The holidays can be stressful. Yes, there’s goodwill and cheer, but with that comes higher-than-normal expectations, and perhaps a case of the blues. If you surveyed your friends right now, how many of them would be overstressing to ensure a next-level holiday celebration? Much like Holly Golightly went to Tiffany’s when she got a case of the mean reds, when I feel blue I sit in my bathtub. I truly believe there is nothing that a good bath cannot fix. Preferably one that is filled to the brim with some of the yummiest scents imaginable, and maybe even some bubbles.
I am a true believer that even when you are thinking about making everyone else around you happy, it is important that we still take care of ourselves. And that we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it, either. Maybe it’s not to the Marie Antoinette-level of indulgence that I aim for, but you get the gist. When the going gets tough, the tough should start by doing things that make them feel like themselves, plus a lil’ something extra. And if you need any indication of how I have been feeling… I have retreated to my tub every single night over the last two week, but as it happens, the antidote, was literally sitting on the edge of my tub in a little glass bottle.
You’re probably wondering what I mean by this, allow me to explain. Jo Loves, a range of gorgeous products by the Jo Malone, makes one of my all-time favorite fragrances, Green Orange & Coriander ($105; net-a-porter.com), particularly in bath cologne format, which is the olfactory equivalent of a warm hug. I smell it and I feel better. But the real magic, is actually Jo herself. She is perseverance personified. And you better believe that when given the chance to speak with her about her new book, "Jo Malone: My Story," I jumped for it.
We all have peaks and valleys in our lives, whether in our careers or in our personal lives, and Malone, well, she’s been candid about hers. She literally watched her home burn to the ground. She’s survived cancer. And through all of that (which she goes into detail about in her book), she tells me she’s learned to ask herself three things, “If I am anxious about something, I ask ‘Can I accept this? Can I get out of this situation? Can I start again? If I change my perspective, then I won’t be the victim.” In other words, changing the way you look at a situation may just help you make a change.
But beyond that, Malone also believes, much like yours truly, in the power of self-care. When she wants to build herself up, she creates fragrance — it’s not just her job, it’s her life, she explains “There is something so magical about knowing I have created something unique. I get a profound sense of achievement from that.”
But, if you’re not a fragrance maven like Malone, take a page out of her book and get your hair blown out, get a mani-pedi, or go bake something utterly delicious and eat it all yourself. Sit with your thoughts. Find out what makes you uncomfortable and then figure out how to change that. But make yourself feel fabulous before you do that, because it will boost your confidence. It’s about a balance of super pleasant (bubble bath) and maybe less than pleasant (feelings).
Naturally, Jo also has a scent that makes her feel safe, like my Green Orange & Coriander, but hers is Jo Loves Pomelo ($105; net-a-porter.com). “Pomelo was my first scent that I created after a few years away, and when I smell it I think of that fragile and powerful moment that I found my creativity with me again,” says Malone.
Incidentally, this scent is also the fragrance of Jo’s home. Everything, she tells me, from her linens to her floorboards, is painted with Pomelo. It’s even how she helped her son feel safe and secure when they were forced to relocate after their home burnt down. The smell made him feel at home in a strange place, like an invisible security blanket. If that doesn’t convince you of the power of scent, I don’t know what will.
There are two things in life that Jo Malone doesn’t feel herself without: fragrance and lipgloss, she simply does not leave the house without them. “Paint yourself with a fragrance! If you smell good, or someone tells you that you smell amazing, you will feel like a million dollars.” So, if you are feeling down, spritz that fragrance that makes you feel alive and let the icky feelings melt away. Or spray an item of clothing with it, so you catch whiffs throughout the day. It’s armor that you can’t see and it works. And if it means sitting in a bath that is steeping in that bath cologne, do that!
But on a serious note, having felt like I recently face-planted, I asked Jo what has kept her so motivated in times of hardship. Her answer made me realize that, okay, life knocked the legs out from under me, but I did not face plant. “Don’t always be waiting for the next chapter — enjoy the moment,” she continued,“ and acknowledge your achievements.” Yes, it’s ok feel stressed or confused, and it’s also ok to acknowledge that. Yes, I can dump half a bottle of green orange and coriander bath cologne into my tub and soak in it ‘til I’m wrinkled and the water has run cold. But, it is paramount that we all acknowledge all the good things we have, too.
However, Malone also gave me a little token of wisdom, beyond changing my perspective, and maybe indulging in a bath to help make me feel better. This is what has kept her going in all of her peaks and valleys: “Love of family is always going to motivate me. But when I have fallen on hard times, the hope that tomorrow will be better — that tomorrow the tears will stop.”
Oh and a little tidbit Malone learned from a woman who inspired her? “Unless you plan on doing something brilliantly, don’t do it. Don’t ever settle for second best.” Sometimes you need to hear what you already know to find your mojo — I felt re-energized to get back in the saddle of my life, whether I knew the direction I was headed or not just by hearing from a woman who, let’s face it, maybe has a little more experience in life than I have. She’s been there, and she can help you through it.
Clearly, Jo’s book is going to be filled with stories, memories and life lessons that we can all take with us. I also hear that there is a particularly divine DIY mask recipe that Jo herself relies on to give her skin a boost, in the back cover. So, really, it’s more than worth the purchase, if not for the sake of your face, but maybe your sense of mental well-being too.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, do the things that make you feel the most like you— put on an extra coating of your brightest red lip, add a little extra spritz of your signature scent, or maybe just take a bath and let yourself figure out how you can be in control again. Jo and I would argue that the first step to making a change is making sure you smell really amazing while doing so.