WAY back in March, when the media reports first started to trickle out about the global pandemic, sweeping the world with Death’s borrowed cloak and scythe, I was one of the first to lock down.

I finished a running training programme, on the evening of March 18, and didn’t leave my house again until I needed to take my car for its MOT, on June 12.

Even after that, my ventures beyond the front door were few and far between. I didn’t go for those Government-endorsed daily walks, just in case. My dogs were happy enough playing ball in the garden.

Eventually, I ventured out more and more.

My car needed a service as well. That meant a second garage trip. Fairly safe: one other person in the waiting room, face masks, screens between us and the skeleton crew, keys disinfected before being given back.

Gotta be honest though, after so long in my safe house (and yes, I really had imagined the shark-infested moat to keep ‘walkers’ out), it was a bit of a shock to the system seeing other people. All the distancing posters, the hand gel, the footprint signs on the floor like chevrons on a motorway, covered faces, trying to read from eyes only… it felt horribly disturbing, if not a little dystopian.

I found myself feeling fearful, out of my depth, deeply concerned about people not wearing their masks or, horror of horrors, wearing them UNDER their noses! I think I would have been less concerned about people wearing their willies outside of their underpants at that point…

I found myself feeling fearful, out of my depth, deeply concerned about people not wearing their masks or, horror of horrors, wearing them UNDER their noses! I think I would have been less concerned about people wearing their willies outside of their underpants at that point: hey — at least those things don’t breathe covid!

Confidence

Gradually, I ventured out further.

Each time, my confidence returned a little more.

I went into a supermarket. That was an experience.

Fuel stations with boxes of rubber gloves and alcohol gel outside and a traffic light system to allow people into the shop.

Under his eye. Blessed be the fruit. May the Lord open.

Under his eye. Blessed be the fruit. May the Lord open.

It was a tattoo that burst the bubble for me. I had some energy healing work from my wife (no, it’s not a euphemism) and was given a symbol to work with. I *knew* it needed to be a tattoo, so pinged a message to my tried and trusted inkmeister.

Barnard Castle: national treasure and a coronavirus safe zone since Dominic Cummings’ wife’s birthday

It was around the time the Government were trying to convince us to get back out there (not counting Barnard Castle which always has been, of course, Covid immune) and, on August 14, I strode into Spalding town centre, proudly wearing my rainbow face mask, and dropped my drawers for the only man who’s been that close to my thighs in years.

Not surprisingly, his business had been really struggling and passing trade just wasn’t happening.

While he drilled into my leg (again, not a euphemism), we chatted coronavirus, business support, rebuilding, life, the universe and everything.

I realised that, after not too long at all, I was feeling kind of okay to be outside of the house.

Okay, I was in my comfort zone — tattoos are one of my greatest loves — and it was just me, and Shaun, in an otherwise empty space, but I’d still had to brave pedestrians on the walk from the car park to his studio.

Ooh — more people!

Not too long after that, I was scheduled to run a small group training event.

I looked at the numbers and scratched my head. Was it *really* so dangerous out there?

I looked at the numbers and scratched my head. Was it *really* so dangerous out there?

I checked in with the people who were due to come for training. So long as we could adequately socially distance, they were up for it.

The majority of our delegates (which sounds a horribly formal name for people who feel more like a trusted tribe) showed up, with the exception of a couple who still felt the need to self isolate.

It was okay. It went well.

I went into a bigger supermarket a few days later.

We finally got to visit Mummy Thornton: she’s a bit of a nutter.

We visited my mum, who we hadn’t seen for months.

We went ahead with a bigger training event (still all legal, of course), all outdoors, with participants safely operating from their own one-man tents, with space marked out around the outside. I was very glad I’d practised being able to project my voice; thank you Lena Heady for *that* scene from Imagine Me And You.

Giant Metal Sky Tube — Totally Safe

Not long after that, our travel agent got in touch to confirm our overseas trip was still on.

We braved an airport. And an aeroplane.

Armed with our masks, we got onto a metal tube, full of other people.

Despite empty places, the airline sat someone next to us in the bank of three seats. I had a slight panic. Why would they do that? What possible purpose could it serve, other than to risk infection needlessly?

Despite empty places, the airline sat someone next to us in the bank of three seats. I had a slight panic. Why would they do that? What possible purpose could it serve, other than to risk infection needlessly?

I felt a cold bead of sweat trickle down my brow.

And then, the lady spoke. She was terrified of flying and she’d never been unaccompanied on a flight before.

Super coach

My nerves vanished and I miraculously transformed into Super Coach! I didn’t even need a telephone box — it happened all on its own.

