An accidental adventure

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In an effort to get out of the house today and away from the four walls of my living room, Joe & I spent a few hours at the beach. Little man was playing at daycare and it was a warm 60ish degrees here. I bundled up since I am constantly cold in between hot flashes and we drove to the jetties at our favorite local beach.

When we arrived, Joe started to setup our chairs and I went to find a bathroom. Typically there are porta-potties in this location but I think since the tide was just going out, they weren’t setup there yet. I started up a walkway that I have always seen but never explored. I asked a fisherman on the way up if there was a bathroom at the end and he advised that there was so I kept on.

Well, that was a rather long walk to the end! The walkway spread over the sand dunes and ended up next to the intracoastal waterway. You could see the local lighthouse in the distance the entire time.  There were multiple walkouts to see the water on the inland side, including lots of areas to picnic and bring pets. About a 10 minute walk later, which happens to be the most I’ve moved about since surgery, I found the end. It was a cute little park that even had free sand toys for the little ones to borrow.

On my way back, I decided to checkout the lookout tower that I had passed along the way. The view from up top was incredible. I could see the waves crashing on the beach and a dolphin jumping in the intracoastal, with the lighthouse in between.

I saw dozens of birds, collected a few beautiful shells and saw a few sea urchins on my walk.  I’ve been to the jetties dozens of times and never explored this area of the beach.  Though I was a little out of breath and tired by the time I returned to Joe, it was a fun accidental adventure!  I was able to relax on the beach while watching the waves afterwards. Such a wonderful way to spend the day with my husband.

I know I’ve said it before but the beach heals my body and soul. The salt water, the sound of the waves and the birds, the wind blowing lightly and the sun overhead…it’s exactly what I needed today.

Have you found yourself on an accidental adventure before?

Back to my happy place…

When going through chemo treatments, the days following each session were relatively consistent. I knew about which day that I would feel my worst, which I would start to feel better, when the metal taste began to disappear, when my appetite started to come back, etc. Each treatment I would focus on the recovery days; the good days where I knew I would start to feel better again. Having these “end” dates in my head helped me to focus on them.  They were my goal dates. I knew that if I could stay strong and get through the hardest days, that the good days were waiting for me at the end.  Every treatment has helped me to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.

I wanted to take this same approach after surgery. I knew that surgery would be challenging and I knew the recovery would be long. But I also knew that I would eventually start to feel better, one day at a time. After chatting with a fellow survivor, who had surgery in December, I learned that she was at the beach within the first week after surgery. I don’t recall the exact day she went after her surgery but I knew that was the goal that I wanted to set for myself…a visit to my happy place.

I didn’t want to push myself too hard so I decided my goal was to be at the beach by Saturday. Even if it was for a few minutes and even if I didn’t get out of the car, my goal was to be there.

So today, that’s where we headed. It took some extra preparations but we made it!

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The beach continues to cleanse my soul and clear my head. It is my happy place and being there with people I love makes the day even more special.

It was a short visit because the rain met us there soon after we arrived. I am tired and sore from the little bit of walking that we did. But it was worth it. To feel the wind blowing, smell the salt in the air, hear the waves crashing and see the waves moving as they rolled up the sand…made for a perfect day.

I hope you all are able to spend some time at your happy place this weekend with people you love! 💚

Rachie

When we were younger, my little sister and I shared a room. I remember when that room was filled with a full size bed that we shared and we all traveled to the local furniture store to pick out bunk beds. I was so excited to have the top bunk! This lasted a while but eventually I moved into my own room. Wanting to embrace my newfound dependence, I refused to let Rachel sleep in my room at night. She would try to tattle on me to my parents but would eventually retreat to her room.

Most mornings though, I would awake to her sleeping in my bed.  Her feet would be next to my head and she would be snuggled up to my legs. Some nights I would even find her and my baby sister tucked into my twin size daybed!

I remember being so angry at the time, but looking back, it is a memory that I cherish. Last night, my sister traveled to Florida to celebrate her birthday. We spent the day together and shared many laughs.  Neither of us could remember the last time we spent her birthday together!

The day was filled with lots of dancing with our boys, fishing (Joe taught us lots!), delicious food, walks with our momma and of course sister snuggles. What a great day!

Each day I find myself more and more  grateful for the everyday moments that make lifelong memories.

Merry Christmas!

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After moving to Florida, Christmas was always an odd time of year for me. I was used to the cold weather and my own family traditions from upstate New York, so the first few years were tough. I missed my sister snuggles and the yearly attempt my parents made at pop over perfection (the struggle was real!).

One year, Joe & I were talking about what to do Christmas Day. We had tried spending Christmas Day at home but it felt a little off because it was just the two of us and the weather was warm. That’s when it hit me.

We need to embrace Christmas in Florida. Instead of trying to make it feel like the Christmas I had in New York, we needed to create the Christmas we want here in Florida. Seems simple, right?

