It's a beautiful sunny day - finally! We've had so many rainy overcast days that I began to believe the sun was never going to emerge again. I've never been a sun worshiper, my skin is very fair and, as a child and young woman, I suffered through many severe, painful sun burns. (The upshot of this is that I now have to be inspected annually by a dermatologist for skin cancers.)
I wanted to be tan and sought every trick to tanning that I could find: baby oil & iodine, tanning lotions & creams, daily exposure in 5 minute increments - never between 10 and 2, heck, I even tried olive oil and crisco! Oh, and lest I forget, the Coppertone self tanning cream that turned me a bright orange with dark orange elbows, knuckles and knees. I could have posed as an upside down traffic cone! I was determined to make my skin turn brown, but all it did was go from pale pink to dark red and blistered.
At the age of 29 I discovered sun block with PABA and it was a real treat for me to protect my skin and enjoy limited exposure outside. I still covered up and wore a hat, but just being outside in nature was exciting.
Over the years, I've armed myself with increasing levels of SPF coverage and still wear a hat, with very little exposed skin, but have felt safer to venture out on sunny days. Every outing requires me to spray or spread sunblock on any part of my body that risks even a slight possibility of peeking through my garments. I can't just casually run out of the house on a whim. Stepping out the door requires me to be armed with sun block and all of the accouterments I've collected to guard against the punishing rays of the sun.
My preparation sometimes irritates me, but I know it's necessary and I do it. There is an upside to all of this hiding from the sun, however; my skin is still quite youthful for my age - unharmed by years of sun damage.
So even though the sun has been my enemy, I've discovered that it's also my friend. I lived for several years where the mornings were either foggy or slightly overcast and the sun burned through it by about 10 or 12. It was just a way of life, like snow in Minnesota - I was used to it. In Sept 2007 I moved to Folsom, where the sun is like a fiery weapon hurdling UV rays at us with 100 degree summers. No more of the soft, gentle sun shining through the trees, filtered and tolerable. Knowing this, I arrived armed with my sun protection program.
What I wasn't prepared for was the amazing energy I feel when I wake up to sun in the morning. It's like a shot of caffeine - and I'm decaffeinated. When the sun is shining through my bedroom windows, I awake feeling ready to start my day - alert and alive. Quite a change from the slow starting, slow moving, dullness I feel when it's overcast or dark out. The sun became my friend. I love the seasons with the sunlight visible when I arise. My friend the sun is smiling at me. I think of one of the pictures drawn when we're very young, with the house, the tree in the yard and the sun shining big fat rays of yellow down on everything. It's as if I've been given a gift and makes me smile at the sun smiling at me...