Practicing Patience

patience

Last week when Mike and I were at the beach, we bought our lunches ahead of time and packed them in our cooler. As I got our my sushi (weird beach meal, I know), and had just finished pouring out the soy sauce and opening the wasabi, I looked down to pick my first piece and with that, a little girl grabbed her shovel and proceeded to throw the sand back right towards me and all over my lunch. UGH. I couldn’t be mad though as she was probably 5 or 6. How does she know better? But then her mother looked at me and didn’t think an apology was necessary. Instead she grabbed the girl and said lets go down to the water. Annoyed? I was beyond. About a half an hour later, a VERY large family decided to plant themselves practically on top of us. So much so that Mike literally couldn’t put his chair back all the way without hitting our newfound neighbors. This would’ve been a little acceptable if there had been no spots left on the beach but at this point it was later in the day and so there were plenty of spots available if they had just walked about 50 feet to the left. As this happened, we both looked at each other, giving a “what the hell?” type of face. I quickly moved onto our towel to try to get as far away from them as possible. They were talking so loudly and, in my mind, I kept thinking that they were “ruining” our relaxation time. I was thinking of myself, my happiness, my day off, I was acting in my head as if it was my beach. With that, I took out a book I’m reading and as luck would have it, I was beginning a news chapter called patience. PATIENCE!!! Just when I had about no patience left in me. As I read, it talked about difficult moments and how we react to them. It suggested saying the phrase “Only I can destroy my peace and I choose not to do so” as a way to sink into a place of peace and calm. So I tried it, saying that phrase in my head over and over. And you know what? It helped. It didn’t get rid of all my frustrations but it began to put things in perspective— that although this family was sitting too close to our liking that it really ends up being my choice to let them aggravate me. I can choose to let them affect my time at the beach or I can choose to stay calm and continue to enjoy my day. So I chose to continue to enjoy my day.

There are so many times during any given day that our patience is tested. Driving, for example. For many people, it’s the first thing they do in the morning. I get up, make my smoothie and hop in the car. Only to feel like I’m in a rat race with people driving around, seemingly to me, like maniacs. People cut you off, flip you off (happens to me quite often!) and people piss you off. Other people can really do a number our inner peace but we should try not to let them. I’ve found that reminding myself that I too have cut people off, I too have flipped people off and God knows, I too have pissed people off. So instead of letting anger arise inside of you during these moments, it’s helpful to remind yourself that there’s a human inside that car, someone with a family, someone that’s trying to get to work on time too— I think often when we get so angry at people for little things like cutting us off on the road, we dehumanize them and act like they’re not a person just like us. I do it all the time, whenever someone cuts me off or is driving too slow for my liking, I cuss “at them” in the car and talk to myself about how annoying they are. But if we were out of the car, and I could see them face to face, would I ever tell them what an ass clown they were being? No, probably not. As soon as I was met with the actual human inside the car, I’d probably end up telling them “no big deal.” That’s because, for the most part, when you humanize people and realize they too make mistakes, just like you do, it’s easier to be less upset about whatever wrongdoing they did to you.

There is a legend that tells of a king who challenges his wise men to create a phrase that would always be true no matter what the time, place or conditions. They contemplated over this for many hours and meditated for weeks. Finally, they presented the king with a tablet inscribed with the words, “this too shall pass.” Ever since, these words have humbled the prideful and offered hope to the afflicted. These words can help in such a big or small way. They help in the moments when people cut you off. Yes, I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the person. But guess what? I’m not in an accident and I didn’t hit them so that feeling needs to pass. That moment did so now I’m going to let it go — no need to hold on to anger over something that’s over and done with. This phrase can also be used for much bigger things. Like tough times in your life. I’ve said this phrase many times since being diagnosed… this too shall pass. It’s helped me when I’m in the rut of the day. It brings you hope when you need it. It allows you to shift your mindset to believe that better is coming.

