The isolation diaries | part 3

The future: a looming chasm that holds much uncertainty, and, yet, hope. A place where ideas flourish, plans fester, and the rest of our lives dance secretly and seductively ahead of us.

The future has no obligations to anyone. It makes no promises, gives no hints, and has the upper hand when it comes to the element of surprise; throwing forks in the road and contrasting them with unexpected opportunities.

It’s yet another reminder that us humans can plan, predict, organise and dream to our hearts’ content, but that we are not entirely in control of how our actions may pan out. The future treats us all equally: it pulls us in its direction without guidance or suggestion, and we are forced to unravel it as we go along, often without even realising it’s happening.

We all have a vision of what we’d like to see on the horizon. I don’t believe people who say they haven’t given it much thought (what else do people contemplate when spending 30 minutes wrapped in a towel post-shower staring absentmindedly at the wall?!). Whether it’s a long-term dream in the form of a desired career or significant personal achievement, where we’d like to settle down – if at all – and who with; or a short-term venture, like where we want to go on holiday next year, or simply what to cook for dinner.

Admittedly, the prospect of making a five-year plan scares the shit out of me. I’m no commitment-phobe (and, believe me, I love to plan) but I can’t willingly dedicate myself to such a lengthy schedule when I know it’s likely to deviate from what’s on paper. I would torment myself for not being on track and the process would inevitably hinder my overall progress far more than if I were to continue (somewhat) winging it.

I have a general idea of where I want to be in five years time, however I accept that the milestones I lust for may not come to fruition. I can do my best but the universe just might have other plans for me. I’m atheist, although boldly and unashamedly believe, to some extent, in fate. Some things are just too coincidental to happen without a little nudge in the right direction (and if that’s totally scientifically wrong then I don’t wanna be right).

The minute tasks we complete everyday all pour into the bigger masterpiece, as we are instinctively dialling our inner compass towards a certain destination, even without knowing it. The hobbies we automatically reach for, the friends we keep, the decisions we make; each brush etches designs into the fabric of what makes us who we are.

I romanticise the concept of serendipity and like to think it’s about an 80:20 split between reality and fate. They go hand in hand and for me one couldn’t exist without the support of the other. Destiny without input is risky and pretentious, whereas living without clutching onto a tiny sprig of faith is monotonous.

In my experience, once you stop looking for something it tends to appear. Perhaps this is because it’s right in front of me (queue my mum coming into my room and finding the top I’ve been searching an hour for in the most obvious location, because I was so fixated on hunting it down that I didn’t even click), or an ironic signal from a higher power to magically tell me I clearly wasn’t ready.

Life is chaotic, unpredictable, dirty. I finally organise one neat little pile only for a huge wrecking ball to come and knock it all over again. But would I want it any other way? I think I discreetly revel in the drama, the constant investigations and problems to solve. We can work hard and do our best, but there are infinite obstacles that compel us to pause, rethink, and try a different tactic. Nothing is set in stone, and this unpredictability is what gives life its exciting flavour.

I’m not saying everything happens for a reason, but the beauty of existence is that each being can interpret things in their own way. Take star signs, for instance. A lot of it is gimmicky bullshit made up to fill the back page of a tabloid, but the stars infatuate me, as does the elements of truth I seek out in legitimate horoscopes.

The verification of relating to a piece of text curated by a stranger, no matter how generic, ignites a flicker of visibility and satisfaction in me, which is still important for someone who doesn’t follow a religion. Also I consider the vastness of space a LOT and it never ceases to blow my mind, so how can we really know that the stars aren’t weaving us a story with their pictures in the sky?

Life in lockdown has got me thinking a lot about the future, but through a very different lens. The end accomplishments remain firm, whilst the flexibility and attitude I exert in chasing them are subject to variation.

I’m positive that I will come out the other side a better person. Not because I’ve been super productive and channelled a load of energy into ‘improving’ myself, but because my values have shifted and I think it would be impossible to survive through this and be unchanged.

I want to shrug off expectations and grab each day by the lapels and do the very thing that scares and invigorates me in any given instance – dye my hair without rationalising it first, book an impulsive one-way flight, say yes to the invitations I have been too timid to accept.

I’m going to stop limiting myself to activities I am comfortable with and turning down others because I don’t reckon I’ll be any good at it. Who cares? Maybe it will be the best damn thing I have ever done or maybe I’ll make a tit of myself doing karaoke, at least I’ll look back and hysterically cringe at the memory.