That year, we headed towards our favorite restaurant near the beach, only to find out it was closed Christmas Day (oops). Hungry and disappointed, we started driving again and passed a restaurant that we had talked about trying before. We pulled in and grabbed a table. We enjoyed a really nice meal with a wonderful waitress but it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t quite the Christmas that I was looking for and I felt bad eating out on a day that everyone should be with their families.

After our meal, we headed towards the beach to spend the afternoon. As we sat staring at the ocean, I realized that this was exactly what I was looking for in my search. What’s more Florida than Christmas at the beach?!

And our tradition was born.  For the last five years, we have headed to the beach on Christmas Day. We grab a picnic table or two, Joe heats up the grill and we sit enjoying the ocean air while cooking chicken wings, potatoes and a yummy veggie. Some years we spot Santa handing out candy canes while walking in the sand, while other years there are barely any people around the beach at all. It’s become our “thing” and I love it more and more every year.

Last year, Jacob joined us for his first Christmas Day beach trip and this year our friends joined us as well. Though this was the warmest year yet, it was still filled with fun and laughter.

Though Christmas in Florida is not filled with snowmen or hot cocoa, it is filled with a sandman or two and love. And that, my friends, is what makes this holiday so wonderful. I hope your holiday was magical, no matter what traditions you have.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

101010!

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My cousin once met us at the beach for a day trip and upon seeing us unload our bag filled with the beach necessities, she smiled and said “You’re beach people, huh?”  We hadn’t thought of ourselves as beach people at the time but we were.  Our bag is packed and ready for the beach at all times, so we can grab and go when able.  After getting engaged, we knew that our wedding would take place on the beach because it is our happy place.

The morning of our wedding, Joe and I both woke up early and separated to begin the wedding festivities.  I joined my big sister and her family on the pool deck, which overlooked the ocean, and watched the sun rise.  The sky slowly filled with incredible variations of pink, orange and red. What began as a sliver rising from the ocean, turned into a large, round sun that shined bright and seemed to cover half of the horizon.  I sat in awe as I marveled in its perfect beauty.

While I sat and watched the sun rise, Joe went surfing.  He paddled out past where the waves crashed and waited for the perfect time.  Sitting amongst the waves, he heard a splash and looked over.  There was a pod of dolphins swimming next to him – one within an arms reach.  They played and splashed and seemed not to notice Joe, though he sat in awe at their perfect beauty.

Our wedding day flew by.  It was filled with love, laughter and happy tears shared with family and friends.  We committed ourselves to a lifetime of love, through sickness and health.  When I think back over what the last 5 years have brought, I see the perfect beauty of it all – the perfect beauty that is us.  We have built a strong, indestructible bond throughout this marriage that continues to strengthen each day.  While we did not anticipate this disease attacking our family, we are strong and will continue to strengthen throughout this fight.  We will beat this, together, and continue in the perfect beauty that is our love.

Saturday morning blessings

It’s barely 10am and this has been an emotional morning – happy emotions, thankfully! I woke up to an event scheduled by a dear childhood friend. She is hosting a musical event at my parent’s restaurant in my honor this month. The event falls over my next treatment weekend and I already know that the emotional support received that night will help me through those challenging days.

Then my Facebook and Instagram were flooded with the green support that Saturdays offer. It is such a humbling and sweet feeling to see everyone finding unique ways to wear my favorite color!

Today is also the Race for the Cure in Albany, which many friends are participating in, in my honor. I see pictures of these incredible women – survivors – who are strong, motivated and true inspirations. They have been on this journey that I am on and they have beaten this horrible disease. Seeing their smiling faces – and all of the amazing family and friends out their supporting everyone – gives me chills. They are the definition of strength.

While my loves dance to the music of this beautiful Saturday morning in Florida, I await the arrival of two of my closest friends. They are coming over to help me learn fun ways to wrap my head in scarves and are also joining in on the head wrapping fun themselves. Then we are off to the beach on this gorgeous day for some girl time.

I feel so blessed on this incredible Saturday. Make it a wonderful day, my friends!

My happy place

Beach Storm

There was a day, after our son was born, that my husband and I escaped to the beach – just the two of us. We went to one of our favorite spots, where Ponce Inlet meets the open ocean.

The sun was out but it was overcast and the skies all around showed signs of rain. The wind was strong, blowing the sand against our legs as we walked. We set up next to the jetties, where the waves crashed against the rocks. I laid on a beach chair, wrapped in a towel, staring at the waves. My husband stood in the ocean, amongst the white caps, and cast his fishing line.

As the temperature dropped and the skies darkened, the misty rain began to fall. The nearby lighthouse lens shone brightly against the darkness, something I have not witnessed in person before that day. We stayed despite the rain and watched the rough surf as it fought against itself amidst the brewing storm. The day was wonderful.

As cliché as it may sound, the beach is my happy place. It washes away all the worries of the world, breathes new, clean life into my lungs and cleanses my soul. No matter what battle I face, what struggles lie ahead – the ocean grounds me. Even on a dreary, rainy day, it centers me. It allows me the opportunity to start fresh on this journey of life.

Where is your happy place?