When I opened my acupuncture and reflexology clinic last March 2019, with so much great excitement, I could not have predicted its sudden closure just one year later. In March 2020, following guidance from The British Acupuncture Council and with a mixture of sadness and acceptance, I contacted my patients then shut up shop, unsure of what lay ahead.
In times of great change, I find comfort in the bamboo analogy: bend and adapt to changing circumstances rather than resisting it and breaking.
In all honesty, to begin with, I felt far from flexible as I wrestled with the challenges of lockdown and getting through home-schooling with my boys, who preferred to be active outdoors. It felt like hard work and was unsustainable, energy-wise. So, I switched things around – rather than trying to do everything, I focused on a few things we enjoyed doing together. Thus movement, gardening, and arts and crafts became the cornerstone of our outdoor ‘home-school’. Instead of sticking to rigid plans, adapting in ways that worked for us as a family meant the days started feeling less of a chore and more like fun.
As the jungle drums began to suggest that a shift out of lockdown was imminent, I felt momentarily unsteady again, anxious about safety and the unknown changes ahead. The worry made me feel tired and heavy. So, I began to channel my thoughts towards what I would need to make my clinic safe again in preparation for future reopening. I knew I would need to remove all my soft furnishings and replace them with wipeable covers that could be disinfected between patients, but it was proving really hard to find fairly priced, good quality, aesthetically pleasing products.
I’ve been designing and sewing fleece products for the reflexology community for the past 7 years, so it made sense to try and make something myself. Working with PVC was initially quite challenging because unlike stretchy fleece, it is very unforgiving (no room for mistakes and works best with minimal sewing). On a scorching hot weekend at the end of May, I wrestled with swathes of white PVC in a bid to design a line of new products. The resulting ‘collection’ consisted of covers for bolsters, massage tables, Lafuma chairs (zero gravity chairs used by the reflexology community) and pillowcases. On June 1st, I tentatively launched my new collection aimed at facilitating a safe return to work and by teatime I had more orders than I had material to make them with.
A hectic couple of months followed, yet I was grateful for this opportunity to work again and to play a small part in helping my therapist colleagues return to doing what they loved.
At the time of writing, I am delighted to have reopened my practice again but I’m taking it one day at a time. Standing at my clinic door I watch the bamboo planted last year, swaying gently in the breeze – a poignant reminder of our ability to adapt to unforeseen change and our collective capacity for resilience.
by Nicola Wardhaugh