Truly having patience is something that comes with much practice and mindfulness but in the end, being patient with others brings a much important sense of peace to yourself. It may not always be easy (or possible) to remind yourself of some of these things in the day to day moments, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

Motivational Monday

motivational_quotes_1

I love this quote. So often we look at things with a “you win, you lose” attitude. One or the other. Black and white. But this puts the perfect positive spin on it— “losing” isn’t fun but life isn’t about winning every race. So when you don’t come out on top, sometimes that’s when the beauty comes out and you learn an incredible amount. Always having things go the way you want doesn’t always allow for true growth to happen. Hey, I never would’ve considered being diagnosed with leukemia as a “win” but I’ve learned and learned and learned so how can I look at it as a total loss? I can’t.

So seize the day— relish in your little wins and learn from those bumps along the way. It’ll be worth it in the end!

Happy Monday— go crush this day like the warrior you are!

Lots of love and light,

Jessy

Days full of sunshine & happiness 

Well, what a 6 days it was. It has been two years since Mike and I stayed in Portland and it was that trip that we “discovered” Peaks Island….  
That weekend was really special, not for any reason other than the fact that we got to relax and explore a new place together. The day we spent on Peaks Island, biking around the small village, looking at the beautiful ocean views off the cliffs and watching ferry boats come in and out as we ate and drank beers, is one of my all-time favorite days ever. During difficult and painful procedures throughout the past year, the doctors or nurses would tell me to try to relax and imagine I was in my favorite place in the world. Every time, I found myself on Peaks with my Michael. This unplanned, quick visit of a small island on the outskirts of Maine has brought me so much peace of mind and strength when I’ve needed it most. So to be healthy enough to be back there, with Mike, was magical. What’s more magical is that this trip was made possible because of the kindness and generosity of other people. Because a group of team members at HomeGoods started a pool last year and made me this beautiful booklet (that’s what happens when you have an incredibly talented art director heading up the project) to explain that they wanted me to “go back to peaks” for some rest and relaxation to make up for our cancelled Domincan trip in March 2014. This is from a team, I actually no longer get to work with at TJX, as I had been transferred to our Marmaxx division before getting diagnosed. But they came together to do something out of the kindness of their hearts just to make me smile. How lucky am I? These are the people who will ALWAYS be my TJX work family because they truly care about me as a human and not a number or just another employee. It’s a true blessing to have this type of connection and bond with people at work, so although I do not get to work with them regularly anymore, I will always be grateful of the relationships I was able to cultivate during my time with the most fabulous brand in all the land, HomeGoods.

With all that said, I want to share a few pictures with you all of our much-needed days away in Maine.

It started with a lake house with friends on Friday…

   
 
Then we headed to the beach near Portland where we went for long walks during the day and stayed at the Portland Harbor Hotel at night. I treated myself to a bath for FOUR days in a row. How much more relaxed does it get than that?! We ate at some of the most delicious restaurants, including Holy Donut. Wow, is Portland a winner for foodies! 

   
    
    
    
 
Then we packed it up, and took the ferry over to Peaks Island and stayed in a gorgeous little Inn. We started off by renting golf carts to explore the island where we found an old war cave/gun storage thing that is now completely full of graffiti but there’s such a beauty to it. We also spent time walking on the beach and making rock castles on a cliff with about 100 other “castles.” It’s like a natural version of Jenga, so cool!

   
    
    
    
    
   
We spent the next day riding our bikes, laying in the beach and HORSE BACK RIDING! Something I’ve wanted to do together for so long so it was so amazing to make it a reality. 

   
    
   
    
   
   

Yesterday it was back to reality. It was back to the hospital (but my numbers all look great so there’s nothing else I could ask for). 

   
   
And today I headed back to the office. However, I’m refusing to let my outdoor adventures cease so I headed to a state park across the street from work after I got out and rented myself a paddle board which I took out for almost two hours– paddling and stopping to do yoga on the water. How amazing! Now I’m sitting on the little beach here, watching kids splash around in be water and writing this post. Looks like even work days can be transformed into good days. 

