New Year, Same Me

  
You hear a lot of “new year, new you” chatter around this time. And although I like the sentiment of making resolutions to improve your life and update something in your world that could use extra time and energy, I like to think that it’s not a new me doing these things, it’s the same me with an improved mindset. 

This year, my resolution is to take at least 5 minutes to myself every day. To lay down on my yoga mat, stress relief oil burner on, feet up in the air, left hand on my heart, right hand on my stomach and really feel grateful for the moment and the day that I just had. Even when I don’t have time to do an entire yoga practice, I’ve found that taking a few minutes to do some deep breathing, stretching out the kinks, and thinking about of the things I’m thankful for can significantly help my mindset and can make me feel better even during a hard day. But often times I don’t make “time” for it, when the reality is I always have 5 minutes. Always. 

And as the quote says, I firmly believe that a positive mind moves to positive vibes and makes a positive life.

So whatever your resolution is for 2016, I hope you stick with it and make it a positive change in your life. But do you, you’re beautiful just the way you are! 
Lots of love & light,

Jessy 

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Sweat & Smiles

The beauty of yoga is that it truly is YOUR practice. It can be mindful, humbling, spiritual, physically difficult, but it also can be fun, and silly and happy! To me, it’s about being in the moment, whether that moment is a serious one or happy go-lucky one. Yesterday, I needed to make my heart feel good. After a  stressful day at work, and more importantly a draining day on my mind as I was of course worrying about my Grammy’s surgery (which by the way, thank you all for your positive thoughts and vibes, she came out of surgery and is recovering now at the Brigham. Thanks to you all, we all so appreciate it!) So yesterday, I needed my practice to be fun. I needed my practice to lift a load off and just let me be silly in a pretty serious day. So on went the upbeat music so I could get in some poses that would challenge me physically but also allow me to snap my fingers, shake my rump, roll my shoulders and shake my head like a dog! 20 minutes of sweating it out and smiling and I was feeling like a different lady!

I hope this video makes you laugh or smile. Happy Tuesday loves!

Lot of love & light,

Jessy

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

Push thru Tuesday Bluesday

“Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Having a hard time the past few days and really needed this reminder. Gotta make the best of what you’re given and pay as little attention to those negative vibes and feelings in your life.

Hope you all get through this Tuesday with good spirits and happy smiles!

XOXO,

Jessy

Happy & Healthy

Back to reality, huh? Just like many of you, I decided to take some time “off” (of writing) during the holidays. I had such an amazing two weeks. Saw so many family and friends, gave and received some great presents (like my new iPhone I’m writing from), went on a perfect getaway with Mike up north where we ended the trip ziplining through the trees of the white mountains and just got relaxed and rejuvenated for 2015.

Every year, people always wish me a happy and healthy new year. I say it too. But until this year, I don’t think I truly felt the importance of this wish. This saying is so often used but so rarely embraced by the one saying it. We simply say the phrase and wish it upon those around us but don’t make it a priority to ensure that we, ourselves, are “happy and healthy.” After a year full of doctors appointments, hospital stays, chemotherapy and radiation, I’ve learned what a true blessing it is to have good health. A blessing that should not be taken for granted. But while I’ve been burdened with many health issues this past year, I’ve also been reminded of the importance of “making the right choices.” These are the things in life that we have control over, like eating healthy, working out regularly, staying hydrated each day, and exploring alternative medicines like acupuncture and massage therapy. All the little decisions add up so make each day count. Take every opportunity to better your body and therefore better yourself. Things like drinking natural teas that have added benefits such as lowering cholesterol or providing your body with antioxidants. Getting that massage you’ve been thinking of— it’s not just pampering yourself, it’s helping to lower stress and better circulate your blood. Avoiding food and products that have chemicals and toxins. Exercising multiple times a week. This doesn’t have to mean wasting away on the elliptical (unless that’s your thing!), it can be so many different things like going for a long walk, doing yoga, taking a zumba class, lifting weights, or climbing the stairs in your house a few times. Whatever it is you can find time for in your day, do it! It makes a huge difference. Just recently, I was cleared to begin going to my gym again. I was amazed at how much strength and endurance I had lost since the last time I had worked out there but I also know that the body is a powerful tool and one that, with training and dedication, can do pretty amazing things. So although we do not have control over some of the big things life can hand us, like accidents, diseases, or in my case, cancer, we do have control over the little things that can add up to a lot. Being healthy is a combination of good choices, so try to make the right ones.

Now comes the second part of this wish. Happiness. Even more than the gift of health, I’ve learned the blessing that it is to feel true happiness. I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve always been a genuinely happy person; little things get me excited like winning $5 on a scratch ticket or having a 1D song come on the radio (yes, One Direction. I may be 25 but I will always get obsessive over boy bands.) So when there were days upon days that I honestly had to try hard to crack a smile, it felt off… it felt, not normal. Feeling happy doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it certainly comes and goes depending on the time and difficulty of your life at that moment. But what I have realized is that, above anything else, the power of your mind is a force that’s hard to be reckoned with— that staying positive and keeping an optimistic outlook will make all the difference, even at the worst of times. As I said, there were many days that it was extremely difficult to stay positive and felt nearly impossible to feel a sense of happiness. However, I was always able to close my eyes and remind myself that I am a strong woman, one that has been given many gifts in life and one that has an incredible support system. These things, no matter how terrible my day was, gave me a glimmer of happiness. Remind yourself of these things when you are feeling down— say out loud what you feel blessed to be or have in this life; it’ll make you feel better, even if just for a little bit. Happiness is something that is often taken for granted, I surely took it for granted before this past year. But what I’ve learned and hope to pass on to the people who read this, is to really enjoy the “ups” in life so you can show yourself compassion during the “downs.” Smile when a snowflake falls on your nose, sing out loud when your favorite song comes on, be grateful when you’re laughing with friends, close your eyes and really feel the sun beating on your face, and dance HARD whenever you damn well please.

