Taking Time for Yourself

It’s important to, once in a while, take some time for yourself…I did just that this last weekend. After dad being away for 2 1/2 weeks last month…my anxiety picked up…it hit me out of nowhere and for those of you who also have anxiety…you know that it isn’t something that you can just stop…

Anxiety can be crippling, it can make you scared to leave your house, talk to new people, try something new…but you also know that it is a completely illogical fear. I’m known as an over thinker…I over think pretty much everything in my life and so my brain is a constant bundle of things I need to do and scenarios that would never happen. I have yet to find a permanent solution where I can battle my anxiety and overthinking. For right now though a few hobbies keep my mind distracted and this last week and weekend I really focused on myself and pressed the ‘reset’ button in my brain.

So last week, Dad and I took a trip down to Cornwall…dad had an event that he was playing the drums at and I used the time to just relax. We rented an airbnb in Porthtowan just minutes walk from the beach. Now for those of you who know me know that there is something about the ocean and the beach…I feel like I’m at home. My love for marine biology intensifies whenever I’m near the beach and I always feel like the ocean is calling me…my mood instantly changes when I see the ocean, no matter the weather…I cheer up…I relax…I breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

I had so many things planned for that weekend, however there were 2 factors that hindered those plans and could have ruined it all for me. The weather is not something you can control and bank holidays in the UK are notorious for having poor weather. Well, the weather in Cornwall lived up to that…I received pictures from several important people in my life showing the blue sky and talking about how hot it was…I looked out my window and all I had was dense fog, the sun wasn’t anywhere in sight…But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being on the beach! Now the second factor was a little more annoying…2 weeks before I had managed to dislocate my right shoulder (yes I am right handed) and was still in significant pain and arm still in a sling. So suddenly things like picking up trash on the beach, or trying to take a picture with my camera, became a lot harder to do. Yes we had the dense fog for 2 out of the 3 days we were there, but the last day the fog finally lifted and I remembered why I love the ocean and the beach. The colours of the sand and the blue hues of the water…there is just nothing quite like it for me.

Now getting back to what I did to press the ‘reset’ button, I went for numerous walks on the beach and along the coastal path along the cliffs and spent time staring out to sea, anxiously looking to see if I could spot any wildlife (some seals but that was it), I explored some of the numerous ruins that Cornwall has to offer. Spent time reconnecting with old friends, building connections with new ones and drinking multiple iced lattes and peach green tea lemonades. Oh and who can forget the ice creams!!

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Unfortunately, time always flies and before I knew it we were home and the instant lull in my mood was noticeable. I knew I had to do something to stop myself from slipping back into my anxiety driven state. I ended up looking through my yarn stash and decided to crochet something again. Recently I had been knitting a wrap for myself but I really wanted to crochet something. So I picked a pattern and off I went…There is just something about crocheting and knitting that keeps my mind preoccupied and allows me to relax.

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Some people might say that it is selfish to take time for yourself. But if you don’t, then when do you get the time to be yourself…allow yourself to grow and to relax. Sometimes that means a mini break away to your ‘happy place’ and sometimes it means just picking up an old hobby. All I know is that since my mini break…my anxiety has lessened and my mood has improved.

What about you…what is your happy place? Do you have anxiety? What helps calm you down? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!!

Have a great weekend!

~ A cloudy day at the beach, is still a day at the beach – Unknown ~

Some Much Needed Vitamin D

Spring has FINALLY arrived here in the UK!!! I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the last week already and the promise of sunshine and warm weather stayed! Waking up this morning I was welcomed with the suns rays through my blinds and the excitement grew!

After a quick walk to the doctors (still in the process of getting my fibroids sorted – read ‘Living with a hidden – not so hidden illness’ if you want to know more) and then buying some fresh bread at the local bakery…I am now sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine, enjoying the weather!