  
I hope you have had a wonderful week and just think, tomorrow is FRIYAY!!!!! F

Lots of love and light,

Jessy 

The Date is Set

March 26, 2016.

This is going to be a big day for me. This is the day I will have my last treatment of chemotherapy. I will walk into Dana-Farber, see the most amazing people in the world, get an infusion of cancer-killing, leukemia sucking drugs and then I will walk out, head held high and I’ll be damned if I ever walk into Yawkey 8 as a patient again.

It will be a day I waited 764 days for.

This Wednesday, I sat in the chair next to Dr. D and when he asked if I had anything else I wanted to talk about, I just blurted out, “when does it end?” “Can I have a date?” “I need a date!.” Honestly, I really didn’t think he was going to be able to pin point it for me, but he pulled up his calendar and did just that. It was so what I needed. I’m so grateful that I’ve made it through over a year of this battle but I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately with how much longer I have to go. It’s different having pieces of your life back, like work and exercising but knowing that you’re still sick, that you still have a long way to go to make it out of the woods. Knowing the date gives me something to look forward to. To set my mind to. A much-needed finish line in my own little marathon.

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day– I don’t fit into this quite yet because I’m only half way there. i’m in remission, but I’m not cured. I have survived a lot in the past year but I haven’t gotten through it all. Next year at this time, I will feel incredible relief and gratitude if I am lucky enough to go for a walk on a beautiful June day and know that I’m two months passed my last chemo infusion. Two months into the rest of my life. It will feel unbelievable to be a survivor.

So let the countdown begin. 292 days to go.

XOXO,

Jessy

Put Aside the Pride

In the past (almost) six months, my pride has overwhelmed me many times during my days at work. Being demoted is mentally one of the toughest things I’ve dealt with during the past year as I felt so hurt and so disrespected to have been brought back as something I had once been promoted from. But thinking negatively about it, I’ve realized, does no good. It doesn’t help me get my old position back and it certainly doesn’t make the days any easier. This week, however, I was able to meet with my “big” boss and I mustered up the courage to tell him how disappointed I was about the demotion, and honestly what a struggle it’s been for me to deal with that since being back. What’s more important, is that instead of just complaining about how I don’t love my current position, I spoke of multiple ways I think I can be better utilized and gave specific examples of things I’d like to work on and feel I can really contribute to. This made me feel tremendously better as I felt like A. I got what I wanted to say off my chest and B. I was being proactive about what I think my career path at the company should be. Things won’t magically get better overnight but it’s a step in the right direction, and that’s all I can ask for, right? 
All weekend, I was stressed about this meeting on Monday. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and was totally focused on how I could make it a productive and positive conversation. I was amping myself up, telling myself how great I am at my job. How I deserve this job. How I worked SO hard for the position I once had. How I have proven myself time and time again. How I deserved to have that position back. But this weekend, as I sat in the sand at a beach in NH, thinking about how I was going to get what I wanted out of this meeting, how I was going to “sell myself and my talents”, I ironically began reading about the Buddhist philosophy on “pride.” Buddhist teachings say that being “proud” is not a virtue and something that we should work to eliminate within ourselves. It reminds us that everything we have is because of other people, literally everything. That our very being is because our parents created us. That someone taught us how to walk and talk and read. That someone helped feed us when we were growing and put a roof over our head. That someone gave us our first job, and our second and our third. That when we make money, it’s because someone else is giving it to us. Whether it’s an employer or we own our a company and its a client or we have employees working to make us money, someone else is helping us. 
The whole thought is so extremely humbling. Exactly the opposite of how I had been acting in my head — “I deserve this, I deserve that” type of attitude. 
The whole notion though is honestly a really weird thought to me. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m a hard worker, that I’ve earned everything I’ve gotten in life. I wanted to be a gymnast so I worked for it. Well, I had coaches that taught me and parents that paid for the lessons. I wanted to become a better public speaker so I enrolled myself in an oratorical contest. Well, I had a teacher that worked with me and let me practice for hours in front of her. I worked as a babysitter and house cleaner to save up on my own for my first car. Well, someone gave me that job and let me into their home so I could make that money. I went to college and worked my ass off for a degree. Well, I was able to work so hard because my parents financially and emotionally supported me and professors mentored me. I got my current job because I was successful at my first “real world” job. Well, yes that’s the case but I also had a friend’s dad pass along my resume in HR which absolutely helped my chances. All the things in life that i’ve accomplished, someone, in some capacity has helped me me it happen. 
This is such a different way to think about life and it’s hard because I think as individuals we like to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves what a good job we’re doing or why we deserve whatever life is giving us. There’s a lot of value in that, because I truly believe that you have to be your number one fan. You have to believe in yourself and your contributions to the world before anyone else can. But, what I can take away from this teaching is to truly remember that I didn’t do this alone. Not even close. So it’s important to remember and respect all those that gave you a chance, gave you an opportunity to make something of your life. In its simplest form, it’s remembering to have gratitude. Gratitude for everything and everyone in your life.
So say thank you to someone who’s helped you along the way. It’ll feel good for the soul. 
I’ll start…. 
to the most humble person I know, my Auntie Mary: thank you for teaching me what it means to be selfless and exemplifying what a strong and smart woman looks like. thank you for taking me to so many disney on ice’s, being at every birthday, and acting like a third grandmother in my life, I am truly lucky. thank you for being the kind, caring and gentle person that you are. i am so honored to have you in my life. 
XOXO,

