18 May 2020

Don't forget to smile


I started washing my hand knit winter jumpers, one a day in the morning, adding yet another job into already busy days.  It is a job that I always mean to do at this time of year as the temperatures start to rise but usually put off as in my head it is too big and time consuming, the reality of course is that it is anything but.  As I gently rubbed the stains that had accumulated I realised that some of these knits have never been washed.  I have a few more to do and then that job will be done for another year, I have made a promise to myself not to leave it so long before doing it again.

Despite the many changes that have had to occur in my life recently one thing that has been a constant is my mornings.  Each morning as I rise I complete each of the things I want and need to do, mentally ticking them off on the list in my head.  No two mornings are the same, in part as the housework I do each morning varies but also because I don't always do each thing in the same order each day.  I often find myself distracted, pulled away, the time drifting like a leaf blowing about in the wind, it is taking longer and longer to get through that mental list, a fact that makes smile.  I have all the time in the world.

We have fallen into new habits, new rhythms that are giving us all some comfort of certainty which I think we all need right now, bringing things into focus after a time of everything feeling rather blurred and off kilter.  I no longer fear the future, but I am not sure I ever really did, just wasn't sure what it had in store for us.  I still don't.  But that not knowing no longer worries me.  Perhaps for the first time in a long time I am living in the present, the here and now, thinking ahead a little bit for those times like birthdays, but for the most part my focus is the day ahead and what shape it is going to take.

The pared back life that our lives had become is slowly filling up.  I found myself feeling rather churlish that I did not want to know about all the many free things that were being offered online.  They were not things that we would normally do, the offers made to include them in our lives were met with blank looks, I didn't need the words to know that that meant, why on earth would we want to do that?  I have, however, been deeply touched by the offers from Alice's piano and gymnastics teachers' for free sessions.  I love that there was a pause before offering them, time that perhaps everyone needed to find their feet and feel settled.  It was a thoughtful pause that has meant that Alice has welcomed these opportunities into her week.

Our cars sit on the drive gathering dust, literally it is so dry here at the moment.  A week of activities all over the county and beyond would see me driving a couple of hundred miles a week, now I pootle 25 or so miles up the road to the nearest town and back, once a week.  I find myself driving slowly, I rarely see another car for most of the journey,  enjoying the countryside emerging slowly into Spring, the wonderful green haze growing stronger each week.  I have spotted many birds I haven't seen in years, I love that they are claiming back the land.

I join the patient queue of shoppers waiting to be allowed into the supermarket, I have already visited several small independent shops by this time.  I have been known to sit in my car for a bit pausing to draw breath, knit a few stitches and perhaps wait for the queue to decrease a little.  I have given up trying to work out why it is so long one week and non existent the next.  I play the games, as I navigate the aisles, of who is going to be round the corner and trying to second guess what people are going to do.  A Russian roulette version of dodgems.  One week I kept meeting a lady with a basket, empty save for a shopping bag, nothing got added to that basket, she wasn't in the very long queue to get in with me, how long has she been wandering around.  When we make eye contact she does not see me.  She looks lost, I wonder, when I get home, what sadness she feeling, or whether she is fearful.  She reminds me how important it is to smile at this time, a small gesture that means so much.  I make a note to myself to smile at everyone I meet when I am out next time, especially shopping.  We are all in this together, we should be supporting each other.

I sat and wrote these words many weeks ago, other posts were written and published, life got even fuller and they sat there continuing to be ignored.  I want to say that little has changed but that is not true.  My husband went back to work today.  He has been at home with us for nearly eight weeks.  We are, once more, all feeling a little unsettled.  I know that won't always be so, but sometimes it is hard to see that when we are living through that time isn't it?

The occasional glance out of the window at the space on the drive reminds me that he is not in the workshop fettling something or out riding his bike.  The gap is a visual reminder of what we are all feeling right now.  I need to keep things slow and steady, as they have been for weeks.  I usually feel the need to keep busy, often ridiculously so, but that puts off thinking about the things that need my headspace to reach peace and acceptance.

So today I am taking comfort in the familiar, those constants in my mornings that wrap around me like a blanket holding me steady, our Monday focus time and our daily walks.

I remind myself that we will be ok, we are safe at home, and to remember to smile - even to myself.

31 comments:

  1. I've been trying to make the weekdays different than the weekends and so far it works for me. I like to get all of my chores or tasks done before lunchtime so that I can relax in the afternoon with knitting or other projects. I've been like this since my adult children were babies.

