Tired…

I’m feeling tired a lot just now. It’s been over eight months since I caught Covid, and although I’m definitely loads better now I’m still not quite beyond being caught up by the last lingering tendrils of Long Covid, holding me tight within its tenacious grasp, never quite completely letting go.

After having been made redundant earlier this year and basically taking the summer off to recuperate I’ve recently found myself a new job, a part time temporary role in a retail clothing store (covering maternity leave), and even though I’m not working overly long hours or too many days in a row I’m still feeling ridiculously tired at the extra energy expenditure. Not the yawning, not-had-enough-sleep, gritty-eyes tired or the done-loads-and-feel-good tired but the bone-weary, brain-dead, limbs-set-in-concrete, dragging-myself-around Covid tired.

I cope reasonably well with it while at work, doing my best to push through it all with a smile then come home and rest… and rest… and then rest some more. I’ll get there in the end, but right now it’s disappointing feeling so exhausted by a perfectly manageable little part time job… πŸ™‚

Worrying Times…

Fandangos’ Provocative Question this week asks:-

What worries you most about the future? Why is that your biggest concern? Or are you not that concerned about the future?

I’m definitely one of life’s worriers, always have been, so I tend to find I’m always fretting about some stuff or other, necessary or otherwise. So right now I still worry about things, but as time passes and life moves on I find my concerns are not always about the same things as before…

I used to worry a lot about being an introvert in an extrovert’s world, about being too much of a home bird rather than a party animal, about feeling uncomfortable and awkward in large groups. Yet during our successive lock-downs I’ve kind of come into my own and feel strangely naturally equipped to cope with such a serial lack of social interaction. Being at home more in a world where being at home became not only acceptable but also expected for the greater societal good has gently, day by day increased my confidence in who I am. I find I no longer feel the need to apologise for not being more of a dynamic go-getter in life, I’m happy enough just to be me within my own tiny circle of intimates.

I used to worry daily about my weight, my hair, my looks, my overall appearance. About getting visibly older and slowing down and gradually fading from sight in a vibrant, fast-paced world made predominantly for the purpose of encouraging bright young things to sparkle and shine. Embarrassingly these all seem now to be such personal vanities of insignificance in the grander scheme of things. Now I’m learning to come to terms with my ageing body in a quieter, less demanding life, and I feel much calmer and OK about who I am at heart. But as my husband has recently turned 60, and I’m in my late 50s and still on the road to recovery seven months on with Long Covid, these days I find I’m necessarily fretting a lot more about my internal health than my external appearance.

And looking outwards I’m a lot more concerned than I used to be about what the future holds for all four generations of my family – my parents, my husband and I, my children, and my grandchildren. I’m concerned about the febrile political landscape here in Scotland, in the UK, and how the inevitable fallout from Brexit will affect us all financially and how we might build our international relationships across the globe. I’m concerned about the logistics of vaccinating the whole world against Covid, and where we all go from here, because until the whole world is vaccinated this pandemic cannot be truly over. And I’m increasingly concerned about climate change, with images of what feels like half the world burning and the other half drowning filling my TV screen every night it seems it is no longer a threat for the future but is already upon us in the here and now.

So I suppose my greatest concern for the future is not knowing what it might hold long-term for humanity as a whole. We might have a history of priding ourselves on the arrogant, entitled way we think we are in control of nature, readily using and abusing its resources as if there’s no tomorrow. But in reality, underneath it all nature is and always has been in control over the entire planet and we must learn to accept that anything else is just an illusion. So ideally we must all mend our ways before nature calls our bluff and we find out too late that because of our greed and ignorance we are stuck in the middle of a real-life disaster movie of our own making where someday soon there really might be no tomorrow on the horizon…

Weekly Smile: 26 July 2021

My biggest reasons to smile this last week or so include:-

My husband has recently turned 60, so we had a lovely little family celebration with colourful balloons and banners and traditional birthday party finger food – sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps and other savoury nibbles, followed by chocolate cake with six candles (one for each decade). What fun!

My son came to visit for an extended long weekend that included being here for the birthday celebrations – due to ongoing Covid restrictions across the country this is the first time we’ve managed to meet up this year, and it was so wonderful to see him again. Hopefully it won’t be so long before our next reunion ❀

The new bed we’d ordered was delivered last week, and oh, it’s sooo… comfortable to sleep on. Although I don’t always sleep too well so it’s probably just as accurate to say it’s sooo… comfortable to lie awake on in the middle of the night! πŸ™‚

Weekly Smile

Winging It

Over this last year or so my blog seems to have more posts about my garden than anything else, but then I suppose my blog tends to follow my life and over this last year or so my life has been necessarily home-oriented (due to lengthy, ongoing Covid restrictions), and so by extension garden-oriented. My garden has given me a sense of purpose.

