Saturday, February 06, 2016


My “self-help” read of the week is about raising consciousness. Apparently I have been doing it all wrong. I can reach a higher plane of existence by simply communing with my higher self. I try of course, but realise that after 25 minutes of staring in a mirror, listening to whale song, holding a gold candle, and saying hello, the only plane I’ll be on this week is a Ryanair Boeing 737, in time for my usual post-Christmas foray around Harrods. So I give up on my higher self, and instead talk to someone infinitely more sensible, my lower self. Yes, she’s the gal who drinks at 11.00am, swears, can’t pronounce “chakra”, thinks a sage smudge stick belongs up the rear of a roast chicken, and would substitute a wheat grass shot with a Vodka, faster that you could chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo to a Buddhist Monk, and she’s gagging for a drink.

Outside spring apparently has sprung, so I do my hair in an upsweep Vera Lynn, wear a very flared Dolly and Dotty 50’s Hazel Cherry Swing Dress, and pile on the cherry red lipstick. I sling on my high peep toe shoes, and before I celebrate the arrival of the first streak of blue sky I’ve seen since last August, I’m going to clean the house from top to bottom and come back from shopping to a shrine of a home that my higher self would completely approve of.So I crank up my C.D player with the Berry Gordan hit “Do you love me”, mix a vodka martini, take two Feminax, pull out the hoover, and imagine that a cross between Jon Hamm and Daniel Craig will arrive home for Lunch in a 50’s mad-men style suit that’s so fitted, he won’t make it as far as the table.

So I whirl around the kitchen energetically, my dress flaring out in a beautiful blur, elated with my decision, singing at the top of my voice, the hoover sweeping in and out rhythmically to the music. “Do you love me” I scream, doing a shoulder shimmy, and spontaneously breaking into the “Lindy Hop” with one huge erroneous miscalculation-I don’t have a dance partner. I fall through the air where he should have been, arms out, screaming “Oh Holy Fuck” (funny how I revert to religion in a crisis) grabbing the table cloth on the way down and managing to whack myself off the tiles.

It’s a sobering moment, and as the ceiling comes into focus, and I notice a maze of cobwebs around the light fitting (how could I ever have missed them?) that I have no intention of doing anything about, I decide to abandon house work and take myself shopping instead. Yes, while my higher- self approves of self-reflection, house work, order, and accountability, my lower self prefers shopping; and a fitting cubicle in T.K Max is as good a place to self-reflect as any, because with its merciless lighting it’s more revealing that a church confessional, and every time I see myself in Spanks, I fall to my knees imploring divine help.

I throw on my new Escada Vintage Blazer, sweep past the mountain of bills on the hall table, spit shine my credit card, and prepare myself for an assault on the shops. I’m in a spending mood, though I had stretched myself “a little” in December. Ominous sounding letters from the E.S.B arrived about my overdue account, –though the E.S.B don’t realise that I sit by candlelight most evenings, and I can take their service or leave it.Electricity isn’t entirely necessary, and doing my evening facial cleanse with nothing but the flickering light of a wax candle, is far more flattering. I go to bed confident in my womanhood, and no longer so concerned about my fine lines and double chin.

So out I go, the air is clean and fresh, there’s the bright blueness of a spring sky, and I almost inhale it with relief. I haven’t been feeling myself, too much grey gloom and buckets of rain, and all I’ve been wearing is my favourite trench-coat, cashmere pullovers and jeans. Worse, I have writers block, which can last as long as an Irish winter, if I don’t keep myself inspired. So I totter confidently into town, and I’m going on this shopping binge for more than one reason…let me explain… (Apart from the fact that my self-esteem demands it, and I can’t stare at a blank word document any longer.)

You see with my self-help library at home, and it’s significant number of growing weekly best-sellers, each one with its own take on increasing consciousness, and a multitudinous array of thoughts and instructions on achieving a more fulfilled, elevated and satisfying way of life, (which I read nightly) I’m having certain issues (no-I don’t mean the Spirit and Destiny Weekly).

