The #CovidDiaries: My Number One Priority

Blowing dandelions on Barnes Common / Photo credit Arlene Amitirigala. All rights reserved.

This is the final entry in this short series, where I have been sharing excerpts from my journal where I recorded my thoughts during lockdown in London. The early days and weeks were the most challenging as we navigated the changes Covid that brought. By week five our rhythm was fully established, and my priorities were clear.  

April 26, 2020 

Today Aris said he wants this to last a year. Not the pandemic. He wants that to go away and for all people to have the same economic status. But he explained that what he wants is this – us together at home, eating together, going to the park together, reading at home and learning remotely. I’m managing three things: 

  • Change comms for the reorg at work  
  • A global pandemic that has the UK in lockdown and me homeschooling Aris and supervising Lauren 
  • Relocation to a new country, looking for a house and schools and packing up our lives 

So, I decided at the beginning of this that my number one priority would be the kids and ensuring that they experience this time in a loving and positive way. I want them to look back on this time and know they were loved, they were safe, and we had each other. I want them to emerge from this stronger, more connected, braver, kinder, more conscious of the world and the environment. Our conversations are amazing. Their prayers are deeply meaningful. And they always, always express gratitude for our time together, our walks and the joy we share. They say, ‘thank you God for family’. 

Lord, please continue to give me strength to manage everything so that I can persevere through this. And keep us safe.  

Note – We all managed to see a few friends to say farewell before we left London for Toronto at the end of July. At the time of posting, Toronto is in lockdown and we are taking it in stride, 2020 has been a masterclass. 

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown. Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries: Banana Bread

Out of lockdown we created new family habits. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Everyone was baking banana bread and had discovered a newfound love of running. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share excerpts from journal entries written in my first days of lockdown in the U.K. about the changes Covid brought. These are my #CovidDiaries. 

April 19, 2020 

God is good to me, to us. We had a wonderful weekend. Lauren and I baked banana bread on Friday. It was completely gluten-free and spectacular. We ran a 5k for charity on Saturday. We ran from Putney Bridge to Hammersmith Bridge. It was challenging – I haven’t run that distance for a while. But we were determined, and we did it. I was so proud of them, of us, As I looked around me though I felt somewhat unsafe. Too many people. The pathway was packed with bikers, runners, joggers, people strolling, stopping to chat at a spot, walking three abreast. It drove me crazy and after a while I was desperate to go back home ensconced in the safety of our apartment. It’s absolutely crazy isn’t it? 

Church was lovely this morning. We were all on Zoom and I felt inspired and uplifted by Simon’s sermon, even if we giggled a bit at the sight of someone guzzling a half glass of wine for simulated communion.  

And the best thing happened today – I attended a Guardian masterclass “Get Inspired” taught by Laura Dockrill. It was amazing and liberating and fun and unearthed things for me and made me reflect on leaving London. It’s been an adventure here. Highs, lows, magnificent moments and crappy ones too. But it’s been absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  

Our family Zoom sessions are fun and we enjoy getting together. In fact, I’m enjoying connecting more with everyone, and being somehow closer to all my friends far away. 

So, I am happy. Sometimes anxious, sometimes scared. But most of all I am happy and grateful. Thank you God. Thank you.  

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries: Everything merged into one

photo credit Arlene Amitirigala. All rights reserved.

The death toll from Covid 19 was rising in the U.K. We were still working from home and home-schooling. The Easter holidays came and went. We found ourselves reluctantly settling in to a longer haul than we had thought. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share excerpts from journal entries written in my first days of lockdown in the U.K. about the changes Covid brought. These are my #CovidDiaries.

April 18, 2020

Friday. On March 11 2020, I went home after ensuring the comms for Europe was posted on Yammer. Since then, I have not been back to the office. It has been five and a half weeks of working from my bedroom.

The kids have been home since school closed on Friday, March 20. They have completed four weeks. It feels like this started yesterday or last year. I can’t tell you what day it is by just thinking. I have to look at a calendar. Everything has merged into one.

We stay up too late. The day passes quickly and in no time it’s 9p.m. In a blink it’s 11p.m. and I’m struggling to get everyone into their own bed. We wake up groggy. I sit at my computer and they grab their Ipads. I’m so glad the Easter holidays are over now. We can go back to our schedule.

I feel ok though. I feel good almost all of the time that I’m awake. But I stall going to bed because then I’ll have to get up, get dressed and start working at my desk, in my bedroom. Is that weird? That I don’t want to go to sleep because I don’t want to start the day the way it starts?

Today, I commit to spending more time with myself and my family. I choose to make my health and wellbeing a priority.

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries: Staying in is Wearing Thin

With Covid 19 stalking the U.K. there was no end of lockdown in sight. We had to dig deeper to find our center and keep our joy. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries.

