In the last few months it has been so different and worrying at times, but I am not someone who generally look negatively at life, I look to being as positive and happy with the life we have been given.
At the start of the Coronavirus crisis, I used some of my networking and social media skills to co-ordinate and assemble a team of over 200 volunteers within the village that I live to ensure that everyone had someone looking out for them. My belief was that at a time that was so worrying for many, the people most vulnerable would not only be at risk to their physical health, but to their social and mental health from isolation and a huge change to their independence.
I can safely say, that as much as I wanted to protect my family and loved ones, I also felt a shared level of compassion with many others in my village to do the right thing and support those in need. Unlike the NHS staff and key workers, I was one of the people on the Government furlough scheme, so had the time and energy to help others. Our network sprung to life and is continuing now, even as we edge to a level of normality, calling ourselves 'Waverton Action Plan', we got to know more about our immediate neighbours and this brought a wonderful sense of support and community spirit.
Every Thursday evening, like many other places, we clapped, cheered, rang bells and banged pans and celebrated the NHS, Carers and key workers, but at the same time we celebrated our own community, always gathering after the official clap for a chat and catch up - more than I have ever spoken to my neighbours ever before! Some areas of the village have a regular quiz in the road, and some gather with picnic chairs on lawns to be with people yet not near to people!
Our village had a planned event for VE day which then was cancelled, however our merry band of volunteers spread the word of a VE day celebration at home with a picnic, and that was an astounding success. The houses decorated in red, white and blue, music playing, social distanced chats and walks around the village brought many out of their homes into the glorious sunshine and happy company, and it was absolutely wonderful!
In the midst of my time at home, I tidied, gardened, decorated, did a lot of online work on the antenatal session that I teach at Beehive Healthcare, as well as supervising my daughter with her year 7 schoolwork. The best thing I did for myself during this time was to complete an online course provided by Yale University, USA - "The Science of Happiness", and it was truly remarkable! It make me question everything I had thought I knew about happiness, and made me put into place a few things that I hold firm now - trying to address these each day:
- Taking a moment to savour something
- Listing 5 things that I am grateful
- Perform an act of kindness
- Take time to have a social connection
- Get at least 7 hours sleep
- Take 30 minutes of exercise
- Do 10 minutes of meditation
Each one of these impacts so much on our happiness, and only too often, happiness really comes from what you do to and for others, than what you actually do for yourself.
So in my village of Waverton, whether I knew it or not, I chose this time of uncertainty to do things for others, and on realising how that impacted on my feelings of support and happiness by studying for this course, it spurred me on even more. On a daily basis my one hour walks would certainly include a social connection in a chat or a wave and often an act of kindness by leaving painted rocks or a picture stuck to a window with a greeting on!
Now in July as life is edging back to a level of normal, I am determined that my level of happiness will continue with these small actions, and those social connections that helped in the tougher days continue for good. Happiness is fairly addictive though, one act of kindness easily leads to another, and Waverton enjoyed a wonderful Scarecrow trail as I followed the lead in other villages to organise another event that brought colour, fun and families out together enjoying the creativity.
We even got a mention in the local newspaper as 'Community spirit is stronger than ever in wonderful Cheshire village' which was so lovely to see!
I know that I have so very much to be grateful for, and remind myself of this on a daily basis, so I just wanted to share this with you and encourage you with these few simple things that may well improve how happy you feel, and that will impact on you and the people around you too! So go ahead and create your own happy! - as it does truly make the world feel a better place!
Kim Crowe, Receptionist & Antenatal Educator
Confident Birth Chester at Beehive Healthcare