Sunday, January 26, 2014

Being Passionate About Your Passions

As we shift and alter throughout life it becomes obvious that our passions grow with us.  Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, "Passion is energy.  Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."  Passion can be defined in so many different ways according to who you are speaking with.  This varies from someone being passionate about saving animals to decreasing the world's pollution.  Passionate about their faith and spreading love and understanding around the globe.  Passionate about helping the needy.  Passionate about their career.  Passionate about having a clean house or even the most beautiful yard in their neighborhood.  Whatever the passion is, to that person it is beyond real and very personal.  Passions are personal.

When we are children our passions lie within our parents.  We begin by never wanting our parents out of our sight.  They keep us safe, secure, fed, clothed, snuggled.  As we begin to grow that passion transcends into a blankie, a stuffed animal, a specific sippy cup, our favorite cartoon.  On into early childhood that passion again transforms into our favorite after school snack, our new best friend, learning to read, getting good grades and going to the treasure box at school for good behavior.  As a teenager our passions become being good at sports, maybe trying out for cheerleader, getting straight A's, being popular, having a boy/girlfriend, being asked to prom, being nominated as team captain or homecoming queen, being president of the class, obtaining big scholarships, applying to colleges or even being passionate about not getting grounded another weekend in a row.  In college, or even early adulthood without college, the passions again transforms into having a great GPA, making enough money to not have to move back in with mom and/or dad, having a boy/girlfriend, maybe planning a wedding or being passionate about learning to juggle work/school/house keeping/friends/family and realizing that our parents were rockstars afterall for doing this for us all those years.

Whatever the passion is, it fits that part of our life.  It is a lifeforce for us.  "Passion rebuilds the world for the youth.  It makes all things alive and significant." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I have grown - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  It has become apparent to myself that my passions transition with me.  Although some of my passions from childhood have permanently stuck to me, I have gained new passions as well.  The most amazing milestones in my life has birthed the greatest passions within my soul.  Having my children.  Being a mom.  Being responsible for two young beings and watching them grow into their own amazing, passionate creatures.  With children that passion is an overlapment to unconditional love.  I am passionate about my children.  I am passionate about loving them unconditionally.  I am passionate about being passionate about my children.

But, being a Mommy is not necessarily who I am it is something that I do and I believe I do well.  I am also passionate about school.  I am passionate about music, any and all kinds of music.  "Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - author unknown

I am passionate about having the perfect blanket.  I am passionate about peanut butter and mustard (but not necessarily together).  I am passionate about singing and dancing, even if I am not good at either one.  "Great dancers are not great because of their technique.  They are great because of their passion." -Martha Graham

I am passionate about treating my dog like a child.  I am passionate about learning how to loom bracelets, win on Madden 13, baking a new Celiac friendly creation, preparing the perfect meal for a picky eater ... or whatever else my children need or want or desire.  I am passionate about allergies and heart problems and taking care of our bodies.

I am passionate about being a good wife.  I am passionate about loving my husband.  I am passionate about supporting him EVEN when I hate that his job keeps him from home weeks at a time.  I am passionate about loving him EVEN when I do not like him and I am equally passionate about him loving me EVEN when he doesn't like me.  I am passionate about our marriage.

I am passionate about my family, outside of my home.  My parents.  I absolutely love my mom and dad and am passionate about the qualities that they instilled in me and how they also gave me the freedom to venture out on my own and learn life for myself and discover myself.

I am passionate about books.  Real, turn the page and smell the ink books.  I am so passionate about them that when I find one I truly like I will read it within a couple of days and then have withdrawals that it is over.  I am passionate about writing.  I may not be Emily Bronte or Edgar Allen Poe but I love to write and I love poetry and I love to write words.  WORDS.  I am passionate about words.

