Butterflies on Bomb Sites at Christmas

We really are old enough to know better. As we endure a lockdown [ish] Christmas we have two ways of looking at this.  Either we let the lockdown control us – or we control how we enjoy our lockdown?

There’s no doubt about it, at the age of 81 I still have to remind myself that I should know better than get depressed about what life has thrown at us.  I keep reminding my friends [and when it gets really bad – myself] that nothing lasts forever – happiness or sadness – in time it all passes. And across my 8 decades of life I have seen some of the worse, which at the time I thought I’d never get over – but I did.

Personally, I made a list of what I can do during lockdown – and I’m ticking them off each day as I accomplish them. Those cupboards and wardrobes that missed the last lockdown [and to be fair the last 10 years!] The garden needs preparing before winter finally makes it too cold to enjoy sorting it out. I’m an avid painter but always complaining that I don’t have enough time – no excuse now! And, looking on the bright side we are allowed to go for walks with one other person and [bliss] we can sit on benches together! We didn’t have that last lockdown – and we oldies definitely need a bench every mile or so.

So, if you can get outside do! I find it easier with a friend and the time simply flies by.  Walk at your own pace – but if you can do 10 mins of brisk walking (over 3 mph) a day this is proven to reduce the risk of an early death by 15%.  If you can’t get out – speak to a friend on the phone every day But, we’re all different so being active means different things to all of us.  So, lockdown does give us the chance to plan our days better – and we know that exercise has a great effect on our wellbeing and mood.  Ask yourself – have I looked after my body today?   Try to sit less – if you spend lots of time sitting down, try to get up and move around a bit every hour. If you’re worried you might forget, you could set an alarm to remind yourself.

Have I moved more today than I normally would – gardening, or maybe a chair work-out. Even whilst sitting in your chair at home a few simple exercises will help keep you warm, strengthen your arms and shoulders and improve your posture. So sit upright in your chair, pull your shoulders back and tummy in. With your palms facing upwards make a fist (or hold small, filled water bottles), bend elbows and hold bottles/fists up under your arm pits at the side of your chest. Now fly arms out wide and up to shoulder level (like a flying bird), and then curl back to armpits. Repeat flying action 10 times. Best to wear layered loose clothing which can be discarded as you get hot!

My generation could never have been called snowflakes.  Most of us grew up post war- even through the 50s we were still on rationing [until 1954!]. Britain was too poor to be able to rebuild the thousands of buildings which had been bombed and were the playgrounds for millions of children across Britain- Bombsite Britain we called it! To be fair we didn’t know anything better, so it was all a bit of excitement at the time.  In fact my enduring memory is of the Buddleia growing from one of the wrecked houses. It couldn’t be bowed by adversity – instead, it bloomed – and so attracted scores of butterflies. So nature reminds us of how to overcome adversity – butterflies on bomb sites.

A good friend of mine, Amanda Barry told me of some good-natured soul who came around to her apartment block on the eve of the millennium.  The well-meaning soul explained in very ‘slow’ tones to her and her neighbours – “there were going to be a lot of fireworks and he didn’t want them to be frightened. Amanda fluttered her long eyelashes and said “darling we’ve lived through a world war with Doodlebugs flying over our heads. I think we’re equipped to cope with a few sparklers!”

And isn’t she right?  We are old enough to know better!  We’ve lived through decades of madness – do you remember the ‘60s – we thought we’d all perish in a nuclear war. The 70s brought the 3 day week, strikes everywhere and we were the poor man of Europe but we discovered the Space Hopper, Ford Cortina And the record player and cassette recorder.  So there’s always something!

I’m lucky to have a family but we’ve all experienced the loss of loved ones over our lives. A partner, a dear friend a parent or a child. Nothing ever prepares us for any of it – and we feel our life will never be the same again.  And it isn’t but we learned to cope. And so we are lucky to be alive during this Covid nightmare.

We have survived some of the most dangerous decades of the last centuries. And if we forget that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ – if we’re still alive – we are stronger. We owe it to our generation to remind ourselves that we have control of our life and our enjoyment. Make sure you talk to a friend every day – or write a letter – remember those.  Even though this lockdown is colder – make sure you move around to keep warm and keep fit. Decide what you’re going to do every day – and keep it new – do something that you’ve always wanted to do – and do it.  As I always say – age is mind over matter – if you don’t mind – it doesn’t matter!  So, whatever this horrid covid brings – Keep Fit & Carry On!