have been strong, honest and bold. I have been a contrary creature of opposing features – knee jerking my way to emotional conclusions; then breathing in and asking the Universe and myself a series of heart and head bending questions. And in doing so, turning my in-grown notion of failure – hard-wired into the matrix of my DNA – into steps towards success. So it was that I constantly coached myself to clarity – listening intently; trusting that intrinsically I knew and had always known what the answers were. So it was all taken care of. As I cared – in every way that can possibly be imagined.

You, dear year, have given me a change of pace, a clearing of head space and the chance to change. So I will accept the angst and anomalies, then lovingly let them go. I shall cherish the gifts you have given me, 2020, giving gratitude for them all: For the expansion of my psyche; for my family and friends; for my profession and passion; for all I cherish and hold dear; for my creativity and for all the love that has flowed out of me, into me and surrounds me.

So ultimately 2020, I will let you go gracefully – moving beyond you, but taking a little of you with me as I go.

Thank you and farewell.
S xx

A COVID Christmas Chronicle

As I walk, talk and sleep out here in the conscious world of toil and transaction, I’m getting myself ready for a cosy COVID Christmas…

I’ve planned, shopped, wrapped and written. Then danced around the kitchen, singing along to decades old Christmas hits, slurping snow ball cocktails, as I’ve made mince pies, mulled wine and transformed myself into a veritable Christmas Goddess.

Yet despite my machinations and preparations, most of my Christmas plans have shimmered and evaporated into the misty winter air as the spectre of COVID has slammed down port cullis’s, borders and even, temporarily, small parts of my heart.

But for all that, now it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas has settled into that same cold heart, cossetting me into a cosy blanket of familiarity and I’m feeling it, right to my marrow…

So on the inside all is Christmas sweetness, but on the outside, what a difference a year makes…

You see I have a happy, Ground Hog routine sort of festive season, which has changed little over decades. And as such, I can tell you almost exactly where I would usually be right at this point in the day / proceedings and how it would all play out from here until to the end of Boxing Day. It starts with a family birthday and proceeds through set stages of meals, activities, until another Christmas has passed and is in the past. And I play my part in this, happily sleep walking my way through, sonambulant in the certainty of the fundamental tenets of my life and my kin.

Of course COVID-19 has now put paid to all that. As we have progressed through this year of our lord 2020, the United Kingdom government, headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has made successive announcements of ‘Guidelines’: a raft of measures and actions, described by a whole new language lexicon, including ‘lock down’, ‘furlough’, ‘self-isolation’, and ‘shielding’, all ending in ‘tiers’. This new dire dictionary defining and describing parameters created to keep people apart.

What ever your take on the pandemic – where it sprang from; if it came about by happenstance or was deliberately set upon our world for a variety of nefarious reasons: the reason why we are being kept apart is that we reduce the risk of passing on this disease from one to another. And whilst most of us would feel its effects like a bout of flu, many more, with other ‘underlying medical issues’ would succumb seriously and fill our hospitals to a capacity they cannot currently cope with.

So my own world has fluxed and flexed as the year has gone on, as I’ve gone from nonchalence, to annoyance, to despair, to resignation and acceptance. And still there are more stages to go through… On Saturday 19 December 2020, the Prime Minister announced the latest set of measures designed to combat the latest increases in infection rate and several highly infectious variants of the virus.

With his words suddenly my carefully constructed Christmas crumbled into the carpet and I cried. The latest measures meant that my Ground Hog Christmas wasn’t going to happen. That I couldn’t be with my family, that I couldn’t celebrate with my friends. That everything was turned on its head.

Plans made had to be changed, and so there were phone calls with differing levels of emotion and action in response, with family, with friends, and various cohorts. And then, after thinking through a panopoly of options, we all settled on what we were going to do in this brave new, COVID altered world.

So right at this minute on Christmas Eve, normally I would be driving, onto my way to a birthday meal in a special restaurant – hungry and happy, ready to settle into the next step of my festive routine. Yet instead, here I am on my solitary sofa, writing for me and for you. This afternoon, instead of loading up my car with food and gifts, I went for a run. That in itself, I reflected as I pounded the paths and rounded the fields around my home, was truly weird. A year to the day, I could never have imagined that I would be RUNNING!

