Friday, December 26, 2014
For decades I kept my nails scrupulously manicured. Then I moved to the country, embraced landscaping and learned early photographic processes – all factors that caused me to rethink the necessity of having beautifully manicured nails. At even the finest salons, my manicures would last less than a week. Often within hours the polish chipped. Since I can’t abide the look of chipped nails, my spa manicures would be erased within days. It was an expensive treat for 48 hours of pleasure.
Throughout the years I’ve kept my toenails in pristine condition and always enhanced with color. My pedicures last for several weeks – no doubt because I don’t wash dishes, floors, shower stalls or cat boxes with my feet.
I tried gel manicures. But my experiences left me with paper- thin nails after I got frustrated with the regrowth, hesitated to pay the price for professional removal and peeled the gel off. Such a bad move! So I often returned to the natural look, which really does not suit me. At my core, I am somewhat flamboyant. So I kept trying different brands of polish. No matter how highly the polishes were rated, my nails chipped almost immediately. I’ve used OPI, Butter London, Deborah Lippmann, Sally Hanson, Essie, Seche, Chia Glaze, Orly, Sephora, Ulta, Revlon & Chanel among others. The result was always the same.
Before Christmas I received a $20 off coupon from Sephora for any purchase over $50 and decided to explore some more extravagant treats. Since I didn’t need perfume and already had the Clinique version of Clarisonic, I was surfing Sephora for something worthy of my coupon. I stumbles upon the Ciate’ Geltox Starter Kit which represented that I could complete a manicure at home with the lasting effects of a gel manicure and still use my own polish. The kit is expensive at $99, but I had the coupon and figured if it worked, great. If it didn’t, I could return it. Sephora had a great return policy. So I order the kit, used my Deborah Lippmann “Glamorous Life” polish and fell in love~ my manicure lasted 2 weeks! I am sold! The kit includes the LED lamp and the critical Geltox Topcoat®, which is not inexpensive to replace. But it works. And is far less dear than a $45 Gel manicure. And this polish can be easily removed. Really! Give it a try!
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
During the holiday season there are numerous essays on the true meaning of Christmas. But I’ve yet to read one that struck a cord within my heart. There are religious treatises; secular stories about peace on earth & good will towards men, economic reports of retail sales, and arguments as to whether one should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.
I celebrate Christmas as one who has been raised as a Christian; but I also appreciate that the USA is multi-cultural and there are many who do not celebrate Christian holidays. But I’ve also lived in places where Christmas was merely a secular and shopping holiday as opposed to a Christian celebration. So I have little tolerance for those in the USA who are offended when somebody wishes them a “Merry Christmas”. Alternatively, I am equally dumbfounded when one wishes another human being “Happy Holidays” and is met with negativity.
Christmas and all other seasonal holidays encourage us to celebrate family. For those who follow the major world religions, their scriptures teach the importance of family and tolerance. Choosing to express outrage, negativity or offense when one wishes another a good tiding is anathema to those who founded those major religious foundations.
Perhaps it would benefit all in the human race to eschew the commercial Christmas and celebrate gratitude for family – even those who cause us angst. Family dynamics are truly exemplars of world politics on a smaller scale. Among families we see war, peace, détente, a cold war, tolerance, demilitarized zones, peace talks, skirmishes, stalemates, battles, white flags, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, joys, sorrows, celebrations, concessions and surrender. These are the same experiences that are played out on a world stage. But families feel these events on the nuclear, personal level.
Too often we allow our holiday celebrations to center around things that truly don’t matter: gifts, how much somebody spent on one versus another, a scorecard, how one offers good tidings to another. But really, does any of that matter? For me it does not.
My husband and I do not exchange gifts. We do not buy gifts for anybody but the grandchildren that we see. We try to express our appreciation for our loved ones and each other everyday. For us a celebration of any holiday is expressed best by sharing time with those we love. Because time passes too quickly and nothing is more important to either of us than letting those we love know that we love them. We show that love by making the effort to spend time with them.
If I have to choose between a sweater or a gift card or an extra hour with somebody I love, it will always be the extra hour. That time will fill me with memories that cannot be taken away. That for me is the true meaning of Christmas – appreciating the glory of the gift of time with family and friends.
Friday, December 12, 2014
So, it is Friday and I’ve had a long week at work. During a telephone conversation this morning, I mentioned how relieved I felt that I’d made it through another week when I was reminded that it is important not to wish too fervently for the passage of time.
Wow! I needed that reminder. Every moment is to be celebrated, savored and embraced for what it is. Through Al-Anon, my yoga practice and my spiritual development I’ve come to understand that consciously experiencing the moment is critical to living an abundant life.
