Birthday Blessings

Yesterday I turned 28 years old. I spent the morning with the six people that mean the most to me in this world, my family. We got brunch and bloody’s then hung out at our place for a little while. There was lots of laughter and . The previous night I had been with a bunch of friends for a joint-birthday party. We bowled and danced and sang Celine Dion. I woke up tired on Sunday morning, but I woke up with a smile on my face with a warm feeling in my heart of love and gratefulness.


I have always loved birthday’s. OBSESSED with my “birthday week” in fact. Growing up, it always fell on February vacation so I took that as the world’s way of saying we should be celebrating the occasion ALL week long. And while I’ve grown older, my love for birthday season still remains. However, I enjoy it for a few different reasons — one, it’s an excuse to get together with people that I love. Two, sometimes I get gift cards so I can satisfy my shopping yearning. And third, it’s a nice reminder to reflect. Each year, I enjoy thinking about what this day was last year or the year before or the year before that. And, what the next year’s day will be like. I enjoy taking a trip down memory lane. Last year, I was at a yoga retreat and had just been let off “house arrest” as I had called it. The year before, I had celebrated with a bunch of my hometown friends and had drinks for the first time in nearly a year. The year before, I was in a hospital room with a party hat on about to receive my first round of chemotherapy. The year before that Mike took me to an unbelievable steakhouse where I got a dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives and lobster mashed potatoes. Every year, as different as they are, I thoroughly enjoy February 26th. Even on years that I have been sick, it’s always a happy day. It’s a feeling of simple accomplishment– not the big “finish line” accomplishment type feeling, but similar to a mile marker– that sweet feeling you have when you’re running a race and you see the yellow painted line along the route saying you’re at mile X. Yes, you have many miles to go but at this moment, your legs are still strong, you’re still breathing deep and the music continues to play. I kind of feel like I’m on mile 3 or 4 of a marathon. I haven’t quite hit my stride but I’ve got a good pace going and am looking forward to journey ahead. There will be moments I may stumble or want to call it quits but I know when I finish, I’ll be able to say I did my best and had fun doing it.

When I was 27, I completed treatment for leukemia, I stood beside one of my best friends as she got married, I watched the Pats win the Super Bowl, I snuggled with my Princess Phoebe about 1,000 times, I traveled to Italy, I quit my job, I saw my girl Beyonce sing Halo live and of course, I got engaged to the love of my life. Not sure how year 28 will be able to top that, but I’m willing to try!

Thank you to everyone who had reached out with your kind words and warm wishes for a special day. I am beyond blessed to have you all in my life.

#OfficiallyInMyLate20s

Love & light,

Jessy

Bacon Avocado & Feta Salad

After a long weekend full of food and drinks, this always seems to be what Mike and I end up googling….

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So, in an attempt to find a recipe that was healthy but also not boring, I went to where I always go for food ideas… Pinterest! After a few minutes of searching, I found the perfect combo of satisfying and sensible. Plus, it was simple and quick to make which is always preferred. Totally something you could do on a week night and unlike many salad recipes, we were both surprised how full we still were later that night. Anyways, hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Bacon Avocado & Feta Salad 

Balsamic Dressing
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water (or more oil if you wish)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to your tastes)
Salad:
  • 5 ounces |150g bacon, diced and trimmed of all fat
  • 8 cups chopped Iceberg and Romaine
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • extra Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Whisk together the dressing and if you’re going to add grilled or seared chicken, use this as the marinade as well. Once dressing is made, refrigerate. Fry bacon to a crisp so that it can be easily crumbled. As the bacon is cooling on paper towels, prepare salad fixings and add all together, crumble bacon atop and toss with dressing. Serve and enjoy!


As I mentioned, you could easily grill chicken to add protein or toast up some Sourdough bread as a side.

That’s all for today! Hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday! Half way thru the week, yippee!

Love & light,

Jessy

Time Goes On

3 years ago on this morning, I was in a hospital bed being woken by doctors and nurses. I was about to start one of the most physically painful and emotionally draining days of my life. I had just been diagnosed and rushed to the hospital the night before and today was the day I had to undergo multiple tests and procedures to determine just what kind of leukemia I had. January 21, 2014 was a day of absolute unknown and terror of what lie ahead. 
3 years later I’m waking up in my own bed with no beeping machines or nurses poking me for blood. Instead I can hear my wind chime outside, birds chirping and Phoebe is snuggled up next to me demanding for scratchies. I’m wearing an engagement ring and get to marry the love of my life in 5 months. I’m going out to dinner with my best friend of 25 years tonight for her birthday. My life is in such a different place than it was on this day in 2014, it’s almost mind boggling. 


