Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fickle Fall

Dear 2010,
You seem to be a confused year. You brought a summer absent of heat and sun, filled instead with gloomy weather and June bugs who stayed through July.
And now, Fall seems to be suffering from an identity crises. Just days after the first of Fall, we were hit with a heat wave. A heat wave that brought very un-fall-like weather. On Monday I had swim, and it was 106 in Irvine. Once at home, I was welcomed by 110 degrees! No that is not a can see in the photo I took as proof.
The rest of the week cooled down a bit but was still very very warm. Today brought dark greyish-purple sky, still in the 80s, and very muggy. But looking around, there are signs of Autumn, especially in the trees. Leaves are changing color, and trees looking more bare.
Last night ended in a beautiful sunset...
But I am missing that cool, crisp weather I associate with the season. I know it is barely even Fall and I am probably just impatient. But what's it going to be? Maybe we need a Punxsutawney Phil for the transition from Summer into Fall to let is know if it is for real!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."
-Marianne Williamson

For this week's Friday Five, I thought I would share five of my favorite memories. Five days I can remember feeling nothing but joy.

{1. Meeting Pete the penguin}
During my treatment post transplant, I had to stay in the hospital for 100 days before I could go home. After I went home I was back in and out of the hospital for various complications. During one of these return stays, I was battling incessant vomiting and was forced to have a feeding tube. I was there during Christmas, a difficult fact to accept for a 13-year old. Everyone did the best they could to make my stay enjoyable, filling my room and walls with Christmas decorations galore, donations of presents from generous strangers, visits from multiple Santa Clauses, and my favorite of all - a visit by Pete the penguin. This was not planned, but one day when my grandma was spending the day with me, someone from Sea World came to my room asking if I would like to meet Pete. We of course said yes, and my grandma was just as excited as me, she has always been a huge penguin lover, and their house is filled with penguins in all forms. They brought him in and let him waddle around while we pet and played with him. One of the most surprising parts was how soft his feathers were! I expected him to feel rubbery... more skin less feathers. It was such a special experience between my grandma and I, and not many people can say they had a one-on-one visit with a penguin! It cheered me right up and temporarily made me forget I was a sick kid spending Christmas in the hospital.

{2. My high school graduation}
Somehow after missing a portion of middle school, doing a semester of high school through independent study due to a knee surgery, and all my other health complications, I managed to graduate high school on time. I remember standing in the gym lined up with the 600+ students in my class, in my gold honors cap and gown, my purple and gold lei, and an enormous grin. High school was a less than pleasant experience for me, teased my first year for being in a wheelchair, betrayed by girls I thought were my friends, and a lack of belonging. So knowing I would never have to return to high school, and just the feeling of accomplishment and pride were overwhelming. This will forever remain one of the happiest days of my life.

{3. The first time Brent told me he loved me}
About 5 months after our first date, Brent and were enjoying a normal relaxing Saturday night. He suggested we get a bottle of champagne and some strawberries to enjoy. It was then while we enjoyed two of my favorite things on this earth- that he told me for the first time he was in love with me. So very special and something you never ever forget!

{4. My ten-year post-transplant anniversary party}
To celebrate 10 years following the cord blood transplant that saved my life, my family threw a party for me. With the people most special to me, we enjoyed the pool, amazing food, wonderful company, and reflected on all I have overcome during those 10 years. It was a special reminder of all that I am thankful for, how lucky I am to still be here and cancer-free, and what an amazing support team I have among my family and friends. If you want to read details about that day, you can here and here.

{5. Participating in my first photo contest}
Always a lover of photography, I took a photo class in college, but after my last surgery it fell by the wayside. Earlier this year I got back into it, and saw an ad in the local paper for a photo contest to capture "My San Clemente" shots that represented personal views of the town. I entered 5 photos, and went with aunt Lori to the awards show and exhibit at a local art gallery. Seeing my photos was such a special experience, I was out of my comfort zone and it was wonderful. I was surprised to learn that 4 out of the 5 I submitted received honorable mentions! It really motivated me and gave me a boost of courage. You can see the photos I submitted here.

