Category Archives: Nature

Hurricane Irma, Before, During, After


Shell shocked. 

One week ago today I sealed the house, locked my doors, and wondered if I would ever see it again. 

I moved from California to Florida 20 years ago this month. My plane landed the evening of September 21, 2017.  It was a new adventure, living in a city that I fell in love with the first moment I saw it. 

We’ve had storms over the years. Tropical weather, Cat 1 hurricanes. We’ve had scares. Remember Charlie? He scared the hell out me up until he took an odd east turn and destroyed the center of the state. We’ve had nothing like Hurricane Irma. 

Usually, there is about a week of warnings. A week. A week of every news organization, local and national, warning of every conceivable bad thing a hurricane can bring. Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Heartbreak. Devastation. They thrive on it. They spend every moment warning of the upcoming apocalypse. It’s their job. 

The meteriorologists and anchors love a good hurricane. They become giddy at the idea of 24-hour coverage, meyham, death, and destruction. High winds will take down mobile home parks, trees, and roofs. Heavy rains will bring street flooding. Storm surge will bring worse. WE MUST WARN THE PUBLIC! Yes, they must, and it’s overwhelming. 

A week of these messages leaves a person battered and bruised before the storm even arrives. 

Then there is Storm Anxiety. That feeling of dread that takes over. The inability to decide, do I stay or do I go? For me, the inability to eat without running to the bathroom. Constant nausea. I lost five pounds in four days. Five pounds. Four days. Think about that. Storm Anxiety brought me the need to lay in a fetal position. All day. Storm Anxiety led me to accept the fact that I would not have a home when all was said and done. 

My Storm Anxiety set in on Monday September 4. I was scheduled to work only Tuesday and Wednesday that week, as I had taken a few vacation days to “relax and rejuvenate” after a crazy couple of months. Ha. Irma had other plans. That damn Irma. 

The reports stated that: 

  • Irma was going to take out the Keys. 
  • Irma was going to take out South Florida. 
  • Irma was going to take out the Tampa Bay Area. 
  • Irma was going to come right on up and wipe out St Petersburg. 
  • I live in St Petersburg. 

I reserved a rental car that Tuesday for a Friday pick up. I had a list of what to pack and a doctors appointment on Thursday to refill my blood pressure meds. Kind of a necessary appointment. 

By Thursday, Irma had shifted east enough that I cancelled the car and used that money to trim up my front trees. I went to the doctor. The pharmacy screwed up my order. They said to return on Friday to pick it up. It was chaotic there and I forgave them and headed home. 

Friday morning, Irma had jogged again and was heading straight for us. My car rental was no longer available, there most likely wasn’t enough gas in the state to get me to safety (not that anyone could guess where that might be,) and I still didn’t have a prescription. 

Here’s the thing about evacuating that people don’t understand or ever really hear. There are two roads in and out of Florida, one on either side of the state. I live in the middle on the west coast. If you want to safely leave, ensure there is gas along the way, and that you won’t get stranded on the side of the road, you must go at least four days in advance. I’d lost my window of opportunity. It could take 20 hours to go what would normally take three hours. I know this to be true, as I know many this happens to. 

Over the course of that week many friends and relatives called and texted and messaged. At one point it was so overwhelming I had to turn my phone off for 14 hours. I did not listen to the radio, I did not watch the news, I pretty much turned off anything electronic. It was kind of nice being in the dark so to speak, for those 14 hours. 

Everybody meant well. It was just too much all at once, and constant reminders of the doom and gloom that was being spread. While I love everybody, it did not help my anxiety level. I did my best not to let on. 

A friend invited me to ride the storm out at her place. She tempted me with her new hurricane resistant windows and not being alone. I took her up on it and am I glad I did. 

I stood in my house last Saturday, a few keepsakes in hand, and said goodbye. I expected that I would lose my roof, as it is almost 20 years old. I knew if that happened I would lose everything inside. I live in evacuation Zone C, so I wasn’t worried about the water rising. If the water rose that high, well, we would have bigger problems. I honestly couldn’t think of anything I had to take except my kindle, some clothes, and a very special book. I locked the doors and drove away, crying. 

