Tag Archives: Overcoming

The biggest Adventure you can take is living the life of YOUR Dreams…




Oh the journeys I have been on…. I have had the privilege of seeing and being part of some pretty remarkable things in my life. I have visited some of God’s greatest creations and experienced life to the fullest.

Grab a snack and buckle up for this amazing ride as I give you a front seat show to some of my lifes greatest experiences.

Seeing Alaska is on many people’s bucket list and for many good reasons. Let me name just a few for you.

Powerfully Statuestic mountains that are so majestic from a 365 view every morning, cold deep blue ocean water waters filled with many wonderful sea animals, the beautiful northern lights and abundant wildlife like you’ve never seen before. Alaska is one of our states that truely makes you feel like you’re in another world. I have been in the mall and seen a moose walking down 5th Avenue, I have seen a bear in the Dairy Queen dumpster at 2 am, and seen snow so high couldn’t even see the stop sign. Experienced a 7.0 earthquake that shook me to the core. It’s hard to believe places like this exist and we never visit them. Each part of Alaska has something different to offer; from hunting and fishing to elegant cruises, whale watching or even an adrenline pumping ride in a bush plane!

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In Alaska the summer weather is something from the heavens, waking up to a brisk chill with fog on the mountain tops and by mid day the tempature peaks around 70 degrees just perfect for your outdoor activities. Winter on the other hand can lend you a brutal cold smack in the face if your not into cold weather living. Be prepared for waterproof boots and big coats everywhere you go. Alaska you have to have heaters for your car as you can see tempatures plumet -60 degrees. I have ate dinner at the world’s most Nothern Denny’s – sunny side up please. For my southern friends no sweet tea and no sonic, sorry guys.

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From Alaska lets journey onto the home of the Seattle Seahawks. I have walked the streets of seattle, then seen the city from the space needle. Both views of this bustling city are very impressive. The streets and alley ways are riddled with unique smells, sites and people from all walks. Near the pier there was so many amazing activities, shops, and restaurants to visit. The giant ferris wheel at night is a must, as it illuminates the spectacular harbor and the city it surrounds. The marketplace was one of my favorite things while visiting Seattle. There was fresh seafood and fish from the days work the fishing boats, amazing vibrant fresh flowers and they were only $10 for a powerful bouquet. They had handmade goods and merchants selling them.

Seattle is a very unique and diverse place. I rode the transit system across the Seattle Tacoma area and that was a great source of transportation at a very low cost. The food in Seattle is the best, freshest halibut I have ever eaten in my life. They have amazing fish and chips and paired with the Seattle Version of the Long Island Ice Tea known as the Emerald Tea your taste buds will be loving you.

California is another State that kind of makes you feel like home but then the cultural diversity and the mulitple vast changing landscapes can make you feel like your worlds from your small town. During my month long trip to sunny California I saw one of the nation’s largest wild fires ever recorded. I never realized the effects or the scale that these fires have. It truly affects everyone and everything.

Sacramento has a unique layout and feels like it drags on in every direction with it’s unique suberbial and downtown layout. I did not spend much time here but they have fine dining and the Sacramento Kings if your in to the NBA. From there I couldn’t visit California without crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting the home of Full House. It was just like I imagined, houses crammed together and streets that rivaled roller coasters. The bay area has alot to offer with unique hotels, shopping, and dining experiences around every corner. There is the famous Alcatraz prison that really gives you an unbelieve sense of perspective into the history of the United States Prison System. Onward to Santa Cruz board walk, very iconic place in California. More of a hip younger crowd; this is a truly must see spot for surfers and wanna be beach bums. There are some classy treats along the boardwalk as well. The board walk has the ability to take you back and make you feel like you’re in the movies at night. I highly recommend going at night. Just a short drive down the coast is where I spent most of my time in Montrey, California at the head the Big Sur California 1 Coastal Highway. This little town is where several cruise ships dock and attract alot of tourists from all parts of the world. Cannery Row is a spectular place to visit and see with bustling shops full of souvenirs and unique handcrafted gifts, quick grub shacks, elegant spas, and 5 star dining. The Montrey aquarium is a place surely to bring out the inner explorer in you and have your children jumping for joy. I’ve had dinner over the ocean sunset while watching the sea otters play below me and the waves crashing the shore near by, such a magical dinner. The Big Sur drive is one of pure amazement and surely one of my top 10 most beautiful places on earth to see. Winding roads with mountain on one side plated with various wild flowers and the vast blue waters and white waves crashing into the giant boulder rocks rising from the ocean floor protruding through the water and into the blue sky. Along this drive I witnessed two blue whales playing off the coast, truly spectactular. Fill your tank up all the way and grab plenty of snacks and your charger cause your going to fill your memory card up quick. L.A is a site to see for sure.

