Presenter Blathnaid Treacy Shares Her #AvocaFeeling

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Finding and celebrating daily rituals and little pleasures that keep us afloat …

Connectedness, joy, comfort, authenticity and Irishness – that’s what we feel when we think about Avoca, its stores, its beautiful, carefully selected things to buy, its extraordinary food and its wonderful people. We call it the #AvocaFeeling.

In a new series, we meet some of the brilliant women who create, live and breathe the magic of Avoca, and some of Avoca’s firm friends and fans, who are legion all over Ireland – and the world!

We’re also asking you, our reader, what makes you feel happy, connected and at peace with the world (particularly now, when the world feels tilted on its axis). What gives you that #AvocaFeeling? It might be baking your favourite Avoca scones, a cup of coffee with a pal, curling up on the sofa beside the fire, a hike up a mountain or a walk in a forest, your morning yoga practice, a delicious dinner (with wine), or rediscovering an activity you enjoyed as a child. In tough times, we need daily or weekly rituals … please share yours!

To share what gives you that #AvocaFeeling, email us on [email protected] or share a picture or video on Instagram, make sure to tag and follow us @theglossmag and @avocaireland so we can see your entries. We will share some of our favourite stories on thegloss.ie over the coming weeks…

This Christmas, Avoca is proud to partner with Walk in My Shoes, the flagship mental health awareness campaign from St Patrick’s mental health services. Avoca has designed a beautifully fragrant and Christmassy sandalwood candle and pretty paper chain decorations to celebrate the partnership, with all proceeds from sales going straight to Walk in My Shoes.

Since it was established in 2012, thousands of people from across Ireland have become involved with the Walk in My Shoes campaign to promote mental health services specifically targeted at school-age children and teenagers. TV and radio presenter Blaithnaid Treacy is one of the charity’s ambassadors. She explains how she tries to use what she has learned from her involvement in WIMS, encouraging others to open up, and how she keeps an eye on her own mental health too.

“I see the incredible work that Walk in My Shoes (WIMS) and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services do. They really cater to young people in particular, but their advice is relevant to anyone who may be having a difficult time with their mental health.

Working in media, I see firsthand the negative effects social media and media in general can have on us, and I think it’s one of the main reasons so many of us suffer with anxiety nowadays. That’s just my opinion. But I love that WIMS use social media in a positive and creative way to help those dealing with mental health difficulties.

I’ve had to learn ways to cope with and look after my own mental health. I think the more of us that share our experiences, the easier it becomes for a young person to speak out and get the help they need.

When you do meet friends or speak to them on the phone, ask them how they are, really listen to them, and try to pick up on anything they may be suggesting. It can be hard to open up and say you’re struggling at the moment, but if you just say, “How are you finding things? It can be hard to stay positive right now…” that will offer your friend a further opportunity to open up.

It is incredible how much better you can feel by telling just one person that you trust that you’re finding things hard, because it can help remove that feeling of isolation. It can set you on your path of recovery to happiness.

For me, going back to basics and focusing on the simple things, like eating a nice meal made from scratch, going for a walk, reading a book or hanging out with family, helps me to stay grounded and happy. These are all simple things but it’s amazing how much better they can make you feel. Smiling is a great way to release happy chemicals in your body. When I’m anxious I tend to tense up my jaw and forehead, when I smile it can release that tension and it relaxes me in general, even just for a moment. There is always something to smile about, even if it’s a smile because something great is happening for someone else.

Be really kind to yourself, because even though there can be a negative voice in your head, you are not that voice, you are so much more.

I think as a society our priorities, prior to 2020, were all wrong. I think we now realise how important spending good quality time with family is, how checking in with an elderly neighbour can make you feel great too, how having a sense of community and getting out into nature changes your perspective and how getting offline has such a hugely positive impact on your mental health.

If I feel anxious, I like to just make some time for myself. Just five minutes of yoga, or deep breathing, or getting outside in the fresh air, can really make the world of difference.

Check in with yourself and keep an eye on how you’re feeling. Check out all the different things that have been proven to help improve mental health, most importantly, stick up for yourself the same way you would stick up for a friend or family member. Be really kind to yourself, because even though there can be a negative voice in your head, you are not that voice, you are so much more. You are loved and you have bigger, brighter, happier days ahead. I promise.

Remember, in Japanese art, they will always include a flaw. Incorporating deliberate imperfections is a necessary ingredient of art, so that you can really appreciate how beautiful the rest of the work is. You can’t appreciate the good, if you’ve never experienced the bad.”

