Staring out to sea

Since Wednesday, I have been taking some time off work, which I really needed; the intensity was starting to get to me. I switched off my work phone and have only turned it on again a couple of times to check my emails. I needn’t have done that, really – my lovely colleagues are handling everything – but it is hard to switch off entirely.

The weather has been absolutely lovely for this time of year, perfect spring weather, which has really helped (imagine if we’d been in this situation in November!). I’ve done laundry and hung it outside to dry, I baked a cake, I’ve started reading The Mirror and the Light (the Hilary Mantel doorstop of a book), I have hung out with my children (all of whom are struggling to some extent with this less than ideal situation) and phoned the mums. I’ve cleared the kitchen worktops several times a day,  I’ve walked the dog and I have sat outside and stared at the sea. A lot. What I haven’t done is any gardening or picked up the vacuum cleaner and so I have been feeling guilty that I’m  squandering precious time and frustrated at my lack of motivation. I did what I usually do when I’m overwhelmed and idly scrolled through social media, and I came across these words in a post from my sister-in-law’s lovely mum:

~ Elena Mikhalkova
My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

Thinking about the future – even the next-week future, let alone next month or next year – is impossible at the moment. There is so much we can’t control and no clue as to when it will be safe to go about our daily business as we used to do. My darling kids are completely flummoxed by this, especially as all their academic lives have been brought to an abrupt halt. No amount of reminding ourselves how lucky we are compared to many others really helps. They know that. It doesn’t make them feel better.

All the roads ahead are dense with fog. And I’ve decided to use that metaphor as an approach to daily life for the time being – take small steps very carefully, slow right down, concentrate on the detail and trust that we’ll get there eventually.

I hope you’re keeping safe and well and finding your own ways of coping. I’d love to hear what they are x


9 thoughts on “Staring out to sea

  1. The unknown is really hard to deal with isn’t it, I am so sorry your children are struggling with it. Right now I think the reality is kicking in hard – mine are wondering when they will get back to things or move on etc. I’m glad you’ve had some time off of work. I was just saying this morning that this would have been harder to deal with if the weather had been really bad – at least we can all go outside. I love the words that you found, and the idea of small steps is exactly right I think. I have been doing a lot of staring out of the window – firstly at the blossom, then at all of the green. I am envying you your view of the sea! There are so many questions and so many unknowns, I don’t have any top tips really, I’ve been struggling to concentrate, and I think that it’s the same for many. I have started taking a few photos so that in the future they will remember what they did during this time. Which was a bit of yelling and fighting today to be honest, and some extreme grumpiness on my part. Onwards, little steps, one day at a time. Look after yourself my friend, and I hope your children are feeling better about things soon. Hugs, CJ xx


  2. Wise words Sam. Must admit that if I lived in your spot, I’d spend a great deal of time staring out to sea. I feel that life has travelled back forty years – we had tinned peaches and custard the other day for pudding! The ties of family and friends have strengthened albeit in different ways to those we’re used to but I’ve tired of the social media circus – I don’t need all that angst and narcissism. I wonder how we’ll all look back on this. A x


  3. Dear Sam, your photos are beautiful. And the poem is very fitting. I am also trying to focus on the present, taking each day as it comes. There are good days and bad, but the garden has been my salvation. Take care Sam.


  4. Staring out to the sea sounds very calming for the soul. I stare out of the window a lot (we live at the top of a hill, great views but urban). It is a difficult time for teens, they miss out on so much. My daughter had a bit of a wobbler today, well most days. She misses her friends and her routines. I am quite content but I am an introvert at best of times and for once I don’t wish I was a bit more outgoing. Taking some time off work is nice, I did that yesterday. It makes a difference even if work and free time is all in the same place now. Have a lovely Sunday xx


  5. That poem is full of wisdom. Small steps, whatever we can do. I’ve had days this week that I’ve done the bare minimum and wandered about the house and garden for the remainder of the time. These are such disconcerting days and the future is indeed a swirling mist. But there is light ahead. Take heart.


  6. I am pleased you took the decision to take time off and sit and stare fir a while – you clearly needed it. We are all responding differently to the surreal conditions we find ourselves in, but for all if us taking it a step at a time may be the kindest thing we can do for ourselves while our lives are out of our control. Take care Sam x


  7. What wise words Sam! So simple and yet so profound. We’re so used to not going slow, in little steps, that it seems foreign to think about it that way. And yet that is exactly what we can do when we can’t do anything else.
    You are so blessed to have the sea to gaze upon. I take comfort in my garden. Our garden centers are still open, so sometimes I go there just to gaze on all the new spring plants arriving every day. It was warm here yesterday, and the nursery was very crowded. For an hour or so, everything seemed normal again.


  8. As for coping: spending as much time in the garden as much as possible and reading the news as little as possible. Never watching the news on television. Reading. Speaking of, I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. I want to read The Mirror and the Light, but I’m not sure I can deal with the brutal end that comes to Thomas Cromwell.


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