Within no time at all, we were rising into the air, lots of nervous, mask-clad people and a row of three grinning, pumping the air, chanting “I’m excited! I’m excited! I’m excited!”

Within no time at all, we were rising into the air, lots of nervous, mask-clad people and a row of three grinning, pumping the air, chanting “I’m excited! I’m excited! I’m excited!”

The previously nervous flyer told us we were crazy. She also thanked us for the best flight she’d ever had.

Two weeks in Greece. It was supposed to be a trip to find venues for a writers’ retreat we had planned… we still had high hopes, but goodness knows when we might be able to organise an overseas business event given the lockdown regulations popping in and out like a yo-yo.

Ever the optimists. Plan for the future. Make it happen.

At first, we masked up every time we left our apartment. Gradually, prompted by local business owners, who told us about the ridiculously low figures in their region, insisted it was all about control and told us there was nothing to be scared of, we felt a little more relaxed.

Fighting Covid 19 in Halkidiki, Greece, with the aid of a large, white, cat and gaudy sugar skulls. Crack team!

Think about it… we’re supposed to wear masks in the street, in 30 degrees, but then it’s perfectly safe to take them off in a bar or restaurant.

Really?

Back home, we got into the swing of things. I started to pay more attention to the numbers. I started to question.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still taking proper precautions (if not being quite as rigorous about wearing a HAZMAT suit for every Amazon delivery), but I was beginning to wonder if the line between being sensible and safe, and fearing for our lives, whilst clinging to BoJo’s every word, like the priest’s soggy cassock near the end of Titanic, might be being deliberately blurred.

Those further to the Reich — sorry, RIGHT — of politics have been trying to get us all under control for years. What better reason than a terrifying global pandemic that could wipe us all out faster than an angry fart from Zeus!?

After all, those further to the Reich — sorry, RIGHT — of politics have been trying to get us all under control for years. What better reason than a terrifying global pandemic that could wipe us all out faster than an angry fart from Zeus!?

Covid is real!

For the record, let me say that I am absolutely NOT a covid denier.

I know it exists.

I know people who’ve had it.

I’ve almost lost people to it.

But that was at the beginning, and things change.

Viruses mutate. Science makes new discoveries. Medics find better treatment regimes.

All kinds of things happen to decrease threat levels as we find out more about the way different diseases tick.

There were reports about tests creating false positives.

There were reports about more tests being available, which created an upswing in case numbers.

There were reports about people testing positive who were asymptomatic or displaying not much more than a cold or mild ‘flu.

There were whispers of the World Health Organisation dropping stats that proved the ‘danger’ levels had dropped to that of cold and ‘flu as well.

While the numbers showed positive Covid IDs going up, they also showed hospitalisations and deaths going down.

Brace yourselves… here come the conspiracy theories

Various theories started to roll out. Maybe the virus had simply done what viruses do and mutated — into something still virulent, but less deadly. Maybe the ‘viral load’ decreased as it moved into the community, resulting in milder infections. Maybe it had already wiped out the most vulnerable and had nowhere else to go. Maybe it was to do with seasonality. Maybe we just improved our care levels and learned how to deal with it better.

Clearly, some of those theories hold more water than others. Some — one, in particular, in my book — are very silly and verging on crass.

Whatever the reasons, the numbers alone led me to consider whether we actually needed to be so afraid.

Pass me some silver foil for my head…

If I allowed myself to go just a teensy bit towards conspiracy theory (because that’s what we call it when it challenges the status quo, right?), I could see valid reasons for TPTB wanting to keep us there.

I mean, mass fear gave them a good reason to want to track all our movements — something they’d been wanting to do for years (remember all the furore over ID cards?).

Not only that, but scare us all away from using proper, physical cash (money carries Covid, people!) and onto the ‘safety’ of debit cards and Apple Pay and they:

A) get to see exactly how much we’re spending and quash all those pesky cash in hand shenanigans,

and

B) create the ability to control our cash (ergo our lives), because it’ll all be through the banks which, whatever you say, they control. Suddenly, I find myself far more interested in all that bitcoin stuff I’ve been dismissing for years!

Of course, there are benefits for keeping those self-employed people working from home as well. I wonder how much they’ll save if people can no longer viably claim mileage against their taxes?

Of course, there are benefits for keeping those self-employed people working from home as well. I wonder how much they’ll save if people can no longer viably claim mileage against their taxes?

Ho hum.

Whatever the reasons, there sure seemed to be a discrepancy between the actual risk/danger levels and the fear mongering being whipped into a frenzy by the media, many of whom, of course, are controlled by the people with fingers in lots of money pots and political pies.

