I had FRAXEL LASER PLASTIC SURGERY

I had my first Fraxel LASER skin resurfacing treatment this past Friday (Nov 17, 2017). It’s has been 3 days since my treatment and my face still looks pregnant. The swelling is intense! With the exception of the severe and constant cystic acne I experienced during my teen years, my face has never looked so deformed and disfigured in my life. I don’t mind the intense redness, it’s the inflammation—especially around the eyes—that causes the most grimacing from family members, even the baby. They have learned to put up with me these past few days and I have remained strictly inside the confines of the house. The Fraxel LASER is no joke. For me it has been several days of recovery.

After arriving at my LASER appointment Friday, the technician applied a thick layer of numbing paste over my skin. I had to wait for 1 full hour before my treatment began. Once numb, the technician came in and applied a device to my skin, somewhat like a scanner or wand, which was attached to a large LASER machine. She then carefully and thoroughly passed this wand over my face. She started at my forehead and proceeded to my cheeks and chin. I made sure to ask that my “nose be avoided” since I didn’t have any acne scars there and even more, wasn’t fond of the idea of a massively inflamed nose. I would highly recommend doing this if you decide to get FRAXEL. There is no need to experience a swollen nose for several days.

For me, the Fraxel LASER hurt quite a bit—especially at the beginning. I could feel bursts of fiery hot, almost searing pain with each pass of the LASER. As the treatment went on, my face started to adjust and I didn’t really feel the pain anymore. All I could think about was a LASER breaking down the fibrotic scar tissue and puncturing microscopic columns into the depressed scar tissue helping break it from its tethering to the underlying dermis. This brought me great joy! The LASER treatment took about 1 hr and 15 minutes.

The technician was very accommodating and wanted to help me in every way possible. I had purchased a discounted series of Fraxel LASER (face and neck) treatments and 1 Clear and Brilliant treatments for $1,359. She realized that my neck didn’t need the treatment as much as my face and decided to add 2 more Fraxel treatments to the series that would address my face only, replacing the neck treatments. This was extremely generous! SO now I get a total of 4 Fraxel sessions (next one is scheduled for January so watch out world) for $1,359. The actual market price for 4 Fraxel treatment sessions is around $3,200.

I will keep you updated on my progress and what I think about the results. I was told that it will take at least 4 Fraxel sessions to see any noticeable improvement to my acne scars–but I think I will see mild results with just one treatment. I look forward to future sessions and am willing to put up with the 3 days of recovery that follow this procedure.

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Wealth/Money Thoughts–Excerpt from my Self Help Book I’m writing

Recently I was skimming over a blog post. A destitute blogger was discussing her plights and struggles in life. She began saying how it was the little things in life that brought her joy like starting her day with a rich, homemade cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes.  I wanted to comment, “But isn’t it really the little things in life—the little day to day, inexpensive pleasures—not the big purchases—that give us ALL the most pleasure?”

One might say “Well, at least the rich have the constant buffer of financial security where the poor do not have this same sense of security.” This is true. But let’s also think of the word “rich” or “wealthy” as a set of moment to moment experiences that add up and affect one’s life.

Being monetarily rich comes with its own set of problems that take the mind away from the present moment and degrade the chance for contentment. The rich have a lot to lose. They might struggle to find peace in the moment because they must constantly be concerned about maintaining their money and status or worried about losing it.

According to the psychological literature, it is deeply embedded in the psyche to act in ways to “avoid loss”. In fact, humans tend to be more rigged towards avoiding loss than striving for potential gain—and the rich certainly have more to lose—so there’s that.

I also tend to think that the super-rich are inhibited from the enjoyable pursuits of creativity and ingenuity.  They have everything they could ever need or want so their minds are prevented from going down more industrious, creative paths. These creative paths are the exact things that produce flow—this “in the zone” sensation which produces a calm, relaxed feeling of wellbeing—a sustained pleasurable state.

Let’s also not forget that there are plenty of wealthy people who are (or were) unbelievably miserable. The late actor and comedian Robin Williams was one of them. There are plenty of Hollywood stars who live lives of persistent addiction, rehabilitation and shattered relationships but their bank accounts indicate they’ve accumulated a significant amount of wealth.

Wealth gives people the ability to smother themselves in constant sources of pleasure—constant dopamine rushes. They can indulge like gluttons on whatever piques their interest at any given moment. The down side is that they quickly acclimate to such heightened levels of excitement.  They inevitably set themselves up for a cycle of addiction sooner and more intensely than the rest of us—who can’t always afford the latest drug, prostitute, or designer outfit.

