As we start the second month of social distancing, I’m paying a lot more attention than usual to mental hygiene. I’m trying break the loop of uncertainty and worry about the future, so daily exercise means more than yoga and dog-walking
This means focusing on positive thoughts, like gratitude and paying attention to the little things which have an enormous effect on my state of mind. Two such things are Nature and the Arts.
I’m lucky enough to live in a small village with lots of places to walk and space to avoid other people. It also happens to be the start of spring, my favourite season in Switzerland. The fields and hedgerows are bursting with buds and flowers, attracting the bees and butterflies.
Every day when I open the door for morning pugwalks, the plum tree is filled with sparrows, finches, blue-tits and the occasional pigeon, all waiting for me to fill the bird table. Blue sky (devoid of vapour trails), patches of sunshine through the forest, the tiny black squirrel who ran across my path and a marten in his winter coat standing on hind legs all make me happy.
If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. -Vincent van Gogh
Where would we be without the arts? This past week Herr Husband and I enjoyed a brilliant theatre performance of One Man, Two Guvnors from London’s National Theatre and plan to watch the adaption of Jane Eyre this Thursday. There is something special about watching it ‘live’ and comparing notes with others later.
Some of the best dance and acrobatic shows I’ve seen came from Cirque de Soleil. You can now watch them online via their platform cirqueconnect.
In my last blog post, I talked about favourite comforting books and the joy of re-reading. But I’m also discovering new novels, which keep my imagination fired. I just finished The Binding by Bridget Collins, an extraordinarily imaginative work which held a personal significance. My mother trained as a bookbinder, a profession which fascinates me. I also listened to the audiobook of The Memory Tree by Linda Gillard, a literary love story over a dual timeline – an enchanting delight.
There’s always music in this house. I make collections according to mood. ‘Wax Lyrical’ is all about the power of a songwriter’s words, ‘Bathtime’ is for relaxing and unwinding, and for those times when I need a mood lifter, ‘Sunshine’. The first track on that collection is Air à Danser by The Penguin Café Orchestra. It fills me with joy and never fails to make me smile.
One artist who features more than once on ‘Wax Lyrical’ is Nick Cave. I also love his Red Hand Files, where he answers questions on whatever topics readers raise, with grace, thought and eloquent prose. Reassuringly sane and honest, he soothes my frazzled nerves.
Where do you find solace in uncertain times like these?