How I escaped UK lock-down 2:0 and switched my mindset
It was around the fourth day we had spent in 21 degree warmth when I realised I was no longer clenching my jaw, or holding my shoulders up to half mast of my neck. I wasn’t telling my three year old son Jack to sit down and shut up.
My then ten year old daughter Bailey wasn’t talking of her latest Fortnite battle, the mean words the boys in her class had said to her when she’d not played well or if she should be a goth girl or more like one of the glamorous ladies in little mix, which is a common conversation in our home. Instead she was laughing and playing with her little brother, pretending to be a mermaid and perfecting her underwater handstand. They had unfurled and were mid flourish, unafraid of additional news announcements, simply enjoying the water and the sun and the access to all inclusive ice cream.
I didn’t have time to get my nails done before we came away, the rush was a 24 hour extravaganza where we as a family spent over 10 thousand pounds buying holidays that would then would be swiftly cancelled one by one by each operator, and luckily quite swiftly refunded back to us. When we finally got on the Tui plane to Fueterventura with the help of Charlotte from our local Holiday Village I couldn’t believe our luck. We’d packed in record speed, travelling the lightest we have ever traveled, taking more anti bac wipes, steriliser and masks than any family of four could ever need! The airport was much different, the shops that were open were being very careful to adhere to restrictions and the whole buzz of excitement for holidays was totally gone. As a nervous flyer and high achieving anxiety sufferer it was the second time that year I felt the world had caught up to my way of thinking. Like you had all met me there in this intrusive thought of seriousness and fear.
The queues for plane boarding were socially distanced of a fashion and by the time you are on the plane it is fair game with your own mask and sanitiser. We sat at the only row without a window – this was a problem for Jack who had been promised the window seat. However his screen worked and allowed him to watch cartoons which was a blessing as my husbands, daughters and mine didn’t work throughout the flight. I felt it wasn’t something I could contact Tui about afterward, like we should just be grateful they put on a plane at all in these times. Every person on that flight felt like the lucky ones. We were escaping for a week, away from the news and Boris and his weird hair and announcements that contradict and confuse. A week where we only need to worry about what food to eat from the all inclusive buffet. Just one week to escape and give our minds and emotions some time to decompress …or so we thought.
It may have been the conversation of the English women in Shirley’s nail bar attached to the St Jorge hotel as they discussed living on the island as opposed to being in the UK. It may have been the announcement from my mentor that the latest launch we had been working on had hit $2 million in sales in less than a week. It could have been speaking to a wonderfully tanned and relaxed older couple on the beach one day who made the flippant and yet so meaningful comment to me that they had “planned to go home on Saturday but after looking at the news and a UK national lock-down being imminent they had decided to stay until it was lifted. What is there to go back for?” he said to me as he lovingly watched his 70+ bride walk into the warm salty Atlantic ocean. He asked me what I did for a living and beamed at me with understanding when I awkwardly fumbled around the answer that I am a digital business coach. I assumed he wouldn’t understand what it was, that he like many other men I have spoken to about my profession would either wave it off as a hobby or need a 126 point diagram just to understand the basics of what I do for a living. He understood, nodded and explained he had been a life coach back in the UK and that his wife still was, working remotely from their comfortable villa on one of the golf courses. He smiled at our children, asked how they were with a recognition of what this global pandemic is doing to our young, like he was pleased we’d snatched back a little time without permission.
In the days that came we arranged one more week. Just one, we’d been “naughty” enough. I mean, when were we taught that going against the grain and making well thought out educated decisions that are for your own best interests was a bad thing, especially if in doing so you are inadvertently giving your government a backwards peace sign in an up yours fashion.