I’m not the only one who is enjoying the outside life…the cats are both thoroughly enjoying it…lazing around in the sun, catching all the flies and being stung by wasps…

One thing I realised whilst being sat here in the sun is that even when life is dark and there are moments when I can’t see the end of the tunnel…just sitting outside in the fresh air, in the warmth of the sun and no threat of rain…life isn’t as dark as I thought. There is light at the end of the tunnel…whether that tunnel has led you to where you thought you were going to end up or not…isn’t that the exciting thing about life? You never know where your journey will take you!

Since finishing my masters degree I have been looking for a PhD or a job…not finding much luck in either…so right now I don’t know where my life is going to lead but I am excited to find out!

What about you? Is it sunny where you are? If so, what do you enjoy doing when its sunny? Let me know in the comments below!!

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Christian in Science

Being a christian in a science world can be hard…it has led to many questions and led to me doubting my faith and everything that I thought I knew. My experience really started when I left for university for my undergrad degree.

Moving hours away from my parents (I studied in Bangor, Wales whilst living near London) meant that I would be far away from my parents and my church. It was the first time that I would be living out of my parents house, so not only would I have to adapt to  living on my own but I would finally be studying something that I have always had a passion for, knowing that it would be difficult.

I remember one of my first lectures so vividly, it was an introduction to the course and an overview of what the module would be teaching. I knew going in that there would be a lot of evolution but what threw me was that the lecturer in a class of 500 said ‘those that believe in creation are stupid’. I know I was not the only christian sitting in that room…I felt personally attacked.

Yes I believe in creation but I also believe in evolution. I don’t think that we all come from monkeys but there is evidence of microevolution and theres no denying that! What irritated me was that the lecturer had no respect for other points of view. It tainted my opinion on scientists…However, after speaking with dad that evening I realised that not all scientists would think that way…I was now a scientist and I wasn’t like that!

Yes I am one of the rare few that are christian in a scientific world. A world that teaches us to question everything and only believe something that we can see or undeniably prove. This contradicts the christian part of me…the part that blindly believes in something that we cannot ‘see’. Would I change either side…no! Absolutely not!

My scientific side has taught me so much. How to question things, how to prove things, how to argue my point, and it has opened my eyes to all the wonderful things on this planet. My christian side has also taught me a lot though. It has taught me that I am never alone, that I am always loved, no matter all my mistakes, and that there is hope in my darkest days. I am a miracle baby, science couldn’t understand how I came to exist, but here I am…26 years old, healthy (ish…) but alive and well.

Do I have all the answers? No. Do I still question my beliefs every day when science makes so much sense? Of course! But I also believe that you can’t grow in your faith unless you are tested. Not everyone will get tested in the same way…For me my journey isn’t anywhere near being done. But I think its important to be a christian in science. It has given me a whole new perspective on life and made me very open to new thoughts and ideas. Lets see what the rest of my life will throw at me…no doubt there will be plenty of questions! One thing I know for certain…my faith and science do not contradict one another…they go hand in hand and help me understand things in a deeper level.

What about you? Are you a christian in science? What’s your experience? And if you’re not a christian in science…what do you struggle with in your daily life? And if you’re a scientist…have you had to deal with any christians in science…and if so…whats been your experience? Let me know in the comments or message me privately!

~ The more I study science…the more I believe in God – Albert Einstein ~

Science is a Gift

My Top 10 Photos and the Stories Behind Them

In preparation for the release of the gallery part of the blog I decided to show my top 10 pictures and the stories behind them. Photography has been a huge part of my life and is one of the main ways in which I can be creative. I have been asked ‘why photography’ a lot and for me it allows me to show the world from my perspective. Something which you could walk past every day, is beautiful to the next person. So I try in my daily life to imagine what would make a good picture.

I have done some interesting things in my life and so I thought about sharing my top 10 pictures and also why I took them. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some incredible places in the world and have seen and experienced so many different cultures and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else.

  1. My First Long Exposure Shot – MadagascarIMG_8087

Back in 2012 I went for 10 weeks to Madagascar where I had an unforgettable time! It was genuinely one of the best trips of my life. Everything was super photogenic out there and one evening whilst sat watching the sunset, I just looked down and saw this log being washed ashore and saw the beautiful patterns and decided to try my first attempt at long exposure photography. This was the result. Yes the focus isn’t perfect, nor the composition, but it was my first attempt at something I had been too scared to try. The reason I chose to include this in my top 10 is not only because it was my first attempt, but I love the movement of the water and I love that it tells a story.

