Fairy Falls & Crystal Lake

After our first group meeting, we headed out for our first hike. Our destination, Fairy Falls, was not very far from the bed and breakfast. Once we arrived, we each took the opportunity to enter the fall, giving ourselves a fresh new start to our individual journeys. I remember slowly making my way to the water and freezing up the moment I took my first step in. The water was colder than any water I’ve ever felt. My first instinct was to run and reject the cold water like I normally would. Then, someone said, “come on, who’s going to be the first girl to enter the fall”?

That’s when the insane competitive side kicked in and said, “come on, be brave, you can do it!!” I guess, having a slight competitive edge paid off this time because it was just what I needed to drum up the courage to walk right into the fall and lose myself in the moment. It was so cold and I could barely stop shaking enough to keep myself standing. I remember screaming “Mahalo”, like those before me, and feeling an instant surge of energy run through my body. It was as if my body had finally woken up from the stagnant stage it had been in for so long.

One by one, others followed, as those who had already entered cheered them on. We then found a spot of our own along the stream to enjoy our surroundings. It was beautiful and peaceful. You could hear the wind blowing through the trees, the water from the fall and it flowing down the stream, and the birds singing songs of joy. Though I suppose in their own language they could have very well been asking each other who’s bringing what to the next family gathering. Lol

A quick selfie after an invigorating dip in Fairy Falls :)
A quick selfie after an invigorating dip in Fairy Falls ๐Ÿ™‚

The following day after gathering again as a group, we carpooled up to Crystal Lake. It was a short hike to the lake, and the spectacular area where we all enjoyed lunch together while soaking up the nature around us. I felt so lucky to be living that moment. To often, I have a million things running through my head and a to do list, like many, that never ends. There, the only thing I had “to do” is enjoy that moment.

After a group meditation and healing exercise, we made our way to the lake for a refreshing swim. Now, when I say refreshing, I mean it was really cold. Granted, I’m a Florida girl who has been guilty on many occasions of complaining about the beach water being cold where I live, but this really was cold! For me at least. I promise not to complain about my beach again. All in all though, it was very nice, and I had yet another chance to do something I normally wouldn’t have done.

On our way back to the B&B, I received a call that completely made up for the cold water I had jumped in. While at the falls the day prior, I had asked god to please continue to provide me with opportunities for growth and to help me find balance in my career. I was spending so much time on the road, and I wished nothing more than to be closer to home. If only I could move the office closer to me, right? Well that call was just one of the few gifts this journey and god had provided me with. I was offered a job in the city, about 15 mins away from home, making much more than I was currently making, and with many additional benefits. It was the package I had been looking for when I had previously interviewed for the company. At the time the position hadn’t been available, and out of no where, BOOM, there it was!

Never in my life had I done such a crazy thing, but I accepted. In that moment, I couldn’t believe the opportunity I was presented with. I also had no idea how I was going to inform my current employer of the life changing decision I had just made. I had always pride myself in being loyal to my employer, and here I was deciding to leave after only 2 weeks. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity though, and I had to follow my intuition.

I spent the rest of my afternoon thinking of what I would say to my boss. Was I going to tell her by phone? Would I wait till I got back? The new executive administrative position I had accepted was ready for me to start as soon as I got back home. I felt however that I still needed to provide some sort of notice and I wanted to do so as soon as possible, even if it meant doing it by phone. We had a 3 hour time difference and I had reached my room late that evening. The call would have to wait till the following day…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

2 weeks completed, now it’s time for another amazing vacation ;) …

It was only about 2 weeks ago, that I was blogging about how my first week at my new job going. Since then, so much has occurred. My first 2 weeks at the gynecology office had gone really well. My coworkers were great and it felt amazing to be in the workforce again. However, traveling was proving to be a little tougher than I had anticipated it would be. I was finding myself spending anywhere from 2-3 hours of my day, driving to and from work. I didn’t think it would be such an issue considering I had traveled long distances before for work, but it was really starting to wear me down. Luckily, I had planned a vacation prior to starting my new job and it would serve as a good break for me to recuperate.

It was August 16th, when we hopped on a plan heading to San Francisco, California. I was super excited to embark on another new journey. This time I was doing a spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta. I honestly didn’t think much of it at first. I just knew we would be hiking, meditating, and doing some yoga. That alone was a great vacation in my book.

Our flight from Ft Lauderdale, Florida to San Francisco, California was 6 hours long, and Mount Shasta was a good 5 hours away from San Francisco.

And we've arrived to San Francisco!! :D
And we’ve arrived to San Francisco!! ๐Ÿ˜€
Time to hit the road and make our way to Mt Shasta :)
Time to hit the road and make our way to Mt Shasta ๐Ÿ™‚

For the record, I would recommend arriving in Sacramento or Redding, California instead. It will easily cut the drive time in half. If you don’t have that option, plan to stay the night in San Francisco and drive up the next morning. You’ll be happy you did.

Upon arriving at the lovely Mt Shasta Bed & Breakfast, we checked in, I placed my bags on the room floor and passed out like a baby after a heavy meal.

The next day, I showered up and made my way to the dining room where breakfast was served daily to all of the house guests. There, we slowly began to meet some of the individuals that were also partaking in the spiritual retreat. They were all very sweet and pleasant to talk with. Each with a unique background and wealth of information. As much as I enjoy being a social butterfly and talking to others, I found myself happily listening to each conversation, eager to learn more about the people I would be spending the next 7 days with.

