Thursday, August 23, 2012

Addiction Confession...and Triumph!

So a select few out there know that I had a addiction...

I just couldn't be satisfied with what I had ~ I always wanted ("needed") more!

The smells...they way it all made me feel...when I was tired, or feeling down, I knew what would help me push through...

Yep, I had bottles everywhere.  My sister-in-law tried to help - she'd collect what was left over and get the remains out of the house.  I had my stashes though.  I was never without...........
bath and body works.

That's right folks, what you're looking at is only a tiny sampling.  New season?  I had the new line.  Stress-relieving scents?  I had all three.  A good name?  IE, "coconut lime verbena" - it just rolled off the tongue! And was SO summery!!  And who doesn't need one to help you sleep?!  Lavender Vanilla, YES PLEASE!! What can I say?  The BB&W store made me happy.  Its products made me happy.  

(I do, however, draw the line at shimmer products.  No.  Thank.  You.)

BUT...I do not, in fact, need 4 scents in my shower at once.  And their lotions, and their sprays (I never used the sprays, I have NO idea why I kept buying them!).   I'd start using a new favorite, then grow tired and pick a new favorite to suit my mood.  And then there'd be a new something-or-other delicious scent that I needed right then.  I don't know what happened specifically, or when I realized this was a ridiculous habit (maybe when Sister-in-Law moved overseas and I couldn't just give her my extras so I didn't feel so wasteful??), but I knew that I had to get things under control.  And it started with one bottle.  I had one left in my shower, and I FORCED myself to use every last drop.  This is my triumph.  

While I don't see one single thing wrong with finding a little something that makes your day just a little bit brighter, I personally didn't want to keep not fully using what I had!  I didn't want to waste!  I wanted to spend that money on photography stuff (well, at least save it to put toward photography stuff - I don't know if you know, but THAT'S one expensive habit!)!!

Thank you for letting me confess, and for letting me share my happiness in overcoming my little challenge :).  If you too, share a silly little addiction, I hope you are enjoying every second of it!!  If you're moving on, kudos to you!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The EYES have it!

Hi!  LONG time no write!

This post is short and sweet:  I've been working on two projects simultaneously - catching Leia with her eyes open, and catching Leia in photographs in general!  Leia is just way too busy exploring her world to pose for me, but we're working on that :).

Shar-peis can have eye problems, because the folds over their eyes can damage their eyes/vision.  Brutus had surgery before he came to us that prevents this.  Leia - so far - does not seem to have any problems.  Although Brute's and Leia's vision is just fine, those fun folds create dark shadows that hide their eyes in most of my pictures, and it drives me crazy!  I've been working on finding angles and light that will highlight those peepers.

Here's an example that drives me crazy: you can see She-Ra's eyes so nice and clearly, but not Brute's and Leia's!  Don't worry, I'm not losing any sleep - I love this picture - it's just something I want to work on improving!


If their eyes aren't shaded, they're often squinty!!

But that's ok, because I am persistent!!!!!


Whooohooo!!  Beautiful brown-eyed girl!

Sweet Brute!

She's so easy :).  Even though I have tons of her face, I couldn't post the others and not post her!

Aaaaaand the grand finale: I'd like to introduce you to Tut!  He's my neighbors' adorable super sweet fun rescue!!  For being new to my camera clicks, he did a GREAT job of posing!  Welcome to your forever family, Tut!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Hello everyone!  I have been on cloud-nine since June 12th, but I just needed a little while to process things all by myself...Hopefully this will be the last post you read about She-Ra's health for a VERY long time!!  As some of you know, I went off to visit my brother and his family in Germany (that post will come later).  Before I left, the vet team and I had a difficult decision to make:  find a way to get She-Ra to treatment (in the form of a GREAT neighbor OR Boyfriend treating her - yes, he knows how, but it was risky doing it at home for various reasons)  OR take a chance and pause the treatments.  We were all torn.  Because of her unique, mostly internal issues, it was difficult to say just how licked the fungus was.  It's true, there were no new lesions, but who knew if they were lurking just beneath the surface waiting for a break?!  And we did NOT come all this way only to have to back track!!  The other successful case had needed treatments for six months! On the other hand, we all knew there would come a day when we would just have to see how she did.  She had a full-strength immune system at this point, and she just really looked good...  After about two minutes of personal deliberation, I decided it was time to trust that God had taken us this far, He would be with us regardless of the we took the leap.  She would miss three treatments when I was gone, and then be evaluated the day after I returned.

I walked in to Nashville Vet Specialists that Tuesday afternoon - late, because I had stayed late at work to catch up - and was met with bunch of grins and "where have you been?!"s....I was standing at the counter waiting for the balance to pay...Ashley called the techs to find out the day's total...she yanked the phone away from her ear as someone yelled on the other end....Ashley grinned, turned to me and said, "There's no charge today!"  Excuse me?

Dr. O'Neill came through a door with She-Ra.  And then Jennifer came out a different door.  And then Dr. Wang, Meredith, and about 5 other people that I had yet to meet...."We'll see you in August," Dr. O'Neill said.  August?

