Super-Heroes 

As many of you know, my mom works for a small Catholic elementary school in New Hampshire. My brother went to school there, my aunt is on their board and my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 10 years before becoming Vice Principal. It’s a very close-knit community and one that my family has a long-standing relationship with. So, when I was diagnosed in 2014, the entire school, from teachers to parents to students rallied around my mom, myself and my family to show their support and love. Being a Catholic school, the students began praying for me weekly, asking God to “heal Mrs. Kathy’s” daughter. Every single child at Mount St. Mary’s Academy did this for me… for over two years. If that’s not good karma, I don’t know what is. So when the kindergartners found out that I had completed treatment this March, that God had “cured” me, they made me cards and a beautiful handmade Super Woman Cape. I was blown away by this gesture. I’m definitely not a super-hero, I did what I had to do and was the only option I had. But the fact that these little girls and boys thought I was some sort of super hero warmed my heart more than I can ever describe.
So about 3 weeks ago, I got the chance to go meet every single one of those students, wearing not just my cape but the biggest smile on my face. I was lucky enough to spend the entire day with these incredible little humans who are so full of life, so innocent but so smart, and so funny and so loving! They didn’t have any filter and didn’t think twice when they asked me questions like “Why did I get cancer?” “Do people look at you different when you don’t have hair?” “Does chemo hurt?” “How did it feel to find out you have cancer?” Some of these questions I’ve literally never been asked before because I think adults would be shy or feel rude to ask such direct questions but the reality is, is that those questions are real, they’re honest and above all, they’re human. I learned so much from these incredible kids and they instantaneously became my super heroes.
It’s a true blessing to get to be surrounded by children, and we should all open our minds to really learning from them more often Because as Shakespeare once said…


Lots of love & light,

Jessy

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Stevens Put A Ring On It

It’s been 3 weeks since Mike surprised me and told me to get my lazy butt out of bed—we were going to NYC for the long weekend, he said. My eyes nearly burst out of my head and I whipped off the comforter so fast Phoebs barely had time to jump up. IT WAS ENGAGEMENT WEEKEND, I THOUGHT. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. So I started frantically running around the upstairs like a kid who was just told they’re going to Disney World for the first time and threw the most random assortment of things into my luggage—a bathing suit? Yes. A pair of pajamas? No. Everything I own that’s white? Hell yah.

And just like that, we were packed and on a train back to NYC. I say back because NYC is where we pretty much fell in love. Our first date was exploring the city at Christmas time with our main goal of seeing the Rockefellar Tree at night. We had started the day as really good friends (with a little bit more than friends feelings) and ended our day with sweet smooches and (literal) hair-on-fire love! From that night on, we had continued to go to NYC for summer visits and Christmas time “anniversary” visits where we’d see the Rockette’s and guzzle delicious beers at the oldest bar in Amerca, McSorley’s. Everytime we went, we had a magical time. But once I got diagnosed, we didn’t go. It felt like too much to go all the way there – I felt like I would be annoyed that I couldn’t go to my favorite bar—how if I got car sick on the long ride? It just didn’t work in that 2 year period. And that’s okay, because that’s what made this weekend even more incredibly special. WE WERE BACK!!!!!!! And we were back stronger and more in love than ever.

 

When our cab dropped us off at the Waldorf Astoria, I felt like I was dreaming—are we really staying here? Oh boy, now I really know something fancy is going on. But it didn’t come quite yet – we walked around the Park then got some lunch and grabbed a drink downstairs at the hotel bar as we listened to a beautiful pianist. Then it was time for dinner at Gotham. Before our taxi driver could take us there, however, Michael had him take us to Rockefellar. Just the place we had been in search of the first time. Except this time, instead of awkwardly looking at each other because we weren’t sure if we should kiss—he knelt down on his knee and asked me to be his wife—he promised that we would come back to NYC, together, forever and ever and ever. And I, of course, said yes. And then we shared one of many kisses in the Rockefellar Center.

 

With that, I obnoxiously began calling my family and best friends as well as notifying anybody in an ear-short distance of our engagement and the most beautiful ring that was now on my finger. The weekend was perfect – it was just our weekend – in our favorite city. Just the two of us – just how we began – and just how we’ll end one day.

 

I can’t put into words how grateful I feel that Michael fell in love with me—that we fell in love with each other—that I have someone who is so caring of others, so smart, so handsome and so funny. I am so thankful for the kind of man he is and how hard he works and how much he gives of himself so that our little family can be happy.

 

My heart is beyond full as we start this next chapter of our lives, together—I feel like it’s really time to leave the past behind and begin planning for the future—a future that is filled with love, happiness and butterflies.

 

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

Work Goals

Things have been so great lately but yet I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bumming about not feeling like I know exactly what I want to do with my life. And then I was scrolling for a password in my Notes section and I came across this note I wrote myself almost exactly one year ago today. It goes…

“What I want in this life, in regards to my work life. 

I want to wake up every morning and be energized.

I want to feel passion every day.

I want to listen to music every day.

I want to dance when I want to.

I want to laugh.

I want to know that I’m making a difference in someone else’s life.

I want to stimulate my mind, body and soul every single day. 

I want to be surrounded with like minded individuals that are just as excited as me.

I want to ask how people are doing on Thursdays and not hear “well, tomorrow’s Friday so that’s good.” NOOO!!! That’s so fucking depressing!! I want to hear, today is good! I’m happy to be alive, I’m happy to be here and be doing what I’m doing! 

I want to be excited about my day, my work, my life.

I want happiness. 

Wanting actual happiness within your career seems like such a lofty goal. Like something that’s so rarely attained in this world. That only a few “lucky” ones get to really enjoy what they do for work.

