All roads lead to…

Working from home is a busy time, everything takes a little longer and checking on staff wellbeing requires extra effort, but I also have a lot of time to think. I was in Auckland two weeks ago and visited two locations of interest so needed COVID tests at days 5 and 12 and had to totally self isolate. Both tests have come back negative and, after 14 days, I can do Level 4 like anyone else. Yay!

Once I got the negative test result I went up town and dropped some stuff outside Tony’s ranch slider, then into Four Square to get a couple of things – hand sanitiser, mask and QR code of course. I saw some old friends while I was there, looking a bit overwhelmed. My instinct was to reach out to them. Yes, I’m one of “those” people; I’m a hugger. If someone is distressed I’m inclined to touch their hand or arm or, if I know them or have permission, give them a hug. Some of you might know “The 5 love languages” by Dr Gary Chapman. It’s no surprise my main love language is physical touch – it’s how I show love, concern and caring. Fortunately I’m sufficiently empathetic to recognise people who don’t want to be touched, and offer them support in other ways

For someone like me physical distancing is difficult. (media tend to call it social distancing but it’s not – we can be social without being physically close). Watching people struggle with lockdown, and all that comes with it, makes me want to, quite literally, reach out. Not being able to stresses me. And it’s there the road circles back, as it always does…

I’m a very addictive personality and my drug of choice is food, but I’ve also struggled with other addictions. Thank goodness I never tried drugs! Dr Gabor Mate believes the root of all addiction is a response to pain, and one of the primary triggers is maternal deprivation. Mum was 40 when they had me and very sick; I was a 2lb 13oz prem baby who stayed on in hospital after she came home. They lived an hour’s drive away and had a business to run – through no one’s fault I suffered maternal deprivation.

When I had my consultation for weight loss surgery Dr Dhabuwala asked about my birth weight. At the time I thought it was an odd question, but he explained about the impact of infant formulas used in the 50s & 60s to quickly get prem babies up to a standard weight. I suspect he also knew about the research.

Lockdown makes me want to hug people, and deprives me of the touch of others. My pain response is that of all addicts; I want to self-soothe with my drug of choice – food. And so the cycle continues. Thankfully 5 years on from weight loss surgery I understand so much more than I did then and can fight back. But it is a fight, and a tough one.

Getting to the feelings

I’m starting to record more of my feelings about COVID-19 and the lockdown, not just the facts. I know this is good for me, because – apart from one or two people – my journals are my safe place where I can say whatever I want.

Tomorrow at 4.30pm we find out when New Zealand will move from Level 4 to Level 3. As much as I want that tiny extra bit of freedom (and it will be tiny) what I really want is to only do this once. I’d rather wait a bit longer than have to start over. The stats from countries who locked down too late, or broke lockdown too early, are truly frightening.

There are a few New Zealand commentators – privileged white males mainly – who think we should worry more about the economy than about people. Men who think our empty ICUs and low number of deaths mean we “got it wrong” whereas it signals we got it exactly right. I hope those loud opinionated voices don’t win and cost us all the gains we have made as a country. I hope we are better than that.

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A crafty Easter

Most weekends I spend time doing some art and craft. This weekend is no different; except of course it is. Easter is lockdown is a whole different animal – no going away for the weekend, no church gatherings (not that I would anyway), no dinner with friends. I was so tired by the end of the week I was hanging on by a thread, so four days away from my dining-room-table-home-office is a very good thing.

What have I done so far? Made cards. Made more cards. Coloured in stamped images. Worked in my art journals. What else will I do? paper, scissors, glue…

Starting my lockdown journal

Art is how I process the world, and how I download what’s in my head. Now my staff are settled and safe, and we have a (sort of) routine I am sleeping a few more hours a night. With sleep comes bad dreams – anarchy on the streets, scary animals, and so on. My brain really can be a bitch. My dreams are usually a muddle of things I have seen, heard and read, all jumbled together, often with my long-dead parents in the mix. My art practice is vital to my mental wellbeing.

I’ve started a small 6×6” journal where I’m going to document a mix of facts and feelings during this COVID-19 journey. There are no feelings in it yet. I need to get the framework started before the feelings can pour out.

As with much of my art this about bringing lightness to, and shining light on, a difficult subject – hence the ‘pretty’ backgrounds and colours.

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Uniquely me

I’ve been a fan of the late Dr Wayne Dyer for decades and, through him, have learned to enjoy the Tao te Ching. I have a few quotes from the Tao on the wall above my desk that I read when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. They help ground and settle me.

We’re currently in lockdown due to COVID-19 and it’s unsettling. I’m going to make an art journal about the whole experience because art is how I process the work but, in the meantime, I’m using my art journals to help me feel balanced and calm in the chaos.

This is one of my favourite lines from the Tao and one of the quotes I have at work. I think it’s important we value our own unique place in the world. As I sometimes say to my staff when customers are being a bit ‘special’ – there’s infinite variety in the human condition!

This page is a lot brighter than this scan shows – we have a new scanner and I’m struggling to get the settings right.

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