I never paint my nails. Every time I do, I’m so hard on them that they end up chipped and peeling within 12 hours. I’ve tried fancy salon gel nails, but you have to make the upkeep a priority, and I just don’t have the time. Yet when I saw a friend in church last week who had the shiniest red nails and I was inspired.
So last Friday night I spent time and painted my nails a deep holiday red. I did the full two coats and topcoat, and sat back and admired…knowing the final masterpiece wouldn’t last. After I was sure they were dry enough, I went downstairs to get a snack. Careful, so as not to ruin my manicure, I pulled back the handles on the cupboard, and slid a plate from the stack. And I as I moved in this manner, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a calm feeling.
It made me realize, I function at the top 95% of my energy all the time. I get ready, get a run in, teach fourth grade all day, then come home and cook dinner and get kids to bed. My only mode is go-mode. I was filled with a new desire to preserve my rare holiday nails, and slow my pace. Instead of being “nail-deep” in every project, cleaning, or rushed task, it felt good to be intentionally slow. I laughed thinking of all that was in the background that was blurred because of my hastiness.
The next morning, I planned a trip to Costco. I braced myself for the Saturday morning crowd with a toddler in tow. After getting scooped FOUR times for a parking spot in the lot, I was stressed by the time I reached the door. I scowled as the door greeter asked for my membership ID as I was struggling to lift my two-year-old-in-a-four-year-old-body into the cart. If the parking lot was any indicator, the aisles were worse. I couldn’t turn a corner without someone cutting in front of me.
But then I caught a glimpse of my fingers resting on the cart handle. Miraculously they were still shiny and red. They stood out as beacons to me against the holiday angst I was easily being sucked into. I slowed my pace. My son had his eye on a bag of trail mix on the shelf. “That, Mama.” He said as he pointed. I smiled and brushed his hair from his eyes. “Should we get that?” I asked, as I placed the (giant) bag of trail mix in the cart. “Those are good.”, came a voice from my right. A woman I hadn’t noticed before was standing near us. She was pushing a cane and a full cart of products. “I always find great things here.” She continued as she smiled at my son, “What a sweetheart.” As I pulled around the corner, slower this time, I felt tears bud in my eyes. I would have completely missed that conversation had I kept my stressful pace. Instead I got a moment of new perspective from someone who can teach me something about appreciating rather than complaining.
Inevitably, the nails chipped halfway through the school day on Monday. But you know what? I think it’s time to paint them again…