Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fair, Medium, Deep, Brown, Black?

I'm 50 shades of I'm not sure what to call my skin color. My arms are the darkest because I'm almost always sleeveless here, my bum is the lightest because it's always covered. In between I'm at least 50 different shades. I'm a little worried about the quantity of sun exposure I've gotten this last year, but not exactly sure what I can do about it other than cover up and stay in the shade. I try to swim three times a week, and I'm really good about using sunblock on my face and wearing a rash guard for sun protection. As hot as it's been lately I'm starting to wonder what the evening hours are at the pool! 

It's really interesting to me to hear my skin tone discussed. Growing up in the US I've always thought of myself as having dark skin, but here I'm regularly told that I'm very fair. At coffee one day one woman said that I was white. I think she was referring more to my cultural and mental perspectives rather than the tone of my skin, but it's still so surprising to hear myself discussed and referred to in this way. 

So, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, does skin color fall into the same category?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My computer ate it

I reflected. I posted. It disappeared. I'm still counting it.

Good night world. See you in the morning.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Momentum of the seasons

I have a couple of things I'm looking forward to working on in 2016. I'm in the Southern Hemisphere and it's the middle of summer here. The heat and humidity slow things down, and being in the tropics there's no spring coming up to launch everything forward. The mindset is different, and I'm finding that fascinating because before I lived here it really felt that every day was like another. Perspective definitely changes when you move somewhere.

Monday, January 4, 2016

What were you talking about today?

What do I write about when I have nothing to write about? Well, the advice I was once given was to write about what I was talking about. So, here goes nothing.

Today's conversations covered a range of topics, including how to get a job in Fiji as a trailing spouse. Get your CV up to date, meet lots of people, let everyone know you want a job, read the paper, especially the Saturday classifieds (yeah, read the paper, crazy number of people I know found their job in the newspaper. Total throwback) and be prepared to wait a year for your visa after you do the whole interview/job offer thing.

Adding structure to your day: It helps me if I have people to meet that will be working on a common goal together. Enter Shut Up and Write! and parenting bookclub among other things.

Finding meaning in life without a job. This one makes me a little nuts. We trailing spouses put all this time and energy into our educations and our professional development and then end up packing up everything and moving-over and over for the luckiest of us. Our circle of influence shrinks down to our family and the friends we make. All our finances get chucked in one hat, the one our partner is holding. It's a little unnerving, even when in rock solid relationships. Add in today's conversation about accidental deaths and extramarital expat activities and that search for meaning coupled with an unsure future can be pretty hard to work through.  

A trip to the bank yielded an interesting conversation about how to prove one's identity when in transition. I need to follow up with the Fiji Women's Crisis Center about they help women get back on their feet financially. I'm so used to everything being available online in the US. You show up, provide your social security number, answer a couple of questions, and boom, you're in business. Yeah, not so much here. That's probably a whole 'nother post right there.

By the way, travel insurance to the US is about 5 times what it costs for the same coverage when traveling in New Zealand. Dear USA, I love you, you'll always be my home, but please figure out the healthcare system. Especially as I age I worry more about ending up in the doctor's office when I go home, and it's something we just can't afford without having insurance.

Let's see, what else. Ah, two more conversations about diversity and travel.  I feel like I've known people who had far more diversity of experience although they never had a passport than some who've traveled the world, but stayed firmly in their comfort zone. I guess this is one blessing of being from a mixed background - there's not a ready made comfort zone for me, no matter what I do I have to stretch and adapt to the situation around me. Not going to lie, that's wearing at times, but I do love the increased understanding I've gained as a result of it. Even so, plenty of stuff would have been easier on the body and the psyche if I'd just read a book on the topic instead of living it.

There were a couple other discussions in the course of the day, but none of them jump out at me. So yeah, there you have it. Another blog post in the can. Now to write some followup emails. G'night all. See you on the other side.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Working our way down the staying healthy in the tropics list, next up is FEET

Feet have skin, so of course they’re susceptible to all the stuff your skin can get like fungus, sunburn, infection, coral scrapes, boils, all the good stuff I talked about in yesterday's post. Every time I take a shower, in addition to a thorough soapy scrub on all my creases and pieces, I lather up my fingers and interlace them with my toes, making sure that the toes get a good soaping between and around each digit. Rinse well with clean water, and if you really want to keep dry you can dry off with a hair dryer and dust everything with some talcum powder or corn starch.

