30 January 2012

Advertise on Tune into Radio Carly

You may recall last year I developed an online portfolio and press release. I'm not much good at working with brands yet, but I'm going to give it a go this year. I understand blog readers are sometimes averse to advertising, and I admit I am not a fan of blogs populated with advertising over content. I promise to keep the quality content happening here.

I am happy to display advertising on my blog. My blog averages around 25,000 unique hits a month, and has over 400 Google followers. I also have over 1,700 Twitter followers and my blog's Facebook page has over 550 fans. My blog is wide reaching - my blog reaches stay at home mums, people with ichthyosis and their parents, the chronic illness and disability community, and fashion and food lovers.

I am going to the BlogHer conference in New York in August 2012. I hope to seek sponsorship for this trip, and so I can work with you to promote your company in the best way possible. 

If you would like an advertising spot, email me for my rate card.  

Working with brands is not only limited to advertising. I am an accomplished speaker and budding TV presenter, and want to speak at YOUR organisation. Contact me if you are interested. 

I am also looking to increase my freelance writing portfolio - I'd love to write for more media outlets - print and online.

If you would like me to write for you, please contact me to discuss the opportunity. You can view some of my best work 
I also hope one day to turn some of my best writing into a book, detailing my experiences living with ichthyosis. 

Thanks for your support :)

29 January 2012

Thick skin.

 "To escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
~ Elbert Hubbard

Considering my skin is physically very thin and fragile, I think I have pretty thick skin (metaphorically). And considering how much judgment I receive about my appearance, it's funny how I put myself out there to receive more.

The day job I have - writing and events - means that I'm prone to criticism whenever there's a spelling mistake or a misunderstanding or an omission of information in an invitation. When I write content at work, it comes back to me with track changes and red pen marks and arrows and opinions. I've learned to take this sort of criticism less personally - after all I'm presenting fact, rather than personal opinion - and use it to improve next time I write.

Choosing to blog and write outside of work has also meant I've had to develop a sense of resilience. Everyone's an editor, everyone's a critic, and they're not afraid to voice it.

After blogging about the Typo retard card last week, the reality of high readership, divisive opinions and the way people value words hit me. Of course, I am open to differing opinion, but when I am personally criticised for something I believe in - respect for people with disabilities - it can be hard. I resassured myself that many of the readers and commenters had come to my blog fresh, and with no context about why I write, or my involvement in the disability community. And from the comments I received on Twitter, Facebook and this blog, I realised that the issue needed to be raised to help people think different about how they use derogatory words.

Mia Freedman wrote about having thick skin. "Someone once said to me “What other people think of you is none of your business”. I think that’s excellent advice but it’s not always easy to follow. Because no matter how much you try not to care or be diverted by mindless abuse from strangers who can’t spell and use exclamation points with gay abandon, it can be tricky to look away."

It can be tricky. And for every positive comment I receive, the negative ones play on my mind more. Most bloggers say they write for themselves. I think this is true of myself to an extent - I don't consider my blog's audience as much as my audience at work. It feels great to have a readership, recognition and discussion generated. But when writing comes from a place of personal experience or strong belief, opinions from others can sting. Sometimes the sting is the same feeling as when my skin is sore and I rip off my stocking, leaving it bloody and throbbing. And fortunately like my skin, a sense of renewal ensues and the sting doesn't linger too long.

These past three weeks or so I've felt the skin on the sole of my foot gradually tear away from the arch. And it's become unbearably painful this long weekend. The pain is piercing and throbbing and makes my foot very hard to walk on, touch or have fabric next to. My feet are very ticklish too so I feel like I am aware of every movement or touch on my foot.

I am currently on the couch with my legs elevated, and my foot is drying from a salt bath. I'll spare you a photo of the wound site, because it is quite yucky. But here is a photo of my bandaged (Tubefasted?) foot last night - Mum and I went to St Kilda for Spanish Tapas - will blog about it soon. I was hobbling and I did realise that for one in my life, wearing heels would have been the more sensible option over flats because walking on the ball of my foot took the pressure off the pain. Sadly that is the only outfit photo from last night.

