Too Young

18 May
Senior picture high school

Senior picture high school

Last week I went with my son to two funerals of young people. It was heartbreaking and eye opening for both of us. One of the kids was someone he had played basketball with just before ‘the accident’. It was sad and gut-wrenching to be surrounded by parents, siblings, and friends who lost a loved one who was way too young. When we are young we look at our future with immense possibilities, the world is our oyster but when faced with sudden illness or even death, we begin to realize that there is only a finite amount of time and we don’t know the day or hour when that time is up.

Coincidentally my daughter brought out and started reading my journal from when I was 17 last week. We read certain parts together which made me laugh. I used terms like ‘suck my big left toe’, ‘stuck up’,’grody’,’foxy’…it was fun to read it with her. The overwhelming theme of my journal from my junior/senior year of high school was despite the not so fun parts of high school, I had hope and excitement for the future. I recently started mentoring a new cancer survivor through one of the cancer organizations I work with who is struggling with the emotions of being a ‘survivor’. It’s a place hard to describe and probably similar to surviving a trauma of any kind including a sudden death of someone close. I told him you feel more, hurt more, love more, realize what’s most important, who’s most important, where you want to spend your time and with whom. The toxic things in your life are magnified and that includes people, jobs, habits, and all you want to do is be done with those and live. It’s a lot of stuff and of course you add to that the feeling that life is really fragile.

Are we too future focused? What about today and being grateful with now. When I was really young I wanted to be a teen, then as a teen, I wanted to be 21, and then at 21 I wanted to graduate college and be an adult who had a job that paid for the things I wanted. Well, here I am at 40+ wanting to go backward a little so I can enjoy life a little more in my youth. In my last pages of my high school journal I spoke of fear for the future along with anticipation of what the future holds, but maybe hoping the future would be so much better or more exciting than the present took some of the joy out of the now. Let’s not do that. Life is fleeting and no one knows what tomorrow brings. ‘You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.’~Henry David Thoreau

Today I wear Christopher Kane for Nars Lipgloss in Glow Pink because it’s beautiful. Cheers!

Mommy, Mom, Mama

9 May

kids1517  ACT, SAT, College visits. Growing up. Have I done enough? Do I love enough? I still love your hugs you know. Do you feel loved? Do you know I’m always here for you? ‘I love you mama.’ My heart bursts and breaks at the same time. You are on the verge of flying away. Do you know I can’t sleep until I know you’re home safe? You’ll always be my baby

16  The sweet age of your teen years. Working, driving, baby steps into adulthood. Did I say you could start dating? Did you know that I hold my breath when you drive?

15  You’re taller, you’re developing rapidly, you’re losing your baby face and looking more like a baby adult. Driver’s ed, talking about finding a job…please slow down

14-13  The weird ages. Junior High. Navigating through emotions. Changing friends, changing hormones, changing interests. Mom becomes two syllables..’Mo-om‘. You ask, ‘Am I good enough, pretty enough, popular enough?‘ Sorry, not everyone’s nice. I say, ‘You are beautiful, you are so special, you are loved.’ I pray you always believe.

12  Why are you taller than me? Voice changing, interests changing. You’re noticing the opposite sex, I’m trying to keep you my baby. Planning outfits, using deodorant, using hair gel, STOP GROWING UP ALREADY! Can I still tuck you in please?

11  ‘Mommy‘ starts turning into ‘Mom‘.’Don’t hug me in front of my friends.’ ‘I can walk to the bus stop myself.‘ I still want to hold your hand crossing the streetbus stop

10-5  I’m sorry babies, mommy has cancer. You are all in school now. 3 back packs, 3 lunches, all on the bus, the first good-bye’s. Learning, making new friends, growing independent;. Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade, I will fight as hard as I can because I don’t want to leave you. I am your mommy.

4-1  AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Am I enough? First steps, first teeth. I’m so tired. I still watch you sleep. I would die for you.