Despite my frustration over some things over which I had no control, I decided to diffuse my “Calming” essential oil and breathe in the aroma of the intoxicatingly delightful scent. I listened to the wind blowing outside my window and felt the power of the Universe, heated water and brewed a delicious cup of Fox Trot herbal tea from Adagio, currently my “go to” purveyor of fine loose teas. I gathered my curmudgeonly 3-legged orange cat Carlos into my lap so I could listen to his purrs alternating with grrrs while I wrote coverage letters at my desk. It was calming.
Then I recalled with a smile the delight of finishing 16 weeks of morning workouts with my husband and how the shared commitment to getting healthy has brought us joy and laughter.
This evening, while I was finishing up some work, Todd cleared out our battered trailer and converted it into a mobile dark room. He was so proud of his handy work and couldn’t wait to show it to me. That brought me delight. And I’ve no doubt we will love using it to make images while celebrating a friend’s birthday this weekend.
In the midst of a cold and blustery day, I found delight and feel blessed. And now I think I’ll indulge in a quick game of Plants vs. Zombies!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Bratophobia is not confined to New York.
I have no problem with well-behaved children in public. But I have no tolerance for oblivious or worse parents. And still, children don’t belong in the bar section of a dining establishment. A bar is for adults. And few things are more annoying than having somebody’s kid plopping on a bar stool while their parents wait for a table in the restaurant section when I plan to eat and drink at the bar. Wait outside! Or in your car. Or I might just start using bad language to get you to leave.
Tuesday evening after finding my pink aura during my Yin yoga class, I went with my friends to Joe’s Steakhouse in Winchester, Virginia for our weekly girl’s night. We were also celebrating a birthday. Since we generally enjoy a selection of appetizers and an adult beverage or two, we asked to be seated in the bar.
Unfortunately, our section of the bar also included a small family of three that abdicated their parental responsibilities by allowing their toddler to wander about the room misbehaving, annoying other patrons and throwing a tantrum. The parents, by the way, ignored the actions of their spawn, and left the babysitting duties to the wait staff and other patrons.
If only the Commonwealth of Virginia adopted the rules and regulations of other states that forbid the presence of minors in the bar sections of dining establishments. There should be sections where adults can enjoy an evening without interruption by unruly children. While we are no longer amazed by the ignorance and rudeness of certain parents, it is still frustrating. This child actually invited himself (or herself – it was not clear) to sit at the table of two young men enjoying an evening out. Sorry, if you can’t afford a babysitter either go to a family restaurant, sit in the “dining area” of the restaurant or say home.
At the time I recalled another evening when my husband and I went for dinner in the bar at Piccadilly’s Pub – also in Winchester – and were subjected to a toddler running up and down the aisles in the bar area of the restaurant while the parents seemed to be oblivious to the interruptions caused by their errant offspring. We were so annoyed that we haven’t gone back.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
This evening during my yoga class we discussed the necessity of looking at life from different perspectives, challenging ourselves, aspiring, trying something and failing, risking success, and pushing our boundaries. This is a topic that resonates with me because it is one of the critical lessons I learned during my years in Al-Anon.
One of the most valuable insights I gained was the 12 – Step Program definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Since I strived to overcome my special brand of insanity, I decided – against my very nature – to do what does not come naturally. I made the conscious decision to try something different whenever the opportunity arose. And I found that I had that opportunity numerous times everyday. With my new found openness to changing my patterns, old habits, and natural inclinations, I discovered a new world, met my husband, got married in Italy, sold my house and moved to a different state, relocated my job and embraced the new hobbies of landscaping, historic photographic processes, Civil War living history, writing a Blog, sewing 19th Century reproduction clothing, baking bread from scratch, writing book reviews, and morphing into a redhead.
So I encourage each of you to move outside of your comfort zone and try something beyond your comfort zone.
· Try a new hair stylist or hair color or style;
· Park in a different parking space;
· Order a different dessert; instead of chocolate cake, try blueberry Pavlova;
· If you always buy the blue top, try red or yellow or green;
· Park your yoga mat in a different spot in the studio;
· If you always wear a beige bra, try a pink one;
· If you always drink Malbec, try Zinfandel (red not white (yuck);
· Eat kale instead of Romaine lettuce;
· If you always wear Chanel No. 5, try a new scent;
· Take a different route to your destination; the road less traveled often offers amazing surprises;
· Try a different lip color or brand;
· Go to a new restaurant, a new vacation spot, a new winery or grocery store;
Change is almost always good. I may have learned it at the age of 45, but I learned the value of change. I’ve embraced it. My life is fuller because of trying new things.
My yoga friends and I are formulating our bucket list. We have one year to decide on a tattoo. It must be subtle. And discreetly placed, but what the hell!