Ten months of isolation

Today marks ten months of isolation for me. And I cannot believe that I am still writing these monthly reflections! Yet here I am, as isolated as ever with no end in sight. Indeed, rather than the isolation lifting, I expect that I will be in a relatively strict form of isolation for another month or two – at least! And I expect to remain in some form of isolation for several more months.

Here in Scotland, we entered a new lockdown at the start of January that is thought to continue into February and possibly beyond. In fact, there are little “hints” that we won’t be back to any form of normalcy until next winter, but we shouldn’t be in lockdown that whole time. Of course, this new lockdown doesn’t really impact my life because my life has been considerably more isolated and “locked down” than most people this entire time, so it’s just more of the same for me.

Yes, more of the same isolation, the same boredom, and (to an extent) the same loneliness – just like these past ten months. But as before, I will spare you a month-by-month recap on this post, and instead I will direct you to all posts tagged as “lockdown” and “shielding” which includes all “x month of isolation” posts and a few related posts.

As I predicted last month, my  tenth month of isolation has been another extremely isolating month. That’s because the COVID situation has continued to worsen, first as people began to let their guards down and/or never had their guards up in the first place (see my rant from my Month Eight recap), and second as some people insisted that a “normal” Christmas was vital to their social calendars. This hasn’t been helped by a new, more contagious form of the virus which means that infection rates and hospitalisations are at an all-time high. And that means that I have been “hiding” away at home without the joys of socially distanced walks with friends (which were already few and far between).

Throughout Month Ten, I have remained on the rural wooded estate where I live with two exceptions: (1) Several of my running routes take me off the estate, although they border the estate, and (2) I made my annual Christmas Eve walk in the Pentland Hills, summitting Allermuir Hill in the morning.

My running routes are generally people-free and form part of looped or out-and-back runs starting and ending at my front gate, so they are easy to continue safely during the lockdown. Because they are rural routes, I generally have more than enough space to pass people if there are other humans out. (It’s rare, but it happens.)

However, the Pentlands are now largely off-limits for me. That’s because, beginning on Boxing Day, people started to flock to the hills in greater numbers than normal and the hills are quite crowded most days. (Living right next to the hills means I can see this by simply looking out my window, but social media confirms this, too.) This is frustrating to me because I can’t play on “my” hills, but I am also quite blessed to live in the middle of 250-acres of woodlands, so much like the start of this madness, I am just exploring my “back garden” a bit more whilst I wait for an opportunity to escape the estate again.

This is my favourite picnic spot on the estate where I live. It’s peaceful and relaxing with the sound of rippling water.

Month Ten of my isolation also incorporated the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and it is fair to say that the isolation made a big difference to how I managed my Christmas traditions. Some of the impact was my lack of ability to (safely) climb in the Pentlands as often as I would in a “normal” year. But the biggest impacts were related to food.

Because I am shielding, I do not go to the shops and all my groceries are delivered. And whilst the availability of food as improved since the start of this madness last spring, I worried that there might be supply problems at Christmas. And whilst the stress and sadness of widowhood Christmases has improved vastly over the years, I worried that any problems with my Christmas feast – during the stress of COVID isolation – would be too hard to manage. So, this year I changed up the menu!

Yes, to avoid food-delivery stress, I opted to have a quite different Christmas and New Year’s feast that included loads of little savoury nibbles and “party food”. As most of that is frozen, I began stocking up on treats at the start of December so that I didn’t have to worry about last-minute shortages. However, as a shielder, I am also on priority delivery lists, which means that I was able to get Christmas delivery slots easily. I didn’t hate the alternative menus, but I certainly will look forward to next Christmas when I can (hopefully) return to my “normal” isolated Christmas traditions.

One of the pleasant things with Month Ten is that half of it was spent on holiday from work. That meant that I was able to catch up on some of my more enjoyable hobbies, such as swirling and crafting. It also gave me time to really think about how best to tackle the return to long-term home working, given the realisations I discussed in my Month Nine review. In the end, I have developed a set of 2021 goals and objectives that I hope will make both my professional and personal lives a little more balanced.

With all of that said, overall I am continuing to manage (mostly) well during this pandemicespecially compared to those who struggle with long periods of isolation or working from home – and those who don’t have the same privileges as I do. However, I try to spend time reflecting on how I am doing through daily journaling and blogging – including these monthly reviews.

I begin Month Eleven of my COVID19 isolation period today. I know that this will be another challenging month in some ways, but I remain confident that I am strong enough to meet the challenge. I will be making a few minor adjustments to my workspace (to allow for some standing) and I am working on a list of adventures and activities to keep me motivated on the weekends.

I expect to hear from my doctors about my COVID19 vaccine soon and am hoping that I can get my first injection during Month Eleven, although that might not happen until I’ve tipped into a full year of isolation. As I said last month, I expect my isolation will continue beyond the one-year mark, but I am still holding out hope that I can start to re-join society in the summer.

I hope that you are continuing to safe and healthy. We’ll get through this together!

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