Toenails and Mindfulness

Pretty good for a first timer.

I promised myself I’d blog every week. So now I’m here, online, writing, and the only topic that pops up is the pedicure I gave myself last night. My toes look mighty pretty painted a Jordan-almond lilac, but so what?


I’m not sure, so I’m just going to write, right here and now, and see what my preening is really all about.

First off, it occurs to me that last night was my very first DIY, full-on pedicure. Make no mistakes, I’ve paid for pedicures, and I’ve slapped on the quick, last-minute coat of paint. Last night though, I soaked my feet, scraped my callouses, excavated the gunk around my nail beds, pushed back my cuticles, clipped and filed the nails, slathered on the foot creme, AND THEN applied the bottom coat and two coats of the childish lilac. (Forgot the top coat though…next time.)

I was proud of myself when I woke up this morning. I might as well have been a bride-to-be holding out her hand to gaze at her engagement ring. Admiring herself, admiring myself.

I’m astounded that I’d never given myself a pedicure before. And, even more astoundingly, I sat around with Angie, a fellow writer, watching old BBC episodes of “Absolutely Fabulous” and drinking red wine while I did it. I’d never before engaged in a girly evening like that either. I’m serious, never, not even as a teenager. My best girlfriend and I used to play chess. Either that, or we were drinking with our neer-do-well friends. Call us bad girls with nasty toenails.

Angie was surprised by my cluelessness. I had a mom, I had sisters, I had many best girlfriends growing up. How did I miss this girly right of passage (sans the red wine–or maybe not)? How could I not know why we use a bottom coat? No clue. For most of my life, I’ve treated my feet, well, like feet. I need them to transport myself, and to hopefully maintain my balance.

Here’s the thing: DIY pedicures require a quiet mind. Otherwise, what’s the point? To rush through the process, thinking ahead to the many other tasks I must cross off the to-do list, fretting about aspects of my life over which I have no control…Perhaps this is why I’ve never indulged in the DIY pedi before now: I tend to inhabit the land of the future, and this land is fraught with imagined obstacles and turmoil and conflict.

It’s quite exhausting.

So maybe I keep gazing at my confectionary toes because they return me to mindfulness. Simple pleasures in the here and now, you know? I could get used to girly frivolity; it might even be good for me. And even better, doing it with a friend! Angie taught me, for example, that two thin coats of paint are less likely to chip than one thick coat.

Who knew? (I certainly didn’t.)

Full of Questions Today: What’s Your Take?

Last night I was flipping channels at around 11:00, not quite ready for bed. I landed on a talking head with big, shiny teeth and tightly coiffed hair. I stopped and listened to the Christian fella, who must be popular to have his own television broadcast. His name was Joel Osteen. Anyone ever heard of him?

I would have rolled my eyes except that he was talking about overcoming adversity (I think). Not letting the struggle get us down. Having faith that God (I don’t think in these terms but this was Osteen’s message) has everything figured out for us. That adversity and struggle are a sign that there’s all the more good coming to us at the other end. We need not worry so much.

This morning, a surprise: I heard his echo in my head when I woke up! In particular, something about not talking about our feelings all the time and instead staying quiet with contentment and certainty that all is well and will be well. To me, this message especially makes sense in a Buddhist context. Mindfulness. Living in the here and now.

But I didn’t like his follow-up: Given that our good is waiting for us, airing self-doubts about obtaining that good can delay or halt its arrival. Could this possibly be true? Are our thoughts that powerful? That possibility scares me. Do we have to already be enlightened to live our dreams?

These days, I’m most likely to feel angst-ridded, doubtful, and frustrated about my fiction career. I so want a book deal and oodles of happy readers! I’m not that mindful all the time; I often air my downer feelings as a way of letting them go. In and out. Emotions are so transient.

Does giving these emotions airtime lend them more power? Do I self-sabotage my chances at a successful fiction career by indulging in them for even a moment on this blog or to my friends?

This is all very woo-woo, I know. I don’t know the answers. What’s your take?

P.S. The eerie thing is that on Saturday I bought a book with the word “mindfulness” in its title. So maybe I was “meant” to land on Mr. Osteen last night?