A Bond of Creativity with “The Vampire Diaries.”

BRONX, NY- After eight years of love triangles, supernatural deaths, doppelgangers, and various enemies, The Vampire Diaries came to an end last night. I do want to give a special thanks to the cast and production crew for entertaining me for eight seasons. Although the story line did fall out in season seven, I believe the character development was phenomenal. This is not a post full of spoilers or fandom. I am here to tell you how my journey with the show has impacted me.

To start off, I am not a fan of vampire stories. Twilight was an adjustment in its own way, so when I heard the CW was launching a pilot episode of The Vampire Diaries on September 10th, 2009 I was skeptical. Was the network jumping on the blood sucking bandwagon? L.J. Smith had become popular writing the book series so it must be a trend the CW was trying to follow. When the pilot premiered at 8 p.m., I was proven wrong.

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Season One Promo (Photo: Google Images)

I had not read the books before the series premiere, so Stefan Salvatore’s opening line immediately caught my attention; “For over a century, I’ve lived in secret. Hiding in the shadows, alone in the world. Until now. I’m a vampire and this is my story.” Viewers later discover he had been hiding from his older brother, Damon Salvatore. The pilot introduced the three main leads and supporting characters. Damon and Stefan had established they did not get along and when the episode ended, I wanted to know more about what happened between them.

“Are they going to give this every Thursday?” I whirled around to see my baby sister, who I shared a room with at the time, was wide awake. I could have sworn she had been asleep. I realized it was too late not to allow her to watch the show and at six years old, Alondra handled most drama television shows more maturely than kids her age. I replied “yes, so far it’s every Thursday.” She smiled and finally fell asleep.

During the next four seasons, Alondra and I watched the characters fight their instincts while trying not to lose their humanity. It was a great bonding moment to have with her. Alondra’s teachers were astonished to learn she understood the plot line of a series targeted toward mature audiences. Alondra was Team Damon all the way. The series soon developed a spin off called The Originals, based on a family of villains. By the fifth season, Alondra had lost her interest in the show. She believed the love triangle was redundant and the amount of doppelgangers had gotten ridiculous. I was on my own watching the show again.

From a writing standpoint, I agreed with Alondra. Season five had a strange drop in plot lines due to redundant topics. Yet I continued to watch the show to see if things would improve. I began to see possibilities in character development and plots. This increased my interest in creative writing. The executive producers of the show soon released a spin off book series Stefan’s Diaries,  sticking to the descriptions of the television adaptation and not the original book series. I found Stefan’s Diaries more interesting than the L.J. Smith books.

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Stefan’s Diaries Series

It is now 2017 and the show has ended. 23 million fans in over eight years, a spin off show and book series. The Originals will premiere its fourth season on March 17th, 2017. The show has expanded my love for creative writing, and although it was for a short time, I got to bond with my baby sister (who is not fourteen years old). Thank you The Vampire Diaires! 

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Season Eight Promo (Photo: Google Images)

Photos by: Rosa Elena Oliveras and Google Images

Melting In The Snow

Taking risks in life is a part of being human. Some are held back by fear, while others depend on that “fight or flight” instinct to decide whether the risk is worth it. Fear is what held me back from enjoying the snow. When I was eight years old, I spent too much time playing in a blizzard. By the time I came back inside, my feet had severe freezer burn and I caught a horrible case of pneumonia that lasted me a week. Since then, when ever I tried to play or even take a nice walk in the snow, I somehow ended up sick.

Today I decided to take a risk and walk in the snow. It may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but for me it was a big step to be a part of something beautiful nature has to offer. I got tired of watching the snow fall from a window, or rush back indoors if I happen to get caught in a small system. I layered up on clothes, laced up my snow boots and legwarmers, zipped up my coat, and off I went.

The first thing that came to my mind was “please Lord, don’t let me regret this choice. Don’t let me get sick.” Snowflakes poked my face and attached themselves to my curls as I made my way to the park across the street. The temperature was not as cold as I thought it would be. When I got to the park, my perspective changed. The snow looked beautiful! I took some photos while I walked around.

