August 29, 2014

New Challenge, New Blog

So how can an old broad like me be a "nail design newbie"? Because until recently this tomboy, sci-fi geek, easier-is-better devotee just wasn't into nail polish, much less any kind of complicated nail art. Besides, as a writer I had to keep my nails relatively short for typing. If there was a special event where "pretty" nails were required, I always went to a professional nail salonbut those times were few and far between. 

So, what changed? One of those life events that commonly brings small and large changes: in 2009 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer called triple negative ductal carcinoma. Although I was lucky the cancer was detected early, one of the first things my oncologist said was, "The most successful form of treatment for this kind of cancer is to hit it with everything we've got. Three chemo drugs instead of two, administered over 6 treatments instead of four, and maximum radiation. So be're absolutely going to lose your hair."

People are surprised to hear that I wasn't upset about losing my hair. But, when you have a 3-year-old child and a diagnosis of a potentially fatal illness, hair loss just doesn't seem like a big deal in the overall scheme of things. I focused on my treatments and making sure I'd still be around to raise my child—the hair loss was a minor inconvenience at most. 

But three months after my treatments were finished (and all signs pointed to them being a success) I wasn't feeling very good about myself. Although I never considered myself a "beautiful" woman and wasn't very into clothing or makeup, I never had a problem with feeling attractive or feminine. I've always been tall with long legs and a slender but curvy figure and I'd worn my hair long since before high school. But after my cancer treatments, my hair was less than an inch long, steroids given to me during chemo had caused a 30-pound weight gain, and I was missing a huge chunk out of my left breast. I didn't feel attractive or feminine.

Fortunately, unlike many women who undergo treatment for triple negative, I didn't lose my fingernails. I'd always been told I had pretty hands so, although I really didn't know how to do it very well, I began applying polish to my fingernails. I looked on the Internet for tips about making my manicures looks better and found a wealth of information, not only about basic polish application, but also a wide range of nail art I didn't even know existedstriping tape, stamping, gradients, foils, water marbling—plus all the nail art accessories like special brushes, glitter, rhinestones, and decals. I began learning some simple nail design techniques and after a few months I was hooked!

Although I always just created nail art for my own enjoyment, over the past year I've started sharing my simple nail designs on social media. I joined a design challenge group on Facebook (The Lacquer Legion) and I've received wonderful encouragement and helpful information from them (including how to improve my nail photographs). 

Starting on September 1st, I'm going to participate in my first 31-Day Nail Art Challenge, facilitated by one of my favorite gurus Chalkboard Nails. I started this blog because it's one of the easiest ways to display and explain nail art across all the different social media sites. I'm sure it will be tough and demanding, but I'm also sure I'll learn a lot, see a lot of great nail art, and have a lot of fun.

Wish me luck!