The Healing Power of Nature

Honestly, this week I’d have felt lost without having my precious garden to escape to. It’s helped give me a proper focal sense of purpose during my first full week of unemployment due to redundancy, an actual, practical physical space to spend time in welcome activity as well as providing me with an abstract emotional passive space to process how I feel about not having a job any more.

This week I’ve had ample sunshine and fresh air and feel-good exercise and a quiet, subtle reminder that whatever else this pandemic has put a stop to, nature has endured throughout. Over this past year of repressive Covid restrictions and devastations the seasons have turned as ever, from spring to summer to autumn to winter and now back to spring again. The world still turns on its axis, familiar and free, and life goes on regardless…

So for me, I’d have to say that the healing power of nature has won the week, helping to keep me smiling through an otherwise difficult few days 🙂

Flower of the Day

Who Won the Week

Weekly Smile

Windswept

OK, so it’s not the most flattering of photographs of me but what the Hell – it was so windy while I was out for my walk this morning I could hardly hold my phone still enough to capture this windswept-hair selfie, to the extent that I gave myself a fit of the giggles as I imagined sharing it on my blog for this week’s Cee’s B&W Challenge: Anything that Flies 🙂

Oooh, and it might even make this week’s Weekly Smile, too! 🙂

Lock-Down Wedding

Yesterday my eldest daughter got married to her long-term partner, with none of either family in attendance but with our full blessing.

They had originally planned for a small civil wedding ceremony followed by a hotel reception for close friends and family, but as continuing current Covid 19 restrictions mean that weddings can only be attended by five people in total – the celebrant, the couple to be married, and the two witnesses required by law – and with no reception to be allowed afterwards, they were faced with a choice.

They could either postpone both aspects of their wedding – the legal marriage and the celebration, or they could continue with the legal part as planned, get married now in the local registry office and simply hold the reception at a later date once restrictions are lifted enough to allow everyone they wish to attend to be there, whenever that may be. So after much thought and deliberation they chose to get married quietly, intimately, alone.

Yesterday they both dressed up in their wedding finery and made their precious vows to each other without any distraction. Even the six children of their blended step-family were necessarily absent – the youngest stayed with me, the middle four were all at their respective schools, the eldest has already left home and is living and working away. Their mid-morning wedding ceremony was recorded on their phone so we could all watch it afterwards. They took informal photographs themselves, which they also shared with us later.

Altogether it was a beautiful day for them, with a beautiful, meaningful ceremony, and I know that when the time is finally right we will all get together to celebrate their lovely lock-down wedding with lots of hugs and an abundance of love. I asked my delighted daughter this morning – so now that it’s over did you enjoy your quieter-than-planned wedding day? ‘You know what’, she said – ‘It was absolutely perfect!’ ❤

Weekly Smile

A Bittersweet Farewell

Even though lock-down here in Scotland continues potentially until almost the end of next month at the earliest, meaning all non-essential retail stores remain closed, I’ve found myself back at work this week along with many of my old colleagues. Thanks to ongoing Covid restrictions providing the final nail in the coffin, the department store I work for has now formally gone out of business lock, stock and barrel, so from 1st March we have been taken off furlough in order to pack up and clear the store of stock over the next couple of weeks.

As England is due to re-open non-essential retail at the beginning of April, all stock from the 15 Scottish stores that will now no longer be re-opening after the extended lock-down up here will be re-allocated in bulk to stores in England. And after we have cleared the stores here we will be made redundant immediately. The plan is for the English stores to re-open only to liquidate all residual stock over a 4-6 week period, and then they will be closing too, the end of a business that began over 240 years ago.

So it’s a sad time for all of us and yet there are still things I can find to smile about. We are physically back at work for now, masked and hand-sanitised and socially-distanced as before, and that is giving us the chance to spend time catching up with each other in the workplace when all forms of socialisation with anyone outside of our own immediate household is currently against the law. We find we can chat comfortably amongst ourselves while we work, gossiping and joking and laughing together again, and that feels so good after nine weeks of nothing.

We can once more feel the familiar companionship of being an efficient and effective team working purposefully towards a common goal, and with no customers in our huge still-closed-to-the-public multi-level store we can all spend this precious time tentatively talking through our communal experience of becoming unemployed en masse in the next week or so, discussing potential plans and possibilities and hopes and fears and so feeling less alone in our sadness.

