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      By Gareth Cowan

      ….there’s almost always a silver lining……..

      10 things I’ll work hard to keep

      So, it’s safe to say that what has happened in the spring of 2020 will change home and work-life for all of us in one way or another, for good. Some of these things will hurt us and some of these things will improve us.

      I’m great at focusing on negative things, the best in fact, and it’s easy to talk about the negative impact that the lock-down has had on us all. These things are significant and I don’t want to belittle them but I wanted to celebrate some of the positives and pledge to myself the key things I want to keep ‘post-covid’. Let’s be honest – it’s not all been bad…..

      1.Just be nicer to everyone – Be it on the phone, video or in the million e-mails I have written, being nicer to people has made me feel good and I dare say it’s helped others too.

      2. Call my friends and family more often – The big one. I’m a bad son, brother, god-father and nephew and not always a great friend. Getting in touch with the ones I love has been amazing.

      3. Maintain a higher degree of flexibility – I CAN do important things at different times of the day, it doesn’t all have to be NOW!

      4. Listen to people – A lot of my job involves the phone but my listening skills have improved this spring. I know I need to listen more to what people are actually telling me and sometimes, keep my big mouth shut!

      5. Actively seek ways to help others – I’ve met people I’ve lived in the same street as for seven years and never actually seen. I have helped more clients than I normally would and I am happy to give my time just for a chat. Having helped some of my neighbours do some simple things that I take for granted, I know I have made a difference to them and it has definitely made me appreciate what I have. I no longer care about what I don’t have.

      6. Stop worrying about external factors that I can do nothing to control – This needs NO explanation!

      7. Don’t’ drive. Walk – We get stressed packing the car, getting the kids in and then getting back out to go inside and collect the things we have forgotten (that we probably don’t even need anyway). Don’t even mention the rage of not finding a parking space and then having to pay for it. WHAT IS THE POINT? If it’s close enough to walk there, we’re going to walk there.

      8. Think outside of my world – The obvious one is the heroes of the NHS, but everyone has a story to tell and I have realised that other people do far more than me for others, than I do, and they do it in silence. I need to think about others more and understand that their life is probably tougher than mine.

      9. Embrace the technology – I’m 43 years old and I have fought technology off in the quest to maintain the ‘good old life’ with pride. Don’t get me wrong, some of the old ways ARE the best and we need to try hard to keep life more simple and more personal…..but…..technology IS amazing and it can make life better and need to embrace that and not fight it.

      10. Appreciate the environment – I swear the sky has been clearer and the air fresher. I like not seeing planes in the sky. I can hear the birds more clearly than I ever did and the animals we share a space with are most definitely happier. Sadly the lock-down will have very little positive impact on the environment we are destroying, but I’m going to do more of the little things I can, to try and slow this down.

      ….give me a kick….

      These past few weeks have been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. Some of it has been challenging and some of it I would rather never see again, but like anything in life – there is always a silver lining and I for one, intend to keep these silver linings and hopefully make life better for myself and everyone I come in to contact with…..

      …..and if you see me drive the two-minutes it takes to get to the local shop, you have my full permission [and encouragement]  to kick me hard in the shin!!!

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