COVID has caused this – sent my out of my Corona cave to work out / run out my kinks and cares, to reinvent my middle aged self as an athlete – a label which I still can’t wear without a smug sort of smirk, in that moment just before I get on and go for it.

And running isn’t the only thing COVID has given to me – I have had time to pause and ponder my life, focus on my writing and reach out to people not spoken to in years, yet still holding a place in my memory and heart.

Yet I can’t deny either that it has taken its toll on so many. Having snatched and ended so many lives, isolated people and been a long mental stretch of successive hurdles to jump and negotiate.

But for me, today, in this altered state of Christmas consciousness, I have to choose. And that was bought home for me when I went on a walk several days ago. Whilst running is most definitely and solitarily for me; walking is a gorgeous group activity, where I will meet and greet those in my orbit and we will walk out or around or along; pacing together, talking, laughing, reflecting – making the most of nature and each other, in our strangely straitened circumstances. Walking has been my balm, my place of coming together. It has expanded my horizons, added to my step count and kept me sane.

On this particular walk it was raining and still we stepped out, my companion and me. Ahead of us I saw sunshine and remarked that this would invariably create a rainbow. And minutes after the words had left my mouth, there it was: a double bowed beauty, a major miraculous spectacle of glory and colour. I stopped. I stared. I felt its’ magnificence. And in doing so, I realised that arching over my head was a powerful metaphor for what I was going through.

The rainbow represented the unity of the rain meeting the sun. It needed both to exist. It was filtered through a grey sky and the rain falling down from it. It manifested because the sun shone through the rain to create an arched kaleidoscope of colour over our heads.

So now this metaphor represents my current choices to me. As a result I stopped crying and set out my Christmas stall. I recalibrated my arrangements and re-arranged my heart. I stopped thinking about what had been taken away from me and focussed on what, in all reality, I have. And when I think of my life in those terms, it turns out that I have a lot. I can be grateful for so much. If I miss my family and friends, well that’s because I have them to miss. I have functioning legs that can take me out to walk and talk with them. Those same legs also turned me into a runner.

As has happened so many times over these last mad months, I’m deciding to control the things I can and accept the things that I can’t. I will play my part and I will change my Christmas this year, so that there are many more Christmases to come when I can be with my family, friends and who knows who else, in those fast forgotten ways I had always taken for granted only a few short months ago. For now, I will stay safe to keep the ones I love and care about the most, safe too.

So here I am, content with my changed Christmas and surrendering to it gracefully. Easing into it now, without expectation. Having prepared for it, I can now let it unfurl as it will, breathing into it and living each moment as occurs, in all its guts and glory.

And that is Christmas for me, today. And I wish you joy of it too. As you transmute into your Christmas, despite this years differences, my wish for you is to see the rainbows too.

A blogger & and a rainbow

Happy Christmas, from a Rainbow Believer xx

Tiers in the Time of Corona

Truthfully… I cried as I listened to the Tier 4 announcement on Saturday…

Basically, here in England, the rules for COVID safety have tightened yet again…

Basically it has buggered up my carefully co-ordinated Christmas plans.

I don’t get to be where I want to be, when I want to be and with who…

Yet after crying, I recalibrated. I pondered, I conferred, I juggled…

And it’s not all sorted yet.

But then today, I went out walking in the rain… And that, as it turned out, wasn’t a pain…

Right now I’m controlling what I’m able to, and choosing to do what I can with what I’ve got.

I can walk, and so can most of the people I cherish in my life. So we meet and talk, and laugh and cry together, one step at a time…

And the rain didn’t stop us either walking or talking today, except for the moment when we stopped and looked at the rainbow which curved over us in the grey, arching sky.

Before the rainbow appeared, I looked for it… When it shone on me, I lived with it in that moment of incandescent beauty and awe.

I’m still, in all honesty, a little ‘at sea’ about all the what’s and how’s over this coming week, but I’m also choosing what I see, and on this day, it was the magic of a rainbow.

Today’s rainbow

Running in the Time of Corona… The Sequel…

At the start of lockdown 1.0, to my huge surprise, I took up running…

I had pretty much loathed it as a form of exercise until that point, but my body & brain were telling me they wanted a new challenge and that this was the perfect one. So I followed my instinct & dutifully downloaded the Couch to 5K App.

