As many of you know, I recently purchased a used (new to me) Canon camera to better my picture taking abilities.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so for that very reason & to better learn my camera, I've decided to take part in a fun little challenge to take a photo a day for 365 days! At the end of each month, I'll post the photos I've taken along the way!
I've only had my camera a little over a week, but I figured I would post the photos I took the last week of May! Constructive Criticism welcome from all my fellow photography friends!
Yesterday was the first really nice day in Buffalo. Eighty degrees, sunshine, & a city full of people who were just busting at the seams to get out of their houses.
Tim & I decided to take Shelby to CanalSide for a little peek at the naval ships & maybe some ice cream. Along the way, we stopped at a giant sandbox where several kids were already playing. Last year Shelby had absolutely no interested in the sand, this year was a different story. She happily took her shoes off & ran off to play.
It wasn’t long before helicopter mom mode kicked in.
My husband & I witness a few kids whose parents were more concerned with chit-chatting & smoking on the boardwalk (even though its a public venue & smoking in public places is illegal in NY) than monitoring what their kids were doing. One of the unruly was a boy, maybe 7 or 8, with a mouth like a seasoned sailor & an attitude fit for a Friday night fight club. He was shoving younger kids, throwing sand, & at one point he followed a girl up onto the life-sized shipwreck & attempted to push her off the roof. Now, let's be clear, this shipwreck was not meant to be climbed on. It had a metal roof, hot with the suns rays, & slippery with sand, not to mention the roof was probably a good 7 or 8 feet high. After his attempted at pushing the girl off, he stuck up his middle fingers & screamed: “you can all go f*ck yourselves.”
Can I please have a round of applause for the parents of this delinquent. They are obviously doing a superb job raising such a delightful young human.
Bringing your kid(s) to an area of public play DOES NOT MEAN OTHER PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WATCHING & SCOLDING YOUR ILL MANNERED CHILDREN. I’ll say it again for the parents in the back, just because there are other parents invested in watching & monitoring THEIR child’s play does not mean you are granted a pass or a 60-minute vacation from parenthood. The day a bystander has to step in & parent my child because I'm being too lackadaisical is the day I'll wear a thong bikini in public (never gonna happen).
It was earlier in the week when a similar situation happened only less vulgar & more innocent. It was late in the evening & Shelby & I decided to hit up a local playground before heading home to get ready for bed. There were only a handful of kids still playing, one of which was a 3-ish- year old boy who had decided to try his hand at the monkey bars. All of a sudden you heard him yelling “heeeelp! Heeeeeeelllp.” His mother was on the other side of the play area, on her phone. I hurried over to find him hanging from the second or third bar, with crocodile tears streaming down his face. I asked if he needed help getting down to which is obviously replied, “yes.”
In moments like these, I try not to judge. I’m sure I have my moments where my attention is lacking, or the focus of my mind is somewhere else but, I mean, come on, you’re at a playground fitted with fixtures & attractions that are meant for much older kiddos. You have to be conscious of where your little ones are & what they're doing.
I’ll be honest, in both of these situations, I feared retaliation from the parents. We seem to live in a society where every action is perceived as invasive, or over-stepping some boundary, but I’m sorry, I’m not going to let your kid fall & possibly break a bone or let your kid terrorize other kids when you're too self-absorbed to give a d*mn.
Having kids is hard enough, & nowhere is it mandated that being an adult means you have to procreate. The world has enough a$$holes, it doesn't need anymore.
Side Note; Excuse my potty mouth.
So, I did a thing a few weeks ago.
I bought & started taking CBD oil.
I know it's the newest "thing" & there's currently a whole boatload of people jumping on the CBD bandwagon, but man, this stuff is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I wish I would have started it sooner.
It's kind of funny because originally I had started researching CBD oil as an alternative treatment for our lab, Milo, who suffers from seizures & severe anxiety. The more research I did, the more it became clear that CBD oil might be beneficial for both of us.
Milo was on a daily regime of Gabapentin & Apoquel, but the long-term effects of Apoquel are unknown. However, early studies are showing Apoquel depresses the immune system causing irreversible damage. Hence my search for a more natural alternative. As for my self, as someone who suffers from Fibromyalgia, Hyper-mobility of my joints, Chronic Fatigue & Anxiety I've tried mainstream treatment plans including prescription drugs, massage therapy, Melatonin, vitamins & supplements, diet modifications, exercise regiments, etc. to no avail. The side-effects of prescription drugs were always far worse than dealing with the daily aches & pains, or anxiety & diet changes only seemed to offer temporary relief.
But now, now, there's legal CBD!
