When the going gets tough

All of us have experienced tough times on some level, this I know. Some days, I feel like I experience it a little too often in my life. I work very hard at my job and I have a solid work ethic. I come from the thought process that if you do it right the first time – pay attention to the details, etc., then you can make the most of your time overall. I never feel like I am above learning new things. Whenever I enter a new position, I go in with an open mind, ready to learn how ‘they’ do things — I don’t come in with preconceived ideas and feel like since I’ve had a lot of experience I know everything.

I currently work as a licensed esthetician. When I was in school, my thought process and my hope was to become a medical esthetician after I obtained my license. I have worked 10 years as a medical assistant in dermatology and have worked in the medical field for about 30 years. I was eager to start my new career as an esthetician and I put my resume out everywhere. I later found out…the hard way…that no one wants to hire an ‘older’ person with a lot of experience. I guess they feel like I would want a lot of money? I don’t know. At any rate, after a solid year and a few months, I FINALLY got a job at a salon and spa as an esthetician, but also working the front desk when I wasn’t doing facials or waxing.

I now have 2 years under my belt as an esthetician. I can’t say it has been lucrative. I feel the salon I work at doesn’t really advertise the ‘spa’ part of the salon. A lot of the salon clients don’t even know that we have a spa downstairs, and don’t even know we offer facials! I try my best to get the word out there — but without back up advertising (i.e., on facebook, via website, etc.) I guess no one would even know what our spa services are. So, I do have clients here and there, but I spend the majority of my time working the front desk. I take my job seriously, and I work hard at it. I try to anticipate the needs of the stylists, and do all of the tasks that are required of me.

A few days ago, my boss pulled me aside to tell me that the lease for the salon was up next summer and that they have made the decision not to take the ‘spa’ along with them. She then told me that she needed to save money so they could move to another location. I was given a month’s notice.

When she told me this, I was frankly stunned. I always thought I would grow with the salon/spa, and that I would build a clientele. My co workers are like family. I have been applying for jobs ever since the day she gave me the news. I am realizing that maybe my career choice was not the best one? I don’t know. I am asking myself a lot of questions now that the dust is settling. I still feel a little numb, still have like a sinking feeling in my chest. I am a little scared….afterall, my paycheck pays for the food for our family.

As I sit here and type this, I am watching the clock. I have to go in to work today. How will I work there over the next month? I have so many questions, but am hesitant to even ask for fear of getting upset all over again. I am trying to keep my head up. Trying to realize that every set back means something better is coming. Every closed door reveals a better, open one. I’ve been praying. I’ve been reflecting on a lot. I need to go in to work today with my head held high… it will be awkward.

So, its not like I haven’t been in tough situations before. Most of them worked out just fine. I don’t know why I just can’t accept the news and chill out and be patient for whats to come. How do you all handle bad news? How do you handle tough times? I feel somewhere stuck between lost and hopeful. Discouraged and optimistic.

Wish me luck. Let me know if you’ve had a similar situation and how you handled it.

Why is Everyone in Such a Hurry?

Today, my daughter Krissi and I decided to go to a nearby nature park in our area. We have been there many times before, and today seemed like the perfect opportunity to go back. This nature park has a huge pond area where there are fish, turtles, and frogs. Many different birds nest in the vast amount of trees surrounding the park, and there is even a designated “Butterfly Garden,” where the most beautiful butterflies can be seen, along with bumblebees and dragonflies.

Krissi likes to take pictures, so she always brings along a camera. Her photography is very different than mine. I do sports photography with occasional portrait or photo shoot type stuff, and she is a definite “nature photographer.” Her photos of nature and landscapes are just breathtaking.