It is a bittersweet farewell, and of course no-one ever wants to face losing their livelihood, but in a time of unprecedented social isolation and loneliness we are at least there in person to experience the store being ritually dismantled in real time, and in doing so we are able to achieve some sense of closure at its disappointing demise. And of course we are also ending our time together as an employee group by building good work-family memories to take with us into the future, and that is something for which I’m sure I will be eternally grateful 🙂

Weekly Smile

Connecting Via the Cloud

Sometimes ordinary things just connect in the strangest way, and life makes you smile big time.

As I was closing the dining room curtains late this afternoon I saw this spectacular sunset-induced pinky-orange cloud formation sitting high in the otherwise clear blue sky. So I took a quick pic with my camera (see above), and also snapped a similar quick phone pic to send to each of my grown-up kids, just because I like to keep in touch with the everyday stuff, especially just now when we’re all necessarily so isolated from each other because of continuing Covid lock-down.

Almost immediately after the message was sent my phone beeped to let me know I’d also had a message, and amazingly it was a photo from my youngest daughter of exactly the same cloud formation taken at pretty much the same time from her son’s bedroom window about four miles away! So near and yet so far, but it felt good to know we were both looking at the same thing at the same time, especially as within five minutes the colour had gone completely and the cloud itself had evaporated into the darkening sky.

It was just one of those meaningful moments of connection that catches you by surprise – I suppose we could genuinely say we were connecting via the cloud! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Winter Walk on a Monday

It’s been five weeks and three days since I last went for a walk along the canal, but today the weather was so lovely (well, for the middle of winter, anyway) I decided to give it a go, so wrapped up warm and off I went, taking my time, and my camera of course.

Inevitably I was out far too long and walked far too far for my first ‘proper’ post-Covid convalescent walk, but I felt the need to really get my lungs working properly again and however exhausted I may feel now I’m home again, it was well worth the effort.

Blue water, blue sky, rosy cheeks and a huge sense of satisfaction! Smiles all round for me today 🙂

Weekly Smile

Kindness and Cake

More often than not it’s the little things in life that make me smile the most, especially in our Covid-restricted world of lockdown. So this morning I’ve been looking through a beautifully illustrated little book titled ‘The Art of Kindness: Caring for Ourselves, Each Other & Our Earth’ by Meredith Gaston and enjoying a cup of tea and a home-baked lemon cake.

I only made half a dozen small cakes rather then a huge batch (and now only four are left) but even so I really enjoyed the familiar process of measuring out the ingredients and mixing up the cake batter – and the lemon glace icing ended up a little on the runny side but that doesn’t matter, after all cake is cake and it all goes down the same way 🙂

Right now it feels like the world needs a lot more kindness and consideration in it, a lot more love and a lot less hate – and of course a little culinary indulgence now and again to lift our spirits! ❤

Weekly Smile

My Colourful Imagination

Oh how I miss going for a decent brisk walk along the canal! I’ll get back to it soon enough, of course, but for now I’m convalescing after Covid so am taking things easy for the time being, keeping close to home until I fully recover.

My last walk there was on January 1st, and I’ve been looking through my photographs from that day. I’m remembering the feel of the bracing winter air on my face and imagining everything looking so much brighter, as if painted in a palette of primary colours, just waiting for me to get well enough to manage to walk that far (and get all the way back again, of course).

So I applied an online art filter to help create the kind of colourful effect I could see in my mind’s eye – K2 from Lunapic – and I’m sharing the end results above. Hopefully these stylised, artistic images bring a smile to your face as much as they cheer me up until I feel fit enough to get back out there and see it all for real myself once more 🙂

Weekly Smile

Foggy Street at Night

I was locking the front door before I went to bed tonight and noticed there was an eerie freezing fog looming outside, so I took my camera out into the silent empty street and tried to capture a few images. At times I struggled to get focus, but took a couple of shots anyway as I quite like the abstract look of the bokeh on the streetlights. The two focused shots show the basic view along our street looking in both directions from outside our house.

Not perfect, I know, but it was fun trying to see what I could get – something a little bit different for this week’s lockdown smile 🙂

Weekly Smile

January Colouring in: Take II

And another mandala coloured in…

I find it so calming to colour in these circular designs, just beginning in the centre and slowly working outwards, deciding one colour at a time and only seeing at the end exactly what my colour choices have created. It’s not difficult to do, only time consuming, and time is something I certainly have an abundance of right now during our second national Covid lockdown. So I think colouring in as an enjoyable and engrossing creative pastime is my Weekly Smile this week…

How do other people choose to spend their leisure time while staying indoors during a winter lockdown? 🙂

Escapist Colouring Club