Tuesday, June 25, 2013

**NORTH TO ALASKA!!!!*** A Blog About My New, Crazy Adventure

The Last Frontier! And contrary to popular belief, it's not that tiny state that's located in the southwest corner of the United States map that is floating in the ocean next to Hawaii! It is real! It is legit! It's frickin' huge!...and frickin' cold...sometimes...except for now when it's 90+ degrees because they are having a heat wave this summer. Everyone I know up there is dying because nobody has central air.
I am moving. I spilled the beans on Facebook today, but it is true. I'm leavin' on a jet plane...don't know when I'll be back again. Actually, that's not true--I'll be back here in September for my twins' 11th birthday.
I figured I'd write a blog and explain a few things. I can only imagine the thoughts/speculation going through some people's heads.
1.) "Why Alaska?"
2.) "How can she leave? What will happen to her children?"
3.) "O-M-G Becky, you see the size of that state? It is SO big.  It's just (sorta) round! It's just up there!"
4.) "Alaska? Why is she moving out of the United States?"
5.) "But she's a nurse! She could have a job anywhere in Colorado!"
6.) "Didn't she say she was moving to Hawaii? Maybe she got confused and is as dumb and blonde as she looks!"
7.) "I bet it's because she's secretly dating a guy she found on the internet. He is probably a bush pilot, and has a mansion with a crap ton of caribou heads nailed to his wall."
8.) "She's having a midlife crisis...she's going to live in an igloo."
9.) "I heard she's going up to be on Deadliest Catch so she can catch crabs. Hell, she could've caught that here in Colorado!"
K...I don't have a #10. I am out of creative thoughts.
I did just accept a job up in Anchorage, Alaska. I am still going to be working in labor and delivery. It is my passion. I love helping women through childbirth. And, YES, I am a labor and delivery nurse down here in Colorado, too. I work at two different hospitals in my specialty right now. The problem? I've really lost a lot of hours this year--and I don't know how to make ends meet anymore in a way that works for me, and for my family.
A little occupational background regarding moi:
I have been working extra 12-hour shifts every other week since I basically started my nursing career. It doesn't seem like a lot, but for those of you who can wrap your head around how hard our nursing careers are, and how much energy it takes to move like a crack baby at warp speed for 12-hours per day while simultaneously trying to save people's lives, and feed them 10,000 different medications safely, then you can understand that I am just too tired to keep up with my schedule. It's not working for me anymore.
So why Alaska?
I had applied to all of my local hospitals. After number crunching, and weighing out my options, it's still going to mean a crap ton of extra hours for me financially, and I can't keep that up at a healthy pace. I've been working like this since I was very ill 3.5 years ago, and I am finally seeing that I am doing more harm than good to my body by demanding as much as I am from it. When I realized that I couldn't keep up this 48-hour per week pace anymore, I actually had a very sick woman pull me close one day and say, "I'm going to give you some advice, Honey--DO NOT WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH. It's not worth it!"
I think that sometimes God puts those people in our path on purpose. I needed that wake-up call. I tried to figure out a way to make it work here in Colorado, and even accepted a job at a new hospital, while still working "as needed" at my old hospital. Things looked promising on paper. But then my phone kept ringing weekly--and I kept getting put on call every single week. Those of you who are nurses know how hard it is to make it on call pay. It just doesn't cut it.
So what to do?
It came down to two states. California, or Alaska. I can already hear you...
"But Whitney!...You're a surfer! Why not Cali?"
"Whitney, You were born in Cali--what are you, a traitor?"
"Freezing frickin' cold, or nice temperate Cali climate?...She's gone mental."
I did have a lot to weigh out. And perhaps I am mental. I hate the cold. And I've lived in Alaska before, and I can remember making a vow to never move back. However, one night when I was super frustrated with being on call at the hospital (AGAIN)...I received the opportunity of a lifetime. And it was in Alaska. I had phone calls, and travel opportunities for positions in Hawaii. I also had them for Cali. Now you are probably thinking I really am mental. However, those were travel nursing jobs, and they are short-lived, and then I'd have to find something else for work 8-13 weeks later after that travel assignment was through. Doesn't sound too bad unless you are the one who actually has to sit through new hospital orientations, go through all their computer modules/training, go through floor orientation on a new unit, and learn new computer systems every 8-13 weeks. It's just not where I'm at right now.
