Monday, January 28, 2013

You Are Beautiful (Pass it on)


If I haven’t mentioned it before, in addition to my skills at spreading melanoma awareness, writing a totally AWESOME blog, and being the best mom and wife these lucky jokers will EVER have, I am also somewhat of a creative, crafty kind of girl. If I had the time to craft and sew as much as I would like, there is no telling where my creative genius would lead me, but until then, I will say I am “decent” at creative tasks.

So when I found out a little less than a year ago that my niece was engaged, I offered to help with the wedding.  One of the first things I offered was to make a box for the guests to put their cards and gift cards. I have either offered to do this (or recommended it be done) for the last six years, or ever since I got married. In true “me” fashion, I want others to avoid making the mistakes I made. I did not have one of these boxes and I was robbed at my wedding. Not robbed like “we paid WAY too much for those chewy steaks and the musty smelling suite with the leaky fridge on our wedding night”(though this did happen), but robbed like, someone came in and STOLE cards off my gift table.  LONG, long story, one I’ll have to share on another blog. Maybe I will start one when I open my Etsy store and sell all my amazing crafts. Until then, you will have to wait for the details as I dream.

The gift box. It was a Peacock themed wedding.

So this month, I bought all the stuff for her gift box and again, in true “me” fashion, waited until the last minute to buy a dress for the wedding. You see nothing I had fit or flattered me in ANY way.  I haven’t liked myself very much lately, not at all going along with the message I am trying to spread  as Light Skinned Mother.  I spent about 40 trying on dresses that either ( I felt) made me look dumpy, too breasty, 6 months pregnant, or hooker like.  The one thing they ALL had in common were that I looked entirely TOO pale in them. The light ones washed me out. The dark ones made me look like I just stepped out of a bottle of Elmer’s glue. I ended up buying the cheapest dress I could find, since I wasn’t crazy about any of them anyway! It did give me a rather plump looking rear view, so not all hope was lost. If I could just be seen from the side all night, no one would notice all my faults.

I left the store feeling defeated.  Not just because I have been eating one too many crackers lately (crackers, slices of bread, rolls, dark chocolate), but because pale is beautiful, right? I mean – it IS! I am not just saying that to convince myself. I can name many fair skinned actresses who I think are absolutely gorgeous no matter what color they are wearing. So why can’t I see myself that way? I had to remind myself of my years and years of programming, from the media, from my friends, from my family, from the culture in which I grew up. Hello I was island born and raised. I want to change it all now. I want to love myself, my body, and the skin I am in NOW. Patience is not one of my virtues.

 On the ride home, I thought about what I would say if one of my family members or friends were telling me this story, or even one of my readers.  Certainly, I would tell them to be easy on themselves.  I would also remind them that being hard on yourself for not loving yourself, well that isn’t very self-loving either.  Then I would look at them and assure them of how beautiful  they truly are. They just have to find what it is that makes them glow from the inside, and no tan or diet can do that.

The funny part about it all, is that the day before the wedding I was informed that I was going to be the “coordinator” and “director.” And let me tell you, it took a former high school teacher to keep this wedding party in line. The biggest trouble maker was Mr. LSM.  I was in charge of the rehearsal and of how everything went the day of, from decorating , to last minute make-up artist when the bride’s canceled.  So the dress and 4 inch heels I planned to wear when I was just going to be a guest, were replaced with a long, dark purple, flowy, casual dress I already owned and a pair of flip flops (my working shoes) and another pair of 4 inch heels for the hour that I was actually a guest at the wedding (pretty much dinner time).

 I forgot how pretty I look in purple, especially when I don’t have a tan.

I am sure it also helped that I was relaxed and just being me, instead of worrying about what everyone else was thinking.

