I hope you’re all holding up ok. It’s day 79 in this lockdown with not a lot on the horizon… except perhaps access to Bunnings next week.
Putting that aside, one of the absolute best things one can do to shift perspective, to stop complaining, to focus on better thoughts, is to listen to your favourite music. A song? An artist? A genre? It can be anything.
I’ve given myself a little positive project.
I’m building a playlist of Covers. You know, songs performed by artists that have a different take on the original performance. We all know ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ by Prince, and performed amazingly by Sinead OkConnor? But have you heard Chris Cornell’s version?
Sometimes artists cover their own songs in a completely different genre. Steven Tyler singing Janie’s Got A Gun on his Country album is fabulous!
This is what I’m talking about.
I’m wanting your recommendations. What cover versions of songs blow your mind each time you hear them?
Here’s a couple more that I love to start you off.
The Pot – Brass Against. (I just love the quirk and the talent on display here!)
I have really mixed feelings about this one. So I’ll attempt to put my thoughts down from a variety of perspectives that I can speak from. You may agree with some and vehemently disagree with others…
I’m ok with this.
So. Firstly, the target of 100,000 vaccinations looks good on paper. No question. But in context of population it’s piss poor and hardly aspirational.
‘We’ achieved approximately 130,000 jabs. Given the 100% target of 8,400,000 jabs, it’s really not that great. Barely shifts the needle. Aspiration would be: let’s hit 500,000! Not even close, eh. Personal opinion here: our Leaders aren’t that aspirational, they’re really focusing on the lowest percentiles.
But it’s not all bad. I love the joy of community motivation. I remember dancing to ‘thank you very much’ back in the day. Bedecked in my Boys Brigade uniform, toting a rubbish bag and being all enthusiastic.
However, this was rushed and half-assed. I’m sick to death of us Kiwis doing things half-assed. Half-assed presentation with half-assed presenters. We can, and we should do a hell of a lot better. I didn’t see our better production companies (currently in lockdown and dying financially) involved.
The TV stream was total cringe. There WERE some highlights. I was impressed with some of the artists getting exposed. Some great talent amongst us all.. but I have to say, I can’t un-see Patrick Gower dancing, singing…
I know I come across as a total cynic, but I spent this morning trying to find an upside. And I have.
I am very interested to learn, logistically, what the total possible vaccination numbers could have been. When you consider locations, approved vaccinators, jabs per hour, refrigeration, traffic management etc.
If the number was, in NZ, we could only do 180,000 jabs in a day on a perfect day, then 130,000 is pretty good! And definitely something to celebrate.
That’s what I will embrace. And actively encourage until such time as our total vaccination percentage crosses 90%.
In the meantime, I won’t celebrate Tamaki and his ilk being total dicks. Prosecute them.
I won’t celebrate North Shore partygoers being total dicks. Prosecute them.
Our only way out of this shitstorm is vaccination. Get it done. It’s not for you, it is for our community. Our family. Our vulnerable. Our kids.
I’ve finished today, Friday, in much better shape than the seven(?) previous Friday’s. Not so broken. Not so drained. Actually looking forward to the weekend.
The difference? I’ve stopped caring about case numbers and our leaders desperately spinning. I’ve removed myself from these four walls and am working in my office again (safely of course). and there’s been a bit of reconnection with people.
Separating home from work has been a life-saver. I really was not in good shape. 50 days of isolation is not good. My colleagues have noticed a sea change in me. (Related: I am blessed to be working with quality counsellors and psychologists who care about me and check in).
This week I’ve been involved in interviewing for some roles on our business – there are amazing talented and beautiful humans out there and I have loved the conversations. Hearing the passion. Understanding the dreams. We are going to gain much from the people we select.
I have come to realise that the key to getting through this pandemic is purpose and hope. Humans need purpose. Humans need hope. Remove these and watch the withering.
There’s also been a bit of a spark ignited in me. I’ve deliberately put my creative side on hold for a few years. Needs must sometimes I guess. But in the last few days I’ve gotten a bit twitchy. It’s time. It’s time to create. So I’m starting to plot and imagine what this could look like.
It’s quite fun isn’t it? All this imagining and dreaming stuff. We should do more of it.
