lockdown 2.0, things you need to hear.

As I sat beside James last night, a glass of red in my hand, to watch Boris relay the news we all knew was coming I expected to be frustrated, angry, upset, worried, anxious. Yet, as I heard him say the words ‘Stay At Home’ honestly…I just felt a bit emotionless. There’s just an overwhelming tide of emotions that comes over you in a circumstance like this that just seems to blanket out your exact feelings. I felt vacant in my reaction. I closed off the news app, popped Insidious on the telly and just thought ‘ey, what can you do’.

I think what’s so unbelievably tricky to navigate yourself through understanding with Covid is that you just have no control. No matter the individual sacrifices you may make, it just comes down to you still being carried along and having to follow the words of people much higher. At this point we’re all ‘used to’, well as ‘used to’ as possible, to the lack of spontaneity within our lives. God how I miss being able to just go or do whatever I wanted with such ease. The darkness blanketing the skies at much earlier hours makes this next lockdown seem rather foreboding. The prospect of being held inside without the relief of stretching out in the garden or evenings spent sat out with a drink like we had in the Summer makes the months ahead of us seem much grimmer. Much harder.

I’m writing this on the first of november, the morning after the news. I do feel anxious. I feel anxious for my family and friends. I know so many people in precarious situations currently. It’s terrifying. My heart aches for those in our country that are in completely devastating circumstances. It’s something my mind flicks to several times a day. I, however, do not feel that this platform is the place to dwell on complete doom and gloom. You are all completely aware of the crap we’re wading through right now, I don’t need to remind you anymore of it.

So, find below, some little messages of motivation and ideas from myself to help you pull through the following month. I am sending you all love and care.

things you need to hear

This way of life is not forever. In the summer we saw some flicker of normality, albeit that may not have placed us into the best situation, that gave us hope. Hope that by the following summer we’ll be able to hold all the ones we call dear close to us. Hope that there will be a time where we can freely eat where we want, travel, see loved ones. This next month is going to be tricky, there is no doubt about that. In times where it feels really dark, repeat to yourself: this is a temporary way of life.

You cannot be against yourself, you need to be an ally to yourself. These are times are crap enough, the last thing you need is to be harsh on yourself. Take time for you. Oh gosh the pressure the first lockdown brought to be productive. To take up a new skill, take on a weight loss plan, become a star baker of banana bread. Do not bow down to those pressures over these next four weeks. Take it easy, do what feels right for you. I, for one, have a lot more work to be doing over the next four weeks. University work will keep me busy during my days but, it seems important to make sure my days fit in a lot of me-time.

I’ll hold my hands up to admit that in the winter months I become a hermit. I take one look at the rain or the frosty air outside the window and retreat back to a cosy corner of my bedroom. I enjoy snuggling up with a book, or having a study session with a candle-lit and a blanket draped over my knee. It’s often the temptation of a Sunday dinner out or a coffee trip with friends that drags me out of the warmth of my home during the winter. However, it seems important that during the next four weeks I make the effort to get a healthy dose of fresh air whenever I can. Whether that’s a walk exploring round where we live or, wrapping up in a bundle of coats and reading in the garden. Equally it seems important to ensure you move your body each day. Whether that’s a dance party in the kitchen or a morning yoga session- stretch your muscles out, don’t let the tempation of laying on the sofa each day win you over.

Keep in touch with your family and friends. Do so more than you did back in March to June. Everyone is facing different extremities of this situation and, so many people are about to feel more alone than ever before. Text, ring, facetime, zoom, send letters or care-packages. Reach out to those you live and ensure they’re okay, equally let them know how you’re feeling. Now more than ever it seems important to not mask how we feel. Own up to if you’re feeling crap, pick others up and let them pick you up in return.

If you need to- delete the news apps. Take your eyes away from social media. At the moment there seems to be an endless tide of posts speculating, debating and circulating covid anxiety. It isn’t healthy to be looking at that constantly, it’s precisely those outlets that will make the next four weeks unbearable. Be kind to yourself, don’t put yourself through it.

Look after yourself and look after those around you.
Al x

life update, october 2020

Hello, hello it’s been a GOOD while since i’ve sat down all cosy with my laptop and let myself write down all my thoughts for you all. Life is busy, life is weird. I thought I would sit down this gloomy halloween and update you all on the ins and outs as well as catching you up with my favourites for this month and, my goals for November! Sound good? Righttt then go grab a cuppa (or a huge glass of red ) and let’s get stuck in.

what’s been going on?

I think we can all agree, life is far from normal right now. What feels so bizarre about the national circumstance we’re in currently with regards to Covid is that this time we have no choice but to carry on. Back in March at least we had a moment to step back, have that time to process and feel all the emotions about what was happening. This time, we’ve just got to power through. I think I must stop at least three times a day to think what the fuck is going on.