Sunday we hunkered down and sat out the storm. We watched it get windier and windier, rainier and rainier. I posted some video updates periodically on Facebook, which seemed to give my friends and family something to watch and hear from me. 

Sunday night was when all the action was to occur. I went to bed about 11:30 PM and the power went out at 12:04 AM. I listen to the wind and the rain batter the front of the house. Thank goodness for new windows! I did finally fall sleep for a few hours, and woke about 6 AM Monday morning. It was still windy but the worst had passed. 

We waited until the city and county said it was safe to be on the roads and then we ventured out. We checked a couple friends houses who were out of town and then I went to my house. Everywhere we went there were downed trees, branches, debris. Overwhelming. 

I insisted on going to my house alone. Whatever had happened, I wanted to be there to soak it in before letting anybody else into my emotions. I was raw and numb by that point, and I just didn’t know how I would react.

On September 11, 2001 I sat in my living room crying, a feeling of disbelief and numbness washing over me as the towers fell and our country changed. 19 years later, I sat in my living room crying again. This time the numbness and disbelief were joined by gratitude. 

My house was standing. I had a roof. There was a lot of debris in the yards. One small tree had came down in the backyard and barely brushed my back porch. There was no power, and there wouldn’t be for several days. But my little house had survived.

Tuesday we went full force into cleanup mode. I cleaned up the front and sides of my house, and then I joined my friend and cleaned up the front of her house. We also helped a couple of her neighbors take care of some things at their houses. It was a full day, And no time to really let anything sink in.

Tuesday night it all hit me. My family and friends were still messaging and texting to make sure I was OK. The only way I can describe how I felt then and now is shell shocked. It is still incredibly overwhelming. You’re thankful, and then you feel guilty because you actually came through it OK and so many others didn’t. 

  • 80% of the county I live in lost power. 
  • 25% of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed. 
  • 4 million people in Florida lost power.
  • 12 people died at Irma’s hands the last time I looked. 
  • 1.1 million lost power in the Tampa Bay Area. 

There are islands in the Caribbean that may not exist anymore. There are other islands in the Caribbean who are running out of food and water and desperately waiting for help to arrive. Elderly people who went to shelters and can’t go home. So many people displaced. So much devestation. 

And the media? They are hanging on every horrible tidbit, cameras in faces, reporting the worst. Again.  Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Heartbreak. Devastation. 

Overwhelming. Shell shocked. I haven’t complained much as I’ve been fortunate to come through relatively unscathed. A little house damage that can be dealt with. No power for five days. A place to stay that had power and all the comforts of home. 

I am exhausted. 

I cry easily. I find myself driving around taking it all in. I close my eyes and hear the wind and rain. I still can’t wrap my head around it. Shell shocked. Numb. 

I will go home tomorrow and move back into “normal”. I will take less for granted. I hope I begin to feel normal soon. 

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Back to School Supplies Your Kid Needs

This article first appeared in Sassy Direct on August 8, 2017. 


It’s that time of year when parents purchase school supplies and the kidlets grab their backpacks and head back to school. It’s a time for new clothes, new notebooks, new shoes, new pencils and pens, new book covers (do kids still use book covers?) and the inevitable first day of school angst. 

It’s tough to be a kid! Especially a kid on the first day of school. Choosing the perfect outfit, styling the coolest style, rockin’ the clear skin…Wait, how do you do that? How many of you got up excited on the first day of school only to find a new pimple had formed overnight? Or worse, it appeared on school picture day! What is a kid to do?

My first pimples arrived at age 12. I’d like to say they have gone away, but a few times a year, one pops up and reminds me that they are still out there, watching, waiting to ruin a perfectly good day. I had little to fight them except a horrible product that dried the offending area out so that it looked worse than when I started. I always ended up piling makeup and cover-up on to try to deflect from the issue. It didn’t work.