Birth  I can’t stop staring. You are beautiful. You are a miracle. I love you. Happy Birthday.

Motherhood is the hardest job in the world. You love with all you’ve got and you feel the deepest hurts. It is an extraordinary lesson in grace; giving all of yourself without necessarily getting anything back. There may be long days but the years go by so fast and seem so short. ‘Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.’~Jodi Piccoult 

Happy Mother’s Day! Pick a red lipstick and go with it. You are awesome!relaymom

Memories

4 May

maskI did something tonight that made me cry. The tears and emotion actually took me by surprise. May 10, 2010 was my last external beam radiation treatment for the cancer that wouldn’t leave me. For those not familiar with head and neck radiation you are fitted for a mask that is placed on you as you are bolted down to a table while getting radiation. I have saved this mask for years (in the basement). It’s creepy but I had several ideas running through my mind as to what to do with it. I originally thought some type of paper mache artwork mounted on my wall, then (since there are holes), possibly an earring/jewelry holder. Strange I know but I didn’t want to let the darn thing go. I felt like it would serve as a reminder of what I went through but today, I let it go. While cleaning my house and trying to simplify my life, I decided it was time to throw it out and when I did I felt a rush of emotion. So much has happened in my life since May 2010. The mask not only reminded me of the recurrent cancer battle, but also how much my kids had gone through and had grown since then, all the awesome people and lifelong friends I met, and really just how much my life has changed. Throwing the mask away made me miss my radiation friend Bob who I wrote about before, made me miss some of the doctors and staff who took great care of me during that strange 3 year period of my life, but it also made me think about the present and the future. How despite the twists and turns since then, I feel blessed, have joy, and mostly have hope for the future. My 17 year old son was watching me as I stared and cried at my mask.

Me, ‘Why am I crying?’ AJ, ‘Because you remember.’ I do remember, I’m sure he does too. I am so grateful. meandaj

I couldn’t be more grateful that the mask no longer has a use. It is just a memory; a painful, sad, but blessed memory that has given me strength and added to who I am today. I didn’t really need the actual mask to remember it all. What are some other things we can’t seem to part with? Most of the time the memories are enough.

Today I wear Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Bansar which is a perfect rose brown color you can use every day. I love these lip pencils becuase the are actually longer lasting and not drying at all! As for the name, who knows what that means but who cares, the color’s great. Cheers!

Teeth

15 Apr

annabeach

A little known fact about me is that I was born with teeth and lots of hair, so much so that my mom thought she had given birth to an animal…well, not really; and I didn’t really have full on teeth, just the whites of a couple teeth already pushing at my gum line. Biologically, if my ‘teeth’ were already through the gums they would be called natal teeth and there are different proposed causes but generally it’s a rare condition. In some cultures there is bad folklore on kids born with teeth while in others, it’s extremely positive. As a side note during my cancer journey anytime my doctor said, ‘That won’t be you or that won’t happen to you because it’s rare,’ well, it happened to me. So I guess I’ve been a rare breed since birth. Anyhow, growing up unique is not always a great thing especially during middle school. If you have kids, especially girls, you know what I’m talking about; the goal of most kids ages 10 to about 15 is to blend, not stand out, belong. So, growing up knowing I was born ‘unique’ looking, maybe subliminally made me want to blend even more.

This past week I spent a week relaxing with my kids on vacation but on the way there a title of a book reviewed in a magazine caught my eye, Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew. In the short article Kate (who to me is most famous for her role in Ryan’s Hope) was interviewed about her book and what she said about being born with teeth made me a little proud. She said she was born with teeth and that ‘it’s Shakespearian…it indicates there will be an unexpected life ahead of an epic nature. Teeth are a harbinger of what’s to come but also the strength to withstand it..’.Wow, for a moment I felt super special.Reading that quote a few times I have to agree. I have had an unexpected life and it has been epic. Beginning with the journey at 2 years old from the Philippines to America, then living happily without much money in Detroit,then the suburbs, television, stage, cancer, divorce, re-marriage, so much life and so much yet to come. How crazy exciting!!