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    1. I too have been trying to make the weekdays different to week days, it had worked for us but now will be more defined with husband a home for those two days. It sounds like we like to manage our days and our daily work in a similar way x

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  2. Things are so unsettled at the moment, we don't know what is going to change from one week to the next, so it's understandable that we're feeling a little on edge at the moment. It's hard to just go with the flow when there's so much upheaval in the world right now. I do try to keep some structure in my life, to be honest, things haven't changed that much here as Mick hasn't had any time off work, though he's working from home, and Eleanor is still going to work, so I've just carried on with my household chores the same as I usually would. I agree, a smile can make someone's day a little happier, and our own too.

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    1. I did feel quite settled for a bit, once we had all got used to husband/daddy being at home full time. But you are right it is the recent change and not knowing if more changes are to come that makes it really unsettling right now. It is hard to keep structure in your life when things are unsettled, but the household jobs still need to be done and they are are a huge comfort to me right now.

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  3. It sounds as though you are reluctant to get back to how things used to be, I think we are all a little like that at the moment anyway. My weeks I have on my own as my other half has been to work through this , it's good to see him at the weekend! X

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    1. You are so right I am reluctant. It has been so lovely to spend nearly 8 weeks as a family together at home, such a privilege really! I too am looking forward to the weekends now x

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  4. It’s such a difficult stressful time, in some odd way I felt a bit more secure in isolation than I do in this reopening stage. Your words are so heart felt and I can feel your your uncertainty in them, it’s comforting to read someone’s true feelings are much like mine. We have so little control of this situation , I think that’s the hardest part. Take care,, I love the image you chose for this post,, it’s perfect!

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    1. Thank you so much Laurie. It is comforting to know that other people are feeling the same way as you isn't it, it makes me feel less alone. We do have so little control and I thought I was ok with that but now I can that I perhaps wasn't totally ok.

      I made the little 'fairy' in the image she was my first attempt at needle felting a person.

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  5. Glad you are feeling safe and well and managing to keep to your routine. I find I am wasting time and then getting cross that I don't seem to achieve anything most days.

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    1. I am really sorry that you feel you are wasting time and getting cross with yourself that is hard. I do hope you can find a way to feel that you have used your time in the best way for you.

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  6. What a lovely post. I still find it hard to give myself an afternoon off to just read, but I am getting closer. However, I havve time for sewing - I am working on a quilt to give to a charity at a the moment, it's one that came to me unfinished, and I have decided to improve the look of it a little - it was a bit pale and wan in places.

    In the normal run of things, we would be off to auctions (some in England), car boot sale, selling at Fairs, going to the big Fleamarkets and Antiques Fairs (all of which we miss). We just have to say, well they will still be here when we are able to go out safely again. The car gets a run to our smallholding friend's place (1 1/2 miles each way) each week, and that's about it! We've not needed to put fuel in ever since lockdown began.

    The parameters of our world are now as far as we can walk, or just the front gate! Plenty of gardening to do, and jobs about the place - those ones we had put on one side for a rainy day. Not many rainy days lately, but plenty of time of course. It is good to see my husband busy with his furniture repairs and making things again (currently a stick stand and a "hedgerow" chair).

    I know just what you mean about being unsettled now your husband has returned to work - I am sure you all felt safe before. I am dreading when my son and other daughter have to return to the workplace too . . . At the moment I more or less have peace of mind. My thoughts are with you.

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    1. Thank you so much for you kind and heartfelt words. It does feel unsafe, my husband returning to work, which is such a strange and new feeling.

      I would love to have an afternoon of reading that would be heavenly, perhaps I should arrange that soon, it sounds most relaxing. I know that we make time for the things that we want to do but at the moment I don't even have time for that, I haven't picked up my knitting in days or done any sewing. I think things have got a little out of balance here!

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  7. I am enjoying the slow pace, the birds outside are certainly having a ball which does make you wonder about the recovery taking place. Also I have to admit that while I will rejoice in being able to see friends and family more freely again I do love being at home. x

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    1. Hello and welcome, thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I am loving the slow pace too, although that pace seems to have disappeared round here at the moment.

      I too am really looking forward to seeing friends and family again, we haven't seen anyone at all for 9 weeks now. I had an email yesterday from a place I visit regularly telling me they were open again. The lovely memories of time I have spent with a dear friend there seemed like they were from another era, it was such a strange feeling.