When this happens to a kid, it can be devastating. Enter the willa line of products from Willing Beauty.  We offer a variety of better for you products to help tweens and teens get the upper-hand against pimples and blemishes while learning the importance of a good skin care regimen. The willa line is made to the same standards as the HY+5 Regimen, making it a kinder, safer approach to teen and tween skin care.

The Essentials Regimen is a gentle “starter set” to get kids going in their skin care regimen. This set is all about prevention and developing good habits. It is perfect for tweens as well as teens who have fewer issues with acne and blemishes. For the occasional blemish, the TAKE ACTION Acne Spot Treatment pen is a perfect companion. Kids (and adults) can keep one at home and one in their backpack (or purse) so they are always ready to stop blemishes in their tracks. I never leave home without mine!

The Clear Skin Regimen battles everything from blemishes to full-on acne. It was created especially for blemish-prone skin. It treats, soothes and protects leaving kids with healthier skin. Oh, how I wish I’d had that when I was 14!

What do you do if your kidlet isn’t into skin care? What if he or she doesn’t want to take a bath more than once a month, let alone wash their face twice a day? Everything in the willa line can be purchased ala cart. Find the product that they WILL use, and take baby steps with them. This too shall pass, really!

During the month of August 2017, we are offering a special on all of our regimens. You can choose either The Essentials Regimen or Clear Skin Regimen AND receive a FREE XO Lip Oil for just $48! That is a $32 savings! When you sign up for our No-Brainer Replenishment at the time of purchase, you will receive a special code in September to lock in the $48 price for the life of your replenishment. The last day to order is August 31, so don’t delay! The prices on the website are already marked down to make it easy. The free gift will automatically be added to your order. How awesome is that? 

What happens when your kidlet starts using these products, falls in love with them, and starts telling all their friends about it? Kids 14 or older can become a willa Boy or a willa Girl! What a great way to share the better for you skin care love while earning money for things like class rings, car insurance, cool designer clothes that mom and dad don’t want to buy, school jackets, prom and college! 

You may visit my website to learn more about willa the girl and product line (yes, she is a real girl!). Got questions about the products or how to become a willa Boy or a willa Girl? Contact me on Facebook. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have! If you’d like to hang out, join my Facebook Group, we have a lot of fun!
Here’s to a healthier, happier you!

~Penny

Request a Willing Beauty Catalog

Thanks for wanting to request a free catalog for Willing Beauty…Wait! We don’t have a traditional catalog!

“But how can I see what you have to offer?”  That’s easy! Read on…

WebsiteWhat we DO have is an easy to navigate website with all our company and product information readily available. Providing our story, services, and products electronically makes it easy for everyone to find what they need without depending on a print piece that can be easily misplaced and outdated. Best of all, we are able to invest the dollars spent on catalogs on YOU and the products your skin loves most.

On our website, you will learn the company’s “why” – the story of a mom who, through a skin cancer experience, began to question the safety of the ingredients in our personal care products. The more she learned, the more determined she was to provide her children safer options.

You can read about the ingredients behind our proprietary HY+5 Complex™ – Hyaluronic Acid + the 5 Forces of Nature representing the best age-defying, skin nourishing goodness that Mother Earth has to offer:

  • Prickly Pear Seed Oil
  • Alpine Edelweiss Flower
  • Deep Sea Hydrothermal Enzymes
  • Vitamin C
  • Antarctic Glycoproteins

You will find that we offer three regimens plus ala carte options to cover the skin care needs of young adults and grown ups alike. We truly have something for everyone!

Are looking for the HY+5 Regimen, the Start Fresh Foaming Face Wash, the Clear Skin Regimen, Peel Away Charcoal Mask or the amazing XO Lip Oil? Our website makes to easy to select your desired product, learn about it, and make a purchase.