Financial wealth also presents another interesting feature—the diminishment of challenge(s).  How hard are you going to strive for something if you can instantly buy it? Of course, all challenges are a two-part package. The first part is where you are striving diligently towards your goal—working long hours, researching, networking, exhibiting patience, asking questions, chalking up lots of physical and intellectual labor. The second part is where you reap the rewards of your challenge, or, you learn something new that may catapult you in a new direction. When you are rich you are sheltered from both the challenge and the reward that come with difficult pursuits.

The point is perhaps wealth should not be thought of simply in monetary/financial terms, but really as an enjoyable/relaxed state that bequeaths a strong, trenchant sense of vitality for the life you are living. By this definition, Robin Williams was not wealthy. No` matter what our income or financial state, we can all experience wealth.

One of the things I was recently thinking about is that thanks to the internet and our ability to binge on entertainment or information—at all hours of the day—people in western societies are beginning to know what it’s like to have no limits. This is a form of wealth or freedom. But it also presents its own problems. You now are forced to think about how you are going to manage your time and make value judgements as to what is most or least important to spend your time on. Sure, this has always been an issue for humans—but even more with screens everywhere that give us access to anything, all the time.

Alright, so I digress. Happiness comes from having goals and pursuing them. It comes from having sufficient challenges in your life that you are in the midst of conquering. How do I know this? Once you buy that car or that house or you find that “dream job” your excitement will soon wear off and you will adjust to where you were before.  In other words, pursuing the challenge is where the happiness lies. Now go forth and pursue something slightly challenging today. You will be glad you did.

 

 

 

I’m Writing Again Folks

Well here goes…I’m writing again in this blog. I vow to be consistent this time. I’m like everyone else–a perfectionist. People always use the term “perfectionist” like they’re some kind of nearly extinct animal. They’re not. Everyone is a perfectionist in some area and a slacker in another.

I’m someone who doesn’t want to write “unless I’ve put forth my best work and effort” and so, I go from day to day, and month to month without bothering to scribble down a few lame, desultory thoughts for you to writhe and cringe about. And…when I really try, I’m sure your feelings are not much different. You probably can’t tell the difference either way. All of this blogging and vlogging that we all do is for ourselves and our own sanity.

I’ve got my crying baby boy in my lap. I’ve decided that I want to work on my self help book (a book I’m writing for myself but that I hope to sell in the future).  I’ve got over 19,000 words in this book so far!

SATIRE: How to Increase GLOBAL WARMING! BY Yours Truly :)

SATIRE: How to Increase GLOBAL WARMING! BY Yours Truly :)

There are lots of people in the world who clearly care about the environment based on how they vote and who they would like to tax on the planet. But what if you aren’t one of those people? What if you actually hate the globe and don’t care about the climate?

Voting is one thing…but what about actually taking action—doing something about your “proposed cause”? Anyone can pat themselves on the back and pretend to be “pro-environment” or “anti-environment—because of which political party they vote for–but  what actions are you taking in your day-to-day life to prove that you actually care, one way or another?

As climate scientists make us think, it’s the little things that add up. “It’s just a fraction of a degree that is needed to increase global temperatures and change the delicate balance in nature”—so what small things are you doing, on a daily basis, to help decrease or increase global warming?

For those of you who actually “hate the climate” and “don’t believe in climate change”–BASED ON YOUR EVERYDAY ACTIONS–NOT ON HOW YOU VOTE….. here are some every day, creative strategies to help destroy the climate and ruin the environment, by Yours Truly.

 

  1. Eat mostly packaged/boxed and processed food items instead of fruits and vegetables with biodegradable peelings. You want to have a lot of non-biodegradable plastic trash to be throwing out in your garbage can or recycle bin.

  2. Never walk anywhere or use public transportation, insist on driving or getting using a cab, even if only 6 blocks down the road.

  3. While drinking a Big Gulp, drive around your local Walmart looking for the parking space that is close to the entrance. Don’t give up. If you have to circle the lot a few dozen times or idle your car for 10 minutes as you wait for someone to leave, give yourself a pat on the back. You don’t want to be one of those people who finds the first parking space in the back of the lot and immediately turns off your car engine. You’ll be forced to walk a few extra feet.

  4. Refuse to carpool

  5. Go to a fast-food restaurant at least once a week—smile to yourself as you throw all of the plastic trash and wrappings into the rubbish bin. Give yourself bonus points if your meal had meat in it.

  6. Order delivery at least once a month. Smile as you consider how much gas is being used to ferry your little plastic take-out-bag and Styrofoam container from the restaurant to your house and then back again. Throw away half of the food you ordered because “You were full” and too lazy to put it back in the fridge.