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Snow, snow, snow!

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Step by step I took in all the white scenery. A big grin spread across my face as I walked around the park. My inner child was ecstatic as scooped up some of the snow and patted it away. This felt like a huge weighted lifted off of me since childhood.  I was enjoying a little blessing from nature.

Half an hour later I returned home. My curls were wet, and I was covered head to toe with frost. After kicking my boots off on a rug, hanging up my coat, and drying my curls on a towel, I made myself a cup of green tea. My inner child is thanking me for taking the risk and living life.

To The People Of The United States of America

“Scratch that this is not a moment, it’s the movement
Where all the hungriest brothers with something to prove went?
Foes oppose us, we take an honest stand
We roll like Moses, claimin’ our promised land
And? If we win our independence?
‘Zat a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
Or will the blood we shed begin an endless cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?
I know the action in the street is excitin’
But Jesus, between all the bleedin’ ‘n fightin’
I’ve been readin’ ‘n writin’
We need to handle our financial situation
Are we a nation of states what’s the state of our nation?
I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionatelymashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation
I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow” – My Shot, Hamilton

Dear United States of America,

Four days ago, we participated in the most stressful presidential election in history. The options were not great, but in the end our own government chose Donald Trump. Note I wrote the GOVERNMENT and not the PEOPLE. We the people, gave the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, yet this thing called the Electoral College decided the president should be a racist, misogynist individual whose vocabulary can not got farther than “bigly.”

Donald Trump has filled people with fear and hate. For those of you who voted for Trump, you are entitled to your own opinions and views. I will not unfriend anyone who has different political views than me.  What I will do is stay in this country that is my home, and home to many other citizens and immigrants who want to overturn the rules. Donald Trump winning is not just someone else in the White House. Its a virus that needs to go before it infects the world.

Like many, I did contemplate leaving the country if Trump was elected. Then I realized leaving is the cowards way out on this situation. I need to rise up and defend all those who are immigrants, LGBTQ, and Muslim. This is the time where women need to support each other even more. The planet has to be protected from this man who refuses to believe climate change is real.

I will not see children be separated from their families due to deportation.  Mexico will not pay for a wall to divide us even more. See what Mr. Trump does not realize is that America is a hemisphere. Its not just the United States, but Latin America as well. So all those immigrants coming into the United States are part of AMERICA, and they do make this country great. Until the war in the Middle East ends, I will accept refugees with open arms because they want to escape a nightmare, not become terrorists.

Trump is talking about creating unity and has even taken back some of the vicious things he has said. The damage is done, sir. No apologies will be accepted because we all know exactly who you are. Within the past four days Latinos, African Americans, and Muslims have been targeted with hateful chant and graffiti. Women are getting sexual harassed on the streets.  This is just the start of the ripple effect of damage you planted Mr. Trump.

I ask for those of you who are part of the anti- Trump protests to please do so peacefully. Violence will only escalate the problem we are already facing. Rise up not only to this man, but to congress and the senate so that the Electoral College is overthrown. Fight for your friends and family who are in fear, and at the same time become their shoulder to cry on. Continue to send good vibes to Standing Rock so the pipeline is not built. Protect the planet and all the natural beauty it has to offer. This is the time to join forces as the people of the United States of America. We are not throwing away our shot!

Making A Stand For Women Brick x Brick

NEW YORK, N.Y- How would you feel if a man had come up to your wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, godmother, aunt, or best friend and had told them every misogynist insult you could think of?

“Bimbo, slut, whore, dog, disgusting animal. Grab them by the pussy. As long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass. Miss Piggy.” -Donald J. Trump

Yes, the republican presidential candidate said these words and a lot more about women. This man does not deserve to be in the White House with offensive language coming out of his mouth. Sarah Sandman and Andrea Lauer decided to take a stand and use Trump’s words and ideas against him. Brick x Brick was then created, and the response from other women and men has been phenomenal.

