Holiday decor for the timely challenged, like myself, has recently left me feeling blah about getting in the spirit of all things merry and bright. With surgery being two weeks ago, I had every intention of decorating prior to my operation. But lets be real, that did not happen. We realized that our tree, sparkly things and fancy disco DIY garlands made from previous years, were in our storage unit, along with our hoards of vintage furniture. And so it goes and here we are. No big deal, you might say. But, in typical Steve and Britt fashion, we lost the key to the unit.
So, from personal experience — it is possible to spread a little holiday magic dust around your house, by using non-traditional item.
We did just that.
I’m a sucker for collecting interesting candle holders — particularly the ones from local shops where the glass is recycled, reused and repurposed. Once the original candle is dead over alive, I simply put ice in it, set it in the freezer for the day, remove in from the freezer, flip it upside down, leaving the remnants fall right out. From there the glass holders can be a versatile piece of decor around your home. For the holidays, I placed two sparkly, red candles in some of my favorite recycled holders. With the S. Pellegrino as a green backdrop and the red candles gives in their new homes, our house has a little holiday representation on our bar cabinet.
What can I say? I’m also a sucker for some succulents and decided to turn an “every day occasion” wall decoration into a beautiful, silver and gold door “wreath”. Once the holidays have come and gone, I will be able to continue to use the succulent hanging by simply removing the poinsettias and ornaments. Dingdong! HOLIDAY + DIY + SUCCULENTS + COST EFFICIENCY. Sounds like a year round embellishment knocking on the door.
Dress up your pup. I would have never imagined in a squillion years I’d be that lady. You know, the ones who dress up their dogs. And in Christmas costumes at that. BUT, I surrender. I’m officially that girl and I have accepted it. How could I not? Red sequins, a white fur collar — all on an adorable, seventeen week, mini-sausage dog. She would make even the Grinch feel a sense of holly jolly.
Although, Zoi hates me and this dress. FACT.
In our home, we are all about having bits of greenery year round. We live behind a beautiful Japanese garden and get an amazing amount of sunshine through the glass doors and terrace of our condo. Since living here, we have had many indoor plants to give our space an indoor/outdoor vibe. Throwing a string of lights on one of your larger,sturdier plants that you already own will give that instant glow and charm of Christmas. Thus giving you all the holiday feels. A bonus is that you can save a tree, time, money and energy all in the name of a winter celebratory decor.
I’d vote that I’m the least domestic person in the world. I don’t cook, bake and I am sure that if I did, people would be running for the hills. Not that I can blame them, but there is something about Christmas cookies. Perhaps it’s the everlasting memories of my Mum making her famous sugar cookies’; the cookies that I look forward to all year. Although the cookies above are not my Mum’s, or mine for that matter, I purchased a cheap dozen of grocery store cookies and placed them on a cake stand and on display on the counter. The visual of something that is season relevant can bring an inexpensive, cheery and dare I say delicious touch.
Take little ornaments and place them on some of your every day home accessories. Above I found the Christmas ornaments we received as our first year as Mr. and Mrs. Ochoa. Sentimental value holds no bounds and warms you to the core when thinking back on fond memories of Christmases past.
I am beyond thrilled to share that I have arrived HOME! Late last night they determined that I was fit enough to return home and all of my efforts of putting up the fight of my life, certainly seems to have now paid off. There is quite a descriptive post in the works, to walk through my latest health journey in words and how I feel that I have once again been afforded a chance at life. This has been an entirely transformative experience and one that I never imagined in my wildest dreams. Somehow, my strength and resilience is at an all time high and because of that I have been peacefully healing —- mind, body and soul.
My hemoglobin levels were considerably low, in which case I needed a blood transfusion. It never really dawned on me how wonderful it is that people donate blood, something I have always been too ill to do even prior to my diagnosis as I have always been anemic. I ended up using two units of blood which ran for about six hours. Shortly after I felt like a completely different person; less fatigued, less cold and returned color to my face. Thank you to those who donate!
