From the very get go of lockdown in the UK I tried to make the best out of the situation. However, at times it wasn’t easy despite my efforts. We ALL have blips and moments where we have to check ourselves and re-evaluate. In fact one of the biggest realisations from this strange time we’ve been living through has been that actually, I need to be re-evaluating and adapting far more regularly than I previously thought, ensuring I’m keeping my mind and my body in full health. Instead of every six months like I did before, probably because that was all the time I had to giving my life a regular once over. Now i’m constantly asking myself questions;

"How am I feeling today?”

“What am I doing to be happy today?”

“What am I grateful for?”

“What do the people I love need?”

These thoughts are all constantly swimming around my mind to ensure I’m not neglecting the needs of myself and the people I love. The sense of presence and focus it has given me has been transformative. Its made me realise so many things I enjoy doing that I was never making enough time for previously, its opened my eyes to the joy which comes with giving yourself time to do things that bring you real fulfilment and happiness because working all the time just wasn’t giving me that and I wanted to fill my life with more of the stuff that did.

So this is what I do now that I wasn’t doing in life before Lockdown;

 

RUNNING MORE

I started running about a year ago and honestly, I wasn’t very good. At school I’d been a 100m sprinter so long distance had never been my jam. I became breathless very quickly which in turn made me stop and start and feel like a failure which then didn’t make me feel good or motivated to do it again the next day. It was a vicious cycle which kept repeating itself until I realised to simply slow the hell down! Yep, I thought I was going slow before but I was about to give new meaning to the word slow. I dropped my pace dramatically and before I knew it I was making it to the end of my road with more power in the tank to keep going, 3km became doable, then I was craving going further, and further until I did 10km without stopping. I was hooked! But I was probably running a little too much and a little too intensively so I had to re-evaluate and adjust again. Now I’m aiming to get up most days and run at least 3km, if I get to the 3km point and feel I can go further, then I allow myself to do so but my main aim is 3km, aim low but achieve high! 

The thing that made the biggest difference to my runs was when my best friend explained to me that it was normal to feel completely wiped out in the first few minutes of your run as you take your body from a resting state to endurance running pace and once you push through the wall of the initial pangs of fatigue, soon you are flying. Your breathing begins to regulate itself, you start to pace yourself and you get a feeling that you could run forever. It feels incredible and it's probably one of the main feelings that keeps me getting up at 6am and getting my arse out the door. 

 

SCRAPBOOKING

I made a bulk order a few years ago of the most beautiful cream linen photo books from eBay with the intention of creating beautiful books of memories over the years of our lives. Sadly, I never permitted myself the time to get around to doing them and every time I see the photo books, a pang of sadness would take over me that they weren’t filled with all of the lovely memories we’ve created over the years. Last week I finally made a start on my first book which is actually a scrapbook of the garden, plants, flowers, veg and herbs we’ve planted and I intend on documenting it all. Soon enough, I was going through my camera roll using all my Free Photo print credits in one go and a lot more on top, having all the images from my camera roll, and our life together developed ready to be glued, washi taped and written into out beautiful memory books. Once I’m up to date I plan on having one filled per year so that one day friends, family, children can look over all of the wonderful things we did together. And there’s even going to be scrap books of all the wonderful letters, cards and postcards you wonderful lot send me so when I’m feeling down I can just go through and read them all. It’s good for the soul, extremely cathartic and will be wonderful to go through years down the line.

 

HIKING

A new addition to the list of hobbies but from the moment Carrie and I enjoyed a hike in Ireland last year, it was love. And during lockdown we’ve been ensuring we are doing much more of it, even if its just around where we live, we lace up our boots, fill our backpacks with snacks and water and set off in search of our path. Sometimes, if we’re feeling extra fancy we, plan our routes around beautiful local pubs and stop off for cold glasses of the best wine and chips as well as a well earned rest. On our most recent hike we did 20km stopping off to eat beans fresh from their pods in a local field, enjoying our sandwiches whilst looking over a stunning stately home, stopping for 5 well needed glasses of wine and we laughed, joked and put the world to rights for the entire day. I cannot tell you how spectacular it was not to mention it was all on our doorstep and aside from the wine, didn’t cost us a penny!

