Summer’s Coming! Let’s Get TAN!!!

Now, most of my readers know that I’m a little ol’ lady living in an old folks home, but don’t count me out yet…in fact listen to your elders. They have had experiences that you can’t even guess at, and have seen things that you wouldn’t believe.

Take skin, for example. Many of my friends here at the home see their doctors with regularity to check on their skin, because of all the melanoma cancers that have appeared over the years and have needed removal.  My generation may be the one that began this love affair with the sun to get rid of what they imagined was a white pasty unattractive skin color, and now, in our older years, are paying the price for it.

I will admit, however, that when I discovered years & years ago that my pale Norwegian-American skin wouldn’t tan no matter how much I tried, I gave it up; I had better things to do than to lie in the boring sun.  Nowadays it’s different. There are roughly 14,000 tanning salons in the United States, and that’s where urban youth go to get a fast and even tan.

The greatest risk.

Young folks who actively pursue tanning have a 60% greater risk of melanoma than people who begin after age 35.

What triggered this topic here on this blog was a short article in the April 2005 issue of Scientific American warning of the dangers of tanning beds. Here is some of what I learned.

It’s girls, mostly, who feel the need to emulate their peers who value tan over white skin. One in five high-school-age girls have used a tanning bed in the past year. One in ten have used it at least ten times.

The tanning bed

Believe it or not, tanning beds can be addictive. Opiod endorphins are released while under the lights to make the user feel relaxed and feel so good that she wants to go back for more.

Radiation from a tanning device may be more intense than the sun’s own rays. Why would someone even consider using such a dangerous machine??? From my point of view, and knowing what happens to people who get too much ultraviolet radiation, I wouldn’t go near such a place. Some places are wising up.  Brazil has outlawed artificial tanning throughout the country, period. Nobody can promote or use such devices.

By the time a young person discovers a suspicious patch on her body, she had better hope that it's not too late.

By the time a young person discovers a suspicious patch on her body, she had better hope that it’s not too late.

And other countries such as England, Spain, Germany, and France no longer permit minors to use the tanning beds.

Being the “let’s not regulate anything” country, only 10 states in the United States have banned the use of tanning beds for minors even though the evidence of how dangerous they are is clear.


Melanoma spread

An undiagnosed and untreated melanoma will spread into other parts of the body

Here is a diagram of the creeping melanoma.  First, its a small patch on your skin. If left untreated, it silently expands deeper, then deeper still. By the time it grows large enough to enter your blood stream, you are in big trouble! Now to save your life, you must go through chemotherapy and all that nasty stuff.

Lovin' the sun

Even when a man has had several melanomas removed from his bald head, and his wife refuses to stop feeding her wrinkles with more rays from the sun, they just don’t get it….

Some people just never learn.  Even here at the home, I see people sitting on a bench in the garden outside with their faces turned up toward the sun.  Are they nuts? Their skin already looks like leather, and their wrinkles are so deep that they could hold a pencil. What once must have been a lovely face, now looks grotesque. Well, it’s their delusion, I guess.



Wrinkled woman

“I just can’t stop sunning myself. It feels so good, and I am soooo beautiful….

Young people may think that old folks don’t care about their looks anymore, but nothing could be further from the truth.  We dress nicely and try to stay up on the latest fashions for our generation. Someday, you will too, although my guess is that the styles that you wear now will pretty much be what you wear 50 years from now (if you don’t die of melanoma first).


So, take care of your skin. Toss out your self-perceived need to be tan. Trust me, you will be glad someday that you can’t hold a pencil in your wrinkles.

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The Dalai Lama and The Christians, (Well… a few.)

Beyond Religion

A non-grouper joins a group
A few months ago, I joined a book discussion group that had been in existence so long that none of the members could remember when it started. Currently there are about eleven members of which most show up twice a month to talk about an assigned reading that all had read prior to the meeting. The group had, apparently, concentrated primarily on Christian literature including the Bible, but were now studying short stories, and so I felt comfortable in joining the group at the invitation of one of the members.

My own agenda
Never having been a reader of short stories, I needed to find out more about what makes a short story different from other types of literature such as novels in particular as I wanted to explore whether I could use this form in my own writings.  The facilitator of the group who has been with them since the beginning is a brilliant theoretician who is also a published author.  By the time the group got tired of short stories, I had learned what I needed to know and could now drop out of the group if I wished, but decided to stick around at least through the next choice of discuss-able literature: Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.  I wanted to see how these friends of mine, all of whom I knew well from when I was still a Christian and active in their church congregation, would react to the remarks of this Buddhist member of a non-theist religion that has no belief in a divine creator.

No belief in a Creator
The non-theist religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Ethical Humanism build their ethics of behavior on Dharma (The laws of nature) and Karma (Intentional action and the consequences of these actions). Each of these religions develops these ideas somewhat differently, but that is to be expected, I suppose.

A glimpse into my past
The first meeting of the book group discussing the Beyond Religion book was a bit disjointed since some members had read the material, and others had not been able to acquire the book as yet.  Nevertheless, the discussion did not disappoint. It was like I was getting a glimpse into my past when I too had struggled for years with what Christianity had taught me that I was supposed to believe, much of which had seemed utterly ridiculous even back then when I was trying so hard to be a true believer.

Looking outside one’s own ideology
(Ideology: the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.)
A couple of members questioned whether or not the Dalai Lama was saying that religion was bad. (He was not.) One member said that the church meant so much to her that she found it hard to raise questions. Another was clearly upset at the thought of any sort of ethics that was not based on a belief in God. The question that was discussed for most of the rest of the session became “Is it possible to be an ethical person without having our behavior grounded in a belief in God?

Real concerns?
To those not having had the experience of being raised from childhood in any sort of faith tradition, these concerns may seem naive, uninformed, and even insulting.  Nevertheless, to those who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or another faith that demands strict adherence to certain beliefs, principles, and ways of behaving, these concerns are very real.

Please read Beyond Religion:Ethics for a Whole World by his holiness the Dalai Lama. Then leave your comments here so that I might take them back to the next meeting of this book group. I think your point of view might be very valuable to this group of good and ethical Christians.

Thanks so much.

R.Z. Halleson

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