Monday, April 30, 2012

Update with Love

I have to admit, I am still overwhelmed by the response Steve & I get with people following us & reaching out to show love!  It's amazing & motivates Steve & I to remain positive.  I know I've slowed down on the blogging (adjusting to a new job--where it requires a ton more paperwork) but I wanted to write a quick update.

First of all for everyone who has participated in the past fundraisers---thank you for blessing us with your monetary gifts!  As most of you know Steve has yet to receive any disability as he was on a 6 month waiting period (still can't figure out why, and have exhausted all resources to try to fight it), but I also am in the transition of beginning a new job & trying to establish a strong client base to have a good cash flow coming in.  The energy that y'all have spent & donations mean so much! Thank you thank you!

Steve & I still receive emails/messages daily & for those thank you!  Life sometimes has a way of beating you up making you feel like you aren't doing enough & your daily reminders & uplifting words are so appreciated & keep me going!  <3

So Steve & I recently took a camping trip to Live Oak Florida for the Wanee Music Festival! Steve has mentioned wanting to go to a festival and after research (Thank you DANNY) this one was the most "wheelchair" friendly.  It was an amazing experience.  We met some of the coolest hippies around.  These people have such an amazing mentality that Steve & I quickly learned to love & begin to adapt in our life.  The more & more I write about this the more it is beaten into my head--Less IS More--Also, they take responsibility for keeping the Earth clean & beautiful.  It was an amazing thing to see such a clean festival & everyone contribute to cleaning up after themselves.  Everyone recycling & taking the extra effort to maintain the beauty that is left on Earth.  It really inspired me to make sure I'm truly doing my part.  It's easy to take the extra effort & I'm appreciative of the reminder of the importance!!  Also, I must pat myself on the back for completely pulling everything together from packing up the car, setting up camp, grilling out, etc... I haven't been completely citified after all! ;) 

 OK well my quick break from seeing Clients is over---figured if I didn't squeeze this in now, I would get consumed with paperwork & hanging out with Steve this evening that I wouldn't blog.

Quick side note---special thanks again for all those that constantly check on Steve during the week.  Like I've said some days are worse than others but the constant support from all those who love him while I'm working helps a lot!  I hate leaving him home alone during the day so not only does it help keep him company when y'all visit for lunch---but also eases my mind!  Much love as always!! <3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coco Plum Island

So I posted photos on facebook & videos & then took a week to adjust back to real life (was harder than any other vacation ever) & am excited to blog about the experience!! 

I must say from the second we stepped on the plane I was working on relaxing.  I haven't been able to relax since hmm I don't know August.  We had a 3(ish) hour flight on a big normal plane & then landed in Belize City which was such a small airport (the smallest I had seen at that point) & immediately someone is there to help Steve & I get to our next flight.  Everyone was so polite & it was the easiest process ever!  So we get to our gate for Maya Air & realize that we are about to get on a small plane.  I was freaking a little but then realized we were about to get on a 4 seater!  I mean are you kidding me! At first Steve is so calm about it & I'm freaking out, but as we get going I feel at ease & start enjoying the view then I look at Steve & he's FREAKING...I immediately start taking care of him & remind him God has us in his arms & tell him to look out his window to see some of the best views I have ever seen!

As we land in Dangriga I realize this is actually the smallest airport I have EVER seen.  This place is tiny (explains the tiny planes)  We have a cab driver ready to pick us up & he begins to tell the history of Belize & Dangriga.  We drive about 20 minutes & get to really see the town Dangriga.  Which was cool since a lot of our friends we met on the Island are from there.  We then get greeted by our Captain, Captain Rojo.  Rojo might just be the kindest most helpful laid back amazing human being ever.  After he saw Steve was having difficulties walking, he swooped & picked Steve up & put him in the boat with no hesitation.  We then had a 20 minute boat ride to paradise.  In this photo with Rojo he gave me that necklace he is wearing because he said we touched his heart so much! <3
As soon as we get on the Island we get greeted with Food & Drinks & meet our other buddy Sergio.  The whole trip Sergio & Rojo would go above & beyond to help Steve & I out & help us relax & have a good time.  After we eat they helped Steve & I to our room (which they would always do..."Mrs. Hope let me help you!"  Steve napped & I went straight to the sun!!  Let it be known we pushed Steve around in the wheelchair & it was amazing how easy it was to get him around.  If there were steps he would get out (with everyone always there to help) and we would bring the chair up & he could get around easy!

The first 2 days Steve & I really enjoyed the relaxation privacy that Coco Plum has to offer.  You can be secluded even with 10 other couples & about 15 employees. We lay out, lay in the amazing hammocks (which we now HAVE to get one it's an amazing therapeutic thing to lay in a hammock), walked Steve into the Ocean, & just truly soaked in how amazingly beautiful this place is.  We immediately get along with everyone, staff & guests are all just very laid back, genuine, & kind people.  After breakfast the second day Sergio asked if he could help us push Steve around so we could tour the Island.  This was such a sweet gesture & it meant so much to us.  We got to see all of the amazing Island & we were really starting to pick up on the kind of people we were amongst. :)

That night we decided to go to the Tiki bar to mingle with the other guests.  I have to say that Coco Plum offers the best of both worlds: a completely peaceful private Island where you can relax & have lots of time alone with your honey AND a super fun beyond your expectation party with some of the coolest people you will ever meet!  Steve & I were in LOVE at this point even with the sun burns.  Yes I rushed the sun on us.  Steve loved telling everyone, "She kept saying let's lay out let's lay out..."

