Saturday, October 25, 2014

#66: Go Skinny Dipping

JULY 2014

So this is by far one of the most fun bucket list items I've knocked out!! I've always been very open-minded, so I don't know if it's because of that or if it comes from working in the medical field, but nudity has never bothered me in the slightest. I think that God made us beautiful bodies, and we all have the same anatomy. I know a lot of people see it as this huge thing, but it's never been a big deal to me. But I digress. Anyways, I love the water, and I love the feeling of being free, so of course I wanted to mix both in my life at some point ! This one took me awhile because living in Lafayette, IN, not to mention the United States, it's a bit tricky. Being landlocked, I didn't know anyone with a pool, and it's not like I can go out to the ocean buck naked in the U.S. without getting arrested.

Then my honeymoon came ! I ventured with my husband to St. Martin-St. Maarten, a small caribbean island that is popular as a cruise port but not necessarily as a primary vacation spot. St. Martin is owned by two different countries, the southern region belonging to The Netherlands, and the Northern region belonging to France. The "French" side is known for being a lot more open/lenient towards nudity, which was apparent as soon as we set foot on the beach. On the main beach that we stayed at, Orient Bay, several women (I'd say roughly 30-40%) walked the beach topless, and many men wore speedo's or speedo-esque swimwear. I was amazed at how relaxed the environment was ! It simply wasn't a big deal. Even small children ran around topless, little girls included. It turns out, the waves at this beach were very tall and rough, and after losing my top approx. 143,498,212 times I decided screw it ! I went topless many times throughout the honeymoon, and it was awesome! I was always careful not to leave the girls out for too long though; even after as short as 45 minutes I had some pink ladies ! My U.S. -modest body was definitely not used to seeing the light of day in those areas.

However, going topless does NOT count as the full monty. Luckily, Orient Bay has an infamous section of the beach that is in fact a nudist beach! I managed a somewhat grainy picture of the billboard at the entrance, however I had to take it quickly as pictures are not allowed (obviously). Justin and I walked over to that portion of the beach (separated from the main beach by some tall rocks, how clever). We walked over in our swimsuits, now the minority (I'd say there were maybe about 20-30 on the beach? Not many) and I looked at Justin, and he looked at me, and I said "Fuck it, let's do this !" So I peeled off my bikini and oh my god how liberating it was !!!! It wasn't anything like I'd imagined....NO ONE CARED! It wasn't a big deal at all, like okay whatever. Everyone else was nude, so why shouldn't I be? It was so bizarre and fascinating how natural and freeing it felt, not sexual in any way at all. Justin and I swam out in the waters for awhile. The waters were calmer here, almost no waves, which was relaxing (also, boobs are very buoyant, I found out). It felt sooooo amazing to swim naked ! Everyone should do this once in their lifetimes ! We stayed on the nudist beach for about an hour or so (again, didn't want my goods to get burned) and made our way back over to the main beach.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop by the nudist beach again, though I did go topless several more times throughout the vaca (when in Rome, right?!) I know the U.S. isn't likely to change its ways anytime soon, but it sure was refreshing to experience such an amazing attitude in general towards nudity. Snapped a pic of the nudist beach billboard, as well as two back views of me topless. Don't be too harsh please !

59 bucket list items left.

#85: Go Hiking

JULY 2014

Man, I knocked out a lot of bucket list items this July ! Go me ! Haha! Anyways, I've been hiking several times at various state parks growing up, but that was prior the to the making of the bucket list, so I didn't count them. I've also been to Turkey Run several times since creating the list, but I didn't count it because I wanted to go hiking somewhere I hadn't been before. Fair enough, right?