Third year has begun and, I am not in Durham. You might have realised this if you follow my Instagram (cheeky plug @navigatingtwenties ). I initially delayed going up to Durham because I knew I had a specific event in Sheffield that I couldn’t miss, re-schedule or, cancel. So, I needed to make sure that I would be able to get to Sheffield easily and safely without breaking restrictions. Each week covid cases began to rise higher and higher and, the very day of the date we were working towards both Sheffield and Greater Manchester (where i currently am) got placed into tier three restrictions. With my course being transitioned to solely online, no face-to-face teaching at all it just seemed like the best decision was for me to not go back to Durham until the new year. It’s crap. Really crap because, I adore Durham. I feel so lucky to have been able to study there, to live in a house where I wake up to the Cathedral bells ringing. It’s a beautiful city and I miss it. However, I think what I’ve learnt this year is to really re-evaluate what’s important in life. Personally, going up to my student city wouldn’t do wonders for my mental health (which is already feeling a little fragile currently). I would be resigning myself to being sat in my room for the majority of every day working, chilling and, would be feeling pretty ripped up over the fact I couldn’t see James or be close to my family. So, the decision was made last week. My books have been posted to me by my beaut housemate and, for the time being I’m staying put.

So, where am I living? Currently I’m crashing at my boyfriends new apartment. If you’re a regular here at Navigating Twenties you’ll know i’ve been in a relationship for the last two and a bit years with James! James graduated from university (well I mean got his degree, the graduation we HOPE will be in Spring 2021) back in June and, now he’s already in a graduate job as a Quantity Surveyor. Very fancy. Well I mean, he spends a lot of time looking at pot-holes currently so it’s not that fancy but, he’s enjoying the perks of having a salary, a car and finally a space of his own (a bachelor pad that i’ve decorated with candles, fluffy blankets and, fairy lights hehe). Up until this year James and I had spent most of our relationship travelling to and fro on trains and, on constant facetime calls. Long distance has been simultaneously really easy for us but also just really bloody draining. From March we’ve both been pretty much inseparable. Not in a ‘oh I can’t be without you’ cheesey pathetic way but in a way, I don’t really want to be away from you anymore. We find life much easier when we’re together. I will say though our current living situation is like some weird social experiment. We have to keep reminding each other that this is NOT what living together in the future will be like. Being under tier 3 restrictions and, living in a city that has none of our family and friends nearby we’re pretty much stuck in on our own. As our friend Dave put it on zoom the other day, if our relationship can stand this we’re set for life haha.

Final year thus far has been actually my favourite term of university yet, work-wise. My modules this year are American Fiction, Literature of the Romantic Period, Constructing Childhood and Youth, Responding to Special Educational Needs and, then my dissertation counts for two modules. It’s all been quite interesting so far but, ooooooft online university involves a lot more hard work (in my opinion). Zoom seminars and tutorials require you to put so much more effort in I think, it can be quite draining. I’ve found i’m doing a heck load of prep work this year butttt, in a way I do kind of like that? It’s a weird love hate relationship. If there was ever going to be an academic year where I needed to be pushed harder and be pushed to be more switched on, it’s final year so in that sense I think online uni is doing me a favour. I’ve taken to working alongside James (as he works from home most days) so i’m structuring my days as literally working 9-5 Monday to Friday. That might seem like a lot to some people but, to me it works really well and means I can have my weekends free (something I’ve never really had in my previous two years at uni). This is not how I ever imagined my final year at Durham but, I’m trying to make the most out of my final year learning under these two amazing departments. I want to soak it all up and, fingers crossed i’ll be able to make the most of Durham the city in the final two terms.

What else to tell you. OH THREE YEARS LATER SHE’S ONLY GONE AND DONE IT…well, half of it. Alice Maher has finally completed her driving theory test. This might not seem that big of an achievement for some of you but, I’ve been putting off driving for ages. I’ve had on and off lessons for the last three years but I’ve just never been that passionate about driving. This year I set it as my goal to pass. Due to the back-log of tests it meant my theory got pushed back to late October so, my goal of having it all done and dusted by the end of the year is unlikely but, the end is a little nearer in sight now. I genuinely wept in the car after i’d passed it so god knows what i’ll be like when i actually pass the full exam!!

Also, those of you who don’t follow me in on Instagram might have missed the update…WE HAVE A NEW PUPPY. Our family dog Monty passed away last year, 2019, and it was just the worst thing ever. Unfortunately (and I foresaw this would happen), Stanley came home just as James and I moved out to the new flat. However, we got a couple of days with the little bundle of fluff and, when I popped home the other week he followed me round like a little shadow bless. Before I move onto the favourites for the month I just had to give you a dose of puppy cuteness.