2. Ethiopian Man – Ethiopia

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I took this picture whilst I was there for my first time in Ethiopia. During that trip we were taken to a religious festival in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was so happy and the people of Ethiopia are all just so beautiful! Whilst having lunch I looked up from my food and noticed this old man standing in a doorway just watching the celebrations and I just thought that that would make such a beautiful picture and I just couldn’t stop myself from grabbing my camera and taking the shot. This was the outcome…It still remains as one of my favourite pictures from my trip.

3.  Why Did the Bear Cross the Road – Yellowstone National Park, USA12698140_10153445388827613_5201671014563450931_o

A couple years ago, my parents and I decided to do a proper American road trip. Starting from Minnesota and passing through 5 states before coming back to Minnesota. One of the major stops on the road trip would be Yellowstone National Park. On our first morning in Yellowstone, we had breakfast in a diner where we spoke to a couple who had been going there for years and hadn’t seen anything other than bison and elks. Well the morning before we had already seen a baby bear, so we were having a good start. Later that day, whilst driving around we spotted a bear walking in the bushes and quickly decided to drive slowly whilst the other cars were parked. And that gamble paid off…the baby bear decided to walk next to the car and then cross the road right in front of us. What an awesome way to experience the wonderful wildlife of Yellowstone!

4.  Sisterly Love – UK17861959_10154584511697613_2200926202777938493_n

These 2 beauties are the gorgeous daughters of some family friends. They were the perfect models and behaved so well! Bare in mind that I did have a broken finger on my left hand and could barely carry my camera. So just before this moment, I had my back turned to the children whilst talking to the parents. I turned round to see the big sister tenderly touching her little sister and I caught this moment. I love taking pictures of children and babies as they are just so unpredictable. Blink and the moment is gone! Seeing the joy on the parents face when you show the final product, makes all the stress of shooting on the day, worthwhile!

5. Taking a Deep Breath – MadagascarCamera 14MP-9PC

Whilst on the trip in Madagascar, we visited one of the islands nearby to where our camp was and visited the reef there. Whilst snorkelling I suddenly spotted a turtle swimming really close to me and decided to swim alongside it for as long as it would let me (whilst keeping a respectable distance!). This moment was just so special for me as it was the first time I had seen a turtle in the wild, it also allowed me to swim with it for about 20 minutes! It was just amazing!

6. Conquering your fears – Costa Rica

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Those of you who know me, know that I am PETRIFIED of heights! Yet this opportunity in Costa Rica, was one that I could not let slip! I took this picture with my GoPro to give the widest angle of where we were. Yes I was scared, but after one bridge that fear was gone! The nature was just so beautiful that I was distracted! When you are surrounded by the beautiful scenery, you can’t help but take pictures everywhere!

7. Tree With a View – Minnesota, USADSC_0041

Whilst Canoeing down a river in Minnesota, we noticed this beautiful bird sitting in the tree. Now it isn’t crazy to see Bald Eagles in Minnesota, but there were hundreds of people below it and hadn’t spotted it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota over the last couple years and yet every single time I see them they blow my mind! I was so lucky to see such a beautiful bird so close by with such blue sky as the perfect background! I think I ended up taking about 50 pictures of this single Bald Eagle. It was clearly waiting to spot a fish!

8. Miniature World – Wisconsin, USA14525015_10154011743427613_4904568668393714772_o

A couple years ago, I treated myself to a macro lens, and this opened up a whole new world of photography for me! Whilst taking pictures in a garden in Wisconsin I suddenly spotted this tiny spider and I thought could I take a picture of it with my new lens? It was incredibly jumpy and I knew it had moved just as I took a picture. To my surprise when I looked back at it, it was staring right into the camera! It stays one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken with my macro lens as this spider was smaller than your little finger nail!

