Posted in Life

Diary of a distancer: Week 3

‘Distancer’ doesn’t appear to be a real word, but I’m using it anyway. If now, in these times of turmoil and disruption, isn’t the time to come up with new words I don’t know when is.

Are you staying in? How are you coping with it? I’m reading tweets and blogs and Facebook posts and am impressed by some people’s creativity and good humour. Of course, there’s lots of the opposite but I think it’s extra important to seek out the light in what could otherwise be considered dark times.

I laughed out loud when I saw this photo in response to the Australian government’s decision to limit haircuts to 30 minutes.

F30E38CA-C546-42E9-B47D-AD64889ECFB0_1_201_a
Not sure of the source. I saw this on Facebook.

Thankfully, the government quickly rescinded the decision!

I’m impressed by people like Dana Jay Bein, who can adapt song lyrics to fit a particular situation, like his adaptation of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (sung by Adrian Grimes)

Or like Chris Mann, who’s done a number of adaptations, including My Corona

I was even more impressed to come across a Facebook group called The Kindness Pandemic (if you’re on Facebook, check it out. It has loads of stories of people being kind to each other).

I’ve spoken with my work colleagues much more in the last week than in the previous few months, even though their office is (usually) just down the corridor from mine; it seems extra important to stay connected. I have a daily check-in with my team every morning and on Thursday mornings the wider team have a virtual morning tea.

One of the highlights of my day, though, comes at 6pm, when I’ve ‘arrived home from work’. I hook up with my sister and my mother and we exercise together. We exercise along to the Healthy Tasmania’s Kitchen Sessions (they’re on Facebook). Each session is just ten minutes and the kinds of exercises they do are suitable for everyone. We then spend some time chatting about our day before heading off to have our respective dinners.

I’m enjoying working from home and I’m not sure I’ll want to go back into ‘work’ when this is over. We have our routine set pretty well now: we exercise each morning, we eat lunch together most days (something we haven’t done since we moved to Melbourne over six years ago), we’ve stopped watching the news, and we sit at the table to eat dinner (now that my computer is off it) and chat about the day we’ve had.

We might bump into each other through the day, but generally we’re so busy we only come out of our respective spaces for food and toilet breaks. The tenor of our days is quietly industrious and we’re both tapping into a range of skills so one day doesn’t feel like the next.

I know we’re amazingly fortunate. We both have secure jobs, no little kids at home to make working from home difficult as it is for some, and we each have a space at home in which to work. Our life is, in some ways, not much changed from before we started isolating ourselves physically from the world. We both exercise more now than we did before, we eat better and the house is much more organised than before. It feels like we’ve created a little oasis for ourselves. It’s calm and quiet and so far, that’s keeping the anxiety and stress at bay.

We’re reminded of the outside world through social media of course, there’s no getting away from it. And we continue to be horrified by some of the stories we hear … but we’re choosing to focus on the good and the kind. We know we’re blessed to be in a position to do so.

One of the stories that warmed my heart this week was of some children in the UK writing emails to residents in a local care home to let them know the kids were thinking about them. That’s sweet!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m impressed by people’s creativity. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra obviously can’t get together to play, so they used technology to enable them to create music together. Enjoy!

How are you coping?

Posted in Family, Life

Blessed

We’re home now from two weeks of family, warmth, generosity, laughs, fun, connections, looking out for, talking, playing, keeping calm, being distracted, trying not to worry.

I feel blessed that we could spend a week in Tasmania and then a week in NSW/Queensland, popping home to Melbourne for a few hours in between to repack our bags, process some photos, and orient ourselves to the next phase of our adventure.

Our week in Tasmania was a week of blue sky, clean air, far horizons, wide open spaces and golden light at the end of each day.

Gold at the end of the day

It was Christmas Day on Boxing Day, giving and receiving, unwrapping and gratitude, watching out for leeches in the lawn, totem tennis and bocce with the littlies, small motorbikes for the bigger kids, and bigger bikes for the biggest ones. It was going to bed early, sleeping late, following the sun around Ben’s kitchen table in the mornings, and eating endless Christmas leftovers. 

It was babysitting so my eldest daughter and her husband could celebrate their wedding anniversary without children, babysitting so my eldest son and his partner had a chance to spend some time together cheering on the Perth Scorchers, taking two of my grandsons to visit my youngest daughter and her husband and seeing the various cousins playing happily together, spending time with my second son and his wife who are preparing to welcome my youngest grandson (their first child) into the world, and celebrating another grandson’s fifth birthday.

