Tips for Self Isolating

The advice is now work from home if you can, self isolate if you need to and only be out and about if necessary. All schools will be closing on Friday and in London, there is talk of a total lockdown based on the 958 cases (that we know about).

I work from home fairly regularly and a couple of years ago spent 6 weeks more or less trapped in the house as I recovered from an osteotomy. So I know a little bit about not leaving the house but I’m also an introvert and live alone so I don’t leave the house for at least one full day a month. Even so working from home for at least a month and probably longer will probably hard, even for me, so here are my top tips but before I do that, I want to be clear, right now, I’m in the very lucky position of not having to worry about employment, money or housing. I also have all four rooms of my house to myself, even so, these are things that will help:

Clean and tidy. Guys, if you’re going to spend all your time in your house, it’s going to be much nicer if it’s clean and tidy. I’ve spent a lot of time this week, getting laundry done, hoovering and doing stuff like cleaning the bathroom. That done keep on top of it, make time every day to put things away, wash up, tidy your space, do laundry. Put work stuff away when you finish work. It’ll do two things, it’ll keep your flat pleasant and it’ll give you a small amount of purpose.

Exercise. I start work from home days with yoga, but if you’re not sick, a walk, yoga or some sort of exercise is a good. If and when we go into lockdown, gyms are doing work from home classes, there’s loads of stuff on YouTube.

Open your windows. It’s not all that cold where I am but it’s not really warm enough to fling open the windows and I know other places are colder. I open the windows at least during exercise. Fresh air is good for you and if lockdown happens and you don’t have a garden opening you’re windows even for an hour a day is a good thing.

Routine. It’s really hard, but get up at the same time every morning and make a structure. When I was recovering from the foot op, I was up, washed and in clean pj’s by about 8am every day. I wasn’t very mobile but the change from bed to sofa was important.

Take breaks. At work, I get up to see people, I get up to fill up my water bottle. I don’t tend to do this at home. So get up every hour and have a little walk around, make a cup of tea but get away from the screen for five minutes. One of my colleagues who has been in isolation for a while, walks around his kitchen when he’s taking calls or on a conference call, he says that if he doesn’t, he tries to work as well and he’s focus isn’t properly on either thing and it boosts his tiny step count…

Drink water. Make sure you hydrate, I tend to drink more when I’m in the office than at home so I make sure to drink three 750ml bottles of water a day. Work out what works for you and stick to it.

Take a lunch hour. Preferably away from where you’re working but if you have to clear it all away for lunch and then set it up for the afternoon session.

Be clear about when you’ve stopped work. Stop put everything away and don’t answer work calls.

Find a hobby. It could be cross-stitch, it could be a book, it could be a jigsaw. Find something that makes you feel accomplished or at the very least absorbed. A friend of mine is isolating with her family and they are playing board games for an hour, another friend is re-watching The Wire, with his mates. They are all in different places but having an hour every night to watch an episode and have a Whatsapp group to talk about it.

Reach out. It might get lonely, call your friends, skype or facetime or zoom them. They are mostly locked away too. Be honest, if you miss them or are finding it hard. Today I told a friend of mine I wished I could hug her. She got it..because she’s my friend and we really are all in it together.

Think about others. I know people who work for the NHS and are going to be working through all of it. I’m offering house room to one of them that commutes up for work and I’ve told the others that if they need a meal they should let me know and they can pick it up on their way home.

This one, is an only if you can one. Donate to a foodbank. I’m not going to pay for travel for a couple of months, I’m donating some money to my local foodbank so they can continue to help feed people who are already in a tough spot or who will be needing to use the foodbank because they aren’t getting paid. Let’s try and help each other through this…

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Allotment Adventures: Getting there

So we went to the plot this weekend. We can’t sow anything yet because we need a ton of compost so there wasn’t a lot to do, I wanted to put the last bed in and then our plan was to go and buy some seed compost and sow some tomatoes.

But we got to the plot and there was a ton of wood chip so we decided to re do the paths that didn’t get done last time.

That’s a job we shouldn’t need to do again until next year!