 The only picture I took of me ALL night and someone makes me laugh and close my eyes. (Nope, I wasn't tipsy)
I swear, I did look nice at some point, especially when my eyes are open! 
Notice how great Mr. LSM looks. Makes me sick. LOL


We are all beautiful. We just have to find our right fit. Most of the time that fit isn’t the perfect dress, heels, or suit. It’s surrounding ourselves with people we love and things we love to do.  It’s more about us being ourselves than being who we think we should be. If we can remember that, we will never have to feel anything less than beautiful ever again.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun AND love yourself!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kindred Spirits Wearing SPF

It’s been pretty chilly here in Florida for the last few days. I am not one to complain about the cold, though. I have lived my entire life in Florida, and I swear, each year it just gets hotter and hotter. The “cool” days become more rare, and us Floridians anxiously await the temps to drop  below the 80’s so we can don our knee high boots, cute coats, fancy scarves, and sassy hats. Of course, if you are melanoma warrior, a hat becomes more a daily wardrobe item, which is fine by me, because I can definitely rock a hat!

This morning, it was somewhere in the 40s outside and 63 degrees inside.  Stupid touch screen on the heater doesn't work.  So I bundled my kids up in the clothes they will only get to wear about 4 times this year before growing out of them by the next year, and we left to drop my son off at Pre-K.  As soon as her brother was out of the car, my  sweet (and feisty),  divaesque,  3 year-old daughter asked me to take her to get some hot cocoa. One of our favorite mommy/daughter things to do is go to Target. We get hot cocoa and walk around while she sings too loud, and I tell her to be quiet and I put stuff in the cart and she tells me to put it back.

Forty-five minutes, a rickety cart full of fruit, and several renditions of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars later, we ventured back out into the “cold.”   Our tummies were warm from our hot cocoa, her cocoa, my mocha latte,  and the weather had also warmed just a bit.

After putting my daughter in her car seat, I walked to the back of my car where I left the shopping cart. An older gentleman was standing there waiting for me. For a second, I thought he wanted the cart and wondered why he would stand in the cold for my cart when there were million carts inside. I realized my eyes and nose were all scrunched up as a result of my thinking that it's a rather odd thing to do, so I looked at him and smiled.  He said, “I saw your license plate.” Immediately, I thought, OH NO, what is wrong with my license plate? Then he lifted his baseball cap and tilted his head down  to show me a large bandage on the top right side of his head.   That's when it hit me,  he was referring to my Light Skinned Mother- Melanoma Awareness plate

He was one of "us."

If you've never seen this video, No Rain, by Blind Melon. You must watch it here. Then you'll understand why this video came to mind.

He told me he just had melanoma removed a few weeks ago. I said, “Oh wow,” and then I smiled and lifted my chin to show him the scar on my neck.  I told him I was diagnosed in June, and he let me know that he sees his “skin doctor every 6 months now.” I wished him the best, he said, “You too,” and he was on his way into the store.

For a second, I felt as if maybe I should have said or done more.  I could have gotten his name. We could have had lunch, met each other’s families,  and chatted about all of our melanoma fears. We could have become lifelong friends. Then I chuckled at how silly I can be at times. But, as I sat in my car, I started to smile.  As the feeling took over me, I was reminded of how nice it is to meet a kindred spirit on this journey. I am not happy that he had melanoma, but it’s always good to know I am not alone, and I am glad I was able to let him know that he isn’t alone.  Isn’t that what we all want anyways?  To find our own bumble bee people to understand us? 

On my way home, instead of stressing about ALL the work I had to do today, I began to think of all the beautiful people I have met in the last 6 months, whether it was in person or over the internet, and how many of them made me feel whole again. They made me feel understood. They made me feel like this picture below.  

To all my melanoma warriors out there, you are my inspiration.  To all my readers who have never had melanoma, you too, are an inspiration, because you are educating yourself in order to be healthier. You know a lot more than I ever did about skin cancer and melanoma prevention. 