Skin treated? Ok, let’s talk about the stuff under the skin. You’re more likely to wear open-toed loose shoes with little or no support – think sandals and flip flops, which means you get to add in problems like aching feet and lower leg pain from lack of support. It gets better. If you keep on wearing those flip flops aka jandals aka slippers even once you start to hurt, you can develop pesky knee, hip and back pain.

What happens is that most of us have been wearing closed toe shoes our whole lives, and then we move to places like Fiji or the Virgin Islands and put on a pair of flimsy rubber shoes with loose straps. Flipflops are open in the back, so your foot is more likely to slide around. The toes clench up trying to keep the shoe on our foot (which is what leads to a lot of the muscle and tendon strains), which changes our gait (joint pain!) plus we turn into instant klutzes because we’re trying to walk in a shoe that’s doing its best to fall off the whole time. Add in rainy days and slippery tile and it’s a miracle we’ve survived long enough to write (or read) this post.

What’s the bad stuff that can happen? Well, here’s a partial list (I'm not a doctor, if you are in pain, go see a medical professional. If you're curious, keep reading):
• Achilles Tendonitis (Pain along the back of your foot and above your heel, especially when stretching your ankle or standing on your toes; with tendinitis, pain may be mild and worsen gradually
• Calf Strains (pain ranging from mild ache to moderate pain when using your calf, difficulty in rising up on your toes or pushing off from your feet)
• Metatarsalgia (pain that occurs in the front section of the foot, often where the second, third and fourth toes meet the ball of the foot)
• Morton’s Neuroma (nerve damage! May feel tingly, or burning, or numbness at the front of the foot, maybe a feeling there is something INSIDE the ball of the foot, could also feel like there’s something in the shoe or a sock is bunched up)
• Plantar Fasciitis (sounds like PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus, usually shows up as pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel. This is a weird one, it tends to hurt most after you’ve been resting)
• Shin Splints (the front of your lower leg hurts)

Go ahead. Ask me how I know all this….(experience is what you call it when you recognize a mistake the second time you make it)

Couple of things can help a lot:
• Choose a shoe with a strap around the back
• Find a shoe with an arch support
• Get a shoe that has a stiffer sole (flip but no flop)
• If you’re gonna wear the shoes anyway, try to wear them only for short times.

Last up, assuming that you’re wearing good shoes with a nice arch support and a strap around the back, chances are you’re going to want to show those tootsies off. There’s some stuff you can do to keep your pedicures a little safer.
• Choose a clean salon. Look around, Ask the staff about how they disinfect their footbath and tools between customers. If you can, watch the staff with a customer AND see what they do before the next customer sits down. If you have any doubts whatsoever, walk away. I’ve heard some people suggest that you bring your own pedicure tools, but unless you’ve got an autoclave at home, chances are you’re better off with a clean salon and well trained staff than trying to clean them at home.
• This may seem weird, but protect your legs! When you remove hair from your legs, you create micro cuts and you thin the skin that is going to go into the bath. By not shaving, waxing or using a depilatory cream 24 hours before your pedicure you keep your skin intact and better able to keep junk out of your system.
• I know it’s tempting, but don’t let the staff cut your cuticles or use a razor on calluses. It takes longer, but a pumice stone or foot file will scrape away the dead skin and not cut into your healthy skin.

That's all for today's reflection. May your feet carry you everywhere you want to go! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Keeping your skin healthy


Did anyone mention the number that humidity can do on your skin and hair? I'm not just talking frizz, I'm talking fungus, I'm talking about hair falling out.

If you're into pain, try a pair of cheap sandals, they have any S&M Dom beat.

A day fishing can turn into a day broiling if you don't take a hat.

That gorgeous hotel balcony may be a landing strip for divebombing mosquitoes.

It's awesome here.... but you'll have a way better time if you take a few precautions.

