Farewell 2019

Life challenges us; and sometimes, some of us get way more than our share. I know, I’ve been there.  This past year, I watched several of my friends face horrendous challenges. My heart ached quietly from the sidelines for them, as their lives shattered into a million pieces. I didn’t say much.  Truthfully, I didn’t know what to say. What are words in the face of such hardships and tragedies? They don’t change anything. They can’t fix what’s broken, or return what’s lost.  I don’t have magic words any more than I have a magic wand.  So, I did what many did, and shamefully uttered a few platitudes and then didn’t say anything else.  I occasionally reached out, but I didn’t push. I didn’t want to intrude.  I just wanted them to know I’m still here.   I don’t have magic words, but I do have a sympathetic ear. Or if they just wanted to ‘forget’, I can offer ridiculous comedy at my own expense. I can do that. I’m kind of good at making myself the butt of the joke.

Ordinarily, my New Year’s posts are about how I’m NOT sad to see the previous year go. Usually because I see so many other’s being negative about the past. I always look at the past as a positive.  Because…. I’ve had to learn how to turn negatives into positives, or I’d just drown in the quagmire of it all.  As I said, I’ve faced my own demons & challenges.  I’ve been there.  So, this would be the point where I tell you all how hard I’ve worked this year investing in myself, blah blah blah. Then I could blather about some of the highlights. More blah de blah blah blah…………………      But this year, I’m not going to do that.  I’m not going to make light of the hardships that others have faced. I’m NOT blind. I see you. Yes, I SEE YOU.  I see you battling, and pushing and fighting. I see you on the days where you’re hanging on by a thread, and I see the days where you appear to be an indomitable force to others.  While others may think “hey he/she’s got this, they’re overcoming it”. What I see is “She/he’s got her mask on, her/his game-face on”.   You’re at war and you’re prepared for battle.  Fighting for your sanity, for your life, for your family; armored and with every weapon you can get your hands on. While on the inside, you’re barely held together with bits of scotch tape and band-aids.  I see you, and I’m so very proud at how hard you’re kicking ass.

2019 was hard for many of you and I’m not going to make an empty promise of ‘things get better’.  Maybe they do for some, maybe they don’t. Usually, we just learn how to better DEAL with the challenges. At least, that’s how it worked for me. Everyone is different. That’s the truth of it.  Pain doesn’t go away, it doesn’t fade. We just learn to live with it, to move around it, how to tuck it away.   Some even find ways to ‘use’ pain and turn it into something constructive.  I don’t have the answers. What I have is an open door, a listening ear, a sympathetic shoulder, and a poor excuse for comic relief.

What we all have is a new day, starting tomorrow.  A new minute, that can start right now.  We don’t have to wait for New Year’s eve for a ‘new start’.  I don’t know why some folks think we do. It’s a silly notion.  So while I don’t look on my own past year with sadness, I do look back on the past year of others’ with sadness; so I think starting fresh would be nice for many.

One of my demon’s once quoted to me “Seek and you shall find, it is always so in life”. I took that positive from the negative and used it in my own fight…. and it’s remained true. I do truly believe that if you look hard enough, you’ll find it.  So my wish for 2020 is for all of you to continue to overcome your challenges.   For all of you to find joy even in the smallest of things, such as fresh laundered & crisp sheets. To find beauty everywhere, like raindrops glistening on windows.  Most of all, for all of you to be healthy and happy.

Love to all of you, HAPPY NEW YEAR!




Did I really say that?