I hope we all meet many kindred souls on our individual journeys. Though it is our journey to take alone, it is nice to have some company here and there, along the way.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Love Your Skin Link Up

So my beautiful friend, Katie, over at Pretty in Pale, invited me to join the LOVE YOUR SKIN link up.  She   collaborated with  Erin from Shades of Gray and a Pinch of Pink to discuss her obsession with skincare products with her passion for raising awareness about melanoma. So when I got the invite from Katie today, I had to say yes. I mean first of all, it's Katie. I'd write about mud and rats if Katie asked me to. Second, I get to talk about my two passions, loving yourself as you are and melanoma awareness. And finally, by now you must know that I rarely pass on a chance to talk about myself. Maybe it's the (almost) oldest child syndrome. I just enjoy being heard and never had a chance with two younger sisters taking all the attention. (Love you both!)

In order to participate, all I had to do is answer the following ten questions- honestly- and she promised no judging.  So, judge not, or judge away if you'd like, I am not afraid to admit that I am not perfect. Think about how you would answer these questions and PLEASE share with me. I love to get feedback and read about what you are thinking!

1.  What's your daily skincare routine?
My daily routine has downsized greatly since having two kids, ages 4 and 3. I imagine sometime in their teens I will once again become a slave to my beauty regime, but for now I wash my face in the morning and put on sunscreen. If I remember, I will use my Vivite Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum.

At night when they are asleep, I have a little more time for myself. I use my Clarisonic brush and Vivite Exfoliating Facial Cleanser. Then I use Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector. I usually try to wait a while between layering, so if I don’t fall asleep or get lost in an episode of Scandal or Once Upon A Time, I will then use Vivite Replenish Hydrating Creame and Vivite Revitalizing Eye Cream.


I was introduced to the Vivite line early last year when I bought a Groupon for some photofacial sessions (in a desperate desire to get rid of some of my sun damage.) These have been helpful in my neverending fight against sun damage.

2.  Have you ever used a tanning bed?
Unfortunately, yes. I used one on and off for about 6 to 8 months in my very early 20’s. BIGGEST REGRET OF MY LIFE. BIGGEST!

3.  A skin product you could never live without?
Sunscreen. I literally cannot live without it!  Everyone should get used to wearing it all the time at an early age.  I also would go nuts without a good exfoliating scrub for my face.  I love that “clean” feeling at the end of the day.

4.  Thoughts on spray tanning?
I used to think it was the GREATEST thing ever, although I have only had it done once. I was happy with the results, but concerned after reading the latest reports about how DHA could possibly  damage DNA and could actually promote the development or cancers, it’s just not worth it.  You can see my pictures from my MANY tans that I don’t have today, just the damage done by them.

5.  Favorite brand of sunscreen?
This is somewhat of a work in progress right now.  I am on a search for the ULTIMATE sunscreen with only GOOD stuff in it.  After my diagnosis of melanoma, I discovered that my favorite sunscreen contained a form of vitamin A, the main ingredient of Retin-A, which I used to put on my skin at night to help my acne. Each tube of prescription Retin-A came with a HUGE warning about the importance of wearing sunscreen when using it, because it made your skin more susceptible to sun damage.  So why would I have vitamin A IN my sunscreen? Just doesn’t make sense to me. I am currently trying Elta MD, California Baby, and awaiting for some ThinkSportKid to arrive.

6.  Biggest skincare splurge?
This one is tough.  There’s the $100 a tube Retin-A I used to buy 2 to 3 times a year. I used it to keep my acne in check (SO worth it). Then there were the forehead injections of Botox right before my wedding. Yes. I was only 31, but I have these wrinkles on my forehead that I earned from making faces at all people who either annoy me or my former students who would drive me crazy in class. I am a very expressive person. You can tell what I am thinking and feeling by reading my face. Unfortunately, my eyebrows are huge ways for me to express my annoyance. People swear they barely notice them, but it’s the first thing I see when I look at myself in the mirror.

 7. Celebrity with the most perfect skin?
I still tend to lean towards those women with NATURALLY tan skin as being the most beautiful, but I have definitely learned to appreciate some of the much fairer celebrities out there, especially the ones who have dark hair like me, with lighter skin. Wish I had picked up how beautiful that is a LONG time ago.


Had Lana been around (on TV that is ) in my early 20’s, maybe I would have appreciated my natural skin tone. She is beautiful and  she has those dark features I have (hair, eyes, eyebrows). I hope all young, dark haired, fairer skinned girls will start looking up to her as someone they can appreciate as fair and beautiful.  Notice the irony? I find her the fairest of them all, but she is the evil queen. 

