Finding the ‘windfalls’

By Cherie Whiteman, Associate Director

Last week I joined an excellent webinar by CIWM, presented by the eloquent Simon Richardson of Golden Tree Wellbeing. The focus was on mental health and looking for ‘windfalls’ in this current challenging situation – it’s about re-framing negative thoughts to interpret them in a different way. The windfalls are the small wins in all this – the unexpected and sudden gains that have come about due to the way we have been living these last few weeks. Of course, we all miss family and friends, may have heath or illness worries, may be caring for other family members, or worried about our jobs. But keeping a positive outlook is vital, more so now than ever, so I thought I’d ask my co-workers at Frith Resource Management what their windfalls have been.

Environmental consultant, Leanne, is in the excited position of moving to her first own home just before lockdown, having previously had a temporary 100mile round trip to the office (I should say here that we are a considerate employer and Leanne was already working from home 1 or 2 days a week to save the impact of this commute). So Leanne now has a bit more time at both ends of the day, and is using that time to explore her new local area around beautiful Shrewsbury (during her allowed exercise time, of course!), having a bit of a lie in or doing a morning workout at home, and cracking on with decorating her new pad! She estimates that swapping her previous commute for homeworking has saved around 300kg carbon in the 5 weeks this has been going on.

For Kate, our administrative assistant, the windfalls have been strikingly simple – much less washing and ironing of school uniforms and her husband’s shirts. A sentiment many of us can probably relate to!

Sarah, our Senior Consultant, is generally enjoying a slower pace of life at the moment. She is lucky enough to live on the beautiful west coast of Scotland, and really is making the most of the time ‘allowed’ outdoors. Sarah is super active and adventurous at the best of times, but now that time out of the house is limited, it seems even more important and is making her appreciate what’s on her doorstep even more. This period has also given her plenty of time for reflection, and she’s marvelling over how little we actually ‘need’, while being more appreciative of what we have got. Like others, Sarah is also embracing technology to keep in touch with friends and family, and can proudly say she has taught her Grandma how to answer a WhatsApp call!

Paul, our Director, puts us all to shame. In ‘normal’ mode, Paul works incredibly hard and has amazing drive and dedication to the business. The current times have enabled him to spend much more time at home (while not always 100% harmonious!) with his family, who are normally dashing here there and everywhere. As client demands are less at the moment, Paul welcomes a bit of downtime during the day, and generally has a bit more time on his hands – as well as completing odd jobs about the house, apparently his garden is coming along nicely, and he’s even made a tree den for his daughter and an outdoor cinema! Before lockdown, Paul was regularly performing at open mic nights in one of the local pubs, and thanks to technology he is continuing to write and perform new music using live streaming platforms and via virtual ‘parties’ with friends. He’s really quite a good musician, actually!

The timing of the CIWM webinar was particularly poignant for me: middle of the first week back after the ‘Easter holidays’… I have two reluctant primary-age scholars, a husband who is temporarily (but demandingly and grumpily) injured, and, of course, pressures of work work. So the windfalls for me were not immediately obvious. I already work from home in ‘normal’ times, so although I have the advantage of having an excellent home office, I can’t claim to benefit from no longer commuting, and actually my day is now longer as I get up earlier to ‘get ahead’ before they all wake up. Alarmingly, most of my windfalls appear to be to do with food… I have always loved cooking, and now that my children are not being ferried around to various clubs or activities after school or in the evening has given me extra time in the afternoons to create more culinary delights. I seem to be getting away with it so far, and I’m also teaching my eldest daughter to learn to cook. I am also now buying more fruit and veg from our local farm shop and direct from farms rather than the supermarket – so packaging has reduced and freshness has increased. However, my biggest windfall really has to be that I no longer need to make packed lunches for school… Oh the joy!

The different windfalls experienced by our team does show that yes, while we are all in this together and heading in roughly the direction, we are all wearing different shoes and seeing different scenery along the way. I do hope some of the windfalls we’ve discovered continue as we gradually revert back to ‘normality’.

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