  7. Never eat left-overs from your fridge or anything that you have “on hand, in your house”. Why do this when you can simply order something and have someone else use a bunch of gas and plastic/garbage package to get it to you?

  8. Don’t grow any plants or vegetables. Don’t eat plants. Eat lots of meat because animals create more carbon emissions that plants do.

  9. When grocery shopping do not bring your own bags. Use plastic bags from the store which you will throw away and “recycle” when done.

  10. Constantly buy new things: new clothing, new devices, new toys for the kids: avoid shopping at any “used clothing store” or “thrift store”. You only want things that have been newly created in China or other far-off regions and then recently shipped to America.

  11. Don’t lose weight. Instead, set your air conditioning down as low as possible to make up for your constant “overheating”.

  12. Go through fast food drive-thrus weekly. These offer an added bang for your buck. You’ll be emitting lots of carbon from burning your gasoline while you wait for your food to be given to you in lots of throw-away packaging.  Smile to yourself as you see how many people are waiting in the long fast-food drive through lane, doing the same thing as you are. Together you’re making a difference!!

  13. Don’t take care of your possessions. After all, the sooner you trash them and/or break them, the sooner you can buy new ones. Reassure yourself that “they were cheap anyways, so why bother taking care of them?”

  14. Keep your house so messy that you always lose your things and have to “buy new ones”. Remember, that’s more trips to and from the store in your car!

 

 

Canary Islands Vacation! April 2017

Canary Islands Vacation! April 2017

We just returned from a trip to the Canary Islands—a group of Spanish islands off the coast of North West Africa. This vacation marks the finale of our 3-year tour in Europe.  Initially, my husband planned a fantastic cruise that would shuttle us from Venice Italy to Haifa Israel and then back again through the countries of Greece, Croatia and Montenegro.  Having an ambitious toddler changed our plans drastically. Cruise ships offer tiny rooms, extremely tumultuous dining environments where food and people are flung in chaotic disarray and off-boat excursions that require you to disembark the ship as early at 7am.  It would be too stressful. We wanted to end our adventure here in a relaxing place, without any hotel or country hopping as we usually do.

I’m not going to lie, flights to all the places we’ve travelled (and we’ve travelled a bit) are not always pleasant with a squirming toddler aboard our laps. And it isn’t the crying or screaming that really gets to us—never has been. Dealing with a crying baby is quite easy. The bigger issue is the baby’s literal inability to hold still—for one second. She’s always been squirmy and hyperactive and sometimes so strong it’s hard to hold her down. She fights to jump and move and run, run far away from us. This means a lot of energy is exerted in the process of keeping her within our tiny space. We are exhausted from physical exertion by the end of the flight. Not to complain though….my husband is an amazing trip planner and decides all our trips and destinations. The baby and I are the lucky ones who get to go along. We LOVE IT—especially once off the plane! Thankfully, all the places my husband chooses are ones that seem interesting or fun—he’s not picking places like North Korea or China after all.

The Canary Islands was the perfect consolation prize for our change of plans. We spent our time on the island of Tenerife. This island is an extremely popular destination for European tourists and Russians too. Huge numbers of British tourists make their way to these Spanish speaking islands every year.  It is very uncommon to find Americans here though. We didn’t meet or hear a single one during our visit. Shopkeepers and hotel staff were always shocked (and sometimes dismayed) to discover we were Americans. The Canary Islands is like Europe’s Hawaii.

Favorite Part of Trip

My husband’s favorite part of the trip was going up to the top of Mt. Teide—a 12,000 ft. active volcano with incredible views of the Island. He also enjoyed our visit to Loro Parque (we all did!). Such a lush and verdant zoo—the vegetation and landscaping makes you feel like you’re in a manicured rainforest. This place features a ton of parrots from all over the world as well as dolphin and Orca Whale shows.  Yes, for those of you wildlife activists, Loro Parque is one of the only places left in the world where Orca Whales are still in captivity and do performances with their trainers. It’s quite surreal to see one of these shows. We were close to the last ones seated and were forced to sit in the wet seats. Those whales will drench you if you’re not wearing a plastic parka. Thankfully, the day was hot and dry. My favorite part of the trip was walking along the promenade near the ocean, afternoon tapas, going for non-alcoholic cocktails in the evening and swimming in the ocean.

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BEACHS

Although packed with beach bums and half naked tourists, Tenerife has beautiful and perfectly clean beaches. Crystal clear aquamarine waters transition into cobalt blues. On a bright day, the colors are magnificent. You will see topless women everywhere of all different ages.  We found a couple beaches with gentle, friendly waves and shallow areas for our baby to play. She loved playing with her sand toys and dipping her toes in the waves. My husband and I took turns baby watching and swimming in the ocean. It was blissful.  Our favorite beach was Playa Pinta.

