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Grateful?

25 Nov

joy

How do you stay grateful when you are living with Stage 4 cancer? It’s an interesting conundrum and it’s not that easy. I’ve read a few blogs on how people are grateful they got cancer…umm, no. My mind is tossed between living each day as if it’s your last yet being a little stuck in a place with many responsibilities. There are (many) days that I wish I could quit my job and conquer, or at least try,  to do all the things I wish I could have done or have wanted to do or to just be there for each of my kids following them around, holding their hands and hugging them (I’m sure they’d all love that, haha). Unfortunately since I am not independently wealthy I have to modify…a lot, and sometimes it gets sad for me because there are so many things I want to do with the time I have left whether it’s a little or a lot. Time is a funny thing. I was grateful to read this from author Ann Voskamp this week, ‘You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time? Sometimes the best use of your time is to stand and listen to a clock. We’re all terminal-and we all just want a number. What size is this bucket of time? How many days will I actually get? The hands of the clock are bound by the decisions of our hands.’ Day to day, minute by minute we decide. Yes we have to work and earn a living, but in that space of time is there something or someone to be grateful for? We have today. Can we be that something or someone for another person? Contentment stems from gratefulness, being grateful leads to joy and joy can change the world.

For this Thanksgiving weekend I’m not thankful to have cancer again but God has been so good through it all. Lately I have to say my heart’s been hurting a little because the days fly by so quickly and I feel like time’s just slipping away. ‘Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching.’~Joni Eareckson Tada. I know I have to focus on gratitude for what God’s done through the cancer because it’s what gives me hope and I have to say that many of the things I’m grateful for today are because cancer has opened my eyes to them. I’m grateful that from the constant and consistent prayers of family, friends, and even strangers I have experienced the peace that passes all understanding. ‘Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’~Phil 4:7, MSG.  I’m grateful for the people I am surrounded by who lift me up and encourage me and for the strength to let go of toxic relationships and focus on life giving ones. I am grateful that I have found a love that brings me joy and lots of laughter. I’m grateful that having cancer helps me focus on what’s truly important and therefore helps me more readily release the stupid things that stress me out. Through any adversity there is opportunity to grow in faith and in character if you see it that way and I am grateful that I have peace and joy and that my faith and dependence on God grows stronger because I have no control over circumstances. I am incredibly grateful that I have a God that I trust who offers me hope for not just me, but for my family; He knows my joys and my heartbreak and I know He hears my prayers and loves me. Whatever happens in the future, He’s got this and that is the greatest reason for gratitude.

Today I wear Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer. Of course I had to try something from the popular new Fenty Beauty by Rihanna brand and of course it had to be a lip product. I chose this because she literally only has this one gloss which is supposed to look great on all skin tones, well, it does. It is called Fenty Glow and it is a soft rosy gold color, great shine, great moisture, great color, and yes, universal. Gratitude looks great on everyone. Cheers!

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Beauty and Terror

16 Nov

sky

I had to do something last night that I truly dislike. If you are a parent that has a child involved in Jr or Sr high sports or even musicals or whatever kids try out for you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s the time when you as a parent are sitting in your car on the last day of try-outs waiting for your child to come out and tell you whether or not they made the team, got the part, etc. All of my kids play sports so sitting and waiting in the parking lot behind the gym is a pretty regular experience. I hate it because not every child makes the team and as they come out one by one you can see joy or disappointment on their faces and lots of times tears; heartbreaking even if it’s not your child. I personally have experienced both joy and tears and as a mom you feel double–double the joy and double the heartache.

Last night I had a different experience and I hate to even mention it but it’s real. Last night as I was waiting for my son to come out of basketball tryouts I was completely overcome with emotion. The one thought that shook me waiting in silent darkness was that I didn’t want to die. Even though I was not liking the experience of waiting to hear about Alex and the team, I wanted to be there; not just for that day, but for all days, for all life lessons that continue on into adulthood, for all the joys and disappointments, for the tears that we would share, for all of the hugs, for proms, graduations, and for birthdays. I want to be mom and I want to be there for all of it. ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.’~R. Munsch. Last night in my car I got incredibly sad and angry at the same time knowing that cancer was trying to purposely shorten my days and there I was crying in the dark in the back of the parking lot. I don’t want to die but I guess none of us are guaranteed our days.

It’s been just a couple of weeks since finding out my cancer was stable and my mind has wonderfully helped me deny I have cancer at all. From finding out in July until my last CT scan in October I struggled with the sadness that comes with finding out my cancer is back and has spread, but then literally after finding out it was stable my mind did a complete turnaround and everything for me was back to normal, no problems at all. Last night I was reminded that life is fleeting and I still have awful cells trying to take me down. Grrrrrrr, it stinks and I’m ticked off and sad at the same time so I’m back to my ‘oh yeah, I still have cancer’ normal…sigh. ‘Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.’~R. Rilke Sometimes that sums up exactly how I feel right now, loving the beauty of life and the people I’m surrounded by while also feeling terror and heartache of what’s next and who I may leave behind. ‘What day is it?’ ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh~A.A. Milne  Today is my favorite day because I’m still here. Oh, and he made the team!img_5339

Today I wear Lorac Alter Ego lipstick in Daydream which is a plum/fuschia color which is a little brighter for me but who cares! The formula is between a matte and satin finish so it’s a little drying but goes on smooth. Overall a great one to try! Cheers!

