It’s a bizarre and unprecedented time and, for me, this week has been filled with ups and downs that needed a little extra navigating. Here’s where I’m at right now and why I am using creativity to help me manage this rollercoaster.
The lovely Melissa from Mellow Doodles has very kindly allowed me to use her work in this post. She is so wonderful at summing up those tricky feelings. You can find more of her work on Instagram: @mellow.doodles or on her website: www.mellowdoodles.com
The first week of this lockdown was hard. I made the tough decision to put my business on pause or, as I have had it recently reframed, I put the baking part of it into hibernation! This was due to lack of ingredients in the shops and, if I’m being honest, a lack of courage to even want to leave the house.* I didn’t move much from the corner of my sofa, cried a bit (ok, a LOT,) scrolled through my phone way too much and compared my situation to that of other baking businesses, feeling in awe at how quickly they have shifted their focus and wondering if I should be doing the same.
Last weekend, I started to feel a bit more normal. I stopped watching the news (which I never normally do anyway!) and deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone. Maybe I’m hiding from the world a little (I didn't even know the Olympics had been postponed until someone told me) and probably this isn’t particularly healthy. But it’s what’s working for me right now.
And in turn, that helped me feel more productive and creative and put a little skip back in my step. I’ve been keeping busy and I’ve been working on things that I previously couldn’t find the time for! And the last few days have allowed me to appreciate that the way I was working before wasn’t balanced and have allowed me to think about what I would like to change when things are back to ‘normal.’
But over the last couple of days, the wild pandemic ride took a bit of a dip. Should I be allowed to be feeling this productive and creative? Is it ok that I’m experiencing gratitude for having this time to slow down? Experiencing joy? Guilt from knowing that I am feeling all these things? Feeling a bit shamed by various things being shared online about productivity.
I reached out to a cake business group I’m in and shared these worries with people who I thought would relate and I was offered these words:
“You’re of far more value to everyone if you can do stuff.”
I sat with that for a while and it really resonated.
I know for myself, pandemic or not, I need to be busy for my own mental health. I don’t do well with too much downtime. So I’m brainstorming, planning, learning. I’m creating and working out ways to share that with people as my own way of being helpful.
And feeling this doesn’t mean that I don’t feel everything else too, or even negate those feelings. I’m missing my family and worrying about those that are vulnerable and those that still have to go out to work, feeling anxiety over how long this could last, the general feeling of not knowing and the waiting. But I’m trying to feed the stuff that’s serving me, understand the stuff that isn’t, create when it feels right and take a step back when I need to.
At the core of everything I do is following my heart and I am doing my best to listen and see where it leads me one day at a time. And if it leads me to cake, well…so be it!
I would like to offer those words to you but with the added caveat of “...if you want (or have the capacity) to do stuff.” Because if, at the moment, you don’t really feel like doing anything or, for whatever reason, can’t do anything, then that’s ok too. Where is your heart taking you? I hope you give yourself the permission to listen to what it needs.
Keep on keeping safe.
*I did manage to brave leaving the house to go to Lidl and, although I found it quite spooky, like most things, it wasn’t half as bad and I made it out to be in my head. I returned home with the shopping in the boot only to find the lock had broken and the shopping was trapped inside! It seems there is still the opportunity to get into ridiculous situations and there is still laughter to be had! (The shopping was freed after we wrangled with the parcel shelf!)
P.S. If you want something creative to do that also gives you some self-love and self-care wisdom, you can buy one of Melissa's colouring books here. This isn't an ad. I just think she's fab!