Never Done!

“Hello, my name is Mel and I am a Planner.”

There, I’ve publicly admitted it.   Of course, those who know me don’t need an admission.  They have known this about me for years!  There is always a list.  Okay, usually more than one at a time.  There’s the grocery list, often started when I get home from the store and realize I forgot several items.  Then there’s the “to-do” lists (notice that’s plural).  One for each day, of course.  And a house to-do list, which encompasses everything from regular household chores to larger-scale household projects I would like to do.  Then there’s the yard to-do’s, the job to-do’s, the education to-do’s, the life goal to-do’s.  I could go on, but I think you get the point.  And here’s a confession:  sometimes I do something that’s not on my to-do list, but write it on there and then cross it out for the sheer satisfaction.  I know, I really should seek help. . .

If I am planning some type of party, there are a multitude of lists.  There’s the guest list (then later the RSVP list), the menu list, which takes weeks to put together.  From the menu list (which is broken down into sub-lists of the different categories of foods, i.e. appetizers, main course, deserts), comes the shopping list, again categorized by dairy, produce, meats, dry goods, baking, etc.).  Additionally, there will be time-line lists for getting everything done over a period of time, rather than trying to do it all last minute.  Heaven forbid the party revolves around a theme like a holiday, because then we have to add a decorating list as well.  And a list for the extra cleaning that MUST be done before I will allow anyone into the house!  Whew, I’m tired just reading this!

Just while writing this blog, I’ve added several things to my “to-do” list for today.  For instance, I’ve thought of several more topics for this every-so-often blog.  And as i think of writing, there’s the book.  You know, the one each of us has inside us.  I also have to work on the talk I’m giving in a couple of weeks.  And an outline for a panel discussion I’ll be on next month.   See what happens??????

Sometimes my head feels like a pin-ball machine.  I walk into a room and, “PING!”, a new thought about something else to be done comes rolling out.  And as it makes its way through my brain, touching this cell or that, it loosens other hidden ideas and thoughts and before you know it, I’ve added 4 more items to one or more lists.

It’s a tortured existence I tell you!

I have several multi-section notebooks in which I try to keep some semblance of order to my lists.  Of course, the notebooks are only good for certain of the long term lists, like house projects, etc, that get revised over and over.  The shorter-term lists like groceries, are on recycled scratch paper that I don’t throw out until there is not one more inch of useable space on them.  I think it makes me feel better about using so much paper.

Which makes me think that I need to take some classes on the better use of technology.  I mean, for Pete’s sake, I still keep a hand written calendar!  Yes, i have tried to use Google calendar, but I find all the reminders so very annoying.  At least my multiple paper lists don’t beckon me at all hours of the night and day.  Well, they do, I suppose, but not out loud; just little pings in my own mind.

Now, where’s my list on courses to take?

The Sisterhood of the Pink Half-Gowns

Mine was the first name called out of the seven in the group and I chose the first dressing room.  “Remove your blouse and bra and put the gown on with the opening in the front.”  No other instructions were given, nor were they needed.

I put the pink half-gown on and held it closed not even bothering to figure out how to correctly tie it up, and put my clothing in the bright pink plastic bag.   I peeked out  and, not seeing anyone, walked out of the dressing room.  Just around the corner was a waiting room filled with other women in their pink half-gowns.  I asked if this was the waiting area and after getting an affirmation, sat in the only remaining seat.

The group varied in every way imaginable–age, race, and language–sex, and our pink wraps seemed the only commonality.  A couple of women conversed in a language I didn’t understand, but some were commenting on the time they had been waiting.  Another of the women in my group joined us and I offered her my seat, since there weren’t any and she was my elder.  Just then one of the original 10 was called and a seat freed up.   The older woman from my group sat and soon commented on the uncomfortably cool temperature in the room.  Conversations started or continued and more people from my group joined the existing group.

We were all there for one purpose–TORTURE!

Now my family has been blessed to have been given a twisted sense of humor, and this has served me well over the years and all the “situations” life has dealt me.  But I was delightfully surprised to find that same sense of humor on display in the torture chamber’s waiting room.  The elder woman from my group was quite a gasser!  Several of the woman had been there over two hours, being called in for the original torture and waiting now to find out if more awaited them or if they could give up their seat to a new victim.  The banter was quick and light, always playful, but with true empathy for those enduring trials of life that NO ONE should have to experience.

The elder woman referred to earlier was not-so-patiently awaiting further testing follow a mastectomy on one side and just recently (and within 5 years of the first surgery) a lumpectomy.   Having this torture performed on a part of the body already messed up with gnarled-up scar tissue is beyond painful, yet is part of life for some of these pink-gowned ladies.

The comaraderie in this group was inspiring!  Women of all ages, cultures and backgrounds, here for a common purpose, supporting each other, with a language everyone could understand and appreciate, humor.

Personally, I was called and returned back to the group a couple of times.   I think one of the worst part of the torture is that the person performing the tests cannot tell you anything.  So you are tortured further awaiting the call from your doctor stating all is well.