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I was not sure what to expect since you see so much of it on TV and all the hype about Hollywood. Well I wasnt that impressed but it did offer up some wonderful experiences. I’ve shopped on Rodeo Drive, seen the iconic Hollywood sign, visited the neighborhoods of some celebrities, drove down Venice Beach and had a smoothie.

Let’s catch a plane for some night life at Vegas baby! Night life is usually not my type of thing but when you have the opportunity everyone should do Las Vegas once. “What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” is what they say, so I can’t rightfully tell all. Although I will tell you the Penthouse at Mandalay Bay is an award winning experience I wish everyone could experience.

 

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They have wonderful room service, buffet options, great spas, and resort style pools. The casino is hustle and bustle like most of the city and offers every type of gambling option you could imagine. While you as loyal reader already know I am frugal so I didn’t take kindly to the hubby at the black jack table. But if you’re in Las Vegas you must gamble right?! I spent my time playing roulette as I felt my odds were better. The strip is flutter with sparkling lights and the opportunity to make the best of your time there. Each casino offers something different from roller coasters, thrill rides, magic shows, singers, and extremely unique experiences all the way around. Freemont street is much like the strip with alot to offer catering to most anyone who visits. Street performers and food stands throughout you will be well taken care of; watch out for Elvis he is everywhere! Viva Las Vegas Baby!

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I have rode roller coasters all over the United States and nearly ever amusement park from San Antonio, Texas to New York. But nothing beats Cedar Point Sandusky, Ohio. Wow what can I say? This is probably our families favorite place on the planet as we visit here every year! My husband introduced this to me in our early stages of our relationship and ever since it has became a family tradition to this day. Cedar Point is known as America’s number one amusement park for nearly 20 years! They have over 17 actual roller coasters and 100 rides. I have rode every single roller coaster in this park FRONT SEAT and let me tell you that is a feat to accompolish in one day. Being launched down a track at 120 mph then straight up in to the sky 420 feet all in under 13 seconds!

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These roller coasters are not for the faint of heart but I assure you this, be sure to put it on your bucket list. Cedar point set out on Lake Erie on it’s own Island and has a variety of shows, food options, and activities for kids of all ages. You can even stay in the park on one of the many hotels. While in Ohio I visited Cleveland to see the Rock’n’Roll hall of fame and have a Chicago style hot dog while watching the Cleveland Indians.

 

New York was always my dream as a little girl all the movies make New York seem so magical and wonderful. Well if you can get passed all the trash in the streets and the horrible smells that accompany them you might begin to think so. While in New York we visited the Empire State building, ate giant slices of New York style pizza, literally shopped till we dropped, seen a crazy lady climb up the side of the Statue of Liberty as we screamed thru the Hudson River on a go fast boat and saw the fireworks on the 4th of July.

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Charolette, North Carolina the home of Nascar and a city fueled by racing. There is so much history to Charolette and North Carolina. I witinessed my husband eat the biggest cheeseburger at Mac’s Speed Shop, rode all the amazing roller coasters at the Carowinds, visited the Nascar Museum and paid our respects to the legends of Dale Earnhardt and Rich Petty. Visited the Magonolia House and many of the brewerys.

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West Palm Beach, Florida offers up activity after activity from side to side, top to bottom. Home of Disney World, sunshine, and sandy beaches. Weather you show up for Daytona 500 or a miami heat game you will surely be suprised. While in Florida we stayed at the Breakers Hotel and spent our days soaking up the warm florida sun.

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Bahamas are surrounded by crystal clear tropical waters and warm tropical breezes. I enjoyed the soft warm white sands squishing through my toes as I walked along the shore peering into the crystal clear water watching the vibrant sun fish race back and forth. Parrots flew over my head as we walked the streets exploring the shops and dainty merchant carts for handcrafted gifts. The fresh caribbean food and fruits in the Bahamas is probably my most favorite part.

Kentucky is a hidden gem in the midwest that often gets overlooked but everyone should take a majestic road trip to this wonderful state and visit the abundance of mountain vistas. Being an avid Corvette family we couldnt help but take our trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky to visit the Corvette Factory and Museum and race our way around the track pushing my petal to the metal.

Tennesee was on our trip to Kentucky and wow Tennessee has so much to offer. We went to Memphis, home of Elvis Presely, walked through his mansion then had a drink on beal street and listened to the blues bounce off the streets and alley ways in pain and joy. Took the wonderful journey up to the place where country legends are born and laid to rest, Nashville. As we drove closer I could hear the musical legends in my soul and the distant sound of a guitar twang close to my heart. Looking at the stage of the Grand Ole Opery and the doors of all the pubs and dinners where they all began proved to me that dreams do come true. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have alot in common and alot of difference to their cross river rival Branson Missouri. But let me tell you Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge has Branson beat in my opinion. From moonshine stills to Barbeque grills this place will definitly bring the southern out of you or make you wish you were from the south either way. Eating at Paula Dean’s peronal restrauant has to be one of my favorite places to eat here and the biscuits at the Old Mill Restaruaunt are to die for and yes they have real Sweet tea! Just a short drive we took up the mountain to Gailtinburg where it was something from another world shops so close together and multilayered we found so much to see, do, taste and buy! We took a ski lift up to the top of Alakesta and peer over the smoky mountains while drinking sweet tea in a rocking chair listening to bluegrass music in the distances as if the mountains were singing to us.    

 

20171230_230936                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last but not least Hawaii, this one was supposed to be 2 week trip for orientation of new job first  2 weeks of December 2018 ,well lets just start this adventure out with My life in Hawaii, as I moved for a permanent transfer. Living life in Hawaii is a dream for a lot of people, I have the privilege of doing so… many people who can afford a vacation to Hawaii Islands returned home and are a bit shell-shocked but in a good way . It is definitely one of the most beautiful places to live in the world but I know your asking the question I did when I decided to fulfil my dream, is it possible & is it worth it? Living in Paradise was not something I can push in the back of my mind anymore I had to do it, I had to make my ” dream” a reality. In doing so I’d like to share my insight with you & what its like living in Hawaii, the good & bad from my perspective.                  

 

23831                                                                                                                                                         The Hawaiian & Polynesian lifestyles are filled with fascinating Customs,music,legends ,traditions and values. Hawaii is very laid back lifestyle for sure,even though everyone works in Hawaii,well most do,their underlying attitude is life is not all about work.. hence why people wear shorts and flip flops even to the office & count down the days to ” Aloha Friday” employees either don’t go to work at all or only go half a day on Friday so they can hit the beach to relax, and everything in Hawaii works on Island time…..slow. Hawaii is very diverse with a blend of culture the majority being Asian & Pacific Islanders with a mixed plate of ethic groups 38% Asian, 24 % white, 10% native Hawaiian, 8 % Hispanic & 1 % African American, Hawaii has the “Aloha Spirit” and is the most racially diverse State in the United States.            