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Photo: Arianna V. Olivo

Brick x Brick took a stand in front of Trump Tower Columbus Circle last Sunday, with more than 40 women in brick jumpsuits or wearing all black. Patches were made with Trump’s ignorant comments to create a wall of brave women standing up to his misogyny. In silence, hand in hand, we stood and faced the crowd to come.

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Photo: Jeffrey Brandsted
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Photo: Jeffrey Brandsted

Some Trump supporters walked away and gave us cold stares. Then there was the flow of support from other women and men that gave us more strength to stand in the chilly wind. A spoken word piece woke up the New Yorkers and tourists to our cause.  Applause, cheers, smiles, and a flood of thank you’s enveloped the movement. This was more than a protest to those of us in the jumpsuits and vests. Its a chance to make our voices heard. Sarah Sandman began a chant and still holding hands, the wall became a chain of hope.

From Columbus Circle we journeyed two by two to Times Square, spreading our message as loud as we could. More women cheered in support as the NYPD escorted us safely to our final stop. From there it was dance time. We grooved to The Commodores She’s A Brick, energizing the crowd surrounding us. There was another five minute silent wall before breaking apart for the day.

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Photo: Rosa Elena Oliveras

Hugs went around from people in the crowd who loved what Brick x Brick was doing. Sarah and Andrea were proud of all of us. The movement doesn’t stop here in New York City. Brick x Brick has created walls in many states and there are still more to come. Let’s make sure Trump does not sit in the oval office. Join us in making a difference.

For more information on how you can join Brick by Brick visit the official website and like on Facebook:

http://www.brickxbrick.org/

https://www.facebook.com/brickxbrick2016/

ATTN: Video https://www.facebook.com/ATTNVideo/videos/1615765498728405/

Now This:https://www.facebook.com/NowThisElection/videos/1305609599470527/

Photos by: Jeffrey Brandsted, Arianna V. Olivo, and Rosa Elena Oliveras

Video: ATTN Video, Now This

Lindsey Stirling is Brave Enough

HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM, N.Y.- Friday night the Hammerstein Ballroom sold out to the talent of violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling. For the past five years, Stirling has grown into an international YouTube sensation, gaining millions of views in her original videos and covers. Earlier this year she released her memoir The Only Pirate At The Party, which became a bestseller. Now she is on tour not only performing her music, but dancing and creating magical illusions as well.

Brave Enough is Stirling’s third studio album. To open up her show, she invited pop singer Shawn Hook. Even though he had some issues tuning his acoustic guitar, Hook had no problem showing the audience his skills on the piano and the microphone. He even gave his band members time in the spotlight with personal stories. After a set of six songs, he thanked the crowd and went on his way backstage. Lindsey’s tour team set to work in transforming the stage for the main act. The audience held their breathe in anticipation.

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Opening act Shawn Hook

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The lights of the ballroom dimmed, an applause erupts from fans. Moments later Lindsey Stirling appears on the upper platform of the stage, moving the bow of her violin against the strings to The Phoenix. She jumps down and dances her way around the stage. She then transitions to Electric Daisy Violin and Prism. Stirling address the crowd and welcomes them to the concert, especially those first timers who would experience a mind blowing show.

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Stirling transformed from a short jumper and t-shirt to a sequin, pink ballerina. The visual effects of the lighting crew put Stirling in a glass bubble for Shatter Me. The bubble changed to a forest in Lost Girls, and then the images of the Elements Lindsey controlled. The visuals coexisted with the music to tell a story with each note Lindsey played.

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A comedic video played while Lindsey went from ballerina to ballroom beauty in a blue dress. She brought out her drummer and keyboardist to perform with classroom instruments. Any preschooler would have been inspired as the trio brought together the sound of these toddler toys to famous scores from Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. They moved on to their normal sized instruments to do an acoustic version of Something Wild. Lindsey then took a moment to talk about her best friend, Gavi, who had passed away last fall. She explained how his death had lead to her emotional turmoil before finding therapy in God and working on Brave Enough. She poured her heart and soul into Gavi’s Song, and on the screens were moments she shared with Gavi as she provided the music with Those Days. 

