Finding a connection at the nail salon

April 24, 2024


Today’s post is one of those ones that are like a chat over a coffee with some friends. I need to get more NZ trip posts done but lack the energy. Those posts require a lot of energy as there are a lot of photos and videos to sort through, make selections, and then edit and then once in the blog they need meta tags etc etc. I decided to give myself a break and do a simpler chatty post this week, and a trip to a nail salon last week was the inspiration for today’s post.

Recovering from the chaos of the last several months

For a long time now whenever I’ve had time at home, I have not wanted to go anywhere because time at home was so scarce. I’ve needed solitude, rest, and the time at home to recharge. I need to start getting back to as normal a life as I can though. It’s time. I feel like I’m transitioning again. Another phase of life. Lots of change and more to come. With every major change in my life, I change. I feel different. I dropped a lot of balls in order to cope with everything I’ve had to deal with lately – catching up with friends, my art, running errands and getting things done, jobs around the house, even the blog for a little while, and more.

My life has changed, and I’m changing with it ~ Sophie Kinsella

Now that the family home has sold I am not feeling quite as stretched. My sister (also retired) and I decided it was time to organise our visits to Mum in a way that gives us a little more space to be able to get back some of our prior lives but still ensuring Mum has a visitor on most days. We’ve arranged it so that one week one of us visits two days and the other visits three days and that rotates around between us week to week. Another sister visits on a Saturday. A brother, sometimes on a Wednesday. This routine makes sure that one of us visits Mum at least six days per week but sometimes seven. This will be my life for now and so it’s time for me to try and build my life back up around those commitments so that I can fill my cup in order to be the strongest and best I can be to face what life throws at me. It sounds easier than it actually is … because I’ve kinda been operating in crisis mode for some time now … but to go into that would probably need a whole other blog post.

Getting out of the house

On Thursday last week I decided to get out of the house and run a few errands. I had run out of conditioner for my hair and also this fabulous oil for my hair that adds a bit of shine (but you have to use it sparingly). So I dropped into my hairdresser’s and picked those up and had a bit of a chat while there. Next I needed to go to Specsavers. For the first time ever since I’ve been wearing glasses (which is a long time now) BOTH pairs of my reading glasses have scratched lens. Both are scratched pretty badly but one is worse than the other. I’ve been living with them like this for ages as I’ve had no time to do anything about it. I don’t know how it happened but I’m assuming I had a lapse of consciousness and put them in my bag or somewhere without protection and voila – ridiculously scratched lenses that I can barely see through! So after chatting with a girl there I decided to just get one pair fixed. Turned out cheaper to send my frames off and get new lenses put in them (rather than getting entirely new frames etc) but it will take around 3 weeks. That’s ok! Meanwhile, I’ll get by with the lesser scratched of the two! There was no point me spending the money to get both pairs fixed because after recovering from my surgery in August I will need to be retested and new scripts will probably be issued – most particularly for my right eye.

An unexpected connection that woke me up and touched my heart

Next I decided to treat myself to a mani/pedi before heading home for lunch. I usually go to a different salon but since I was at this shopping centre I decided it was more convenient to get it done there. It’s funny because most of my adult life I never had mani/pedi’s. Probably only a handful of times for special occasions! I was low maintenance for sure. However, in my more mature years I find having a mani/pedi makes me feel better. More put together. I also really, really enjoy those massage chairs! There’s also the fact that I am TERRIBLE at putting nail polish on myself. I get it everywhere! I try and stretch them out to once every couple of months. In winter I usually give my toes a break but like to keep getting my fingernails done. I don’t like flashy nails – just neat and fresh looking nails. I generally stick to red on my toes and french on my fingernails, and these days I keep my fingernails reasonably short because I want to be able to do stuff! 