I am passionate about movies.  Action.  Romantic comedies.  Psychological thrillers.  Dramas.  I am passionate about theater.  I love musicals and I am secretly singing all of the songs in my head as I watch them.  (My favorite is Into The Woods)

I am passionate about psychology.  The age old question of, "What makes a person tick."  I have been told different opinions ranging from, "Why do you want to do that?  That is a crap degree." to "Wow.  That is amazing you want to do that." to "Are you sure you want to work with criminals?  That is so dangerous." and even to "Sheesh, Brittainy.  That sounds exciting."  Ultimately it doesn't matter the response because I am passionate about my degree and the future that my degree path may or may not take.  I am passionate about reaching my goals in my own timing.

My biggest passion?  I am passionate about being a princess of God.  I fail Him daily.  I am not blind to the fact that I will continue to fail Him because I am an imperfect person that He created.  However, I am passionate about showing others my love for Him and His love for me through my actions and how I treat other people.  "Faith is the highest passion in a human being.  Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further." - Soren Kierkegaard

These nowhere near touch the surface of my passions but they are the most significant ones ... and I am absolutely passionate about them.  They drive me, mold me, motivate me, empower me, release me, relax me, love me in return and develop me into a better version of myself.

"Man is only great when he acts from passion." - Benjamin Disraeli

What are some of your passions?  Are you passionate about them?


Saturday, January 18, 2014

VW ... Where the Nightmare Began

This blog is going to be about something so very close to my heart.  If you know me well you know what VW means when I bring it up.  If you do not know me you need to know that to be very close to my heart essentially means that it involves my children.  This particular post is about my daughter to be more specific.  It has been a long arduous journey with my Lexi girl for the past few years ... but the light is actually close to the end of the tunnel and we are on our way there (hopefully).

When my daughter was five years old, and after many rounds of antibiotics and treatments the decision was made to remove her tonsils and adenoids.  Simple procedure essentially, right?  Wrong.  The surgery itself went well.  The recovery went as expected and the release from the hospital was routine.  But ... seven days later was a nightmare in itself.  My beautiful little girl began to hemorrhage out.  Literally losing so much blood her life was in danger.  Long story short, after two in clinic attempts to stop her bleeding she hemorrhaged for the third time in less than 24 hours and one call to the emergency number to reach her surgeon and I was told to get her to the hospital immediately for another surgery.  A few hours and lots of prayer later, she was back in the room recovering.  However, she had lost six units of blood and we had no guarantee she would not repeat what caused her to be back in this bed in front of me.  So, the decision was made to give her a blood transfusion and plasma units to cause her blood to clot long enough so she could heal.  This began nightmare number two.  There needed to be enough blood to draw in order to do a cross reference so that the types of blood could be matched and the transfusion could begin.  This began a four straight hour ordeal for her weak and frail little body.  Her veins are low, tiny, roll and blow ... she simply was not blessed with my veins.  Her body was weak.  She was dehydrated and she was low on blood.  So, this literally turned into six different medical staff, seventeen holes and 32 attempts to draw blood out of her little body.  The final attempt was by the anesthesist and was into her groin for a straight hour.  At the moment he was giving up to give her body a break he whispered "Don't move, baby, I just got a flash."  This turned into a moment of tears and relief for all in the room.  You see, in that moment I had my arms on her legs and my head on my arms praying.  Facing down.  My dad was at her side holding her hand and my mom and her surgeon were at her feet rubbing on her feet.  There was the anesthesist and there were two lab techs that were in the room.  But what I didn't know until I lifted my head to see her smiling face was that there were also three nurses and two admin clerks in the room.  All had a hand on the person in front of them and were praying for my baby girl.  Very emotional moment that helped her heal and save her life and keep her here with me longer.

This is her face when the transfusion started.  All smiles, little tiny body, weak and dimples shining.  Those dimples literally light up my soul.  Always have.  Always will.

