Butterfly Brave! A lesson in eggs!

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Beautiful, farm fresh eggs. With lovely speckled shells and thick (perfect) yolks. A dream for hard core bakers and pastry chefs like me. Every (rather infrequent) time I get my hands on fresh organic eggs like these, my heart sings a little (okay, a lot) like it’s Christmas Eve. In July. Since it IS July. Because not only do I love working with what I call “real” eggs within my recipes, but eggs have become incredibly symbolic in my 38 years thus far. For more reasons than I can relate in one small blog post.

Eggs, to me, to all humans, and most other mammals as well, mean one very important thing. Truly the most important thing. They mean life created. They, very technically, mean the realization of children, following in very expectant footprints. Love reincarnated. As I know, with every beat of my heart, because of my own own daughter, now 3-1/2 years old. She, who my husband & I fought for, for nearly 2 years, through more physical pain than most can imagine. Because we knew that we were meant to be parents. A miracle that the Universe, that God, bestowed upon us, in the form of this warm, affectionate, loving, spirited, fiery, mischievous soul who is our beautiful daughter, Arianna. The greatest gift we have ever received. Because of the beauty of one little egg, that despite all odds and every battle that I faced, became our Miracle.

So in light of my reminiscing, of the odds that were spoken (& assumed) against us, of the physical, exhausting pain that I endured while we struggled to create our Miracle Baby, of the many, many years that we could have “tried” yet didn’t, of the cancer specialist who urged us 11 years ago, after my 1st multiple tumor removal surgery, to begin our family THEN instead of risking my (then borderline) cancer from becoming malignant, today, after so many years of battle, this is what I’ve learned.

Don’t wait. If there’s something in your heart, beating up against your soul, screaming quietly to break out, to break free, to experience, let it. Let it break free. Let whatever passion that is, whatever dream of yours that may be, break free from whatever restraints have been holding it back, for whatever reasons. Let it happen. Take that dream, that passion, that lifelong goal, and just…do it. Now. Because there’s a reason why you’ve kept that passion, or dream of yours tightly bound, and confined within you, for so long. It’s something that your soul WANTS, NEEDS, something that’s been burning, and burning, brighter & brighter within you, something that’s made to be taken up within your hands, and molded, and shaped into being. Something that is meant to happen. Because the sad truth? Life is too short to not BE or DO the things that you truly WANT to do. Life is complicated, and messy, and very uncertain. But that’s NOT the point of life. The point of life is this: do what makes you happy. Do what your heart wants. Your dreams CAN come true, little by little, if you choose to let them. So don’t wait. Don’t wait any longer because of what this world has tricked you into believing. Let it just..happen. You might be surprised by what awaits when you do.

Today is the most important gift that we have been given. Use it. Before it’s gone.

All my love, xoxo

 

 

 

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Happiness Project#81: Broccoli Salad with a side of Chemo!

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3 weeks ago I went in for my 7th surgery. To remove another tumor. But things didn’t quite go as planned or expected. Instead of leaving the operating room with one less adrenal gland, I ended up leaving without a full kidney as well. Though I wasn’t told WHY I had unexpectedly lost a kidney (throughout a grueling 10 hour surgery), until my 2nd recovery day in the hospital. To put it as simply as possibly, though not lightly at all, my 3 doctors took out my left kidney in response to a rapidly growing tumor that had gone from eating up my adrenal gland as well as encasing my entire kidney within the 3 months that I had been undergoing pre-surgical testing. 3 months. Needless to say, when the oncologist came over to my recovery bed, on that 2nd day within my 6 day hospital stay, and revealed to me the “news,” my heart froze, and my verbal response was nothing short of absolute silence. The 5th day, before the day of my release, the same doctor (now my official oncologist), visited me again to reveal that the preliminary testings from that unexpected tumor had come back as active (malignant) cancer. Yes, cancer. Stage 3 Ovarian cancer.

