Sunday, August 28, 2016

3rd Anniversary of a Royal Birth

In the previous post, On This Day an Angel Was Born..., I referred to the letter I wrote to my little angel for her third birthday. The letter is below...

Dear Daughter,

This past year has been filled with so much change. There has also been quite a bit of change from one day to the next my sweet little 3 year old.

You and the potty have become best friends as you've conquered the throne. Occasionally, when you go into the bathroom to handle your business, you climb onto the porcelain throne, and point to the threshold of the bathroom as you say "Go, mommy. Go." This most often occurs when the business that needs handling is solid rather than liquid. Regardless, apparently, even a 3 year old needs her bathroom privacy.

You can now count to fifteen and you are able to name all the letters of the alphabet upon sight. Your counting is adorable because fourteen comes after thirteen and before thirteen, and sometimes fifteen never comes at all. With the letter recognition, you confuse N and M, which is completely understandable, but you still do a very good job.

Now, on to your more interesting traits...

Rather than plain old wrestling, you and I alternate "biting" each other. "Biting" is in quotes, because I nibble on you playfully with my lips covering my teeth, so that my teeth don't come in contact with you at all. I also merely put your tiny arm or leg in my mouth. I don't actually apply force. When I do it, you laugh whole-heartedly, and it's sooooo awesome. It's like I'm tickling you! You, on the other hand, haven't caught on to the fact that I'm covering my teeth with my lips, and you literally bite me, then laugh. You don't do it with any force, so it's still very funny.

You've finally began to understand that tooting (as in flatulence) makes a pretty funny sound when it comes out, and it smells pretty darn terrible 90% of the time. These days, you giggle when you toot, and sometimes follow that initial toot up with several more, each accompanied by adorable little giggles. Once the fragrance of all that hits your nose, you say "That doesn't smell nice, mommy." To which I'd love to say "No shit, Sherlock" as a joke, lol, but I can't use that type of language with my princess.

Sweetheart, we share so many special moments. One example occurred a few nights ago. I was sitting on the floor gathering books for a bedtime story, and you walked over, placed your arm around my neck like we were old buddies, and said "Mommy, you're my best friend." I wanted to cry, because I felt so special in that moment.

You're a very sweet, kind, and compassionate toddler, and the empathy in which you operate astounds me at times. If you see me yawn or lying down, you ask me if I'm tired. If you see me laugh, you ask me what's "laughing" instead of what's "funny". You're always concerned with what I'm doing and how I'm feeling, and I love it.

This past year, I've gotten to see you really develop a personality that's full of love and kindness, but refuses to be a push-over. Even though you're a petite toddler, your attitude doesn't reflect it. You walk and talk like you're 6 feet tall, and it's adorable.

I appreciate your capacity to demand what you want, although we're still working on you understanding that you can't always have things your way.

I love you dearly, and look forward to you continuing to develop emotionally, socially, academically, and behaviorally. Being your mother has been a richly rewarding experience thus far, and I look forward to continuing to cultivate and guide you to becoming the woman you're intended to become.

Love Always,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Learning to Put Me First


I've been thinking a lot lately about love.

I've especially been thinking of how important it is for me to love myself unconditionally.

One important part of my recent journey is learning how to love me and accept me.

I huge part of that is accepting how awesome I am.

I've been in conversations with a friend about how we've been trained to very easily believe the negative things - including what society says, what our critics say, what the media says, what our cultures say. We were trained to accept and believe it all as our own truths.

However, I've decided to define my own truth. This is a concept I learned from Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements.

He presents some really profound concepts about our reality. I won't get into those four agreements now (they're on youtube), but I will discuss his concepts as they apply to my current line of thought.

Don Ruiz talks about how we can choose to define our own truths.

Example: The sky is blue. We all accept that the sky is blue on most clear, sunny days. However, what is blue? Blue is defined by unanimous agreement to be composed of certain hues and saturations of color as they are perceived by each individual. We all have pretty much agreed on what defines "blue", as this was one of the very first things we learned in school. I don't have a reason to debate what shades and reflections of light define the color blue, so I don't. I accept what's commonly considered blue, as blue.

Now, if we apply this principle to something more important, this principle gets more interesting and more important.

Society tells me that I'm a certain gender, a certain color, a certain social status. Society, therefore implies certain things about me based on those observable features. However, there are several important factors to consider regarding this phenomena. (1) Society is made up of individuals who all have their own perspectives. These perspectives were shaped by their experiences, especially experiences that occurred during one's upbringing. Therefore, these pre-formed, ingrained perspectives are completely independent of me. (2) Society knows nothing about what makes me, me. Society only knows what it assumes about me based on superficial features, which there aren't very many. (3) I shouldn't invest energy, time, or even thought into modifying myself base on what I assume individuals, groups, or societies think of me. That's ludicrous.

