Blue Skies

20 Jul

sky

Have you ever opened your eyes to a new day and the sky just seems bluer than you’ve seen it in a long time? That was me today and it’s only Monday! There have been many changes in my life this year and the changes just keep on coming. For the past several months I have allowed these changes both good and bad stress me out a little. Questions about job, home, kids, and really about the future have infiltrated my mind, top that off with the general busy pace of life and it’s really been a lot. I ran into a good friend over the weekend and she said, ‘Trust God and take one day at a time.’ Ahhhh, yes. During my cancer journey that’s all I could do and I most recently have let life (and control of circumstances) simply take over. I heard a great song this morning by Greg Holden called ‘Hold On Tight.’ Some of the lyrics are “But I don’t take my life for granted. I’m gonna hold on tight to what I’ve been handed.” “So when you look at yourself tell me who do you see? Is it the person you’ve been or the person you’re going to be?” Really great lyrics and exactly what I needed to hear today to go with my blue skies. I have been handed A LOT! Two weeks ago I got the news once again that my tests (bloodwork and ultrasound) came out clean so I am officially 5 years-plus cancer free! I have my health, my family, my friends, and have found an incredible man who loves me for exactly who I am. Looking back at all my ups and downs with health, career, and family over the past several years there have been many many blessings and most of those revolve around people. Life really does take a village. I read somewhere that beauty grows in the soil of adversity. The writer says that in adversity we either give in or dig in and life in general needs to be planted firmly for beautiful things to grow. Dig in. Today, thinking about the past few months/years and all the difficulties, I have been blessed with amazing people filtering in and out of every circumstance and turn that life has taken me; some are friends forever and some God had with me for just exactly that moment but seriously, each person has had an impact one way or the other. These are the fertilizer while I’m ‘digging in’ helping me to grow.

We carry so much stuff around and lots of times we think we’re the only one or that we can handle it ourselves but if you look around there are people willing to walk right along side of you and if need be, hold you up when you are too tired to keep going. There will always be circumstances in life that throw you off balance, but get excited about all the people that surround you. There will always be plenty of people who will criticize or try to bring you down either to your face or behind your back…who cares. Listen to kind words, cherish in your heart the kind actions of others and remember you can be that person too. So for today, the sky is blue and the air is warm. Hold on tight to what you’ve been handed, take the lessons and experiences from your past and be excited for the person you are continuing to become.

Today I wear Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Watermelon which is a red/pink/orange-y color perfect for summer. These lipsticks are all natural and I think the container is not only biodegradable but also  I think if you plant them wildflowers grow. Cheers!

Identity

9 Jul

lighthouseSince beginning this blog 4 years ago I have written once or twice a week. It’s July and I have only written one blog the whole month of June. I can blame extreme busyness, exhaustion, lack of inspiration, etc but honestly I’ve been thinking and praying about what to write and I’ve come up with several things but what stops me from publishing them is fear and I’m done being afraid. The choice to speak up is risky but keeping something inside is not great for the soul; either way, if we don’t have the courage to speak up, situations don’t change. I’ve met up with a few of my close girlfriends over the past month to talk about kids, work, and life in general and there seems to be a common struggle with all; longing for truth and authenticity. I think this is particularly hard for women because we tend to compare ourselves to each other more so than men. We compare, parenting, kids, bodies, homes, jobs, etc, and lots of times we don’t take the time to ‘get real’ so, the truth and authenticity in relationships we desire is often times surpassed by our need for approval. Tough balance. Here’s my struggle when it comes to this blog, it’s mostly always positive. Now I have to say that most of the time I have a positive take on life but there’s that 5-10% of drama, struggle, questions, difficulty, that at times feels like 90% and up to this point I have chosen not to write about it because why? Fear of acceptance or just plain fear of the topic(s) and those involved. Well, bear with me as I gain momentum and open up more because the reason I write is really for me and to work things out in my head (introvert problem).