Fast forward the next four and a half years of massive nose bleeds, large deep bruising that is unexplained, two concussions within a year, what was believed to be an allergic reaction to mosquitos, more massive nose bleeds (literally an hour at a time saturating a small towel) and major headaches and lethargic weekends.  I say weekends because you have to know my little warrior to know that she is a total fighter.  She never shows weakness and puts 150% into whatever it is she does.  You see, five months after her fight for her life it was discovered she has Celiac Disease.  This means that she cannot have glutens, wheat, whey proteins, barley, casein, lacto-albunin, cows milk or chicken eggs.  She cannot have any foods, seasonings, drinks, sauces, etc that have any of these things in them.  Want to do your research go here:

Now, my angel baby is ten and a half years old and still dealing with all of these things for the past four years.  She was hospitalized in December 2012 for what was believed to be her appendix, but what turned out to be severe ovarian cysts (on a then nine year old girl).  This compounded all of the other health problems she had been having.  Fast forward again through the following November 2013 and on into this month, January 2014 ... she has seen a total of 19 doctors in that twelve month period.  NINETEEN!  But, thankfully we have an aggressive family physician who got her into the right channels and we ended up at Cook's Children's Hospital.  The hematologist tested her and we got our first answer (but mind you it was the third time she had been tested for this) ... VW aka Von Willebrand's Disease.  Want to do your research go here:

However, I can tell you in a nutshell that it is a blood disease that is genetic and hereditary (just like her Celiac Disease) and it is not contagious.  It is simply a disorder in her body that means she cannot clot and stop bleeding properly.  There are three different stages to VW and she is luckily stage 1.  However, the statistics of this mean that there are 1% of the United States population that has this disease and I was told when we got her positive result that only 20% of patients respond to treatment.  WOW, right?!  Just wow.  So, we moved forward into another round of testing, to see if she responded to the Stimate medication, which is a nasal spray.  What this spray does is tricks her body.  Lexi being a stage 1 patient means that her body produces the VW protein in her body, but it does not dump it into her blood supply.  So, the Stimate will trigger her body into dumping these proteins into her blood supply to reduce bleeding.  It is important to realize that this medication DOES NOT cease bleeding and DOES NOT prevent bleeding.  It simply reduces the quantity of blood she loses until her body can play catch up or until she can receive medical attention if necessary.  So ... we begin the treatment which includes more blood drawn (remember how hard a stick she is?) and an IV of the Stimate for thirty minutes and then a wait for an hour and then more blood drawn.  (I want to mention this is not one or two tubes of blood, it is eight tubes of blood and her lucky spot is in her wrist if you want to attempt getting blood without digging up her arms all day long.  If you have had your blood drawn in your wrist you know how this feels, if you haven't consider yourself blessed and say a thankful prayer right now before you continue reading.)  Now this Stimate has some pretty severe side effects that are possible.  They can cause water intoxication.  This means that the medication causes your body to store fluids and if you drink too many fluids within the few hours of having one nasal spray you can have a seizure.  Imagine my concern when she had this pumped through her body for thirty straight minutes.  

So ... we head home after this round and then four days later end up at an additional specialist, and endocrinologist.  Another brilliantly relatable specialist that we are thankful for.  However, this requires my girl to be hospitalized for a twenty-four hour period of treatments and more tests.  Which means more needles, more bruises and more side effects.  This involved one medication every four hours for ten minutes and two other medications every six hours and eight hours.  This also involved more testing on her blood and ANOTHER round of Stimate through an IV which means a repeat of the water intoxication risk that causes seizures.

 My girl is a WARRIOR.  Have I mentioned this?  Well, in case you missed that earlier up this page ... she is.  Totally.  Without doubt.  My hero.  My fighter.  My angel on this Earth.  She came through this twenty four hour period with a decrease in dimples but still a positive attitude and the ability to kick my butt in a game of Yahtzee.  Did I mention the good news we got before we left this hospital stay?  The call that her body responds to Stimate.  Yup, worth repeating.  SHE RESPONDS TO STIMATE!  My daughter is within the 20% of people who can be treated.  Thank you, Jesus and for continually taking good care of Your Girls.

