We’re All Warriors

During the holiday season, there was a holiday card being sold at Dana-Farber that I helped to create. On the back, they credited me as the “artist” and used my ‘cancer slayer’ term that I often called myself. I had approved it but when I saw it in print, I felt a little weird about it – I had always equated being a cancer slayer to being a warrior, and then the thought popped into my head that I was a warrior but I’m not a warrior anymore. I often look at the two years that I underwent treatment and overcame cancer to be two years of my life that I am proudest of, I feel very confident talking about my experience and am always open and empowered to share it with others. But when it comes to other aspects of my life, particularly my career, I feel very sheepish and unsure of myself- I don’t feel like I have slayed the past two years and I certainly don’t feel like a warrior very often anymore.

I had that thought and then I let it fade. But then it came back to me one afternoon during a meditation sitting during my yoga training and I began contemplating the idea that I don’t have to have cancer to be a warrior. I can be a warrior in my everyday life- with every action I take, every compassionate conversation, every day that I get up and go to work, every night when I try being a chef to make a healthy dinner for our family, every time I go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch, every time I do something to accomplish a dream. In so many aspects of life, big and small, I can be a warrior. What if I’m not a just a cancer slayer or work slayer or yoga slayer or pup mom slayer… what if I’m just a life slayer? What if we’re all life slayers?

One of the greatest learnings that I’ve become more familiar with throughout my yoga readings and trainings is to see each human being as who they are and be okay with it. Essentially, to see the warrior inside of everyone. To remember that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors, or sometimes more powerfully, what’s going on in someone’s mind. To remember that everybody has a family that loves them, everybody has a friend that thinks they’re funny or enjoys their quirkiness. Everybody wants the best for their family and friends, their community. Everybody wants to be healthy and to live a prosperous, happy life. Everybody has the same innate quality to feel connected and be included – to “be a part of.” Everybody looks up and sees the same stars, and the same beautiful sun and moon. We all share the same home – we all have different struggles but it doesn’t matter what the struggle is because to each individual, it’s their struggle, it matters, it’s hard, and it takes work to overcome. Yoga, mindfulness, Buddhism teachings have all taught me to remember those common things about other human beings. When someone is particularly annoying or aggravating me, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and realize that I may not know what’s going on in their life and to remember that they have a mother that thinks they’re wonderful, and they probably love the very attribute that I may find annoying. They’re a human, just like me. They have worries and fears and anxiety, just like me. And in one way or another, they are slaying their life. They are slaying the worries that keep them up at night and are a warrior to the personal demons that plague their body and mind. We all are. We all are trying our best—even if to the outsider it may not look like they’re slaying or doing their best—remember that who they are, in this day, is doing their best – maybe they will do “better” in the future, but at this moment in time, this is their best self. We’re all warriors- slaying whatever life throws our way today.

Being a warrior doesn’t mean doing some remarkable achievement—it certainly can mean completing a marathon, or conquering an illness, or beginning an impactful social movement—but a warrior can also be someone that has so much anxiety that their chest hurts and they go to work anyway, it can be the mother that puts their career on pause because they believe in the importance of being home to raise their children—it can be the son or daughter that sacrifices personal growth and time with their significant other to become a caregiver for their sick parent—it can be a person who sees someone being bullied and says something about it—it can be a person who absolutely loathes their job and simply goes to work with a smile on their face because they know that’s what they have to do to get by – it can be a person who’s overweight and goes to the gym despite feeling uncomfortable. It can be anyone because it is everyone.

Everyone, in some way, is a warrior.

Respect that notion about others but most importantly, respect that about yourself. You are slaying life right this second.

Warrior on. 💪🏼

Love & light,

Jessy

p.s. Speaking of being a warrior….. here’s me slaying the winter walk to work

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A New Journey

Yesterday I started writing this blog post but I got cold feet to tell the world my news. My news is this…

I QUIT MY JOB.

(well, gave my notice before the new year. c’mon I’m not an ass hole who abandons responsibility) 

I quit my job and I don’t have a new one. I quit my job and I don’t even know what I want my new one to be.

