The Tree

20 Jul

AWface
I have been in sales a very long time. I have had a slew of different customers but sometimes in my job I end up seeing the same ones based on territory or product. I recently visited an office that I haven’t been to in at least 12 years. My customers here were some of the friendliest I’ve had. I remember them taking the time to get to know me and talk to me, and really help me with my job in general. I knew that one of the partners had passed away awhile back but I was excited to see the other one again. Walking in, there were all new people, new partners, new atmosphere and with the changes in the Detroit economy I figured maybe the other partner had moved. I introduced myself and did business as usual and before I got back into my car I noticed the tree in front of my parking space had a ribbon and a plaque. I was overcome with grief as I read the plaque and it stated that the younger partner had passed away just a couple years ago with cancer. He was just a few years older than me when he died. I got into my car and cried not because I was super close to him, but because I remember his kindness, helpfulness, and joyful spirit; I remember his huge smile as he gave me a tour of his office and introduced me to everyone. I was mostly sad because he was so young; it was another reminder that life is incredibly short and that we never know what the future holds or how long that future exactly is for each of us.

This weekend I brought my kids to my old neighborhood in Detroit and volunteered with a great organization that is helping revive this corner of the city. We helped clean up a yard for a home which will welcome a family and also worked in the community garden. I lived a block away from the worksites and was overwhelmed with (good) memories and also a bit of sadness over how things had changed so drastically in a short amount of time. We passed my elementary school which is now an abandoned, graffiti ridden building and it was difficult to see. Again, a stark reminder of how quickly time passes and how we never know what the future holds. The beautiful thing about the future is that it happens one day at a time and no, we are not guaranteed an amount but every single day we get a chance to make a difference, and make things better. At the very least we have the chance to make the lives of those we encounter great for that day. I will never forget the way my customer treated me those times that we interacted, although he is gone, my memories of him are great. I will not forget the happy times in my old neighborhood and hope that a new family will have great memories there too. We have one life to live and share with others, what memories will you leave?photo

Today I wear Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter lipstick in Wild Watermelon. These are by far my most favorite drug store lipstick. They are shiny, buttery, and have great color. This color is a bright orange-red and I love the name for summer…wild watermelon, yum!!

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The Book

16 Jul

Me Before You
I finally did it. It’s been at least a year and I’m embarrassed to even say it out loud. I finally finished reading a novel cover to cover. I love to read or at least I used to. In fact, for a very long time I would read 3-4 books a week, I even led a book club for several years, but for whatever reason (Candy Crush), it came to a screeching halt. Now, I will say I’ve read articles, magazines, short books, but none longer than about a 100 pages. I can’t place all the blame on Candy Crush, there’s Two Dots too (just kidding), but honestly because of all the personal craziness of my life over the past year, I have been drawn to brainless activity at the end of the day, not even wanting to involve myself in the drama of fictional lives. I had forgotten how enriched you can feel after reading a good book, how the characters can jump out at you and open thoughts and emotions, the feeling of getting to know them and wanting to know what’s next. I just finished reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and I actually cried (hardly ever happens to me). There were a few quotes (among many) that stood out to me, ‘The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life…is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are.’ ‘Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury.’ ‘Just live well. Just live.’ Yes to all.

Over the past few months/years I have been catapulted into a whole new life. Life after cancer, life after divorce, life after whatever…we all have many ‘life afters’ but after each event it does force us to rethink who we are. Some events are bigger than others but surviving through each and knowing that a world of possibilities still exists is an amazing Derbyluxury isn’t it? Isn’t that what it means to survive and move forward? Look upward, look inward, push forward…live well. Sometimes it means trying new things, meeting new people, or going back and doing things you used to love but lost along the way. I watched Roller Derby (which I loved), I’ve gone dancing, I’ve watched concerts and musicals, and I have met some amazing new people as well as reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and yes, I’m reading again and the list of unread books in my Kindle is crazy long. Who knows, maybe I’ll try to sing again somewhere too….In the meantime, back to books, back to people, and ultimately back to Anna.

Today I wear Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Lavender which is a bright purply orchid color. I bought this because orchid was THE color at the start of the season and this orchid packs a punch! These lipsticks are highly pigmented but not too drying and supposedly have anti-aging benefits. All I know is that this color brings out my inner ninja…k’pow!!

