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It’s day 10 of lockdown in the UK (and as much as I hate Big Brother, I can’t help hearing that voice every time I use that phrase!), and I’m in a much better mood than I was when I last posted.

Because kittens, among other things. And our wonderful NHS staff, without whom we would all be up a very large creek with no paddle at all. Clover isn’t yawning at the NHS, she’s yawning because she has no idea there’s a world crisis, and it really made me smile today.

The world is still upside down, the situation is still terrifying, but I have found a few ways to deal with my own anxiety and overwhelm and fear.

Fear does very strange things to people.

Living in dystopia

It still feels like I’ve woken up in the middle of a dystopian novel with a truly appalling plot, and for someone who’s not had a TV for six years, the whole living-through-history thing is something of a shock to the system.

In normal life, I regularly tell people how amazing it is that we’re living through history – the technology revolution! And that children in the future will learn about us and our tech and machines and ways of working and living. Because you can’t take the geek out of the girl.

But fuck me, a pandemic is not the sort of history I want to be living through! Yet here I am, and here we all are, and the thing which has struck me the most about all the many, many conversations I’ve had over the past two or three weeks is that this is affecting everyone. In different ways, and to different levels, but not one single person is going to come out of this unscathed.

Finding a way through

My remedies so far are quite simple – plenty of sleep, vitamin D, time with my kitties and time with my camera. Finding purpose and focus in pivoting my business to run online, and in helping my community of small business owners who have been devastated by this pandemic, and my employed friends who are suddenly having to work from home for the first time.

Not to mention battling ridiculous downtime and server moves on the website front. Tech and patience have been severely tested by this situation, and I imagine I’m not the only one. But it’s been a great distraction!

Flatlay of the working from home toolkit (tea, phone & magazine)

Baths and books have also featured heavily in my self-care regime, as has an epic stash of chocolate – never before have I been so grateful for my tendency to buy chocolate in bulk.

Video calls – menace or delight?!

Video conferencing, via Zoom or Hangouts or House Party or even WhatsApp, have been both a saviour and a menace. I spent the whole of the first week of the disaster, before lockdown but during the first few days of the entire country trying to work from home for the first time, glued to my phone or my webcam.

True to form, in meetings I wear my unicorn horn headphones and try to get everyone else to do daft things as well! But talking to people for nine hours a day got very tiring very quickly, and drained my ability to do anything else useful.

In the last 24 hours I have forcibly removed myself from those conversations for a while, and I feel better for it. I still want to talk to people, but not 47 people in a day, my introvert heart literally cannot cope. Though I did make some free virtual backgrounds so you can work from bed and pretend you’re not…

I am avoiding social media entirely except for the essentials – the groups which keep me sane and informed and soothed. My phone is permanently turned to Do Not Disturb, so that the most important people can get through immediately but so I can also focus without incessant pinging.

Heading out for a walk at least every couple of days, I’ve been a bit spooked by the emptiness of the streets, the closed parade of shops which are usually bustling with life, the socially distanced queues outside the pharmacy, and the safety zones marked out in tape in the local One Stop.

My other single friends across the world report loneliness in isolation, people forgetting to check on them. I must have very excellent friends or be very lucky, as I’ve been inundated with people checking I’m ok during the lockdown, enquiring after my business, seeing if Mum is ok as well as me. Not everyone, by a long shot – and there have been some who have surprised me with their lack of contact, as ever – but more than enough to reassure me that in a crisis, I wouldn’t be alone.

Zoom call with six people

I do miss Mum, and I wish I could see her for more than occasional essential grocery/medicine drops during this. This picture was taken just a few days before this all got so serious, marking Dad’s third anniversary with a day hunting pebbles & treasure at Walton-on-theNaze. But we speak every day, and for the time being we are both happiest and safest in our own homes. And I miss my friends too, but they are also epic and good with tech and we’ve already established some really lovely regular video chats!

Isolation & life choices

A few people have mentioned that perhaps now is the time I will change my mind about long term single-at-heart-ness, and decide I do want a partner after all, because wouldn’t it be so lovely to have someone to look after me and share the stay at home weirdness with?

And honestly, no. I would probably emerge from isolation into prison, to be honest – I don’t enjoy sharing my space, and while I loved my partners very much during our relationships, I can’t imagine having to stay indoors with them and be with them 24/7 for weeks on end (there, dear readers, is probably a good indication of why they were mostly long distance relationships and are now ex-boyfriends!).

It’s actually been really affirming to discover that my life choices of being single, childfree and self employed are so exactly the right choices for me that I am able to flourish even now. I’ve never been so thankful to not have children, either – anyone who is doing this and also homeschooling has my utmost admiration.

Of course, we are living through the middle of a crisis, and if I get the virus, I probably will be dealing with it entirely alone, because I don’t want to infect Mum or Gran or risk their lives. So for Mum’s sake, for Gran’s and for my own, I am staying as isolated as possible – food shopping, pharmacy trips and the post office, only when absolutely unavoidable and necessary, and getting medicines and medical supplies to Gran when she needs them.

And I am so lucky that my skills & knowledge allow me to do that – that although losing all my upcoming photography clients in three days was fairly horrific, I am more than capable of switching to online – mentoring, teaching & otherwise working remotely. God knows I’ve talked about it enough over the years!

Staying at home

And so I am sitting tight like Luna (though not on a shed roof, you’ll be pleased to know), and holding on for dear life, and hoping that me and my loved ones will weather the storm together but apart.

Taking the pressure off myself has definitely helped my mood – there is so much I want to do, both in business and in life, during this rare break from the world. But there is no rush. Sadly, I don’t think the end of three weeks of lockdown will be anything like the end of this crisis. And so many people have been financially affected that there will be plenty of time to dream up new things to create online, while my main client base, like so many others, has been decimated.

But I am determined to rise from the ashes a success story – I just also need the occasional lazy morning to breathe.

How are you coping with lockdown? Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I am sending you sparkles. We need to take joy wherever we can find it!

Where you can find me or more info

If you’re moving your business online, using this time to work on your branding, content, systems or any other tweaks to your business, or of course you need brand photography (products, or planning a shoot featuring you, I can do both!), then I’d absolutely love to chat and you can find out more at carlawatkins.com

Ink Drops is still open though posting at much less frequent intervals, and we would love to help you stay in touch with your loved ones through the post. My postie approves, too! Find lovely cards and delightful gifts at inkdrops.co.uk

If you’re working from home and thinking WTAF, then I wrote the WFH Toolkit for you.

You can follow my new 365 project (what a year I chose – I’m 44 days in) at @colourfulmagicalweirdo

And if you’re in need of some support, wisdom & a safe space to let it all out, come & join the Improper Job Collective.

I’m most active over in the Collective, on Instagram & in my photography newsletter, although I may resurrect this one in the coming weeks to share some useful and lovely things I’ve found.

WTF, 2020?