Alternative Lifestyles * Vagabonding Travel * Searching for Hippie Happiness

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves

Things have changed, forever, and I don’t like it! 

Things are changing before my very eyes, and it makes me sad; sad about change. 

Endings, beginnings?

The most wonderful chapter in my life up until now…is over.

The last pages of that chapter have been ripped from my life book, unfinished, incomplete and torn into shreds by a global pandemic. 

Wonderful nights out never to happen, wonderful travels snuffed out, friends changed to new versions of themselves and venues I have loved… lost?

I have laid in my bed and wept at that which has been lost; but a chapter ending means a new beginning. 

A new world? 

A new life; reborn

Change is never easy; adapt or fall.

“Over the course of the past year, we’ve made countless adaptations to living in a world with COVID-19. Precautions that started with skipping handshakes and being (much) more diligent about proper handwashing led to social distancing and face masks becoming the must-have accessory of the year. While we certainly know a lot now, including where you’re most likely to catch coronavirus and what could happen if you contract it, there’s still plenty we don’t know. One thing is certain, though: In light of how many people we’ve lost and how much coronavirus has cost the world, we don’t want to go backward.” 

“We want to keep moving forward, staying safe as the world reopens. But will life ever truly go back to normal? And will our pre-pandemic everyday habits be gone forever?

From: www.rd.com

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

A New Chapter Begins

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
– Nathaniel Brandon

I was not sure whether or not to write this post because I felt it might upset some of the people who may recognise themselves within these words. But I also think it is important to acknowledge that the world is forever changed after this pandemic and thinking about what that means and adapting to it is crucial to our future happiness and our ability to move forward with our lives.

Our mindset-mental Health

Certainly things like the way we work will change (have changed). People are generally happy working from home if they are able. Less commuters mean less traffic, emptier trains and buses. But this change affects businesses that rely on office workers, so each change has its good and bad points.

Travel, too, will change a lot. More expensive flights, less airlines, stricter entry requirements. Travel won’t be impossible, just harder to do and more expensive. Better for the environment but hard for us free spirited global travellers.

It wont stop me; as soon as I can, I’m off.

“Life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed.” – Carl Rogers

But we must not expect to go back to our previous version of normal; mentally this has changed all of us, whether we admit it or not. 

Some people will remain nervous of going out or travelling long distances. Others will still treat their fellow humans like lepers and take a wide berth of them when they pass (something I hate). Some people will continue wearing facemasks.

Not me, hell no!!

But I think it is the fear, the fear of this happening again. The horror of it all.

My answer to this is live life to the full. Its changed my mindset, now I’m all about achieving my dreams whatever the cost. We could have all died. Life is for living, so for goodness sake live it!!

Normal Life 1: friendship

I believe the Covid pandemic has changed me forever. During the worst of lockdown I was argumentative, aggressive and unpleasant; my stress levels going through the roof.

I still get stressed and frustrated but at this stage in our unlocking I am a person full of pent up frustration that has led me to be a stronger person. I have adapted and found ways to relax and stay fit. My happiest discovery is yoga, I LOVE it! It fills me with peaceful energy and oils my aching body. Meditation too is a good friend to me now.

I used to have so many doubts about taking the leap and moving for six months of the year to Goa. After this pandemic I have none! We all could have died, life is for living to the full and I’m off as soon as I can.

Over this pandemic period my relationships with friends has changed a lot. The people I knew before the pandemic are gone; replaced with new versions of themselves.

As well as struggling with the lockdown and not being able to go out socialising, two of my friends have been fighting cancer, which was diagnosed during the lockdown period, which must have made it even harder to deal with. The medication, chemo and stress of it all has taken its toll. It will be a while before they are back to full strength and on my part that means adapting to their off days.

Another close friend is now in a relationship that has grown much stronger during the pandemic. I miss just the two of us going to the pub, putting the world to rights or playing music around my flat. Now he comes as part of a pair, one half of a whole. If I arrange to meet him it means inviting both of them; which is fine because I get that now they come as a package and I need to get used to that too. Don’t get me wrong I am happy for him because he is happy, but once again, things have changed and I need to adapt to that.

Change is hard and the pandemic has resulted in a lot of it.

All of our friendships have been affected in some way by this pandemic. Anyone who says that the pandemic has not had an affect on them in some way is in denial. We just have to recognise that change happens and adapt to the new, trying to get back to some part of who we once were but also accepting the change that has occurred.

Here is an article that explores our friendships during the pandemic:

Care of: parade.com

So how has the pandemic affected friendships?

There are several ways that the pandemic has brought about drifting or even friendship rifts. Here a few: 

People aren’t seeing each other as much—or at all.

“Despite the safety of meeting outside, at a distance, and with face masks, people largely have not been meeting up,” Dr. Puder says. “Because of this, friendship is largely happening over social media.”

He adds that studies show that social media is only 5% social and mostly just entertainment, and most studies prove that it has adverse effects on mental health.

Zoom burnout is real

Dr. Mirgain cites “Zoom burnout” as a reason why people are feeling depleted. As a result of sitting behind a screen, “they don’t have as much energy and feel drained from virtual get-togethers with friends,” she says. “Connecting through technology, although it has many advantages, just can’t replace the benefits from in-person connection.”

Our mental health is suffering

Dr. Mirgain explains that one of the secondary effects of mental health conditions can be social isolation. “If people don’t feel like they have good news to share with friends, they may withdraw and not reach out, preferring to keep to themselves,” she says.

We’re fighting with one another

This year has been a divisive one to say the least, something that can greatly hinder once-strong friendships.

