ABC

15 Dec

utahtrees
Today is December 15th, 10 days until Christmas, three presents under the tree. Nope, I have not yet purchased any Christmas presents yet and earlier today I started to panic a little. Where are the presents under the tree from you ask? My 12 year old who was able to buy gifts from his school’s Holiday Shop last week. Yup, the youngest member of my family is done shopping. One of the blogs I follow gave an ABC challenge today; what are the first three words you can think of starting with A,B,C, then incorporate those words into your blog. Here’s my three…Amazing, Beautiful, Contagious. So here goes. I have an amazing life; it is filled with imperfection, good and bad choices, good and bad memories, love, fear, heartache, illness. Look at that list! I am privileged to have felt all those emotions, awful things that have made me stronger and awesome things that have helped me remain grateful..it’s been quite the year. Beautiful. What can I say? There’s simply a lot of beauty out there if you look. From my kids, to the people in my life who love me and make me laugh, to even the grayest clouds in Michigan (you know the sun is just on the other side of the clouds). There’s magic and beauty out there if you just take the time to stop and find it. Contagious. This is my goal. To live an authentic life filled with love for people, patience, kindness, and so much joy that it’s contagious, you know, that whole pay it forward concept. Again, life is a challenge every single day and I get really sick of having to be strong sometimes, but I believe we go through stuff to help others. Plus, truly, how much is in our control? James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.momandaud (2)

So, it’s 10 days until Christmas, tomorrow begins Hanukkah and it’s a busy time of year. If I can focus on Amazing,Beautiful,and Contagious, I know it will all be ok. ‘Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’― Dr. Seuss Take a minute to breathe in life and be grateful.ABC…what three words pop in your head first?

Today, since it’s the holiday season and just about all brands put out a palette of some sort I’m going to point out a couple lip sets that are my personal faves. First is Nars Digital World Lip Pencil Coffrett Laced With Edge Holiday Collection. There are 5 lip crayons both satin and matte. I love Nars lipsticks and lip crayons so this would be a fabulous set. Next is Urban Decay Full Frontal Lipstick Stash set which include 6 lipsticks and a lip pencil. This lipstick is great and this set would be a great way try several shades! Both sets come from Sephora and would be great to have! Cheers!

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Love Letter

2 Dec

eastervid
This past weekend I did something that I never thought I would ever be able to do again…I was back on stage singing at all 4 services for my church. It wasn’t just in the choir, or singing back up for someone, it was a solo, a big one. From the moment I was asked to the second I walked on the stage with my one vocal cord and a bit of breathing difficulty, it was surreal, cathartic, and I cried every single time. It was such a miracle to me and a huge reminder of my journey, how far I’ve come, but most of all, God’s amazing grace and love for every single detail of our paths. Many people came back with tears, and I received texts and emails from those who knew my story. One of my very good friends sent me a link to the video that was shown at the church when I very first had cancer and it made me cry but praise God at how far He had brought me. The link to that video played on Easter 2008 is here

Many things have changed for me since the video; my cancer came back twice after that becoming more serious both times, and of course, divorce, but wow, has God been faithful. I have spoken of my faith in bits and pieces here and there on this blog, today I’m thanking God.

Dear God,

Thank you
I have been blessed beyond measure through every aspect of my life.
Thank you for the constant reminder that I need to trust you in all things.
You have been with me throughout this incredible life, holding my hand, carrying me, strengthening me.
I see evidence of you everywhere; in the eyes of my kids, family, and in the love and eyes of my friends.
Thank you for a life that I don’t deserve and the miracles I see everyday big and small (even on the not so fun days)

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ — Charles Dickens

Isn’t that life?
Thank you God for an amazing life.
Thank you for an epic story!

Love,
Your Daughter

This past weekend I sang Carrie Underwood’s Something In The Water and these particular lyrics made my heart swell:
And now I’m singing along to amazing grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live every day, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed I am changed
And now I’m stronger

Amen and Amen!! Life hasn’t been easy and definitely not at all what I expected but what an adventure! Today’s lipstick? Dior Glow. What else? A lipbalm that brings out your own natural glow, yes to that!

