As coronavirus spread throughout the nation and words such as ‘furlough’ and ‘lockdown’ became the new norm, the virus changed not only day to day life, but our hopes and dreams for the future too.
The majority of people are now spending more time at home reflecting on their lives than ever before. Saccharine memes flit around social media, telling people to be careful what they take from the old world and into the new, as though we will float into the post-corona times wearing a daisy crown and free from the shackles of life’s responsibilities.
However I admit to feeling an awakening of sorts; whilst I am not spending every hour baking cookies with my children and can generally be found trying to find a quiet nook much like my intolerant border terrier, there is a part of me that’s been left behind. Perhaps left behind is the wrong term? The feeling is more like emerging into a clearing, from an ancient forest where I wandered lost, tripping over gnarled tree roots and trying to find my way. I’ve stepped into the glorious open, breathing fragrant fresh air and am able to admire the sky for the first time in what feels like forever.
My life’s timeline is now split into two, BC and AC. Before Coronavirus and After Coronavirus. The initial few weeks after the virus crept around the world, causing chaos, felt like being trapped on the dodgems at a fairground. Overwhelmed by the noise and lights and being bumped and thrown from my seat, I clung to the steering wheel of life desperately trying to regain control.
The travel business I run has been decimated with nearly 50% of the bookings that I secured last year now cancelled, losses of around £250k. The figures don’t reflect the work and sacrifices poured into the creation of other people’s travel dreams; in my mind the trips are brightly coloured balloons and I’ve watched helplessly as the storm created by the virus wrenches them individually from my hand to be lost on the wind.
I noticed a friend of mine posting her vision board on Instagram and I loved the colourful mishmash of magazine and newspaper clippings announcing her goals to the world. I decided to make my own and I ordered a plain pinboard and assortment of cute pins, then went shopping for an extravagant pile of of glossy magazines.
I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that followed. Having the chance to sit and ponder the future forced me to confront the fact that the virus decimated not only my business, but some of my family’s goals along with it. The big trip we hoped to take to the West Coast USA in 2021 would no longer happen. I also had to face the vulnerability that I felt when the income I had built for my family was stolen away and the guilt that replaced it. Although coronavirus wasn’t my fault, I felt as though I’d let my family down. For a few days I grieved.
The grief was replaced by acceptance and then procrastination. I devoured each magazine, recognising where I clearly didn’t meet the demographic of the average reader and where I felt comfortable. I savoured travel articles, flicked through expensive fashions and makeup ideas more suited to my teen daughter and relished stories of body positivity; yet I couldn’t bring myself to cut them up as I couldn’t relate my goals to their stories. I decided to paint my pinboard to fit in with the grey décor of my room and the procrastinating continued. The lack of committing my dreams to the board, pinned randomly into place with the kitsch pins I’d ordered, niggled at me.
I realised that the vision board my friend created for herself wasn’t just a statement of her goals, it was a reflection of her personality. Her board was edgy, cool, fashionable and bold. Much like the real life version of the person that I met over three years ago who I envied for her confidence, sassy lipstick and boundless energy. To replicate a board in her style would mean creating something that immediately wasn’t me or mine, I finally understood why I was struggling.
In the end I committed my new goals to the board in my style, using Canva and a collection of photos that represent to me exactly what I want going forward. My dream of travelling solo to see bears in the wild comes from watching hours of National Geographic whilst I was bedridden during the early part of the pandemic, lavender has always reminded me of my father and I want to fill our patio with fragrant lilac blooms in his memory, our exploration of the West Coast USA has been replaced by an adventure holiday in Wales because as a family we’ve enjoyed trekking locally so much over the past two months.
My acceptance to study at Plymouth University coincided with the initial early outbreaks of covid-19 and as the weeks passed by it was education that became the life raft I clung to, taking me into the new era on my timeline, AC, After Coronavirus. The challenges of study have teased me back into life, awakening my mind which now flows with ideas. Words and barely formed sentences swirl around forming together and developing my knowledge has replaced business success as a primary goal for the foreseeable future.
The most generic photo on my design is possibly the most important. Love. It represents a goal of spending more quality time with my family and my husband and also loving myself even though that cliched term makes me physically recoil. Allowing myself space to relax and to learn, giving myself time to enjoy the little things in life. Perhaps I may discover some of the essence of my friend’s confidence along the way and maybe it’s already seeping through. Originally my creation was pinned to the board with four identical pins that I picked carefully from the box. Today I changed them and picked four different, bold and colourful designs.