Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 7

As New Zealand moves into Day 12(?)-ish of this lockdown, reality is starting to bite.

There are reports of people starting to try to bend the rules a little, “just a little”, to suit their own ends. I have been reading what a friend of mine has been through having contracted Covid-19 and recovering and it’s just not worth it.

It’s the reason I don’t visit my adoptive parents – I’m in a bubble of one, they’re in a bubble of two – but they’re in Torbay. I’m in the CBD. They’re also in their 80’s so are absolutely at risk. In fact I started isolating with them five days before the official lockdown took place. I certainly wasn’t prepared to expose them to my teenagers and whatever germs they carry!!

The days are blurring. I think we just had a weekend. I’m not entirely sure. All I did was cook, read, nap, watch movies and go for brief walks. Actually, that’s a darn good weekend. I might do it again soon.

That being said, I actually was looking forward to the ‘work week’. A little more structure and tasks to focus on is healthy. And I have tasks to focus on. Maintaining a routine is important.

I’ve noticed myself withdrawing a little bit. I like my people – their presence, their hugs. I miss them. But in order to make sure I’m not missing human contact, I’m going into my cave… it will be interesting to see how reserved I am when the lockdown ends.

It’s been a bit hard to get in to the work headspace though. Today marks the 2nd anniversary of my birth mother’s passing. She’d have been quite interested in the goings-on of the world today.

I miss you Mum,

I hope you’re all doing ok.

Be kind. Be tolerant. Wash your hands.
^SD

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 6

So. We’ve made it to seven days. It will be interesting to see if we only have three more weeks or whether the lockdown will be extended. I’m still bobbing around in my bubble for one.

I’m grateful I have my job. For me it’s business as usual, providing support, advice and encouragement to business owners, managers and team leaders, who make up my customers.

It’s a very challenging time for them and the future of their businesses is far from certain. I’m having some difficult conversations.

Which is why it’s been so important for me to maintain my routine. My brief walks every couple of hours are critical to reset and recharge my mind. It can be tough switching from empathy to objectivity and back in the space of a few minutes.

NZ business is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

NZ employment is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

NZ society is going to look different when this lockdown ends.

Will we be more tolerant of each other? Will we be kinder towards each other? Or will we be in the ‘every person for themselves’ mindset? Chasing our own dollars at the expense of others. Going in to a type of ‘fight or flight’? I have concerns…

On a personal note, the voices in my head are still gurgling happily. Nothing untoward going on there. Of course, the idea of building a pillow fort and carrying out my Skype meetings from inside is becoming more appealing by the day.

I hope you’re all doing ok. If you’d like to chat, send me a message.

^SD

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 5

Hi team,

We’ve made it through the first weekend. Some better than others I am sure.

Forgive this indulgence – It’s a record of my thoughts and observations (and possible a documented decent in madness) that I can look back on when I’m VERY old. I’m doing ok – but didn’t maintain my stepcount as I’d originally planned to. I’m back in to the work-week routine to compensate and catch up.

Of course, I have my walking outfit sorted. It’s a nod to perception and expectations of my fellow CBD-dwellers. Don’t judge!

This weekend, I spent A LOT of time on the couch. Netflix (Penn and Teller, Fool Us binge), finished the 8 Harry Potter movies. Watched Knives Out (I missed this in the theatre. Quite enjoyed it. I did struggle with Daniel Craig’s accent though!).

I loved catching up with my parents (via phone), my teenagers (via text), my close friends (via all manner of methods). This lockdown would be a lot tougher if we didn’t have the technology and infrastructure we have access to.

I spent waaaaay too much time wandering around the No Man’s Sky universe. It’s actually quite meditative and calming – well, that’s my justification for it. I cooked a roast chicken that will feed me for a few days. I made a Thai dry curry paste (to have in stock alongside my Thai green curry paste).

I really need to clean though. Being home all the time does encourage a degree of environmental neglect which actually makes things a little more mentally challenging. I’ve also bought some methylated spirits so I can do a decent surface cleanse, and also bought some oven cleaner. My oven has been annoying me since I moved in. It’s time.

I don’t see many people walking the streets still. The occasional homeless person still sits and waits. The interesting thing is that they’re wearing masks and their signs address Covid-19. So they’re certainly aware of the world around them. They must be doing it tough.

There’s also the occasional fight. The occasional time when the pressure-valve pops. I saw a couple last evening fighting on the footpath – well, by ‘fighting’ I mean I saw a woman beating the crap out of her male partner. Hair-pulling, face-punching. Screaming abuse. He just went to ground. Didn’t respond. Didn’t defend himself. Kept quiet. I don’t know what the outcome was.

And we have more than three weeks to go.

Be kind to each other. Wash your hands.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 4

One incredibly fun aspect of this Isolation is time to binge.

In my workday it’s back-to-back music. In my office, under normal circumstances, listening to music is frowned upon. My office mate can’t handle it. So at home, I am indulging!

