Retreat and recharge

I’ve spent the past two Sunday mornings at the spa. (I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a churchgoer.) This is actually a relatively new thing for me; I haven’t regularly indulged in this before. I got my first facial ever shortly after I turned forty (not long after I colored my hair for the first time), but didn’t really feel much of a drive to do it again until about six months ago, when I cashed in a birthday gift certificate at a new spa in town. I treated myself that day – not just the facial, but also a half-hour massage, a manicure, and my very first pedicure (at the advanced age of forty-three!).

Now I’m trying to get the facial, manicure, and pedicure done every couple of months. I’ve been into basic skin care for many years, which is one reason my morning routine takes awhile. I’ve got a collection of moisturizing body washes, exfoliants, and lotions that’s helping keep The Body Shop in business, and facial cleansers, toners, and moisturizers have been staples for me since I was in high school. I guess it’s been worth it, as I’ve been told by the estheticians that my skin is in very good condition, but the facial (and to be honest, the waxing that usually accompanies it – tweezing my brows is not high on my favorite-activities list) is a special and worthwhile treat.

I’ve always been skittish about my tender feet – I don’t even go barefoot much, they’re ticklish, and I’m not crazy about having them touched – and that’s what kept me from getting pedicures for so long; but once I took the plunge, I was sold (and the technicians at this spa handle my feel very well). The nail-polishing part of a manicure is almost a waste for me, since I’m terrible at keeping it intact – I’ll probably be taking it all off before next weekend – but it does stay on my toenails very well. It’s the maintenance that I really appreciate, though – the skin treatment, the nail shaping, the cuticle cleanup – as well as the fact that someone is willing to be paid to do it. (I really don’t think I’d want to pumice someone’s heels.) It’s almost a meditation experience for me, especially during the pedicure – I’m lying back in the chair, I have an eye pillow on, and if the tech isn’t too chatty I can be very mindful of the physical experience.

My agency had its annual – to become semiannual – retreat for the management staff this past Friday. We spent the day away from the office doing team-building exercises and reviewing the year, and setting goals for the year ahead. The plan is to assess those goals in six months, which is why the retreat will become semiannual; we’ve noticed that the big-picture stuff has a tendency to slide in the day-to-day business if it’s not getting looked at more often than once a year. (For my department, and for me personally, that’s been particularly and painfully apparent this year.)

Different experiences, but with a similar effect and outcome – time out of the routine that refreshes the mind and body, and helps provide a burst of energy to tackle what comes next. It can be hard to remember how that feels in between experiences, but it’s important, both for its own sake and for what it leaves behind.

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  1. Madame M. – My cuticles get pretty raggedy, and I’m prone to hangnails, so I actually like that part of the process, but is there something I should know?