Recent months have brought unprecedented changes to daily life around the world. As shops, services, schools and universities around the UK closed their doors, GCU London staff and students have adjusted to many changes in the way they teach and learn.
Professor Antony Morgan shares with us a day in the life of lockdown for him. Prepare yourself for some inspiring quotes, tips on coping with these challenging times, and a unique twist on our University motto.
‘A take on coping during lockdown, social distancing, isolation, whatever they call it…’
Professor Antony Morgan – GCU London
The day starts at about 5.00 am for me. Usually, I’m rushing to catch the 6.30am train to London Bridge. But in lockdown, I have a chance to watch DAWN break and the sun rise. It gives me energy!
‘Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come.’
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the clock strikes 7.00am and after Alexa has reminded me to take my tablets, I press the DVD button to start my 20-minute pilates session. It’s important for all of us to keep MOVING but it really helps me to manage the symptoms of my chronic health condition. Usually, I would be in the gym, but at home you have to learn to adapt and compromise.
I can hear my breath – that’s good.
‘In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.’
– Deepak Chopra
Time for some breakfast. Not having to travel to work gives me a little more time to prepare meals. Even easier if you have a food processor and a helper. Topple the fresh fruit, or veg (if you prefer) in, and a tasty, NOURISHING smoothie comes out.
Breathe a sigh of satisfaction.
I am not going to mention the temptation of crisps and chocolate throughout the day.
‘You can’t be a resource for others unless you nourish yourself.’
– Alexandra Stoddard
By 8.00am I’m ready to go! Nowhere very far. Decisions usually only require where to park myself for the day. I like to change it up a bit by setting up my office in a different room every so often, sometimes more than once a day. Just call it a pop-up office! There seem to be more meetings these days, so I spend at least 15 minutes a day ORGANISING the time available. It helps me keep CALM…
‘For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.’
– Benjamin Franklin
‘The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed.’
– Carl Jung
And then it’s 12.00 noon – how did that happen? It’s time for a walk – not always possible as Microsoft Teams and Zoom (whatever happened to Skype?) just love a meeting any time of day or night. Anyway in terms of walking, there are good options nearby my home – the Horniman Gardens (given to the people of London by Frederik Horniman – famous tea merchant in 1911) is one of my favourites. It’s a good place to OBSERVE nature and to people watch (not too close). Someone is cutting the grass – I love the smell when it is freshly cut – will probably get an allergy later.
Sometimes we forget the wonderful things going on around us – I have noticed much more this year the trees regaining their leaves, flowers opening as the sun rises and the ever-changing sky.
‘The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.’
– Paul Cezanne
Back home, it’s time to reattach myself to our newly found ways of communicating via technology and for the most part its good. I find myself putting much more effort into connecting with colleagues in and outside the University either just to check in or having a fully-fledged business meeting. Making time for old, regular and new connections can bring OPPORTUNITIES. This week I have re-connected with some colleagues in Africa. Their NGO is putting together a proposal to do some COVID-19 related public health work in Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan and they want me to collaborate.
If we are successful, it will allow us to refresh our partnership with new breath.
‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.’
– Albert Einstein
The afternoon goes as quickly as the morning; most would say that’s a good thing as long as you’ve been productive. I know being so is not always possible but that’s no different whether you are at home or work. Just remember to reflect and try again afresh the next day. Also at home, the workday can go on and on if you let it – you just need to know when enough is enough!
Are you still breathing?
Early evening has become one of my favourite parts of the day – not sure why? Maybe it’s because there is the absence of the commute. Mine starts with connecting with my Mum. She’s 90 and lives in sheltered accommodation. There is nothing vulnerable about my Mum spirit-wise but she does fall into the category health-wise. I ring her every day for a chat. For her, it usually involves a number of recurring themes. I am there to listen again, again and again. ‘Mum – have you taken your inhaler this morning?
Giving her my time is not difficult – of course, it isn’t – she’s my Mum! It is important particularly at the moment to be GENEROUS to others, whether that is with deeds, money or time. Then it’s time to relax, I usually prefer MUSIC to the television. Sometimes I think about dragging my old oboe out of the cupboard but in reality it’s easier to listen to a professional. A bit of Tomaso Albinoni goes down a treat.
‘That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.’
– Simone de Beauvoir
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.’
The pandemic that is COVID-19 has made us reflect on what we do and how we do it both in and outside the workplace. It looks like things will be different in the future for all of us and tough for many. Because of this, OPTIMISM is needed more than ever. The mission and values of Glasgow Caledonian University stand us in good stead to overcome the challenges ahead and to continue to thrive and flourish. The words in this short narrative link to the University’s mission for the COMMON GOOD.
Let’s continue to do well for ourselves and for others and breathe.
‘I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.’
– Winston Churchill
Have you spotted the COMMON GOOD yet?
Professor Antony Morgan