Thursday, January 29, 2015

Champions



We spent the first part of today at the Children's Hospital in Child Neurology trying to get closer to figuring out how to address and work through some of the issues Mireya has been having over the last several months.  I feel confident that we were able to put a plan in place that will be helpful.

We spent the early evening celebrating an amazing honor granted to us by the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.  Many of you may remember, in October of last year Quentin and I were at the Q94 studios to share the #TeamBolton story for the Radiothon.  At the conclusion of the taping, we were asked for a few minutes of our time by our friends at CHOR to tell us about an Ambassador program for Children's Hospital they wanted to nominate both Jalen and Mireya for.  The program brings awareness to healthcare, Children's Miracle Network (CMN) and the importance of supporting Children's Hospitals and programs across the United States. 

Every year after a series of nominations 'one' family or 'one' Champion is chosen as an Ambassador to represent his/her state.  Jalen and Mireya were submitted in recognition of their ability to brave their respective battles with grace, strength, courage and determination despite and through it all.  We continue to be in awe of all they endured over the course of two and a half years to bring us where we are today.  

When we received the phone call about a week ago, I pulled over on the side of the road, speechless and in tears....I am so proud to share the 2015 Champions for the state of Virginia are Jalen AND Mireya.  Our friends at CHOR planned a super special family celebration for us at The Desserterie to announce and share with the children that they were chosen to represent Virginia this year in this role and capacity.  What does this mean???  It means we continue to do what we've done all along...participate in events to support the Children's Hospital and CMN, share our experience and our story. But wait there's more....an Ambassador's Tour.  Two trips, one to the White House (the 2014 Champions met and spent time with the President) and a second week long trip to Walt Disney World with approximately 52 other families (one family from each U.S. State and Canada) all together for a common goal.  What an amazing opportunity.  Here's a little clip of the 2014 Champions and their time together on the tour.  Thank you BIG sister Paris (unable to be with us) for dialing in from school for this special occasion.
http://childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org/About/Champions  

News traveled fast via FaceTime to Big Sister 

Thank you to so many that have loved, supported and kept us covered in prayer. We are so honored to be thought of in such a way to be nominated, but even more humbled to be chosen.  To God be the Glory! 

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Thriving

This is one of Paris' favorite pictures of us...not so much for me, but we made some incredible memories on this vacation together
Many of you know me as the girl that shares a good thing when I come across it, whether it be a new movie, restaurant, salon or that best kept little find.  I have been connecting with people through my spa and wellness business for over 15 years..providing solutions and sharing the importance of  taking time for yourself, along with looking and feeling your best! The THRIVE buzz has been growing on social media.  A colleague suggested I try it, so I did and this is my experience.
 
One of my desires in 2015 is to maintain my physical goals and stay on track. In recent past I was unhappy about where I was physically, but most importantly how I felt about it. After my last little one was born, I had topped out at my heaviest ever.  I always worked hard to look well put together, but I was being challenged in my wardrobe choices and you know there is always the 'smaller...I'm going to lose weight' pile that you aspire to get back to. I hated seeing pictures of myself which meant I no longer liked taking pictures. As a former model (started in my mid-teens) how I presented myself to the world and the comfort level I had was important. Working in that industry for so long 'can' give you a very twisted thought process about body image. The final straw was seeing myself on television during an interview and not recognizing the person on the screen. Yes I understand the camera adds 10 lbs, but I in that instant I decided it was necessary to do things differently, invest in myself and make some changes.  Through a very regimented protocol, I learned the importance of portion control and the value of water (consuming 1/2 of your body weight daily) and the importance of clean eating and moving your body. I had great success....losing about 43lbs.  Just for the record 'size matters' only if it 'matters' to you.  It's all about being happy and healthy...whatever that is to/for you.

