Skin Cancer

I went to the store the other day and stocked up on sunscreen. Got the spray kind, the lotion and one especially for the face. Threw out my old, outdated ones.

I’m pretty sure most if not all of you are very aware of the dangers too much sun can cause our skin. However, if you’re anything like me – if I don’t see, hear, feel or smell it, it’s out of my mind. I’ll find myself out running or just in the sun and thinking oops, I should have used sunscreen, oh well.  Huh, this past month has really given me a wake up call.

My mother is in her eighties and it appears that every single cancer cell has decided to surface on her this year and she wasn’t even a sun lover. She hated being in the sun as a matter of fact. As Floridians, going to the beach is a normal pastime for us. My dad would pack up the car to go to the beach and he and I would play in the sand and surf while my mother would create a little tent using the open car door and towels and stay in the car seat reading the newspaper. She would never venture out to play with us. So, it’s really a surprise for me to see her suffering from so many instances of skin cancer at this stage in her life.

She’s being sliced and diced. Sounds crude, I know, but this is exactly what happens when skin cancer surfaces. They have to cut little pieces of you off to get rid of it. One is a bit more serious requiring a skin graft as if she really needs to lose any more skin on her body. It appears that she’s going to be in a lot of discomfort for the rest of this year at least because they can only do a couple of locations at a time. Each one requires at least 2 weeks of healing – changing the dressing, applying antibacterial ointment, then removal of stitches or staples. Then the next round starts again…

I’m the one that takes her to her doctor appointments and also helping with the incisions in places that she can’t reach. I see her discomfort and struggle to keep the places properly dressed for healing. Some of these incisions will need to be done in a hospital setting because the location of the cancer isn’t easily removed. She’s going to have scars and indentations from each and every one of those cuts.

I’ve had 2 instances of skin cancer myself, but that was about five years ago and I haven’t had anything since. Like I said, as time goes by if it’s not front and foremost in my senses, I get comfortable and complacent. Life moves so fast that I don’t always remember to apply sunscreen. Which is pretty ignorant and lazy of me considering how much I love being in the sun. I thrive on the warmth. A lot of what I love to do is being out in the sun, running, swimming, walking…etc.. So, I’m whipping myself in line here. Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen. I’m sending this out to everyone because if I can convince just one other person of the seriousness of using sunscreen and being careful in the sun then I’ll be happy.

Enjoy the sun, but come on… just be smart about it. I’m saying this to myself just as much as I am to everyone else out there. None of us want to have to go through what I’m watching my mother go through.

 

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Writing again

I haven’t written on my story in a while – a long while.

I just stopped. I guess I was trying to deal with too much in my life. Between work, bills, and taking care of my family, all I wanted to do was vegetate when I had a few moments. Well, the longer I vegetated, the more the writing slipped away. Then I realized that it’s so true what they say about writing – it’s something that you have to do every day. Just like exercise. If you don’t exercise every day or at least on a regular basis, it slips away and you find yourself back to square one where you have to start all over again.

So I am determined to make time for writing like I do for running. Actually running and writing are perfect together. As I was running this morning, I found myself thinking of the story. I thought of my characters and worked through some of the problematic areas that I’ve had in there. Ideas came to me based on what I saw on my run. The weather even gave me some inspiration.

I’m going to try and combine my running time with writing. The running is perfect for percolating ideas to be applied to the actual writing time. Today I spent time drafting my outline and creating a workable plot. Now I’ll try to incorporate some of my previous writing into this new outline along with my new ideas.

Just based on what I’ve done today, I’m getting excited about the writing again.

 

My Night

One of those rare nights when I can actually do my thing without arguments or compromising. The Teenager is staying over at a friend’s house.

As a teenager myself, I remember enjoying those nights when my parents would go out and leave me at home. I could watch what I wanted on TV without the parents either censoring it or requesting compromise. I thought  (foolishly) that once I became the parent that I could finally have my own way. LOL what a joke.

As a parent, my nights are spent cajoling, nagging at  the Teenager to do certain things. Watching and making sure she’s not doing anything inappropriate. Compromising on TV shows which really means we end up watching what she likes and not what I want unless I want to retreat to my own bedroom. Getting irritated because she’s in one of her sulky moods because she can’t do everything that she wants to.

Tonight, however I’m doing my own thing. I’m watching what I want on the television. I’m enjoying a bottle of wine. I’m stretched out on my couch with a blanket without fighting for space with all the things she insists on dumping on there. I am enjoying my night the way I always imagined I would when I (grew up).

Despite all those aggravations, I miss her and I’ll be glad to see her back home – headaches and all. But for now I’m going to enjoy my little time here.

Have a great night everyone!

A Cougar’s Tale

Am I a Cougar? I guess so – based on society’s need to categorize, package and label things.

