2020

2020 – A strange one

I’m not going into the details of COVID and what it meant for the world.  It saddens me that so many people have lost their lives and how many families have been deeply affected by it.  The message is quite simple.  Stay at home and wash your hands regularly.  If you do have to go out, wear a mask, and wash your hands!  Even the most unintelligent buffoons found it hard to ignore that message, yet still, they walk among us ignoring the advice. 

Back in March 2020 , when the news of a lockdown first seemed likely I was at Mums, dropping off a Mothers Day gift.  Not knowing that things were about to change for everybody!  I didn’t see my Mum in person after that until June.  March-June was weird, upsetting and very stressful! Home schooling, reams and reams of paper being printed for schoolwork, nobody knew what they were doing, but we were doing it.  The main portion of the UK were staying at home, gardening, and generally coping, and let us be honest whilst the panic buying was extremely annoying… it was a bit exciting, trying to make a meal out of whatever you could find.  I certainly cut down on the old ‘carbs’ (there wasn’t any pasta or bread around).  People walked more, found themselves exploring the streets around where they live, stopping and talking to the local community ‘Hello, how are you?’ ‘Oh, hello again, lovely day for it’ ‘I’m just glad that we’re not in Winter, it would be 10x worse wouldn’t it’.  Worry of people losing their jobs was high, and the word Furlough emerged. A word that is so common now, but completely unheard of before.

June brought with it hope, hope of a normal Summer, meeting with friends outdoors and the school summer holidays upon us! No more home schooling, surely!?  Everybody trudged on, and even started to plan things.  On a personal note, I fell out with my Dad in June, he’s a difficult man, and that’s a whole new blog post.  One that I will write soon. 

The Summer holidays came and went and even though most people didn’t travel far for a break, I’d say it was a success.  Trying to keep our spirits up for ourselves, our children, parents and our friends was testing, but I think most people remained hopeful.  I (as well as most parents) was nervous about what September might look like for my children, and whether schools would be open.

You could hear the relief resonating through the messages off friends ‘So glad the children can go to school’ ‘Teachers are my heroes, they have my full sympathy’ ‘Thank God they are going back’. I must admit, I was relieved too, my Son and Daughter had been cooped up with me since March, and other than a few occasions, we only had each other for company.  It was the start of high school for my Son, he and I were understandably nervous, but with the staggered start, and the year/class bubbles, it meant the fear of being the younger one wasn’t really there, the new Year 7’s have been lucky in that respect.  So, both children back in school, and luck was on our side as there wasn’t any  covid cases in their classes, so they managed to hang on by their fingernails till Xmas.  I even managed to get some work done!  I have to say, my employer is fantastic and supportive.  I’m so grateful to be working with them.

I’ll skip past Xmas, because honestly it was a bit sad, I still wasn’t talking to my Dad, which meant, despite my parents being in my support bubble, and us seeing my Mum every week, all of us sitting together around the kitchen table was not going to happen.  Still, I think the children had a nice time, and that’s all that matters to me.

So a new year, 2021.  I haven’t heard many people say that they have a news years resolution this time, there are no gyms open to join.  Dry January seemed pointless to most, but I did it.  I feel great when I take part and I also stop eating meat in January too, so it feels like a detox, and a great way to start the year. 

In January when schools were due to reopen, we were told that Secondary Schools in England would need 2 weeks to prepare for Lateral Flow testing on site, and that meant my Son would only go back on the 18th.  This wasn’t so bad.  One child at home is easier than 2 when working full time, especially when they have live lessons.  My Daughter wasn’t too happy knowing that she would be in school whilst her brother was at home, but it was only for 2 weeks… Wrong, it was for 1 day.  After just one day in school, it was announced that all schools would be closing, and moving to remote learning.  No time to prepare anything.  It was hard on parents, and teachers.  Here we are, still home schooling, still coping.  We’re a resilient bunch, aren’t we?

There might be times when we struggle, there might be times when we think we can’t cope.  We are all suffering in one way or another.  It’s tough, really tough.

There are still unintelligent buffoons, preaching about conspiracy theories, having friends’ round, going to parties and raves.  Just stop it.  You are endangering us all.

We just need to stay strong and hopeful, better times are on their way.    

Check out the hair!

Blog #1 – My hair!

My first blog. Eek, that’s exciting (scary)!

 

I wasn’t sure what to write for my first blog, but figured I’d just start typing and see what happens!

Whilst looking through old photos I am reminded of all the things that I’ve done throughout my life. I thought that when I started my job at the micro:bit foundation I became this brave independent woman, travelling the world and becoming more confident with myself, but actually, I was already doing all of those things. It is funny how I dress down most of the great things that have happened throughout life, I almost disregard them, because who cares about what I’m doing or have done!

