"The traveling exhibit provides thousands of veterans who have been unable to cope with the prospect of facing The Wall to find the strength and courage to do so within their own communities, thus allowing the healing process to begin". - Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica & Mobile Education Center
This weekend, I had the opportunity to view the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in my own hometown (free + open to the public). In 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund unveiled a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which was designed specifically for travel.
Even half-scale, The Wall That Heals is truly impactful.
I've seen the permanent Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C, but this was different. After walking along The Wall myself, I stood back and watched. I watched my neighbors and families that I've known most of my life taking it all in. I watched faces that I recognized from the grocery store and gas station hug one another and hold hands as they found the names of family and friends, supporting one another. I watched young children quietly stand with their parents in front of The Wall, mesmerized. I watched a community, my own community, experience something together.
I watched from a field that I grew up on. A field in a park that I have been to at least a hundred times. I stood and looked at a 250 ft. wall with over 58,000 names on a field that I sat on many a weekend as a kid, covered in a blanket on Fall weekends watching my brothers soccer games. A field I'd stared out at countless times as I hit my serves on the adjacent tennis court throughout middle and high school. A field beside a playground with monkey bars that I couldn't reach.
At 24, I stood on this familiar field and looked out. Later, I walked over to the Mobile Education Center that contained information cases with pictures, letters and objects left at The Wall in D.C. On the other side of this Center were television screens flashing with faces and names of locals who fought in the war. I recognized some of the last names, realizing that I probably went to school with many of the grandchildren of these heroes. Though I didn't have a name to look for on The Wall, I was still deeply moved. Though viewing The Wall in D.C. was emotional, it felt different this time. This time, the heroes were home.
Earlier today, a "Memory" popped up on my Facebook page from two years ago. In it, was a photograph of my mom and I'd posted it to thank her for driving me to work that day because I couldn't due to fatigue and vertigo.
A few days prior to posting that picture, I'd been diagnosed with Lyme. The summer of 2014, I went away on vacation for a week but felt a little 'off'. By the time I got home on a Saturday, I was experiencing a full-blown 'flu'.
Fast forward to Wednesday of that week... I couldn't move without crying. I had a high fever, I was sick to my stomach and by evening my neck was so stiff that I was convinced I had meningitis. That night, we also noticed a small circle developing on the back of my calf. My family took me to the ER. The doctors knew it was Lyme because of the bullseye. The following week, I had to go to my family doctor for a check-in to see how the medication was helping - it had masked most of the symptoms I was experiencing, but I was still feeling pretty tired and not myself. Blood tests were conducted, and I continued to test positive for Lyme, but nothing else.
Fast forward to October of 2014, four months after diagnosis. I was still on antibiotics. My fatigue wasn't subsiding, my immune system was shot and I was getting depressed. I had gained at least 15 pounds at this point (another 15 would come my way down the road).
Fast forward to December of 2014. I went to a local specialist at a tick-borne disease center, praying that they'd be able to help me and let me know why I wasn't noticing improvements. They conducted more blood work out of their own lab and did find the problem - I had Lyme disease, but also had another tick-borne illness called Anaplasmosis.
I was informed that it's a pretty rare tick-borne illness to get. Many who get anaplasmosis don't develop a rash, but I did because I'd also gotten Lyme from the tick that bit me.
I was told that I had three options: A. Deal with it. B. Continue oral antibiotics (though I was told this would be a waste of my time because they weren't going to help me) or C. Get daily infusions through intravenous antibiotics every morning before work for 60+ days.
I chose option A.
I can't tell you how many nights I cried in bed for a year and a half, just hoping that one day I'd wake up and be me again. You see, the thing with Lyme and tick-borne illnesses is that (unless you develop an outward physical defect) nobody knows you're sick.
As a fan of reality television, I sobbed while watching Yolanda Foster's speech on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because in the five minutes that they showed, she completely nailed it: "Looking good and feeling like death is a difficult combination for people to understand. Lyme is like being killed from the inside out and left to uncover your own murder mystery without much clarity from the medical community".
I knew that the disease wasn't going to go anywhere but that I could try to alter how I was feeling from it. I did a lot of diet changing and probiotics that helped with some symptoms, but I realized that I was depressed, and that a lot of the fatigue I was still feeling was related.
