another kind of two year celebration 

Here I sit in paradise; I have the sun on my face & the ocean breeze has me wrapped in it’s arms. Our vacation has not disappointed & I can’t wait to share pictures when we return. 

One of the main reasons Tony wanted me to come along on this trip was because the timeline also fell on my two year mark of being on chemotherapy. This is a significant date for us, because we’re hoping after three years of taking this drug, we will have options and be able to move forward & start a family. 

Last night, over drinks at the pool, we got to talking about how crazy the next two years are going to be for us. We have a jam packed summer & fall with wedding celebrations, moving my youngest sister to college, and all other social events we normally try to attend- Gopher football games, bonfires, etc… Winter and next spring will also bring big events for us- planning, planning, and more planning the next steps when the three year mark hits. Then, hopefully after that three year mark, the following year will include anything and everything involving getting ready for a baby. 

My two year appointment at the Mayo Clinic on May 1st, will hopefully shed light on the avenue we should be heading toward. As you know, most of this being out of my control drives me absolutely crazy, however, I have learned I CAN control being ready by researching, getting whatever tests accomplished that need to be completed, and knowing I will be okay with whatever is in store for us. 

Tonight.. Tony and I will be celebrating. We have made it through another year, we have checked off more challenges faced, and we are in paradise together! 

Cheers! Here’s to another couple days of fun in the sun! xo 

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packing essentials


I love packing.

Yes, you read that right: I love packing. I love putting together list [weird!], I love laying out outfit options, & most of all, I love organizing everything neatly in suitcase. [I’ve actually been known to empty an entire suitcase because one shirt doesn’t lay the right way]. 

However, I’m also known as an over-packer.

Tonight, I tried to pull out outfits I actually thought I’d wear. [Kaylee, you’re going to be in a swimsuit most of the day- three outfits: lounging outfit, activity/walking around outfit, & dinner outfit are not needed!] But then I got to thinking- what are my vacation essentials? My must haves while traveling?


 Top Five Traveling Essentials:

  1. A good book

    Currently, I’m finishing up my book club book, The Book Thief, but having a good book to read is a must have for me. It keeps me busy on the flight & while I’m sunbathing at the pool. I actually bring multiple books with me when I’m heading out on a vacation [thank you Kindle Fire!]

  2. A chambray shirt

    Thanks to my good friend, Amanda, I know now what the heck is considered a chambray top! Whether you’re heading somewhere warm or somewhere cold, a good fitting chambray top is versatile, & goes with anything! This chambray from J.Crew is a favorite of mine.

  3. A long-lasting lip tint

    I have NEVER been a make-up know-it-all or professional, but one thing I can say I know enough about is lip gloss, [my friends will tell you I’m somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to collecting different pinks]. Poppin’ a little color on my face ALWAYS makes me feel better about an outfit, a dinner, or an overall day! I have a couple favorites, however they are a tad spendy. But out of all the brands I’ve tried, I’ve always gone back to these two for more! I love Smashbox, Be Legendary Lip Gloss in Pout & Dior’s Addict Lip Glow, [Dior’s Lip Glow actually changes color per natural skin tones. I have made my mom & sisters try it out and we ALL get a different color].

  4. A memory recorder

    Whether it’s a camera, journal, or any type of social media, I always want to remember everything special and unique when I travel somewhere. I use a little bit of everything – I am constantly taking pictures, writing down funny quotes or an amazing moment, and I LOVE to share special photos with family and friends on instagram [@kayleemdoherty].

  5. Sun protection

    I have been blessed with incredibly fair skin. Unlike the rest of my family, who can sit outside for 30 minutes and will look like a bronzed royal, I completely fry without the proper protection. And now, it’s even worse – my chemo pill heightens sun’s strength. It took me a while to find something that not only works, but doesn’t clog my pores. I am completely smitten with Peter Thomas Roth’s Oil Free Spf Powder. I have been lucky, and have never had to battle oily skin, but this stuff has worked wonders. I always get a nice little glow & never have to worry about my face getting damage from the sun.

What are some of your favorites? Am I missing something essential?

Welp, I’m off to bed – I am normally sound asleep by nine – but I’m too excited to sleep!

Sleep Tight Munchkins! xo

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a happy heart

This weekend made my heart happy; actually my heart was blissfully happy.