I took a leap of faith, a leap far larger than I ever have in my life. I’ve taken risks and chances before but there was always a next step, always a plan; I always knew what the end goal was. This time, however, is way different. I don’t know what I want my career to be or even what I want my life to look like. My cancer experience and over a year working for people that have been given 2-5 years to live taught me one thing- life is short and you’re not promised to live till retirement. So, you’ve got to live life in the present moment, be thankful for what you have, and really try to enjoy your days, not just the weekend days. Unfortunately, I also am not an idiot and I fully realize that you need to make money to survive. And even though I love to tell Mike that I could, I have accepted the fact that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to be one of those people on HGTV living in a “tiny house.” In my dream world, I would be a mom to more than just Phoebe, I’d live in a home on or near some kind of body of water, I’d have friends and family nearby that I could have glasses of Rose with on Sunday afternoons, I’d like to have enough time and energy to cook healthy meals for my family on a regular basis, I’d like a deck outside to do yoga on, and a fireplace to snuggle up with Mike on at night after a long day. That being said, I know my dream will cost money; kids, a house, a dog, frequent purchases of wine and buffalo chicken, yoga classes– it all costs money. But as of right now, I don’t know how to get to those dreams or how to contribute financially to making those dreams a reality for myself and Mike. 

So I said screw it, I’m taking a chance on myself and going to figure it out as I go. Three years ago, if I would’ve heard of someone doing this, I probably would’ve judged them because I thought that being equal in a relationship means making equal money. But today I am deciding to try to think differently. I’m trying to retrain my mind to believe that making a lot of money doesn’t equal a successful life- for me. For some people that may be what they want, but I don’t think it’s what I want anymore. I want to spend more time with my family, I want to spend more time learning, I want to be outside everyday and not in an office building for 10 hours. I want to help others. I want to be creative. I want to have enough time and energy to cook a healthy meal for my family. I want to go to bed with a smile on my face.

Today, I walked with Phoebe along our favorite path and looked at the beautiful blue sky and an almost-frozen river filled with ducks and geese and thought, “what the hell am I afraid of?” I already jumped. I wrote the letter of resignation. I signed the papers. I paid the first month of COBRA healthcare. I packed up my office. I played ‘Freedom’ by Beyoncé (obviously) when I drove home on Friday. So what am I afraid of? I’m afraid of being judged by others. I’m afraid of people talking about me behind my back and saying things like “what is she doing? this isn’t a smart decision” I’m afraid of outsiders thinking I’m a leech to Mike. I’m afraid of, basically, what everyone else in the world thinks. To the point that I specifically told Mike not to tell any of his friends and family because I didn’t want them to know and judge me. Then there’s the social media aspect– it creates a pressure to feel like you need to tell everybody everything you’re doing all the time. I’m guilty of it. Shit, I’m doing it right now. And I kind of hate that. It’s the same guilt that you feel when you know you’re not being honest. And with today’s media, I get the icky feeling when I’m not being upfront on my ‘social channels’ when I don’t share what’s going on in my life. It certainly creates an unnecessary level of stress but it also helps me open up and put my feelings out there for the world, which after the fact, always ends up making me feel better. Because of this form of media, I have been able to host this blog which has proven to be a therapeutic place for me to go to put my feelings into words. I like that, if I want to ramble, like I’m doing now, it’s okay because it’s my space. 

Im anxious about what’s to come in the next few weeks and months but I’m also excited. I’m hopeful that this could be a big turning point in my life where I discover my passion and start being happier, more fulfilled and generally more content on a daily basis. An additional feeling I have at this very moment is freedom. Freedom to not be afraid anymore of the possible judgement or misunderstanding because once I hit “publish” it’s out there. Love it or hate it, embrace it or judge it. It is what it is and I’m proud of the path that I have just embarked on. I hope that you will follow along with me on this new journey – a journey of self-discovery, taking chances, living in the moments and hopefully, inspiring others to do the same.  

Lots of love & light, 

Jessy 

here’s a pic of the Phoeb’s trying to get to the ducks today. img_0307

Guilty as Charged

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I feel guilty that I haven’t written a blog post in 3 months. I’ve written a few posts about random things but haven’t felt like I could publish them because quite honestly, they were me venting and expressing myself. Unfortunately, however, expression of feelings isn’t always what you want the entire world to see.

I feel guilty so much lately. About a whole array of things, I’ve begun to realize how much this one feeling affects my life every day.