Content vs Happy

28 Nov

cmaslaugh
Day after Thanksgiving, eating a full Thanksgiving meal for breakfast…sigh, who cares! This Thanksgiving was really great for me. As my kids and parents sat around my table I was so overwhelmed with gratefulness that my heart felt like it was exploding at times; not only did I feel so much joy and contentment, I was happy. I saw this quote…The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.~Doug Larson
So what’s the difference? I looked up the definition of both; happy-feeling of pleasure or contentment, content-satisfied state of peaceful happiness. Did you catch it? Happy=feeling, contentment=state (state of mind). The past few years have been the most challenging in my life but I have always looked for the blessings or the lessons, I had to or I would’ve gone crazy. Here’s the deal, when you look, you find and I can honestly say that despite the struggles before and maybe some in the future, I’ve been content (but not always happy).

People often ask or comment on my strength, where did that come from? Well, as I looked at my parents yesterday, I know exactly where. My dad grew up in the Philippines. He is the oldest of 7 kids and was their protector. He lived in Bataan where some of the major events of WWII took place. He told my son of the times he had to run with family and carry some siblings to fox holes for protection (he was only 6), and of seeing the death march as a young boy. At 35 years of age he brought me and my mom to America (Detroit to be exact) to help provide a better life. Think about it, at 35, he left everything he knew, his family, his country, to start again. My mom was the youngest of 4. As a teen her father passed away suddenly after an accident. With her 2 older sisters gone and working, she took care of her brother with muscular dystrophy while getting a college degree and working to help provide. At the age of 28, she agreed to come to America with my dad. Two people, one 2 year old, looking for jobs, new country, new life. It wasn’t without struggle and sacrifice. I remember living in an apartment in downtown Detroit, no furniture except a mattress for awhile, but I never remember not being provided for. It was a simple life and a great one raised by two of the strongest people I know.

Holidays have always brought a little sadness to me because I can still see my dad’s face remembering and missing the family he left. Not to mention I was told I had cancer for the third time on Christmas Eve 2009. In the past 40+ years my dad has only been back twice with all of us then 3 times after by himself; for his younger brother’s funeral, then his dad’s, then his mom’s. I can’t imagine. This year has been different. No sadness or nostalgia, just joy. Looking around my table I got the true sense of peace, joy, and contentment and all I could do was thank God. Ephesians 3:18 says, ‘may you have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’. Yes, I totally get it, I’m overwhelmed and grateful.

Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.~Pearl S. Buck

No need for lipstick today since I’ll be eating non-stop all day long, maybe Dr. Pepper LipSmacker. Happy Holidays! Cheers!

Identity

20 Nov

firstsnow14
It’s been a bit of a challenging week. Work has been busy because it’s almost the end of the year, the holidays are creeping upon us at what seems a faster rate than normal, we had our first snow and it wasn’t exactly just a ‘dusting’, and I heard from a friend who had some not so good news (and those are just a few of the things from this week). Having cancer connects you to lots of different people but there are always a few that you really connect with because either your cancer or your journey is similar. Last year, at around this time, I received a goodbye email from my friend Bob. I’ve written about him several times and needless to say, his passing was extremely difficult for me (read about him here). This week, almost exactly a year later, I heard from a woman I have actually never met in person but have emailed fairly consistently since the start of my cancer path 6 years ago. I’m not sure how we even got connected but we had similar cancer stories; thyroid, multiple surgeries, radiation, etc. Anyhow, she reached out to me and told me she now has breast cancer and it hurt my heart. It was difficult for me to hear that after all she had been through she was once again back in the fight, this time a different type of cancer. She has an incredible faith in God and like all of us, she will do what she has to do.

