the start of story brunch

Posted on 16th December, 2020
In February, I caught the flu and was housebound for a few weeks. With a raspy chest in recovery, I started my venture into the outside world, a trip to the GPs. 
I waited in reception for the call to see the Dr. The call came. I slowly made my way to his room.  'Hello Julie, how are you, what can I do for you today?' he smiled. 'I'm not too bad I replied'.  His smile was always welcoming (I have moved now and he is no longer my Dr) and I felt comfortable. But it always surprised me how I would reply to his first question by making out I was okay - why was I there then? I would say to myself in my head.


I sat. Explained how my recovery was going and how my chest was feeling. My stats were checked and my chest listened to. I was recovering but my chest was still chuggy  and I needed to take things slowly. 


At this time COVID had started to spread in the UK, in particular where I lived in London numbers were rising quite quickly. I nonchalantly asked my Dr about my recovery plan, 'can I walk a lap outside the house and come to the village and walk around and go for a coffee'.  He looked at me, 'you can walk near your house, but no I wouldn't recommend going for a coffee and mixing with people'. I was slightly aghast. The reality of still being weak and at risk of getting this COVID hit me. 'Oh', I replied looking at my coffee in its takeaway cup, 'I will.'


Coming out of the surgery, my partner met me. I told him what I had just been told and we chatted about risk and about this new COVID threat. Reality of how this might affect our lives emerged. 


A few weeks later, lockdown hit and I was told to shield. The outside world and people were beginning the turn into scary things. I am used to having infections and been housebound, but something about this COVID really did scare me.


Right, deep breath I told myself, let's do something to connect with the world and make sure friendships I value don't get lost in this flux. This being scared feeling made me think more about my friends, how were they coping and dealing with lockdown, how could we support each other? 


Well, what about a virtual Stories Brunch. A platform for us to share stories and chat in a safe environment. I messaged a couple of friends and asked what they thought - yes that would be great, was the response. I set up a Facebook (FB) group and invited a few close friends. A date was set up. The last Saturday of the month. I nervously put a zoom link in the FB group - would people show up?


On the day, I sat and waited for people to log in. Two dear friends logged in. We had a good open chat and shared stories around the theme 'A Happy Moment.' We decided on a theme for the next brunch and agreed that the last Saturday of the month worked well.


Afterwards I put the story I shared in the FB group. A friend who couldn't attend on that particular day but wanted to take part, shared her story too.


Wow, we were all learning about each other and learning things that we might not have known in any another setting. I couldn't wait for the next brunch.


We're now on our 11th brunch, and there is a core group of us (3 to 4 people in total). We have long chats and share stories and support each other. The brunches have evolved into a peer to peer support session. It's a privilege to be part of it and learn and support friends. 


It's connected me to the world and my friends and has helped my mental health. Lockdown came down on all of us like a dark cloud with thunder and lightning in its darkness. It hit me hard. My mental state started to show signs of being delicate. Further disconnection from the world scared me. Story Brunch helps me and my friendships have strengthened with some amazing people.


In part 2, I'll share some insights in to our shared learnings. 
a close up of leaves, shining in the sun.

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Comments (1)

Hi Julie, lovely to hear your voice again. I’ve missed it!
What a great idea to pluck up the courage to do something positive in the face of this awful virus during this most difficult of years. Story Brunch sounds like a great way of channelling good energy and vitality amongst a community of kindred spirits. It’s so important that we support one another and are open about how we really feel.
You’re one of life’s vibrant, radiant souls. Those of us who know you count our blessings. Keep being you in the knowledge that in the words of a rather cheesy band, “love is all around you”!