Happy third birthday as energy in the universe, dad. Your bones turn 75 today.
I feel like I should be saying something more profound... but the truth is, for me... this isn't getting any easier. I would say harder honestly.
Ashes to ashes. Stardust to stardust.
I love you. I miss you. I'm sorry.....
In my "off" season, the awkward time after the Christmas picture rush, and before spring. I take a lot of design work!
This is a little something I did for myself, but I can pull together something gorgeous out of most any picture. I specialize in imagery for social media. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
Those pictures that make you want to click and read more! I help bloggers, people promoting their small businesses and more!
Take a deep breath.
Trust Karma and that universe will take care of everything.
Not everyone will love you, like you, or even understand you.
It's not your business or concern.
Another's person's perspective of you has no real impact on your life.
So live and let live.
Find your own path.
And always sprinkle kindness like you're filling the stars in the sky.
Have a great week!
A little look into my livingroom. As I stated in a previous post, my husband and I upcycled almost our entire apartment. We left almost everything when we moved to the Chicago suburbs from Pennsylvania.
Couch: FREE curb side.
Coffee Table: $5
Book Shelf: $3
TV Stand: $5
Small Glass Door Table: $10
(GoodWill, Local Thrift Store, Yard Sales)
Books, crystals, PS4, extra throw pillows and TV were brought with us from Pennsylvania.
This is week #2 in this house. I have a $300 budget left for decorating and random little things for the house left. I am still deciding.
I plan on posting an update in the next few months to show all the changes we come up with. Ultimately we still want it to look clean and not too cluttered. Open space is important to me in the livingroom as I do my meditation and yoga in there.
Moving A Family Of 7 Out Of State On A 3.5k Budget; And My Introduction To A Semi-Minimalist Lifestyle
We recently moved to Illinois from Pennsylvania. My husband and I needed a drastic change for our family. We were surrounded by toxic people in a city that never really felt like home to any of us. So we took a leap of faith in October of 2017 and started to save for our move.
The biggest question we get is the how. How much we spent, how long we saved, and we went about it. We aren't rich. We lived for the most part pay check to pay check. We sacrificed A LOT to be able to do this.
Budgeting any move out of state is INSANELY expensive. A truck alone could run you over 5k (rental + gas) easily. And let's face it... depending on how big your family is and how much stuff you have.. one truck load probably won't cut it either. And us? We're a family of seven. Yikes.
I got to looking online and seeing how other people did this. How does one move on a tight budget? My searching brought me to an article on minimalism and living a minimalist lifestyle.
"What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life."
I was aware of the concept, but not in this way. Things like tiny homes (and if you have ever seen my pinterest, yes I am obsessed) were ideas that appealed to me later on in life. But I did not think it would be possible to really declutter and downsize with children.
And the other HUGE part. I had no idea the concept applies to relationships and activities. I was so intrigued. I really started to dig deep. I joined a few Facebook support groups on minimalism and recreated my goals.
Now for most people doing a big move, there is a car or cars involved. Well my husband and I don't drive. This meant the first part of our budget had to be for our own transportation.
My husband put in for his job transfer in February and actually applied for a couple different states. We had two accepted. One in Washington state and the other Illinois. We went with Illinois as that is where my in laws lived. We set his start date for the first week in April.
Traveling this time of year was still relatively cheap. We got sleeper cars with beds for seven people on Amtrak for 1.2k total one way.
Now, this would also be important in the planning of getting some of our belongings to Illinois as well. We were allowed to take two large suitcases each. So for seven people that is 14 bags! We utilized this for all the clothing we were taking.
Now, if I am being honest. As a family we owned waaaayyyy more clothing than could fit in two bags each. But this is where our minimalist journey begins. With the clothing.
We spent a good week going through all our clothes. If we didn't NEED it, love it... it was donated or tossed. I am talking items that were never worn or didn't fit. Things being saved for "some day"...yeah no. We were living in the now, so they had no room in our future.
Next we had to decide what wasn't replaceable. Now I have always been an upcycler. I have furnished every home I have ever lived in with FREE or used furniture. So I let go of my initial instincts. The "but I love my couches, but I love my dinning room set". Those can be replaced. They were not coming with us.