I remembered back when I worked in corporate retail most of the time I loved my job. There was a period however that was not pleasant for me, it changed the landscape of who I am as a person and it required a multitude of layers of grit I didn’t even know existed within me. During that time I realised that I no longer enjoyed my weekends. From around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon I was no longer “on a day off” but on countdown to 9am Monday morning. A term I heard “Sunday blues” that would come on prematurely. Then in the present moment, sitting on the Balcony of our suite, the sea breeze flowing through my ponytail and the sound of the waves crashing on the black volcanic rock below I felt that same wave of sorrow. We’d expired our freedom, it was nearly over. One week was not enough but two weeks hadn’t scratched the surface either. I didn’t want to come home. I wanted more sunshine, more calm, more of my children’s laughter, my husband’s relaxed nature and this sanctuary. I decided in that moment that this was what I had been teaching my clients about. About having the choice to make decisions that benefit you, about being able to run your business from anywhere, about balance and risk and not waiting until you are retired to go and LIVE!
It took me all of four excruciating hours to arrange schooling for the children, to find a villa near by that we could move into and for my husband to book a suitable car for us. We had a weeks worth of clothes that were tailor made for *casual breakfast *Hanging around the pool *kids disco….and that was it. I had only my phone and ipad with me, I had decided that if I brought my laptop the desire to work or write would be too strong and go against the whole point of playing holiday roulette that day to get away and be more together. This meant I needed to buy a laptop in order to work.
We rang Jet2 to let them know that we would be absent on the flight we’d booked. They then informed me it had already been cancelled due the the Prime Ministers announcement. It was meant to be. They suggested I attempt to get an immediate flight home early to get back in time for UK lockdown to begin, to rush home. We’d already decided the opposite.
In the days that followed we moved into a beautiful villa, bought the additional tech we needed, I would highly recommend having a Spanish laptop at least once in your life!! It is it’s own unique brand of brain training. We found some supermarkets like Marcedona and Lidl and we lived like a family in the sun, just fine.
We worked when we needed to, we swam and played in between, we spent the time together away from anyone else’s expectations or demands on our time. We woke, ate breakfast and talked and basked in the sweet sunshine. We chose not to watch what was going on in the UK other than the extremely important updates. The blessing of being out there would have been lost on us had we have consumed all the news and it was a welcome mental break. Whilst accidentally catching the spanish news one day they had a live update, a special feature, even in spanish I could understand them speak of the UK as though we were just one giant cautionary tale, the words “covid crisis” appearing across the screen as they showed images of full hospital beds and Boris looking sheepishly at his feet whilst people demanded answers as to why it had been encouraged to “eat out to help out” weeks earlier. I have never felt more disconnected to my country in my life, sad for the roots I have inside of me in Britain but unable to recognise myself nor my internal culture in the decisions of the government.
There is a little beach and harbour at caleta de fuste that is like its own little slice of paradise. When you walk into the water that is inevitably warm even in their winter months there are hundreds of little fish that come to swim around your feet. It was in this place I began to reconnect with myself on a level I am not sure I have connected with since I was a romantic wistful teenager writing into her journal about the turmoil of a boy who ran hot and cold (who she eventually married!).. You see at that age, being the “little woman” I was , was all love songs and romance and day dreams. I connected to myself and my inner desires for happiness and security and love and joy then. I think it was something I became too busy for or I made myself too busy for as the world began to harden me and shape me into an adult functioning woman in society, the wife and mother archetype that is expected of us all , even in 2020. I remember standing with the soft sand around my feet, the current on the sea swaying me from the waist down and the warmth of the sun and the sound of the waves filling my senses. I felt calm, at peace, at one with myself and more importantly exactly where I was meant to be.
Not all of the days on the island were idyllic because we were no longer on holiday, we were living there now. Which meant that I did have work responsibilities that needed my attention, that we did need to go food shopping and do housework and schoolwork and all the things. But, everyday was slightly made better by the continuous micro pleasures that were available to us. The smallest thing of hardly never feeling cold, drinking your coffee outside and watching the light flood into the sky day after day like a beacon of renewal and hope, watching the sea come in and go out again from your balcony, the clear nights of the moon and the stars and being together in a home away from home you’ve built. 20+ years of clutter left behind and only a small suitcase of possessions to worry about.
I began to do things that were not like me, such as enjoying a meal I had prepared from scratch and lovingly made for the family, swimming in the morning for the sheer joy of the peace and the water and me time. Beforehand any form of exercise was a form of punishment for a lifetime of bad nutritional choices, wine and neglect. Here it felt like a blessing to be able to walk from the house to the heated pool in less than 10 steps and submerge myself into 30 minutes of serenity.