But what if we just all did what made us happy? What if we all just woke up and did things that made us smile and laugh? That’s not reality. But I want it to be mine. I’m determined to make that my reality. 
No longer will my goal in life be to “be a successful business woman” or “to work my way up to the c-suite.” Who Gives a rats ass if I’m successful if I’m just sitting in an office all day, feeling trapped and bored?! What kind of success is that?!? Rather my ultimate goal will to be to create a career that fits into my life. A life that makes me happy, provides me financial support, let’s me be passionate every single day. Let’s me wake up in the morning and FEEL FREE!!!! I want to be free from going through the routine, going through the motions: this is MY life!!! My life WILL be more than just muddling through it. 

I will not be just another person struggling for the weekend. I refuse. I was given another chance. I was shown the beauty of life at a young age and I promise not to take that for granted. I will work hard so that I can live a life that makes me happy, that others benefit from and that makes this world a better place. Succeeding will be based on my joy. My happiness. As happiness is the ultimate measure of success. 

LETS F-ING GO!”

Ha! A bit aggressive I must admit (I’m going to guess that I was on steroids during this moment) but I like where my head was at. Not settling, not sitting still and being comfortable with mediocracy. Happiness isn’t unattainable- it’s difficult to achieve I think but it’s doable. I needed this today and so maybe one of you did too. 

Let’s f-ing GOOOO! 💪🏼

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

Lemons Into Lemonade

Lemons into LemonadeEveryone knows I love me some Bey. I tend to get a little crazy with it and I know this but the reality is, her music got me through some really tough patches and so I feel connected to her, as crazy diva as she may be. 
Her new album Lemonade came about about a month ago and I was lucky enough to hear it all live at her concert in Foxborough last Friday night. 
The more I listen the more I relate. No, I’ve never been in a romantic relationship that someone’s hurt me so badly- I’ve never dealt with infidelity but I know what it feels to be cheated on. 
When I was first diagnosed with leukemia, I felt like my body cheated on me. It let me down, it betrayed me. I had loved it and taken good care of it for 24 years and that’s how it repaid me? Her album talks about all the emotions that she felt during her struggle with her husband- how she felt angry, sad, overwhelmed, then went through grieving and forgiveness and the important process of feeling free again. 

My favorite verse from the album goes like this…

“They say true love’s the greatest weapon

To end the war caused by pain

But every diamond has imperfections 

But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away

Boy nothing real can be threatened

True love breathes salvation back into me

With every tear came redemption

And my torturer became my remedy”

And that couldn’t be more true. To me, it’s saying- SHITTTT that was hard. But you know what? I’m strong and the love that I have for myself (or in her case, him) is much stronger than any pain I could ever feel. It was my body that “tortured” me but it is me treating it with love and respect and understanding that has been my remedy. I honor it. 

I think the story of infidelity and betrayal is one that any human can relate to. We’ve all experienced it on some level or another. Betrayal, whether it be with a lover, family member, friend, workplace, or in my case, my body can be infuriating and beyond upsetting. Betrayed, in any form, hurts the soul. But if you can come to terms with it and choose to move past the negativity, it can make you a stronger person because of it. 

Now this is not my way of getting you to go listen to Lemonade but instead I hope that it’s just a good reminder of an important lesson in life… When you’re served lemons, always always make Lemonade. 🍋🍋🍋

Lots of love, light and SLAY BEY SLAY BEY,

Jessy


p.s. If you are looking for a pump-me-up song, you NEED ‘Freedom’ in your life. I literally March as if I’m in a step crew every time I hear it. 💃🏻💃🏻 sue me. 🙌🏼

P.p.s the video is her ending the show with Halo- the song that I sung to myself over and over and over during hard procedures or times during the past two years. Seeing her sing it live, with fireworks going off in the background was a moment that felt very surreal and one that I’ll never gorget. Very grateful. 

Walking for the place that saved my life. 

To my lovely readers of the Inspiration Initiative,

First off, sorry I haven’t been so active lately. Life has been really busy but exciting (more to that later this week) and I’ve put writing on the back burner. But I’ll get back into it as long as anyone’s still reading it 🙂

ANYWAY, I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to walk in the Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk as an effort to raise funds for Dana Farber Cancer Institute. As you know, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2014 and just completed treatment on March 30, 2016. I have my remission to thank for the incredible doctors, nurses and medical staff that took care of me during this long journey. I also have every single scientist, researcher and person who has ever donated to finding a treatment and cure for leukemia. 50 years ago, if I had been diagnosed with this same disease, I would have been given a few weeks to live. Instead, I was given the rest of my life. I am forever grateful to each and every person that played a difference in making my full-length life a reality. 

Beyond the actual medical advances and treatments, what else is of utmost importance are the programs and support that were offered to me and my family during the difficult two years of treatment (and continue to be offered to me). They helped set me up with prior patients of similar age, therapists, conventions, books to read at the clinic, and many other “little things” that created a space and community that I felt supported and comforted by. This is why I have chosen to walk specifically with a the Young Adults Program Team which is a program I took part in and truly found a great sense of hope and help from. The funds that we raise during the walk will in turn go towards this program and allow for future patients to continue to have this offering as well. 

So here’s my ask, if you are available on September 25, 2016, please consider walking the 5K with me in honor of all those people affected by and living with cancer. If you cannot make the walk, I would so SO appreciate your consideration of a donation. Truly, any amount helps. If you can give $5, that’s amazing. if you can give $500, that’s amazing too. Every single dollar gets us closer to a world without cancer. 

And then we can do walks just to burn calories. 

Link to my personal page.

Link to join our ‘Young Adult Program‘ Team.

Link to donate!

Lots of love & light & gratitude,

Jess