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Music in their inner children
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Something Wild acoustic performance
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A tribute to Gavi.

From ballroom beauty we go to circus ringleader. Lindsey mentioned “technical difficulties” and brought out an adorable entertainment act from her rescue dog Luna. Although Luna was not so cooperative to Lindsey’s commands, she still was a big hit with the audience. Once Luna was backstage, Lindsey and her dancers had another trick up their sleeves… magical illusions. Lindsey split herself in half and appeared in a glass box while playing her violin. Who knew she could do magic tricks?

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Lindsey with Luna

The illusions continued with Mirage as Lindsey floated in the air. She and her dancers told a new story during Crystallize, The Arena, Heist, and Hold My Heart. She thanked New York City for a great show after Stars Align. 

 

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Mirage

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Floating during Mirage

Lindsey Stirling had one more performance to end the show with a huge bang. After some teasing from her lighting crew, she began to battle her keyboardist, who switched his instrument to an electric guitar and play the first chords of Roundtable Rival. The audience clapped on the beat as she added the full melody. The battle continued until it transitioned to Don’t Let This Feeling Fade. From there everything went full power. The lights dimmed out to reveal Stirling’s outfit which was donned with neon blue, green, and purple colors. Her violin glowed blue and so did the dancer’s tops. She performed the entire song and then brought out her entire tech, tour crew, band members, and backstage managers.

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Grand Finale
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Roundtable Rival battle

Its not every show you see all the people behind the scenes and on stage come together for a choreographed dance routine. Yes, you read that right. Lindsey danced along with her crew as their exit bow. Now that is how you end a concert! The Brave Enough tour is not only a music concert. Its emotional story telling and it run by a team of creative minds who put their heart and soul into each song. Lindsey Stirling leaves you asking yourself “what makes you Brave Enough?”

New York Comic Con 2016

Last weekend was New York City Comic Con 2016. I had been looking forward to the event since April, just to come down with a cold, yet I went and enjoyed myself. Gil and I put our cosplays on, we picked up Alondra, and drove to the Jacob Javitz Center. We were grateful to find a cheap parking lot. I left my keyblade in the car. Yes, I worked hard on it, but my strength was limited to carrying it along all day. Thank goodness I had the wand as a back up prop. Gilberto looked great in his Hufflepuff varsity jacket. My sister opted to wear a Star Wars shirt and brought her light saber. (She is not in any photos. She hates taking photos).

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The line to get into the Javitz center was not bad. We only waited half an hour before having to present our badges. Alondra and Gil took it all in as we went through the main entrance. Several movies and television shows had advertisements covering the walls, cosplayers posed for photos, and the amount of people attending was chaotic. We made our way to the show floor first.

The show floor had various pop culture franchises lined up for people to shop and test out. LEGO was building batman, Yu-Gi-Oh had a prop of Blue Eyes White Dragon, and even Sailor Moon got her spot on the show floor. Gil and I got observe the new game play for Kingdom Hearts 2.8. Alondra enjoyed meeting the T-Rex from T-Rex Tuesdays. Beautiful cars were on display and Wonder Woman was the muse of every painter.

While taking a much needed lunch break, we got to see amazing cosplays. I admire the work that goes into the costumes the same way I put labor into mine this year. I believe the cosplays people choose represent a part of themselves. For example, I chose to do a combination of Hermione Granger and Sora because not only do I love books, but I take the friendships I make to heart.

Artist alley was another hallway down. Alondra bought some artwork based on Avatar: The Last Airbender.  We got to see so many talented artists, colorists, and illustrators. Gil sadly had to leave early due to work, so Alondra and I carried on. We left the Javitz Center and walked a block up to see BookCon. It was not at all what I expected and very empty. Its better when they have the it at the Javitz Center.

New York Comic Con 2016 did feel a lot more stressful this year. It could have been the amount of people in attendance or the fact that I was sick. Either way something had changed about it. Alondra and Gil had a great time. Happy con everyone!

