January 2022 has arrived without too much aplomb, more of a quiet lurch, as I coughed, groaned and dragged my exhausted body out of 2021.

I have been struggling with Long Covid since I first had Covid in early March 2020. And then this year as an early Xmas gift I caught it again, new variant, new symptoms just as nasty. Very greedy of me.  

So instead of the much-anticipated Xmas Dinner washed down with Champagne as planned, I took to the sofa with a hot water bottle, lemon and ginger tea, the only thing I could keep down, and watched well all of Netflix.  And slept, a lot. 

Sadly the kids were visited by the covid curse, they all felt a bit rough but like most people got over it quickly and were soon just really bored with isolation. My husband had it, he had a shower, a nap and a scotch in that order and was back to normal. 

He suggested I take up his lifestyle regime, eat and drink what you want, don’t move unless you must and laugh a lot.  I am beginning to come round to his point of view.  Meditation, yoga, and a healthy natural diet don’t seem to have had much impact on my immune system. So maybe I should swap the green juice for a whisky chaser after my morning double espresso?  Don’t worry I’m joking!  

Wherever you stand with the whole covid situation. It has affected our lives in so many ways, socially, economically, physically, mentally it has had an impact.  If you are lucky enough to have been untouched personally, I am very happy for you. 

As I navigated the whole covid at what felt like at times war zone, I tried to stay neutral, like Switzerland, and accept that we all hold our own view, make our own choices around how we navigate the constantly changing state of play. 

We came to expect so much change didn’t we, it was open, close, mask, no mask, social distance, full on raves, work from home, come in to the office, eat at home, eat out. Running a business through this was like driving with a blindfold on.  Feeling certain you are about to crash but hoping somehow you will just be lucky enough to miss the landmines and potholes. 

Early on I decided it wasn’t my business to judge what others do or the choices they make. So, I tried not to.  Instead, I simply went around my business with as much compassion as I could muster.  Realising that many people were afraid, and concerned, that it had triggered underlying anxiety. 

People struggled with the loss of a sense of community, the support of their families, the network of familiarity that the day to day tasks of work, home, social played for them.  Without all of our distractions we were left with just us, and all of our inner struggles.  And again I say if you felt totally at peace and it was no issue for you, then I am glad.  But I think you will find if you look around not everyone felt that way, many people really really were brought low and walked through some dark places. It was so sad to see people struggling along often alone, with no support living fearfully.  My heart truly ached.  

So, I tried to respect space, wore my mask, and had my vaccines.  None of those things felt to me like an infringement, or an imposition.  If it made someone feel safer then great, I was happy to accommodate.  

I am not a scientist, so I decided not to become an armchair expert.  I am also not a fool, so I didn’t take anything at face value.  I read extensively, researched peer reviewed studies, spoke to experts in the fields of medicine and epidemiology.  And then made my own decisions all of which were within the bounds of what felt sensible to me, and what felt kind.  From my point of view. 

It sat well with my conscience to respect the lockdowns, and the social distancing rules, and even though both of my businesses struggled financially throughout, I felt happy to make choices based on my long term practise of the Metta Bhavan, the Buddhist practise of loving kindness.  

Along side this I truly believe that respecting others right to hold a differing view from mine was important. So if other people did it differently i understood and respected their right to do so. 

That has got harder, as time has passed. Not everyone who holds a differing view is able to or wants to agree to disagree, I received sneering looks, condescending comments, verbal attacks in the street from people I knew, who believed that as a yoga teacher it was my job to educate the community that we were being conned, controlled, micro-chipped, led by fear.  “Take that mask off, its kinder to educate people about how useless they are than try to make that old lady feel comfortable whilst buying her shopping.” Was one of the many comments I received when I entered a shop masked up. 

These verbal attacks and that is how they have felt, have as time passed continued, I find it is becoming harder and harder to let go of the comments.  My standard, “I have a different view, lets agree to disagree.” Is usually met by the person continuing to “educate” me in the error of my ways and point out my thought process is flawed, and often amleft by them finally declaring, “You are letting yourself be conned.” 

