my friend ruby


“What’s with your lone red fingernail?”

I get asked this regularly. No, I am not trying to start a fad. No, I did not forget to paint the other nine.

I’ve been rocking this single red fingernail on and off for seven years. Maybe now is a good time to explain why. For the sake of storytelling, I’ve chosen to call my nail Ruby. I wish I’d thought of that sooner.


When I first met my husband Steve, I fell fast and I fell hard. After two failed long-term relationships I desperately wanted things to be different with Steve.

Shortly after cupid struck, I was testing nail polish colours at a drug store. I painted my left pinky fingernail and walked out of the shop. As the day went on, I found myself staring at the shiny red flash on my hand like a bride-to-be hypnotized by her bling. Ruby always got my attention. She seemed to smile back at me.

I decided to make the time spent with Ruby count for something.

Like I said, I really wanted things to be different with Steve. Ruby became my sidekick. She reminded me to keep my feet on the ground in the midst of my budding romance. When I noticed my head spinning – doubting or wishing and hoping – I’d catch a glimpse of Ruby and my thoughts would settle. The fate of my relationship with Steve was not up to me so I handed over the reins to God and stayed in the present moment. I vowed to repaint Ruby until there was eventually a ring on my finger to gawk at instead.

Soon after this decision to paint my pinky, people started asking what the deal was. I didn’t think I’d ever need to introduce Ruby but I was surprised. I practically wrote an elevator statement.

“Oh, this? Yeah. This is easier than tying a string around my finger to remember things. I’m really forgetful and I need the accountability.”

I’d then explain what I was seeking accountability for.

The more people inquired about Ruby, the more I explained her role in my life. This meant constantly verbally affirming my choice for things to be different with Steve. Ruby was an amazing partner in accountability because several people, strangers or friends, seemed to ask about her.

On April 21, 2007, Ruby retired. Steve proposed and I said yes.

Like a lot of people, Ruby didn’t stay retired for long. She’s taken time off occasionally but most of the time, she’s there on my pinky. Her job is to keep me accountable to my goals. Ruby is in the business of making dreams a reality and her business is booming.

Debt? Paid off. Baby weight? Gone. Savings account? Brimming for once in my life….until we moved abroad and took on enormous student loans to pay international tuition fees. I’m counting on Ruby to help us out of that situation when the time comes.

So there you have it. The fingernail. It works. Pinky swear.

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