8.  Feature you're most self-conscious about?
My VERY white legs. I used to consider my legs one of my absolute best features. Blessed with great calves from my dad’s side of the family and muscular quads from dancing, my always tan legs were something I was proud to show off. Once I got pregnant with my son and stopped wearing shorts for pretty much an entire year, my legs got snow white. So much so, my mom would constantly remark on how white they were. It’s tough for me now to show off my legs when they aren’t tan.

9.  What do you think about Botox?
I think if a few injections make you feel a little better about yourself, go for it. HOWEVER, this cannot be the ONLY thing that makes you feel good about yourself. Also, there is the huge risk of harmful effects they could discover down the line from Botox that we have yet to find out du It’s only been around about 20 years.  
But be afraid, be VERY AFRAID of too much. I had a few injections in my forehead and I promise you , for a month my left eyebrow sagged lower than my right. I was warned this could happen, and guess what, it did! I think this is why my eyes look crooked to me in my pictures even today!

10.  I feel most confident when...
I feel most confident when I am smiling and/or laughing. I feel like when I am truly happy everything about me can be beautiful. It also helps if I am wearing a cute outfit, shoes, and my hair is combed, but those days are few and far between lately. Smiling brings out my inner glow. The only glow we are ever really meant to have.

 One of my favorite pictures of myself. Notice I am NOT tan, but I am smiling. Every part of my face is smiling. When you are happy, you are beautiful. Remember that. 

I hope you have enjoyed this post. No matter what age you are, if you aren't totally in love with yourself, what are you waiting for? It's time. Think happy thoughts!

Thanks for reading. Thanks to Katie and Erin for having me as part of their link up.

Until next time practice safe sun and self love!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Light Skinned Mother - Mind Hoarder

All memes in this post were found on Pinterest

As of last week, I have been doing a lot of cleaning, spring cleaning in the winter I guess, because I am really feeling the need to live a much more simple life. I have hit the 6 month anniversary of being told I had No Evidence of Disease, and as grateful as I am, I am also feeling a lot of other things. One of them is that I really need a change.  I figured cleaning is a good way to start making some change, that is until I can figure out where else I need changes in my life. 

I have a terrible habit of accumulating too much stuff and never wanting to throw it away. I assume it has to do with my childhood. With 3 sibling,s it was hard to have all the clothes, shoes, and beauty products I wanted. So now I think I hold on to them just because I am scared I will never be able to get them again. Of course, that is just me playing self-psychiatrist. I do this a lot. It's much cheaper and I tend to like the opinion a lot more. 

I also think I have a tad bit of a hoarding tendency. Nothing TOO dramatic. I just feel the need to always have information and have things handy, so that means I keep lots of books, printed articles,beauty products, and craft supplies. Thank God for Pinterest! I can store ALL the junk I want and never have to see it lying around the house or have to hear Mr. LSM say, "So WHERE are you going to put THAT?" every time I pin something.  

Source Pinterest

I am also thankful they don't have a show for Pinterest Hoarders., I would be on there. I would be the worst.

The show would go something like this:

"Mrs. LSM, do you really have 75 recipes for salted caramel mocha cupcakes and never once looked at one of the recipes to make one?" 

      "Yes... Yes, I do. What if I lose one accidentally? What if the link is gone the day I decide to make some? What if i am stuck in the house with no car and no food and my children haven't eaten in 3 days and the only thing I have the EXACT ingredients to make are from recipe #52, but you thought I only needed one recipe? Do you want us to starve? Huh? Well, do you?" 

Well, that may be a bit much, but you get where I am going with this. Let's hope this never becomes a reality show. 

Source Pinterest

So, yesterday I was cleaning out my much dreaded bathroom drawer (where I throw EVERYTHING since my kids barely give me enough time to tinkle, much less primp and then properly put away all my tools) and my make up drawer. Here is what I found:

This is a collection of sunscreen. I stopped using these brands after being diagnosed and doing more research on what SHOULD be in my sunscreen. That's a completely different post in the making. 