So far, I have listened to all Toto albums in chronological release order. I have listened to all Aerosmith albums in chronological order. Now thinking about what to explore next. Recommendations accepted. And expected. I do have some ideas (Prince, anyone), but I’d love yours. Also, Nine Inch Nails just dropped a couple of albums unexpectedly. Excellent.

Bingeing movie series is also fun. Star Wars done (RIP Carrie Fisher). Harry Potter is underway (RIP Alan Rickman). I might do The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings next. So many options!

Maintaining my routines in the day has been valuable. A regular break/walk every couple of hours to clear the head. Being in the CBD is surreal. It’s just amazingly quiet.

The queue to get. Into Countdown is quite bizarre, and the 2m distancing is very amusing. Shopping under these circumstances is fantastic. It’s like having the supermarket opened just for me. Like I’m a famous person. Who’s yet to contract COVID-19.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 3

One of the more irritating things I’ve noticed so far, and it’s been going on for weeks, is the steady stream of media reporting about how ‘[famous person] has tested positive for Covid-19’.

Why do we need to know that [famous person] has tested positive? What purpose does it actually serve?

This reporting leads into a darker place too. It disturbs me when I see comments from people based on their perception of who [famous person] is. Tom Hanks is loved. Prince Charles less so.

But who the hell do we think we are, playing God? Making a call that some people are worth more than others? Making a judgement that someone doesn’t deserve to be infected whilst another is? Or worse, wishing the demise of the person less loved.

That’s just a bit shit and a little inhumane, in my opinion.

We need to be more empathetic. We are all under stress at the moment. Be kinder. It’s not hard.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 2

And we’re off. The lockdown is in place. It is a bit surreal in the CBD today,. Very quiet.

Our company is operational through this event which helps (me, and those we support), so I will maintain my work routine. I will get up at the same time. I’ll make the bed. Start working at the same time. Go for walks at the same time.

I’m increasing people-contact by phone/video which is actually quite awesome. It’s also nice having my imaginary pocket friends in full conversational flight.

Our political leaders spoke of our ‘bubble’ of community that we will be living in for the next four weeks. Living by myself, I’m in a bubble of one so I will need to make the most of it, but also make sure I don’t go a bit peculiar. Well… more peculiar than I am anyway. The voices in my head will keep me company. If they say anything interesting I’ll be sure to let you know.

So to you all, take care. Be safe. And if you need to talk to someone I’m here.

Thoughts: Isolation 2020 – 1

So far, 2020 has really not turned out the way people thought it would. Whilst I had an excellent 2019, I know many did not and were really looking forward to a new broom being taken to the new year.

And then COVID-19 happened. Unbelievable.

We are living in historic times.

So, as soon as a Level 3 > Level 4 response was announced, my company acted. I was working from home within a couple of hours.

I do have an advantage that I’m quite used to living by myself and also I am quite used to being productive working in my own space, so the next four weeks should be ok.

My heart goes out to those impacted by all that is going on. I worry about those infected. I worry about the wellbeing of my octogenarian parents who are at risk. I worry about my friends who are in business and are hurting because everything has stopped.

But in the interests of reducing my own stress and making sure my resilience is holding, I will make some of my own fun when I’m not working.

I’m starting with an Isolation Beard. Think Castaway with a less attractive and somewhat fatter lead.
Food exploration. I am thinking about what is something I’ve not tried to create before.
I should have my stock of green coffee beans replenished today (phew) so my daily caffeine requirements will be sorted.
Books to read – I have plenty and I still have my goal of reading 100 this year.
I will make more phone calls. More video calls.
I will check in on more people. Well, I actually already do, but will make a more conscious effort to do so.

So, if you want or need to chat, I’m here. Let me know your digits and we’ll do it.

Thoughts: Camping 2020

I’ve just returned home to Auckland after a week camping with my teenagers. This has been something I have instituted each year in January for the last eight or nine years. It has been a time of presence, of renewed connection, and it’s something I value deeply.

We stayed at the Coromandel Town Top 10 – our second time. The first was six years ago, so I was curious to see how the experience has changed.

I have to say, the campsite is looking good. Better than I remember it from 2014. The staff were all very friendly and kept the place looking immaculate.

The joy of camping is all about getting a bit rough – but not too rough. One still needs WiFi/Data and ample power sockets to keep all devices charged!

Every tent needs fairy lights!

Each year I acquire at least one new ‘thing’ to make the next trip better. This year was a Campmaster three-burner stove and 2KG gas cylinder. It was great being able to cook at our tent rather than have to fight for space in the communal kitchen, elbowing between the pairs of German tourists and the very grumpy mums and dads who were wrangling hordes of children-under-5!

It was a different week though. Teenagers don’t have a lot of motivation (generalisation, yes) and are quite happy reading, napping and watching YouTube.