Here’s a funny story that I should probably add to my collection of “heard at my table”.   
I have a lovely client (ok, I have several lovely clients, but anyway, I digress) who is overcoming nail biting. We have come a long way from her first set and she’s doing FANTASTIC. She is now wearing “Natural Nail Acrylic Overlays” (for those not in the know, this is when it’s the client’s natural nail from one end to the other with an overlay of acrylic to protect it). She’s been gradually wearing them longer and longer, slowly getting used to having length.
Now that she’s able to wear them longer, the natural curvature of her own nails- that’s a tad extreme on a couple of nails- has become more obvious. She was expressing concern. And frankly, as I’m a tad anal retentive about shape, it makes me crazy when I can’t make them straight.
HOWEVER…………. that said…
I wanted to allay her concerns, that nails like hers weren’t out of the ordinary. I wanted her to understand that many ladies have nails that curve like her own. Often due to a previous injury, or displacement of the matrix due to arthritis/age, and sometimes, just genetics. It’s really not that big of a deal.
Except…that’s not what I said. Or rather, it’s not how it came out of my mouth. It IS what I meant, though!! Does that count?
It was the end of the day, about 7pm probably. I was tired, and well… my mouth opened before I processed the words in my brain.
That happens sometimes, when you’re squirelly like myself.   The brain is just zipping in a dozen directions at once, and I spit out words before giving them my undivided attention.
So what I said to my lovely client was-
“You’re not my only client that’s a hooker”
Yes. Those words left my mouth and oh my gosh, I couldn’t back pedal fast enough to edit what my cursed tongue had managed to utter.   Because you see, in our industry we tend to refer to nails such as hers’ as “hooked”.  Only, I didn’t explain that BEFORE I said that horrendous sentence!
I was mortified, stumped, and too tired to begin to figure out how to get out of that mess! THANKFULLY, she was more amused than anything else and we both had a great laugh.  (After I was done being mortified of course).
I should mention, she is STILL my client and I enjoy our appointments together, and we laughed about it again this week  😉

Old Grey Mare

The Old Grey Mare ain’t what she used to be.  That’s how I feel these days. Like an old grey mare. (and no comments from the peanut gallery, while I do colour my hair, my roots don’t have as many greys as you might think, so shush!)

It’s no secret that the beauty industry is physically demanding, and wearing upon our bodies.  Complaints of carpal-tunnel syndrome, back issues and more plague most of us.  For many, however, the issue is compounded by pre-existing conditions. Such as, arthritis.

Isn’t arthritis an old person’s disease? NOPE.  In fact, there exists “Junior Arthritis”.  It’s estimated by the CDC that 1 in 250 children under the age of 18 have arthritis or related rheumatological conditions (  I was one of them, that went undiagnosed until the age of 21.   For years I suffered with aches and pains and was emphatically told (by even my own doctor)  that I was a hypochondriac.  We now know that I have Raynaud’s Disease  and Rheumatoid Arthritis .    Early on, I didn’t give it much mind except that it gave me a valid reason not to suffer outside in the winter, and to crank up the heat while everyone else complained that they were hot.  I’ve never needed the weather network to forecast if it was going to rain or snow, my own built-in barometer made sure that I knew to get the umbrella out.

In recent months, my arthritis has kicked it up several notches.  As in I have been diagnosed as being in “Athritic Crisis”.  What does that mean? It means that not only are my hands and knees affected, but from my head to my toes.  This includes arthritis in my jaw and in my feet.  I have a Rheumatologist and she has been sending me for this test and the other, taking x-rays and referring me to a physiotherapist.  She also suspects that I have Fibromyalgia (which I won’t address since it’s not yet confirmed)  Recommendations are that I take medication to reduce inflammation, take up exercise and make changes to my diet.

I’m taking all their recommendations on board because yes, I’m in crisis. I can’t argue it because upon opening my eyes in the morning without even moving, I am in pain.  Simple, daily tasks such as opening a jar, squeezing toothpaste, cutting cabbage in half, pulling a zipper up are difficult, painful and sometimes flat out impossible for me to manage. I have lost count the number of times I have enlisted the help of a family member or even my neighbor to do something that I couldn’t manage on my own.  A couple of months ago, I removed pedicures from the service menu because I am simply incapable of tolerating the pain from performing the service.   I am even frequenting nail tech boards/forums less often because the act of typing is painful.

I joined a gym.  Whereupon I learned that all I can manage at this time is the treadmill. I did try a class. One class. Only 30min long. Umm hmm famous last words. I was crippled for a week and yelped any time I had to engage use of my thigh muscles to sit. Despite that I was incapable of doing half the routine!  I started using the WII Sport/Fit that we have.  That nasty, rude machine told me that I have a WII-FIT age of 60!  If you didn’t know, I was born in ’71 so that makes me 45.  Needless to say, the WII and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.

