Spa Day!

Let me start by declaring a shocking truth about myself. I am NOT a spa girl. I don’t have the time, the money, or the patience to succumb to a day of lazy luxurious pampering. Over the years I’ve been given gift certificates for spa days offering everything from deep massage to mud baths and I’ve either given them away or utilized them for pedicures and even those only recently. I’ve always done my own manicures and pedicures and to this day I’ve yet to find an esthetician who can do it better than me. As for massages and mud baths,,,,,I just don’t like the idea of them. (OK, maybe I don’t really understand them) Unlike most people, I do not find massage relaxing. In fact, I find it hugely irritating. I think it’s because I’m uncomfortably ticklish and all the rubbing and prodding just makes me squirm, but given the increase in the number of new spas opening it would appear I am the exception, not the norm.

Clearly women love to be pampered and since I am a woman I decided to give it one more shot, if only to help me bond with my female friends. (surely I’m missing something?) I scouted out 3 local spas that are in close proximity to my home and reviewed their menu of services, (which was surprisingly diverse) and I was really shocked to see the kinds of treatments available. A basic facial seemed the safest route for me, a ‘spa novice’, but I would soon find out a ‘basic’ facial was hard to find.

Choices included a HydraFacial; this boasts ‘vacuum’ technology that creates a vortex effect to remove impurities while simultaneously introducing solutions that exfoliate, hydrate and infuse your skin with antioxidants”  (what?) That sounds like a lot of big words for a facial and it is recommended that one would need a minimum of 6 such sessions for best results. Each session costs $250.00. That’s a lot of money to vacuum my face. Next.

Then there’s Microdermabrasion. This procedure uses an abrasive surface to gently ‘sand’ away the thick outer layer of the skin to rejuvenate it. (you’re going to ‘sand’ my face, mmmm, I don’t think so) On the upside this procedure costs less than vacuuming your face, but not much, and it sounds like it would hurt. Next.

A chemical peel is a skin ‘resurfacing’ (sounds like they’re paving a road) procedure in which a chemical solution, usually Glycolic Acid, is applied to the skin to remove the top layers. (mother Jesus, are you kidding me, acid, on my face?) The skin that grows back after a chemical peel is smoother and younger looking. (nothing like a little acid to the face to give you that glow) Chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration and scars. Now I do have some experience with this procedure. My mother in law was very self-conscious about some age spots on her face and had this procedure done a number of years ago. I remember her face was beet red and looked really sore. In fact, she looked like a burn victim. It took weeks for her ‘new skin’ to surface and when it did I can’t say I noticed much improvement. Needless to say this procedure held little appeal for me and since I’m not interested in vacuuming, sanding or peeling an portion of my face I decided the facial route was not for me, so I moved down the menu.

‘Full-body’ massage typically includes your arms, legs, hands and feet, your neck and back, your stomach and buttocks and, they go on to stress, ‘it doesn’t have to include your sensitive areas’ and,  they say  ‘area around the breasts is usually massaged but not the breasts themselves’. (They call this massage? I call it foreplay) Maybe we’ll just skip the massage section.

A Mud bath is a skin treatment performed by covering an individual’s skin with a thin layer of rich, dark mud, or by immersing them in a pool of liquid mud. This mud typically consists of seaweed, volcanic ash, clay and other mineral rich substances that are mixed with natural or spring water. (Ok, you can fancy that up any way you want but mud is mud and the thought of having to clean it out of your body crevices conjures up an image most unappealing – where’s that ‘vacuum’ technology’ now?)

Interestingly though, this procedure is considered sanitary despite the fact that the mud is ‘reused’. (how gross is that?) It has to do with the amount of natural salts found in the mineral mixture. (ok, I’m not convinced) Salt or no salt, I’m not comfortable with the thought that the mud on my face could’ve been ‘elsewhere’ on another stranger. Besides, my only benchmark for the benefits of a mud bath is the common pig. They live in mud and look at their skin. Nooooo thanks!  (OK, I’m running out of services here)

I suppose I could look at waxing but even that service has expanded its’ parameters….just read the description of the ‘Brazilian Bikini Wax’, it’s guaranteed to make you bellow like Tarzan.