We celebrated the turn of new ages for three of us whilst out there and they were birthdays we will never forget. Toward the end of our second month when restrictions back in the UK were beginning to lift we explored flights home and passing back our car and making the sensible decision to come home for Christmas. My family needed us back, it was time to be grateful for our adventure but come home now. Flights were not easy to get but we managed to bag ourselves one and get back just in time for Christmas, which was then incidentally forever changed by Boris’s new announcements. On the two days before our flight home I felt in my heart a great sorrow. I didn’t want to return to the UK. I wanted my loved ones to fly out and be with us there. I began grieving the new life we had unpacked. Each time we drove by a place for the last time, that will be the last time we see here or there. On the Friday before we flew my husband caught me silently weeping with unstoppable tears rolling down my face, over and over as my heart let go of each element of this new life we had become accustomed to.
There were little to no tourists after Boris’s Halloween announcement, it allowed us to have what felt like an island all to ourselves. With less than 17 cases of Covid on the island they were taking it very seriously in terms of cleanliness but the threat was far reduced than our own home town that had been lifted to tier four whilst we were away.
We took a risk and made adventure out of it and now I fear I have been bitten with the wanderlust bug. Coming home has re introduced stresses and strains that I had set down for a while. As you read this you may not even know yourself how this global pandemic is affecting your inner being. How much stress you are under. How contained you must remain to be strong for everyone around you. I know I didn’t until I had the freedom to get away from it.
I will be forever grateful for our stolen time in a year where very few had the opportunity to improve their emotional and mental health.
For those of you who are digital business owners and want to know how we had the freedom to do this on a whim without too much worry. Here are my 5 top tips for living a laptop lifestyle, even in a global pandemic….
Allow your systems and automations to be accessible online from anywhere. Our business uses dubsado, calendy, active campaign, zoom, dropbox and all the socials and everything can be accessed online. Keep it secure but make sure that if you were stranded with only a phone you could access 90% of your business information.
Hire a business operations manager. Finding the right number 2 in business can be hella hard work. Who is going to be as motivated as you in your business? Trust me the search is worth it. Once you have someone to support you that you can delegate to, it will free up your time and energy so you can concentrate on the growth and genius of your business. This isn’t about location, it doesn’t matter if your BOM lives in a different part of the world but if you have someone you can rely on to delegate to and keep business ticking as usual you are free to make choices around your time that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Automate services that don’t impact client experience. Things like meeting invites, invoices and contracts. Make this part easy so you are not toiling away at your computer when you could be sat in the sunshine with your family!
Allow yourself the freedom to see the opportunity within your business model. Don’t guilt yourself in should have, would haves only to look back one day and see the could haves you have missed out on.
Be honest with your clients, let them know you are having full autonomy over your schedule and reinforce boundaries as to what can be expected from you during this time. Make sure you deliver good on your offers, contracts and promises but be clear that when you log off you’re likely going to be away from a phone or wifi, especially if people are used to you being at their beck and call.
Bonus tip: Pre plan your schedule 1 or 2 months ahead – this allowed me to know exactly what meetings, training and work was required of me during the time I was away. I had also got myself up to date and ahead on most tasks such as social media scheduling, email newsletters and all the prep I needed to relaunch the opening of my membership, which I actually performed out there before we went away!! Had I not been so ahead with the work that could be completed and scheduled ahead of time I would have missed out on the family time I gained during this time.
The world is going through something right now that is having an effect on our mental wellbeing in a way we may not even understand ourselves for quite some time yet. My best advice to you would be to give yourself permission to make the decisions you need to for yourself and your family when they arise. It is a personal choice but if you have the chance to experience something that will help you to get by in these uncertain times then grab it with both hands.
The travel industry is dying and it will state covid -19 on the death certificate if we don’t continue to travel when the restrictions are removed and we are allowed.
I know as soon as I can get my family back out into the sunshine there will be zero hesitation!