Similar to many others, I have been at home for the last 12 months. I have been furloughed (UK term: technically employed, but not physically working) for 11 of them.
I saw the beginnings of working from home and to some extent the practical impact of working with COVID. I expected to get back to work later in the year, hopefully around September, but the market had another agenda. The Oil and Gas industry, where I generally entertain myself from Monday through Friday was desperately quiet.
I spoke to a guy a few years back; he had returned to work after an 18 month unplanned break. He told me he was unable to enjoy the time off, because he was so consumed with the worry he would not have something to return to. I understood the concern, but I promised myself I would not be that person. To have this opportunity. To be physically and mentally fit. To have some savings to tide me over – not lavishly, but enough. I was going to enjoy every minute of it.
And I have.
This sabbatical can only be described in terms of pure, unadulterated enjoyment. An absolute blast springs to mind. I feel absolutely privileged to have been gifted this time. COVID or not. I’ve cycled thousands of kilometres. Conquered two Munro’s, including the highest in Scotland. Practiced yoga around 5/7 days. Gained a qualification and am working towards another. Fully fitted wardrobes in my dressing room. Sanded and waxed my kitchen table. Completed artwork for my home and that of my friends. Made wooden planters from an old bed. Made dividers for my cutlery drawer. A water bottle holder for my cupboards from a long tube destined for recycling. Had my writings published in Womankind, a renowned worldwide magazine. I’ve perfected a pavlova, layered cakes, vegan recipes. Developed an electronic recipe and menu planner which spits out a shopping list. Baked bread and pizza. Made my own pasta. Tortillas.
The list goes on.
My partner has also been off since June. I thought I may murder him in the early stages, but in addition to loving him (because he is a truly amazing human; sorry for the slush), I’ve reminded myself I actually really like him. We are not a ‘living in each other’s pockets’ kind of couple, but we have developed a greater closeness this past year. We have had some Monday mornings where we have just watched a movie. I think, what do I want to do today? What would I NOT be able to do if I was at work? And a further rendition of Layer Cake was born. No pressure. No agenda. Just whatever comes.
I am not saying there have not been some moments of pressure during the last few months. But they have been only moments. Wondering if things will pick up. Wondering if I’m getting too old. Wondering when I will have the requisite funds to retire for real. That kind of thing. But they are fleeting. I know everything always works out. I have a brain in my head. I am kind. I am real. It’s all temporary. I can do this.
And guess what? Transpires I can.
I had an interview last week. I received notification on Monday that I got the job. To say I’m delighted would be an understatement. It doesn’t matter how many interviews I have attended in my life; it is always a great feeling to be wanted. They had the choice of everyone. But they chose me. For whatever reason. And they will only ever really know why. They saw something they liked. Regardless of my jokes of adorning pyjamas on a video call (I wasn’t, honestly). It’s just my feeble attempt to keep things light-hearted.
So now. Head needs to firmly return to the game.
Amidst the return to the ‘game’ I commit to remembering the enjoyment brought by simple pleasures. I will contentedly take what I’ve learned and enjoyed in the last year and continue with much of it. I imagine an earlier start will be a prerequisite, but at this time of year who doesn’t want to see more of the morning anyway. It is one of life’s true pleasures and provides outstanding potential. They give me joy.
So, it transpires, everything is going to be OK. I’m proud to be able to say, I always knew it would be.