My friends and fellow mortals…
Each year around the holiday season (Nov thru Dec), I spend more time looking inward which gave rise to lots of questions about what I value most in life. This year, I questioned my understanding of my religion and the more I asked, the more I realized how little I knew. So I went back and relearned all the things I thought I knew before about good and evil and relating these concepts to Christianity. For instance, I thought I had a good grasp of philosophical and psychological ideas in religion and those doctrines put forth in the Christian Bible, both the Old and the New Testament. Just to test my knowledge of Christian religious foundation, I subscribed to The Great Courses Plus (click The Great Courses Plus) and listened to four courses: Why Evil Exists, The Old Testament, The New Testament, and The Historical Jesus. Boy, was I in over my head! I was both embarrassed and ashamed of my own ineptitude and delightfully amazed at how much I gleaned from these lectures. Not only was I listening intently and intentionally, I was so engaged that I actually looked up some of the cited sources in the lectures and have begun to listen to lectures on Introductory Latin.
I am never more receptive to religious teachings than I am right now, all because of the imminent Christmas (herein, XMAS) holiday and the joyful mood it brings to my heart and the colorful decorations that have beautified my home. My XMAS tree (albeit an artificial tree since I’m generally against cutting down perfectly healthy pine trees in their youth) is hands down the most impressive indoor XMAS tree in my housing development. Sure, my neighbors may have the dancing lights projected onto their house facade but their sparsely lit and barely ornamented XMAS tree can’t hold a candle (pardon the pun) to mine. I must have spent between $300 and $500 on this fantastic creation: 7 1/2′ Alberta spruce, tree skirt, 7 boxes of multi-color string lights, 1 set of As Seen on TV dazzling string lights (by the way, its controller has 3 modes: still, glimmer, show), 1 box of 40 glass ball ornaments, 50 additional ornamental birds, elephants and all manners of ornamental wild beasts, and 1 star tree top. I still have red, blue, gold and silver garlands to put on, but my husband halted my assault on the tree because any additional weight may just topple it over. In the house, I have string lights wrapped on my stair railings and on the front windows. There’s a tastefully appointed pinecone-shaped wreath hung outside my front door. There is a 2-foot XMAS tree (again, artificial) in my bedroom since I can’t be in a room in my house without some visual reminder that it’s XMAS time. This year, I’ve started playing XMAS music even before the start of Halloween. I had XMAS carols and silver bells jing-a-ling-ing in my head after the Fourth of July, just to tell you how many months I’ve contemplated this year’s XMAS. Yes, for those observant few of you, the above description was tinged wth a bit of pride, the deadliest of the deadly sins. I’m sure of one of two possible punishments are in my future: being forgiven for my devotion to XMAS or being struck down by lightning which hasn’t happened yet so for now, I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.
But I digress.
The first goal of this meandering message is to remind you that there’s a unity of time and place that starts you down a certain path in life that may lead to something wonderful and unexpected, or perhaps wonderful because it was unexpected. For me in having listened to those audio lectures this Christmas, it’s about finding illumination (both visually and figuratively) and deeper appreciation and gratitude for the person of Jesus, his simple yet powerful teaching of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. I am my brother’s keeper. As much as I begrudge the idea, I can’t help wanting to help him and keeping him safe from harm. I still love the kid as much as I had the first time I laid eyes on him as a baby, no matter how many times he’s disappointed me. While on a job this past summer, he got his finger smashed with a large brick and had to have a third of it amputated. I cried my eyes out the first time he showed it to me, and still did every time I saw him changing the bandages.
Another phenomenon that occurs this time of year is that I am abnormally generous to everybody I know for some crazy reason and thus I tend to look half-crazed with guilt for most of November and December because of the lingering thought that I haven’t given enough or done enough to help out somebody. During many a December, I overextend my credit cards with shopping until I get a vivid vision in my head of next month’s bills and the inevitable accompanying near-fatal feeling in the foundation of my stomach, BUT this year, I was much wiser and spread that threat evenly throughout the latter half of the year. I bought XMAS presents starting in June and hid them in obscure places where no one would think of snooping. For instance, I purchased about a ton of Japanese-style 5-toe socks for my guys and stashed them on top of one of my bookcases. All year, nobody bothered to look in the half-open bag (hint: hiding things in plain sight). I’d bet my family just assumed that dusty, half-open, nondescript, slightly crumbled bag contains some junk I couldn’t bear to part ways with, next to a half-dozen nondescript bags and boxes (of family heirlooms I had to keep for posterity) that inhabit the top shelf of my bookcases. Just a couple days ago, I asked my husband to pull that bag (full of socks) down for me, and he was helpful to take it down and politely handed it to me without asking what was in it. I thanked him then hurried away to my gift wrapping station and executed what had to be the most ghetto gift wrap job in my life so the content would remain secret. I was mumbling “Ford GM Chrysler” (my new way of not calling the Lord’s name in vain) curses as I was struggling to cut out the wrapping, cover and tape up 4 separate bags of socks in black and gold gift wrappings during the two whole minutes. I honestly don’t know how I had done it. However sloppily the results were, those socks were completely wrapped up presents. I had never done anything so fast in my life save the one time in boot camp many moons ago when I was trying to down a whole tray of food at lunch in just a couple of minutes.