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                                                                                                                                                        Oh but lets talk FOOD the biggest challenge for me due to the fact I don’t eat meat & Hawaii prides themselves on dishes like Ka lua pork, chicken long rice,squid luau,Poi,Laulau,lomi,salmon,raw fish like and of course SPAM is the beloved food of Hawaiians,this disgusting jellylike pork block is found in nearly every kitchen. Nearly 6 million cans sold in Hawaii every year. I was shocked McDonald’s didn’t have sweet tea but they sure served spam & rice & that’s no joke. Hawaii has the highest rate of spam consumption in America..so of course I had  know why prompting me to ask a local. The obsession with spam begun in the world war II soldiers when GI’S were served this salty pork because it did not need refrigeration & had long shelf life. It’s still a no go for me despite its history.. however growing season lasts all year long which is a vegetarians dream, I visit all the farmers markets for locally grown produce & coffee farms for fresh ground brew. But don’t go thinking you can ship any passion fruits back to the mainland, I had to crush my granddaughters heart when she asked me to send a coconut, APHIS prohibits and restricts agricultural products from Hawaii.      

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                                                         Oh’ my this  reason almost changed my mind , the astonishing high cost of living!!! I pay $1450.00 a month for a luxury resort living condo overlooking the Arkansas River in Little Rock, $1800 to $2200 will get you an outdated 1 bedroom apartment in a questionable neighborhood in Hawaii . So you can imagine my shock when my place with employee discount was $4500 a month & everyone was raving what a bargain it was  because it was updated and on golf course but without the discount one month was equivalent to nearly 6 mos of rent back home. The cost of groceries are triple… I paid nearly 9 bucks for a carton of eggs and 6 bucks for a bottle of rubbing alcohol in Honolulu. I’m glad I have never picked up the cigarette habit..geeze a pack is $ 9.55 for the one pack a day smoker that comes to $3,486 bucks a year! Hawaii is the most expensive place to live in the United States but there is a reason a fugual person like  me overlooked those downfalls. When you live in the Aloha Spirit your mood reflects it. I’m rarely in bad mood, and I never stop smiling. Island hopping is amazing even though you can’t do it by car, small town charms and beautiful waterfalls make jumping on a day flight so worth it ,I’m a frequent inter Island flyer.

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Honolulu has world class food ,amazing wine experiences. ohh ‘and honey the shopping ..Coach,Chanel,Armani,Michael Korrs,Fendi,Tiffany’s ,Harry Winston,Saks… and for you Wal-Mart shoppers no fear they have those too with paid underground parking… but you pay for your bags everywhere you go ….yes Amazon delivers just not  in 24 hours, but I’m surviving just fine at the 5 days lol 🙂 Restaurants & shopping are the heart of Waikiki you can literally spend all day at Ala Moana center after all there are 300 stores it is the world’s largest outdoor mall..making any fashionista’s heart skip a beat. Its no surprise that the Island State has the most beautiful beaches in the world…but telling you which one is the prettiest will be a difficult task, here are some absolutely stunning beaches surrounded by mountain’s… Hanalei Bay,Kauai,Ka’anapli Beach,Maui,Waikiki Beach,Oahu,Lahaina Beach. Some of the things I have enjoyed are the Luaus , I attended them on cruise ships,Seaside at Ko onlina resort, but my favorite of all Ka Moana located at Sea life park…award winning entertainment and breathtaking drive through iconic Hanalei Bay on the way. I love living in Hawaii, no bulky sweaters needed! Whether your considering a move to the Island or simply wish to visit I hope you enjoy my reasons why I like living in Hawaii and find it interesting that I chased my dream regardless of the downfalls… My next dream a PRIVATE PLANE…5000 miles and 13 hour flights from my family have now made this dream move to the top of my list….it might not be for everyone but I have a gypsy soul always have seeking a need for change & adventure…very passionate &  inspired by different ideas, experiences and always loved movement, my mama use to say I had a Wild Heart & on her death bed told me to chase it and to  see the entire world. This has been a blessing as well as a curse because I have always danced to  the beat of my own drum but if my heart leads me somewhere I follow it. ” Walk barefoot, listen to the wind, drink in the moonlight, be magical”….. Jennifer Marie Hollon is just a free spirit with a wild heart and an open road ahead.. Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer… Hawaii now Spain next………… stay tuned.FB_IMG_1551844416555.jpg

