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We’ve Been Sent Good Weather!

Wow!  How about that sunshine!  It has been glorious for days and it looks set to continue.  I joked to my husband that only in Ireland would “it’s a sunny day” make the 9 o’clock news.  As the heat wave stretches on, the temperature is the topic on everyone’s lips.  As a nation, we love chatting about the weather, and the last few months have given us plenty to talk about.  Between Hurricane Ophelia, The Beast from the East and now the highest temperatures for a generation, we have had one “extreme” weather event after the other.  We Irish are more used to a moderate climate and we find it a struggle to cope with anything outside the usual range.

Nowhere is this struggle more obvious than in our clothing!  Typically transitioning to a summer wardrobe requires nothing more than ditching the winter coat and putting the boots in storage.  Not so this year.  Most of us are finding ourselves rooting through the holiday clothes to find something half suitable for work.  (What do you mean I can’t just wear a bikini and a sarong?)  We Irish never expect to encounter 30 degree heat without a drink in hand and a pool in close proximity.  We aren’t used to having to actually function in it.  We “can’t cope!”

Despite this, it has been fantastic, especially after the snow in the early part of the year.  It is just what the country needed to give us a lift, and help us to forget that Ireland are not appearing in the World Cup.  People are smiling and having fun.  Everything (apart from sitting in the car) is easier and more enjoyable.  We are truly getting a taste of how the other half live!

One thing that I have noticed both in myself and in others is that we are letting go of our inhibitions.  I am wearing things to work that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in the past.  I live in dresses as I am too short to get trousers to fit, and before now tights would have been considered a must.  This hot spell has allowed me to dispense with that rule and bare my pasty legs.  Staying cool and comfortable, or at least trying to, is winning out over modesty!  I don’t know if part of this is because as I get older, I seem to care less about these things, but the weather definitely has a role to play.

As our dress codes have relaxed, so too have our attitudes.  The vast majority of people seem determined to make the most of the sunshine, even if that means leaving chores undone.  Annual leave has been rescheduled and even the busiest and most conscientious among us are sneaking out of the office as early as possible.  I find myself wondering if maybe it takes something extraordinary to help us appreciate the ordinary?  Are we all so busy trying to make a living, that we need to be reminded to make a life?

I am also noticing that I am a lot less self conscious at the moment.  We are all in the same boat and this sense of collective experience seems to have softened our approach to each other.  People seem less judgmental of each other, at least where fashion is concerned.  As well as this, I am a lot less regimental about everything, which has been a refreshing change.  Even little things like stopping in for a 99 while out walking with Annie have made a huge difference.  It has underlined to me the need to let go.  I don’t need to hold on to the reins so tightly all the damn time.  If and when I loosen my grip, nothing bad will happen.

Suffice is to say, getting back on track with my weight has been postponed for another while.  It is just too heavenly to be adding unnecessary stress.  I am not going completely crazy with my eating, but I am not in the right frame of mind for tracking and counting right now.  I am teaching a couple of classes a week and I have found a cool yoga place around the corner from my new job.  If offers one lunchtime yoga class and one Pilates class per week.  I have been doing both classes pretty much since I started here.  So, my activity level is high enough.  I do want to get a little of this extra padding off, or my jeans won’t fit me when it gets cool enough to wear them.  I know what needs to be done and how to do it.  It will involve cutting down on alcohol and eating less!  Easy!  But the truth is, I want to enjoy this beautiful summer for as long as it lasts.  There will be time enough for cutting when the rain is back.

My advice to anyone out there who might be in the same situation, is just relax, for now.  There is a season for everything after all.  Enjoy the good weather, be sun safe and stay hydrated.  Get out for a walk in the cool of the evening.  Absorb all the Vitamin D you can.  But most importantly, be sure that in years to come when people talk about the “great summer of 2018” you will be able to honestly say you enjoyed it.  Don’t waste a second feeling self-conscious or guilty.