I kept sunscreen EVERYWHERE. For years before my melanoma diagnosis, I was seriously bothered to walk outside without sunscreen ON MY FACE. The rest of my body, not so much.  I was adamant about putting it on before I walked outside, but I thought reapplying was only necessary if I were laying out. Once a day is not enough.

Then I found this:

It's a bit of a blurry picture, but it's my stash of self tanner. I even had a self tanner booster, there on the right. I found it a tad bit tough to get rid of all of this knowing how much money I spent on a few of these. I had to tell myself that even if I did want to use self tanner again, these are anywhere from 9 months to 5 years old, so they wouldn't do me any good. 

And then, while shopping today, I paused briefly, when I saw a new brand of air brush tan. It took a few seconds, but I got back to my new self and moved on.  Old habits die hard, I guess. And, as I have been telling myself about a lot of things lately, it's always toughest in the beginning.

I guess the REAL trick to  change is to do some cleaning out of my mind. That is officially the place where I hoard the most junk!!!  Don't we all?  Time to officially let go of old beliefs; ones that no longer work for me or the ones that were never really true in the first place. 

A spring cleaning of the mind, that's what I need. Right after I clean my house, of course. I doubt I can get away with telling Mr. LSM that the house is a wreck because I've been too busy cleaning out my mind. Wait? Do you think that would work? 

Source Pinterest

~This would be me, only cross out ice cream and add coffee~

Even though cleaning my mind would involve no physical items to sort through, it still seems SO much tougher than just cleaning out the shoes in my closet. Ok, maybe not the shoes. But everything else.

I hope to feel VERY comfortable in my natural skin tone soon. I am already getting used to it, and surprisingly, I prefer my face to be lighter than with too much color. I am beginning to like the nice contrast of my dark hair and light skin, so I am well on my way.  But I still have a lot of cleaning to do, especially in my mind. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions on how you let go of the old beliefs and thoughts that don't serve you anymore (or were never good for you in the first place). 

As usual, thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Regrets are something I think about A LOT. I watched sadly, as my dad grew older and deeper into his regrets before he passed away at the young age of 59. I swore I wouldn’t be that way, but yet, I did ( and sometimes still do )allow my insecurities to hold me back from doing many things I really want to do. The reality that death really IS in the cards for me at some point (hopefully much later than sooner) had made me change this about myself.  I find the older I get, the less caring I am about what everyone else thinks and the MORE  aware I am of my capabilities.

So the other day as I was thinking about the new year and how I want to make it a better one, I did some research on regrets. These are the top 5 regrets people have on their deathbed according to this article from The Next Web.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

At some point through my 30 + years, I can identify with each one of these. I still have issues with 1, 2, and 5, but thanks to Facebook #4 is no longer a problem, and if you ask anyone really close to me, #3 has never really been a problem. Sometimes I think they may prefer I don't share every single one of my feelings, but I am not one to hold things in for very long.

This is definitely a quote I believe. When I look back, I am bothered much less by the things I did, than those I didn’t do. Missed opportunities make me question where I could have been. What I could have done? Thinking about the auditions I didn’t attend because I didn’t feel “good” enough, makes me sad for the life I could have had as a dancer or actress, but just didn’t believe in myself enough.  Not doing some things also kept me from being truly happy. A lot of times I didn’t do things just because I felt like other people didn’t want me to. It was all about making someone ELSE happy.

Doing things, on the other hand,  may have led to some mistakes, may have given me a mini vacay down the wrong life path, but they mostly provided me with experiences to either enjoy or learn from, and opportunities to do better the next time.  Most of the mistakes that were important enough to remember, don't really don’t affect me all that much today. Notice I said "MOST" that's because there are some I regret OH SO MUCH.