9. Curiosity Never Hurt Anyone – Madagascar544481_10150927775222613_1435884139_n

Whilst going on a walk in the forest in Madagascar, we came across this tiny chameleon! At the time it was the smallest known chameleon! This picture was taken whilst it was in my friends hand! And again just as I took the picture, it decided to move its head towards my camera to get a good look! I just loved the curious nature of this chameleon and that it really wasn’t scared!

10. Flashy Chameleon – Madagascar 529121_10150924222632613_1178186907_n

So as my last picture I couldn’t not chose this one! It has always been one of my proudest shots! The story behind this picture is that whilst we were at the camp, this panther chameleon strolled into the camp. My friend picked him up and I suddenly noticed how striking the colours were on the perfect background!! The dark background brought out his colours perfectly! A while back I actually entered this into the National Geographic photo of the year and it got into the top 10. It is one of my biggest achievements in my photography career!

So what about you? What is your favourite shot and why?

~ I love photography because I can show people the world through my lens ~

Everything Doesn’t Always Go to Plan

Everyone plans…for their future, for their day out, for their holidays. You can plan everything down to the second, but life has taught me over the last month that no matter how much you plan, things can fall apart.

A couple days before Christmas my relationship of 4 years fell apart and all the planning I had done just disappeared. Do I regret anything? No. Would I change things if I could? No. Life throws these curveballs, there is no way around that. But how we grow from them is up to us. I could have chosen to be a wreck and cry the entire time we were on holiday in Scotland. Instead, I dusted the dirt off my shoulders and picked myself up and had a great holiday!

So no matter how much you plan, you also have to give space for the what ifs in life. This year definitely didn’t start the way I thought it would…But this is the year that I take things under control. My health for one…and take time to be me and grow even more as a person. Whether that is going out more and taking pictures and growing as a photographer, to trying those Pinterest recipes that I have wanted to try for a while now.

When you are going through a tough time in life, what do you do to pick yourself back up? For me, it’s surrounding myself with friends and family, laughing and remembering all the awesome things that have happened! And of course, comfort food such as chocolate and pizza was consumed! And a whole lot of shortbread and mulled wine instant tea (Whittard) in Scotland too!

So instead of Italy, this year I’m going to explore other countries, work on my photography and finally dye my hair! What’s something that you planned that fell through? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments or email me!

~ My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned, and that’s ok – Anonymous ~

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When Everything is Going Right…​

I woke up today in Costa Rica and just had a feeling that things were going to go well today! It is not often that I have this feeling as I am normally a pessimist, a glass half empty kind of girl. But not today for some reason…Today I woke up with a glass half full feeling.

As some of you are aware, I was still waiting to hear back about my master’s degree as I had handed it in a couple months prior. I had received an email to say that my results would be published from today (6th December 2017). So with this new feeling of positivity, I logged in at 4:45am and to my amazement (not to my mothers though!) I had passed!!!! I’d done it! I had completed a Masters in Science by Research in Zoo Conservation Biology. It had been an extremely tough 2 years with lots of struggles, but I had done it and no one could take that away from me anymore!

Now, not everything has been smooth sailing for me over the last couple weeks…After having broken my finger in Boston whilst whale watching, I managed to get a job, but the first day of officially starting it, I had contracted a nasty chest infection with a high fever. Not an ideal start…Dad luckily was able to cover me whilst I was sick in bed. Finally, after a week and a half of it not getting any better, I finally gave in and started on some antibiotics. It still took another 2 weeks before it finally cleared up enough but by this time I was already able to work.

A month later and I was getting ready to pack my bags and head to Costa Rica to finally see mum again, after almost 2 months of not seeing her! The following morning, the alarm went off just before 4am and dad and I climbed into the car and headed to the airport. I was still early so I was able to have a bit of breakfast with dad before I went through security…Going through security I followed all the rules and took out my large electronics and liquids, but my rucksack was still pulled to the side to be searched. I suddenly started to panic wondering what I had left in my rucksack that would set off alarm bells. Turns out they couldn’t understand the gimble and case that my GoPro was in… So off I went to the gate, the closer I got, however, the louder the commotion and I wasn’t sure what was happening. It took me a couple minutes to find out that the pilot had come out just before I got to the gate to let everyone know that we weren’t taking off at 6:30am but that he wasn’t sure when we would! Amsterdam was apparently covered in frost and fog which meant that no planes were allowed to take off or land…This normally wouldn’t have been an issue, if I didn’t have very short layovers in both Amsterdam and Paris before flying on to Costa Rica. I straight away started panicking and thinking of worst case scenarios.

