Sitting on my deck in the late afternoon sunshine, there’s a breeze and it’s still winter enough that I can hear the sound of the surf down below in Caret Bay. When I checked earlier the waves were dotted with tiny lego-like surfers which inspired me to get out my binoculars and zoom in to check out the scene.  I figured I’d leave them out for whale season because the coconut grapevine is full of whales and, out here on the north side, they’re bound to be passing by.  It’s just a matter of right time, right place and looking in the right direction.

I’d love to have the pleasure of whales like I dream of dolphins frolicking when I’m out paddle-boarding – entirely within the realm of possibility on this late afternoon where I find myself in that state where’s, all’s not only right with the world right now, but tuned into hopeful rumblings,  stretching out as far as I can see.

Before I went to The Heart of the Matter Transformation Retreat I bought a bottle of gold nail polish and did my nails.  A life long nail biter, with only occasional and short lived forays into growing and polishing, this purchase came out of nowhere.

I have kept my nails painted gold ever since.  Whenever I’ve allowed them to grow in the past, I’d let them get long and I didn’t like it.  I play the piano. I play the violin. I type a lot.  Long nails get in my way and I scratch myself.  I like touching the world with my finger pads, like a cat. 

With the gold polish on I didn’t bite.  It wasn’t hard.  The polish kept chipping and, since I didn’t have any remover, I just kept brushing new polish over the old until I made it to Walgreens and got supplies:  Emery boards because I’d always figured I’d might as well bite as file and prided myself on being a measured nail biter – no bloody cuticles or down to the quick giveaways of extreme anxiety.  Then I’d catch my daughter – an occasional nail biter – gnawing away at her fingers looking like a monkey and I’d realize that’s what I look like, So, instead of telling her to “stop it”, I just breathed and sent her love. 

Along with a bottle of remover and a nail brush, I got a package of emery boards. Luckily, before Shelby the pit bull chewed them into twigs, I used one to file my nails down to a reasonable and functional length – nicely rounded and smooth.  I removed the old polish and once again painted them gold thinking that I’d soon need a replacement bottle and maybe some sealer and a cuticle clipper.  It dawned on me that maybe I was no longer a nail biter, that after more than half a century of mouth maintenance, I seemed to have left nail biting at the door I’d just walked through.

I don’t want to speak to soon or count my chickens before they hatch and I may bite my nails again someday, but the way it’s looking right now, nail biting has dropped out of my life into the pool of the past.

When a friend and I were talking about Lent which, as the organist at the Church of the Holy Spirit I am very aware of,  we considered what we might give up. My friend said, “maybe sex” and then decided on brownies – the Ghiradelli kind that come in a box of 5 packages at Cost u Less.  I said maybe sugar or late night TV until she told me that Scandal and Grey’s anatomy are back on the air.

A little later, sitting on my deck with neatly filed golden nails sparking in the golden sunshine, I realized that what I’d given up unconsciously I was going to give up intentionally.  I am going to give up biting my nails – give up being a nail biter which is going to leave me more time and more room to let the spirit of love into my heart and out into the world.  With my more comely hands I could tell that I was loving myself more and taking more pride and might even pull out a ring to go with the gold lacquer – like a intimation of Easter bonnets to come and of the celebration that follow the giving up.

Concerned that Lent is supposed to include suffering I did a little research and latched onto this biblical quote:

do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance


I took that to include nail biting and addictions of all kinds, not only to actions, substances and stuff, but to ways of being and to anything that clogs up our channels, including our arteries, our guts and our minds and anything that keeps us from being spacious inside and out and prevents us from being and sharing the good stuff, from paying it forward, from spreading the love –


2 Responses to The Girl with the Golden Nails

  • Deb Belluomini says:

    Steve and I miss you, Annie! Oh to go paddleboarding.. All we’ve had is snow, snow, snow and single-digit temperatures. Spring is in the air, though! What am I giving up for Lent? Worrying – worrying about whether we’ll have enough money next year to afford a trip down to see you and enjoy the sunshine and turquoise water. I will find a way!

  • Anne says:

    Hi Deb – Wishing you spring and the return of the sun. I too hope that you can come this way and that everything works out for you guys – you are so smart and creative – I wonder if your stress level has decreased or been replaced by worry about the future? Be here now. Love, Anne

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