The Shift

And just like that, it feels like its over when we know deep within our bones that it is not. But there has been a shift. A shift towards the normality that right in the midst of the virus we told each other we would not welcome again. That our “new normality” suited us, suited society, suited earth. That we would no longer tolerate what went before, virus or no virus.

And yet, and yet, and yet. Here we are. Shops opening and our tiniest, little people sacrificed to the necessary gods of education. Beaches heaving with the same families screeching about liberty, while hoarding the much coveted supermarket delivery spots because they will not chance the aisles. So much that now exposes who we are as a society. So much that has in just a few weeks become, selfish, ugly and political.

Where before I felt frightened, now I feel sad. And so very confused. Instruction comes thick and fast, often contradicting itself and making little sense. The legacy of the virus exists in our vernacular now. In “social distance” and “self-isolation”. It is writ large in the silence of the queues we join to buy bread and the gel we pour onto our hands before we are allowed to push a trolley. The shift in the fact that it no longer feels novel, but a part of life we as a people have simply absorbed as essential, and would not dream of railing against. Instead turning our anger and resentment towards individuals or the groups we imagine are diluting our chances of survival and ranting irrationally and endlessly on social media about perceived, class-based injustice.

Just a few short weeks ago, the sky was clear here and the gardens alive with chirping, relaxed birds. Now, though our travel options are limited, the skies are criss-crossed with busy air-traffic and the only tweets of note coming from a president apparently determined to bait and disparage his own people, in the face of intolerable racism.

We are apparently, what we are. And even the seismic shift of a virus that once looked to threaten all of us, wasn’t enough to change that. But if we cannot be a part of a better society in its aftermath, because that very society aches to wrap us up again in the barbed wire of economics, we can instead resolve to nurture our own “society” in the same way we have in the past three months, slowing down, choosing what matters, turning away from the endless pursuit of stimulation and focusing instead on living better than we ever have before. In creating gardens and growing food. In maintaining the rituals established during isolation, and remembering why connection matters. In seeing, finally, social media for what it is and turning back to books. To silence. To the bliss of home and all that it offers for our collective well-being.

There has been, I think, a shift in me too. Life isn’t what it was here. My family will now be under my feet for many months to come. Neither going back to school or places of work. So I am having to find new ways to divine the time I need to nurture my own sanity. To create the boundaries I once had ring-fenced by their daily absence. I am looking at all that I do and studying it carefully. Dissecting it, deciding what stays and what goes. Fashioning for myself a vision of the future I may not have contemplated before the advent of Covid-19.

Though I have recognised the rumblings of my own discontent and indeed shared them here over the past year, now I cannot silence them. My heart aches not for the muddle and unpredictability of what has long been established, but for rhythm, creative satisfaction and the hug of home.

There has been time you see? In the midst of this virus. To actually experience home. To not be blinking, exhausted at my screen, but to to be filling window ledges with fragrant herbs and floral tins with homemade shortbread. To make dishes that take time, Potato Dauphinois and Toulouse Cassolet. To enjoy nails ridged with the dirt of a new garden and the splash of the hose as we bless home-gown tomatoes, strawberries and beans. To sit in the candle-lit conservatory and throw our own concerts, all three of us taking it in turns to treat each other to our favourite songs.

I have in this time turned away from social media and magazines and remembered what it is to do nothing more than lose myself in a real book. To write with a pen. To seek out friends for intimate conversations, and discover how very lovely our neighbours are. I have layered the bed in new linen and though we still cannot deliver it to the tip, rid the house of so much clutter, urgently understanding the need to own only that which is the very essence of who we are. I have lost weight. I move more. Cook more. Live more. Am more. And I am both happier and sadder, with no explanation for either emotion: simply blessed now with the ability to recognise what I’m feeling and allow it to consume me.

A shift. A shift that means changes here. Changes already intended but now hastened by a twist of collective fright. A shrinking of ambition and embracing of authenticity, clarity and love of domesticity.

