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

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

March 25th: A Day I’ll Remember 

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!

   
 
Go time.

(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.

Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

Two Years of Bubble Girl

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Two years ago this picture was taken. This was the first time that I had been able to see Leni since I was diagnosed. Truthfully, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

A few days later and this picture was taken….

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was still severely neutropenic at that point which is why I had to wear a mask and gloves when she was around. This picture is such mix of emotions: I feel such love and warmth when I look at the two of us locking eyes. She is truly my little angel and I’m so grateful to have her as my Goddaughter. But it brings an emotion of sadness because I sit in bed two years later and feel like, although so much has changed, not much has changed at all. 

Since that picture… I cut my hair….

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Then I lost it all.

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But then slowly things started to turn around and I started getting fuzzies. Photo on 6-11-14 at 4.22 PM

it was time to fix my pancreas — with a full head of hair! PRAISE JESUS! IMG_5248

And then on January 12, 2015 I marched right back into the work force. I came back to the same desk I had left abruptly on February 20th 2014. IMG_5164

I even bought myself a new car to deal with all the winter snow– santa fe BEEP BEEP!IMG_5262

Then I started balding again which was no fun but I kept my “crow” cool and namasted on.IMG_4013

Then I went back to my old almamater and made a speech for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It was a moment that I’ll never forget.

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things were starting to feel like normal again. IMG_6602

I was even able to put my hair in a pony tail!!!!!!!!IMG_7118

I was getting stronger and doing things with friends. IMG_7912

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AND THEN THIS HAPPENED. IMG_9199

PUP. MOM. = Life changed forever. In the best way possible. IMG_9376

I’ve been feeling so much happiness. Like I’m finally in the right place at the right time. IMG_0377

But then three weeks ago happened and I was made into Bubble Girl again– not able to see anyone who hasn’t cleared themselves as very healthy and certainly no going into work or public places. Then I had a week that I got taken off the house arrest and I sighed a sense of relief knowing that my counts were going back up, they weren’t yet where they need to be for treatment, but they were in the right direction. THEN I go into clinic last Wednesday. Uh oh. My counts have dropped to lower than they were even before when I was put on house arrest. So not only am I told, no going into work or public until you’re back here next Wednesday but we’re most likely going to want to do a bone marrow biopsy to “make sure things are okay.” For the first time in a very long time, Dr. D had a very serious demeanor, he mentioned that he “just could not explain” why my counts would be doing something like this. We go over a few complicated possibilities but all my mind was registering is this is no good– this is not what I want to hear– this is exactly the  opposite of what i want to hear. Just moments before, i had been thoroughly concerned about my end date being pushed back another week, now i’m a terrified that something has come back. That the leukemia may be showing signs of recurring. As I say these things to Mike and other close family and friends, I am often shooshed and told “we can’t talk like that” but the reality is, that’s a possibility, as small as it may be, that could happen. I am trying so hard to stay positive. I have been burning essential oils day and night, trying to breathe in only good toxins, deep breathing, taking ativans when I get too worked up, looking up at the sky a lot more to remind myself how big this place is and how small I am, I feel like I’ve tried everything but the fact of the matter is is that this shit is absolutely horrifying. I cannot begin to go down the path that my mind takes when I think about the doctors telling me something I don’t want to hear, so I won’t go there… but I know, it’s a place I really really don’t want to be. I’m just so close.

Two years ago when that picture with my niece was taken, I told little Leni that in two years, Auntie was going to be all better– that’d I’d be able to play with her all the time, with no masks and no gloves. I want to make good on that promise.

If you have a free moment tonight or tomorrow, I would so appreciate if you kept me in your thoughts and prayers. If you just sent me good energy to harness to endure whatever is to come. May it be the expected path I’ve been on, or one that takes a turn. I am a warrior princess and I’ll be ready… just need some of my angels behind me to cheer me on. I know I ask of you all a lot so I hope it’s not “too much”– I just so believe in your positive energy and thoughts being the ones to heal me.

All my love and light,

Jessy

 

p.s. here is Leni last week breakin hearts for Valentine’s Day. Does it get any cuter?

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Making Moves

Last Monday I began an 8 week online course that focuses on career growth and exploration; trying to discover what you really want to do, what truly makes you happy. I signed up for this because as I’ve made mention to before, I feel a little lost right now at work. It could be because of what I’m doing, it could be because I don’t have the flexibility or freedom I fantasize about, it could be because I’m still bitter from the demotion, or it could be because I don’t feel like I’m helping anyone or making a difference in the world. Either way, I’m restless and I don’t love the feeling. And although I don’t feel like I can actually make moves anytime soon, I decided I can take baby steps towards finding a career that’s meaningful and makes me happy on a daily basis. That career could be right where I am today (in an upward trajectory of course haha) but I need to clarify that in my mind so I can stop second guessing myself.
I’m only one week into this course but I’m already finding it more challenging than I would’ve expected. Only because there’s a lot of “self reflection” so far and reflecting on yourself (and trying to be unbiased) is REALLY hard. When it asked me to list things that make me the happiest, I answered with things like, riding waves in the ocean, singing out loud in the car, feeling the sunshine on my face, dancing around my living room, cuddling with Mike, going for long walks, doing yoga outside. Although these things are all wonderful, none of them are qualities that can point me in the right direction of a career.  When asked for what people ask for my help on, I literally couldn’t think of one thing. When asked what I’m good at, I had a really hard time thinking of anything. I kept thinking, “well, I’m a people person” but that’s not a sellable quality. You can’t make a career out of being a people person.

So I’ve been feeling a little frustrated, I want so desperately to figure out what I’m supposed to do. I’m impatient, and I want to figure it out NOW. I overthink things and let my thoughts get the best of me. And this is one of the cases where I am overthinking the absolute crap out of everything. Honestly, it’s because I feel this overwhelming weight on my shoulders to make the most out of my life and since work is about 75% of your waking hours, that includes my job. I try to remind myself that I’m only 26, my whole life doesn’t need to be planned right now. But what I’ve also learned in the past year, is that life is short and it’s too short to be unhappy for too long. If you want a change, you have to make that change for yourself. Just like success in a job doesn’t come without effort, happiness doesn’t always come without effort either. You have to work for a promotion, work for a raise, and so forth you have to work for your happiness, you have to make a conscious effort to make changes to your life in order to be your happiest, most satisfied self.

Do you guys ever feel like this? What have you done to best optimize your work life? I’d love to hear from people!!

Now off to start my Week 2 packet…

XOXO,
Jessy

My Year in Review

As 2014 was quite the unexpected year for me, throughout the year, I decided to take videos and pictures of myself while home alone to document what my thoughts and feelings were on a day-to-day basis. I’ve made a compilation video of some of these images and clips of the videos to share with all of you who have so kindly followed my story all year.

Thanks to each and everyone of you for your support, kind words of encouragement and love throughout 2014. It has made all the difference in the world.

XOXO,
Jessy