You can also easily see the fabulous perks that are available to our customers;

  • Our 100% Happiness Guarantee ensures you get back every cent of your purchase, including shipping if our products are not right you.
  • The Crush Club helps you earn Golden Heart Rewards with every purchase. You can use your rewards for FREE product. You also get a personal website and the ability to share the love with others!
  • Our flexible No Brainer Replenishment can be set to YOUR schedule (4, 6 or 8 weeks) which guarantees that you never run out of the products your skin loves most.

Are you looking to start a business, add another income stream to help with monthly expenses, earn some mad-money or work full time for yourself instead of someone else? We make it easy to become a Beauty Advisor. You can use your Golden Heart Rewards to upgrade to Beauty Advisor at no additional charge or you can opt to become a Beauty Advisor from our “Join” menu and start right away.

To put all this in a catalog would make for a big ole thick book! Who wants to keep track of that? Our website allows you to point, click, and go straight to what you want to see.

If you’d like more information about Willing Beauty, our products, or the opportunity, you can visit our website or contact me on Facebook.  I’m happy to answer any questions you may have!

Here’s to a healthier, happier you!

~Penny

My Irrational Fear of Fireworks, Explained 


Wait. What? How can that be? Who doesn’t love fireworks? The anticipation, the whooshing sound as they fly into the air, the surprise when they explode, showering the sky with delightful colors. Everyone loves that, right?

No. Not everyone. 

Not me. 

When I was a child, we would go to my grama and grampa’s house on Independence  Day to set off fireworks. They had a long sidewalk in the middle of their (always) lush, green lawn and two water sources close by, which made for the perfect fireworks launch site. 

Grampa spent a lot of time keeping that lawn lush and green. Mainly because he took great pride in doing so. Also because a green yard surrounding a house in Northern California during fire season is a good thing!  

Fire season. Every summer, the state of California catches fire.  It always has, it probably always will. The mother would say it was natures way of cleaning house.  To me, fire is terrifying. 

I always had anxiety during the summer, worried about the fire hazard (which was always posted in town on the Smokey the Bear Sign by the fire station.)  I would see that sign, and my stomach would flip. Every fire that started in our area would send me into a silent anxiety attack. Silent because, I never told a soul about my fear. 

I’m rather terrified of fire. Every summer I would make a list of things to take with me in case we had to evacuate (we never did, although the parents were evacuated a few times in my adult years.) I also kept a small suitcase packed under my bed with some of those things. No one knew that I did that, but I was ready…just in case. 

Fireworks require fire. 

The dad and grampa would lay sheets of plywood over the sidewalk and lawn to create the perfect size fireworks perimeter. A bucket or two of water was strategically placed. Once they were ready, the family would gather (sometimes just us, sometimes the aunt and the cousins, sometimes others.)  There was always watermelon. I think melon was a theme. (Hmm. I’m not a big melon fan…interesting.)

Anyhow, I digress. When it got dark, they would begin setting off the fireworks. I would begin the anxiety attack. I was always terrified one would fall on me and I would catch on fire. 

Yes. That was my fear. Crazy? Probably a little!

Sparklers? They are the devil. Little balls of fire close to the skin. They can catch your hair on fire! Burn your skin! Poke your eye out! The devil I tell you!  THE DEVIL!

The mother would inevitably try to make me hold a sparkler. In fact, she found joy in holding them way too close to me and taunting me because she knew I was afraid. I suppose that was her way of wanting to cure me of my “irrational fear”. Her words.  It didn’t work. 

I never outgrew that anxiety. 

I don’t mind watching fireworks from afar. The cities in my area put on lovely displays. Backyard fireworks? No thank you. I fear one will land on me and I will catch on fire. I fear someone else will catch on fire. I fear someone will have one explode in their hand. I fear a dog will eat one. 

Irrational. 

I now live in a neighborhood where the neighbor’s all around me enjoy fireworks. They REALLY enjoy them. The weeks of Independence Day and New Years, they set them off for days. They are loud, they sometimes shake the walls, and I fear one will land on my roof and burn my house down. It only takes one. 

