Sometimes I walk around the house with a smudging stick, burning the incense and blessing the house and the people & pup in it- my body, the food we eat, the house we live in, the bed we sleep in… I bless everything.
Five years ago if you would’ve told me I’d be doing such a thing, I would’ve made a snarky remark that that type of routine is for a crazy person.
But then life happened and I was forced into exploring my spirituality.
At first I thought it must be in the four walls of a church… I tried that a few times but always felt like I was forcing something that just didn’t feel right.
Then I started practicing yoga for more than just the physical benefits but for the emotional and mental benefits-the simple act of slowing down and focusing on your breath. That opened the door to mantras – affirmations I choose to say to myself – words which resonate with me that I can bring to the surface at any point when I need it most. I started writing down what I’m thankful for each night, even if it’s small, just to ensure myself that I was inserting gratitude into every day. I started meditating. I started praying- to what or who, I actually can’t say- just to a higher being that I know can hear me.
For a girl who felt uneasy in a church and uncomfortable reciting prayers- I have become extremely comfortable with spirituality and what it means to me.
It brings me strength, it provides me guidance and offers me comfort in times I need it most.
I found “the higher power,” in myself. I found spirituality deep in my own soul.
My hope is that you too explore spirituality in an authentic way- that you don’t force yourself into the predetermined box that can often be considered religion – that you don’t judge yourself for thinking or acting in ways you once may not have. My hope is that you can begin to find what spirituality means to you, not by how others tell you it should look, but based only on how it makes you feel. If you open your mind to alternative ways of accessing your inner self and the greater universe around you, I promise, it’ll be a beautiful thing.
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,
p.s. Speaking of being a warrior….. here’s me slaying the winter walk to work
Wedding fever has officially subsided. It’s been exactly one month since Mike & I tied the knot and became husband and wife. So, before the lovely details of the day begin to fade away, I want to write about just how incredible July 22, 2017 was in my life.
Well, I should first start by saying it wasn’t just July 22- it was the whole long weekend and the entire honeymoon. It began as soon as Mike & I crossed the Sagamore Bridge into the Cape on that Thursday. After we unloaded odds & ends for the wedding at our venue, The Dennis Inn, we checked into the house he rented for the four days (the place he would have his groomsmen and friends before the wedding!), dropped our bags and walked to the beach. Jumping in the cold Atlantic Ocean together seemed like the perfect way to begin what would be some of the best days of our lives. That night, we had our first ever “dual-family party” and some of our immediate family members who have never met finally got to. The flower girls practiced throwing petals, my mom made a teary-eyed speech, and my thoughts kept going to how “right” this newly merged family felt.
Before we knew it, rehearsal day was here and we were welcoming our family and wedding party to the Dennis Inn to lounge by the pool before the official festivities began. Us ladies started making ourselves at home in the bridal suite, getting mani and pedis by Cape Cod Mobile Nail Company. All fun and games until I was walking down the aisle with my parents and saw Mike at the end of the aisle when it really hit me that this moment was finally happening– that our special day was about to become a reality. After the practice-run had been completed, it was time to get the celebrations started. And celebrations to Mike and I typically mean some sort of fantastic food so it was time to chow down on lobster and clam chowder. As the rehearsal dinner ended, so came the rest of our guests that were here for the entire weekend! All of our closest friends and family here to celebrate our love– I remember feeling overwhelmed as I looked around that night and saw the mix of family, friends from home, friends from college, colleagues, even one of my doctors had made it for the “night-before” festivities. I think that’s one of the most special things about a wedding– having every corner of your life represented, melding into one life together- it’s a kind of love and gratefulness I’ve never experienced before and am so thankful that I had the opportunity to feel it.
And then the day we’ve dreamt of for so long came.
Speaking for the ladies, we woke up and were lucky enough to be led thru a beautiful “wedding morning yoga flow” by Mike and I’s weekly yoga instructor from Somerville. It was so meaningful to me to start my day with the women in my life that I love so much doing something that means so much to me. Some of them had never done yoga before, some of them may have been a bit hungover from the welcome party the night before, but they all showed up and participated because they knew it meant a lot to me. I felt about a million times more relaxed and calm when we finished and in the right mindset to take on such a big day in my life. Plus, I needed my “yoga glow” in order to look my best. And then it was onto becoming a beautiful bride!
