Friday, January 18, 2019

Beach and Waterfall loving in the Dominican Republic

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The following morning Paulo arranged for us to take a road trip to Semana to enjoy another area in the Dominican Republic.

On our way to Semana, Paulo took us through his hometown (Limon) and it was such a vast difference from where we were staying in Las Terrenas. It was at this time that we were able to see that there is no in between ... you’re either wealthy or you’re not. But the one thing that really caught my eye was the community. The popular mode of transportation are motor bikes and someone would be riding one and see another person walking and would pull over and tell the person to hop on. Another popular mode of transportation was by horse which was pretty neat to see as well.

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We drove through an amazing food market driving to Samana and I wish that we could have stopped.

When we arrived to Semana, I learned that we would be taking a small boat to our final destination. Let’s just say, that I’m not a fan of small boats at all. I felt myself start to panic and everyone could see my fear because they all began to reassure me that it was just fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes when you’re afraid feels like a lifetime. But we had come this far so I got on the shaky boat with an orange life vest (lol) and prayed that this tiny boat would support all our weight and wouldn’t topple over into the ocean. The entire time I squeezed my eyes and hands so tight. The thing is that before this experience, I didn’t even know how much small boats freaked me out. It also didn’t help that the waves were crashing hard against the boat which meant that we had to speed to basically push against the waves. I’ve never been so happy to reach a destination in my life. I was good for the time being and refused to think about the fact that I would have to get back on that small boat to get back to Las Terrenas.

The boat with the gentlemen in red was our boat.
Not sure how that small boat supported seven adults.

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The boat ride was worth it when we reached Luxury Bahia Principle Cavo Levantado. It’s a gorgeous all adult hotel in Samana. We enjoyed a beautiful beach, delicious drinks (Coco Locos and Pina Coladas) and Caribbean music. We were so relaxed but then all too quickly (at least it felt that way) it was time to leave. Luckily, the boat ride back was so much more pleasant that I was actually able to snap a few pictures and video of the boat ride. I didn't use my actual camera as I did not trust that I wouldn't drop it in the ocean. I still was the only one with the orange life vest but I was able to smile for a picture, ha. I won’t lie, my heart was still beating hard but I wasn’t nearly as afraid. I guess when you know you did something before and came out OK it’s easier to trust that the process will result in the same way.

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Time to leave!

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Paulo then took us to a local restaurant that didn’t even have a name. But man was the food SO good.
We ate to our hearts content.

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Our adventure of the day was not over as we were hiking to the Waterfall of Cascada El Limon to see the waterfalls! I rented proper footwear (the ground was muddy, slippery and mixed with horse shit) to ensure that I did not slip and fall. You have the option to do horseback or hike and we opted to hike as I believe it gives you the full experience. Or better yet, hike to the waterfall and then ride a horse back which is what Tonya did.

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If it wasn’t so muddy I think it would have been a relatively simple hike but because of the mud you had to be more careful which equates to slowing down a bit. But in the end it’s always best to be safe than sorry. And the hike was completely worth it! It was absolutely beautiful. When we reached the waterfall we were all so hot and wanting to swim but woah, was the water COLD. I ended up just putting my feet in the water but Sean and Tom certainly swam their little hearts out :).

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By the time we were done we were all so exhausted and passed out on the ride back to Las Terranas. Since Paulo was with us we told him that we wanted him to go home and rest and that we would prepare our dinner that night. We were surprised when we found that amazing Maria actually had dinner (chicken stew with rice & beans, yum!) waiting for us when we returned. I showered, ate and passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 in Review

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I have to say that 2018 was a really great year for me; spiritually and personally. In 2014, I began to stop having positive expectations because life became really, really difficult. And each year seemed to get worse than the last. In 2017, I did see a turning point but I was still trying to get a grip of all the sadness I was feeling constantly. I am still grieving (to be honest I’m not sure I’ll ever stop grieving); the whole it gets better with time is an outright lie to attempt to make another person feel better, but I digress. 2018 was really good for me. It helped me to really believe that I can have expectations again, that it is OK to hope and believe that good things lie ahead. For a few years I’ve been really scared of the what ifs. You’re stuck in a place where you’re just scared. Scared of everything. The way life changes so drastically and not being prepared for it. It truly takes you for a loop. You’re worried about yourself. You’re worried about the people you love. You’re even worried for strangers. But this year, I really felt it begin to dissolve. I’m not saying that I’ll ever be the ole carefree Faith but I think I’m closer to her than I’ve been in a long time. Life is exciting again. I’m looking forward to things again. I’m not spending my weekends curled in my bed while my body shakes due to hyperventilating tears. I'm not having panic attacks. I know that if I could get to this place after the last few years of my life, I can always do it again. I don’t want to do that again but the thing is knowing that I can. And that somehow, someway, I’ll always be able to get back to me.