I have felt battered, abused, and at times had my own sanity called into question. 

“You sure you had covid?”  “Maybe your energy and vibrations are off?” “It was probably just flu.”  Or my all-time favourite, “I don’t know anyone who has had it.” To which I respond looking and feeling confused, “Er I just told you a) I had it, and b) I have lost a family member to it, so you do.”  To which they have responded.  “It’s sad your mother in law died, but she was old wasn’t she, so…..”

Little tip, if someone says they have lost someone never say it doesn’t matter as they were old. 

Grief is grief.  

It is astonishing how polarized our world has become, how unkind the comments that come from those who hold a different view. And i know before you say it, both sides have behaved badly but i can only comment on my experience and it has been deeply insensitive and unkind.  
How mistrustful we have become, and I acknowledge how much our own government and their mishandling of this has been a part of the growing mistrust.  Boris you did a great job of creating distrust, confusion and displaying your obvious privilege.  You are living up to your clown persona beautifully. 

To protect my sanity I found myself withdrawing from certain friends, social situations, online communities as the onslaught continued, and found solace instead in meditation, yoga Nidra and comedy.  Lots of comedy.  

“How did we get here?” I would find myself asking over and again as we saw the world around us struck down by the chaos covid has left behind.  Whether you believe it is a conspiracy or that it is really a virus that we need to be careful to avoid contracting and sharing, either way it has created a tsunami of pain that has disrupted the world we share with billions of other people all who want to be happy and healthy and connected. 

Many of those billions, have no access to medicine, clean water, or have the capacity to social distance due to over crowding due to poverty  Poverty often created by the huge imbalance of wealth across the globe. People in countries that were struck the hardest rarely have savings so can’t isolate or not work.They would starve. And in many occasions often have no-one who could support them if they got sick. 

Its been hard here, lives has been lost for all different kinds of reasons covid, mental health, suicide, and many other reasons. But nothing like the horror we saw in parts of India and Brazil. Those images will stay with me for life.  We had a very different experience We have a NHS a broken over stretched one, but we have it.  We have a social service and support network. Flawed but present.  

The world, our brothers and sisters around the globe collectively have suffered. Whatever the stance we have suffered. 

The world in short seemed to me in 2021 to be deeply divided and unkind.  

I felt myself close down, to safeguard myself.  Not only was I physically exhausted and battling Long Covid. I was emotionally battered. And need space to heal.  So as 2021 came to a close with me suffering from covid again, missing out on family time and fun again.  With my businesses struggling throughout December as Covid caused nearly all the staff off sick or isolating, I wont lie I shed a tear or two.  I indulged in a little self pity.  I had a good old rant to myself.  I journaled a lot of angry words.  

Then I regrouped.  The kindness of my friends and clients soothed my soul.  I leant into people who understood, and allowed me to be sad and angry and a little afraid.  After all if you have felt ill for nearly two years, being around folk who are effectively calling you delusional, you start to get a tad well furious!

2022 will be my year to heal, hopefully physically, and certainly emotionally.  I am and will continue to take time to gently open my heart and reconnect with my community in a way that feels safe. With people who allow me space to feel and express myself without fear of being shut down.  

I am finding ways to navigate those difficult conversations with people who feel they have the right to tell me my experience is “All in my mind.”  Or “Just a thought.”  Or “A government conspiracy.”  Or “If you think you are ill well, you will be creating that illness in your body.  It’s your fault.”

Or how to respond when people stop me in the street to rant about micro chips, Bill Gates, and wanting to know why am i not speaking out! 

It wasn’t, it isn’t, and it’s not ok to offer unsolicited advice or opinion. Or to tell someone how they feel is all in the mind.  

Enough is enough. 

2022 I hope is the year we all become kinder, more patient, thoughtful, pause before we deny another person’s experience just because we can’t relate.  And that doesn’t go just for Covid.  It goes for everything we experience in life.  

2022 could be the year we learn the uselessness of division, and the power of compassion. 

I hope to meet you with kindness and love as we leave this bloody virus behind us in the dust and use all we have learnt to grow and heal.