"In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;"
A Bleak Midwinter
Hello. How are you today?
Welcome again to my little corner of the UK. Same room, but under a new set of guidelines. Wrapping paper and presents sit in the corner. My decorations look like a false smile in the gloom of the afternoon. My festive reindeer antlers headband was tossed aside the moment I heard the latest. Tier 4. Cancelled plans and conversations with family and friends. Tears over tiers as we voice our fears, opinions and shared disappointment. Can we agree? What if we can't?
It is midwinter in the Northern hemisphere and Winter Solstice. The shortest day and the longest night of the year and if that doesn't sound bleak enough - it is 2020 and all around the UK, some of us are adjusting to the latest tier guidance and tighter restrictions, or possibly throwing caution to the wind and going ahead with our plans. Many of us are just plain fed up and want to have a good old rant and moan to anyone who might listen. Perhaps you have masses of food in the cupboard and an overflowing freezer or possibly, very little because you were expecting to spend time with family & friends and are now reluctant to go out and panic buy your Christmas dinner.
To be honest I’d planned a quiet Christmas Day before the latest news, and I'm always late with the present wrapping, but that doesn't feel any consolation. I was planning to visit family members to exchange presents and good wishes within the original 5 day lifted restrictions window. Perhaps raise a glass of something together. Eat a slice of Christmas cake. All safely & socially distanced of course. Now I wonder - shall I carry on wrapping the Christmas presents or wait until I can see loved ones again in the New Year? When will I see them face to face? Will we be in Tier 6 by then and banned from looking out of the window with food deliveries through the letter box? Somehow, the festive spirit that creeps up on me slowly in December has ebbed away and I find myself asking – is it worth it? Shall I bother? Why do we bother anyway. Any year? Oh dear, I feel myself getting a little negative, surely this won't do?
Journal for Anger & Joy
I’ve always thought of myself as a reasonable, easy-going person with a ‘live and let live’ approach to life. I have found this favourable view of myself seriously challenged in 2020. Instead, I've felt angry when I've read social media posts that I don’t agree with, or when I think that folk are not looking out for each other, and deeply disappointed with what felt to me like the community spirit disappearing after the first lockdown lifted. I almost ranted on social media a few times when I came up against what I regard to be (just my opinion) ‘fake news’ & ridiculous ‘conspiracy theories’ that have spread fear, doubt and division. As I say almost. So how have I coped? I used my journal instead and then calmed down and moved on. In the process of doing this, it made me realise - not everyone has had the privilege or experience of using writing in this way. Social media sometimes makes us forget our manners and the spaces between our private and public faces, tempting us to 'overshare' or express ourselves in a social media form of 'road rage'. This doesn't mean we can't be authentic and have healthy debates, or indeed ask for help when we need it, but there are some platforms that seem to bring out the worse in all of us. Including me and to be honest, I am unlikely to give them up because, on a more positive note, they have also been a place to share all the best news and solutions and celebrations and connections that are keeping us together. I'm just saying this to remind myself! Whenever I read something that makes me angry and I am tempted to rant back in a public space, I need to get my journal out and rant away. I can always throw it away afterwards. Or re-read, observe my own thought patterns and see if it is possible to re-frame the situation. So, in this rather bleak midwinter, can I re-frame my current situation?
Let me give this a try, right now. I don't want to leave this second blog post on a negative note, so here are my reasons to be cheerful:
warmth, food & shelter
family & friends I can talk to when I'm struggling
a loving husband to share the day with
I can choose to go for a walk by the sea which always lifts my mood
winter is a time to rest and recover and this December I can focus on this
I love to read and will make time for more reading
I can journal for joy or journal to clear my mind
tomorrow the days start to lengthen which means we are closer to spring
I can look out the window and see a new day, every day to step into (so far no Tier 6 restricting this!)
And I can still wear a festive jumper and wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!
Wishing you peace and joy in a challenging year and in the Winter Season. Add your own reasons to be cheerful in 2020.