I call it a food blog, and then there are times when I sit here and don’t really want to talk about anything related to food or hospitality. I mean don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than a slice of homemade cake to raise your spirits. However, sometimes, I want to connect with you all on a more personal level, using the blog kind of like a diary I suppose. I want to let you in and share how I’m feeling about a certain situation, experience, or topic. The food for thought section of the blog is perfect for this, it’s mostly current affairs in the food industry I like to speak about, but sometimes it is feminism, sometimes university and then other times I like to just write about life in general. Blogging enables me to use my voice (well, my digital one) to share a message or opinion and that makes me feel good. This article is one of those about life. I woke up this morning and wanted to write, so here it is. A jumble of words, thoughts, and emotions from the last few weeks.
As we draw towards the end of the UK’s seventh week in lockdown, I have finally started to notice a few things over the last week. Instead of blocking out my thoughts and feeling I often find difficult to manage, I have started to listen to them. Over the last few years, I have filled my life with jobs, tasks, activities, experiences, and education. So much so, that my schedule is always full to the brim from seeing friends to writing essays, going to the gym, to working. I like the routine of it all. I like waking up to a full diary, a to-do list, and the promise of a full day lying ahead. I like achieving things, setting goals, and I’m ambitious. These are the surface manifestations I would say, of why I like to be busy. But, behind all of this, there are a plethora of more difficult reasons as to why I like to be this way. I feel like I need to prove myself; to myself more than anyone else. I am uncomfortable sitting with my own thoughts. I have a fear of being ordinary, and a fear of being underestimated. I wouldn’t say these thoughts drive my ambition, but they are a few reasons that I often hide away from recognising as more negative factors related to my drive for success. This week, I have faced, questioned, and challenged these thoughts more so than I ever have done before.
Lockdown has been quite challenging for me and probably many other busy bees out there that like to have a nice full schedule. Without the distractions of a busy routine, I have had a lot of (mostly unwanted) time to reflect inwards on myself and what is really important to me. Although difficult, it’s been helpful, beneficial even, to take the time to balance productivity with wellness and mindfulness. Whilst front-line workers are going full steam ahead to deal with the pandemic and keep our country safe and well, the rest of us stay safe, and stay home. Some days the sun has shined, other days it has poured with rain. Flowers have sprung, and last night, there was a full moon. Nature continues to grow around us, and time doesn’t stop. I looked outside my window at the moon last night and I was taken aback at the strength of its light, shining so brightly, but from so very far away. It’s a surreal experience that as individuals we can be so vulnerable in comparison to nature and the world that exists around us, but together, we are so strong. Unity and love draw us together and in this time of being apart, I believe that we are growing stronger, loving deeper, and forming more respect for one another than ever before. I believe that personally, this time has been transformational. It has encouraged me to stop and reflect on myself, appreciate the small things (who knew that Homeland was so good!), and create some future goals.
When I see independent restaurants adapting and doing a takeaway service, and top chefs cooking meals alongside busy mums for vulnerable people and NHS staff, it makes me proud of our community. In a time of distress, worry, and sadness, communities continue to support each other through love, respect, and kindness. When I sit here and write that lockdown has been a difficult experience, my experience seems incomparable to those working on the front-line. I think though that we should not feel ashamed for finding the lockdown tough. Life as we know it has all but disappeared. We shouldn’t feel the need to compare our circumstances to others in order to decide whether our days are allowed to contain sadness or hardship. It is through this hardship that we keep ourselves and our families safe. This pandemic will one day pass, and then we will all meet again.
It’s even difficult to put on paper. One second I think I am writing about my own experience, and the next, I am writing a plea to Yorkshire to stay strong and look ahead to the future. It’s a crazy time. I think over the course of the whole period, I have found this last week the most challenging. I’ve been out on my bike a lot recently and two weeks ago I hit a target of 100km in five days and I felt a real sense of achievement. However, over the next few days, the thought of riding out anywhere was filling me with dread. I just felt like I couldn’t even go around the village. That I would get halfway and not have enough energy to get back. That it would be too hard, and that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m not sure where It came from, but I lost confidence in myself, and it was something that I’ve had to overcome this week. I finished all my uni assignments too, which is great, but I just feel a bit empty about the whole experience. I’ve also had some bad dreams this week. There were some where I couldn’t hug people because of the virus, and then there were others where people and experiences from the past were surrounded by locked gates, dystopian cities and forgotten memories. Am I the only one who feels their imagination is going at about 100 miles an hour?!
But, on the flip side, a few positive things have happened this week too. I was surrounded by my family, able to walk the dog, eat tasty food, painted (badly), had some homemade cocktails (thanks Grace) and also finished Becoming by Michelle Obama, which I have been reading on and off for around a year. I sit here re-reading this article and it’s thought-provoking that these moments of happiness are natural experiences that may often go unappreciated in my normal every-day life.
The beginning has passed but the end is yet to arrive, you could call this the beginning of the end, perhaps. This raw, stripped back version of life has made me refocus my priorities, and it has encouraged me to slow down. After this lockdown ends, I want to grab life with both hands and experience all the opportunities that I am fortunate enough to have. I think I want to do my teacher training for a year and then travel, but who knows what the future holds. For now, I am just going to sit tight.
Stay safe, stay home, and see you all soon.