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.

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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.

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.

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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…

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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

 

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,
   Sandra

Mothering Sunday in the Time of Corona

It is Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom – a day of family habit and celebration, now turned on its’ head by the novel Coronvirus pandemic.  Today as part of my series of ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ blogs, I’m exploring how Mothering Sunday can be ‘done differently’…
Mum Hol 2
My mum & me, in history…
So you may have a mother or you may be a mother. Or maybe not. Maybe you have a maternal relationship you wish to celebrate. And maybe not.
As a day in the life, this particular one has many layers of meaning – not only affected by status, history and a whole other myriad of variables, but also potentially your nationality and culture.
 
Here in the UK it originated as a Christian festival, where, since the 17th Century, people visited the ‘mother’ church of their childhood home – annually, on the 4th day of Lent. This is the Christian period of fasting which leads up to Easter – with its feasting to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and before THAT, were the pagan celebrations of the Spring Equinox.
 
Its’ modern day form as a more secular happening comes from the early 1900s – where in America it became a ‘Hallmark’ occasion, which the UK imitated – taking up the trend for sending cards and publically celebrating the role of motherhood.
 
Time travel to recent history, where in the UK it became the busiest day of the hospitality industry and florists’ year, with restaurant tables fully booked weeks in advance to cope with the demand.
 
It’s with a sense of unreality that I am now writing about all this in the past tense. In the Time of Corona, we’ve had to rethink our celebrations. Whilst we take action together to halt the spread of the virus – restaurants can no longer cater to families coming together to share a table in a public place.
 
This means that we are all reducing the chances of passing on the virus to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Conditions which put them at a higher risk than those of us who, in reasonable health may simply suffer flu like symptoms, which we would recover from usually in a matter of days.
 
So we are celebrating differently… Social distancing, making phone calls instead of visiting, postponing ‘till this is all over’ and more besides. This year, we can’t keep our customs in the same way, so let’s keep thinking creatively and come up with new ways of keeping the old ways going. And let’s see what clever ideas others (going through the same strange decisions) are coming up with too.
 
Let’s do this because the world does not need to stop turning right now. It’s time now for it to turn on its axis, differently. And that is DIFFERENTLY – not with difficulty. It’s not about being victimised by our circumstances, but rather, rising to them. Together.
 
My own mother is gone. And I don’t have children to celebrate me. So I COULD tell you that this day is irrelevant, or that I miss my mother and grandmothers, more than ever, on this day of days.
 
Or I can choose something different.
 
Today I’m celebrating all my female ancestors – the ones who were royal and who toiled. The ones who gave me blue eyes, blonde hair and a stubborn, creative spirit. The ones who travelled continents to beat hardships I will never know. Who came together with all my (grand and great grand) fathers to make me. The ones who worked and cried and laughed. Who made babies and lost babies and saw them grow up to have babies of their own.
 
So that is different for ME.
 
What about you? How have you been spending this day differently?
 
What can you learn from this day and do differently from now on?
 
To all my mothers – I commit to using what I inherited and learnt from you – to support those I can; to influence people positively and love my way forward.
 
I celebrate you all and I celebrate your child – me.
 
And I thank you, today, with humility, awe and love.
 
~ Sandra – a Daughter, differently xx

PS: I currently have a special offer… You can buy the paperback of my book of the blog – ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ on Amazon for £11.99 or you can get an author signed copy on my website (see below) – for just £7.99 including P&P…

Featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, the book was also listed as a Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards.  

Making a perfect Mother’s Day (or any other day) gift, the book takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content and wraps it all together in a satisfying structure – that will make you feel the love, entertain and enlighten you.

It’s an easy yet satisfying read, which sees love in everything we do in life – from the big themes to the tiny, trivial minutiae of it too

Buy the paperback on my website – here for just £7.99 including P&P…

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Love in the Time of Corona

‘Love in the Time of Corona’ is a self-promised set of missives to a world which seems to have been turned on its’ very axis. This titular tilting will inform my musings on the global pandemic called COVID-1D, AKA novel Coronavirus, with all its’ complications and implications.

The concept came to me, as all my best ideas do – fully formed, in a flash. I’ve been feeling the keen need to reach out and touch. After mulling over what way, shape or form this touch should take, I woke up this morning with the title. I have to admit though that the original credit for that must go to novelist and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale of unrequited love – ‘Love in the Time of Cholera.’

7 years ago I started a blog of ‘Love Letters to Life’ – charting my musings and maunderings on how, if you look for it, you can find love in everything… So from Marquez’s concept of unrequited love to mine of all-encompassing love… Now ‘Love’ and ‘Corona’ are about to go hand in hand, as I explore the phenomena caused and created by this curious condition.  With these posts I want to go beyond coping with Corona and to learn from it, instead.

Yet ironically, I may just have been heard to say that I’m sick of the illness known as Corona. Never before have I felt so beleaguered by news, views and possible abuse of one seemingly simple subject.

For a while there, I thought it would all blow over or somehow past me. I’ve survived Swine Flu and SARS unscathed, after all…

But over the last few days the scale of the situation that this condition has caused, has dawned on me. So rather than be overwhelmed, negative or to stick my head in the sand, I have decided to do something about it…

I admit that my something is selfish. I want to cope with COVID-19, to rationalise it, and to understand how it impacts on me and the world I occupy. And in doing so, I want to reach out to you and maybe make a connection or a difference. Thank you for being here – I won’t judge the outcome, if you will spend some more time with me on the same page.

So let’s go!

The Matrix of Us

I believe that we are all somehow connected… That every single one of us is inextricably linked. I don’t know each and every one of you out there, but we are from the same deep roots in this planet we inhabit, whatever hue we are…

I know that with so many of us that we do this differently. And so often we define ourselves by our differences. And despite what I’m hippy happily writing, I’m as guilty as anyone of creating schisms with criticisms and crooning my complaints.

That is until I stop and think. Think about how I’m connected to and not divided from the world.

Look – I’m not saying that I spend my time gaily thinking about everything I have in common with, well, everyone, but that in the grand scheme of things (barring despots and demons) I have more things in common with you, than different to you.

Coronavirus is making this argument easy for me, because it is something that connects such a vast percentage of the population – the world over. We’ve all got its’ presence in our lives in common. It is affecting so much of our time, concentration and energy. We’ve experienced a range of extremes including anxiety, cancellations and revelations whilst we face a world which seems very different to what it was even a short month ago.

We all have Corona in common, so let’s remember that. Let’s remember that we are connected by it. That so many of us will be experiencing it or its influence in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

So how about a set of commitments as to how Coronavirus is going to be for me and for you?

Now is the time to:

• stand together – to acknowledge what we have in common and work from there.
• look out for each other – loved ones and strangers. Together we really are stronger.
• be honest about what we are feeling and experiencing – don’t self-isolate in your head.
• think about your role – without judgement or guilting – is it to watch or step up to the plate?

So I’ve started my list of commitments. They will grow and change and flex as the world does the same.

As for you, dear reader:

• Maybe to do this, you just need to do this for you.
• Maybe it’s your destiny to reach out.
• Maybe it’s your time to lead, distract, laugh or change.

And as for me, please help me to commit to keep my word, to keep sharing my words with you.

And that was my first blog on ‘Love in the time of Corona’…

With love to you, whatever you do.
From Sandra – author, blogger and blonde