Let’s learn then, to love life at home, together. To nurture our own little domestic societies and bless each and every day with routine, ritual and teeny celebration. I am going to be offline for a week or two longer while I complete the jigsaw that is tomorrow’s BrocanteHome in my mind, so if the site disappears for a day or two don’t panic, I will be back very soon and I hope you will join me, ready to create a life that matters in a reality we never could have dreamed of.

Till then, be kind to you and yours.


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July 3, 2020 10:32 am UTC

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  1. Bless you, Alison. I found your blog from a mention in Sarah’s new edition of Simple Abundance, and I absolutely love it. I started at the beginning and read your entire blog this month…what an incredible journey you’ve had! Looking forward to reading more. Wishing you and your family all things good!

  2. I look forward to your blog and check for a new post almost daily! I love your writing! You clearly are thoughtful of your readers. To that end, I throw out my opinion here — I beg you to refrain from political remarks, I would not expect or want you to engage in forced cheeriness and ignore all that affects our world. But Brocante Home is one of the few precious respites from ugliness. Please, no more remarks about our US President.
    Please, no blasts from other readers – this is just a request, submitted with respect.

  3. Allison,

    If you honestly believe that is an accurate description of our president and how he views the people he leads, then I encourage you to dig a little deeper. I would encourage you to start by watching some YouTube videos by Dr. Karlyn Borysenko. She had an extremely negative view of our president and those who support him until she actually investigated it firsthand and in person. What she discovered was not at all what she expected.

    Sallie

    1. Sallie, thank you for letting us know about the organizational psychologist, Dr.. Borusenko. I’m reading & watching some of her. Quite an interesting young woman!

  4. Alison, your words bring to light the many and varied feelings we are experiencing. Reading them allows me to recognize them in myself and my world. That helps so that I know I am not alone in realizing that this time allowed me to clearly see what is really important. Preparing new meals for the family, having scrabble tournaments with the grandkids, having time just for me. Just me without wasting precious time scrolling social media for the fake life. Sadly part of this is the words and effect of those words spoken by the president. I choose to ignore and focus on the positive that these last few months have brought to the surface. The old “normal” is gone and now we can create a new, better normal.

    Be well Alison and I look forward to your words.

  5. I am glad you have made it back! Your choices in birthdates don’t include me.. I am four years too old for your list. And I could only hope Brocante Home will not join the ranks of non-political things-identities-personalities-businesses-havens that have chosen to bow to a political or “moral” agenda. I will always love you Alison! Your site is scrumptious, as always, once I get in and enjoy your beautiful and dedicated world.

    1. Oooh now, Gayla, I think the ages are set by the theme but I will look into that straight away. I would hate to be discriminating by age!! And no Brocante will never be political. While Im only himan and occasionally say things I cannot always hold in (but probably should!) I too have been dismayed by how political much of the internet has become lately. And Gayla, love you too always.x

  6. I too feel sad at what was and now is not, at how my hope that the awful pandemic would turn us all into nicer human beings and of course it has not accomplished that. I have turned inward to my immediate family in my home and am cherishing all that it is. I am not engaging in the political turmoil, and I am turning to simpler things. I cannot control this crazy world that is suddenly rather scary and worrying, all I can control is myself and I am now taking control of who I am and what I want once again. Many times I have been on this journey, and every so often you have to look again and take a different road. I am focusing on family, home and health and this wonderful site is a part of that journey. I also am allowing myself to go silver haired, no more color for me. I do not want my daughters thinking the only way to beauty is through coloring your hair. I wish I had done it years ago, I actually like the silver. Because I am older I am sure I will get negative comments, my hairdresser has already disowned me, but I do not care. Life is about far more precious things than hair color, and the current crisis in the world. I want to embrace the gentler kinder side of life. Thanks Alison for this lovely site it is appreciated more than you can imagine.