Thoughts, feelings, adapting and learning

Dr Jackie Richards

The plan for 2020 was that Peter, my husband, and I would visit family in California. I would continue advising on ageing and older dancers and carry on dancing. 

Zoom! What was that? 

When lockdown happened, I reacted in surprising ways. Covid-19 was not the worry as I knew we would be sensible, follow guidelines and care for each other. We would cope being together and not get on one anothers’ nerves. It would be a shame not socialising, but we would cope. Although on Zoom, dancing, attending Tottenham Community Choir (TTC), and other meetings would be fine. There would be benefits; more time to tidy and unclutter house and garden and return to playing my guitar. Another treat would be to participate in new learning opportunities on-line including Gareth Malone’s new choir. Yes, life would be good during lockdown. I felt blessed and fortunate listening to birdsong, visiting my local park, having more time, no traffic noise and not having financial problems. 

However, Lockdown was not idyllic!  

In the last newsletter I wrote about the fear created from receiving a letter saying I was an extremely vulnerable person on a Government list. What follows are some other effects I experienced during lockdown. 

I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I became more moody, snappy and stroppy. I felt I was a 14-year-old adolescent again with the same raw emotions and feelings. I began contemplating the future; everything was so uncertain.  My recent previous studies and my cancer treatment had taken up lots of energy and time. My involvement with the Age UK London Age Allies project had ended. In future what would I do instead? Should I participate in more projects or should I retire to my garden and travel? How much longer would I dance? What will I become and be? Peter was a caring, loving companion but I needed others’ energy, conversations and discussions and meeting them in person. I realised I was not ready to retire as I still wanted to get involved with others to enable more people to lead meaningful lives and not be stereotyped or marginalised. I wanted to continue dancing and actively participate in the world. 

Unfortunately, attending TTC and Gareth’s choir only lasted a few weeks. I found singing on my own with my computer stressful. Although I could see others in the Gallery, it was not the same as being with them. 

I continued on-line dancing sessions, all the facilitators were excellent, I appreciated the opportunities to learn from them and to continue dancing. New dance sessions became available on-line. However, as weeks went on, I increasingly thought dancing alone in my front room, looking at others on Zoom was weird, lonely and felt unenjoyable. I so want to dance with others again! 

freshly baked buns

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been turning inwards and enjoying solitary learning pursuits. My inner life has benefitted from activities done alone. This has included knitting a beautiful scarf with a complicated pattern requiring concentration, returning to playing my guitar including improving some Classical Spanish pieces and improving my technique. I set aside a time each day to read more fiction and non-fiction. Cooking to creating healthy, delicious, attractive food has been enjoyable. Peter is a grateful recipient! I decided improve my bodyshape and became a member of www.WeightLossResources.co.uk where I concentrate on analysing and noting what I am eating, learning more about portion sizes and relationships between calories and exercise. I have also enjoyed doing a free on-line Open University Maths course! 

Now, lockdown is easing. I am seeing friends and family again. Wonderful! But what will happen next? We can hope for a better future, more fairness and opportunities for all, a new normality without masks and hand sanitiser. Meanwhile, I will carry on knitting and dancing! 

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