Friday 20 March 2020

Tips from a Natural Self-Isolater

I expect a lot of people have similarly taken to the blogosphere as a result of the extraordinary and terrifying times we live in. Life has changed so dramatically in two weeks and yet it's heartening to see the  kindness and generosity of the human spirit at such times. Little community groups springing up to help people in their time of need, whether to get their prescriptions, shopping, or just looking out for an isolated, vulnerable or elderly neighbour. Alas, it's also brought out the worst in people too, clearing the shelves of supermarkets, but that's for another time.

I'm really hoping that all those who've been laid off because work has dried up, those in insecure work, the self-employed and those who rent will be given financial help and security urgently, so they're not having to worry about the future or the next pay cheque. 

Many others will be self-isolating at this time if infected with CV-19 or recovering but have to remain in isolation.

Many of us who are introverts and/or differently abled (whether physically, mentally or both) are natural self-isolaters so feel well-equipped to deal with life indoors and this is what prompted me to write this blog. Yes, things have changed there too in many ways, not least being able to get home deliveries when needed or the items we normally buy. Many of the home improvements that we had planned to do have also had to be put on hold.

But for me there's always plenty to indoors when energy permits!

As a writer there's always my latest Work In Progress to be getting on with, and there's never just one! Older books need promoting or bringing out in paperback.  Or the poetry collection some of us online are putting together as and when.

However, it may be an opportunity for you to pursue or take up a new hobby: painting, crafts or photography. If you have an outside space there are always things to photograph. You can even do these from your window: clouds or sunsets or rain on the window pane. Or maybe pictures of your furry friend(s). Lots of skills can be learned enhancing those pictures in Photoshop. I have many old photos and slides still to be uploaded onto computer. These are social documents of a bygone age and are a source of pleasure and reminiscence for loved ones.

The picture below is one my father took as a slide in 1964 of Liverpool sea front.  Th slide was badly damaged but I was able to use a slide converter and then restore a lot of it in Photoshop.  It's also a social document.

Or what about all this books you've been meaning to read? Authors love readers too! There are so many authors looking for readers. There are any number of ebooks as well as paperbacks. Readers are the new writers. If you offer to review books for authors I can guarantee you will be inundated with free review copies so you may wish to narrow it down by your favourite genre. You can even start your own review blog.

Perhaps music is your thing.  There are so many online tutorials on how to learn a new instrument.  Or if you're anything like me you might be glad of having some time to bring your music library up to date! I have a backlog of songs I want to put on my iPod.

There are so many distance learning things on YouTube or in other Apps. You can polish up your language skills. My mum has used an Apps called Memrise and Duolingo:

I love a good cryptic crossword too. Lovatts do a free online one and the word goes green if you've got it right - always helpful. They're great for increasing your vocabulary and keeping your brain exercised. 
There are plenty of interactive games online too. 

If there are a few of you stuck at home, maybe it's time to get out the old board games.

It's my feeling that a lot of the old-fashioned more simple pleasures will be rediscovered. No bread in Tescos? No problem, you can make some soda bread with just a few ingredients. 

I've been thinking of writing some good old-fashioned letters too. Emails are fine but nothing beats the aesthetics of a handwritten letter fashioned in your fair hand and that's for keeps. Maybe you know an elderly person who lives alone and is a bit daunted by technology and the internet. Just think what it would mean to them to receive a handwritten letter.

It's important not to forget your physical exercise too and I'm not the best one to advise on that! But as long as you keep social distancing in mind, you can enjoy local walks, gardening (maybe to grow some of your own vegetables) or even dancing to the music on your iPod!

These are just a few ideas and things that have enriched my life. 

Of course there will be some of those boring chores you've put off for ages - I hear there's a lot of people sorting out their wardrobes at the moment!

I do think that life is changing rapidly on a daily basis as we try to rethink the way we do things.  Suddenly it's dawning on us all what's important in life and out of this tragedy, I hope this growing sense of solidarity and support won't be short-lived. I hope there will be no going back to the selfishness and greed, the divisions and the polarity. 

CV-19 has been a great leveller, it doesn't discriminate, and we may look back on this time as earlier generations looked back on WWll, as a time when we pulled together and triumphed in adversity, when we rebuilt the social fabric to benefit all.

Just to end with this lovely quote sent by a friend:

"And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.
"And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
"And when the danger had passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
- Kitty O'Meara