As is tradition for this blog, here’s my review of 2018. The year that brought me closer to, well, me.

JANUARY

January was pretty uneventful and quiet which isn’t surprising considering the weather here. This month I did write down goals for the new year (as I’m sure everyone does) and I’m pretty glad to know that I accomplished most of them.
I'm definitely still a work in progress.

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Continued our tradition of Sunday dinners which reminds me that I haven't posted in quite some time.

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I did venture out for a brunch with Cinthia in January and I recall wishing that I had not made plans to go out in the cold that day. The thing is that when I returned home I remember feeling happy.

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Went to the Philadelphia Auto Car show with Sean and I hope to do it again this year!

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FEBRUARY

Although my niece's birthday is in January we celebrated her 5th birthday in February last year.

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Went to see Black Panther and remember leaving feeling so inspired and hopeful!

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Went to a dinner in Upstate NY to celebrate Colleen's new addition, Cate!

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Celebrated Sean's birthday in Saratoga NY with several of his childhood and rugby friends.

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MARCH

Visited San Francisco for the first time and fell in love. We absolutely loved our time there!

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Had a good time celebrating St. Patrick's Day with my favorite guy.

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Sean and I ran a 5K in Philadelphia for Parkinson's. This was definitely a highlight for the both of us.

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APRIL

By April we were so ready for some good weather that when we finally had one good day we celebrated with a grilled dinner on our deck!

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And with the weather finally getting warmer it wasn't an ordeal to get out of the house and go out for brunch.

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Cinthia and I had our first trip to the winery of the year!

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The magnolia trees began to make their appearance and even though it was raining I made us stop to take it all in :)
Fun for me, not so much Sean ;)

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MAY

Sean, Cinthia and I went to a Spring Festival in Philadelphia and had a blast listening to music and stuffing our faces.
It was also Cinco de Mayo.

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We went to Myrtle Beach with Sean's parents and had a long relaxing weekend together.

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My sister and her family came to visit us and we went to the beach.
It was such a good weekend ♥

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Posted about flower day at home. To be honest this is one of my most favorite things to do. Picking out and arranging flowers to place around the house makes me always feel at home.

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JUNE

One of my most favorite memories of 2018 was sister day. We are hoping to do something like this every year. This year I'm hoping that all four of us will be able to do it :).

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Sean and I went to Atlantic City for a quick weekend trip.

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Celebrated my dad's 70th birthday!

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Went to a light festival in honor of my mom's birthday ♥

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Celebrated my MIL's 60th birthday!

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JULY

Spent a summer weekend with Colleen and her family ♥

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Went to Saratoga Springs, NY to spend a day at the race track.

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AUGUST

Family day at Bowlmore Lanes ♥
We've been doing a family day in August ever since my mom passed away in August 2015.
It really helps us all cope better when we are together on one of the hardest days/months of our lives.

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Attended Musikfest in our town and of course had my beloved corn :)

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Rainy day at the farmer's market picking up local produce.
I made an incredible zucchini bread (for the first time!) with the zucchini I picked up that weekend.

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TRAVELED TO PARIS!

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SEPTEMBER

Celebrated 5 years of living in PA

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Celebrated my nephew's 2nd birthday!

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Had a pretty perfect fall weekend with my sister and nephew

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OCTOBER

Turned 36!

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Had a fun weekend in Philadelphia with my girlfriend, Jihae.

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NOVEMBER

Traveled to the Dominican Republic

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We took my MIL to the city to see the Rockettes and made a pit stop at Bryant Park.

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Celebrated Thanksgiving with my family

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DECEMBER

Decorated our home for Christmas

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Visited Colleen for the weekend

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Celebrated Christmas with my in-laws

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Rang in the new year with a lot of cheese and dancing!

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2018 was truly filled with all the things I love most; family, friends, good food and lots of travel.
I hope that 2018 was kind to you too.
2019, I'm ready for you!