2016 Year in Review

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Playing in the rain on my wedding day

2016 was a great year overall for us. We had our ups and downs as anyone does, but we had so many wins this year it made all the crummy stuff worth it.

Some of the things from our family vision board manifested themselves into reality this year. I’m totally into what many refer to as woo woo; I believe in visualization and I look at my vision board every morning before I meditate. In February we traveled to Arizona for a week to check out potential places to live and scope out the local scene. In December we married on Maui next to the ocean underneath the beautiful palm trees, something we had dreamt of for many years. It was such a fun week celebrating with family and friends on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. If you had told me ten years ago all these things I wished for would actually happen, I probably would have told you, “You’re crazy!”. My life was just stumbling along until I discovered and added in some of these success habits and goal setting techniques. I also began writing my future book about my cancer story and how I recovered from treatments, which I can’t wait to share with you!

This year also marked an important milestone for me. 15 years that I have been blessedly cancer free. I feel like that is a reason to celebrate! I have made it this far with no chronic illness besides my hypothyroidism from radiation therapy. It does not mean much to life insurance companies however, they think I will die soon apparently so they refuse to insure me at any cost. It’s quite unfortunate that you get treated like some kind of defective human after cancer. I can’t donate blood either. I’m just going to keep living as healthy a lifestyle as I can so I can live to 100! (My current goal) I’m still thinking about ways I can help and inspire other childhood cancer survivors that being healthy can be accomplished after cancer, I do not like the current statistic that 80% of childhood cancer survivors have a chronic illness by age 40. I want to lower that number.

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Myself all puffed up on steroids during treatment in 2001

We’ve also been dealing with the toxic black mold situation that has progressively gotten worse the longer we are living here. It’s such a nightmare to try to get out of if you don’t have a safe place to go and a wedding already planned and paid for with non refundable plane tickets. I have read multiple books on minimalism over the past few years and made it my goal to lose the materialism and stuff that doesn’t bring me joy, but I’ve floundered at it quite honestly. I seriously cut back on buying things, but I felt like I couldn’t ever get rid of enough stuff! Well, now we really don’t have a choice. The universe has brought me a lesson on the importance of minimalism and shedding excess stuff. We can bring what we deem safe and the furniture is all going. A new mattress on the floor in an empty room is better than being ill!

Myself now with my family

Myself now with my family

This next year will be super exciting as more things manifest into our lives from our vision board. Currently we are packing, selling and donating in preparation to move to Arizona. I’m immensely excited about this as I have dreamt of moving to a warm climate for a decade now. It’s finally happening! When you evaluate your life and gain clarity on what you really want it can happen. Years of hard work eventually do pay off. When we looked at the current environment we live in (weather included) it was not conducive to the type of lifestyle we’d like to lead, so we made the decision to move across the country. It’s interesting how it all came together in the past few years, as if it were simply meant to be. The universe works in mysterious ways indeed. Have a happy, healthy, amazing New Year!

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A Joyful Life

IMG_9858About this time fifteen years ago, my biopsy came back positive for recurrent malignancy. I seriously thought my life was over just before my 21st birthday. I made sure I enjoyed plenty of time with my friends and had lots of fun before I went into the hospital. Having cancer is a great teacher, but no one should have to go through such a horrible ordeal to learn these valuable lessons that I am about to discuss. 

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” -Sam Levenson

I spent way too many years not loving myself. My body was not fit enough, my face wasn’t pretty enough, my teeth weren’t white enough, and my hair wasn’t straight enough. The list would go on and on. I could totally drone on with the things I thought were wrong, but I won’t. There’s nothing but self-love from me now. 😉 I learned the number one most important thing in life is my health, which is why I eat intentionally, exercise regularly, and meditate. You can read my posts on how we eat and how we supplement if you are curious. The second most important thing is living your dreams. If you aren’t happy and joyful most of the time, you can’t be truly healthy.

IMG_9844Recently, we went to visit Arizona for a week to visit different towns and look at places to live. This has been a dream of mine for over a decade now, to move to Arizona. Before this trip, I had only seen Arizona in pictures; so many people are puzzled as to how I just decided I am moving to a place I have never been in my life. Why Arizona? I think the fascination started in two ways. First, my aunt growing up was my role model. She was amazingly smart, beautiful, kind, and always impeccably dressed. She often visited Arizona (sometimes to test missiles) and talked about how she’d love to live there. (She never did get to move there before passing away.) Second, after I survived cancer the second time, I found Dr. Andrew Weil’s books and fell in love with his work in integrative medicine. He told a story in 8 Weeks to Optimum Health about how his car broke down in the desert of Arizona in 1973. He fell in love with the beauty of the desert and never left. For some reason or another, that story really stuck with me and created a seed of vision.

This trip was dedicated to enjoying everything Arizona has to offer and finding out where we’d like to start our lives out there. I have to say, it more than exceeded the expectations I had set in my mind. I felt like I was finally at home. The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and the food was amazing! Needless to say, we were all sad to board the plane to go back to NJ, for we had fallen in love with our forever home. We are very excited to make our way out there next year to start a new chapter in our lives.

