Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Travels Through Arizona Part II: New Perspectives, Stunning Views

Hello everyone! This is the second series of my Arizona travels from last week. Jerome and Sedona are quite beautiful, aren't they? The Sky Lodge Ranch was so relaxing, that was like a six hour meditation I had while sitting on the patio and watching the mountains change colors. There's something about those two places, Jerome and Sedona. I don't know what it is!

After Sedona, we made a fun stop on the way to Scottsdale, where I collaborated with the International 22Q11.2 Foundation on a video to help newly diagnosed individuals and also new mom's that have just found out about the syndrome. Every time I travel, by the way, I am always raising awareness and educating people about this syndrome. One stop we made as we overlooked the views of red rocks, we met a nice older couple and chatted it up with them for almost an hour. Now, those people, who have NEVER even heard of 22Q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, OR DiGeorge Syndrome (different names, same condition) know what this syndrome is after meeting me. Every person I share this syndrome with I make sure to tell them to share it with someone else. If you are new to my blog and reading this post, you too could have this syndrome and not know. Now you do know, so go tell three or five more people about it. 

Then, on our drive to Scottsdale, I slept most of the way and we arrived later in the afternoon to a home the organization provided for us. The house looked small and sat off of a busy street in town. Once we got there, a mother and daughter (her daughter has the syndrome too) opened the door and let us in. For the entire Tuesday evening, we talked with both of them and they inspired me. The mother said to me in discussion that my pain and suffering encouraged her and also gave her hope. Everyone I've met with this syndrome though, seemed to have some sort of talent in the arts and her daughter definitely did. Her daughter could sing beautifully and harmonize songs the way a professional singer could. Though we stayed in the house with people we didn't know, I felt an instant connection to the mother and her daughter. They became an extended 22Q family in a few hours of time. 

The following Wednesday (February 17th) my parents and I got picked up and driven to another beautiful house just minutes away to shoot the video. The house itself was a piece of art and the home decor', I was obsessed with. Minutes after I arrived, I went into hair and makeup (thank god because, I needed a makeover! HA!) The makeup artist, whom by the way, I had a lot in common with joked that I'd be in the makeup chair a lot as my career progresses. Ya, I hope so! I liked her a lot! Check out a few videos and pictures I took right from my Snapchat, which you can follow at tessakoller, (highly recommend!) This is a snap I took right in the moment of prepping and filming. Hopefully you can hear it OK. 
Don't you love that playing cards mug? I thought it was the cutest! I want one!
During the video, I had a bit of an aha! moment. Hard to describe in words but, at first as we began filming with Wirebuzz, I was a bit intimidated and nervous. OK, I meant to say, VERY intimidated and nervous because of the equipment, but if you saw it in the video above, wouldn't that intimidate you a bit? All the good information I had in my head slipped out of my ears the moment I locked eyes on their equipment. Not to say that I expected them to film me with their camera phones, but wow, I was impressed with the set up!

Anyways, back to this little aha! moment I began talking about earlier. What I really want for people with 22Q and any other syndrome, or disorder, or disease is I want everyone to have the opportunity to be a rock star, or music star, or fashion star or be successful at something. If I can have a career in fashion, someone else who suffers with these health challenges or disabilities can too and many people already have! The filming experience was great and I hope that moms and parents that have just found out about this syndrome feel more at ease when they see people leading good, happy, and healthy lives with this condition.

After the filming, I sold one of my hounds-tooth coats to a woman that worked for Wirebuzz! The coat looked fabulous on her! On Thursday, my family and I then headed to Tucson to meet up with old friends from our neighborhood in Illinois. They moved from Illinois to Tucson many years ago and we hadn't seen them in a long while. Visiting them and seeing their lifestyle made me want to live there! Tucson is beautiful! I saw multiple homes when they toured us through the business where they picked out their house and the decor' in it.

On Saturday, we went hiking up a short hill and I got the chance to play with some snakes (not poisonous snakes, obviously). I had a hard time holding a very antsy snake and it just wanted to be close to me. The feeling wasn't mutual, I'm afraid. My mom is not a fan of snakes, so she stayed far, far away. Very far away. I won't be posting photos of it because I know a lot of people dislike snakes. Aside from those slithering creatures though, I captured some stunning shots of the beautiful mountains and the Arizona desert environment. The desert is quite peaceful.
Saturday night, it was our last night there. The funniest part of the trip was when my old neighbors said, "When the mountains turn pink, it's time to drink!" Favorite quote of the trip! I don't drink though, so I just enjoyed the pink mountains. However; in a moment like that with good friends, I won't pass up a small glass of white sweet wine. Don't these photos look like paintings though? Even when I was there, sitting on their patio behind their house and looking at that sunset, it didn't look real. It felt like a movie set or something. 
They told us stories of how bobcats and some large wild animals walked through their back yard at times. If I saw a bobcat in my backyard well, I'd have a hard time going out for a while. So, when I am much, much older, I may move to a place like Tucson to retire, despite the intruding wild life. A place like that'll add thirty extra years to your life. Just in those few days, I had never exercised more and felt healthier breathing in the extremely fresh air than ever before. This vacation came at the perfect time and I feel healthier, I can breathe easier (post lung surgery) and I feel stronger. 

Did you like this post series of my travels? I'll definitely be doing more of them because I travel a lot and well, it makes life more interesting. If you want to catch even more in-the-moment videos and photos, follow my Snapchat @tessakoller and be sure to subscribe to my blog so you never miss a post! Thanks for reading!  

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