The Birth of Hermione Granger in Kingdom Hearts

This year I decided to create my own cosplay for Comic Con 2016. After visiting the Magical World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, I had been inspired to create a Harry Potter collaboration with my favorite video game saga Kingdom Hearts.  My brain had been at work since returning from  Florida vacation and after various concepts I finalized it to this:

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Kingdom Hearts Hermione Granger Costume Concept

Next came working out the amount of materials I would need and to budget the money for it.

Cosplay Outfit:

  • Black hooded vest, denim pants, winter gloves, and rain boots
  • Red and gold ribbon
  • Fabric glue (both permanent flexible, and temporary)
  • Hogwarts iron on patch
  • Gryffindor suspenders
  • Gryffindor quidditch jersey (bought at Universal Studios)
  • Hermione Granger Light Up Wand (Amazon)
  • Sora Kingdom Hearts chain

Broken Wing Keyblade:

  • PVC pipes
  • silver and gold metallic paint
  • white foam sheets
  • Styrofoam boards
  • Nail filer
  • X-acto knife
  • Glitter glue
  • Gorilla glue
  • Duct tape
  • Clear plastic cap (from a gallon of water)
  • Time Turner key chain (Universal Studios)

I worked on both the outfit and keyblade by alternating days. The outfit was easier to assemble as most of it was accessories. After getting the basic things it was all about using the fabric glues and letting the elements dry out. After a few weeks, the outfit was done.

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Basic clothing needed
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Gloves with ribbon drying
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Putting the pants together
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Cosplay outfit

The keyblade was more complicated to assemble. I had to get one of the PVC pipes cut a little shorter after painting them silver. Creating the wing shapes from the Styrofoam was a messy task, and I used the nail filer to make the edges as smooth as possible. Most of it was a waiting game for the paint and glue to dry.

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Pipes painted and wings shaped out
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Wing painted
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Bottom base glued together along with keychain
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Hedwig shapes from foam sheets
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Details added to Hedwig
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Keyblade complete

This was a very difficult cosplay to pull off, and I am proud of how far I pushed my creative capabilities with this. Two months for the whole concept to come together. The only last minute changes made were the boots and gloves. The final product was a success. I respect those cosplayers who do this every year. Its a craft you have to be passionate about. Hermione earned her keyblade! 

La Borinqueña: Café Con Comics

La Borinqueña made her superhero debut last Wednesday night at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies- Hunter College. Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez, creator of La Borinqueña, collaborated with Centro for the art exhibit Café Con Comics. Rodriguez’s work is displayed along with other Puerto Rican writers and illustrators in the comic book industry: Chris Bautista, Felix Serrano, Will Rosado, Emilio Lopez, George Perez, Wilfredo Torres, Alex Schomburg, and Gustavo Vasquez.

During opening night Rodriguez moderated a panel with guest illustrators and colorists Will Rosado, Chris Bautista, and Felix Serrano. Each described their life working for major publications like Marvel and DC, the struggles of meeting a deadline, and if they ever encountered issues with diversity in the industry. Characters like Riri Williams and Miles Morales are making debuts within Marvel comics. La Borinqueña is now going to break barriers for many Puerto Ricans. A brief Q&A session was done and all questions had brilliant responses. One of the most interesting questions brought up by an audience member was “what advice would you give to women who want to work in the comic book industry?” All four agreed now is the time for women to become involved as writers and artists.

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Photo by Arianna Olivo

After the panel, the exhibit was opened to the public. Posters donated by Rodriguez to Centro of La Borinqueña lined the walls of the entrance hall to the exhibit. Each revealed the heroine in different scenes.

The library transformed into a spacious art gallery with various art work from the featured artists. Within the archives, Centro had Spanish versions of the Fantastic Four. Rodriguez concepts for La Borinqueña are displayed in glass cases.

Artists brought out their illustrations and other comic book samples to display within the exhibit. Rodriguez even brought a mannequin with La Borinqueña’s costume bringing light to the event.