When Justin and I took our honeymoon, I did my fair share of research (oh, me and my planning) on St. Martin. I quickly learned about Pinel Island, a little islet right off the coast of St. Martin that has a couple bars, snorkeling, kayaking, and trails to hike. So of course, Justin and I tending to be a bit adventurous, took a taxi to the docks at Pinel, and we kayaked from the docks to Pinel Island itself. It took about 20 minutes or so to kayak across. After that, we swam around in the super clear water at the beach for awhile, and we had some Pina Coladas. After cooling off for a little bit (or in my case, burning up....I was lobster-fied after this trip), we decided to hike on the trails for awhile and explore the island. When we got to the "peak" of the island, we simply had an amazing view of St. Martin from the island! I got so many great pictures (warning: this post will have LOTS of pictures!) We also go to explore the other parts of the island where the land met water...lots of it was very rocky! We saw a couple wild iguanas, too. Justin wanted to explore one of the rocky areas, and I told him not to, in case there were iguanas basking in some of the rocks! It looked like there was dog feces everywhere, when in fact it was lizard feces! There were a lot of critters, for sure.

We also came upon a smaller, more secluded beach while we were exploring, one that was swim-able. There were only 2 other people there, so it was truly like having the beach to ourselves. Shrugging, I stripped down naked again and swam around for awhile. It was soo beautiful there. We also were able to harvest some really cool shells/corals from Pinel. When we were finished hiking, we made our way back to the main part of Pinel, and kayaked around to the private beach we had swam at (it was very intimidating, because the way the island curved made it look like we were kayaking straight out into open water!!) and swam at the private beach again before kayaking back around. I was sad that we didn't stay longer, I would have gladly spent another few hours there...however, I was a dum-dum and forgot sunscreen and almost my entire body was fried at that point! Even mexican-brown me could not have prepared myself for that Caribbean sun without sunscreen! My tan peeled right off when I got back from vacation, darn. So I was really glad and excited I got to hike a new island I had never been to before and just explore everything! It was simply gorgeous!!

60 bucket list items left.

St. Martin from standing on Pinel

Pinel Island

#13: Have a fantastic beach body

JULY 2014

The reason behind this one was simple enough. I've struggled with my weight and being healthy for the better part of my life, overcoming being fairly overweight as a middle school/high schooler. I've struggled as well in my adult life, constantly gaining/losing roughly 20-30 lbs. Finally, in August of 2013, I decided to truly change my ways. As I learned about nutrition in one of my chapters for nursing school, I decided to let nursing school stress impact me in a positive way via diet and exercise. I learned to fall in love with running, and it became a true a passion of mine. I ended up going from the heaviest I've ever been at 160 lbs, down to 145 lbs for my honeymoon (put on some honeymoon poundage but quickly took it back off as I began running when I got back).

I am a big believer that there is always room to improve, so though I may not in these pictures be the most shapely/muscular, I have come a long way from how I looked before, and this is by far the most confident I had ever felt in a bikini !! I am so excited to be leading a healthier life, and hopefully I will continue my habits throughout life.

61 bucket list items left.

Monday, July 14, 2014

#65: Go to a Drive-In Movie Theater

JULY 2014

I'm knocking off a ton of bucket list items this year !! You can probably even expect a few more to be accomplished soon, as my honeymoon is in just 2 weeks and I have a few beach-related items! So my wedding day was simply AH-MAZING, as I explained in my last post. I had to work the next night, which was unfortunate, but Justin and I had an amazing few days together. The day after our wedding, we had a lazy day and just stayed at home and hung out. I worked Saturday night, then Sunday afternoon, we took a trip to the Indiana Dunes, as Justin and I had never been there, which was a huge blast! The weather was beautiful and it was so cool to be at the beach and walk for as long as I wanted without someone telling me it was time to go. We finished off our days-off stretch by going to the drive in theater Monday night, at the Lakeshore Drive-In in Monticello. It was really cool!