 This does not mean she can be cured.  This does not mean she will not bleed out.  This does not mean she is low risk.  This means that we can head off as best we possibly can any major issues that can take her life.  That is a window of opportunity that I will take any day of any week of any month of any year.  This medicine will help her at home if she is bruised badly, if she has dental work done, if she gets a nose bleed, etc.  You get the idea.  However, if she ever has major head trauma we have to go to the hospital IMMEDIATELY.  If she ever has surgery she has to have a blood transfusion and plasma before and after the procedure and an extended stay to ensure she heals before heading home.  This means that VW is something she will monitor and treat for the rest of her life.  Forever.

Through all of this, what is her outlook?  That everything going on in her little body is genetic and that means there is a Perfect Storm going on inside of her.  Her body may be weak in some areas but her mind is sharp and her soul is pure and her heart is big and her God is BIGGER.

Lexi girl wants to attend Harvard University and become a Medical Examiner.  Why?  She wants to go to the best school for the best education and she wants to give people answers.  My daughter has a servants heart.  Well, a servants heart and dimples that will stop traffic.

What is next?  We continue monitoring her on her new medications (yes there are more than one).  We have regular testing and we continue to watch her for side effects.

AND ... we get her little brother tested.  Yep, you guessed it.  It is genetic remember?  If one child has it the odds of another child having it increase.  Head trauma is an absolute NO NO with VW.  If he has it, no football.  So ... boys will be boys and they play rough.  So, fingers crossed and prayers up that little man is VW Disease free.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Art of Living

"Although time seems to fly by, it never travels faster than one day at a time.  Each day is a new opportunity to live your life to the fullest." - Dr. Steve Maraboli

I absolutely love this quote.  Each time I read it I am reminded that we are given one life to live.  However, another quote reminds me that in that one life we live

"You only live once?  False.  You live everyday.  You only die once." - (author unknown)

I will be the first to tell you that I have conformed in my life, I have settled, I have pretended to be content and I have literally placed my own two feet into the quicksand of life.  But, in that slow sinking I learned to dig deep and pull myself out and in that moment I began to learn who I was all over again and I learned how to fill my life with so many different yummies that I feel I never slow down enough to truly enjoy them all ... and yet I do.  I enjoy them all!

The most important thing that I have taught myself is that there is an art to living.  Each of us are different so that art is going to vary from person to person.  Each of us find this art through different sources and situations.  Mine was found through a living hell.  As subjective as that may be because humans want to judge, mine was real to me.  So real that I literally clawed myself out of it and into the beautiful daylight that I have been living in ever since.

Now, lesson #2.  You are never to young to start something new or finish what you started in the first place.  Total excuse.  You hear me?  EXCUSE!

"At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets."  - Dr. Steven Maraboli

For me this lesson developed my decision to go back to school.  To finish what I started.  I do not look at it as I quit years ago.  I look at it through the ideal that the road divides and the road less traveled, well it took me on a fourteen year detour to get back to it.  When I found that divided road, with the weeds grown back up all around it and it obviously needing repairs because it was cracked and obviously never used ... I also found a flower popping up through one of those cracks facing the sunrise and that flower was the belief and the hope that the road was not a dead end, it had so much life hiding in it that I just had to see beyond the cracks.  That first step was hard.  REALLY hard.  I was terrified if I want to be honest.  But I took it.  And once I started walking I soon felt my feet begin to run.

Fast-forward three years later and I have a degree in children's literature.  I have finished my Associates of Arts in Psychology and I am nine weeks shy of my Bachelor's of Science in Behavioral Psychology.  Overachiever?  Yes.  I am a self-proclaimed overachiever.  Nerd?  Absolutely.  I love my nerdness.  Exhausted?  Abso-freaking-lutely.  I am so utterly exhausted.  But ... the important question is:  Worth it?  YES AND YES AND YES!!!  So much of a YES that I am not finished.  NO where near finished.

