My shining stars of the pandemic



As schools reopen and in the last couple of months, we've been out and about more, encountering old friends, there is a sense that the worst may be behind us (or a deep desire for that to be the case).


People ask "how has it been for you?"


"Up and down" I say.


Like a small craft in a big ocean, at times we struggled to stay afloat.


Those crazy times. Those who were became intensely alone, those with family intensely together.


If you're lucky love fills instead of being squeezed out.


We all found our own ways to cope, to live in this strange world, hoping all the time that it will be a short stay the other side of normal, all the while swimming in the sea of uncertainty.


When this all kicked off (some thousands of year ago now), I didn’t believe it would last anywhere near as long as it has. Maybe it was naivety, maybe simply a wish for things to be different.


The pandemic was less dramatic than the ones of the big screen. The days full of monotony instead of panic. Trying to fill them with positivity and calm, while working, managing two small children was not easy. Now with some kind of end in sight (or the illusion of it), it feels like finally, the breath slows down to a manageable pace. I plan a short trip to see a friend, the boys have a sleepover while we, their parents whisk themselves off to a hotel. Maybe there is even time for each of us to take a slightly longer trip, a time out, which doesn't leave the other sunk under the weight of childcare and office hours.



I found myself reflecting on some of my high points over the last number of months. There was the extra time with my kids, the slow pace of life in a lockdown. How happy they were to have us around so much.

There were also few projects I embarked on that made an intense time also an intensely beautiful time. I'm ever so grateful to the people who made those happen.


My pandemic in pictures.

Thank you to Heather Robinson, a photographer whose courses taught me to embrace my home, warts and all, and opened my mind up to the concept of self-portraiture. Heather teaches courses in documenting family stories through photos, writing narratives to accompany family photos and leaving a photographic legacy for our kids. She also teaches a course on getting yourself into the frame which I did in April and I had SO much fun taking self-portraits and engaging in discussion with other mamas, who from Brighton to Chicago, were also stuck at home. The community Heather manages to create within her courses is truly a beautiful thing and so welcome at that time. If you're into photography and looking for an Autumn/Winter project you should check her classes out!


My first run of Calm in the Chaos, my online course.

I launched a free prototype of my online course back in April- a plan I’d had in mind before the pandemic started, but I was very glad to have it as a focus at this time. This course brings mindfulness, yoga, journalling (and some weekly chats!) to mothers , bringing calm to what can be intense days with little kids, even at the best of times! The weekly zoom calls with participants were something I really looked forward to and gave me a deep sense of connection even while locked down at home.


From the feedback, I know that the mindfulness practices, writing exercises, and yoga helped a little at a time of great challenges. It was also lovely to share my writings on motherhood and have some many people say how much they resonated. We often feel like we are alone in the difficult parts of our experiences- knowing that someone else has gone through the same thing, has has the same thought or feeling, is so reassuring. For most of us, finding the time to do anything for ourselves with all of the additional stresses and pressures was challenging- I’m really impressed and grateful that so many great women came with me on that first journey! I've since been working on improving the course and hope to open it this autumn- if you're interested email me (mairead@spacetobreathe.ie) to let me know and I'll update you when I have dates set! You can also find out more here .


Thanks for the dancing at dawn

Thank you for Ryan Heffington who did the BEST dance classes on Instagram over the past months. If you like to move your body and enjoy some cheesy dance moves, you will LOVE this. There was a period during our lockdown where I badly need some time first thing without my kids- and had to get up at 5am to get that! I did 20 minutes of these dance classes first thing in the morning and it set my mood for the day. Normally I’m pretty crabby first thing in the morning, but this has been a game changer for me. I'm not getting up at 5am anymore (it becomes ever harder once the darkness begins to creep into the mornings after midsummer), but I am injecting 5 minutes of this dance energy into regular breaks throughout the day (because you can jump around like a crazy person in your home office/kitchen/bedroom and the only weird looks are from the dog.)


Thanks for the Yoga

A few friends have thanked me for free yoga classes over zoom at the start of the lockdown here in Ireland. I also did a class for work colleagues. It was great for me too, because it's connection without feeling drained from conversations about the pandemic. Because it feels so lovely to unite people from different times and aspects of my life, even for half an hour. Because it made me get on my mat even on days when it felt less appealing. That commitment to each other helps to make it happen! If you're interested in this kind of commitment to get you on your mat to practice yoga or to meditate, you can also check out my online Sangha here . I'm also hoping to add more yoga classes to my website/youtube in the near future. I'll keep you posted!


I would love to hear about your high points, or you experience. What were your victories? - because I know you had them., even if they seemed at times to be overshadowed by the challenges. Acknowledge the victories. Respect the decisions you made, the things you had to let go of for survival. That is enough for now, surviving.


Off I go now, into the big bad world of the pick up and drop off schedules, of prepping snacks and finding socks. Good luck to all of you doing the same thing, and my thoughts with everyone who is still at home. We will get through this. We will be ok. These are hard things, but we can do this.


Much love


Mairéad


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