Jessy 

The Definition of Brave

People have often said to me in the past year, “You’re so brave.” And although I am always flattered, I also always think, “not really.” Because the reality is, I didn’t choose this, I didn’t have a choice of whether or not to get cancer and I certainly have no other option but to get treatment. It just happened. The only thing I can do is to keep my head held high and march on. But the amazing men and women of our armed forces cannot say that. They choose to put themselves in harms way to help others. They make a conscious effort to put their lives on the line in order to protect our country and our freedom. They make the ultimate sacrifice in honor of our country, when they give up their lives so that others’ lives can be better. It’s awe-inspiring. Almost unfathomable when you really sit and think about it. I truly can’t imagine. I can respect it to the greatest degree but I will never fully understand what that’s like. The men and women of our armed forces are truly the bravest people in the world. Modern-day heroes.

So as I enjoyed a beautiful few days, away from work and surrounded by friends, family, food and sunshine, I feel eternally grateful to these incredible men and women that have given everything so that I can enjoy things like doing yoga in the park, or reading a book about Buddhism, or writing about whatever pops into my little head on this blog.

Today I feel lucky to be alive, lucky to be given the life I’ve been given and even luckier to be an American.

Thank you to those men and women, a million times over.

Jessy

flags

a picture my mom took today at the Boston Commons. 37,000 American flags—one for each of the Massachusetts men and women who have died in the armed services, dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Live & Keep Learning

One thing that I feel I’ve become better at in the past year or so is opening my mind to other thoughts, teachings, alternative medicines and over wellness of our lives. I’ve grown up as a Catholic, I believe in God and heaven, I trust in westernized medicine and the power of going for a run and lifting weights as exercise. But I also believe that there are other religions that make sense and have useful teachings, I believe that there are beneficial practices and natural remedies that can compliment and enhance our medical practices, I believe in the power of meditation and yoga, for both physical and mental strength. Because of this, I began reading an introduction to Buddhism book called “Open Heart, Clear Mind.” It’s not that I want to change my religious beliefs, but I do find it extremely interesting and beneficial to really listen and truly appreciate others thoughts and teachings. I’m only about half way done but have already found this book to be extremely enlightening and a good reminder of what’s important in life: like being compassionate to others, taking care of yourself mentally, and having an altruistic mindset.

Today, while sitting outside on this gorgeous May day, I read about karma. There are pieces of it that are a bit “out there” for me, personally, but the overarching idea of it makes a lot of sense and can be something to really take into consideration in our daily lives. That the actions and energy we put out into the world are what we therefore will receive back from the world.

