Two years have passed 

As I was delivering day 2 of my first in person training event since Feb 2020 last Saturday 26th March, it marked the 2 year anniversary of lockdown measures legally coming into force in England. If I cast my mind back to then I remember being terrified the weekend before as my son was considering getting the train home from uni to see me for mother’s day. I was struggling around whether it would be OK to let him into the house. As we stood clapping for the NHS, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, on a Thursday evening we genuinely thought it would only be a matter of weeks and everything would be back to normal. 
Oh how things have changed. This week I’m sharing the impact the pandemic has had on me personally as I wonder if I’m alone, or whether you feel the same. 

Zoom replaces face to face contact 

Like many I became super grateful for technology to keep my social life active with Zoom get togethers replacing face to face contact on the whole. As my friends were able to meet up and exercise outside I felt quite isolated despite the zoom calls. No getting together with a friend for a walk around the block for me. My restricted mobility means I can’t walk very far without being in discomfort, even with aids like crutches or a walking stick. I felt quite envious and sorry for myself as I could see the walks being organised – there was definitely an impact on my mental health from missing chit chat and banter. 
Several of my friends came to do pavement visits though. I’d sit on a deckchair on the front step while they sat 2 metres away on the pavement – quite often in the freezing cold with blankets around our knees. I wrote a blog about how the pandemic and the rule of six was affecting what we wore as we sat in our gardens well wrapped up! 

Going out feels like an effort 

If I'm honest I still haven’t fully embraced the in the room social activities I had pre pandemic either yet – choir and the WI. Going out in the evenings seems such an effort after not doing it for a couple of years. I’m wondering if the lighter nights will make it more likely? Or have I just turned into a pyjama wearing hermit doomed never to get myself out of the house after 6pm. 
Our car situation has changed too. As my husband has taken early retirement due to furlough and then being offered a voluntary redundancy package we no longer need two practical cars for everyday use. Instead we have one family car and he has a bonkers American import, vintage number that little boys point at and shout “look mummy! Hot Wheels!”. We very rarely both need the family car at the same time but it does mean there is more planning involved. And the most annoying bit is having to adjust the seat and mirrors every time I get in to drive 😆 I’ve done the grand total of 450.3 miles in the past 2 financial years to add into my accounts. 

A shift in wardrobe choices 

I came across a handbag I hadn’t used for ages earlier this week and noticed there were disposable gloves lurking at the bottom of it amongst the crumpled receipts, fluff and crumbs (where do they come from?). I have far fewer receipts than I’ve ever had in my life due to not going out to the shops anywhere near as often as I used to. These days it tends to be a planned trip for specific items rather than a browse or window shopping. Less incidental purchasing of stuff I didn’t know I needed. Just as well really as the cost of living rises. 
I know I’m not alone with a general shift in my wardrobe choices. Most people I speak to have dialled things down a notch in terms of levels of dressing. My handbag and shoe collection are still on a sabbatical. As are my “networking” dresses with my go to business networking attire “YOUniform “ of empire line dresses, colourful tights all languishing in the wardrobe. I’m questioning their relevance these days. Will I need them again at some point? Am I more comfortable in more casual clothing these days? Is that crossing over to my business attire? Dressing from the waist up for Zoom meetings has a lot to answer for. You can watch my tips on how to get from pyjamas to professional in 4 steps below. 
Panic or pivot as the pandemic strikes 
The fact that I’ve had an online element to my business since 2015 meant that I didn’t have to panic or go into pivot mode, and for that I’m grateful. I did have to shift my focus to marketing myself more online rather than relying on face to face networking. LinkedIn and Zoom have been lifesavers. Online stuff is OK and has its benefits such as cutting out travel time and distance/geography not being an issue but it’s not the same as being in the room, feeling the energy and smelling the freshly brewed coffee. There are pros and cons to both. 
I’ve decided that my new FAB WOMEN NETWORK will have both an online and face to face element. I’m currently in the planning phase and working out my strategy. The vision is all about having a community and safe space for women who are fiftyish to really show up as themselves, warts and all; a support network to be there for the good times and the bad. We don’t live in a Stepford wives kind of world full of Pollyanna types, there are days when things are a bit shit and it can affect how you show up, and it’s ok to not be ok. 
The FAB WOMEN NETWORK is a space for women in business (or otherwise) to hang out with other likeminded women who are not ready for midlife mediocrity. It’s a space to have fun, grow friendships and give/receive support. It’s a space for us to embrace the wisdom getting older provides and rather than disappearing into the background in a wardrobe of beige it’s about OWNING our vintage years. We’re living longer and retiring later. There’s talk of ‘the great resignation’ as people reassess their values and lifestyles having spent two years amidst a pandemic. 
FAB Women Network 
Despite feeling different post pandemic for all of the reasons I've mentioned and feeling less confident than I used to in many ways, I’m not ready to fade into the background just because I’m getting older. It seems there are lots of other fiftyish, authentic and ballsy women feeling the same. Here’s the link to join the Facebook group. 
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