Kemi's blog: Finding joy in the simple things

When I got the alert about my blog submission this week, I was very unsure about what to write about. Since my last blog in May I have experienced two very big unexpected changes.

Firstly, I lost a close uncle quite suddenly in June to lung cancer, who had only been diagnosed 5 weeks before he died. He was one of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever encountered. He was someone I spoke to at least once every week and we saw each other quite regularly. We attended his funeral, albeit adhering to social distancing guidelines, but thankfully the church allowed 20 people including the Reverend to attend the service. My 4-year-old asked me the day before the funeral “Mummy did uncle take his phone with him to heaven? Can we try to call him?”. This loss is one of my biggest battle scars from 2020.

Secondly, my team got restructured which meant I had to move via internal mobility into a new team which turned out to be a high-profile business facing and transformation role. This has meant working really long hours during the work week, sometimes until midnight.

Despite the loss, changes, and stress in the last few months, I remain a very optimistic person. We cannot cure the world of sorrows but we can choose to live in joy and therefore I will choose to write more about the simple joys I have been able to find in this new normal.

My new role is actually in one of the top growth areas within the organisation. Within the space of 9 weeks, I have gotten very good verbal and written feedback from my bosses, team, and even external clients. I wake up everyday energised and motivated to take on the challenge at hand. Imagine being overworked, pressured, and stressed by your job, having to rely more on your day nanny and husband and have very little time for interest and hobbies such a yoga or Netflix. Well, this is me at the moment. But guess what? I am loving it! Firstly, because I can see firsthand the huge impact I am making on the team and business. Secondly, I am definitely maximizing my full potential in a very complex environment with lots of internal and external dependencies: if you recall at the start of the year I was quite keen to push myself further in my career. Another related joy was being able to convert the extra room in the house into my dedicated home office space. I ordered a new work table and chair and have my own plants which I try to water every other day, this has definitely increased my productivity level. My job is really keeping me going during these times, particularly now that we are hearing the UK is officially in recession mode.

Since the kids started their school summer holidays I have been more intentional in planning days out with them. Usually, they will be at a day summer camp or my work crèche where all the activities are planned for them. Instead, I have some Fridays off and also utilise Saturday and Sunday. So far we have had several picnics at the park, visited a deer park, playgrounds, nearby beaches, and theme parks after reading reviews and guidance on how the respective places are handling the new normal. A big find last week was an amazing adventure theme park by the beach where the entry fee was half price from 6p.m. to 10p.m., the parking was also free, it was not too busy, and there were no queues to get in!. The staff was so welcoming and wiped down the rides every hour. Whilst we were unable to travel away to one of our usual EU destinations this year, the kids were very happy such that they even remembered the names of every ride they went on, and they slept throughout the 55 minutes’ drive back home. I looked back at them fast asleep in their car seats and glanced back at my husband with satisfaction on my face. I could see a real smile on their faces which I haven’t seen much since they lost their grand-uncle.

Trying to survive a pandemic and dealing with a loss of someone close brought my husband and I even closer. He has been bringing my meals to my desk which is actually a very nice gesture for someone who liked cleaning but didn’t cook much before the lockdown. His job has been equally very busy - one night I found him logged in at 1a.m. which is why I was surprised he managed to cook lunch that day. We even managed a very rare lunch date at Borough Market after escorting him to a quick doctor’s appointment at the Shard. Afterwards, we wandered around the market stumbled on that nice seafood paella spot by the fresh fish stalls, and for a split second, we actually thought we were having a very rare “baecation” in Spain since having kids.

I will leave you with one quote that has really kept things in perspective for me during these times (is it only me that is so over that phrase “unprecedented times”): Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday ― Henri Nouwen

Kemi works for a financial institution in Canary Wharf, is a mum of two boys aged 7 and 4 and married to a supportive husband.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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