Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing Diary – Week 8

white and brown wooden tiles
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I am not including the Covid-19 numbers here every week now. I decided not to track them every day, but at the end of the month instead. I think I’ve lost interest, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s been too long now on this situation. I’m afraid to say it seems to have lost its novelty effect. I still enjoy having the power to do what I want with my time and to spend time with my family, but I feel like I’ve lost the sparkle I had a few weeks ago. It could also be due to the pressure of finishing all my assignments to complete my PGCE. I don’t know.

PGCE

The highlight of the week was my lecture for the last module of the course, Literacy ESOL Theories and Frameworks. This was on Wednesday and it was really good seeing other people and having some interaction outside this house and this neighbourhood. That definitely gave me a sense of normality, for lack of a better word. Gave me a little structure to the day and purpose, such a shame there’s only one more left. In two weeks there is a presentation, which I already did, so I have the week off. But I still have to do a few tasks and the assignment is 3000 words. I think I am freaking out a little with the work load. All I need is a plan and to stick to the plan. I made a list of what I need doing until the 6th of June:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Teach Lesson
  • 10 Evaluations
  • 1 Reflective Post (1, 500 words
  • Level 7 Research Project (1, 000 words)
  • Viva for above project (10 minutes)
  • Assignment (3, 000 words)
  • Finish Professional Practice Portfolio

‘To Do’ Lists

It seems very daunting when I look at the list like this, but I need to break it down into smaller tasks and assign each day to each of the tasks. I just need to make sure I do something each day to give me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue working. I normally tend to make long ‘to do’ lists and never manage to complete every task in the list. So, from now on, I will chose 3 tasks to do every day. This is better to keep me focused because with a long list, my mind is easily distracted as I might start working on one things and then leave it to do something else. whereas with only 3 main tasks, I will start with one and finish it before moving on to the next. This will give me a sense of achievement and will make me feel more productive. I have started using the Fabulous app and the ‘Deep Work’ feature in it, which also helps to keeps me focused and to know exactly how much time I spend on each task. Also helps dividing the work in chunks, even if it’s only 25 or 45 minutes chunks. At least I know that I will be doing something for 25 minutes and won’t stop until I finish it, for example. I found that this is very helpful to reduce distraction time. I always take a little break in between chunks of deep work, which helps to stay alert and focused.

Creative Writing in Lockdown

I didn’t write anything new this week, but I edited a poem I’d been working on for about a year and I think I finally got it right, I published it in the Facebook group and got really good feedback, so that was good. There was some work published in the group and I am really enjoying reading everyone’s contributions.

Family Time

Phil made Costa ginger biscuits and a pineapple upside down cake this week and we had a BBQ on Thursday and another one on Saturday, that will show on the scales for sure! I don’t care because we enjoyed ourselves.

We played Uno this week, Sunday evening as we didn’t have a roast dinner for lunch after a BBQ the day before, it was fun.

Saturday evening Romina and I did some gardening and that was really good, the garden is looking better, but not good enough to display pictures yet, hopefully soon.

Stay Alert

The week ended with an announcement from the Prime Minister about the next stage of the lockdown. He changed the slogan to ‘Stay Alert’ instead of ‘Stay Home’. But he’s been highly criticised for this message as it is not as clear as the previous message, I think he’s appealing to common sense of the population, which I think it’s a risk as common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden, unfortunately. Sunday night, we were all waiting to hear his message, but for me, it was a bit of an anti-climax. I expected more details and maybe more specifics and there weren’t many. The construction and the manufacture are the industries which are allowed back to work first, which makes sense as they not in contact with the public and they’re easy to keep safe. And it’s good to start doing something for the benefit of the economy. But, the message is very vague and therefore not as effective as saying ‘Stay at Home’, that worries me a little.