Finally, this past October of 2015, I'd had enough. After another long cry, I made a promise to myself that in the morning I was going to get a gym membership. And I did.
I try to go to the gym at least three times a week. I'm not the most fit one in the room, I sweat an embarrassing amount and I can't get abs to form for the life of me ... and I'm OK with that. I'm me again. Getting up and going to the gym feels like a major feat for me every single time that I do it. Lately, I've felt more confident in a pair of sneakers and leggings than jeans and heels because it gives me the that feeling - positive energy and knowing that I'm kicking my own butt in the best way possible. I prefer to infuse water instead of sip a glass of wine, because I know what I'm doing for my body (although I do enjoy a glass of bubbly when presented with the opportunity). I haven't beaten Lyme or Anaplasmosis, and until they find a cure I never will... but I've overcome me.
*** Please learn from my experience: If you've had Lyme, you should also get tested for other tick-borne illnesses... the blood tests that they run for Lyme typically don't cover these.
Last week, I had the opportunity to join my boyfriend, Dan, and his family on their annual Sea Isle vacation for the third year.
7:00AM En route to Sea Isle City. Beat most of the traffic, but hit that dreaded 7S Exit construction. Still arrive with plenty of time before check-in at the rental office.
9:30AM Dock Mike's Pancake House for breakfast (tradition). Ran outside to help calm down Dan's nephew and left my order in his hands (a spinach + feta omelette with a side of cheesy home fries ... knew I loved that man).
11:00AM Get anxious and drive past house to peek at it. It's gorgeous.
5:30PM Order Dinner. We ordered from Marie's Seafood, and even though I don't eat seafood I was able to find a Chicken Parmesan dish. The rest of the gang ordered shrimp and lobster and seemed to really enjoy it.
8:00PM We sat outside on the porch and enjoyed the breezy summer night while chatting and laughing.
6:30AM Woke up bright and early and ready to get the vacation started. Took a bike ride with Dan through Townsend's Inlet.
8:00AM Return home with a sore backside (curse those bike seats), but a new appreciation for the bay. We wound up taking walks each morning the rest of the week to a cute little spot we found off of 79th St. (bay-side) that had benches that overlooked the water. I'm already missing watching the boats breeze by on the water. So peaceful!
9:30AM Hit the beach!
11:15AM "COLD ICE CREAM, GET YOUR COLD ICE CREAM HERE!". Order ice cream from the Fudgy Wudgy Man. Obsession begins. Shot up out of my beach chair the rest of the week every time they walked by.... when in Sea Isle?
6:00PM Dinner. We grilled steaks and lobster at the house. Yum!
7:45PM Adventure to Stone Harbor. This was my first time driving through Avalon and seeing Stone Harbor... so beautiful! I was surprised at how residential these areas looked, but loved the small-town shore vibe. In Stone Harbor, we walked around the town a bit and popped into some of the local shops. Stopped into Paisley Christmas Shoppe and I found an adorable ornament to remember the trip by.
9:00PM The ice cream shop we'd planned to go to in Stone Harbor was too crowded and planning to close, so we headed back home and went to our favorite Sea Isle spot, Marita's!
8:00AM Morning Walk!
9:00AM Do Victoria's Secret ab workout video in living room with hopes that I'd sprout abs over the course of 15 minutes. I did not, but my obliques felt pretty fabulous in a painful way.
6:00PM Head to dinner. Get out of car and experience some sort of tornado. I have video footage of this... it got incredibly windy, we were pelted with sand and I actually started blowing away down the sidewalk from the force of the wind and Dan had to grab my arms to keep me from going anywhere (#embarrassing).
6:15PM Nibble on bruschetta and an amazing pasta dish at La Fontana Coast whilst watching the downpour commence outside.
8:30AM Morning Walk!
9:15AM Dan and I had a breakfast date at Rick's Breakfast House. I ordered the blueberry hotcakes and he got an egg sandwich. We both loved it!
12:00PM Dan, Maggie (one of Dan's sisters + one of my closest friends!) and I went back to the house to cook sausages to bring back for everyone. I am a wimp and the sausages were too spicy for me, so Maggie kindly packed me some lunchmeat to eat instead.
