Stories from real people, not the media.
I had asked friends, family and social media contacts to send me their stories about 'being weeks in isolation and lock down'. Are you still patient? Angry? Frustrated? How is your business doing? The kids? I had asked "Tell me YOUR story". And here are the answers, great, inspiring. Different. Enjoy reading stories from Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, USA, Sweden, Mexico, UK.I would like to thank everyone sending their interesting inside views. These are real stories, no selected media point of view.
Connie, from the United States, living in Torrox
Having just moved to Spain from the US literally the day before the country’s first Coronavirus case was revealed - January 30, 2020 - it’s been a bit surreal, mixed with my typical “ok, I will get through this...” attitude, mixed with a bit of worry, topped with a tiny bit of annoyance. Within 6 weeks of my being here, we were on lockdown. Prior to this lockdown, I was back on my bike and riding around the Axarquía trying to build back up to 30+ miles per day. I live with my 2 year old cat, George, and I’ve been making my way through a new environment. I made some connections with awesome women from all over Europe that just happened to come to live in the South of Spain. I found how much I love to create art. And I reached a level of happy that I haven’t felt in years.
The hardest part of the lockdown has been my inability to be as active. Because I live at the sea, the policia are more strict when people are out walking without purpose. And of course, no bike riding. The worst part - that leaves me annoyed sometimes- has been the delayed delivery of all my personal belongings from the US. Everything is sitting in Antwerp due to the virus and I hope it will be only 1 more month of waiting. Living out of two suitcases for nearly half of a year can be daunting.
Now for the happier stuff. I’ve stayed in some contact with a few of the awesome women I recently met. That has been good for me on a few levels! The other positive thing: I am clearly saving money. And the best part is that I am sticking with my healthy eating plan and have been exercising 3-4 days each week with YouTube videos. I’ve lost 10 pounds since early February! And I’ve finished reading 3 books. I feel focused for the first time in several years. Now if I can just stop listening to the news hour by hour... I will admit though, I feel worried and anxious about the future. Not only making sure I don’t get the virus - I have asthma, albeit mild - but will I be able to visit my friends in Europe? Will my family be able to come visit me here, like they planned? Will I be able to go back to New York City where I spent half my life, and see some of the dear people who mean the world to me?
All in all, we are in this together. I believe that. And while none of us know what to expect, I am happy to be spending my life here in Spain and hoping to maintain a Zen state.
Silvia's Holiday Home in Estepona
We are doing just fine, we are 4 in the house (+6 cats), spacious house with garden, we have lots of conversations all together, serious and super interesting conversations with my children too, conversations we otherwise would "not have time" for, same via phone calls with or without camera with friends we used to only still have a " hi how are you doing" quick whatsapp text contact with, reading inspiring books, making puzzles, enjoying the few days of garden sunbathing we have had so far, love listening to the singing birds every day, it us a big joy!
I temporarily lost my job but that will be ok again soon I know!!
Miss the sea, feeling, smelling, hearing touching the waves
I miss my work, I miss my freedom to meet up and hug my friends but it is teaching us all an important lesson I think, for all different but still important
And our cats are amazingly happy we are around all day.
Wish everybody to have patience, stay strong and safe, this is NOT the end of the world, it is more like a second chance! airbnb.com/h/doubleroom-with-private-terrace
Clare, a British expat lives in Caleta De Veléz
I live in an apartment, luckily with beautiful views and a small/medium sized terrace and share the space with my husband whom is setting up a website building business from home. He is busy building his portfolio and I am currently unable to work. We have no income except help from the government to pay rent and our bills. Family currently loan us money for food (we are blessed). For me this has been a journey. In the beginning and looking back now I was in shock, maybe for the first few days. It took time to realise what was happening. Then I decided this was a time to be productive and that I had to change with the situation and be strong.
Learning Spanish with my class books, getting physically fitter and eating healthier. Not to mention reorganising the home. However I soon realised that I couldn’t be ultra efficient especially with my Spanish, I found I was struggling to learn and knew from the tension and pain in my head, that this wasn’t normal, it’s was a subconsciousness, something to do with everything that was going on around me. I feel I’ve been through stages of grief almost. Worry, anger, sadness etc So many emotions in response to various different situations. I found myself over eating a lot in the first couple of weeks.
My exercises were giving me endorphins, lifting me up and helping me to be strong or so I thought. Until the pains in my hips returned worse than ever before. (They have been coming and going for over a year). One day in a moment of painful accidents (a few) I just screamed at the top of my lungs. It was like this moment had been building for years and just suddenly needed to come out. I felt good and bad. Bad for my neighbours hearing that but good for the release, of which I have never done like this before. There have been tears and laughter through this time too.
