Articles

Seven

As I sit down to write this, it has been seven months to the day since life as we know it changed. Irrevocably. Seven months since I last drove to my office, parked my car, greeted my colleagues and drank crappy canteen coffee. More than 200 days since the world last felt “normal.” Since it felt safe.

For more than half a year, we have waited. Held in suspended animation. Unable both to plan and to be spontaneous. More than half a year has been cruelly taken from us. Pilfered. Erased. And it wasn’t just any year. I, for one, so looked forward to 2020. Eagerly anticipating what seemed destined to be the most momentous of years.

As with most of the pieces I write, I am aware that this too is written from a place of privilege. I am extremely lucky that this pandemic has not impacted my own health or that of the people closest to me. I have been able to stay working, albeit from home, and so has Phil. Financially, at least so far, we have been unscathed. I know that makes me a lot more fortunate than most, and I try to remain grateful.

It’s not easy.

I often want to scream about how unfair it all is. I have spent the time since early Spring bouncing between bouts of uber productivity and complete hibernation. It was easier in the beginning. Baking banana bread and revealing my lack of general knowledge in Zoom quizzes. There was a sense of solidarity in the early days. A sense too of novelty. None of us had ever experienced anything like this, and seeing as it was only going to last for a couple of weeks, why not make the most of it?

Spring became Summer and still we waited. We busied ourselves with DIY and BBQs. We talked to our neighbours across our fences. Enjoying a feeling of vacation time, lulled by the long evenings, and the sound of children playing.

All the while we were bombarded by data. Each of us becoming budding epidemiologists as we practiced our new vocabulary. The R number. The 14 day incidence. The death rate. We absorbed it all in the hope it might provide some clarity. In the hope we might one day learn our wait was over.

It’s not over.

It is the complete opposite of over. Autumn colours have overtaken Summer sun. The seasons have moved on, but we have not. We cannot.

The situation is so abstract that it has taken me seven months to even begin to process it. To try to name it. The feeling in the pit of my stomach that defies any label. It’s not depression, but it gets me down. I miss people, but loneliness doesn’t quite fit either. I try to make sense of being utterly exhausted when I have had less activity and more rest than ever before.

The best way I can think to describe it, is that I want to wake up from this. I want to recover. Like as if from the virus itself. I long for the feeling of knowing I have come out the other side. The feeling of being weakened, but looking forward to getting back to my old self.

You see, I miss my old self. I miss that girl who worked hard and was always busy. So many of the things which defined me are now either altered or gone entirely, that I find it difficult to recognize myself. I am now a woman with a hermit like existence. Working from home, in sweats or pyjamas, talking to people remotely. Trying to fill the hours between clocking out and falling asleep. Thankfully with gyms re-opening I have training as an outlet and some semblance of my previous life to hold on to.

I don’t know where all of this is going to end, and personally that’s the part I struggle with the most. Always a planner, I am used to being ten steps ahead at all times. I have spent my life constantly focusing on the next thing. Be it in my career, or with my fitness goals. There was always something to work towards. The absence of a plan beyond today and maybe tomorrow is unsettling and unmotivating.

I am sure we will look back on this time and be grateful. When it is finally over, we will recognize how much it has taught us. Maybe it has prompted us to rebalance life and work. Perhaps it has helped us to gain some perspective over what it is that really matters. Maybe we have learned how to slow down and be in the moment. I hope so. I sincerely hope this will not have been all for naught.

As I lay in bed last night with the idea for this piece bouncing around in my head, I began to get excited. Throughout this experience, I have not felt inspired to create, and writing had become something else that I “used to do.” A visit from my muse made me feel a tiny glimmer of hope. Perhaps despite what is happening in the world, I might be able to get back to myself.

Trying to coral my thoughts into some sore of order, the words of William Wordsworth kept coming to mind,

“Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters!”

They resonate with me because time has taken on a strange quality. Seven months have both gone by in a blink and have seemed interminable. As we learn to navigate this “new normal,” we can be overcome by a sense of aloneness. It comforts my to know lines written in 1798 still ring true today. As if to prove the singularity of the human existence.

