I’m your classic case of an internally-distraught people pleaser.

I would like everyone to be happy, preferably on my account. So that they will like me and I will like myself.

But when I draw one knee up into my armpit chest, and let the other one fall open, and I unscrew the lid of the toenail polish—a dusty rose—and I rest my cheek against the bone of my knee as I stroke, stroke, dab, stroke at the nails on my calloused feet, swipe at the bit of dusty rose that dribbles on floor, wipe my finger on the paper towel next to my foot—

I feel a flood of self-approval. Something so trivial, painting my toenails, no evolutionary instincts for survival there—but yet.

Something happens when I pay attention to my own feet. When I let my knees fall into cobbler’s pose, and I massage the soles, wiggling my toes, giving my heels a gentle squeeze.

Something about the body language, too—self-signaling, that I am giving myself a big hug, that I am releasing those neurotransmitters associated with connection.

There is a theory that when you read, you release yourself from the karmic circle. That as you engage with a novel, you escape this constant push and pull of good and bad karma. In that sense, reading is absolute catharsis.

I should like to make a similar argument for painting my toenails. Or, at the very least, paying attention to my feet. That when I do this, I feel a swell of release from my people pleasing tendencies.

That’s why I paint my toenails.

Peace and blessings,

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