So I chose Alaska--for a multitude of reasons. First of all, I have a unique opportunity to work at the biggest hospital in the state. When you are remote, and you are the biggest hospital in the state, you get to see a lot of really cool crap! Everyone who is a hot mess gets airlifted to you! As a matter of fact, for those of you who do watch Deadliest Catch, I am working at the hospital in Anchorage that they medivac all the crab fisherman on that show to when they FUBAR themselves on the crab boats!
Second...I just got a major pay raise. And I don't have to grind myself into the ground with work hours anymore. That's the end of that paragraph--cuz that's huge.
Third...they were willing to send people into my house, pack me up, and move me 3,000 miles away on their dime.
Fourth...I was ready for a big change, and I thought it would be beneficial for my children to experience the place that changed my life forever...ALASKA.
"BUT WHITNEY!...Where will you live???"
I'm actually moving up to Wasilla, Alaska. Sound familiar? That's because Sarah Palin put it on the map. I am going to be neighbors with Sarah Palin--and she'll probably have issues with it since I'm a fence-sitting democrat on a lot of issues. However, that doesn't mean we can't share the same nail tech at the nail salon, or that we have to throw avocados at one another at Fred Meyer while we're grocery shopping in our small town. We can be friends. However, move over, Caribou Barbie, Arctic Barbie Girl is in the house! **Z-snap**
Caribou Barbie v. Arctic Barbie Girl
Want to see where Wasilla, Alaska is? K...hang on...
There it is! The red lettered place.
So how does all of this work with my kids?
For those of you who have been through divorce, and who have children who have split time with each parent, I can empathize with you. However, I will say that my ex-husband and I are very good at communicating with respect to our children.
The kids are going to remain in Colorado this year for school. Garth (my ex-husband), and his girlfriend, Katha (pronounced Cot-ah (she's German)), will be seeing the kids through their 6th grade year here in Colorado. We want them to finish school with the kids they started kindergarten with. I will have the kids for all of the holidays, spring break, and summer break, and will make at least two trips down in the fall/winter, and winter/spring to be with them. I have some flexibility with my job since I work only three days per week. After 6th grade, Garth and I have decided to take it on a year-by-year basis, depending on the wants/needs of our children. Of course both of us want them as much as possible, but you realize after divorce that it just doesn't work that way. I am very much looking forward to bigger chunks of time with the kids in each state, and not bouncing them between houses on a weekly basis. It is very hard on them.
I have a unique opportunity right now, both occupationally, and parentally, to introduce my children to something most people will never experience in a lifetime--ALASKA. I look forward to my time up there with the girls. It is very different. The pace is different. The people are genuine. The state is beautiful. I have some of the best friends I've ever had in that state (I attended college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for my first degree in Geology).
My friends have already talked about getting my kids out on boats to see whales, to go fishing, shrimping. They want to teach them how to shoot clay pigeons, work on their archery skills, and just see how much the state of Alaska has to offer. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am still on the 6-year plan to move to Hawaii, but I think a stop in the 49th state might benefit everyone at this point. Time has wings--might as well fly with it!
To all my friends--you are all invited to head up to Alaska! I'd love to have you, and it's a lot cheaper when you know somebody in the state! Buy a ticket! See what happens! But be careful--you might get hooked and become and repeat arctic weirdo like me.
And I really do plan on surfing in Alaska. I am going to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before I throw on a wetsuit/drysuit and jump into arctic waters to catch the Bore Tide, but once I feel I can do it safely, **SHAKAS FROM ALASKA!!** Until then, another advantage of living in the Anchorage area is that they have direct flights to Hawaii. 5 hours 'til paradise/surfing, people!!! With no overnight stay in Cali? YES, PLEASE!!!!
Hope this answers a few questions. I will miss Colorado, and I will miss my kiddos in between visits, and kid swaps, but I have prayed for direction on multiple occasions, and my compass is pointing north.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I look forward to my first trip back home to see the kids. I leave around July 13th for Alaska. The twins will be leaving for the Jersey Shore on the 20th of July, and then they are headed directly to Germany with their dad/his girlfriend until school starts. I'll be back a few weeks later for their birthday. This all just might be so crazy that it works. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