And I can tell already this is going to take me a couple of days to write out this series.


SUN Chances are you know about sunburns and sunblock is either the first thing you throw in your bag when you pack or you pick up a bottle of sunblock at your first stop. Couple of things here: SLATHER the stuff on if you're going to wear it and REAPPLY OFTEN, but if you're living here you might want to consider covering up instead of sunblocking. Hats, long sleeve shirts, long pants. Your call. Linen is way more comfortable than polyester, and there are great tropical prints all over that you can easily have sewn into the design of your choice. Don't forget a pair of sunglasses, although they're more likely to mark you as a non-local/tourist. Another option is just to stay in the shade.

FUNGUS Stuff is gonna grow on you. It ain't fun to think about, but it's going to happen. Accept it. When you have an itch around your neck, under your arm, under your breasts, in the crease between your thighs and your groin, Bingo! You just won a round of antifungal or antibiotic treatment. The good news is that the pharmacies are happy to help and you'll have plenty of choices of what to apply. Show them what you've got (I recommend a photo rather than a striptease) or describe the symptoms and listen to the directions! It's the strangest thing, but Selsun GOLD (not the blue dandruff treatment) can be used as an ointment. There are a bunch of other ones out there, but what you need will depend on what you've got.

While I did say it's going to happen to you sooner or later, you can make it less likely to happen by bathing daily with soap and water, taking care to scrub every body crease and then rinsing well. Use clean dry towels when you step out of the shower, and consider using a hair dryer on the cool setting to dry those creases and pieces. A dusting of talcum powder or cornstarch can help dry things up, too.

Not sweating in the first place helps a lot, too - wear loose fitting cool clothing. This is the real reason why everyone runs around in Bula shirts and loose pants - we really do need air flow to all our pieces and parts!

Seriously, protect your skin. If you get a mosquito bite DON'T SCRATCH IT! It may be driving you crazy, but you don't want the stuff growing on your skin to get into your system. If you get a blister, watch it. If your skin is broken for any reason - a cut, a scrape, a scratch, a blister, a scratched mosquito bite, you name it - treat it. Generally this is going to be an antibiotic or antiseptic ointment and a band-aid, but certain skin breaks may need special treatment.  

Coral Cuts / Reef Cuts

Coral is alive. When you scrape yourself on the reef, you end up with the exoskeletons of these creatures under your skin. Yup, that's animal protein and calcium deposits right there. Then there are nematocysts in some corals that sting. Open wounds in the water mean any gunk in the open ocean can swim right into your system, too. Yuck, right? Well, it's the price we pay for the awesome snorkeling and scuba diving here, so I'm careful, but I'm also in the water every chance I get.

• If you get beat up by the reef, first off remove any dead skin around the wound. Clean the wound. Like more than you ever thought you should and longer than you think it needs. Really.
• Rinse the wound with an antiseptic wash.
• Apply an antibiotic ointment.
• Check your wound at least twice daily. At the first sign of any infection, see a doctor. Yeah. Not kidding there.

I think this is it for today's post. I've got lots more to say about staying healthy here, but this is it for now.

In general, whenever you walk in the house wash your hands. It's also a good idea to leave your shoes at the door and slip into a pair of slippers at home. Keep all the junk out of the house and out of your system.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Anticipate, Participate, Reflect

As we were planning our first trip to New Zealand last October Lyn Hatton said that there were three parts to every holiday experience: Anticipation, Participation, Reflection.

I think I do a pretty good job with the anticipation part, I definitely do my best to earn the participation points, I'm not so hot at that last one.


So today I start my new goal: reflect for 20 minutes a day... and away we go!

Well, there's a little more to it than that. I also want to write more, so I'm not counting it as a reflection unless I get something down in writing.

I also know that I write stuff all over the place. You can find some of these musings on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on TripAdvisor, and at Island Life. I've done some guest posts other places, too. I'm going to try to be better about including all of that in one spot, but sometimes I just can't do that because of the nature of the platform.

So. That's it. That's my reflection for the start of the year. I guess it's a goal, which is more on the anticipation side. But it's all connected, right?

(oh, and more of my pics on Instagram these days than twitter)