What would be most expensive to replace were TVs and Mattresses. We could have gotten upcycled of these items as well, but we had just purchased new six months before and didn't want to waste that money.
Shipping these items would cost an arm and a leg, and again... we don't drive. That killed the idea of a truck. So we then we decided a POD would be the right choice for us.
PODS are amazing honestly. The company drops it off. You have three days to load it. They pick it up and deliver it right to your new address. So simple!
We went with the smallest POD and packed it up tightly based on our needs. We did not want to force a minimalist lifestyle on our children in a traumatic way. So a good portion of our boxes for the pod were the kids toys and personal belongings.
I packed my books, some camera gear, one full box of picture frames and photographs, my crystal collection and incense. And a few personal items. Pots and Pans my father had given me, and plates. Blankete, sheets and pillows. That was it. We pretty much left everything else behind.
$1.2k Train Tickets
$1.5k Boxes, Packing Supplies, POD
$500 To Replace Furniture
$300 To Replace Decorative Pieces
Total moving expenses of $3.5k
Roughly $8k - $10k cheaper than those who would have moved their whole house or bought brand new furniture at their new location.
Full disclosure, the first place we rented was out of our budget and we knew this. But we wanted a place to get our foot in the door so we signed a six month lease. If you wanted to budget in our rental cost it would be an additional $3k for rent and deposit putting us at a $6.5k move total cost. We kept our furniture budget in savings and waited until we found a cheaper place closer to Chicago and transportation. We applied for an apartment in a gorgeous complex after our first lease was up and we got approved.
Renting a temporary house helped us learn our new state. Research neighborhoods and school districts. Decide what we wanted in our home and where. We were able to get our deposit back in full and applied it to our new place.
Our apartment complex is in a great neighborhood, close to transportation. Easy train ride to Chicago. Pool, gym, clubhouse, 24/7 maintenance. Our unit is three bedroom, 2 full bath. It's everything we wanted.
It took six months of saving and planning to leave Pennsylvania and another six months to get settled into a new state and find the perfect apartment but we did it.
I will make a follow up post with some pictures of our new apartment and the items I purchased to decorate as well as the upcycled furniture.
We had A LOT of odds against us. We don't make a ton of money. We had to sacrifice a lot to save up. No going out to eat, no takeout. Cheaper phones and plans, no cable etc. We don't drive. Traveling was difficult. But I am here to tell you, if we can do it... so can you!
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE UNHAPPY.
Our worst days in Illinois have been better than some of our best in Pennsylvania. So that says a lot.
If you're stuck in a place you are unhappy... start small. Make tiny lifestyle changes and learn to let go.
Until next time.... love and light friends!
One of the hospices I do palliative care/support volunteer work in is hosting a wonderful event.
Join us for one of our three Tree of Lights celebrations to honor the memories of loved ones who are no longer with us.
The event will feature live music, an inspirational message, fellowship and light refreshments.
Space is limited. Register to attend at https://journeycare.org/lights/
Now that everyone has put their pink shirts away, let's remember that Lung Cancer kills more women daily than Breast and Ovarian cancer combined.
An average of 193 women die each day of lung cancer, one every 7 minutes.
Yes, you read that right....
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women. It is also the leading cause of cancer death in men.
In 2018, an estimated 70,500 women will die of lung cancer, 25% of all cancer deaths in women. Of the men and women with lung cancer, 17.9% are never-smokers.
Lung cancer in male and female never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of all cancer deaths.
Approximately two-thirds of never-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women. Of never-smokers, women are twice as likely as men to get lung cancer.
Recent studies indicate that the rate of never-smoking lung cancer is increasing.
The five-year survival rate for women with lung cancer remains low at 21%.
Despite a higher number of annual deaths, lung cancer receives only $1,831 per death in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the least funded of the major cancers affecting women.
November's new moon is called the Beaver moon and it will be on the 7th . This beautiful moon is in Scorpio. The Scorpio born are strong willed, passionate, intelligent, jealous, possessive and secretive.