Based on all this, I get the great honor of deciding who I am, and how I interact with the people and things in this world.

I love me and I love people, but generally, people don't give a shit about me. They don't give a shit about you either. Accepting that concept, and embracing that concept has been so liberating for me.

In loving me, I've accepted the fact that I'm only my own highest priority, no one else's. I'm no one else's highest priority. You're no one else's highest priority. Not your spouse's. Not your significant other's. Not your child's. Not your parents'. Each person is his/her highest priority.

Although I've decided to put myself, my needs, my wants first, I don't neglect others and I don't mistreat others.

One of my affirmations and a major principle by which I live is that I walk in LOVE, TRUTH, and KINDNESS by the GRACE and FAVOR of GOD.

It's all true, and I'll more about this in time. I'll also go back through some of my previous posts to figure out what other topics I aimed to discuss more in detail.

So yes, I'll write more about this as the urge arises. I don't like to place myself on a schedule for writing, because I like to follow where and when my heart leads.

As an aside, it seems as though each time I start to write with a specific thought in mind, I veer off to something else. Despite this, I'm always pleased with the final product. I always just let my thoughts and my words flow, and they always seem to lead me the destination at which I'm meant to arrive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On This Day an Angel was Born...


I've been really busy lately with writing my manuscript and planning my daughter's 3rd (but actually her very first) birthday party.

This was actually the very first party I've ever thrown, so there were definitely a few hiccups.

My little lady seemed to have such a great time, and that's all that mattered to me. Several of her little daycare friends came, and even her daycare teachers. She was in homecare up until she turned 2 years old, and her homecare nanny was also present.

I was overwhelmed at the turn-out, and was beyond appreciative of all the love that was shown on her special day. It was great to see people from the daycare, friends from the university I attend, family members, and parents of her friends, all socializing.

Her last birthday, I started this tradition, where I write her a little letter. There will be one letter each birthday. On her 18th birthday, I'll combine the letters into a book, so she can see how she's evolved and grown over time through mommy's eyes. [I'm literally tearing up just thinking of it.]

My next post will be my letter to my daughter on her 3rd birthday.

Following that, I'll expand on some of the points mentioned in the State of the Blogger Address I posted several weeks ago.

Stay tuned! :-)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

State of the Blogger Address

Alright, I've decided to do a quick "state of the blogger" address.

1) I was selected to serve as a member of the jury for a criminal case last week. That was 3 full days, and absolutely awesome! Although I don't always feel it's "just", I actually enjoy participating when the justice system is at work. In light of this, I definitely understand the weight and importance of considering the evidence seriously and carefully, and helping to deliver a verdict that reflects my objective capacity to apply the law. I promise to tell more details of the trial later!

2) I'm in Boston this week for a conference, so I haven't been able to devote much time to writing, or much else other than packing and preparing for the conference.

3) I had family visiting last week and this week, so that took even more of my time. They've been a huge help, and I love them bunches!

4) I met a guy for frozen yogurt. Nice guy, but he's definitely not for me.

5) An ex (one that I haven't mentioned yet...) posted a tweet that I'm pretty sure was directed at me. It wasn't mean or rude. It was actually a little flattering. I'm not concerned about it though.

6) Met some super cool guys in Boston went we went out last night. One was a former research scientist, and the other was med student at Harvard. They literally had us laughing the entire time we were all together. Of course, we'll never see those two again, but they were great fun while they lasted, lol. :-)

More details of each of the points to come!! I hope everyone is having, has had, or will have (depending upon location) a fantastic day!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blurred Lines

You're in control of your life.

Obviously, we all start off on a certain rung of the ladder based on our parents and our family circumstances.

However, at some point, the decisions we make begin to influence the paths we find ourselves taking.

Aside from the socioeconomic side of things, I've recently decided to be more forthright with what I want and don't want.


As my last relationship neared it's end, my ex-beau began to create distance between us in several ways. He reduced the number of times he texted me and the number of times he called me each day. He definitely wasn't seeing anyone else. Rather than having a discussion with me and attempting to make a clear plan of action, distancing himself was how he decided to deal with the frustration of not being able to see me when he wanted. In my mind, he gave up. When things got difficult, and when the situation wasn't perfectly ideal for him, he quit it.

When it came time for me to tell him that it wasn't going to work out, it was difficult because I cared for him, but the fact that he gave up when things weren't ideal for him made it a little less difficult. Honestly, I was okay with not seeing him ALL the time. I tend to like my space sometimes.

Anyway, we ended the relationship. The days that followed were difficult emotionally. I didn't really discuss the break-up with anyone in detail, so trying to harbor everything didn't make those next couple days any easier.

A couple weeks after the relationship ended, he texted me to say hi, and a day or so after that initial text, he said he missed talking to me. After that, we either talked via telephone or text, daily.