I Lived

8 Jul

I,I did it all
I, I did it allkoy
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived-I Lived~One Republic

I spent the weekend with my family in New York visiting with my brother and just enjoying the city. We were able to pack in lots of food, shopping, and watching my brother’s show in just 3 short days. I even went out with him and a few friends for ‘adult time’ after the show. I spoke with one of his friends ‘C’ for a long time and was inspired by her. She’s a beautiful, strong, funny, outspoken singer/dancer/actor/black belt in karate chic who’s also divorced. I found her inspiring because she had so much life in her eyes, she was excited about where she was, what she was doing, and just plain living. She said she surrounds herself with people that give her life. I love that! I have been accused at times for being too positive and not really being able to express my disappointments or fears, well, work in progress, but do we really need more negative? Here’s the truth, life can be hard and ugly and disappointing; it’s not always how you want it to be but I have faith and trust in God that it’s how it should be sometimes. I have had enough ugly to fill several lifetimes which I may or may not write about, but I am choosing to live and I haven’t felt this alive in a while.

It has been 6 years since my first bout with cancer and although at times the battle was rough, it strengthened me. I recently did an interview and was asked how I think cancer has changed me. We are all affected differently because we all handle obstacles differently, but I’m sure there are commonalities amongst all survivors. Cancer has made me stronger, less fearful, more open, more excited about life, more passionate, less stressed about the things that don’t matter and more dedicated to the things that do. Surviving gives me a feeling of a life unfinished…so many things to do and so many places to see and I also continue to surround myself with people that give me life and not drama! I was asked if I ever sunsetfelt depressed, or maybe fearful of the cancer coming back. Of course, ask any survivor the same question and you’ll get the same answer…cancer’s always on the mind. There were also the times when cancer came back that I was just plain tired of the fight but that’s when I pulled my bootstraps up and said ‘let’s do this’. Plus, having kids made me want to fight even harder. I don’t blame cancer on anyone. For me, it was a dumb abnormal cell in my neck that multiplied and wouldn’t go away for awhile, and why not me? I have an awesome team of doctors that I’ve seen on a regular basis and they have all commented on my strength and even keel. I was and am fortunate to have many people who support me and I don’t like to dwell. Depression or PTSD is not something I’ve struggled with but with any serious illness, it’s normal if you do. I do still hold my breath with every test, but I have to say that if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, that strength does not come from me but from my faith in God and the knowledge that He has a magnificent plan whether we see it or not…(and it may not be exactly what we planned either). Cancer changes your life but it can’t conquer your spirit. There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.~Albert Einstein

I quoted that One Republic song at the beginning because it’s awesome. At the end of it all I want to say that I owned every second this world could give, I lived. Today I wear Marc Jacobs Lip Gel in Strange Magic which is a warm nude pink. These lipsticks feel a little different on the lips, I’m still trying to figure them out. They’re really light on the lips but have lots of color. It says they’re long lasting but after eating I find you have to reapply. I’m not going to lie, I only picked this one for the name because life is like strange magic but I do own the color Voila which is like a magenta/red. Live life, cheers!

Unstoppable

29 Jun

Hour Party
It’s been a good week, no, a spectacular week. Time passes so quickly it’s hard to remember what I’ve already written about. Did I mention I saw Bruno Mars live about a week ago? If you’ve been reading awhile you know I love him (refer to my Bruno Mars blog). Anyhow, Monday I had the ultrasound on my neck and lymph nodes and it was clean! Since I’ve had cancer a few times I didn’t believe him initially but accepted it, then of course the other thought in my mind was that maybe the cancer wasn’t in my neck, maybe it was somewhere else he couldn’t see (I hate that cancer did that to my otherwise positive brain). Later in the week I got my blood work back (this is the special test that takes three weeks for the results). My doctor called and basically said, ‘we got the best results, the results are perfect.’ Double whammy, clean scan, clean blood. That combo has not happened to me EVER. There’s always an ‘I’m not sure’, ‘maybe another PET scan’,’blood work is questionable’, not this time!! Can you tell I’m excited? Can’t wipe the smile off my face. Did you notice how my doctor said ‘we’? Here’s another beautiful part about this journey, seeing my doctors consistently over almost 6 years now has made them family. I love them and now we have become truly a ‘we’, hard to explain. Ended the week with an interview for a magazine and The Hour Detroit Magazine’s Best of Detroit Party which was fantastic and an awesome way to end the week in celebration.Best Of Detroit