2020 has been a year of change for me personally.  Covid 19 reared its ugly head and stopped me in my tracks.  I usually travel a lot, and my mind would be racing at 100mph trying to organise my life, look after my children, the dog, the house, look out for friends and family, exercise,  and keep up with my volunteering roles.  All of that stopped and I found myself at home all the time with my 2 children (and the dog), trying to home school as well as work, not able to see or meet up with anybody. Crazy times!  I know it has been tough for most people during this global pandemic and we’re far from over it, but for me personally it’s allowed me to take a step back, reflect and take the time that I need recharge and grow.

Backing up 12 months…

I’ve had a stressful year.  Lots of things have happened, and when in isolation I’m sure they’d have been quite easy to manage, and to be fair to me, I did cope with it all quite well until I started losing my hair.  The thought of losing all of my hair was all I could think about.  Day and night I would look at myself in the mirror, take pics of my hair, ask my kids to take them for me.. I’d go to bed every night worried that when I woke up, I’d have either no hair at all or very little.  I’d check my pillow, the plug holes, clothes, chairs, the car.  I would count the strands in every clump that fell out, I’d cry a lot and look up the styles and costs of getting a wig.  I’d tell anybody that would listen to me, often feeling like they didn’t really care (I know they did now), ‘it doesn’t look that bad’ was what I was always told.  I know that’s what you should say, you should be encouraging and positive, but I just knew how bad it was and I really wanted somebody to acknowledge how hideous the situation was.  So, feeling very alone in the world and not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel with the situation I decided that I needed to make an appointment with the doctor, maybe I needed some help with my mental situation.  I’ve never really struggled with anxiety or real stress, but I was definitely in a dark place.  As usual my local surgery only had an appointment 3 weeks away, so I begrudgingly accepted and decided that I would probably be bald by the time I got to see a doctor, and even then I wouldn’t get any treatment or support for weeks after that..

I decided to try some meditation, I have heard great things but have never done any myself, and I used to scoff at the idea that meditation could really help. I downloaded an Audible book called ‘Mindfulness’ by Dr Danny Penman and Prof Mark Williams, deciding to listen at night before bed.

I went all the way through the book listening to 30 mins a night before the actual meditations started, I had been getting a bit frustrated before then if I’m being totally honest.  ‘The Body Scan’ really helped me relax, I felt myself drifting off to sleep, the most relaxed I’d been in a long time.  From there I started to practice mindfulness daily for a few weeks, I even set up a mindfulness session for other friends at work who I thought might enjoy it.  We’d join a video call without video (or sound for everybody other than me) and I’d play the chapter.   It only took 15 mins max out of our day and we’d meet twice a week.  This was the start of my hair recovery. 

The doctor’s appointment came, and I cancelled a few days before because I felt like it was going to be a waste of the doctors and my time.  I must be on deaths door to take an appointment as there is bound to be somebody in more need than me. 

Practising meditation and cutting down on my alcohol intake did wonders for me, as did my hairdresser.  Now, when I say hairdresser, I mean my new hairdresser… I am not a regular at the hair salon and I’d say that I probably visited one maybe once a year.  They’d always be randomly chosen and I’d only go out of some loyalty to my hair.  I would expect wonders, and never get it.  I have always hated my hair so why would I look after it?  I met a lovely lady called Nelda, I told her about my situation, and she was so kind.  She had various suggestions for me including rubbing vodka on my scalp!  I didn’t do anything that she suggested as I was still losing clumps and I was worried, so so worried about causing the scalp more stress unnecessarily. After my first appointment where she acknowledged that I was shedding a lot of hair (but it was slowing), and that it did look a mess, and that it was going to take a good few months for it to grow back…I left feeling great actually.  I immediately made another appointment.  6 weeks later, after continuing my mindfulness, my reduced alcohol intake, and a general awareness of the need to be kinder to myself… I went to my next appointment.  Nelda confirmed that my hair was indeed starting to grow back.  I had little tufts of hair, measuring around 2cm.  I could feel it when running my fingers through my hair.  I would do this a lot.

A lot of things happened in 2019.  I split up with my boyfriend, that was really, really, hard.  I’m still hurting, and I don’t know when that’ll stop.  I had an operation, and I was crazy busy with work and travel.  My kids are my absolute world, and they helped me so much more than they’ll ever know. Always ready to give a cuddle, or make me a cup of tea :).

My hair is growing back now, and it’s not like it was before. It’s curly!  It’s going to take at least another year before I have a full head of hair, but I’m not stressed about that now.

Work is calmer, and I’m becoming more confident.  So, I’m actually loving it a lot more (if that’s even possible).  I’ve even started doing webinars with my good friend Katie.  Something I never thought I’d be doing.

I’m looking forward more.  I have a 10 year plan, and woe betide anybody that tries to get in my way.

Life is for living, and I plan on blogging all about it!!

Rach x

 

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New hair growth.