It was like taking a step back in time, a simpler time. We went to the concession stand and got burgers, fries, and chocolate malts, and made a bed in the back of Justin's pickup and settled in to watch Tammy, the newest Melissa McCarthy movie. It was really cool, and I think Justin and I will go to the drive-in again sometime. Though next time I know to bring some bug spray with me, I got attacked by mosquitoes! We only stayed to watch Tammy (it was good, but not as good as most of Melissa McCarthy's movies) since the second movie was an action movie that neither of us were particulary interested in and I had a doc appt early the next morning. Overall though it was a cool experience and I can't wait to go again!

62 bucket list items left.

#16: Have my Dream Wedding

JULY 2014

Today is the day ! It was the day I had been waiting for an dreaming of since I was a little wedding day ! Justin and I got together on January 28, 2012, and he proposed to me on March 4, 2013. Obviously I said yes, and since we had been together for one year, we decided to wait another year to get married. We changed our date several times, changed our honeymoon location several times, and changed our wedding plans thsemselves several times. We were indecisive people, haha ! Finally Justin and I decided on a 9 day honeymoon to St. Martin (coming at the end of July) and a small, intimate 12 person wedding on July 4. I simply loved the idea of getting married on the 4th because every year on OUR day, our anniversary, we will have fireworks :) I'm a hopeless romantic ! I also wanted to have a small and casual wedding because long story short, I don't necessarily believe in big weddings at all.

So I woke up on the morning of my big day, put on some makeup and a white knee-length summer dress (with pink flowers on it and a lace backing) with some cowgirl boots, and we drove out to Turkey Run State Park, one of our favorite hiking locations. The wedding party included:

Maxine New (Justin's grandma)
Kim New (Justin's mom)
CJ New (Justin's sister)
Carrie (Bomber) New (Justin's aunt)
Ed Boes (Justin's aunt's husband)
Skip Crawford (my dad)
Brittney McDaniel (my best friend)
John McDaniel (my best friend's husband)
Teresa Dunn (my close friend)
KLynn Reynolds (my close friend)
Amber Williamson (stepping in as KLynn's date, her fiance couldn't make it)
Jason Bules (Justin's best friend)
Roo and Joey (our furkids!)

We all met in the parking lot at noon, and we all walked about 10 minutes down a main trail to the point we had picked's a known location at Turkey Run called Sunset Point, and it looks like this:

We all gathered, and the magical moment began....I totally can relate to how every bride must feel now when they are being married, be it a 12 person or 500 person was like absolutely nobody existed except for Justin, me, and the pastor. It was so surreal as it was happening, it was almost as if time was frozen, and I was looking down upon myself from above. I have always known that Justin and I have a love that is special and hard to find in life, and I vowed today to never let that love go. After we said our vows, we had our first kiss as husband and wife. It was such an incredible moment!

After that, some random people who had stopped to watch congratulated me, which I thought was really cool. All the strangers who passed by and/or watched (sunset point is right next to part of a trail)were very respectful, as I figured they would be. Justin and I had our first dance, My Eyes by Blake Shelton (note: my best friend's first dance was also a Blake song! God Gave Me You) and I danced with my daddy, I loved her First by Heartland. Of course he was a big ball of tears :)

After some more pictures, we made our way back up to the parking lot for some brownies, pop, and cupcakes ! After a few more congratulations from everyone, our friends began to leave and Justin and I made our way over to the Saddle Barn, where we then had an hour long horseback ride :) It was Justin's first time on a horse, and he liked it ! It was super fun. After we finished riding, we made our way back home, and I stopped by my dad's for a few so Justin could set up a surprise for me at the apartment. I took about a half hour nap while waiting, and he picked me up and we headed over to a barbecue that my friend KLynn had invited me to. We didn't know anyone there, but when we got there, it was a blast ! We had burgers, ribs, chips, an All-American cookout. KLynn's friends were really nice and welcoming, and I had a great time playing cards and having some drinks. As it began to get dark, Justin and I went out front with everyone else and began lighting off all the fireworks we had bought. We even lit off some Chinese lanterns from my dad, which are supposed to bring good luck ! This night was so perfect and surreal.