April 8, 2020

Week Three. She confessed that ‘staying in is wearing thin’. Lauren is undoubtedly happier. She uncovered coping mechanisms and had a good two weeks, but she confessed last Saturday as we walked to and from Sunnisa Thai that it was hard now. At first, she and her friends thought ‘I got this’ and they had a plan to connect daily and work through their assignments but the novelty of being home has faded and they miss each other and miss the daily drama, the squabbles, the romance and ‘shipping’ and seeing all the faces. They miss each other. Aris seems ok so far. He would hold back on telling me if he was feeling down but as far as I can tell he is coping.

They have both been angels, disciplined and helpful, doing what they are supposed to do when they need to and getting their schoolwork done without any complaints. I am so grateful for them. So incredibly grateful to God.

It’s been good to connect with friends. I chatted with Vic on Friday night, Cam on Sunday and with PB on Saturday and then Syd called me on Sunday. A weekend of connecting with close friends and feeling loved. Thankful for this web of friends around the world who have me in thought and prayer. And thankful for a husband who loves us and shows us his love by seeking to provide for us.

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown. Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries – Insomnia

As Covid 19 started to snake through the U.K. and we burrowed deeper into the apartment, I welcomed an old friend – hello insomnia. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries.

April 7, 2020

Week Three. I thought I was ok. I thought I wasn’t anxious but every night I awake at 4am and I can’t go back to sleep. It starts with my mind; it seems to slowly rev up and shift into gear. And I try to stop it, switch off the ignition, but it persists. And then I start thinking. Thinking about everything. I ruminate and ruminate and keep myself awake. Or is this anxiety? Because I feel it building as I lay there. I slowly begin to feel cold, then I need a sweater, or a blanket and my breathing quickens. I try to breathe and be still, but my mind wanders and latches on to anything that traps me and sends me in a spiral. Slumdog Millionaire is the perfect trap. The movie that I thought was happy but isn’t. That’s the peril of a gap in my memory from post-partum blues. I didn’t remember how sad that darn movie is. I watched it with the kids on Sunday and told them it would cheer us up. None of us have recovered. I keep thinking of the poverty, the suffering, the struggle and of Jamal and his enduring love for Latika.

I think of work. I think of the insecurity I feel. Even as I sit here and write and try to expunge the emotions, they come rushing in. I think of this terrible disease sweeping the world and the fact that we are struggling to make sense of it. That we are locked in our homes like sitting ducks. Waiting. Waiting to catch it. Waiting for the inevitable. Waiting for it to be over. Waiting for release. Waiting to be able to buy Paracetamol. I admit I am afraid. There is some measure of terror. To think that something deadly is simply floating in the air and that we can catch it is dreadfully frightening. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has it, he is now in the intensive care unit. How frightening is this for the nation?

And I think of what’s next on our journey. On my journey. And what I want to affirm for myself.

I affirm my health and my family’s wellbeing. Lord we are well. Our lungs are clear and strong, and our bodies are healthy.

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries – No New Gadgets Required

photo credit Arlene Amitirigala

At the end of the first week of lockdown we discovered the unexpected gift of Covid – discovery itself.  In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries. 

March 29, 2020 

Day Seven. Sunday. Filing my taxes has been haunting me so I asked him for help. It brings me anxiety and panic and confusion – making sure I’m getting this right in two places and he doesn’t understand how I feel. I slept until 9:30am or later so I made a very late breakfast of beans, franks and eggs. Then I retreated to my bedroom, made the kids listen to Deepak Chopra’s meditation on Hope in Uncertain Times and then promptly fell asleep and couldn’t get up until 4pm. Aris helped me to cook today and after dinner we all went for a walk through Barnes Common. I had never walked that route before and I was amazed at the extent of the greenery and the wonderful paths that are available for us to explore. We are so blessed to live where we do. 

Tonight, when Lauren prayed, she gave thanks that ‘Mom was able to make breakfast for us, that we had walks together, that we played together inside and outside.’ 

All this time in this magnificent city I focused on maximizing every moment. Taking them to museums and to shows, to see the sights and to go exploring. But they needed this too – to slow down and just spend time together as a family. We don’t have to spend money, no new gadgets required. They’ve been happy and relaxed. We cook together, we play together, and we pray together. I’m no longer a spring chicken and I know that the virus is on their minds. When I leave to go to Tesco, Aris tells me “Mom, don’t let Corona catch you”, and he’s said to me that if I get it, I must fight. There’s so much to fight for. My life is full, and the best is yet to come.  

We will live to tell the story of this strange time when we resisted the darkness and rediscovered the light. 

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries – Reality Bites

photo credit: Arlene Amitirigala. All rights reserved.

Fridays have always been special for me. In London, either I would go out with friends or grab a quick gin and tonic at the pub around the corner with Hubby. When he was away, I settled into a ritual with the kids – pizza and ice-cream (mine drizzled with Baileys if you please) and episodes of Jane the Virgin. Or I’d get a sitter and have some free time. My first Friday in lockdown found me discombobulated.  In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries. 