The thing is, I’ve lived in this house and with this garden for less than two years and my previous personal gardening knowledge is by no means extensive – the basics are not beyond me, I know to cut the grass and pull the weeds and dead-head the roses – but other than that I’m finding myself winging it a lot of the time.

Some plants in the garden I recognised easily, so I could look up online how best to look after them. Others I’ve only learned the names of through word of mouth, often having posted images here on my blog. And a few unidentified specimens still remain a mystery to this day, so sometimes I’m left with no option but to act on instinct.

I’ve now experienced two autumns, two winters, two springs, and this is currently my second summer here. For my first full year I took a wait-and-see approach to whatever appeared from the soil, to have a kind of base-line picture of the garden as was. And over this second year I’ve started to make changes – some big, some small.

As well as gardening by Google I’ve also taken to watching regular gardening programmes on TV to help with information and inspiration in equal measure, both of which together have given me the confidence not just to stick cautiously with what’s already there but to have a real go at creating the garden I want out of the garden I have.

I’m learning the difference between evergreen, deciduous and herbaceous plants. Between annuals, biennials, and perennials. Between sun-loving, shade-loving, or bit-of-both-in-between plants. Between spring-flowering, summer-flowering and autumn-flowering plants and how to balance them all out cumulatively within the same flower beds.

There’s a lot to it, creating a balanced structure in a garden all year round, and I’ve made a good start to finding my feet with it all. I’m trying to keep as much as I can of what’s already there, re-jigging and re-siting plants to suit my own taste, reducing those aggressive bullies who have tried to take over their patch and clearing the way for others with more delicate sensibilities to have their moment of glory.

I’m still winging it a bit, but as I gain more knowledge through experience there’s a little less flying by the seat of my pants these days. I’m trusting my instinct a lot more, and trusting in the garden to tell me what it needs, as long as I follow the signs. One way or another it seems that as we get to know each other better my garden and I are settling down together just fine πŸ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Wing

Nourishing and Flourishing

So many of my blog posts over this last year and a half have included images of or references to my garden, and I worry that I might be boring everyone with my growing personal passion for my outdoor space.

But to be fair, in an effort to survive emotionally on our pandemic-ridden planet my garden has necessarily become a huge part of helping me feel grounded in reality as the seasons progress. My daily world has effectively shrunk to the size of our property boundary, and I must admit that now I’ve got used to it, I find that’s perfectly OK with me.

Since 23rd March 2020 as a country we’ve either been in full stay-at-home lock-down mode or alternatively in varying degrees of Government-imposed restrictions (greatly reduced for now but still not fully lifted), and with the continuing rise in numbers of the Delta variant here in the UK, it may be some time yet before any return to any real semblance of ‘normality’ as we knew it.

Like millions of others I’ve had no option but to learn to live under whatever set of necessary restrictions are currently imposed on us, although thankfully it seems that some of us have been blessed with the wonderful circumstance of finding ourselves being nurtured by nature right on our doorsteps, in the privacy of our own gardens.

So for now I spend much if my time in my garden in a mutually beneficial relationship based on nourishing and flourishing, and I am content. Happily it looks like my garden is quite content with the arrangement, too πŸ™‚

Guests

I forgot what it’s like to host guests

Clean the house so it looks at its best

Tidy up random stuff

Make it look good enough

Hide the worst of our everyday mess

I’d got used to our lock-down delays

Quiet living and insular days

Covid curses no more

Cast bad spells on my door

Feels so strange to return to old ways

So we welcome old friends with a smile

And remark that it’s been quite a while

With great caution we start

With new joy in our heart

To embrace this post-Covid lifestyle

Weekly Prompt: Visitors

Up and Down

I’ve been feeling really up and down again this past week.

After my second dose of the Covid vaccine a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to find that after a good five months my sense of taste had pretty much fully returned and my excessive breathlessness was much better – two of my main Long Covid symptoms – so that was a definite ‘up’ moment, a real high for a few days. But I soon discovered that even though I’m breathing better I’m still finding ongoing fatigue a problem, I still seem to get a lot of headaches and my leftover cough isn’t improving either so that’s been a bit of a ‘down’ realisation.

So overall I’ve been feeling a lot better than I have done all year, but still not really fully back to normal.