There are about 3 things I regret doing in my life. One of them was not a very big deal. I wish I had asked my best friend to take me to prom, rather than the guy I liked who was older than me. But I've managed to live just fine with that one. :)  Another affected my parents and hurt them. I am not ok with anything I have ever done that has hurt anyone else. If I hurt myself, that's on me, but I don't like hurting others.  The last changed the course of my life AND quite possibly the length of my life- tanning.

If you read my last post about my tanning experiences, you know that most of my tanning was done outside with some sort of SPF (though never enough).  But I did have a brief stint with indoor tanning. I didn’t do it for long, 6 to 8 months maybe, I couldn’t afford more than once a week or less, but I am sure I had some marathon weeks in there. 

 Thing is, it didn’t need to be for long. 

The thing that bothers me most is that my gut told me it wasn’t good. I was against it, until a guy I knew started doing it. I thought he started to look better and slimmer. I asked him about it and shared what I thought and he told me I was wrong.  He assured me that tanning indoors was actually SAFER than tanning in the sun. I was doing myself a favor. I must have really wanted to believe him, because I did against my gut feeling. This is definitely the biggest thing I have ever regretted DOING.  Too bad this was JUST before the explosion of the internet. I would have done my research and stayed away. Too little too late now, though.

Fortunately for young girls (and older people today) we have the web, Facebook, Twitter, books like Pale Girl Speaks,  and blogs like Adventures with my Enemy Melanoma,   Melanoma Girl, My Journey with Melanoma, Respect the Rays, Black is the New Pink, Beyond my Tan, and many, many more.

There is NO reason for us to NOT know today.

There is a great article in Women's Health (with the gorgeous and NOT super tan Emily Van Camp on the cover) all about the rise in melanoma rates in young girls since the explosion of indoor tanning. If you read nor share anything else with those you love, please, PLEASE read and share this article.

On that note, I will leave you with two memes I created especially for this post. I hope you enjoy them.

 Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tanning Come Full Circle

By now, you all know that I've had melanoma, and currently, I have no evidence of disease (Thank you, God), but what you may not know is my history with the sun.  And of course, the history of me NOT loving the skin I was in.

That's me on my first birthday. Check out those funky dining room chairs. Apparently in the 70's all the great portraits were taken of models sitting on the dining room table, or was that just my house? 

As you can see, I wasn't a very tan baby. My heritage can be traced back to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, Ireland, Germany, and the Canary Islands, so I am quite a mix. 50% of me is made of the first three, 50% of the last three.  

These are my siblings. Of the four of us, I was the only one who burned BEFORE  I tanned and when I tanned, it wasn't very dark and didn't last for very long. I also freckled the most of us all. So there were times when I definitely felt like the outcast. 

 My older brother and I (notice he is darker than me, but does have some freckles)

My younger sister (She is MUCH darker..and topless. She was quite the exhibitonist
 in her youth) Check out the boombox I got for my birthday! Child of the 80's.

 My youngest sister.  Again, MUCH darker than me (and much more relaxed). When you're the baby, you can sit back and relax all the time.
 She hasn't changed much since then.

 That's me all the way to the right. Sexy, huh? 

I grew up in Key West, so we did a lot of swimming and fishing and picnicking for the first 10 or so years of my life.  I assume my parents put sunscreen on me at that age, but it wasn't really "big" back then.

As I got older, we didn't go to the beach quite as often, mostly on the 4th of July or 3 day weekends.  My very dark hair, dark eyes, and dark eyebrows seemed to make me appear even more pale in comparison to everyone else I knew, so I decided that tanning would make me much more attractive.  I wasn't a size 0 like all of the other teenage girls, so I did most of my tanning at home on my porch, because I didn't want to go to the beach with everyone else. I would lay outside on a towel with another towel on my face (so I wouldn't get any more freckles) and a fan blowing on me (so I wouldn't pass out from the heat.) Although I did pass out one day. I walked inside from laying out to get a drink and blacked out right in the middle of the living room floor. Scared my parents to death!

At the time I was using sunscreen...SPF 8. Yep. Back then I remember 3 numbers being easily available, SPF 2, SPF 4, and SPF 8.  If I didn't burn, I would have used SPF 2. I always wished I could. I thought it would make me tan SO much better.

