When will I see you again?

I am so grateful to live in the countryside and to have a vast garden to keep me hypnotised and active. There is a solace to it; void of social distancing it is easy to forget how much the world has changed, that is until I need to do an ‘essential’ shop.

Last Friday morning, I was comforted by the fact that, as it was sunny, I had sunglasses parked on my head, because standing, queuing outside Dunnes Stores, I was overwhelmed with emotion and caught completely by surprise. My eyes filled up and tears rolled down my cheeks so the sunglasses very quickly covered my eyes. It was a new world – I could feel the tension from people, hear people sighing and the shouts of ‘Oh for God’s sake’ when they saw the length of the queue to go into the shop. What was glaringly and obviously missing was a happy face, the usual lightness that a Friday brings and the anticipation of a social life. I realised that I had been in my own world, tucked away outside of town. My boys and husband were busy transforming our patio and decking; I was planting up a storm and had become accustomed to these new ‘no rushing around days’, almost to the point that I had forgotten why! So it hit me hard, the realisation we are now living a version of a sci-fi movie!

I have studied Emotional Intelligence and give courses in it, so I knew that I had to adjust and gather myself. What can I learn from all of this? How can I use this new ‘learning’ to motivate me?  How can I help someone else that might be struggling with this? So here goes. We have TIME.

Time is precious and with most of us running from pillar to post, this new time needs to be managed appropriately, as too much idle time is detrimental to our mental health. Take this opportunity to bake lots of cakes, try out new dinners, make crepes for breakfast, plant lots of seeds, read up on something that you don’t know how to do and then do it. Have a pyjama day but make sure that it is not a pyjama day everyday…it will kill your soul. There has been a huge shift, we need to acknowledge it, but not allow it to suffocate us.

That Friday, I texted my friend Marie and told her how I was feeling, I texted her while I was still in the queue and that action caused a shift in how I was feeling. There is a shared unity in all of this; we are all in it together – please don’t forget that. Of course she messaged back something funny and I laughed out loud and felt ready to face the world again. Friendship and good honest communication are undoubtedly two things that will carry you through this. Reach out when you need to, especially if you are living alone or living with boys! Girls need ‘girl chat’; it keeps us sane and helps to dress us back up in our armour to face the world again. I have set myself a little goal; every morning I gather some ridiculous jokes and funny images and I send them to ten people, some are ridiculously funny and I love that I’m laughing out loud first thing in the morning. The feedback is wonderful and it sets the tone for the day.

It seems that the gods have been smiling down on us and gifted us so many beautiful days. The t-shirts and shorts are out and I have been getting so many texts for recomendations on what to do about milk bottle legs and ghost-like bodies! So many of us would have had a little break away in the sun by now to add a bit of glow to our bodies but that is not the case this year so, for many fake tan is a must have! Bondi Sands Everyday Liquid Gold dry tanning oil nourishes your skin and gives a beautiful sun-kissed glow with a coconut smell – a winner hands down. The usual rules apply here, make sure to moisturise heels, knees and elbows very well just prior to application and I always recommend a back-up bottle of Sally Hanson Medium, just in case you need to fill in any areas or even out your tan. Bondi Sands will give you a lovely tan for a week. You might wonder why bother? Why go to all that trouble when you are not going anywhere? This is all about those little things that can ‘pick you up’ or make you feel better while you are trying to adjust to this new lifestyle. There is uncertainty everywhere so try to take hold of what you can and do as many things as are humanly possible to keep yourself looking good because it trickles straight into the feel good section in the brain.

I came across a homemade exfoliater to get rid of that pitted strawberry look on legs. I tried it and it really does work so try it out before applying tan or use it before you reapply the following week. Mix four tablespoons of yogurt with two tablespoons of table sugar and one tablespoon of coffee powder. Scrub it all over your legs for about two minutes; wash it off with tepid water. The result is quite astonishing.

It most certainly is time to wear lighter colours. If you want to know what colours are in, my answer is ‘who cares?’ Wear what you already have, make the most of the clothes in your wardrobe and make an effort every single day, except for the odd pyjama day – on that day you ‘need’ to have a really cute pair on. Grungy clothes lead to a grungy attitude and you sink into a downward spiral of gloominess. I have only ordered one simple white dress online – I’m waiting for my favourite boutiques and shops to re-open so I can scan and buy EVERYTHING! Oh the absolute luxury of new clothes. And we will all appreciate it so much more than ever before. I miss my never-ending trips to Kinsale, the crew in Schull and Baltimore and my sneaky trips to Kenmare and Killarney. The excitement is palpable, the days will come and I will be falling over myself with glee. I suppose we had all become so used to instant gratification that we are now learning patience on a whole new level completely. There is nowhere to rush to anymore and we now need to queue up for the bare essentials in life.

Flip-flops should be at easy access level and toenails immaculately painted because little things mean a lot. I have my feet in a dish of Epsom salts and lavender oil every night for the last week or so. Unfortunately and realistically, I am no longer twenty-something and all of this work in the garden has me feeling it. I have been aching everywhere, my poor knees have been howling and squeaking and my shoulders and elbows appear to have rusted up. The ‘feet in a dish of warm water’ is one of the oldest cures that there is for stiffness and aches and pains. Oh my God, the difference after is quite incredible and you fall into a glorious slumber. Better still, I have baby soft feet too! I thoroughly recommend it.

The one accessory that I’m insisting on for May is the biggest ‘smile’ that you can possibly wear. This is a priceless asset and most certainly makes everyone look better and it makes you feel better too and it will cost you absolutely nothing. Take that smile everywhere with you, wear it with everything. There is not one outfit, hairstyle or make-up look that will not look better with a smile.

The best thing about wearing your smile is that it will encourage others to reciprocate and choose to don their own one, especially when they see how beautiful you look. 

So, until I see you smile…     

Louise O'Dwyer

Louise O'Dwyer is an Image consultant based in West Cork

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