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Saying Farewell to The Body Shop: Emotional Scents and Sensibilities

Saying Farewell to The Body Shop: Emotional Scents and Sensibilities

Saying Farewell to The Body Shop: Emotional Scents and Sensibilities

and some inspired writing prompts

I’ve never been as sad to hear of the closing of a shop as I was to hear of the Body Shop closing in ten days time. The private equity firm, Aurelius, took over the firm in November last year, and are cutting their losses after a downturn. I was away in Cork for the weekend and visited the lovely branch in Oliver Plunkett Street and the staff told me that across Ireland and much of Europe all the branches are closing. I visited the Galway branch just in December – William Street won’t be the same. I had heard a rumour a day or two before and dismissed it. How could such a thing be true?

In this blog I’m sharing some insights and memories of The Body Shop and I’ve added some writing prompts inspired by my memories for the writers or writing-curious.

Big Bottles in London Bathrooms

My first memory of The Body Shop was at my mum’s friend’s house in Heathrow. We could hear the sounds of planes from her house, a startling novelty. But in her bathroom was Body Shop bottles, overwhelmingly tall and curious, with the words: Against Animal Testing on them. I always loved animals, and I had no idea at that time that products were tested on them so I was full of questions after that. In my ten year old mind, it was unthinkable that people would be so cruel.

Not long after, the name was on our lips at school. Ethical, making a stand against animal testing, delicious smelling and, unfortunately, overbudget for me, a serial peruser of Boots and Superdrug. I would covet those products and dream of buying them. 

Our local Body Shop was near the top of The Parade in Leamington Spa. Walking in there was like stepping through a portal. You were greeted with a feast for the senses; a rainbow of colours and heady scents; lotions, balms and perfumes you could sample so long as you had another patch of wrist, arm or neck left. You could sniff those tester lip balms; green kiwi and pink morello cherry, try out the hand creams and admire the silken bath pearls to your hearts’ content. As a teenage girl, I could disappear into that shop and not emerge for a long time. The staff seemed to simply accept it; this emporium was a place of welcome and solace. 

White Musk Girl on the School Tour

The next memory was the school tour. An outdoor adventure centre in Wales with orienteering, rock climbing, potholing and abseiling, to name but a few. One of the girls had a crush on Steve, the gorgeous tall, brown haired, blue eyed youth worker with the denim jacket and lovely grin. She wore Body Shop White Musk. It was sweet and intoxicating, and I was full sure that Steve would have to fall in love with her, eleven or not. How could he not when she smelled so good? 

 

“Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded”
― Anita Roddick

 

Me Vs. Ants – A Greek Island Adventure

As an adolescent, on the island of Kalymnos I experienced a rude encounter with the local ants. I had saved up and bought myself the Body Shop cocoa butter after sun. It was gooey and delightful, and brownish to help add to the idea of having a tan rather than being pasty white or lobster red. The trouble was, the ants thought it was great too. The top mustn’t have been screwed on tight enough and it oozed at the neck, but the ants covered every part of it. I couldn’t use it after, as I was sure there were ants lurking around inside. It taught me that useful lesson for the youth, that there is good sense to wiping up spills and sweeping up crumbs.

 

The Body Shop, Oliver Plunkett St Cork, ten days before closure in February, 2024

Lessons in Abundance Consciousness

As a mother of three children, I used to love the Coconut Body Butter, but the idea of buying it for myself more than once in a blue moon was over the top and self indulgent. I would have some and use a little on my hands, or a bit here and there. That smell. So delicious. Until one day, I realised that thinking this way was blocking my own abundance, and a pity. I vowed to myself to always have some Coconut Body Butter in the house and never to scrimp and scrape with it again. It became my signature fragrance, since, after my third son I mysteriously went off all perfumes. Coconut Body Butter was my perfume. And that has been the case ever since. It has moisturised my skin and given me and my clothes that smell that I love so much for years now. 

Their Story

The Body Shop was the vision of Anita Roddick (1942-2007), who opened the first branch in Brighton, England, in 1976. Anita believed something revolutionary – that business could be a force for good. She was a vocal advocate for human rights and social issues, using her company’s global presence to campaign for change. Roddick’s approach to business has inspired countless entrepreneurs and companies to adopt more ethical and sustainable practices.

Anita worked with Greenpeace on the Save the Whale campaign to fight the cruel practise of whaling, promoting jojoba oil as a substitute for sperm whale oil, which was commonly used in cosmetics then. She did a lot, and she brought us the delight of The Body Shop. 