3 years from today is still unknown. However, this time, fear has been replaced with excitement. Where will Mike & I be living? What will I be doing for work? Will I be a mom? There’s so much more living to do. There’s so much more I’m looking forward to and I feel beyond blessed that I get to feel these feelings of excitement and joy. 
The beauty, and tragedy, in life is the same. You never know what life has in store for you. You never know if the hopes and dreams you have for yourself will be realized. But you do know that you have today, and this moment and this breath. So make the most of it. Enjoy it, savor it and soak up the sunshine that is your life. 
Sending each and everyone of you – those who have my followed my blog from the beginning and those who have just found it- so much love and gratitude. I am thankful everyday for the prayers and positive energy that you have sent my way to get me to this day. 
Love & light,

Jessy 

Never Hurts to Try

On Tuesday night at around 9pm, my mom called. I was worried at first– why is she calling so late on a work night? So I picked up a little panicky. And then she sounded panicked.

She had a teacher workshop at her school on Friday that she was running and the health and wellness speaker that they had scheduled had just backed out.

And then she said, would you be able to do it?

At first, I felt like was she calling the wrong daughter. I’m not a motivational speaker and I have a lot of experiences but I don’t have any certifications in any sort of health and wellness fields. So I told her I’d think about it and let her know the next day.

And then I thought. I thought about the oratorical contest I had signed up for in middle school and won. I thought about a business presentation I had done in college to a start-up company and won. I thought about the speech I made at my alma mater two years ago in front of hundreds of students and the speech I made last year to a bunch of golfers that work for corporate Applebees discussing the importance of raising money for Dana-Farber. Then I thought about the interview I had done on NESN before the Red Sox game. And as I thought about each of those experiences, I remembered, I actually like public speaking and just maybe, I’m not that bad at it.

And then, I got excited. I thrive off these sort of things… pressure filled objectives. But I was still weighing it in my head because the reality is, I’m not a professional speaker. I’m not a therapist, or yoga teacher or medical professional by any means so would the teachers of this school think me preaching to them about life be a little ridiculous?

But as I was going back and forth, a little birdy flew into my head and said, “what does it hurt? what do you have to lose?”

So I called my mom and said I’d do it. I might be only 28 years old but I have gone through a lot and I am confident that I could teach someone in that room something. Even if it was just one person and one thing, I was sure I could teach something.

I then spent Wednesday and Thursday writing and editing a presentation that would touch upon my cancer diagnosis and the insights that I garnered from that two year life event. I talked about different tactics that have helped me in coping with stress and healing the pain and anxiety a diagnosis brings — or any sort of emotional uprising brings. So I wrote and then I edited and then I practiced to Phoebe. I give her a C+ for her audience abilities. She doesn’t do much listening, rather more playing but she’s so darn cute, if I could win her over, I could win anybody over.

So this morning, I did it. I went to that school and I spoke about my experiences and how I think what I’ve learned can be brought into the classroom and into those teachers lives on a daily basis — like yoga, meditation, mantras, deep breathing, taking care of yourself. And it was SO fun. My hope is that the small audience I spoke in front of enjoyed the hour presentation and were able to take a way at least one thing to brighten their own lives. But even if they don’t, I know I took a lot away from this experience.

I took a chance. I said yes to something that I didn’t think I was qualified for. And by doing that, I opened a new door of possibilities to myself and met a lot of kind, loving people while doing it.

So as you go into this weekend, remember to keep your heart open. Remember to keep your MIND open to new opportunities. Sometimes, the things that scare you the most are the best things that ever happen to you.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

Love a Little Differently This Year

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Valentine’s brings up many different emotions for a wide array of people. Happiness to those in healthy relationships, saddness to those that aren’t in one, longing or loneliness for those who want to be in a relationship. It brings pressure to those in relationships to make sure they do something special. And it brings anxiety to 7th graders when they’re waiting for their name to be called signifying that someone bought them a flower. I love love. I’m a sucker for all romantic comedies and I watch viral videos of engagement proposals. But I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day (as my parents can attest, I used to color the day black on the calendar as a way to “skip it” when I was probably 14.) But as time has gone on and I’ve been lucky enough to be in relationships, I’ve ended up enjoying the day as another reason to go out to dinner and hopefully get flowers for my kitchen table. But when thinking about it this year, it dawned on me that I have no idea what the origin of Valentine’s Day is? What does it actually mean? What’s the real purpose? How did people celebrate Valentine’s Day before there were boxes of chocolates and 1-800-flowers?

So I decided to look it up, and to be up front, I really don’t like the origins of this holiday. Let me give you a synopsis of where it comes from. In the century 3 A.D., the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia by men sacrificing a goat and a dog and then would whip women with the hides of these slained animals! Young women actually would line up for the men to hit them, because they believed that it would make them fertile. There was then a matchmaking selection in which a woman could be ‘coupled’ up with a man. So romantic, right?