Let me break it down for you in a few words and multiple pictures:

Friday: Joined by two of my favorite people in the world, we attended a cooking class. There were others in our group, and we experienced making tapas & sangria. Now, if  you’re like me, and don’t quite know the definition of tapas, I’ll give you a heads up:

1.(especially in Spain) a snack or appetizer, typically served with wine or beer.
In other words – small plates. I am not sure if it was the delicious food at the end of the night or the company of my two bestest friends, but the night was one of the most amazing nights I’ve had in a long time. I was literally smiling all weekend.
Saturday: Hot yoga has changed my life – seriously. I spent my morning sweating and working on my yoga practice & couldn’t love it more. I am looking forward to improving, both physically and mentally. I also hung out in the sunshine with Ace, [he now likes to sit on the patio furniture with me, while keeping an eye on the woods], and cooked a bunch of yummy snacks for Tony’s brother’s bachelor party, [I had to feed about 16 boys!]. I mean, what is better than Guacamole and peanut M&Ms? :) [Don’t worry, there was also a ginormous taco bar!] I ended the night with dinner at my parents, and that time was well spent, as well!
Sunday: Outlet shopping with my sisters and snuggling with my goofy puppy! [& you KNOW it also included pizza and Game of Thrones :)]

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Happy week, y’all! Tony and I are off on a jet plane on Wednesday morning- this week is busy busy getting ready for our trip!
Good night my darlings- xo
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happy 1st birthday gistoflife!

I have been blogging for a year! I can’t believe it! Tony didn’t believe I would last three months & here I am, a year later, with a beautifully designed blog & over a hundred posts. Amazing.

To celebrate, I decided I would tell you a little story; a story on how & why this blog entered the world. Sit back and relax my little darlings.

April, 2014: 

My wrist was itching to write. Emotions flooded my mind & overtook the peaceful calm; anger, jealousy, grief. Grief for the life I used to lead, the problems I used to carry; how I longed for my old worries.

How can I overcome these feelings? How can I achieve the next step of content, knowing my new path certainties; blood counts, scans, no drinking, going to bed early, etc… How can I be satisfied with my new goals?

It had been a year. A long year, sprinkled with doctor appointments, needles, and nurses. I still felt as though my wheels were spinning in mud; stuck. My emotions were a wild roller coaster & it was a ride I couldn’t escape. I needed to unbuckle & climb out, get off the ride I hated.  I’ve tried, but still felt captured. My fingers couldn’t grasp the courage I needed, it dangled far out of reach. I needed help; I needed control. 

Then, it dawned on me. What if I could help others? Would it, in return, help myself? What if I had someone tell me what I’m feeling was normal? What if there were others that felt stuck, needed courage, & wanted to leap off the roller coaster? I know what I must do: reach out to those like me. Connect. Reflect. Grow.

So I needed to start. I started sitting in my living room alone, with my puppy asleep on my lap – I wrote. Bon Iver’s melody gave me courage. My puppy’s heavy breathing kept my rhythm.  I wrote it first, all thoughts, feelings, & questions. It was all there in my “get inspired” notebook: all my first ugly thoughts & feelings – it was too raw – but it was real.

Next, I played editor. I slashed the real ugly, punctuated, & reread. I found my platform in & picked my theme. Lastly, before typing my first post, I needed the name. The name is everything. 

Gist: my cancer diagnosis; GastroIntestional Stromal Tumor; it is a part of me now, & it will be forever. Thus, my blog name, Gist of Life. A play on words of my new normal. My new story. My new life.  

So there you have it. The night it all began. I have enjoyed every minute of writing and connecting. It is a part of me now. Just recently I have read words of others that have gone through similar feelings, reaching out to my blog for support. I have read words of encouragement. This is why I’m here, for these reasons, & I hope there are many more of these words in the future. To quote my favorite book, The Book Thief –

I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.

Have a good Thursday my lovelies.



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relaxed & rejuvenated

Holy smokes, I feel like I haven’t written in years, [it’s been like 4 days ]!

I had a nice, long weekend to relax & spend time with family. Unfortunately, I don’t have a spring break this school year because of the construction [we’re getting out in mid May], but had this past Friday & Monday off; it was glorious & makes me crave summer break… soon enough, soon enough.

This weekend held everything that makes my heart happy: Netflix nights with Tony, Ace snuggles, time with family, & house projects. My favorite thing about this weekend was seeing my grandpa on Easter. I haven’t seen him since Christmas, which is WAY too long & something I told myself I would NEVER let happen after my grandma passed last spring. I think about him often, most of my thoughts are worries that he sits home by himself. Sometimes I think that’s why I make excuses not to visit him; I’m afraid I’ll get too sad. I have to figure out a way to be stronger, for him, & visit with him more frequently. He always sends oranges home with my mom, for me, whenever she visits him. Even the thought of this gesture makes me tear up – he’s the sweetest grandpa, ever, & my heart was singing after visiting with him on Sunday.