It’s taken a bloody lockdown to connect virtually with my dearest friends, and we’ve had a riot! I don’t want to wait for a special occasion to capture the essence of interaction and make time for those who are important again – living is a special occasion.

In the same breath, I will say no to offers that don’t appeal to me rather than back out with an exaggerated excuse or drag myself along for the sake of it. When I do show up I will be motivated to give my full attention and appreciate the hours spent with people and the words they speak, the jokes they tell – no more disengaging or sitting on my phone pretending to listen. If I plan a catch up I will ensure that I fully intend to make arrangements to go.

I want to love more vivaciously and indulge in the slightest pangs of warmth and nostalgia: the smell of my best friend’s hair as we embrace, the accidental brushing of hands as I walk beside my boyfriend, the flash of dimples when I see a family member smile, the crease of eye wrinkles when someone laughs uncontrollably.

I will endeavour to pass each day to maximum potential, wake up early more often, set my alarm in summer to head out and watch the sunrise, letting it nourish and energise me, not just meekly admiring it by accident because I’ve stayed up too late from a night out.

Passion will be directed to being kinder, more patient and an active listener. These are all traits I’m quietly grafting at daily, as well as taking a leaf out of Jo March’s book in an effort to control my effervescing temper.

Given that I have had much time for reflection too, I am unknotting some kinks in an effort to let grudges go. It’s a fine line, but it has become apparent the relationships that may be salvageable are worth investing in. By cutting all ties before delving into a mature conversation about the issue and attempting to resolve it, I am only stifling my own growth and the blossoming of rewarding friendships with potential to expand.

I should understand better than most due to the gratitude my own mistakes have been awarded that everyone deserves a second chance; if an olive branch is wasted, it’s worth remembering that going forward and learning who to trust. The metaphorical barricades dividing us have certainly caused me to scrutinise who I desperately want to see when it’s all over.

Since the lockdown, mornings have got a lot slower. I am grateful for the environment to create a peaceful, idyllic version of how I’d like my day to start. I know it won’t be like this forever, so I am deeply inhaling the beauty of it while it lasts.

I drink in the ease of standard habits, like showering and breakfast, that are normally rattled through without time to process them. Since showing up to my yoga mat nearly every day for a month (it was often out of the question when commuting due to time and spacial constraints) I feel grounded even in the weirdest of times, so want to continue my practice by manufacturing a slot to incorporate it no matter how busy I am, and explore the balance that it could bring. Even a mere ten minutes can boost my concentration immensely and a basic sun salutation can resolve my morning grumbles.

Twice in the working week I set my alarm half an hour early, roll out of bed, and gear up to go for a run. I dread it and want nothing more than to slink back down under the covers and press snooze, but it is so worth it to delight in the buttery early morning sun.

This adorable yellow bed shirt is from Oysho and I rediscovered it whilst searching in the depths of a bedroom drawer as I am lacking in pyjama options (usually I sleep in a baggy shirt and big knickers, if you’re interested). It made me smile on remembering why I bought it – on a trip in Barcelona I got undressed on the first evening and realised I hadn’t bought any sleepwear with me, so grabbed it when out shopping the following day.

Evenings also are proving to be a slice of solace in contrast to the usual hive of buzzing activity, rushing around in a bid to fit as much in as possible. My proactiveness didn’t cease on the tube home: I would continue writing a blog post, read or listen to a podcast. On arriving back to my nan’s I’d usually cook dinner for us both, carry on with another task while waiting for it to go down, and then race off to the gym. By the time I’d flop back down on my bed at around 9:30 I was exhaustedly talking to Josh via FaceTime – a mood that quashed one of my favourite daily rituals.

Presently I am finding a strange, quiet relief at not needing to head out somewhere on closing my laptop for the day. It can be confusing and difficult to switch off when my ‘office’ is now also the room I tend to wind down in, but I am trying to instil boundaries and cherish my bedroom as a relaxing haven. I’ll bumble around for a while, light a candle, do some reading and naturally induce myself into sleep-mode.

My coworker and his partner have set up a delightful candle company called The Sixth Scent (I’m a sucker for a good pun) and if you are able to support small businesses during the pandemic and need to buy a gift or want a pick-me-up you should check them out! This is ‘Ye Olde Library’ and it smells wonderful and looks so minimally elegant. Use code WELCOME for 10% off.