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been to bed with a mosquito.”
― Anita Roddick

 

Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised grief is where we grieve something or someone that society doesn’t acknowledge or validate. For me and others I’m sure, The Body Shop is intertwined with personal milestones or memories – adolescence, self-discovery, and moments of joy or comfort. The grief over its loss links to a sense of nostalgia and a longing for a past self or time period that felt simpler or more meaningful. I am sure many would tell me that it’s first world problems and, in Ireland at least, to “cop on.”

I went into the Oliver Plunkett Street Branch in Cork City this morning and bought all the Coconut Body Butter I could, and wept on my way out of the shop. Sad for all those employees who’ve suddenly lost their jobs. And a world without The Body Shop just isn’t the same.

NB) After writing this blog I discovered The Body Shop is remaining open in the UK. I will need to drive over and take the ferry! Read more about branches closing in Ireland here

Enjoyed reading this? Have a look at the other blog posts here

 

Writing Prompts

Set a timer for however long works for you and let your pen or your typing hands go, go, go without stopping until the time is done. Don’t stop and re-read/edit as you go. You could write memoir (about yourself and your life) or choose one of these prompts and apply it to a character you are currently working with, to get to know them better. 

1) Write about a place that fascinated you as a child. It could be something that now seems mundane… like a mom’s friends’ bathroom!
2) Explore something that everyone was talking about when you were in primary school – like a fashion or trend.
3) Recall a shop that intrigued you, exploring the senses it evoked.
4) Write about a childhood crush – or someone else’s – and the excitement of it.
5) Describe something precious getting spoiled.
6) Have fun recalling a luxurious indulgence.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, memories, or if a writing prompt was helpful; comment on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

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7 Revolutionary Hacks to Transform Your Writing Routine

7 Revolutionary Hacks to Transform Your Writing Routine

7 Revolutionary Hacks to Transform Your Writing Routine

I’ve met so many would-be writers who would love to form a writing routine but either keep putting it off or start and then stop. Trust me, no matter where you want it to go, if you enjoy writing.. life is better when you write! Finding a routine looks different to each of us. In this blog I offer some great tips on how to craft the perfect writing routine that works for you. 

If you enjoy this post and are forming your own writing routine, please comment on Instagram or Facebook, I’d love to hear from you. 

1. Decide What Time of Day and For How Long

Your writing routine needs to be sustainable, otherwise you won’t keep it up. I’m a morning writer. A 5amer, to be precise. But for some writers their best inspiration comes at night time. Think of when you feel most inspired but also take into account what’s going on in your life at those times. 5 am works for me, because later in the morning there are other responsibilities I need to tend to. And noise and distractions.

Getting up earlier also allowed that time to write. And because I write early and for a short time, just 25 minutes a day, I can always fit it in, even if I’m away. That’s another thing, decide what days you’d like to write. Once a week? Every day? I love to write daily as it keeps a sense of momentum, and because my writing goals are better aligned with writing every day. For some writers, the idea of writing for 25 minutes is unthinkable, and a much longer stint might be called for and on less days. What do you see working best for you? 

2. Silence Your Phone and Don’t Check Emails or Messages

If you need to research something online, try, if you can to arrange this outside of your writing time. This is so you don’t fall down any rabbitholes and waste your valuable writing time. Sometimes it’s essential to look something up – I get it. But if you can work without internet as much as possible, you’ll be more productive.

I love Mel Robbins idea of not checking her phone at all until her to-do’s are all complete. If you’re a morning writer, avoid checking social media and emails before you write. Your mind will be sharper and more focused on what you want to focus it on, instead of everyone else’s business, which is where social media often takes us. Having your phone on silent will avoid the temptation to check it, if that’s possible for you. 

3. Use a Timer Rather Than Word Count to Work To

Word count goals can be great on a longer term basis rather than per session. For example, if you’re writing a novel you might like to set a word count goal for the month. This allows for days when your writing doesn’t flow as fast, and it keeps you in the game. Another day, you might be flowing very well and write more. 

I use a 25 minute timer, and if I’m editing, I sometimes do a few sessions if I can fit them in. But once I’ve showed up to do one, I’m happy. This is inspired, but not the same as, the Pomodoro technique. Where you take a five minute break after the twenty five minutes and then do another session, and so on. 

4. Know That There’s Good Days and Bad Days – Clouds

Once you showed up, you won. No matter how badly the session might have gone. If you feel bad about your writing all of a sudden, try not to worry or just stop. It’s likely it will pass. Look outside and see if you can see a cloud. If you were to look again in an hour, would the cloud be the same? How we feel about our writing is a bit like clouds. 