Did I set out to be a Cougar? Absolutely not.

When I was younger, I thought it was strange to see a younger guy with an older woman. Why on earth would a young guy want to be with someone older when there were so many tight, young bodies out there. It was somewhat of a threat to think that a guy might choose an older woman over what I would have to offer which was youth. No young woman wants to “lose” to someone older, right?

My ex was very youth driven. He was one of those men who was threatened by growing older and felt that if he surrounded himself by younger women, he could stave off the “old complex”. Since I was quite young when we met and hadn’t had a chance to formulate my own ideas or feelings about things, he influenced me a lot. I would hear him making comments that he couldn’t understand why any man would want to be with someone older. He’d talk about older women as being used up and undesirable. I guess it must have affected me more than I thought at the time because I began to dread the day that I would be considered “old”.

I left him a long time ago. I finally grew up and started figuring things out for myself and realized that I didn’t share his opinions on a lot of things. But I’m getting off the point here…

The point is, I just didn’t quite understand why someone young, energetic and strong would want to be with someone older. Not to mention starting families, retiring, all those life milestones that can really only be embraced when both are of the same age. Well -it’s funny how life works. Every man that has come on to me since my divorce has been younger and I never notice the age anymore. It’s not about age, never was. It’s about the connection of the spirit. It’s about really enjoying each other’s company.

I’ve been with someone younger for a number of years now. He and I get along so well. In the beginning I actually did resist the idea of getting close romantically with him. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of “cradle-robbing”, but he was persistent. We became friends first and found the connection between each other to be strong. We’re still together to this day.

Honestly – I still don’t see how that May-December relationship can exist into the senior years when I’m sitting in a wheelchair and drooling (rolling my eyes here)… but you know what – life is way too short to spend contemplating how it will be in the future. For all I know I could die a year from now and never reach those years. So, why am I concerning myself with how it could be, may be, or should be at any point in time? Just enjoy life in the moment and if you have someone special to share it with then do so. Regardless of any differences whether it’s age, religion, race… just embrace the connection of the spirits within.

My amazing hour…

I hope everyone had as amazing a day as I did today. I didn’t do anything special, in fact I really only had an hour to do my own thing. The rest of the day was spent chauffeuring my daughter to various places and running over to my mother’s to assist her with some things. But that hour….

It was mid morning and the sky was a deep blue color with not a cloud in sight. The temperature was a gorgeous 70 degrees. There was just a slight coolness to the air that was offset by the warmth of the sun. It sparkled off the lakes that I ran by and dappled the streets through the trees with their new, spring green leaves. The other runners seemed to have the same feeling about the day from the way they were smiling and waving as we passed.

I stopped along the run a few times just to take in the beauty of the day. Once to watch a colorful butterfly fluttering around some flowers, again on a bridge to take in the serenity of the water flowing beneath. I made friends with a friendly, curious dog and spoke with her owner. There was no phone, computer or TV to distract me. It was just myself and that one beautiful hour.

Isn’t this the sappiest post you’ve ever read! LOL, I just had to get this down and send it out. I hope everyone had a wonderful day and if you’re in a part of the world that had crappy weather today – I’m truly sorry that anyone had to miss out on what I experienced today.

Losing myself

I’ve finally figured out why the twenties is a good time to have babies. It’s so you get a break between raising kids and taking care of parents.

I was having too much fun when I was in my twenties. I liked the freedom of picking up and going whenever I was ready. Another thing I absolutely loved was my sleep. I would go to bed late and sleep in on those wonderful weekend mornings. So, I put off having kids. In my thirties I finally had a baby and felt it was the perfect time for me. I had already gotten the wild hair out of my system and I was ready to sacrifice my freedom, sleep and time to raise my daughter.

What I didn’t quite think about is taking care of my mother. I always knew that the time was coming and was prepared to do whatever it took to take care of her. The tough part is trying to take care of her while raising a Teenager. As a divorced parent without any siblings – it’s been a challenge to juggle both while maintaining my sanity.

My mother waited till she was in her thirties to have me,  compound it by me waiting till the same for mine. Now one is well in her senior years and needs assistance with a lot of things while the Teenager is entering the height of her social life with all the school activities, dating and friends.

Makes for a lot of hair pulling moments.

I find myself juggling the two of them. I take my mother to her appointments and stores for shopping. She’s gotten to the point where she needs help getting around and taking care of things. At the same time my Teenager is hitting her stride with going out and academics. I’m her sole means of transportation unless another parent steps in. I’m not the type of mother to just allow her to run all over the place without knowing what she’s up to, nor do I want her riding around with other teens unsupervised. So, I end up chauffeuring her to most places and trying to keep an eye on what she’s up to. At the same time, I’m keeping track of all of mom’s appointments and making time to drive her to those and whatever else she needs.

