14 of 14: So long 26.

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Today, is my last day as a 26 year old.
Tomorrow, marks the start of 27.

It has shown me determination and drive.
It has shown me love and heartbreak.
It has shown me unconditional friendship.
It has shown me loss and life.
It has brought me new experiences.
It has brought me roadblocks.
It has brought me new beginnings.
It has brought me the need for change.
It has opened my eyes to my passions.
It has opened my heart to exploration.
It has opened my mind to endless possibilities.

I see 27 as an opportunity to do GREAT THINGS.
I see the continued unlocking of my PASSIONS.
I see my fire for photography continuing to grow.
I see my heart being open to change.
I see myself stepping outside the lines and doing big things.
I see reflection, I see more writing, I see more exploring.
I see my eyes being opened to my surroundings.
I see an AMAZING journey ahead of me!

So long 26.
Bring on 27!


day 13 of 14: The recliner.

To most, this is just a recliner on the sidewalk. But to me and my family, this represents so much more. We got this recliner in preparation for my dad coming home after a month long stay in the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer. We got it for him to be as comfortable as possible, as we were making the living room his makeshift bedroom, so he didn’t have to climb upstairs. This represents the moments my dad was at home after being in the hospital for so long. This is where my dad would watch the golf channel, where we would bring him his breakfast-lunch-and dinner, where he watched my niece play in front of him. This is where he would hold a golf club, until he was strong enough to do some practicing in the backyard. This is a part of my dad’s cancer journey, about the memories we shared. Aside from the hospital bed, and the bed we had for him in the living room, this is one of the places where we spent the most time during those 4.5 months he battled cancer. This chair holds a piece of my dad. A piece of me. His cancer story. To see this on the curb brings me an abundance of different emotions.
Miss you always, dad


day 12 of 14: Family vs. Fogo

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On this episode of Family vs. Fogo de Chao,- Fogo wins.
Hands down.

We went to Fogo de Chao, for dinner during their last day of DineLA, and let me just say, our tastebuds were going crazy with the deliciousness that was consumed.
MEAT. MEAT. and more MEAT— oh and some delicious Brazilian Cheese Bread, as well.
Food. Family. Fun.



… and maybe meat sweats.




day 11 of 14: Watching Waves.

crystal coveToday was my nephews Superhero themed birthday party at Crystal Cove. Kids splashing in the water & playing in the sand.
Complete joy and fun had by these kids.
Jumping in the water, the sand beneath their toes, the sand crabs in their hands, the sand in their hair, and smiles on their faces.
Simple joys found in this moment.

Beauty surrounding us.
Listening to the laughter of kids and adults. The sounds of the waves crashing on the shore.
The sight of the vast ocean on the horizon, the different shades of blue and white  with every oncoming wave.
The peacefulness watching the waves making their way to the shore.

I love it. I find much joy watching the waves.
It is my reminder to take a step back and appreciate my surroundings.
To slow down.
To take in the beauty.
To inhale. To exhale. To observe. To appreciate. To release.



day 10 of 14: Swim. Bike. Run.


Tomorrow, marks the day they have been working towards.
My AMAZING TNT fam- Cassie, Lisa, Connie, Ryan, and Manny will spend their day racing Vineman Triathlon. Their first full Ironman.
A 140.6 mile journey. A distance some of us don’t even drive in a day, they will travel-
2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and 26.2 miles running.
They have trained and fundraised with all their might for the past 9 months, and in just a few hours they will start this journey.
I have been following their journey since they signed up with the IRONTEAM, and I have seen so much growth. I have seen these endurance athletes train many days a week. I have seen them exceed their own expectations. I have seen thousands upon thousands of dollars raised for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have seen their generous hearts make a difference in the lives of so many.
I will be sending them all my positivity, my cheers, my GO TEAMS, my heart, my strength, my thanks, my appreciation, and my love.
I’ll be cheering from afar all day, and tracking their journey!
I can’t full express my level of proudness for these incredible Cancer Killin’ individuals.
All I can say is, GO TEAM!

day 9 of 14: Happy Birthday, to my 2 favorite guys.


Today marks the birthday of my two favorite guys, my dad and godson/nephew.



It marks the 4th year where my dad is not with us to celebrate with  ice cream cake.
Another year without him blowing out the candles.
Another year without any new memories.
Another year without the sound of him singing karaoke.
Another year without In-N-Out or sushi Fridays.
Another year without any golf course stories.
Another year without an embrace.
But, what I do have are 23 1/2 years of memories to look back on.
And a nephew who is now 3 years old, sharing the same birthday as his Lolo.
I have 3 years of memories of seeing this little boy grow up.
3 years of birthday celebrations.
3 years of cake.
3 years of the sounds of his laughter.
3 years of smiles.
3 years of hugs.
3 years of silliness.
3 years of my heart being put back to together, by the joy this little boy brings to my life.
Happy birthday, to my two favorite guys ❤




Below is an entry I wrote a few days after my nephew was born. This was taken from my Team in Training fundraising page .

