By Lisa Sugarman
Let me just say, before we really get rolling here, that I’m not what you’d call a girly girl. On the contrary; I’m actually way closer to the tomboy end of the spectrum than the girly girl side. I’m the girl who’d rather be digging in the garden (no gloves, of course) or running on trails or walking around in a trucker hat. That’s just how I roll.
But even in spite of the fact that I love getting down and dirty and prefer being what I call lumberjack casual most of the time, there are definitely times when I need to feel pretty or polished or together, just for me. And I think there are a lot of women, and men, who feel the same way. Unfortunately, though, we all lead busy lives, filled with husbands and wives and kids and jobs and crazy-long to-do lists, leaving very little time left over to dote on ourselves.
Because time in general is a commodity and for most people, free time to pamper yourself is, well, more or less nonexistent.
So while there’s definitely a part of me that would actually love to have a standing appointment to have my nails expertly painted and my hands luxuriously rubbed, the reality is that I just don’t have the time to commit to it every week or even every month. There are just too many other priorities that are higher up on my list. And I think that’s the case for most people.
What I’ve learned, though, is that the older and busier we get, the more important it becomes to indulge ourselves once in a while. And that’s because, the fuller our lives get with friends and family and commitments, the more our focus tends to be on them rather than on ourselves. In other words, we end up shoving ourselves to the very bottom of our own list. Right or wrong, it’s just what most of us do.
But the downside of focusing our energy and attention on everyone else is that our own emotional and physical self ends up neglected and weak. Our roots get gray; our cuticles get overgrown; our muffin tops get poochier; our muscle tone gets flabbier. And that’s just the exterior.
Chances are good that if you’re letting your exterior go because you’re focused on everyone else, your interior probably isn’t feeling so hot either. And we all know what that feels like—tempers get short, self-confidence shrivels, and critical thinking gets cloudy because you’re so pissed off about all the other stuff going to hell. Vicious, vicious cycle.
So the other day when my daughter Libby dragged me by the hair to get our nails done, I actually forced myself to drop the other forty things I was doing and put myself (and her) first. It was only an hour but it was a long, slow, quiet, lazy hour that culminated with the most exquisite gel manicure I’ve ever had. And let me just say that that hand rub and fresh coat of A Grape Fit elevated my mood and my confidence in ways that I’d forgotten a simple manicure could.
Funny how powerful doing something for yourself can be, isn’t it? Even something as little and quick as a manicure. I mean, it’s been like a week since I had it done and I still find myself staring at the shininess of the lavender and smiling. Indisputable proof that the little things really do matter. Especially the little things we find the time to do for ourselves.
Now I’m obviously not just talking only about manicures here. I’m talking about carving out the time to do whatever it is that makes you feel a little special or empowered. Maybe it’s treating yourself to highlights or lowlights or buying yourself a new pair of platform heels or a sassy lipstick. Or maybe it’s making a tee time for yourself and a buddy and grabbing a couple of Cohiba Sublimes and playing the back nine.
What I’m talking about here is prioritizing time for yourself. And how important that really is. Even if it’s not something you can swing on a regular basis. All that really matters is that you don’t forget about yourself entirely.
Whether it’s an hour or an afternoon or, if you’ve won the lottery, maybe even a whole day. And it could be for a mani or a pedi, a run or a walk, eighteen holes or a novel and your couch. Or maybe it’s just an aimless walk up and down the shoe aisle with nothing more to show for it than a new pair of pillow-soft insoles. It really doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is that it’s ok to be decadent every once in a while. Really. In fact, it’s highly recommended by me and by other super-credible professionals whose names escape me at this moment, so you’ll just have to trust me.
So put yourself first every once in a while, because, as the great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” (I’m sure he was talking about NASCAR racing when he said it, but we can pretend it’s more profound than that.)
Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods stores.