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12 Months Compendiously Condensed (June 2023 - May 2024)

Updated: Jun 27


The summer of 2023 was spent in Palm City for the most part. Having traveled the last 2 summers, I wanted a summer at home so I could teach fitness classes and participate in local events and Azlan wanted to stay in town so he could play with his friends. Ted, however, was not exactly excited about staying put during the summer and his already diminished excitement evaporated completely as we slithered through the sweltering Florida summer.

Despite the heat, Ted took Azlan on some amazing local adventures to include the Navy Seal Museum, Gilbert’s House of Refuge, the Elliot Museum, and Sailfish Splash. He sat down with some of Azlan’s friends’ moms and planned out activities for the kids – museums, beach days, bowling alleys, tourist attractions and the like. I joined them a handful of times, but the rest of the time I was teaching, practicing, or taking classes. (It’s funny as I sit here writing, a year later now, I find myself thinking I was selfish and detached from my husband and my son last summer, this makes me feel sad. I was not present. I can learn from it though and do better in the future).

June kicked off with the seawall, retaining wall, new dock and boat lift…FINALLY! Ted started this project in November 2021, it took 17 months to get permits after the initial deposit in January ‘22. Ted actually gave up and tried to get out of the contract with the intention of finding someone else to do it, but that was the fire the contractor needed under his ass and two months later work commenced. This went on until November ‘23 when it was completed. Since the new dock was coming, we could finally get a new boat! Ted and Azlan made several boat shopping trips, including a few expeditions across the state. In October, we found Splashy, a 24’ Hurricane with a 200hp Yamaha…just what he was looking for! We now have a boat…and a dock…Yay!

In the first days of June, my parents were visiting and we all went to a Greek restaurant to watch a belly dancer. We drank a lot of wine, specifically my father and I, and as we left the restaurant, Azlan says “Mom! I challenge you to 30 days of no drinking alcohol!”. I was completely taken aback. My first thought was why the hell is my 9 year old asking me not to drink…what is this telling me? My heart sank, however I immediately agreed. I was still smarting from a drunk night in April where I over did it (yet again) and ended up waking up in the middle of my street, shoes broken and all. It was still dark out so I was able to stumble home before I was discovered.

Later on the same month, my back started hurting and I’m not exactly sure what I did. Back pain is the worst, at least in my opinion…probably as a result of the pain I felt from 2009 forward and the spinal surgery I had in 2011. My mind kept reverting to that excruciating time period in my life and I spent 3 days laid up in bed, unable to move. I struggled to get up and go to the bathroom, ending up at Urgent Care. My very first Belly Dance solo performance was less than a week away and I really really wanted to perform. I iced, rested, and took muscle relaxers. The day of my performance there was also a workshop – which I barely participated in (taking a spot in the back and skipping about an hour of it – not my style at all). Alas, I took pain killers and the adrenaline kicked in as soon as I walked to the front of the room – it went awesome! I’m pretty sure I shook out whatever pain was left in me in that performance ha ha!

July 4th was day 31 – the drinking challenge was over (not that I was counting the seconds, minutes, hours, and days or anything). I had some drinks at a party and rode my bicycle home thinking I was fine to ride my bike home. Well I made it but it was very difficult to keep it straight, and to be honest, I was probably swerving all over the sidewalk. A few days later we went to Miami as I was attending some belly dance workshops at Fusion Mania, a belly dance convention. I tried to squeeze in family time, belly dancing, time with my fellow dancers, and time with my best friend. I did it all but it felt hurried. I felt like that a lot, rushed to squeeze in as many things as possible into short periods of time because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This seems to be a recurring theme for me.