Jul 30, 2011 by Samantha Celera

When my dad died almost 7 months ago to Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, I knew that father’s day, holidays, month/year anniversaries , etc would be emotionally draining. And I was expecting my dad’s birthday to be the same, but on July 24th my dad’s spirit was fully alive and present because my nephew Dylan Gene was born. A day I thought would be filled with sadness and longing for my dad, turned into a day of joy. Dylan Gene not only shares my dad’s birthday, but my dad’s name (Gene), my dad’s facial expressions and my dad’s handsome looks. When my sister announced she was pregnant, my dad was the first to predict so certainly that she would be having a boy. You were right dad! He is an adorable little boy that will constantly be a reminder of you and your great spirit. Looking at him I see my dad, and I find comfort in that. This little bundle of joy is so incredibly loved and I am so happy to know that he shares a birthday with my dad who I love and admire so much. My dad may be gone but his spirit remains.

Losing my dad has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. When he passed away I had no idea how life would go on without him, how I would be able to go through each day knowing my dad wouldn’t be there anymore, how I would no longer hear him singing songs as he got ready in the morning, how I would no longer be able to play a round of golf with him on his birthday, how I would no longer have In-n-out runs with him when he had a Friday off of work, how I would no longer be able to listen to him making up stories as though he knows the name and life story of everyone person we pass on the street, how I would no longer be able to see his smile or hear his laugh. Difficult days arise, but I am managing to get through them. I miss my dad and think of him everyday but I know he is in a better place, and carry him with me in my heart always.

day 8 of 14: Downtown Covina- Complete Photojournalism Assignment

Photojournalism: Life on the Streets- Final Assignment
– 20-30 images
– Downtown Covina
– black and white
– types of businesses
– context
– consider exposure, framing (in camera)
– be fearless
– talk to strangers

A week ago, I posted a sneak peak of my photos for my photography class. These are the final 30 images I chose to tell a story of Downtown Covina. The past 6 weeks, taking these photojournalism classes, my eyes have been opened to the world around me. I find myself constantly on the lookout for the little things that can tell a story. I am looking much closer, much deeper at my surroundings. I am thoroughly embracing what I see. I take my time composing my photographs, it’s not just the snap of my camera, there is a bigger process now. I have found joy in this style of photography, and who knows, maybe this is something I can explore further! 1 2 3 4 5 S 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

day 7 of 14: Awesome Encounter


klatch coffee

cancer ends with me


As I am sitting at my local coffee shop editing photos for an assignment due tomorrow, a woman just a few years older than me, notices the Cancer Ends With Me sticker on my laptop and smiles. As she waits for her coffee she tell her brother to look at my laptop. He then takes a glance and smiles as well. After a few minutes they get their coffee and are right next to me adding their cream and sugar, when the gal asks where I got the sticker. We get to chatting a bit about Cancer, I of course bring up LLS and TNT. She then tells me that their dad was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma just a few months ago. They say they have a great support system and a family that is staying strong through this time. I then remember that I have a few of those stickers in my backpack, when I snagged some from the AMBBR inspiration dinner. So, I gave each of them a sticker, gave them my email just in case they wanted to know more about TNT/LLS, we shook hands, sent well wishes, and they went on their way with smiles on their faces.

This moment was a little reminder of how many people cancer can impact. I am reminded of those that have fought, those fighting, and those we have lost along the way.

This moment made me extremely grateful for having found TNT when I did 3 years ago. It makes me proud of my TNT family continuing the fight for a cure. For those constantly inspiring me on the daily. It makes my heart smile for the bonds and friendships that have been created, for the cancer killing dollars raised, for the lives saved.

I may not be on a TNT team right now, but my passion for a cure continues to grow. My support for those training will always be there. And I will continue to raise awareness no matter where I am.


day 6 of 14: The joy of Play Doh!

This morning I found my niece and nephew playing with Play Doh.

The act of creating something and then destroying it, and starting all over again. Their active imaginations creating many different pieces. The smiles put on their faces with everything they made. The mixing of Play Doh colors & the excitement in their eyes. They are my reminder of the simple joys in life. I couldn’t help but have a little Play Doh fun, as well. It’s interesting how the scent of Play Doh can bring back so many memories. Memories of being a child, and creating my own Play Doh masterpieces!


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My nieces Ice Cream Sandwich, Donut, and Cookie.


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My nephews Cookie and his collection of toppings.


Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes of playing with Play doh, to bring out the child from within.

And to appreciate the simple things!

day 5 of 14: What’s cookin’ Good Lookin’- Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

 Sunday morning- The perfect day to try a new recipe and take some time to read a book as well.

I decided to try making some Banana Oatmeal Pancakes after finding this recipe from Inside BruCrew Life. I didn’t feel like using flour in my pancakes, and I had some really ripe bananas on hand, so luckily I found this recipe. I figure I would try something new, and I must say- my tastebuds thoroughly enjoyed this creation!

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The smell of pancakes and blueberries filled the kitchen.
The taste of DELICIOUS lingered on my taste buds.
The Sunday morning sunshine peered through the blinds.
The sound of my niece and nephew playing were my soundtrack.
The feel of the turning of pages of my book in my hand.

A lovely Sunday morning, with my senses enhanced. A beautiful way to start the day.