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Photo by Jakob Montrasio

By Tina Teng-Henson

When was the last time you did something kind…for yourself? That was good for your body?

Last week, on a whim, I walked into a little beauty school around the corner from where we live, that I’d never paid attention to before.  I’d often walked right by it over the past 5 years, nestled as it is between our pediatrician’s office and the Rite Aid pharmacy. I checked their hours and wrote down their rates for a haircut.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a real haircut since I’d essentially been with our third child full-time, non-stop since her birth 8 months ago. I’d gotten 10 min trims at a Great Clips in the same plaza using coupons we’d received in the mail — but not a real cut.

When I finally got the chance to return the following week for a haircut, sans baby, and discovered that no hair stylist was available right then, I suddenly found myself asking about their rates for a facial.

I had no idea I’d ask for that, but perhaps motherhood to 3 children under 5 had finally taught me to seize the day whenever it presented itself. Here I was, entirely kid-free… and I had the rare opportunity to do something nice for myself, spontaneous and unplanned. My 5-year-old daughter had pointed out to me over the weekend that there were bumps on my forehead and had asked what they were. I didn’t know, but I told her they’d been there as long as I could remember. At the time, I half-wondered if a facial would help. But since I’d never had a facial, I didn’t know.

In any case, I heard the rate for a facial, and immediately agreed to this. Who knew what this would entail, but I was excited.

A moment later, I found myself in a little room with clean white linens laid on a reclined bed with a folded wraparound towel-shirt beside it. A petite Indian woman instructed me to remove my shirt and wrap the towel-shirt around myself, and lie down beneath the sheet.

As I blissfully lay there on the bed, waiting for the woman to return, I gazed up at the charts up on the wall, featuring the muscles of the face in delicate anatomical detail, fine lines and tight whirls overlapping in concentric circles. Ohh, would a facial include massage?! I thought it was just about skincare!

Soon enough, Mona returned to the room, and my spontaneous and delightful treat began. Layer after layer of refreshing creams, soothing lotions, warm washcloths were applied to my face. Her fingers gently and confidently massaged the furrow marks off from between my brow and relaxed my tightened jaw muscles. A steam mist opened the pores of my skin and cleared my sinuses, allowing dirt and oils to be released and a sense of well-being to rest upon me. I lay there, grateful, happy, enjoying the fact that I could be quiet and non-conversant — that I was able to lie down, be still, be attended to by another.  Someone knew how to take care of my needs. I didn’t have to know what my bumps were about, or receive coaching on how to better care for my skin. I could simply be still, receive care, enjoy the quiet and relax.

I imagine that if you write for this blog or read from it, you are probably quite similar to me: Asian American women who give their time, energy, and hearts to care for the souls of others — and create community wherever they go. If you have children, these sweet gifts draw so much from you that the well often runs far too dry.

Taking time to replenish oneself never seems to make it onto the calendar, or be included in the day’s agenda. Yet kindness towards oneself needs to be practiced daily so one has something to share.

What would it take to spontaneously lavish kindness upon yourself today? Who reminds you of your belovedness and your need to tend to your own hunger, your own fatigue, your own body’s needs and desires?

What do you gravitate towards that unexpectedly subtracts from your overall balance sheet?  What could you let go of today to make your overall well-being that much more robust?

In a world of endless tasks that never feel completed, doing something kind for yourself and your body is never the priority. But may the Holy Spirit prompt you to attend to his invitation — to come and sit. To lay down your burdens, your heavy bookbag, your cluttered pursue. Even just for a moment. So you can breathe again. Rest. And be still.

Tina Teng-Henson has been blessed to learn + grow alongside so many different people, in so many places: Long Island, NY — Harvard College + the South End of Boston — Nairobi, Kenya and Lanzhou, China. Tina, her husband, and their three children live in northern California.

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