I will be starting a 100 day MyFitnessPal challenge very soon, and I would love if you would join me in doing it.  More on this to follow.  Until then, be well xxx

 

 

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Anti-Social Anxiety?

We are approaching the half way point of 2018 and I find myself pausing to reflect on the past six months.  It has gone by in a blur and to say it has been hectic would be an understatement.  It seems like every weekend there has been something happening.  I was actually shocked when I looked at my diary today and saw a blank page where the upcoming weekend’s activity should be.

Between April and June we had three weddings to attend as well as my God Daughter’s christening.  The weddings were all beautiful, and each very different.  The first was my sister in law’s.  Next up was my best friend, I was her bridesmaid.  Last, but by no means least, was a very good friend of ours.  As I was getting ready to go to the third wedding, it stuck me that I was incredibly wound up.  Much more so than I would have expected to be.  After all, this was the third one in a six week period, it should have been old hat.  As well as that this wedding was the closest one to our house, a mere 15 minute drive.  Neither of us had a “role” in this wedding either.  We just needed to frock up and rock up.  So why did I feel like I was on my way to a job interview with an exam at the end?

I didn’t have much time to ponder this anxiety right then, I got in the car, and once at the hotel, with a drink in hand I started to relax.  It was a brilliant day and we had so much fun catching up with everyone.  In the days that followed, I started to feel pretty ridiculous.  What was causing this tension?  Was I suffering from some sort of social anxiety?  I had felt the same thing before the other two weddings, but I could kind of explain it away.  It’s natural to want to be at your best for a family wedding, right?  And of course being a bridesmaid is a big responsibility so my fears were perfectly rational, yeah?  But that doesn’t help explain why I was tense and snappy the morning of our friend’s big day.  Full disclosure, there may have been hair style related tears!

So what was causing this?  In truth, I have put on some weight and I am definitely not feeling as slim and slinky as I would like to, but this is not the reason.  I have felt like this at my biggest and at my smallest.  I have experienced it in designer dresses and in Penney’s best.  The only way I can describe it, is as a fear of being judged and found wanting.  I was chatting through this with a very good friend of mine last week and I likened it to the feeling you might get before going to a school reunion.  Worrying about how I would measure up.  Stressing about every detail of my appearance, and more irrationally, my life!

During the course of this conversation, I was amazed to hear my friend tell me that she often experiences the same thing.  She seemed all too well able to relate to my craziness.  She is one of the most together people I know.  If I had to give you an example of a woman with her ducks in  row, she would be top of the list.  I started to wonder, if she is feeling this way too, is everyone?  Are we all being plagued by the same feelings of inadequacy and dread when we are supposed to be having fun?  Are we going through an epidemic of anti-social anxiety?

The hilarious, and tragic, thing about the situation is that nobody really cares!  Most people are not going to give you or your outfit more than a cursory glance.  They certainly aren’t going to waste their time doing a full critique of your life.  Because, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter.  The proof of this is in my own experience.  While attending three weddings and one christening in close succession, I must have seen 300 people all dressed up.  Honestly, I would struggle to describe a handful of outfits, and as for hair and make-up, forget about it!

So, how do we prevent this feeling?  I wish I had the answer.  I wish I could tell you to dismiss it, put your best high heeled foot forward and have a blast, but that hasn’t worked for me so far.  The only thing which has helped me even slightly, is to recognise the feeling when it comes, and say to myself “Arwen, you have felt like this before and everything worked out fine.”  So, when it came to my gorgeous God Daughter’s christening, I did exactly that.  I was still carrying the extra weight.  Plus I had a huge cold sore on my lip, which was uncomfortable and prevented me from being able to wear my armour (lippy.)  However, I was determined to be truly present for my darling’s big day and not trapped in my own head.  So, I strapped on my big girl panties and off I went.

We all had a wonderful day and I know that when I look back on it, I will remember how happy we were and how honoured I felt to be asked to stand for her, not that my dress was a little snug.  Be well xxx