Let’s step forward again to mid March 2020. Corona virus is coming our way and I’ve only just decided to work less. People talk about a total lockdown as most people are already working from home where they can. I can’t. I need to be outside to be able to walk dogs. I need to go into homes to pick them up, drop them off with colleagues’ and touch about 862 door handles in the meantime. I decide to keep on working until my ‘Body says No’ or Boris does. “Body” was the first to put things to a halt – take that, Boris!
With a minor inflammation of the lungs, but otherwise feeling as energetic as an overworked body can feel, I start writing down all the things I wanted to do for a long time but never had the head space or time to do. So, I attend that online course on Dog Behaviour with Victoria Stillwell and figure out how I can improve my current dog walking services to make it better for the dogs. I sleep the ten hours per day my body yearns for and I get “on the mat” every day, be it for five or thirty minutes.
As I write this, I’m finishing a study on end-of-life care with FutureLearn, a topic I’ve been craving to learn more about. Not because I want to necessarily work in human hospice care (I also don’t exclude the possibility), but because I want to learn how we can take that subject and apply it to veterinary care.
And I read. I read and think and read some more. The most inspiring book I have read in a long time is Radical Help by Hillary Cottam. This Londoner has set up many community-led experiments in the UK (and globally) that add to the existing services of our current – broken – welfare system, actually improving the lives of so many people and reducing money otherwise spent on them through “the system”. And all of these experiments start with building relationships. She writes:
“What I could not see at first […] was that relationships are the element that matters, the foundation of a new system, the new framework within which we must create. Relationships are about you and me and the space between us, and what happens in that space. Relationships are about practical things: doing things together and about feelings, about trust and authenticity. Relationships can bend with you, they are changing and living, they ebb and flow.
A relational framework allows for new things to grow, to be expressed and to be valued. Our current framework is transactional. It is about managing, handling, treating and transferring. Transactions are useful. Sometimes we need to get from A to B or need an operation to mend a broken bone. But a transactional approach cannot solve the biggest challenges we face. How to live well and grow, how to meet the challenges of climate change, immigration, ageing. […] They are more complicated, and solutions require our engagement, our hearts and our minds.” (p. 276)
I read how the experiments helped the unemployed, the elderly, the chronically ill and the people that were labelled as “problem families” and started thinking about how this could apply to what I want to do in the next few years. And then it hit me. I have not been lolling about for three years, just setting up a company providing services that cater to the people that are well off and able bodied. I’ve been building relationships!
As one of my dear clients said when I told them I needed to step back a bit to take care of me and that I was very grateful to have clients like them: “Don’t see us as clients Sies; you are family!”
After that, when both me and Jamie became house bound, many of you have checked in with me, provided us with food and care. And over the years I’ve experienced your furry babies growing up or passing on, your tiny humans being born, you changing your careers and have even witnessed some of you getting married! Our relationships might have started out as transactional, but for most of us they grew into something of a much deeper meaning.
So, what does this mean for you in terms of the next steps that I want to take? Hang on, getting there…
Go to Corona Dreamin' III or Read Corona Dreamin' I again