It wasn’t a linear track to the point where I graduated some months later, and I never reached a 5K distance, but in the meantime had busted through a number of physical and mental hurdles about being a woman in her 50s, who is still willing to break her boundaries and challenge her sense of body & self.

Then in August, after a random accident not related to running, I instinctively & immediately knew from the throbbing pain, that I had probably done some serious damage. Sure enough, an X-ray revealed a fractured ankle.

As I hobbled about in a support boot, I cursed myself initially, then realised that I simply had to adjust and navigate my way through the next few steps.

Swimming and yoga were a god send. And eventually the boot gave way to an ankle support and I tested my ankle out slowly – stiff, sore and achey at first, on longer and longer walks.

With no follow up health care, my body set to healing the break, as I nurtured it with supplements, practised online physio, etc. For all that, it seemed to take a torturously long time for the swelling to go down and the stiffness / aching to cease.

Meanwhile I’d been racking up my walking miles, putting some prodigious paces in, as my ankle slowly got stronger.

In the past few weeks I began to feel ready to run again and today, was clearly the day, for many reasons, to pull on my gear, strap up the ankle and test my boundaries again…

I set myself a 30 minute interval running goal, not bothering about pace or distance, but simply to get a feel for where I was. I ran and walked as the sun began to drop, at my own pace, pushing myself a little past my comfort, and it felt really good.

Now I’ll see how this sits with my body and gently work through building up speed and stamina once again.

And so, for today it’s enough for me to pat myself on the back for finally having taken those next few steps…

Lockdown Lessons in the Time of Corona

I was looking forward to the end of lockdown 2.0…

I had made plans… imagining meals, banter, laughter and filling myself up with family, friends, flirting and fun, as I finally burst out of my calm COVID cave…

I had some big life goals coming to fruition too… Opportunities bloomed. And unexpectedly, some hidden parts of my heart and past came calling, asking to be healed and reviewed… All in all, the Universe was sweetly aligning…

THEN came the realisation that the transition to Tier 3 would scupper my day dreams, which in seconds, had suddenly dissipated into dust.

And my big life plans… they all had to be put on hold…

After I heard the announcement for the new measures, I cried for nearly an hour… Feeling as if the rope I’d been hanging onto, was rapidly running out, burning my hands as I desperately tried to hang on to its’ rough, tattered strands…

Now the world crowded into my brain. I was beset by anxiety and a cloud of misery hovered over my head…

Bloody COVID… Bloody tier system… Boo bloody hoo…

So I had to turn away from the noisy exterior world and the even louder traffic rumbling around my brain…

I chose to tune in, instead. I listened to my intuition – the pure part of my soul that senses with glorious clarity what is and what will be. I journaled and walked and worked it out.

As a result I realised I’d been in reactive mode for so very long. Then… just when I thought I had a route out, the road map was rudely snatched out of my hands…

But now I had paused and put the work in, my instincts told me what had to happen next. It felt liberating, loving and just the way it needed to be…

And since those realisations dawned on me, life still has its chaffing challenges, and it’s not all neatly aligned, but now I have faith, not fear. I also have a new set of plans – recalibrated with grace rather than grumpiness…

So today that meant going for a walk with my 2 oldest friends, accompanied by a daft dog, all of us together again at last…

I drove to meet them, happy and excited. We walked through a crisp and sunny winters day, chattering away. And at the end of it I felt so grateful – appreciating the simplest of feats, that of putting our feet one in front of the other. We 3 took steps which moved us in the same direction – all of us in our circle of familiarity and friendship, not cowering from COVID, but coming together to navigate it…

Then the sun and the temperature dropped and we stopped, bumping elbows, then heading away in 3 different directions…

And so it was, on this day of days, that I drove home with a smile on my lips. I felt beautifully blessed, having lived in each moment and savoured each one. And maybe we 3 were socially distanced, yet regardless, we were all distinctly happy.

Three lasses & a dog, coming out of lockdown

How does my garden grow? / Leaving Lockdown in the Time of Corona

I‘ve been silent on here for some time, concentrating on work in the adult world, which left me with little time and energy for anything else. After a break and time to recalibrate, I’m on this page again… Seeing metaphors in my growing garden and this strange time of semi-lifted lockdown.