The day of my surgery I snapped an #instax polaroid of my baby, Zoi. It seemed obvious to me that if I had her adorable little mug looking at me with those eyes of hers, it would push me to do everything in order to make it back home to her. Aside from all of the tremendous amounts of love I received from people near and far, my amazing friends, family and of course my husband — Zoila was the one little (but actually very HUGE) incentive to show up, kick ass and get back on the road of life and viola! here I am!
Anyone who follows along on my Instagram knows that my baby Godson holds the actual key to my heart. He stole it from day one. When his beautiful mom — my lovely friend, Michele visited at the hospital the day after my surgery, she brought along a one of a kind flamingo and it instantly brought ridiculous amount of smiles — and not just from me, but all of the staff, fellow patients and anyone who saw my trusty IV monitor as I wheeled it by my side throughout my stay.
I’ll admit, my biggest complaint about surgery is that you are forbidden the basic human need of drinking water (or anything for that matter), prior to the procedure. In my case, I was told that I couldn’t have anything from midnight until later in the night after recovery. Quickly, my mouth became a desert and my need for water seemed like life or death. Of course that is an exaggeration, but it is certainly how I felt. As soon as I got the green light, which was about twelve hours later, I ordered “sips and chips” and I felt like I stumbled upon an oasis. Dreamy does not even begin to describe the feeling of when the ice water cooled my lips for the first time. Sometimes it really only takes the small things to make you feel a sense of nirvana.
Before I had even been transported to my room, my two best girls had flowers ready and waiting. Prior to my surgery, I couldn’t find the strength to speak to them. Distancing myself for selfish emotional reasons seemed to be the only way I could cope. I felt that if I spoke with them, I might expose that I thought I was going to die and that we’d never have an ABC reunion again. Without fail, they stood by my side no matter what and made sure that I knew they were there with me, showering me with their love and non-stop support. I love you both.
I felt so much power behind this operation. Power from prayer and positivity and all of the amazing thoughts that were put out in the universe in honor of getting through this operation with a successful outcome. I feel cheesy every time I say it, but there is no way I would have been able to do it without all of you. Every single person that took it upon themselves to take the time out of their day to wish me well and include me in their conversations with whomever they have faith in. It would be fair to say that I feel endlessly blessed. Seeing this gleaming photo at St. Joe’s Hospital and Medical Center seemed like a fitting vision for the morning after the operation. What a beautiful sight to see (I can even see my neighborhood if I look really close).
On the same glorious walk as pictured above, I was marching along the halls with the most important women in my universe. They guide me through every struggle and challenge and proudly walk by my side, even in the darkest of hallways. There are not many words that can do this picture justice, other than, thank you and LOVE.
Further exploring the hospital, my home away from home, I walked past my favorite piece of art adorned on the walls in the lobby of the Oncology ward. This particular wall decor always seems to catch my eye. I appreciate creativity and try to search for it wherever I may be. I can especially appreciate when it’s in unexpected spaces and places. Well done, St. Joe’s.
Just two short years ago, Steve and I spent the night at the hospital on Christmas. It was by far one of the more depressing of holidays. I feel very fortunate that I will be able to spend this Christmas with my family instead of inside the hospital walls. However, they do their best to make you feel in the holiday spirit. To those who will be spending your holiday in the hospital, my Christmas wish is that you are surrounded by love and joy. It will get better.
One of my favorite little cheerleaders, Kambrell joined me at the hospital a few days after the procedure. Seeing things through her eyes and the way she expresses her love for life, makes me feel equally alive. She is one of the most special little girls I know and I’m so grateful to be a part of her world.
Just a few of the many gorgeous flowers I received. THANK YOU! I was able to enjoy them everyday and smile thinking of each person and the memories we have shared. I chose to donate the flowers to the Oncology ward of the hospital once I was released. They were all so beautiful and I wanted other cancer patients to be able to enjoy them as much as I did. Please know that your kindness has such an impact and made many others smile, as well as me.
Last but most certainly not least, my Steve sent this to me the second night, once he returned home to our dogs, Keg and Zoila. He always knows how to make me laugh, as he was wearing my #ASU hoodie and my satchel to carry Zoila, all in an effort to take Keg on a walk. He takes care of all of us so very well and I am the luckiest person to have such a brave, selfless and loving man. Thank you seems so insufficient. What else can I say? You’re top notch, my love.