I feel guilty that I got to live through my terminal diagnosis when others don’t get to

I feel guilty when I don’t see my friends and family often enough

I feel guilty when I complain about my job

I feel guilty when I don’t work out

I feel guilty when I think of all the people that helped me

I feel guilty when I don’t get home to Phoebe in time

I feel guilty when I’m being lazy and just don’t want to play fetch anymore

I feel guilty when I don’t call my friends that don’t live close by

I feel guilty when I want to go to bed early

I feel guilty when I have a drink during the workweek

I feel guilty when I spend money on things I shouldn’t

I feel guilty when I don’t do yoga regularly

I feel guilty when I don’t clean my house or help unload the dishwasher

I feel guilty when I think negatively of people in my head

I feel guilty when I drop off Smile Cards knowing I didn’t write any this month

I feel guilty when I don’t make a donation to a nonprofit/charity

I feel guilty that I don’t like my career and I complain about it to Mike

I feel guilty when I feel sorry for myself

I feel guilty that I stopped going to see my therapist

I feel guilty when I take medication to help me sleep

I feel guilty when I give Mike shit about little things

I feel guilty when I’m not in a good mood

I feel guilty for writing this post

Mostly, I’ve begun to feel guilty for feeling guilty all the time. I feel guilty when I don’t feel like I’m being the best version of me. I feel guilty that it’s the first time I’ve written a post and it’s not inspirational in the slightest. I feel guilty that it’s about me venting. I feel guilty that in the past six months, I have become cancer-free, not received one thing of chemo, gotten engaged, picked out a wedding dress, been to Italy, gone back to NYC twice, held beautiful babies, played with my dog, spent time with those that I love, live in a house and city that I adore and have my best friend to go to bed with every night—and I still somehow feel lost. I still feel like there’s something missing. I still have a hard time falling asleep at night without the medication I had been on for two years. I still whine and become sad on Sunday nights knowing I have an entire work week ahead of me. I still bitch about minute details of life when I know that there’s so many bigger problems out there. I still eat buffalo chicken nachos on the weekends even though I know they’re not good for me. I still drink beers while watching the Pats game because I like to. I still give Mike attitude at the end of the day when I’m grumpy for reasons that have nothing to do with him. I still honk at people when I’m driving to work. I still spend way too much time on the computer and my phone. I would’ve guessed that after two years of many moments of hell, I would be able to let things go easier, be more carefree, be kinder, gentler, fully in the moment.

I view the feeling of being given a second chance at life two-faced. I feel such gratitude and beauty from knowing that my eyes have been opened to how short life is and how I need to not take anything for granted and enjoy each moment and each day. But the other side of the face has created this enormous feeling of guilt when I’m not achieving the daily level of happiness and gratitude that my brain tells me I should be obtaining.

My therapist, the one that I stopped going to because I didn’t think I needed to go anymore (maybe I should rethink that decision, I know), had continuously told me for two years that I needed to have more compassion for myself. That I needed to stop being so hard on myself and stop judging every action that I take. She had said that I needed to allow myself to feel feelings that I have and try hard not to overthink everything. And while I can say I try to show myself compassion, it’s so god damn hard! It’s easier to criticize my actions and try to perfect what I’m doing wrong. It’s not healthy and I know this but I can’t seem to get out of my way sometimes.

I feel so frustrated that at this time in my life where everything seems to be going right, I somehow don’t feel euphoria, I don’t feel like I’m living this dream life. But I had dreamed of this life, since February 20, 2014, I dreamed of this summer, I dreamed of being engaged and planning my wedding, I dreamed of going back to work, I dreamed of having a French bulldog, I dreamed of going to Italy, I dreamed of having drinks with my friends at dinner and sipping on a Pumpkin Head beer while I watched the Patriots from the comfort of my house. And now I have that all. I have a Frenchie. I went to Italy. I got engaged. I bought my wedding dress. I’ve enjoyed drinks and food. I workout multiple times a week and can feel my muscle mass returning. I have a job. Yet, I still feel so confused and because of that, I feel like the most ungrateful brat that’s ever existed. I feel awful that I’m even putting these words out in the universe, that I’m letting people really see how I’m feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, my weekend in New York City getting engaged was everything I’ve ever dreamed about, our trip to Italy was literally the best two weeks of my entire life, I kiss and cuddle Phoebe every single day and tell her how much I love her, I feel at home, safe and secure when Mike is with me and continues to tell me that things are going to be okay.

I feel guilty for these negative feelings and emotions when so much is going right. I feel guilty because people that I know and love are going through horrible breakups and divorces, are dealing with health problem of their own, caring for a loved one that’s battling cancer, out of work and struggling to pay for childcare, grieving a loss of a loved one and so many more examples of real problems, real issues. Me not knowing what I want to do with my career and trying to achieve an unattainable goal of happy, content and successful life can barely be considered a real problem, however, to me, it feels like this insurmountable problem. I feel like I’m at the bottom of a mountain and I can’t see the top, I have no idea how high this peak is or how long it will take me to reach the top. And because of that, I feel frantic. I feel like a deer in the headlights, whipping my head around wildly looking for the right way to go but unable to find any sort of tree marker because I don’t even know if the top of this mountain is attainable with my abilities.