So.., sew..? How does my garden grow?

Unlike the nursery rhyme, apparently:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells,
And cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Well, I’m not Mary, though at times I could be described as ‘contrary’… And in the elongated, strangulated times of COVID, my garden grew in pretty much the way it had always done – soaking up sun and rain and reaching higher into the sky. The garden is split into upper and lower levels and below, nature tended towards wild, whilst I tamed and pruned and mowed, just every now and again, to keep some sense of man-made order in the tangles of sap and seed that nature decrees.

Buddha looks on in my garden

My upper garden is a terrace and in that I seek colour and variety by planting up pots every year with a mixture of annuals and perennials. These are purchased from favourite independent plant nurseries in May, when the frosts start to thaw out and I can plant species of exotic origin, which will thrive for the short band of summer in the centre of England where I currently live.

But not in the time of Corona… In a land in lockdown I must do things differently… The garden centres were closed or restricting their custom and so, instead, I found plants at local grocery stores, where I had to stand in a long line to buy, or at supermarkets at the end of the day, dried up and wilting. By habit I shop much the same plants, but in lockdown, such choice was denied to me, so I took what I could find… Begonias, which I dislike, dried up petunias that no one else wanted: a half dead pack of lobelia, which my local Co-Op sold to me for a pound – “I can’t charge you full price for that…”

Each find was a little victory – a tiny triumph of patience, with trophies of a successful hunt which were carried home with a small smile of satisfaction.

At the end of May, when I should have been on ‘the holiday of a lifetime’ in Bali, my travel plans scuppered by COVID; I was planting up pots in my garden instead, feeling grateful for my gains, the sunshine and the soil in my fingernails.

And my garden grew through lockdown, with some human care and intermittent attention. As June peaked, the upper terrace revealed its’ treasures of bloom in a rainbow of glorious colours, jewel bright, amidst the green foliage. All this was just in time to impress the allowed number of guests who came to celebrate my birthday in the safely spaced arena of my garden.

Herbs, begonias & blue pots

The combination of plants gathered serendipitously, is decadently different to my norm, but somehow all the more special for it. All those nascent wilting plants have revived, thrived and continued to reward me with new flowers and inspiration throughout the wending UK weather, through out July and now into August, currently hot and sweet, so I spend my spare time in the garden, eating ‘out’ and engaging with the birds and my senses.

And outside the lockdown lid has started to lift. Some freedoms have slowly been restored, whilst others have clamped down, tighter. It’s an odd, jerky time and having now to emerge from my cosy COVID cocoon, I am negotiating it and the changes it brings, one step at a time. Some of the changes are jagged, sharp and unpleasant, but in this Corona time must be worked through, applying logic and compassion in strange, equal measures.

Grapes a-growing, pond and fountain

The authorities in the UK are reacting to the vicissitudes of the virus in an un-co-ordinated and clumsy way. I have some empathy with this though, as responses seem to be for me too, a weird wedding of expertise and knee jerk response. To control this , I break each situation down in to its’ base elements and build them back up again into the shape they need to be. This isn’t always easy in a world of relentless hard work, chaos and shifting sands of circumstance, but it gives a structure in this altered landscape of life and a level of controlled sanity.

And I take care to take care of myself. If I neglect this, which I have at times during the recent crazy path of the past, the madness takes over and I’m in danger of being subsumed by it. So I balance life and work. I focus on my creativity, my rest and recreation and then I have the fuel I need to focus wholly and resolutely on my work.

In the meantime there are the new found appreciations of meeting a friend for a meal, taking a small holiday, going for socially distanced swim and seeing my garden grow. This summer I have spent so much time in that garden and we’ve grown together. I’ve taken stock, I’ve pruned carefully and pulled out the dead leaves. And I’ve pulled the dead heads off plants, so they can breath and reward me with more flowers.

And as to those begonias that I used to hate, well, whilst not invited, they’ve gone and given me an endless supply of large, beautiful yellow blooms. The wilted petunias have provided endless purple flowers and the half dead lobelia – a cascade of sky blue and white to soften the edges of my tended terrace.