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La Borinqueña by Emilio Lopez
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Batman and Robin by Will Rosado
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Green Arrow by Will Rosado
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Teen Titans by Chris Bautista
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Emilio Lopez
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Color by Felix Serrano

Rodriguez, Rosado, Bautista, and Serrano stuck around after the panel answering more questions and signing posters. I got the opportunity to get my poster signed and even a quick selfie with Rodriguez .

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The creator of La Borinquena Edgardo Miranda- Rodriguez

The Café Con Comics exhibit will be on display until January 22, 2017. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Centro Library and Archives

Silberman Building

2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122

New York, NY 10035

212-396-7874

Photos: Rosa Elena Oliveras and Arianna Olivo

A Fish Out Of Water

We have all heard of the reference “I feel like a fish out of water” when kids describe an asthma attack. They are not wrong. Having an asthma attack is a frightening and stressful experience. The lungs and airways become constricted, causing the individual to cough and wheeze due to lack of air. No human lives in a fish bowl, but oxygen is the main source of life for us. If there is no clean air, we are screwed. This is ten times worse for someone who has asthma.

I was diagnosed with asthma when I was a month old. Mami explained I had developed pneumonia and from there had trouble breathing. Asthma is genetic on Mami’s side of the family, but the surprise to her was how young I would be diagnosed with it. According to NYC.gov Asthma is defined as “a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe.” No kidding. Major symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath (NYC.gov). After my asthma diagnosis, family members who have the illness explained to me what to look for when having an attack. By the time I was five I knew the basics of what asthma was, but still went into a state of panic whenever an attack occurred. By second grade Mami enrolled me in a program called “Open Airways,” and it changed my life.

Open Airways is a six week, 45 minute program to educate young kinds about their asthma, and how to control the triggers. The school nurse ran the program and fit the lesson plan to everyone’s different levels of asthma. This was were I learned that my asthma is seasonal. The nurse showed me and six other kids how to use our inhalers, nebulizer machines, peak flow meters, and aerochambers. There were lessons about our different triggers and even situations where stress levels can affect our breathing.

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My nebulizer and asthma inhaler.

After “graduating” from Open Airways, I no longer feared an asthma attack. I knew what to do if my lungs decided to kick my ass. If I felt my breathing was off I used the peak flow meter to see the severity of it (yellow to red is not good). The aerochamber made taking my inhaler more effective, but by the time I was 13 I had no need for it anymore. The last major asthma attack I recall experiencing was at 15 during P.E. in high school. It was spring and there was a race I participated in. Not only was I out of breath at the end of it but I had no idea the pollen levels outdoors were high. I sat on the grass, grabbed my inhaler from the pocket of my gym sweats and gave myself two puffs. When that failed I took myself to the nearest clinic for a treatment.

Now at 25, I have a nebulizer at home. It helps keep my lungs stable when I have severe infections like bronchitis, a bad cold, or in one horrible instance the flu. This machine is used when I know my inhaler will not be enough. The only bad side effect I get from this is the jitters. When my lungs act up I need to take it easy for the rest of the day. Some people have told me “it must suck to have asthma.” Of course it sucks to know my lungs won’t cooperate at times, but I believe like an other illness there are certain things I need to avoid to continue to live my life. Cats are one of my triggers and I adore them, but I know to stay out of their way and in the rare instances I do pet a feline my hands immediately get washed in hand sanitizer. My other triggers include:

  • Dust (a clean home is a happy home).
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Extreme heat or cold

If you know a child who suffers from asthma, tell them it will be okay. Help them through the process and find a great way to educate them on the triggers. Open Airways was the best thing for me. Breathe easy.

 

Sources:

  1. NYC.gov Asthma Facts: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/asthma-facts.page
  2.  CDC PDF: https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/asthma_in_nys.pdf
  3. Open Airways: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/asthma-education-advocacy/open-airways-for-schools/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Photo by : Rosa Elena Oliveras

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