The isolation diaries | Part 4

I’m sure I can’t be the only one whose motivation, optimism and creativity comes in waves at the moment – and sometimes not at all.

As such I have given myself over to the ebb and flow of the tide so that, unless I’m working and need to pour all efforts into my job, I am not backing my mindset into a corner by pressuring myself to obey any specific rules or feel guilty for neglecting activities.

If I want to write, I write. If I need an hour alone with my thoughts, I grant myself this small token of gratitude and retreat. If I’m exhausted from the 9-5 and can’t face being productive in the evenings, I acknowledge the sensation by resting in front of the TV. If my emotions bubble over and tears spill out, I let them, finding a sense of relief and release in their bitter sting.

Adversely, if an impromptu urge to experiment or create overcomes me, I won’t hesitate to act on it. Be that a sudden outfit idea (mostly these look incredible in my head and once I’m stood in front of my mirror with the items thrown on it’s a miserable defeat), a craving to go for a walk, or a recipe to trial.

I’m also trying to remember that while we are allowed an hour of exercise outside a day, I do not need to accept it and should not feel disheartened if I haven’t. The natural temptation to fall back into negative patterns in terms of my relationship with food and working out is currently at an all-time high.

Remembering food is fuel and sticking to meals and snacks I enjoy is key. I have trained myself over the last few years to not look at the packet information containing calories etc. and find it quite jolting when those around me draw my attention to it. It’s something I have drowned out so I can concentrate on taste and the joy of eating without tricking myself into thinking anything is bad. Nothing is bad and this type of categorising was always dangerous territory for me.

Taking pleasure in the act of cooking itself has been a huge help; I love making tasty concoctions (or trying my family’s) and with every mouthful I delight in the commitment I took in preparing a meal.

I respect my body for the home it is and the small miracles it performs everyday, and use exercise as a form of nourishment to improve my mood and health rather than through the goggles that told me it was purely a tool to fix or counteract what I had eaten, as I did when I was younger.

Still, this mentality can be caught up in the whirlwind of life when shit hits the fan, so it takes discipline to not do anything rash. I am connecting any lapse in progress with the stress we are all under throughout the pandemic, and encouraging the continuation of the balance I have found by reminding myself it won’t be so hard forever.

If I had photos taken of me in a crop top 6 years ago and seen a little belly roll peeking over the top of my trousers I would never have shared them. I would have been angry and wouldn’t sleep until I had completed 100 sit ups. For other pictures I would have sucked in or altered my angles to hide it. So I celebrate the adoration I now feel for this bit of skin and for my belly in general, for I am strong, healthy and happy and after all it’s just another part of me to embrace.

I have seen a quote circulating on social media about working through the pandemic and I relate to it every time, so I thought I’d share it here in case it eases the frustration for anyone else. “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work.”

While I am ridiculously grateful for my employment, it panics me when I can’t muster up the ability to be my usual self in that environment. With the news humming in the back of my mind like a fridge-freezer that has seen better days there’s a heavy paperweight on my brain that holds me down whilst wading through typical challenges and squashes any imagination that might crop up.

I doubt myself and my skills, get overwhelming imposter syndrome, and in an industry known for its innovation I feel like I’m failing for not being inspired enough to come up with solutions. The sentence above has been a signal that I’m not alone in tackling these fears, and reassured me that as long as I continue to try my best and get the work done I am already succeeding.

SCARF vintage | SUNGLASSES Boden (previously gifted) | CROP TOP part of an old set from Boohoo | TROUSERS vintage (very old with a huge hole in the crotch, so only used for lounging around in at home)

I’m inexplicably proud of myself for managing to style my hair up with a scarf – it’s a look I admire so much on others but my thin locks and inability to tie knots put me off trying. Needless to say I felt very chic and sophisticated when I achieved the desired effect and topped it off with matching sunglasses AND happened to have a complimentary drink. Cheers to that!

My house is now full of hairdressers, as in addition to me chopping my brother’s mullet my mum home-dyed mine with a Nice and Easy box. I have been bleach-blonde for as long as I can remember and the unexpected result of darker, honey tones is a welcome change.

My dog follows the light as it moves around the floor of our office so he can achieve maximum warmth to relax in. There are three windows so throughout the day the sun shifts position on the carpet and he obediently copies.

I have officially finished painting this room and can’t wait to share the before and after progress! We have a few last touches to jazz it up a little and then I might even dedicate an entire blog post to the transformation! I haven’t decorated a space since university, and even then it was only with accessories and homeware as obviously I was renting and living at each accommodation for less than a year. So it’s been really exciting to commandeer a project from the beginning and have full control over colours, furniture and layout.

