I ventured into the unknown on Wednesday February 6, unsure of exactly what was going on, but determined to honor my commitment.It started two weeks ago while I was having my regular nail appointment at the Vietnamese salon where I go. As the ladies were putting the finishing touches on my fingers and toes, they commanded, "You come back for Vietnamese New year. You come back. Come at 10 am. The shop will be closed. It is the first day of the New Year. You come back. The owner will be here. You come back."
Not certain what I had to do with the Vietnamese New Year, nor with the shop being closed, I negotiated that I could come at 11:00, allowing time for my morning activities. I put it in my phone calendar.
I protected the time slot for them, still unsure of what this was about. Across the decades, teaching at Cypress College, my Vietnamese speech students would regal my classes with colorful
Celebrating Tet in Vietnamese Culture
stories of Tet, the Lunar New Year on the Chinese calendar. They told about the exchanging of tiny red envelopes filled with money for the children, to bring luck. They shared about boisterous parades and family feasts. They had taught me that the Vietnamese New Year is a very big deal.
On the day in question, I called the shop at 10 am. to confirm my appointment. No answer. I called at 10:30. No answer. Not one to fail to honor an obligation, I dragged myself away from the research project I was doing and drove to the shop. It was dark. I walked up to the door and tried it. It was open. I walked in and all three technicians were waiting for me.
Excitedly, they greeted me with big smiles as they directed me to sit down. I sat. Instantly, all three began to work on me.
The Ladies of Club Nails.
As my treatments began, they shared that in their culture it is important to bring good luck for the coming year. They needed me in the shop because, as they explained, "You are the happiest client we have. You will bring us happiness and luck across the year."
What? I thought to myself. I asked, "You mean to tell me that of your hundreds of clients I am the happiest?"
"You are. There is one other lady who also laughs but she is traveling in Israel. You are our good luck charm. You are good omen."
I wasn't too sure what to make of this so I relaxed back in the leather spa chair as they continued working on me.
That evening my daughter, Julina, called and I described the odd experience I had at the nail salon. She jumped on it. "Mom, that wasn't odd. Those ladies chose you across their entire business because you live what you say. Mom, your mantra is Happiness is a Choice. You are living proof of that."
Feeling the need to say something, I responded, "Oh, well okay."
She continued. "Had you grown up in a Leave it to Beaver childhood their choice of you might not have meant anything too much, but your growing up was horrendous, and yet you have chosen happiness. It proves that it is possible to be mindful and choose one's way of being. Mom that was really cool what they did. Mom, you have to write about that. It is possible to choose one's attitude."
A bit stunned, I thanked her and we went on to other topics. Later on as I prepared dinner, I was thinking about what she said. I thought about my Loss of a Loved One support group participants. They are working on their mission statements, their guiding purpose for the next chapters of their lives as they struggle to move forward through grief. My mind fast forwarded to the years of coaching women in transition, how miserable they seemed in the beginning of our classes and how joyful they became as they learned that they could choose their responses to life events. I thought about my response to my own devastation. One of my guiding goals as a young teen was that I was not going to let my father destroy my happiness. It was important to me. I was determined.
I have invested a considerable amount of energy studying humanhappiness. My hero, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, in his famous best seller, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, teaches that joy comes in the midst of the flow experience, that is while we are engaged in doing something we find meaningful. We can find happiness in doing! I know that sometimes good feelings simply come from having something to look forward to; that is important to take regular daily exercise, to eat properly, to be around uplifting people, and to celebrate one's blessings. It is up to us to take care of ourselves.
Time is short. If we are not careful it can simply slip through our fingers like grains of sand. Right now, this moment, is our time and I think we need to make the most of it. While I am not so convinced that I am a good luck charm, I do know that I respect the traditions and beliefs of those around me and feel honored to think that the ladies at the salon feel that I will bring them luck and happiness in this New Year.