Released On 6th Feb 2021
Barbara's blog: Puppy love...
There’s been a theme in recent blogs that it is important to find time for oneself. This seems counter-intuitive, because the world has shut down and turned into an introverts’ paradise and you would think we would have enough time for self-care, as we are home all day. But actually, research shows this is quite the opposite. For those of us that are now home-based, work has increased exponentially. When the office is ten steps away from the sofa, it is easy for the professional to permeate the personal, and with no commuting comes a lack of time to decompress, before stepping into the role of wife/mother/teacher/cleaner/chef that the current dystopian world requires. Furthermore, all work and no play turns Jack into a dull boy indeed, caught in an interminable cycle of eat, work, sleep, repeat, like living inside a bad PowerPoint presentation … click: breakfast, click: virtual meetings, click: lunch, click: homework, click, click, click ad infinitum…..
I felt it. You probably felt it too. Some days I was ready to sell my soul for a holiday and would recoil at the mere mention of ‘blessed’, ‘gratitude’ or ‘mindfulness’. My employer has been brilliant in offering practical support with lectures on wellbeing, a corporate subscription to a mindfulness app, flexible work patterns to accommodate commitments and ample opportunities to hear from the Leadership Team with their own personal stories. It has been an exceptional way of building a collective consciousness among the staff, while recognising and supporting our individual challenges. But even they have started to question how much more their role could evolve in the post-Covid world.
After thinking long and hard about what could be done to inject some light relief back into our lives, I made the executive decision of getting a dog.
On 31 October 2020 we collected Boomer, a one-year old black Labrador that belonged to a family who, having had a change of circumstances, had made the responsible decision to put their beloved dog up for adoption. When we visited the owners to meet the dog – this was before lockdown and hence allowed – Boomer was so excited that started doing the wall of death around their tiny lounge. At one point, their six-month old kitten leapt from the sofa, limbs and claws fully splayed, landing in what felt like slow motion on the back of the dog, who resumed his wild running. We almost walked out, but, as if sensing that his new friends were about to leave, Boomer calmly sat and gave me his paw. I was smitten. Two minutes later, we were loading up a large dog, a crate and a bag full of various paraphernalia into the car.
Needless to say, the house has not been the same since, with hair and mud now a regular feature. But Boomer has stolen our hearts. My elderly mother now looks forward to our weekly visit and lets Boomer lick her hand through the window of the care home where she lives, and my anxious son looks happy and carefree when he watches Boomer perform his tricks on command, in exchange for a biscuit.
There are many aspects of dog ownership that I love, and nothing smells as comforting as the warmth and softness of fur, but my absolute favourite part is the walks in nature. We are lucky to have fields and forests a stone’s throw from our house and every day, at first light, Boomer and I visit the local woods for a scamper. The seasons bring beauty to the landscape and the solitude enhances the senses with bird song and the fragrance of mulch in the air. I love to watch Boomer run, his body in full stretch, tail straight, ears flapping. In those moments he is free, fuelled by his instincts rather than by logic and his freedom permeates my being a little bit, ridding me of the angst of our worldly woes.
Sometimes, self-care actually means making more work for yourself rather than less, but the joy Boomer has brought to our family has definitely made it worth it.
Barbara works for a regulator in Canary Wharf, but lives a stone’s throw from the South Downs with her 15 year old cheerful and creative daughter, 13 year old funny and ingenious son and supportive husband.