What are 5 of your favorite moments?

Embodiment of Joy

{Looking so innocent and sweet}

Last week I was at my mom's house and saved a hummingbird from the household hunter, Boone the cat. You can see the post here. Brent's mom is an animal lover, and I have heard countless stories of how she has saved and nursed back to health creatures of all kinds. One time she almost brought home a group of ducklings when she saw them without their mom; they fostered an entire litter of puppies; and one time rescued a dove from their cat, and Brent and I had the pleasure of watching it during a weekend they were out of town (it unfortunately did not make it).

That being said, I immediately thought of Colleen when I was rescuing this tiny bird. I texted her and her response was wonderful:

I'm in Fallbrook still and one of the cats caught a hummingbird. I made sure it was okay, took it down the street and he flew away. Saved it! I thought of you when I was doing it, thought...Colleen would be proud!

That feels good, doesn't it. Native Americans saw the hummingbirds as the embodiment of joy. In their worldview, your experience would represent a special meaningful encounter. I hope for you that in some way it represents the release of more joy in your life, Chelsea, as youcontinue to feel more strong and healthy in upcoming days and weeks.

I met Brent's parents after we had only been dating a few weeks, because he had just graduated from PT school and was temporarily living with them until he found his own place. But I am so lucky that I get along with them so well, and they have always made me feel so welcome into the family.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

::Happy Birthday::

Happy Birthday to my Grandma! She is 85 years old today! She is healthy, happy, and has been married to my grandpa for 63 years.
Yes that is me when I played soccer...sometime around age 5 or 6?

I ♥ Cats

A neighbor of Brent's has a cat. The guy lives in one of the 2nd story condos, and the cat is always hanging out on the middle part of the stairs. She is so friendly, and lets me pet her, rolling around and purring. She is soo soo cute, she is enormous, fluffy, very soft, and she just sits there all day while he leaves his door open. I don't know the neighbor, but I was petting her today and he came outside and said "she likes you!" I asked more about her...she is a Maine Coon, and her name is, get ready...Tubby Longstockings!!! She had a previous owner who decided she no longer wanted her because she eats too much!! I want her!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I ♥ Fall

First day of Autumn! Summer will be missed, yes, but I will admit, I look forward to the months of September/October/November the most of all the year.
::What I love about Fall::
♥ Pumpkin-flavored anything
♥ Crisp, cool air, just enough to call for a sweatshirt
♥ Halloween decorations
♥ The smell of candles burning inside a pumpkin
♥ Seeing little kids' costumes on Halloween
♥ The different sizes, shapes and colors of pumpkins, squash, & gourds
♥ Time with family and my mom's stuffing at Thanksgiving
♥ My mom & my birthdays are only 4 days apart
♥ The changing of nature's colors
♥ Hot apple cider
♥ Pumpkin carving & roasting pumpkin seeds
♥ The smells of cinnamon and pies
♥ Front stoops dotted with Jack-O-Lanterns
♥ Return of my favorite TV shows
♥ Stews & soups

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee Date

If we were meeting for coffee this morning I would tell you...
join me for coffee!
...about the wedding we went to on Saturday. Jocelyn was a classmate from PT school with Brent, and has been with the John since undergrad at SDSU. The first time John and I met we bonded instantly over being the minority of the group not being physicJohn and I instantly bonded when we first met over the fact we were in the minority of the group not being physical therapists. The wedding was in the Gaslamp District of San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel. Fun time with great people, yummy food and yummy desserts - a chocolate mousse with berries, chocolate lava cake, apple cinnamon cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, and wedding cake. Wowza.
I would tell you that yesterday was Brent and my two-year dating anniversary. We are celebrating today. It is pretty special because neither of us have ever been in a relationship as long as 2 years. For those of you who don't know, Brent was my physical therapist treating my knee after the last surgery in 2008. We started dating after 2 months of him treating me, and kept it hush hush until I stopped going, about 1 month later.
I would tell you how excited I am for Fall! It is officially Autumn tomorrow! Woohoo!

