30 day blog challenge: Transient

I can’t remember who suggested this word as one of my ‘prompts’ for this challenge, but it’s an important word.

Transient = lasting only for a short time; impermanent.

Though it likely doesn’t feel like it now, this period we are in as a world is transient.

I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have a moment where I felt anxious, fearful or overwhelmed when as my work day came to an end it the latest variation of the ‘guidelines’ were announced.

After a moment of ‘holy crap how am I going to cope with this’ followed by the realisation that I was by no means alone, I remembered the community I found through blogging during a period of my life where my world turned upside down.

Though the majority of my friends don’t blog anymore (social media totally killed the blogging world), there are a great many friendships that were made in the late noughties from us all having conversations in the comments of one another’s posts, folllowing one another’s lives and having ‘blog parties’ where we would either all take part in writing with the same theme on the same day each week, or guest post on each other’s blogs.

I know the power of connection online can be a very real when done with genuine heart and authenticity.

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And so tonight, 4 people from different parts of the UK joined together on zoom and introduced themselves to one another. We expressed how we were feeling. We expressed some of our worries. We talked about challenges we were facing. We listened to one another. We giggled. Some drank tea. We set ourselves some goals for the coming 7 days to do in our time in isolation.

I hope it made others feel a little more hopeful.

I felt encouraged.

I nicknamed it ‘Koala Tree Tuesdays’, and if you’d like to join a 40 minute zoom chat at 8 pm (British time) next Tuesday, do let me know in the comments. Or by messaging me via instagram or twitter.

My goal this week is to finish reading one of many books I’ve started, and to attempt the to build the tall bookcase I got in the ikea delivery last week.

30 day blog challenge: Community

In the UK it got announced this evening that we are now implementing the WHO guideline that people in households with (new) coughs and fevers have to be isolated for 14 days and all ‘non essential meetings’ are cancelled. No going to pubs, theatres or cinemas. People in at-risk groups been told they have to stay in for 3 months.

So how to stay sane and keep connected?

How to support one another in ways that may not seem as obvious?

Stay connected

I hope that there’s going to be an abundance of live events. YouTube, Instagram and facebook all do this, and it can be great!

Zoom, Skype and Google hangouts are platforms to use for free to have a group catch up with friends and family near and far.

Telephone friends and family who do not have internet.

Post letters and cards to friends and family (but obviously wash your hands before).

Things to do

My friend Laura (Faithfully Fit) is posting YouTube videos of a simple at home workouts you can do. Check them out here.

I know my friends love Yoga by Adrienne.

Here is a helpful list of lots of educational resources that are free for kids and families if your kids are having to stay home from school. My friend Caroline who home educates her 4 kids has also blogged some top tips for parents who suddenly find themselves homeschooling.

Girlguiding are currently trying to come up with ways to help girls stay connected and guiding while we can’t meet in person. I’m sure Scouts will do the same.

Duolingo is a great free app for learning languages.

Listen to live radio shows you love.

If you are able – go outside for a walk (but do keep your distance from people – 6ft at all times recommended).

Read. Why not order a book and with your friends read it together with a what’s app chat about how you are enjoying (or not enjoying) it?

Teach yourself how to knit, play ukulele, paint, draw, doodle.

Create a schedule for yourself.

How we can support one another

Popping a note through door of neighbours to give a link to a facebook group or similar (or perhaps if elderly giving a phone number) so people can call on someone to pick up something from supermarket or pharmacy if they have to self isolate for 14 days is obvious.

But also the fact is that those not working for public sector or larger businesses where things can be done with social distancing are going to be affected by this.

Retail workers are mostly all on 4 hour contracts – so though most of them work much more than this, they’ll only be allowed 4 hours a week statutory sick pay. Many in the catering industry are on zero hour contracts. Charities rely hugely on fundraising events from bake sales, to marathons. Hairdressers, beauty therapists, physios, osteopaths. Airline staff, hotel staff, cinema staff, florists, restaurant and cafe owners, writers, artists, sound techs, musicians, actors…the list could go on and on. Because the government have not ‘banned’ us, just said we shouldn’t, they have no protections for insurance coverage.

Sooo…. order books for delivery from your local bookshops. See if your restaurant will do deliveries without you having to open your door. Buy gift cards for the cinemas, restaurants, hairdressers, beauticians and all the rest if you can.

People in the Performing Arts industry – let us know how we can support you while you are unable to work.

Saving money from your commute you aren’t doing at the moment? Why not donate that to a charity or your friend’s fundraising page for that event they had being training for which is now postponed.

In Scotland, a facebook group has started to gather volunteers who can offer childcare to people who will have to continue going into work. Investigate what might be in your local area.

Got caught in the madness of panic buying and realise you don’t actually need all that formula, bleach, toilet roll and tinned food because the supermarkets are still open? Consider donating it to your local food bank who have been left short unable to give to people in desperate need of it.