Now I love the thought of being pampered but I struggle with the definition of the word ‘pampered’. I just don’t see the appeal of rolling in mud, succumbing to a near sexual body rub, or having any portion of my body, least of all my face, vacuumed, scraped or peeled. Am I weird? In the absence of any like-minded women, I’m afraid I have to acknowledge that maybe I am.

At the end of the day I decided not to book anything at a spa. There’s too many choices there and none of them hold any appeal to me. So much for bonding with my female friends! Maybe I’ll just find a nice pottery class instead.

spa day

Parenthood is a life sentence

You’re in it for life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not for everyone and it’s not for the faint of heart.

I recall a young man I worked with some years ago who was married but childless by choice and his reasoning was interesting. He was the 2nd eldest of 11 children so it fell upon him and his elder sister to help rear the others. By the time he married he felt he’d already raised his children because from the age of 13 he’d been ‘recruited’ to help with the parenting.  (ok, I have to interject here…No woman should have to endure 11 pregnancies,,,what are we, machines? I suppose there’s the odd one who actually enjoys perpetual reproduction but surely they have to be the exception and I suspect his mother his would be easy to spot in a crowd. She’ll be the one with her bladder hanging between her knees)

Now his choice to remain childless is fine, if it was a personal preference. But if it was a result of his having to play the role of parent in his young life, that is most unfortunate. To foist the responsibility of raising a family on a young man, simply because his parents chose to over produce is unfair, and selfish on the part of those parents. I get that for many birth control, or the lack of it, is a religious choice but at some point common sense has to factor in. How effective a parent can you be with a large family? (as in this case 11) How much one on one time do you have to spend with these children? And they do need individual attention. More so today than ever.

I squeezed 3 humans out of my body and that was enough. I fell in love with each one as they arrived but I didn’t delude myself into thinking they’d be perfect, or that at age of majority they would move out of my charge and into the world after which I could wash my hands of them and ride off into the sunset. It never works that way and that’s because children, no matter how old need to be nurtured, and as much as you might have a plan for them, they have their own agenda. They didn’t come in to this world simply to please us. They will not be molded into the perfect beings we want, nor will they ever entirely remove themselves from our sphere of responsibility because once you bring a child into your life, you’re in it for life and too late you find out the worry never stops.

As infants you worry about illness or developmental challenges. As children you worry about their integration into school and bullying. The teen years bring a whole host of potentially frightening scenarios; everything from learning to drive, to peer pressure and drugs. Finally, they mature and marry or partner up with someone who cares about them and you temporarily have that sense of accomplishment – your work here is done. You have effectively passed the torch to another who will love and cherish your child. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ve chosen a career over marriage and that’s ok cause either way they have found their niche in life and they are happy.

But maybe the marriage/partnership doesn’t work so you worry about that. And of course, as responsible adults they have jobs, jobs with stress, and you worry about their happiness and their livelihood. Maybe they start a family and that brings you pride and joy. But now the cycle of worry begins again because our children’s children will face all the same challenges they did, the very ones you worried about; illness, development, schooling, friends, their life happiness, and you worry,,,because you are still a parent.

Now I’ve painted a gloomy picture and I didn’t mean to, because with all the worry of having children so comes tremendous joy. The tears you shed over their hurts and losses, the nights you stayed by their bedside watching over a high fever, the fear you felt the first time they went out at night with friends. All these are accompanied by the shared ‘firsts’; the first step, the first day of school, the first job, the first date. And through all these shared successes you found the time to laugh together, to learn from each other and before you know it, you forged a friendship moving from the role of parent to friend; this is the most rewarding part for me. At least I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I think this is what I learned from parenting, that it can be exhausting, and challenging, and expensive. It can also be exhilarating, rewarding and fun. I guess it’s what you make of it and we all do the best we can with the knowledge we have. Your children will not always do what you’d like but if you raised them to act responsibly and exercise good judgement, you have to trust that they will do what is right and respect them enough to give them free reign. Your work really is over, it’s just the worry that lingers, and that is the life sentence.

At the end of the day, the effort we put forth in raising our children is no less an accomplishment than those who commit their lives to finding cures for disease, or ending world hunger. Everyone contributes to the society we create and parenting is no less worthy. It’s just more personal.

If you’ve chosen to remain childless, good for you – not everyone’s life path includes 2.5 children, a cocker spaniel and the house with a white picket fence. If however, you’ve chosen to share your life with a child(s) fasten your seatbelt cause you’re in for the ride of your life and it’s a full time commitment. And once you’re in, there’s no going back.