12:45PM Get attacked by seagull. I'd opened up my bag of lunchmeat at the beach and was eating it while sitting in my beach chair. I felt something on my head, and realized it was a seagull whose wings were flapping in my face. It tried to grab the bag of turkey out of my hand, but I held on and then out of fear and some sort of irrational instinct, I threw it at Dan .... sorry babe.
6:00PM Adventure to Ocean City boardwalk. We started our night by eating at Manco & Manco Pizza (I order the white pizza because I'm not a huge fan of red pizza sauce) and then strolled and shopped. It was a bad day to develop a fear of seagulls... they were everywhere. After purchasing fudge from Shriver's, we headed home.
10:00PM Dan and I walked to the beach to check out the incredible full-moon. When we sat on the sand to look up, I felt like I was in a snow globe ... we felt so small looking up at the sky there. Dan is into astronomy, so he was also able to point out some of the visible planets to me that night. Pretty cool stuff!
8:30AM Morning Walk!
6:30PM Dinner. We went to Carmen's Seafood Restaurant where every seat is al fresco dining on their covered porch that overlooks the bay/docks. It was the epitome of a beach restaurant, and I loved it. I don't eat seafood, but the menu still offered plenty of tasty options and for those who do eat seafood, you're really in for a treat. Everyone was raving about their meals.
7:30PM Strolled the promenade. Since our house this year was further down, we hadn't had a chance to visit the promenade. I love to play Skee Ball, and so when we stumbled across an arcade Dan and I battled it out. Dan always collects any tickets that we win and then looks around to find a kid that we should give them to (love that he does this!).
8:00PM Drinks at Doc Magrogan's Oyster House with Dan, Maggie and one of our friends. The cocktail menu here is mouth-watering, and Maggie and I both chose the Watermelon Mojito. You need to do the same, it was amazing.
9:15PM Live Music at Kix McNutley's. After we grabbed our drinks from Doc's, we walked over to one of five bars that Kix McNutley's offers. We joined the crowd in singing along to "Sweet Caroline", and when Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" came on Dan kindly escorted me to the dance floor (it's my jam).
9:30AM Morning Walk with Dan.
5:45PM Dinner. We ordered in this night from Hank Sauce. They have a very Cali-casual menu and we all had excellent meals. Dan and I shared the Thai Basil Lettuce Wrap appetizer, and for my meal I got the Beef Tacos with a side of pasta salad (which wound up being lunch the next day because there was so much food!).
8:00AM Morning Bike Ride! We rode to the bay, as we'd been doing with our bike rides/walks each morning and then around Townsend's Inlet a bit more. I started to get a little sad that this was our last day in town, but also reflected on what a great week we'd had.
6:00PM Since it was our last night, we opted to go more casual with dinner. Dan and I ordered from a place in the center of Sea Isle called Angelo's. It was very good, and if you're looking for good Italian food and a more casual-vibe, I recommend it.
7:30PM Packing. It baffles me every year how everything fits when I'm leaving, but coming home it never wants to go back into the suitcase.
In all, we had an incredible week. I'm already looking forward to the next time we'll be able to visit Sea Isle City, New Jersey.
On July 12, 2016 our Philadelphia Housewives community joined us on the patio at Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken for award-winning margaritas, authentic Mexican cuisine, great conversation with new and old friends and of course... shopping!
Additionally, we were joined by our event charity partner, Cradles to Crayons of Philadelphia. "The organization provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive - at home, at school and at play". In coming months, as the summer season comes to an end and school starts back up, the organization will be preparing children emotionally, mentally and physically for their education. In order to alleviate some of the concerns that many low-income families have this time of year, Cradles to Crayons operates a Ready for School program that provides children with backpacks filled with school supplies and new clothing. If you're interested in helping, you can become a volunteer here.
We'd like to thank our participating vendors and Swag Bag sponsors for their contributions to our fabulous event.
Pinot's Palette of Lower Merion
Stella & Dot
ADT Home Sales
Photography Credit: Destination Invitation
Hi! I'm Allie, a self-employed wedding and special event planner living in historic Chester County, PA right outside of Philadelphia and the Main Line. I spend a lot of time volunteering in my community and with a background in anthropology and archaeology I love serving on my local Historical Commission where I truly get to play a part in making a difference in preserving the historic integrity of my community as well as educating the public about the history in their own backyard.