What is the story behind the Beaver moon? November's full moon was named Beaver Moon by colonists and Algonquin tribes. Some say it has to do with collecting the furs to make clothing and blankets to last all winter long. Beavers build their winter dams at this time of year. The moon represents strong foundations. This moon is so also called Frost Moon and Mourning Moon, depending on the winter solstice.
In Hindu name for this beautiful Full Moon is Kartik Poomima. it commemorates the end of a four-month period during which Vishnu sleeps. It is also the birthday of Vishnu’s fish incarnation, Avatar.
The Beaver Moon is a great time to dig deep and think about how your past is affecting you now. It's also an opportunity to rebuild things in your life. Much like the Beavers building their dams, you can take this chance to work on the foundation of your life. Set some goals to last you through the winter.
For me this new moon brings along a huge change. Much like our beaver friends, I am packing and moving into a new home. I have noticed lately my life is moving along with the cycles of the moon. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed I try to remember the universe has my back. Good things will come to me if I go with the flow.
New Moons are all about reflection and setting your intentions for the cycle ahead. Here are some of my favorite rituals to help you manifest and take advantage of some moon power in your own life.
○NEW MOON RITUALS○
• Organize Your Alter And Favorite Crystals:
I am always asked what crystals should I use. This is hard for me... I can easily read you the text book meaning of the stones. However in my practice, that has never worked for me. I buy, collect, and trade stones that resonate with me based off of vibes. Gut feelings that draw me to each crystal. I find this method brings me the most peace. Whatever method you chose, remember there is no right or wrong way to manifest with your stones on this new moon.
Besides crystals, you want to fill your alter with things that resonate with you. Mine is filled with items I have found in nature. I have leaves, pine cones, a deer antler and even an old bird's nest. I keep pictures of saints and spirits. Some like to keep pictures of their loved ones or things they have as goals such as pictures of money or a new house. Think of your alter as a spiritual vision board.
• Take A New Moon Bath By Candle Light:
Before I start I always sage the room ensuring good vibes and positive energy.
Grab some candles (white are best) and place them around your bathroom and bathtub. These candles will represent the moon and inner clarity.
Use some purifying essential oils in a nice hot bubble bath. Frankincense is really good for spirituality, meditation, and purification. Whilst elemi is good for fresh starts and new beginnings.
Much like my advice on crystals, I think it's important to use scents that resonate with you when it comes to personal rituals. If those don't work for you, find some that do.
• Journal Keeping, Meditation, and Affirmations
The new moon is the perfect time to start a journal. Let it be for short and longterm goals, or something deeper like the thoughts swirling around in your head.
Remember the new moon is all about setting up your intentions and letting go of your past burdens. Write down things as they come to you.
I do my journaling monthly and enjoy looking back at the end of the year to reflect. Whilst others don't like to think about their past moons and only want to go forward.
Some people make lists on paper of the things that really hurt them the moon before. They write them down, then burn the paper in a glass bowl whilst watching the flames. As the flame dies down, so does the weight of these burdens that you carried from the previous moon. This can server as a great meditation point.
This is a good time to get together affirmations that truly resonate in your soul. As you sit in front of your alter and have let go of your previous moon, speak these out loud. Let them flow through you. The practice of meditation is really important throughout the manifesting process. This is because you actively relax and allow for your desires to flow from your higher self.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to manifest and take advantage of the new moon energy flowing. Try some of my methods, research others or even make some ones of your own.
Love and light friends!
Beaver photo credit; riptide bait and tackle
Moon research: mooncircles, mystic familiar, farmer's almanac and tarot.com
"Avoid overthinking, overanalyzing, and complicating things. Keep everything simple. Life is much more beautiful and enjoyable this way."
Sometimes the tools to a happier life are right within my grasps. Yet, the struggle of knowing what's good for me, and training my mind to think positive sometimes feels impossible.
I truly admire those who do it so well that it has become an effortless art form.
Just my Monday Morning thoughts through meditation after a mostly sleepless night. Sometimes the best motivation is knowing that small steps are ok and you're not the only one who struggles to get it right. It's not always our accomplishments that need celebration, but our attempts as well.
