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  • jane anderson

An Hour at a Time

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Pacing ourselves has become something we've all become increasingly adept at recently.

The small step approach to life many people are adopting applies to time as well for me.

While I've long been reducing my own-working To Do list into manageable steps, I now find I'm chunking time in the same way.

Handling the week on a day-by-day basis is sometimes challenging. On these occasions I work better groping through any given twenty-four hours in mini stages, taking it sixty minutes at a time.

Part of me is shamefaced about this, especially after the VE Day memorial celebrations. People went through such privation during the war; I feel I have nothing much to complain about and ought to toughen up. But I’m not complaining really. It’s more a droning unease that's the problem.

Actually, talking to my mother about this, evacuated with the family from her home in Margate for the duration on the war, they experienced similar anxiety for years. As she said, you just get used to it.

She’s not much younger the Queen, my mum. They have the same stoicism and quiet decency, like many of their generation.

Mum and her cousins used to play Newmarket while the bombers flew overhead. When they returned to their home on the south coast towards the end of the war, it was to a silent and deserted town. There were no cars on the roads and they were alone in their street. They had to tear down the boards from the windows and front door of the house, hurriedly erected before they fled to protect it from - who knew what?

Inside it was dark and as they had left it. Gypsy Rose Lee costumes hung from the picture rail, a parrot’s cage strewn across the hall, carnival heads leered down from the landing. My great grandmother had run a theatrical boarding house before the war. All that was to change. No one knew how.

Not knowing is grindingly debilitating. Plans can be be made, contingency readied and a flexible attitude cultivated but there remains an underlying sense of helplessness. We have no control over this virus any more than my mother’s generation had over the outcome of the war.

So all we can do is carry on, calmly if possible, and do as Cal Major suggests, Be grateful, be mindful and be kind. And also perhaps look to those who have known what it’s like not to know and got through it and done more than survive it. If we're lucky it might make us more compassionate and resilient too, if we’re anything like the Queen and my mum.

Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. / 07742942651

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