Anyone with a Teenager knows that they tend to be on the selfish side with a sense that the world revolves around them and them only. I’m constantly battling her when I need to make time for my mother while she has other plans. When it comes to my mother, I find that it’s like taking care of another child. She’s slowed down and become more frail. When I’m with her, I slow down and am constantly watching to make sure she’s safe and taken care of.

Between my job, the Teenager and my mother – I wonder sometimes if I’m losing myself in the picture.

I wouldn’t change anything in my life. I’d still have my daughter and I’d still take care of my mother, but perhaps I would have started a little earlier with my own child just so that I could have a couple of years for myself in between.

Fabulous at Fifty

I grew up listening to my mother and her friends talk about menopause. They’d sit around eating sweet rolls with coffee and bemoan how life is cruel to women. According to them, once women hit the menopause mark, they might as well hang it all up and let themselves go.

“Women get fat when they hit menopause.”

“No use fighting it.”

They’d smile at me, a teenager at the time, and nod their heads sagely as if to say – just wait till you get there.

Well, I’m here – almost, kinda…let’s just say it’s looming on the horizon. And I feel absolutely great about myself! I wanted to post this to share with other women that middle age doesn’t mean that we have to sit back and let ourselves go. I almost did. For a period of time, I gained weight and was the heaviest that I’d ever been in my life and I was making excuses that I was getting older… closer to menopause…   I’m a mom – yes, isn’t that the lousiest excuse you ever heard? Using motherhood as an excuse to let yourself go. But apparently many women do.

I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, dietician or exercise coach. But I wanted to tell you ladies out there that feeling and looking good is a state of mind, not due to your age. Women can look and feel great at any age. It’s all up to us. Everything else is just excuses.

I joined a boot camp, one that had women of all ages and levels of fitness. Not a huge chain gym where young, beautiful people go to check each other out. All that did for me was make me want to run home and hide myself in embarrassment. Find a small one with women only. It’s motivating to be around other women who are striving for the same things – to feel and look better. The woman that ran the boot camp was an amazing woman who shared her knowledge of nutrition and fitness with us. She gave us a basic breakdown of why we gain weight and provided us with tools needed to get to our goals. One of the best tool she gave me was to download a calorie counting app on my phone. I used MyFitnessPal and it became something fun for me. Once you key in the basic information about yourself it creates a graph of your progress. I had the ability to track my calorie intake as well as my calories burned. It became fun to manipulate the calories while staying within my daily goal. Amazing app. If you are looking to lose weight and get healthier – I would definitely suggest looking into it or something similar. After using this app for a good three months I’ve now gotten a much better sense of how many calories I’m putting in my body vs how many I’m burning and no longer need the app so much. It’s still there though for those weeks that I feel like I’m sliding.

Exercise – it really does feel good once your body gets used to it. It’s getting there that’s hard. Again the boot camp helped. Being around other women is a powerful motivating factor. When you see all these other girls working their asses off, you don’t want to be the one who gives up so you hang in there till the end. After six weeks of boot camp, I had gotten the weight off and my energy level up to the point where I could continue on my own. I now run at least a few times a week and go out for mini power walks whenever I can get away from my desk throughout the day at work. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel sluggish if I don’t get that exercise in.

Diet – Forget the word “diet”. It’s all about taking in the appropriate amount of calories and burning them off. One of the best advice I got was to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the aisles. All the processed, fatty stuff are in the middle. After doing this for a few weeks, I found that I was feeling so much better – more energy and not so heavy and sluggish. That’s not to say I don’t ever have a slice of pizza or that luscious chocolate cake – I do, just in moderation. And it’s something that I can look forward to now rather than having it all the time. Ever notice how something tastes so much better when you have it once in a while vs having it every day? It does, it’s just so much more delicious when it’s a treat. The one thing that I do miss is soda. I’m human after all. I used to drink coke like no one’s business. It was my “coffee”  in the morning and my energy drink in the afternoon, not to mention the drink of choice at various times of the day. I gave it up – very reluctantly, I might add – telling myself that once the weight came off, I’d be able to treat myself to a soda or two once in a while. I haven’t. I know myself and I know that once I get a taste of that sweet, bubbly stuff I’ll be hooked again. So, I stick to water and stay away from the sodas. I’ll treat myself with wine or a drink here and there but no sodas.

Ladies – you can stay fit and healthy at any age. You can feel and look as fantastic as you want. Don’t let anyone tell you that at a certain point in your life you might as well hang it all up and accept that weight gain is a result of middle age. Sure, metabolism does slow down and your body does have more aches and pains than it did when younger, but it’s all manageable if you put your mind to it. So, let’s do it! Let’s be the most fantastic group of middle aged women known in history!!