As we emerge into a brave new world - lockdown is lifting
Potentially, this is the first day of the rest of our lives. Primary schools in England reopened today. For many parents across the country, today will have brought mixed feelings - for some elation at the idea of having some time to breathe and think again, for others devastation at letting their children back out into a world that has shrunk since this time last year. For most, there will be mixed feelings of sadness, loss, grief, letting go, excitement, relief, joy.
Our feelings will be for ourselves and for them, our little people that have been so desperate to play with others their age. Some children are excited about rejoining the world, and for others it brings only anxiety. There are no right feelings here.
Regardless of our situations, whether or not we have kids, today marks the start of a change that is unknown and undefined. Incrementally, the world has begun to reopen, and our country will begin reopening from now.
For many of us, our worlds have shrunk in the last year, to a world mostly contained by the walls of our home or, if we're lucky, our gardens. Other than remotely, many of us have barely seen those we care about, and those we love to laugh with. For those that have had to continue working away from home, they will experience the influx of the rest of the world into what has become their domain.
We feel our mixed bags of feelings and it can be exhausting to hold so much in one mind and one heart. It can be exhausting to separate out what is what. So much may have changed since we last lived fully in the world.
We may remind ourselves of the Spanish flu years, and how they were followed by the roaring 20s, and the need to celebrate, shake loose and be free. Many of us feel this and are desperate to get out into the world and live again. For others, this brings anxiety, an opening up from the world that was small, safe, secure, and controllable; to one that is wide, and open, and not controllable. We are again to be as small boats, thrown around by the waves and, perhaps, knocked over by the larger boats.
I guess all I'm trying to say here is that our feelings may well be all over the place. Many of us have felt lonely, frightened, anxious or trapped. So many people feel exhausted, drained, wondering when they will be normal again, when their energy will return, but we've all lived through some strange times. It isn't over, but it is lifting. There is light shining on our world again, especially as spring begins to return to the natural world.
I urge you to use this time wisely. Contemplate on what has been, make a list about what was good and what you'd like to keep - perhaps more time to yourself or more time with your close family; and make a list about what you want to change - seeing others more (or less), spending more time in nature, travelling, reading. Think carefully and explore your hearts and minds.
Don't follow what others do - this is the perfect time to be you, and to work out what you want from your life. We have come through and we need to grasp the lessons we have learned from this unusual, and precious, gift of time we have had. The lessons may have been tough, but everything that has happened can teach us something. It's up to us to work out what we want to take from all this.
Above all, take time to recover and revitalise yourself. Don't rush into anything unless you are 100% sure you want it. Give yourself time to re-enter the world. Give yourself time to feel and to process those feelings.
I wish you peace, happiness, a precious awareness of what is beautiful in your life, and support to grieve whatever you have lost over the last year. Most importantly, I wish you self-forgiveness for anything you wish hadn't happened over the last year - remember that you are not alone if you have struggled.
And finally, I am here if you need support.