So for the next 45 minutes or so, we all stood around talking about our miracle girl, sharing stories (they snuck She-Ra people food!!) and pictures (see below!) and "I can't believe it"s.  There was no one else in the waiting room, so tech after tech came out to say hello/goodbye and to love on She-Ra.  We were all grinning like goofy kids.  Dr. O'Neill is excited to share the case at a conference she'll be attending in July - the practice of administering drugs under the skin like we did is not common, but we sure want the world to know!

I have said the entire time how much I love and appreciate the staff at NVS for their attention and care toward She-Ra.  I was even more moved when they showed me all the pictures they had taken of She-Ra.  They took pictures for themselves, which proved to me how much they really want to remember her, which proved that they really truly did care!  I know it's silly - it's not like I think they were lying - it's just difficult to imagine others caring about your pet they way you do.  Jennifer is the tech who gave She-Ra her treatments each week, and she just sat on the floor snuggling her for a while.  She-Ra absolutely sensed the excitement, and bounced from tech/doc to tech/doc just eating up all the attention.  This is the main team that treated her, and I am SO IN LOVE WITH THIS PICTURE!!  {I added their names}

Dr. Wang - Internal Medicine: she's been with us from the start fighting the immune disorders, and constantly checking on She-Ra throughout.  Dr. Schmidt consulted, and covered for Drs. Wang and O'Neill when they were gone.  Meredith is Dr. Wang's tech, and is the very first person we met at NVS.  She visited with She-Ra each time she was there, even if She-Ra wasn't there to see Dr. Wang.  Dr. Stenross - Emergency Medicine: she also consulted and covered.  Ellie is another tech that's been with us from the beginning.  Dr. O'Neill - Dermatology: she's the one who decided to try a treatment plan that was mostly unknown, and who kept the faith the entire time.  Jennifer is Dr. O'Neill's tech, and probably spent the most time with She-Ra.  

This has been one crazy ride, but I am so grateful for all the love and support along the way.  Her first condition - the immune system fighting itself - could always come back.  But for today, we won, and that's what we focus on.  Our girl is happy and playful, and only has a few scars to show for all her fighting :).  They just make her look all the tougher :).

PS:  WOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chasing Cohen!

On this Mother's Day, I'd like to share some shots from a recent shot of a friend's insanely adorable 3 year-old.  Meet COHEN, but don't blink, because he'll be gone!  I was so excited to have a kiddo old enough to follow some direction - and he does - he just strikes the pose for approximately .7 seconds (that's "point 7"...did you catch that itty bitty decimal point?!).  If that.  So, we decided to just try and keep up!  We had a blast laughing at his funny faces, running around the park, and trying to catch that oh-so-charming smile.  Although I was terribly nervous about what images we caught, some of these are now my favorites!  So here's Cutie Cohen (my nickname for him) and his beautiful mother, K:  
Game On: Run, slam into Mom, get swung around...repeat.

How do I love this hat?!  Let me count the ways....

He's about to break free!!

Fave.  Fave.  Fave.  I can't tell you how much I love this picture!

Practicing for his pirate-themed birthday party!

Cutest little pirate I have ever seen!

Full slideshow HERE!!

HAPPY, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the mothers out there!!  You have the toughest job on the planet, and I whole-heartedly salute you!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

She-Ra, Princess of Perseverance!!

(Brief re-cap for those of you just joining in: my dog developed a freak immune disorder that required drugs that suppressed her immune system, and then a nasty fungus moved in with her compromised defenses.)

About a week after the high of my Jasmine Star shindig, we received the results from She-Ra's biopsies.  It was what the docs had feared, a nasty fungus had started trying to kill my girl.  We had no idea how widespread it was, how far advanced it was, if it was in her organs, or just in the two legs that had swollen up.  As my new derm doc best friend, Dr. O'Neill of Nashville Vet Specialists, told me: it doesn't matter how far the fungus has moved in, the treatment will be the same.  

The Treatment:
We are replicating a treatment plan of the only known success story of a dog surviving this combination of afflictions - a whippit in Australia in 2006.  The NORMAL course of action is amputation/excision of the affected area.  That is not possible in She-Ra's case because it's in two legs (that we know of), and because her immune system disorder has affected her clotting, she wouldn't survive surgery anyway.  So for us, we place a drug in fluids under her skin, and the medication is slowly absorbed into her system.  We do this twice a week - thank our Heavenly Father that I work in Nashville and that NVS lets me drop her off early in the morning so I can continue working my normal schedule!  The staff continue to amaze me in their generosity and affection toward She-Ra.

After 8 anti-fungal treatments, She-Ra received the go-ahead from the internist to start weaning off her final immune-suppressing drug (woohoo!).  We are hoping that with a full-strength immune system, she and the anti-fungal drug will start kicking some serious fungus tail.  The last two visits have been encouraging - it looks like we don't have any new lesions, which is very exciting!

I've been debating about addressing the question I am asked the most...isn't that EXPENSIVE?

Um.  Yes.

But I am what you might call....determined.  She has a chance to survive.  Dr. O'Neill is determined to have her survive.  Boyfriend and I are resolute that she will survive.  My 6 year old nephew speaks daily with God about helping her survive.  So as I told Boyfriend, I will find a way to make this happen.