Long story short, the flight left for Amsterdam 2 hours later than planned and we arrived in Amsterdam the time I was meant to take off for Paris. But during the flight, we were already told that most flights from Amsterdam were also delayed! So slight panic over…Turned out that my delay in Amsterdam was another hour and a half! The fun bit was landing in Paris however, I had 30 minutes to make my connection…Now those of you who have flown through Charles de Gaulle airport know that it is huge!!! I had to go through passport control and take a bus to the right terminal! 30 minutes suddenly didn’t seem long enough at all! Luckily, whilst I was waiting for the bus, I overheard some couples talking who were all going to Costa Rica as well! A group of 30 of us were all trying to get on the same plane! Again we did make it and before I knew it I was in the air on the way…

 

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Almost 11 hours later, we land in Costa Rica and I thought, now I can relax…Sod’s Law struck again…My suitcases didn’t arrive…I was severely overdressed for the weather…hmmm…now what! I was told that hopefully, my suitcases would arrive the following day, and luckily I had packed a clean t-shirt and underwear in my carry-on. So at least I had something!

Fast forward a couple days and one of my suitcases arrived 3 days later and the other one arrived this morning (4 days later). So now I can fully enjoy Costa Rica and relax!!! The first time that I can properly relax in about 5 years…

What is a way that you love to relax? Let me know in the comments and message privately!

 

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~ I asked God “Why are you taking me through troubled water?” He replied “Because your enemies can’t swim!” ~

 

 

Favourite Things About Autumn…

Autumn is a time of year where some get depressed with the falling leaves and the temperatures dropping. I, however, love it! And here are some of the reasons why!!

As a photographer, autumn is one of the most inspiring times of year to take pictures…the changing colours, the coats, the scarves, the hats! So many possibilities without being too hot or too cold!

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The smells!!!! Apple orchards are in full swing and the smell of a fresh apple is unbeatable in my opinion! All the variety of pies that are being made, the smell of rain, the smell of crisp fresh air! Autumn really does have the best smells!! This time of year also brings around my favourite drink of the year! Hot apple cider!! The smell of apple, cinnamon and star anise really warms me from the inside out!!! It is also a time of year where teas come out more and more from our cupboard. I start drinking tea on a daily basis, not English breakfast though! More fruit and herbal teas! The perfect way to warm up after a day outside in the cold crisp air!

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Of course, there is also Thanksgiving, a day where we can reflect on what we have been most thankful for that year! Now I am living in England where it isn’t normal to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I love the thought of acknowledging what you are thankful for that year and what you are looking forward to (plus the good food!!!!!).

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The layers…So I’m a girl that whatever the time of year, I will be wearing multiple layers, 2 strap tops plus a t-shirt. But at this time of year, it starts becoming socially acceptable to wear these multiple layers and I suddenly become fashionable!

Autumn also means that it’ll soon be winter and that means Christmas! A time of year we can reflect on the birth of Jesus and what that means in your personal lives!

So what is your favourite thing(s) about autumn? Let me know in the comments!

~ Autumn shows how beautiful it is to let go! – Anonymous ~

Why the blue life…

Since documentaries such as Blue Planet have come on to our screens, people are more and more interested in the ocean and the life that is found there. However, on my search for finding a blog that made marine biology and everything ocean related accessible, hasn’t worked.

This is why I’m starting this page called the blue life… I am going to attempt to make everything to do with the oceans from sharks to recycling to my personal experiences readible for the average person who does not have a bachelors in marine biology.

The importance of this? Everything is connected and if we don’t take care of the oceans then we will lose, what is in my opinion, the most stunning place on our planet.  Those of you who know me, know that when I talk about anything ocean related I start glowing and come alive! And I would love to see that this page will excite people and open peoples eyes to whats out there and to figure out the facts from fiction.

