It’s the little things…


Anyone who knows me knows a big part of my self-care is my nails. Specifically having them painted or shellac-ed or acrylic-ed or SNS-ed at all times. Very few people have ever seen my “naked’ nails, save my nail techs and the occasional anaesthetist who has made me take the coating off before surgery (which I, without fail, protest and secretly resent them for).

So for me, COVID and lockdown and Stage 4 restrictions, and all of the 100s of ways day-to-day life has changed, oddly, have all come to be reflected and amplified by the fact that I’m walking around in the 2020 uniform of trackpants, ugg boots, a nice top (that looks good on Zoom calls) and totally, buck-naked nails.

And it’s bugging me.

My naked nails.

Look, I love the uggs (gonna be sad to say goodbye to them when this is all over actually), but I honestly just don’t feel quite like myself without the pop of colour on the end of my nails flashing up at me as I type this.

I realise this is not earth-shattering stuff, I really do, but that’s part of the problem. I had totally deprioritised this aspect of my life because there was just so much ELSE. The big things were all getting in the way because this was such a seemingly small thing.

BUT, here’s the thing. My nails are my ONE thing. That one thing that I don’t NEED to do. That I don’t HAVE to do. It’s the one thing I do that’s totally for me. Not for friends or family, not for clients, not for staff, not for my business, and certainly not for any sensible, practical reason, it’s just for me and just because I like it.

So instead of beating myself up for feeling vain and selfish and shallow (which of course I spent some time doing), I decided to put my money where my self-care spouting mouth is and invest in a nail system that will keep me in fuchsias, teals and vermilions until well after this bloody pandemic is over and done with.

And you know what? It totally helped.

So simple, so seemingly silly really, but I don’t care. It feels like I grabbed just a smidgen of normality back in my (slightly dodgily done) manicured hands.

So, my question to you is, (now typed with my suitably titled “Fearless” nails). What’s your ONE thing? What’s the ONE thing that this pandemic has messed with that you might be able to get back in some (even small) way?

It’s not going to be exactly the way it was. For example, I’ve never had to fight off the cat before while trying to get my nails done before and to be honest, the results kind of reflect that! But remember, perfection is the enemy of progress, or in this case, polish!

Much better now!

So please, have a think about it. What is pandemic-you missing out on or de-prioritising? And how can you get that back in a way that will restore just a glimmer of normality to your life and to how you feel right now?

Find it and then make it happen!

It will totally be worth it!

Danielle Graber

Sad news

ralph header

I’ve been putting off writing this post for well over a week now.

Partly because I don’t feel like anyone needs anymore bad news right now, partly because I don’t really know what to say, but mostly because I don’t want to examine this too closely because it’s still raw and it hurts. But I’m also a psych and a massive believer that we have to practice what we preach (at least some of the time), so here we go…

One of our very first therapy dogs, Ralph, passed away last week.

Ralph was nearly 16 years old and started working with us at the stereotype defying age of 11! Despite his age and the adage about old dogs and new tricks, Ralph took to therapy work like the proverbial ducks in the arboretum lake and he gave us an absolutely amazing 4 years of love and cuddles and quirks. Not just for the staff and his clients either, anyone sitting in the waiting room could expect to get some Ralph love on most days. Although he did save the truly snuggly stuff for Megan and his clients (because they were HIS, not Megan’s!).

I still remember the first day Megan brought him in. We’d only just opened Crown Court up and the plan was to put Ralph through a few of the training exercises that he’d have to do to get his therapy dog certification and see how he went. Given his age we weren’t sure he’d be up for such a massive lifestyle adjustment, but this funny, fluffy little dog strutted into the clinic, his nose covered in dirt from where he’d been playing in the yard and his tongue lolling out of his mouth like something out of a looney tunes cartoon and made himself right at home. Within 2 minutes he had adopted what would come to be known as the “ralph” pose; sitting at attention next to the seated client’s feet where his back was easily accessible for pats and scratches.

We figured he’d do ok. 😊 And he most certainly did!

Copy of ralphRalph personified the real joy and the real magic of animal-assisted therapy work as being found in the bonds you see develop between your animal and your clients. These bonds and these relationships are special and unique and utterly precious. And while the loss of any companion animal is devastating, it would seem that, with the loss of a therapy animal, the grief is compounded. You lose the animal and your relationship with them, but also all of those relationships with clients you’ve had the privilege to witness, leaving you grieving while at the same time trying to support your clients through their own grief reactions.

And this is why I don’t want to look at it too closely, because I know, one day, that will happen to me too. I can only hope, when that day comes, that I can derive some comfort and solace from knowing, that just like with Ralph, the reason it’s so complicated and painful is precisely because of how important these therapy animals are to so many people. There is no-one who knew Ralph who isn’t saddened by the loss of his jaunty little trot, floppy little tongue and cuddly little body, because there was no one who met him who wasn’t brightened, comforted or amused by his very existence.

And that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.

If anyone would like to talk to someone about anything that has been brought up for them here, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to work something out with you. 

Danielle Graber

the rainbow bridge