I would tell you that I have been missing San Francisco. I really want to take a trip up there and take Brent to some of my favorite restaurants and other spots.
Finally, I would tell you that I am still doing aquatic therapy and still loving it, each time I go I am usually tired and sore and not really feeling up to it, but as soon as I get in the water I forget all that and have fun. I am exercising, but to me it is calming and invigorating at the same time, and I really feel like I am benefitting. I had colic as a baby and my mom said when I wouldn't stop crying/screaming the only thing that would make me stop was water. Taking me into the shower, or a bath...and swimming was my sport until I got sick. I guess I am just naturally a waterbug!
Thanks for meeting me for coffee!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mini Vacation

Last week I was at my mom's house in Fallbrook for a few days. It was my mom's turn to host Bunco - the group she has been in for 16 years - and I was a sub. We made dinner and I made homemade lemon cupcakes.

My mom and Doug went to work the following day and I awoke to the sound of Boone meowing, followed by a crash in the kitchen. I didn't see anything that had fallen, but saw Boone looking up at the window. There was a hummingbird on the inside of the windowsill clutching to the metal of the window and breathing hard. I started to freak out, worried I would have to put this thing out of its misery because I was sure it was dying. Frantically texting with Brent and trying to call my mom, the decision was made to take it outside. I pulled him off the window and into a glass and walked down the street to let it go. Once I let it go, he flew away fine, so I am crossing my fingers it was not injured too bad.
Phew, that was a relief, poor little buddy. Now I could relax. NOPE! Walk outside and Boone is carrying a lizard in his mouth! So I had to save that as well. And just to continue the morning's events, I pulled a struggling bee out of the pool.
I love staying at their house because it is like being on vacation. They transformed their backyard into paradise, with a gorgeous pool, a waterfall down the hill, and tropical plants and flowers everywhere. Not to mention the entertainment value of the pets! It is also so much fun to hunt for photo opportunities. A little taste of what I saw...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Five

January 2007 I went to New York for two weeks with my friend and roommate Kelly. It was both our first trip to the city, and we had a wonderful time. We spent the first week on our own, and the second week with our previous roommate, April, who had transferred to NYU. I never did anything with my photos from the trip, so for this week's Friday Five I am sharing five of my favorites. For never having taken any class, they aren't bad! Mostly just remind me of the fun trip we had.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 years ago...

I have only had one migraine in my life. 9 years ago to the day.

9 years ago from today was just supposed to be another day for me as a freshman in high school. I had a biology test scheduled that morning, and I was with my dad that week. My average day:
6:00 AM, alarm
7:00 AM leave the house to be dropped off by my dad for school at
7:20 AM school starts
2:35 PM final bell, picked up to go home.

This morning was different.
5:00 AM woke up with the worst headache I have ever had. Ever. Felt like my head was going to split in two and I still remember the feeling.
5:05 AM got out of bed, and my dad was already awake. So we turned on the news I popped some advil and sprawled on the couch. I was a good little student and worried about missing my test, so I was determined to get to school (weird kid huh?).
5:46 the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center
6:00 call from my mom, she was on vacation visiting my grandparents in New York, her first ever trip to New York. We received a call from her shortly after that she was fine, a good distance from the site.

9 years ago and I still remember exactly how I felt. The pain from my headache got progressively worse, and when I tried to speak, I could not formulate words-it came out as gibberish. I feared for my mom. I thought about all the people affected. I was overwhelmed with thinking about how scared I would feel had I been on that airplane. Given my lack of worldly knowledge after little exposure while sick, I didn't know exactly who made the attack and wondered who they were and why they would do something like this. I wondered and feared what would happen next. I thought about my biology test and wondered if it would even be given (it wasn't, classes mostly watched news all day).