I find that wrestling with a challenge sometimes provokes fresh patterns of productivity. I can get quite complacent with a certain structure and not have the time or initiative to even try bending the rules a little. So when the pandemic forced constraints on my typical blog routine, this was an opportunity to come at it with an alternate perspective rather than stop completely.

The transformation in the way I share content will no doubt influence the evolution of this blog. I am thoroughly enjoying capturing moments from my week and uploading them in a less formal manner, and feel reluctant to revert back to elaborate outfit shoots (dramatic pause to hear the distant screams of celebration from friends and family who are forced into taking my photos).

This format provides a platform to document accounts of my life with multiple looks alongside genuine thoughts and emotions, rather than arranging one ensemble to take centre-stage and trying to conjure up a totally disjointed think-piece to go with it. I’m not disregarding previous posts, just welcoming another path on the journey of my creative output. There’s a lack of fuss that comes with a quick iPhone snap compared to the focused precision of a digital camera that makes it seem more real.

TROUSERS Boden (previously gifted) | CROP TOP Pretty Little Thing | MULES Mango

As you can probably tell by now, the patio is my favourite spot for a
post-work tipple. The sunlight lingers longest here, and the peak of anticipation comes when a neighbour walks past and we can wave. The garden has become my sanctuary and I am devastated for those who don’t have an area to worship the outdoors in, as it honestly has been a lifeline.

My mum gave me some tips on how she trains her mindfulness, so I am attempting to heighten the awareness of my senses by listening to the birds, focusing on what I can see, taste, hear, smell and feel. It sounds a bit naff but after five minutes or so the world seems a bit brighter and my brain less foggy.

This was day one of my Glossier Skywash trials, and I have to say I’m really impressed with the results. I rely on the brand for mascara and have them to thank for totally salvaging my non-existent eyebrows. So I wanted to take it a step further by trying another product, and with the release of Skywash (and the hype around it on social media) it was a great excuse!

I went for ‘pool’, a light cornflour blue that I find compliments neutral outfits (such as the one above) beautifully, the pastel colour radiating a fresh yet subtle centrepiece. When teamed with brighter garments (fluorescent orange from one experiment) it’s a funky collaboration that is reminiscent of pop art and retro style. So it’s a very versatile utensil that can convert even those who are terrified of expanding their cosmetic palette (like me).

My make-up regime is boringly simple. It hasn’t strayed much since I started wearing it, although there have been some terrible phases, which is most likely why I’m so unenthusiastic about trying new products. I am happy with my facial uniform and it’s consistent, dewy flourish – except my over-exaggerated black eyeliner, which I seem to be reaching for less and less these days. I only ever switch it up to go out, and that’s just by adding an extra layer of every component (which may disgust the beauty lovers out there – I don’t bother removing any when reapplying later in the day either…what’s the point if I’m just painting it back on?!).

The clothes are my priority so make-up takes a back seat (not to mention I am not artistically gifted and have a very shaky hand) and lowkey application, minimal effort suits me just fine.

The yellow mules are oldies but goodies from Mango and since both my pairs of Birkenstocks are estranged (one pair stuck up in Newcastle and the other at my nan’s house) they’re handy to slip on in the meantime.

T-SHIRT New Look (old) | SUNFLOWER SKIRT Urban Outfitters (old) | SANDALS H&M (very old) | BAG Zara (old) | SPARKLY CROP TOP (handmade by a friend) | JEANS H&M (old)

Growing up a little diva I had been known to make several outfit changes per day, and on bank holiday I revived that trend in order to make the most of the sun. My brother cooked us a BBQ and in true wilderness fashion we used disposable grills and my veggie burgers resembled charcoal more than fake meat. But it was delicious and good fun to be able to drink the afternoon away and natter about other BBQ memories, in true British fashion.

For the most part I lazed around in a Boden playsuit and for the evening I slipped into this funky sequin top (my uni friend did the rounds making them for our friendship group to shimmie in at Cirque de Soul events) and even stuck some glitter on my cheeks to reminisce in a bit of festival glamour.

These landscape photos were taken on a walk near my house on one of those hazy spring days.

PLAYSUIT Boden (previously gifted)

I really hope you are safe and well and able to find whatever comfort you can in these dark days.

Over and out from me, with no plans except to surrender to the future and learn to adapt to whatever it brings.

Lily x

2 thoughts on “The isolation diaries | part 3

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