Aside from the salt bath, I've had to take antibiotics, panadol and bandage it up with cotton pads and antiseptic cream. Cutting the flappy skin away from my foot is the worst. This morning I went to buy some more crepe bandages. Who knew they were so expensive!?! I've been fortunate enough to get them from the hospital after a stay, but today I saw they are over $8 a bandage. Daylight robbery.
I also bought some healthy-ish comfort food to make me feel a bit better. Yalla chocolate mousse and mango yoghurt with granola, and some figs (there are about six in the container, and I will eat them quickly!) - among some other fruity goodies. A big shout out to The Happy Apple Grocer who always make me feel happy when I shop there.  My breakfast was a glass of pineapple juice, a fig and the Yalla yoghurt.
My foot will be ok. It really is so painful, and I continue to hate the unpredictability of this condition, but I have to tell myself toughen up, princess, and just ride the pain out. It's good I enjoy sitting down so much!

This physical skin fragility has put the need for metaphorical skin thickness into perspective. The criticism I receive writing and putting my opinion out there could never be as painful as the skin tear and infection on my foot.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom this long weekend. Mum's been here and we have had a nice time cooking and eating good food, cleaning up a bit and drinking wine. I received some super exciting news which I will be able to reveal publicly soon. I also booked my flights to Los Angeles and New York via Auckland - thanks for all the airline advice on Twitter - I'll be flying Air New Zealand. I arrive in Los Angeles on 22 July and get to New York on 26 July, returning 12 August! And I also bought a new washing machine because mine broke. Looks like I'll be living on beans and rice until the end of the year to pay for it all.

26 January 2012

Australia Day

Happy Australia Day! I've been relaxing and listening to Aussie rock songs and just come back from a Malaysian cafe for a late Laksa lunch. The first song I heard on the radio this morning was Great Southern Land. Such an appropriate song for the day.

I'm over on Mamamia today talking about what Australia Day means to me. I'm in good company with Jess Rudd, Anita Heiss, Benjamin Law, Bern Morley, Aminata Conteh and Susan Carland.

I wrote on Mamamia how the 'us and them' mentality on Australia Day (and beyond) saddens me. Today Facebook and Twitter is awash with the 'real Australians', 'we grew here, you flew here' and 'invasion day' statements. Nationalism/patriotism/racism seems more prevalent in this past decade, though it may be that way because everyone seems to express an opinion on social media. There's a belief among some that if a person's heritage doesn't date back to Captain Phillip and his settlement who arrived here on 26 January 1788, they're not a true Australian.

As my friend said, it's Australia Day, not "people I choose to recognise as Australian" day.

My wish for Australia Day and the year ahead is for the us and them mentality to become less prevalent, and fears of other cultures to dissipate.

24 January 2012

Engaging with children is funny

Last Thursday I wrote about how nice it was to engage with a child on the tram. I had another experience of engaging with a child I want to share with you. Because it's making me laugh just thinking about it, and I hope it makes you laugh too.
(Photo sourced from Bern Morley with permission)

I don't often get children asking me funny questions about my skin. Perhaps that stems from the discomfort I mentioned when they do get scared/curious. But on Friday night when I had dinner at Bern Morley's house and met her great family for the first time - they really are just how she's described on her blog - her youngest had us in stitches due to his upfront-ness and curiosity. He told us about his girlfriend, showed us how to kiss, and generally wouldn't sit still.

The kids took to me pretty well - forward with conversation and not shying away. About an hour and a half into the night, after dinner, Jack, who has just turned five and so very cute and cheeky, came up to me with his colouring book and crayons. He said he'd colour in a picture for me, because he is "VERY GOOD AT COLOURING IN" - it is like he speaks in caps lock all the time.

He rubbed up against my arm and asked 'where is your real skin?'. His voice was lower than caps lock this time.

I was stumped. Never been asked that question before. "Ummm. This is my real skin", I answered, trying not to laugh.

I can't remember exactly how the conversation went after that, but I did explain I was born like this, just like he was born with green eyes.

In caps lock Jack said "LIKE I WAS BORN WITH BIG RED NUTS!"

We all laughed so hard!

"I was", Jack said".

