January round-up

I’ve not done very well In January doing a weekly round-up. And I was going to back track then I just thought I would do all of January in one go! To be honest, this month has felt hard. I’m not a great fan of January anyway under normal circumstances and this month has been even tougher with the arrival of lockdown 3. We also had a family bereavement (not Covid) and the absence or lack of being able to grieve and celebrate someone’s life in the “usual” way has been very hard. In addition, the move to remote schooling and the return to tag team working has been tedious at best and very stressful. I felt really resentful about it at the beginning of the month and a visceral reaction that I just did not want to do this! Its much harder than in lockdown 1 too where the kids just basically free ranged and did a little bit of school occasionally. This time, though, they all have online lessons for the majority of the day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realise that we are extremely fortunate in this provision. The children get a full curriculum delivered online, live, at all levels, which is what I can gather from brief forays into social media is not necessarily usual. However, it does reduce a lot of interactions with the children to mundane nagging about being respectful to the teacher, stop messing around, asking questions as to why they are up and around requesting food/toilet breaks when I hear their teacher talking etc etc. And the strain on the broadband/number of devices. But, now four weeks in I think I have just about found a rhythm and acceptance of this (ok I might have found it a bit earlier) and fortunately I had not thought they would go back after half term, which, as was announced recently has proved to be the case. I suspect it won’t be to after Easter but a lot of people are still hoping its 8th March. We’ll see, there is nothing I can do about it so…..

January was a month that I had planned to move forward on some projects workwise and had a full calendar what with commitments and starting teaching. I have found the seemingly endless moving meetings around somewhat soul destroying although again found peace with this and stopped apologising. And just done what I can. I have run my second online LSP session with my senior team which was great. There have been some breakthroughs on the strategy front and planning for September which are positive. Although a lot of my projects have gone on hold, I did decide to prioritise a mindfulness in HE course, which has felt in some ways like a luxury (2 hours a week! plus practice) but in hindsight has probably been a necessity. It has helped me keep my focus and self compassion during a very hard month. I have really enjoyed the daily practices such as body scans and breathing practices, it has made me want to start a daily meditation again which I had wanted to do for a while. Otherwise, I have been thankful for supportive colleagues and flexible working. We have been talking a lot about wellbeing as everyone, whatever their circumstances has been struggling with lockdown 3.

As well as the bad, there is good. I’ve been making a note of positive and intentional connections with the children as I was feeling that all my interactions were mechanistic, and that proves not to be true. Reading to them on a lazy, cozy Sunday or Wednesday afternoon, doing various school-related projects, building wolf houses, going for night time walks and listening to foxes and owls, doing our “pe” by wrestling or racing around the house, going on family adventures in the very muddy forest, have all been unexpectedly lovely moments which would not have happened. So I can be thankful for that.

I’ve also started blogging my weekly poem which has been fun and keeping up with my intention to read more poetry. I should do a blog post on other intentions too. I think I might just decide February is the start of the year! I have not had the appetite to do much about a family winter fun list or intentions in January, but now February is here I feel more motivated. Celebrate new year with Chinese new year 😀

Going back through photos for this month made me realise how much we have done. I even managed a trip into town when Mum went back on New Year’s Day although it was super quiet! I also celebrated 21 years since my PhD viva, commemorated by my Mum sending me a plant. I followed the 64 Million Artists January Challenge, I probably did less than half, its weird that being around more made me do less, I think it is the ennui of lockdown but I did enjoy the challenges when I did them. I also set my word for the year “pause”, which resonated nicely with reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart and following Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day breath programme. In fact many things clicked into place this month and on those dark cold January mornings, I did feel thankful not to have to leave the house – I must remember this next year! In a spirit of optimism for 2021 I bought a January planner and diary. Hurrah. And even made progress on the Chair. It may be finished later than my target, but hey, I am cutting myself some slack! We’ve had family walks, watched beautiful sunsets, played in the snow, welcomed new neighours, made marmalade, learnt Chess, instigated Friday treats, had “fun” with various school or non school related creative activities and generally just hunkered down and got on with it. February is now here and with it the roll of the seasons as we’ve noticed small changes; snowdrops in the churchyard, catkins on the trees, slightly longer evenings and lighter mornings.

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