Last week our friend Gabriela put together a once-in-a-lifetime makeover for me. Although I float through my days and my world looking and feeling mostly ‘normal’ I know the cancer is lurking there… my doctors know… and my friends know. I’m truly trying not to play the cancer card much! Really. But when Gabriela decided to put this together for me I said yes. It was an excuse to spend two days with Gaby in Carmel… and experience two days of pampering. Let’s just say this was a ‘unique’ experience for me.
So I started with Bernardus: I’d never been to a full on fancy/spend all day-kind of ‘spa’ in my life. You get your treatment (in my case a facial) then you get to spend as much time afterward as you like lounging by the pool, swimming in the pool, reading by the pool, napping by the pool… you get the picture. If it’s cold outside you can wrap up in a fluffy robe and move any of these activities inside and take up residence by the large fireplace.
Then I had “Soup Night” with Gabriela and her friends where they showered me with gifts: scarves, bracelets, earrings, dresses, jackets, the works! It was nearly my birthday, so the soup came with fancy cupcakes and balloons. Gabriela knows how to marshal the troops! And her friends are truly generous: The Clothing Fairies include Adrienne, Michelle, Dorothy, Russell, Shara, Stacey, Jamaica, Nancy, Nassime, and of course Gabriela.
The following day I had a breakneck schedule that included the following:
* massage with Daya … so relaxing… and possibly the most important part of this whole adventure: Daya is a breast cancer health advocate and therapist for massage. She is full of resources. I may well go to the Annie Appleseed conference with her in March! and yes, I’ll post about it here.
*Haircut and Coloring with Dina at Nassime of Carmel: I’ve never colored my hair ever, not even in high school for fun. But I decided to just roll with this one. Dina is a recent arrival to the Monterey Peninsula from Iraq: she had her own hair salon with years of experience in Iraq and is now helping men and women in Carmel with all their hair needs… she did a great job. Her boss/salon owner Nassime also gave me some beautiful blouses, fancy hair products.. and more.
*Nancy of CosBar in Carmel did my makeup. She was a gracious make up expert who listened to my frets and requests, and did the mellow job I wanted. Gabriela wasn’t so happy; she wanted to see a more dramatic “statement,” but she was busy getting ready for the dinner that night so she didn’t get a say. There are general threats to have me return with my minder and get the job done properly. We’ll see…
*Shara of Footsie was the Shoe Fairy Goddess: she brought me to her shop and let me pick out *2* pairs of new shoes! The Decisions!!!!!!!!! I think I tried on at least 10 pairs. Then Shara took me out to lunch near her store, the entire day was like a dream, and Shara was a large part of this!
*Nancy Kay came to Gaby’s house and did a full manicure… she was patient with my cuticle mess, she brought all the toys and tricks… and voila: shiny nails that now a week later still look great and the cuticles are much repaired too.
*Jamaica Sinclair arrived Tuesday night with a sparkly belly dance scarf, bags full of beautiful clothes from her former consignment shop, and a belly dance lesson waiting to happen. Jamaica, Shara and I danced and I got at least 1 of the 5 moves she tried patiently to explain.
*Cameron Davi, the founder of the Bella Splendore face care products, gifted me a whole complement of her line… so generous! And yes, I’m now using them… most days…
And then there’s Ms. Gabriela herself. She is surrounded by loving friends and comrades in arms in her community of the Monterey Peninsula… She put this whole ‘retreat’ on for me, and then cooked two nights in a row, first for her friends who’d brought me gifts, although most of them had never met me… then the following night the dinner was for my friends and family. That was the Unveiling!
My 14 year old daughter was pleased and amused and watching as I showed off the multiple outfits… My 15 year old son was less enthusiastic, but it’s all a life lesson, right? Thanks so much to Gabriela and Carlos for hosting all of this. My friends and acquaintances are noticing my hair, and my shoes.. and some of them even notice my nails. Now it’s up to me to take it up a notch or two in my daily life. I’m working on it!
PS How did I even meet this Gabriela who moves in rather different circles than I do? We do have things in common. We first met through Slow Food many years ago and I’ve helped her for Slow Food benefit dinners: She put on a big dinner to raise funds for a Louisiana shrimping family that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina… now she’s plotting an event to help 2 families that lost everything in the recent floods in her native Brazil.