We are now done with building beds for a little while. Once the broad beans are finished we’re going to make that bed a square bed and in the autumn, we are going to move the blackcurrants into separate beds that we need to make and then move the bed over to sit next to the other fruit bed we moved. That then gives us a clear path from one end of the plot to the other! I also need to work on the back of the plot but I have so many potential ideas, wild garlic, blackthorn bushes, flowers or a place for slow composting. All of them will start with a retaining ‘wall’ and some compost. But it’s not urgent so can wait until autumn.

So what’s next? Buying compost. With the current coronavirus issues, we aren’t going to get a delivery, I’ve order a little trolley and I’m going to take advantage of the 5 40 ltr bags of compost for £10 at Morrisons. We’re basically going to spend £100 and get 2000 litres which should be enough for the beds. One of the things I am going to say is that although I’ll be working from home for most of the time, the plot is necessary for my well being, both physically and mentally so I will be visiting and working on it. I can walk there and keep a metre away from anyone.

This weekend I want to start on planting potatoes and sowing peas, beetroot and salads. There’s a lot of weeding to be done and if the weather is ok, I probably need to paint the shed.

In other news Spring is coming….

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Lent Week Three

For Tuesdays during Lent, I’m going to talk about my faith and spiritual practice (or lack thereof). So this is the time to look away if you’re not interested in this topic. No worries, there will be an allotment post tomorrow and I’ll see you then!

This week, I want to talk about other Christians. Sometimes the biggest problem I have with faith are other Christians, because they often do a really poor job of being Christ like. (I’m aware that sometimes I don’t do the best job either!). I have no problem with atheists, if they are right and there is no God, I’m still a better human being for my belief in God and it’s not because I’m afraid of Hell (because I don’t believe in Hell), it’s because faith calls me to live up to the best things in me. As I keep saying, I fall down all the time, but faith gives me the courage to get up again and do better.

Human beings have a tendency to try and bring God down to our level, which means that sometime we act in ways that are not very Christian. We have a tendency to use God to re-inforce our sense of safety, if people don’t think and act like us, then they’re wrong and that makes us feel safer. It’s very human and it doesn’t just apply to Christians, it applies to people of all faiths and none.

I’m a liberal Christian, I don’t have a problem with gay marriage, abortion or sex before marriage.  My suggestion for Christians that do is that they should avoid doing those things. I believe that God is Love and Jesus is really quite clear about this, he has a lot to say about hypocrisy or judging others and he left two commandments, to love God and each other.

The things I think are wrong and against God are cruelty and poverty. Overall, I think God is more worried about what I do with my money and my vote and less about who I sleep with. (All that to say He does want all of us to treat our bodies and each other with love and respect but I think all of that is a personal decision we make for ourselves)

So I try to remember to leave judgement to God. That doesn’t mean I won’t call out things that are wrong, Jesus is also pretty clear about this and about forgiveness but it does mean that I will try and think about how I call it out. 

The example I always give here is abortion. I’m pro-choice, I think that being forced to carry and give birth to a child you don’t want is cruel to both the mother and the child. Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness, I believe that abortion should be legal but I try to understand for people who believe that life begins at conception  abortion is murder.

However, I don’t see anyone protesting outside IVF clinics (if you believe life begins at conception then IVF is also murder but no one really raises that). So I will point out to those people standing outside Marie Stopes the absolute hypocrisy of standing outside the abortion clinic shaming women while supporting the death penalty. Shouting at women for ‘killing’ unborn but not protesting about the children in care or living in poverty. I will talk to them (on the days I can control my rage) and I will pray for them.

I also know that when I fail as a Christian and a human being it’s generally because I’m afraid of something. Of being unloved, or alone or wrong. It’s like Yoda says, fear leads to hate, hate to anger, anger to the dark side. So I try to remember that and act accordingly.

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Monday Miscellany: It’s a worry

Happy Monday!

I had a good week, but things with COVID-19 are getting more serious. I will say it, if I haven’t before, this is probably not a problem for most of us, but I will stay indoors if that will protect people for whom it will be a problem. Right now, our advice is carry on as normal and that’s what I’ll do.

I think I’ll be fine but I am in a group of higher risk people (I have asthma) but I have good supplies of my steroids and I live alone so if I get it, it’ll be from the commute. Right now, my company is doing extra cleaning and I’m hand washing like a champ (top tip – hand cream is your friend!) but we are still at work, with some working from home. My feeling is that we may lockdown next week but we’ll see what the stats are like, if they close the schools, work might close down, but for the minute everyone is good and the trains are quiet so the commute is very easy.