Can We Change?

14 Nov

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Recently I had a conversation with one of my coworkers about personality types and whether people could change or if we just are who we are; a deep topic but spurred on by another conversation I had with my boss. We are in sales so we talked about our specific personality types (defined by Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc) and how they relate to selling style and if one may be better than the other. In the end my coworker and I decided that we were created a certain way at our core and there are enhancements we can make to our specific types like being a little more aggressive or being a little more extroverted, but at our specific personality type stays the same. There’s a saying ‘fake it til you make it,’ can you fake kindness? Then there’s ‘this is how God made me.’ Is it? Is there a ‘bad’ personality type? I don’t believe there’s a bad type but maybe life experiences, disappointments, and our own insecurities make us ‘hard’?  Can we soften? Can people change? All tough questions.

I read this today and it really resonated with me: You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.Why did you spill the coffee? ‘Well because someone bumped into me, of course!’Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?” When life or business gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and impulsive reactions? Whoa. When faced with adversity who are you because that is when your true thoughts and heart show. I have been around people who have raged and placed blame outside of themselves in troubling times but who does that hurt? It shows a core of anger and insecurity and the ‘ugly’ that rolls off their tongues is truly the ‘ugly’ that’s in their hearts. Matt 15:18 ‘But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart..’ Can they change? Nothing is impossible with God but first they must look in the mirror. I am no saint but with all the challenges life has thrown over the years all I can do is fall to my knees, cry out for peace, and be grateful for another day. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t depend on personality type because at all of our cores is love and the need to feel loved. Maybe it’s all about control. We go through so much in life; illness, hurt, broken relationships, etc and maybe we become hardened because those are the things we cannot control. So here’s what must change…not our personality type, but our need to control every circumstance or person, or in other words, our need to be God. Just my theory. ‘All is not what it is-it is always more. What seems like your story is but a line in the whole story’~Ann Voskamp.

This weekend I was blessed by an img_7380-1unbelievable surprise. My son’s recreational basketball team comprised of most of his closest friends surprised me by wearing t-shirts especially made (by the moms) in support of  my cancer journey. I cry thinking about and looking at the pictures. The beautiful thing about releasing control over whatever situation you may be in is that it frees your heart to love more, to be more authentic and to be kind. You get to be more of your authentic self because you also release the need to control people and reactions and crap in general and you get to live the golden rule ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’~Matt 7:12. What you put out into the world comes back 10-fold and those shirts on those boys created by the moms was a HUGE 10-fold bounce back. My grateful heart is once again mush.

img_5039-1Today’s lipstick is YSL Rouge Pur Couture Dazzling Lights Edition Lipstick in Le Rouge which is blood red. These lipsticks are a little pricey but super moisturizing. For whatever reason the lipstick just feels luxurious on your lips but I’m not gonna lie, the color slips off my lips pretty quickly. Never the less, if you want to splurge, YSL and Tom Ford are the two brands that are splurge-worthy. I chose this color because it’s red and a great color for the holidays! Cheers!

Dream On

7 Nov

 

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Senior picture, photo cred Leanna Vite Photography

I took my daughter for her first college visit last weekend. She’s a senior and while others started their visits last summer she had a job and club volleyball which rolled into the school volleyball season. As a mom it was the sad reality that sooner than later I would be sending my second child off into the world. I can’t even talk about the emotions of launching a daughter yet. For my daughter, who felt right at home at the college she visited, well, I think she felt an urgency to decide what course of study she wanted to pursue. After looking at all the classes and all the directions she could go she is carefully considering what the best choice would be for her. I still remember feeling the pressure to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; literally I thought whatever I chose would be for the REST.OF.MY.LIFE.  What’s funny and what I’ve tried to explain to my kids is that in life you’re never truly stuck in a career and that you have to give yourself some grace. Some of the important questions I’ve asked my daughter is, who are you? What are your gifts and talents? What do you love? How has God made you? What were some of your childhood dreams? Sometimes some of the decisions we make or people/friends influence lead us into different directions but we can’t discount our history, our dreams, our core.

 

Who am I? I started college as a music major but ended with a degree in science. We make choices and we move on. Living with cancer has diverted my tracks more than once and every single time I get to self reflect and redirect. The beautiful part about all of it is life has been hard and awesome and although I’ve always wondered about the career path that I’ve chosen to stick with over 25 years, I am so grateful. I work and have worked with some amazing people who have become my closest friends. The times I feel like I randomly landed in this career that I maybe would not have chosen in my youth, I end up grateful for the blessings it has provided and also thankful I get to infuse my own personality and passions into my discussions. I miss singing, sometimes so much my heart hurts when I hear a beautiful song that I used to be able to sing.  Cancer took that passion and childhood dream away from me but I have been given new ones. This time around with cancer being a tad more serious I am asking those questions again…what do I love, what were my childhood dreams, what are my current dreams…and I feel more of an urgency to lead my daily life in that direction, it’s been an awesome time.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.~Langston Hughes

‘A broken-winged bird that cannot fly.’ We were all created as individuals with unique  gifts and talents but stress, responsibility, kids, life in general can throw these weird curves that make us veer off the path that we wanted or that we thought we’d be on but it’s ok. It ain’t over til it’s over. So who are you? What were your dreams? What makes your heart beat a little faster? What  did you think you would be doing when you grew up? I’m not there yet but with cancer I get to reflect and redirect daily and it’s exciting. Never forget the pieces of you that make you who you are and feed it daily…good for the soul and not just for the kids to think about.

