Why do I feel a bit ashamed to admit I’m actually loving life right now?

Granted, this ‘pause’ caught us all by surprise. I felt like a rabbit stuck in headlights for the first three or four weeks of lockdown here in Italy. As a destination wedding planner, I just didn’t know what direction to go, people were looking to me for answers to questions such as; When will it be over? Will there be flights in June? Will it be gone by the summer? Questions I, nor anyone one else, could answer.

Unable to function as normal, I procrastinated over my work. I felt a sense of achievement, if I managed to get through two or three emails, when normally at this time of year, I would be dealing with 60 emails on average per day, plus buzzing around meeting couples, doing venue visits, menu tastings, lots of meetings. But instead I was sitting in my own silence. Waiting. There was no end in sight, it was like falling down a dark bottomless pit.

However, now that the numbers in ICU are dropping and the number of new active cases are decreasing each day here in Italy, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Governments are talking about exit strategies. I’m no longer feeling fear, although very cautious.

Mentally I ‘manage’ the sadness and tragedy of the situation by lighting a candle at 6pm each evening for those who have died, a reminder that they are not just numbers, I then watch the news. I leave the radio and TV off during the day and I don’t read social media news. So my time of sadness or contemplation is confined to that one hour in the evening when I have the candle lighting, and then I blow it out and get on with life.

And that is what I am doing now – life. I’m enjoying having the time to do all the things I’ve been wanting time to do for years. It’s the ‘me time’ I have been craving. My daughter who has been in solitary isolation in London for the last six weeks, is the same, happy as a pig in sh*t. The only issue for her, is that friends and work colleagues, knowing that she’s alone, message her all day asking if she is okay. It’s very nice of them not to forget her, but for the first two weeks, she spent most of her day replying to people explaining she’s perfectly fine locked into her apartment with all her books, art supplies, recipe books and a Nintendo with her favourite childhood game ‘Animal Crossing’.

The author of ‘Moby Dick’, Herman Melville, once wrote a letter to a friend complaining he just could not find time to write about ‘that whale’ because, “I so am pulled hither and dither by circumstances”. Melville said he longed for a big, wide, open stretch of time to create. He called it ‘the calm, the coolness the silent grass growing mood in which a man ought always to compose’.

How many times have we all wanted some ‘Cool, calm, grass growing days’ to pursue something creative or leisurely… create art, write, compose, play music, learn a new skill. How many times have we groaned about it being Monday and wished for a longer weekend? We must all have wished really hard at the same time, and here it is people, the Universe has given us six weeks of back to back Sundays.

Over the last few years the internet has made me feel very unoriginal, I stopped writing because I felt there was nothing left to say, everything seems to have been done before. Not only had everything been done, but I stopped doing creative stuff because I had crossed that horrible line of not creating for the sake of creating, but feeling, if it wasn’t going to bring in an income then it was time wasted. Time was better spent doing the extra 10 emails to get another client. I’d forgotten how to switch off and the pleasure in doing nothing.

In the 24/7 world we’ve been living, silence is difficult to get. We now have the opportunity of silence. A time to rest and create.

We can’t control what is happening at the moment in the world, but we can control what we do with our time and bring something special into our day.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing again:

1. Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child… writing, drawing, painting, baking, craft – Let that part of you resurface. You don’t have to be the best at it, you don’t even have to be good at it, play with it. Enjoy it, loose yourself in it. Be kind to yourself, give yourself the same encouragement you would give a good friend.

2. Journal or blog – even short notes, we are all experiencing this unique time in history differently. My grandfather kept a diary for part of his time as a soldier in WW1. It has always been one of our families most treasured possessions. I published it some years back. There were thousands of soldiers in the war and each of their accounts was unique to them. Your thoughts and feelings will be a unique part of your family’s history, of the world’s history, so note them.

3. Read – read all the books you have never got around to reading on your book shelves or reread some of your favourites that you haven’t opened in years.

4. Set yourself goals and a routine – If you want the quarantine time to go quicker a routine will help. If you don’t want to feel you have wasted the quarantine time, then setting a goal or two will help.

5. Use all the Christmas gifts you have been saving for special occasions – light the scented candle, use the bath bombs, drink the expensive wine, wear the perfume. This is ‘me time’ we will never get again so make it special.

6. If you feel you are procrastinating and feeling frustrated at not achieving anything, then get yourself an accountability partner. Tell them your three ‘To Dos’ for the day and report back in the evening.

Whatever you do, be gentle with yourself, don’t feel you have to be constantly busy, but find something that brings you some ‘Me Time’ joy everyday.

Not being creative for the last few years had left a void in me. I could use the analogy of a jigsaw with a piece missing, but it was more like the puzzle had been made in the centre of an extendable table, then the two table leaves were pulled apart and the whole middle of the jigsaw had fallen through, just leaving the jagged frame of the edge bits.

Starting this blog gave me some focus from day one of quarantine, it has been often the only productive thing I managed to do. Sometimes I couldn’t wait to write it, other days I have had to push myself to find something light write about.

I woke this morning to find this page had reached 600 followers, I’d just like to thank everyone for liking and sharing my posts and the encouraging comments, it’s made me discover my long lost writing voice again. So thank you