If you look back on your life and I mean REALLY look, you too have led an epic life. Everyone has a story and I choose to never forget the good AND the bad stuff because both make me who I am, and believe me there’s been plenty of bad.Life is not always having lots of exclamation point moments, there’s lots of gray along with the bright and even some highlights in the dark, but epic nonetheless. Never forget each moment and each person becuase they all have a purpose in your life adventure! ‘Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.’~Louise Erdrich

Today I wear Cherry Chapstick…it’s original and it works! Cheers and Happy Spring!

5

29 Mar

beach

5 years. It was 5 years ago this month when I had my very last surgery for the cancer that kept coming back; lymph nodes, trachea, laryngeal nerve…scrape, cut, gone. I’ve been so busy with other things that I almost forgot this landmark. I’ve heard that 5 years is usually the landmark for cancer surviviors; 5 years and it’s a full remission, pretty much home free or so they say. I’m not sure about that,I’m sure I’ll always wonder.Looking back at the past five years it’s been quite a life.I’ve faced not only cancer,but I’ve also been on the receiving end of rage and anger,have experienced fear,as well as joy, strength, new beginnings, life…so much life.

Today is Palm Sunday and if you’re a Christian like me it is the beginning of Holy Week. The one thing that I know for sure is that with my faith I never lost hope, still have it.I knew and believed that whether it was good or bad news, cancer or no cancer, God had a plan for me and that simple belief always gave me hope for a future however that looked. Over the past months I have heard many things; God doesn’t want us happy, people are cursed for life because of their decisions,God judges different people differently,really? Who is that God? It is Holy Week and the God I know, the God I have experienced is one of hope, peace, love, and joy. Maybe happiness is not what God’s goal is for us, but what about joy? What about the peace that passes understanding? With that joy and peace I believe there is happiness.People cursing oher people? My God is the God of love and grace. I have no doubt that God loves me no matter what becuase He created me exactly me. Grace is the big one, it is unmerited favor, getting what we don’t deserve, being loved, forgiven, blessed without deserving any of it. It’s a crazy concept, hard to understand, showing kindness to a stranger, loving an enemy, grace is not just a blessing, grace is an action.

So on the 5th anniversary of finally being cancer free I am loving life. I have not only been given a second chance but after cancer a few times I feel like I’ve been given a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chance as I move forward with hope and excitement.‘What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.’~Rick Warren

Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Anna. Thank you to my friend Flor from lipstickandstockings.com for pointing out this lipstick! I chose is for it’s color; it says smokey rose but it’s a bit more ‘perky’? A brighter color rose? Anyhow, it’s name is Anna…how could I resist? Cheers!

Perplexed

5 Mar

AJ 3.5I know I know, it’s been quite a while since I have written. I’m exhausted. It’s been a whirlwind of personal and professional ‘busy-ness’ since the beginning of 2015; between work, taxi driving the kids around, and personal life, my life has been in motion at a full and fast pace. It’s not all bad, regardless of the fact that almost every weekend I have been at 2 day volleyball tournaments or basketball games, my kids are only young once and this is the season of life we are in. So here’s a few things that I have been perplexed with lately…

1. A 17 year old boy. My son is 17, a junior in high school, transition time. Yes I know they have all kinds of pressure, what college, ACT/SAT, sports, dating, looks, career. I get it, I was 17 once (a long time ago). I guess it’s funny to me to see that struggle to be independent and thinking you’re adult, then turning around and asking me for lunch money; also the struggle of keeping the balance between social life/part time job/schoolwork, it’s hard. Looking back I know I had the same struggles and it’s easy to say I was better at handling it all but in all honesty I probably wasn’t. Watching him navigate through as a parent though, feels a lot more stressful. I have to balance between wanting to cuddle still and letting him go, the line between fixing and taking care of things for him and pushing him off that branch so he can fly on his own. I really don’t like it and it’s really hard. Here’s what I know, there are times I just need to listen and not fix, guide and not direct, that he needs to make his own decisions and learn the consequences of those decisions, and that he still loves to get a hug and hear that I love and support him no matter what. Being a parent is hard. You will never love more, hurt more, stress more, and sleep a whole lot less. Parents of older teens…what in the world? I’ll take any advice.