Make the time or find the interest in mentoring your child because being a parent isn’t easy but it is a gift, and if you can’t find the joy in rearing your child, you’re doing it wrong.

Parenthood

Through the eyes of another

While at the hairdressers recently my stylist mentioned how much she enjoyed the blogs I wrote about my husband – they made her laugh. Like any dutiful wife I support my husband because he is truly a wonderful person; bright, kind, funny, just an all round great guy…… but I’m not blind to his faults and I get a kick out of making light of them. We shared a good laugh about husbands in general and she happened to comment that it would be interesting to read a blog written by my husband about me, and that got me to thinking.

Do we ever really know how we are perceived by others? I’d like to think my husband would describe me as smart, witty, fun, industrious, thoughtful, beautiful, even tempered……mmm??? Ok, he might not use that last one but you get my meaning here. I think we all like to see ourselves through the eyes of another in only positive ways. We acknowledge our flaws but we’d also like to think others overlook them when assessing our worth.

When I really give it honest thought I have to grudgingly admit that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as flawless as I’d like to believe. (can that be?) My husband has, on occasion, indicated that I could be impatient sometimes, and set in my ways. (Actually his exact words were short tempered and stubborn as a mule but I ‘softened’ them because I’m sure he didn’t mean it) Now I interpret that as my being a quick thinker and determined. He says I can be outspoken and impulsive. I see that as confident and decisive.  He says I can be overbearing and somewhat domineering. I say he’s wrong. He says I spend recklessly. I say he’s cheap. (could this all just be some big misunderstanding?)

Maybe there’s just too many adjectives in the English language to describe a single trait (or flaw), or maybe it’s individual interpretation of the words that change the meaning. Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say we all see ourselves differently from how others see us and we are all capable of justifying our behaviours to cast us into a more favourable light.

At the end of the day I think we all want to reflect the image of the perfect person; the good  Samaritan, the thoughtful partner, the well behaved and loving son/daughter, the supportive parent, and it goes without saying we just assume that all perceive us as smart, engaging and beautiful, right? Because we are, aren’t we?

The answer is yes. We all have our flaws. Whether we see them as such is personal interpretation and it’s sometimes, like my husband, we misinterpret certain characteristics labeling them as flaws, when really it’s just the observer reading me all wrong.

old lady and rolling pin

Don’t look back

I guess “old news” is like reading a history book. The facts are the reality and cannot be changed, and the hard part is facing the fact that reality isn’t always pretty. I’m the first to admit I am not a history buff. I hated studying history in school. Reading about the past was, in my mind, boring and most importantly, unchangeable, so why dwell on it? (I was so disinterested with history in high school my teacher offered to give me a passing grade if I promised not to retake his class…..ah, but I digress!) Over the years, many, many years, I came to learn that past experiences really do play an important role in our future. I also learned that letting go of the past isn’t always easy, but it is necessary if we are to move into that future successfully.

The experiences of our lives have fashioned the very beings we are today, good and bad, and what seemed intolerable in the past is now just that,,,,past…….so why is it so hard to move on? If ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ why can’t we embrace the bad experiences in appreciation for the lessons they provide?

Because we’re human; bursting with a variety of emotions, and riddled with insecurities.

My life isn’t always perfect. I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve felt great joy and tremendous pride. I’ve also endured immense pain and deep disappointment, but I survived. I rode on the crest of the highs with gratitude, and absorbed  the pain of the lows with tolerance, because giving up was never an option and I knew that after every storm the sun really does shine again. The latter insight I gained with maturity and experience.

Do I have any regrets? Yes and no. Yes, because I’ve said or done things in my lifetime I wish I hadn’t. And no, because those very same experiences, the ones I’d rather forget, gave me cause to reflect on what kind of person I was…….and more importantly, the kind I wanted to be.

You can’t change what was, you can only learn from it – I guess that’s the true value of the ‘history lesson’. Move forward with confidence and the knowledge that every day presents a new opportunity to do right by yourself and don’t look back. That’s old news, and your future is only as bright and sunny as your optimism will allow, so give it free reign. Cut the baggage loose and the rest will follow.

Forget the past.

Just remember what it taught you.

Old News