CBD is one of the main ingredients in Cannabis but will not get you high as it does not contain THC. Without getting too complicated, THC attaches to the CB1 & CB2 nerve receptors in the brain which are what causes the psychosomatic euphoria associated with Marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD does not attach to the brain receptors & will not have the same psychosomatic effect. Don't misunderstand, CBD does contain a small amount of THC, between .3 & .5%, but not enough to attached to brain receptors releasing dopamine & cause hallucinations.
Not all CBD is created equal.
Since the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, if you haven't noticed "CBD sold here" signs on your local storefront windows, then you simply aren't paying attention because it's being sold EVERYWHERE! Gas stations, pet stores, convenience stores, & salons are just a few of the establishments where I personally have seen "CBD available here" signs plastered in their windows. But let's make one thing clear; just because they're selling it doesn't mean they're a reputable place to buy.
It's important to understand that CBD is not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration making it even more imperative that you research potential suppliers before you purchase a product. In fact, a study completed in 2017 by Michael Bonn-Miller, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, revealed 7 out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of CBD indicated on the label. Nearly 43% contained too little CBD, while 26% contained too much. Too much CBD can have adverse effects like increased seizure activity in epileptic patients & increased anxiety in those suffering from the disease.
So, what can CBD be used for?
That, my friend, is a very long list. But keep in mind while there are hundreds upon thousands of personal accounts claiming CBD has worked wonders, there is very little verified research out there. Just something to be aware of.
In an effort to help guide you I put together a quick list of the top 5 things to look for/ask when purchasing CBD:
1. Third-Party Testing
2. Where is the hemp sourced from?
3. The percentage of THC in the product.
Another factor to consider when purchasing a CBD product is how the CBD is extracted from the Hemp plant. There are two methods; Ethanol extraction & extraction using Carbon Dioxide. There are drawbacks & benefits to each. It's going to be up to you to decide which method you feel most comfortable with.
Ethanol extraction is the process of heating the Hemp to remove carbon atoms, soaking the plant in Ethanol for an extended period, filtering to separate the liquid from plant matter, & finally, leaving the remaining liquid in the open for the ethanol to evaporate. While this process does make it nearly impossible for all the ethanol to be removed, it does provide for the most efficient means of digestion into your body. It can also be certified organic.
Extraction of CBD using Carbon Dioxide is slightly different in that instead of using heat it uses pressurized Carbon Dioxide to pull CBD from the Hemp plant. When Carbon Dioxide is in a supercritical stage, meaning it has properties of both a liquid & gas, this is when the extraction occurs without causing any damage or denaturing to the CBD. For this reason, extraction using Carbon Dioxide is the preferred method, but extraction using this method is very costly.
CBD oil has been a game changer for me. While it doesn't eliminate my pain completely it has provided more relief than prescription medications with zero side-effects. I have more energy, I'm sleeping better at night, & the brain fog associated with Fibromyalgia is at an all-time low. Of course, not everyone will have the same results, but I think anyone who has thought about trying it really should. It could make a world of difference in your day-to-day life.
If you have any question, I'm no expert, but I'll do my best to help! Or if you have an experience with CBD, good or bad, please share!
Recently, state police & canine units flooded a local middle school for an unannounced sweep searching for illegal drugs. Having attended that very school, I clicked to read some of the comments, & I was shocked to see the number of negative replies;
“Such a waste of tax-payers money.”
"They would have better luck at the High School."
"What 12-year-old- keeps codeine stuffed in their locker? Such a joke."
There were even comments with eye-rolling emoji’s.
Unless you live under a rock in the middle of Alaska, with no internet connection, no local newspapers & only Caribou as companions, you have heard or seen the recent rise in deaths due to the opioid epidemic. If not, pick up a newspaper, watch the local news, or just reach out to some friends & they'll likely be able to enlighten you, & if you think this epidemic doesn't affect you, you are wrong. If you think 'not my kid,' you could be wrong, very wrong. Sometimes, the people who you least expect to fall victim to such a disease are the ones who need help the most.
Sidebar: I am not going to debate whether or not addiction is a disease because it doesn't matter. Regardless of whether you think it's a disease or not, people are still dying. Brothers, sisters, mothers, father, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. they are people facing a problem, a problem we need to find a way to address because dead is dead, it doesn't matter if you label it an addiction or a choice.
This isn’t a joke. This isn’t a drill. Our children are dying & some would rather live in denial than address the problem head-on. Whether the sweep resulted in anything or not, whether it was used as a scare tactic or not, it is well worth our tax dollars. Just do a search for opioid epidemic & children. It won’t take long for your jaw to hit the floor in disbelief.