On this day at the nail salon, I had a lovely Vietnamese lady doing my nails. She was wearing a mask so I didn’t really get a good look at her face but she appeared to be more mature than her young colleagues, maybe in her 40’s. While she did my toes it was pretty quiet. We didn’t communicate too much. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the massage chair as it worked away at my back getting out aches and knots and stress. Then we moved across to the fingernails area and were on the same level face to face and we began to talk. It required so much concentration on my part because not only did she speak with her Vietnamese accent but she was wearing a mask too! The conversation started when she told me I looked tired. I told her I am tired, and that I have had trouble sleeping quite a lot lately. She asked did I have worries. I then gave her a brief version of the fact I’d cared for my Mum at home for years but recently had to move her into residential aged care, and how she’d had a fall and broken her hip and been hospitalised and had surgery, and how during all of this I was having to pack up a massive family home of 61 years for sale which was on the other side of Brisbane etc. She sympathised and she looked me in the eyes and said … at least your Mum is nearby. My Mum is in Vietnam and I worry all the time, she said. Her Mum is 76 (I think that’s what she said) and she has health issues. My questions determined that her brother and his wife live with her Mum and look after her but they ‘get busy’ she said and she worries. She told me she’d been living in Australia for 20 years. I asked if she got back to see her Mum often and she said not much as it’s too expensive. A very big wake up call to me to be grateful that I can be with my Mum – she’s nearby. A reminder to shift my focus from all that is challenging in my life lately to one of gratitude and all the things to be grateful for. I can’t imagine how it would be to be in a different country to her but I know I wouldn’t like it, and I would worry a lot, so I sympathised with this lady. We chatted more about children and grandchildren and various things but it was the worry about our Mum’s that formed a very palpable connection. I felt it. She felt it. When we were done, she squeezed my hand and said “good wishes for your Mum and do take care of yourself more, you need to sleep”. I said “thank you, I’m trying my best and please take care of yourself too because I know how draining constant worry can be and good wishes to your Mum too”. She came around the table and we had a hug before I left. 

That experience with the Vietnamese nail technician (that’s her and my foot pictured above), whose name I never got, really touched my heart. We’re all the same, with similar worries. The connection with this lady over the shared worry about our Mums was unexpected but the highlight of my day because she saw me and I saw her. It felt special.

Connection – the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship ~ Brené Brown

Ciao for now,

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  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid April 24, 2024 at 6:45 am

    Aww that story warmed the cockles of my heart. As someone whose mum was poorly and in a different country, I can vouch for how challenging it is and yes, proximity is something to be grateful for but it also brings it’s own sets of challenges, like the visiting juggle! I can only begin to imagine the toll the last few months have taken – you have been riding quite the rollercoaster – but I hope you can find your groove and adjust to the new normal. So pleased you went to the nail salon, not just because you took time for yourself but because you had that wonderful connection and bonus points for hugs!

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Sammie, I’m glad you enjoyed my little story … and yes I did think of you actually … being so far away from your Mum when you were living here in Australia. The visiting juggle is real … and certainly an issue when one wants to go away on a holiday! We’re kinda tending to stick to short holidays at this point for that reason, and more. I’m hoping the rollercoaster will stop for a long while so I can find a new normal and have less cortisol running through my veins! xo

  • Reply Astrid April 24, 2024 at 7:16 am

    I am so glad you found this connection at the nail salon and took it as an opportunity for gratitude. Remember, it doesn’t mean your worries are any less valid. I mean, yes, it could always be worse. I am almost jealous of your Mum for getting visitors six days of the week because I, living in residential care myself, only see my spouse once a week and my mother-in-law every other week (I don’t see my parents or sister much at all for reasons that go beyond the scope of this comment). However, at least I do get visitors, while some of my fellow residents don’t even see their families at all.

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Astrid, I’m always trying to find positives and seek out opportunities for uplifting experiences. I have a tendency to wallow and overthink and worry during stressful or challenging times and I’m aware of that .. so always mindful to try and stop myself getting too maudlin. I’m sorry to hear you don’t get to see your spouse and relatives as often as you like. I guess that’s where this online world is helpful – friends and company at your fingertips! xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris April 24, 2024 at 8:01 am

    Hi Min, I love connections like this and you described it all so well. A great chatty, positive post with a lovely connection that you both felt and probably needed at the time. Last week I had a pedicure with my daughter and my 5 yr old granddaughter sat watching on her mother’s lap. The technician offered to paint Emilia’s nails the same as her mum’s and she loved it! We all enjoyed the experience. I hadn’t had a pedicure until I was in my 40s! I don’t like my fingernails so never have a manicure but enjoy the odd pedicure :). Hope all is well and you are getting some well needed sleep x .

