The Sky’s the Limit

I’m not really a ‘sky’s the limit’ kind of girl. A ‘world’s your oyster’ believer in never-ending freedom or pushing yourself to do stuff just because it’s possible, whether its really in your long-term interests or not, whether you even want to do it or not.

Even Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in Magnum Force tells us that ‘A man’s gotta know his limitations’ and he’s right, we all need to know what we can and cannot do, should and should not do. We should not as a human race have been doing all the stuff to the natural environment that allowed Covid to produce and reproduce and mutate and maim and kill so indiscriminately across the world.

And the people in power in America should have known better than to allow that narcissistic nut-job in the White House to get away with deliberately pushing the boundaries of common sense and civility in order to create a call-to-arms with a hand-picked angry mob whipped into a frenzy by blatant lies and empty promises just because he’s a sore loser.

We watched them all being worked on, worked up, wound up tight en masse like clapping-monkey clockwork henchmen, watched Trump push them all in the direction he wanted them to go, then run away to hide in the safety of his Presidential bunker as he set them loose to run amok in self-righteous indignation and carry out his seditious insurrection on Capitol Hill.

So now it seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to political backtracking, too, the deafening sound of backwards-shuffling feet, denials and distancing and the holier-than-thou re-framing of fundamental facts amongst the Republican rabble-rousers. Even those whose silence condoned such behaviour are just as complicit as those who actively sought to undermine democracy with spurious objections to the electoral college votes based on illegal falsehoods not facts.

OK, so this wasn’t exactly where I intended to go with this post, but it’s where my Stream of Consciousness has taken me today so perhaps this is as good a place as any to stop…

Winter Walk

While the world is still mired deep in the pandemic, while so may of us remain socially shut in and economically shut down, the familiar seasonal colours of nature continue to inspire, to bring a little normality to such an oddly altered reality. Life goes on, albeit differently, firmly grounded in the continuity of the lovely landscape and all the joy it brings… My first Weekly Smile of the New Year, and here’s to many more… 🙂

Back to Normal

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks, in anticipation of the new year ahead, ‘What do you fear most?’

The immediate answer that comes to mind is that I fear that the population of the world will get their wish and everything will go ‘back to normal’, as in exactly as it was before this global pandemic hit. Because in my opinion too much of what we considered to be ‘normal’ is what helped get us here into this Godawful mess in the first place.

I know there are conspiracy theories that want us to believe Covid 19 was developed in a lab somewhere in China then let loose on the Chinese, and then let loose elsewhere – this belief is especially prevalent in the USA, it seems. To my mind those kind of elaborately constructed theories tend to come from people who want the blame to fall anywhere but on their shoulders. People who can accept anything other than the simple truth that if we insist on messing with the natural environment too much, eventually nature will start to bite back.

We fly back and forth across the world with no more thought than if we were visiting our next door neighbours, effectively shedding and spreading invisible virus as we go. Our cumlative carbon footprint blackens the scorched earth and kicks huge holes in the ozone layer and melts ancient glaciers and creates giant pot-hole undulations in the permafrost as we bury our blinkered heads in the ever-warming sands of time and hope someone else somewhere else will eventually find a solution that absolves us from all cuplability. We know the cost of everything yet the value of nothing.

A selfish culture of ‘Me me me’ and ‘Now now now’ have seemingly made shallow spoiled brats of far too many of us – we demand our individual human rights with no thought of the effect that may have on others. We have forgotten that with rights come responsibilities. We need to be collective custodians of the planet, not conquerors. We need to learn the lessons Covid 19 brings us, understand that a little humility in the face of the power of nature is not a sign of weakness but of strength and wisdom.

So there we are – ‘back to normal’ is what I fear most for 2021. Let’s hope my fears are unfounded and life post-Covid will turn out to be wonderfully perfect instead… 🙂

The Flakiness Factor

Amazingly, considering the complete shit-show that has been 2020, I’m exiting the year in a much better place emotionally than I entered it. I mean obviously it’s been stressful and fearful, with month after month of how-long-is-a-piece-of-string extended rules and restrictions ebbing and flowing and effectively keeping us isolated and apart, especially from those we love. And yet somehow I feel that now I’ve got used to this insecure, narrowed, smaller way of living, I find overall it suits me more than it grates on me.

In many ways, internally, life has continued as normal for me. Granted, the external stuff has altered beyond all recognition but the way I feel about it all has not. I’ve struggled for years with ongoing depression, but to be honest that feels much the same to go through whatever the trigger for each difficult episode. Anxiety always gnaws away at me anyway, with or without Covid raising its ugly protein-spiked head, leaving me feeling flaky and fragile more often than not. A lot of the time I just pretend to be OK until eventually I am OK – basically I fake it until I make it.

