Yesterday I did something radical, for me – I got a manicure. (How shocking!) I know, that’s not unusual for many women, but as a pianist I keep my nails short. For decades I’ve believed nail polish would look ugly on my short, fairly wide nails, so the only manicures I’ve ever gotten were before my weddings. (That’s only two, in case you’re counting.)
The other day, I had gotten into a conversation with my 22-year-old son about engagement rings (we both agreed that we didn’t think a guy needed to spend 2 months salary to ‘prove his love’ with a big diamond ). But then Ben accused me of being a hypocrite because I do wear one – an inexpensive vintage (it sounds better than ‘used’) ring we found at a funky old shop after we jointly decided to get married. (It’s a ‘watermelon tourmaline’, just in case you were wondering. I had to google it, too.) I explained that I like the symbolism of it, because every time I look at my hand I have a lovely reminder of our commitment.
Which got me thinking about other reminders in daily life – jewelry with sentimental value, 12-step program chips, that tattoo you thought was hindi for ‘love and blessings’ but turned out to mean ‘under construction.’ According to one theory, kosher dietary laws were started as a way to help early Jews feel connected to their new religion, because every meal was a tangible reminder. Years ago, friends who went to a LifeSpring retreat (the one that was sort of like EST but you got to use the bathroom) heard that the best way to change your life was to clean out your car – in other words, change a small thing you deal with all the time, and it will spur you to make other changes. Like that old folk tale about a fisherman who picks a flower, realizes he needs to get out a vase for it, which makes him realize he needs to clean the table to put the vase on, which prompts him to sweep the floor, and suddenly he’s transformed his shabby shack into a . . . well, into a much cleaner shack.
So I decided a manicure would be a great reminder for me that a) I’m changing, by doing something different that I can see every time I look at my fingers, b) I am treating myself like I deserve some self-care, and c) my old negative beliefs aren’t always correct – turns out a subtle shell pink DOES look okay on my short nails! Maybe this will start a chain reaction of other changes . . . or maybe I’ll just feel a little more serene (without having do any cleaning or give up shellfish!)