I am not worried for me.  My faith takes me to places some cannot reach.  But I genuinely pray for the rest of my group, the Sisterhood of the Pink Half-Gowns.

Resolve NOT to Resolve

So here we are, once again, facing the beginning of a new year.  I know I’m not alone in saying that time seems to by going by faster and faster.  For those of you as old as I am (or older), it feels almost like a 33 album on at the speed of a 78.  Spinning WAY too fast!

But  like it or not, time marches on and New Year’s Eve is looking us squarely in the eyes. 

Resolution making is days away.  Resolution breaking is right behind it.

I wish someone would help me to understand it. 

I do not dispute that each and every one of us should periodically look at our lives and spend serious time soul searching.   After all, we are all on a journey.  And whenever you travel, you must sometimes review the path you are on to make sure it is still the correct one to take you where you want to go.  And if it seems you are not heading correctly, you change your path.  I guess that’s what behind resolutions.

And I get all that.  There are certainly hundreds of things I can think of right this minute that I would like to improve about myself and my life.  

I also get that the end of one year and the beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on where you are on your journey and make decisions about how you are going to proceed.

But statistics show us that most people fail in keeping the resolutions they make on the New Year.  Let’s look at some of the more common resolutions:

  • I’m going to eat more healthy
  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to quit smoking
  • I’m going to save more money
  • I’m going to read more
  • I’m going to be kinder

The first two resolutions are a natural result of over-indulging over the entire holiday season.  Since Thanksgiving, many have been eating foods that are richer, going to more parties, and generally over-indulging more than during the rest of the year.  So the feeling of wanting to eat healthier and lose weight come quite naturally.  After a couple of weeks, the holiday bulk is gone and we are back to where we started before the holiday season began.  And the resolution goes by the wayside.

And those of us still smoking may truly want to quit.  But simply making a resolution not to smoke will not stop the physical cravings that will inevitably follow.  Willpower and desire are simply not enough to battle addiction.  And so we fail.

The desire to save more money (or use credit cards less, also quite popular with resolutions) like the first two, generally comes on the heels of over-spending during the holidays.  And like the first two, we spend a couple months being extra-frugal and not spending anything “extra” until we fool ourselves into feeling like we are doing good and “reward” ourselves for doing so well.  Another failure.

The last two examples, like many others, we may actually get further along with.  We might consciously make a list of books to read and acts of kindness to perform, but are we just checking things off a list or are we making life changes?  Because I think most of us fool ourselves into thinking that because we read more books or do more “kind” things, that we are achieving our goals.  And to some extent we are.  We are “reading” more books.  But are we creating a habit to incorporate learning and understanding into our lives?  Isn’t that the purpose of reading more?

From the above examples, you can see that by making these type of resolutions sets us up for failure.  We don’t lose weight, we just get off the holiday bulk.  FAILURE!  We don’t stop smoking; after two months of trying, we’re back at it.  FAILURE!!  We don’t save any money, just get rid of most of the holiday debt.  FAILURE!!!

Each “failure” we feel deepens our feelings of inadequacy.  So two months after making all our good-intentioned resolutions, we feel worse than we did when we made them.  And this sends us back to the drawing board and we start on the wrong path once again.

So I am proposing something a little different.  For myself, at least.  There are many places in my life that need improvement.  Like everyone, I could use to lose weight and eat healthier, but have conquered the cigarettes several years ago.  I certainly should save more money; after all, I would like to retire at a reasonable age.  You get the idea.

Actually, this past summer, I came across a “Gratitude Project”.  The goal was to make a real change in one’s life by daily finding at least one thing daily for which you are grateful and expressing that gratitude.  And every day, for over three months, I made this affirmation. 

So, at least with gratitude, I feel I am on a good path toward my goal. 

Another change I would like to make is to be less judgemental.  Like my big brother, Mike, was.  Today I caught myself no less than three times passing judgement on other people’s actions.  As though I am better than them. 

So I will use the Gratitude Project as an example and every day for at least three months, I will consciously try to make one small change in that direction.  And keep working on it until it becomes a true habit and I really see a positive change.

But I will NOT resolve this Saturday night to lose 10 pounds, eat less meat, save $100 a paycheck, to read at least 1 new book per month and to be as kind and loving as Sister Theresa.

Well, maybe I WILL resolve to lose the 10 pounds. . . .

How about you?

Vulcan Toes

So I’ve never done a blog before.  But I came home from having a pedicure today convinced I needed to share my story.  Thus the blog.

I must be a freak of nature.  Everyone I know loves getting pedicures.  And manicures.  And massages.  And all sorts of pampering.  What’s wrong with me?

Until my daughter Courtney’s birthday last year, I was quite content in never having had a pedicure.  Until then, I enjoyed doing my own nails.  Actually, I found it very relaxing (when I found the time to do it).  But, everyone told me what I was missing!  How much I would enjoy the pampering!

Courtney suggested we (she, Cait and I) first get pedicures and then go shopping and have lunch for her birthday.  Not wanting to disappoint, I went along with the whole experience.

We selected an untried place, close to the interstate,  We were the only customers at 10:30 in the morning on a work day, so we sat together and each had a different technician.  I was in the middle of my girls, so that I could absorb all their knowledge in what was happening. 

I felt a little bad for my technician because I knew my feet were in terrible shape.  I was over 50, and like every other part of the body, time had started to take it’s toll on my poor dogs.  There were calluses and cracked heels and, of course, my vulcan toes. 

Yes, I said Vulcan Toes.  You know.  As in the Vulcan salute made so popular by iconic character Spock of  Star Trek.  Where the four fingers of the hand split in twos and separate into a “V”.   Well, my toes split open just like that. 

Distracted by the hammer shape of my toes, I never really noticed that they also split into a “V” until my awesome daughter, Caitlin, starting sticking things in between them. 

Yes, you heard me right.  The child that I loving reared into adulthood sat on the sofa with me and, as I dozed after an exhausting day and a cocktail, put bamboo sticks and candy wrappings in between the gaps.  Love that child!

And let me mention for the record that my “pinky” toes are fat and sausage-like with tiny little nails that are very difficult to see because they hide under the toe next to them.

Now that you have a visual, you can see that giving me a pedicure is a challenge for even the most experienced technicians.  Back to my first time.

Court suggested I try the massaging chair.  Despite my trying different settings, the rotating balls behind me kept thrusting into my back, forcing me forward at measured intervals while I was trying to appear relaxed!  OK, not my cup of tea.  Court’s technician offered her some type of razor for the calluses on her feet and Cait’s technician was suggesting an eyebrow wax.  Obviously, this pedicure business was filled with land mines you had to avoid! 

So my technician was AWE-SOME!  Did you hear the angels’ voices just now when you read that word, AWE-SOME?  She made my feet feel like they did when I was in my twenties.  Very soft and supple and hardly any hard spots left at all.  And she trimmed the thickened nails so that you couldn’t even tell and polished them to perfection.  She also did this massage thing on my calves that I really didn’t like too much, but at least she wasn’t trying to sell me anything extra like the girls were dealing with.  I didn’t realize then that she probably didn’t want to work on any other part of me after getting a load of my feet!

As an aside, the rest of our day was great.  But this blog is about my experience with pedicures.

Because my feet stayed really nice for about a month, I decided that having a pedicure on a regular basis was a good idea.  WRONG!

Hoping to get the same technician, I went to the same nail shop a little over a month later.  Unfortunately, my loving technician was not there, but a willing little lady brought me to a chair and started to work. 

In a short time, I felt like I was part of a porn flick.  This pretty little lady was sitting between my legs, rubbing my feet and legs and smiling lovingly at me.  This was really uncomfortable and I asked her to stop massaging me.  Perhaps it was because my girls were not there with me, but this tech just wasn’t as good as the first one.  While she was polishing, I noticed she used the remover on a brush or Q-tip to clean up some areas where the polish had gotten on my toes.  Since I messed up and needed to do that all the time, I didn’t think much of it.  Finally she was done, and left me sitting in the massage chair for quite a while. 

When she came back, she yelled at me!  “You mess up!  I fix two times and you mess up again!”  I had clearly disappointed this woman who, less than an hour ago, had smiled lovingly at me while massaging my calves.  This time she slapped the toe separators back on me and made me walk to the front of the shop where the drying fans were, yelling at me as I followed her, “CAREFUL!  NO MESS UP!”  Fearing for my life (or at least my toes), I followed the nail nazi until she pointed for me to sit in front of the drying fan and she once again fixed my polish and put my feet under the fan.

Needless to say, I did not return to that shop.  I found one closer to home, where a sweet, young, quite pregnant Asian lady was happy to take me to a pedicure station.  This young woman was quite chatty and, despite her faltering English language skills, we had a wonderful conversation.  When I asked her name, she answered, “Karen”.  I thought it odd, but I called her Karen and she did a wonderful job.  She was studying not only English, but was taking other classes at a local school.  My pedicure was great and my belief in papmering myself in this way was affirmed.  The following month I visited “Karen” again.  The only hitch was that no one at the Asian nail shop knew her by that name.  Thankfully, she saw me walk in and brought me back.

I missed a couple of months and was quite self-conscious that my nails were getting long and the polish was looking nasty.  So just before Thanksgiving I stopped in a mall nail shop since I had to be in the mall anyway.  Big mistake.  My nails remained WAY too long.  I think they do this purposely so that you need to come back in sooner.  Especially me with my hammer toes where my toes curl downward. 

Unable to get back before Christmas, I went back to the shop where Karen works today.  Although it is an observed holiday and schools, banks and government agencies are closed, they had only three technicians available today.  All were busy when I arrived, so I was told to sit at station 9, which I did.  A technician started the water, so I could start soaking.  Unfortunately she forgot to turn on the cold water, so I burned my toes.  I SHOULD have known the rest would not go well!

I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I left an hour and a half later with smudges on both my big toes and dried nail polish on the toes next to them.  My nails are still too long, and the male technician scolded me to be “Careful!”  Darn my cursed vulcan toes!