Hello beautiful

Human contact is essential, we cradle our children, we kiss our partners and we greet those we care deeply about with a hug of fondness and undoubtedly many of us CANNOT hug some of the people that we love at the moment – unless they live under our roof. 

Struggling with this? Yes, of course we are and we are united in this. I’m struggling myself; my daughter is in the Netherlands and while video calls to have breakfast or dinner are wonderful, saying goodbye at the end of every call is strained. We are in no man’s land. The reality is that we don’t know when we will see each other again – the weeks inevitably could run into months so we simply don’t go there, we keep every conversation IN THE DAY…what we did or are about to do. I wait until those video calls are over to leave the room and cry, on my own, tucked away in a bathroom so the other ‘vulnerables’ in the house don’t see. Our teenagers are living the apocalypse movie that, as parents, we watched in the 80s or 90s…so we need to protect them too. They will pretend, of course, that they are fine; they only ask the minimal amount of questions but they WATCH EVERYTHING. They watch your expression when the news is on! When I was 17, I was in Leaving Cert, with not much else to focus on – life is radically different now. I honestly don’t think that it matters whether your son or daughter or parents are living down the road, in a different county or in another country, the loss of direct contact with them is the same. I’m hugging and kissing my dogs more than ever; I almost hugged one of my goats the other day except her horns were ever so close to my eyes…so I quickly backed away!  

We have to find ways to fill our days if we are no longer able to work. I feel honoured to be able to continue with an incredible book project that I’m involved in; it is such a welcome distraction for a few hours every day and very good for my brain. Always and ever insatiable for knowledge, it more than satisfies my appetite as there is only so much cleaning and organising that you can do! Perhaps some of you need a good long rest; maybe life has been so very busy for such a long time that you are finally able to catch your breath. Enjoy it, revel in it, there is no rush anywhere or to do anything. We now get to understand completely the life of our pets; we have the time to stretch in the mornings when we wake up, we can nap a few times a day (if required) and we can choose to be happy or not. 

Try to read – reading has a way of completely absorbing you like no other activity. It engages so much more of the brain than just watching the TV or a movie. It is a way to escape the here and now safely. Even if you haven’t read a book in years, pick one up now, start with something light and engaging and then you can move on to educating yourself on a topic that you have always been fascinated with. It also gives you something unique to talk about at family mealtimes or over a chat on the phone instead of replaying the same anxiety-stricken virus agenda over and over. 

Be grateful for what you have. Big deal if your roots are showing through….excuse me but most people over 35 have a significant amount of grey hair so you were never fooling anyone anyway! Who knows, you might actually learn to like this new salt and pepper look or the grey streak in your hair! If the sight of your roots are really getting you down, don’t let anyone talk you out of buying a box of hair dye if you really want to…a good hairdresser should be on the other end of the phone and can perhaps advise on which is the safest brand or shade etc! Be grateful for the fact that this is a wonderful opportunity to grow your hair, and at the best time of the year for growth! Use hair masks and leave to dry naturally so that your hair has a welcome break from artificial heat. Tie it up, pin it up, roll it up, perhaps your hair was just waiting to have a break too!

Now that you have the time, Google home remedies for amazing skin. I swear by lemons, bio oil, laughing and steam. I have never given in to anti-wrinkle treatments of any sort and feel so sorry for those who are addicted to it, the expensive creams, the neverending treatments, the constant strain of checking your skin and criticising your reflection; perhaps you will see more clearly now how ‘unimportant’ it is. I’m not saying to do nothing, what I am saying is to be realistic and embrace getting older in a more gentle way!

Spring/Summer fashion shopping is ON HOLD somewhat but that does not mean that you should spend days in your PJs. It’s just not good for you, unless they are ultra flattering and not too stretchy. The last thing that you want is to emerge out of this ‘quarantine’ two sizes bigger than when it started. Snacking more is inevitable, especially as there is always something to eat at home so ask yourself – ‘Am I really hungry or am I just bored?’ A good alternative is to get out a pack of cards and play a few games of something like solitaire; it keeps your hands busy and occupies your brain so that you forget the snack that you wanted! With everybody sorting and organising their wardrobes at the moment, be careful not to throw out too much – you will wear your going out clothes again, your social life will be a little more glamourous the next time that you do go out. Might I suggest that you all download House Party – it is an incredible app that allows everyone to video chat together. Make a plan for a mid-week glass of wine with the girls that you can no longer see. Dress up, make an effort, you will feel all the better for it. Do the same on a weekend night, it is something to look forward to and that is more important now than ever before!

Absolutely everyone can have perfect summer feet. Get that dish out, soak those feet in sea salt, do it every night. It is the best way to get rid of that ugly hard dead skin and there is no better way to improve your circulation. After a couple of days of doing this you will notice that you feel better overall. The science behind this is that your feet are connected to every part of your body and there is no better way to detoxify. Make it part of your night-time routine, you won’t regret it. Those toe nails can now wear a lighter shade of polish, I am sure that you have a variety to choose from!

Body lotion is something that we all have endless jars, tubs and bottles of yet most of us just look at them admiringly and never seem to have the time to actually use them. Guess what? Now you have the time and zero excuse not to. It feels heavenly to have well-moisturised soft skin from head to toe. Take it from NIKE…JUST DO IT!  

Take the best of care of yourself and your loved ones. Be gentle with yourself. Whatever you can’t do at the moment, accept it and adjust yourself accordingly. Your priorities will, no doubt, have adjusted themselves somewhat and a ‘new you’ will emerge. You will be stronger, more focused, more aware and more human. Sending you all the biggest hug, mind yourselves. On a recent shopping trip and walking my dog yesterday, I was very aware of frayed emotions, people glaring at other people, passing remarks…please, take a breath. It is hard for everyone and if you focus on how difficult it is, then your days will become dark and your humor will deteriorate. So the hug that I am sending you is to help you keep your cool under unusually strained circumstances. However and whatever you feel about another person, one thing is for sure, they are going through exactly the same emotions that you are right now so get a grip. The virus will never make the people who don’t like you, like you, but common decency goes a long way. Your opinion of me has and will never bother me but it can crush a sensitive soul so be mindful of how you are and what you say to someone. They might live alone and it could play over and over in their minds and become something that will add to an already stressed mind. I don’t think that it is too much to ask of anyone to have a heart – we are all great at sharing ‘be kind’ posts and so on but day-to-day life is where it really counts. Are you one of the good ones? Are you really ‘kind’ or do you judge people and gossip? Distance yourself from those who do. Surround yourself with positivity, good stories, forgiveness and genuine good souls. We all need this desperately now. We need HOPE that a refurbished HUMANITY will emerge, where you can wear your Penney’s top with pride and proudly display your patchwork roots. 

‘Don’t be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.’ Malcolm X

Louise O'Dwyer

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

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