"I wasn't born with big red nuts" I replied.

"WHY?" Jack asked.

"Because girls aren't born with nuts", Bern told him.

When he went to bed, he gave me a kiss goodnight. I told him he's the first boy who's kissed me in ages. He promptly wiped his mouth. Adorable. 

22 January 2012

Sunday snippets - Instagram mania

Here are a few pictures from this week. There's a lot of food! And I have really taken to Instagram! You told me so!

Farmers market breakfast. Best. So much goodness from brioche, poached egg, polenta, fennel, apple and cabbage salad, salsas and zatar spice.
 Chocolate martini at After the Tears.
 Some beauty growing on the nature strip.
On Monday I got an airconditioner installed in my room. It is heaven.
 This book is making me excited! I want to do Brooklyn flea market so much! We are so close to booking flights and accommodation!
I am trying very hard to save. While I did pick up a sensible sunhat and a pair of walking shoes, I splurged ($12) on these forest animal rings from Sportsgirl.
 A pork dumpling from Miss Chu.
Like seven inches from the midday sun. Such a scorcher on Tuesday. This was taken on iPhone but filtered with Swankolab.
 Very sore on Wednesday. I'll save your eyes by not posting a picture of my bloody leg (but you may have already seen it on Twitter or Facebook). I went home from work sick, and had a big rest. The pharmacy home delivered. I am still a bit sore.
 A mini Reece's peanut butter cup. Amazing.
 A wrapped cup.
 Lollypop dress outside After the Tears.
I want these shoes so badly. These were not the sensible walking shoes I bought. I saw them in Paper magazine while waiting for the aircon to be installed.
 Lunch at work (paella - pot lucked from the freezer) with a faux beach view.
 Croquembouche cupcake.
 Drinks menu. I had a frozen coconut and pineapple on that scorcher of a day.
All in all, not a bad week, despite being sore. Hope your week ahead is a great one!

Sunday snippets can be found at tinniegirl.

21 January 2012

Eat your greens

When does a side dish of greens become less about fibre and folate and more about pleasure? When it is turned into a delicious buttery puree of course.

Step 1: cook half a bag of frozen peas (or 500g of fresh shelled peas) on gentle heat with two garlic cloves, some stock paste (or a small amount of chicken stock) and butter - maybe 50 grams. Don't overcook - you want the greens to stay vibrant, in both colour and taste.

Step 2: puree the greens gently with a stick blender, still maintaining some texture. Stir though another 50 grams of butter, some shavings of parmesan and pepper. Top with crumbled feta, and it's done.
This so full of flavour - creamy and luscious, and delicious paired with lamb and grilled capsicum.

20 January 2012

UPDATED: Dear Typo. Using the word 'retard' in your products is not acceptable.

I stopped into Typo to buy a card in my lunch break. I am still on my lunch break - I've popped into an internet cafe to write this. Because I feel so strongly about it.

On the wall of cards - some cute, some kitsch, and some retro, I saw this.


It is never right to use the word 'retard', or to suggest people with disabilities are any less intelligent or valuable than those without.

After Typo's reference to pornography on their stationery recently (and Ruth Limkin's fantastic blog alerting me to the issue), I thought other offensive products may be removed from the shelves too.

Shame on you Typo for ridiculing and devaluing people with disabilities. Shame on you for trying to make people laugh with this card. I would never give it to anyone, and would hate to receive one.

You may have removed the pornography products to protect children, but you're not doing them (or the wider population) any favours selling this discriminatory attitude toward people with disabilities either.


Typo’s parent company is Cotton On. Send them an email at customerenquiries@cottonon.com.au
Or you can write on the Typo Facebook Page or Tweet them.


Typo responded to my tweets, Facebook message and blog entry via Twitter and Facebook.

"Hi Carly, this product was introduced 12 months ago and was not intended as a comment on people with a disability. We thank you for your comments. All remaining stock of this product will be removed as part of our current review".

Thank goodness.

Though I am not sure what it was supposed to be a comment on. It is a quote from Megan Fox - so perhaps it was reiterating how thoughtless she is?

The fact this product was designed, approved, manufactured and placed on shelves indicated Typo's design department needs some more stringent checks and balances.