They’re still a bit camera-shy

I did manage to get them out of the tent for road trips around the Coromandel. Driving the 309 Road across to Hahei to go see Cathedral Cove was fun. Master 17 is learning to drive so he was paying a lot of attention to a road that curved, had few lines, and became gravel. He wasn’t feeling all that confident…

I did misrepresent the walk to Cathedral Cove somewhat, and Miss 14 wasn’t entirely impressed. She didn’t actually complain but in her words ‘Oh it’s a nice beach. Lots of people’ kinda summed up her feelings.

It was interesting watching Master 17 take photos of rocks, trees, paths etc. to use in creating textures. He’s getting into 3D modelling and rendering and wanted to see how much better his own photos would be than stock textures. I was very happy to see this!

Camping is also an opportunity for me to experiment with a degree of ‘feral’. I don’t grow facial hair as a rule so it was a curiousity for me to see if a) I could and b) how grey I actually am. Happily the result of a 8-day trial wasn’t too horrific and I am not traumatised by grey. However, I felt it made me look older which is something I am NOT trying to achieve. So as soon as I got home, off it came.

Coromandel really is a special place. I thoroughly enjoyed getting into ‘nature’ and given I work in mental health and wellbeing these days, it was a great reset ahead of the 2020 work-year.

I do have a tinge of sadness though. I wonder how many more of these weeks I’ll be having with them. They’re getting older and have their own lives. It is quite possible that that was my last. I really hope it wasn’t. We shall have to see.

^SD

Thoughts: 2020 Goals, Dreams and Aspirations

Happy New Year, one and all!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent time reflecting on the year just passed, and thinking on where I want to be at the end of 2020.

I wasn’t in a great headspace 12 months ago and I didn’t go through this exercise then, so I can’t review goals set. That being said, there really weren’t any – I was surviving.

Since I started writing down goals mid-year in order to track and celebrate the achieving of, on reflection, I’ve realised that I have actually done a lot in 2019. And so, onwards and upwards we go!

For 2020 I have decided that my theme will be: freedom and responsibility. The two should not be separated.

I have come up with some intangible goals. These goals are more mindset or lifestyle goals. Designed to improve myself as a person:

I want to consciously make a difference (well, continue to consciously make a difference) in my workplace, in my social networks.

I will consciously make an effort to positively impact everyone I come into contact with.

I have also set some tangible goals:

I have set a goal to read 100 books this year.
I have set a goal to get good at making Vietnamese Pho.

I have set a goal to start to learn Mandarin properly (more than just dabble).
I have set a goal to travel (this one is seriously overdue).
I have set a goal to enable my teenagers to spend more quality time with their cousins.

I want to drink less, stay up later, be more social, cook for people.

I want to use my gym membership more than the four times I used it in 2019.

And perhaps THIS is the year I learn to snowboard…!

Where do I want to be in late December 2020?

Physically in the same apartment (hopefully). It will be nice to not have to move house for a while.

I have savings goals I’ve written down to achieve, so I’ll continue to be careful with spending.

Love? Who knows.

Health? On track.

Finances? On track.

Today I’m happy. I’m content. I plan to continue to be so in 2020.

I wish you all the very best for your 2020.

^SD

Thoughts: 2019

Wow. What a year I’ve had.

It started hard. A hard decision made and a significant life-change initiated.

The theme I set myself for 2019 was growth. And I really have grown. I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve achieved – emotionally, financially, work-related things and personal things. I’ve found a balance that is working.

I have Gratitude. Gratitude for the friends that were there for me when I needed them. Whether they were asked for help or not. They knew. A roof over my head. Regular encouragement and support. They had my back and I’m so so grateful for them. I think of M, of R, of S. I think of my colleagues – D and T. Every day I pause and reflect. I look to think on at least one thing I am grateful for. It puts things in perspective.

I’ve focused on Joy. I find joy in pretty much everything. The work I do does take me to dark places and I have found a way to balance it. In the office, I bring joy. I bring fun. At home, I find joy. I do my weird little dances whilst waiting for things to marinade or dough to rise.

I’ve focused on Kindness. Simple rule to live by really – “don’t be a dick”. If it’s not kind, don’t say it. Don’t attack people who have differing opinions. Talk to them. Understand them. Understand their perspective. Treat them with respect and kindness. Everybody has a story that acts as a filter and sometimes you need to take the time to hear it, understand it and truly listen. And sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut (or fingers off your keyboard)

This year I turned 50. Honestly, I really wasn’t that happy about it. But with the benefit of a few months passing, I’ve realised that the significance of that particular milestone is that I’ve actually lived and closed-out two lifetimes. And now I’m starting a third. The Simon of 2019 is not the Simon of the past. Sure, the core is there, the essence, but the conditioning of others, the expectations of others, the imposed values of others really aren’t an impact any more. I now take these external things into consideration and I discard the things that aren’t helpful, that aren’t kind. Those things that would try to influence me in ways that aren’t me, are identified early and dealt with.

So, a platform has been set. Now to think about 2020 and what I want to be doing in 12 months time.

^SD