 

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – Week 7

UK Cases: 186, 599 – Recovered: ? – Death Toll: 28, 446

Portugal Cases: 25, 282 – Recovered: 1, 689 – Death Toll: 1, 043

Worldwide Cases: 3, 582, 810 – Recovered: 1, 160, 120 – Death Toll: 248, 567

Looking at the current numbers worldwide, it quite reassuring to see that there are almost five times more people who recovered than the death toll. Even if in a smaller proportion, the recovered numbers in Portugal are also higher than the deaths. These figures give us a little hope for the future. However, I wonder why the figures of the recovered cases are not available for the UK. What I know is that for example, in Portugal, when you have been diagnosed with the virus you have to have two negative tests to be considered recovered. This has been changed recently to only one negative test for patients who have not needed hospital care. Whereas in the UK, I don’t think everyone who has been diagnosed has had a second test to confirm recovery, at least I know of a friend who was diagnosed and went back to work after two week recovering at home without having a second test. I find that worrying, she could be putting herself and others at risk, but what do I know?

 

Mood

The week started with a good mood on Monday, but it all went down on Tuesday when I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a storm, tired and drained. I have no explanation for it, wasn’t just the status of my mood, I did feel physically exhausted. The weather was a little bitter that day for the time of the year and specially compared with the previous week. I could easily blame my mood on the weather, but I think it might be a little anxiety. I admit that I feel a little anxious about the end of my PGCE course, all the course work I have not been doing, the job search associated with the achievement of this qualification and even with the end of the lockdown. There are a lot of mixed emotions associated with the way I feel about the lockdown; I miss my son and grandson and all my friends and family, and also the freedom to do little things like just going for a coffee. But, on the other hand, I feel very comfortable on lockdown, too comfortable. It’s good to do what I want when I want, how I want, to spend time with my family and do things I didn’t do enough of before. For many reasons, I don’t want to go back. Definitely, not back to my life before this all started. Will I have the courage to change what needs changing?

Course Work

Luckily, by Wednesday my mood was recovered and I managed to finish my two first Reflective posts. I had already finished the first and started the second, but I ended up editing a lot form the first one and re-writing the second one. At least now I am happy with both and I feel more motivated to do the third one. I also found out that the Theories and Frameworks module had already started, but I wasn’t on the list, it’s all sorted out now and the damaged isn’t relevant as I have already attended some of the lectures last year and I even completed the first part of the assignment.  So, I’m feeling positive about this.

Creativity and books

I’ve not done as much writing as I wish I had, but I have started a drawing course on Skillshare, which I am enjoying very much. I have a few ideas for poems and stories brewing in my brain, I made a few notes but nothing has taken much shape yet. I have given the theme of loss and grief for the writing prompt of the Creative Writing in Lockdown group on Facebook. I have a lot of material for that one, I just need to decide which one to chose.

I have finished Normal People and started This is Going to Hurt, this is a very funny book that makes me laugh every time, it’s composed of diary entries by a junior doctor. But now I need a novel too, so I might end up with three books on the go and that’s not counting the poetry I am reading at the same time.

I interrupted the rug I’ve been doing in crochet to make some mask guards for the NHS as per my sister’s request and this was perhaps the highlight of my week. Nothing beats the feeling of doing something good.

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Lorenzo’s Birthday

On Tuesday, the 28th was Lorenzo’s second birthday and we went there to see them at a distance. It was hard! It is good seeing them, but is it so hard not hugging and kissing. That is the hardest part of the lockdown.

 

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – Days 27-28

UK: 88, 621  – Death Toll: 11, 329 – Recovered: 344

Portugal: 16, 934 – Death Toll: 535 – Recovered: 277

World: 1, 888, 906 – Death Toll: 117, 585 – Recovered: 438, 176

Easter Weekend

On Saturday, my sister sent us some photos of flowers she’s picked up from the countryside on her walk and I thought it was a great idea, so I copied her when we went for our walk. This is the result. The florists are closed, so this is the only way if you want fresh flowers in the house. I love fresh flowers, they bring a little bit of sunshine inside and I love the effect of some mere buttercups have on my window and my mood. One thing the lockdown is doing to me is making me appreciate the simple things.

The day started with a 10 minute exercise, followed by breakfast and a half an hour walk. After lunch, I read a little bit in the garden. We had lunch in the garden as it was a lovely sunny day.

