Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on January 25, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with one comment


Putting my best foot forward


“You put your right foot in

You put your right foot out,

You put your right foot in,

And you shake it all about,

You do the hokey pokey ,

And you turn yourself around,

That’s what it’s all about.”

The Hokey Pokey – Ray Anthony

When I think about my body, I rarely think about my feet. Persistent, long term back pain is a daily reminder of that body party. I have a knee that has had three surgeries and from time to time, when I overdo it (like running in marathons), it gets cranky. When I look in the mirror, I realize that the creator supersized my nose and had the temerity to first, give me an afro in my youth and then to remove all evidence that I ever had hair in my dotage.There are some days that I do something really stupid and wonder if I have a brain. Mostly, we take our bodies for granted and only think about it when something isn’t working the way it should.

When my mom was in her 90s, she often commented that her feet had put on a lot of miles over the years. Now, I am not a step counter but someone who is 90 and averaged 20,000 steps a day (very possible for my mother’s generation who chased after 6,8,10 children) would have racked up 657,000,000 steps.

I can only remember twice in my life having an issue with my feet. For the better part of 10 years, I trained for and ran marathons. I developed a serious case of plantar fasciitis which is severe pain of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot. It results in pain in the heel and the bottom of the foot that is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or following a period of rest. I tried every manner of cure and then discovered orthotics which did the trick. I remember running the Ottawa Marathon when my feet were at their worst. Luckily, so many other parts of my body were aching by the time I finished the race that I hardly noticed my feet. Why would anyone in their right mind, run a full marathon (42.1 kilometers) with plantar fasciitis? See my previous comment about my brain.

The only other significant foot episode that I encountered was during my walk across Spain in 2019 when I clocked 725 kilometers doing the Camino. Have you ever had a blister on your foot or on a toe? How about 20 or more at the same time? See my previous comment about my brain.

I’m not a spa guy. I do like to get a massage from time to time but I have never been tempted to enter the doors of an actual spa. At Christmas time, a dear friend gifted me a “sports pedicure and paraffin wax treatment”. She was aware of the trauma that I had experienced in the north after my most recent stint of teaching, and felt that I could use some pampering. While I was quite humbled with the gesture, the thought of actually walking into a spa and having a pedicure was a bit intimidating. I have never shied away from adventure and I thought, “What the hell” and decided to put on a brave face. And as the Nike ad says, “Just Do It”.

My pedicurist was a young Indian woman who had recently moved to Canada from the Punjab region of Northwestern India. I removed my footwear and socks, sat in a chair, and immersed my feet in warm, soapy water. I was asked to choose from a number of different colored salts and I chose lavender. Not sure if I’m a lavender kind of guy but apparently, that’s the most popular salt. The salt was added to the soapy water and now my feet were turning a lovely shade of purple.

I have to admit that the first half of the pedicure, I peppered the young lady with questions, as I knew that I would be compelled to write a piece about the experience.

Next my pedicurist (how many guys have ever uttered those words?!) cut and filed my toenails. She then applied a cuticle softener to the nails and my feet were immersed in the water again. After a few minutes, she used an instrument that pushed my cuticles around and then she removed said cuticles with snippers. It was around this time that I thought I should surrender to the process and rather than analyzing every single move that was being made, I would close my eyes and simply relax and sensate.

She next rubbed the bottoms of my feet with a scrubber to remove dead skin. She was applying quite a bit of force and I briefly wondered if she might just sandpaper her way all the way through my feet. She then exfoliated my feet with a substance that had the consistency of 10W30 motor oil mixed with beach sand. Not an unpleasant sensation. Just a bit weird.

If you at all ticklish, you might not enjoy the next part. The pedicurist started to gently massage my feet which initially made me shudder a bit but once she applied force, it was absolutely heavenly. She applied intermittent hands chops to my feet as well. It was simply divine and at that precise moment, I finally understood the appeal of a pedicure. Apparently in India, it is very common for men to get pedicures.

The pedicurist then grabbed a couple of clear plastic bags. She grabbed a cup and filled it with hot, paraffin wax. My foot was inserted into the bag and then she poured the hot wax over my feet. After all of the previous wonderful sensations, I thought that this was my punishment for asking so many questions! I had to chill for about 10 minutes before she peeled off the wax. Apparently, the wax is very good for healing cracks in the heel.

And then I was done. My feet felt amazing. As I get older, looking after my body (and mind) is more important than ever. Foot care is now on my list. Many seniors can’t even reach their feet anymore because of other infirmities.

I made my way out to the front desk and spoke to one of the staff. When I told her how much I enjoyed the pedicure, she suggested that I try a facial sometime. I thought she was joking but she was dead serious. She said that a facial is one of the most relaxing things they offer. She suggested that I book an appointment on “Facial Fridays” when the treatment is 50% off.

So, a big thank you to my excellent (and brave!) pedicurist and the folks at Secrets Spa and Hair Design for making me feel welcome at their establishment. And a special thank you to my friend IC for a most unique Christmas present.

Oddly enough, the staff didn’t suggest any hair designs for me!

Have a great weekend.

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