Lyubov Zolotova

When the time came for Moscow city dwellers to face the inevitable and be in lockdown for an indefinite term, I honestly couldn’t quite embrace the concept. It seemed surreal. Like a game. But a very mean game. I normally lead a super dynamic lifestyle, juggling several projects at a time, and enjoying this – it is always fulfilling and never enough. Suddenly, this bubbling life has been brought to a halt. The idea of being confined to my home for weeks, months seemed… well, a cruel joke would be a major understatement. I had long decided firmly on some unyielding truths where my well-being is concerned:

  • I need to stay very busy to feel happy and accomplished –  the more projects, the better
  • I could never make a good housewife, I’m just not cut out for it
  • I prefer dealing with people face-to-face, not online

These three, I thought, were incontrovertible facts. Yet, the lockdown and the inevitable adjustments have so far been testing these truths. Was I in for a surprise!

Challenged truth 1. I need to stay very busy to feel happy and accomplished – the more projects, the better

Riding my scooter

Now, my day job is teaching English to adults. I work for myself. On top of that, I do art and music and organize educational and cultural events. True, I love this swirl of ambitions and creative pursuits. Yet, the feeling of accomplishment is fleeting. And in truth, it IS never enough. So what I’m often left with is a feeling of dissatisfaction and a craving for more, better, higher. I never allow myself to stop and take a time out. In reality, this puts a lot of pressure on an individual. Coupled with my perfectionism and a high-set bar and – hello breakdown and emotional roller-coaster! I can only truly relax when I’m on vacation and preferably out of Moscow which strongly associates with everyday stress and worry.

Now here’s an interesting observation. My psyche has had a fascinating reaction to the imposed lockdown: it’s as if I’ve officially received permission to take a break and go on vacation, so I can relax and not put too much pressure on myself. Now, mind you, I still do the same number of working hours. But it’s like I’ve broken away from the grips of self-imposed pressure. I’m actually much more emotionally stable these days. If only I could learn to give myself a break without the lockdown.

On the flipside, I have very little creative energy. The truth is, I get my creative energy from meeting with and connecting with fascinating like-minded individuals. This is something I miss greatly.

Challenged truth 2. I could never make a good housewife, I’m just not cut out for it

Making nettle soup

It is shameful but true: in my normal, lockdown-free life I almost never clean or cook (facepalm). My husband and I mostly eat out and, well, clean the flat once in a blue moon. Cut me some slack: with the lifestyle I lead I just can’t fit it in my schedule. Suddenly, ALL restaurants and cafés are closed. Okay, home deliveries are still an option. But when you have much more time on your hands, why not try cooking yourself?

My personal revelation: cooking, cleaning and looking after your home sweet home can be very comforting… And pampering your close one just feels very good. I can’t say I’m eager to explore tons of fancy recipes but so far I’ve mastered an avocado salad, beef stroganoff and even nettle soup  I’ve also gained new appreciation of our local street market. Before the lockdown I’d never taken full advantage of it, in other words, I’d hardly ever gone there. So it’s been a great delight to explore all the goodies it had to offer, things like fresh berries and fruits, an excellent selection of meats and my personal favorites like salo (cured pork fat) and goat cheese!

Of course, this routine is not likely to be very sustainable. At the end of the day, being a full-time housewife is not something I would aspire for. But it’s been fun trying it out for a while 😀

Challenged truth 3. I prefer dealing with people face-to-face vs online

I’ve been teaching groups and individuals for years and I’ve always enjoyed offline contact. It’s such an energy boost. On the other hand, Skype lessons and webinars have always proved energy-draining. I’ve been doing webinars for about three years now and, while having learnt the ropes of online teaching and managing webinar platforms, I still haven’t quite learnt to enjoy it. Until recently, when the lockdown hit and all my students (some eagerly, some less so) were prepared to switch to online lessons. And that’s when I realized how incredibly tiring the commute is, taking the metro several times a day and coming back home with your battery so low you go right for the couch. A sharp contrast. Suddenly, online lessons don’t seem so bad!

A park in my neighbourhood

There’s a flipside, though. Saving all this time and energy on the commute, you simply don’t get tired during the day, which affects your sleep. In my case, this has become a big, big problem.  Adjustments had to be made. A simple solution would be regular workouts, preferably outdoors.  Easier said than done. Although I used to love and enjoy sport, it hadn’t been part of my routine for a long while. With my sleep deteriorating fast, I didn’t have a choice though: I wanted it back.  I’ve started jogging, riding my scooter and rollerblading every other day. It’s the perfect mood elevator, and the sleep has gotten much better! I’ve also realized we have a lovely neighborhood, very green and cozy, with well-groomed parks and gardens. A pleasant discovery 😀

We’re living in strange times. Sometimes you wonder if it’s all happening for a reason. They say going through stressful times and leaving your comfort zone helps you learn and grow. I don’t know about growing but the lockdown has certainly helped me challenge myself and gain perspective. And it has helped me to appreciate the simple things that we tend to take for granted, like how important your family and friends are. And how great your job is. And that going to work, eating out and shopping is a privilege 😀 

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