And God has provided.

I have had more opportunities to take pictures and make extra money in varying ways than I ever have before.

BUT, it's truly not about the money.  I don't add up the current costs in my head, I don't count how much it will cost in the future.  We all have our own battles that we have to decide to fight.  Right now, this is mine.  It's about triumph.  Miracles.  Faith.  It's about fighting the odds and not backing down when things get tough. The chances of her survival were 50/50 with just the one immune disorder.  Even slimmer when the fungal infection moved in.  But even with those slim chances, A CHANCE DOES EXIST.  How could I not take every advantage to be the one in a million long shot hail Mary that makes everyone wonder how in the world we did it?!?!  To stare challenges in the face and declare that WE will win?!  I'm a fighter.  I'm not a quitter, or a fair-weather fan.  I like long shots, because I like coming out on the other side tougher and having done something few others have done.  These two freak and rare diseases trying to take my girl down don't stand a chance.

It's not about the money.  It's about not giving up.

Don't give up.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Wow!  Where have I been?!  I've updated this thing in my head a few times, so when I logged in the other day and saw my last post, I confess to being quite confused...where were my updates?!  Oh.  Right.  Still in my head.  Oops!

So Jasmine Star - the seminar I attended....WOW.  I loved how simple the whole thing was.  How great and down to earth everyone was.  How amazing and gracious Jasmine's husband (JD) IS.  How they ran down the street in Nashville in pajamas to take JD's birthday pictures because they were running out of time.  Jasmine and JD + me = hugged by both of them.  As a matter of fact, I think everyone in attendance was hugged by them.  Seriously, we were just a group of groupies sitting around Jasmine and soaking up her sincere, genuine, radiating, humble, generous self.  Here I am with one of the super fun fellow photogs that I met (Jessy of Daisy Daydreams Portraits and More) gushing at the fab Ms. Star...

Jessy and me agreeing that Jasmine TOTALLY needed to take cowboy boots and a hat back to Cali!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the night:
~ I love Jesus!
~ Can I get an "amen"?!  (Who knew Californians said that??)
On Struggle:
~ Struggle is what brings us together.
~ As you change, you will struggle.  Change and struggle go hand in hand.
~ Sacrifice doesn't guarantee success, it is merely a pre-requisite of success. {This might be my fave}
And finally:
~ You are the leader of your own game.

There was such an amazing mix of attendees - some, like me, are at the beginning stages of figuring out what we're doing, and some are at the top of their games.  I only slightly felt out of times...  :).  Overall, I had a fantastic experience just being surrounded by others who are obsessed with this hobby of photography.  Jasmine's pitch was about helping one another, making friends, and never giving up the dream...the positivity (it just fits!) was oozing from her and I am SO grateful that I had this opportunity!!

I'll post an update about She-Ra next!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FOTP: Kindness

This will be a fairly short blog post, and there will be no pictures, as I am writing this on my lunch break at work!

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you might have read that today is quite a bittersweet day for me...tonight is the Jasmine Star photography business seminar that I have been SO excited about since I bought my ticket...I've been "meeting" other attendees through our group Facebook page, and can't wait to soak up all the photographical wisdom, experience, insight and love tonight!


Yesterday I had to take She-Ra back to Dr. Wang at the Nashville Vet Specialists.  The infection in her front paw took over with a vengeance this weekend - by Sunday, her front leg was twice as large as the other, and quite warm. Monday morning I woke up, and found she had licked a hole in the leg.  You read that right.  Obviously, I was pretty upset.  She-Ra and I loaded up in the truck.  When I went to get the update from Dr. Wang after work, it was determined that She-Ra would stay over night and Dermatology would perform a biopsy (biopsies?) today with She-Ra under anesthesia.  They let me take her out for a walk and sit with her for a little, and then they took her back. 


They will perform the biopsy after 3 today, which means that as I am supposed to be getting crazy excited about meeting a photographic rock star, I will also be wondering how in the world my girl is.  And I will be waiting and watching my phone for the call that will let me know she woke up from anesthesia, and just how bad (or not bad?!) the infection is.


I am choosing to focus on the KINDNESS that the employees at NVS have shown She-Ra.  When I dropped her off in the morning, the vet tech who has been with her from the start (Meredith) was there to greet us.  She-Ra perked up, and loved all over her.  Meredith, in kind, was loving all over She-Ra.  I love Meredith.  Dr. Wang always sits on the floor when she is talking with us, and again, She-Ra LOVES her.  And yes, I love Dr. Wang too.  Becca took her back last night, and said repeatedly how great a dog She-Ra is, and how beautiful she is.  (I just met Becca, but now I love her, because She-Ra IS great and beautiful!)  They let me know that I am free to call in the middle of the night to check on her if need be (or just because!), as they are staffed 24/7.  In this very scary time, I am comforted that She-Ra is comfortable with those caring for her, and so very grateful for them!

As my friend Kimberlee posted the other day - "every single person you see is struggling with something and to them it is just as hard as what you are going through" (Nicholas Sparks, Dear John).  I hope that you can find and focus on some positive aspect - however tiny - of whatever it is you are going through.