Simply put, I’m drowning in self-help, and I can’t help but wonder, as a result of so much information, do I have less clarity of thought? Am I reticent instead of confident? Has having too many self-help options restricted my choices? Has clearing my Karma cleaned me out? Have I become…self-helpless???

Important questions that I must somehow figure out, so a visit to Carla on my way to town is essential.

A short while later I’m scoffing mocha brownies and drinking Chablis in her house, before my intended retail splurge (Carla just also happens to be a trained Therapist) she looks slightly disapproving as I have my fourth brownie and ask for more whipped cream. I’m 5 kilo’s heavier since Christmas, and I’m over eating to avoid thinking about it.

“It’s like this Agnes, just keep doing what you enjoy. Creative blocks come and go, don’t stress, it’s a cyclical process, and perhaps a little less obsessive reading might do you good. Find a novel to lose yourself in.” She said, after I had filled her in on my predicament.

I do feel that there’s something missing I thought, or is just that I’ve been reading too much?Is it a case of paralysis through analysis? Would this novel approach really help?

“But Carla, I am! And I’m even ramping it up a notch, shortly, with shopping!”

“Again Agnes?” she sounds slightly anxious, but resorts quickly to a more evened out professional tone.

“Agnes what I mean is anything that’s excessive will eventually cause you unhappiness”

I could relate to what she said in terms of the 4 brownies, half pint of whipped cream and 2 glasses (well ok, 3 glasses) of Chablis I had just put away. Yes I felt miserable, and my weight-watchers weigh in was the next day, and there was still no sign of my higher self, and I mean here I was with a Therapist, wasn’t it time for my higher-self to show up and put things right?

“Carla it’s not that I don’t agree, but not with clothing, it’s just not applicable, it’s a deeply personal and creative process, and I’m delaying major gratification by hitting Harrods in February, I mean I’ve missed the sales, In the mean time I need a little something now, just to get my creative juices flowing, and get myself back into the stream of life again.”(I didn’t sound at all defensive so I knew I wasn’t in denial. Matter of fact I felt completely confident.)

“Maybe I need to ramp it up a notch? Maybe less-reading and more engaging with what I’m good at? There’s got to be some high-flying accessory that would accent my new Escada Blazer perfectly, and why should I stop there? Maybe a designer dress would give me the one legal high I’m guaranteed, unplug my creative block, and banish my self-helplessness!”
(Carla suspiciously looks like she’s going to write a prescription.)

“Perhaps Agnes you could find another way of expressing yourself?” she coolly added.

“Oh Carla, it’s like this, for me clothing is the ultimate form of self-expression, and it’s every woman’s sacred right to bedeck, adorn and bejewel herself as she pleases, and preen in front of the mirror for as long as she wishes. I’m an avid campaigner for it, the process of getting dressed makes me so happy, it’s where I truly feel that I make great choices, and I’m no longer thinking about Deepak Chopra, The Oprah Master Class or my higher-self in fact.”

The revelation hits like a bolt of blue lightening, and 2 hours later I’m mindfully shopping, yes mindfully, as recommended by Eckhart Tolle (my one concession to self-help) I’m luxuriating in luscious fabrics, and rack after rack of appetising accessories. Spring is not only in the air, but it’s in the collections. Cooler, softer colour choices sift through my fingers, I’m flitting in and out of changing rooms like they are a second home. Sliding doors open like a whisper, sales people hand over beautifully branded shopping bags, and a few people even stopped me to mention that they love my blog. It is heaven and I feel completely elated, transformed like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, grateful and absolutely at home. And isn’t that the mainstay of self-help? To find home, the home within ourselves; to feel relaxed and confident in our own company?

As I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the glass doors of a shop as I exit, I realise that I have raised my consciousness after all…I’m beaming, completely in the moment, delighted with my purchases, and full of anticipation about wearing them. When I get home I pour a glass of wine, lay out my new clothes, open up the laptop,And it looks like I’ve started writing again… a whole new chapter, and there’s not a Guru in sight.

Edited by Roland Thackaberry  

Photography by Matthew Reilly



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