This was penned in my mind, somewhere around the third hill climb on our morning bike ride. I have realised lately that words flow most freely when I am least expecting it, more often than not when I am outside, immersed in nature.
It was day one of lockdown when I first realised the opportunity that lay ahead of us in the midst of such chaos. The early morning sun was casting pretty shadows all over the house and it drew my attention outdoors. At 7am I popped on my coat over my pj’s while the coffee brewed and wrapped the girls up in theirs too. There was frost on the ground but I could sense that Spring was in the air. Mark was having a rare lie in and so it was just me and the girls and beautiful creation. We are truly blessed to live in a stunning part of the countryside; our house backs onto a forest and a river, we are surrounded my streams and vast fields. The bird song is always loud. As the girls played I breathed it in and sipped my coffee and God spoke, as he tends to do when I take time to quieten my mind. Don’t miss the blessing He whispered and for the first time in weeks I felt the weight of the situation lift from my shoulders.
Lockdown has been a time of simplicity and growth for us. I don’t mean growth in our waistlines, although that has occurred too. I would never have imagined how much we would ebb as life flowed around us. We have done some new things; planting tiny seeds and watching them grow into nourishing veggies, adding ten hens to our family and collecting their eggs with great excitement each morning, cycling stunning routes, home schooling and more juggling than we have ever done before. I will admit, some days are easier than others but for the most part I am more content than I ever have been, we all are.
And where I felt writers block for most of 2019, this year the words have come back and I delight in the opportunity to weave them into something beautiful. It must be something about the headspace lockdown has created. Where I once rushed from one thing to another I am now taking my sweet time. That headspace has opened some long forgotten memories too. As I thought about my love for writing I felt this memory flood in.
My Mum & Dad separated when I was eight and every third weekend I spent at my Dad’s place. He made it a weekend full of fun and one thing we regularly did was call in to the office where he worked as the editor of a major local newspaper. The moment you walked through the doors you could smell paper and coffee and sometimes the faint scent of somebody’s lunch that had been nuked in the microwave. There was a buzz around that place and I found it utterly fascinating. I loved hearing people tap away on their keyboards and the hum of the printer. Everyone knew me and stopped to say Hi or give me some freebie they had been sent that week. While Dad did some work I would park myself on the floor, cross legged, and begin sorting through mountains of books he had been sent, picking out a pile as big as I could carry to take home. I would always get a chocolate bar from the vending machine and sometimes even a can of coke. It was nothing and it was everything. People would push their chairs from their desk and roll towards the open door, shouting in a sentence for Dad to mould into something punchier and I would be amazed at how he did it so effortlessly, often not even lifting his head from his screen. When I was a little older Dad gave me my very own column in the paper to write kids book reviews. I would sit at a desk and use the bulky old computers to create my column. Dad would read over it and point out ways in which I could make the sentence read better, he taught me how to formulate a headline and the importance of building emotion through my writing. I didn’t realise at the time but it was an incredible teaching moment, I have never forgotten the lessons he taught me. But, as much as I loved writing and was captivated by the office, journalism wasn’t for me. Many teachers told me I should strongly consider the industry, it was too late; I had also seen a side to the business that I really didn’t like. The cut throat attitude, invasion of privacy and finely crafted lies of the tabloids put me off completely and so that memory was put to bed along with my natural career path.
Isn’t the mind an incredible and terrifying thing? How a memory can be buried so deeply and in an instant, with a smell or a song or even a fleeting moment it all comes flooding back. I didn’t realise how full my mind was until I had the chance to be still. I had left no room for creative writing or thinking. I was operating on the verge of burnout and it was beginning to show. Lockdown has given me space to remember and dream and write and be creative. What has it done for you?