So we just had our first weekend in Level 3 Step 3. Lockdown day 54ish? I’m really not sure any more.
One of the more interesting personal impacts of all this Covid lockdown palaver is fatigue, inability to focus on something for more than 15 minutes and a general malaise.
One of the clear things that came out of the Steps announced was the removal of the 5km/no motorised travel restrictions. This enabled me to extend my bubble of one. Joy!
God I have missed people and connection. Two months of lockdown isolation is not a healthy state for this Simon.
Last week I took the step of moving back in to my office for work. As an essential service and given that I can actively avoid people it’s an easy thing to justify. And necessary. The change of scenery and having my two-monitor workplace back has really given me a lift. Mooching around my apartment is no longer an option!
I was delighted to be able to see my son on his 19th birthday. I was worried that I’d not be able to. I am mindful of the loss of these sorts of things for many people in Auckland/New Zealand. It’s been (and still is) a very challenging time.
So I have started this new work week with a bit more of a spring in my step and a degree of optimism.
2021 has actually been an excellent year for me so far.
My workplace is changed, transformed. A toxicity in the culture has been exorcised and and my colleagues and I are getting on with effecting positive change in the lives of those we work with. It’s been good. Therapeutic.
My home environment has gotten more comfortable, more ‘me’. Where I’d been careful about spending and only acquiring things needed, I’ve been able to start to acquire things that create ‘home’. And plants. I now have six plants! I love them. They love me.
And now we are locked down again. I really don’t do well with isolation, which is a concern.
Shifting from drawing energy from people to a more introverted state takes a toll, one that I know will take months for me to recover from once we are able to be more free in the community. But it is what it is.
Given that it’s now day 11(?) and I haven’t really had anything to express would suggest that I’m in slightly better shape than last time. More resilient perhaps. I’m ever-grateful for all those who check in on me. Colleagues, friends, even managers in my customer organisations. I’m truly blessed that I have people in my world that care. I’m not alone.
My selfcare routines are pretty much bedded in now. I’m averaging 10k steps each day. I cook tasty food and save leftovers for weekdays. I watch all the movies and shows. I sleep well. And repeat.
This time around I spend less time focusing on 1pm briefings. I spend less time letting politicians bleat flaccidly in my awareness. I spend less time focusing on loss and worrying about the future.
I do struggle with making future plans though.
Being broadly generic about ‘things we can do in the future’ is ok, but being specific and watching dates come and go and not being able to enjoy the plans made takes its toll. This is a ‘thing’ I need to guard myself with, much to the annoyance of people around me who enjoy planning.
So, sorry about that, but I know myself well.
For me, following the ‘rules’ of the alert levels we are subject to is important. It means that in a nearer future I’ll be able to have my community freedoms back. If I (and my fellow citizens) don’t do my part, it’ll take longer. It’s the least painful and shortest course.
So, good people, get vaccinated, follow the rules, and wait it out.
Goodness. I’ve just finished my 7th work day back in the office.
It’s been strange. Whilst it has been good reconnecting with my people (note: our work lives are incredibly important for our purpose and mental health), I’ve found myself still needing to create space.
So I go home for lunch. I’m lucky in that I live a 1 minute walk from the office. I’m sure it would be fine eating in the office but I just need the space.
I’ve enjoyed starting to reconnect with customers. Having meetings offsite. Driving around again. The fact is, we are really busy right now and the mental health of our ‘team of five million is frayed’. Supporting my customers to look after their teams amidst making some challenging calls is draining.
I’m very conscious of the need to protect my own health.
How have you all found things? Happy to chat if you need. Be kind to yourself and each other. Be tolerant.
I think this will be my last reckons on isolation. We are now at level 2 so things are a bit more relaxed.
It’s been hard. The last 7 weeks or so.
My day job is in mental health and wellbeing. Every day I have had conversations with managers and business owners. Hearing their stories. Their pain. Their concerns and worries. Talking to people with their voices full of emotion. Full of tears.
My problem has been that I have been giving of me. Pouring out my emotional tank to encourage others. The lockdown has prevented me from actively refilling it and by the time Level 3 ended, I was spent. Drained.
I can honestly say that I have been impacted by my isolation.
Thursday night I made an attempt to go ‘out’. I made it as far as buying food (ya gotta support local) and then dashing home.