Wait a minute. Back it up. What? You want me to go on a diet? I’m only 122lbs!!!  We learn something new everyday.  I have learned that salt and sugar also adversely affect inflammation.  Houston, we have a problem!  My entire life I have eaten what I wanted, when I wanted without a single thought.  I enthusiastically enjoy 3-4 pots of coffee per day with 2 sugars and cream per cup PLUS about 1/2 bottle of coke per evening. Let’s not forget hard candy. I LOVE hard candy. Despite this, I refuse to be a victim and I am determined to be proactive because the alternative simply doesn’t suit me at all.CoffeeDragon

Enter the Dragon.  Yes. I have become a fire-breathing dragon.  I don’t suffer sugar & caffeine withdrawal very well. In fact, I’m downright horrible and impossible to live with.  I have been forced – by the need for pain reduction – to reduce sugar in all areas of my kitchen. I’m not enjoying food very much at the moment.  My family isn’t enjoying the Dragon. Oh well, sucks to be you. No one said that you had to live here.

I’m sharing this with you because if I seem to be a foodie these days, or I give the impression of being a health-nut; I’m not.   I simply don’t want to be a victim to the disease anymore.   I’m sharing this because I’m embarking upon a journey and I would like to record my progress.   I’m sharing this because there are many nail techs, like myself, who suffer needlessly in silence – THERE ARE resources out there to help you.  Lastly, I’m sharing this to raise awareness among clients/consumers.

When your nail tech asks you to relax your hand…. please do it.  You can’t imagine the physical pain she suffers when she has to wrestle with your stiff hand, nor can you imagine how that is multiplied over several clients in one day. In one week. Let me assure you, it’s a lot of pain.

If you don’t relax your hand, and/or make her ask you repeatedly to do so, don’t act surprised when she goes Zena on you.


Life gets in the way of living

I read a quote online.

“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it’s overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

They forgot to mention that it also feels like you’re drowning. It is a suffocating pain. It steals your breath, burns your throat, and constricts like steel bands around your chest until there’s no air to be had. Grief will steal all sensible thought from your mind, until you are simultaneously an emotional geyser, yet numb at the same time. It shreds you. It shreds you from the inside out until you’re nothing but a raw mess.

A friend once told me “Life gets in the way of living” and I’ve repeated that many times since. It’s true. But never more so than it is today.  Today, which began as an unremarkable morning, will be a date that is forever burnt on all of our hearts. December 17th, the day that life got in the way of living.

Pat was a natural nurturer. As far as I know, she always has been. She did choose a life-long career as a Nurse after all. She also spent much of her free time playing in the kitchen, cooking and baking up a storm for everyone. Heck, I’ve known her over 35yrs, and she’s never been anything BUT nurturing. She nurtured everyone. While doing a great job of raising her own four kids, she even took on strays. Everyone was welcome in her home, any time, to stay as long as they needed. Some needed only a few moments of her time. Some needed hours. Some needed a few months or more. She was always there, always available.

Don’t kid yourself. She didn’t molly-coddle. She balanced nurturing with discipline, and honesty. Straight up, I have been on the receiving end and have been personally chastised with “don’t be stupid!” and “you dummy!”. The very same woman has also said to me “I’m so very proud of you!”.

When I was a kid, she was just my friend’s Mom. She was there to put band-aids on scraped knees, serve lemonade on sunny days, and yell at us if we got too rowdy (which, I honestly don’t recall much yelling. I think she rather liked the noise of kids playing LOL).

I could list all the moments where she’s been a part of my life. It’s a long list. However, the moments themselves aren’t important. That she was THERE for those moments, and a part of my life is what is important.

That’s it. She was there. Always there. Always available. No matter what was asked of her, or when. Without quibble or fuss, or complaint, or any fanfare. She was there. She wanted to be there. For the tears and the smiles.  All of it.  A part of it. Giving all she had, silently and without asking anything for herself in return. There was no scorecard. Often, she was there without being asked. Where and when she was needed, you could count on her. If didn’t matter if you drifted apart for awhile, because she would just pick up where things left off without missing a beat.  Then at the end of it, she’d envelop you in a great squishing hug of comfort or joy depending on the occasion. She would wipe our tears, and laugh with great guffaws at our silliness.

