Understanding that this is a marathon not a sprint and giving herself permission to pause has led Claire Heminsley of Incahoots to change her way of life, learning new things and discovering unexpected delights.
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In March I read an article that has really helped me and these specific words of wisdom have kept me going…. ‘Understand that this is a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, you will vomit on your shoes by the end of the month.’ Aisha S. Ahmad
I took this advice and gave myself permission to ‘pause’. All of my plans for this year have been cancelled and at first I was flailing around trying to find a new structure for each day. Gradually I have readjusted and now have settled into a new pace.
At the end of Aisha’s article she said ‘Because calamity is a great teacher’
At the beginning of the year I was on a bit of a creative roll and was excited with the direction the work was going. When the lockdown started that came to an abrupt end, however this calamity has indeed been a great teacher and I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and what is important in life.
Here are some of the things that have changed, things I have learned and the unexpected delights!
Things that have changed?
• The way I shop for food (and will continue to do so)…. We buy all our fruit and veg from our local greengrocers, who deliver to the door and all produce comes in brown paper bags tastes better and lasts much longer. Our plastic recycling bins fill up far slower. Our fish now comes from from ‘Eddies’ fish van on a Tuesday….fish has never tasted so good. Our local wine shop Luvians in Cupar has an amazing selection of delicious wine.
• I can do Pilates by Zoom. I do prefer a live class but I can now do a class 3 times a week at home without travelling, which has helped to keep me fit.
• Helping to run Off the Rails Arthouse is a labour of love and normally we would be at the beginning of the Summer school season. Everything has been put on hold apart from our Sketchbook project. Loads of people chose a theme from a long list and have been working on them during the lockdown. I suspect that some people approached it as a ‘Sprint’ and possibly stopped half way through and many are in the ‘Marathon’ camp (like me) who still haven’t started. Luckily we have no deadline and enjoying the process is the most important thing!
• It is OK to have mood swings, sleepless nights and feel unsettled; it is a natural response to a global shift and crisis. I have had to learn coping mechanisms and this has been challenging but has made me stronger. The process is still evolving, I am still learning.
Things I have learned?
• I do not need to fill everyday with work to be productive. Taking time to sit and do nothing… to ‘pause’ look and listen to where I am is necessary for body, mind and spirit.
• I made sets of scrubs, masks and bags for Ninewells NHS (above), which allowed me to feel as though I was helping in some small way. However it really challenged my precision skills. I realised I am quite slap dash and don’t like to follow instructions, I tend to go ‘Off piste’ at the earliest opportunity. I had to make myself sew as instructed and follow the rules….although I can report that my top stitching was a triumph!
• Limiting the amount of exposure to the news is essential to keep anxiety levels at bay. There is a lot of grim stuff going on and I don’t want to bury my head in the sand but there has to be a careful balance for survival.
• I love my friends and family. I have always known this but good grief this has highlighted just how much I love them. My monthly subscription to Zoom has been worth every penny but is no substitute for the face to face and I long for an easy hug.
• I can live without the Archers. I have listened religiously since I was a teenager and have often said that it would be the only topic I could have as my Mastermind ‘Specialist subject’. I loved the archive episodes but I’m afraid the monologues have left me cold and slightly irritated. I am sure I will hook back in when it changes back but after all these years I learn I can live without it!
• Loads of cycling around Fife, finding new routes, watching the changing landscape as the spring moved into summer. The farmers are always working. I feel free and totally happy when I’m on my bike.
• Listening to the podcast ‘Fortunately’ with Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. This kept me going whilst making the scrubs, they are so funny and chat in the same way as I chat to friends…some nonsense and some really important stuff. I think I have listened to over a 100 of the podcasts now!
• Baking for our neighbour and kind friends who have helped with shopping. I love baking but don’t want to eat it all so this is a perfect solution!
• Being grateful for where we live and being able to sit outside. Gratitude is a word that comes up a lot, particularly during the gloomy moody days.
• Time for gardening not just fitting it in when I could….sowing loads of seeds, I now have far too many salad leaves but can give huge bags away.
• I haven’t watched a huge amount of telly but here are two highlights:-
The Great British Sewing Bee – Absolutely love Esme, Patrick and Joe. Having struggled with my own ‘Scrub sewing challenge’ I have so much respect for the extraordinary work that all the participants produced and everyone is so nice to each other. Heart warming.
Staged– Michael Sheen and David Tennant are truly fabulous, if you haven’t seen this I can highly recommend.
As we shift into the next stage of our new world I am sure many more lessons will be learned by me personally and hopefully on a global level…this ain’t going away!
Stay positive and let the teacher in!
Read the experiences of other makers: Voices of Makers #1: Carol Sinclair, Voices of Makers #2: Fiona Thompson, Janet Hughes & Kathryn Williamson, Voices of Makers #3: Jo Garner, Voices of Makers #4 :James Donald, Voices of Makers #5: Clare Waddle of Yellow Broom and Voices of Makers #6: Lorna Brown.
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Top image: Lockdown work, Claire Heminsley