Creative Writing in Lockdown

Saturday afternoon, I streamed my first live video to the group. It took me ages to set up and at one point I doubted that it would happen. Eventually, half an hour later, I was live and I had 12 attendees. I really enjoyed doing it. The group has now more than 40 members and I am very excited about it. I’m glad I created the group because it will motivate me to continue writing and to connect with like minded people. I really hope it works and that we can motivate each other and help improve each other’s writings. In my live video, I gave the group the first writing prompt. Taking the theme of Easter, it is to write about rebirth, any event when you felt like you were given a second chance in live. I am just about to write my first draft. There are a lot of things I can write about, I have been in that situation several times. I’m inclined to write about when I came to the UK, but I could also write about my experience with depression and anxiety. I’ve not decided yet, but I’m leaning more towards the move to a different country. I’ve not written enough about it and I have a lot to say.

Easter Sunday

Yesterday, we stayed in bed until late, I did my 10 minutes workout before shower and breakfast, than we went for our walk while Romina made lunch. Phil made dessert before breakfast, while I was getting ready. We had a lovely meal and a good game of Monopoly, this time Lucas and Phil were the last two standing while Romina was the first one to go bankrupt.

We made video calls to everyone we normally have Easter Sunday meal with and it was lovely. The only person I couldn’t get hold of was Teresa, but I had spoken to her earlier on the phone. It was such a nice day, the food was so nice. I’m starting to question myself whether we are eating better since we are in lockdown or whether we are enjoying it more because we have less distractions in our lives. It just feels like every meal is a celebration. Like our senses got sharper.

After the game, Phil and I watched Paddington and Paddington 2 back to back, with a little bit of Country File in the middle to get the weather forecast for the week. I love the Paddington films, they’re such feelgood films and I thought, they were perfect for Easter Sunday, specially in these circumstances. I also worked on my crochet blanket while watching TV, it’s getting very big and I’m sure I will have it finished by the end of this week.

I went to bed feeling quite positive and content, but more often now I feel a cloud of worry and anxiety coming over my head. So far I have managed to dissolve it quickly.

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – Day 17

UK Cases: 29, 474 – Death Toll: 2, 352

Day 17 was the worst day so far. In the morning, I was in agony with wrist pain and had to take some paracetamol, which I only do as a last resort. I was feeling tired and under the weather as well, so I decided to take the tablets before it got worse, and they helped.

Board Games

My first action of the day was to place an online order for Monopoly and Uno. At the moment, we only have one board game at home – 8 out of 10 Cats – and two quizzes, so I thought I’d get some new ones before boredom sets in. I ordered them from Argos to collect in store later. I also ordered some compost to start going in the garden next week when the weather promises to be kinder for outdoor activities. And while I was in the shopping mood I also ordered Romina’s birthday present. Her birthday is only on the 15th, but it’s bad enough that we’ll be in without the chance to celebrate with friends and family, so I decided to get it sooner than later.

Reality Check

So, around 4 pm, I received a message that my order was ready to collect and Phil and I went to collect it. Because our local Argos is inside our local Sainsbury’s, we decided to do some food shopping while we were out, saving him from going out again. It was the first time I was out in shops for two and a half weeks and I would like to say it felt good. But it didn’t. We timed it well as there wasn’t a queue and we went straight in; there was a long queue outside when we finished. While going around the supermarket aisles, I felt so inadequate, like I didn’t know what I was doing and I shouldn’t be there. Almost like a criminal. I felt guilty just for browsing around, and if I picked up an item and put it back, I expected the police to be on me and knock me down on the floor to handcuff me. This is a kind of anxiety I’ve not experienced for years, not since before I started therapy for depression and anxiety. It was so strange. Plus, it was the fact that the shelves were almost empty, some areas were completely stripped; not one tin of beans on site, no long life milk, hardly any cleaning stuff, the freezers were almost empty. A lot of the things we usually buy weren’t available. There weren’t many customers inside and we were all mindful of social distancing, but there would be someone who would just violate your safe space without a second thought here and there.