A few weeks later we flew to New York for Grumps’ (Ted’s dad) services. We stayed at Ted’s brother’s house with family and went for boat rides and golf cart rides. On one of these golf cart rides we came upon an accident – a pretty bad one. Our cousin, a very impressive nurse, was presiding over a lady who’s body was draped over the roof of an upside down golf cart. The victim’s kids were shaken up and scraped up, but fine otherwise. The victim was not being moved due to back pain (my heart completely went out to her). Ted helped some and I gave my sarong up to make a shield from the sun for the lady sprawled over her golf cart roof. I stood around in my bikini awkwardly awaiting the ambulance with the families of those involved in the accident. It felt like a warning…to be careful, life is short, anything can happen at any time. We found out later on that she had broken her back but was going to recover.

A day or so later, we got ready and headed over to Hulett’s Landing where Ted’s grandfather, Boppy, was a minister at Mountain Grove Memorial, and his father before that helped build it. Ted’s mom is buried there along with other family members. We all gathered at the small chapel’s grounds to pay our respects and lay Grump’s ashes in his final resting place. This was Azlan’s second funeral and he got pretty emotional as we got started. Following the services, there was a small gathering at Ted’s brother’s house. While most people were gathered, conversing, eating, remembering – I ended up drunk and high sitting in a bush in the yard. I was unfunctional, I couldn’t string two words together. Ted had to come help me, walk me through the house, so I could sit in “time out”, shower and sober up. Eventually, I came out (less inebriated) and reintegrated with everyone again. Once upon a time I would have laughed at this, but I was very embarrassed. It was great seeing everyone despite the circumstances of the trip and my behavior.

It was around this time that I started reading The Listening Path, The Creative Art of Attention. It is a 6 week introspective book with suggested activities. The first of which is journaling first thing in the morning every day, writing whatever comes to mind – 3 pages at least or 45 minutes. Within a few days, I had an epiphany. For years I had struggled with alcohol. I drank too much, too often, lying to therapists and doctors about how much I drank, hid bottles so no one would see my recycling, would pre and post drink for outings (and of course drink during them as well), fall down in clubs, be harsh with some of my closest friends and family yet no one seemed to think I had a problem. People would say, if you want to stop drinking, then just stop. I tried to stop drinking many times, but always started up again – not to mention that if I wasn’t drinking then I was partaking in that wacky tabacky in some shape or form. I was obsessed, consumed, always promising myself I wouldn’t drink but never following through with that promise. Being sober was a dream, something I wanted to be but could not wrap my head around living without the mood altering substances. It occurred to me while I scribbled my thoughts onto paper that I needed to listen to myself and stop listening to others. I knew I had a problem, I needed to be honest with myself and try something I had not tried before. I asked for help and I got it. On July 24th, I took my last drink. I will leave it at that for now, but if you or someone you know wants to be sober but is struggling, please reach out to me any time. I would be has to share my experience, strength, and hope.

So August showed up, Azlan started 4th grade and I went to Orlando for the STRONG Nation SYNC Summit. I was busy and about to get busier starting the online Salimpour School of belly dance, the first part of Level 1. I knew Ted was not happy. I didn’t know it was because I was waking up at 5am to go journal and meditate, then running off to the studio, then fitting in appointments, girl time, extra workouts, reading time anywhere I could…leaving no time for him or Azlan. There was no cuddling going on, quality family time was scarce, time with him was squeezed inbetween one task or another I had…or sometimes I even made the tasks I had part of my time with him – always trying to fit in as much as I could. I was leaving him to take care of Azlan while I went off and did things for myself. And then there was the criticism. I had been criticizing Ted the entirety of our marriage. The culmination of all of it (years of repetitive negativity through criticism, no traveling or quality time during the summer, and then squeezing him in like an after-thought) came to a head. He would try to talk to me and I got defensive or the other way around. We were not able to calmly speak or listen to one another anymore. Communication was completely hindered and any couple who has been married for a hot minute will tell you that communication is the freaking KEY! We needed a mediator, so off we went to couples counseling again…that is where all this information of how he had been feeling came to light. As we moved forward, I painstakingly cleared my calendar of everything except the classes I was teaching and the belly dance course I was taking. Ted started working for Chapman (I think him having something to do also helped him a lot).  And we proceeded into the fall under a yellow flag, both of us trying to improve our communication and compromise for the benefit of our family unit.