In the comments below, people have discussed boycotting Typo. I don't think I'll be boycotting them - I like their stuff. I actually bought a book on New York and some (tasteful) cards there today. But I will be on the look out for more of these disrespectful and discriminatory products and speaking up.

To those who think this is an overreaction, or that myself and commenters are being wowsers - think about this: if we want to change the way people think about disability, and encourage acceptance and inclusion, we have to start by speaking up against acts like this. And this wasn't a small act like someone in the street calling someone else a retard. This was a big corporate, with social responsibility (endlessly plugging the charities they (want their customers) to support at the registers) who used the word 'retard' on a product for sale. 

There is no justification for this word. Intent, word origin, colloquialism, youth speak - I don't accept these reasons. This card indicates people with disabilities are less than valuable.

People can argue about word origins and colloquialism all they want. But it's not acceptable to use the word 'retard' or 'spastic'. So don't.

19 January 2012

Engaging with children is nice.

(Photo sourced with permission from Ben Harris- Roxas via Flickr)

I'm not too confident around children. Their staring and questions make me uncomfortable - and when they get scared of my appearance, it makes me sad. I'm sure it's a hangup from my childhood, remembering the way children treated me, and my clumsy and sometimes verbally defensive and persistent interaction with them.

Dinner one night before my birthday last year with Stella Young taught me something. A child was staring at us, two people who looked remarkably different. I grew uncomfortable but Stella smiled and said hello. She told me she often asks children whether they have any questions about her. I liked this approach, and made it a bit of a resolution to engage with children more, to hopefully make them more at ease around me and others with disabilities. And it's children who will change the world.

On the tram on Tuesday there was a little girl who was staring at me so I smiled and said hello. She was such a cute poppet - she wore a pastel chiffon dress and massive Dora the Explorer sunglasses that kept falling off her nose.

She struck up a conversation with me - we talked about her party dress, her princess Barbie and her mum. I asked her what her name was - Angela, then I told her mine, she said 'pleased to meet you Carly'.

Her dad told me it was her fourth birthday that day, and she said she was out with her daddy while her mummy baked her birthday cake and prepared for her party that afternoon.

As she got off the tram, she said goodbye, blew me a kiss and said I wish you were coming to my party'. I melted.

So cute, glad I smiled at her. And such a positive experience. I didn't have to explain my appearance to her, but by simply talking to her and taking interest, she felt more comfortable sitting next to me.

It is often parents who shape their childrens' beliefs and prejudices. This little girl was clearly raised well. We, with disabilities and visibly different appearances, can also help to shape children's beliefs and acceptance. We don't need to parent them, just educate them at a level they can understand, and show them we are friendly and willing to chat as much as 'normal' looking people. 

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the things that make us sad we forget about the things that make us happy. On Tuesday night, I reflected on the day I'd had. Some of it was frustrating and I wasn't feeling that confident about my ability - lately I've been second guessing myself. It was also a super hot day and I was quite sore.

And then I remembered - the lunch I had at Miss Chu's with my friend, taking some photos of the scorching sky, and being on the tram talking to this little girl. I'd won her over and she wasn't frightened. And that made me smile again.  :)

(Photo sourced with permission from Good Googs)

My lovely friend and childhood behaviour consultant Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids has written a guest post for my blog about children and acceptance. My blog is definitely not a parenting blog, but I think, after this story I've shared with you, her post is most relevant. Look out for it soon. 

Thanks to Ben and Zoey for giving me permission to source and publish photos of their gorgeous girls on my blog. I never feel right publishing photos of children on my blog - so you've helped me out a lot. Much appreciated!

18 January 2012

FilmLife Project Blogger Challenge for organ donation

This post is part of the FilmLife Blogger Challenge

 (Picture by CurlyPops)

The FilmLife Project was created to create awareness and conversations about organ donation through short film.

