Tag Archives: #reflection

The past 756 days….

Deliberately, I’ve mentioned very little about Covid 19 on this blog as I felt for the past two years it was dominating all other avenues of life and I wanted to keep my blog as a “safe” space.

However, today seems like a good moment to pause and reflect.

I took the above photo at about 7:10am on 23 March 2020, roughly twelve hours before the UK went into its first lockdown.

For the previous few weeks, news of this virus from China had dominated conversation. I mean, who had heard of Wuhan before February 2020? Not me. There were anxious conversations, scary news stories, sensational headlines in the press and then, like a scene from 1984, the TV broadcast that the nation will recall for decades as we were all told, like naughty children, to “stay at home”.

I remember having coffee with a friend a few days beforehand during our lunchbreak at work. They asked me if I thought this virus was something to worry about and how long did I think it would last for. Both of us were growing slightly concerned; both of us a little unsure of where this situation was headed and neither of us were able to answer those simple questions.

It’s a conversation I’ve revisited in my mind many times since. If only we had known then what we know now….

Today the last of the Covid 19 laws were lifted with the Scottish “mask laws” becoming “mask guidance” so it feels like a fitting moment to pause for breath and to reflect on the past 756 days of a life lived under various lockdowns and Covid restrictions.

It feels like an appropriate moment to take stock and to think back on all the challenges we faced and survived; the emotions surrounding the impact of the various levels of restrictions that have been forced onto our everyday existence; the impact on our mental health (as Ruby Wax said, and I paraphrase – we all have mental health but some of us are in better shape than others, just like with our physical health); the impact on our relationships with friends and family; the effects that these past 756 days have had on children ( a friend posted just yesterday about how proud she is of her son for rediscovering his mojo after two tough years – yes kids have been feeling it too!); the changes that have altered the way we do our jobs on a day-to-day basis (how did we get through the working day pre-2020 without half a dozen zoom meetings a day?)…

You get the hint…so I’ll leave you to take a moment or two to reflect on the impact the past 756 days have had on you personally. Everyone’s journey from then until now is unique and there’s been no one straight road to follow.

I took this photo today from the same spot. The sun is shining. The sky’s blue. The trees are in bud. The landscape looks the same.

But I don’t think any of us are the same people we were on the morning of 23 March 2020. Do you?

These past two years have touched our lives in so many ways that they’ve left their mark and I suspect it’s a mark that will remain for many years to come.

I know personally speaking, life will never be the same.

To quote from an Alter Bridge song though-

Cause the sun always sets, the moon always falls
It feels like the end, just pay no mind at all
And keep on rolling, rolling, life must go on
It must go on

And it does.

Meandering in Sun and Shadows

Sometimes you need to step into the shadows to appreciate the beauty in the sunshine.

Snowdrops – an acrostic poem

Silently meandering

No one watching or listening

Only the sounds of nature for company

Wondering what is to come…

Daydreaming of long light summer nights

Reflecting on the dark days of winter

Open to new possibilities

Praying for better days as I

Silently meander.

Its The Little Things That Live On..

Once the initial grief at losing someone we care about settles, you come to recognise just how much the person has touched your life in little everyday ways.

My aunt and namesake passed away last month. She was a feisty 82 years young but sadly cancer won the battle in the end. For the first time in my 51 years of life, I’m the only Coral in the family and, trust me, it’s a peculiar feeling.

Timing and covid and the small matter of three thousand miles meant I never got to say goodbye but then with us it was never goodbye. It was invariably, “I’ll talk to you after. Cheerio. See You later. Take care.”

As I’ve reflected on things over the past few weeks. I’ve begun to realise the extent of her touch on the little things in my life. Simple things like she was the first to introduce me to a breakfast consisting of a buttered, toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, topped with crispy streaky bacon, all washed down with a strong cup of coffee. Still my Sunday and holiday breakfast of choice. And every time I sit down to it, I picture her kitchen.

When I make potato salad, it’s her recipe I use, recalling fondly just about burning the skin off my fingertips trying to shell hot hard-boiled eggs as I helped to make a huge bowl for a US family gathering. (The part two of that story makes me both smile and cringe – as we cleared up post-BBQ debris many hours and a considerable amount of alcohol later, we found a huge slug crawling on the inside of the potato salad bowl in the cool box. Bowl and slug were promptly hurled out of the back door, down the yard and into the dark!)

I hold her wholly accountable for the fact I now have a house full of cats (I have 4). The first time I visited my aunt and uncle with the kids, Boy Child fell in love with Max, their huge Maine Coon cat. When we returned home, he was distraught at leaving Max behind. Less than a month later, our first rescue cat, Dixie, entered our lives. Sioux followed a few months later and the rest is history!

Every time I light a Yankee Candle Lemon Lavender scented candle I think of my aunt and smile.

There are countless precious memories that she played a hand in over the years. When the kids and I visited when they were little, she moved heaven and earth to make sure we had a great trip. (Ok, perhaps the only failure there was the white-water rafting trip on the Lehigh River but even that day had plenty of memorable moments, including my only ride to date in a yellow American school bus.)

It was my aunt (and uncle) who introduced me to Rehoboth Beach, DE way back in the sun-baked summer of 1980. Those few days at the shore triggered a lifetime of love for that special place. Many years later, when I was looking for a setting for my Silver Lake series, it was the first place to come to mind. A place close to my heart.

When I was trying to visualise Lori’s beach house, there was no doubt in my mind about which house to base it on – my aunt’s home. (Albeit in reality, its one hundred miles from the shore.) I never told her at first, but when I sent her a copy of Stronger Within, I got a phone call a few days later. I paraphrase here but her comments were along the lines of “So, I’m reading this book and loving it and thinking to myself “I know this house” then I realised it was mine!”

