Pandemic Reflections: Happiness and Heartbreak

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Thoughts in February / early March 2020

By late February 2020 my daughter-in-law had the pandemic fixed on her radar and was warning my son and I that we (the UK — and indeed the whole world) were going to be suffering soon. To our (later) shame my son and I were very dismissive of her fears. I vividly remember that I was making him a bacon sandwich (he often used to pop in for breakfast on his way to work) and we discussed it as “Nothing to worry about in the western world…” followed by a remark that was proven to be completely incorrect in just a few short weeks’ time.

The first UK Lockdown Started on March 23rd 2020

To be honest, it was a bit of a relief, because with my daughter-in-law’s predictions looking truer every day I was starting to feel nervous myself; yet friends were still inviting me out and laughing at my fears. When Boris Johnson (UK PM) announced our first lockdown I thought “PHEW — three weeks break will give it chance to clear up”. Haha — if only. At the end of the first three weeks I still didn’t feel confident enough to start socialising again, so I remember being relieved when there was an extension.

Spring in Lockdown

I’ve never made the time to do my own gardening. But when my newly engaged gardener didn’t turn up, I decided I’d better investigate the mysterious tools in the garage. (The other unknown was finances — in those early days I wasn’t sure how my self-employed income would hold up.)

Exercise in Lockdown

We were urged to ‘exercise for an hour a day’ — which seemed to mean ‘walk’ as my usual exercise venues (line-dance class and yoga in the gym) were all closed. Walking for exercise wasn’t anything I’d done regularly. But I set off, somewhat reluctantly. Until I discovered that within about a ten minute walk of my house I could be enveloped in glorious countryside. Two years previously I had moved from London to Norwich and although I’d taken the time to explore the beautiful city, I’d never taken the time to explore the countryside so near to me. Another new pleasure discovered. I’ll confess I soon tired of walking alone, so I made my first lock-down purchase — decent head-phones through which to listen to my new friends on the radio as I walked.

Yoga in Lockdown

After those first 3 weeks, I started to miss my weekly yoga classes and was beginning to stiffen up. Then I was delighted to find that the yoga teacher whose classes I’d attended back in London still had my phone number. She texted to say she was starting a Zoom yoga class and would I like a free trial class? You bet! This lady is a superb teacher and leaving her was one of my very few regrets at leaving London. I was a little dubious as to how Zoom yoga could work — but it does!

Line-dancing in Lockdown

My other pre-lockdown exercise was line-dance classes three times a week. Much as I enjoyed them, I was finding it hard to fit all 3 round my self-employed work-from-home timetable. Yet I really missed the mental and physical exercise when they closed.

Friends in Lockdown

I’ve written more extensively about friends in lockdown here….. but one of the most wonderful parts of lockdown has been reconnecting with my baby-sitting circle of almost forty years ago. When we had our babies were met every three weeks and supported each other through every crisis you can imagine. This wonderful friendship continued all through primary and secondary school, and as our ‘babies’ went to university and some got married. But without the anchor of school we started geographically drifting many miles away from each other. As our meetings became harder to arrange they dwindled down to, maybe, quarterly. But those four ladies have always been the closest, longest-standing friends of my life and whenever we get together, we just drop straight back into that close friendship.

Church in Lockdown

Other friends to whom I have grown closer are at my Church. Although the services have been mostly closed, a small team took the plunge with Facebook Live services. They’ve grown more professional every week adopted the new technology and bought better equipment. Now there’s a full weekly programme of events with newsletters and service sheets delivered by email every Saturday evening. Joining our online services I can sing my heart out without wondering whether the guy in front is groaning inwardly about my croaky voice. If someone rings me in the sermon, I just pop the vicar on pause and come back later.

Work in Lockdown — Offline Business

My friends all know me as something of a workaholic, so they won’t be surprised to know that work has still featured heavily in my lockdown life. But I’ve been lucky, as my off-line work has expanded; so I’ve not been one of the ‘forgotten 3million’ self-employed whose businesses have struggled, falling through the cracks in the government support programs. I often have tears in my eyes as I hear heart-breaking stories of long established businesses collapsing, starved of clients.

Work in Lockdown — Online Business

I also work online — and those business friendships have grown closer too as I’ve exchanged more frequent emails with online business colleagues, sharing worries and triumphs. The longer term business friends have shared family and health concerns too, and been supportive throughout.

Does Lockdown Sound Too ‘Peachy’ For Me?

I’m aware that until November I had largely sailed through lockdown, and had been very lucky to do so. Financially I have actually been better off than pre-lockdown. In addition to the extra work, my spending reduced drastically with so much ‘staying in’. I’ve had time to catch up on those unread books on the book-shelf and I’m finally getting decent use out of my Netflix subscription.

Family in Lockdown

My ‘Norwich’ son lives about half an hour away by car, but because of the crazy hours he works most of our pre-lockdown family times were on the phone, or the quick snatched breakfasts I mentioned right at the beginning. So no real change there. His business continued uninterrupted.

My Lockdown Tragedy

Pride comes before a fall, and my love affair with lockdown slowly dissolved as it became more and more obvious that my 98 year old Dad, who never wanted to leave his home of 35 years to move to live nearer to my sister and I, was deteriorating with every phone call we made to him. We both live over 200 miles away from him, so visits were hard before lockdown and nigh-on impossible during lockdown. I had visited him in October 2020, when lockdown was briefly lifted, and — with his live-in carer — he was coping just fine. My sister and I joked that he’d out-live the pair of us.

Joy Healey has been a part-time online blogger since 2014, to generate an income for the retirement she forgot to plan for! See how at: https://JoyHealey.com

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