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name this day after Emperor Claudius II executed two men during this same festival— both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years. This, for some reason unknown to me, was then honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. As years passed, Shakespeare began writing about this day and romanticizing the realities of it which lead to popularity in European countries during the Middle Ages where people began creating handmade cards for their loved ones. by 1913, Hallmark of Kansas began mass producing “Valentine’s Day” cards and the rest is history.*

 

But what if we changed this day to simply a day of LOVE? Then anyone and everybody who wanted to celebrate could feel like they’re included on this day. Of course, those in healthy relationships that want to do something sweet for their partner, do it! But how about loving yourself? How about sending love out to the universe or to Mother nature? If we could all act in a loving way today– not to just those that we’re “in love” with but all those individuals, animals and things that we love, this day could be far more meaningful and positive in a world currently so divided.

Why not get a trash bag and pick up around your community? Love your mother Earth.

Why not send a letter to a friend that you haven’t talk to in a while and tell them how much they mean to you still.

Why not volunteer at a homeless shelter and show love to those individuals who very much need it?

Why not reach out to an old teacher and tell them that the love they put toward you has inspired you in someway?

Why not call your mom and dad and say thank you for all the love they’ve given you in your life?

Why not show yourself some love by getting a massage or going for a hike or doing whatever it is that your soul desires? Loving yourself is not selfish, it is actually selfless. Because if you don’t love you  then there’s certainly no room for you to truly love others.

There are so many ways to show love– flowers and cards and chocolates and dinners are all nice– but there’s other ways to show you, your partner, your friend, your neighbor, and your world that you love them. Even if it’s just one act of loving kindness today, I dare you to do it.

Don’t let your Valentine’s Day be filled with negative emotions — sadness, loneliness, anxiety, anger– simply make YOUR Valentine’s Day a day full of L-O-V-E.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

*source cited: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

Pasta e Fagioli Soup Recipe

When it comes to weeknights can be exhausting and a little frantic at times after you’ve worked a full day and are getting home late. Plus, if you’re trying to eat healthy (especially after a Super Bowl style previous weekend), it can be really difficult. That’s why I love to make big meals on Sunday that are healthy, yummy and easy to reheat! This soup recipe is all of those things so I wanted to share it with you all!

PASTA E FAGIOLI RECIPE:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water, then more as desired
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 scant cup dry ditalini pasta
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium high heat, crumble in ground lean turkey and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Dab off any fat with a paper towel then transfer turkey to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in same large saucepan, onions, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat until tender about 6 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to a low, add tomato sauce, broth, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, uncooked pasta and cooked beef then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 20 minutes.
  • Add kidney beans and great northern beans. Thin with a little more water if desired. Allow to cook 2 minutes longer. Serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.



Voila! 40 minutes later, you have a big healthy pot of deliciousness hot and ready for your enjoyment on these cold winter nights.

We like to buy a loaf of fresh sourdough bread as well and put some olive oil, garlic and oregano then toast for some dipping!

Hope everyone has stayed safe and warm over the past few days. And happy Friday!

Love & light,

Jessy

A Little Flailing Never Killed Anyone

That penguin 🐧 falling in this pic…that’s me. Or at least that’s how I feel. Except I feel like I’m not falling as gracefully as this little guy, I’m doing a little more flailing. 

Almost two weeks into diving off the career cliff, I’m still trying to grow those wings. I’m now past the feeling of just excitement not to be in an office everyday; I’ve organized the closets, done a lot of cleaning, laundry and cooking. I’ve even created a makeshift laundry room and office in our basement. I’m good at keeping myself physically busy but I’ve got some work to do in order to keep my thoughts and anxiety in check. I have finally begun to do more than browse  for jobs and I find myself wrinkling my nose to all of them. I read these descriptions and literally say “ughhh” to them. And then I get stressed when I’ve been looking for an hour and haven’t applied to one because they all seem dreadful. I don’t want to be snobby or unrealistic in my search but I also feel like I took this risk to find a job that I really enjoy and feel passionate about so I don’t want to just apply to anything. 

Someone recently told me, “you can’t rush the Universe” and she’s right, I can’t. But MANNNN do I want to rush it. I’m so uncomfortable in this awkward stage of life, I feel icky saying I’m unemployed, I get frustrated when I try hard to think about what “I want to do” and can’t figure it out. But then I feel happy when I’m walking along the Mystic  with Phoebe and grateful when I get to spend time cooking a nice meal for Mike & I. Someone, save me from my own wishy-washy-ness!!! 

I do know, however, that I’m the only one who can save me from me and can free me of negative thoughts or insecurities I have about myself. In order to move myself forward, I need to make a conscious effort to correct myself when I put myself down about not having a job and being a “low-life” because of it. Making this effort will help my wings grow, even if it’s just by centimeters,  I believe they’ll grow if I believe in myself.

And the reality is, we all can apply this thinking to our everyday life. It could be making a conscious effort to stop telling yourself you’re fat because you havent been to the gym recently or you’re not good enough because you don’t own a big house or you’re stupid because you didn’t get into the college of your choice. Whatever it is that you’re putting yourself down about, try to stop. Simply notice when you say these things to yourself or to others. Pause, take a breath and realize that you are good enough. You are exactly where you’re meant to be, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Grow those wings!

Lots of love & light,

Jessy