Stylist Sarah Rickard Lantry shares her #AvocaFeeling …

As a self-confessed home bird I haven’t hated lockdown as much as some. For me, my home is my sanctuary so having to stay in my nest to protect my little family isn’t all bad. However, I do have two wild boys so, as much as I’d like to hibernate all winter, I have to get them out every day to run off some energy. I love taking them to a nearby woodland and just letting them run free. My eldest will be up the top of a tree within 30 seconds and my youngest will be picking up sticks and getting as filthy as possible. I love just letting boys be boys; even if I am having a mild heart attack every time I see them do something dangerous. We’ve built a wonderful community in our estate over the last nine months. There’s always someone up for going for a walk or a sea swim or a socially distant drink (before Level 5 kicked in) or even just a chat from our driveways.

My favourite thing to do (usually on the weekends when we get back from our adventure): my husband will light the fire, we’ll turn on all the lamps, light a few candles (Avoca boat house or sandalwood) and put on a movie for the kids. I’ll escape to the kitchen, pour myself a glass of wine, stick on a podcast (Adam Buxton, Elizabeth Day or Doireann Garrihy) and spend time cooking a tasty dinner. I’ve always enjoyed cooking so I love having extra time to find really yummy recipes. On the weekends I’ll go to my local Avoca in Dunboyne and buy organic ingredients (and a delicious dessert!). The boys are at an age when we can sit around the table together and eat and chat. I really enjoy tablescaping too: flowers, candles, glassware all add to the experience. @sarah_rickard_stylist

Annie Dunne of AD Events shares her #AvocaFeeling …

For me, Avoca is my version of RTÉ’s Reeling in the Years because it evokes lots of different memories. During my college years I used to meet my friends in the Suffolk Street restaurant so often that we were able to order “the usual” from Jason. Then when I was living in London, whenever I’d come home for a weekend my Mum and I would potter around Avoca and buy lots of goodies and sweet treats. I used to joke with her that we really only went home to sleep because we spent so much time there.

Most recently, during the last lockdown it became my meeting point and watering hole. I would meet one of my best friends and her little sister there for our Saturday ritual of hot chocolate followed by a walk in the park. During a time of upheaval it was the one constant we could enjoy and between us we voted Avoca the best hot chocolate in Ireland. An impressive accolade coming from my friend’s sister who is The Queen of hot chocolate!

With all the uncertainty that lockdown brings the things that have helped me feel most connected are reading, learning, my dogs and the Financial Times! When it comes to reading I am usually a big fan of fact but recently I have found myself leafing through a lot more fiction – everyone needs a bit of escapism at the moment and nothing sets the imagination running like being transported to another place.

Outside of reading I like to keep my mind active and a great way of doing this is by learning new skills. During the first lockdown I did Rita Konig’s online interior design course which I absolutely adored and devoured. Having completed that I then downloaded an introduction to philosophy course which was extremely interesting and at times a little challenging. With this new lockdown I am doing an online floristry course which is very enjoyable and great to know the basics, especially for events.

Autumn is by far my favourite season. I love the cold crisp weather it brings and layering on lots of knitwear and coats. Nothing gives me more joy than wrapping up and taking the dogs for a long walk. This activity is particularly special on a Saturday when I can return to a glass of Malbec and the weekend Financial Times.

The one thing I desperately miss is having dinner with friends. I very much look forward to the restrictions lifting so I can enjoy a long meal, enhanced by hilarious conversation and followed by a delectable cheese board. In the meantime I will continue to walk the dogs and create bizarre bouquets! www.adeventdesign.com

Donagh Quigley, co-founder of The Handmade Soap Company, shares his #AvocaFeeling …

Our factory is an old linen mill on the banks of the Boyne in Slane. I grew up a few miles further along the river and it’s where I learned to swim. We even use the river to power the turbine that gives us electricity for the factory. Even though I have lived in different countries and travelled a lot, I always seem to end up back here. My stress management comes from running along the river. I try to get out for a 10km run three times a week and it always seems to help me sort out my head. No matter how busy things are in the factory, some fresh air and occasionally a bit of rain really helps to ground me. Each season has its own highlights but right now the colours are amazing and the red deer rucking is a magnificent soundtrack. The ultimate way to top off a wet 10km run is dry clothes – and a steaming mug of coffee with a piece of Avoca Rocky Road. Well earned! www.thehandmadesoapcompany.ie 

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