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Sky scanner used to be my best friend- my identity was linked to travel and exploring the world, or so I thought!  My Instagram name is Orlaexploring, and I love posting pictures from around the world.  It could be seen as showcasing but personally, it’s more like a virtual sketch book that I can look back on from time to time.  When lockdown hit though, I had nowhere to travel to.  The airports began to close and travel became restrictive, I began to feel like I was in limbo.  I was now restricted to one location which was my home town.  All of a sudden I did not have the convenient escapes from life or my daily routine.  Budget travel seemed like a distant memory.  My desire for new experiences was unobtainable and quite frankly traveling the globe was out the window.  

I realised that although I wanted to be a cultured person, and enjoyed showcasing experiences on social media, I had to dig deep into one domain and enjoy being still in one location.  I had to remain in one place.  I discovered there was actually joy in repetition, even though I thought I had seen all the layers of my home town and family life, I discovered I had actually barely scrapped the surface. I began searching for things I had over looked before and looking for these new insights was fun.  Shifting perspective became my new motto.  I began to realise that events may seem positive or negative but most of the time it is what we extract from every situation that matters. 

I always wanted to read Joran Peterson’s 12 rules for life, but it was rather chunky and I had my head stuck in a mountain of smaller and easier to read books.  I read reviews though of this book, looked at summaries and skimmed over the chapter titles.  There is no doubt he is a controversial figure, but like anything we can always learn something from everyone.  Three of his rules really helped me move forward during the lockdown. 

Stay at home tfl sign

1- Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world 

I think this is one that resonated with me the most, I ordered a skip and cleared my old room out.  I am sure my parents were glad to get rid of stuff that was now clogging up their retirement space.  I felt like I had more clarity and focus and it was actually rather enjoyable.  I searched through old boxes and found medals, stories, dairies, teddy bears and old games.  Many of these things were buried in a time capsule and I was now digging them up.  Some things, I had not seen in decades and this was rather exhilarating.  If I looked at my old report cards, certificates, dairy entries or medals daily they would not be exciting.  Finding them during lockdown many years later made it feel like new.  I went back in time and realised the things I used to enjoy.  Finding old pieces of writing prompted me to start again. They always say you should do things that you enjoyed during childhood! 


2- Make friends with people who want the best for you 

Reverting back to life in my home town was a little bit difficult, but I was able to reconnect with people who actually cared about my wellbeing, knowing full and well that I was experiencing reverse culture shock after being away for many years.  I was also able to extend my friendship ties beyond one that mirrored an olive branch type as I was now based in my home city.  I know a lot of people were in transition stages and some had lost their jobs, so I was able to be there for old friends that I had no seen in a long time.  Going on socially distanced walks when the rules relaxed was enjoyable.  Chatting about old times and creating new memories was fun and insightful.  It is something I guess I will never forget, the people who were the highlight of my lockdown!  I started to get excited for a stroll around the local park as opposed to jet – setting to the tallest building in the world.  I realised that these things were of more quality with people that I trusted and loved.  It may seem a little boring on the outside, but maybe that’s what life is actually all about. 


3- Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you do not 

As old ties were rekindled and in a way new ties were being formed, I could actually take the time to listen to those who were around me.  Because time was now aplenty and distractions were very little, I could actually engage in conversation that perhaps I would not have done before.  I listened to my mother talk about the troubles and draw comparisons to the lockdown restrictions.  It made the whole situation seem a bit easier when listening to the ups and downs of the troubles in Belfast.  I found new ways of filling my time by doing what my friends do, we began swimming in cold waters, dipping into the Irish Sea and going on mountain walks.  I embraced the rain for a change and just climbed to the top of the hills.  Listening to others while being in nature was something that really helped get through the new way of living. 

Repetition began to feel more pleasurable and now I realise that traveling every other weekend is not always necessary, sometimes it’s good to come to a halt.  Clarity is achieved in this mind state and the direction I wanted my life to go in became a lot clearer.   

On a final note- reading helped lift my spirits! I was able to read one book a week; this was awesome for mindfulness.  If you are now stuck in another lockdown, disconnect from the TV or social media and open good book. 

My recommended list: 

  1. Man’s search for meaning 
  1. Highly intuitive people 
  1. The Celestine Prophecy 
  1. 12 rules for life ‘ An Anti dote for Chaos’ 
  1. Shrinking violets ‘the secret life of shyness’ 
Orla Carlin

Author Orla Carlin

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