So actually, in this time of Corona, my garden has grown beautifully and so, it can be said, have I, without a predictable ‘silver bell’ or ‘cockle shell’ any where to be seen.

My cat Taz, reclining in Buddha’s shade

Yours – with green fingers and dirty fingernails,

Sandra xx

PS: You can buy the paperback or Kindle edition of the book of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on Amazon or you can get an author signed copy on my website for just £7.99 including P&P.  You will also find the book on all good book selling websites around the world.

Featured on the BBC, as well as local and national media (including Psychologies Magazine and The Lady), the book was also honoured as a Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards. 

Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content and wraps it all together in a sweet bookish structure. 

If you want to get in touch, you can contact me by clicking here

Acceptance in the Time of Corona

I’ve chosen to acquiesce to much of what is going on in my world right now. I can’t control COVID, but there are so many other things that I can control and one of those is active acceptance.

The concept of Acceptance, if you think about it, could easily be a contradiction wrapped up in a word. As an action, it could be wimpy, waspish or even lazy, but then again, it could be the sweetest and smartest thing you could ever do for yourself.

So often when I work with my clients I find that they are fighting and resisting a situation. This be painful, as it clogs the head and heart with fighting thoughts and warring emotions. It also uses up precious time and negative energy.

I’ve been through it all too, of course… I remember one particularly protracted period where an issue – unmanaged and ignored because of its difficulty, had subsequently spiralled out of silly control.

It had been gnawing away at my consciousness and going round and round my beleaguered brain in ever decreasing circles, filling my thoughts, playing with my emotions and sapping my strength…

I had taken all the right pragmatic steps. But sometimes people and fate don’t coerce with your good intentions. Even the fact that I established some controls and attempted to move it all to a resolution, did not prevent me from being angry and dispirited. The same evil thoughts kept circling and spiralling in my head, again and again. My inner victim surfaced and it asked how it could be that I could be misunderstood and treated this way… by other individuals, by my own doing, by fate and by the Universe? It felt… so painful and so unfair…

I consciously chose not to wallow in my mental mire, nor let it lead and define me, but it was stuck subconsciously, not letting me go… So I had to seek solutions and alternatives. And at times like these, I love to replace the busy complex twistings of gut and thought, with sweet simplicity instead… I love to walk, to blow the cobwebs away – to literally move myself through whatever it is that I am working on or through.

So, at that time, I took me a walk, taking a deliberate route of change, of calm and balm. And whilst I walked, an alternative to all this mental mayhem floated into my mind… And that was – ‘acceptance’… And my walk turned into a prayer, an incantation of softly whispered words to fill my mind with a gorgeous and easy alternative – that of acceptance. So as I walked and thought, I sought and prayed for acceptance instead…

Instead of the circles and cycles of whiplash thought, instead of the bitterness and bile of argument and incrimination, I chose the silence of sweet acceptance instead…

At any time, such acceptance is a hymn, an invocation, a whispered alternative to anger. It fills my head with positive movement and upward momentum instead of the roundels of recrimination. It’s the opposite of negativity, it is synchronous and quiet; such acceptance moves me forward – instead of stalling and circling and sticking in my brain. It breaks the negative repetitiveness and consternation, and best of all, it is a simplistic swop.

And as I walked along that day, my prayer went something like this: “I accept this day; I accept the trees and the bluebells; I accept my life and what has led me to this point; I accept that I am here and now; I accept my situation; I accept my parents; I accept my decisions; I accept other’s reactions; I accept that things will change; I accept that soon this will all be unimportant; I accept the best; I accept the sunshine; I accept the opportunities to grow and to learn; I accept that I am skilled and amazing at many things; I accept that I am also a work in progress in others; I accept my work; I accept my companions; I accept the journey; I accept the blue sky; I accept myself; I accept the others. I accept

These words were blessings to me, they lifted the weight of this strange issue off my shoulders and let the thoughts fly out of my head, instead of running raggèd around it.

And as a technique it is so simple to replicate. If you are finding something difficult or unfair or just not going your way – really commit to the concept of the sweet simple acceptance of everything. Then walk, appreciate, think; accept. It is something you can do alone, or with a trusted companion. The walking somehow gives it a fantastic forward momentum.