I have a friend who’s a flight attendant. She loves talking to people and she told me that she recently started asking people she meets to sum up who they are in one or two words or phrases. I had to think about that for a minute because what would I say about myself? How do we define ourselves? I would venture to say that ‘cancer survivor’ may be one of those phrases that slips out of me but is that good enough? The definition of survivor in thefreedictionary.com is to remain alive, in yourdictionary.com the definition of survivor is someone who got through; so do I want survivor to be my word, my identity? Sounds a little…eh, no growth. Yes I had cancer but that is not who I am today. It’s easy to identify ourselves by what we’ve been through but maybe our description should be more about who we’ve become. Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.~Bernice Johnson Reagon. Life is challenging for everyone in many different ways but let’s not get trapped in events or life’s drama, good or bad, and let’s not have them define us. Maybe how we define ourselves is more fluid, ever changing based not on our experiences but what we’ve learned from them; always moving forward, always growing. So if we by chance happened to sit together on an airplane, how would I describe myself to you today? Courageous (based on the definition I spoke of in a previous blog, sharing my heart and vulnerable), easy going (because I take each day as it comes), and optimistic. These can change with the ebb and flow of life but I think our core generally stays the same. It’s been a challenging week like I said, but I’ll take it as a chance to continue to learn more about me and more about life.

Today I wear Nars Audacious lipstick in Olivia. You pretty much can’t go wrong with a Nars lipstick. This formula feels really light but packs a punch in terms of color, hence the name, audacious. I chose Olivia because it’s a deep red…loving life and feelin’ the red again! Cheers!

Scars

16 Nov

scar
I was sitting in a lunch room speaking to some of my customers when one of the staff members asked what the scar on my neck was from. She made some assumptions and I told her my story while she ate. Like most people, after hearing my story, she didn’t know what to say but I’m ok with that. Usually I start asking questions about them to divert attention away from me. I asked about her job, what her responsibilities were in the office, her plans for Thanksgiving, etc. What’s great is that typically when you actively listen to someone, they will continue to speak and open up (at least that’s been my experience). She ended up telling me all kinds of things from her job woes to her food allergies but ended up talking about her strained relationship with her kids. She had been a single mom for a very long time and now that her sons were grown and out of the house they were no longer speaking to each other. She teared up talking about some events that led to the situation and how hurt she was, but pride on both sides prevented them from speaking and she wasn’t going to be the first to apologize,hmmmm…sad. She said she has grieved the relationship with her sons like a death in the family and she will always have a broken heart because of it; sounds like ‘sorry’ would be easier.

I have a few scars, one on my neck from cancer, one on my shin from banging my leg into a car door, and probably a few that I don’t remember. Every scar tells a story, either a funny one or maybe a difficult one, but either way, it’s a wound that’s been healed while also leaving it’s mark.’Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.’~ Cormac McCarthy. What about the scars you don’t see? The ones left by hurt, words, anger, discouragement, do those heal? I think it takes a really long time and maybe, without the ‘sorry’ and forgiveness, will never heal. My daughter recently showed me a picture that her friend drew of herself. I was shocked and saddened to see this self portrait because it showed a girl, sad and scarred pulling a mask away from her face; the mask was of a beautiful smiling girl. Being a woman and a mom of a teenage girl, I know how hurtful girls and other women can be to each other and because of my past I am fully aware of how damaging words and actions can be. When scars heal they change the texture of your skin, what about the damage of scars on your heart and soul? The hurt always alters something. ‘It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.’~Rose Kennedy

We are all damaged and scarred to some degree and we should remember that when speaking to each other. How do scars of the heart heal? Kindness, peace, patience, love, sound familiar? (Galatians 5:22-23). Some scars run deep and are easily injured again, be patient, continue moving forward. Maybe your heart won’t be the same, but like the scars on your skin, you’ll be a little bit tougher.

Today I’m wearing Cherry Chapstick, it’s a throwback kinda day! Cheers!

Before I Die…

8 Nov

church

I know it’s been a while since my last blog but sometimes whether you like it or not, busy takes over. Between work, kids’ activities, other hobbies, etc…life takes over. A couple weeks ago my daughter’s good friend’s dad passed away suddenly in an accident. He was our neighbor, 49 years old, and a father of three. It reminded me how precious and tender life really is. With cancer or other illness, albeit difficult, people have time to prepare and say goodbye. Here one second, gone the next, is completely different and unimaginable.

