Hi, Im Cat / Catherine (I go equally by both so call me whichever you fancy, or even mix it up a bit!)

I live in Bristol, UK with my husband James and my sons Daniel and Ben. Im a coach, an administrator, an entrepreneur and many other things but today I thought it was about time I showed up and shared my thoughts on some things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been coaching people and watching the world respond to a pandemic.

These are undeniably difficult, sad and uncertain times. We are going to be mourning and adapting because of things and people lost, and it’s going to be hard. However, that’s not the whole story. It is going to be possible for grief and joy to share the same room. We are starting to hear about the good, kind, loving things people are doing for each other and I’m here to challenge you to not only join in with that, but to take it one step further.

What if you were completely clear on what you are skilled in, capable of and passionate about? What if those things aren’t something completely related to the role you had or viewed yourself as before the world turned upside down? What if you are suddenly in the right place to be a problem solver, an inventor, a manufacturer of something new and needed at this time, a support system for those falling to pieces? Are you strategic, or practical, or a super techy person and you could teach or lead by example in doing things a different way?

I think we need to be doing 3 things at the moment. One is to keep as many normal, daily things in place as possible. When everything is changing all about you, don’t try and do too many new things at the same time….and don’t forget the things that you had in place before the panic set in! Are you still journalling, remembering the things you are grateful for, taking time to listen to your body and what it needs? What do you need to pick up again that you may have briefly left behind in the uncertainty of everything? But also, what new things would feel ok (and even exciting!) to start doing during this interim period? Last week, did you give much thought to the things that had been important to you in January? Were you still focused on the environment, homelessness, refugees, equality, helping small businesses or with local community needs or whatever else was on your heart? Don’t let these things go! These things still exist. People are still living without water or food or shelter. People still need advocates. And what are going to do for all the people for whom home isn’t a safe place? For the carers without respite? For the people who can’t understand what’s going on due to disability or ill health?

We have the opportunity to be part of the solution and I want that to be the story we are hearing when we are out the other side of this: ‘Wow! Look at the level of connection and new ways of doing community that people have. Look how we’ve re-evaluated and re-set the treadmill of a Western lifestyle and only chosen to put back in the things that really matter and help us to live fulfilling, healthy lives.’

Wouldn’t it be interesting to notice how you are feeling about each thing that’s dropping off your calendar at the moment? Does it feel gutting to lose it or is it a relief, or something in between? A big pause button has been pushed on life as we know it and we will have to navigate a few new ‘normals,’ but what if we lifted our heads up from the internal fear and anxiety and let ourselves dream a bit about the future again? That’s the third thing we need to do…

Because you do still have a future. The world is changing but it’s not ending.

So what are you going to be filling your calendar with when we get some version of ‘normal’ back? What will you prioritise, speak out about, work towards? What will that person walking back in to work or a social gathering be looking like and saying? We need both an ability to live hour by hour in this interim, but to still be able to live with hope and vision for what comes afterwards.

What if we end up with a society that fully cares for and embraces the poor and the marginalised? What if we had enough food and shelter for people worldwide? It sounds outrageous to say, but I’m excited to see what happens. I don’t want to belittle or be insensitive to anything that we are going through. I’m not expecting an easy ride or to come out of this unscathed, but I am expecting us to unite on the important things, to run after the type of community we always wished ours was, and to fuel a better, re – evaluated way of living that benefits everyone. We are in this together. There’s going to be pain and anguish, but that’s only half the story. Seek out the other bit. Don’t be blinkered to it because it’s easier to be consumed by the bad news. Acknowledge the bad stuff. Notice what you feel and what you need but then tell someone that and go on to notice or find something good. Change the narrative that everything good has been taken from you and start telling people what you are grateful for, what you are dreaming for and pass the message on that we are all capable of bringing something useful and encouraging to the table.

What is it that you are uniquely placed to do at this time? Pin point it, research it, make wise decisions about it (including following government guidelines and advice!) but then just get on and do it! Don’t be afraid to try and keep some things normal – that’s good! Don’t be afraid to spark action into some things that have been lying dormant in you for a while – maybe they have been waiting there for such a time as this! Don’t be afraid to dream of a big big future where progress has been made in many things. And don’t be afraid of grief and joy being roomies for a while. They can cope with that, and so can you.