But if taking a walk isn’t possible, then get a pen and paper and get all out on there. Decide that you are simply going to accept and find every aspect that could have led to or have influenced the situation you want to turn, until all the words have run out…

The walk of acceptance is a simple and elegant solution to being stuck in a negative spiral. So it’s time to share it. What do you say? Walk from A to B and try it out… And… Accept it!

Yours consciously… Sandra

Sandra Peachey – Coach, Author and Walking Work in Progress

PS: “Just to let you know that your book {Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life} has arrived… As a take on Tom Cruise in Jerry Mcquire – ‘you had me at page 1’. Well done. You are an amazing writer, this book should be a film and I have only read 2 letters” ~ Beverley Jones.

For the magical month of May only, the Kindle edition of Peachey Letters is reduced to just £1.99/$2.99. So grab it on Amazon now by clicking here

Wasted Weekends in the Time of Corona

We’ve just had a bank holiday weekend in the UK. For me, this constituted days of lazing, reading, blog writing, gardening, housework and baking, so I’m ready for the week and seasons ahead.

At home alone for days on end, I’m in a delicious little hermit cave of selfish introspection, forgetting my tribe – all the people who exist outside my very own Corona fortress…

However my tribe don’t always forget me and a video call with some friends is arranged. At long last on the call I ‘met’ my goddaughter’s baby girl, which predictably, made me tear up. She’s the grand daughter of one of my oldest friends and it was a three way call with the new Nanna and my other longest serving friend. I’ve known both these wonderful women since I was 5 years old, and in the season of Corona life goes on. People pass and new babies arrive. The cycle of life is no respecter of Lockdown.

Two adoring Aunties and an oblivious baby

As a keen hermit, I’ve been staying away from shops as much as possible. Yet I’d also been pondering how to get my garden in shape this year, now I’ve done the honorary first mowing and pruning. Most Garden Centres are closed anyway. I’d been reliably informed that several local plant nurseries were taking orders for collection or delivery. However they were either crazy expensive or ignored my emails and phone calls. Many of them are simply beleaguered and stating they are not taking any new orders…

On the way to figuring out how I resolve this gardening conundrum, I’m driving to work two days a week, to man a head office and keep the commercial wheels turning. Whilst there of course, I keep a safe distance and take all precautions. At most there will be 3-4 people in the building.

Last week my normal cross country route was hampered by road closure, so I’ve had to drive through a local town. Normally this is onerous and requires patience, queuing endlessly at traffic lights, though at the moment, whilst there is some traffic out there, the level makes it tractable and pleasurable.

Driving through town I saw a local grocer’s shop was selling a plethora of plants on the pavement. I pulled in to park as quickly as I could.

Like a careful child in an outdoor sweetie shop, I browsed the wares, stepping warily around the other shoppers and carefully filling a shopping basket with my treasures of Spring bedding. It felt like a wonderful, secret discovery…

So, during the weekend I planted them out with seeds tucked away in the soil at their roots. It all looks sparse now, but in a couple of months all those fledgling plants will put on a beautiful show. And I’m trusting this will by the time I can have visitors to my garden again 🙏

Also in the weekend agenda was to bake up some healthy snacks to nourish me carefully, as along with my regular exercise of running and walking, I’m currently eating clean(ish) – my diet being fruit / vegetable smoothies, nurturing vegan soups and detoxing by giving up caffeine and alcohol for a while, too.

On the baking front I did a vegan variation of the gluten free banana muffin recipe I regularly whip up. I also roasted up a bunch of nuts and seeds, adding some Himalayan salt and dried fruit at the end to make them even more delicious.

My own home made ‘trail mix‘ of roasted nuts and dried fruit

This cooking, Along with the gardening constituted simple nurturing acts, all of which completed gave me a simple, glowing contentment.

Flourless, gluten free & vegan banana muffins. And yes, they’re DELICIOUS…

My weekend, in amongst all this, was dedicated to writing too. However, as happens so often, my plans to dedicate myself to writing slipped languorously away. By the end of it I’d edited a newsletter for my writers group which is going out to another group of writers in Uganda. I’d also written a blog (see here) on the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe Day).