Stanley, September 2020.
Stanley, September 2020.

october favourites

Had to sneak in some of my favourites from the past 31 days. Kicking it off with TV shows, if you’ve not watched Bly Manor yet- what are you doing with your life? It’s such a beautiful story and it had me balling my eyes out by the final scene. For an English Literature lover I must admit I geeked over the interpretations of Henry James’ works within the series, his differing characters and stories are so carefully crafted together into Bly Manor. For myself, and James, Bly Manor was far more beautiful and tragic than the first haunting installment ‘Hill House’. I adore gothic romances so it was just the perfect story for me, plus it scared the shit out of me on multiple occasions. There was a very specific moment that literally made me physically jump from my seat and shriek, loveeee it. Emily In Paris started out as a firm favourite that I could settle down to watch on my own in the afternoon. It’s cheesy beyond belief but I loved it. I mean I love anything with Lily Collins in, not going to lie. I will admit thought that I haven’t finished it yet so it didn’t have that full on binge element for me but it still gets to slide into my favourites for this month. The miserable days and being shut inside with nothing but depressing news popping up on our phones James and I turned to watching classic comedies this month: Outnumbered, Friday Night Dinner, Harry Enfield and Chums, Benidorm, Only Fools and Horses. We’ve watched them farrr to many times but, they’ve kept us going this month.

My reading content has switched back to uni reads but, there has been some really niche and interesting ones this past month. Firstly, ‘The History of Mary Prince’ a life narrative of Mary Prince- the first account of a black woman’s experience as a slave. It’s a heartbreaking, difficult but necessary read. Annie Proulxs ‘Close Range: Wyoming Stories” is a collection of short stories, including the infamous Brokeback Mountain, that aims to write against that stereotypical western narrative. It’s not my usual read at all, each story is incredibly gritty but would recommend if you’re after something a bit different to look at. I also read Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and I highly recommend you read this book as soon as possible.

I fell back in love with journaling this month. Instead of pushing myself to write every night which leads to me inevitably forgetting and never making an entry again; I decided to sit down every Sunday to do a weekly summary. It’s worked really for me and, I’ve loved sitting down each Sunday to reflect and project forward my aspirations for the new week. It’s kept my mind feeling less cluttered and inspired a little bit of fresh motivation in me each week.

goals

This brings me onto reflecting on the goals I set myself at the start of this month. The first was to set a sustainable healthy eating and exercise routine- has that happened? Has it f***. I did try. For like a day lol. I think what’s so difficult at the moment is how can anyone find any motivation when the weather is gloom, your surrounded by crappy news and, you end up having to spend your entire life within four walls. I always seem to find excuses to not do something but, this is coming to a firm end and being left behind with this month. I don’t feel that great about myself at the moment and, it’s not going to get better the more I put it off.
So November goal one: firmly set off on a self love journey. I find that when I say ‘i’m going to diet’ or ‘i’m going to exercise’ i just don’t do it. My main priority right now is to start feeling better about myself, I want to be confident, feel a little less stressed and feel happier in general. I want to get into a habit of having ten to twenty minutes a day where i have a little meditation session, i want to start treating my body a bit kinder with what i put into it and moving it round, i want to just feel better in my own skin. I truly think if I focus on making my mind feel happier that i’ll be more motivated to sustain these new healthier routines. November is the month to begin the GLOW UP mentally and, if that brings some physical changes with it i shall welcome them with open arms.

One goal I have met this month was to get on top of university work and set up an efficient work routine. It was so important to me to settle into uni quickly in order to make sure this year didn’t overwhelm me. If you hadn’t already realised, it doesn’t take too much to overwhelm me haha. I knew I needed to make work a priority this year, i’m so close to the end and don’t want to let it slip at the final hurdle. As I said i’ve settled into a routine that works for me and overall i’m feeling fairly positive with regards to work!
In November I want to balance this with making sure I take time for me too. I don’t want work to take-over all aspects of my life. So far this month settling back into a university routine has made me neglect blogging and my Instagram. I adore writing and I adore creating content for my Instagram and don’t want that to stop. I need to make sure I save enough energy and time to put into my creative endeavours.

I’m manifesting November to be a month filled with happiness, self-growth, hard-work and self-love. It’s looking like it’s going to be a month spent enclosed within the four walls of our apartment so, I think it’s clear that this really does have to be a month where I place looking after me best I can as the priority. I encourage you to do the same. I’m sending so much love to each and every one of you, I can’t even imagine how difficult life is for so many people currently. It’s scary. Keep going, take it one day at a time. That’s what i’ll be doing.

Lots of love,
Al x