When I was growing up, my mom used to remind me how important getting butterflies in your stomach was. She would leave me notes that had butterflies on them after high school heartbreaks and tell me that one day the butterflies would return. So when I heard the music begin and I looked out the bathroom window to watch Michael walk down the aisle, I was delighted to feel my stomach flip and hundreds of butterflies flutter around my belly. In truth, however, those butterflies are nothing new- he’s been giving me butterflies since the moment I met him. As I walked outside to walk down that aisle, my parents on each side, I felt like I was floating. I wasn’t nervous- I was excited. Beyond excited. I was thrilled- elated- grateful- so so so very happy. I was finally marrying the man I’ve wanted to marry for what feels like a lifetime. I was being given the opportunity, that on some days throughout these five years, I wasn’t sure I’d get to have. In fact, the month leading up to the wedding I had been having trouble sleeping and getting really anxious about “making it” to the wedding. Some bad thoughts were going thru my head that I believe were arising because of just how much I wanted this day to happen- how much I wanted to marry my Michael. So in that moment, as I walked towards him on that sunny afternoon, surrounded by all those we love, as birds were chirping and Halo was being played in the background, I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
But then something amazing happened… that feeling of “luckiest girl in the world” came over and over and over the rest of the day.
I felt it when Mike said his beautiful vows
I felt it when I heard Dr.Mandy pronounce us husband and wife
I felt it when Mike spun me around and my dress twirled like I’ve always dreamt of
I felt it when Phoebe appeared in a beautiful flower collar so we could take pictures with her
I felt it when I listened to my dad give the most incredible speech
I felt it when he thanked the entire table of nurses and doctors from Dana Farber and every single guest rose to their feet to cheer and give them the praise that they all deserve
I felt it when I looked around at dinner and saw everyone I love in one room
I felt it when I, as well as everyone else, was sweating profusely from dancing so hard
I felt it when the last song, Young Forever, came on and everyone made a circle around us as we danced and took the moment in
I felt it when we went upstairs after everyone had left and we popped a bottle of champagne and looked thru the pictures and notes from the photobooth
I felt it when I laid my head on the pillow and couldn’t sleep because I was still smiling as I replayed every detail of the day
I felt like the luckiest girl in the world and one month in, I still do. I married my best friend and you can’t ask for much better than that!
So as we crossed over the Sagamore Bridge back to Boston, it was easy to be okay with “our day” being done. We had 10 days of honeymoon Hawaiian living to look forward to and the rest of our life together to be excited about!
Thank you to everyone that celebrated with us that day, and to everyone that sent us blessings and well-wishes. We are two very lucky individuals to have you all in our lives.
Lots of love & light,
More wedding pics and a video I made of footage from our honeymoon!
In a few days, I get to marry Michael. It feels like this day has been on my mind for years. Not just the day I get to wear a pretty white dress, but the day I get to marry my best friend. The day I get to commit myself to another human being- my person- in front of everyone that we love.
If I’m being honest, there have been so many moments in the past year- but especially in the past month, that I’ve let the stress of planning–essentially the biggest party of my PlansMorans career— get in the way of how joyous this period is supposed to be. I’ve become consumed in the details and the stress of making everything perfect. My temper has been short and my feelings have been easily hurt and the ironic part is that that man that I’m marrying is the one who has received the brunt of it. (Also my mom….my mom has seen some tears.) So, if you’re reading this Mike– I’m sorry, I love you, I promise my fuse is not typically this short! Thank you for dealing with my rollercoaster of emotions.
But as of tomorrow, the planning will be over and the celebrating will begin. And by Friday, nearly everyone that means the most to us will be on the Cape to help us celebrate. I can’t get over how amazing that’s going to be. When else in your life are you surrounded by, truly, all those you love? Hometown friends, college friends, mentors, in our case- our incredible team of doctors and nurses and of course, both of our families? It’s an occasion that we’re lucky to experience and I so want to relish in every second… I want to soak up every ounce of love and bottle it up!