Playing happily

It was photos, candid and not so, silly and even more so, fingers behind heads, other fingers being held under control, waving and not waving, looking and not looking, jumping and running and in the frame and not in the frame. It was chaos and patience. It was herding cats. 

Me and eight of my grandchildren!

It was a trip from Melbourne to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania on Christmas Eve and an even calmer return trip on New Year’s Eve with Sakye, our eight year old granddaughter in tow.

We were blessed to take Sakye to Murwillumbah to spend some time with other family. This second week was staying a few days with my mother, and Sakye seeing photos of her great-great-great grandparents, and much younger versions of many of the now older generations. It was hot, sticky days and taking Sakye to the pool I’d swum in when I’d spent summer holidays in Murwillumbah. It was gliding and duck diving and trying our hardest to sit on the bottom and breathing out through our noses when we were under water and when we did handstands. It was lame attempts at diving and then better attempts. It was watching other kids and trying out what they did. It was being convinced by the idea of a milkshake that it was time to go to the Austral cafe where her great-grandfather used to head as a 13 year old when he’d been paid for his paper round and could finally afford a milkshake and thinking it weird that Granny (great-grandmother) was drinking a lime spider. 

It was walking past the house her great-great grandparents had lived in and me telling her stories of the holidays I’d spent there as a child and of Nan and Pop who were kind and gentle and good. It was going to Wet n Wild with her cousins Hunter and Lily, and learning that Sakye and Lily have similar spirits: they’re feisty and sassy and strong.

It was heading to Redcliffe to spend a few days in the house next to my brother’s and Sakye spending time with his grandchildren – eight year old Chaylarna and six year old Johnny, cousins once removed – swimming and scooting and playing at the park, lazing about in the hammock, playing endless games of ‘what am I?’ and Mario Kart. It was being reminded of summers 20 years ago when, for a number of years, my brother and I spent time at our parents’ place with my daughter/s and his children and how they’d clicked and now our grandchildren are doing the same and it’s fabulous. I call the new crop of eight year olds their mothers’ names and they give me a look and I am reminded that they’re not children but grandchildren.

It was spending another day with grandchildren Hunter and Lily and their parents, my youngest son and his wife, playing UNO and Sequence and Quarto and What am I? and Mario Kart and watching videos on YouTube while adults talked in quiet voices and serious faces and then playing at the park and telling lame jokes and laughing and not fighting, not even once, and being called your mother’s name and thinking your grandmother is losing her marbles and eating fish and chips and there being cousins and cousins-once-removed and it was like being surrounded by friends but them all being related.

It was all new and all interesting and connections to Sakye’s own environment had to be made: do they have chickens in Queensland Grandma? Do they have horses in Queensland? Why do you have to work out ‘our’ time and ‘their’ time? Why do I have to go back to bed when it’s light outside? (Because it’s 4:40 in the morning and that’s way too early to be getting up!)

And then with more days in the heat it was sleeping in and sweating and not complaining and swimming at the beach and scooting and the skate park and more lazing in the hammock.

And then it was a day at Australia Zoo where we saw and patted all kinds of animals: kangaroos and koalas and a snake we patted and others we saw: rhinoceros which isn’t a unicorn Grandma even though there’s a horn on its head, and giraffes, and lemurs and alligators and crocodiles and a jabiru and a stork called Strike that wouldn’t get out of the way when Murray the crocodile was on the prowl. And there was Bindi and Robert Irwin and a man in the screen in the Crocoseum called Steve and there was Crikey! and enthusiasm and energy and leaping out of boats and out of cars and excitement and passion. And we stayed till the zoo closed because there was so much to see and we didn’t sleep in the car on the way back because there was a lot to talk about and digest.

At the zoo

Over the two weeks it was all five of my children, most of my (many) grandchildren, and my mother, brother, niece, great-niece, great-nephew, an uncle and aunt, and a cousin, her husband and their two children. It was a lot of people – all of them related to me in some way or other.

And now we’re home and there are no children and no grandchildren and no mother and no brother. It’s quiet and in the quiet I feel how blessed I am to have had these two weeks of family and of not quiet.

And now we’re home it’s keeping busy and being scared and trying for distraction and not to think about it and not to worry. It’s quiet and Enya calming my mind and it’s strength and positivity and knowing it’s going to be okay.

Herding cats