Later that morning, we explored the town a bit and decided to rent some mountain bikes. The sun was out and there was a cool breeze in the air. With the view of the beautiful mountains surrounding us, it was hard to deny myself the desire to ride again. We mounted our bikes and cruised through the city and eventually made our way to lake siskiyou. It was so beautiful to see a big lake surrounded by such a majestic mountain. When I took a closer look, I could see the locals swimming and canoeing, while others played fetch with theirs dogs. In that moment, I began to feel grounded again. The fast pace of the city was drowned out by the nature all around me. I could have stayed there all day, only we had to return the bikes to the store and make our way back to the bed & breakfast for our first group meeting.

Lake Siskiyou :)
Lake Siskiyou ๐Ÿ™‚
Me+My bike+lake siskiyou= awesomeness!!! :D
Me+My bike+lake siskiyou= awesomeness!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Andrew, our group leader, and his partner in crime Lauren, welcomed us and gathered us into a circle. One by one, we were asked to introduce ourselves and express to the group why we were there. In other words, what did we expect to get from the retreat. I was honestly looking forward to some time off. However, when it was my turn to speak, the most natural explanation to leave my mouth was, “Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I’ve wanted to stress less about the little things in life and focus more on living my life and my true purpose”. I can’t recall if I worded it just so, but it’s pretty close to what I remember saying. I don’t even know where the words came from. I hadn’t met any of these people before, and here I was, sharing such a personal experience without flinching a muscle. I have blogged about it, yes, but never have I spoken to such a large group of people about it. In that moment I knew that this “vacation” was going to provide me with more than just time to meditate, hike, and do yoga. I was going to continue my growth in a way I had been longing to for some time and I look forward to sharing my experience with you all…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

My new homeโ€ฆ

I was finally moved into my new place, and officially done traveling to and from every weekend. It was hard while I was attending school earlier in the year, but even harder, later down the line, while undergoing my radiation treatments. After a year of traveling, I was ready to finally ground myself again.

I spent most of the first month exploring the city with the infamous โ€œYELPโ€ app. It helped me find some good places to eat and people watch. I love watching people go about their day. I often wonder what it is they might be thinking about and what kinds of things they have planned. Observing body language can really tell you a lot about a person too. All in all, I was enjoying my time off. It was a time for me to think about what more I wanted to do with my life.

Iโ€™d say the biggest adjustment I had to make after moving to the city was coping with traffic and the aggressive nature of some of the people that live here. Being raised in Naples, people were far more relaxed and approachable. I felt like people in the city were always in a rush to get somewhere. Too busy to even smile. It’s such a foreign concept to me. Now, put these people in cars and you’ve got yourself a serious problem. I canโ€™t tell you how many times Iโ€™ve had someone show me โ€œthe fingerโ€.

Iโ€™ve learned to brush it off though and just move out of the way. Life is just too short, and to be honest with you, itโ€™s a small price to pay for the opportunity to live in a place that offers so much adventure and new possibilities. That includes the possibility of building new friendships. Even though I’ve had some unpleasant experiences, I’ve also managed to find some really great individuals.

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

*** Note to Reader ***

The amazingly adorable dog in the picture with me is my cute little boy Chico. He’ll be six this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tests, tests, and more tests…

After having my mammogram and ultrasound done I was scheduled for an MRI on November 1st followed by an ultrasound guided needle biopsy on November 6th. I was told that the results of the biopsy would be the determining factor as to whether or not I had breast cancer but, once the results of the MRI came back it appeared everyone was already convinced.

I remember getting the call while visiting my partner on the other coast. It was one of the most difficult calls of my life. I tried with everything in me to hold back my tears but once I hung up I completely broke down. Not only were we discussing the possibility of my having cancer, now we were discussing the possibility of my needing to have a mastectomy. It went from one extreme to the next.

That weekend I spent it reflecting on all of the things I had done in my life and most importantly all of the things I hadn’t. In that moment I told myself that once I got through this I was going to dream big and go for those dreams. I also needed to find balance in my life. I was stressing far to much about the things that just didn’t matter.

Later the following week I went in for my ultrasound guided needle biopsy. I was a little scared about this appointment. I’ve always had a pretty high tolerance for pain but, let’s face it, who wouldn’t fear someone putting a needle into their breast. The thought alone was painful after the testing that had already been done and had left my breast tender. I didn’t want anyone or anything near my breast.

They called me back into the room and had me change into a beautiful designer blouse. Actually, it was a scrub top that criss-crossed in the front for easy access but, in the effort of making a small part of this seem luxurious, I will refer to it as designer blouse. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My mom and my partner waited patiently outside when they brought me back into the exam room to start my test. Here is where the luxury ended.

They began prepping me for the test by disinfecting the area and, once the doctor came in, they started injecting my left breast with a numbing agent. The pain was worse then I had imagined and for the first time in my life I cried on an exam table. With each pinch of the needle my eyes and fists tightened. The tears flowed until I could no longer feel the needles. Once I got the courage to open my eyes I watched as they took samples of the tissue and tagged the tumor with a clip. It was fascinating to see it all being done on the screen in front of me. So much that the vacuum like sounds of the machine and the voices of the technician, doctor and nurse were drowned out for that brief moment. All I could do is stare at the movement of the needle and at the tumor that was just sitting there looking so harmless.

The test finally came to an end and I was off to breakfast and back home to rest. In the days that followed I was scheduled to sit with a surgeon and to have a PET scan done. There was so much going on and I needed that afternoon to rest and get myself organized. If indeed this was cancer and I was going to need surgery, I needed to have my personal matters in order. For now however, it was time to rest and wait…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