FOOD

Tapas and cocktail bars are scattered all over the promenade that runs adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. Island cuisine is something we will miss.  After a week of fresh papayas, fish and lean meats, we feel detoxified. They make an assortment of mouthwatering dips and sauces here too. My favorite was the spicy pimento sauce—a fiery sweet sauce with notes of both savory and sweet.  I can’t even begin to describe how delightful it was to have buffet dinners in our hotel every morning and evening with every food item imaginable. It was great to not have to wash dishes or clean up the table every night during our vacation.

Climate

The climate here is the best in the world. It’s almost always sunny and warm with a temperature in the 70’s.  An unusual aspect of this climate were the hot desert breezes that must originate from the Sahara itself. Everyone knows what a cool breeze feels like. Hot breezes are a pleasant surprise.

Shopping And Stuck-Up Shopkeepers

There were lots of gift shops for tourists as well as luxury shops with designer purses, shoes and apparel.  There is an extraordinarily beautiful beach in Tenerife called “El Duque”. The baby and I walked down to this beach as we heard that it was rated #4 on this island. We also trekked through the luxury/designer shopping district near this stunning beach. We must have walked into a wealthier district. I must say, the shopkeepers in this area are extremely snooty. They glare at you like you’re a fat, aging, frumpy, poor woman when you walk into their stores. It’s understandable, I guess. Some of the items were thousands of dollars. One piece of stolen merchandise would really put a dent in their weekly totals.

We got glared down and followed around by one security guard who thought I was there to steal designer clothing. Don’t even get me started on how many shopkeepers told me they had “bigger sizes in stock for someone like me”. No. They did not think I was pregnant. When I told them that “I was pregnant” they sincerely looked at me in a “Yeah, right” kind of way. Not kidding. They must have heard my American accent and immediately thought, “You fat American”.

Forget Americans being “superficial” and “obsessed with looks/weight/appearance”—in our many experiences in Europe, Europeans are ten million times more concerned with these things.

Overall

The Canary Islands were a gorgeous place to vacation. Sunny and beautiful; it has lovely beaches and incredible volcanic terrain intermixed with a Sahara Desert look. There is so much to do. You can go to water parks, hike around Mt. Teide, see lots of wildlife or enjoy the sunny warmth and a nearby beach. Tenerife has wonderful paved paths and walking areas for pushing a stroller. It is a very child and family friendly place. We loved our vacation to the Canary Islands. This was the very first trip where by the end we weren’t saying to ourselves “I’ve had enough” or “I’m ready to go home.”

France Trip,WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!!!February 2017

We are in Strasbourg, France for our 3rd Wedding anniversary.We are enjoying two nights here. I highly recommend not being pregnant while you travel in Europe. 

I still like American food more than Any kind of European cuisine. Portions here are scanty and “sweets” like chocolate crepes are not sweet. Lunch was too expensive.  The architecture and scenery more than makes up all the food and customer service disappointments. The people are lovely in France and customer service is MUCH better than most other countries (in our experience).

We found an INCREDIBLE Patisserie and I bought a piggy cake and a mouse cake for our dessert. Pictures are below.

The Cathedral Notre Dame De Strasbourg was the highlight of our journey. It was the tallest structure on the planet until around 1874. It’s Gothic Beauty is sure to rapture you and make you think of Europe as the architectural treasure house of the world. It’s construction began in 1015 and was completed in 1439. Our forefathers gave something lasting and valuable to future generations instead of doing the opposite–loading us with immense debt that we would be forced to pay. 

Japan Adventure–November 2016

Japan Adventure–November 2016

First of all, I’m sorry for my dead silence. I know you’ve missed my exciting and/or controversial posts, so I apologize. Just kidding.

Life is quite busy. Even worse? Our internet connection/speed is unbearably slow. It’s really frustrating because it takes days (yes, 48 hours sometimes) to upload things to the internet. In fact, I’ve tried to edit this post numerous times and my internet connection keeps dying on me…”Can’t reach this page” etc etc. So you’ll have to make due with what I have to offer here.

My goal this year (2017) is to be much more active in my writing, photo and video taking/making. I want to become a writer. All writing, photos and other media on this blog are 100% my own, of course.

Most Importantly: Here is some Japanese loot that I got during our trip. Thanks Dear. I’m excited to use the parasol when the weather brightens up.

 

 

Hair clips, Hydrating Japanese face masks (in cute packaging), and adorable pottery with very fun kiddie pictures.

