Last week I finally wrapped up my work year, as in I will physically not go to the office for the rest of 2016, however thanks to technology and some new projects coming early next year my mind will be there for a few more days, but that's details. In the rush to get stuff done, projects closed, kids fed and happy in the last few months I forgot about myself a tad too often, so what best way is there to kick off a well deserved holiday? Perhaps booking yourself for a pampering session on your first half day off?
I remember at some point last week randomly googling 'manicure' next to where I needed to be. Five seconds invested in figuring out what a decent place's website could look like and I booked myself in a salon that ticked a few boxes. Little did I know I was up for a very interesting meeting.
I am greeted at the door by a kind, smiling, elegant lady in her late fifties. A great energy about herself, that I could tell from minute one. We start the usual polite talk, and before I know, I know the highlights of her life. There are two cases in which my German reaches a great fluency, after a glass of wine, or when someone is opening their heart. This was the case today.
Ms. J.'s ex husband left her and their three children thirty years ago, the youngest was 18 months, no support and monetary assistance to help her. She had her office career and no other help than herself. She pushed through, year after year, raising her children and growing in her job, until 15 years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and given one year of life.
I know, not the kind of story you want to hear on a Monday morning, first day off work, one week before Christmas. But this is real life and there was something about her energy and her ways that kept me listening attentively. She was not blaming, not complaining, not feeling sad and down or sorry for herself. The contrary rather. I had only one choice she said, learn how to get back on top. She struggled in and out of the hospital for two years, lost everything including her job, but she was reading, being strong and studying. She became vegan in days in which not eating animal products was considered crazy, she exercised, her body and mind. She healed fully and fifteen years later she is here to tell. She was lucky, and her strength helped. As much as, she says, the heavy amounts of stress she had pushed herself through when she had no choice are for her one of the main causes of her illness. She never went back to her office job instead listened to her inner voice and re-trained as a beautician, then went on to open her own salon nine years later. You should see how her eyes smile when she looks around her.
An alternative happy ending story that makes me reflect on how much we can be lucky and can steer our lives if we really want to. Well done on your smile and your energy Ms. J., thank you for a great morning (and a great job!).