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SIGNATURE PAULA MAREE



LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN


What a crazy week this has been! When I returned from a layover in Darwin back in early August I never could have imagined that here in Melbourne we would still be enduring yet another lockdown almost two months later. Since the start of this pandemic we have spent 236 days in our homes – soon to become officially the longest lockdown in the world. We are all tired. And we are all completely over it. Riots have broken out on the streets in response to vaccination mandates. And then, we had a magnitude 5.9 Earthquake, a rare event here in Australia! The rest of the country is wondering what on earth is happening down here. And the energy in our city is erratic, as we all begin to wonder what life will bring next.


After so long in lockdown we are not living. We are merely existing. We have adjusted to a mundune life where a trip to the supermarket is the highlight of our day. And our only form of outdoor recreation involves takeaway coffee and exercise.

It has been this way for a large part of the last two years of our lives and its impact on our mental health is something that other people not in the same situation simply cannot understand. Last year we talked of being over Zoom parties and laughed at how the novelty of baking break had well and truly worn off. One year on, and six lockdowns later, we have reached a level of lockdown fatigue where we have absolutely nothing left. We are utterly and completely mentally exhausted.


Sydney-siders can somewhat relate, as they too have endured weeks on end of living this way.

And above all, Australians are frustrated that it has taken so long for the people in power to realise that we cannot eradicate the virus and instead we have to learn to live with it. I’m not going to weigh in on the vaccination debate, as I respect that everyone has different views and many people have pre-existing medication conditions that impact their choices. Although, I myself have been fully vaccinated for six months now – and simply want that to come with some form of freedom!


The front line workers are still working so hard to keep us safe and sadly, I can’t help but feel that they don’t receive enough recognition, or respect.

I’ve had hundreds of asymptomatic Covid tests (for work) and each day I speak to the doctors and nurses I see firsthand how exhausted they are. Thankfully, though, as a nation we are finally starting to take some small steps in the right direction, so I do still see light at the end of the tunnel. For those of us enduring the world’s longest lockdown, the hope of a better life after lockdown is all we have left to cling to at this point. This is looking like something that may eventually become a reality – but not until 2022, when the current restrictions are likely to finally ease.


Coronavirus will be with us for years to come. But it won’t continue to consume our lives forever.

Much of the rest of the country – and the world – has already returned to normality and I too long for that day. The day that I can see my friends again and catch up for dinner and a drink. Or fly home to Queensland to visit my family. And of course, the day that I can walk through the departures gate at the International Airport again!

However, I have also learnt to become a lot more comfortable living a quiet life at home. So this may come as surprising statement from someone who has spent years writing about a love of travel. But, most of all I long for freedom – and even more importantly, for a sense of connection.


The past years have brought so much upheaval into our lives and the ongoing uncertainty of what the future may hold has had such a detrimental impact on our mental health.

The one silver lining, though, is that we have all been a through a self-development journey that will see us emerge as stronger versions of our former selves.

Sometimes I look back on posts I shared prior the pandemic and I can’t believe how much has changed in the world since then. But by far the biggest change is the one I’ve made within myself.


The next few months will not doubt continue to test us all and there are days when I wonder how much longer I can continue to exist in this way, living alone and barely leaving the house. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear earlier this week that here in Melbourne we face at least another whole month of hard lockdown. And it’s also a stressful time for the aviation industry also many of us have been partly stood down again, as a result of the reduction in flying over the past few months.


But looking on the bright side, planning is currently underway to prepare for the reopening of international borders. And when that happens, everyone is going to be jetting off a long-awaited vacation. So work is about to be busier than ever and for now I’m just trying to see each day as a chance to rest – before life after lockdown and the next big adventure in my aviation career truly begins!


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