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Always Look on the Bright Side… | Beverley McMaster | #LetsResetNormal

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London, UK 

Let me start by acknowledging I have much to be grateful for! Despite this, when I learned that schools were going to be shut the sense of heavy greyness was palpable. This was going to mean noise, mess, interruption. And the constant battle, oh this was the biggest, with getting them off their screens. How was I going to cope with that one?! 

I’m an introvert. I need space to reflect and process. My work brings me into deep connection with people. It’s one of the many things I am grateful for. However, I’ve learnt that what sustains me – my energy and what I put into the world – is time away from work. Quiet, peaceful time, pocketed during school hours, at home, when I’m not working directly with people.

And now this was about to be turned upside down. Don’t get me wrong, I can do disruption and even chaos and high energy, just not all of the time. And, heavens above, it wasn’t going to be just for a few weeks! I could see this stretching on until September, without even a whiff of a summer holiday to provide some light relief. 

Alongside my heaviness was guilt. Why wasn’t I embracing this like a ‘normal’ parent would? Was I the only one who wasn’t looking forward to schools being closed? So many other parents seemed to be calling out for it. Another self-inflicted judgement pin-prick in how I ‘am’. 

After a few head in the hands moments, I got with the plot. One of my learnings in the last ten years, and now it’s pretty much a default, is that in times of adversity I ask myself, ‘What do I need? What do I know? What resources do I have?’ By Friday I was working it out. What did I need to put in place so that I could play my part?

I knew I was going to miss quiet time. I have regular yoga practice but was struggling to find a regular meditation time, something I’d wanted for a while. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work this one out, does it?

Each morning I get up before the rest of my family, I creep down to my living room and sit. This week I’ve been blessed with the warmth of the glorious sun on my face. I spend 10-15 minutes practising Reiki, I follow a guided meditation (Insight Timer, David J) and then I practice yoga. This week I’ve found that I don’t need to follow a YouTube video. I’m really savouring the peace and quiet, such that I don’t actually want the voice of a yoga teacher (however much I love Yoga with Adriene, or SarahBeth Yoga) in my living room, in this little cocoon of quiet time.

Family routine begins at about 9 am. Like many other households, we have followed the school routine, putting some structure into the day. There’s some flexing: sometimes the girls have free time during the school hours and I’m letting go of the screen battle. It’s what it is. We have lunch as a family – might be a bit haphazard, but we sit down and take a bit of time to come together. We eat our evening meal together, the regularity of it for a week day is unusual. The permitted exercise happens at some point late afternoon for those who want it. 

There has been other re-learning this week – my assessment of noise and the disruption was just that. I was experiencing this as if it was going to be true. The reality is far from it. A week on, there is the gentle noise of the girls face-timing with friends as they get on with school work, the quiet hum of the radio downstairs, and the sound of me typing. And birdsong. In this little haven, we are learning to be peaceful and relish this time together as a family. I’m sure that when the girls are grown we will look back on COVID-19 with some disbelief and fondness. Oh, and thank goodness for social media – some of the memes and jokes have been hilarious! So… What do you need? What do you know? What resources do you have? Observe and quit the assessment, and above all, find the laughter.

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Always Look on the Bright Side… | Beverley McMaster | #LetsResetNormal

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