 

My Relationship with Fibromyalgia

This is “literally” a painful topic for me to write about, especially being labeled a hypochondriac by uneducated hateful and healthy people. I have lived with this monster nearly 20 years, longer than any relationship I have ever had, besides my 28 years as a mother and it’s unbelievable to even type that knowing it has stole nearly half of my life. Not one day since officially & on record diagnosed since May of 2001 have I known a day without pain. Even through my early teens I suffered with the early signs so I don’t really know what life is like or remember what it was before it. Understanding fibromyalgia; a name given in 1976 a Latin word “fibro” (fibrosis) & Greek term “myo” (muscle) & “algia”( pain). In 1990 the American College of Rheumatology established guidelines for diagnosing Fibromyalgia. Understanding Fibromyalgia is difficult especially if you do not have extensive medical knowledge. It is a very complex medical condition that involves every part of your body including your brain and nervous system. Most of the smyptoms associated with fibromyalgia come and go, usually coming back more intense. All fibromyaglia sufferers agree the pain never subsides. Having fibromyalgia is comparable to having the flu every day of your life. You would think that if someone was experiencing that level of pain and discomfort there would be a clear defined visible and obvious reason and that pain should not jump from place to place. Why is just a light touch to the body hurt equally as bad as someone landing you a left hook? Why does your skin feel like you have been sitting in a furnace? I can say with confidence, no matter how hard one tries to understand it as a non sufferer you will not, as sufferers we still do not.

It is very confusing. Combined with the slough of negative medical test, with my opinion patients being emotionally abused by the medical industry through the years, telling them it was all in their head, this leading to mulitiple suicides. I, just like many other sufferers considered this as my only option to relieve the pain and along with how we are treated. However, in the last few years a host of scientific evidence and research studies have revealed this is a very real condition that plagues thousands of sufferers.

Imagine that you were planning a bridal shower and was expecting only 20 guest, 3 of your friends said not to worry that they would come early to help, but they never fulfilled their promise. Now instead of 20 a 100 guest have showed up and you now are overwhelmed. This is what is happening with our pain signals. Our pain cells send to many pain messages “guests” up to 5x the amount of a normal healthy person, causing even the simplest of things like mild pressure, headaches, and itches to into extreme pain. When these unwanted guest send pain signals to our brain they are processed by a little thing called serotonin. Sadly it is something we do not have or produce, you know like the friends that did not show up like they promised. This explains why we have pain in tissues and organs that show no signs of damage. It is not in our heads or something imagined, it is misinterpreted sensations from poor communication between our pain receptors and our brain that signal we are in extreme pain for which we feel. Our brains are actually lying to us, however we are not lying to others. These unwanted guests amplify a host of other signals or triggers turning up the volume to 60. Everything in our brain detects light, noise, odor and our pain. This leads to sensory overload causing anxiety, fear, and panic attacks. Most people with chronic illness like fibromyalgia are sick the majority of the time. It is hard for people to see why we can not make our lunch date on Monday, but Wednesday we are hiking 5 miles. Often this is why people have said “she is not sick, she is just lying to get attention.” Not sure who would want to be in pain for negative attention.

