December 2012

Jaime Schrabeck

The Nail Extension | by Jaime Schrabeck


Balance and Work-Life Integration 

It's common to use action terms to describe people's progress through life such as: "moving up," "going downhill," "running in place" or "stuck in neutral."

But to quote Albert Einstein, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."

Equate balance with happiness, deriving satisfaction from a sense of stability. As a goal to be achieved, balance can be elusive, temporary and easily disrupted. However, as a way of being, something to be maintained, balance gives the power to manage your life, especially when circumstances change. 

Balance isn't something you can easily quantify, but you can gauge the quality of your health (physical, mental and emotional), personal relationships, business, finances, etc.

Sometimes you need distance from daily life to appreciate your success. Distance can be literal or figurative.

Recently, it was both as I headed to South Korea to attend the Seoul International Nail Fair. Traveling alone, I anticipated having many hours to myself, time I expected to spend writing this article, doing research, sleeping more . . .

For the next three days, I didn't work on clients, help my son with homework, run errands, pay bills, do housework or prepare meals. Instead, I was treated like a VIP, and stayed in a luxury hotel, judged nail competitions, presented awards and dined out every night. Aside from interacting with my Korean nail friends and experiencing their culture, the fact that I had few responsibilities and virtually no control was very appealing. 

The weeks, even the hours, leading up to my trip were hectic, but that's neither unusual nor a bad thing. It's amazing how much you can accomplish when necessary. I'm accustomed to working and living at a quickened pace, given all that I have to do and choose to do. The momentum sustains me, and I find my balance somewhere between feeling bored and useless, and overwhelmed and used, tending toward the latter.

I consider myself organized, resourceful and optimistic, but even I have my limits. Whenever I dread something or start feeling overwhelmed, it's time to evaluate, prioritize and act accordingly. In some instances, that means saying, "That doesn't work for me," without explanation or apology, as suggested by a very wise client. From past experience, I know that taking on more than I can manage threatens my well-being, and that's not acceptable. 

Despite advance planning and timely actions, something unexpected can, and usually does, happen. For example, the morning of my trip, I allowed an extra hour of drive time to account for commuters, but hadn't accounted for rainy weather conditions. Traffic was very heavy and the navigation system only made it seem worse as the remaining miles slowly counted down. Thankfully, I arrived at the parking structure on schedule, took the shuttle to the international terminal (the first stop, thank goodness) and made it through security with a few minutes to spare. Crisis averted.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful, but didn't go exactly as planned. In my free time, I watched far too much television and slept very little instead of writing this article. I rationalized my procrastination with the excuse that I wasn't prepared to write it; I needed more time to think about how balance functions in my life.

Really? My life wouldn't function without it. Most people talk about balancing family, work and their other interests as if they were distinct and isolated. Perhaps they are. For me, balance comes from integration. Though I'm sole owner of my business, my family plays a large part. My parents, who live nearby, donated their skills to help me build the salon and they have standing nail appointments.

We frequently share errands, Sunday dinners, sporting events and school functions with the grandchildren. My younger sister has been one of my employees since she became a licensed manicurist five years ago. We also share a household, combining our resources to raise our respective families.

My teenage son spends time at the salon, understands my business and enjoys attending beauty shows. I can also connect community involvement, my primary activity outside the beauty industry, to my family and business through facilitation, sponsorships and donations. As much as I enjoyed myself in Seoul that weekend, I was excited to return home. Not only did I miss my family, I missed my work, even the mundane and repetitive tasks that I probably should delegate. 

Special thanks to Ok Hee Cho, my dear friend and Chairman of the Korea Nail Association, for being a wonderful hostess.

Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. owns Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. She can be reached at