My Mother-in-law hated for anyone to touch her. I’m sure Jean let her husband touch her, but if anyone else, even her sons, touched her, she would flinch.  She was the most rigid person I have ever met, shoulders constantly scrunched, and she walked a little hunched over.  She and my husband mercilessly teased each other, and one of Duane’s best ways of getting her was to grab her neck – boy would she jump.  Not surprisingly, in her mid 60’s Jean was diagnosed with Osteo-Arthritis in her back, neck, hips and knees.  She couldn’t even bend over to clip her own toenails, and when I suggested she get a pedicure, I received the most shocked and incredulous look ever.

So, I did them for her.

She didn’t ask me to give her pedicures.  In fact, out of pride she went months without tending her toes, but they got so bad, walking was more painful for her feet than her knees, and she finally relented the next time I offered.  Every couple of weeks, I would sit on the floor at her feet, and groom them – clipping nails and cuticles, and filing calluses.

To say I didn’t enjoy this task is an immense understatement!  I dreaded it!  A person’s feet are the lowest part of their body.  So, in my small brain, the person who touches them and grooms them must be even lower than that, right?  Slave-like and subservient was my sad perception of Nail Technicians who give pedicures…sitting on stools, while the pedicure-ee sits in a raised, throne-like, vibrating chair reading a magazine or talking loudly on the phone, never once saying a word to the nameless person providing a personal foot-grooming and massage.  I gathered these observations, and made this determination while getting manicures – a service given face to face, where I could converse respectfully with my manicurist.

I, like Jean, had never gotten a pedicure.

I continued my nail duties for my Mother-in-law until my husband and I moved away, chasing our careers.  My Father-in-law took over, but within a few months Jean started getting professional Pedicures.  She was finally able to overcome some of that touch anxiety (either that, or it was the lesser of two evils: Pain from her husband’s nail clipping vs. a stranger giving her wonderful relief).

At the same time, my first quarter at the new job saw great results for myself and the company; so the female owner of this amazing Tech Head-Hunting firm took the all-female team out for a day at a spa.  Oh Crap! I was either going to explain to my boss the reason I didn’t feel comfortable subjecting someone to tending my toes, or I was going to have to swallow those feelings, and get a pedicure.

I decided to swallow. (cowardly, I know)

I explained that this was to be my first pedicure, and when all the girls looked shocked and sympathetic, I said I had never had cause to have one before.  “I get regular massages,” I told them (which was true), and thought pedicures would be overkill.  My feelings of subservient Pedicurists were completely confirmed as I looked down upon the beautiful woman, eyes downcast as she filed my feet.  Consequently, I did not enjoy the experience, and did not repeat it.

…until 2009

A few months before Jean died in September of that year, she confessed to me her regret at not getting over that “touching problem” sooner, consequently missing out on all that wonderful massage and foot pampering.  She asked me if I had gone for a pedicure yet.  When I answered her by way of my slave perception, she laughed, and said, “Sounds like you need to get over something too.”  Then she added, “Oh My Goodness! Did you feel like a slave all those times you did my toes?”

“No!” I replied a little too quickly.  In that instant, I realized, and changed my perception.

From that day on, I got over my slave-nail-technician feelings, and now sit back in my massaging throne-line chair bi-weekly, and let my toes be pampered and my legs massaged.    I silently thank my Mother-in-law for, among many other things, removing that future regret for me.

I’m sure she is right now enjoying a massage, and toasting me with a White Zin and a wink.


What fear or perception is stopping you from some simple pleasure, and more importantly, when are you going to just let it go and indulge?