So, for today, I sit here at my computer with a “De-stress” and “stay calm” essential oils next to me hoping that I can figure out a goal, figure out a direction, figure out what I want, figure out what will make me happy, figure out what will make me feel content and fulfilled but most of all, I hope that I can learn how to not feel guilty, not feel ashamed that I feel the way I do. My hope is that by writing this piece, if you ever feel guilty for similar things that I do, that you feel less alone.

I’m hoping that my future blog posts will be more upbeat– to be truthful, I think that’s why I haven’t written in so long. I felt like my readers don’t want to hear about my little, and neurotic problems, nor do they want to read a post about my amazing Christmas weekend in NYC. I  have felt a sense of, you guessed it, guilt, if I begin to write about things that don’t fit into the box of “inspirational.” I began the Inspiration Initiative to express my feelings and to document my journey through a difficult time and I did that. I stayed true to my feelings, and I never felt guilty when I complained or vented because it felt “fair” to write my negative emotions regarding a cancer diagnosis. I knew nobody was going to judge me for that. But talking about that I’m frustrated by my career confusion or how much fun Mike and I have been having lately on the weekends, or the flip flop feeling in my stomach I get when I think about my body image, how much I love my dog, or what delicious meal I’m cooking that night, I know I can get judged for these type of content topics more than I could have been before. But I think it’s time for me to begin writing again more frequently. It’s time that I close the cancer book and start a new book that’s simply this: My Life. The ups, the downs, the in-the-middles, and all the moments in between. My cancer journey will still be part of it on days because the reality is that that diagnosis changed me, those experiences scarred me– some scars are ugly and some are beautiful, but they all remind me of the time period. But I’ve begun a new book and I hope it gets brighter by the second, and I’d love if you come along with me. It’s not going to be the same stories as you’re used to, but they’re still my stories.

If you got to the end of this ranting and redundant post, thanks. And, I’m impressed. I know this wasn’t beautifully written, I know this wasn’t inspirational, I know this wasn’t my best work but it made me feel better. For a few different reasons it made me feel better but at least for one, it erased the guilt I felt about not writing a blog post in a while.

I’ll be back.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy

Finding the Happiness 

Yesterday, I was in a funk. My body was sore and I had a headache under my eyes that wouldn’t go away. I grumpily stumbled my way downstairs to sit down with my coffee, open my laptop and almost instantaneously get bombarded with instant messages and “high priority” emails. Too many things unexpectedly popping up and I started to slip into a mental abys of stress and negativity. As much as I like to tell myself, “I’ve got this” and that this whole working and getting chemo thing is easy-peasy, sometimes, to be honest, it’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s hard. Really really hard. Sometimes trying to balance working full time and having the effects of treatment weigh me down is, a lot. Yesterday, as I sat at the table ferociously pounding on my keyboard, I began to panic thinking about everything that I needed to get done before heading to the hospital. How much time was I going to lose while I was driving over? Would there be too many distractions at the Dana to get what I needed complete? I just didn’t have time for “this,” today, I thought. “This” being my time at the hospital. “This” being my treatment. “This” being what’s saving my life.
Shit.

Maybe I do have time for “this.” Maybe everything else is just going to have to take a back seat. 

I say that, as I sit here and think about it, but in the heat of the day, somehow my priorities had left me. That was, until my mom called to tell me that it had been exactly one year since we were together and I was rushed to the ER for pancreatitis. At that moment, after instantaneously beginning to cry, I was slapped in the face with the reminder that, today, as hard as it felt in the moments before, was NOTHING compared to what I went through that day. That day was hard. That day was scary. That day was stressful. That day stuff that really mattered happened. 
The thought of last year and the reality of the day at hand seemed too much to bear all of a sudden. I was sad. I was sad, and there didn’t feel like anything I could do about it.
Days like yesterday remind me that, as much as I try, not everyday gets to be sunshine and rainbows. Not everyday even gets to be a good one. But it’s important to try to find a little piece of happiness, even in the smallest of ways, every single day. So as I pondered on my way home about what would make me happy, I landed on cinnabun rolls and coffee ice cream and boy, was that a great decision. I giggled to myself as I sat on the couch and licked my fingers full of frosting. So was yesterday a fun-filled day? That answer would be no. But it still had a moment that made me smile so I will be grateful.
Here’s to hoping that you all find a little piece of happiness in each of your days. Even if it’s the teeeeeeensy teeeeeensy tiny, find the happiness. 
Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

Work It

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It’s Motivational Monday, friends! Whatever you want to make happen in your life, do something this week that helps get you there. Even if it’s just baby steps, or one tiny task that takes you just a wee bit closer, DO IT!!!! Success and happiness don’t just fall into our laps. We’ve gotta work for it!!