I hope I never again wake up with a migraine.
Sending love & hearts to all the scars produced from this devastation. Remember, scars carry with them a story of survival and fight, and like the scars themselves get stronger, heal, and eventually fade, so can the pain associated.

Friday, September 10, 2010

10 on 10

10 Photos for the 10th of September.
1 photo every hour for 10 consecutive hours, here was my day!
{8:30} Breakfast of cinnamon-raisin english muffin and fresh-squeezed tangerine juice
{9:30} Getting ready for the day, makeup & hair
{10:30} Greeted by Jazz just before I leave, "Meoooooowwww!" (Translation - "Don't go!")
{11:30} Dermatologist appointment
{12:30} My aquatic therapy appointment
{1:30} Those are my feet!
{2:30} Shopping for birthday gifts at the Irvine Spectrum
{3:30} Not so much shopping as watching and wandering
{4:30} Leaving the Irvine Spectrum to go home
{5:30} Welcomed home with l♥ve. Also, we visited Brent's dad in the
hospital at the end of the day after he had a stent inserted for his heart.

Phew! Particularly long day for me. Happppppy Friday! ♥

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall's just around the corner...

It is the second week of September. September! Seems like it was just turning into summer and I was dreaming of s'mores, barbecues, and the beach. And now I am surrounded by school supplies, kids going back to school, & commercials for new clothes. But Fall is by far my favorite season and I can't wait! Only 13 more days!

And then there is me. It has been a weird two years, with no school or work or really any schedule to adhere to other than my doctor's appointments and working around Brent's schedule. It feels like I have been on a 2 year-long summer break, minus the break. Sure I have had my share of fun...trips, parties, time with friends and family, weddings, concerts, tons of time with Brent, etc. But it is like wearing sunglasses in a museum-sure you can see, but it is a little darker, not quite as clear, and you can't appreciate the beauty of the art in the same way. Everything is a little tainted by my pain and discomfort, but it is what it is.

It's time for back to school, and I am taking classes.
Well, not real ones, self-taught classes at the school of Chelsea
Here is my schedule:
♥ Cooking 101
♥ Football for idiot girls who are completely lost while watching football with their boyfriends
♥ Photography (haven't decided what level I am at yet...)

Basically, Emily is taking a baking class at the community college. She has this huge book about baking and cooking and what I have read so far was fascinating. I am really excited to finally understand the why's of cooking and especially baking. I bet I could improve drastically if I understand why you add certain ingredients and the science behind it all. Can you see me getting all bubbly and excited??

Okay the football is a different story. I have never understood the game AT ALL. But I want to, I really really do. Brent is a huge sports fan, especially football, and watches a ton of it. But when you are just watching players run and throw and tackle for three straight hours without actually knowing why those things are happening and what the heck is going on? gets pretty dang boring. But I honestly do want to enjoy the game, be able to follow it and cheer on his teams alongside him with true excitement. But boy oh far this is one borrrrring book. Any tips?

And photography, well I am like a kid in a candy store at disneyland who just saw Santa Clause and the easter bunny on the same day. On Christmas morning. If you didn't quite get that, I am happy. Excited. Eager to learn. Curious. Giddy. I took a photojournalism class at SFSU and learned a lot, but have no forgotten a lot of it. Now as I am looking through my old textbook, library books, and some other photo books I have purchased over the years for inspiration, a lot is coming back to me, but I am also learning a ton of new info. I am also finding amazing photographers online, communities of photographers, clubs, photo blogs and teaching blogs, and I am seriously in heaven. I actually started a Project 365-one picture every day for 1 year. I will post on that later, and actually show you what I have done so far, but the time is not quite right yet. But soon. soon.

Feels good to be learning, studying, disciplining myself.
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