But most of all – please isolate yourself for 14 days if you show any signs of COVID-19. A dry cough, shortness of breath, flu like symptoms, fever. Or any other infectious illness that could compromise someone’s immune system. I know mumps, scarlet fever and more are also doing the rounds just now!

Any more ideas or thoughts for how we can help one another through this?

Add them in the comments below.

 

30 Day Blog Challenge: Choices

One of the things that Miss Val has taught me is that life is full of choices. Sometimes they aren’t choices that we like. But we still have choices.

Right now, I have friends and family all around the globe who are being impacted in different ways by a certain virus that doesn’t have anything to do with beer (despite the name). I have a brother in law and a friend who are dealing with cancer. Friends that are transplant recipients. Friends with long term health conditions. A mother who is recovering from brain surgery. Friends who are frontline in the NHS.

For that reason, I don’t mind all the precautions that are happening right now.

Does that mean I like them?

No.

I’m 50-50 extravert/introvert. As a single person who works from home, with my nearest family member 127 miles away, I’m socially distanced from the rest of society for a good chunk of the week already. That extravert part of me craves those evenings where I get to chat to people at ballet class, writing group, Girlguiding activities and church.

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Though I don’t leave it to noon to start working and I don’t have pets this cartoon my friend sent me a while ago is pretty accurate!

I need them as much as the hours I’m hunkered down with my blankets and books for my sanity.

But will I moan that I have to be on lockdown because it sucks to be lonely?

No.

Because I’m glad that my friends get to be less scared of catching this darned virus that doesn’t have a treatment or vaccine yet. We hopefully get to live. We get to have an NHS that we can access when we need it.

And there are lots of things I get to choose to do within lockdown.

I get to read a book in the evenings.

I get to watch a DVD.

I get to sew badges on my camp blanket.

I get to write.

I get to bake some yummy cakes and crumbles.

I get to try some new recipes.

I get to chat to friends and family over phone.

I get to meet with my colleagues via video conference.

I get to be better at being kinder to the environment and less wasteful.

I get to take on the challenge of doing the job of events fundraising while no one can go to or host an event so that much needed services the charity I work for provides can continue at a time when they will be needed more than ever.

There’s always a choice.

And I choose to move forward with as much hope, cheerfulness and kindness that I can muster.

That being said, I’m wondering if it would be worth holding the occassional online meet up while others may be feeling a bit disconnected, anxious, lonely or just needing something to look forward to. I thought about having a community blog challenge, perhaps a weekly book/film club or something like that.

If you’d be interested, let me know in the comments or message me on twitter: @koalainscotland or instagram: @brunettekoala

 

Quote of the Week: Friends don’t silence or oppress you…

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At the start of Black History Month, it feels only right that I quote from one of the great wise women who walks this earth, writes so eloquently and speaks such wisdom.

I walked through the door after being at the dentist the other day and my Mum saw me and was like “What’s wrong? Was it really bad? Did it hurt?” it wasn’t my mouth that was hurting. I was saddened by things popping up on my phone. A man, a prominent voice in the Scottish evangelical church landscape who believes that women are not of equal value to men. The sadness that I’ve watched two incredible young people go through teenagehood, become passionate for Jesus and be brainwashed by such teaching and become more excluding rather than welcoming. More superior rather than supportive. And another young adult who has been brainwashed by evangelical Christians who believe that Trump is some kind of messenger from God and that by locking our doors to people in need (despite the bible teaching us that we should do the complete opposite) it’s about loving our family, rather than fear and hate of strangers.

I made a decision last week to stop attending church because I realised that church seemed to demand my silence. It seemed to be denying my friends. After my friends (and my Mum I’ve since found out) were appalled at the way three other friends – all male, all “Christian” – spoke down to me about a subject they knew little about and I knew much about, and how they talked about some controversial issues with very strong and hateful language, I realised that I had not been affected by their speech. Why? Because I had become so accustomed to it during the years that I ran a pregnancy crisis centre. Over the last couple of years I have felt lost because I have not understood how this life of mine could be part of some plan God has for me (people in church often talk about ‘the plans God has for us’, usually taking a bible verse from the book of Jeremiah out of context in the process). The last two years have taken me out of a bubble and into the world, opening my eyes and heart to so many different people. These friends have not held me silent, and they’ve not denied my right to grow. They’ve been patient with my ignorance, they’ve helped me learn so much more about experiences I’ve never personally gone through. However, for many of them, when they’ve walked into a church community – they have been silenced and denied. Because of this, they believe God hates them.

I love community. I really miss being part of a community that studies the teaching, prays together, lives collectively, welcomes in strangers, learns to get along despite many differences. Knowing that inclusive church does exist,  I hope that some day soon I’ll find one in my city.