No, my title doesn’t refer to the late great Billie Holiday (though I am certain she would appreciate the idea). Rather, it concerns something that my friend Carolyn and I (and occasionally her daughter Katie) have come to see as part of our Woman Ritual.
It refers to a manicure-pedicure day. Our Lady Day time. Sometimes we celebrate it with wine, but often with Diet Dr. Pepper and/or Diet Coke. If our budgets allow and our calendars match, we try for a monthly date.
Lady Day is sheerly for pampering. We all need those times. I expand my definition of Lady Day to include Hair Day and even Massage Day. Those are all just for me.
Today was Hair Day. I’ve been gone for 3 months, and my hair showed it. My color had faded out, my hair had grown a lot, and I have been reduced to pulling it back with a ponytail holder or catching it up with a barrette. It’s summer, and I do not want hair on the back of my neck. My hair had grown so much that last week I had to drop by my hairdresser’s for a triage — my bangs desperately needed cutting. I had to have my driver’s license renewed and while I can live with the color difference, I could NOT live with straggly bangs. Sorry. These photos are bad enough without that problem. Today, though, was the full deal — color and cut and blow-out. Now I feel renewed.
Or at least partially renewed. When I look at my hands (short nails, messy cuticles), and my toes (uncolored and short nails), I realize that those must be attended to as well. I’ve had one mani-ped in Greece while I was there, and basically dealt with the nails myself, but now they just look sadly neglected. Especially with newly done hair. So I just might have to deal with that today. Oh, and throw in a brow-wax while you’re at it — that’s another vital component of my Lady Day. Yes, I suspect that I will make time for those today.
When I was younger, I never paid much attention to my nails and painted my toes myself. But for the last 10 years or so, this has become girl-time to visit with a friend. Plus I get a foot massage at the same time, which is always welcome.
And as far as the massage? Another indulgence, one I can date to the last six and a half years or so. Another monthly indulgence (if the budget stretches). One I’ve come to value not just for the fact that I leave without knots under my shoulder blades (a residual of tension, grading, writing, and now just writing and working at the computer). Rather, it’s something quite different. I zone out so much that occasionally I awaken myself with snores. I’d say that’s relaxation beyond a mere massage to get rid of knots. One is scheduled for tomorrow. I treated myself twice while I’ve been gone, both times for shoulder/neck tension relief. Tomorrow, though — 90 minutes. Nirvana.
My time with women friends and my level of stress always got attention during the last 5-10 years with these Woman Rituals. We do so much for others and often neglect ourselves. These are small things that allow us to self-pamper, at least when we can. In lives filled with taking care of homes and family and pets and the immediate world (or at least that’s what it often feels like), we can take a bit of time for ourselves, catching up with gossip and important details of our lives.
So after three months away, I feel the need for my regular Woman Rituals. I was feeling bedraggled by last Thursday, when I returned to the U.S. I already had the hair appointment. I can walk in for mani-pedis. But my massage had to be scheduled, and I took care of that yesterday.
Why, you might ask, is it important to have these Rituals? I’m sure many of us do without. I know I did for many years.
After all, I could (and did) take care of my own hair — once I’d gotten a good cut. I colored it myself for years. But somehow the color just didn’t satisfy me anymore. I’d reached the stage I never though I would — where I gladly pay someone else to take my hair into her hands, not just for cutting but for coloring. Somehow it does look much better than the monthly-to-six-week-pick-your-box-up at the market treatment.
And I could (and do) take basic care of my nails, hands, and feet. But again, with a professional, they just look better. And again, it’s attention I often skip if I’m doing it myself. This way, they look decent much longer. Even if I manage every 6 weeks, I am happy.
The massage? The best I could manage on my own — a hot bath. Maybe one of those massage mats. But nothing really does the trick unless you’re on a massage table getting the knots taken care of.
Oh I guess I could manage without all of this. I often did. Many women do.
Women and men both have (and need) their particular rituals. Those things that relax us, that fill some need for pampering and indulgence. When we give a lot of ourselves to others in runnings households or working, we need to give ourselves something to renew us, if we can manage it. If budgets are small or children are young, just managing some alone time is a treat. A long bath. Soaking in the tub. Doing your own nails if you can’t get someone else to do them.
But as I’ve gotten older and my budget has grown enough to stretch, I indulge myself.
Thus Lady Day. And Hair Day. And Massage Day. Back on home territory, I feel the need to renew myself for the summer sauna that we live with on the Gulf Coast. Being renewed with my rituals will prepare me to enter my life here again.
This week, though, my friend Carolyn and I found that our calendars didn’t match. I think she went with her daughter and her son’s girlfriend. That’s okay. The girls have learned the importance of such rituals. We’ve passed on the secrets of the sisterhood.
Pampering yourself when you can keeps you feeling good, and it allows some girl-time with friends. It also keeps you going when you’re stressed, when the calendar’s full, and when you’re frantic. For a couple of hours, at least, you have to stop, slow down, relax, and just breathe.
So now? I have put on my flip flop sandals, which are what I need when I head out for a manicure and pedicure. After all, I don’t want to smear the polish!