I am switching schools in May.  Another scary divide in the road that is no longer cracked and unkept.  I am taking that exit onto a new road that is just as roughed up.  My Masters in Forensic Psychology is just around the corner and the art of living for me continues.

You see, I had a dream as a 14 year old girl to one day work in the field of forensic and criminal psychology.  That dream never went away.  It simply got hidden and I found a way to dig it out and the art of living for me lies in a few simple things:

1) Be the best me I can be.
2) Finish what I always wanted to do because I have one life, to live EVERY day before I die one time.
3) Embrace opportunities that lie in front of me and the drive that lies within me.
4) Teach my children these simple life forces I have learned and let them find their own art of living.

"Today I choose to live by choice and not by chance; To make changes not excuses.  To be motivated not manipulated; To be useful not used.  To excel, not compete; I choose self-esteem, not self pity.  I choose to listen to the inner voice, Not the random opinion of others." - (author unknown)

What is your art of living?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Love Is Like Jazz

Why Mascara Convictions?  It is really simple.  I am continually on the lookout for the perfect mascara at the perfect price point.  I have tried so many different ones and continue to try (even though I have found some I really really like).  Our eyes are our windows.  We not only see the world from them but people see us through them as well.  Mascara is like having the perfect window decor.  My favorite and must have makeup essentials are mascara and lipgloss.  So ... MASCARA!  The perfect decor to the windows of life.  Convictions?  Well, a conviction is a permanent view.  A firmly held belief or view.  Each of us have convictions throughout life.  We may change them ourselves (and sometimes at the help of other people showing us different views or options) but essentially it is US who change our VIEWS.  This blog is mine.  It is my heart, my thoughts, my opinions, my beliefs, my morals, my family, my personal convictions.  

So ... MASCARA CONVICTIONS is essentially that.  My (essential) windows to my personal firm held beliefs and views.  So ... 

I originally began blogging thinking it would give me an outlet for the millions of thought processes that go through my mind or even a window to actively put my passion out there (writing). However, I tend to prove to myself time and time again that I am the worlds worst at time management when it comes to things such as this ... and honestly that isn't a bad thing, right?!  Well, that is why I gave two new year resolutions to "time management" because I really need to get better at that.  I am a creature of habit.  I like routines and schedules.  So much that I seldom allow time for MYSELF.  So this is where my story begins ... kind of.  It is where my blog begins.  Faithfully this time.  I dub my time writing now as Blog:30.  

Those of you that know me, truly know what the last couple of years have entailed. I'm not blogging about it. ;-) (lucky you, right?) What I am going to blog about is the new beginning that this year has perked up with.

Time after time I have told myself that I am going to finish school, you know? Finish what I started so many years ago. Well, this year it is happening. I graduate in less than a month with my Bachelors of Science in Behavioral Psychology.  Not only do I graduate with this but I take a seven week "vacay from school" and then jump back in.  I am not going to tell you what for this round until after all registration is complete and things are set in stone because I am switching schools this round.  I was also offered a position in the advanced lit program from where I received my degree for Children's Literature. That is up for grabs ... still praying about that one.  Essentially I am blessed to be a self-proclaimed NERD.  Yup.  In the past four years I have gotten a degree in Children's Literature my AA in Psychology and my BS in Behavioral Psychology.  Now headed into my MA in ??? (wouldn't you like me to slip up here?!)  LOL ... not yet.  I am an education junky.  No joke.  I will not stop.  Headed towards that PhD in due time.

