SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS by Sara Arason

Sometimes it's the Little Things

I am a child of the ’50s, which puts me in my 60s. I am lucky to have had a shot at several careers-and I’ve had a blast at all of them. After college, I worked my way from the selling floor to the buying office in a department store. After that I was a Russian linguist for the National Security Agency. From there, I moved to a small division of the Library of Congress as a Soviet Specialist. I’ve been in the Library for almost 25 years now. Early in my career there, I completed a two-year degree (night courses) in computer science and moved into IT, administrative, and project management work. Writing this down, I feel like I “dared to be fabulous” in my willingness to try new careers. But that’s a big thing. I’m talking about a small thing today.

I “blame” the ’50s view of women for my steadfast belief, lo these many years, that part of my job is to be accommodating to everyone else’s needs and schedules. Until recently, if someone wanted to have a meeting or needed something done, I would change my leave plans, doctor appointments, lunch dates, etc., to be available.

That is, until I discovered “The Manicure.”

Several years ago, a friend of mine became legally blind from macular degeneration. Although she has some sight, she is unable to do things like her nails or eyebrows. I started having an occasional manicure with her, in lieu of lunch, just to spend some catch-up time. I have never been too concerned about my nails in the past outside of making sure that they’re clean and somewhat well-shaped but, after a few manicures, I found that I positively LOVE having my nails done. This is a two-fold “having my nails done”: I love the act of having my nails done and I love the results of the act.

My manicures were sporadic at the beginning, always at the mercy of someone else’s schedule at work. One day, though, it occurred to me that what I want might matter. What makes ME happy might be important, worthwhile, acceptable, or, at least, OK. So, with more than a bit of trepidation, I refused to schedule a meeting that would have forced me to cancel my manicure. On top of that, I told everyone-including my boss-that the reason I could not come to the meeting in question was because I had an appointment for a manicure and, in fact, I had a manicure every Friday!! Faces blanked, faces blanched, brows were raised, furtive looks passed between the interested parties, but nothing was said and the meeting was scheduled for another time.

And the sun rose and set as scheduled as the world continued to spin on its axis-

And my nails looked great.

Since “Freedom” Friday–the day I chose to do something for myself for no other reason than to make myself happy, my “Kyoto Pearl”-ed nails remind me that I am not merely a circling spoke in a great bureaucratic wheel. I am a real person, a woman, and a fabulous woman at that.

Besides her Library of Congress career, Sara, or Sally, as her friends and family call her. is an accomplished singer, having performed as leads in operas such as Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro. She also sang The National Anthem for a Washington Redskins game. As a season-ticket holder, that felt utterly fabulous. Sally has also spent a lifetime rescuing homeless and suffering cats and dogs. 

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One Comment:

  1. I love that you had the guts to tell them exactly what you were up to, and will continue to do, despite the culture of overwork that is so prevalent today. Kudos for choosing self-care (along with getting your work done), and bravely modeling that.