Monday, 10 August 2020

podcast + being brave

As soon as I uploaded this episode, I started to overthink. Will anyone actually listen? Do I come across okay? Does my voice sound too annoying? Am I too impulsive with things like this?

But I'm sticking with it. I've been wanting to make a podcast for ages and it really is a wonderful thing when you do the thing. 

Please do give it a listen and let me know what you think. Thank you for your support, as always <3


Sunday, 31 May 2020

calm amid the storm + lock-down

I'd been trying to think of some brilliantly layered metaphor to start this post. Something that encapsulates how the last few months have felt, all tidy and emphatic. As you can see from the first line, I could not. I am sure many writers have been enlivened by this solitude and altered world and though I really have felt everything from anger, to gratitude, to fear, to frustration, to revelation, to emptiness...the words haven't tumbled out of me in anything other than scribbled journal entries. And that's okay.

For this post, I asked some of my beautiful friends what they've been doing to keep  'okay', maybe even what they've learned about themselves. I hope you are as inspired by their answers as I have been.

*Disclaimer*: This is not a post intended to make anyone feel inadequate. I know that they, like me, have days where everything feels overwhelming or like nothing at all. Free yourself from the pressure that you must be productive every second. Caring for yourself looks like grace too. 

(from left to right: April's Bob Ross oil painting and watercolour, Victoria's painting set-up)
Firstly, painting and drawing as many times a week as possible (even if its just for 5 minutes/ doesn't look 'good' its surprising how much the process helps me). Secondly, going on my daily walk (preferably at sunset) while listening to music and just appreciating my surroundings. Perhaps in a way I never have before. I think one of the most positive things I have learned from this weird time is to appreciate what is immediately around me.
- Victoria 

(Sarah's desk) 
Whenever I'm doing uni work, I tend to sit facing the window so my backdrop around my screen is the outside. I started my lil desk top planner with small goals for the day so I get the satisfaction of crossing stuff off and feeling accomplished, even if its just putting clothes away or washing my hair. 
- Sarah  

(Jade's lovely pup Ebony, a book she recommends  + her painting)
With everything being so up in the air at the moment, I need something to ground me. So I find myself going back to my roots, rekindling my relationship with the things that I love. I miss my friends but I am also so grateful for this time that I get to spend with myself. I read, I listen to music, I cook. I've even started painting (which I haven't done for years). Everything is so uncertain at the moment but I know we will be ok, we all will. 
- Jade  

(from left to right: Mencia's painting, Corinne's back garden + Victoria's sunset walk) 
Before lock-down, I took a lot of things for granted despite how down to earth and grateful I thought I was, there are some things I didn't realise I was so lucky to have: friends, family and privilege. All three of these things I thought I was grateful for before lock-down, but I have learned a deeper understanding of how lucky I am. Overall I have learned that having enough is something to cherish and these thoughts of "needing" more aren't worth listening to. You are enough, you have enough and that is enough. 
- Corinne  
 I have been listening to a lot of music and dancing and singing (which I do a lot anyway hahah) and watching TV! I've also been teaching myself guitar and painting. 
- Mencia  

(from left to right: Ciara's sewing + the rose blooming outside Aditi's window)
Since quarantine, I've gotten into doing yoga every morning, following Yoga With Adrienne's videos, and it's been really lovely to take time to look after my body and my mind. Turning it into a routine has been a nice daily reminder that doing yoga is worthwhile and I've realised it's important that I don't compromise on these things because of work pressure and to avoid burning out. 
- Aditi  
I've been practicing mindfulness which has helped me so much with understanding myself and discerning my intuition. I just sit for a few minutes doing nothing but breathing slowly. Just sitting still, feeling my body. This season has been the most time I've had to myself so I'm making peace with all of me (the good parts and the bad) and learning to listen to my body. I've been very creative too, expressing myself in whatever way I can. Be it singing, drawing, dancing, cooking. 
- Andreia  

(from left to right: Kirsty, Liyaan) 
One thing I've really been getting into is skincare. I've been reading a lot about the chemistry behind it all and that's something that I've been spending my time doing. It was born out of frustration with my own skin and now I have become fascinated with understanding different ingredients, how to use them, the best ones for different skin types, understanding how certain products work and other's don't. It's been really fun throwing myself into a different kind of learning. I NEVER thought I'd be so interested in chemistry. 
- Liyaan  

 (from left to right: Doreen's mountain walks in Turkey, Jade's picked daisies + Disneyplus)
I'm volunteering remotely as part of a marketing team for an organisation that collects surplus food and delivers it to people in need. I think its important to make sure at-risk people in our communities have access to a food source, especially in these unprecedented times. Just spending a few hours volunteering brings me joy as I've contributed towards a great cause. Most importantly I've been trying to shake off the idea that we all have to be productive during a pandemic and taking one day at a time. 
- Doreen 
And, because I've always been honest on this blog, here are some very real, and, at least for me, reassuring answers:
- 'I honestly have not been doing much during lock-down (I'm finding it harder than I thought)'
- 'I can't think of anything'
- 'I'll try and think of something better than just Netflix'
- 'Erm I've not done much apart from uni work if I'm completely honest with you'
- 'I am just reaching a point of lock-down where I don't feel like I can do it' *spoiler alert: she did do it and now she's thriving (love you)*

As lovely Jade said, we will all be okay. I have good days, bad days and what I call 'meh' or 'cloudy' days. We all do. If you are struggling with your mental health, please do share with someone. It's cliche but so so true: you are not alone. I can often feel as though I have no right to feel 'down' or complain about my situation when I have a safe home life, food on my plate and access to people who love me (be that physically or virtually) but we can, and should, still be proud of ourselves, regardless of whatever privilege we may have.

The majority of my friends who contributed to this post are, like me, Class of 2020, and have had their last university experiences and graduation abruptedly ended. It's definitely not an easy thing to process but if I've learned anything from this season it's that we are experts at seeking, and collecting, life's peaceful moments amid the waves.

I really hope you found some comfort in this post and a little encouragement to keep going,

- J

P.S. Thank you friends for your words and pictures. I appreciate (and miss) you very much.

Mark 4:39-40