Last night after work, Shelby asked to go to the playground. I hemmed & hawed I just wasn't in the mood. I wanted to stay home to hibernate in the comfort of my comfy pants & over-sized t-shirt but, Shelby's cute pouty face won the battle; headed to the playground we were. I brought my new DSLR camera in hopes of learning some of its functions.
As soon as Shelby's feet hit the ground, she took off in a sprint to join the gaggle of kids already running & playing tag. I sat on the side watching her giggle & play while taking the occasional candid photo of her romping through the cedar chips with her new friends.
Some time passed when Shelby came to sit next to me. I asked if she was tired, of course, she told me no, she just wanted to know where Noah was.
Noah is a young boy who Shelby met at another playground a few weeks prior. Noah is the kind of kid every parent wants their kid(s) to befriend. He's kind, & considerate, funny & playful. He is mindful of the other kiddos & it's obvious he adores playing with toddlers. I wouldn't be surprised if he grows up to be a teacher, mentor, or another profession that allows him to use his compassion to help others in some capacity.
By this time Noah's mom had come to say 'hello' & introduce herself. We chit-chatted for a bit before heading down to the field where the kids had gathered.
We spent the next half hour or so watching the kids run. They giggled & laughed, threw cartwheels & somersaults on the grass, it was a good old fashion fun day in the neighborhood, & I was over-the-moon with gratitude that I sucked it up & took Shelby to the playground instead of sitting at home to sulk.
Being the introvert that I am, I tend to spend a lot of time analyzing situations & absorbing details of my surroundings. I'm a solitary creature for sure, Shelby, on the other hand, absolutely is not. She thrives on interaction with others & through her, I have learned to embrace a part of my personality that I didn't know existed. Through her, I have started to experience relationships with people differently & because of people like Noah & his mom, Tammy, I feel a little safer in doing so.
I think it's important to remember that despite all the horrendous stories consuming our local news reports, there are good people & good things happening in the world. It's not all doom & gloom. I think it's also important to remind ourselves that when we're feeling down, there's only one person who can change the way we're feeling, & that's ourselves. I decided to force myself to go to the playground, & the universe took over from there, but I had to take the first step.
I hope Shelby & myself have many more nights like that one, great memories to have for a lifetime.
Yesterday, a friend of mine had a pretty terrible experience at the playground with her two kids. It was the second time in a month she had to explain to her 3 & 2 year old that not all kids are nice, that it's okay to walk away from people who make you feel crummy about yourself.
We've all seen kids at the playground with behavior that's less than favorable & it sincerely makes me dread the day I'll have to send my sweet Shelby off to school, but yesterday afternoon may faith was renewed when my aunt sent me this photo of my daughter.
They had gone to a local playground to play & look for painted rocks. No sooner did they park when Shelby made a beeline for the playground with the BIG tunnel, only a boy was sitting in the tunnel blocking Shelby from crawling through. My aunt suggested Shelby, who’s 2, politely ask the boy to move. A few minutes went by & my aunt went to see what they were up to. She found Shelby sprawled out next to the boy while he read to her.
A woman approached my aunt, “that’s my Noah. He just loves kids."
My aunt soon learned that Noah is 10 & the youngest of 7 children. It became apparent that Noah truly does love kids as he spent a lot of his time playing with, reading to, & even correcting mean behavior. He reminded two girls that bullying is unkind after they took a hat from another kiddo, & threw it. He made his arms into a hoop so Shelby could "make a basket." He turned an ordinary trip to the playground into a wonderful memory for my daughter.
Noah gives me hope. Hope that there are parents out there who are raising their children to be kind, respectful, & compassionate. I don’t know who his parents are, but I want to say thank you. Thank you for raising such a wonderful little boy. I hope Shelby & I run into Noah again because he is truly a very special little boy.
I'm a little late posting my photos from last month, but here they are! Enjoy!
Most of these photos were taken right in my backyard, or at a local park. I'm having fun playing with the different settings on my Canon, but I'm quickly learning I'll need to upgrade my camera if I want to take photos of in-flight birds, or on-the-run wild life.
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.