The following next few days I enlisted on a cyber yoga retreat course. I tried to do various different daily exercises to get round the pains in my hips but it just got worse. I slowly became more aware of myself. I have guided meditation every morning, yoga philosophy in the afternoons. I have always been aware of nature and the gifts it brings. But now more than ever. This time now for me is a time of looking inward, just being, resting, appreciating now and recognising that everything is just the way it is supposed to be. The earth is taking time and bringing messages with it. Guiding me on a different path, a more positive path. I feel patient, more grounded and am coping. I feel more knowledgeable too. Now for me this is an important time to improve Self for the good of the whole. This is my mission.
Sandra, a British expat living in Andalucia
I started my lockdown in a rental house on my own in Torre del Mar. A very urban environment, no views of nature, densely packed housing and very noisy with the large Spanish families in their homes all day. If I went on my roof to get fresh air I feared they could cough over me. I am very much an outside person so this was a challenge.
I was unable to stay on at the property when my rental ended at the end of March, and as I met the criteria for travel in exceptional circumstances, I moved up the mountain to a lovely town house in Canillas de Aceituno with a beautiful garden. The house of a friend which would never be available in normal circumstances. I expected to continue to be on my own again, but am unexpectedly temporarily sharing. With a woman I have never met before in my life. A fresh set of challenges I thought, but she is an interesting and considerate lady and very much now a new friend.
The move was stressful for many reasons, and I had only just arrived in Canillas when my parents were rushed into hospital with Covid 19 and my mother nearly died. That was of course a very difficult time. I could only reassure myself that I could not do anymore for them if I was in the UK, and that in enabling them to spend much of the winter in Spain with me, which unquestionably improved their health and fitness, they were in as good a place you can be when you are well into your 80's to fight the virus. They are now home and recovering and the community support they have received has been heartwarming, kind and thoughtful.
So I have had rather big things going on which have no doubt shaped my experience. I was kept busy and distracted by these, they gave me in different ways, a purpose. Even after my parents left hospital, there was a lot of care to put in place.
Nevertheless so far I would say that in this lockdown I have been surprisingly contented and balanced. I got to the end of week 1 and thought, ok this is fine, I can do this again and again... ( I always thought that we would be looking at mid May or later for a lifting and I think that has helped me to avoid the troughs of disappointment when the lockdown is extended). So I've thought about why I am not going up the walls and I think it's because:
- I took the decision right at the start that surviving successfully ( assuming one doesn't get CV) was a mental game. I couldn't control what was going on around me with the spread of the virus or the lockdown but I could choose and control how I reacted to it. I could still choose to be happy and to focus on the many blessings in my life. And generally, as ex pats who do not have to go out to work everyday, we have many things to be grateful for. I remind myself of these and practice gratitude in an informal way most days.
-Whilst I'm a sociable creature , I also really enjoy my own company and am never bored in normal life. Maybe because I am an only child and learnt to amuse myself from an early age. There's loads of stuff I want to do during this period. It's an opportunity too, if we choose to take it as such.
- I grew up in a humble working class environment. I didn't have much stuff. Perhaps I was just also naturally contented - or that was part of my "nurture" at least. I used my imagination and creativity to entertain myself. And so I do now. Sure the village has limited food supplies, but I have for the first time in my life, a lemon tree in the garden, so I am focussing on creating lots of lovely lemony meals and preserves instead. It's about the lens you choose to see life through. I believe in the power of positive mantras and am very aware of any negative thoughts or influences. Thoughts shape feelings and in turn, health and happiness.
- I've fully embraced and initiated taking my social and leisure ( yoga, meditation etc.) life online and this has worked exceptionally well. I am stronger and more toned now than at the start of lockdown. Of course I'd love a long walk in the countryside but I think dwelling on what you can't have in life is just a road to misery so I choose to focus on the positives instead. Oodles of free classes online, the proximity of nature in the garden, enjoying nature videos from around the world, the luxury of time. I plan WhatsApp video calls with friends, put them in my diary and look forward to them in the same way that I used to look forward to meeting up a with a friend for a coffee, for instance.
- I have never felt more loved. I found the initial surge of support from friends and family when Spain initially went into lockdown quite overwhelming. I have renewed contact with people I haven't been in touch with for some time too.. Now everyone has more time to think about others, to reach out and to communicate! It's fantastic. And of course I'm reaching out myself and helping folk out where I can. Despite having only been in Spain about 8 months I have had so much friendship and support from new friends and acquaintances too. Faith in human nature firmly restored.
- Because I don't want to get ill, I don't take risks, I go out as little as possible ( and I self quarantined for 14 days after my move), and I reduce stress so I ensure I keep my immunity high. Then I let go and don't worry about getting ill. I limit my exposure to media ( I certainly didn't get that right for the first few days), I choose my sources carefully and try to read in the original Spanish where possible. I'm fortunate I can do that. I imagine this is more isolating and scary if your language skills are limited...
Of course there will be less chirpy days, tired days, that's natural and understandable. I just accept these, treat myself kindly and do what I know works. It always passes. Everything does. I will be patient. This is going to be around I fear for a very long time, with other waves no doubt after the first easing / lifting of lockdown.
A German blog from Jochen, dem alternden Womohippie (das sind seine eigenen Worte)