More to come soon.
Hello, my shining moonbeams. It’s been a minute. Within that minute I have entered what I feel to be a new phase in my life, a freeing phase that is catapulted by happiness. For nearly a month, I spent time across the pond and rediscovered my life and the things I want out of it.
To start off, wow. Can I just say – I LOVE ENGLAND! I’ve always known that and I had been there times before, but this time felt different. As most of you know, if you follow my story, I have been on travel lock down since my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2013. By nature I am a jetsetter. I enjoy being in unknown places, without being attached to my “real” life and the troubles within. When I travel, there is a certain romance to it, a freedom that allows you to be whomever you want and for me, that is living without a terminal illness. I’m able to go back to being me; an adventurer with thirst in my blood for worldly experiences. When I was diagnosed, I felt that one of the biggest losses to having cancer was the fact that I could no longer be as free as I wished to be. My citizen of the world passport would no longer apply and I’d be stuck doing treatment after treatment without an escape. My escape had become writing. If I were no longer going to be able to leave and experience life, then I’d write about it, which I have.
This year, 2015, I vowed to myself that it would be different than the last two, that I would yet again spread my wings and live a little. In the beginning of the year I approached my Doctor and pleaded for some independence from my chemotherapy week after week, to which she obliged and advised that 2015 could be my year of travel with chemo squeezed in between. It was the best news I had heard in quite some time and immediately booked a trip to Hawaii with Steve-O and planned the trip for Nan and I go travel to the UK together to attend my beautiful cousin’s wedding and share laughs and love with the family over there that we don’t get to see often enough.
The trip was so important to me and I wanted to ensure that I soaked everything in. My Nan in her very own way was my wish-granting factory, as she made the trip happen. Being that we were returning to her home town, I was fortunate enough to visit her previous homes, where she grew up, the house she was born in, the hospital she had my Mum and Auntie Bev in, where my Granddad went to college, where the two of them were married and so much more. Being able to experience England through her eyes was more than my hearts desire and something I will never be able to thank her enough for.
There were endless amounts of stories, laughs, fish and chips, tea and best of all time with family on both my Nan’s side and my Granddad’s side. My roots are in full force over there and it was lovely to get to know that side of myself so much more. The posh wedding of my cousin, which we attended, has built memories that will last a life time, as well as traveling to Chester, Liverpool and all over the Wirral with my cousin’s and their other halves, of course also visiting London with the best company and seeing each and every friend and family member. Howls were had, love was expressed and England will forever hold the key to my heart. Quite literally, as Nan and I locked our love on Albert Dock in Liverpool and threw the key into the River Mersey. Our loved ones can continue to visit us in Liverpool, even though we may not physically be there, our spirit will always remain.
Since I’ve been back I have been reliving each moment in my head and finding it difficult to write about. My time spent there was so special, that it is difficult to express. I feel rejuvenated and feel I have a new sense of direction for my life. Suddenly gears have started moving upon my return and from that, fresh goals have emerged. I’m super excited about the future and what it holds and as things get closer, I’ll share more deets.
In the meantime, check out some photos from my trip and watch out for some upcoming projects and collabos. Big Kiss x.
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Happy December, my friends and for those in the states, I hope Thanksgiving brought warmth into your bellies and hearts. It hardly feels like the Holidays, being that I live in the desert and it was a balmy 87° degrees on the very weekend that Arizona and the rest of the country kicked off the holiday season. Don’t even get me started on how quickly this year has passed. I swear I feel as though I have merely blinked and the year is nearly over. I am also aware that I am not alone in that sentiment. However, clearly I am not here to talk weather or how quickly a single year can pass before our eyes. I just figured I’d check in again.
One thing I didn’t stick to this year was my blog; the very same blog that brought me so much delight, with a pure connection with my readers and allowing for a genuine therapeutic outlet. Admittedly, I fell short of sharing many of my experiences of life with cancer, particularly as a person in her twenties. Yet, you all know and have been so patient and understanding in that I have lacked the “umph” to do much of anything at all.
