Fifteen Years of Fake Nails.

Wow! The day you look at your hands and realize you're old. Age spots and wrinkles and prominent veins and don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining at all. In fact, I'm very grateful for these hands and the stories they tell of adventures in cooking, cleaning, crafting and so much more. They've held books and babies and a baseball bat (I played on the All-Star team in the 5th grade!). They've played the piano and planted flowers and applied make up, over and over again. For more than twenty five years, I've walked hand in hand with my husband and my hands have steadied me in downward dog and helped me climb ladders and mountains. With these hands I have experienced the world. They propelled me forward when I was on the swim team and they've knocked on hundreds of doors as a missionary. I bet they've made hundreds of peanut butter sandwiches and thousands of phone calls. In the seventh grade, they learned to type so that today, some 37 years later I could write this blog post.  

But that's not really what this post is about. It's actually about a fresh start for my finger nails. You see, when I was a little girl, I thought my mom was movie star. Legit. She was (and still is) beautiful in a glamorous sort of way. I always remember her hands being manicured and while I know this isn't true, it seems like she always had long, perfectly painted (fake) nails, which fascinated me. I wanted to be like my mom (still do) and so at some point I must have made the decision that I would also get fake nails. Back in about 1997ish, I was asked to accompany Deanna Lambson (founding partner of Creating Keepsakes magazine) to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to film some segments for a television series, called Scrapbook Memories (aired on PBS affiliates for years!) Anyway, Deanna called and said that the magazine would pay for a manicure, so that our hands would like nice as we pointed to and talked about scrapbook pages on camera. I think this was my first professional manicure, and I chose French. I could not stop staring at my hands. It was the first time, even though I was married and expecting my third child, that I felt like the grown up I wanted to be. I felt just a little bit refined, like my mom. Anyway, it probably wasn't long after that manicure when I determined that as soon as my doctor-to-be husband made a "real" salary, I would get nails like my mom. Turns out, my husband never actually paid for my nails, but I did get them. 

In August, 2000
And, I just took them off. 

As in literally, ouch. 

FIFTEEN years of paying for fake nails. 
I'm not going to do the math (that would hurt even more than removing them did), but I recently decided that since I'm not working anymore and that since my word and focus for 2015 is FRESH (as in re-fresh) that my faithful and hardworking hands needed a fresh start of their own. It was time to remove the acrylic layers once and for all and reveal the damage. 

It's been nearly a month since my finger torture appointment—and really it wasn't that bad. Actually, yes it was! When I left the salon, my fingertips were throbbing, but I had beautiful French manicure on my real nails, which sadly didn't last long. My nails were super thin and weak, and one finger at a time, they began to split, tear and break. At the end of two weeks, they looked terrible (see photo above) and I was wondering if I could even have a future without fake nails. Now, two weeks after that, I've adjusted to washing my hair and typing and removing sticker labels and scraping food off the countertops ... without nails. Trust me, there is a big difference! I've also learned that polish with glitter is a better choice for me, because glitter adds strength—who knew?! What I'm not quite used to is how my nails look, in spite of the pretty glitter. I've never had super long nails, but after all these years, wearing them short looks really weird. My fingers look short and stubby to me. I (seriously) look at my hands and don't recognize them. And you know what else? I have to learn to use an emery board again—which feels super strange and kinda ticklish even. But, I'm happy. I loved having pretty "store-bought" nails, as Addie would call them and I love (now) the chance to try something new. 

I'm curious. 
Have you ever done something for an extended period of time, and then all of a sudden changed? Did it feel like a loss or a fresh start or both?