And now I seem to have caught a cold so my sense of smell and taste is once more drastically reduced and my chest is starting to feel really tight and wheezy again, so I’m feeling really miserable and anxious. Part of me feels it’s definitely just a cold and it will all pass soon enough, but part of me is worried it’s maybe another big dip on the seemingly never-ending Long Covid roller-coaster ride – I’ve not felt well enough for long enough to be sure my symptoms are really gone for good or just teasing me, waiting for me to relax before pouncing on me again.

I must admit it gets me down, the not knowing. The how-long-is-a-piece-of-string-ness of it all. Nearly six months ago I caught Covid, luckily I wasn’t ever that sick and so thankfully I didn’t die. But somehow it’s still there in the background, niggling away, bothering me. I try to stay as positive as I can and push myself to do a bit more every day but it’s really knocked my confidence to not be able to trust myself energy-wise. I still get far too tired far too quickly and that makes me feel old before my time.

So as I said I’ve been feeling a bit up and down this week… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Up/ Down

Weekly Prompt: Garden

Two years ago we didn’t even have a garden, we were living in a one-bedroom first floor flat in London with no outside space at all.

And now here we are in a three bedroom bungalow in Inverness with garden front and back, and find ourselves slap bang in the middle of a pretty steep green-fingered learning curve. There are multiple really old rose bushes in the front garden just coming into bloom now, so I’m learning (generally by trial and error) how best to look after them and everything else plant-wise we inherited when we bought the house.

I’ve always loved spending time in nature and absolutely love having a garden, both in the passive and active sense, and our intention long-term is to grow some fruit and vegetables as well as flowers and shrubs so that our outdoor space can be practical as well as pretty. I’ve already added several herbs – lavender and thyme and rosemary and lemon balm – and intend to add a lot more scented plants as I go along.

Over this last year and a half since the Covid pandemic changed everything I’ve really appreciated having ready access to so much outdoor space, and my garden has become my little sanctuary in more precious ways than I could ever have imagined. I regularly cut the grass and pull the weeds and prune and dead-head and generally look after everything as best I can, only to find to my delight that as I nurture my garden it nurtures me in return.

British horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) said that ‘The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies’ and that’s exactly what I’m experiencing here – my plan for the future is I’m definitely going to become an old lady who potters in the garden, and I’m happy to report it’s a healthy habit I’m already starting to build now ❀

Weekly Prompt: Garden

Conspicuous By Its Absence…

I had Covid in January, thankfully just a mild infection (as in not hospitalised) but I certainly felt pretty crappy for a good couple of weeks – and OMG for months afterwards the ongoing tiredness and breathlessness and residual cough just would not go away.

I kept waiting in vain for everything to get back to normal but sadly for me the stubborn straggler symptoms of Long Covid seemed to be here to stay. Although my absent sense of smell returned relatively quickly, disappointingly my sense of taste didn’t improve much beyond the basic blunt-instrument differentiation between salty/ sweet/ spicy/ sour – sigh!

I’d read somewhere that for some people, having the Covid jab kick-started their system into a return to normal, so I had my first vaccine dose with high hopes of a similar response but although the grotty side effects certainly passed within a day or two, my Long Covid symptoms did not improve much. So I settled down to accepting (grudgingly) that health-wise I was likely to be in it for the long haul, and began to adjust my long-term thinking accordingly.

Last week I had my second vaccine dose, and this time around didn’t expect so much from it. However I was very pleased to find I had far fewer side effects this time – just a couple of days of extra tiredness, aching limbs and a thumping headache, but lots of rest and a few rounds of painkillers did the job. And to my surprise and delight now those minor irritations have passed I find I can actually breathe properly again, and day by day my sense of taste is subtly improving.

It may of course be total coincidence that things have started to return to normal for me at exactly the same time as I had my second vaccine shot – I mean it’s been five months since I first caught Covid, and ordinarily I would expect any post-viral fatigue to be naturally on the wane by this point.

All I know is that after five months of ridiculously laboured breathing after the least amount of exertion, my previous level of breathlessness is now thoroughly conspicuous by its absence and I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest. For the first time this year I feel like life might actually get back to normal after all, and oh, it feels so good! πŸ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Conspicuous

Enjoying Less

‘The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less’

Socrates

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the course of this pandemic it’s that it is perfectly possible for me to be happy enjoying less.

Life has definitely shrunk somewhat over this past year and a bit, become smaller, more intimate and focused much closer to home, and I find I’ve got so used to it now I’m not sure I want it to be that different going forward into the future.

I’m truly enjoying spending so much time at home, especially in the garden, and there’s something timeless for me in sitting outside in nature, curled up on my garden bench in the sunshine, relaxing and reading and drinking a refreshing cup of tea… ❀

One Liner Wednesday