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“Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley

I am not a vain person but one thing I indulge in is getting my nails done. I do not always go to the same salon and the other day I decided to get a mani-pedi while in Vancouver. For a Saturday afternoon, it was quite busy, with people coming and going, many whipping in the door from their busy lives with a phone in one hand and parcels in the other. One woman came into the salon followed by her adolescent special needs daughter, who was very clearly excited about being on this outing with her mom. While the mother was choosing her polish colour, her daughter came right over and told me her name: “It’s Katerina with a K”, and she asked me for mine. My aesthetician had left me for a moment and Katerina sat down on the stool and touched my half-finished toes and made a face and asked if I was going to fix them? She quickly changed the subject to the three colours of polish she was going to choose to have painted on her fingers. When her manicure finally began and she was sitting at her chair across the room, she kept waving to me and giving me a thumbs up.

I was soon forgotten, as “Jessica” sat in the chair next to her. Katarina began by saying she liked her phone and then proceeded to say “I guess since we are neighbours here we are going to be girlfriends”. She asked Jessica her name if she played Minecraft (no) who she lived with (her boyfriend) did they share a room (yes) and did she have a dog (no), a cat (no) a goldfish (no) a dragon (no).

Then entered Brittany, followed by Joy and Heather. It wasn’t long before this amiable and audacious little girl had captivated and engaged everyone in the entire salon. She knew our names, how many children or siblings we all had, their ages and their names. Two friends who came into the spa together were so kind and respectful to her–they let Katerina play with their phones and even took a selfie with her.

Her mother finally announced it was time for her to leave. After arguing and trying to persuade her mom that she should be joining her new friends for a girls night on the town, the girl with the colourful nails resigned. Katerina hugged most of us goodbye and even kissed her new besties. She waved sadly and asked if we would all be here next time. Everyone was smiling after the door closed and this spirited little girl left. The salon became very quiet, no one really talking anymore. Everyone went back to their phones and quiet whispers.

This little girl made a difference to my day and to everyone lucky enough to have, by chance, been in the salon on this particular Saturday afternoon. She asked questions, complimented and engaged a group of strangers and we all shared her warmth and reaped the benefits of her unconcealed curiosity.

It was after she left that I wondered why we all don’t talk to the strangers sitting beside us with such unabashed confidence. There are a lot of Jessicas and Brittanys out there who have a story to share and kindness to impart…perhaps they might even have a dragon. You will never know if you are not brave enough to ask. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we shared more warmth with a stranger? Maybe we all need to be a little more like Katerina with a K!



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