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.
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.
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.
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!
June. Officially summer. Hot days, warm nights. In Florida, it’s not even the hottest time (we’ll revisit that in August/September!) when we were kids it meant pool time, motor home vacations, reading a LOT of books and vegetating until the school year began.
I woke this morning feeling like time has swept past me and I’ve not moved. Ever feel like that?
I have a problem you see, a very big problem. I live as I was trained to live. I wake up, I go to work, I work hard, I come home, I eat dinner, I go to bed.
Trained since birth!
Now, that’s not to say I don’t socialize. I go out to dinner, meet up with friends, all the fun things. I don’t do that as often as I probably should. You know, the balance thing and all. Balance? Yes, it’s a thing. I’m told it’s an important thing.
I find myself in a rut this first day of June. I just don’t make enough time for me. There, I said it. It’s out in the universe.
I need more me time.
Sounds simple, yes? No. It’s my age old struggle.
What to DO?
I declare today the first day that I purposefully spend a little more time on me. This month I will do more things that benefit me, my life, my future. Wow, that sounds incredibly selfish! How DARE I think such a thing? Another part of the training. Oh, that damn training to be content with nothing, to not over reach, to not dream of a better future, to not be selfish. I may need a detox of some kind…
I want to better serve the people around me. Friends. Strangers. I want to make a difference. I want to be someone who can make someone smile, even if they don’t realize it. I want to bring forth joy.
I don’t need pomp and circumstance. I just want to give back to this world of ours, and be a brighter spot, a positive spot, a good person.
I will work on me, body and soul. A healthier me is better for everyone.
I think it’s doable. I just need to start.
This holiday finds me a bit retrospective. The meaning of the day often gets lost in the picnics, pool-parties, barbecues, boat outings, and family gatherings that go hand-in-hand with a three-day weekend. I always take some time to reflect, remember, and honor those who have made it possible for me to live in this wonderful country with the freedoms that I have.
My grandfather on the mother’s side served proudly in the Pacific during World War II. He was a long-time Merchant Marine who found himself in San Francisco the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Upon hearing the news, he went straight to the Navy recruiting office and signed up. He left his wife and newborn son behind to serve and protect our country and our way of life. I remember him telling me he was angry that we had been attacked, and he felt he needed to do his part.
He was awarded a Purple Heart and bore the scar on his stomach where he was shot. He would show us grandkids his scar now and then. It looked like a second belly button, and we grandkids thought it funny that he had a second belly button. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the seriousness of his war wound. He also lost a good part of his hearing, the result of being too close to an explosion, and I never knew him without hearing aids. He served his country with pride. When he passed in the mid-80’s, we honored him with an honor guard and a tombstone which reflects his service in the Navy and his rank. He was especially proud that he was not an officer. He always saw himself as an every-man, and he would say that most of the officers we jerks (although he did once confess that he had a few friends who were officers, with a twinkle in his eye.)
My other grandfather was one of four or five boys (my memory is foggy on this one,) who drew straws to see who would go to war. They were afraid that no one would be there to care for their mother or families if they all were to die in the war. He drew the short straw and stayed behind to take care of his mother and his brother’s families. He was proud to serve in that way.
One of my grandfathers had a brother who died in the war. I can’t remember which one, and I don’t really have anyone to ask. I think it was the mother’s father, but I can’t be certain.
Ironically, both of my grandfathers were raised without fathers. They both had a fierce sense of honor and family.
The father who raised me served in the Army during the brief period of “peace” between the end of the Korean War and the beginning of the Vietnam War. He eventually landed on Guam, where if I recall correctly, he was the company clerk. “Kind of like Radar,” I was told when the TV show MASH was popular. We hear they had a really good time on Guam. I never heard him speak much about that time. When his four years were up, he returned to the states, got a job, married, etc.
I learned two years back that my biological father was in the Air Force. He was a medic. I don’t have a lot of details, and I’m not sure if he served during wartime. I think he spent most of his time in Alaska. My aunt his sister, sent me his Air Force photo for Christmas two years ago. It’s a wonderful photo of a young, handsome man who I never knew. The only photo I’ve ever seen of him.
