I haven’t been on the blog in a minute.
Quarantine is a lot. It’s an odd time.
The world is in the midst of the massively overused but appropriate – ‘unprecedented times’.
We’re locked down for safety. All over the world. People are dying and suffering in the thousands. It would be hard to talk about Quarantine without first acknowledging this. This pandemic is for the want of better word – horrible.
At this singular time, people all over the world are united in the heartbreaking reality that their loved ones are being stolen from them before their time. There’s no ‘silver lining’ or ‘greater good’ to it. Simply put – it is tragic.
For those not directly impacted, or touched by this virus – it’s very easy, I think, to feel helpless. To feel guilty for being okay. And also guilty for working, and guilty even for not working. Ashamed for not working out, and also sheepish for going out to ‘claim your daily exercise allowance’. If you’re not sharing your love to others publicly online, does that mean you don’t care enough? If you’re not watching every news announcement and discussing it at length are you being ignorant and sticking your head on the sand?
You’re damned if you do, and also if you don’t. There’s no right way to quarantine.
Up until just a few weeks before we officially went into lockdown in London, I had been out and about quite consistently. So by the time my company officially said we could go home, I was excited for the pause.
Now, several weeks (now months) in, I barely remember a time when I used to leave the house everyday. Right now, I can safely say I don’t even know what week of lockdown we’re officially in.
At my highest point, I have been using my extra time to get focused on fitness and developing myself. Deep diving into my Break Into Tech course, reigniting my Duolingo streak, skyping with friends and family, growing plants, DIYing and decluttering my room. As well as turning my hand to writing again and playing my guitar (did you even know I had a guitar? To be honest I had forgotten I had it myself).
At my lowest, I’ve curled up for days at a time letting the weight of the emerging statistics crush me. I’ve ignored messages, been envious of those making positive strides online and watched Netflix every given hour of the day, all whilst beating myself up for all the better ways I could have been spending my time but wasn’t. Even whilst, clocked in for work, it has been hard to care as much about my daily tasks, when the world around me as I know it, felt like it was effectively ending.
At one point, I hadn’t been out in over two weeks and had misplaced my fitbit, so without it ever-present and guilt tripping me over the steps I hadn’t taken, I nestled further into a hibernative state.
So how have I been spending my Quaran-time?
In between hibernative states, as described above, I’ve been using this ‘extra’ time to catch up and get involved with things that I ‘supposedly’ never had enough time to do in all the hustle and bustle of ‘normal’ life. A lot of air quotes in there, gosh!
In the first couple of weeks of lockdown, the extra time on my hands seemed abundant. Now almost two months in, that I’m fully settled into #WFHlife, the disposable time I had seems to be evermore dwindling. Never the less, I’ve spent my time on the following things:
Obviously! But you already know this. Most of the world is at it too. A worthy cause that I didn’t get to spend enough time with! I will be posting here about My Quarantine Watch List for your perusal. I really quite miss writing little summaries for Two Girls Watch Stuff. Maybe this time will bring about a resurgence of that as well. Who knows, only time will tell.
2) Web Development
My Break Into Tech blueprint has been gathering dust ever since I bought it in November because this happened. I’ve been doing a lot better as of late, and with the extra time, have been diving into the course head first. As a result, I’ve been able to dust off something else – my Portfolio Development Plan, which has been laying stagnant since this time last year. By the time this goes live – I should be able to link you to my brand spanking new portfolio which would bring me immense joy.
I bought into this particular course as Skillcrush’s mantra of tech skills affording the wielder a more flexible lifestyle has always appealed to me. Ever since I first stumbled across them. It was a personal goal of mine to work remotely in some capacity this year – and by no doing of my own, here I, and so many other find ourselves.
So far, it’s been good. There were definitely some teething problems at first, with me not setting boundaries for myself and working far more than I should have been, but I have worked on this. Switching on and switching off from work can be tough when your work place is also your place of rest and solitude. I’m still not saying I’ve completely struck this balance, due to aforementioned concern for the world’s existence, but once this balance is is established working from home/remotely is something I could definitely see myself leaning further into. It’s 100% something I would want to build into my future.
But before all that, let’s get through the rest of the course shall I? I hope to graduate from the course by September. Keep up with me here.
3) Decluttering and decorating
My room has been a holding ground for almost 15 years of semi-hoarder’s life in far too small a space. I first moved in during Year 10, and I can safely say I haven’t decorated or thrown anything away since. The room has been well overdue some Marie Kondo style decluttering ever since I got back from Maastricht, and to be honest, even well before then. In addition to that, my mish match of old and new furniture has been crying out for some modicum of cohesion for years.
Armed with a giant bucket of white emulsion, some pretty decent white gloss and oodles of time – the extreme room makeover has been slowly taking place since lockdown began.
The removal of clutter and pictures, and introduction of my plants into my room, makes the place feel a lot more grown up. Ever so slightly more becoming of a girl approaching 30.