Let me know what you would like to know or have any ideas? Place your ideas in the comments section or send me a private message! Will love to hear from you!!!

– There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize what you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean – Dave Barry

Living with a hidden (not so hidden) illness…

So some of you are aware that I have been fighting fibroids for the best part of 6ish years (that I am aware of). It is far from easy and I feel like it isn’t as well known an illness as it should be! So here is my story and how I am living with it!

So around 6 years ago I realized that my periods were getting more and more painful and lasting longer…Not ideal at all! Eventually, I said to my parents that I need to see a doctor. And so off we went. One of the members of my dad’s church at that point kindly agreed to see me and ran so many different tests to see what was wrong. A couple days later I came back to get the results. Suspected fibroids…so I needed to go a couple doors down and get a scan done. This is where it was confirmed that I had multiple fibroids in my womb…and they were large!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my treatment with them, and so I went back to the NHS where I needed to be rescanned and all the tests had to be done again…by the time that all the results had come back, I knew they had grown. I started to look pregnant…So they decided to scan again…this was almost a year after the initial scans had been done and this time they were 30x30cm and there were 2 main tumors. This explained why I looked pregnant and couldn’t lose weight. Unfortunately,  it affected my everyday life, at this point, I was in my second year of university, about to start my last year. Just walking up the stairs was difficult and I would lose breath…let alone having 12 hour practicals where I had to clamber over rocks and try and hold my balance. The issue was, was that because the fibroids were so large, they pushed everything to a different place. This meant that my intestines were pushed up, which in turn meant that my lungs were squashed.

That time of my life was incredibly hard. My last year of my undergrad was easily one of the worst years of my life. My boyfriend (Jamie) had to basically move in with me to help me for days on end as I could barely get out of bed without collapsing and I just had no energy. I had other serious health scares in that last year too, but somehow I managed to finish and got my degree! However, that was not the end of the story for my fibroids. They kept growing and growing and the pain on my spine was becoming unbearable. They were so large that they were actually pushing my spine outwards…as you can imagine, everything hurt then…even lying down!

Eventually, I got in contact with a specialist in fibroid care and he took my case seriously and was shocked to see such a young person going through this. I was only 20 when it was finally diagnosed. He suggested that I go on hormone therapy as the tumors were too large to operate on unless I wanted a hysterectomy, which I really didn’t. So for 6 months, I was taking daily hormones to try and shrink it, and it did! At the end, one of my fibroids had almost completely vanished and the other was down to 10x15cm. A HUGE improvement! However, that doctor went away on a sabbatical, and here I am a year later and still haven’t heard anything new. So my fibroids have grown again and now I’m chasing the doctors to hear what my next step is. So here I am, still waiting…

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I know my situation is a weird one, as I am a caucasian girl in her early 20s and I have fibroids that are normally only seen in African women…It is almost unheard of here in western Europe to have fibroids this large and this fast growing. What I do know is that my fibroids are caused by a hormone imbalance, I make too much estrogen…So even though surgery is imminent for recovery, unless I stay on low-grade hormone tablets for long-term periods, they will come back and it will happen fast.

One thing that has bothered me the most through all this is that when you’re going to get ultrasounds done to see where the fibroids are and how large they are, they do put you in the same area as expecting mothers. Now most of the time that is not a big issue. However, in my case, I have been told that I might never be able to have kids. That was devastating news for me and then being in a room with expecting mothers is a bit of a kick in the stomach! Another thing that has bothered me a lot is people coming up to me asking me how far along am I…I really want to have kids of my own, but I also know that that might not happen for me, so it hurts…

But through all of this you have to keep a smile on your face, otherwise, the days will become dark and you lose hope! Know someone who is going through this? Give them a huge hug and just be there for them! It’s not easy!

Have any of you experienced the same thing? Know of any treatments? Want to know anything in particular? Write a comment or message me privately!! Would love to hear from you all!!

For now… the adventure continues!