I spent my Friday and Monday checking off a house project I have put off for far too long. Painting the living room and kitchen – CHECK! Why does checking a box or crossing a task off a list make me so happy? I mean, seriously? Anybody else have this enjoyment? No? Bueller? You would think I won the lottery with the amount of excitement spewing from my eyes & the grin on my face as Tony got home from work last night. But so much for relaxation?? I spent ten hours painting!

One of my other favorite moments from the long weekend was capturing this image of my family. We rarely take pictures, [Tony & I], so this was a treat. PLUS, Ace got to be included. It is an image that will be displayed proudly in my gallery wall – whenever I get around actually putting one together – ha!

Well, off I go to make a Doherty staple – stuffed mushrooms, [I promise I’ll share the recipe soon- however, just know- it is NOT healthy!]

Happy Tuesday, Tulips!

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spinach power salad

Along with a full heart, this week also brought a chest cold.

Getting sick has been pretty consistent the last couple years. I always know, a sixth sense if you will, the moment I pick to stay out late and get less rest, I can expect a cold to knock on my door a few days later. As a teacher, I’m even MORE susceptible to germs & whatnot. In my classroom you can hear me constantly saying, “wash your hands.. don’t cough on my desk… you can keep my pencil, I just saw you chew on it.” A low white count never help with staying healthy either, [although at my last blood draw my counts were as close to a normal person as I’ll ever get!]

One thing I lean on to keep my body functioning and fighting sickness is healthy eating & drinking. This week I have drank more water then, well, ever. It is unbelievable how much of a difference it makes. I have more energy, my skin feels softer, etc… I definitely know why this is preached. Green drinks have been making their way back into my morning routine, [I think this also helps in feeling good], and I frequent Simple Green Smoothies for inspiration – they’re currently doing a April Green Smoothie Challenge & it has some good stuff!

Okay, I’m rambling..

My point – eating healthy has helped keep my chest cold in it’s place. I have been devouring my new spinach salad recipe at lunch & it’s not because I only have 15 minutes to eat – it’s delicious!

Quinoa Spinach Power Salad

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 avocado
  • light olive oil


  1. Cut cherry tomatoes in half & combine all ingredients, except avocado & olive oil, in a bowl. [I usually prepare and let sit over night so it’s less hassle in the morning]
  2. Before eating, cube avocado, add, & drizzle with olive oil.

**You can always add a bit of sea salt and pepper for additional flavor!


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a full heart

A full heart, indeed.

My weekend was finished off with a family bridal shower for my soon -to-be sister in law, [I got to snuggle with my favorite little two year old for a good hour while he fell asleep in my arms], & a wonderful two year celebration brunch, put on by some of my best friends Sunday morning.

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Happy Tuesday! The temperature is climbing & by tomorrow it’s supposed to be over 70 degrees! :)


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march 28th

March 28th is a day that I will never forget. It is not a day to be celebrated. It is not a day to wallow. It is, simply put, a day that will be forever ingrained into my memory.

March 28th was the day I was given my cancer diagnosis.

My very first post on this blog was a narration of this day, you can find it here.

I still feel the pain; it cut through me violently and quick. I can close my eyes and still visualize exactly my surroundings; it was a beautiful, March day. The sun was out and I remember it shining brightly into our living room, spilling onto the couch where I sat with my sister. I remember I answered my phone & I was annoyed with the light in my eyes, wishing we had blinds for our huge window in the entry way. I remember I was doodling on my planner, swirls and stars, as the doctor made small talk, wondering how long this conversation was going to take.

If I could go back to that couch on that bright, sunny day, I would shake Kaylee. I would slap her for thinking a rapidly growing tumor on her small intestine wasn’t something concerning. Maybe the pain wouldn’t have been as bad. Maybe dealing with the next steps would have been easier. Maybe…

But that was two years ago, the past; I am looking forward. The truth is, in two years I have come a long ways. After each new day passes, I am getting better. I’m accepting my new path, with all it’s twists and turns, much better than I did two years ago. I have learned more about myself, my marriage, my friendships, & my career then I ever thought I would.

I have found myself more excited for experiences with Tony, more engaged with my friends & their future plans – to buy or to rent, how to remodel a basement, what puppy treats work best, first steps & words of their little ones, etc… – & okay not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Cheers…. to the next year of fighting & surviving!



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