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  8. To smile. Such a small effort needed yet such a bountiful gift given. And in these strange and wondrous times, a gift that is certainly needed by so many anxious or bewildered people. I love to see the reciprocal smile when I smile at someone - sometimes just a quick glance away, at other times a look of surprise then a tremulous return smile, or sometimes a simple cursory smile with an 'I don't know you' look, and occasionally a fully blown joyous, toothy smile that warms my heart. Just as, I hope, my smile warms theirs.
    I'm feeling fatalistic about life now. Whatever happens happens and I shall do the best with what I can do and leave the rest to the machinations of the universe. I'm enjoying the non rushing world around me. Like you, I am slowly shopping at small shops or market stalls, although rarely going out at all actually. I realise there are many aspects of this unfolding drama that would be classed in the negative but I am choosing to dwell on the positives that may come from it. Que sera sera ;o)

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    1. I love that you are dwelling on the positives that is such a good way of thinking about it, it is all too easy to be dragged into the negative side of things isn't it? We live in a world that dwells on things in this way, especially the media, which I have stopped connecting to for that reason.

      I went for a walk through my village yesterday and smiled at everyone I saw, I was so happy to get a smile back every single time. It was wonderful, such a simple act yet so rewarding for both sides.

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  9. It saddens me to see so many people appearing fearful and anxious when I visit the supermarket, hardly daring to make eye contact, let alone smile. I always offer one of my own, although it is very rarely reciprocated.
    A gentle routine is so important in these uncertain times. A constant in a world where everyday life feels anything but. X

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    1. It is really sad isn't Jules. I can't take on all the worries and fears of everyone I meet but I hope that by smiling at everyone I make eye contact with, and you are right people seem not to want to do that either, will ease them just a little bit.

      I am glad to hear that you too are feeling the benefits of a gentle routine, and yes it is a constant in a world that is not.

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  10. I need to wash the winter jumpers, too. I have a very kind washing machine with a hand wash cycle, it has not failed me yet. Although of course it is cold again and maybe those jumpers are needed.

    I smile when I see someone on the streets or on the canal tow path, even though the smile is not often returned. Maybe I look like a grinning mad woman but I like to think I don't. Anyway, my smile makes me feel good and if it makes someone else feel good for a fleeting moment, all is how it should be.

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    1. How wonderful to have a machine with a hand wash cycle, I believe that I have that on mine too but I don't want to trust it! Many of those jumpers have been worn since they were washed as the weather is its usual self, keeping us all on our toes!

      Maybe we need to start a group of grinning mad women who are spreading hope around the world by smiling at everyone!

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  11. This was lovely, so beautifully written.
    Yes, we've settled into a new normal and my car has not moved at all as hubs has been doing the shopping, while I do the wiping down.Hubs works for a bank so can still work from home, it would be a huge change if he had to go back so I understand how this must feel for you. It's very much like being in a cocoon isn't it. Take care stay safe.xxx

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    1. Thank you! It is like being in a cocoon isn't it, that is a really good description. Thank you also for your understanding of how I must feel now that my husband has gone back to work.

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  12. I like your approach--one thing at a time, one day at a time. We make progress but are not overwhelmed. I have not ventured into stores yet, but will give it a go next week, early in the morning.

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    1. It is so important to not get overwhelmed at any time but even more so now as we have so many other things to try and make sense of. I hope your shopping goes ok, it was a very upsetting experience for me the first time I went.

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  13. We have a bit of a routine going too for school at home days and weekend days. I have found this helps to keep things simple and running more smoothly for everyone.

    The shorter Autumn days see us tucked up in bed longer in mornings and snuggled under covers earlier at night.
    It's a lovely seasonal change. MegXx



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    1. A routine is so vital isn't it, keeping us anchored. I love the extra time snuggling in bed in the Autumn, enjoy!

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  14. It's so important, isn't it, to reach that space where we are okay with the not knowing. Because nobody knows! So trying to find answers just keeps an uneasy tension in our lives. I hope all of you are managing ok with your husband back at work x

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    1. Thank you Bex. We are finding a new rhythm again, it takes time and we have plenty of that.

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  15. I can identify with all you say in this post and love the bit where you talk about the cars on the drive gathering dust - I too noticed this of ours. This whole period of our lives has given me much needed time for thought and hopefully I will get to write about them in my blog soon - suffering with my back again at present so limited blog time for me for a few days!Take care and stay safe as we emerge now from our cocoons. x

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    1. It most definitely has given us time to think and I have been doing a lot of that recently, so much that I have been neglecting this space!

      I am sorry to hear that you are suffering with your back again, that sounds painful, I do hope it doesn't last too long.

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  16. Great Post! You have beautifully penned down your thoughts in this post!

    Yes it is time to reflect back and have gratitude for so many blessings in the life and cherish family and friends!

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