There have been a couple news stories of late that have really irritated me, but both question the same thing…identity. The first is Caitlin Jenner and the other is Rachel Dolezal; man identifies as woman and white identifies as black. I’m not going to debate about those stories but is someone’s identity and their struggle really newsworthy? I mean Nightly News newsworthy? War, famine, decline of the dollar, politics, extreme weather, etc…don’t we have enough other news? And don’t all people struggle with identity? The big question…WHO AM I? And if you’re a Christian…Who was I created to be; What is God’s purpose for me? I think every person struggles with this questions more often than not. Our identities are first shaped around our natural gifts, talents, temperaments, etc. add in people, experiences, and environment. Who we are sometimes gets blurred when we lose self esteem or confidence and we start listening to words of others. ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me,’ WRONG. Many times, if we are unsure of ourselves, we let the words and actions of others define us (Note to parents, kids are all unsure of themselves so watch your words). What does that feel like? When your once confident self gets belittled, or to constantly feel like your voice doesn’t matter, to not feel loved for who you are, to constantly adjust to ‘fit’ another’s wants, needs, and expectations yet never quite getting there, add fear of change or speaking up…perfect storm. It leaves alot of questions about identity and if you let that happen too often, eventually when you look in the mirror all you see is a ghost of who you once were and it’s a long road back to figuring out who you are again. Without the confidence in who you are, plenty of people will dictate who they think you should be. Stand strong. I am not my job, my circumstances, or my past, and if we can get past all the noise maybe that is the beginning of truth and authenticity with each other. meandroxy

Since I’m still a lipstick lover and this is my lipstick journey I’m still going to talk about what I love. Since it’s summer I generally stick to tinted balms and glosses and one of my most favorite glosses comes from Laura Mercier becuase I love the texture and consistency. Today’s is Laura Mercier Lip Glace’ in Poppy which is a ruby red gloss. I love it! Cheers!

Evidence

7 Jun

sky

I’ve recently become addicted to podcasts, being in sales I have lots of ‘drive time.’ One of the podcast series I could not stop listening to is called ‘Serial.’ This particular podcast covers a true story of a teen convicted of murder in 1999. The investigative reporter digs deep into the case, unravels all the twists and turns, and speaks to numerous friends, families, teachers, etc. Each podcast left me wanting more and changed my mind from guilty to not guilty to guilty and so forth based on the evidence presented. At the end of the series I felt unsatisfied with the results. Anyhow, you should listen, it’s fascinating.

We are a society that loves evidence; it’s rare that people take a leap of faith to believe something. God is real…show me, healthcare reform is right…why, immunizations don’t cause autism…give me proof, homosexuals are born that way…prove it. All hot topics and my blog is not a debate blog so just examples of various topics and responses. We want evidence for everything…except when it comes to gossip. Why is that? I have teens so gossip is prevalent whether I like it or not in our household and I am constantly asking if they know for a fact or if they are hearing and repeating. Again, what is the evidence? We are so eager to believe something about someone most of the time without knowing all the facts. We hear something, we make judgements then worst of all, we sometimes share that information as if it were fact. Whether it’s our own insecurities or just a boring life, it’s wrong. So what can we do? Again, look for the evidence. Who are you talking about? Why? Do you even know this person, I mean really know them? So you hear something juicy or maybe hear something you never expected about that person; what is the character of this person? What is the history of their actions/what do their current actions show you? Again, actions speak volumes. Who is the one saying things? Are they reliable? Do they know the person they are talking about? What are they like and what is the history of their actions? See what I’m getting at? We love evidence for everything unless it’s gossip that tears people down. Be careful. Whether something is true or false, there’s always a story.

‘These are the few ways we can practice humility:To speak as little as possible of one’s self.To mind one’s own business.Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.To avoid curiosity.To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.To pass over the mistakes of others.To accept insults and injuries.To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.To be kind and gentle even under provocation.Never to stand on one’s dignity. To choose always the hardest.’~Mother Teresa

Today I wear MAC Lustre lipstick in Hug Me which is a brownie pink. Can’t really go wrong with a good MAC lipstick. This one is easy to wear because it’s moisturizing and just gives you a finished look for daytime. I chose it mainly for the name. I love hugs. Cheers!

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!

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