yellowThere’s something in the air that seems different to me, palpable. What does change feel like? Summer. When that warm breeze hits your face and the sun is shining so bright you can barely open your eyes, but even with eyes closed you can see the glow of the sun and feel it’s heat on you. There’s that smell of trees, grass, flowers and fruit (and sweat) in the air. The knowledge that even in the worst summer storms, the sun is still just above the clouds waiting to burst out. That is how I have been feeling for a while, slightly behind the clouds waitiing to burst out and shine. Well, here I am. I know the future is never guaranteed but I am loving life and feeling a bit unstoppable, pushing forward one day at a time with hope and excitement, knowing God is in control. Eyes, heart, and arms wide open, thank you for being with me on this journey!

Today’s lipstick is the combo I used above for the Hour Detroit party, Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Palais Royal and Nars Lip Gloss in Stella. The lip pencil is creamy and stayed on all night like a stain. The gloss can be worn alone and on the lipstick. Nars recently reformulated their glosses and they’re awesome. Not too sticky or heavy with just the right amount of color! Be excited about life, Cheers!!

It’s Time

22 Jun

DLA2
It’s time…those words are said for a lot of different things; to give birth, to say good-bye, for an interview or audition, surgery, prom. A few times a year I get a couple postcards with ‘It’s Time’ printed on it, one from my dentist and one from my doctor. Well, it’s that time of year again. All the blood work and check ups are happening now. Actually, I had my blood test done a couple of weeks ago but because I need the special blood work for rare cases like me, they send it out and I wait (hopefully just one more week). Tomorrow I get a neck ultrasound and pray there’s nothing but scar tissue. Officially it has been over three years (with a few bumps along the way) and honestly I am starting to feel unstoppable. It’s been a difficult year in general for many reasons but I continue looking ahead with excitement and hope for whatever life may bring, good or bad, and I’m unbelievably grateful for each moment I’ve had so far.

I’ve heard it said that friendships lasting beyond 7 years are friendships for life. I’m a believer. Through cancer and divorce, my lifelong friends have really pulled through despite sometimes the obstacle of geography. Here’s the thing about really great friends, they really know you; they know your heart and character and believe and support you no matter what. Adversity and how you handle it usually shows your true nature, Ginathey’ve seen my core and know it hasn’t changed. Over the past couple weeks I’ve had a chance to reunite with several friends from my past including one that I’ve known over 30 years, and it’s been awesome. Reuniting with friends from the past reminds you who you once were and the things you loved to do and it also reminds you a little of how DLAyou’ve changed…lots of laughing for sure. I’ve also met a few new people who I already know will be around awhile! Saw this on the internet about friend reunions and it’s all true:20 Great Joys of Reuniting With Old Friends. Life is fun, exciting, sad, exhausting, and exhilarating with all it’s twists and turns but it’s even better with great friends to ride the roller coaster with! “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”― Mark Twain

Today I wear Nars Lipgloss in Wonder. These lipglosses are moisturizing and don’t feel too heavy or sticky on your lips. This particular color is a sheer wash of mandarin orange with gold specks which looks great on tanned skin (which of course I have year round). It’s a great color for summer and it’s got a great name…look at the world with wonder and you’ll continue being amazed! Cheers!

Weeds

16 Jun

garden
I’ve never been fond of gardening, I just don’t think I’m that good at it. There have been those momentary joys and proud moments when the things I have planted grow, multiply and turn out beautifully, but for the most part planting is not at the top of my list of fun things to do. This weekend as I walked past my two, very small flowerbeds in the front of my house all I saw were weeds. Where were the beautiful red flowers I had planted? The weeds simply took over. It took over an hour to pull out most of the weeds (that’s right, I said most…it was too hot). As I pulled each clump of dense weeds I thought about how they were choking out and hiding the actual beauty of the flowers. Removing clump by clump freed up space in the dirt and revealed the beauty of the flowers I had planted early in the spring.The flowers were there all along, they were just hidden by the weeds that had taken over.

