"We all need to learn to pamper ourselves and not just in times when we are stressed.So for next week, let us share each other's self pampering stories...may they be from little pleasures to guilty pleasures!"
Only recently have I learned the art of pampering myself without guilt. For years, I'd get a massage or squeeze out a little "me time" but wouldn't really enjoy it because I felt like I should spend every spare moment with my family. It's a neuroses of working women, I think. I finally figured out though, that the world didn't fall apart and no one at home was hopelessly lost without me if I took an hour or two for myself. And I've never looked back. I pamper myself guilt free these days, and there are a couple of things I do that I really enjoy.
First of all, I play Bunco once a month with some girlfriends. We get together for food, games, gossip and laughs. It's a great time and always a good reminder of how important it is to cultivate and maintain friendships. Play dates are important for grown ups, too. Once a year, the Bunco group does a slumber party, and because we'd all like to keep our jobs and our reputations I will not divulge all of the nonsense that goes on. Let's just say we like to "cut loose", and leave it at that.
The other thing I treat myself to is having my nails done. After years of biting my nails and wearing them down to horrible looking little nubs, I took the advice of a good friend and starting having acrylic put on my nails and getting them polished every couple of weeks. It keeps my hands looking nice, which is important in my job. I sit in a lot of meetings with community leaders and occasionally get interviewed by local media, so appearances are important in my position. Which is kind of a bummer, because I'd rather show up for work in my robe and flip flops, but that's not how the world spins. The funny thing about the nail appointments is that I get more pleasure out of the chats I have with my nail tech than I do out of the actual manicures.
I don't have a picture of Cindy to show you, but I wish I did. She is fascinating. She came to the U.S. from Vietnam seven years ago with the intention of making a better life for herself and eventually becoming a U.S. citizen. When I first started seeing her four years ago, she spoke very little English. I had to point to the color of polish I wanted. In those four years, her English has improved remarkably and includes a little slang like "honey" and "baby". She got her drivers license, earned an associate degree at the local college and earned her cosmetology license. She went from renting a booth in a beauty shop to owning her own shop.
She is one of the hardest working people I know. She is not afraid of dirty work, long hours or studying for hours on end to earn good grades. She loves to learn and was a straight A student. Her drive comes from growing up dirt poor. As in didn't own a toothbrush until she was thirteen years old poor. As in worked in the rice fields as a child poor, and shared a dress with her sisters.
In the past four years Cindy has shared with me many stories about her childhood and the poverty she has known for most of her life. I find it fascinating to hear about the lack of quality health care in her home country, the conditions she used to live in and the promises she made to herself about finding a way out of the poverty. She's one of the bravest and strongest women I know. Not many of us would be willing to leave our home country forever and hop on a plane for a country we knew nothing about, didn't know the language spoken there and didn't know what kind of job prospects we would find. Every other week I sit across from her while she massages my cuticles, polishes my nails and warms my heart. I have learned so much from her.
She is very appreciative of the opportunities this country has afforded her and loves being here. At last week's appointment she was excited because the next day she was traveling to Nashville to register for the background check that will lead to her test for citizenship. Cindy practically sparkled as she talked about it. And get this. She has already studied for the test and knows the information backwards and forwards. She spouted all kinds of facts about our government and its history. Stuff that a lot of Americans have probably not taken the time to learn or simply aren't interested in. I'm proud for Cindy, and I know she'll do well on the test. After all, she's a straight A student. And I always feel good when I leave her shop, somewhat for the manicure, but mostly for the friendship.