Researched released in 2018 from the Journal of Pediatrics shows the number of children brought in for opioid overdose doubled from 2003 to 2015 & the number of deaths from opioids overdose tripled from 1999-2016. Here’s another stat for you; there was a 45.2% increase in the number of deaths involving synthetic opioids from 2016-2017, according to the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
Opioids are the LEADING cause of death in individuals under the age of 50.
Opioids produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are used for pain relief, but heroin is also classified as an opioid due to the feelings of euphoria it provides. Enter synthetic opioids like Fentanyl & you have yourself an economy sized problem. A problem that results in an estimated $78.5 BILLION economic burden per year according to The Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
Just let that sink in. Besides the fact that there are roughly 130 people dying daily in the United States from opioid overdoses, our tax dollars are paying for their healthcare, rehab, lost productivity, & any criminal proceedings resulting from their opioid use. So yeah, if we can prevent or intervene at the middle school level, I say go for it.
For all those playing the "who's to blame" game all I can say is yes, this crisis may have started with an overabundance of doctors prescribing painkillers when they probably, really weren't necessary & insurance companies much rather pay for a tiny little pill than long-term therapies, but the fact is that we have to find a solution. It's time clean up the mess not point fingers because pointing fingers isn't going to save anyone who's already lost in the trenches of opioid addiction.
Turning a blind eye doesn’t make the bullet stop after the triggers been pulled. Just saying.
I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. The craft of forgiving but not forgetting.
We've all been wronged in our lives, but I think its what we do with that anger or hurt that really defines us as people. I realized recently that forgiveness isn't about letting them off the hook, it's not even done for his or her sake, it should be done for yours. It's like hanging a "for rent" sign followed by another reading "free" in your mind & letting that person or event occupy the space no strings attached...indefinitely.
While I was painting the other night I was thinking back on the recent holidays & how my family & friends have evolved over time. There are people who were staples to the family that are no longer with us, & there are people who have burned bridges with others & no longer partake in family functions. There are also friends who I thought would be in my life for a lifetime that are no longer friends but rather just acquaintance, if that. Just when I was getting a little emotional, Winnie, our foxhound who was heavily abused, meandered over for a little loving & that's when I realized that holding onto the hurt, or anger means there is forever a tie between me & the person who did me wrong. Winnie experienced the unthinkable but she persevered & did what so many people can't seem to do, she let go; she forgave without forgetting. If she had held onto the fear & anger she would still be spending her days cowering in the closet rather than sprawled out on the loveseat soaking up all the love & snuggles we dish out.
When you hold onto a grudge you limit yourself in ways you may not even think about. You might not go to a party because someone you had a falling out with may be there. You might avoid a certain restaurant or store because you know a certain somebody frequents it. Avoidance becomes a game you spend too much time on. Not to mention you might miss out on the night of your life because you didn't want to risk the possibility of seeing someone who hurt you. Why give them that power?
Forgiveness does not erase the past, it can't, but a healed memory is not a deleted memory. Forgiveness, hopefully, changes the memory of our past into a hope for the future & provides us with more time to focus on the good things in our lives.
We all make mistakes. We've all hurt someone whether intentional or not, but we shouldn't dwell on the things we cannot change, nor should we let them hold us, prisoner. Let go. Live a grudge-free life, it's the best revenge you can have.
I turned 30 a few days ago.
Where in the actual F did time go? Seriously? Wasn't it like yesterday that I turned 21?
I'm not one of those people that proclaims the entire month as their birthday month & spends their nights in a drunken stupor. I like quiet, uneventful birthdays spent with family & friends. Plus, my birthday falls during the time of the year when most everybody is over celebrating; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & in my family a slew of birthdays that fall between November 30th & February 2nd.
I spent the day with my husband & daughter who took me to Sturgeon Point Marina to collect more rocks to paint. The crash of the waves & the solitude of being at this makeshift beach, which was completely deserted, was not only calming, but it led to some much-needed reflection on the significance of the day. As my daughter napped in the car with her father, I thought about all the ways in which I've grown over the last decade.
My 20's were eventful, as I think most peoples are. There were a lot of highs, & a handful of downs, but all those transitions allowed me to become the person I am today. Marrying my husband was one of the happiest days, but losing our first baby was the lowest of all my lows. My 20's were a decade of wonder, self-doubt, self-exploration & figuring out who I wanted to be & what I wanted to do with my life, but they were also filled with a lot of confusion.