 From the FilmLife Project website:
"FilmLife Project is a collaborative project in conjunction with Donate Life Week 2012 (19-26 February), that aims to inspire and encourage young people to have conversations that ask and find out their loved ones wishes around organ and tissue donation.
FilmLife exists to capture the stories of organ donation and transplantation through the eyes of young filmmakers.
We believe that more people need to be asking and knowing their loved one’s wishes, and we’re inviting passionate people to spark these conversations by creating films about organ and tissue donation."
My wonderful friend Camille asked me to take part in the FilmLife blogger challenge. 

I think it is so important to give your organs and tissue to those that need them after you die. I also think it's important to donate your organs and tissue to research to help others. Your organs and tissue could save the lives of up to 10 people, and improve the lives of many more. (Donate Life states "in 2010, 309 organ donors gave 931 Australians a new chance in life".)

Camille needs a new set of lungs and I want to raise awareness about organ donation so that she gets a new set of lungs. She's on the transplant list, so I hope she receives new lungs soon. Camille's life would be made so much easier with a new set of lungs - spending time with her has certainly opened my eyes to how much we take our breathing for granted. I'd love for her to get a new lease of life, and for her not to wait too long.
One of my friends' brothers passed away a few years ago - it was so very tragic as he was so young and it was very unexpected, but he believed in organ donation and spoke to his family about his wishes when he got his drivers licence. Through the donation of his organs, the lives of seven other people were saved. You can read his story here. 
I think knowing people who have been impacted by organ donation makes the decision to donate easier. You can see the importance of donating life to someone who needs a chance. 

While it isn't strictly organ donation, I have donated my time and body to research - when I go to the hospital, I see many doctors in training, and them examining my body and me talking about my condition helps them learn about ichthyosis (from physical, emotional and humourous aspects too) and treat future patients. So if you have the time, say yes to talking to student doctors - it helps them, and it helps others.

If I were given the opportunity to donate my organs, firstly, I hope my lungs can go to Camille. The hospital can take the lot - my eyes, heart, teeth - whatever's useful and needed. I am obviously going to donate my skin to research. People are quite envious of my breasts, so perhaps if anyone's in the mood for an implant, they can have those too! ;)

I have spoken to my parents about my wishes for my organs and tissue. I am registered on the Australian Organ Donor Register via Medicare. If you have registered, or are considering, make sure you speak to your family too.
Camille has a blog link up happening here. You can join the blogger challenge too. 

More information:

16 January 2012

Dolphin Tale - enlightened by a disabled dolphin

Upon watching Dolphin Tale, I never would have expected it to be a story about disability.

Dolphin Tale, a dramatisation of a true story, is a film about the rehabilitation of a cheeky amputee dolphin. It stars Harry Connick Junior, Ashley Judd and young Nathan Gamble. Winter, named by the staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, was found washed up on a Florida beach, tangled in a crab net. Winter's injuries were so severe on her tail that it had to be amputated. She underwent rehabilitation in a large pool at the marine hospital, with staff watching her around the clock.

Sawyer, the shy 11 year old who was one of the first to attend to Winter, cutting her free from the rope with his Swiss army knife, found assisting with Winter's recovery more educating and fulfilling than summer school. He visited the hospital each day, doing jobs around the place and keeping Winter afloat and fed. He also sparked up a close friendship with Hazel, the vet's daughter. She responded the best to Sawyer – the marine aquarium staff referred to Sawyer was Winter's mother.


The amputation of Winter's tail meant she was moving it from side to side – her way of adapting her body to swim. However, this placed pressure on her spine, and would have led to the deterioration of her condition.Winter was given an artificial tail, created by prosthetic surgeon Dr Cameron McCarthy (played by Morgan Freeman). Many prototypes were created, and Winter didn't adapt to them because of the discomfort. Finally Dr MCCarthy created an artificla tail with a silicone sleeve that enabled Winter to move her tail up and down.

There was a strong (and unexpected) likeness between the dolphin and Sawyer's cousin Kyle, the young soldier returned from war with a disability. Kyle was a college swimming champion, with hopes to compete in the Olympics. The service in the army would give him a wage enough to pay for his swimming training, he'd hoped. Instead, it left him with temporary paralysis in his right leg and the need to walk with a brace. (It was Kyle's prosthetic surgeon who developed Winter's artificial talil) When Kyle saw Winter's recovery, and how she inspired others with a disability, his outlook became more positive.