But since I can’t physically bottle up this weekend, my goal is to take mental snapshots. Remember Mike’s face, remember our officiants words, remember the feel of hugs from friends and family. Remember the butterflies in my stomach when we kiss for the first time as husband and wife. Remember the euphoric feeling when looking around and seeing faces from near and far. Remember how bad my feet hurt after a night of epic dancing. But most of all, I hope I remember the feel of Mike’s hands holding mine, the look in his eye when he promises to be my husband, the wind whipping past my cheek as he spins me around the dance floor. I want to remember every detail from the day I become the wife of the man I love so much, my partner in life, my best friend, my soulmate.
I am so excited for this day, this weekend, our honeymoon but I am most excited for another chapter in our life to begin together. In the six years we’ve known each other, we have experienced a lot of ups and downs- career struggles and stress, a cancer diagnosis, a mother lost, but babies (and a puppy!) have also been born, we’ve traveled, we’ve laughed, we’ve danced, we’ve had so many firsts, we’ve had so many happy moments together. With each hurdle, we’ve stuck together and lifted each other up. And with each positive experience, it’s felt more intense, more beautiful, more incredible because we’ve had each other to share it with.
Meeting Michael was the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Making it to the day that I get to marry him was a far-away dream. For a brief moment, that dream flickered, but on Saturday it’s a dream that gets to come true. And that makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. My life is better with him in it- our lives are better with each other in it- and for that, I am overwhelmingly thankful.
To everyone who has been a part of supporting, nourishing and bringing happiness to our relationship- thank you!
Mike & I were both on vacation for the week of the Fourth so we went to our favorite beach, Jeness in NH one day. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Not a cloud in the blue sky, a slight breeze to keep comfortable and the sun shining in every essence. It shined on my body, my soul and my mind.
I needed a day of peace and sunshine. A day to listen to the waves and chatter of families and friends. I needed a day to rejuvenate my mind as lately I’ve been feeling like I’m running on empty. Small things have upset me, my feelings are easily hurt and I send myself into a state of sadness too often. Life is good. But I’ve been having a hard time remembering that lately. Too much time spent checking off “tasks” that seem important during the day but when I take a second to think about it, aren’t actually that significant. I haven’t given enough time to keeping my mind in a positive, healthy space and it shows thru my rollercoaster of emotions. It’s easy to forget, but keeping our minds healthy takes some time and effort.
The beach always helps me press the reset button, however. It helps me slow down and appreciate the beauty of the day and the life I’ve been given. It helps remind me of the respect I have for our great Mother Earth. It helps remind me of how grateful I am for having Mike in my life and how excited I am to marry him in 13 days (ahhh!!). And it also reminds me of little things in life that I’m grateful for too, like the fact that it’s a blessing that I live in a country where I have the right to go to the beach and swim in the waves in a bikini!! The beach is my place to help disconnect me from the “world” and in turn, it connects me so deeply to what’s important in my life and the real world that surrounds me.
I hope that you take the time to go your happy place more often- to go wherever it is in the world that helps you reconnect to the important things in life. Because, taking the time is important.
I haven’t written a blog post since my port was removed. That was March 13.
I thought that by not writing about cancer or talking about cancer, I wouldn’t think about cancer. But there’s still not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. To be honest, there’s hardly an hour that goes by without it popping into my mind.
Is writing like riding a bike?
Can you not write for years and then start back up again- like you never stopped?
I hope so, cuz I’m ready to start riding again. Wait, I mean writing.
Four months of being a stay-at-home pup mom brings up a lot of emotions and they varied everyday. One day I would be jacked up when Mike got home, so excited to talk to someone- to a HUMAN! Omg! And then others I’d be down, unable to keep a conversation because I felt so bad about myself. I felt guilty that I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t making money for our family, and that I didn’t have a better direction of where I wanted to go than I did the day before. I over-compensated by trying to do every single household chore one can think of. I became an award-winning chef. I got to spend time with family members that I know I wouldn’t have been able to if I had been working full time. There was so much good that happened in these months yet some days seemed so very difficult, so lonely and sad. What I learned, is that I need some sort of structure, I need to have a purpose, I need to feel part of a team. More than be part but I need to feel like I’m an equal part to the team. It’s essential to my happiness. Without it, I feel unworthy. Whether or not that’s a healthy realization, that’s yet to be determined. But it certainly is true for me. I’ve begun telling myself “I am worthy” during meditation. That’s because I am. But I don’t always believe it. I don’t always believe that I am worthy of this life I have been given- one with many abundances, many positive relationships, and above all, one that is healthy again. Feeling worthy is essential. It’s a piece of life I definitely haven’t mastered but I’m working on. I hope you read this and remind yourself that you’re worthy too. You’re worthy of all the good things that have happened to you, you’re worthy of all the blessings you’ve been given, you’re worthy of this life… your life.