The most impactful event of my 20's was the birth of my daughter, Shelby, which subsequently brought about the most significant changes in who I wanted to be & what I wanted to become. Don't get me wrong, becoming a parent was one of the most stressful & anxiety-ridden times of my life, but becoming Shelby's mother brought more clarity to the things I was still questioning about my life than I would have thought. I became more confident as a person, as a woman, and most importantly as an individual. I know some women feel as though they lose a piece of themselves when they have children, but I feel exactly the opposite which is somewhat ironic because until I met my husband, I wasn't even sure I wanted to have children. Funny how life works.
Thirty is not the new twenty. At least, I hope not. While I enjoyed my 20's, I'm looking forward to living life with this new found confidence. I'm looking forward to not feeling as though I'm part of an enormous rat race of individuals looking to be the most popular, or the most successful. I just want to be comfortable & happy. I just want to be myself regardless of what others might think of that person because I know now not everyone is going to like me & that's perfectly okay.
So, bring on the dirty 30...which hopefully means a cleaner house?
Some think everything they see or read on the internet is true, but the reality is the internet is full of craptastic information. There are no internet police, no one monitoring each & every word being published. Just because you find an article explaining how standing on your head for 20 minutes a day can make you lose 20 pounds a week, doesn't mean it's true. And just to be clear, Wikipedia is NOT a real encyclopedia, the information there is crowd-sourced & not verified.
My point; the internet is an amazing tool, but it's a tool that carries a lot of burdens as you have to be smart when using it. Not only when it comes to researching information, but when you share information or pictures, as well.
Shortly after Shelby was born, I remember debating for a few hours whether or not to post a video that showed Massey, our pitbull, licking her. I just imagined all the comments that would come flooding in over two things; having a Pitbull around my newborn (eye-roll), & letting her lick Shelby. Eventually, that give-a-damn meter I posted about in my last blog, won over & the video was uploaded. Surprisingly, I think because most of my Facebook friends know me well enough to know I don't care what "facts" you have to share with me about Pitbulls, you're not going to sway my opinion, which is based on years of rescue work, not hokey articles, but I really didn't get too much backlash.
Of course, I did get one private message warning me of the almost certain death I was exposing my daughter to by letting Massey gently lick her little puffy cheek. They included a link to a story about a homeless elderly woman who contracted a parasitic infection on her face after being licked by a stray dog in some almost unheard of foreign country. I don't remember the details, mostly because I rolled my eyes when I started reading the hokey article from a site I had never heard of, & just dismissed it as hogwash almost as soon as I started reading it.
Sure, it's possible to get an infection from a dog, but it happens rarely & mostly in individuals who have a weakened immune system. Yes, I am aware babies fall into this category of weakened immunity, but this was not a stray dog. This is our family dog who has a clean bill of health & is closely monitored. Capnocytophaga canimorsus infections also generally only occur after a person has been bitten by a dog, not from a lick.
The point of my rambling; there's a common misconception that if something is shared online the person sharing should be prepared & well equipped to handle the opinions & backlash that may come their way via internet trolls & people who feel their opinion trumps all. Just because your opinions or views may be different doesn't mean you HAVE to share them. If you don't agree, just keep on scrolling, no need to be trolling for an argument.
Also, one article does not constitute concrete information, just saying. Be smart, be mindful, & most importantly be respectful.
When I was in middle school I auditioned for drum major for the marching band. Man did I want that role. I even took it as far as screaming at the top of my lungs for everyone to ‘shut up’ when we were told to quickly & quietly get back into our seats. I'm sure anyone who was in the group could tell you my scream was deafening.
While the volume of my lungs was quite impressive the role of drum major was awarded to a much more musically talented individual. She deserved the role, most definitely, but had you asked me back then I would have told you the whole thing was rigged.
A few months later I proudly got up on stage & belted out the Happy Birthday song in an audition for the middle school's production of Peter Pan. I was sure I would land some kind of role, I had a pretty decent voice. I was right, I did land a role...in the chorus as one of the lost boys. There was nothing wrong with being a lost boy, it was what was said to me by the music teacher before I learned my role that broke me. She mentioned she thought I was a bit chubby & would make a cute lost boy. That's just not something you say to a middle-schooler.
Anyways, I never auditioned for anything again. Those two auditions broke me.
After my freshman year of high school, I walked away from band returning my clarinet to the rental shop & never looking back, but I couldn't give up chorus. I loved singing too much, I still do, but I never auditioned for any of the elite groups. I was too afraid of failing, of receiving another rejection.
As I've gotten older, my give a damn has dropped substantially. I'll try something not caring whether or not I fail, at least I can say I tried. I mean, I'm not going out to any American Idol auditions or sending my painted rocks to the Albright-Knox Art Museum, but I am painting which is something I never saw myself doing, and I sing freely in the car and shower, sometimes so loud my daughter puts her hand over my mouth and tells me to "stop."
