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I Needed to Get Back to Caring for Myself, but First I Needed to Get Out of My Pajamas

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

By Dara Levan

Cracked, painful feet and jagged toenails didn’t fuel this revelation — my husband did.

Can you believe I hadn’t had a proper pedicure in eighteen months? No joke. I deemed manicures and pedicures a luxury that I couldn’t indulge right now. Who has time to sit, sip, schmooze, and soak when we are all just trying to survive?

But as I have grown into motherhood and my late 40s, I’m realizing that pausing is self-care. It’s self-love. It’s self-nurturing. Don’t we need that now more than ever?

Cracked, painful feet and jagged toenails didn’t fuel this revelation. My husband did. Before I share what he said, let me be clear that I live with one of the most supportive, loving, intelligent husbands on the planet. I am a lucky woman. I don’t take a second of our life for granted. Let me also mention that I’m not easily offended.

But I know my husband quite well. He doesn’t have to speak, and I can often predict what will leave his mouth before he opens it.

I stared at him.

“What? Say it already.”

“Um, you sure?”

I nodded while attempting to extract a charred multigrain bagel from the toaster. A piercing smoke alarm interrupted the silence. Our goldendoodle nudged me with her wet, ebony nose. No time to play fetch, sweet girl. Sorry.

“I love that we share everything. I can take it. Tell me,” I said.

He asked how many consecutive days I was planning to wear a muumuu and if my bedtime was going to continue getting earlier. (It was about 3:45 p.m. at that point, by the way.)

My jaw dropped. Then I glanced down at myself. I was wearing black running sneakers and no socks. Why? Because my feet ache if I’m barefoot. I was sporting a cute, comfy plum nightshirt that reads, “Naps Are Cozy.”

His point was made. I’d abandoned self-care and avoided socializing. I guess I’ve been of the opinion lately that I shouldn’t bother putting on a bra if I’m not leaving the house. And why bother putting on lipstick if I’m not going to work? Why bother buttoning pants, or, well, anything for that matter? (Thank you to whoever invented Lycra!)

I thought about a different remark my hubby made the day before. Teal leggings hugged my bottom, with a faded black short-sleeved shirt on top. My thick hair swished as we strolled, pulled back in a high ponytail under a white, canvas hat.

“You look adorable, sweetie.” My love looked at me, grinning like a hormonal teenager.

“What do you mean? It’s just workout clothes and sunscreen.” I peered at the darkening clouds above the swaying palm trees. An unpredictable September morning in South Florida.

His smile expanded as he adjusted his sunglasses. “I guess so. But you’re not wearing pajamas.”

Fair point. And I’m a gal that loves to get dressed up. I also love a good deal. If you explored my color-coordinated closet, you’d discover vintage handbags, funky jewelry (high-end and costume), and suede platform shoes.

My feet, on the other hand, were an entirely different story. They looked frightful, not fit to be seen by any living creature. I needed to start taking care of myself again, beyond merely getting out of my pajamas.

There’s something appealing about scheduling a time in the calendar, creating space, and showing up for yourself. There’s something equally appealing about the fabulous pulsing, vibrating chair, and the luxury of lingering while the top coat dries. So, I finally booked a pedicure. I wore two masks — a KN95 and my butterfly fabric one over it.

This serene experience rebooted and rejuvenated me. I thought it could wait until the pandemic was over. But who knows when that’s going to happen. And I need to take care of myself. Even if that means paying a kind stranger to massage the bottom of my feet. When I got home, I hugged my husband and tickled his calf with my shimmery, purple polished toes.

I live with gratitude, thankful for the gift of each breath, each sunrise. I’ve endured epic, unfathomable losses long before the pandemic. But I know that self-care is self-love.

When our bodies speak, we must listen. It’s essential that we nurture our soles and our souls. As I write this piece, I admit that I’m back in my faded pajamas. At least they’re clean, though.


Dara Levan is a writer, storyteller, and founder of Every Soul Has a Story, which includes her blog and podcast. She’s inspired by unexpected moments and living a hilarious life with her two teens, husband, and pups. Dara loves to capture life on paper and in photos. When she’s not in Florida, you’ll find Dara wandering (or lost) in the woods, making snow angels, talking to strangers who become friends, and marveling at the mundane.

Connect with Dara on Instagram, Facebook, and listen to Dara’s podcasts on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud.