Lesley

How are you feeling today?

Really good. I think like everybody else though, I’ve had really really calm days and then complete and utter panic sets in. And then all of the what if and when, and you’re asking all these questions that you have no answers to. And then it goes away and then it’s all calm. It really just depends on the actual day, but I think overall I’m feeling very calm to be honest, I’d say 95% of my time is quite calm and relaxed. Because I’m an artist, I’m quite used to isolation and I’m used to being in my own little world so it’s not a big shock for me. I know a lot of people are struggling. I miss work, I really miss the interactions with students and colleagues but not to the point where I’m feeling isolated. I’m not watching the news, unless here’s something really important, because you head just fills up with that sense of panic. I think too much as it is so I don’t need anything extra in my head, so I just have to keep balanced.

What is something that you’ve lost as a result of this situation?

Time to myself. I can’t get out of the space that I’m in. I’m a bit of a shopaholic, that was always my switch-off, not necessarily spending money but actually going out and going into shops, that whole visual thing, just switching off. So it sounds like a first world problem but that was my switch off and I’m really missing it. I should be saying I’m missing people, but I’m not! I’m still in contact with all of the people I want to be in contact with so I don’t feel as though I’m actually missing them. My circle is quite small, so I suppose I’m just missing that switch off. I get that from art, but the physical action of getting in the car, going out somewhere, I really miss that. I like looking at things, absorbing things, the buzz of being in a busy place, that interaction from the edge, so to speak. That choice of being able to go out, I really miss that.

What have you gained?

Contact with my best friends, one is in Sligo and one is in Seville. We’re talking quite a lot, which we never used to do before so it’s really nice, they moved away and we’d have certain times of the year where we’d catch up – because we’re all based in education it would be around school breaks. Whereas now, we’re talking every week and we never did that before. They have young kids too so I think it’s really important that they have this time slotted in every week for themselves, so that they can just switch off. So that’s really good, I really like that. And I’ve gained time to do a lot of photography and read some books – I always seem to have excuses that I don’t have time to sit down and read a book. I’m buying quite a lot of books and taking a lot of pictures.

Who are you most worried about right now?

Family – again, this is where the wave of panic comes in. My dad is at the early onset of dementia and he’s just not getting the urgency of what’s happening or the restrictions. And then my sister is in London and I don’t know when I’m going to see her and then I get waves of panic about if that’s ever going to happen, if we’re ever going to be able to travel again. It comes and goes, I’m completely logical about it one minute and then the next minute, like everybody else, it’s just that idea of what if we can never go anywhere again? But I suppose my Dad is the one I’m really worried about, some days are harder than others with him and because I’m now spending more time with him, I’m seeing how the dementia is getting stronger each day. So there’s two things going on – obviously the pandemic, and then that as well. Everybody has their own struggle, and it’s all valid, and all reasonable. I think going for walks and switching off the news is the key to keeping the balance, so it doesn’t add to the immediate worry of not having any answers. My focus has changed to if I’m healthy, if my family is healthy, if my son is healthy then it’s a good day, I’m not worried about what’s three month’s down the line. Not that I didn’t value health before, but now it’s top of my list, physical and mental health.

What are you most hopeful for?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot and there are so many answers. The main thing is that everybody just remains healthy, and from that can be happy and content, I suppose content is a better word than happy because we don’t have to go around being really happy all of the time, I think if we can just have a contentment. If I’m healthy and those around me are healthy too, then I’ll be very happy. And a cure for this. And that we slow down, there’s a lot of positives in this as well, the earth is starting to be allowed to breathe now. I know there’s so many negatives, but there’s so many positives as well – for the actual environment and for the earth. We’d been told and we just didn’t listen, and now we have to listen, and the earth is starting to breathe and rejuvenate itself. We can see it in animals and we can hear it with the birds singing, less air pollution. I know that’s had a knock on effect economy wise but there’s a lot of things changing with the economy and how people are working as well and I think that’s a really good thing – people and companies are starting to realise that people can work from home and it’s not impossible and we’re still getting the same kinds of results. Creativity and art have completely come to the surface, we’re realising how important it is to be able to think outside the box, engage in critical thinking. So I see the positives, but I think the positives have to be completely underlined by personal health, we have to build up our immune systems, learn about food, appreciate that what we’re putting into our bodies and where it came from is so important.