I'm sure part of all this is a phase that everyone goes through when they transition from adolescence to adulthood, but I have to say letting my "I do not give a damn" flag fly is really kind of satisfying. It's not to say I don't care at all, I do, my social anxiety definitely kicks in at times, but I'm a lot more willing to put myself out there and try something new or attempt a hobby I otherwise may have avoided. The idea of rejection doesn't petrify me as much as it once did. Does it sting, absolutely, but the next adventure might be a 'yes' & you won't know unless you try
"I don't understand why people get tattoos or piercings. Is it to make themselves appear less approachable because they don't want to talk to people? Especially people with sleeve tattoos, or facial piercings. Like why? Don't you have something better to do with your time & money? Like go to school or get a good job? I don't want to associate with people like that."
"You realize I have a nose piercing and multiple tattoos."
"Oh. I didn't notice."
The truth is appearances are not always what they seem. I have met some pretty incredible, intelligent individuals who are tattoed from head to toe or have multiple facial piercings. I have also met some naive, rude and just downright awful people who claim to be very religious.
I was once berated in Wegmans by another customer. She voiced her displeasure with my tattooed wrists and told me I was too young to have a child and raise her responsibly. She wore a crucifix necklace, and I could see a rosary peeking out at me from her purse. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3
Just sayin, ma'am. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It's such a cliche to say "don't judge someone based on their appearance." Just like it's cliche to say "don't judge a book by its cover," we all do it. Sight is the very first sense we get to utilize when we meet someone new. It's hard to ignore what our eyes are telling us, but strength comes from setting our perceived notions aside and letting ourselves get to know someone on a deeper level beyond physical appearance.
I have a memorial tattoo on the top of my left foot to remind me of the baby I never got to hold or kiss. Shelby frequently points to my foot and says "baby" while tracing the outline of his body and wings with her finger. My tattoo allows him to live on, not only in my memory but in my daughter's life, even if it's in a very small way.
Tattoos can be beautiful or gruesome, but their significance to the person they adorn is most important. The outward appearance may not be aesthetically pleasing to others, but tattoos generally have a much more meaningful purpose than just body beautification(argumentatively). They tell a story and are inked after some serious thought about design, location and the message the person is trying to convey. Of course, some people get tattoos after a few too many shots of tequila, but even those tattoos have a story, one their recipients are bound to never forget!
While I understand its hard sometimes to not run with first impressions, I think it's important to give everyone a chance. I hope to raise my daughter with that very mentality. If she remains even half as open and accepting as she is now, she will have some very beautiful relationships with people of all walks of life.
I was having a typical mom conversation with one of my mommy friends, you know, how our kids used swear words in the right context. Swear words that we have no idea where they heard let alone learned how to use them correctly. (ʘ_ʘ) But it got me thinking.
Parents brag on Facebook when their toddlers have gone to the doctor and not only received a clean bill of health but excelled on the intellectual growth chart, as well. There's so much pressure on kids to be smart, to exceed what's considered "normal." There's nothing wrong with being proud of your kids, heck, I've been that parent posting on Facebook but when does it stop? When is enough, enough?
From the moment an infant takes their first breath outside of mommies uterus, the rat race begins. Literally, everything they do is analyzed. Are they eating enough, pooping enough, stretching enough, responding to sites and sounds, the list goes on and on. From the moment they leave that warm, cozy place where nothing else matters besides nourishment and growth, we're nagging them to absorb copious amounts of information, to be the smartest, to excel in every area. The slightest deviation from "normal" and we're encouraged to find solutions to close the gap. Speech therapy, physical therapy, socialization groups, tummy time, etc. We're constantly striving for this idealistic and impossible to obtain, idea of perfection. When are kids allowed to just be kids? When should we just step back and let nature take its course, let then grow and develop at their own speed rather than a speed we set for them?
I remember when Shelby was smaller and the doctor pointed out a head-tilt to my husband and I, at one of her wellness visits. Of course, all the what-ifs started running through my head like a heard of scared antelope, but rather than starting physical therapy, which was suggested, we decided to let Shelby sort her head-tilt out on her own. We followed instructions provided by her physician for ways we could help her at home; stretches we could do and activities that would strengthen her neck muscles. Within a few weeks, Shelby's head-tilt was nearly gone.
Every child is not going to fit into the same box. We all learn differently and at different speeds. I learn best by doing, a hands-on kind of absorption. My co-workers are visual learners. The point is that while I am no expert, I do think we need to take a step back and stop trying to make our kids fit into this idealistic box. This applies to school testing, too. (Oh I know, I just opened Pandora's box). For another post, at a later date...
What do you guys think? Am I way off?