Irrational. 

Just a few more days of fireworks, and I can push that anxiety back down until New Years. Thank goodness fire season is only twice a year! 

…But Is It Vegan?

Vegan means a lot to me.  I had a six year adventure in the world of vegan.  My return to non-vegan was more about finding things that worked for my body and less with missing meat.  Unable to find the magic formula, I added some meat back into the mix and many issues I was experiencing cleared up.  It makes no sense to me, but I’m still playing with the balance.

That said, when I first learned of Willing Beauty, one of my first questions was, “Are the products vegan?” I’m happy to report that most of them are!  Three products contain beeswax and are not considered vegan.

leaping bunnyWilling Beauty does not participate in animal testing, and the products are cruelty free. At launch, you will see that our products contain the Leaping Bunny™ seal.  Leaping Bunny™ is a big deal!

The three products that contain beeswax are Zero Shine Mattifying Moisturizer (from the Willa line,) and Partner in Time Age Defying Night Serum and Sleepover Replenishing Night Cream (from the HY+5 line.)  Basically, my night time regimen.  I can live with that.

I happen to have friends who have bees. I have seen how the bees are handled, how honey and beeswax is harvested, and the loving kindness involved in maintaining the hives. I’m ok with a bit of beeswax.

Ethical products.  That was a HUGE deciding factor for me.  It’s a question I ask often, and often am not pleased with the answer.

An added bonus? The packaging is recyclable!

Are all of the products I use vegan?  No.  Do I try?  Yes.  Do I have friends who walk the walk and talk the talk?  Yes.  I will find my balance again. For now I am thrilled to be a part of this company, and to use such wonderful products!

You can read the full list of ingredients for the HY+5 Regimen here.  If you’d like to take the 30-Day Challenge, click here to shop.  Our 100% Happiness Guarantee makes it easy!  Follow me on Facebook.

 

 

Summer Means…Sunscreen Part 1

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I am terrible about wearing sunscreen.  Terrible.  I have sun damage all over my body to show for the years of abuse I put my skin through when I thought, “There’s plenty of time…I’m young…I am invincible…”

I wasn’t allowed to use suntan oil as a child.  We had a pool, and I had SPF 15 sunscreen.  All my friends had gorgeous tans, and my wicked mother insisted I be protected when I laid out.  I really did think that was wicked of her.

What’s a teenage girl to do when she’s being denied the glorious, oily, tropical smell of Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, or St Tropez? She snuck into the kitchen and slathered on the Wesson Oil before heading out to the pool, that’s what she did!

Insert horrified face here.  

I got away with it for years.  I became a master. I could time it so I never got too burnt (I’m lily white, I burn!) I worked on that “base tan” all summer.  I looked GOOD when school started!  All the while, the mother was impressed with my tan, thinking I was safely slathered in SPF 15, saying things like, “See how good sunscreen works?” and wondering why her tan wasn’t as good.  In fact, when SPF 30 was invented, thought she would wet her pants with excitement.

My senior year, I did a LOT of tanning.  I skipped sunscreen as often as I could.  I was stupid.  Yes, I said stupid.  I sustained several severe sunburns that year.  1984 was the year I learned the joys of Noxema and White Vinegar, and how they took the sting out of a sunburn.  God bless my Home Ec teacher for the vinegar trick!  I kept white vinegar in the house for years for just that reason.

Spring break 1984 was spent at Pismo Beach.  A week at one of my favorite beaches with the family.  I was in heaven.  I laid out every day, and every day the weather was kinda yucky.  No tan was developing. I began to panic.  The day before we left, I used the Wesson Oil.  It was overcast.  Do you know what happens to a lily white girl slathered in Wesson Oil at the beach on an overcast day?

She burns.  Badly.  So badly that she can’t take her swim suite off.  So badly that the seams of her t-shirt cause excruciating pain upon her shoulders.

I got in trouble for not using the sunscreen.  She never knew about the Wesson Oil.