 

GARDENING

If you watch my YouTube videos you may well be sick of the sound of my Sproutlings but I must warn you, I am just getting started! Having time in the garden with my husband, watering our plants and planting new flowers, herbs and vegetables has been a revelation for me. If you’ve been around my spaces on the internet for a while you’ll know I was never really in to vegetables growing up, I’d always pick the basil leaves off of my pizzas and really only ever fancied ‘beige food’ as I called it. I have come a long way in recent years and expanded my diet immensely from my first Avocado when I was 28 to my first Artichoke a couple of months ago but NOTHING has had a greater impact on my diet than the idea of growing my own produce. Since my first sprouts of Basil I have taken every opportunity to use it within my cooking like its gold and a few days ago the first sprouts of Spinach appeared which I’m counting down until I’m able to harvest and use in the kitchen. This weekend we planted our first batch of carrots and spring Onions and I am on the hunt for more produce that we will be able to grow during the winter months {so please do pop any suggestions below if you happen to know of any}. Not only is this something we have been enjoying as a couple, its also something that can be enjoyed with children, I can only imagine the sense of achievement and fun this whole process would be for them, giving vegetables a new identity and making them all far more appealing.

Regular followers will be shocked to know, I cooked with 2000g of Heritage tomatoes, sadly they weren’t my own grown but I hope one day they will be.

 

READING 

Its always been something I kick myself that I don’t get enough time to do, and I think that’s exactly why I never had time, simply because I didn’t MAKE time. But with all the re-evaluating Ive been doing I realised sitting on my phone in the evening had been contributing to headaches that I have been experiencing so I started clocking off my phone earlier and curling up with a book instead. Previously I’d plough through a book in 48 hours in excitement/worry I wouldn’t have time to finish it, but now I’m much more carefree and disciplined with it. A chapter or two of a beautifully light hearted book before bed has been the perfect wind down process to get me to sleep much easier and earlier, which brings me perfectly on to my next point…

 

GOING TO BED EARLY 

At university I could happily sleep until 4pm after going to bed at 3am without a care in the world, but soon enough I began to feel very disrupted and very demotivated. Learning what motivates me and makes me jump out of bed in the morning has been so important and its something I continue to work on every morning. I've got a Lumi alarm clock which helps soften wake up times, I allow myself to wake up gently and I allow myself time to have a coffee and properly wake up once I’m out of bed too. I also allow myself to have a lay in once a week, actually I was told I had to by my doctor so on the weekend I pick the best day for it and allow myself to snooze through my alarm clock until my husband brings me a coffee in my favourite mug  to sip in bed until I’m ready to tackle the day. By the next morning I’m itching to get up with the sunrise again, fresh as a daisy.

 

COOKING 

Cooking has been a process in itself, from being absolutely petrified of hurting myself or giving myself, and everyone around me food poisoning, to comfortably preparing delicious meals full of goodness as often as possible. I feel most accomplished when I make something out of left overs or preparing something right before it goes out of date so it doesn’t end up wasted but more so when I try something new that works out perfectly. I can’t express the sense of achievement it brings me, I really do look forward to getting better at it as the years pass.

I remember when we moved in to our house and I was so excited about the beautiful Tom Howley kitchen that came with it and really wanted to use it to its full potential but found it all a bit over whelming. It wasn’t until I received the Thermomix as a PR product that I really began to learn and I promise, to this day I still use it, love it and find it the most stress free way to prepare the most wonderful and delicious meals, batch cook pasta sauces from scratch, search for new recipes to try and not worry about completely ruining them. It's just wonderful and as I said, I can’t wait to get better!

Those are just a few things I learnt, started doing and enjoyed immensely over lock down that I plan to continue as life returns to new normal. They bring fulfilment, purpose and also helps with the work life balance that I’ve found difficult establishing over the years.

 

Did you learn or try anything new over lockdown? A recipe maybe? A new hobby? I’d love to know in the comments below!