3. Space/Time – Therapeutic Spaces

Space Time Therapeutic

Time alone
My daughter’s away at University and my son’s at school and my husband has gone back to the office most days so I’m alone in the house which I enjoy.  I like being able to sit down and have some prayer time before I start work. I like being able to have lunch on my own. I like in theory being able to go for a walk although it’s been a bit rainy lately and maybe I spend just as much time sending WhatsApp messages as I used to chatting in the corridors. If I have the discipline I do some yoga at the end of the day.  #7

Indebted to the dog
I’d gone into this bad cycle of getting up, kind of I don’t now, just delaying getting up… because normally in a normal non-pandemic I’d be getting up at say six, leaving the house at say quarter to seven, whereas some days I was struggling, I’d still be like half nine still in my pajamas.  I was on the computer all day, cook a meal, go to bed and it just felt like what am I doing just working, eating and sleeping and that’s it? I thought right I’ve got to change something. If I promise to walk my neighbour’s dog, I won’t want to let them down. It was just a game changer, an absolute game changer. I’ve got beautiful countryside where I live, gorgeous moorland and the dog everyday just like this happy soul, it’s like just you can’t – you could be in the worst mood ever but he’s totally lifted my spirits. I walked him for an hour a day – not every day but most days you know I would do that and it just made such a massive difference.  I had an excuse to be up and out by 8am. Nature played a critical part in keeping my spirits up and I feel so indebted to that dog. Obviously  he completely doesn’t have any idea but I am like yes I’ll take him, I’ll walk him, I’ll look after him, because I just owe him so much.   #9

Coffee on campus
Back on campus and the rounds of meetings were at a slower pace, punctuated by coffee and the walking across campus to different venues. The flowers on campus were stunning  – an odd reconnecting with the spaces, the swans on the pond, the cleaning staff, the coffee bar ritual and small talk.  So inefficient, but so welcome!  I was quite shocked by the step count difference – from barely scraping over the 1000 steps to back up to a reasonable 6k of walking during the working day.  That’s the on-campus difference!   #21

A safe place?
I felt that the house was a safe place.  It got to the point where I felt that I was safe at home but then I had this anxiety that I wasn’t safe anywhere else and that was really difficult when things started to open up and they told us that shielding had been paused and we could go out.  I found that really difficult that all of a sudden actually I can go to other places, but are they safe because we’ve been told for so many weeks that they’re not safe, so yes, home became the place that I felt safe. I really had to force myself to go out and I think because I lived with somebody else who was going out, she didn’t have the same anxieties so she was able to say to me, “Come with me, come to the supermarket,” and if it all got too much I knew that I could go and sit in the car and she can finish the shopping. Whereas if I lived on my own I think then there would have been a real risk that I could have ended up agoraphobic because there would have been nobody saying to me ‘Get out of the house!’  #28

Travelling (back) to Japan
I’d travelled to Japan in 2019 with the other half; watching the most amazing scenery whizz past the window of the Shinkansen train as we dined on Bento boxes and local beers. As the pandemic progressed, I spent a lot of time imagining I was back in Japan. I was blown away by the people, the food the history and the culture. (So, everything then!) It cheered me up to be able to think of happier times when faced with increasing uncertainty in the present.  the mental move to Japan and my Kimono project was welcome relief.. The train journey from Tokyo to Kyoto gave me focus and an amazing view of mount Fuji to conjure up as I took my daily walk.  My parents live almost 400 miles away from me in Wiltshire. I tried not to dwell on the ‘what-ifs’ and the fact that they told me the news bulletins made them feel disposable and ‘fit for the knacker’s yard.’ I retreated to the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and rang the Peace Bell in my head. The sound was calming, and the memory of thousands of paper cranes brought colour and hope to dark days.  #26



Participants’ accounts
Changing spaces
Therapeutic spaces
Stretching time
Pandemic temporalities