Since returning to my family home for lockdown to stay safe, I’ve been organising my belongings to make room for me now. I’m also creating space for whatever will come during the next few months and maybe longer as we don’t have all the answers so far.
The clothes I leave in my room whilst I travel have been sorted through with no doubt more to do in the coming weeks, however for now they are in their Keep, Sell and Donate piles ready for me to take action when I can to take them to charity or start selling. I imagine many more of you are doing something similar whether the motivation behind it is to help others in need or to to make some money during difficult times. As well as clothes, I’ve also gone through my books piling up the ones I wish to read whilst based at home and not getting to travel.
Amongst my possessions, hidden deep below a collection of other belongings I came across my ‘GO’ bag pictured below. A bag we were given as volunteers in Nepal as we were required to have an emergency bag packed ready and sitting by our doors in case of an emergency. In Nepal’s case this was as we were expecting the earthquake, which hit the country in 2015, to hit at any time from 2013 onwards which was the time I was there.
In Nepal, it was about the physical requirements we had: passport and other papers, water, snacks, warm clothing, torch, phone with enough money on to make calls, cash and other necessary bits for our own personal lives. I am very lucky as I never had to use it! When the earthquake hit in 2015, I was living and working on St Helena and my ‘GO’ bag was already packed away in my room in the family home in the UK.
When I came across the bag during my reorganising and sorting, it gave me pause for thought. Had I become so relaxed in my circumstances that these new circumstances were a shock to the system? I allowed that thought and many others flow through my mind and I felt them all in my body and mind along with all the other accompanying feelings and emotions.
So now I wondered about calling it my ‘stay’ bag but that’s by the by really but in these times, we hold on tight to our anchors to get through and let’s be honest, language is one of mine.
7 years after the ‘GO’ bag was last used, I pulled it out and mentally went through what is now on my list. No longer physical items but the ones which secure my mental and emotional wellbeing during these changing and challenging times.
So here’s my list:
Mindfulness: which allows me to sit back and check on myself and my thoughts and feelings in the instant. I have the tools and practices to go to and also to help others through their struggles. In moments of fear or doubt, I find the constants, my breath and I am there or I look to my feet and I say out loud sometimes simply to claim it ‘I am here’.
Books: Learning and knowledge offers me a comfort zone which is as lovely and secure as pulling a duvet up around my head and snuggling down into a warmth which I seek out.
Pen and paper: As a blogger, writer and author, I always need and want pen and paper near me to capture some thoughts. Often that can be to simply get thoughts out of my head so I don’t need to deal with them right there and then.
Walking: Being able to get out of the house and feel myself moving wherever that is is so important even if that is only in my back garden. Noticing nature and acknowledging the beauty within it is a soother for me and many others I know.
Music: Whether it is gentle or stirring instrumentals or a song which gets me dancing all night, music will always hold me in it’s palm and get me moving side as well as outside of myself.
Gardening: Whilst travelling, I don’t get to do any gardening although I do walk amongst flowers and through parks. So when I’m home, I return to the garden which holds many memories for me and I draw from it’s stability and also changing looks. Doing something practical, clearing the weeds making way for new growth feeds my should and offers me hope, hope in believing in the future and that there will be new growth in many areas.
My Buddhist practices: Whatever your faith, I’m sure you are finding refuge within it and that all your practices and prayers are pulling you through. Mine is firmly embedded within me and my daily life that I know even without taking stock of what it is that helps me through each instant, I know that there is help coursing through my mind, body and soul.
Connections: Where would we be without the comfort we take from our family and friends? I’m probably not the biggest hugger compared to most so part of the keeping our distance is welcome to me at times, however I am someone who enjoys engaging with others and having conversations and connecting through a shared warmth towards each other.
So what is in your ‘GO’ bag? Maybe we share some of the list above and maybe we don’t. Whatever you find comfort in and would place in your ‘GO’ bag then let me know.