Somehow, as time passed, she stopped being my friend’s Mom. She became my 2nd Mom, and an additional Grandparent to my children who call her Auntie Pat.  And somewhere in the middle of that, she became MY friend. I can’t put my finger on when that happened. It just was. I’m thankful for it.  I do remember a moment when I realized it.  She was talking about her birthday party, and telling someone who she wanted to invite.  She said “Victoria”.  They asked her “Victoria? Really?”  Pat replied “Yes, she’s my friend”. I remember how I felt when she told me that story. That feeling is right here with me now.

When we moved to Ontario 2yrs ago, 1.5hrs away from our home, that didn’t change things. We still saw her lovely face every 2wks. Every 2wks she would show up on our doorstep, with grocery bags of left-overs from her kitchen. Because, as she said, what was she to do with all those leftovers? She didn’t know how to cook ‘small’. Often she’d have extra little things for the kids, and she’d include home-made jams, pickles and sauces of all kinds. Or she’d been on a shopping trip out of town and she’d grab one of my favorites, particularly British types of food that remind me of my own Nana who hailed from England just like Pat. Even if she had heard me say it before, she’d listen to me reminisce all over again about my Nana. Just smiling and nodding, while she unpacked the goodies. We’d do her nails while chattering away about our families, life, politics, what did the girls do in school, what mischief were the dogs up to, was hubby enjoying the last batch of tabloid magazines? We’d have dinner together sometimes.  She frequently insisted on treating us and wouldn’t budge when we wanted to treat her.  You don’t argue with Pat.  As much as she’s my friend, she still scares the crap outta me. I know when I’ve met my match. Then she’d trundle off in her car with a bag of empty Tupperware, likely already planning the next bag she’d pack for us.  That was her way of taking care of us, of nurturing us. She did it all, with a great big smile, a squishee hug and an emphatic kiss.  She never asked for anything for herself. Not once. Not ever.

Pat was finally getting her dream kitchen. Her kitchen was being refinished and she was so very excited about it. She was anxious and impatient.  She talked about it for months. Oh, the great things that she was planning. The wonders she intended to create in that new kitchen.  She was concerned it wouldn’t be ready in time for her to do Christmas dinner and she was annoyed that she wouldn’t get her Christmas baking done on time. When she was here last week, she was expressing her concerns and telling me that she’d finish up her baking after Christmas and bring us our basket then. (Which usually means we get lots more than most because we get all the left-overs). She was looking forward to her new kitchen. I was so happy for her. This was FOR HER. Something for her alone.

Then,… life got in the way of living…. I think that’s what happened. She’s always so busy fussing and taking care of everyone else and busy with “life”, that she doesn’t stop to take care of herself.  So, “life” got in the way of living.

I had to break the news to my girls this afternoon. One of the harder things I’ve had to do as a parent  I had a few hours to think on it. As I suspected, my eldest took it the hardest. So I did the only thing I knew of. That Pat had done for me when I was grieving over a miscarriage. I cuddled with her. We went and lay down under a blanket and cuddled. We cried and cuddled and then I told her what I know to be true. “Auntie Pat would want you to be happy. She doesn’t want to see you sad. She loves you and is so very proud of you. She would want you to go on living your life to the fullest”.

I expect that right about now, wherever she’s at, she’s raising hell. I’m sure she’s giving someone grief for daring to interrupt her when she has things to do, and people to take care of, and Christmas dinner to cook, and cookies to bake. I guarantee that someone is trying to hide while she rants in anger that her new kitchen is waiting for her.   Last but not least of all this, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that she is beside herself because all of her loved ones are crying and she’s not here to wipe their tears away and give them great big squishing hugs.

I don’t feel sorry for whomever she’s yelling at. They’ve got it coming and Pat’s always fair.

I literally have visions in my mind of this.  Short little Pat utterly irate, and some poor fellow’s trying to dodge her words that are like bullets. I won’t lie. I sat laughing at these visions in my head.  We all know it.  While Pat is a beautifully indomitable woman and we don’t want to be on the receiving end, it’s sure as heck funny to watch someone else get it.

Forever gone from our arms and home, always with us in heart and soul.

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My beautiful, indomitable Pat. With me always & forever. Aug 2nd 1946 to Dec 17th 2015