My back hurts, and I haven’t done nearly enough hours of my civvie work today.

In my defence, I’m waiting on some feedback before proceeding. But even without that justification, I’m not sure I would have done any better.

Isolation has been a mixed bag.

Working from home—which I’ve done in various businesses for the last ten years, and which has never been an issue for me for motivation, productivity or anything at all—has proven difficult. I mope around, feel tired, can’t quite get stuck into whichever piece of writing I happen to be working on, no matter the topic. They’re all interesting. It’s isolation which is doing this to me.

And yet, my life looks very much the same. I exercise at home, like always. I’m an introverted homebody, enjoying cups of tea or glasses of wine (in slightly different ratios, I’ll admit) more than going out, like always. I plot and plan my next project, like always.

But during isolation, these things are mandated, not chosen. It seems ridiculous that they’re then experienced differently. Or maybe it’s not that I enjoy them less; it’s more that there’s a cloud of COVID over them, and I worry about my loved ones getting sick, about my children missing out on socialising with other kids (there’s only so much imaginative super-hero play I can cope with, even on a good day). Mainly my civvie work suffers: instead of operating at 100-110%, I’m hovering at around 60.

Today, maybe 25.

I’m ok with that, to be honest. I know when things crank back up, I’ll do the extra hours and operate at 120 or 130 to meet deadlines and satisfy my hunger to achieve things. These months are a small blip on my work ethic, and I’ll make up for them. And on the flipside, there’s the positives of isolation.

The time and space to really think about my priorities and values. Suddenly, with people dying—and yes, not just older people die—it doesn’t seem so important that I write that next book. I’ve been able to be more present with my children—and for someone who is always calming anxiety through achieving things, that is no small feat. I’ve known it’s not the answer for a long time, but embracing something intellectually and living it from day-to-day are very different things. My mind is always a half-marathon ahead of my feelings.  

I’ve had the time to grieve for things, properly. There’s been some space to just sit with how I feel and make room for hard things. I feel clearer about the direction I’m heading in, and ridiculously grateful for my life.

There’s been more moments of euphoria: those fleeting moments where the perfection of things is crystal clear, and golden, and precious. And it passes and life goes back to the everyday, but somehow in isolation, I’ve found more of those moments. More gratitude, more room, more feeling whole.

There’s also been more making coffee without a cup in the holder, pouring milk into the sink instead of the cup, learning (with great difficulty) how to do Instagram stories for my author profile, and having absolutely no recollection of how to do it when I went to do the same for this profile…but that’s okay. I’ll take it.

I hope you’ve all found pockets of joy amongst the challenges.

Stay safe.

Love Ellie xo  

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