While I moaned about painting initially (it was a much bigger job than I first thought and my mum found it hilarious to watch me realise this), it became an unlikely haven for me to detach from the outside world for a little while and concentrate my efforts into something all-consuming (and boy did I concentrate when cutting in with my brush to make sure I didn’t get any splodges on the ceiling!).

As I haven’t been undertaking my usual three-hour drive between Wales and London for a couple of months I have found it hard to catch up on podcasts, so this was a great opportunity to stick on a few episodes and relish in the passing of time lost in another conversation. When I was fed up of listening or really needed to focus on a delicate feature I’d binge an album I love and haven’t heard in a while so I could sing along (examples include: Lana Del Rey Born to Die; Foals Total Life Forever; Billie Eilish When We Fall Asleep; and anything by The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys.

This was a weirdly liberating task and I’m kind of missing it now it’s over, but maybe it’s a control thing. I had full power over the outcome of the study and now feel a bit lost in other chores.

DUNGAREES Lucy & Yak (old) | T-SHIRT New Look men’s (old) | SANDALS H&M (old)

I am slowly but surely making my way through the piles of books scattered around the places I inhabit. I recently finished Little Women although didn’t realise the plot that inspired the film is spread across several books, so am desperate to order those and continue the story!

My attempt to explore more classic literature started here and the language was easier to interpret than I predicted, although I am aware this is a children’s novel. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the characters come to life just as beautifully as they had in Amy Pascal’s movie adaptation, and was inspired by the traditional moral tales and bitesized peeks into history.

There seems to be no limit to the picturesque reading nooks I keep unintentionally stumbling across in both my house and the garden, and I’m thankful for any chance to switch up the scenery a bit from just sitting at my desk.

I bought an iPad in the attempt to channel the scrappy mental notes and story plot that have been brewing in my mind for years now into a tangible, readable form. Honestly I couldn’t afford a Macbook, as much as I lust for one, and couldn’t justify it for solely writing purposes. I have one for work anyway so I required a device that would offer more flexibility than my phone and that could be devoted to the craft.

I was a bit dubious to start with – I ordered it from Very along with a pen and Smart Keyboard after some research, but it’s turned out to be perfect! Having an iPad to hand to scribble things down or quickly accelerate me into the zone of narrating is ideal; it’s compact enough to carry anywhere and wasn’t such a financial commitment. I’m also not as paranoid about accidentally breaking it due to my clumsy habits as I would be with a laptop, and in true Lily form have already proven that as I dropped the iPad on the kitchen floor tiles! Luckily it survived as the keyboard doubles over as a case.

So far the storyline has been roughly established and I have started marking out individual personalities and background, and I’m keen to get stuck into the bones of it. There is an odd revelation that lingers when I’m reading over it, though. It’s almost as if there should be a teacher waiting to mark my paper – the knowledge that this is all on me is equal parts achingly enthralling and nerve-wracking.

SWEATER vintage Benetton | SHORTS Oysho (old) | TRAINERS Boden (previously gifted)

I probably reach for this sweater at least every other day (I’m ironically wearing it as I type this, to prove my everlasting love for it) because it’s the most comfy and treasured item in my wardrobe. Yes, amongst the glamorous dresses and unique finds, this humble jumper is the piece I’d be most distraught without.

Despite that it’s never had much airtime on the blog. I wonder if that’s because I’m so used to it I never really consider donating a post to it, but really that’s the most rewarding excuse to show off what I regularly throw on behind the scenes.

I picked it up at a second hand sale in my first year of uni and haven’t parted with it since. It genuinely comes everywhere with me. If I pack a suitcase it’s the first thing I throw in; it’s my plus one to parties and sleepovers so I can throw it on when the temperature drops and evening draws closer. Nothing comes close to the baggy comfort it offers; the smile tugged at my lips each time I notice the funky coloured letters. It’s a vintage Benetton wonder and goes to show that price tags have no indication of the happiness clothing can bring you.

So many friends (and even a certain boyfriend) have offered to swap me garments in exchange for the joy of this unsuspecting jumper. Of course I always decline and feel secretly smug at my retro bargain. You’ll find me chilling in it until it’s threadbare (although then maybe it will hold even more appeal and nostalgia for me).

TOP Boden (previously gifted) | JEANS Topshop (old) | BELT Primark (old)

I’m snapping photos of anything that makes me smile right now, and it’s proving to be a surefire method to feel gratitude for the small stuff. My outfits are getting more colourful as the season is blossoming, and my attitude is undoubtedly lifted by rainbow stripes or a blocky hue (and even more so by the appearance of the sun).

The weather is threatening to revert back to its old Welsh tricks and we’re expecting rain here for the next week, which fills me with dread, although I’ll have plenty of reasons to hole up and write, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

Lily x

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