The Buddah said:
“According to the seed that is sown,
So is the fruit that you will reap.
The doer of good will gather good results,
The doer of evil reaps evil results.
If you plant a good seed well,
Then you will enjoy the good fruits.”

I think this is true in so many places in life. I have seen tenfold in the past year that being kind and caring to those around you comes full circle when you’re the one who needs love and support. Being gentle and considerate of others feelings and thoughts, makes them caring and compassionate to you in the future.

It’s Sunday night, another weekend has come to a close and a new week will begin tomorrow morning. I’m only human when I say that I’ve thought negative thoughts about those I work with, I’ve gossiped about people, flipped people off when driving to work, or passed judgment on those I don’t even know just by how they look or what they’re wearing. These actions, although natural to human behavior, are not useful to me nor will they bring myself or anybody I love happiness. So although I know I won’t ever probably be able to get rid of these negative actions in my head completely, I think it’s wise to put a more conscious effort into eradicating these types of attitudes when possible.

Karma: you get what you give. So give wisely.

Lots of love and light,
Jessy

p.s. how cute are these little smiling Buddhas? Especially the one throwing up the deuces. I can’t.

Buddha

Forever Young: Yogi Style

After a night of severe wallowing and feeling bad for myself and a rant on this blog post like no other, I thought this morning it would be healthy to start the day fresh and remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for, like being strong enough to be able to work out and destress with some yoga. So that’s what I did. To some Beyonce and JayZ, of course. No better way to blow off some steam and feel empowered.
 
“Leave a mark that can’t erase neither space nor time
So when the director yells cut, I’ll be fine, I’m forever young”
 
Lots of love to you all.
 
XOXO,

Jessy

One Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I woke up like it was any other day. Got dressed for work and headed to Framingham. That would be the last time I go to work for 11 months. Later that day, while sitting in a team meeting, I would begin to get shooting pains down my back and legs so bad that I could barely stay in my seat. I hurried back to my desk to try to walk it out but nothing worked. Within a few minutes, I found myself in a maternity room downstairs rolling around in pain on the floor and calling my mom hysterically crying. At that point, I would call my friend Amanda and ask her to drive me to the hospital. It was an abnormally beautiful February day (nothing like today) and we were able to put the windows down. I remember laughing and making jokes through the pain and putting my face towards the sun and really feeling it on my face, feeling the wind go through my hair. Although I had no clue what was about to happen, I remember the car ride so vividly and feeling a sense of surrealness while making our way to the hospital. We waited there for quite sometime and then my dad came through the door. We finally got taken into a room where I was told, for the what seemed like 100th time, that I just had back pain, most likely sciatica nerve pain. I was then brought into a room where I was able to start listing off the additional ailments that had been going on; nose bleeds, bruises, blood blisters, headaches. Quickly that got the attention of the doctor and they immediately wanted to take bloodwork. At that point, Mike had showed up. A few minutes later, my mom showed up and we both instantly started crying when she gave me a hug. It was like we knew, something was about to go wrong. Maybe our lives were about to be turned upside down. And then it was. A doctor walked in the room and precisely asked my family members to leave. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. She then sat down next to me and took my hand as she said the words that the blood work had come back and it appeared that I had leukemia. I was stunned. I didn’t cry, I didn’t hyperventilate. I was still…numb. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I couldn’t believe the words she had just said. And what I couldn’t do is tell my family. So that’s when I asked her to please call my family back in and be the ones to tell them. I’ll never forget the look on Mike’s face when she said the words that I had leukemia. It was the worst thing I had ever seen, and I think the worst thing I’ll ever see. It was a face of sadness, panic, pure worry. It was like looking in a mirror of what I was feeling. Then it all became a whirlwind. We had to pick a hospital to go to and my mom and I got in the back of an ambulance and I was rushed over to the Brigham. At that point, I had no idea that I wouldn’t feel fresh air for almost a month. I also had no idea that I was about to meet some of the most genuine, caring and wonderful individuals I would ever have the pleasure of knowing. One waiting for me in the emergency room. My very own angel, Dr. Mandy. She stood there as I got wheeled in and immediately took my hand and looked into my eyes. She could tell how scared I was, how overwhelmed myself and my whole family was. And she reassured us that everything would be okay. She held my hand the whole time she talked and told me that she was going to cure me, she was going to make me better. And although I had only known her for a few short minutes, I believed everything she said. I instantly trusted her with my life. I would then get taken up to a holding area for the night, that had a lovely metal toilet right next to my bed. That would be the first night that Mike would stay with me, he didn’t leave my side for the next 27 days. He would barely sleep that night. With plenty of drugs, I would sleep on and off the rest of the night and wake up the next morning to get hours and hours of tests done to see exactly what strand of leukemia I had. It’d be a painful, long day but a day that would end up telling me that, Dr. Mandy was right– everything was going to be okay.