"The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections."
Stunning Before and After Milk Bath Maternity Photoshoot Shows The Powerful Beauty In Pregnacy And Motherhood
New mom Kayla Kaydo wanted something beautiful and creative in her maternity pictures. She didn't want your typical black and white studio portraits. She was looking for a peice of art that she could share with her daughter and future grandchildren.
I came up with a plan that would not only show the gorgeous and powerful female pregnancy form, but also a glimpse into life of motherhood.
Kayla loves nature and wild things. We set her up a warm milk bath and laid flowers all around her. It was beautiful and relaxing. It showed off her round pregnant belly wonderfully. Six months later we shot again after her beautiful daughter, Aurora was born.
I hope everyone enjoys this set as much as we do.
Full Moon Energy Tonight 🌙 And it's the Hunter's Moon. 🏹
I am feeling all sorts of weird this cycle and am hoping it's going to close a lot of doors that need shut weeding out the last of the bad vibes that poured over these past couple if weeks.
The Moon’s name comes from Anglo-Saxon times but is also attributed to Native American tribes.
These tribes would monitor time by observing the moon patterns and four seasons of the year, a process later adopted by colonial Americans.
The Hunter’s Moon marks the start of the hunting season in which meats are preserved for the winter months, presenting a time of reflection.
The name is also said to come from the light of the moon enabling hunters to find hiding nocturnal animals.
Art by: Marina Molares 💕
Moon info via express.uk 📖
Life changing decisions will be made today that are out of our hands. I have to remind myself that this is in the hands of the universe now, and whatever will be... will be... I did all that I could to make it so. Poppy and I still lit our candle and set out our favorite crystals for good vibes. Please continue to send love, vibes, and prayer. Whatever you believe in your heart. I think just knowing my wonderful internet support friends are thinking about us makes a difference.
Something that I needed to hear today. My worst days in Illinois have been better than my best days in Pennsylvania. I needed to leave. I believe in finding your own peace and making the best out of situations. That idea of finding happiness where you are. However I have learned sometimes you need to break from the people who aren't allowing you to grow.
As a photographer, and self proclaimed artist (smile) my biggest coping mechanism has been taking pictures. Even as a child, I would stock up on disposable cameras and drive my grandparents crazy to get them developed for me.
I documented everything about my father's cancer journey in pictures. From the day of the diagnosis, to the emergency hospital stays, the treatment, the rehabilitation, the home hospice, and his death.
It's hard for me not to be emotional seeing these pictures. So many different thoughts and feelings that I experianced these last days. His last month of life.
My dad had gotten a cold that winter and it just would not go away. He was stubborn and would not let my sister or myself know just how bad he felt.
For a while his cold symptoms had even seemed to clear up. But by early spring he had developed a terrible cough again. A lump in his lymph nodes on his neck had began to form. He believed they were just swollen because of his cold, so he did not say anything to us.
My father was never the type of person to see a doctor. I was never fully sure if it was fear, or trying to avoid the financial burdens of medical care. He was always like this. As long as I can remember. Stubborn single father who always tried to put everyone's needs above his own.
When he finally let us know what was going on, his lump was as big as my fist. I was terrified, but I tried so very hard not to let it show as I knew it was my turn to be strong for my father.
We went to the ER and left with a recommendation for a cancer specialist. I remember before the official diagnosis feeling so hopeful. I had done a lot of reading online, and originally doctors believed he had hodgkin's lymphoma. A very scary cancer indeed, but it had really good survival statistics. We were ready to fight.
When my father went in for the biopsy he had a lot of trouble breathing and was admitted to the hospital. We waited a week for the results of that test. Rapid test showed he indeed had cancer, and doctors began to discuss chemotherapy with us. But we had to wait for the official diagnosis with the cancer type.
I was still very hopeful. I got to know his oncologist very well over this week. His nurse too. I was bugging them every day to see if they had results as the hospital we were in seemed to know nothing.
This week seemed to last a year. The wait. It was terrible.