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Deb, I love connections like this too. Unexpected. Out of the blue … but they really touch you and so I thought why not write about it! How lovely to have gone for a pedicure with your daughter and granddaughter! I’ve only started having pedicures in the last decade and love them! I don’t like my nails either but I like them more than I used to now they’re beeing looked after properly. I still don’t like flashy nails though – just classic, fresh and smart will do me so as not to draw too much attention to them and so that I can still do all that I want to do. As for sleep – I’ve discovered ‘Restavit’ – over the counter tablets that help me sleep. I only take 1/2 a tablet but they help to switch my brain off and allow me to get some sleep. xo

  • Reply Natalie April 24, 2024 at 8:34 am

    Hi Min, I’m glad you treated yourself to a mani/ pedicure and had a heart-warming connection with the nail technician. I hope your week continues bringing you simple delights that help your recovery process. Take care and have a great week!

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Natalie, thank you. I’m always looking for positives to uplift me and help me along this path I’m travelling these days. Hope you have a great week too! xo

  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 April 24, 2024 at 9:22 am

    Hi Min, I agree with Natalie that it is good you took time for yourself and what a lovely experience you had. Sometimes, strangers can make a difference can’t they and can help you find clarity. You still have your Mum and whilst her circumstances aren’t how you want them to be you have time to spend with her and make the most of your time together. As you know I lost my Mum, 38 years ago this coming June. I was 29 with two children under 5 and although she had been ill with breast cancer for ten years I still felt her loss keenly. Take care, Min and sending a big hug to you. x

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Sue, it was an unexpected little spark of joy in my day. I think sometimes strangers can offer more than people that know us better might do. Yes I know how you lost your Mum so long ago and it makes me very sad for you and for her and for the rest of the family. To be only 29 with two young kids – that would have be so hard Sue. You have so much empathy from me and I know you’d miss your Mum still to this day. I know that I miss my Dad every single day since we lost him nearly 7.5 years ago. Hugs back for you! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan April 24, 2024 at 10:44 am

    This was a heart warming and lovely post from you today sharing the connection you made in such a simple yet profound way. Each of us humans is CONNECTED in one way or another, and not all people are sharers..(I am, and have to remember this) and I loved that you and another lady connected this way.
    Self-care IS sometimes about getting your nails done..but more than anything, it is remembering to care for you FIRST that is something I can see now emerging from your updates.
    We can only run on adrenalin for so long before “we” break down.
    Do keep finding those life ‘glimmers’ everyone is mentioning these days Min.
    You are in my thoughts.
    Denyse x

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Denyse, I think that the older I become the more spiritual I become as I need a deeper understanding of how we are here and why we are here and all those kind of things. I do believe we are all connected and come from the same place and that is the place where we go back to when we die. I’m finding that self care is essential for me at the moment. I’ve been living on adrenaline and have had too much cortisol rushing through my veins for a long time. So now I’m finding ways back to a calmer, more peaceful existance and thankfully I do know myself quite well and know the kind of things that help me. Some are easier to find time to do than others though but I’ll get there. Time in nature is something I need much more of than I am currently getting but I’ll get there! Thanks for your kindness Denyse! xo

  • Reply Leanne | April 24, 2024 at 11:01 am

    Hi Min – you’ve been carrying a huge load and I’m so glad you got the chance to rest, be pampered, and to have someone “see” you and connect with you on a level you really needed. I’m sure she appreciated the connection and care in her day too.