We left Pismo and took a side trip to Yuma Arizona to visit the grandparents.  From there we drove to a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert to watch the space shuttle land.  It was pretty dang hot in that dry lake bed in the middle of the desert.  Too hot for clothing.  Ya, I wore the swimsuit and shorts.  After-all, I felt better, and the tan was building.

Oops. Burn on burn, not a good thing.  Apparently the desert is just as bad as the beach on an overcast day.  Eventually it was necessary to cut the swimsuit of me.  The burn was that bad.

I blistered and peeled like I never had before.  It was at that time that I noticed…freckles.  Not a lot, but a few, on my shoulders and on my chest.  Hmm, they kinda looked like a tan, so I didn’t care.  Freckles were cute as long as they were minimal.

Soon it was graduation week.  We went water-skiing the weekend before graduation.  Now, no matter how much sunscreen one slathers on, it washes off every time you fall down on the skis.  Boy did I fall down a lot.  I am not meant to stand on water-skis.  I’m not mean to be in the same body of water with water-skis. I spent a lot of time in the water that day.  I also burned again.  Really, really bad.

I clearly recall a trip to the doctor who declared a first degree burn.  I remember my mother placing huge gauze pads on my shoulders under the straps of my dress which I wore under my graduation gown.  I remember my boyfriend being both fascinated and grossed out at my shoulders. When the pealing and healing was done, my shoulders were covered in freckles and a lot of damage. They still are.

Do you think I learned my lesson?  Heck no!  I tanned all through my 20’s and a good chunk of my 30’s.  Then, a trip to the salon changed my wayward tanning ways.  More on that tomorrow…

Osprey and Heartache


I drive past 12 osprey nests on the way to and from work. Most are within a one mile stretch of road. Every day o see the nests, and often times I see the birds, beautiful, magnificent creatures that amaze me. 

I wish them good morning each day. I count how many I see. They make me smile. I know it will be a good day when I see them. How can it not be?

Friday night I happened upon an Osprey Cam for one of the nests. According to the blog, there were two babies and a third egg waiting to hatch. My bank has adopted these osprey and had ensured them a safe home. The story of this family is heartwarming. 

Saturday I tuned in periodically throughout the day. I saw the mama and the babies, the papa bird bringing them a fish, the feeding. It was magical. 

When I got news that a wonderful person I know received a devastating cancer diagnosis, I pulled up the osprey. When the work day ended and I was tired and overwhelmed, I pulled up the osprey. It was then I noticed one baby was motionless. I cried. The other baby was active and I clung to the idea that it was the bright spot of the day. New life, so cute, so sweet. Hope in a nest. 

Over dinner I learned that a second wonderful person’s husband received a devastating cancer diagnosis. No way! Back to the osprey. As the sun began to set, mama and baby were settled in, and again, the adorable life in that nest was a bright shiny spot as I thought of my friends. 

Sunday morning I tuned in. I couldn’t see the baby. My heart dropped and I became concerned. An hour later I saw the Facebook post: both babies had passed. 

Mother Nature let me down. 

I cried for an hour. I assumed the fetal position, snuggles with my cat and cried the loud, ugly cry. I cried off and on the rest of the day. I have tears now, even as I type this. What happened? Why? How do the parents feel? How will we go on?

Mother Nature had other plans for those sweet babies. Mother Nature can bite me…letting me fall in love then ripping my heart out. Heavy sigh. 

Some days you need more baby osprey and less real life. 

I checked the Osprey Cam yesterday evening and the mama was eating a fish. The nest looked so…quiet. Sadness washed over me again. 

Today I will see the 12 nests I’ve become an expert at spotting. If I time my commute right I will see 4-8 osprey hanging out watching commuters go by. Eleven is the record. 

I’m not sure my heart can take more bad news right now. May today be free of death and disease. 

If you’d like to see my friends the osprey, you can tune into the live feed anytime. They are fascinating creatures that will continue to enchant me.