This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Grace and I both love being the age we are; ageism is never in style on our online magazine. We always write positively about life after 60. However, I am now thinking more about Life after Lockdown. My age is just a number or, in Lockdown speak – a Vaccine Tier, in my case, Tier 7.
These past 12 months have propelled us through a rollercoaster of emotions. Everyone has experienced highs and lows; there has been no strict schedule of when and why. One day I can wake up feeling positive because help, in the form of a vaccine, is on its way. Meanwhile, on other days I lie in bed wondering whether we will ever go back to the way we lived before the pandemic. I have never been a person to look back, but this pandemic has made me nostalgic for times past – and not times so long ago.
One of the issues I have had is that this is a problem that we can do nothing about, i.e. we are reliant on others to sort it. All I can do is try to protect my family and myself. As a mother, one’s role is to solve problems, however big or small they may be, and this pandemic has made us feel so helpless.
We are a nation that normally has a huge sense of humour, but laughing seems unacceptable. People seem miserable or angry. With the wearing of masks, we can’t even smile at strangers to spread a little cheer.
We have all had to find de-stressing activities. It used to be that once I finished my work, I changed into some loungewear, grabbed a glass of wine and found my husband for a catch-up chat on our day. Now I am permanently in loungewear, I am with my husband all day, and there is nothing to catch up on. Television doesn’t always relax me, and sometimes I find it difficult to concentrate on a book.
Our day has become a routine with little or no diversity. We don’t have diaries, we rarely look at our watches, and we don’t make plans as there is no point as everything is so uncertain. We live in the ‘Now’ which must be so much better for us. When I went on a Buddhism course, I was taught that living in the now was the best thing for us. I remember trying hard to do so. However, our lives and minds were so full of memories and plans it was hard to empty our minds to be truly living in the now. Life after 60 was, in my mind, time to do all the things I hadn’t had time to do before. It certainly wasn’t time to slow down.
I have revisited one pastime that I have always enjoyed but have not had time to indulge until lockdown – jigsaw puzzles. I am now on my fourth in four weeks. It is the one thing that makes me switch off and is very satisfying. I have a Puzzle buddy, so we regularly swap puzzles.
I have also cleared out all my kitchen cupboards. It was time to get rid of all that chipped china and do a big cull so that I can now find things more easily. During this clear out, I found utensils and gadgets that I had no idea what they were for. I cannot remember using them and, if I haven’t used them up to now, then in my new life after 60 I definitely won’t need them.
Together, my husband and I went through all of our books and arranged them into sections. We have talked about doing it for years and never got around to it. So this was a good job done. Our kids took loads of the books that we discarded, and the rest have gone to charity.
Having said all of this, I long for the chaotic life pre-pandemic. Piles of books, clothes, post, lying around the house waiting to be sorted. Then falling into bed exhausted after a busy day whilst complaining that I have no time for myself. And of course, I miss hugging.
I will miss certain things from lockdown; Zoom calls with friends from around the world because we made time to schedule a call considering time differences. However, I will be so happy to catch up with local girlfriends in a coffee shop. I will really appreciate going on one of our girlfriend’s gossip saunters through the countryside with lots of women.
We seem to have been drowning in Covid and, before that, Brexit chat. The structure has gone from our week with no differentiation of the days. This morning I had to think long and hard about which day I was beginning. The radio has become my companion. I get my hugs from the dogs and my husband!
All being well on 21st June, Midsummer’s Day, we can mix and mingle. That date has lodged itself in my mind since Boris Johnson announced his lockdown-easing roadmap. As it is the longest day of the year, we will have plenty of daylight hours to party. People worldwide celebrate this day each year, known as the Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, with feasts, bonfires, picnics, and traditional songs and dances. We have been told that this is when all legal, social distancing restrictions will be no more, so whilst I won’t be going to a nightclub, my last visit to one of those sweaty venues was about 30 years ago; this tentative deadline does permit me to believe the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a cruel mirage.
Let’s hope we all have something to celebrate and can then move forward and I can get my life after 60 back on track taking with me some of the positive things I have learned from lockdown.
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