I hear so many people make excuses for not living their life their way on their terms. When I tell people I want to leave NJ and move halfway across the country to AZ where I know no one, they often have this very similar response, “I would love to leave NJ, but I can’t because my family is here.” Well, my family is here too! I love my family, but do I really want to spend my life not pursuing my dreams to be near them 24/7? Not really. I am most joyful in the summertime, it gives me more energy. Why would I want to stay where it is cold and grey for months every year? If I loved winter and winter sports it might be a great place to be, but I do not.

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We are fools to waste our time, make the most of your time here. If you moan and complain you will only get negative energy back. If you have your health you have all the wealth in the world, you are truly blessed. Do what brings you joy, go live in that place you’ve always dreamt of, find your dream job, your dream spouse. There’s no reason not to, and if you tell yourself otherwise, it’s really just an excuse to stay in your comfort zone. So many of our limitations are self imposed. I heard a great idea, to plan your life backwards from your death, that way you will live in alignment with your true goals. I would say that works as I had to evaluate my life as if it were over any day; it creates a lot of clarity as to what is important.

You only live once; go live your dreams! Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone to chase your dreams? What is stopping you? 

New Year’s Detox & Goals

Each year I make it my goal to make the coming new year my best year ever. This way as I progress through life I am assuredly becoming a better version of myself. I’d like to share my goals for this year with you lovelies:

  1. Drink green juices or smoothies more frequently. These help get more nutrients into your body quickly and they are great to drink first thing in the morning for energy all day. It’s also a good way to squeeze more fruits and veggies into your diet. (But let’s face it, that juicer is a pain to clean!)
  2. Unfollow people on social media who do not have a positive outlook on life. I no longer wish to clutter my newsfeed with things that do not serve me in any way. What you put in your mind is just as important as what you put in your mouth.
  3. Get to the gym before work. This one is hard for some people. I know as a former night owl, it’s painful to get out of bed by 5am. Especially when it’s cold and dark and the covers are so warm and inviting. The research shows that early morning workouts get your blood going, make you more productive throughout your day, they give you energy and help you sleep well.
  4. Journal every day and use a planner to plan your days out. This year I’m going to try the Passion Planner and see how I like it, I’ve heard great things about it. I also use the Freedom Journal to do my morning journaling. These habits have really helped me to become more productive and organized, which everyone could benefit from.
  5. Meal plan more consistently. Meal plans make it easier to get through a busy week and they help you eat better too. You can also save money by only buying the ingredients you need.
  6. No screen time one hour before bed. I am notorious for breaking this rule by reading and writing on my phone in bed. The research is pretty solid that we get a better nights sleep when we cut the lights out at least an hour before shut eye.
  7. Learn to say no to things that do not serve you. If it doesn’t feel right or help you move toward your goals, saying no to things is ok.

I hope this list inspires you to create your own list for the New Year! I’d love to hear some of your goals in the comments section. What would you add?

The Holiday Hugging Challenge

KHPhoto_0848I’ve had an aversion to touch for as long as I can recall. I’m not quite sure where it came from; my best guess is a traumatic early childhood memory. I can still vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car as a child not wanting my thighs to touch my sibling’s. This was pretty difficult to accomplish mind you,  as I have three brothers, so the car was crowded.

I assumed that others did not want to be touched either based on my own paradigm, so I just went through my young adult life avoiding physical contact with anyone that I wasn’t really comfortable with. I would hug and kiss my boyfriends of course when I started dating, but I would receive complaints from some that I was not affectionate enough. Still though, I never enjoyed hugging much, it just felt expected. It may be the introvert in me, the jury is still out on that.

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This was me!

Then of course, I had a baby. All of a sudden my world was filled with snuggles and cuddling all the time, and I loved it! There is no fear of rejection with a child, they are so full of love. I felt so at peace hugging my baby boy. It made me wonder why I found it so easy to be affectionate with him but not with adults.

In more recent years I started to come to the realization that this fear of rejection and intimacy is holding me back in life. There’s this little child inside that says, “Hey, it’s easier to not do anything than to try and be horribly rejected!” Sadly, I listen to this voice far too often! When I joined the yoga community and saw how friendly everyone was, I almost felt like an outsider looking in at all the happy squealing women embracing each other. I longed to be part of that world. So here is where my challenge began. I would force myself out of my comfort zone and hug people! It has taken a lot of mental work to push myself to get over my fear of hugging random people, but I have been doing really well so far.

So, I propose a hugging challenge for the month of December! Anyone can join me at anytime. My goal is to try to hug at least one person every day. Hug everyone and anyone this holiday season and spread some joy and love. Tis’ the season of giving hugs! If you’re already a big hugger then some other random acts of kindness will work too. 😉 Spread the word and let me know in the comments if you have ever been afraid to be intimate with someone.