I have friends and acquaintances who have served our country over the years, both in war time and peace. I recall hearing that a number of boys I grew up with served during Desert Storm. Timing is everything, and we were the right age for them to go. I recall at the time the mother telling me, “Every generation has been in a war.”
To all the men and women who have served our country, to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice, a simple thank you does not suffice. I am humbled and forever thankful for your service to ensure our freedom.
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.
Willing 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!
I was getting my hair colored one afternoon, and the stylist kept scrubbing at a spot on my neck. I finally asked her what was going on back there, and she said there was a spot of color that wouldn’t wash off. I was watching her face in the mirror, and I noticed her expression change from determined to concern.
“When is the last time you saw a dermatologist?” she asked.
“Never,” I answered, as my heart dropped into my stomach with a big ole thud.
“You need to find one,” she said as she put a mirror up so I could see what she was looking at. It was a spot the size of a pencil eraser, and it had not been there five weeks earlier. We stared at it and tried to comprehend where it came from, and why it was so big in such a short amount of time.
Time stood still for three days until I was able to see the dermatologist. He looked me over, and then asked, “Do you drive a convertible?”
“Yes, a red one,” I answered, wondering where he was going with this.
“Do you drive with your hair pulled back in a ponytail?”
“Yes.” OMG. Was he suggesting???
“Do you use sunscreen on your neck?”
I didn’t answer. I just stared at him and I my eyes welled up with tears.
It had never occurred to me to put sunscreen on my neck.
I had driven a convertible for over ten years. I was proud of the tan I maintained while driving. I’d driven those cars in California and Florida, serious sunshine states! I’d picked up some great color driving across Alligator Alley once.
I put sunscreen on my face and arms for long drives. Never on my neck.
It was Basal Cell Carcinoma. I was so thankful it wasn’t Melanoma that I didn’t think to ask too many questions about it. I made an appointment to get it removed, went home, and had a big ole glass of wine.
A few days later, the doctor removed it. They put me in a room after to wait while it was biopsied and the surrounding tissue tested. Fortunately, he got it on the first round (others in that room had to be sliced two and three times!) He said it “had legs” and was hard to get, but he got it. He gave me instructions to treat my wound while healing and I went home. On one of my follow-up visits, he was upset that the scar had spread. It happens sometimes, no matter how much Mederma or Vitamin E a girl uses. He wanted to fix it (he’s a plastics guy as well, and his pride was hurt.) I said no. It was, and still is, a war wound of sorts for me. A reminder of how I took so much for granted.
I remember being incredibly thankful. I’d dodged a bullet. I know a LOT of people who have these Basal Cells removed. I was so glad it wasn’t one of the others, not that I really know the difference. I know a few who have had to deal with Melanoma. That is absolutely terrifying.
I stopped going out in the sun that week. It was more than ten years before I would go outside or get in a pool for the purpose of getting a little color. Last summer was the first time I hung out by a pool. Not a lot, mostly under the umbrella, but I did pick up color and a few more freckles.
I still forget my sunscreen. Seriously? Yes. I’m that girl. I rely too much on my friends to remind me, or to just spray it on me when I’m walking by. You’d think it would be on my radar.
How can I be so stupid? I’m human I suppose.
The scar is ugly. My hair hides it for the most part. When trying to get a photo of it, a friend was surprised it was there. Yes, I keep my hair a certain length to hide it.
I have sun damage all over my chest, shoulders, thighs, and face. I also have sensitive skin, as you can see from the red mark in the photo (caused when I pulled my hair up and out of the way and barely scratched my neck with my nail.) I have all kinda of yucky things going on with my skin. I’m working on that.
I can’t undo the years of sun-abuse, but I can be kinder to my skin. I am counting the days until my Willing Beauty order arrives. I truly believe that I will see improvements to my fine lined, sun damaged, under-eye disaster of a face.
I now own a really huge hat which I got for Christmas. I plan to break it in this weekend, at my besties pool, under the umbrella. Oh what a site that will be!
Don’t be like me. Wear your sunscreen! 🙂
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…