Friday night I went to a ‘welcome back’ gathering at a fave place. It was actually really good. Met some people. Got a hug. The first physical contact with a human being since March 23rd. It was sooooo very good.
I only managed 90 minutes.
Reintegration to society and people contact will take time. As strong as I am. As resilient as I am, I’ve been impacted.
And I know that every single person in this country has been impacted.
We need to be aware of each other. And kind. And tolerant. We are not going to be reacting to things normally for quite some time.
When you talk, listen. Hear the underlying story if you can. And just care. And love.
So, here’s to us. We now have a tale to tell our grandkids in a few decades hence. Be strong and be vulnerable. Allow yourself time to heal. You will.
I’m absolutely fine during the week. I have my work routines and tasks. I’m having good energy meetings and phone calls, and feel like I’m helping people.
But then get to the weekend, and I am finding it incredibly difficult to distract myself from focusing on the fact that the last human contact I have had was a month ago. A handshake.
I miss handshakes. And hugs.
On the plus side, I’m better at calling people for a chat. Video-calling people to see faces. I’ve had some fun and interesting conversations.
It’s really hard reprogramming yourself. Reprogramming behaviours, expectations. Switching from drawing energy from connection with people to drawing it from connection with solitude. I’m fortunate in that I seem to be able to move from extroversion to introversion when needed.
But it’s not easy.
It will be interesting to see what the Level announcement will be today. I suspect it will be staying the same until after Anzac Day. Mainly because people are starting to relax their lockdown behaviour in Level 4, and a move to Level 3 will trigger more behaviour that is contrary to the spirit of New Zealand’s response: Stay at home. Stay local. Don’t drive anywhere.
I could be wrong though.
At any rate, Level 4, Level 3 makes no difference to my bubble-of-one. So what will be will be.
For those that aren’t in New Zealand, we shut down from (including) Good Friday through to Easter Monday. It’s traditionally the last significant long holiday weekend and marks the entry in to Autumn and Winter.
Easter is the last opportunity to travel, camp, relax and reflect with friends and family. And this year, that opportunity was lost.
Easter Sunday was the hardest day for me so far, psychologically speaking.
I woke at the usual time. Made my bed. Went for a decent walk around Auckland city. Saw the people out and about, exercising, spending time with loved ones.
And I remembered that I was alone. Doing this lockdown, alone.
I’ve been so good in my isolation up until Sunday. My resilience has been evident and I’m drawing strength from the sources that are available to me. Until Sunday.
None of my usual go-to’s were working. The books I’m reading didn’t interest me. The Netflix documentaries that usually educate and inspire, bored me halfway through. The movies I love made me yawn.
This wasn’t a good sign.
I wasn’t even in the mood to chat, to message, to communicate.
Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough.
And today, Monday, I’m back to normal. Woke up. Made the bed. Cleaned. Did laundry. Played some PlayStation. Watched some Netflix.
It is like yesterday never happened.
On reflection, I have missed connection and intimacy this weekend, but I’ve come through the other side quickly. I have shifted my focus.
There will be an end to this lockdown. Covid-19 will be either contained or will become a part of global life. Things will return to a semblance of normality. There is HOPE.
And hope is what gets me through. Those of you who are close to me know that I’ve had three years of challenges, and that season of challenge ends in May. So my hope-focus is all about what next. Where will I be travelling to (and yes, I will be travelling)? How is my next life stage going to be framed? I’m desperate to explore cultures I’m not familiar with. Desperate to explore their food and learn their histories. (And yes, I’m watching ALL the Netflix food shows).
Where there is hope, there is also anticipation. There are the little things, as well as the big things that I am looking forward to.
I’m looking forward to being able to invest in a Weber kettle BBQ. I want to learn/understand low/slow cooking with charcoal.
I am looking forward to being comfortable having guests over for a meal. Well, I just need to buy three more dining chairs, but I have a plan in place for that.
Actually I have a plan in place for many and most things. Which is why I’m just waiting.
I have learned over the last three years to utterly let go of the things that I can’t control and pour focus and planning in to the things I can control. To line things up so when the time is right, I can press go.
Sunday? It’s in the past.
Sunday was a gentle reminder that I need to ensure I pay enough attention to my own care and well-being.