It has been a very strange few weeks. March has seemed like a month of two halves in a way, starting off brilliantly with my trip to Atlanta in the US for ClickAway conference and then arriving home to complete and utter chaos. The global coronavirus pandemic had already begun to dominate the headlines plus my husband needed an urgent tooth extraction and a friend was admitted to hospital needing an emergency appendectomy – it felt like I’d returned to a parallel universe!
Covid-19 is an unavoidable topic of conversation at the moment and it’s affecting us quite significantly as a family, as I’m sure it is everyone else too. There have been a lot of changes in our household and we’ve had to make many adaptations after finding ourselves in lockdown: being thrust without warning into full-time homeschooling; making adjustments regarding our work and trying to figure out the financial implications of that; doing our best to stay positive; trying to make sure family members have the support they need; plus sourcing essential supplies from empty supermarkets.
However, I am a firm believer that there is opportunity in every challenge and I honestly think that something wonderful is going to come out of this current difficult situation. I’m loving having my girls home with me, loving having my husband home with me, loving slowing down, loving us all connecting more and loving the chance to do all the things that I never ordinarily manage to create time to do. Plus for every negative story of selfish supermarket panic-buying splashed across the media I’m also seeing multiple messages of community and kindness and generosity. I hope that this will ultimately encourage us all to re-set ourselves to a better way of being, to re-connect with each other and to remember what’s really, truly important.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout March…
My bi-monthly delivery of Click Magazine is always something to feel happy about and this edition was no exception. I loved the articles on using different types of light and the importance of personal projects. Plus of course it’s full to the brim with gorgeous images that I alternate between swooning over and wanting to use as inspiration to re-create myself with my own twist.
The Girl Of Ink And Stars: I’ve been wanting to read ‘The Girl Of Ink And Stars’, a young adult fantasy book by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, for a long time now. I borrowed it from my eldest daughter to read whilst I was at the airport and on the plane on the way to and from Atlanta and am currently about three quarters of the way through it. It’s not quite what I expected but I am enjoying it. I have no idea how it’s going to end and I like that it’s keeping me guessing.
Sex Education: We finished watching the second series of ‘Sex Education’ on Netflix and I genuinely think it’s the best thing on TV at the moment. Hilarious? Yes. It’s also heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure and every single character is so expertly portrayed. I can’t wait for the next season to be released.
Disney Plus: We had plans to go and see a few family films at the cinema this month – Mulan, Peter Rabbit 2 and Trolls World Tour were all due to be released. The enforced closure of cinemas across the country has meant that these plans obviously didn’t happen though and so we decided to have some movie afternoons at home instead and make use of the free 7 day Disney+ trial whilst it was available.
The news: I deliberately don’t watch the news. However, with the coronavirus updates across the globe changing so rapidly on a daily basis, I’ve been making a point of tuning into the daily evening news conference from the Prime Minister so that I can stay informed as to what’s going on and what the new ‘rules’ are. I’ve made sure to limit it to that – having a constant stream of negative information in the background to get sucked into isn’t good for anyone’s mental health and I want to make sure the girls get a balanced rather than one-sided view.
Teacher comments: Way back at the start of the month (which feels like a whole lifetime ago), I went to Ella’s parents evening at school and I honestly couldn’t be more proud of her. Her teachers only had positive things to say about her and my most favourite comment from them to her was “Just keep being you”. My heart nearly burst.
Baby news: My best friend’s baby girl arrived safely a couple of days ago! She was five days late – presumably deciding it would be safer to stay where she was for a little longer rather than make her appearance into this world of uncertainty. They’ve chosen a gorgeous name for her. I feel so sad that we won’t get to cuddle her in person for quite a while, but equally I’m thrilled that she’s here and that everything is ok. I had a WhatsApp video call with them once they were home from hospital so I could ‘meet’ her virtually and she is, of course, absolutely beautiful.
Inspiring speakers: The highlight of the month has absolutely been attending ClickAway conference in Atlanta in the USA. Hearing all of the incredible teachers who’s classes I attended share their knowledge and skills, plus listening to the inspiring keynote speaker Ami Vitale and the closing panel of Meg Loeks, Ben Hartley and fantastic moderator Sarah Krieg was an experience I will never forget. I’m still mentally processing everything that I learnt and in the coming weeks I will be writing a blog post all about it as well as sharing the images I captured whilst I was there.
Cancellations: With everything that’s going on in the world right now it was inevitable that things were going to get cancelled. Two days before Lola was due to have her operation to remove the tumour on her arm, her plastic surgeon called me personally late in the evening to let me know that it had been postponed – he had more urgent cases to operate on and that Lola wasn’t a priority any more. I completely understand of course, but inwardly I was devastated. I’d been mentally preparing myself (and Lola) for weeks to be ready for the surgery to take place. I imagine now that it won’t be rescheduled until after the coronavirus situation is over.