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Leanne, thank you so much. It sure has been a lot lately. This was such a lovely moment at the nail salon that I knew I needed to write about it. xo

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee April 24, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    We are all more simillar than we realise. It’s good to always remember that. We’re never really alone, we just haven’t asked the right questions.
    I’m glad you and your siblings can share the laod. It’s a lot of work, and emotionally eroding. Good to have breaks when you can so as not to get overwhelmed.
    I hope your mum is settling in and beginning to make freinds/

    • Reply Min April 24, 2024 at 2:16 pm

      Hi Lydia, yes we often think we are alone with the struggles we have to face but generally there are others with the same struggles or similar. Sadly it’s a bit hard for Mum to make friends really. She can’t speak – her words come out as gobblygook. She can generally say yes and no and sometimes another word might come out like – was nice – was delicious – though they might need deciphering. She’s also bedridden apart from three days a week being hoisted into a regency chair for a few hours. You can see why I find it hard to sleep. It’s not fun. It’s heartbreaking. xo

  • Reply Joanne Tracey April 24, 2024 at 3:13 pm

    We really are all the same, aren’t we? I don’t enjoy manicures at all, but do like a pedi – although am in the process of losing my big toenail at the moment (after the walk) so won’t be going to the salon for quite some time! Take care …

    • Reply Min April 25, 2024 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Jo – yes we are at the core! I must say that I do prefer a pedi over a mani but I do like a manicure to keep my dry ‘ol cuticles in order and restore some order. Oh poor you and your toenail. ‘The walk’ – I think I have some catching up to do! Hope it heals up quickly! xo

  • Reply Joanne April 25, 2024 at 3:57 am

    Aw, that sounds like such a touching conversation and a real moment of connection for you both.

    • Reply Min April 25, 2024 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Joanne, yes it felt a bit special! xo

  • Reply sherry April 25, 2024 at 12:21 pm

    how lovely Min to have that connection. It is a wonderful thing to find someone who understands!

    • Reply Min April 25, 2024 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Sherry, it was a lovely moment. Of course she doesn’t know me or understand in any depth but the general understanding was there and that was so nice! xo

  • Reply Jeanne April 25, 2024 at 11:35 pm

    I just found your blog today, and already I love your writing style. Your thoughts echo mine. I’m looking forward to reading more and occasionally linking up (:

    • Reply Min April 26, 2024 at 10:49 am

      Hi Jeanne, thank you so much! I look forward to getting to know you and look forward to reading your posts!

  • Reply Bernie Cruikshank May 2, 2024 at 1:09 pm

    Taking care of the caregiver is always low on the caregivers list but it does need to happen. The switch to gratitude is an excellent way to turn the mindset around and that can help with stress and sleep. I practise a moment of gratitude at bedtime and think of three things I am grateful each day. I am so glad you stopped in for the mani pedi and that you connected with this woman who shared your concerns.

    • Reply Min May 8, 2024 at 11:37 am

      Hi Bernie, taking care of the caregiver sure does need to happen as I’ve found out. I’ve nearly crashed and burned many times. It’s not just the actual ‘caring’, it’s the trauma of what it does to your soul to see someone you love with all your heart disappear and decline bit by bit right in front of your eyes and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Gratitude is the only way to keep your head in a positive state and to keep your perspective right. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! xo

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan May 4, 2024 at 11:08 am

    What a heartwarming encounter. You were absolutely meant to go into this salon rather than the place you visit more regularly. And if you hadn’t looked tired and had the knots in your back, the nail technician might not have asked how you were feeling. Then shared her story with you. I love how things like this happen. Glad you treated yourself to a little pampering and in doing so gained a shift of perspective. Bless your heart. I am glad selling and moving everything out of the house is behind you. We were spared that huge job by our parents but I have been right there for all the health care and suicide watch for our mom. My brother had to do the day-to-day visits and had a huge burden in that. But my sister and I were ready to and jumped on many a plane at a phone call’s notice to help out. I always wonder what the elderly do who have no children.

    • Reply Min May 8, 2024 at 11:47 am

      Hi Leslie, yes it’s funny how things happen out of the ordinary because the ‘universe’ must’ve made it so. The amazingness of this moment certainly wasn’t lost of me which is why I decided to write about it. I’m glad you were spared the job of selling and moving everything out of your parents house. It was awful and I’m still haunted by it. My family home of 60+ years now in the hands of other people. It’s hard to believe and I get stabs of pain often and have to think of something else. I often wonder what elderly do that have no children too. It’s a bit too sad to think about isn’t it?! xo

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