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Reflections on lockdown - with Marie-Joëlle West

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

As Marie-Joëlle reflects on lockdown she inspires us to look for the positives in everything and how important it is to remember these things as lockdown lifts and beyond.

About me in 126 words...

I’m half French / half German and call the UK my home since 2007. Together with my English academic husband, who I met whilst studying for a PhD at Oxford University, we have a 3-year old son born with the rare congenital disease Goldenhar Syndrome. He is our permanent sunshine in life. Alongside working my way up in the Higher Education and Public Sector, I have always been crazily passionate about good food and recently entered the South West Chef of the Year competition. Winning the competition in October 2019 changed my life. Not only did it put a stop to a long 6-year IVF journey that had ended in a miscarriage just before the competition final, I also decided to turn a long-standing dream into reality.

Images by Steve Haywood Photography

I have rarely experienced as much stress as during the first months of lockdown. Juggling the special care of my child with two part-time highly pressured jobs as a fundraiser was a near impossible thing to do. I was used to work from home, but not with a child constantly seeking my attention and interrupting me in everything I tried to do. Furthermore, my small foodie enterprise had just started to gain traction before lockdown, and I was concerned of losing sights of my dream. The hardest thing about lockdown was having to juggle so many things at once and constantly feeling that I was not able to do any of them justice. I was scrupled with constant bad conscience.

My approach to deal with the stress was to try and teach my child patience (with moderate success); to be patient myself and enjoy precious family moments that I would have otherwise not had.

One of the most enjoyable things during lockdown was to be able to watch my son’s rapid development so closely and to see his second language come along so well despite all his additional physical challenges. I have enjoyed our beautiful garden, the first spring flowers and herbs; and watching my son and husband play football as the sun sets down.

I have also been very lucky in receiving increasing appreciation for my food during lockdown and see my little foodie enterprise go from strength to strength. This has been incredibly rewarding and encouraged me to keep going.

As difficult as these times have been, there is something positive in everything. Look out for the positives, grab them and enjoy them because all will be different again soon.

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