I hated it. Immediately after we broke up, I deleted his information from my cell phone and deleted his events from my google calendar. I never remove bandaids slowly. I prefer to rip them off in a single, rapid movement. That way, once the wound is no longer oozing liquids, it can get the air it needs to heal properly.

Him contacting me after the fact, left my wound raw, and unable to heal the way it needed to heal. Being in contact was emotionally confusing for me in lots of ways.

After about a week of this, I called and told him "I needed time to miss him less." I wanted to stroke his ego a little, while ending all ties. Later, I realized that up to that point, I let him take control of how often we called and texted each other (which was wayyyy too much). I decided to take control, and I was proud to do so.

About a week after virtually telling him I needed time to completely forget him and everything I loved about "us", the regret kicked him.

On a daily basis, I contemplated texting him to tell him I missed him and wanted to be friends with him. When this happened, I reminded myself of the list of reasons I knew he and I would never be together long-term. I also reminded myself that he gave up on our relationship. That led me to decide that I didn't need a quitter in my "corner".

My advice to self et al.: hold tightly to the people who are there when you need them, who support you, who listen when you think no one cares, and who listen when no one else seems to have time to listen. Cherish, above all else, those who will stick with you when your life takes a turn down a dark, winding path you can't bear to go down alone.

Remember, those who are all too willing to forsake you at the mere semblance of your path becoming anything but perfectly straight, are dispensable. You have to be willing to let them go.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Unemployed Dollar

Today, I had my very first meeting with a financial adviser.

It felt a little odd to to this, because I'm merely a graduate student, and the compensation I receive is a stipend that's only intended to cover living expenses. For that reason, I've never looked into professional financial advice in the past.

One point the adviser made during our discussion today  is that there is no minimum salary for investing and making wise financial decisions. I totally agree with that point. [I know it sounds like a line they all say, but truth is truth regardless of who says it.]

Although I'm not a multi-millionaire, I agreed to meet with him for several reasons.

First, he's a high school friend whom I've known for most of my life, so I know he's a genuine, honest person. Second, I've been secretly pondering seeking professional financial advice for several months. Third, I've been pretty well at sticking to my budget, and I'd like to start making my money work for me. I've always loved this concept, and am beyond excited to finally put it to practice. Fourth, I'm at a position now, where I can only really depend on myself financially, so it's important that I have a big, fluffy cushion in case an emergency arises. Fifth, I'd like to set the proper example for my daughter. I plan to teach her how to save and use credit wisely, so it's important that I show her by example. Finally, when my life mate comes along, I want him to see that I'm financially responsible just as I expect him to be.

Despite the first reason I agreed to meet with him, I will still do my research prior to investing or buying any products. He's a former classmate and friend, but he's also an employee working to advance himself. I trust that he's open and honest, and he even provided information that shed his competitors in positive lights, but at the end of the day its my money. That means I have the most to gain, but I'm also taking all the risk.

With that said, I'll keep you updated with what I learn and how I decide to begin making my money work for me.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Heart of the Matter

I recently had the opportunity to present recent updates of my research to my research group.

How does this happen and why? Let's get through a little background prior to answering these questions.

Our lab studies heart development. Before I get into the details of what we study, let's first discuss a little cell biology background. Within every cell in the body, minus mature red blood cells, there's a central compartment, called the nucleus, where DNA is packaged.

DNA can be divided into several units, one of which is genes which can be transcribed into RNA. The RNA can then be translated into protein, and different proteins serve different functions. There are several factors and events that determine whether a gene gets expressed (i.e. made into protein), one of these factors is the transcription factor, which can bind the DNA sequences upstream of the actual coding sequence of the gene, and either repress the gene or drive expression of the gene.

[Sidenote: Some examples of proteins are the keratins in your nails and the enzymes in your saliva that begin to digest your food as soon as you eat. This shows that proteins can function as structure components or they can perform an energy-requiring action, like in the case of enzymes.]

Transcription factors that can bind DNA, have domains within their structures that dictate exactly where they can bind.

Our lab focuses on several transcription factors that have been shown in previous research studies to be mutated, and to function improperly due to these mutations. Such mutations are usually discovered through their link to specific disorders. In my case, the transcription factor I study contains mutations that have been linked to congenital heart defects.

Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the structure and/or function of the heart that exist at birth.

So in my research, I work to understand how dysregulation of specific transcription factors affect expression of the genes these factors regulate and more. Based on the outcome of the meeting I recently had with my lab, my project has taken an interesting turn down an avenue that I'm excited, but apprehensive to go down.

I'll be sure to tell you more about the project and where it goes as progress is made.

His Awesome Splendor

His Awesome Splendor
Upon seeing this view, I knew I had to capture it.

My Fave...

My Fave...