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 luxury 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!!
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.
There’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…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, they’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 you’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!
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 Maraboli
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!
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!
Last weekend I walked in the local Relay For Life for the 4th year in a row. The first year I walked was the same year I fought cancer for the third time. It was a special time for me because I had just finished my treatment a few months before and I was asked to share my story and sing as the walk started. Every year has been special and emotional. Since I’ve been cancer free for some time now I felt pretty strong and confident starting the survivor lap. I was caught off guard at first by the change in t-shirt design. This year, each shirt listed ‘survivor’ or ‘in the fight’ on the back. Looking around and seeing people of all ages (including kids) whose shirts said ‘in the fight’ really overwhelmed me, then hearing the applause from the people in various booths really threw me over the edge and I could no longer hold the emotion, I started to cry. During the survivor lap we are allowed to have a caregiver walk with us, this year, like the other years, my mom walked with me and it happened to also be her 70th birthday. I can’t imagine how she was feeling while her child was sick, I don’t know if I could be as strong as her. She was the primary caregiver for both me and my kids throughout my journey and I am so grateful.
It’s really strange, but for as much joy I was feeling about being there for another Relay event, I felt a little sadness. I was sad a little about how much my life has changed, and sad about some of the things cancer took away from me; no longer confident about my body, the difficulty breathing, the fear that cancer may come back, etc. I was also sad looking around at all the families affected by cancer, young and old; seeing the kids, then seeing the elderly woman who had ‘in the fight’ on the back of her shirt walking the slowest, being held up by her husband walking with her. I am incredibly thankful for my friends and family members that were always around to help; taking me to appointments, praying with me, the meals, the laughs, the care packages, even the lipstick…truly incredible people. Although cancer will always be part of my story, the Relay For Life is always a time I remember and reflect on all the events that continue to shape me today. Cancer seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. It brought back friends from the past plus even more friends, more opportunities, it brought the best out in most people. I saw kindness, generosity, hope. It gave me the gift of opening my eyes to a fragile life, the beauty of people and moments and stories; more passion for life and compassion for people. It made me more aware of my body and the various shifts and changes. It helped me focus on the positive things in my life as well as the things that needed to change. Cancer gave me the push to move forward with dreams and goals; less fear and less stress about the things that that truly don’t matter. Yes, cancer is that gift that keeps on giving. I would’ve chosen not to have cancer for sure, but we all deal with different things in life. ‘For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been America’s hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel we would like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.’~J. Michael Straczynski Standing was hard but I’ve always wanted to be Wonderwoman!
Today it’s Marc Jacobs Beauty Lovemarc Lip Gel in Surrender Dorothy. These lipsticks are creamy and moisturizing despite being labeled long lasting. I do prefer the Marc Jacobs glosses a little better but these are great too. This color red (more orange red than blue red). Life is crazy and can throw some curveballs…surrender. Cheers!
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,how do you measure, a year in the life?-Seasons of Love, Rent
I really love those lyrics. I know I’ve used them in my blog before but they just never get old and it’s a reminder that life is short and time just ticks away. How do we measure a year in the life? I’ve been crazy busy the past few weeks with work and the upswing of kids activities that I really haven’t had time to think. As I sat to write a blog the thought crossed my mind that nothing significant happened this week, just a regular, busy week, but I really had to stop for a moment because that wasn’t true. Life happened this week. A friend’s dad passed away a couple weeks ago and I was able to meet up with him and give him a hug in person, my daughter was inducted into the honors society and got an award for awesome grades, my youngest son had a baseball game and pitched a no hitter for two innings straight, I met some fantastic new people through work, and I worked out and finalized plans to reunite with great friends once again in Chicago soon. Looking back, it was an ordinary week with extraordinary moments. Did you catch that? Moments. A smile, eye contact, a hug, a good night’s sleep…all moments that when put together make an extraordinary week if you open your eyes to see it. I spoke to another cancer survivor today who was told just recently that she was cancer free. She said that she’s tired from all the treatments and she’s nervous about cancer returning in the future but she’s ok, ‘it is what it is’ (recall I really don’t like that phrase, but it’s true some times). She is now more focused on quality of life instead of quantity of life…Amen to that. Do you measure your life in inches, miles, sunsets, cups of coffee? Take in the moments or you just might miss out. Each passing moment becomes the past!
Today I wear Laura Mercier Lip Glace’ in Wildflower which is like a hot pink/red. I LOVE these glosses! They are packed with color and are super moisturizing but not sticky at all. This color is great for spring and summer. Some of the colors are more sheer but this one is not and seems to be more long lasting on me but without the dry factor. Be a wildflower and seize the day! Cheers!