When we got home, my surprise was that Justin had built a blanket fort in the living room!! I had wanted to feel like I was 'getting away' on our wedding night instead of just coming home to bed, so we camped out in the living room. By time we got home it was almost midnight, and exhausted from our huge day, we popped in a movie and fell right asleep. I can't think of anything that would have made my day more perfect than it already was. I'm truly so happy ! Most of my pics are located on Facebook, but I will post a few of my pictures here!!

63 bucket list items left.

#53: Fill the Penny Jar

JUNE 2014

So although I completed this, I didn't stick to my own rules... I started filling this jar with pennies (keeping silver change in a separate jar) in 2011 after I got back from Germany and my dad gave it to me. So I've been working on filling the jar for the better part of 3 years. I wanted to empty the jar and use the cash in time for my honeymoon (free money whaaaaat?!), so I ended up caving at the last and deciding to start dumping silver change into the jar as well. With my honeymoon coming up next month in July, I ended up not filling it completely either, though I came very close (and will probably get enough change in the coming month to have filled it anyways). So here's how far I got ! :

So it was pretty exciting to cash it in, all those coins added up to 120 dollars ! I'm so excited to put it all towards my honeymoon with Justin ! Just goes to show that change can be very useful !

64 bucket list items left.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#54: Have Lasik Eye Surgery

MARCH 2014

First bucket list item of 2014, woooooo ! It's going to be a good year for my list, I think. Anyways, I completed this item but I didn't! I'll explain. Last year, I had a free eye screening done to see if I was even eligible for LASIK eye surgery, a corrective surgery that makes one have 20/20 vision and able to live their lives glasses or contacts-free. I found out I was not eligible for LASIK, but I was for PRK, a different corrective eye surgery.

Basically, the outer membrane of your eye is called the cornea. It protects your eye from debris and other foreign objects. In LASIK surgery, they make an incision into your cornea and create a flap. They focus a corrective laser onto the eye, and when they are finished, they stitch the flap made into the cornea shut. Because there is minimal damage to the cornea, the person undergoing LASIK has instant 20/20 vision. Because of the way the procedure works, you have to have thick enough corneas to cut into. My corneas were too thin to be eligible for LASIK, so I opted for PRK. It has the same outcome as LASIK, it's just a different procedure with a longer recovery time. PRK, or Photorefractive Keractectomy, is a procedure where they instead burn away the entire corneal epithelium, or outer layer of your eye, and focus the corrective laser. Because that epithelium, or top layer, has to grow back and heal, it takes 4-8 weeks to get full 20/20 vision.

TL;DR I got a procedure done similar to LASIK but with a longer recovery time

Moving on!

So I set the date for March 6, 2014, along with all my preop and postop appointments. How exciting! Having the surgery I have dreamt of since I was about 13 or 14. I am now almost, but not quite, 2 weeks postop. The surgery itself wasn't so bad as they had given me Valium, a sedative, to help reduce my anxiety. My eyes were numbed during the procedure, so really the worst part was when they flushed my eyes out with FREEZING cold water! They have to do that though because the eye gets so hot when they burn the epithelium away. There was quite a bit of pain and light sensitivity the following 2 days or so, and after that I was good to go.

Here's a picture of me about 2 days postop, still with quite a bit of eyelid swelling!

As I said, I'm now about 2 weeks postop, and it amazes me how good my vision is! Not everything is quite as crisp yet, and I still can't read super-duper far away, but my vision is so much better than it used to be that I hardly notice or care. I know the last bits will start to heal in the next few weeks and that it will gradually get better. The worst part is dry eye, which is a common and expected side effect of the surgery. I will be using eye drops for 2 months on a regular basis postop, and after that just as needed. But in the end, it was so worth it. I can finally see the alarm clock when I wake up, and I don't have to worry about forgetting my contact lens solution when I spend the night elsewhere. :)

65 bucket list items left.