At the beginning of lockdown, I was asked the question, ‘Nicola, can you see the next step?’ And I could, yes. Fast forward a hundred and something days later and now I’m saying to myself…’Nicola, you need to take the next step.’ It’s not just enough now to see it because somewhere along the line it all became very blurry with no apparent end in sight. Covid has infiltrated every aspect of our day to day lives and what we used to be able to do so freely.
Last week was a particularly frustrating week. A boy had tested positive for Covid at the boarding school my son James is at. Suddenly it felt like I’d been thrown into yet another emotional waiting game…one where I was waiting for further cases to arise or maybe the school would close, who knew, but I realized that all this ‘waiting for something which I actually didn’t know what it was’ made me feel like a piece of seaweed (yes, I’m missing seeing the sea a lot!!!) being continuously swept in and out by the waves of news with nowhere really to go. Quite exhausting really and a feeling of being trapped.
During a chat with a friend I suddenly realized I have a choice about what I’m waiting for – I could either focus on waiting for the next Covid case, or a phone call from the school; the next presidential speech OR… I could focus on waiting for Spring because I know that this is one sure thing I can hope for because I know it’s coming. Suddenly I have something to anchor my waiting on…suddenly I feel like a pebble on the beach which has waves washing over it but generally stays anchored in the spot it finds itself in. Anchored. And hopeful. And able to take the next step.
So, I pruned my roses…a slightly random statement I know, but by pruning my roses during this winter season is me taking a step, in the anticipation of what they’re going to look like in Spring. It made me think about the connection between a rosebush and our own mental wellbeing during this pandemic. What steps are you taking to protect and preserve your mental wellbeing during this time? What are you anchoring your hope in?
By pruning the roses and leaving only bare stems showing at the moment, I’m allowing them the chance to protect themselves and give them time to strengthen from within, allowing them to come back stronger and more beautiful in Spring. They’ve allowed themselves time to restore and regenerate. Staring at the bare stems with their prickly thorns I’m doubtful about how they can come back into full bloom but it’s one little leaf, one little rosebud at a time. That’s how. So in my day to day it includes me taking one small step at a time to unhook myself from only seeing the thorns and bare stems that lead me to feelings of despair and hopelessness during this long, long wait and instead to focus on the new little shoot that is appearing on the bush, and the next one, and soon it’ll be a breathtaking display of delicate roses and healthy green leaves and the bare stems and thorns will fade into the background. It’s about taking the next step, it’s a gentle, gradual buildup of resilience and kindness to yourself that one day just starts blooming…and allows you to be anchored during these uncertain times. Keep tending to your rose…because the little moments of care and attention it continues to receive on a daily basis will bring with it moments of pure joy and blessing. You and I have a choice…and I choose Spring.