Isn’t that true of life sometimes? Over time, situations, stresses, decisions, people, surround us and take over the space in our lives. Sometimes they are disguised as good things or pretty things (like some of the weeds that even had small flowers), but the roots start underneath and by the time the weeds show on the surface, the roots have already gone deep and spread around the roots of the flower. At times those ‘weeds’ in our lives start taking over, smothering, choking, and sometimes, like the flowers, we end up integrating into the weeds so much that we think they are actually a part of what makes us. So what happens? A friend, a pastor, a life altering event, or simply the overwhelming feeling of being ‘lost in the weeds’ is enough for change. We forget that we were beautiful all on our own but given the right environment we can flourish. All these weeds like everything in life have something to teach us so take the lessons but never forget your own beauty and the strength of your roots. ‘Don’t let the tall weeds cast a shadow on the beautiful flowers in your garden.’~Steve MaraboliAWJune

Today I wear YSL Volupte Sheer Candy Glossy Balm in Luscious Cherry which is a sheer cherry red with gold specks to warm it up. These lipsticks are more like gloss in stick form; moisturizing with a sheer wash of color. Of course since it’s YSL, the packaging is beautiful and it does feel luxurious on your lips. I chose the color because it’s beautiful and it’s similar to the color of the flowers in my garden. Cheers!

TFIOS

6 Jun

AW6.14
Last night I took my daughter to see the movie ‘The Fault In Our Stars‘. We had both read the book almost two years ago and knew we wanted to see the movie. It’s about a teenage girl who has metastatic thyroid cancer. I will not spoil it because there are surprises if you have not read the book, but I think everyone familiar with the trailers know that at the very least you will need a Kleenex or 10 when you either read it or watch it. I cried from almost the beginning to the end. There were many moments that I identified with, first obviously, she had thyroid cancer. It was difficult watching her and listening to her struggles and thoughts but it was also hard to watch her parents and how they cared for her and even some of their thoughts. For me, the movie and book were both kinda gut-wrenching.

I’m involved with a couple cancer organizations. One where we connect on-line and support each other, the other, I am a ‘mentor’ to those struggling with similar cancer or treatments. We connect and just talk through the emotions and even some of the physical changes that happen from treatment. Last week I spoke with a new person as her ‘Angel mentor’. She, like me, has thyroid cancer; but she, like the the character in the movie, has thyroid cancer that has spread everywhere after 12 years. It was a difficult conversation and I have been praying for her daily as she struggles through. She asked me at the end of our initial conversation how I stay so positive because she can’t find that right now. I told her mostly faith, part personality, and part choice. What’s the alternative? I also told her it’s ok to feel down. There’s a quote from the movie (and book), ‘Grief does not change you, it reveals you.’ Sometimes we have to dig so deep. In speaking with her there are many things we share in common which I’m sure any cancer patient has felt:
* When we feel down, other people feel worst. When we act and talk like we feel great, people feel better. Therefore most times, we don’t really want to say we feel bad
* Having cancer more than once is difficult. Both of us agreed that telling people it was back was a little embarrassing and discouraging
* Although we all want to say ‘why me?’ when we look at our loved ones we think ‘why not me?’
* We both hate when people say that thyroid cancer is the easy cancer. Clearly it’s cancer that can spread and take over your body. Neither of us had it ‘easy’
* So this is a weird one, if you’re a woman with cancer and it’s not breast cancer, we’re a little jealous of the pink (sorry)
* Cancer makes us see what and who are truly important. We don’t want to waste a moment. Another quote from the movie ‘The marks humans leave are too often scars.’
* Sometimes the sadness of how cancer affects us is overwhelming but sometimes the joy we now find in simple moments is equally if not more overwhelming. ‘The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people noticing things, paying attention.

We don’t choose cancer, it just shows up.

Today I wear Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Tulip which is a pinky mauve. I love these because like the name they feel like butter. I chose this color because it’s perfect for every day. It also looks great on every skin tone by the way. Cheers!

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