Let your happiness come first!!!

XOXO,

Jessy

Back at it Again

On Thursday I found out that my pancreas had suffered a leak in it during the first two pancreatitis attacks. So my doctors quickly scheduled an endoscopy procedure for the next day to place a stent where the hole is. I was so nervous about it as I hate being put under and I’m anxious about a foreign object being in my body. But I trust my doctors so I knew it was what I had to do. Friday morning came quickly and with Mike by my side, I had a stent placed in my pancreas. Everything went smoothly and the doctor was really pleased with how the procedure went. I was even able to go home that night in time to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters!! (Huge deal to me cause I had been really looking forward to that so I would’ve been really sad if that got taken away from me). Anyways, Saturday morning I woke up with intense pain in my stomach, I was rolling around and just could not get into a comfortable position. So I took pain meds that typically help and waited an hour. No such luck. After a call to my oncologist, Mike and I were on our way to the emergency room (which was filled with drunk halloween goers. Woof). My hope was that I would be able to go in, get some IV pain meds and head home but that wasn’t the case. After being in the emergency room for 6 hours, I got admitted, again, to the Brigham 7D. I am so frustrated because I had been doing so well. I was eating, my nausea was starting to go away, and I was overall just feeling good. So being back in the hospital bed hooked up to 100 different machines and unable to drink or eat…I feel more than discouraged.

On the bright side, it’s freezing out (I saw snow flakes out my window-ahhhhh!!!) and I’m inside all day. My amazing doctor made me two “pancreatitis” playlists to listen to (how sweet is that?!) My family and Mike have been by my side the whole time. And I got onto my favorite floor which makes things so much more enjoyable and comfortable. Definitely not an ideal situation but I’m trying to positive because things could definitely be worse.

(Here’s a pic of me and my TPN feeding tube at home! Fun, fun, fun!)

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XOXO,
Jessy

PS this is not a pic for the faint. So if you don’t like bodily functions, I’d X out now. But below is a pic of my pancreas before with the hole (on the left) and it now with the stent in it (right side). I thought it was pretty cool so wanted to share with you guys!

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Can’t Sleep

I do some of my best writing at 4:30 in the morning…on steriods. And that’s what’s going on right now. It’s exactly 4:37am and my mind is racing and I can’t sleep. So instead of laying here in bed with my eyes open, I thought I’d write down how I’m feeling and what’s new.

It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post, the frequency of the posts have slowed down in the past month and I know it. It’s not because I’m getting bored with my blog or anything of that sort but rather because I’m bored with my life right now. The past 3 weeks have consisted of not eating or making bland, “soft” meals, throwing up, napping, being curled up in pain, going to the doctors, watching tv, sleeping. Repeat. I’ve felt anything but inspirational. I’ve felt bad for myself quite honestly and that’s really it. I felt bad for myself that Mike and I had to cancel a trip to Newport this weekend that we had looked forward to nearly all summer due to my condition. I felt down for myself that I’ve felt so sad lately, it doesn’t feel like me. But as I sit here in bed in the wee morning of hours, I am thinking about everything good that has still happened over the past three weeks.
– I got to see two of my best friends, one from high school and one from college, that live in California and Florida and I very rarely get to see. It’s always rejuvenating to visit with friends, especially those you haven’t seen in quite some time.
– I got to spend time with my family and Mikes family. Both by the pool. Both with our little nuggets. And I’ve said if before but I’ll say it again, there’s no better cure than hanging out with children you love. They put a smile on your face no matter how crummy you may feel.
– I got to slow dance with Mike to Frank Sinatra.
– I got to dance crazily to “Shake It Out” by my girl T Swift with Mike (yes, there’s a lot of dancing in this house). Works for a good belly laugh every time.
– I have been reminded how strong I really am. I have learned how much my body can be put through and how I will bounce back and come out on top, even if it takes a while.
– I got to start back up on the chemo cocktail yesterday. Now this may not be traditional “fun” but being paused is a stressful feeling as you know it’s just pushing back the end goal. So I was thrilled to continue back on the march.
– I’ve learned that the guy sleeping quietly next to me (thank god, it’s a snore a lot of the time!) is the best thing that ever happened to me. That even at my lowest and grumpiest, he loves me unconditionally.

So for a crappy few weeks, there’s still a lot of good that has come out of it. And that’s important to remember, even at my lowest lows. Sometimes, I just have to write it out. I hope you all are having a wonderful and blessed week!

XOXOX,
Jessy

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