By the time all this and my domestic goddess chores were done it was 10 pm of the the last day of my ‘endless’ weekend. But my stubbornness set in and so I sat and edited my novel till midnight, not wanting to go to bed in a tired hurrumph. I tried to be kind with myself and not annoyed for making no progress on the short story or planning out the Corona novel I currently have cycling through my head.

Having no where to go, means I have more time to read and I can cheat at that by listening to audio books whilst running, gardening and cooking. At the moment I’ve got ‘I can run’, The Chimp Paradox, and ‘The Signature of All Things’ on the go.

And then it is that the working week and it’s circadian rhythms returned…

Yours supinely,

Sandra

PS: Speaking of books, a huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book so far this month and left me a review on Amazon. My gorgeous feel good book ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ is on special offer for MAY ONLY – get the Kindle edition for just £1.99 / $2.99. And it’s just one of 45 books currently on special promo at my publishing house. It would be amazing if you would buy and review. Thank you 🙏 Click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCOJIXI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_NRNUEbJFMFC46

Life, Laughter & Running in the Time of Corona

So… It’s time for a running commentary of this weeks ups, downs, reflections, learnings and laughter…

The Clap for Carers

My first run of week 5 – ‘Couch to 5K,’ got off to a good start.  I finished the run without stopping or dying, so basically, am officially awesome… 💪🏻

And here is me afterwards, just a few minutes later, outside my front door, glowing with sweat, effort and a smidgeon of pride.

A1

As I finished the run it was the 8 pm ‘Clap for our Carers’ here in the UK, which I joined in with relish as I pounded past all the people applauding on their doorsteps (at a safe distance of course). It felt like a lap of honour for the magnificent achievement of my run, as well as a huge thank you! 😉

As well as the marvelous carers, my appreciation goes out to ALL key workers and every single person who is working right now – no matter what they are doing – keeping the wheels of this weird Corona world turning.

I’m sending a heartfelt ‘Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU’ –
to each and everyone of you – xx ❤ xx

Yogic Goddess or Wobbly Buffoon?

Here are a few of the things I’ve learnt about online yoga classes:

* The living room is now the centre of my universe – performing many functions, including restaurant, office and yoga studio.

* The cat’s radiator bed is just the perfect height for me to place the laptop so I can see it / the teacher from lying, kneeling, sitting, on all fours and standing. Disclaimer – always remove the cat first…

* Yoga mats and carpets are not a match made in heaven – there is much slippage and wrinkling and adjusting.

* It’s nice not having to drive to a class or put much attention into ‘getting your shit together’ in readiness.

* It’s weird having a 2D yoga teacher. I think I prefer 3D feedback.

* It’s weirder seeing yourself reflected back on screen. Well, when I say yourself – BITS of your self… The laptop is static, but YOU aren’t, so you may see head and shoulders, midriff or worst of all is that moment when you are gently curled up in a ball, rolling from side to side and you realise that your arse is centre screen…

* Zoom opens an interesting window into people’s homes… Their children, partners and pets. I secretly enjoy the nonchalant voyeurism.

* The cats prefer my gentle practice of yoga to the more dynamic one of HIIT workouts, which alternatively baffles and freaks them out. They begrudgingly accept the exercise bike, though.

* Sometimes I feel like a divine yogic goddess and at others, a fat, wobbly buffoon…

* It’s nice to fall against the sofa if you lose your balance.

* After over 18 months of yoga practice, I’ve finally achieved an unsupported head stand – the first since I was circa 10 years old. At this rate I’ll soon be doing the splits! (But then again… maybe not… )

So that’s me – an online Om chanting, upside down and occasionally Zen yogi…

Teeth and Shopping in the Time of Corona

I’ve had two more new Corona experiences this week…

First is that a crown has dislodged itself from one of my back teeth. My dentist is not seeing patients and when I asked ‘so…?’ they suggested going to a chemist and asking for a temporary dental repair kit. I researched the options online and have to say that I’m not keen on most of them, especially as I’d have to do any fixings all by myself.

After an initial flurry of panic, 3 days down the line there seems to be no discomfort or pain, so I’ve decided to wait it out for now.