I remember getting the call. The call. The life altering call. I was sitting in my friends car outside the hospital. I had been doing over night stays with my dad and was getting ready to go home, eat and shower. For whatever reason, the phone did not ring and went straight to voice mail. I played it on speaker. Right away I knew by my father's oncologist's tone that things were really bad. I had never heard sadness in a doctor's voice before. And he said he was sorry. So so sorry.
Up until this moment we never heard the words Lung Cancer. And I never in my life had heard of Extensive Staged Small Cell Lung Cancer. I knew nothing.
I later learned the 5-year relative survival rate for stage III SCLC is about 8%. SCLC that has spread to other parts of the body is often hard to treat. Stage IV SCLC has a relative 5-year survival rate of about 2%. My father discovered his in stage 4. Some doctors classify anything that has spread past the lungs as "Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer". It's a terminal cancer with very little treatment options.
I hid in the tiny bathroom of my dad's hospital room, I sat on the floor and I cried. I punched the sink. I felt like I was going to throw up. But I got up, looked in the mirror and said "get it together, Lopez... get it together, Taylor." Wiped my tears away, and went back to sit with my dad.
We agreed to do Chemotherapy to shrink the tumors to help with breathing and extend quality of life. We learned that this would not be a cure, and that they could not even properly give him a true estimate of time. Just that if we didn't do the chemotherapy, it would be very soon.
After chemotherapy, my father almost seemed to be getting better. His growths did decrease in size. And we were all feeling hopeful. We were told perhaps a hospice would be a great option for us. I don't think anybody was ready to hear that.
We were moved to a recovery room on the top floor. It was bigger, private and had a view.
The chemotherapy caused huge painful blisters all over my father's legs. A rare side effect. Something we were not ready for and would continue to worsen and grow until the end.
We were warned about his chances of pneumonia and infection. But were told to remain positive.
He went from the hospital into a rehabilitation center for a while to learn to use a walker and adjust to his new life. Things seemed great at first, but then my dad started to feel really sick.
That's when the ground was ripped from beneath our feet. Our worst fears had came true and my dad had developed pneumonia.
He was tired. He didn't want to fight anymore and asked me to call a hospice so he could come home. He hadn't been home for nearly a month. I think that in part made him want to stop fighting faster. He just wanted to come home. And decided against more hospital stays to treat the pneumonia.
He lived exactly one week from the time he came home from the rehabilitation center.
I have a long post about the spiritual experiences I had during the last week of my dad's life, and I will link it here: (Saying Goodbye To My Father; A Lesson In Faith) https://www.sugarygiggles.com/blog/saying-goodbye-to-my-father-a-lesson-in-faith
We had an amazing hospice team that I will forever be thankful for. I am not sure I could have done it without their amazing help and resources.
My father died at home surrounded by people he loved. I wish that we had more time, and that things would have went differently. I remember at one point in the hospital him telling me not to worry, because he was not ready to go yet either.
Not a day goes by that I don't miss him and that I don't think about him. Grief is truly a journey that we will go on forever.
I shared a lot of these images before in a collection, but I did not offer any real context to them. I simply said "my father's cancer journey in pictures". That's it. I really can't believe it has taken me 2 years to make this post. To clarify what all these images mean.
The endless medications, the breathing machines, the hospital stays... all of it. Even now, I feel like I have not put enough weight into my words and that I could do better.
I am posting this to let others going through similar know that they are not alone. That their feelings and emotions are valid. I don't think anybody can fully understand what it is like to have someone you love diagnosed with a terminal disease. Knowing that they are going to die.
We all need to be kinder and gentler to each other. We only get one life. And your time on this Earth is precious.
Local boutique owners, I need help!!
I am doing a styled shoot to build my portfolio and am looking for local boutique owners that would like to have their items featured that the models would wear.
What’s in it for the boutique owner??? You’ll get to use the photos for your social media and advertising for free. Don’t worry, modes will sign a contract in order for their permission to have photographs used.
And if you know of a place for these gorgeous photos to be shot, I’m taking all the suggestions!
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Baking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands