Pandemic Blues

The title is a bit misleading because the sun is currently shining and I'm feeling good :) It is, however, a fairly accurate synopsis of the last year for me. Hard to believe I'm even talking in terms of a year that we have been living in this strange covid netherworld. I'm very thankful that my family is safe and well and I have a job, which is not a position that everyone is in.
Peacock Butterfly Kilcullen
Butterfly from within my 5Km

However, like most people, I have found the changes and worry an unsettling and jarring experience. I've gone through a panoply of emotions and have felt restricted and claustrophobic. It's not that I would be out doing super social things all the time and I have no real interest in jetting off to the sun, so that part was easy for me. However, it was more a psychological sense of being trapped, getting used to new routines and being in a house with people around me all the time. As a self-confessed introvert, I have always relied on my few quiet hours on my own, when everyone is out of the house, to refresh and revive me. I think without those, my energy has dwindled and dwindled until I felt utterly drained and lethargic all through the Christmas period and beyond. In addition, dealing with the erratic ups and downs of menopausal hormone fluctuations has created bouts of anxiety that I was totally unprepared for.

I have, over the course of the year, settled into a kind of acceptance. It's not ideal and I'm always waiting for the 'when this is over' moment. It has been helped, I suppose, by brief releases of lockdown and the ability to see my daughter and granddaughter, whom I have missed so terribly. But I feel changed - is that common to everyone I wonder? I think having had a life-threatening health event in 2015 both helped me navigate the covid emotional waters but also stirred up those old fears and panic. It's strange, when it began, I could see the fear in people's faces, the knowledge of death around the corner, and I knew, that for some anyway, the trauma would live with them for a long time and would become enmeshed in their very existence. 

In the wider world, I think we saw both the most wonderful, and then the most ugly side of human nature. 

I know that I'm not alone in being utterly shocked at the uncaring of those who chose to ignore advice around masks and who continued to socialise. Also, the worrying rise of conspiracy theory 'fake news' and misinformation around covid. It has made me so much more wary and it's not something that sits well with me. But then I also saw how communities rallied and cared for each other and how people tried to stay connected - learning new technological skills and a new covid language around zoom and being online.

One of the good things for me has been doing my Master's in Climate, it is so interesting and has given me a focus that my hyperactive brain needs at all times! Weirdly enough though, writing academic essays has kind of stultified my more creative side over the past while. I didn't feel able to write a blog post for ages because I felt that everything had to be thoroughly researched and fully referenced :) Of course this is true for academic essays but I have just realised that I can write and be my own emotional self in tandem with being in that academic headspace and that I don't have to be one or the other.

I guess maybe now I feel a tentative hope that with the vaccine, we may be slowly emerging back to some kind of 'normality'. It would be wonderful if we could hang on to some of the good things about our enforced isolation, like slowing down a little bit and appreciating our surroundings a bit more. The carbon emissions reductions during full lockdown were also a benefit, but sadly they just creep back to normal when everyone is out and about again. For me, building on local connection and systems is the way of the future and I guess that covid solidified that idea in my head and has given me a long term purpose to build on this and talk about it as much as possible.

And just for the visuals, I'm sharing some pics from my 5km walks! Being able to go out with my camera the odd time was a balm to my soul and I always came back feeling cheered and a bit more energised.
Liffey Kilcullen

Curragh Military Graveyard Entrance

Lamb on the Curragh

Swan in flight

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