I took over the Philadelphia Housewives blog in February of 2016, and so far it's been a BLAST. I love bringing events to YOU, where we all get to meet new women from the region and try out new hotspots in our area. I'm looking forward to connecting with even more like-minded women from Philly who are passionate about forming friendships and a strong community.
A little more about me ...
Describe yourself in three words
Motivated, Quirky and #girlboss
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
Starting my own business, 100%. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I finally took the leap in August of 2015. While it has been the most challenging thing I've ever done, it's also the most fulfilling. The event industry, specifically weddings, is really quite positive and it's so special having the opportunity to make someones dream come true.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
Well, since I'm self-employed, I'm always setting goals and working on becoming a better business-woman. I'm a firm believer in the idea that you're never done learning. I hope to attend workshops, classes and have conversations with those who have been in my shoes so that I can learn from their lessons.
With this blog, I look forward to growing the network and putting together meaningful and impactful events that women in our community can really benefit from.
How does your company stay connected through social media?
As a modern woman, social media plays a huge part in my life, both business and personal. I make a conscious effort to interact with friends, family, clients, etc. I love to chat, so be sure to reach out and introduce yourself.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I'm so happy to say that I'm actually doing what I love now. 2015 was my transition year - I'm now self-employed and loving it. Blogging was next on the list, so this is a true blessing!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I am my own brand right now, and so work and my personal life have become pretty enmeshed, but I wanted it that way. I do make a conscious effort to disconnect from work though, to embrace a little 'me' time and to spend time with the people that I love.
What websites do you visit every day?
Aside from my social media pages, I am big on visiting wedding blogs to stay on top of the latest trends (Style Me Pretty and Wedding Chicks are faves).
What is your favorite drink?
I'm a champagne girl. Pop. Clink. Fizz.
What are your top 3 favorite people/places/things in the Philadelphia area?
Just THREE!? Ok, well... some of the places I go most or that resonate with me the most ... Longwood Gardens is my favorite place to spend the day strolling, taking pictures and just relaxing/recharging. The University of Pennsylvania Anthropology/Archaeology Museum is my favorite day trip (if you haven't been there, get there). I also love diners... is that weird? I feel like our area has the best vintage diners and it's a goal of mine to get to the one where Silver Linings Playbook was filmed.
What is your goal for retirement?
I'd love to retire in my 50s or 60s and hopefully spend some time enjoying my family and friends while continuing to explore this beautiful region that I get to call home.
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own company?
I think the best advice that I can give is to just go for it. There are so many excuses and challenges that we can let stand in our way, but if you don't believe in yourself you'd better believe that nobody else will either. We live in a really special time where women entrepreneurs are kicking butt, and I can't wait to see where it takes us.
I love to visit Longwood Gardens; in fact, my boyfriend and I have a membership and visit pretty frequently. I'd heard all about the Beer Garden, and was thrilled to learn that it'd return this season.
This past weekend, my boyfriend (Dan) and I trekked out to Kennett Square to stroll the grounds of Longwood again... it truly never gets old. As we walked past the Pierce- du Pont home and headed towards the cafe, we stumbled upon picnic tables and al fresco diners and realized that the Beer Garden was open!
Since we were visiting on a Sunday, the 'kitchen' wasn't open; however, we were still able to treat ourselves to a beer and concession items. In typical Philly fashion, we feasted on soft pretzels. If you haven't sipped a beer in the middle of Longwood, you really ought to give it a try... I'm pretty sure it tasted even better just because of the surroundings.
For those who aren't familiar, Victory Brewing Company teamed up with Longwood Gardens to offer an outdoor beer garden experience to visitors featuring signature brews and pub fare (when you're there during the actual business hours).
Dan and I each ordered the Summer Zest, which was a Saison beer utilizing the lemons grown in the Gardens! If you're a fan of lagers or wheat beers, you'd probably enjoy this. Next visit, I'd love to try the Grapefruit Solstice (made with grapefruits from the Gardens!).
If you are able to get there on a Thursday, you'll be able to sip and listen to live music.
2016 Beer Garden Dates
Free with Gardens Admission
August 3-October 29
Nightscape ticket or Member reservation required