Updated: Mar 6, 2021
‘Seeking Self is like seeking wealth
Seeking love is really seeking one’s self’
It has been a while since I’ve blogged, so much has happened this year I didn’t want to pass into the New Year without speaking to the challenges we have all had. So many of us have had so much to deal with this year, job losses, income insecurity, food shortages, illnesses, anxiety, loneliness, grief, abuse, family fallouts to name but a few. Never before have most of us been challenged in such ways.
When I started this Blog site in the first lockdown back in March, I would never have dreamed we would be going into the New Year having spent so much of the 2020 in isolation from our family and friends.
What have you done to cope with this situation? How would you characterise this year? What have you learned about yourself? On a recent Zoom forum we were asked this question and for me whilst I have been challenged in various ways this year with grief, work insecurities and loneliness. I know looking around me it could have been so much worse. I am grateful for what I have and try to make the best of my circumstances. My life now is a world away from the toxic world of work I existed in over the past 12 years and I have learned that I am more capable than I ever thought I could be and that we all have the capacity to expand ourselves in our mindset, emotionally, intellectually and physically.
My career in schools has always been characterised by extreme stress which created long term health problems, exhaustion, little time with my own children and even less time to care for myself. There have even been times when work has induced daily anxiety due to the toxic working atmosphere and relentless pressure to work all the hours on the clock, with unrealistic deadlines. I existed in a permanent state of frustration knowing I was operating within systems where I was unable to give my best to my students and forced to employ policies, I knew were pointless and time consuming, with no benefit to the children in the schools I worked in. The losing battle to balance work and home was never ending with even holidays and weekends being sacrificed for school. Teaching was my life and I was effectively an absent parent which of course created problems for my children.
So for me compared to where I was last year, this year I can breathe. My blood pressure for the first time in over 10 years has been mostly stable and normal and my anxiety and depression more under control than ever before. Of course there are days where it all gets on top of me and I drop some balls, but working from home has meant the consequences of having down days is far less. My children have grown and so a quiet flat is a novelty but lonely, except for my cat that was given to me by my partner at Xmas last year.
She has been invaluable in helping me to cope with loneliness. I never understood the relationship people had with pets before this, but now I get it. In a world where even a hug from a friend has been denied and hugs from family are rare and fraught with worried thoughts about the virus, being able to hug and stroke my cat has helped to fill that space. Just her presence sleeping on the beanbag in my bedroom and the jingle of her collar bell when I wake up is comforting.
What else has helped me this year to cope with the numerous traumatic events? For me it was doing what I love, writing, learning, teaching online, things I’ve not had time to do since becoming a teacher over 10 years ago. There’s been little time for anything else since starting my own business in the summer. The boredom that others talk about most definitely hasn’t been a part of my life. If anything now I feel there’s never enough time in the day to learn all I need to learn to do my work. I can feel that my ability to read, retain, sort and scan as well as explain has grown so much this year, which proves you are never too old to learn new skills. In fact I’ve had to take a step back at times and force myself to rest and enjoy life as work has become almost obsessive. I’ve always done this to help cope with difficult emotions and I realise that when I stop, if there isn’t anything else in place to occupy my time and thoughts I can quickly slip down into negative thought patterns and crying.
Its at times like this that talking to others and staying in touch with family and friends is so important. Something I’ve always struggled with, even this year. I didn’t want to burden others with the depth of my emotions or be negative, but I have to remind myself that those who care for me wouldn’t want me to go through this alone. Becoming more communitive has helped me realise that we don’t always have to talk about negative emotions, talking about silly, trivial things can also leave you feeling happy at the end of the conversation, as can being there for someone else in need. The latter can be a humbling reminder that others are really suffering.
Talking to new people on Zoom forums about well-being and issues affecting the Black community has been a great new experience. Speaking about issues I’ve long since been quiet about has been liberating and much needed. As has getting to know other people in this interaction starved year.
I’ve realised how important it is to make time to enjoy life, do things that require little effort or thought, eat healthily and exercise. Lack of movement is such an issue for many of us this year, but also so important. Going out for a walk, cycle or gym or swim has been as always, difficult to keep consistent, something I can’t just blame on lockdown or tier restrictions. But during the spring and summer months, walking and cycling was a blessing that I felt the benefits of both physically and mentally. If I could sit on the grass on a dry day and meditate, even better.
Meditation has been a blessing for me in my life, something I’ve always been able to fall back on no matter how hard things got. When I reflect back on instances where I’ve been at peace, in joy or just able to cope and come out of the dark hole of depression and despair. I feel blessed and lucky that in my life I have had spirituality to fall back on that has given me a foundation that has enabled me to survive trauma and torment and come out relatively unscathed compared to others who have had similar abusive experiences to me. Faith and a sense of connection to the universe along with awe and respect of this Mother Earth grounds me in times of strife. To those who have no spiritual beliefs it is hard to explain in a way that makes any logical sense. To me what we know so far about the laws of physics, connections in our carefully balanced eco-system and even the Fibonacci sequence in nature can only logically exist as part of a carefully planned universe, brought into being by something so powerful it is responsible for the evolutionary process of our planet, moon and countless galaxies and suns. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know that meditation and belief in a divine feminine energy, sooths my soul.
My faith helps me to love myself, challenge myself to do better, have compassion and to see beauty around me in both humans, animals and nature that is a balm in this current climate of uncertainty, grief and isolation.
I would love to hear about what you have done to cope with the challenges of this year. Feel free to leave a message in the comments. Perhaps we can all help each other in this journey. I wish everyone the best going into this New Year of 2021. I hope we can overcome this pandemic and return to a time when we can hug our loved ones without fear. I pray that you have peace and security in all aspects of your life, something we all so sorely need.
‘Seeking Self is like seeking wealth
Seeking love is really seeking one’s self’