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Remembering the Good Things

As we start a new academic year, I’m reflecting on the aims I had at the beginning of the calendar year, in January 2020. Those of you who follow this blog will know that I take time out to reflect on my life from time to time and consider how my life is going - where to next? Ha! If only I had the gift of foresight!

Or maybe not….

One aim was to explore more of Britain. Well, I have – not quite as I’d planned but I have walked for miles locally, discovering tracks and places I have never explored before. How had I, for example, never visited the amazing Marton Junction Railway Bridge near Long Itchington? Here it is before the railway track was taken up.

I’ve also done much more wild swimming and have even got myself a wetsuit so I can carry on when it gets colder.

A self-development aim was to do courses in London in Creative Counselling and Adverse Childhood Events. Those were cancelled but instead I’ve discovered a fantastic trainer, whose on-line counselling courses I really enjoy, and I’ve had time to start challenging my white privilege with the help of books such as ‘WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge and ‘Me and White Supremacy’ by Layla F Saad.

Another aim was to spend more time with my adult children. I haven’t been able to do that physically, of course, but one of my sons was locked down on his own in the middle of a city and really valued the daily phone calls we started having. It was a huge privilege to share that time with him.

And so it goes on.

Here we are with the numbers of cases rising again, as I’m sure most of us predicted, and we’re daily having to make adjustments that we don’t really like. It can get wearing and disheartening. But maybe it’s worth stopping and reflecting on the gains once more. Maybe it’s worth thinking about what we noticed in lockdown that we actually liked and checking whether we’re holding onto that. More sleep, for example. Or more fresh air and exercise. More time to read, perhaps, or to enjoy some gardening. Perhaps we vowed to remember but as the pressure increases, we’re forgetting our insights and the lessons we learned?

And maybe it’s worth checking on how we’ve grown and developed in unexpected ways – most of us have learnt to be more flexible, to think outside the box, to be rigorous about priorities – even how to manage Zoom!

I often work with boys who want to be certain about life. They want to ‘make sure’ that they get the grades they want, get to the university of their dreams, make their parents and teachers proud of them. It is very hard to learn to accept and tolerate uncertainty but if we can, we will be far more relaxed and less stressed.

Covid-19 has sent us all to boot camp for Uncertainty Tolerance. Like any good boot camp, the experience of Covid-19 can be life changing in good ways. Right now, as we watch the case numbers rise again, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it -  but if you’re climbing a mountain, there are always tough moments when you think you’ve got to the summit and another peak appears ahead of you. You carry on because that’s the only way you’re going to get the view from the top.

So as my dad used to say on our hill walks long ago: ‘Off we go again. Best foot forward. You can do it.’

Together, we can.

Meg Harper, School Counsellor