But this year I’m finding I don’t have to pretend so much any more. External life has slowed down enough, has shrunk enough to fit my personal skin far more comfortably these days. I’m able to truly belong in life in a way I have never felt before. Expectations of excessive extraversion have evaporated, quiet contemplation close to home is the new order, and all is turned on its head as I find my previous weaknesses have become my new strengths. In this topsy-turvy life of lockdowns and limitations, to my surprise I no longer feel quite so flaky.

Of course I’d love to be able to see my family as I choose, and yes it would be nice to be able to go out for dinner now and again, but in 2020 it seems it’s the quiet home birds rather than the usual go-getter party animals who have at last come into their own during this pandemic year. Rather than me always running to try to catch up with the rest of the world, everyone has necessarily slowed down to my pace, and that feels amazingly liberating. My internal reality now rubs along in perfect tandem to my external reality to the extent that those feelings of flakiness have finally fallen away.

I know things won’t stay the same into the future, that as a society we do need to return to some kind of capitalist normality in order to continue to survive as before, but nevertheless there are some things I won’t forget about this year – what is known cannot be unknown, and that experiential knowledge gives me a personal power and a deep-rooted belief in myself that for me willl hopefully over-ride the flakiness factor forever…

Share Your World: 28 December 2020

Pick three words to describe this past year…

Unsettled, uncertain, unknown

What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw?

Sadly books have been taking a backseat for me for a while, not just for 2020, but I’ve certainly watched a lot of TV movies over the past few months. Old movies, modern movies, old favourites, new favourites, family movies, chick-flicks, murder mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, superhero movies, coming-of-age movies… You name it, I’ve probably watched it at some point during 2020.

Because there was lots of time for looking inwards, what is one big personal lesson you learned this year?

This year I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger emotionally than I think. In spite of this global pandemic in all honesty my overall mental health this year has been not much different than usual – in general being at home a lot is not a problem for me, not socialising a lot is not a problem for me, so in some ways this has actually all been relatively easy for me compared to some. It seems that being a depressive means I’m pretty much made for pandemics – insular, introverted, insignificant. Blending quietly into the background and sitting tight for the duration surprisingly suits my DNA.

Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds?

Strengthened, here in the UK anyway. On the whole we’ve followed more than fought what is asked of us restriction-wise, most of us have sacrificed and suffered and shared what we have and social distanced as best we can. There are always going to be doubters and nay-sayers amongst a population, but we haven’t quite had the extreme political bifurcation of believers vs deriders that seems to be so prevalent in the USA. Having said that, our infection rates and death rates are still sky-high, but we still keep on doing whatever we’re supposed to, trying to do our bit.

What is a New Year’s wish you would like to share with the world?

What I’d like for 2021 is for a new world order where humanity as a species remembers that the planet does not belong to us – we belong to the planet. We have to look after our environment, stop destroying the climate, the oceans, the atmosphere. We are not supreme beings, nature is still in charge. We destroy nature through our grasping greed, and ultimately we destroy ourselves. Learn the long-term lesson Covid is teaching us. Be grateful we still have time to repair what we have broken, before it’s too late.

Share Your World

The Art of Patience

I really love colouring in, but occasionally I’ll find a design in one of my many colouring books and think – nope, I just don’t have the patience for that.

This is one such design, made up of myriad tiny shell shapes, and although I first started it ages ago all I managed to complete was a small three inch square in the top corner before giving up.

So here I am in a winter Covid mini-lockdown, and I decided to give it another go – I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m finally getting somewhere… 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club

Boxing Day Sales

I should have been out at work from 10am today, facing the flurry that is the Boxing Day Sales in the department store where I work. Not that there’s often much selling going on, more a mass returning all of the unwanted gifts that other people have been busily buying for them all month. But instead of being rushed off my feet at work as expected today I’m sitting here on the sofa alone as new Scottish Government Covid restrictions have closed all non-essential retail businesses from one minute past midnight last night for the next three weeks at least. My husband is still out at work, a key-worker in a supermarket, but I’m kicking my heels at home.

And to be honest this morning all I feel is overwhelmingly relieved that I’m not actually out there today. I’m emotionally exhausted, it’s been an awful month with all of us working loads of extra hours in a business currently in liquidation with no fixed date for closing, made even worse by the last-minute panic of pre-lockdown purchases mixed with the usual vociferus vultures thinking we were shutting up shop for good on Christmas Eve, complaining loudly and none too politely that our pre-Christmas sale prices weren’t reflecting the last-chance-to-buy rock-bottom levels they were looking for.

So I have three weeks of staying at home quietly to look forward to and then… what? Well to be honest we’re not sure. Will the store open again to clear the last of the liquidation stock, or will the administrators give up the ghost and call it quits? Will there be a last minute reprieve in the form of a new buyer, or will the hundreds of redundacies go ahead in the new year as previously planned? The future for us employees doesn’t look good, but it is what it is. We are where we are across the globe, not just in retail but in hospitality, in travel, in countless other business sectors.