That was all a year ago today. Last year when it was all happening, I knew what was going on, but I was in crisis mode, a shell of a person, just trying to do whatever I could to get myself better. I was surrounded by family, friends, nurses and doctors at all times so there wasn’t that much time to reflect. A year later, and I feel like it’s important for me to remember exactly what last year on this day entailed. It almost doesn’t feel real that an entire year has passed. It was by far the hardest year of my life, most trying and difficult time I’ve ever experienced. But I also learned so much about life, about the wonderful people in mine and the things that are truly important. Things I never would’ve realized without this journey; it’s a journey I never would have asked for but as I march through it, I realize that I’m so blessed. I’m still here a year later, I’m about to turn 26 and all my labs look great. What more could I ask for? Absolutely nothing. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that health is everything. Today is a sad day as I reflect on how my life changed so drastically but it also is a good day, I’m so much healthier than I was a year ago today. I’ve made it so far in a year and I have so much to be thankful for.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who have reached out with kind words, prayed for me, sent me positive vibes, cards, care packages, and simply shown me love in the past year. I cannot tell you how much it has all meant to me and what a difference it truly made. I love you all.
XOXO,
Jessy
 photo-2
photo-3
IMG_4304
IMG_6379

You’ve Got Mail

Last night, Mike and I got home from a VERY early dinner and found ourselves watching “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It’s such a good, truly romantic movie, and one that I had never seen until last year. I realized while watching it last night, as the snow came tumbling down outside, that it was a year ago that Mike was in New Orleans for a bachelor party and I was home by myself watching this movie having a glass of white wine. A year ago, I had no idea what was about to come my way. As I sat there on the couch, I remember feeling fully stressed at what was “happening” to me. I knew something was wrong, I was in agony about every other day with shooting pains down my back and legs making me unable to not only walk but do anything but roll around in bed and yell in pain. I was having nose bleeds regularly and blood blisters on my lips. I had bruises all over my body that had no reason for being there. And I had headaches so bad, I started keeping a neck pillow in my car so I could have some sort of relief as I drove to and from work. But as worried as I felt, I truly couldn’t have imagined the news I was about to hear and the year I was about to have.

In “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan’s book store is forced to close down due to a large, conglomerate book store opening up just down the street. She’s tormented with the fact that the life she had envisioned for herself and grown accustomed to, is so abruptly taken away from her. As I watched last night, I empathized with her character so much more deeply than I had just one year ago, as our stories are not the same but I so understood how she felt getting her “life” ripped away from her. But by the end of the movie, she’s making the best out of a bad situation and turns out to be writing her own book and allows herself to truly follow her butterflies and finds herself in the arms of Tom Hanks. She lets life take the reigns and it leads her to happiness. That’s what I’m still trying to do, trying to let life take the reigns, follow the things that give me butterflies in life. Because one thing I’ve learned in this past year is that life’s too short, too precious and too unpredictable; you’ve really got to enjoy each day for what it is. Whether it’s a good day or bad day, just appreciate the day. Appreciate it because you’re lucky to be here and lucky to have what you do.
XOXO,
Jessy