While it's not quite the time to get into big groups and give each other long-lasting bear-hugs, now really is a time to celebrate.
For a start, we have to be glad for what we have right now. Regardless of our respective religious beliefs, the fact that you and I are alive is pretty spectacular.
The fact that we have made it this far through our very first (hopefully only) COVID-19 season, is also no mean feat.
If you can hear this little YouTube gem (Stay Homas) then you have another reason to be happy. It's a catchy little tune and worth memorising for those short walks around the house or apartment. Wiggle as you do so!!!!
If you can read this blog post, that's another plus. And if you can't, hopefully you have access to software or another person to read it for you (and my alt-texts for images are up to scratch). I will endeavour to start recording audio for all my blog posts ...
I suppose I'm one of the lucky ones.
I had a few little tiny cold/flu symptoms a while back, and survived, and decided to get the COVID test yesterday. The result motivated my GP to call me today, and she was relieved to hear I was fighting fit. It's weird, but saying I'm COVID-negative is a bit liberating! I can breathe near other humans again. I can feel confident enough to invite a friend over for dinner.
I was one of the "early adopters" when it came to social distancing and home isolation. The last time I saw my brothers and sisters was March 21st, at our regular coffee at the Yacht Club. The following Monday, I got my flu shot, did the bulk of my grocery shopping, and went home. From then, I avoided leaving my house. I hardly even went out for a walk. When I finally did, I got caught in the rain and my shoes were soaked for days.
Fairly recently, I've started to feel lonely.
Living alone means I don't get hugs from anyone. I have not been touched by another human since my siblings and I said our last farewells over a month ago. It never occurred to me before, probably because I took it for granted that I could just rock up to a friend's place and get a hug. But now, I've been acutely aware of it. Podcaster, Rachel Corbett put it succinctly on The Project (last week, I think), when she said "somebody touch me". She vocalised something that I think many people around the world are feeling. In my aloneness, I felt less alone.
I went for a walk this morning, leaving home after a glorious sit in the sunshine with breakfast. It was warm enough to wear a singlet top and shorts, when I left (not so when I got home). While I was out, there was a young man in a wheelchair just chilling out the front of his house. He was bored!!! There's another thing lots of people are feeling, all around the world! We got to chatting, and I asked if he wanted to join me on my walk. He was so worried about the police stopping him and charging him for being away from his home. I think the freedom, of being out, snuck into his bones and he could just live normally again for a while. It really was liberating!
I was glad to have his company. I learned a little about him, and he about me. We had an adventure checking out a part of our neighbourhood that we wouldn't normally go to. We discovered a cornucopia of takeaway joints! The FishNchippery has now been sampled, leaving a cake shop, cafe, Asian kitchen and Chinese restaurant ... gustatory delights await!
He reminded me that sometimes I have to make the effort to raise my mood, to elevate my energy, to stimulate my senses. When you are not being touched, you need to find other ways of keeping your body feeling alive. So, here is my top 5 list for April:
Vocalise - speak, sing, yodel. Do what you need to do, to feel the lovely lilt in your larynx! Some great songs to sing include Peter Allen's "I still call Australia home", Mark Knopfler's "Golden Heart", Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton's "I am Australian", or you could go for the ABC's short version "I am Australian", or .. (and I love this), this beautiful version; or even David Bowie's "Heroes", sung by Couch Choir. You could join Couch Choir (and maybe end up on YouTube!). Or, you could be like Sam Neill, who reads children's stories (among other things) on social media. He still is the "thinking woman's crumpet"!
Self-hug - yes, there is such a thing. Here are five examples: Wrap your arms around yourself, enjoying the bear-hugginess of your own wonderful form. Hold your own hands, feeling your palms touch each other. Stroke your arms and your legs, and give yourself a little massage. Place your hands on your heart and feel it beating, while your breath visits your lungs. Hold your face in the palms of your hands, with your eyes closed, connecting skin to skin. They all help. And remember, you give the best hugs!!
Feel extremes in temperature - Allow yourself to feel cool for just a little bit longer before putting on another layer of clothing. Enjoy the briskness of the cold. If you have some sunshine, feel it on your toes and feet, your fingers and hands, your cheeks and shoulders, the nape of your neck and your back. Be sun-safe, of course, but enjoy the feeling of the warmth oozing into your skin.
Mindfully meditate - you don't have to follow any special formula for meditation, just notice "what is" and let it go peacefully, non-judgmentally, and gladly. If our aim here is to get you back into your skin, then mindfully meditate with a focus on your skin, your muscles, your bones, all your organs.
Move - if exercise is your thing, then get busy with it! But if you're bored with lunges and star-jumps, then it's time for alternatives, like learning to sign (check out the signing in the Heroes clip above). Or .. it could be time to turn up the volume and dance like nobody is watching (in many cases, nobody is watching!!).
So, what music gets you moving? Play it, not so you bother your neighbours, but loud enough to feel it's rhythm and pulse in your own blood. Try a Latin number, like songs by Ricky Martin or Carlos Santana. Allow your toosh to wiggle, and raise your arms so you can flap your hands. Who cares how you look? Shake it out and feel awesome again!
Well, as we transit from April into the great unknown of May, let's keep on finding solutions to the strange feelings we're experiencing .. these days will end and this too shall pass, but for now, we need to stay strong in all the things that are protecting us and our loved ones. Let's be creative, let's be hopeful, and let's look forward to giving real bear-hugs, because that's the undoubtedly best way to receive bear-hugs. It is always better to give than to receive (because you have the best of both).