To Inspire And Get Inspired - Ai-Ch'ng (Part 2)
Discover Ai-Ch'ng, my friend, muse, a creative with so many arrows to her bow.
In this challenging time, what coping mechanisms have you installed in your daily life? (Routine, rituals, etc)
I’ve been surprised to have embraced lockdown, largely due to daily rituals that I had instigated a couple of years ago. Those rituals and routines have deepened in their significance for me, since COVID-19 exploded into our lives.
My day begins with mind-calming, creativity-sparking and body-rebalancing activities. Five minutes of eyes-still-closed-from-sleep deep breathing; twenty-five minutes of whole-body twisting and stretching of (what I call), “still-in-bed-yoga”; meditation and visualisation; jotting down whatever came to mind during meditation (The answer always comes for something bugging me, or a little tip on how to approach my day, which - don’t ask me how - has always been spot-on); and drawing, or painting a little. Lockdown has encouraged me make more art and music!
Two to three times a week, I cycle - hard. It’s meditation-in-motion for me, a head-clearer, an invigorator and brilliant re-balancer for every aspect of my wellbeing. I’ve walked to our nearby beach more during lockdown to take in the glorious sunsets and feel the sea breeze whip my hair, and I’ll continue this long-term.
Lockdown has also pushed me to discard a lot of things, habits and rituals that were no longer serving me. Knowing that so many people have suffered during lockdown has forced me to not take for granted what I have, to make more with less, which has better placed me to help others.
As a mother, how do you think this time is influencing your family life and what learnings will you take from it as a family?
Every child, like every adult, is different. Depending on what our child requires from us, being a “mother” is different for everyone. It certainly is very different for me, compared to what it was for my Mum years ago. Since Ren, our soon-to-be twenty-one-year-old son, has moved from primary to senior school, then university, then overseas for studies - there have been numerous shifts in how I am with him.
Lockdown began shortly after Ren returned to us from the UK. After almost eight months apart from him, to being abruptly thrown together, without the option to go out for anything other than essentials, has allowed my husband and I to see and learn so much about and from our son. Without lockdown, it’s unlikely this mutual learning, and the shift in our relationship to become more one of friends, would have happened.
This physical seclusion has also helped me re-discover the importance of doing things only for me, which I often forgot and neglected as a parent of a child who wasn’t at the time as independent as now. These periods of self-care have now placed me in a healthier position to be present for family and friends.
Lockdown and the severity of COVID-19 have heightened the yearning in many of us to connect with extended family and friends around the world. For me, it’s been through good old-fashioned phone-calls. Spontaneously picking up the phone, dialling, hoping the other person will pick up, and they do - it’s so special! This simple act sends me back to my childhood, when we would connect with loved ones over the phone.
Other lessons from COVID-19 that we’ll carry into the future:
- Health is wealth but it can’t be earned back - Value your health (keep hand sanitiser in your pocket/bag and car)! And do everything you can to keep yourself and loved ones healthy.
- Our son cooks delicious food - so let him cook for us more!
- Get out there and just do it, and keep doing it! - Kate Hulett of @kateandabelperth encouraged me to get some of my arty inclinations out there in a new way.
- Make time to occasionally stop and think about what we do and why we do it - which I’ve learned from participating in this interview - so confronting but necessary!
- There are a lot of good people out there - Keep the faith in people’s kindness and seek out the wise ones, so we may learn from them how to change ourselves for the betterment of the world.
- There are a lot of oppressed people out there - Keep abreast of opportunities (there are so many) to help their wellbeing.
What legacy would you like to leave behind?
Legacy is born of our desire to leave behind in this world something that we consider - or more often, what we think society considers – to be valuable. Legacy is entwined with, “I am who others think I am”: not that this isn’t noble, it is. It is just that it’s easy to fall into the trap of valuing ourselves according to what others think of our contributions to society. Really though, who are we or anyone else to deem what is worthwhile?
I’ve made “legacy” less of a long-term goal of what I leave behind after my death, than something that happens at the end of each moment. That something being a mini-legacy of joy, or clarity, for myself and for whoever is with me at that moment. All I can ensure and do is to throw every bit of kindness and creativity in me into each moment as it unfolds, every opportunity that arises, every person who comes into my day... and repeat! And those millions of micro-legacies that occur during my day, will materialise through everything I do - be it making art and music, exercising, dressing up, dressing down, consulting on wellbeing, connecting with family and friends.
So, for now: no thoughts of leaving behind any particular legacy. I just wake up, centre myself, make the most of each moment, share as much as I can, and repeat.