C-r-e-a-t-e happy. C-h-o-o-s-e healthy.

XOXO,
Jessy

Photo on 1-5-15 at 6.15 PM #2

The Next Chapter

Monday afternoon I walked outside for the first time in 25 days and although too cold for my liking, it was the freshest, most crisp air I’ve ever breathed into my little lungs. Getting to sit next to Mike as we drove home through our fabulous city made me the happiest, proudest Bostonian to have ever lived. Stepping into our home was overwhelming but beautiful at the same time. I felt a sense of relief and gratitude that I was able to be in my own home again, as I know not everyone dealt this hand is always as fortunate. Then together Mike and I jumped into the most gloriously comfortable bed I’ve ever laid in and spent a few minutes simply enjoying being together in our home and in our bed. It was a moment I’ll never forget. 
 
And then there was Pizzeria Regina’s. Never have I shoveled food such like a wild animal in my life but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Buffalo chicken pizza. Pineapple & prosciutto pizza. Mediterranean Greek Salad. 
Nom. Nom. Nom. 
 
With all the excitement of being home, there also came a very daunting feeling. Because as I woke up in my own bed yesterday morning and everything in my home was physically the same, nothing was the same. The last time I woke up in this bed I went to work like every other day not knowing what life was about to hand me. Since that day, my life has flipped upside down. And while I do truly believe everything happens for a reason and this is just a difficult chapter in what is an amazing life…it’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. 
 
But lucky for me, as with every other day so far in my small journey, my family (that includes you Mr. Stevens) was here to pull me up and help me see all that I am lucky to have. And that it’s not just my life that’s changed but all those that I love lives that changed. And that we’re in this hard, long road together. 
 
Today I had my first visit as an outpatient and it went really smoothly– my doctors and nurses, per usual, were amazing and made me feel comfortable and calm. As scary and new as this experience is to me, they constantly remind me that they do this every single day and are the absolute best at what they do– the reassuring feeling this creates is invaluable. While I was in the hospital, I’m not going to lie, I was going absolutely insane over the terrible food… I watched literally hours and hours of the Food Network (I know, I know I’m as masochist), so after a long but successful morning, Mike and I found a spot that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives hosted by my idol Guy Fieri and treated ourselves to some of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Wooooo chil’ they were good! 
 
So now I don’t have to go back to the hospital until next Wednesday where I will get a bunch of treatments done including my second bone marrow pull. REALLY not looking forward to that but it will tell us something very important– if my leukemia cells have disappeared! And that, that’s some news I want to find out! Until then, I will keep on keepin’ on and enjoying all the little things in life… like silky sheets, snap chatting with The Voice (yup, did that last night), going for walks, painting my nails, looking at old pictures and of course, eating dynamite food. 
 
Happy Hump Day everyone– hope it’s a fabulous week so far! 
 
Xoxo,
Jessy 
 
P.S. I had cold pineapple and prosciutto pizza for breakfast yesterday morning and I didn’t feel one iota of guilt. Probably doing it again tomorrow. 
Sue me. 

High and Lows

A day after my absolutely fabulous Friday and two scoops of chemo crappiness later, I’ve had an all-in-all rough 72 hours. Both physically and mentally. I woke up Saturday morning with an extreme amount of jaw, mouth and throat pain which we quickly learned is an infection in my GI tract that comes quite often as a result of chemo. As with any infection, it onset a fever and some nausea. It continued to get worse and by Sunday my fever was up to 102.5. Pretty much sucking the life out of me, even my doctor noticed I wasn’t “as perky” as normal. Luckily I had some friends and family stop by both days which helps to put my attention on something other than the uncomfortableness; even if just for a few minutes. I certainly didn’t expect that I would be Miss Pollyanna, sunshine and rainbows the whole time but this was the first really rough patch I’ve had so far– the kind that punched me in the face with the reality of just how hard and long this road is going to be.

Then we added some insult to injury: Sunday morning my hair started to bid me goodbye. Some people may call this deep denial but I like to say I was being an enteral optimist when thinking just maybe I’d beat the odds and not lose my hair. I was quite honestly clinging onto this glimpse of hope and up until Sunday morning I was yanking on my hair everyday to see it it felt “loose” and lucky for me, it had been sticking in there quite well. Unfortunately, and unknowingly to me, the hair loss comes on extremely quickly and from Sunday morning to when I first noticed hair on my pillow, I was pulling out large chunks by Monday morning (pukeeeee). This quite literally made me feel nauseous. So, since my mom was here for the day, I had one of my favorite nurses and lets face it, didn’t have much of a schedule, I decided to rip the band-aid off as quick as possible and take control of the situation. With a Beyonce playlist of “If I were a boy” and “Diva” blaring in the background, we began the buzz-a-thon: and to my utter shock, it felt great. The first row of hair took my breath a way a bit but I didn’t cry because I felt a sense of control. It felt like I was choosing this, not my sickness making me do it. Which was empowering and important for me to feel.

And, it’s gone! G.I. Jane, anyone?
(refresh the page to see a little slideshow of the whole “buzz-a-thon”)  
Image
One life lesson learned yesterday: anxiety leading up to a challenge is more than half the battle. The thought of buzzing off my hair ended up being far worse than the actual agony of doing it. And, if you decide to make something shitty, something fun, it’s guaranteed to be a better experience than if you didn’t.
Xoxox,
Jessy