People that haven't seen me in years say 'wow' you haven't changed a bit.  Those who have been alongside me over and through the years of our growing family know the challenges I had with the 'bounce back'. Somehow things don't always go back to how they were before or to the same place. But I no longer wanted to be the person that jokingly says 'I'm still carrying my baby weight' and my kids are 20, 9, 7 and 5. The onset of Mireya's illness and diagnosis was about 18 months after Makinley was born. Understandably the stress of that situation coupled with less than desirable eating habits (fast food, snack attacks and little to no body movement or schedule to do so) my weight increased and I sort of lost myself and was really unhappy. In the grand scheme it mattered, but it didn't. I had a bigger assignment at that time to oversee.

I'm a very compliant girl, if you give me something to do and provide me with steps to get there, I will follow it to the letter.  I believe because of that I had good success.  Sometimes we just need something to help us over the hump or to get jump started.  When you look good, you feel good and it shows.  Committing to the changes brought 'me' back in a big way.  I've managed for the most part to follow the same practices, remain active and maintain success for over 3 years.  Fast forward to late 2014 and I've gotten more relaxed in my practices, and started to see some fluctuation in my weight and how my clothes were fitting and I didn't like it.  The holidays in previous years have not been a huge challenge, but somehow this year I added an extra 10lbs enjoying holiday goodies and the Foodfest that occurs from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I believe 2015 is going to be the game changing year for #TeamBolton in all areas.  Getting back on my physical wellness game as I said is one of my priorities.  When I heard about Thrive I was intrigued.  My compadre shared the positive changes he thought it would add to my life.  He didn't have to twist my arm...I liked what I saw and made a decision to get it.  I felt I had nothing to lose investing in myself because it is important to me.  It is one of the best decisions I have made.  The experience varies from person to person, but I immediately had a mental crispness I had not had in years.  The fog was lifted.  I've always joked that after having all my sweet little ones that my brain cells would be regenerated at some point.  I feel like many of them have been returned to me.  I have incredible energy, more restful sleep and I have not craved my beloved coffee.  This is huge for me....I typically only drink water, but coffee consumption was a major part of my day.  For some it's energy drinks or soda.  Every day I looked forward to my cup(s) of coffee.  I have not felt this good since I was 17.  The biggest indicator for me has been the level at which the aches and discomfort I've dealt with from several sports injuries and incidents has subsided.  So as a consumer of the experience, the results in short turn have been incredible.  Losing 6 of the 10lbs I gained over the holiday is an added bonus!!!

I'm loving it....so being the 'sharer' that I am, if you are looking for something to help you get unstuck, to drive you toward your goals, to help you optimize your body and make you feel better, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You have nothing to lose. This is an all-natural gluten and gmo free, plant based system consisting of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and probiotics that will help fill the nutritional gaps and help your body operate at peak performance.  Git R Done! Trust your girl! I'm happy to connect you.

The girl in the picture up top on the right is much happier and healthier today than where the girl on the right found herself after life and challenges happened. It's all about total wellness....what is your why?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Procedures & Plans

Our family enjoyed a wonderful time together yesterday on Christmas day.  Today were down at Children's Hospital to complete some procedural testing to help us pinpoint the cause of some of the challenges Reya has been having over the last few months.  We expected to have an IV placed and scans done with and without contrast.  I wasn't certain how long it would last, so I packed up the bag with fun things to help pass the time and a bag of treats to have at the conclusion of the testing since Reya was not able to eat anything since last night. We reported to Radiology and after a considerable wait, there was a change in plans....no IV, no contrast needed.  With those two elements eliminated, we were done relatively quickly.

We are still in our maintenance phase of treatment and are routinely seen in an auxilliary Children's Hospital clinic in the West End. Since we were at the Main Hospital, we decided to take a trip down to our old stomping ground for a quick visit.  It is such a joy to see the smiling faces of people who were such a big part of the process and journey. The entire clinic experience starts with these two ladies and I truly love them both so much!!!  Reya was super happy to see Ms. Rachel and Ms. Roz. It was like catching up with family and friends.


 The girls attended the Clinic Preschool with this beautiful trooper. We are thrilled to hear all the great news happening in the midst of her 2nd battle.  God is so amazing! Continuing to pray and thank the Lord for continued progress and victory in her fight.


