Today one of my students asked me how I got my fingernails so short. That made me laugh. For most of my life I’ve bit my nails. Last year, I tried to stop biting them. I’d give myself permission to bite one specific nail and let the others grow out until I had 10 beautiful (for me) long nails. I was successful for almost a year and then I let my old habit creep back in.
Habits, both good and bad, are simply routines that we get used to doing that soothe stress away or bring forward sweet comfort. Some people hum or whistle. Then there’s the twirling of the hair, rocking, pursing of the lips, biting nails, doodling, or twiddling thumbs. I have five of those habits. While our minds are busy, our habits take over without thought. The only way we notice our bad habits, is if someone brings it to our attention, or we see a video or picture of ourselves doing it. I once saw a video of me chewing gum and it was horrible. I looked like a cow chewing cud and to this day, I won’t chew gum in public unless I’m at church. Hopefully, no eyes are paying attention to me there.
Our bad habits, we don’t want noticed, but there are things I do purposefully to bring attention to myself. I’ve never been a person that likes to put on make up. At age thirteen, my mom let me buy all types of make up and for about a week, I would sit in front of the mirror and apply it. Then I stopped. It took up way too much time and I hated taking it off. I never developed a love for it. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I’d wear the occasional powder and some mascara, but as for foundation, eye shadow, eyeliner, and lipstick, I just couldn’t see that I needed them.
I was comfortable with my looks and I always thought, that I was far more than my outward appearance. All it seemed that people noticed anyway was my smile. My teeth have been an overpowering feature my whole life. Whenever anyone would say something about me smiling, I’d reply that I had to because I had WAY too many teeth. Now, I don’t claim that. I smile because I’m usually happy or maybe it IS a habit. Either way, I have accepted this gift that God bestowed on me in the form of my teeth.
John died a few weeks shy of my 45th birthday. Once I entered back into the world of the living, I discovered pedicures and I was hooked. I love to look down at my colorful toes and I can’t stand my heels being rough and dry. Before the pedicures, I never even noticed that my toes were colorless, or my feet were tough, or that the bottom of my feet felt scratchy on the sheets. Now, if that happens, I try keeping them scraped and I start thinking of when I can afford to get the next pedicure. About six weeks is as long as I can go without professional care of my feet. I’m not sure if that is now a habit or an addiction. But whatever!
Until the age of 50, I never wore lipstick. Voluptuous lips that look like they’ve been kissed and swollen are beautiful on models. However, not many people I know have those. Mine are almost non-existent on top and are thin on the bottom. (Blaming the teeth again)! I remember our church choir director, Randy, saying to us before a performance, “Ladies, please put your lips on because the lights wash you out.” I thought he was being dramatic, but I’m pretty sure now that he was right. I think I can count on one hand the number of times John saw me wearing lipstick in the 27 years we were together. I never considered wearing it as a beauty aid to be attractive for him.
One day, probably out of boredom, I put on some lipstick that had been sitting in a bathroom drawer forever. Amazingly that day, many people complimented how pretty I looked. Thanks to my friend, Robbi, I try to put it on every morning. It doesn’t last, but I do start the day off with it. It’s something that obviously has to be applied more than once a day. I haven’t obtained that habit yet.
Lipstick, I discovered, is almost magical! I can have it on and people inquire if I’ve gotten a haircut, or new glasses, or lost weight, or say I’m looking younger (smile). Sometimes I just say no. Sometimes, I reply, “It’s the lipstick!” I now own six tubes of lipstick and on Sundays, I apply it more than once! Working on building that habit.
There is a downside to lipstick. I hate that it comes off on straws and cups. I now have receipts in my car that have the outline of my lips on them because I do the ‘lip press’ to keep from getting the lipstick marks on my teeth after I apply it in the car. I don’t know what it’s like to kiss someone while I’m wearing it. Will it be messy? However, I’m sure the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to looking better.
Pedicures and lipstick; two more things that have changed along with my marital status and my age. Habits; biting my nails, twiddling thumbs, twirling hair, and biting the inside of my lips are somethings that have remained the same.
Whether, it’s outward appearance or inner peace, I’m thankful that I can claim it. Life goes on and change happens.