Memories of beach days together are extra special and stretch back to “jumping waves” at Ocean City, NJ in August 1974. Years later, together, we introduced my kids to the ocean and “jumped waves” with them for the first time in Ocean City, MD. Happy days.

The beach was a happy place for both of us. Might have been something to do with the name. We’d meander along the sand or simply stand watching the ocean for dolphins swimming by as we dug our toes in the soft wet sand. The photo above was taken at Cape Henlopen DE in 2006 and remains one of my favourites.

Those special to us never really leave us when they pass. They live on in our hearts and our memories and in everyday things.

Rest in peace, Auntie Coral.

When your words are going round and round in your head…..

sometimes you just need to let them.

Which path to choose?…..

While out meandering earlier, I was thinking about this week’s blog post and wondering what to write. You’ve probably noticed but its very rarely that these weekly posts are planned much ahead of them being posted.

The various paths and trails around me caught my eye……

How different would life be if a different path had been followed or explored?…. that’s definitely a thought for another day but here are a few of the options I passed along the way.

but this one is crying out to be a story prompt……

Tangled Emotions

Yesterday while I was out walking, I was reflecting on a few things…. ok I was over thinking and was rapidly becoming over-emotional. I run on emotions. We all do. We’re human beings not robots.

Emotions are natural. They’re part of what makes us “us”.

But what are they?

According to Wikipedia :-

Emotions are biological states associated with all of the nerve systems brought on by neurophysiological changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. There is currently no scientific consensus on a definition. Emotions are often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, creativity, and motivation.

Leaving neurophysiological changes aside, I felt like my own emotions weren’t so much intertwined but were more like a tangled mess!

At that point, the trees to my left caught my attention.

That was it!

That was how my emotions felt!

 All tangled and twisted and knotted and just like the vines growing up and around the tree’s trunk. So, here’s my photographic interpretation of tangled emotions.

Autumn – an acrostic poem

Autumn colours swathe the world

Uncertain times still upon us

Time for resilience

Unknowns…so many unknowns lie ahead

More than I care to contemplate

Now to watch and wait to see what Autumn brings

Six months on…..

Six months ago today the British Prime Minister put the country into a state of Lockdown due to COVID 19……

I could go on a rant about the affect that has had on life, the adverse impact it’s had on friendships, the detrimental affects on wellbeing etc etc but I won’t.

What’s the point? It doesn’t change where we are.

Throughout those ten initial long weeks of isolation Boy Child and I regularly walked to the nearby beach at Lunderston Bay during our hour of authorised exercise time.

It’s a path we’ve travelled many many times over the past six months.

Late this afternoon we walked there again.

I wonder how many more times we’ll take that walk before the world returns to being a safer place?

Dear Diary……

Oscar-Wilde-quote-about-self-love-from-The-Importance-of-Being-Earnest-1a465

Do you keep a diary? Do you journal? Is there a difference?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

 

Let’s wind the clock back…back to Christmas Day 1981. Amongst many other gifts (none of which I can remember now) I was given a 5-year diary. It was white with a picture of a Holly Hobbie style doll on front and had a gold lock. I said that I was going to start keeping a daily diary and immediately got one of those looks from my mother. One of those looks that said, “Here she goes again. She won’t last until the end of the first week in January.”

WRONG!

Several…ok many…5-year diaries later I still keep a daily diary in a 5-year diary. I also still have them all including that first wee white one that I began when I was 11 years old.

And like Oscar Wilde, I never travel without out it.

(Another tradition that started on Boxing Day 1981 is that I write out all the dates/days for the coming year on Boxing Day)

 

I also journal and, in my mind, apart from physically being to separate things, they serve two separate purposes.

My diary is a short summary of my day. No, I’m not sharing any live examples here.

My journal is an ad hoc rambling outpouring of thoughts and feelings and I’m certainly not sharing those here!

Both are things that I keep intensely private and always have done.

 

There are pros and cons to keeping both.

 

Year one in a 5-year diary is easy. You have a blank canvas in front of you. Subsequent years can get more difficult as you naturally re-read the entries above each day from previous years If it’s been a  tough time then that can stir up some dust bunnies of emotion; if it’s been a memorable day for all the right reason then it can stir up the fire flies of bright happy moments.

 

Journaling is a bit the same for me.

 

There are no hard and fast rules for doing either. After all, these are your personal thoughts and feelings.

Journaling in my case is more of an exercise in emotional release. I can write out all the things I feel I can’t or won’t say out load. I can vent about my frustrations with life without offending anyone. I can confide my innermost feelings without being judged or patronised.

I’ve filled journals where I’ve used the pages in a random order; I’ve had journals where I’ve started at the front and filled page after page until the notebook is full.

Unlike my diary, I seldom re-read them. I journal to get things out of my system.

Journaling can be an extremely emotional journey. It can be hard if you are admitting to a fear to see it written in black and white on the page in front of you. The very words, previously unspoken, suddenly become very real and are harder to ignore. However, journaling can be a powerful tool to help you process thoughts and to help you to deal with the some of the difficult emotions and situations we experience as humans.

A journal doesn’t criticise so in that aspect alone it can make an ideal confidante.

Bottling feelings up isn’t good for any of us so a diary or a journal can be the perfect conduit to releasing and processing those pent-up feelings. Journaling can be good for us both physically and mentally.

 

Before starting to write this blog post, I did some research into journaling, looking at the meanings, the benefits, the varying techniques you can use but I quickly abandoned that train of thought. I’m not for a second saying that there isn’t valid information out there to support journaling beginners. I’m just personally not in favour of such a structured approach e.g. bullet journaling. As I do with my creative writing, I prefer to go with the flow.

So, if like many of us, you’re maybe needing to approach life in 2020 a little differently, try journaling. You might surprise yourself.

5 year diary