The stop start nature of the last 15 months has left many of us in a sort of stasis. Unable to carry on with life exactly as it used to be because, well, nothing is exactly as it used to be. But uncertain how to move forward or plan for the future because there are still so many unknowns. When will certain restrictions be lifted? What if my child’s bubble pops and I am back on a ten day stint of home-learning duty with no warning? Will there be a third wave, and if so how big will it be? How effective will vaccines be against new variants?
Day by day things seem a lot more normal. We have seen my parents, and even hugged them. The children are back in school. We have had friends round for drinks or brunches in the garden. We have even been on holiday – to the Isles of Scilly, so firmly UK based, but nonetheless involving TEN different forms of transport to get there and back!
What ifs are still circling in my head on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, but I am trying to do what my therapist referred to as ‘sitting with my feelings’ and ‘tolerating discomfort’. This is hard for me because I am a planner and a problem solver. The last year or so has proved conclusively that there are no plans which cannot be spectacularly disrupted by circumstances utterly outside my control, and that problem solving sometimes needs to be on a bigger scale than I can influence – the incredible achievement of scientists in developing effective vaccines with unprecedented speed and of the NHS in administering them in unprecedented quantities.
So I am trying to put the what ifs to one side and concentrate on making my own plans anyway. If circumstances force me to change them, well then I will change them.
My first new beginning is that I have very recently qualified as a birth and post-natal doula. All my training was on Zoom with the amazing BirthBliss Academy, and I have now learnt enough to be able to give non-medical support to people giving birth and practical and emotional support to new families post-natally. After my own experiences of traumatic birth and post-natal mental illness this is an area I could not feel more passionately about, and I am so incredibly excited to have the chance to help make this wonderful but challenging life stage better for other parents and families.
After months home-schooling my children I loved the chance to go back to school myself and to have a reading list to go through and some essays to write, not to mention meeting a ‘class’ of amazing women who were fellow trainee doulas. Next step is creating my website and publicising my services prior to launching in September.
The other exciting development is that after a really great meeting with my literary agent on Friday (in Central London! For lunch! Not on Zoom!) I have a way forward for my third novel. I completed it during lockdown last year, but it has taken a while to progress for all sorts of reasons. However, now things are happening, and I can reveal that it will be called A Thoroughly Modern Marriage and more details will be coming very soon, so watch out on this blog and on my social media.
I’m suddenly very busy with these new projects alongside family commitments and volunteering as a school governor, but it feels good to be engaging with the outside world again.