Just as that realisation first started to creep into my mind, the media started releasing horror stories about people who contracted Covid at the beginning and are still desperately ill. ‘Long Covid’ came into being.

Again, I’m not disputing it… but these were cases from the start, when the virus seemed to be far more deadly, with far more frequency, than it appears to be right now. Yes, even with the so-called second wave.

My point… and I DO have one

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well, again, I’m not saying Covid doesn’t exist.

It very clearly does.

There *is* still a virus out there we don’t fully understand, and it’s not worth taking silly risks.

And we still need to be careful — whichever tier BoJo’s sorting hat has plopped us into (“Not Tier 3 you say?”). There *is* still a virus out there we don’t fully understand, and it’s not worth taking silly risks.

However, I do believe we all need to wise up and give ourselves a dose of perspective.

Nobody mention Fatima!

The arts and leisure sectors aside (nobody mention Fatima!), there are plenty of people in business who don’t need to be being quite so coronaslapped as they are being.

Why?

Because many, many people — and I’m particularly talking about those in self employment sectors where a bit of a pivot is possible (again, please don’t mention Fatima!), OR where they could legitimately be doing far more online — have seen their confidence and resilience worn down so much by perverse pandemic spin they’ve pretty much lost the will to live, let alone show up online to promote themselves and their wares.

I can’t help but worry that our pumped-up fears and anxieties MIGHT be proving far more deadly than the current Coronavirus risk.

With this in mind, I can’t help but worry that our pumped-up fears and anxieties MIGHT be proving far more deadly than the current Coronavirus risk.

It’s breaking our spirit.

It’s breaking our minds.

It’s breaking families.

It’s breaking our businesses.

It’s smashing our will to smithereens and leaving our personal power like dust on the floor.

Having lost one loved one to suicide through this pandemic and coached many, many more through stress, anxiety and depression, it’s the psychological and emotional impact of pandemic propaganda that concerns me more than anything.

Parallels

Given that so much of my work with business owners relates to visibility and brand building, it would be remiss of me to not draw parallels with my own unbalanced fears about venturing outside in the early days of C19.

When we’re low on confidence and have been spoon-fed fears for so long, it can feel immensely difficult to even think about our businesses, let alone get onto social media and talk about them.

When we’re low on confidence and have been spoon-fed fears for so long, it can feel immensely difficult to even think about our businesses, let alone get onto social media and talk about them.

That first post on LinkedIn might feel akin to those nervous steps I made into the garage — it’ll be weird and nerve wracking and full of people… and that’s big, hairy, scary stuff when you’ve been isolated for so long.

Be brave though. Post again. Start small. Follow those steps I made. Garage. Small supermarket. Tattoo parlour. Bigger supermarket. Event with delegates. Airport. Aeroplane. Foreign travel. Bigger event. Some sense of normality beginning to form, even if we’re still being careful.

The parallels are there.

Find your feet. Follow the facts.

Start to find your feet. Start to question the spin. Stop watching the news and look for the cold, sterile facts instead.

Stop checking the Zoe app for your area, with its big, scary shades of brick pink (because it’s marginally less threatening than red?), and start looking at the global and countrywide stats instead — black and white instead of the ‘shock’ colours. Still report on the app if you want to — just stop getting sucked into the daily location check drama.

Start to find your courage. Start to look at your business again. Can you rebuild? Do you actually need to pivot or re-skill (like Fatima?), or do you just need to get back out onto that virtual dance floor, stop being a wallflower and get a bit more Travolta?

Enough with the analogies, Taz!

Stay safe, but stop hiding.

You ARE needed

Whatever your skillset is, I bet someone out there needs you.

I bet someone out there is ready and willing to pay for your expertise.

I bet there are people you could help — and that goes a long way towards building your confidence and self esteem too.

Don’t let the bastards get you down!

We might be facing uncertain times together, but they feel a helluvalot more uncertain when we allow them to knock us down needlessly.

Stand up. Dust yourself off. Stand taller.

This world needs you in it — and it needs your expertise too. We can’t benefit from that if you don’t let people know you exist.

Until next time,

#UnleashYourAwesome,

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and multiple TEDx speaker, consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, and an award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards). She is also the creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists, and #LIFEFORCE — an affordable online spiritual empowerment and coaching programme for people wanting to bring more optimism into their lives.

Taz has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva, The Daily Mail and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network. In 2019, she was named as one of the most inspirational businesswomen in the UK and, in 2020, she was named as one of the world’s top 50 women in marketing to follow.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitterInstaKo-Fi and TazThornton.com.