Isolation: Day 6

The sun is setting on another beautiful day here in the UK. Ever since Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown there has been nothing but clear blue skies and endless sunshine. Is nature trying to tempt us?

So I have spent the past 48 hours inside, the longest consecutive time that I have spent inside for a very long time. Even at University, I always made time to be outside, whether that was walking to the library or taking time outside for lunch.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the virus. It’s strange that something utterly invisible is the biggest threat to the world right now. It’s strange how it is impacting every part of our lives, even if we personally aren’t affected by it. It’s there but it isn’t. It’s in the air that we could possibly breathe and on the surfaces we touch unconsciously.

I’m not finding the isolation too tough but it is only the sixth day. Luckily I am not alone and live with my partner, although we have our tiffs through being together 24/7, if I was on my own I think I would find this a lot harder. I would be completely trapped with my own thoughts, with little in the way of distraction.

I think a lot about the people who are on their own and who don’t have people to talk to. I hope they are okay and not suffering. When this is all over, I think we will have other epidemics to deal with, not a disease, but loneliness, anxiety, depression, OCD and the rest. I worry that this virus will shatter our NHS even more, so that when the time comes when it is all over, we won’t have anything left to treat other problems.

On the other hand – I think this experience will give room to fixing a lot of pre existing failures in our social and welfare system here in the UK. Those in higher powers will hopefully realise that sick pay should be on the agenda for everyone regardless of employment type, that our health service is not fit for purpose and needs massive reinvestment, but that access to healthcare is a universal right that should not be disputed. We should not have to pay for our own suffering.

As we spend more time inside, the environment is exposed to less pollutants. There have been many reports across the UK of clearer skies at night, due to less noise pollution. Nature is having a break from being constantly suffocated. In the coming weeks I think we’ll see even more results. This is something that needs to be taken seriously once this is all over. Do we really need to use our cars for journeys which are perfectly walk-able?

So what have I been doing for the past six days?

Not a lot actually. I have found it hard to get myself to do things due to lack of routine. I am enjoying the lazy mornings and slow starts but have found these are inhibiting my productivity. I don’t often get round to doing anything until after lunch and then I have little motivation. But, I have been reading a lot and writing in my journal. If there is ever a time to keep a diary, surely it’s now? I have been out for a few walks in the sun (my daily exercise allowance) and me and my partner have even managed to do a few home workouts together – my legs are still recovering! Next week I hope to kick myself into gear a bit more and make the most of the free time.

Hoping that everyone around the world is okay and those who have taken the time to read this post are well. Look after yourselves. 🙂

Violet.

Self Isolation: Day 1

It’s a beautiful March day, the sun is shining and I have spent most of the time indoors wishing I could go outside and enjoy the sunshine. However, the nature of our current reality prevents me from otherwise. So says the traditional Chinese verse, “May you live in interesting times…” We certainly do.

It was an interesting week at work, in some ways busier than ever before, but in others, such as my commute into work, quieter than I have ever experienced. I sat on the train yesterday and did not encounter a single person all the way to work, only noticing three people get off when I did. The station was empty as well as the platform. One day last week, the center of town was absolutely thriving with people – it almost felt like a pandemic wasn’t on the cards. People were buying everything they could, and fast.

I am now facing my first official day at home which feels very strange. I live next to a school, which has obviously closed its gates. On a normal weekday you can hear children playing in the school grounds and the school bell sound when lessons are due to start. There’s none of that now. The sounds of cars and buses have been muted into the distance and it’s strange to think we do not know when normality will return. Or when it returns, what it will be like.

Like many, I await 5pm when Boris Johnson is due to deliver his daily update. Will it contain useful information this time? Or more of a reiteration of what has been said before? Will it give us more answers or questions?

I believe a full lock-down should be enforced as the measures at the moment are not enough and they are not being followed. People are still travelling for leisure, shopping for non-essentials and loitering in mass groups. Until isolation becomes mandatory, the virus will continue to spread. It is a sacrifice we should all be willing to make to protect as many lives as we can. The virus is still not being taken seriously enough and that worries me.

Although isolation poses its many challenges for me – no real time outdoors (living in a flat with no access to a garden), no going to the gym or to work, it also renders itself to opportunities. I can use this time to read without guilt and write all that I can, as long as isolation doesn’t take too much of a toll. For now, the possibility of having more time is desirable. However, who knows how I will feel in a few weeks, or even days?

Hoping you all are staying healthy and happy in these difficult times. 🙂

Why I started journaling (consistently)

Image: pixabay

I have kept some form of diary for as long as I can remember. I look back on some of the fluffy pink diaries I kept as a child, and see the familiarity of the entries,

“Today I went to school and we did this… I ate this for dinner…. and then I went to sleep…”

this kind of repetitive entry I kept up for some years. Then I entered my teen years and it became a bit more all over the place. Most of the time I sporadically wrote snippet’s of my life. Some years I managed to keep it up solidly for a few months, and then gave up. At university I tried, but mostly failed. However, this is the first time in my life where I have been finding myself journaling, simply out of necessity.

Why I journal (now)

I decided to turn over a new leaf at the end of last year, to buy a brand new fancy notebook, with the intention that its thick pages and sleek design would motivate me to write in it. I used to be a person terrified over the prospect of ruining a nice new notebook – but now I have gotten rid of that fear I find myself writing with far more creativity than I used to.

There’s roughly four main purposes I use my journal for: organisation, keeping a diary, planning and tracking.

Organisation

I’m the kind of person who needs to write things down on paper to feel more organised in my own head. There’s nothing like the permanence of ink on paper to keep your head tidy. I use a weekly spread to plan my weeks out every month. In this I will have appointments, dates when I am working and also use it to write daily to do lists. I like to see an overview of the week to know what I am doing and to stay on top of things. I used to put this type of thing in my phone calendar, but it doesn’t offer the same satisfying visualization for me.