 As we were leaving the hospital we saw several familiar faces and ran into the Dietary Technician that cared for us while on the Bone Marrow unit.  She used to bring the latest movies to the room for Mireya and the children to watch.  She took great care of us and always knew how to put a smile on Reya's face.  It was such a blessing to us and I love that our paths connected again.

We have few additional appointments in the coming weeks to help us assess and determine a plan of action to manage these issues.  We are continuing to enjoy the 'new normal', but look forward to 2015 being a year that propels #TeamBolton to even greater places.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Continuing to Walk in the Promise


These last few months we've faced issues and situations that have had us on alert, but we are grateful for progress and even more thankful for God allowing us to continue to hurdle the obstacles and common issues that children encounter as latent effects of chemotherapy and some of the toxic medications taken throughout the process.

We have officially transitioned to the Peds/Hemoc Survivorship Program.  Our appointments continue to track every 3 months and will hopefully soon be stretched to every six months beginning in January and then annually for the duration.

Overall Mireya is doing well in the maintenance phase of her treatment.  She has some of the common struggles with sun exposure, fatigue, unexplainable stomach and headaches which make it difficult to flow through school days, but she loves learning and is doing exceptionally well in 2nd Grade despite it all.

 Makinley started Kindergarten this year and is adjusting well to a new schedule and routine.  Our Hero brother, Jalen has managed to admirably work through the anxiety and level of uncertainty that began to affect his day to day activities.  He is having great successes as a 4th Grader.  Paris is exploring the world through her studies abroad in Spain this semester and preparing to graduate in the Spring.  It is something I had the joy of experiencing as a child and I love that she has the opportunity to be immersed in the culture and life of another country. To capture her experiences visit lapuertaaespana.blogspot.com


Quentin and I continue to push through to get all areas of our lives on track and we make a conscious effort, to keep things in perspective, while savoring life in this new place. It has been several months, but it still feels different to exist in a space where you are free to live without major limitations. Simple things give us great joy. I cannot count the number of times there have been tears in my eyes or I've cried relishing the normalcy of a single moment or occurrence in time.

The Warmth of Sunlight on My Face



I'm Not My Hair, BUT I'm Back Where I Started
Take nothing for granted.  Handle others with love and a true measure of grace. Enjoy every day as it could be your last and remember every good and perfect thing comes from the Lord in HIS timing.  Several of you have shared how you've visited the blog and felt our absence.  Thank you for continuing to love, support and connect with us. Sharing and connecting with others is the beat of my heart.  Your support and presence with and for us, kept that beat strong even when it was weary.  I will work on consistently sharing the good that continues to happen with and for us.

Love and blessings always from #TeamBolton!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Relaunching & Paying It Forward


Giving the 'Stress Talk'
If you know anyone that has been through any sort of medical journey, you know or can associate with the financial burden that treatment over an extended period has or can have.  As a result I had truly been seeking direction on what it is I needed to do to help my family's financial bottom line.  I started reaching out to former colleagues and Managers about the possibility of going back into the conventional workspace.  I've had the opportunity to be at home with my children for the last 10+ year and I've enjoyed it very much. The thought of going back to the Corporate environment was even more of a concern when I considered having to find something that would allow me to make enough money to cover the expense of having my children cared for and still allow me to take care of the obligations that need to be addressed.

Many of you know or may recall I had a growing Spa and Wellness business that afforded me the opportunity to go into the home, workplace and community to share the importance of eliminating stress and give the 'gift of relaxation' through an amazing and relaxing spa experience. I help others 'de-stress and increase face value' through the education of proper skincare and the essentials of taking care of ourselves.  I have not been been able to pursue this business over the last few years as we've dealt with my daughter's illness and ongoing treatment.  I have been affiliated with and representing this company for a long time.  Connecting with people and helping others is my passion. Whether it is through providing solutions to issues, giving people permission to take 'the pause' or through helping them make changes in their lives by taking advantage of this opportunity for themselves and their family.   I pondered and prayed about what I could do, and the Lord continued to instruct me to 'use what is in your hand'.  Several months ago, my daughter was released from her treatment and a few weeks following that, I revived and relaunched my business.  To connect with me or learn more check me out at www.facebook.com/beautispava
   