While working at home for the summer during college one year, I spent quite a bit of time out on the boat. Believe it or not, I didn't really go out on the boat while growing up down there. But this particular summer, I had a friend with access to one, so i took every advantage! 

This is the first and last picture I will ever post of me in a bikini, lol. Well, that is unless I ever get Gunnar Peterson as my personal trainer. 

This day, I spent the entire day on a float in the water with the sun reflecting off the water onto my skin. Notice the lovely RED line just above the white skin under my bikini.  I am certain I was in pain after that.  My sister saw this pic and reminded me that I poured vinegar all over me after this burn, to take the sting out. By this time I was using an SPF 15, but mixing it with tanning accelerator whenever I had it. I am certain I didn't reapply nearly enough and am sure it wasn't waterproof sunscreen. 

Me, after another day out on the boat.

Then after graduating from college, even though i had always been against tanning salons, I let a friend convince me that they were indeed, safer than tanning in the sun. So over a period of 6 to 8 months in my early 20's, I used tanning beds. It was a quick and easy fix to give me the tan I wanted. I stopped when I noticed I was getting wrinkles around my eyes. Ironic, isn't it? I didn't like the idea of getting old before my time, but never thought about the fact that I was increasing my chances of dying before my time! I started using SPF 30 on my face, daily after that. Also, because shortly after I was put on Retin-A for my acne. You HAVE to wear sunscreen when you use that. Of course, I just put it on in the morning, never reapllying throughout the day. 

Finally, a miraculous thing happened! Self tanners really improved. You no longer had to look like one of Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas. The new self tanners  actually made you look brown instead of orange. There were, however, a few unfortunate side effects.  There was the "strange" odor and color rubbing off on your clothes. Even still, I preferred to have color and possibly smell weird and stain my clothes, than be pale. Since I was living in an apartment and finally had a pool to lay out by, I had found the perfect combination of weekend tanning and self tanner throughout the week. I was darker than I ever was.  And as a result, I was more confident than I ever was. 

My combination of laying out and self tanner

The one thing I didn't do was tan for my wedding. By my late 20's I had finally decided that tanning was going to age me too soon, and it was no longer worth the effort. I stuck to my self tanner and used very little the week of my wedding, because my dress cost way too much money to get stained.  When I did tan, I was putting 30 on my body now. I didn't want to burn or age or get skin cancer.

Five years, two babies, and one new mole on my neck later, I was, pretty much as white as I was in the picture of my first birthday, with the exception of the pigmentation that was showing up from sun damage and hormones. I had come full circle.  All those hours sweating in the heat, all that money spent on self tanners and tanning sessions, all the time wasted trying to be a shade that I wasn't meant to be. Color that wouldn't EVER stay.  All of the damage to my skin trying to make me be "prettier" when in reality, I was causing damage that would some day make me "uglier."  The true sadness of it all is that "pretty" and "ugly" was more important to me than "life" and "death."

The last time I "tanned" was my first and only spray tan 6 months before I was diagnosed with melanoma.  I was the only non African -American in one of my best friend's weddings. She picked out a very PALE pink, which i was certain would wash me out and make me stand out more than the bride, so I got my first spray tan. I have to be honest, I loved it. 
Although, after reading about spray tans lately, I don't think I will be doing it again, for many reasons. One of them being the fact that I want to love myself as I am and I want others to love themselves as they are.  Why should I try to change? Looking back now, I can find many pictures of myself where my paleness was really beautiful.  

No more tans for me..that I promise. I do still have a yearning for some self tanner on occasion, but then that would go against everything I am trying to change for the better. 

I hope this encourages people to love themselves just the way they are. I also hope you share this with younger people, especially young girls. I cannot go back and change my mistakes, but I can help others to not make the same ones.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Make 2013 an Amazing Year- No Matter WHAT Happens

 I am always a little sad this time of year. Partly, because it’s the end of my favorite time of year- Fall and Christmas, but mostly because it means another year older and another year of not being where I want to be. 

