Endurance

It’s 6:30 on an October morning and it’s dark in Edinburgh. I’m walking the dog, wrapped up like it is already deep December: hat, scarf, jacket under rain coat. The rain beats down, the wind whistles along the Union Canal and the pup, whilst still wagging her tail, shakes the water off her back and looks at me like: “Run this whole “morning walk” idea past me again?”

I’m thinking the clocks haven’t changed yet. 

I’m thinking it’s going to get darker and colder for a long time yet.

I’m thinking of the looming second wave of an invisible force and the impact it is already having and I’m wondering… how the hell do we do this?

How do we do this?

How do we look after ourselves, our loved ones, those around us who are anxious or skint or lonely or in peril right now and in the months ahead?

How do we hold on to our sanity, our goodness, our kindness, our humanity when we are knackered and disconnect and confused by changing rules? When there is so much uncertainty? When you wake up and the rules of social conduct are supposed to be different to yesterday? When so many people seem furious about everything and Social Media bubbles with outrage and accusations and half-truths…When Facebook or Insta isn’t awash with weddings, birthday celebrations, folk meeting up for concerts or festivals…..

Because we are in this for the long-haul, right? It’s not going to be “over” any time soon and when it is “over” (and that won’t be on a specific date.. there’s not going to be an annual CE (Covid End) Day celebration) the effects will be felt for a generation or maybe more. 

So How? What is required right now?

The word that came up was endurance.

“the ability to keep doing something difficult, unpleasant, or painful for a long time”

“the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina”

The obvious analogy for endurance is a marathon, not a sprint… but folk who run marathons typically train for hours, run for hundreds of miles… So what happens if we ask someone with little or no readiness to do the distance? What would they need to get through?

Maybe the right kit. Certainly food/sustenance. Mental & emotional support – People to cheer them on, support them, notice if they are falling behind. A focus on getting through, not on getting fast…

I can’t help thinking that there is a calling right now for those who have done emotional and mental marathons. Those who have done “the Work” and can already function and endure in this type of odd-liminal/ half-life where things are restricted, yet not. Where we are alone, together. Where things shift without due warning. Where there is so much fatigue and fear and fury…

They might be coaches, therapists, psychologists, scientists, people of faith, they might be people who have lived with long-term illness or deep personal pain or addiction and overcome it… it might be the very people who have been seen as being Hippy-tree-hugging-touchy-feely outsiders… but those who can articulate and sit in amongst all this confusion with a modicum of calm, patience, empathy and understanding…these are the very resources and leaders we need right now… because those who have run paths of long-term uncertainty and have sat with grief and loss and confusion… they have something in them.  

Resource, wisdom…an antidote to fear and anxiety.

They are out there. They are in your life somewhere.

They may help us endure.

—–

And, without intention of smugness or rightness, my endurance pledge to myself runs something like this & in no particular order

I will begin… or continue to begin.

I will get up every day, determined to make things better…Determined I can.

I will approach each conversation as if I can be helpful and useful.

I will call out BS kindly. 

I’ll bring my view.

I will acknowledge my own fears and sadness, and commit not to infect others with them.

I will work with my negative stuff first – reflect, reconsider, adjust – and where I find myself struggling, I’ll ask for help with someone who can help me dissipate it effectively.

I will write, walk, run, meditate, stretch, drink water, look after the pup, tidy my house, pay my bills, try not to mainline chocolate or booze, be outside, pay attention to the weather and beauty where I find it… these things resource me, so I am available to resource others.

I will be thoughtful about what I post on Social Media.

I will shop locally or ethically and support someone’s income where I can. 

I will try to laugh and make others too.

I will check in with my elderly neighbour who is fearful and frail.

I will text love to friends and call people.

I will endeavour to receive love and care back, with grace, when it’s offered.

I will sometimes make myself unavailable – I will rest up, get cozy, sleep, feed myself and find space to breathe – I will try to see this, not as an act of indulgence, but as an act of restoration and readiness.

When someone shows up knackered or vibrating with anxiety or overwhelm, I’ll endeavour to be present and be with them.

Help

help-depression

How can I help you? He asks
Oh God…. My mind is blank.
I don’t know.
The honest, truest answer I have is, I don’t know.
I don’t know how you can help me.
It is a mystery.
If I knew it, I’d ask for it… I really would…

Help me out here, will you?

What is on offer?
It becomes more useful if I understand the territory we are on.
“How can I help you” is a World… a Universe of Possible Helpings.
It slightly freaks me out
I’m not good at articulating the help I might need… this ain’t my natural language.
Can you be more specific about what you see yourself offering?
It would settle me down a bit.

