2.4.20 The Best Day

*I meant for this to post yesterday morning and realized I scheduled it incorrectly. Ooops!

As I start the first day of 33, I wanted to share with y’all about the best day of year 32. I realize we haven’t the discussed Australia in detail yet, but I really want you to know about this specific, perfect, and special day of our trip. It just so happens that this was the last day of the trip, so we’re going a bit out of order.

Sunday, December 8, 2019 may have been the best day of my life. I have many memories and experiences that come close, but this day takes the cake. I was challenged mentally, emotionally, and physically on this specific day. As a result my world was perfectly aligned, I reconnected with my center, and I felt truly in the presence of God. We traveled to Australia for the International Symposium, but this day is the true purpose of our trip.

ALS effects your physical abilities, targeting your voluntary muscles and leaves your brain without a functioning body. Like most things, the loss of ability is the primary impact but the secondary effects are just as debilitating. Living with this disease for 5 years is exhausting. I have to plan out my every action in steps of execution in order to maximize efficiency while minimizing exertion. My body wears out just from breathing, sitting, and getting to the bathroom so anything on top of that rivals marathon level energy input. Mentally it’s just as draining because even though my body is moving at snail speed, my brain is like a hamster on a wheel trying to balance thoughts and execution. Knowing these limitations plays an important role when traveling because mental and physical exertion is heightened for many reasons. Being our last day in Australia meant there was nothing going to stop me from having a great day.

We got up that morning and sent Bronson for breakfast – our ham and cheese croissant fetish was at an all time high. The plan was to do the shark snorkeling on Tuesday but our travel agent (me) booked the wrong day, so we rescheduled for Sunday. Having already spent a day at the aquarium and Hillary’s Boat Harbor, we knew our way around and what to expect from the area. I regret not bringing a gopro for the snorkel, though it would not have done it justice. All 3 of us were buzzing with adrenaline and excitement. A lifelong dream of Carlie’s, she was so amped up that she couldn’t form complete sentences. Equally bumbling with words, Bronson was not looking forward to deep water, large animals, wetsuits, or sharks but he’s a good sport and refuses to be outdone. I was overly confident – shocker – because it’s not my first snorkel, or shark swim, and I’m Sunny, I can do anything.

It took all 3 of us to get me in that wetsuit. Give yourself a second to picture that scene. We watched the briefing, learned about what we were going to encounter, and signed away the AQWA liabilities. This is where I would show you a video of our adventure, but we were unprepared. Luckily for you, there are videos of other people’s adventures.

  • As you can see, we weren’t swimming with small animals. These creatures are beautiful and majestic as they swim effortlessly through the water. As for me, I kept forgetting that I cannot breathe under water though I tried. After we stopped, rolled me over, emptied my snorkel and lungs of water multiple times, I finally relaxed and enjoyed the snorkel. We stopped halfway to regroup, Carlie and Bronson we’re full of giggles about scaring each other when something swam by or their fins touched. I’m sure our poor instructor is still sore from dragging me around the whole time. Bless her heart.
  • Our smiles say it all. This was an amazing experience that we all loved. Thankfully, getting out of a wetsuit is much easier than getting in and involved a hot shower. We faced God’s great creations face to fin, and that is something that brings humbleness and humility. It’s hard to think of your worries and woes when you’re in the presence of such beauty. For those 45 minutes, I wasn’t thinking about ALS or my future progression with the disease, my body felt weightless and wonderful in the water. The only thing I was concerned with was not looking like a seal – legitimate advice from our instructor.
  • We are very proud of our accomplishments. So, we had some time to kill before our next appointment and naturally gravitated towards food. Y’all we ate fish and chips for 2 meals a day on more days than not. You’ll never guess where we found our favorite fish and chips. The Aquarium!! Kinda morbid, huh? Our next stop was something we all had wanted to do, together, in Australia but unfortunately Bronson didn’t get to participate. We learned the hard way that everything closed at 5, and Bronson invoked the “ladies first” rule. He has plans to join the inner circle soon so I’ll be sure to update you on his addition.

    Some of the most common meanings of sunflowers include:

    • Long life, mainly since most varieties stand in full bloom for months on end during the hottest days of summer
    • Feelings of adoration, admiration, and platonic love towards a person, such as a family member or friend
    • Loyalty and strong bonds between two people, as represented by the strong and upright stem
    • Seeking out positivity and strength, as the bloom turns to face the sun
    • Nourishing yourself and others, since the sunflower produces an abundance of edible seeds
    • Brightening your mood, through the vibrancy of the yellow or orange petals
    • Good luck and lasting happiness, especially in the Chinese culture

    That is the SunnyStrong sunflower that we use on all of our stuff. The artist freehanded it from a picture and our shirts. So awesome to see an artist at work and in their element. Carlie’s is a tribute to her shark swim and her favorite sister. Getting a tattoo is a mental and physical exercise, especially ones with this level of detail. Watching someone you love ink their body in something so personal is an elation that words cannot convey. Jokingly, and nervously, I told the artist that I was warned about bad sunflowers resembling nipples, only to find out that 1. English was not his first language and 2. my Texas accent both confused him and the joke. We then got a lecture on why tattoos on your nipples are not a good idea and various reasons why that’s true. Good talk.

    We spent our last night in, ordered room service, and let Bronson’s OCD reek havoc on our suitcases in preparation for the next day’s 22 hours of flying. Because it’s December a certain jolly bearded man was making his grand appearance at the amphitheater across from our hotel. The fact that it was in the 90s it was very difficult to convince ourselves of Christmas activities. Foregoing the awkward sitting on a strangers lap photo op, we had a front row seat to the beauty that followed sunset.

    For as long as I can remember I have wanted my feet in the Indian Ocean. No real reason, just something that was high on my bucket list. Considering how much water I inhaled during our snorkel, we can agree that I did more than just put my feet in. Bronson took the opportunity to walk down to the beach and sprinkle his Grandmother’s ashes. Carlie and I further indulged our Shark Week obsession, which made for an extra jumpy Bronson leading up to the snorkel adventure. The ocean has always been a source of catharsis and rejuvenation for me, part of the whole Aquarius thing. Traveling around the world, experiencing God’s beautiful creations first hand is partially why it’s taken me so long to decompress from this trip and share it with you. My soul was awakened and my heart was full of gratitude for the opportunity. My energy levels were restored, my life found new purpose, and I’ve never felt more confident in my place in this world. My disease, it’s progression, and the implications of life with terminal disease were wiped away by the vast ocean and firework celebration outside of our window. There’s clarity in feeling small, being in the presence of magnificence, and God’s endless provisions for your life.

    Thank you for reliving the best day with me. Cheers to 33!

    2 thoughts on “2.4.20 The Best Day

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