I also told myself that this year would be a healthier year. One that would be not only physically healthy but also emotionally and mentally healthy. Happiness is a topic that many debate over. Some believe that you create your own happiness while others believe that your environment is what creates your level of happiness. I believe that it is a blend of both. I not only believe that if we chose to be happy, we will be, but I also believe that if you choose to be happy but there is negativity around you, then it is time to let go and rid your personal space of the magnetism that pulls you towards it. So I have begun the process of just that. It is absolutely a process, but one that I am working at for myself daily through prayer and positive energy. If there is someone or something negative that is in my life then I am definitely removing it.

People pleasing. Enough said. God is my Father and my children look up to me for guidance and support and faith-filled yumminess. Those are the three entities that I seek to please. <3

Friends. *sigh*  "I didn't know, until I was at odds with the world, how much my friends who believe in me ... mean to me." - D.H. Lawrence

Love. Well, love is like Jazz. Beautiful, chaotic and all over the place. To a fault, I love big or I don't love at all. This goes for my family, my friends and ... well ... it is contained for the one God gave me. The one change that last year brought - is my ability to completely and unconditionally love myself. I began this season in my life with that one simple rule. To love myself ... by doing this I have an even bigger capability within me than I ever thought possible. The unconditional caring and support. Being able to tear down the giant, jagged, unclimbable walls that I had formed into a labyrinth around my own little space. The tendency to not trust. The inability to show another person who I truly am. You know? That quirky, weird girl that listens to any music, dances while she cooks, never retells a joke and gets it right, is OCD unless it comest to laundry, loves LOVES tattoos, can get foggy-eyed over the perfect lyrics to the perfect tune, doesn't like to cry in public, is passionate ... completely and utterly passionate about her passions, is drawn to all things that are far from normal in the psych world ... the girl that isn't the best at putting things into words but loves her GOD with all that is in her and does the Snoopy Dance every single Friday morning (and on special occasions). The girl that has two amazing children that have shifted her from spontaneous to routine, and blessed to be transformed by the very souls that she delivered. ---> You see, by loving every single aspect and detail that pieces together to create the simple me that God created ... well, it is just simply BLISS.  That ability allowed me to open up to the man that kept prying the locked shutters apart until he could climb through and reach my soul.  And honestly, God allowed me to open up to him because He knew my husband would be worth it, and that he would protect me so that I do not have to protect myself (all of the time).

This season in my life is exactly as God intended it to be. Blissful. 

Personality vs Behavior

The thing about therapy is that it is simply about people.  If I have learned one thing, it is that personalities people have and reflect throughout their lives are developed early.  Developed by genetics, parenting and just development all together into the people we are.  Throughout life, these personalities are built upon by life experiences, surroundings, cultures, religions (or lack of) and society views.  These personalities create behaviors.  Now, you cannot blame your behavior on anyone other than yourself essentially, once you become an adult you have to pay the piper (so to speak) and take responsibility for your behaviors/reactions in life.

Textbook speak is that people, as a whole, reflect their personalities in their behaviors.  Through experience a person will learn how to behave and the situations that are best suited for those behaviors.  Brittainy speak is that people, as a whole, reflect their personalities in their behaviors.  Through experience a person grows and learns who they truly are to the core.  And to the core a person is a development of all aspects of life ... the good and the bad.  The core of a person is who they are, not their behaviors.  A personality is developed, a behavior is controllable.  A. Behavior. Is. Controllable.  Which means that a person chooses to act a certain way.  You do not have to change how you feel, how life affects you or even who you are as a person.  But, a person has the complete and utter power to control how others perceive them and are affected by them.  A person has the COMPLETE power to speak life or death over other people.  So, that being said, my daily assessment is that I have the power to control how others behaviors and personalities affect me. 

Lesson of the day ... for me, and from me ... is to NOT allow anyone else to control how you feel, how you react, how you behave, how you think and how you feel with their negativity.  Be the SuNsHiNe you want to see in the world.  I promise you, to the people that you mean the most to, a sunbeam is far more beautiful.  And those that don't matter, won't notice.  And even if they do notice, let them see joy, not a bad perception of your personality because of a mere behavior that could have been controlled.