Mostly, if I sit for a bit, it is this:
You can help by listening.
By being honest with me about how I seem.
You can offer me time and energy to build something new or different.
You can help by offering me a different perspective.
You can help by being straight with me – be kind, but be true
If the truth isn’t pretty – kindly, truly tell me thus..
…in the long run, that is real help.
Remind me I can – because if we are at the point you recognise I need help,
perhaps I think I can’t.
Ask me whether I should – because I might believe I should or ought to
& that might be a pile of nonsense & that might be good data for me.
Don’t look at me like I am broken and you need to fix me; rather believe I can fix myself

Actually – if you’d like to source me some damn good glue, that really would be helpful.

And laughter.. that’s always a good way forward

Yes… perhaps this is how you can help me.
It’s helpful to know.

The Nurse will lead you now….

20131217-064726.jpgSo the last few days have been a lot about hospitals and medical/surgical type information. (See here for previous post) And one of the things I have been reflecting on is this:

My first HR director was an ex nurse. She says her time Nursing was the best possible preparation for life – both Corporate and Personal – I’d forgotten she said that, yet, having chatted to the nursing staff and watched things over the past days, I’d say she was really on to something.
Nurses have excellent leadership credentials: Continue reading

It’s that time of year…

So I can get a little sentimental at this time of year – long dark nights & mulled wine might do that to a person.

At the risk of getting a bit Oscar Ceremony, I want to pause and take a moment. In August, I wrote the Kindness List post  and I want to do something similar now – A thank you list….

So to family, friends, clients, colleagues, peers, classmates, tutors, teachers, collaborators, contributors, commentators….

pqx008-pink-cut-out-tree

The Thank-You List 2012

I am thankful for the people who have made me stop, think, reconsider.For those who make me realise how clumsy and careless I can sometimes be. For those who see the opposite. For those who have taken the time to walk with me, talk with me, hear me, see me. For those who have allowed me to do the same back. For those who recommend me on or come back to work with me. For those who don’t understand what fuchsia blue is about. For those who have made me belly laugh with my head thrown back. For those who have made me cry. For the people who have put up with that scary frowny thing I do when I’m REALLY concentrating. For those who have had no time for me at all. For the folk who took time to read and comment on this blog. For the people who refuse to read the blog because they’d rather not go virtual.

For the people I love and who allow me to love them…..

Thank you.

And if you are reading this, I’ll take the opportunity to wish you &  yours all the very best over the holidays & into 2013… and if you’re not, I’ll catch you somehow.

Seasons Greetings.

ps: I won’t just be doing the thanking via the blog – there will be more specific thanks offered via phone calls and emails and meet-ups and letters….Few Christmas cards, though this year, it’s a donation to Alzheimers Scotland.

pps: Image courtesy of caroline gardner

The Kindness List

Here is the Kindness List, written on a train bound for Gatwick a few weeks ago, around about the time I was grappling with some of the learning noted in the last post.

I wrote it in hot pink pen, filling up blank pages and by the end of it, I was grinning like an idiot (and the person sitting opposite was looking quizzical).  As an exercise, writing a Kindness List comes thoroughly recommended.

A couple of weeks after writing it, it seemed a good thing to share with a colleague who was similarly grappling and fighting with workstuff and lifestuff. It made her smile, too.

There’s nothing here that’s particularly profound, new or amazing. It could be longer or shorter, cleverer or more daft. It could be…. But it isn’t.  It’s just a list, offered out kindly, funnily enough. I hope it makes you smile.

Kindness List

Slow down, girl. Sit with stuff when it comes – there is no need to rush to action or conclusions
Smile. You are happier and more free when you do.
Go easy on the alcohol, kid. Maybe less is more? Something fabulous in one glass, rather than a bottle of crap.
Move your body – you love it when you do and it loves you right back. There is not one single thing wrong with exercise.
Not too serious, hon. Life can be tough enough. A little humour and a wry smile can be a good way to….….just be.
Judges are for courts, beloved – not for your head. Be generous to yourself and others.
Play. Remember to play. Not rough play, but light, daft, silly, messy finger-painting-ooooh-this-is-fun play.
Take a big hot bath with loads of bubbles
Buy good shoes
Get massages
Smile and speak to the people who serve you in shops, bars and restaurants. It Just Feels Good.
Make contact with friends and family – not because you have to, but because you really love seeing folk and being connected.
 That’s mine – What would be on yours?