I have written this blog fully aware that each one of us has a similar story. I am sharing mine for that exact reason. We are all in this together and it is so heartwarming to watch the country come together to support each other. We can do this.
What a difference a month makes?! Life is changing dramatically day by day and hour by hour just now. There has never, in our lifetime, been something like this in Scotland and many countries around the world. We are privileged. Many other countries have faced and come through significant tragedies and continue to do so. It has given me time to reflect. However, initially I wasn’t in a place to reflect because I found myself in a dark place. Selfishly, I wondered if I could go through yet another challenge. It seemed that every single time in my life when things have settled into a more positive routine, the rug has been pulled from beneath me! I wallowed in it for a couple of days, as further details came through. But then it all changed…
The tools I have grown to love and rely on began to kick in. I tapped, I sat and focused on my breathing, listened to music, contacted family and shared time (via Zoom) with my 16Guidelines friends. Then came the realisation that every single challenge I have had in my life has brought me to this point and prepared me for right now. I am ready. I am strong. I am resilient.
At the beginning of every flight we are reminded to put on our safety vest BEFORE we put on our child’s safety vest, so I began to think about how my life was going to look for the upcoming weeks and months. I realised that in many ways my day to day life would not change very much! I live alone in very rural Aberdeenshire, with sheep as my only direct neighbours. The biggest and by far the most difficult change would be not being able to meet with and hug my family. As the news came through, all AndBreathe workshops and appointments disappeared., then schools closed. Income from AndBreathe dropped 90% (AndBreathe Patreon community still bringing in revenue). I was initially hugely worried about finances. If I, as a wellbeing facilitator with a wide range of experience and skills at my disposal, was finding it hard, then I knew there would be so many people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.
The planning began, as thoughts and ideas flooded in. I want to share what I have done and am continuing to do, in the hope that there is something here that might help and give you an idea for your own situation.
My personal mental health & wellbeing: 1. Daily check in with myself. 2. 16 Guidelines card. 3. Meditation (often with the Insight Timer app). 4. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. 5. Music (listening and/or playing). 6. Checking with family & friends (either messaging or Zoom) 7. Daily outdoor exercise (usually my bike through the forest).
My family: My family are spread across the world, so we are used to communicating online. We have started scheduling get togethers twice a week via Zoom, once for a Family Wellbeing session and the other time purely for chat! This is for me as much as them. One daughter is a firefighter/EMT in the US, another daughter is a paediatric nursing student, one niece is an oncology paediatric nurse and another is a 1st year medical student and the entire family has concerns about health, work and finances, so coming together is hopefully going to help us all.
My work as a musician: I am a flute player and teach privately, as well as being flute tutor at the Aberdeen City Music School. This past week has seen me teaching music via Zoom for the first time. I use Zoom in my work as AndBreathe but have never used it for music before. I am also incorporating my skills and experience as a wellbeing facilitator to support the music students. They range in age from 6 to 60+ and all have different stresses just now. So glad to be able to do that.
My work as AndBreathe: Workshops and appointments completely disappeared overnight. This sparked my dark days until I returned to my more usual solution focused outlook on life. The only income currently for AndBreathe is the AndBreathe membership on Patreon. So glad we have this community in place, not just to pay the AndBreathe bills (!!), but to support each other. My aim currently is to finally figure out how to post ‘live’ on Patreon! I failed miserably a few months ago and patrons got an email prompt at every failed attempt, so I gave up! Now, I have been given this gift of time, it is the perfect time to figure it out. More and more I am looking at this time as a gift. Time to slow down, re-evaluate and plan.
How to help and support others: On social media I am posting as normal but have also created two groups on Facebook for families. One group is for families with young people ages 3 – 11 and the other is for families with young people ages 12 – 18. We are all reacting and responding to these challenging times in different ways and it is my way of ‘volunteering’ to provide support in this way. I have also offered all friends, work and business colleagues, mental wellbeing support via Zoom, again just ‘doing my bit’ for the wider community.
The randomly chosen 16 Guidelines guideline for April is ‘Service’! I will share more about ‘Service’ throughout April, but I did smile when I turned it over. 16 Guidelines has done it yet again!
Not sure about you, but I am seeing more and more positives filtering through. From fish swimming in the canals in Venice, smog disappearing in so many of our polluted cities, connections being made throughout our communities, support being put in place for the vulnerable, people stepping out of their comfort zone to support others and businesses and individuals providing for the homeless. And thank goodness we have the NHS. May we all remember this time and not go back to what we had. I heard a wonderful explanation on the radio this morning. If a shanty town is destroyed, we don’t rebuild the shanty town, we build something better. As life as we know it changes, then let’s rebuild a better place, using what we have learned right now.
I invite you to join me and repeat this following AndBreathe mantra every morning and evening for the next few weeks and months: I am ready. I am strong. I am resilient.
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!