I work with an amazing group of people and have never been more excited about this business until now.  About 4 weeks ago I was at a Leadership Conference in Dallas when a BIG announcement was made.  Let me preface the announcement by saying, BeautiControl has an amazing Foundation, W.H.O (Women Helping Others) www.whofoundation.org that has granted over 5 million dollars to community focused charities and organizations serving overlooked women, children and families.  I have seen dollars from the W.H.O. Foundation granted and serve the Richmond area several times over the last 10+ years.  I was at a loss for words when BeautiControl unveiled their partnership with the Make A Wish Foundation. I sat in that meeting sobbing as a Wish Family came out and shared their journey to victory over illness. Understanding their plight and knowing first hand how tremendous this is for families made me PROUD of this company I represent. Our collective mission in one month was to share this opportunity with 4,500 people. My personal desire was to do my part to make this happen by sharing it with everyone I could. The reward of going out and working on behalf of 'Paying it Forward' and blessing others for me, was bigger than any other reward the company could give.


Incidentally during a break the day before, I took a detour to a bathroom off the beaten path and ran into this beautiful lady. Obviously, she got the black and coral memo.  We chuckled, decided we had to take a picture because what were the odds amongst 2000 women you would 'happen' to run into someone in a long bathroom line dressed just like you.  Nothing happens by chance....she lives in Pennsylvania and her brother happens to be a Veterinarian in Glen Allen, Virginia (a short 20 minutes from where I live). We messaged one another a few weeks after our meeting in Dallas.  I shared with her my excitement for the Make A Wish partnership and she shared with me that she sat in the audience that morning in tears because her family was a Wish Family and her daughter has been in treatment for the last 3 years with a brain tumor. The odds just increased and I know without doubt our paths were intended to cross on that day.

Our lives were more connected than we could ever have imagined
I'm also so proud to say not only did we meet our goal, but we surpassed it and were able to share this opportunity with over 4,900 people.  The impact this will have on and in the lives of these two families is immeasurable.  I am thankful for opportunities that have opened up for me and people that have embraced my decision and helped me thus far in and through the process.  Together we can make a difference and the best is yet to come!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Settling in Our Groove

These last few months have been a time to really getting back into our groove and enjoy the regular rotation of life.  It's very easy to want to jump right back into everything, but honestly just taking a step at a time, being present in the moment and living each day to the fullest without medical constraints or restrictions has felt like a true luxury.  I wish and want this for all our friends and family we know and love in the varying stages of caring for a child with illness and in treatment.

We continue to be so thankful for the restoration of Mireya's health.  Seeing her smile and knowing she is healthy brings us great joy.  The joy of the Lord continues to be our strength.

Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Students with Heart



I'm so proud of my daughter Paris who spent her birthday yesterday sharing and raising money for our dear little friend Emily's BandAid Drive.  We know this is a time that studying and making it through these last few weeks of the semester is the focus, so a special thank you to the students of LC that donated to help the children of Children's Hospital. Paris is her mother's child so she spent a lot of the day yesterday in tears because nothing is more moving than seeing the hearts of people come together to help and bless others.  That's what its all about creating awareness, paying it forward, being the blessing. Emily came in to our lives close to three years ago at the beginning of our medical journey with Severe Aplastic Anemia.  She and Mireya became very close friends and looked forward to seeing and spending time with one another in and out of clinic. This little girl is pure joy and a fighter. Keep Emily and her family in your prayers for complete victory over Neuroblastoma. Visit her site www.emilyhubbel.com to learn more about this special little girl and her journey. Last year Emily and her family raised over 3000 boxes of bandaids.  This is her 2nd Annual Band-Aid drive and we are so happy to be able to participate in this effort.  Band Aid donations are being collected through this week.

To my girl Paris and friends...you are awesome!