Next is shopping – I’ve restricted this to the local village shop for over a month, but have now run through their entire selection of fresh fruit & vege several times over. In fact I’ve got to the point where I just can’t think of any new ways to be creative with a carrot… Also I’ve run out of things they don’t have in stock.

I was therefore spurred on to drive round to my local retail park. And I decided that if I was going out, then I was going ALL out, so donned a pretty summer dress and smartened my current COVID self up for the occasion.

When I arrived it was far less crowded than your average Saturday and parking was a doddle, with my pick of spaces. Then I visited 2 shops, queuing outside each for 5 – 10 minutes and once inside finding 90% of what I was looking for.

I have to say I really enjoyed the gentle civility of the whole experience. It’s not one I intend to repeat often as I want to minimise contact, but still it was good to know that the wheels in my part of the world are still slowly turning and I bought my purchases home, feeling very grateful that I have everything I need and more besides.

Afterwards I went for a run and mused on the fact that there is (and will be) a time and place for crowds and contact in my life, but right now my inner hermit is blatantly celebrating a slower, quieter existence. This is especially the case when I have mad, COVID hair and a missing tooth – however, NEITHER of these things can stop me from SMILING whenever and wherever I choose.

And THAT dear reader, was a week in the Time of Corona.

From, Sandra – writer, runner and om chanter.

PS: To experience more of my take on laughter and learning, buy the book of blog, where my ‘Love Letters to Life’ explore and celebrate the tiny and titanic aspects of life:  ‘Peachey Letters’ is currently on special offer on Kindle.  For the month of May only, you can download it for just £1.99 / €2.99 / $2.49.

Or, for a special offer of a signed author copy – click here to go to my website now and buy the paperback for just £7.99…

Equanimity in the Time of Corona

So… how do you keep your calm, when it seems much of the world is frustrated, snappy and anxious?  Well in truth, maybe like me, you don’t, 100% of the time. But you keep choosing the calm path and continue to take choices that cherish, rather than rubbish, this strange Corona time.  For me that has been a commitment to exercise and to be pushed, in every way to take up running… Still very much a beginner (beyond running for a train), but determined to control the things I can – including running – and accept those that I can’t.

So, it’s been another busy week…

During which I couldn’t honestly claim to be the perfect person who radiated constant calm…  Yes, I’ll admit that in amongst the smiles and seriousness, I’ve snapped and sulked…

People all around me (at a safe social distance) are also manifesting stress in an myriad of ways. I choose to recognise that for what it is – namely their response to what is going on and most likely nothing to do with me.  I also choose not to judge myself or anyone else for frayed tempers, tantrums and tears.

And while I’m at it, I’m going to add to my Conscious Choice List:

  • Firstly I’m making every effort not to take out my own frustrations on others.
  • I think constantly about what I can positively bring to ‘the party’ both at work and with all those people I care about – my circle of family and friends.
  • I’m making sure that I take care of myself, which includes eating healthily and exercising…  I’m still allowed treats though!
  • I check in with myself – deciding to be aware of what’s going on for me, so I can change direction if necessary.  I’m also honest with those around me about where I am emotionally, so they understand and so that together we can either accept or find a way forward.

As I say though, I’m not perfect and still very much a magnificent ‘work in progress‘, which means that it is more important than ever that I celebrate life’s little wins…

Once such was when when I woke up in the Spring sunlight a couple of mornings ago, with my brain rattling through its latest list of anxieties.  Instinctively I decided that before I did anything else, it was time for a run…

As with many such things I first went through a procrastination phase.  This included browsing online shops for the latest and best running gear, including shoes and headphones.   However, I had most of these things already, so the only piece of new gear I actually ended up purchasing – to spur me on in my jogging journey – was an armband – so I could easily plug into my running app (‘Couch to 5K’) and fill my head with motivational music.

So on the morning in question, before anything else, I strapped it on over my running gear and stepped outside.

Not many people were out and about that early, but everyone I met (and kept a caring distance from), returned my wheezy / breezy ‘Good morning’.

And the running was tough at times, but I did it.  All of it.

And here is a picture of me post run – pink-faced but happy I’d started the day the right way.

Post run pink

And that was what I choose on that day – equanimity – for me.

Wishing you conscious choice too.

Stay Safe.

Sandra – Runner and Writer.