Regrettable Reverie

yellow flowers

From the desk of Teresa Jordan – Despite my many decades of practice and experience I did the most unthinkable thing this past weekend. I got a sun burn, and not a little cute one, a raging burning assault on my skin that even now – five days later – is troublesome.

How did this happen, you ask? I was applying sunscreen to my shoulders, arms and neck; however, I did not realize that the top I had on dipped far lower at the back than I was reaching with my protection. Then as the day of gardening progressed, my family started to tell me that I was burning. I did the classic touch assessment to my exposed skin, I sat in the shade and examined, and told my family over and over again that I was fine.

In fact, I was becoming annoyed at their observations because I neither felt burned nor was my skin feel hot to my touch. Why would they not just leave me alone to wrestle with weeds and move plants around?

Anyone who has made this kind of error knows well that a sunburn cannot be gauged through touch at the moment of damage. The burning, super-hot, skin cracking pain sets in slowly over time long after the sun has gone down. Turns out my family was oh so right, and before long I knew that despite the wisdom of my age and experience I had goofed this up.

This experience has made me think of other times that people have tried (and failed) to tell me things about my own self-care – you are spreading yourself too thin, you are too busy, you are not taking care of yourself, that is not the right shade of lipstick for you. All super great and well-intentioned advice; why is it so hard to take, to notice myself, to feel these burns?

I guess like my sun exposure, I was distracted by my tasks. I was not really in distress and I thought I knew best about what condition my skin was in. I guess it is a bit like the frog experiment, you can’t just dunk a frog in boiling water, but you can put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil. They say that the frog does not really notice until its too late as he acclimatizes to each new temperature as it increases and adjusts, carries on, finds a new normal.

These are extraordinary times; be sure to take a moment to ensure that you are not burning. Sounds easy enough, but believe me in the moment you won’t know it, you won’t believe it, you will be annoyed that it was even suggested and before you know it … frogs legs are on the menu.

Sure, we are all handling things, going without seeing those we love, not going to the movies or restaurants, not spending time away from our homes. In our homes our time is gobbled up with school lessons, cooking and trying to keep boredom, worry and fear at bay.

The temperature is rising and we are adjusting to survive. And what else is there to do? It is a tough reflection because we have to get through this. So maybe it’s just about being kind to ourselves, being kind to those around us, making the ultimate declaration that this is not the time to go for the Better Homes and Gardens yard of the week, but instead to walk softly and rest, to turn off the gas and cherish the small joys in a radically different life.

There appear to be no short cuts here so all we can do is journey through and stay as cool as we can.

Photo by Dua Chuot on

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