There is an artist based out of New Orleans named Candy Chang and with the sudden death of someone she was close to she decided to paint the side of an abandoned home with chalkboard paint and asked the question ,’Before I die I want to….’. Not only did hundreds from this community fill in the blanks, with things like ‘sing for millions’,’hold her one more time’, and ‘straddle the international dateline’, but it has become an international phenomenon with ‘chalkboard walls’ around the world asking the same question. Her motivation? We live in a disconnected society where people don’t take time to share struggles, hopes, and dreams, and at least if you can see that people want the same things as you, it can open up connection. The morning after my surgery from having cancer the first time, the doctor came in and told me that my prognosis was bad and to make preparations. Essentially he said, my time was going to be cut short because the cancer was ‘all over the place’. After he left my hospital room I sat alone contemplating this very question (and crying my eyes out of course), before I die, what? I thought about my kids first, what do I want for them, how do I want their life to be, who will surround them with love, how will they navigate through adulthood? Then came the, ‘but I haven’t done _______ yet’ and ‘I haven’t seen________yet’. My list in my head included things like perfect another language, write a book, learn another instrument, see The Great Wall of China, etc, but what impacted me the most was the time factor. All I wanted was more time with people and family; time to sit, to talk, to laugh, to cry, to just be. I wanted to free myself from the cage of an image and I wanted to be real, to be myself, because in the end, we only have our time and our relationships.side

It’s easy to get busy and get caught up in day to day junk while forgetting what’s truly important to us and what matters most. Death always brings clarity to what those things are but because of how quickly time passes and the ‘stuff’ of life, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain that perspective. I never want to forget how I felt and how I thought for those long moments alone in my hospital room. What is it you want to do before you die? I’m curious. ‘Life is brief and tender….thinking about death clarifies your life.’~ Candy Chang

Today I wear Nars Lip Gloss in Wonder. Nars reformulated their lip gloss a short time ago and what I liked before, I like even more. They have a little more color and are a little heavier but not sticky. Don’t let this color scare you, it looks orange but is still sheer and pretty. I chose it mainly for the name because I always want to look at life with childlike wonder. Life is beautiful, cheers!

Symphony

29 Oct

fall
When I was growing up my house was always filled with music. We had a record player (those of you under 30?, ask your parents what that is) and I think for many years we played music much more than we watched television…probably why I love music so much. My dad would sing constantly; Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, etc. and when he wasn’t singing, he would be playing classical music and pretending to conduct an orchestra playing Beethoven, Chopin, Bach (usually in his robe and pajamas). I have very fond memories of sitting on our stairs watching my dad and sometimes even joining him.

This past week was an amazing week for me. I randomly ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile and the reunion was beautiful (and tearful). She shared with me some of the things going on in her life and told me that I had come to her mind just the night before, so she prayed for me. That simple prayer led to her releasing some of her stress and then seeing me the next morning, after at least three years, confirmed to her that God cared for even the little things. Over the weekend I visited my alma mater and had another reunion with an old friend whom I’ve kept in contact with. It was surreal as we visited where we lived on and off campus and some of the places we used to hang out over 20 years ago. What was even better (to me), was sharing some of the memories we had from those college days. I realized how much she played a part in my life for that period of time.wmu

I am always in awe of the different people that I’ve gotten to meet and do life with; those that have weaved in and out of my story. Some who have consistently been a part of my ongoing journey and some who are there for just brief moments of time. I don’t believe in accidental meetings because I do believe in a much grander plan by a big God who never ceases to amaze me over and over. Life is like that beautiful symphony. The treble clef carries the melody; interactions, work, nature, beauty. The bass clef is the foundation; solid, consistent, feet on the ground. There are times when we have some sharps; exciting, thrilling, or just changing peaks and moments. Then there are flats; maybe setbacks or maybe just calm. God is the conductor and the different movements in a piece are the different movements of an ever changing life. People, events, job, day to day, those are the instruments; some loud, some soft, but all working together to form a beautiful piece of art called life. There are no mistakes.
Life, he realized, was much like a song. In the beginning there is mystery, in the end there is confirmation, but it’s in the middle where all the emotion resides to make the whole thing worthwhile~Nicholas Sparks

Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Anna. These are long lasting but surprisingly creamy and smooth and feels weightless on the lips. This color is a smokey rose color, easy to wear for anyone. I mainly chose it for the name because of course I love that name :) Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata….Cheers!

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