Like so many people I’ve found the last few weeks have been different to anything I have ever experienced.  It’s been a time full of highs and lows, with a lot in the middle.  At the beginning of the pandemic I don’t think anyone thought we would still be at home, and yet here we are in my 11th week of isolation, without a clear plan in sight for the end.  

I started out doing daily boccia training in my house (with limited space), and trying to keep fit. This included using my RaceRunner on the quiet road outside my house, going on a garden swing, doing exercises and generally trying to be the best I could be physically.  Initially I welcomed lots of on-line meetings and activities, I created and ran an online quiz for my neighbours, spoke to family and friends regularly and took part in lots of boccia meetings. About 4 weeks into staying home I was finding myself mentally and emotionally exhausted even thinking about another on-line video conference. 

When we got the news that first the BISFed international competitions UK Boccia were scheduled to attend in March, April and July were cancelled, and then Tokyo 2020 was to be postponed for a year I could completely understand, but I was gutted. The upside was 12 more months to practice, but how and when, and the downside was when might I finish my degree?  I’d taken in January 2020 a 12 month leave of absence from university to focus on boccia, with the intention of going back for 2 terms at the beginning of 2021. After discussing this with my family, my team and UK Boccia we all agreed it would be good to have something to focus on in lockdown, and studying would be a good use of my time when training was restricted.  I applied to the University to curtail my leave of absence and return as early as possible so I could finish my degree by January 2021.  This would let me focus on boccia, when it mattered, with no distractions in 2021.  Eventually, at the very end of April I began my dissertation, and this is getting most of my daily focus. One unexpected bonus of the January to April university break is I realise now is that I really enjoy studying and I need a similar sort of stimulation when my degree finishes.

At the same time all this was happening I had, what seemed at the time, a little accident. I slipped transferring and caught my thumb.  As I had broken the same thumb three years ago I thought I had just strained it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t such a little injury…..after putting off going to the hospital I went for X-rays, it appeared I had broken my scaphoid bone (wrist).  For the first 3 weeks I was in agony and didn’t sleep well, I had no energy and was on constant pain killers. Initially I had a splint, unfortunately I destroyed this with my dystonic movements in minutes, at the first opportunity I returned to the hospital and they put on a cast, but for whatever reason my hand didn’t like the way it was laying and continued to jerk non-stop for another 2 weeks.  When I went back to check everything it was reset and now the pain is gone, but 5 weeks in I still have a cast, and I’m very limited in what I can do independently as I cannot use that hand at all.

All these things have created a tension in my life, and I recognize everyone else has their own challenges too.  In the last 2 weeks I’ve done lots of talking with my family, my team, my counsellor, the sports psychologist and friends.  Being back in full time study means I’ve had to prioritise where I’m at, what is my main focus, how I manage everything else and still stay engaged whilst ensuring I am enjoying the things that matter in life.  Study comes first, then 4 UKBF boccia video calls each week.  After that my goal is fresh air every day, good food and good chats with people I care for, mostly online but at times of my choosing.  I’m trying to go out on the RaceRunner 2-3 times a week (my arm is strapped on as I cannot hold the handlebar) and I’m spending much less time on social media.  I’ve turned off the constant demand of WhatsApp and other social media platforms and actually feel better for it, I’m not at everyone else’s beck and call, but in control of my own destiny.  Yes, I still look at my messages, but without notifications when it suits me.   Finally, I’ve recognized that I don’t need to be perfect and do everything every day.  By trying to train for boccia everyday, in less than ideal circumstances, with everything else going on has been counter productive and now I can’t wait to getting in some practice once the pot is off my arm.

The other thing I have spent time on is my dreams, I’ve done this on my ‘weekends’ or days off from study and boccia. Dreaming takes me into a space where I’m being kind to myself. Those of you who know me will know I’ve been a dreamer for many years, having my own website was one of my early dreams. It was all I wanted for Christmas when I was 14!  Initially it was a big focus but I’d not really updated it for a long time.  One of my ways of relaxing is to work on my dreams; researching, planning and making things happen. The last few weeks updating my website has been a project taking me away from other commitments, there has been a complete overhaul with new pages, new focus and more information.  It is still a work in progress, and there is a lot more I want to add, but now I see it as a valuable tool moving forward to facilitate my dream of empowering others to reach their potential. There is much more to come on this in the coming months 😊.  

Overall lockdown has created more me time and feel good experiences. I’ve eaten better and with my overall health improvements by making some recommended dietary changes I’ve been signed off by the dietician. I’m loving time in the garden, listening to the birds, eating outside when the weather is good enough and taking photos as the garden changes. I’ve always been a driven person enjoying being busy and rushing to the next thing, staying at home has made me realise how building in down time to my schedule will help me moving forward.  

We all need to feel connected, I’ve valued feeling part of my community standing by my gate on a Thursday night to clap with everyone else, and our impromptu trip outside to be in my front garden to join my neighbours in singing ‘we’ll meet again’ on VE day after the Queen’s message. We’ve also all planted sunflower seeds in our front gardens hoping for a good show in the summer months along our part of the street, hopefully a ray of sunshine for us all.

If you are reading this then welcome to my website, please stay and look around. Click here to go to the home page.  You might also like to check out my webpage on mindfulness and relaxation here.