It’s wonderful news that we now have a Covid vaccination programme rolling out – well, several viable vaccines in fact – and hopefully internationally we will all soon have the herd immunity protection we need to stop this deadly virus. But logistically it will inevitably take time and effort to innoculate entire populations of nations – long months not short weeks – and in the meantime businesses are going to the wall the world over. People continue to lose their livelihoods, other people continue to lose their lives. We will get there eventually, but not without cost.

So on this uncertain, sale-free, Boxing Day with a difference I’m sending love and peace to everyone across the world from the cosy comfort of my sofa, with the hope for a more positive 2021 for all of humanity ❤

Stream of Consciousness: Box

Traditions that Bind us Together

I’m not usually the most Christmassy of people, and although current Covid Christmas restrictions could potentially have given me the perfect excuse for simply not bothering much with any of it this year, I nevertheless found myself taking the box of decorations down from the loft earlier than usual and not only have I put up the Christmas tree but have also added a few festive ornaments and a string of sparkly lights to the mantelpiece.

With all of us here in the UK necessarily having an extremely pared-down minimally-numbered Christmas this year I felt a surprising longing, a need to create some kind of fun festive feeling around our home, as if we were still expecting a flurry of visitors at any time. We may all be physically apart this year, but we can all still share the emotion and experience of the same old family traditions that recognisably bind us together, but simply enjoy them separately, each in our own home.

We can still put up our usual decorations, over-indulge in the same kind of food we always eat, enjoy the myriad repeat TV programmes we usually watch every festive season, and remind ourselves that if nothing else Christmas 2020 has truly taught us to appreciate the value of presence over presents at this time of year. Being able to choose to be with those we love at Christmas is the best gift we could have, whether family, friends, fur-babies, or any other favourite loves.

To have that choice taken away from so many of us this year hurts, but hopefully it is a wound that for most of us will heal in time. We need to remind ourselves that losing someone to Covid lasts forever and so is a risk too far for many of us to take, especially with the promise of vaccines becoming available to all in the months to come. We are where we are in this current coronavirus crisis, but this too shall pass.

So for this week’s Weekly Smile here is a gallery of some of my favourite tree decorations bringing some much-needed Christmas cheer to my home and to my blog – hopefully the idea if not the actual baubles and trinkets themselves help bring a smile to your faces too. For me the ritual of trimming the tree feels wonderfully familiar, becomes a heart-warming task brimming with mementos and memories and magic, helping me feel close to those I hold most dear, however near or far, in this time of national sacrifice.

So here I am wishing a very Happy Christmas 2020 to all my blog friends, from my home to yours, and hoping for a better year for all of us in 2021 ❤

Frayed Around the Edges

When it comes to my regular blogging interactions I think I’m possibly going to lie low for the next few weeks…

One way or another 2020 has not proved to be a great year for most people, and as we see the end in sight I for one am feeling more than a little frazzled and frayed around the edges. Coronavirus fatigue is frustratingly real – I’m still following all local and national restrictions as required but to be honest I’m starting to feel resentful when I see so many others around me bending the rules, or in some cases blatantly breaking them.

And added to the usual stresses of working in retail over the Christmas period during a pandemic (including working longer hours all through December), the large UK company I work for is no longer doing so well financially in these Covid times and we found out last week that I and all of my work colleagues are now facing the painful prospect of potentially being made wholesale redundant early in the new year.

So overall it’s proving to be a really difficult time for all of us at work just now, but in the meantime we still maintain the polite professionalism of helpful sales advisors and continue to give good customer service to everyone. Still smiling while social distancing, while breathing through a stuffy face-mask all day, while sanitising our hands after every transaction and keeping our cash points constantly decontaminated.

Right now I feel like I’m running on fumes, and it’s all taking its toll on me far too much. I’m tired of all of it, so its probably best if I just take some time out…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Fumes

Hands, Face, Space

To be honest I’m not a great Boris Johnson fan, particularly when he comes out with his population-alienating public schoolboy blustering fluff and guff stuff when standing on the pandemic podium, instead of being clear and concise in a no-nonsense everyday way like Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister.

I believe that many polls show that when it comes to leadership many people in the UK think that overall, Nicola has been doing a better job at handling the pandemic population-wise than Boris.

However, one noteworthy exception in that general skew towards Scotland generally managing coronavirus things better than England (in my opinion) is the UK Government strapline of ‘Hands, Face, Space’, It’s nice and easy to remember and is the perfect description of where we all need to remain most cautious when out and about – keeping our hands clean, covering our faces, and keeping our distance. Simple but effective.

But meanwhile Scotland’s somewhat unweildy acronym for their public safety campaign in this Covid pandemic is FACTS which stands for… wait a minute… just hang on while I look it up yet again… oh yes, there it is…

F for Face coverings

A for Avoid crowded places

C for Clean your hands regularly

T for Two metre distance

S for Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

It may be more comprehensive, but to my mind the fact that I have to look it up every single time makes it a less than useful public information message – so top marks for Boris on this one topic, and it’s back to the drawing board for you, Nicola 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Noteworthy