It has been incredibly hot these past few weeks. And since one of my favorite pastimes is being outside, I have felt very very deprived. Usually I just sit on my deck, overlooking the back yard and all there is to entertain me. Hmmmm. Entertain has so many icky connotations, but what other word can I use? Stick to our new heart reality, self. Ok, so commune with. That’s better! But, I have to go back in time in order to finish this story.
About 20 years ago, when I was in my forties, I noticed little white blotches on my hands and cheeks. Since I was always an outside girl and I had the usual tan that comes along with that, the whiteness was very noticeable. I probably would not have thought too much about it had it not been for my mother. She was movie-star beautiful and had that hourglass shape so many women aspired to in those days. Since we spent a lot of time in equatorial countries, she always had a gorgeous tan. However, when she was in her forties, she also noticed the white blotches. She had the beginnings of vitiligo. Because hers advanced quickly, in a few years her whole body was a beautiful milky white. Even in her advanced years, when most of us have age spots and other discolorations, her skin never changed color from the milky white. However, she never exposed herself to the sun again without covering up.
Vitiligo is a skin condition where you literally begin to lose the functionality of your pigment producing skin cells. It is more noticeable on naturally dark skinned people, but even on us lighter skinned folks, it shows up wherever part of your skin tans and part can’t. It can be quite embarrassing when it first starts. And, I was and have been quite embarrassed by it in the past.
I have been asked if I had been burned and is the white part the scar left behind? I had my little nephew jerk his hand away from mine when I reached for his. He thought I had some kind of crud. I explained to him what it was and, thankfully, he just said “Oh!” and grabbed my hand. I have since over the years let it go and accept it as part of who I am.
In these last 20 years or so, my vitiligo has very slowly crept across my hands, up my forearms, across the tops of my feet and back. Spatters of tan skin can be seen amongst the white and slivers of white against the tan. I now refer to it as my native skin art, created by my body. This is what it looks like right now…..
So, back to my story. Part of the challenge of loving and wanting to be in my yard, on my deck, or working in my flower beds is preventing sunburn. Because without the pigment cells that slowly turn and darken to protect your inner self from the harmful rays of the sun, you can’t tan. Without that, you burn easily and fast. So my main dilemma was while I sat on my deck. Total sun, no shade, most of the day. This is what I am talking about. This was not working for me. It was the only place to spread out the chairs, a little table and lay back. The front porch? Eh! No privacy. The yard? No good spots with continuous shade . (Our yard runs east/west).
A couple of weeks ago we finally decided perhaps we should look into putting some kind of awning or roof onto the deck. It took a while to find someone we knew who knew somebody that could do that for us. Well, we did and in a few days after all the material arrived, it happened. This is what our deck looks like now.
So finally after 23 years I have shade on my deck. Hallelujah. It is so totally wonderful to be able to sit outside whether it’s sunshiny or thunder storming out. It’s a whole new experience for me. It’s like I have a whole new world to enjoy and appreciate.
Yesterday we received over 2 inches of rain in about 5 hours. The lightning was bright and the thunder roared and the rain came down so hard the drops literally bounced off the grass. And I was on my deck taking it all in and enjoying every second of it. How little did I realize how much it would mean to me to be able to do this. I no longer have to worry about getting sunburned while I am enjoying my view and having my communion with my little natural world that greets me as I step outside.
I guess you can tell I’m pretty excited. And yes I am. Very excited. So even though vitiligo is not the most pleasant of things to happen to oneself, I can truly say it can’t hurt me anymore just for wanting to be outside.