I usually spend the last week of the old year and first week of the new year wallowing in the things I didn’t accomplish and rewriting most of the same goals I started out with in the first place. This year I decided to do things a little differently.

I didn’t want to end 2012 thinking of all the not-so-great things that happened to me. After all, if that was the case, I would have to hate 1992, 2001, and 2005- the years my papa , my nana, and then my grandmother and my dad passed away.  I don’t think of those years like that, so I don’t want to think of 2012 as the year I got the big “C,” or the year I learned all too much about melanoma.  There were a lot of amazing things that happened to me this year and they shouldn’t be overshadowed by the beast. Even on my holiday cards I sent out, I chose to put a Top Ten of 2012 on them. I wanted everyone to know we had a LOT to celebrate, but mostly, I wanted to remind myself.

I still made a list of my goals for 2013. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t write out a grocery list before I go to the store, only to never  once open it up while inside. I am a great list writer. My problem is in the follow through. This is why I spend most of my time wallowing in what wasn’t done, whether it’s reflecting over the past year or over the last 24 hours. Thing is, we get a lot more done than we think we do. We are just focusing on the wrong things. And when we don’t accomplish things, well, it’s also because we are focusing on all the wrong things.

I want to be more focused this year. I want to do a lot LESS multi-asking and spend a lot more time living in the moment. I want to put more purpose and planning in my day, and then follow through.  I want to focus on the things I have achieved as much as I focus on the things I haven’t. And I want to stop PROCRASTINATING!

I want to do ONE more thing today than I planned to, because it’s what we do today that matters most.

That’s not mine. I read that on a Facebook status belonging to Jennifer Pastiloff over at Manifestation Yoga. She is a genius. I am convinced by this statement, if nothing else.

That CLEARLY didn’t come from me, the queen of procrastination. Nope. But as soon as I read it, it was like something clicked inside of me. I am always disappointed in myself for my lack of follow through, but I never think of the importance today has. It is always about doing "better" tomorrow. Why not start from right where I am? Right here. Right now.  After all, the biggest regret I have for 2010 and 2011 is waiting to go to the dermatologist to get my mole checked out.  I could have caught it WAY before it got 2mm deep, before it reached the scary level IV status.  I am still having a very difficult time forgiving myself for that. So why in the world would I still be procrastinating?

It’s what we do TODAY that matters most. 

Did you get that? We may not be here tomorrow to do it.  We may be more busy tomorrow than we are today. We may not feel well enough tomorrow to do it. We may be facing difficult circumstances that we must deal with tomorrow because of what we didn't do today. 

It’s what we do TODAY.

What are you doing today? Are you working towards your goals? Are you taking every chance you get- chances to talk to loved ones, chances to visit with friends, chances to talk to your children and say the things you really want them to know. Or are you doing everything in your power to put off what needs to be done, only further pushing away the time you have to do what you want to do?

I know that last question describes me to the letter.  So it’s time I change and focus on today. What can I do right now, instead what do I need to do tomorrow?

If you won’t listen to me (and if I don’t listen to me) then we should listen to Tony Robbins, because this statement is so very true.

Let’s stop living in reaction. Focus on what you want (make sure you know what it IS you want first). You want to make a change of some kind? a new career? a new home? new relationships? You want more time with your family? You want to make a difference, educate others, help, start a blog, get healthier? FOCUS and make sure today's actions speak towards that. 

I want to be around for a long, long time. I want to be here to meet my grandchildren's children. I know..that may be pushing it. But I am damn sure going to try.   Do you want to be around for a time ?  Then take care of yourself. Do the things that make you better. Do the things that you yearn to do in your heart.  Make smarter, healthier choices. Eat better, exercise, wear your sunscreen, focus on how beautiful you are in your own skin, love yourself for who you are and take care of yourself the same way you would take care of your child or your spouse or your parents. That is the only way we will be around to do the things we want. 

We can make sure that 2013 is our year, no matter what happens, because all we will be able to see are the amazing things we have accomplished- big or little. 

Don't forget, you can help to write your own story.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun and Happy New Year!!!!