So we head to the nature park. We live in a suburb in Maryland – but you would have thought we were traveling in mid rush hour in New York. Everyone was going so fast, slamming on breaks and very impatient. I was very annoyed. I just wanted to get to the park in one piece. By the time we got to the nature park, my nerves were rattled. It didn’t take long, however, to take in the scenery and the quiet surrounding us. A peaceful serene type quiet with birds singing and frogs croaking. I quickly forgot about the crazy drive over. Being at the park almost forced me to slow down, take in the beautiful surroundings, quiet my mind and just breathe. I thought that maybe if those drivers who were in such a hurry to get somewhere came here, they could chill out and reset before going back out to drive. Then I thought maybe everyone should have a quiet, peaceful moment of some sort everyday. Maybe if everyone had a place where they felt like they could clear their head, breathe, and regroup their thoughts, then they wouldn’t be in such a hurry all of the time.

Driving back to our house, I realized we were encroaching upon rush hour in our suburb of Maryland. It was the same thing as before, but a little worse now…small cars speeding up and cutting in front of large trucks on the two lane highway. I thought, what the heck is so important that you think cutting off a large truck is a smart move? I decided I was not going to get caught up in everyone’s dash to get home. Rather, I just took my time and watched everyone else act insane.

I promised myself today that I would take a few minutes everyday, from now on, to stop, and find some peace wherever I was — driving, working, home, whatever. Then maybe that few minutes of peace could extend to several minutes, to a half hour…hour, etc. I encourage those of you who are reading this to do the same. Take some time to yourselves, everyday — even if just for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be at a nature park. It could be driving and taking in a beautiful sky (but still driving responsibly lol.) It could be walking and taking in the smells of the season. I know this sounds so corny, but I think that the world has become so RUSHED. Simplicity is lost these days.

I would love to hear your comments on what you do to take a few minutes to yourself each day. What do you do to unplug? Unwind? Chill out? Whatever it is, I hope it helps you to feel refreshed, reset and renewed as you tackle the rest of your day. Happy Tuesday!

Sunscreen: It’s not just about the SPF #

I worked as a medical assistant in Dermatology for about 10 years. As I mentioned in a recent post, this was not where I thought I would end up working— not in a million years. I grew up wearing SPF 2- yes, that’s right, 2. It was a Tanning Butter from Coppertone that I held on to even during Winter months because every once in a while, I would screw the metal lid off the container just to smell the intoxicating scent of the beach. Then, of course, there was a time without any sunscreen. It was baby oil and a reflective tanning blanket that looked like tin foil. I would promptly arrange my tanning blanket on the grass in my backyard – at 10 am- so as not to miss the most important time to start my tanning (The between 10-2 zone.) I remember laying out in the sun for hours on end. When sun protection became a bit more popular-and manufacturers started adding in SPF (Sun Protection Factor) over 2, I wanted to stay far away. I always thought those high SPF#s were for people with ghostly pale skin that just could not tan, but always burned. I was a sun snob. My strong Italian genes afforded me that dark bronzed tan— with little effort.

While I was working in dermatology, people made appointments to have their skin checked. This entailed a head to toe examination by the physician, measuring, documenting and describing all of the spots on the body: moles, sun spots, warts, birthmarks etc. Part of my job was asking the patient their past sun exposure history. More often than not, I would hear that a person never wore sunscreen, and as a result, received several sunburns as a child, teen, or young adult. “Sunscreen wasn’t a thing back then.” Or, “I tan easily, so I don’t need sun protection.” (Oh how I could identify with that logic!) Then the truth would be revealed in every skin examination- sun damage does not discriminate. No matter if you are pale or dark skinned- you can still burn. A few bad sunburns, or a few dark tans- I would see the end result: sun damage. Patients would be perplexed as to why they had so much damage now when they ‘don’t go out in the sun anymore.’ 30, 40, 50 year old+ patients couldn’t understand how they had gotten skin cancer or pre cancers on their skin when they ‘never go in the sun anymore.’ Well, part of my job as a medical assistant was patient education. Conversations and hand-outs with important information about skin and the effects of sun exposure was something that I learned a lot about in those 10 years as a medical assistant.