With that simple post, I feel accomplished and I feel like I can start writing again. I’ve had my down moments in the past 3-4 months but I also have had amazing moments- I’ve gone tubing with my whole family, I’ve helped throw and had my own bridal shower & bachelorette party! I’ve traveled to Vermont, Florida and Austin. I’ve gone on long walks with phoebs on the beach. I watched my baby brother graduate college. I’ve gone to sporting games and concerts. I picked out my WEDDING ring! I’ve done SO much actually now that I’m looking back. And the best part is that new things are happening and there’s so much more to look forward to! I want to remember every bit of it… so it’s time to start documenting!
Happy weekend! Hoping you get to soak up the rays of sun that have finally decided to come out to play! ☀️
After a long weekend full of food and drinks, this always seems to be what Mike and I end up googling….
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
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)
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
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!
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.
I used to count how many months “down” I was. But tonight, I can say I’m a month and a half “in” and headed back to Dana Farber for the first time as a “graduated” patient tomorrow. It’s already been 6 weeks since I got my last dose of chemotherapy and my body and mind are finally beginning to truly heal. After two years of a tingly tongue and numbness in my fingertips, those underlying & continuous feelings have gone away. So have much of my fatigue, headaches and nausea are gone. I no longer have to stop eating two hours prior to going to bed because of a daily chemo pill. I’ve gotten to lift life restrictions.
I’ve had a dirty martini. 🙌🏼
I’ve eaten sushi.
I’ve gone in a public pool and hot tub and not worried about getting an infection.
And had a mani/pedi day with my best without worrying about going against doctors recommendations not to in order to reduce risk of more infections.
I’ve gone to the Red Sox game with friends and stayed out too late on a work night.
I’ve become obsessive over the new Beyonce album. (Download ‘Freedom’ and then try telling me she’s not my soul sistah)
I’ve done yoga and felt strong the entire time.
I’ve had a 24 hour get-away with Michael
I’ve lived six weeks of a “free me” and damn, it feels good.
I still have so much to work on and mentally get through; some days I’m good and some days I’m emotional. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, I still don’t know exactly why I was given this second shot but I’m so grateful for it. I’m so happy to get to live my life!
Lots of love & light,
The bone marrow biopsies are a thing of the past. It was a stressful morning as things got pushed back and I didn’t end up being taken in until 12:30. So while we waited, we took pics…obviously.
Then I was taken in and I had to take a pic with my most fabulous doctor who has done all my spinal taps and all my bone marrow biopsies since the beginning. Not only is she the most fashionable lady at the Dana but she also is the absolute sweetest.
Now it was time to get suited up- and tis the bunny season, I just had to…
So then it was time to chill with the silliness and get this thing some and over with!
(Warning:this is a little graphic but Mike took it and I found it fascinating as I’ve obviously never seen it from this angle!)
And just like that, I took my last “big breath”, Susan pulled the marrow and it was over. I instantly started crying but it was tears of such joy, relief and gratitude. I felt so empowered and so strong in that moment. I have hated this procedure every time, I have always gotten so worked up before and after as I wait for the results. But the reality is, it’s out of my control now. I’ll get the results next week and I really feel deep in my heart that the leukemia is out of my body so the moment just hit me so hard, like WOW, I’m really almost done. The finish line isn’t around the corner anymore- it’s right there, I just have a few more steps until I cross that yellow line.
As always, Michael was there by my side. Today, actually holding onto my feet, but right there with me, making sure Halo was being played at the appropriate time and loving me with everything he has. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really am the luckiest girl in the world.
With that, I’m making myself a bowl of ice cream and continuing to relax on the couch with my two loves for the night. Thank you for the millionth time to everyone who said a little prayer for me, I owe you big time.