Thank you gentle reader. I will try not to be gone so long again. Wash your hands and be well xxx

Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep.75 – The World is On Fire

This week we talk about what is going on in the world right now. We have advice for staying sane and occupied while stuck at home. We also talk about how to stay calm and not be a d**k during the pandemic

I love Fitty & Fatty | Fitty and Fatty – S3 Ep.75 – The world is on fire, let’s play it! https://www.podbean.com/ea/pb-q6afu-d629da

Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep.63 – The Benefits and Limitations of Mindfulness and Dealing with Bereavement During the Holidays

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-s3-ep63-benefits-and-limitations-of-mindfulness-and-bereavement-over-the-holidays/

This week Fitty talks about the benefits and limitations of mindfulness. Fatty gives us some advice for dealing with bereavement during the holiday period. Thanks for listening xxx

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Articles

Dumb Dog!

I talk a lot about my dog Annie. She’s a seven year old German Shepherd and she is one of the great loves of my life. She is the sweetest creature. Full of fun, boisterous, incredibly loving and unbelievably smart. Too smart at times. I could swear she understand every word we say.  She is also acutely sensitive. In the years she has been in my life, she has taught me so much.

Occasionally though, and usually because of other stuff going on with me, I lose my temper with her. I snap, tell her she’s a bad dog and instruct her to go to bed. What happens next is both hilarious and heart breaking.

She is never quite sure what she has done wrong, but she understands that momma is mad, and she wants to make it better. She instantly starts cycling through her repertoire of tricks. Sitting, giving first one paw and then the other. Bestowing kisses, lying down and then going back to sitting. She will repeat this sequence, hoping to hit on the one that will make everything alright. She will only stop when I tell her she’s a good girl, give her a cuddle and let her know momma’s not mad anymore.

The funniest part of this, is that I have realised lately I do the exact same thing. When I go into a situation where there’s an atmosphere, I am compelled to try to fix it. When I am in contact with someone in a bad mood, I have an unquenchable desire to try to make them feel better.

Most of the time, this has the exact opposite affect. We all know there’s nothing more annoying than someone trying to cheer us up when we just want to work through whatever is going on by ourselves. Preferably in silence.

On a rational level I understand this, but some old instinct kicks in and makes me feel unsafe. The negative energy charges the room with a sense of the unpredictable and I am never quite able to relax. In short, I have the emotional intelligence of my dog!

A lot of us grow up pleasing and perfecting. Collecting gold stars and praise for being a good little girl. For being sweet. We perform to make others happy, finding safety in their smiles. Most of us grow out of this behaviour in adolescence. I seem to have skipped over that step.

I am deep into my third decade on this planet and I still have this innate desire to smooth everything over. As often as I tell myself your mood is nothing to do with me, I will still try to “fix” it. As much as I know your silence and withdrawal could have a million motivations, I will still find a way to take it personally. I will sit, give the paw and roll over until such time as I feel like order has been restored.

The irony is, doing so will most likely alienate you or make you think I am a crazy lady.

There is great power in self awareness. Now that I know I do this, I can try to stop myself from diving head first into every drama I encounter. Other peoples’ moods are none of my business and I am certainly not responsible for altering them. This is going to require a herculean effort on my part, because just sitting in the discomfort, without trying to do something about it is completely alien to me.

Just like Annie, I am too sensitive for my own good. Getting a thicker skin is most likely not going to happen at this stage, but I can stop putting my hand out to be slapped. I can stop taking on the problems of the world as if they were my own.

Let’s hope I can pick up new tricks just as easily as Annie can. Be well xxx

 

Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep.61 -Contagious Negativity and Sleep Deprivation

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-s3-ep61-contagious-negativity-and-sleep-depravity/

This week Fitty talks about Contagious Negativity and how to avoid it. Fatty talks about the sleep deprivation she is suffering as a single mom and how it can affect you. Thanks for listening xxx

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Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep.50 – The Coaching Relationship and PMS

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-s2-ep50-the-importance-of-choosing-the-right-coach-and-pmsfoods-to-help-with-the-symptoms/

This week on the show Fitty talks about the coaching relationship and choosing the right coach for you. Fatty talks about PMS and tells us about some foods which can help with symptoms.

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Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 42

This week Fitty talks about loneliness and social isolation.  While Fatty gives us some tips to tackle food waste.  Thanks for listening

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-s2-ep42-loneliness-and-food-waste/

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Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 41

On this week’s episode Fitty talks about the problem with perfectionism while Fatty has some recipes for DIY beauty products.  Thanks for listening xxx

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-s2-ep41-positivity-and-diy-beauty-products/

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