Concurrently I was commencing PT for my knee which we thought was a possible meniscus tear or runners lol MM knee. I was told to avoid jumping, quick lateral movements, running, and squatting. Well, I stopped going to other classes but continued to teach my 4 days a week and weight lift 3 days a week, and the belly dance course on top of that. So much for listening to my body or the doctors! While all this was going on - sobriety, martial tensions, knee issues - Apollo was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his left hind leg, a bone cancer that severely limited his time on earth with us. At first we had the impression it was a sprained leg but after a second opinion and more x-rays it was obvious the cancer was there and spreading fast. Our options were amputation, radiation therapy, or make him comfortable until it was time for him to leave us. Amputation would have the recovery and maybe another 6 months or so, radiation therapy might have added 6 months as well…we did not think it was fair to put him through amputation or radiation for just an extra 6 months. We opted to give him meds…and holy cow there were a ton of them! This poor dog was on more tramadol, gabapentin, and trazadone all at once than a professional junkie in the opioid Olympics. He digressed pretty quickly from the time of diagnosis and within 2 months, he was not able to lay down at all and was crying constantly in the middle of the night. Ted and I called it “time”, it was so hard to do but we did not think it was fair to make Apollo suffer because we wanted more time with him. It was with very heavy hearts that we made the drive to the pet emergency room to say our good byes as he whimpered the entire ride. Our lives now would have an empty place once occupied by the coolest, most energetic, stubborn, loving and red patent leather high heel chewing dog we have ever known. He will be placed in our yard to rest eternally under a Bay Rum tree once we get it planted after summer of 2024.

As the year came to a close, Ted and I started dating again, he finished teaching at Chapman, we camped out with the Cub Scouts, and spent the holidays at home with my parents.

2024 started off with a Royal Caribbean Cruise! Ted, myself and a group of friends went to Labadee, Haiti, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas and St. Croix in the U.S.V.I. Our adventures consisted of zip lining, waterfall jumping, botanical gardening, fort exploring, beach laying, trivia playing, and rum distillery learning (that last part I skipped). My parents stayed with Azlan at home so he could go to school and not miss a beat (thanks mom & dad!). Ted started teaching the first 2 weeks of the Yamaha Maintenance Course at Project Lift (a non-profit helping young adults learn about different trades), I took a step back from teaching 2 of my classes in hopes of helping my knee and Azlan learned how to roller skate! We also started planning our summer trip. Originally we were going to the Galapagos, Machu Pichu, the Amazon, and the Northern Dunes in Brazil. Upon hearing of some political unrest in Equador that was bleeding into Peru, we opted to change our route doing a 180 and planning for Iceland and Nova Scotia instead. It was either Southern Hemisphere in our summer (their winter) or go up north to avoid those states with hot hot Junes and Julys.

In February I went to Brazil with my mom to visit my grandma, it was her 94th birthday! I enjoyed fresh coconut water, long walks, visits with old childhood friends, and quality family time. Yes, of course there was family drama, but I’m choosing to remember the positive happenings instead of the negative ones.

March boasted a trip to NC for spring break with my dad, my brother, his wife, our niece, Azlan, Ted and I. My mom had to stay behind as she had been battling health issues unfortunately. Azlan skied for the first time and loved it! He was even twirling his ski pole as he maneuvered the mountain (insert star-eye emoji here). Ted, my brother, and his wife all enjoyed the slopes as well, I forewent skiing due to my knee but was able to get some quality time with one of my dearest friends which was my neighbor in Korea. It was a great trip despite some family ‘disagreements’.