 

 

 

Japan Trip 

The Japanese people strike me as a very reserved, gentle and quiet people. They appear to be very careful and intentional in their behavior.

The first thing that gripped me about this country was how clean it is.  I thought Germany won the award for cleanest country but I was wrong. Japan definitely wins this award. The streets are not paved with diamonds, but they are swept spotless. Despite the fact that public garbage cans are extremely hard to find, roads and railways stay almost free of rubbish and clutter.

Floors and surfaces are kept much cleaner than what I’ve seen in Western countries. When entering many places, you are expected to remove your shoes. This is something that my husband and I have implemented into our own household.  Removing shoes before entering the house really does help keep the floors cleaner for longer.

Japan has an excellent railway/train/subway system that everyone seems to depend on. It’s as if the Japanese planned and invested far in advance for the present and future needs of an exploding population. Now that’s foresight!  Instead of corrupt government leaders siphoning their country’s blood diamond money into their personal Swiss Bank Accounts (*cough* *cough* Charles Taylor of Liberia)—the money in Japan was used in a more sensible manner—creating effective, clean public transit that ends up helping everyone.

I was shocked at how few cars I saw in Tokyo compared to people. There were still cars and taxis on the streets, but far fewer than what you would expect for a population the size of Tokyo’s

We went to a Cat Cafe. We went to an Owl Cafe. Yes, these places exist. They are quite unique :0)

One thing I’ve learned is that the collective actions of a group of people, living within a certain territory, will have a significant impact on the land and the general appearance of a country. If everyone thinks that “spitting out one piece of gum on the sidewalk” or “throwing out one piece of trash is simply no big deal” this country would look like a sewer.

 It was great to visit several Shinto and Buddhist shrines in Kyoto and watch the Japanese offer up prayers to their ancestors. No true atheists here. I enjoyed Green Tea (Matcha) ice cream and loved visiting several of the Starbucks—nice to have pleasant but not Fake, over-the-top customer service (ahem, Seattle).

We got to walk through a bamboo forest and we wandered through a famous Zen Garden in downtown Tokyo. We went to the Robot Restaurant in the Red Light District in Tokyo. That place is psychedelic, sensory-overload land. Instead of taking your daily dose of LSD, just watch the show.

Tokyo is the biggest city in the world (it competes with Mexico City in terms of “most populated”). Yet, this country looks remarkably clean for such an abundant population.  If everyone in Tokyo (or Japan, for that matter) had a mentality that “little things don’t add up”, the scenery would look vastly different. Sure, there are tons of blah cement buildings–and many of them look very similar to each other (and aren’t very high) but the city is well laid out, organized and very clean. We went up to the top of the Tokyo SkyTree. HIGHEST OBSERVATION DECK IN THE WOLRD–450 stories! Our baby freaked out.

The Japanese seem to fully realize that their individual actions have an aggregate impact on the entire country. Perhaps the great irony about this country and its level of cleanliness and order is that not only are the cities densely populated, but garbage cans are very, very difficult to find. People take pains to hold onto their garbage and responsibly dispose of it when they can, in a can.

Finally, toilets in Japan are high-tech and designed to do a variety of things. I’m not going to get into it here, but let’s just say that they thought of everything.

Interesting Things I noticed about Japan (and what I learned from our tour guides):

  1. Japan looked spotless, even compared to Germany.

  2. It was hard to find public garbage cans anywhere—yet the Japanese won’t use this excuse to litter. The population in Tokyo is insane—but the Japanese won’t use this excuse to litter either.

  3. Contrary to what you might think, I did not see that much ANIME, AT ALL.

  4. If you leave/forget your purse somewhere just go to the police station. It will probably be there. The Japanese DO NOT STEAL. Crime is super low in this country. The Japanese have a strong sense of ethics and karma.

  5. You can’t evict renters in Japan. Well, it’s super difficult.

  6. Because it’s incredibly difficult to evict renters in Japan, our tour guides told us that the Japanese who do rent their property prefer Japanese (and other East Asians) over foreigners. “Foreigners have a reputation for trashing the apartments/houses they rent.” Verbatim from our Japanese tour guides.

  7. Like most of the rest of the world–thanks to the biased largely Democratic/Leftist News Media– the Japanese I spoke to seemed to have a very negative impression of Donald Trump. They feared that “he would be the next Hitler”. (Yes, I did engage in several conversations along this topic). I assured them that this was not going to happen.

  8. Immigration into Japan is difficult, if not impossible.  Our tour guides informed us:  “Japan officially allowed 11 immigrants to resettle into the country last year.”