Now let me mention the food.  We would have breakfast at 7 AM (they were also super flexible & wouldn't give us any grief for being late.  Sam would always come knock at our door & help us get to breakfast :)) Lunch was at 12 & then dinner was at 7.  I swear not eating any other meat than seafood worked to my advantage.  They would catch their fish each day & it was the BEST seafood I have ever tasted.  All the food was always so fresh, perfectly cooked, & seasoned!  We had Renae & Sam take care of us each meal & they were very accommodating for Steve & anything he needed.  Heck we were hungover one morning & Sam came & set us up breakfast on our front porch of the cabana!! :)

The days all start to blend together because we fill them with so much...breakfast, lay out by the bar on the deck with some of our new friends :), drink lots of yummy drinks, hang out with sergio, nap, swim, lunch, drink some more, hang out some more, and then dinner & drinks & dancing dancing & more dancing :). 

Rojo took us on a special snorkel trip so Steve & I could go, we invited along another couple Dave & Janet, as Dave didn't feel comfortable to swim in the open ocean.  We parked on the beach of Pelican Island.  Rojo took me out while Steve chilled on the beach, & Crispen took Dave & Janet.  Rojo & I swam out & checked out some of the reef & then turned around early to go hang out with Steve.  We took Steve out & he went swimming & stretched around!  Rojo, Steve, & I hung out in the water just soaking in the amazing feeling for close to an hour.  We then took the boat over to bird Island.  I've been checking bird Island out since we arrived & it was so cool to go up close.  Frigates & yellow footed boobies live on the Island & hang out on the Black Mongrel trees.  They chose this particular Island because it's the highest elevation.  Pretty cool to see up close. 

Another very special memory was the night Sergio surprised Steve.  He Kristen & Steve (another amazing couple we met) went to check out one of the close Islands & came back with Belekin (local beer) stout.  First of all the local beer (Belekin & lighthouse) & local rum were so good!  So anyways Sergio & Steve had a convo about Steve liking stout beer so he got him some!  It was a really sweet & thoughtful surprise!

The more you started bonding with the guests it was sad when it was their last night on the Island!  We all shared so many laughs & good times.  I've heard of people going on vacations & meeting people they wanted to stay in touch with, but this is the first I've truly experienced that I wanted to stay in touch with all of these amazing people!!  From Jan & Troy who we plan to visit in TN, to Steve & Kristen, Heidi & Dave, Tara & Michael, Janet & Dave, Carolina & Dave..... 

Also one of the coolest things to see was the Island Staff in their element playing "intense" Island Volleyball.  It was so much fun to watch & Steve & I said that moment we felt like we were watching a combination of Eat Pray Love & Wanderlust.  The game was super intense until Ervin (our other bartender) got hurt, so it was back to the bar. 

One day Steve & I had the whole Island to ourselves for a few hours (minus the workers).  All the other guests had gone on tours, snorkeling, fishing, etc...It was romantic & peaceful! We spent the whole afternoon at the end of the dock...perfect!

I think my favorite night was the night after we had taken Steve out into the ocean for so long--he FELT great & was up walking around & EVEN dancing!! :) He wasn't as tired as usual with walking around & felt comfortable enough to get up for about an hour total.  Playing bartender & dancing.  It was such a special & sweet moment & when we danced & my eyes were full of joyful tears I looked around & everyone else was tearing up too!  Such a touching moment for everyone to share in a joyful moment & it hit me!  That's what life is all about.  Enjoying those moments & being surrounded by good genuine people who are going to join in on the excitement with you!  <3

I could write forever about how amazing everything was. Gorgeous views, amazing caring kind hearted hard working staff, peace, relaxation, & lots and lots of fun, laughter, good genuine people, getting out of routine (dancing on bars & allowing everyone to help me with Steve), amazing food, yummy yummy drinks, & memories that will last me a lifetime!

I want to let everyone know that helped make this possible it changed my life.  (Steve's also, but I don't like speaking for him ;)) Not only am I so touched that people would put together the energy & money to send us on this amazing trip (those that contributed thank you from the bottom of my heart I couldn't thank you enough).  I also, feel re-energized---like I can take on the heavy things that life has to offer.  I feel so blessed to have been able to see such a place & blessed to have met some seriously amazing people.  I have gained new perspective on life.  I love the laid back Island mentality of Have LESS & do MORE!  Steve & I have totally adopted that way of thinking.  We aren't given a lot of days to spend together & this trip reminded me that the trivial petty things in life aren't even worth energy, we don't want to waste a single moment of that on negativity.  I am going to soak up & enjoy every second I am blessed with my husbands presence & will only surround myself with those who will fulfill my soul & life not take away from it.  Life is a beautiful gift & I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be surrounded with so much love & to know who my genuine & true friends are.  The support I receive daily is beyond measure & I can't even say thank you enough!