Azlan’s 10th birthday party was immediately following his 4th grade field trip to St. Augustine. Ted and I chaperoned and we rented a houseboat for the night with some friends so we could stay and explore some more the next morning. We checked out Fort Mose, Castillo de San Marcos, Our Lady de lá Leche, drank from the Fountain of Youth (I did not get any younger), saw peacocks, and watched a black smith demo and a cannon firing. Our airbnb was at a dock with food trucks so we had a cool dinner there and the next morning Ted & our friend made pancakes, eggs, and bacon before we explored the Pirate Museum which was really cool. They even had a scavenger hunt for the kiddos!

Azlan started Jiu-Jitsu in April, he’s pretty good at it and approaches it with more enthusiasm than soccer. Several friends came for a visit and we got a little more social, driving down to Miami for a weekend and having more date nights. The rest of April was filled up with laser appointments for my knee (I gave up yet another class), doctor appointments, therapy appointments, wrapping up house projects (doors/windows/concrete patio), belly dance rehearsals & costuming, and play dates for Azlan.

May started off with a CRASH! Literally! Ted and Azlan were sitting at a red turn light less than 2 miles from the house at 10pm when BAM! They got rear ended in the Acadia by a drunk driver (the guy blew a .331…no need to say more). Thankfully they were unscathed, however Cadi (Ted’s Acadia) was totaled which was a bummer since that was the car we were supposed to travel in for the summer. What were they doing out at 10pm at night (way past bed time)? Well, they were on their way home from a halfa (belly dance party) in Melbourne where I performed with my belly dance teacher and dance sisters! It was a great show and I am still so excited I had the opportunity to dance with these spectacular women! I was not with Ted and Azlan in the car because my happy dancing butt drove back to Orlando to finish out the SCW Mania Fitness Conference I was in the middle of. This year I went for a personal training and symmetry measurement certification along with a day full of nutrition lectures. I also signed up to go through the Symmetry Alignsmart Postural Correction program as a client and study to become a practitioner. I am hoping that by realigning my body, it will alleviate the pain in my knee and hamstring so that I can go back to teaching classes after the summer.

As we meandered through May, I had several appointments with PT and surgeons deducing that I have damaged cartilage on the back of the patella of my right knee and a potential torn or impinged labrum in my left hip which is causing the pain in my hamstring. There is some fluid in both areas and inflammation. I don’t want to have surgery, hence the Symmetry program. Let’s see what happens with that! Ted worked with the insurance company for the car, worked on the My Safe Florida Home program to get a rebate for the hurricane proof doors and slider we added, pressure washed the wood and concrete of the retaining wall and patio, sealed the retaining wall and patio, and finished teaching at Project Lift. In the end we ended up borrowing my dad’s car for the road trip (thank you dad!) as it has more room than my little Kia. One of our neighbors also lent us a roof luggage carrier so we could have more space in the car. My grandmother passed away after living full good life, may she rest in peace. I am so grateful I was able to visit with her in February. I spent a week in Miami with my parents so I could help out after my mom had a procedure. Again, another opportunity I am very grateful for. Not only was I able to spend some time with my parents but was also of help to them (thank you Ted for holding down the fort at home while Azlan finished 4th grade)! Azlan passed with an 8th grade reading level & 7th grade math level…he finished so many books and did all my macro calculations for me lol! After one last play date of Nerf-gun war for the kiddos, we prepped up the house, set up house sitting, packed up all the things and hit the road on May 31st (not gonna lie, the last few days were a bit stressful)!

Stay tuned for more blogs of our summer adventures!!!

Love,

Daisa, Ted, & Azlan

 

PS-

In case you are interested, here are some of the books I have read over the last 2 years (not in order):

Atomic Habits

The Power of One More

The Physics of Pain

The Alice Network

The Listening Path

Tuesdays with Morrie

The Fifth Agreement

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

The Untethered Soul

We Are the Lucky Ones

The Women

Wings of Fire books 1-8

The 5 Love Languages

Raising Human Beings

You Are A Badass

Alcoholics Anonymous

Mastering Your Emotions

Boundaries


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