This experience was my first face to face encounter with reality, with what we are living at the moment. I was still shaken when I got home. I felt like I’d committed a crime and got away with it, but wasn’t yet out of the woods. I am so privileged to have a nice home to stay in protected, in an area where we can go for nice walks, a lovely family to spend my time with, a dog to make me feel like a queen and a lot of activities to keep me sane and entertained; it’s easy to forget what is really going on in the world. I am so grateful!

This is all for today and I’d love to hear back from someone who reads this, let me know if you have experienced anything like this.

Stay safe at home!

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – My Diary

I hope you’re all doing great during these hard times. I’ve been debating the idea of starting a social distancing diary. At first glance, there might not be much point, as every day tends to be much the same as the day before; but on the other hand, it might be interesting to note any self-reflection tendencies or changes in mood and family dynamics, for example. So, I decided to go for it.

Today is day 12 for me. At the moment we are all still talking to each other in our house. My husband has been working from home for a week now and my children have been at home since the beginning of this week. We’ve been quite good at staying out of each others’ ways, until this morning when there was a queue for the shower, only because Phil and I stayed in bed until a little later. But, we survived the clash without any casualties, I’m happy to report.

Books I’ve been reading

So far I finished the book I was reading, The Palace of Curiosities, by Rosie Garland and started Joyful, by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Or rather, I restarted Joyful, as I was reading it before my holidays, but interrupted it to read other things. The Palace of Curiosities is a very interesting love story, narrated alternately by the two main characters, Eve and Abel. I really got into it, it’s different from anything I’ve read before, Rosie said in an interview that she wanted to give a voice to these weird characters that we see in shows and circus, Eve is covered in fur and Abel is immortal. What I love about the story is that it is a lesson not only of inclusion and diversity but also of self love and self-acceptance. Really a good read. Joyful, is a different genre, more on the life style category. It’s about how to create a space and atmosphere conducive to happiness by using ordinary things. It’s very interesting to see the effect of colour and textures for example, can have in whole communities, amazing. I’m really trying to apply it to my life, I always loved colour and now I now why, it does have an uplifting effect in our lives.

Exercise

I am still motivated enough to exercise every morning for 10 minutes, first thing when I get up. I follow the exercise videos on YouTube, by Lucy Wyndham-Read. I’ve been doing a 10 Minutes Cardio Workout, but this morning I started 10 Minutes Inch Loss Workout as I felt like a change. I follow this with a stretch and later in the morning, normally before lunch, Phil and I go for a walk with the dog. We’ve been making these walks longer each day, firstly because we’ve had cake this week as a result of Romina’s spoils from Costa, but then because we just feel like it. The weather has been really nice for walks and we are fortunate enough to live in a quiet area where where we have fields for walks and rarely see other people. But when we cross with other people in the way, everyone seems to be mindful of social distancing, which is good to see when we see in the news how some people are being so irresponsible. Anyway, this morning we went for a long walk which including a little bit of a hill and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I never got out of breath. I’m much fitter than I was a month ago and the best thing is that I really look forward to my morning exercise routine and to these morning walks.

Morning Walk 27.3.20

Other Activities

This morning, I started an online course for my CDP, Mental Wellbeing in Children & Young People, on EduCare, this course has four modules, I completed module one today and will do some more tomorrow. There are other courses I want to do, but started with this one because it’s something I care about and always wanted to do. I was give a free package of 38 online courses at university a few weeks ago and now I will have time to do them all, or at least the ones I find relevant.

The last two days, I spend too much time trying to start another blog. I decided to start a Creative Writing blog, but it has proved a lot harder than I thought, much harder than when I started this one – things must have changed. Today I decided to take a break from that frustrating quest, but I will go back to it tomorrow. I’ve been watching YouTube tutorials, which they make it seem too easy, but when I do it, some of the features don’t work. I was getting quite frustrated yesterday, so I thought I better give it a break before losing my mind and go back to it in later; sometimes it’s just the best thing to do.