March 27, 2020 

Day Five. Friday. I am in a bit of a funk to be honest. Despite starting the day strong – did 20 minutes of PE with Joe with the kids and then ran for 15 minutes outside – I felt off, health-wise. And then I read the news, which was extremely depressing. I almost burst into tears when I read about the 16-year-old French girl and the Italians dying in their homes and funeral homes so overwhelmed they can’t collect the bodies for days. And I was in a funk about work. And I feel terrible and guilty that I haven’t completed filing my taxes. And Lauren’s scoliosis appointment went well but she needs a new brace so I have to cough up £2800. God, you are the source of my financial wellbeing. I leave it in your hands. 

The #CovidDiaries –Two Meters Apart

The early days of lockdown were very much about coping, navigating a new normal together and out in the public. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries. 

March 28, 2020 

Day Six. Saturday. We spent the day at home. I did a challenging Pilates conditioning workout with heartcorelife and then I tuned in to DJ Cinde Rella live on IG. She threw down some serious tunes and I had a blast dancing in my living room. Then I chatted with *** to process how I was feeling. She reminded me about setting boundaries. And I chatted with *** too – she’s fine.  

We ordered food from Munal Tandoori. The wait was long and awkward – being in there, all of us circling each other warily, staying 2metres apart. This is a strange way to live. But I was grateful that they were open for takeout. I also popped into Tesco and voila – I got two bags of brioche rolls! I could have danced in the aisle.  We hauled out the Monopoly tonight and had great fun playing.   

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries – What We Took For Granted

With lockdown came the reflections, the soul searching and many little revelations.  In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries.  

March 25, 2020 

Day Three. I’m sitting on the balcony taking in the sunshine. Funny how as soon as we can’t go out the weather turns glorious. I’m still navigating the emotions of leaving London and not being part of the future at work. I had my first coaching session last night and it opened up a lot of thoughts for me. How I am. How I want to be. Why I’m here.  

So many things have changed for me in three short days. What am I learning in the time of coronavirus? That there’s so much we take for granted. That I was too damn busy to live my own life. That all that ‘stuff’ I filled my days with wasn’t particularly important. How much do we really need? This lockdown is an enforced moratorium on shopping. We can move at a slower pace and it’s fine. I realize that the words pace and agility don’t belong in the personal space of my life, but I embrace them every day. Why? 

The #CovidDiaries – Clap for Carers

Before Covid, I don’t know that we thought about the NHS in a deeply personal way. However, as the virus unfolded that changed.  

March 26, 2020 

Day Four. Tonight at 8pm we got on the balcony to clap and cheer for the NHS. It was amazing to see all the people from neighboring flats outside, pots clanging, bells ringing. The kids cheered loudly, and we clapped until our hands stung. Then we retreated inside. We laughed a lot over dinner, my silly, merry, lovable children. Aris said he didn’t want to have outside time today which was unusual but I was ok to stay in. I sneezed several times this morning and felt ever so slightly fluish so I thought maybe staying in was a good idea. 

But oh, how I worked today. There’s always so much to do and it’s crazy that I’m leaving here but I’m in deep. I have to get better at creating boundaries and managing my time to focus on all that I have to do. 

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries – Surrender Control

There was so much self-discovery for me and the kids as the pandemic unfolded. We started to understand what was beneath many of our emotions. In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries.   

March 24, 2020 

Day Two. I asked Lauren what made the difference. Why does she feel happy now. She said she’s trying to be more organized and that helped her a lot. She also said that the day school ended she just felt happy, there was nothing to overthink, it wasn’t in her control. Also, she’s been happy spending more time with us. I believe that she’s been hard on herself and trying to figure to out a lot of the things that are out of her control – like leaving and being away from her friends. School closing in the lockdown took everything out of her hands and she had to surrender, like the rest of us. I’ll have to work on being there for her, being present and being gentler. 

photo credit Arlene Amitirigala

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The #CovidDiaries: Adjusting to Life in Lockdown

Talk of the novel coronavirus had reached fever-pitch by the end of February 2020. By early March, I knew it was only a matter of time before we went into lockdown across the U.K. Being separated as a family made me even more apprehensive about the weeks ahead. It had already been a challenging few months juggling things on my own with Hubby now based in Canada. What would happen when we went into lockdown and faced a travel ban? 

In this short series, I get even more personal as I share journal entries from my first days of lockdown in the U.K. and the changes it brought. These are my #CovidDiaries. 

March 23, 2020 

Day One. We stayed home. It wasn’t new to me, but it was for them. We started off the morning with Joe Wicks. Lauren was pretty diligent and worked hard at her lessons. Aris was surprisingly good. Honestly, I can’t expect more than two good hours of work out of him and I’ll take what I can get. We had lunch together. Then I popped out and got a couple things from Tesco. We had a lovely dinner. I had cooked chickpeas and chicken on Sunday, so we had leftovers. Outside time was fun. I discovered a football field near to the house – so many green areas near to us. And after we played, I came inside, settled them down to eat and ran our first West London Toastmasters meeting via zoom! We were eleven people, but it was a success and I felt very accomplished as the VP of Education. 

Thanks for stopping by. How did you deal with the early days of lockdown? Share your comments. Remember to hit ‘like’ and subscribe. I post new content each week.

© Arlene Amitirigala 2020. All Rights Reserved.