If you've read my blog with any regularity you know these past few years have been very difficult, with the cherry on top of the crap sundae being Beth's death almost six months ago. The pain is still so raw that at times it takes my breath away. Beth aside, I never knew how difficult it was to be out of work. I didn't understand just how much my identity was tied into earning a living. I was surprised to learn how necessary it was for me to make a difference in someone's life. I never imagined spending two hours filling out an on-line application for a receptionist job and being crushed to receive the 'thanks but no thanks' email three days later. Life has been pretty sucky. I look for the lessons in the muck. I try very hard to think positive thoughts and give thanks every day for what I do have. I know that my situation would be a vast improvement to many other folks but at the end of the day you're still going to bed with your own problems. So enough said - you get the picture that 2010 forward has presented quite a few challenges in my corner of the world.
One of my favorite indulgences is getting a pedicure. It's been my personal escape for years, my time to chill and be pampered and walk out with pretty toes. Needless to say I haven't gotten many pedicures recently, but yesterday I decided my mental health needed an hour of bliss and I had a few bucks stashed away. I used to get SPA pedicures, with soft music, warm neck wraps, and high prices. No longer an option, so I decided to try a nail place right around the corner from me: Kelly Nails, in Lombard, IL. It had good reviews and at $25, the price was right. From the moment I walked in I was treated wonderfully, the shop was spotless and welcoming, and the pedicure I received was excellent. I even got nail art - a butterfly and a flower. I sat and let the polish dry while receiving a neck massage (included!) and was thinking how nice it was to forget your problems for a while and just relax.
And then it happened. My day was made even better when Amy, the owner of the shop, came up to me and explained that a customer had taken care of my bill, including a generous tip for the nail technician. I thought it was a joke or maybe a mistake. I've never been in the shop before and knew no one there. The customer had already left and when I asked "why?" all Amy said was maybe it's because I was a "beautiful lady with light surrounding me." Two regular customers were sitting by me and heard the conversation; they both saw this customer talking to Amy and nodding toward me while giving her money. By now the tears were flowing, mine and Amy's and the two other customers. Amy said that maybe the customer was my angel and knew I needed to feel special. I don't think there's any maybe about it; she was definitely my angel, sent to remind me to hold on and continue believing that something good is just around the corner. I needed that reminder more than she could know, and while I'm sure my angel customer will never read these words, I hope she can feel the thanks and blessings coming her way. My day and my attitude took a decidedly positive turn because of the kindness of a stranger. Pay it forward, people. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture, it doesn't even have to involve money, just pay it forward - with a helping hand, a smile, a listening heart. We never know when we're making a memory or lifting a soul. And if you live near Lombard, IL, please give Kelly Nails a try. I can't promise you your own personal angel but I can vouch for an excellent pedicure that will put a smile on your face and color on your toes.