I do digress a lot.
The second goal of this message is to let you all know that this is the time to think about peels. No, I’m not referring to orange peels or banana peels or peeling the wrappings off your XMAS presents. Actually, I am talking about peeling your face and body for renewal. Need I remind you that I am an esthetician? You’ve spent all year frolicking in the yard or basking in the sun or trekking the globe and sure enough, your skin has taken a beating, although you may not have noticed it. Even if you haven’t done anything but worked in an office all year long and saw little daylight, the closed-air system of your environment must have left your skin depleted of natural elements of the open air. Your skin is the largest organ in the body. It continuously grows at its deepest levels and pushes upward to the surface. Regular, prudent and gentle exfoliation (shedding) of dead skin cells and careful, regimented skin care are extremely important to keeping your skin functioning optimally and be that first line of defense for your body from foreign invaders like germs, solar radiation, and harmful environmental factors.
Winter is the perfect season to shed off what (for some of you) may be months or years of accumulation from your face and body. If you’re planning ahead to look your most glorious next Valentine’s Day and backtracking 6 weeks, you’d fall right into this XMAS and the coming New Year timeframe. Mid-December is a great time to get a facial so you can look your absolute best at a XMAS party or New Year celebration. Right after New Year’s the time to get a peel or another facial. At 3-week intervals, you have enough time for 1 peel cycle for newbies (factoring in a few weeks of skin preparation), or 2 peel cycles for pros who have peeled often enough where their skin is already prepared. Body scrubs, seaweed, clay and mud masks, and chemical peels are a great way to exfoliate, nourish, recover and reveal a new face and body after a long year of hard work or hard play, or both. You are a unity of one mind and one body one moment at a time – a unique being in the universe. There’s really no separation between the mental and physical you. You have a duty to take care of it and show appreciation for its functioning perfectly on demand. Your generosity toward your mind and body unity gives it the best chance of functioning perfectly for many years to come. Oh, don’t forget to get a massage each time you get a facial or body treatment. It’s fabulous.
We (you and I) tend to forget about our skin health because our bodily pain is more obvious in our consciousness. Our face stares right back each time we look in the mirror. Because we look at ourselves so often that we don’t notice the appearance of laugh (or cry) lines on the forehead and sides of the nose and mouth and crows’ feet at the corners of the eyes or the brown spots on the left cheek and back of the left hand due to more exposure to UV rays while sitting in the driver seat. Between the three or four things we do while driving or working or busying the busywork of what we call “living”, we’d overlook the occasional wrinkle or callous or a bit of swelling or sagging that tends to creep in over time and usually stays. This is not a lecture but a reminder for us to be kinder to ourselves first and foremost because if we are not well mentally and physically and don’t feel our best and most confident each time we look in the mirror, then we cannot help others, at least not as much as we want to, no matter how selfless we think we are. Health glows from inside out. If your inside is healthy but your outside is dull, wrinkled and prematurely aged, you need to peel off the outer crust and reveal the younger, more vibrant person for all the world to see. Aging is inevitable but aging gracefully and slowly is both an art and a skill that I believe anyone of us can learn and master with confidence.
Come see me for a massage, body wrap, facial or body peel this holiday season. Take advantage of one of my special holiday discounts and give a spa gift to yourself or a loved one so they can also look and feel their best. I guarantee it’ll be one of the best things you can give someone on this most joyous of holidays.
Here’s to you, my regular clients, thank you for sharing your 60 minutes or 90 minutes or 2 hours with me or for however short or long a time we had together. I am a better person for having worked with you to alleviate your pain and hopefully in some small way, improve your life and well-being. It’s been an honor and privilege to join you on your journey to better health.
To my future clients, if you are not sure what type of alternative healing you need, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to discuss your issues. I have had people soliciting my advice many times when they felt confused and didn’t know who to turn to or which direction to take. My client base is diverse. I have worked with children, young adults, career office workers, small business owners, new or soon-to-be moms, athletes, weekend warriors, seniors, terminally-ill patients, post-surgical rehab patients, amputees, PTSD sufferers, cancer survivors, aging grandparents struggling to keep up with their newborn/young grandkids, new dads in pain from chasing after their toddlers, and folks from many walks of life, age groups, races, cultures, and languages. If your problem is beyond my skill level, I’d be happy to refer you to other treatment avenues. I invite you to come and experience one of my services whether it’s a massage for chronic back pain or skincare to deal with your acne or you just need a new hairdo. Let me join you on your journey to more vibrant and perfect health.
May you all have a wonderful holiday season full of hope, happiness and much sharing in the company of your most treasured people!
Yours with gratitude,
Maxine Nguyen, LMT, Esth.