Hi there….

So, it’s been a while since I posted. Let me tell you why:

  1. The pandemic and shift to working from home (which began properly the day after my last post) has meant what I do with my days off has shifted and I have less energy for writing & posting;
  2. What energy I have for writing things is getting funnelled either into my Twitter interactions, or other projects that I don’t want to lose steam on (fic writing, for example);
  3. And – the big one – I have this tendency to avoid stuff if I’m already late with it…the ‘pressure’ of coming back after I miss self-set deadlines is annoying, so I avoid and continue to do so, by letting 1 & 2 distract me.

Going forward: I’m going to try to aim for one to two posts a month. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

picture of a manmade creek and big bridge. There is water flowing in the creek. The creek has sloped concrete sides, with a concrete path running along each side at the top. There are trees with branches overhanging the path.  The bridge is big because it's a road bridge. It has tall sides to prevent noise from the road travelling to the creek.
The creek at the bottom of the street near where I live. These paths have been lovely to walk on during this time.

So, what have I been up to since April? Lots of things. Let’s start with work.

I was in a hands-on role prior to the lockdown, which has changed to a mostly admin/ support from afar role during this time. For nearly seven weeks (not counting the extended school holidays) myself and the team have been supporting staff, students and families by offering programs to assist regulation, ideas for things to do with household items, and most recently, info sheets about different body skills and senses. It’s been a lot of fun at times, but also a bit of a drag at others – I get my energy from working with the kids, so not being able to be with them has been hard at times.

In that sense, I’m glad that I’ll be going back to work onsite next week – the Victorian government has told all special schools to go back this coming Tuesday. Mainstream have different arrangements depending on year level. Returning to work onsite means a number of other good things – like having regular driving time again, as I work towards my licence by driving to and from school on my work days. It means a return to the physical separation of work and home, with my routines around that.

But we’ll go back to a changed environment. It’s not going to be “straight back to usual”. The rest of term – four weeks of it – will be spent re-adjusting and taking things as they come, with specific health and safety measures in place. After all, by Tuesday, we’ll have had ten weeks off – students were last onsite on Monday March 23, while staff switched to WFH from Tuesday March 24. This has been the longest that students have had off, ever. Longer than the usual summer holidays. Add that to the new health and safety measures and it makes for an interesting few weeks ahead.

A colleague reminded me that the best thing is to focus on the positives, while keeping our expectations low. Be kind to ourselves and the students while supporting our and their wellbeing. We’ll get there.

Also, big ghost/ Jedi/ virtual hugs to everyone else out there who’s worried about all the things, especially if you’re in a country overseas which is struggling more with this thing.

Picture of drawing of head and arms of person. Person's arms are open and they have a love heart in the middle of them. Person has two dots for eyes and a small smile. Text above the person reads: sending vritual hug. Underneath the person the word 'loading' is written, with a half-full bar line underneath that.
You can’t feel it physically, but it’s there!

What else have I been doing? Hmm. A few things.

This lockdown time has reinforced for me how my neurodivergent brain works and what it needs to be happy. Many, many routines were lost and disrupted with lockdown – like choir being cancelled (and possibly remaining so for longer than other things, due to the way the virus spreads). Also, work (naturally), church and not being able to go to gym/ BodyPump. I’ve had to find new ways to do things and acknowledge my hidden supports.

Like, working at a school means, in usual circumstances, I work in a really structured environment – three sessions a day, specific windows of time for morning tea and lunch, and so on. Then I’d added further routines on top of that – for example, driving the same route to and from work every day and only wearing my name-badge and visuals lanyard on school grounds. My work days were my biggest step days as I walked between office, classrooms and staff areas.

Losing all of that meant I had to create my own structure and find my own ways of getting that movement into my day. I’ve used Google Calendar and reminders on my laptop as my own visual schedule. I kept my morning wake-up routine, albeit a little later than usual. I did things like have a specific Chrome window for work-related internet stuff, only using/ opening work-related apps like Outlook and Webex during work hours. Regular walks became a thing, with plenty of pictures taken to mark the things I saw (two of which have featured in today’s post).

Picture of water in a creek. The water is almost at the height of the creek banks, where green grass is growing on both sides. There are also some trees on the creek bank and a gravel path visible to the right side of the image. The sun is shining brightly in the top left of the image, reflecting in the water. There are a few fluffy thick white and grey clouds in the sky.
Another image of the creek at the bottom of my street. Taken a day or two ago after all the rain Melbourne had this week.

I ordered some gym weights so I could keep up with that, because I find it grounding. I joined in on a couple of virtual choir events, have been to regular virtual church services and video-called people or chatted over Discord to feel connected. LaTUCS has maintained a regular Wednesday social time on Discord since we had to stop meeting in person, which has been lovely. I’ve also found lovely online things to provide good feels (though sometimes sad, too). Like this cat-cam YouTube channel, advocating for a Trap-Neuter/Spay-Adopt-or-Release approach for feral cats. There are so many kittens on the two channels right now, with the promise of even more joining them in a few weeks. I love watching them and definitely have my favourites.

Health stuff like psych appointments became virtual, too, with telehealth.

This will continue for me for some time yet – I’ve decided that how i’m going to handle the anxiety of work going back is to recognise that this acknowledges schools as essential workplaces, with staff as essential workers. I am going to still keep physically distancing myself from most things except shops and work, at least until the end of Term 2. We’ll see how it goes. But I am proud of how I’ve managed myself during this time and want to continue that.

The other thing that’s been occupying my time is fandom. In times of stress, fandom is one of the big things that give me joy and make me feel safe and happy – though it can still be its own mess, at least I can carve out my own corner and defend/ fix it. It’d be nice if there was more to claim for my corner and less to fix, but still. Taking part in fandom in a critical way makes me happy.

That’s meant that I’ve been reading and writing fic, retweeting pertinent views on Twitter and engaging with people. I also did a few nice things for Star Wars day. I wore my hair in Rey buns (I tried Leia buns but that was too tricky *sadface*), wore my BB-8 earrings and edited some photos from Supanovas past into little flipbook movies with accompanying music. Thread here. Fun!

I think photos from this year’s Supanova count as my “last normal photos”, which is a thing that went around social media last week…people posting photos from the last “normal” thing that they did before the lockdowns. It’s rather fitting that my photo is related to fandom:

A photo of Clare standing in front of a background painted to look like a Star Wars Rebel or Resistance base. She is wearing her silver headphones and her glasses, in a cosplay for Rey Skywalker - white tank top and shorts, cream scarf hood and brown belts. She is holding a lit yellow lightsabre in salute. Next to her is the droid BB-8, who is taller than her knee. BB-8 is looking at the camera, while Clare looks off-centre to the left of the image. Clare is smiling.
One of several photos from this year’s Supanova, where I cosplayed as Rey Skywalker. I wish I had a BB-8 of my own….

Stay safe, everyone. Until next time!