Oh my god – I need to move out.
“This little blog of mine, I wanna make it shine….”
I’ve wanted this ever since I started it back in 2017, but of course when I started it, I didn’t have the first clue of how to do that. It would be a lie to say I’ve ever dedicated 100% to the blog. It’s always had a portion of my attention. A fraction of my head space.
Last year, on With Love, Raquel I spoke about what I dreamed the blog could be in three years. This still rings true. My dream for it, is that it could be a cornerstone of my Charlotte Gray empire of wisdom that would support and inspire others for years to come.
But I’m a dreamer by nature, that’s what I do. The work required to get to that point – I don’t know. But what I am doing in this time, is furthering my blogging knowledge, and working harder on the content I am putting out. Whilst for now this is just my personal corner of the web without many eyes on it, I want to be proud of what I produce here. And I want you, dear reader, to feel uplifted, inspired or at least a little amused by what you find here.
5) Social Media
During this time of social distancing, I’ve surfed the whole scale – from being super engaged and responsive across all platforms, to completely disconnecting from everything.
One thing that I have done which has ended up being a bit of a lifeline for me whilst feeling not so great is launching The Faces of my Journey. Putting together the posts of my friends has left me humbled, made me smile, and been a way for me to reach out to people after week’s of inactivity in our chats.
This series has been in mind for quite some time, but I’d yet to put it out there, always putting it off to a later date. Whilst it’s very travel and get-away focused, which is something none of us can do right now, it ended up being a much needed break for me.
This may be my longest journey travelled so far. That of me y la idioma de español. I first reported on it in Language Learning and gave a bit of an update most recently during my trip to the Dominican Republic.
At the height of my language learning, I was taking weekly lessons on italki, on duolingo daily, reading spanish, watching spanish, and listening to reggaeton daily. I was eating, living and breathing it. Indubitably I was making progress, but in other arguably, more vital areas of my life, I felt like I wasn’t making any.
As Spanish, was a hobby for me that wasn’t drastically aiding my day to day work or life, I thought I’d put it on the back burner until such time I could pick it back up again once I was happier with other elements. Alas, I hadn’t really felt like that time had come yet.
But this lockdown time again, has enforced that there is no perfect time for anything. We can prioritise the things we want to do, but there’s no guaranteeing the things we put off until later, we’ll actually get to do.
I know I want to be fluent in Spanish one day. I want to re-watch La Casa de Papel without subtitles and get it. The road to that, starts now.
(and videos about it)
I have been steadily galloping down the road to becoming a plant mom ever since my extended work and creation break. Nurturing plants became my way of still fostering something new in a time where I couldn’t make new things like I used to.
In Laura’s Up and Away post she spoke about enjoying propagating. I had never even heard the word before, and ever since looking it up I have been OBSESSED. My watch history is full of plant stuff. How to create new plants, from other plants, from fruit seeds, in pots, in shoes. As I said, I am obsessed.
Most recently, I planted some watermelon seeds and lemon seeds, and am working on propagating my Umbrella plant and Ficus. Needless to say in a time of relative despair, waking up each morning to new plant life blossoming is quite comforting.
8) Resting and Reflecting
At first I said I was coming out of Quarantine a shredded lettuce, but I think it’s a myth. It’s nowhere near transpiring. What I will endeavour to come out, is rested.
I have been tired, no joke, since 2011.
I wanted to take a gap year after sixth form, but with the uni fees rising – the options were to go right away, or to not go at all. With so much of my socialising being centered around uni being the be all and end all of everything that was going to set me up for a succesful happy life – not going, was never an option.
In hindsight, taking the gap year probably would have been the best thing for me. To take a moment, to breathe, to pause, to think about what it is that I actually wanted from my future would have been invaluable. I most likely wouldn’t have picked the course or university that I did. As a result of that, I most likely wouldn’t be where I am right now writing this. Whether I’d be better off or worse, I’ll never know. But I do often yearn for what that freedom would have felt like at that age.
This time though, has given me that time to rest and reflect. Lounge and muse, write, read and explore. Whilst I’m not 18 anymore, I’m still young(ish) and can’t take for granted the time that I do have. I should spend what I have now and every moment forth well, and just as I want to.
So this quaran-time has sort have turned into the gap year I never had. Whilst I would like to think that my gap year would have been a wall to wall adventure reminiscent of Outer Banks, I’m pretty certain 50% of it would have been me curled up inside full of angst – much like now, so this is it – my delayed gap year. Although this version has the added responsibility of attending a full-time job from my bedroom desk.
As I said. It’s an odd time.
It’ll be interesting to look back on really what I have done when we do finally emerge from the lockdown. Will I be the same Charlotte? Will getting back into the swing of things, be something I’m looking forward to or dread with every fibre of my being? I had been planning on 2020 being my #BestYearYet; is there any way this could possibly still be true?
I hope that you and your loved ones are well during this time. Sending my thoughts to any and all affected by this pandemic.