Although very simplified, Dolphin Tale showed the similarities in the difficult adjustment to acquired disabilities faced by humans and animals. Just as Kyle struggled with his pride and physical capabilities after become disabled at war, Winter struggled with the loss of her tail, and then the initial prosthetic attachments.

It also explored the value placed on disability. Initially the lack of value - the vet and board members lamenting that no zoo wants a dolphin with a disability, and the dent Kyle's disability made on his self worth. And then, with a visit from a little girl who was an amputee, eager to see the dolphin that was just like her, Winter's value was realised. She could teach and inspire humans about disability. Winter has inspired so many people with disability – people visit and swim with her.

Similarly to We Bought a Zoo, Dolphin Tale also touched on the themes of the financial struggles to keep the marine hospital open, and the way impending animal death brings back memories of human death and the desire to keep someone who is suffering alive for as long as possible.

Dolphin Tale was inspiring and moving. I think it's a great movie to teach children about disability.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium has a website where you can find out more about Winter and the movie, as well as watch a web-cam of her swimming. Visit http://seewinter.com/

Dolphin Tale is showing in Australian cinemas now.

14 January 2012

Instagramming it up

So I got through so much of my to-do list today. Tomorrow is another full day of writing, and then I'll have dinner with the lovely Lanelle! I can't wait. Feeling very pleased with my productivity.

I signed up to Instagram when I had a break from doing stuff. If you use it too, look me up - I am carlyfindlay.

I have never seen the appeal of retro looking photos. I mean, I like actual retro photos, but I can't quite see the reason for making modern day photos look retro. But today I saw the light. And I have come to love Instagram. It is quirky and whimsical. I can see myself Instagramming my every move through the day.

Here are some of my photos I Instagrammed. Because I didn't do anything very exciting today, they are mostly 'retro' photos - circa 2010/11.

I'm Instagramming it with the best of them.

Mexican eggs for breakfast

This weekend is a weekend of pure relaxation. The house is tidy, I have what I need here, so there'll be no going out until tomorrow night. I'm staying in, cooking, listening to music (currently Nirvana), relaxing in my hoodie (it's freezing in Melbourne!) and working through my writing to do list. Easing my way into the writing with this blog entry!

Last night I was flicking through my Jamie's America cookbook - reading about the foods I may experience in America. It is an amazing book - packed with stories of the melting pot of cultures and beautiful pictures.

This morning I woke up with a mission - to make Mexican eggs, inspired by Jamie Oliver.

Mission accomplished. I cooked this for breakfast. Mexican eggs and bacon: duck eggs scrambled with chilli and coriander, avocado, tomato, bacon, lemon, cheese + salsa.

Here is the recipe. Adjust quantities to suit the number of people you are serving/how hungry you are.

Heat non stick fry pan on stove - medium heat, and place two lean bacon rashers in the pan. They will cook as the pan heats. (You can leave this bit out if you don't eat bacon. I am sure chorizo sausage would be good too.)

Lightly beat two eggs (I used duck eggs) with a drizzle of full fat milk, a small handful of coriander and half a green chilli. Season with salt. Put to the side.

Cut up one lemon into quarters, one tomato and one avocado and put onto a plate. Squeeze a quarter of lemon over the avocado so it doesn't go brown. You could probably include corn (fresh or tinned) too.

Cut or grate (I hate grating so I cut) about 50 grams of tasty cheese. Put half into the beaten eggs and save half.

By this time the bacon should be cooked. Take it out of the pan and put it on the plate with the tomato and avocado.

Heat some butter in the pan, and when melted, turn down the stove's heat and pour the beaten eggs into the pan. Agitate gently with a spoon or spatula. Cooking should take about three minutes. The eggs should be cooked when they are still runny.

Put the scrambled eggs onto the plate, top with the remaining cheese and drizzle with lemon and salsa - I used Byron Bay green chilli salsa.

Soooooooo good! Makes a difference to going out for breakfast!

13 January 2012

Love your body - be SunSmart

 This post is part of the SunSmart Love Your Body blog carnival.