**NEW PAINTING**: "PRAY FOR SURF: Painting by Artist, Whitney Madison"

This painting is my second in my "Pray For Surf" series. The painting is done in an acrylic medium, on a 16"X20", and includes my signature, handcrafted frame.
The frame has aqua blue glass beads embedded, and the entire painting is texturized in my signature style--it literally stands off the canvas, and is tempting/fun to touch!
The surfboard is embellished with Swarovski crystals, and the entire painting is coated in a high gloss glaze for protection.
 Bright, cheerful, and ready to hang in any room!        
To view this painting, or my other paintings, please visit my online art gallery at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

MELASMA--Hyperpigmentation Of The Skin. I Have This Condition, Therefore I Am Blogging About It!

For those of you who know me, you know that I am a girlie girl. I rarely, if ever, go out in public without makeup on. However, on the off chance I do, I love to hear people's reactions, especially people who know me (with makeup on).
One summer, I was watching my friend's son, and he saw me without makeup on and said, "Ms. Whitney! What's wrong with your face?!!!" And just today, I went to the nail salon fresh out of the shower, and my nail tech said, "OMG! What happened to your face!"
Most people would be like, "Uh, Whitney, these people are saying that you look really messed up, so why are you blogging about it?"
First of all, I like using my blog to educate people on certain things. Second--I'm really fine with the fact that my face is "screwed up", but would like to pass on a little knowledge of the condition called Melasma (hyperpigmentation of skin), and maybe help some people prevent bringing it upon themselves.
Some of you know that I surf, and body board...A LOT. Every chance I get, I'm out there tearing it up in the waves. I also grew up alpine ski racing, and spent 75 days per ski season out on the slopes training for slalom, giant slalom, downhill, and super G. This was all in the glorious sun, at about 11,000 ft. above sea level. And it was back in the day when sunscreen was rarely, if ever used. We're talking back in the day when Bain de Soleil mega tanner was the cool stuff to use. The browner, the better, right? I was one of the cool kids who walked around school with my dark brown goggle tan, and was super proud of it.
I also modeled in my late teens, and early 20s. They liked you to look alive back then (unlike the pale powder puff waifs of today), and so tanning was encouraged.
I took that tradition up to college with me in the freezing arctic of Alaska. The sun rarely shines up there in the winter, so I spent about three days per week soaking up my UV rays, and encouraging my Vitamin D synthesis under the tanning lamps in Fairbanks, Alaska. The only problem with all of this?--I AM A WHITE GIRL, OF NORWEGIAN DESCENT, and people like me are supposed to hang out well above the equator, and stay out of the sun!
(College at UAF--me on the far left. One of the tannest kids in Alaska!)
(Me--nice and tan at my bachelorette party in Fairbanks, Alaska 2000)
In May of 2000, I went on a trip to Maui. I got out of the waves one day, and KA-POW!!!! There was a dark brown explosion on my face. Patchy, dark areas, with lighter areas mixed in, and strangely right about where my ski goggles didn't cover up. Ironic, eh? Not so much. I had acquired Melasma--and it was now a permanent part of my face.
Some people are probably surprised that I have this condition. I work my makeup such that you can't tell I have it. When I go trail running, I cake on the sunscreen, but let my splotchy face out for all to see. It doesn't bother me one bit to walk around Hawaii with no makeup on, either. Half the people there are surf junkies who have the same condition on their face.
I took this bit of info on Melasma from Wikipedia:
"Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation can be diffuse or focal, affecting such areas as the face and the back of the hands. Melanin is produced by melanocytes at the lower layer of the epidermis. Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in the body in places such as the eyes, skin, and hair. As the body ages, melanocyte distribution becomes less diffuse and its regulation less controlled by the body. UV light stimulates melanocyte activity, and where concentrations of the cells are denser than surrounding areas, hyperpigmentation is effected.[2] Can also be caused by using skin lightening lotions. Another form of hyperpigmentation is Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are dark and discolored spots that appear on your skin following acne that has healed.[3]"
There are treatments out there that can help with Melasma (like skin bleaching, or pills). I don't use them, because they only work if you use them religiously, and swear to never go out in the sun again, and I refuse to walk around with my Michael Jackson umbrella so that the sun never touches me. This doesn't work with my lifestyle, so I just plaster on the SPF, and am secure enough in who I am to know that my brown splotchy face just adds to my character. I have actually kind of grown to like it, and I wouldn't recognize myself without it.
Since becoming more aware of proper skin protection from UV rays, I am a huge advocate for the use of sunscreen. I am constantly preaching to people about using sunscreen, and not allowing themselves to sunburn, and limit the amount of tanning they do. I usually rock the SPF 50 UVA/UVB blockers. However, any amount of sun makes the hyperpigmentation on my face come out.
I also HIGHLY recommend going to the dermatologist at least annually,  if not twice per year to have a "skin check". They go over every part of you with a fine-toothed comb and make sure you don't have any sign of cancerous/precancerous growths on your body. This is good, because I spent a lot of time naked on a tanning bed, so a thorough check is always appreciated.
This summer, make sure you take care of your skin!!! Especially my peeps up here in Colorado, where we're a bunch of white people running around at high altitude! I grew up in Conifer/Evergreen area, on top of a mountain, at 8,800 ft elevation! Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had embraced sunscreen a little harder (or at all) as a child/teen/young adult! Not to mention, the sun makes your skin look like a leather bag way too soon!
I find Melasma to be very easy to live with, but it is certainly not ideal by any means. I've obviously done a lot of damage to my skin, and I need to be very careful in the future. Also, if you see me in public without makeup on, make sure you know that I am well aware that there is something wrong with my face! ;)
However, wearing a little makeup sure does help!!! :)