Over the last few weeks, my so-called “umph” has been restored. Not to discount, of course, that all that ails me continues to do so, being no better or worse than my early days on this cancer journey. In fact my current statuesque is a dash on the unsteady side, as my tumor markers are similar to playing Russian roulette; one week they will be extremely low and there seems to be progress and then the following week they have sky rocketed, where boisterous concerns begin to be flown around. When I visited my Oncologist today, we were going over the different elements to my chemo and the method to madness of it all; taking control over my life and my cancer. Pondering whether the designated treatment is doing it’s job and if my tumors are shrinking or perhaps the opposite and my body and tumors aren’t responding to the chemotherapy, at all. In my case, neither one of those scenarios is my situation. Leave it to me to have unruly tumors that are difficult to pinpoint patterns, their plan and very own method to their madness. We’ve been reviewing my tumor markers bi-weekly to attempt to make sense of it all. One week the markers will be incredibly low, which leads to talks of lowering my chemotherapy and even possibly removing one of the five concoctions all together which would allow for more energy. Then the following week the numbers as I have said earlier, skyrocket leaving everyone, including my Oncologist, a smidgen perplexed as to what the actual situation going on inside of me is.
It makes sense though, because just like everything in life, it’s a mystery. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to make sense of my cancer, nor will I ever be able to make sense of my roller-coaster ride of tumor marker results week over week. Instead, my mind has recently chosen to compartmentalize those things and I have been pushing myself to live the life I daydream about, as I have been laid up in bed for the past year and a half. Be brave, push the limits of my pain and makes strides towards healing the mental tolls that cancer has imparted on me. If you were to ask me how I arrived at this ever-evolving place of newfound energy and peace, I’m not entirely sure if I would be able to pinpoint it. However, a little something is telling me that it began with a little appreciation.
It began with reassessing how I was regarding my appreciation for my surroundings; people, things, places, etc. Once I reevaluated all of those things, it was representative of the life I want and that perhaps I had been taking most things for granted. There was a sudden shift in my mental state. My lack of genuine appreciation to the people in my life, the roof over my head, food on my table and even despite my unfortunate health circumstances, I understood that I am still here, breathing and on the journey that is life. It reminds me of a certain quote by Tony Robbins, “[If you] trade your expectation for appreciation, the world changes instantly.” It truly starts right there.
Pushing myself beyond the limits of my pain has been very challenging. Most of 2014 has been spent in the confines of four walls and a comfy bed. I’m sure to some that may sound very lovely, perhaps a vacation from life. However, as I lay day after day, I couldn’t help but begin to think about life and all of the things I had wished for myself and my dreams to capture the world by it’s heartstrings, but then losing everything I had worked for and still wished for. I had begun to see the world with a different vision and was maddened by all of the things I didn’t think I was capable of doing or having since being diagnosed as a Stage IV cancer patient. Unsurprisingly, that is a hard pill to swallow and naturally, you wish for a new reality, or no reality at all due to the gloomy reality you are currently in. After such a long period of time and some much needed therapy throughout the later half of the year, it was then that a new reality finally began to sink in. For starters, I became more accepting of my cancer, forgiving of my situation and told myself that if I could find a way out of the gloom, I wouldn’t waste another minute being unhappy or living my life on a king size bed. I began to follow the rhythm of my wild heart and push myself to do things that once made me, me. Spending every day in bed is now something of the past, there are new winds in my sail and I am going to be more grateful for the things I am capable of accomplishing, rather than focusing on things I don’t believe I can do. But, psssst – anything is possible and it’s not bad to think you are capable of it all, because we all are. We are alive, damnit.
That said, as we spend the holiday season amongst friends and family, I will not be taking anything for granted and in the meantime I will continue to push myself beyond my cancer and fight for my place and purpose in this world. A PET scan will be taking place next week to try to gain some insight as to what my tumor(s) are doing and if there is anything to be concerned over. I’m a firm believer that what you think about, you bring about – so only good vibes allowed! As I had mentioned time passes so quickly, I am sure December will fly by and we’ll be ringing in 2015 before we know it! There are plenty of fun things planned for this month, so expect some updates sooner rather than later. As always, thank you for reading and continuing to support me so vigorously, it does not go unnoticed.
Just one last thing, thank you to the lovely anonymous reader who sent me this picture today. It melted my heart.
Peace and love always.