Dr. Allison Chase, Regional Clinical Director of the Texas Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center, says, “Anytime there are conflicting opinions or beliefs about a topic, there will be increased disagreements. The pandemic would be classified as one of those situations. There is varying information and beliefs about the pandemic, much of which is shared and discussed on social media platforms. When that happens, we know that the conflict can intensify.” 

We’re stressed out

Whether you have a mental health condition or not, stress has become extremely palpable for everyone during the pandemic. “We have never had such a large social event that led to widespread social isolation, unemployment, and increased fear of illness, and people are sheltering away from not only these fears, but from their friends and families,” Dr. Puder reflects.

According to the American Psychological Association’s October Stress in America report, 2 in 3 adults say they have experienced increased stress throughout the course of the pandemic. 

And this is merely scratching the surface. Our experts also point to a lack of opportunities for normal social activities, fatigue from trying to get through the last several months, loneliness, and staying away from friends who aren’t practicing CDC guidelines as triggers.

How can we stay connected?

Dr. Chase believes that an essential aspect of friendship is sharing your thoughts, including both the highs and lows. “If you can do this through Zoom, FaceTime, phone calls, texting, or in-person but safely distanced and as recommended, with a mask, this will help keep you connected,” she suggests.

Dr. Mirgain adds, “Keep in touch regularly with friends by sending a text or letter letting someone know that you’re thinking about them. Check in to see how they are doing and don’t hesitate to let people hear from you. Leave a small gift for a friend on their doorstep or send them something through the mail.”

If you’d like to cultivate new friendships during this difficult time, Dr. Mirgain recommends exploring your interests in a virtual format. These can include virtual meetings of clubs or organizations, attending virtual religious services, or volunteering for a local group.

What if you’re feeling too down to socialize, even virtually? “Many people are taking breaks from certain friendships during the pandemic that they will resume once things return to normal,” Dr. Mirgain says. “Don’t feel badly about taking a pause, for a variety of reasons, for not seeing certain people, or staying in touch as frequently with particular friends. It’s okay to take a pandemic pause from certain friendships.”

Dr. Chase also thinks it’s understandable that some people may want to withdraw or isolate right now “so they don’t burden others.” When you do feel up to virtual or distanced socializing, she thinks we can be choosy.  “Connection with others is very important with these struggles,” she says. “That connection should be limited to those that provide genuine and healthy support.”

Normal Life 2. Cancellation and Postponement 

Bars, Clubs and Festivals

Goodness, this part of my life has been hard and sooo, frustrating. I am used to going to festivals every year and to my regular clubs like Whirl-y-Gig. I’m heartbroken at all the cancellations. But is this a sign of a change too? Are some of these venues ever coming back?

I have wondered if my beloved Whirl-y-Gig will ever return, it’s organisers, I know, have had a rough couple of years and nobody would blame them if they were ready to retire. I’m just speculating but if it were true, that would be a hard pill to swallow. But I really hope they find the strength to fight on and bring this wonderful legend of a club back to us. 

I believe Whirl-y-Fayre will continue but that too won’t be back until August 2022

Nightclubs have had such a hard time of it, who knows which clubs will survive and which ones will be gone forever.

Its nice to see pubs bouncing back though and if anything the pandemic will result in higher demand for what was a struggling industry. We are all tired of being stuck indoors and this will result in pubs becoming popular once again.

I love Parlour Party, the live mic night run by Richard and Mary of Whirly fame at the Trinity bar in Harrow. I have good feelings of that returning soon at least.

I had three festivals booked this year; Noisily, Whirl-y-Fayre and Psymera. Noisily has been put back until 2022, as has Whirl-y-fayre and Psymera is now taking place in August (we hope). I’m doing a stall there for my business and it will be a good practice run for my doing more festival pitches next year; one positive change at least.

I think I’m a bit OCD/autistic, I like certainty and knowing I’m going to which festival and when. All these cancellations and postponement make me very uneasy but once again its a example of having to adapt to change.

At least next year is looking a lot better for these troubled festivals.

To make myself feel better I’ve just booked Goa Cream festival which is in September; so has a better chance of going ahead. Its all so uncertain…all change.

Normal Life 3. Travel/Goa

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

I love to travel, especially to India and not being allowed to do that has been difficult to say the least. India is in a bad way and it may be two or three years before returning there is possible. That’s one change I have found hard to adjust too.

So far I have adapted by going on camping trips around the UK; any form of travel is better than none and I’ve really enjoyed it.

But its no substitute for exotic foreign lands so I am planning my first big travels for December. I’m going to Thailand which is currently on the UK amber list but hopefully by December will be green. They are changing the rules so double vaccinated people will no longer need to isolate. It will still be difficult though, having to have Covid tests before and after, as well as less, more expensive flights. But it won’t stop me. My friends Las and Katy are coming too.

Something to look forward too.

But there is no doubt that as soon as we get the all clear to return to Goa, I will be on the first flight.

The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” – Viktor Frankl

It hasn’t all been negative change during this pandemic, I’ve set up an online business that although started off slowly is now picking up. I’m also branching into market stall pitches at markets and festivals, which is exciting.

So here comes the biggest change of all. I need a van in order to make this a success but I don’t drive and cannot keep relying on friends to drive me.

As of 10th July I’m finally starting driving lessons at 56 years old. I’m excited but nervous. My exploits behind the wheel while I’m learning will be the subject of my next post.

So, as I dream of returning to Goa I find myself calm and accepting of all this post-pandemic change. A new chapter in all our lives is beginning and we must accept it and go with the flow…

…until next time.

No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!
– C. JoyBell C

Next time: Watch out, hippie behind the wheel

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