I can swing from one day really enjoying my work to the next thinking it’s awful and I’ll never succeed. I’ve learned to accept those discouraging feelings and not let them spoil everything or put me off. On those days, I might try something a little different. Like looking at plotting. Or brainstorming ideas. Don’t allow a bad day to sabotage your writing routine. It could be totally different tomorrow. 

5. Set Goals, Short Term and Long Term, and Review Them Regularly

Goals help us to see what we’re working towards. Perhaps your aim is simply to write regularly for fun. In that case, your goal could be simply that: to write regularly. In that case, decide how regularly, and how you will know when you are doing this.

If your goals are more professionally geared, think of the different stages ahead. What would you like to have achieved in a week, a month, a year from now? Allow yourself to dream and then create goals from there. If your goals aren’t being achieved, you might have been reaching too high. Don’t give up, simply review your goals. It’s a working progress and you won’t know until you try.

6. Read Lots. Replace Screen Time with Books as Much as Possible

What we read is compost for the healthy growth of our writing. Read widely, making sure to include what you love. And if a book is dragging too much, stop reading it and choose another. Life is too short to get tied up trying to finish books you don’t love. When we’re on screens, we’re still getting compost of sorts. But it’s in a much more passive way.

When you watch a movie, for example, you are provided with the images, whereas when you read (unless it’s graphic) you have to make your own. It also helps you to find out what style of writing you love. Not so you’ll copy it, but you’ll be inspired by it. 

7. If You’re Sending Out Work and It’s Not Getting Accepted, Huge Congrats. Keep Going!!!

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again, the best writers have been knocked down many times and they succeeded because they keep getting up. We’re often sold the idea of these overnight successes, but I don’t buy them. Most successful writers have gotten thick skinned and used to hearing no a thousand times.

There are a zillion reasons why your work could get rejected:

  1. You lack experience and need to practice your writing more – keep going. Attend writing classes, read more, seek helpful feedback. 
  2. Your work is brilliant but the judges/publisher/agent has different taste to you or doesn’t ‘get’ your writing. 
  3. Your work simply wasn’t what they’re looking for or might not be what’s currently in vogue – it’s really hard to follow trends and because everything is so slow in the publishing world it’s barely worth following them, imo. Write what you love. 

 

I’ll not mention them here, but if you want to make yourself feel better by hearing about how very famous authors suffered from rejection, look up Herman Melville, Beatrix Potter, Stephen King, George Orwell, Agatha Christie and, of course, J K Rowling. As my fab Aussie writing teacher, Diana Connell says, ‘writing’s not for sissies!

 

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Breej

Breej

Tobar a leighis (Healing Well)

Beside the well a female figure stood. It was a cool winter’s morning and the mist hung in skirts over the ripples of the hills that rose above. She stayed facing the well, it was as though she knew of no one else in the world. She wore a green dress that could have come from a costume box as it was like none I’d ever seen. Her hair was long and luscious auburn red, wavy, down her back. I was coming to say prayers. To tie a ribbon. To go through many requests and novenas. To get it all off my chest and to safeguard them all. I cleared my throat deliberately as I descended the stone steps, shivering a little. The mist was denser beside the well, as though it would try to swallow it. 

A chipped cup with faded roses on it sat in the stone enclave, where many people had dipped and drank or poured. The woman didn’t flinch. Eventually I gathered the courage to draw closer. Still she stood unmoving, even when I crouched down and went for dipping a hand in the cold, earthen water. I blessed myself and then I dared a look up at her. She was older than me but possessed a beauty that made me gasp and my mouth hang open. On her milky décolleté she wore a round pendant and within it clasped a circular amber or citrine crystal. Her eyes seemed to contain a red orange fire and when we made eye contact it was all I could do not to bow my head low as though she was some deity. 

I wanted to ask her something, but I didn’t know what. I wanted her to share in my prayers or to take them from me, one by one, like strips of ribbon that she could deliver to God since they very surely knew one another. She focused on me now and I felt seen in a way I wasn’t used to, like she might glimpse right inside me. 

‘Who are you?’ I wanted to say. But the answer beat me to it. 

‘Breeeeeeeej,’ it came like a whisper, not quite human. As though the wind had delivered it, brushed it through the spindly wintered fingers of the White Thorn. Exhaled it from the rabbit holes in the ground and just as I heard it she began to fade and disappear. I could swear I felt a hand on my shoulder for a few moments after. It was neither warm nor cold but the weight of it brought tears to my eyes for it was a blessing and my prayers all dried up inside my mouth, so I took the cup and dipped it over and over and drank and drank. Till it ran down my chin and travelled up my nose. 

