Each month Umbrella Lane runs a small blog contest for its Community and allies to participate in. A new theme is announced each month and the deadline for individuals to submit their blog is the 25th of each month at 3pm (UK) time. The blog submissions should be between 150 to 500 words. The winning blog is voted for by the community via our Sex Worker only Discord server and announced on the 28th of the month. The winning blog is then featured on the Umbrella Lane website and the winner is gifted a £25 Amazon gift card.
The theme for January 2021 was “Lessons Learnt From Last Year”, the winner was April Blake and this is her blog:
2020 was unique, aside from the obvious, we found ourselves thrown together in a universal way. Everyone has a Covid experience, whether that was dealing with the illness directly or indirectly through a loved one, even without having the illness still being changed as a human permanently by its presence in the world and processing and coping with a daily life completely altered. I can't speak to how others dealt and continue to deal with the challenges of Covid. Financially, mentally and emotionally we all live with it, carry it with us and have been forced to make space for it in our lives. But for me personally the biggest and most profound lesson I have take from this is the power of kindness. People throw the word about a lot so sometimes I feel it almost loses its power but kindness is in fact one of the most important and often overlooked values we all crave and need. I would say especially in these times but actually "these times" simply highlight the kindness deficiency we all had before Covid, it simply wasn't as prominent because we filled our days with work and people and friends and social experiences so the act of being kind and receiving kindness was far more natural and organic versus currently where we have to be mindful and purposeful in our actions, we have to treat people gently and with care, the awareness to step lightly is there where it once wasn't always so obvious to us that people were suffering and in need of human connection. The mask of busyness is one we've all hid behind when admitting the truth of riding emotional tidal waves was simply too much to muster.
I know for many kindness equates to generosity, if you're fortunate enough to be in a position financially to be able to show your kindness in that way. For me kindness takes a variety of forms; a retweet when someone has put their vulnerable self online, not attention seeking but support seeking and letting them know someone sees them, they're not alone. You may not be able to support physically with a hug or financially with a donation but knowing another person can relate to your experiences can be a saving grace in moments of peril. Engaging with a friend over the phone or through text, simply to send them something that makes them know you're thinking of them and offer some temporary distraction from the noise in their mind is an act of kindness. Taking time to breathe and rest your mind so you're able to show yourself the same love you show others is the most important kindness. You can't pour from an empty cup after all.
There's no reality in which this last 10 months hasn't devastated each and every one of us in some way, it's time we'll never get back and that is challenging at best to process. But in having it happen on such a universal scale means we've all seen a need for kindness in way that we haven't before and as a result we've paid that forward showing that even in the most dire of circumstances it is human nature to love and rally and support and show others we can do hard things. And having that renewed sense of humanity and togetherness, even when we're unable to be physically present, is something I'm incredibly grateful to have learned and carry with me as we all navigate this next chapter. Together.