As well as Lola’s operation, we also heard that all of our planned trips for this year have also been cancelled: Phlock Live photography conference in Manchester; the competition I won for a long weekend at a villa in Spain; our annual and much-loved holiday in Bude in Cornwall; and a work trip to Scotland. I’m very much hoping that all of them will be able to be rearranged and that we’ll still be able to go, it’s just a case of being patient. And whilst there’s not much to love about cancelled plans I’m choosing to see the positives – we should be able to get full refund from everything which will provide a financial buffer for us whilst work is so uncertain, plus we get to enjoy the time at home with each other instead. It’s all about perspective.
The long journey to Atlanta: As previously mentioned, I made the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to attend ClickAway conference in Atlanta, Georgia at the start of the month. I love travelling with my family but this was a solo trip just for me. I love travelling alone just as much and even though the journey itself was a long one involving many modes of transport, it was totally worth it.
Thankfully I made it home again just in time before all the travel restrictions and lockdowns were put in place to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It took me a full 24 hours door to door and it felt very strange to be travelling on a plane full of people wearing face masks, but I’m immensely grateful to have got home to be with my husband and girls rather than being stranded.
A ‘Lockdown List’: With the girls’ schools closed indefinitely and the husband home from work because all pubs are closed for the foreseeable future, I knew we’d need to think of some things to keep us occupied and connected beyond home-schooling work set by the girls teachers. So I created a ‘lockdown list’ of fun stuff for us to do together as well as a list of projects to get on with around the house. It’s stuck on our fridge and we’ll tick things off and add ideas to it as the days and weeks (maybe even months?) go by.
Summer clothes: We’re lucky that the first week of lockdown has been absolutely glorious weather-wise for us and the girls have been playing in the garden in the sunshine every single day without fail in shorts, TShirts and dresses. The husband is also back in shorts and will likely remain in them until November now. Me? I’m still in jeans and jumpers as it’s not quite warm enough yet for me to to lose the layers but the feeling of the sun on my face has lifted my spirits enormously. It was beautiful weather whilst I was in Atlanta too and it really does make such a difference.
I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that it just continues to stay warm and sunny right the way through the summer and beyond, but wouldn’t that just be lovely?
ClickAway Photography Conference: ClickAway conference was a wonderful experience and I am so glad I was brave and went. I got to meet some of my photography idols, I spent time with dear friends that I originally made at Leap Retreat in Colorado three years ago, I learned heaps from the classes I took and I came away inspired. I’d definitely like to go again I think, though perhaps in a couple of years when I’m more established and can take different classes to help me grow in different ways.
Exploring Atlanta: I LOVED exploring Atlanta. It’s such an interesting, artistic and diverse city. The conference was based in Midtown but I managed to wander around many of the different districts in between classes. There were tons of incredible street art installations and murals to discover and the Botanical Gardens were lovely. Ponce City Market and the Atlanta Beltline are places that I definitely wanted to spend more time too. I was under strict instructions from the husband to find the iconic view from the opening sequence of The Walking Dead (his favourite show in TV) so I headed to Jackson Street Bridge as well. There was loads more that I wanted to see and do… I guess we’ll just have to go back as a family one day when the world feels a little more ‘normal’ and we’re allowed to travel again.
Mother’s Day: Mother’s Day looked a little different from what we’d planned, as I’m sure they did for most people. We ended up going for a long walk in the sunshine together (and yes, despite the trail being far busier than I’d thought it would be, we managed to stay well away from other people). I did feel really sad that I couldn’t see my Mum (she was supposed to be coming up to visit for the day but decided against it in the end) and that Neil couldn’t see his Mum either, but that’s just how things are right now. We’ll make up for it once all of this is over.
I was given some lovely, thoughtful cards from my girls and when I popped into the supermarket briefly towards the end of the day they were giving out free bunches of Mother’s Day flowers that hadn’t been sold, so that was a really lovely little moment of joy too.
Riding Lesson #3: We managed to squeeze in Lola’s third riding lesson in between me getting back from Atlanta and the country going into lockdown. She was back on her favourite pony, Rio, and her instructor took her out on a little hack away from the riding school arena, which Lola loved. Her lessons will have to be put on hold for a while now but I know she’s keen to get back in the saddle as soon as she’s allowed to.
Despite the tricky month that it’s been and the difficult circumstances we’re all currently living in I think it’s more important than ever to keep looking for the little things to love. I’m grateful for the recent sunshine and that we’re still being allowed to go out once a day. I’m grateful to all of my clients for continuing to work with me. I’m grateful for the extra time I’m getting to spend with Neil and the girls. I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends. I’m grateful to all of the keyworkers who are working so hard to look after everyone and keep society going.
Life is certainly going to look a little different for the next few months at least but we’ll make the best of it wherever we can. I hope that April brings you all more stability, less uncertainty and a new normal that is sustainable for looking after yourselves and your loved ones until all of this is over.
Stay well x