Paula Gilmore, one of my favorite nail technicians who’s now retiring used to call it “the powdered doughnut syndrome” –that look a nail technician attains after working all day in the salon without a break, covered from head to toe in white dust. She also used to regale the fellow nail professionals who attended her classes with stories of how long she could go between bathroom breaks. What she was getting at of course, is that nail technicians tend to deny their human needs—like eating lunch and going to the bathroom—because they were with clients and there simply wasn’t time to do anything else. I’m devoting this precious page this month to the simple message of telling you. Take a lunch! Clients are important, but you need to eat.

How on earth do I do that, you may ask, with appointments stacked up like incoming airplanes at LaGuardia? Most people say you simply have to book yourself on the calendar.

Why would I think that taking time out of a busy day is so important in an industry that thrives on being available at the snap of a finger for a client during economic times that make it difficult for many salons to survive? Why on earth would I devote space to telling you to eat instead of some other moneymaking or timesaving idea? Because if you don’t take time to replenish your SELF, you won’t have anything to give to clients, or to anyone else for that matter. And, of course, my message is both literal and figurative. I really do think you should find the time to eat (literally taking lunch), but figuratively, I mean you need to address your own needs during the course of the day.

I came to this stunning idea rather recently, after a good friend of mine who used to work on the magazine left to go to another company. For the previous eight years we had shared lunch a couple times a week. We’d take an hour and talk, tell stories, laugh take a walk, go shopping, stay on our diets or abandon our diets, but we checked out of work for a little while. Since she’s left, most days I eat my microwave lunch at my desk while I work. It suddenly hit me that my pervasive crankiness might have something to do with the fact that I don’t take a lunch break for my soul anymore.

Gee, I hope I’m right because if nail techs are going to start taking lunch because I mentioned it and it isn’t the cure-all, then what?! At least you’ll be well-fed and well-rested.

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