So with this shocking, unexpected diagnosis, my life has been turned completely (& brutally) shaken up, and turned upside down. Because after 11 years of benign tumors, severe endometriosis, depression, a panic disorder, menopause and more visits to the ER than a person could ever imagine, cancer was never something that I believed could ever happen. Not when I was still struggling with so much. Yet it’s happened. And nearly 3 weeks later, after hearing of my diagnosis, I’m still angry, and overwhelmed, and very scared.

Since meeting up with my regular MD, my surgeon, as well as the specialist who completed my first massive ovarian/tumor removal surgery nearly 11 years ago, within the past two weeks since being released from the hospital, I currently know just enough about my cancer to have a very general idea of the “plan.” Which means chemotherapy for the next 5 to 6 months. Though NO radiation. Which seems like a pretty significant blessing, in my book right now. This Wednesday though, will be the BIG day, when I meet up with my oncologist for the 1st time, to figure all of this out.

Until then, when I start my half year regiment of chemotherapy, until my body figures out what I can and cannot take, until I have a better idea of what I’m up against during this new battle of mine, I’ll scream, and cry, and rail against this Universe. A Universe that continues to push me beyond what I thought I was ever strong enough for. Because I’m beyond scared right now. In more ways than I can ever explain.

So for now, I wanted to leave you with the yummiest broccoli apple salad (or as I affectionately name as broccoli candy salad), that I have ever feasted upon. Feasted upon like I could eat this ENTIRE recipe all on my own. For real. Ready for your own?

3 cups uncooked broccoli florets, minced

1 cup shredded or finely diced pealed carrots

1 cup green grapes, rinsed

2-1/2 cups diced Gala apples (my personal favorite apple)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup low fat Greek vanilla yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*1 cup dried cranberries, optional

You’ll need two medium sized mixing bowls for this salad.

In the first mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, carrots, grapes, and apples.

In the 2nd mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice, until nice and creamy.

Drizzle the dressing onto the dry broccoli salad, and with either your fingers (who’s ready to get messy?) or a big wooden spoon, toss everything together until fully coated. Throw in some dried cranberries if you want an added pop of sweetness! Pop that pretty salad into the fridge to chill before serving!

And believe me when I say that this is one of those salads that you will never tire of. I could eat this every other day if I wanted. Because this is MY idea of candy salad! Try it. You’ll totally get it once you do!

In conclusion, I might not be blogging as many family recipes while undergoing the next 6 months of chemotherapy. It mostly depends on how well I handle everything. I will however, be blogging here, all about this unexpected new battle of mine. Because I know that I can’t fight this battle alone. Without those who love, encourage and hold me up. Those who are my army.

Until next time, all my love to you! xoxo

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project: 3 Days

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I’m just 3 days shy of going in for my 7th major surgery in 11 years. To remove my 6th tumor. This one being a 7cm tumor engulfing my adrenal gland. And no matter that I’ve undergone so many major surgeries, it never gets easier. I always go through short bouts of nerves and anxiety throughout the days leading up to the actual procedure. Because no matter how much I like both of my surgeons, and have been walked through the actual (very intriguing) 3-4 hour surgery, my brain, and my heart, can’t help but fret over it.

So in anticipation of my big day next week, I wanted to put to ink some of the most poignant lessons that I have learned in my 38 years. Because I know how quickly life can change. Sometimes in an instant.

BE SOFT.

I’ve had many individuals that have crossed my path, name me as soft hearted. And I’ve learned within the past couple years, that I would rather be soft hearted than not. This life, this world, can be so very cruel, and unforgiving. Because sometimes people believe that in order to get by, they must be thick skinned. But I’ve learned that even though being soft hearted, and open to the people around me, may cause me pain, and grief, it has never changed the brightness within my heart. Choosing to respond to the world around you in a soft way, isn’t a disability, or a weakness. It’s a strength. Of character, of will, of heart. So no matter those who seek to hurt you, may you also choose to see things with a soft heart.

LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE.

Throughout the years growing up within my family, my father affectionately named me the “black sheep” of my two other sisters. For whatever reason, I just went my own way, against the grain (so to speak). A way of doing things that is still very prevalent within my adult life. From being a children’s book specialist for 18 years (which paid just a little over minimum wage), to going about planning my wedding in a unconventional manner, to choosing to fight extreme pain (while risking my life), while my husband & I fought to conceive, to choosing to share my life, with all the ups & downs with friends, and strangers alike, without taming my own truth (no matter if my words have been liked or not), I’ve always chosen to do my own thing. To create my own way, without regard to any nay-sayer. Because no matter others opinions, at the end of the day, this is my life to live. To journey through. To create. No one else’s. And that’s a beautiful thing.

FOLLOW YOUR HEART.

It may seem like an impossibly surreal idea to follow one’s heart in such a hard world, but I’ve found that every time I follow my heart, instead of doing what seems most necessary, my life is better for it. Every time I’ve followed a passion of mine, I discovered parts of myself that I never knew existed. And every single one of these passions has led me into experiences that both challenge yet satisfy so many aspects of my intelligence and emotional stability. They’ve shown me that there IS a higher purpose to one’s life, beyond having (or not having) a typical 9-5 job. I believe that by following one’s heart, there will always be something learned of great worth & empowerment. And I wish that more individuals were just as willing to follow their own, instead of struggling so terribly for peace, and contentment, and happiness, in this hard world. Because I’ve learned that when you follow your heart, no matter the circumstances, life is simply better than before. More beautiful than before.

CHAMPION YOURSELF.

In the last 3 years, I’ve learned a staggering amount of information pertaining to mental illnesses, because of myself becoming bi-polar depressive, with a panic disorder. And the degree of ignorance involving the general public (not knowing enough about the “hidden” world of the mentally ill), is incredibly saddening. This stigma following those like me around, created from those without proper education or the ability to be compassionate, must change NOW. And by NOW, I mean with those like me challenging the ignorant many. I’ve discovered that though there will (inevitably) be those who don’t understand, and therefore walk away, there will always be those who DO choose to learn about, and therefore understand, the many facets of an individual living with a metal illnesses. Because although a mental illness changes things, (such as, perhaps, one’s ability to socialize or function in a predictable fashion) within one’s life, it does not become that whole person. This is why I’ve found that championing myself, by being completely open & honest about my struggles, is pivotal in opening up a much needed dialogue between myself, those like me, and those who do not know the necessary information pertaining to a loved one’s diagnosis, but WANT to learn. Sometimes, it takes one voice, to free the many. Be your own voice. Be your own champion. You ARE WORTH IT.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE. 

My family (my husband, mom, two sisters, cousin, and my mother & father-in-law), as well as a very small circle of 4 close friends, are my people. These individuals who know me, who get me. The ones who have never walked away, or left me, because of my many physical & mental disabilities. This group of mine, who continue to love me, truly love me, unconditionally, without reserve. Some who have been in my life for 20 years, some only a few years, or with one of my (now) out-of-state friends, a couple months. Yet no matter any distance, or time, or hardship between us, have chosen to be MY people. These are the kind of people to hold on to, and grow with. To love, and appreciate, with every ounce of being. When you find your people, never let them go. They will always be worth keeping.

BREATHE. 

Just breathe. Tomorrow will come when it’s ready. So until then, breathe.

Before I log off for my surgery next week, I’d like you all to know how appreciative I am of you choosing to get to know me, the real me, through this digital ink, and these many black words. Thank you for following my adventures, as both a recipe blogger, and a Mama. I’ll see you on the flip side! xoxo

*My sister gifted me with this beautiful Grateful Jar last Christmas! Etsy has similar designs, like this one, that you might like if you’re wanting to start your own penny collection!

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