Sun exposure is accumulative. Those burns as a kid, or those tanning sessions as a teen show up in your adult years. For some, they come out with a vengeance. So, I am writing this post for a couple of reasons: first, for sunscreen awareness, and second as a general PSA to get your skin checked by a dermatologist annually. Sunscreen is just that: a screen from the sun. Ingredients are key. There are two types of sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens (those with ingredients like Avebenzone,) and Physical Sunscreens (with ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.) You might find a sunscreen with all three of the mentioned ingredients. When you find that, the percentage of Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide is important. With so many choices on the market, it is easy to get confused, or understand which is better for your skin. My general recommendation, based on my experience and sun exposure history, is to get a Physical Sun block (physical sunscreen.) This would be one that would be great for sensitive skin, as there are no chemicals in there for the skin to react to. Physical sunscreens have the ingredients that actually block the harmful rays of the sun. Looking for a higher percentage of Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide is your best bet. Some examples are Blue Lizard Sunscreen, sold at both Ulta Beauty and Amazon. Blue Lizard has a great variety of different types of physical sunscreen – it is made in Australia, and boy do they know a thing or two about sunscreen! https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Lizard-Australian-Sunscreen-Protection/dp/B07NVWRQ9W/ref=sr_1_3?gclid=CjwKCAjw__fnBRANEiwAuFxETwUaIqBHqSOcLDut5mlDwOD3HJp7b-bamu_IB7QIZiTsIKcCEeD1RBoCQCgQAvD_BwE&hvadid=238564800620&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9008020&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t3&hvqmt=e&hvrand=14645328313660813232&hvtargid=aud-646675773986%3Akwd-321392445994&hydadcr=20998_9690270&keywords=blue+lizard+sunscreen&qid=1560199601&s=gateway&sr=8-3

Blue Lizard Sunscreen from Amazon.com

Coppertone Water Babies – Pure and Simple with 14.5% Zinc Oxide! AND, just because it says ‘Babies,’ doesn’t mean it is just for babies. Everyone can use this sunscreen! https://www.coppertone.com/products/family/lotion/baby/water-babies-pure-simple-mineral-based-lotion/

For a something that is a daily use moisturizer/sunscreen for the face, my favorite is Elta MD. When I worked for the dermatologist, we sold this to our patients. You can purchase it on a variety of sites, including Amazon. Here is the link from a site called Dermstore: https://www.dermstore.com/product_UV+Clear+BroadSpectrum+SPF+46_20567.htm There are many different varieties to choose from. I personally like the SPF 46, or the tinted one for days when I just want to throw sunscreen on and go.

The bottom line is: Ingredients do matter. It is not necessarily about the SPF #. SPF 70 does not mean it will work better than SPF 30 with a higher percentage of Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. If you have ‘reactive type’ skin – where you break out in a rash in the sun, or from putting any lotions on, then a mineral type sunscreen is for you — just make sure it does not contain chemicals like Avebenzone. Sticking to the physical sun block/sunscreen with simple ingredients like the Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide, and making sure that the percentage of them is high, will be your best bet for taking care of your skin this summer. Oh and PS, by the way — if you are concerned that you won’t ‘tan’ — you will. You will still get color. You will just help prevent nasty sunburns which lead to skin damage and ultimately possible skin cancers.

Other tips: It takes a ‘shot glass’ full of sunscreen to cover your entire body: don’t skimp on applying the correct amount!

RE-APPLY every 1 1/2-2 hours if you are going to be out in the sun all day.

Get an annual “skin examination” at your local dermatologist annually — even if you don’t have any concerns, or have had any issues. It is a “yearly exam” that everyone should do (especially if you have a family history of melanoma!!!!)

The items mentioned in this blog are my personal favorites: I have not been paid for mentioning them and all of the information included in this blog is my experience, and my opinion. Thanks for reading!! Happy Sunscreening!