When we get stressed, our symptoms get worse. Imagine your worst day ever and all you want to do is go to sleep but your awaken by your husband snoring loudly all night and the neighbors dog barking. In the following morning your are so desprately tired, rushing around the house trying to get the kids off to school and on your way to work you realize you left your wallet and have to turn back, but now more problems are on their way. You hit a traffic jam making you 20 minutes behind, so you try to speed up and suddenly a dog runs out in front of you and you have to swerve to avoid a car accident spilling your hot coffee all over your lap. That is just the start of your day. You still need to  grocery shop, cook dinner, clean up, do the laundry, help the kids with homework, take the dog out, pick out the clothes for the next day, pack lunches, answer emails, the door, the phone, get the kids to bed, only to finally hit the bed to your snoring husband & alarm that already reads 2 am and set to go off in 4 hours all while your dealing with the pain of the restless leg, painful periods, memory loss, muscle twitches, itching, burning of your skin, migraines, jaw pain, bladder, kidney pain, back and neck pain, severe chest pains, shooting, burning, throbbing, aching, stabbing, stiffness, food allergies, wheezing, nausea, acid reflux. All while being exhausted in a fibro fog on repeat and in slow motion while under the microscope of denial from people who call you a lazy liar that will never experience any of your pain. Could you do it? Fibro sufferers were never asked this question, we literally woke up one day to this complexed condition. After years of being a Guinea pig to the medical community, multiple tests, treatments, along with trial and error medications. I decided 2 years ago to go completely natural after an Emergency room visit nearly dying from fentanyl patches as my doctor of 17 years had me over medicated on lethal combinations of drugs.

“The perfect storm” I was just doing what I was told in hope’s of relief & a “normal life” all the while destroying organs to the side effects & most definitely not experiencing a normal life. So I thought what the hell do I have to lose, I tossed the meds in the trash, fired my doctor and said I can do this, I’m in pain with the medication & Doctors anyway so let’s try it without either of them. Well I have never even smoked a cigarette but had been prescribed some pretty strong pain medication and nerve blockers. I heard all the horror stories about the withdrawals and how I would probably need help to stop taking them… Well you become pretty strong when you’re a chronic pain sufferer, they were wrong. I prayed day and night as I would sweat and  shake  and yes ,even crying out to God 5 days straight but I did it and never looked back. I faced Fibromyalgia right in the eyes and said “You will not kill me Satan”. While fibromyalgia itself doesn’t kill you the medication takes its toll on your body and mind with absolutely zero benefits. It’s no more than a bandaid on an opened wound that needs air to heal. I was no longer going to be a prisoner to the 4 walls of my little world, I was no longer going to be lied to by this monster. I gave up meat, gluten, processed foods, started walking everyday at a minimum 5 miles, yoga everyday for 30 minutes, meditation, journaling, alot of praying, went back to school finished my degree, shortly after opened not one Business but 3, went back to work, traveled the world, sky dived, swam with dolphins, hiked the highest mountains, and swam in 3 oceans. While my lifestyle changed it didn’t cure me as there is no cure, or Morgan Freeman or Lady Gaga would have bought it , you see fibromyalgia does not discriminate against color, gender, fame, or large bank accounts. However, It did equip me with the tools I needed to face the devil in my second half of my life. Fibromyalgia much like him coming to kill, steal, and destroy. I took charge of my life instead of allowing fibromyalgia to do so and said “Get behind me devil”. Yes I am still in pain everyday but I am living, truly “living” through my pain. Don’t get discouraged you are a warrior God chooses the strongest to fight battles we will never understand, but we are instrumental in the fight for a cure. If there were not sufferers there would not be breakthroughs. So for now we must endure. For me I’ll do anything for my girls and grandchildren if it means mama & nana must go through in Hope’s that they do not experience it all their lives as I have, 2 out 3 of them are showing signs in their early 20’s just as I did, so than here I am devil… I wrote this with much tears & saddness thinking of the loneliness I know this condition brings, and that someone out there feels all alone or that they are different or branded in someway or being punished for something they didn’t deserve. Remember the devil is a liar and so is Fibromyalgia you are not alone & on the days that you feel you are I  follow groups where I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime, reach out to them sadly you are not the only one suffering with this monster & there are fibro brothers and sisters willing to talk you through the pain & even cry with you.. I will link below the group’s I personally follow and also here for anyone who needs me, feel free to message me. Don’t give up, you are beautiful, strong and a warrior! GENTLE HUGS.

P.s. I kept the snoring husband, I just invested in some really good ear plugs 🤣 Fibromyalgia solutions and support, Mothers with fibromyalgia, Living with Fibromyalgia and hundreds more 😉

Feel free to share your fibromyalgia stories or tips Gentle Hugs