Train of thought and more ‘typical’ journaling

In between weekly spreads I use my journal for traditional diary writing. I write when I feel stressed, worried, anxious or when I am happy and want to document something. It usually reads like a train of thought and is disordered and chaotic, but it does the trick in clearing my mind. There’s no specific time when I write, but I usually find it’s more towards the end of the day. Most of this is nonsense, but I write with no intention of anyone ever reading it. I find that it gives me so much mental clarity and introspection.

Planning

I also like to use my journal for planning – and just about planning anything and everything. This goes for the books I want to read this year, things I want to do each moth and yearly goals. I also have a section completely dedicated to blog post ideas and what posts I want to write per month. Any time I have an idea about anything, I always make sure to write it down. I find this keeps me on track for achieving the things I want to do.

Tracking

Recently, I have been trying to track what I spend as I am trying to pay off an overdraft. I work out my (very rough) in-goings for the month and track what I am spending per week and divide them into essentials and non essentials. This way, I can really see what I am spending. As I have paperless bank statements I don’t really get physical proof of what I am spending. I also track what I have achieved in the month and sometimes how much water I drink per day – but this is something I usually forget.

What do I use?

For the notebook, I use a blank paged moleskine. I find the paper to be of very high quality (as I often write with a fountain pen this is essential). I used to always write in lined notebooks, but for planning and drawing out weekly spreads this is more appropriate. My favourite pen to write with is my twisbi mini fountain pen or my parker rollerball jotter.

Hope you enjoyed reading about why and how I use my journal and that it might inspire you to start your own!

January Round-up ~ 2020

Image: Violet Daniels

So how was January?

I’m writing this with very mixed feelings. Most of January felt like an endless slog. Everyday I had a new rejection and the weight of not being able to find a job took its toll.

However, today (on the last day of the month) I have found out that I have secured a job, so hooray! I no longer have to feel like a complete mess.

As many people say, January always feels like the worst month of the year. My first experience of 2020 wasn’t great. I sent out nearly 100 job applications and got rejected from most of them, I have had many rejections from national newspapers (again) and have generally felt a bit lost.

I still don’t know what to do about finding this ‘career’ us graduates are expected to get… but I still have time so that’s what matters.

But what I have felt happy about, and inspired by, is this blog. This blog may still be small and insignificant but compared to what it started out as, at the beginning of the month, I feel very proud. I started 2020 with just 19 followers, I now have nearly 30. Over the course of the month, I have achieved 251 new views and 47 likes on posts I have written. The numbers are small in the grand scheme of things, but nonetheless, it is progress.

I have realised that posting regularly and engaging within the WordPress community, really plays a big role in building up a following. My writing on here isn’t solely about gaining some kind of reception. I write above all, for me. I find this little corner of the internet that I have crafted myself, somewhat reassuring in times when I feel lonely and losing hope. I know I will always be able to bash out a blog post and feel a sense of achievement (even if it’s a bad one!)

After struggling over the past three years at university with reading for pleasure, I managed to read five books this month, but yes, I am still persevering with Ducks, Newburyport (will it ever end?).

Above all, this month I obtained my degree – which was quite a special moment, and one which drew a line under my time at university. It was a bittersweet day, but one I shall always remember. Although I feel panicked because I am officially a graduate, I am becoming more okay with the idea that I have no idea what I am doing, sort of.

This month I also finally got back into exercising regularly (cliche I know, as so has everyone else by the state of my gym) and feel far better for it. Lifting weights has always given me a sense of mental clarity.

However, this month, and this day in particular, is tinted with a bit of sadness for me. Today is the final day that Britain will be part of the E.U. I voted to remain and will always hold the view that Britain is better when it is part of a more global and outward looking community. But, I know that I have to put these views aside so that the country can attempt to try and move forward from the political rupture that was created. I just hope that he doesn’t make too much of a mess of it.

I feel at odds with the Labour party and have no idea who to vote for in the coming months. My heart leans towards Rebecca Long Bailey but none of the contenders fill me with the same amount of hope, passion and inspiration as Jeremy Corbyn did when I was 17. Part of me just doesn’t know what to think…

January had its ups and downs, but I am very glad to be ending it on a positive note. by securing a job. Onward and upwards as they say!

Quote of the month

“Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let us not forget this.”

Dave Eggers

Graduation (a reflection)

Over last weekend, I managed to successfully graduate from the University of York and obtain my degree certificate.

It was a successful experience on the whole. I managed to climb the stairs in sync with the processions of the ceremony, had the correct name read out alongside my degree, and didn’t manage to trip on my way down. I was relived when I could sit back in my seat and enjoy the rest of the ceremony without having to worry if I would make it up and down in one piece.

After the ceremony came the onslaught of photographs – both professional and ones taken by my parents. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. It isn’t often that the sun shines so brightly in the North of England – but it did on the 24th.

Sitting in central hall, surrounded by so many others – PhD’s, Masters and Bachelors, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was. Every person in that room had to put up a fight and keep themselves going throughout the pursuit of something they love. Seeing the array of mortar boards worn by people of any age, was incredibly inspiring (and I definitely hadn’t expected it to be.)

This may have been my first graduation – but I don’t expect it to be my last. If I can summon up the resources to finance another stint in education that is…

I feel a sense of sadness when I realise that last Friday were my last moments at the University of York as a student. But I also feel a huge sense of achievement and closure. My graduation was a long time coming, due to the delaying of my final exams. But now I can draw a firm line below my undergraduate life.

I’ll be honest, I don’t currently know what’s around the corner, but who really ever does?