The shops this weekend were quiet but crazy, there was no pasta, flour, oil, and weirdly mayo (which was for the foodbank shop) and very limited toilet roll! I bought a 4 pack of toilet roll (I would have bought a 9 pack after pay day as part of my monthly shopping in two weeks but I’ll admit I panicked!). I live by myself so a 4 pack is fine and with what I have in the house already, I have enough to last to the end of May. I have enough food in the house for a while and even in Italy, the shops are open so it will be ok.

Other than that, I’m a tiny bit worried about my holiday at the end of April but in the great scheme of things, that doesn’t matter!

In other news, this spider followed me from home to the Central Line and I got a modest pay rise and a bonus. I’m really enjoying my job, I do enjoy my job but it’s spring and I’m getting past SAD so all my happy is slightly heighted, so I’m really enjoying my job, but with the bonus and the pay rise, I feel like employing my father’s phrase “don’t call me lucky, call me lucky, lucky, lucky…..”

For this week, nothing much happening except Mother’s Day on Sunday, there will be shenanigans assuming that she’s not banned from public life.

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Sunday Music: Its the End of the World -R.E.M

I did my weekly shop yesterday and it was quiet but there was hardly anything there and this was playing and seems apt…

It’s not the end of the world but it’s worrying and I’m concerned for my friends and family who are ‘at risk’ but if we’re sensible, it will be ok!

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Friday Links: Don’t panic…

Happy Friday! It’s been a busy week, on the one hand it’s getting lighter in the morning so I’m much more awake and upbeat, on the other things feel like they are about to be really grim, corona virus and the subsequent tanking of the economy are not great harbingers of spring…

Here are this week’s links

Chris Grayling poisons everything he touches. Yet still he rises

The Coronavirus Is More Than Just a Health Crisis

For Johnson’s new voters, the betrayal starts now

Our social crisis is no longer just about inequality, it’s about life and death

UK’s lost sea meadows to be resurrected in climate fight

It’s time to end 9-5 office hours: the business case for the five-hour workday

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Lent Week Two

For Tuesdays during Lent, I’m going to talk about my faith and spiritual practice (or lack thereof). So this is the time to look away if you’re not interested in this topic. No worries, there will be an allotment post tomorrow and I’ll see you then!

Everyone seems full of panic right now. There is the flooding, the coronavirus, the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations, global heating and all other sorts of chaos that seems right around the corner. Everyone seems worried and anxious and scared.

This is not the part where I tell you that my faith in God takes all suffering away. Faith is not a magic wand for the hard parts of life and God doesn’t promise to make it all better (promises to be with you – yes, solve it all – no).

So what does faith do, if it doesn’t make everything better? Well is makes me a lot less anxious

We had a priest at Church who used to change the words to the Mass, instead of “protect us from all anxiety” he would say “protect us from all useless anxiety”, I noticed and I asked him why and he said that in his experience anxiety could be call to do something but that worrying about something you couldn’t change was useless and scary so he wanted protection from that. It’s true, when I am worried about something it’s usually a prompt to take action. So if I’m worried about money, it’s probably because I haven’t been paying attention to my bank balance, once I check it and know where I am then the anxiety goes away. That’s healthy and you can see the emotion is useful.

There’s another sort of anxiety that isn’t healthy and faith does help me with that, I don’t compare my life to others or worry overmuch about what much happen next. Not just because ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ but because I know that however good it is, it could all go tomorrow, but that however bad it is, it’ll all work out.

So be content with who you are and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you, He’ll promote you at the right time

1 Peter 5:6-6

When I was confirmed I agreed to God’s Plan for my life and I say it every time I say The Lord’s Prayer – ‘Thy will be done/On earth as it is in Heaven’. So while my life is by no means perfect and it’s often not clear to me about what exactly God’s plan is, I know it’s there and when I most need it to, it’ll becomes clear.

That’s not to say I find it easy. I don’t. What I know is that at the times when it has felt unbearable, something has happened to make it bearable. At the times when I have been in the places that God wanted me to be, it has been transcendent.

This isn’t how faith works for everyone, but it’s how it works for me.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Galatians 6:4-5

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