2. Comparison (this is my list of currently perplexing topics remember?). As women we compare ourselves to each other CONSTANTLY. I’m not sure if it’s something we’re born to do, or if we learn it from tv, magazines, and marketing, it’s just irritating. I know I probably do it. What I’m perplexed with right now however is how some can make assumptions by comparing and immediately place judgement and offer, no, tell you what the best thing to do is. I love people and this blog is called lipstick JOURNEY. We are all created differently and are uniquely us on an individual journey that God has placed us on; although some may seem similar, no two paths are the same. EVER. Until you have lived in someones shoes and know every single detail, you cannot place judgement on their decisions. Advice to someone based on your path? That’s fine, but if you don’t understand the entire story then leave it because there’s always more to a story…’People take different roads…Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

3. Words vs Actions. I’m big on this, in fact, I think I’ve written about this several times already. What I’m perplexed with are those that are eloquent in their speech, those who talk a good talk, etc but their actions leave you dumbfounded. ‘Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.’ 1 John 3:18
Oh how actions scream out. Enough said.

So there it is, what’s currently on my brain. Today I wear Dior Addict Lipstick in Spring Ball which is a sheer sparkly pink. I’ve always been a fan of these lipsticks because they are super moisturizing and pretty sheer, almost like a lipstick/lipbalm combo with a bit more color. They’re not ultra long lasting but I love them. I chose this color because I’m ready for spring please!!Cheers!

The Easy Cancer

18 Feb

winter

Last week I was invited to share my story with a local thyroid cancer support group. Funny enough, after having thyroid cancer and recurrence I had never been to any support meetings. I think part of it was because my life was in a constant swirl mode. I had 3 younger kids, work, and friends surrounding me 24/7. After being around these women I understand the value of support from those who walk a similar path. So…thyroid cancer, the ‘easy’ cancer as it’s better known, nope. Before sharing my story, we went around the table and each woman shared a little of theirs. What I heard was multiple surgeries, high dose radiation, mis-diagnosis, lack of empathy from physicians, varying opinions, varying treatments, and metastasis, essentially a changed life; Different ages, different stages of life, different stories, different struggles, but same cancer. What I found most encouraging was that every single person had a positive outlook on life and living. Two of the women have cancer which has metastasized in their lungs and they were the most positive of us all. They both had peace and joy on their face as they expressed their gratitude for every single moment of every single day.

What does gratitude feel like? It’s feeling warm and loved on a day that’s below 0 degrees. It’s not just seeing the sun shine and appreciating it, but it’s also knowing that even on the cloudiest of days the sun is there behind the clouds. It’s opening your eyes in the morning in anticipation of a new day you’ve been blessed with to meet people, hear stories, and just plain live life. It’s feeling wind whipping through your hair, the chill of the cold, rain (or snow) in your face and saying ‘thank you God that I can feel and breathe and laugh’. It’s hearing your kids laugh or even fight and being overcome with emotion because either way, you love them and they know you’re there. Being grateful means you pick your battles, you let some of the small stuff go and you realize that much of life is not in your control so you just roll with it. Life is awesome and FYI, there’s no such thing as easy cancer.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.~Melody Beattie

Today I wear Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie lipgloss in High Roller which is a coral pink. These lip glosses are super moisturizing and are mostly all natural. They have lots of color infused in them so you can wear them alone or on top of lipstick to add shine. I chose this color because I’m ready for summer! Cheers!

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