What defines me? From the Four Seasons to Salt Dough

This week I got to thinking about what defines me…We’ve now been in lockdown for about seven million weeks, the majority of which I’ve been on Furlough. Now, when I first found out I was going on Furlough I was worried – lie when I “first” found out I was going on Furlough I had no idea what Furlough meant.

Thankfully, after a bit of explanation from HR I soon discovered that Furlough wasn’t a unit of measurement and it actually referred to a paid leave. It’s then when I started to panic about what was I going to do with myself.

In my life BC (before coronavirus) my week, like most people was pretty much totally taken up by my job. With my commute I’d be out of the house for well over 12 hours, I’d be talking ALL day, running around a beautiful five start hotel and getting paid to do something I loved. Suddenly, when I went on Furlough, this was all taken away and I “thought” I was going to be really down.

To my surprise, I adjusted almost immediately to Furlough life. I loved my new routine where I now had time to do workouts in the morning, take my time getting ready, do meditation, do some painting (okay the results weren’t great but I was having fun) and I was even doing LinkedIn learning courses.

Everything was going fine in my new Furlough bubble until one day it got burst by some nagging insecurities. Like most doubts, they all stemmed from when I started to compare myself to other people. I was talking to a friend who was still working and they mentioned all the things they would have done round the house if they were on Furlough…I instantly felt bad for the lack of “productive” things I’ve done in my time and worried I’d been wasting this paid leave.

After talking to my friend I then went on Instagram ( I know so unlike me) where I noticed what other people were doing with their lockdown time. Some people were doing great DIY projects (a lot better than my scary scribbles) others were going for epic runs (loads longer than my daily Salterns stroll) and then I saw some people making these cute craft ornaments out of salt dough.

Okay, so me starting any major DIY projects at this time probably wouldn’t be for the best given the lack of materials in the house and the pressure the NHS is already under, however making some cute salt dough ornaments for the house seemed like a low risk nice thing I could do which would leave us with a memento from this corona experience. I googled the recipe and all you needed was flour, salt and water. Perfect! Although we didn’t have flour…I didn’t let this stop me though and I decided to make my own by grinding some oats I found in the back of the cupboard. Sadly, I think this method only works when you have a food processor, not when you have a rolling pin and the upper body strength of the tooth fairy. This meant my attempt of a cute salt dough bunny ended up looking like a demon lumpy Watership down reject.

Not one to be defeated, I got some inspiring words from my crafty mum friends who told me flour really is an essential ingredient in this three ingredient mix. So, on my next trip to Lidl I was delighted when I nabbed one of the last three packets of flour remaining in the store. Coming home I excitedly mixed up the ingredients and this time things were looking a lot more promising. I went for star tea light creations, 1. Because I thought they’d be quite useful 2. I didn’t want to repeat any scary animal creations. Putting them in the oven I waited with anticipation as my cute neat star decorations cooked. It’s at this point I should mention that I didn’t think it would make that much difference if you used self raising or plain flour…turns out it does. Taking them out of the over they’d transformed into big blob disasters.

As my hands were feeling very dry from all the salt, I was getting fed up of tidying up the floury mess in the kitchen – Stu was getting annoyed about having to turn re-tidy to his standards, I started to think is this salt dough really worth it? But, in my head I didn’t want all that time to be to waste and if I could create at least one good thing I would have had a purpose and it would have been worth it. Yeah, writing this I now know it’s sounds like I was getting high from the salt or something.

Anyway, on my next trip to Lidl I was ecstatic to see they had plain flour so that afternoon in one last attempt I set my sights on making the best salt dough decorations ever. I rolled the dough out to the right thickness, got the right consistency, even googled the exact temperatures and kept everything crossed ! Alas I don’t know what went wrong but one burnt, one puffed out all weird and one, well it just looked like something nothing like a star. It was at this point I decided that sometimes you have to accept to defeat.

The next day I went back to doing what I actually enjoyed, I drew some pictures and made them into a little book for my nephew. I started organising the photos from my phone from last year into a photo album which was really fun (although I do take way too many photos) and I just took some me time, exercising and of course watching Sex and the City. It was then I realised I didn’t need to prove anything to people in my Furlough with what I create or how productive I am. I’m still not really sure what it is that defines me but I know that it doesn’t change whether I’m working, making salt dough or just watching an episode of Sex and the City.

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