In the evening, I watch a bit of TV with Phil and I’ve been working on a blanket in crochet. I think I will donate this one to a local homeless charity, the same one I have donated some sleeping bags and blankets before. It’s a nice colourful blanket and I think it might brighten someone’s spirits while keeping them comfortable and warm. Depending on how long we’ll stay social distancing, I might have time to make more.

So, this is all I have for today. Tomorrow, I will come back with my day 13 entry.

 

 

Posted in My Planet

How Do I Feel About Self-Isolation

So, after a long period of being absent from the world of WordPress, I decided to return. Better later then never. My last post dates September 2017, over two years ago – I can’t believe it.

Firstly, let me tell you the reasons for my absence:

  • I was very busy with studies, work and moving house.
  • I was struggling with mental health, grieving the loss of my mum and my dad’s illness.
  • I was questioning the route I wanted this blog to take.
  • Maybe, I also lost confidence in my writing.

It has been a long battle, I won’t lie. But, there have been a lot of wins. I managed to complete my degree and was accepted to the PGCE programme. This is a huge win as there were times when I didn’t think I would ever be able to finish my degree. Mostly, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work and the complexity of student life, time management, work and family commitments, leisure, etc.

I have also managed to quit the job that was making me ill and bringing out the worst in me. It was really good for a period of time and I am truly grateful for that job, but it came a time when I had to let go and move on. Thankfully, we have managed without that income just fine. It just goes to show that when you’re brave enough to follow your dreams, the universe will provide for you – but that’s for another blog post.

My mental health has been up and down and I have been having counselling for a while now. It has helped immensely and I will also expand on that on a future post. I have also lost my dad just over a year ago and although it wasn’t unexpected, it was a shock and it has been hard to deal with. I ended up getting behind with the course work and  my transferred my PGCE to part-time study, therefore I am still a student.

I have been thinking on what route to take with this blog. When I started it, it was a mixture of everything, but I have been thinking that it might be better to separate the different sections. So in the future, this will be my personal blog and I might start a professional one for my teaching practice and maybe another for my creative writing. Depending on how things go, or how long I will be in isolation.

This brings me to the title of this post. So, I have been in self-isolation since Monday due to the Corona virus Covid-19. I am not infected, but because I am asthmatic and have high blood pressure, I decided to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infection and consequently putting extra pressure on the health services. Apparently, people with asthma should self-isolate for 12 weeks. Luckily, I am able to self-isolate without it affecting the income of my family or my contribution to the community; so I decided to do it and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

How do I feel about it?

On Monday I felt very anxious and scared. I felt like the world as I know it was about to collapse and was overwhelmed with a sense of impotence and disbelief. This really feels like reality imitating fiction and I never thought I’d see anything like this in my lifetime. I confess that in the past, I had thought about something like this happening, but always shoved the thought somewhere in the back of my mind. Now this is really happening.

By Tuesday, I was feeling a bit more positive. Excited even. I thought, well I will have to stay at home for a while; how many times have I wished for it? Is this a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ or what? So, I started feeling quite excited thinking about all the things I can do now that I didn’t have time for before. So far, I have been binge watching Netflix and Amazon Prime without any feelings of guilt. Why the hell not?

Today, after three days of not doing much other than watching TV and checking the news on Covid-19 situation, I decided to start a more productive strike. I make a list of all the things I want to do while at home:

  1. Bring my course work all up to date.
  2. Read more books
  3. Write more
  4. Reactivate this blog
  5. Start a new blog
  6. Exercise
  7. Deep clean the house and organise my office
  8. Do more things with my family in the house
  9. Do more crafts
  10. Study and learn more

Today, I feel very positive and excited about being able to do all these things and maybe more. But this is only day 4. Today, my husband has started working from home as well. It’s all very good and well so far – he just brought me a cup of tea and chocolates. How long before we want to kill each other, God knows. We had breakfast and lunch together, we went to walk the dog together mid morning, and the rest of the time I have been here in my office and he has been downstairs. We will just try and stay out of each other’s way as much as possible and hope for the best. I don’t know how long he will be working from home, it seems like this whole thing is only just starting; but I feel that this will be a really good opportunity to test our marriage.