One of the most common questions I receive is "Are you sunburnt?". If you have been reading long enough, you'll know the answer to that one - I'm not sunburnt. In fact, I take special care in the sun, because I don't want to damage my already very sensitive skin. I need to love my skin.

I can't use sunscreen. I do worry about how quickly my skin burns without it. I also worry about the damage sunscreen may do to my skin if I use it. (Please don't offer suggestions for sunscreens. I have my own skincare routine that works for me.) So in lieu of this, I ensure I cover up as much as I can.

Here is my sunsmart outfit. Keeps me cool, keeps me protected from the sun.  Despite what people think, wearing clothes that cover up the body is not hot, nor unflattering.

I don't go to the beach much, the last time I did was in 2009. Here is what I wore. It may have not been the skimpy bikini that attracts wolf whistles (and the reason for me going to the beach was not to attract wolf whistles either) but my outfit protected me from the sun.

A few years ago I went to the cinema to escape the heat. I saw too movies, because it was just so hot. Of course I had to get too and from the cinema - walking to the train station and back. I covered up so much - long skirt, long sleeves, leggings, hat and sunglasses - and in between the movies, I felt I needed to warm up after being in the icy cinema. So I sat under the glass roof of the shopping centre for five minutes - still wearing my hat and sunglasses. And this is what happened. In reverse.
And now is where I get preachy, and a bit like my Nanny I see so many young people not being sunsmart. Sunbaking on the beach. Sunbaking in a solarium. Getting around wearing not very much (girls - I don't want to see your bum cheeks hanging out of your denim shorts, no matter how great your legs and bum is). There seems to be a need to change the way we look, through the creation of a tan. In the past, people slathered tanning oil on their skin and baked themselves like chickens roasting on the beach. A tan was considered as healthy. But now we know it's not.
The facts are:

A tan is not healthy. A tan is a sign of sunburn. SunSmart says "Sunburn is radiation burns to the skin.

SunSmart also states:

"Sunburn at any age, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can lay the groundwork for skin cancer later in life. Increased sun protection against sun exposure will prevent skin cancer at whatever age it is applied.
 The amount of sun exposure required to cause sunburn varies greatly from person to person. People with white and light brown skin tend to be more sensitive to the sun and burn more easily. In summer, a fair-skinned person can burn in as little as 15 minutes. People with darker skin are less sensitive to the sun and may rarely burn."
I've spent many hours in the dermatology clinic waiting room. Hundred of hours over my life. I don't talk to many people in the waiting room. I mostly pass the (long waiting) time by listening to music and reading magazines, and sometimes I do research or emails for work.

One day a man struck up a conversation with a man. He would have been in his 60s and said he'd seen me at the clinic previously. He told me his grandson was with him the last time he'd seen me, and had asked him about my skin. We talked about how regularly we come to these clinics - he attends them far more than me. He told me he has skin cancer. He showed me the backs of his hands. They were scarred, the skin fragile. He said he'd just had skin grafts for his skin cancer. That was the second time he'd had skin grafts. His cancer returned after the first skin grafts. He said that it took a year for the skin grafts to take to his hands, and he had very limited feeling on his hands.

The man told me the skin cancer was not limited to his hands. He'd had melanoma spots on other places of his body. He said that he'd been working as an outdoor labourer since his late teens, exposed to the sun every day. He wished he knew about being sunsmart when he was younger. So he could have helped to prevent the cancer he suffered from now.

I remember that conversation well. I thought about the information we have about the dangers of the sun, and whether it will make a difference to skin cancer rates when my generation is 60.

Take care of your skin in the sun. Cover up with a hat and protective clothing. Wear sunscreen (SunSmart recommends SPF 30+ sunscreen), stay in the shade and wear sunglasses. Just like not smoking, eating a balanced diet and drinking moderately, being sun smart is crucial to a healthy body. Your skin is your body's largest organ. It is a vital organ. Love your skin. Please.
For more sun protection tips, visit the SunSmart website.

 (I was not paid for this post.)

12 January 2012

Can we really call this breakfast?

When breakfast is really just dessert in disguise. Banana and passionfruit French toast with marscapone, maple syrup and meringue.


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