To my left a dandelion, as bright as spring sunshine. Clattering birds in trees gathered and watched, as though they could still see her. I looked down at my reflection, but it wasn’t me looking back. It was her, and I startled. I blessed myself thinking I must be in a dream. Yet later in the day I saw my shoes covered in grass and dew, the ribbon that I never ended up tying to the thorn and a dandelion plucked and left like an offering. I took it and put it in water in a tiny glass, and it lasted in my kitchen for an unnatural amount of time. 

5 Wisdoms Inspired by Grace O’Malley

5 Wisdoms Inspired by Grace O’Malley

5 Wisdoms Inspired by Grace O’Malley

On a historical book research mission of Ireland’s awesome sixteenth-century chieftain Grace O’Malley, I present five fun things to get inspired by the great pirate queen herself. On a more serious note, to know more about Grace O’Malley, I highly recommend the book, ‘Grace O’Malley, the biography of Ireland’s Pirate Queen 1530-1603,’ by Anne Chambers. 

Set Your Sights on What You Want and Go for It

Grace’s aims were practically unheard of for a woman of her time – it seemed she was afraid of nothing. It is said that a day after giving birth on board one of her ships to her son Tibbot, the crew begged her to come and help them fight invading Albanians. Legend has it she arrived on deck with the baby in one hand and a musket in the other. Not only was she as tough as old boots, she also set her sights on what she wanted and went for it. She was, a medieval manifestor. She might not have read The Secret, but she probably could have written it. 

Be Brave and Tackle a Problem head-on

Grace took a huge risk by going to London to seek an audience with Queen Elizabeth I. She wanted her son who was held by the crown to be set free and sought better terms back home in the west of Ireland. When she arrived in London she was laughed at and had to wait a long time before she was allowed an audience before the queen. Much to the astonishment of many of her subjects, the queen was quite taken with the Irish rebel, and they chatted for a long time, and came to agreements, and Grace’s son was set free.  

Note Stereotypes and Totally Disregard Them

As a girl, Grace was hungry to join her father at sea on his ships. Her parents laughed at her, and her dad told her that her long hair would get caught in the ropes. Grace loved her long hair, but duly went and cut it all off, dressed up as a boy, and stole onto the ship. Grace is also widely known as Gráinne Mhaol, often anglicised as Granuaile, which means, bald Grace, because of this. Even though Grace had a half-brother, who would have traditionally been superior to her as a male even though he was not born by the same mother, Grace became chieftain of the O’Malley clan.

Ireland was ruled in the sixteenth century by the chieftains, who were effectively ‘kings’ of their own regions. It was common to plunder one another, and wealth and status was indicated by how many cattle you had. Grace was notorious for her cattle raids and also taxing any ships traversing the Irish west coast along her stomping ground. She was actually banned from entering Galway because of this. She was known in England as ‘the nurse of all rebellions.’ 

Be a Good Leader – Inspire Others and They will Support You

When Grace returned to the O’Malley’s following the death of her first husband, she was followed by a number of the O’Flaherty clansmen who didn’t want to be without her. Being a leader doesn’t always mean being ‘in charge’ of people, it can also mean being a way-shower. Someone who inspires others. Someone who people like to emulate. 

Spend Time in Nature

Grace was well known for her love of the ocean, which in her first marriage at age 16 she had to postpone for a while. After her husband died, she went right back to seafaring in Mayo, where she was happiest. She spent her time between castles but pictured below in the Instagram reel is Clare Island, off Co. Mayo on which Grace is said to be buried. Being in nature, whether it’s the ocean, the garden, the park or a forest makes us feel good and helps lift our spirits. 

 

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

 

Circe was a nice surprise recommendation from a friend. A fabulous retelling of the Greek mythologies written with elegance, I highly recommend. 

Summary

Shunned daughter of Helios, God of the Sun, and Perse, an Oceanid nymph, Circe possesses less beauty and ability than her siblings, and her family and the deities don’t try to hide this from her. Falling in love with a mortal only ends in pain as she successfully has him transformed into a god, who then shuns her as well. Helios banishes her to a remote island where she discovers she is a witch and her powers are such that she can work with nature to bend the world to her will. Not saying any more. Read this!!

Quotes I love

“He never said, What if I go home, and all of it is ash? But I saw the thought in him, living like a second body, and feeding in the dark.”

“It was an enchantment woven into the island itself, every bird and beast and grain of sand, every leaf and rock and drop of water. I marked them, and all the generations in their bellies, with Telegonus’ name. If ever she did break through that smoke, the island would rise up in his defence, the beasts and birds, the branches and rocks, the roots in the earth. Then we would make our stand together.”

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