Today I get excited about the Give Me More Lip Sephora lip collection of favorites out for the holidays because what lipstick lover wouldn’t want a box of lip products? Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Stable

1 Nov

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Stable. Last week was a good week, a really good week. I had a little birthday celebration almost every night of the week with friends and family, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and at the very end of the week I got my results for my follow up CT scan (3 months post getting the news of the return of cancer). The reports said a lot of things and yes, the cancer is still there but the bottom line is there was very little growth of the tumors and all is stable; best case scenario.

It’s been such a weird and emotional time and when I got the news it took awhile to process…literally a couple days. I didn’t even tell anyone for about an hour after I found out and I can’t decipher why exactly. It’s a strange place to be, knowing you still have cancer and sad about it, yet happy that it’s not growing or spreading too quickly. We define ourselves by many things and many cancer patients are defined as fighter or survivor and speak of times before cancer and after cancer. I don’t like any of those cancer terms that much right now because as someone who’s had cancer before I always feel like I’m fighting but the enemy is myself, my body, my biology. I’m also in the space between ‘before and after cancer’ and because it’s slow growing, I could be in this space a long time and not need any type of intervention so business as usual. I am not a survivor, I am surviving. If you watch the show ‘Stranger Things’ it’s kind of like being in upside down world right now.

We cannot change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.’~Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of the living. We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.’~Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

I guess I’ll play my hand and live in the moment. The greatest gift over the past few months has been the realization that not too much in my day really matters except how I interact with people; being crazy busy with sport schedules..eh, being a chauffeur to teens…eh, having a hectic work schedule…eh, and all the little annoyances no one can control, who cares. In fact, it was in the chaos and loudness of a bunch of teens in the house that I had my first happy crying breakdown this weekend. Something that’s typically annoying made me cry with joy because I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I may have that chance to watch these annoying teens grow into adults. How awesome is that? How awesome life is; more time to laugh and cry, more time to hug, and more time to just be. Enjoy your loved ones and laugh in the chaos because there’s not much you can control.img_7271-1

Today I wear Nars Satin Finish Lipstick in Gipsy which is a warm berry. I like Nars lipsticks because they have a ton of great colors to choose from. The satin formulation is the most moisturizing which I like better. I chose this color because warm berry  colors look great on pretty much everyone and I love the name. Although it’s spelled differently I feel like I’m a little gypsy at heart. I don’t get attached to homes or towns and I love wandering and seeing new things. Cheers!

Getting Older

22 Oct

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I read in a magazine last week that the United States is now the number one country for cosmetic procedures surpassing Brazil. We have become a country obsessed with bettering ourselves from the outside in instead of the inside out. What happened? At a time when we get fired up about politics, race, gender identification, and identity, we have also become #1 in cosmetic procedures…just sounds funny to me. Don’t get me wrong, I just sat in a chair getting my hair colored to cover my grays and I’ve invested a good bit of money in anti-aging creams and serums just to slow it all down. We have so much pressure these days to preserve our youth and appearance it’s crazy. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school and I know that no miracle cream or procedure will help me look even close to her age. I find that as much as we feel young on the inside you don’t really realize your true age until you’re surrounded by young people; teens, 20 somethings,etc…they just speak their own language.

This week I celebrate my birthday and of course this is the week I go back for another scan to see if and how much my tumors have grown. What a strange time it is as I play mental gymnastics with my head and heart. From all my walks with Relay for Life the posters that affected me the most were the ones that said ‘Happy Birthday’ because they reminded me to be grateful for another year of life. Well here I am, getting older and trying to stay grateful despite the current circumstances. It’s not that easy. I’m grateful, I’m sad, I’m anxious, you name it, a plethora of emotions as I anticipate the scan and what the future holds. How quickly with cancer my focus has gone from the desire to hang on to my youth to now longing to be able to grow old. I want to see my youngest graduate high school, I want to be at their weddings, I want to meet my grandkids, I want to be old and gray and retired with my husband by my side; none of us actually has this guarantee do we? Sigh. For now I will gaze at the stars, breathe fresh air, look into the eyes of my loved ones and hug them tight as often as they’ll let me. I will pray for peace in my soul and I will try to focus on being more grateful instead of fearful. I get to celebrate another birthday, what a privilege it is to be alive!img_6922

I want to feel all there is to feel, he thought. Let me feel tired, now, let me feel tired. I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.’~R. Bradbury

She worked her toes into the sand, feeling the tiny delicious pain of the friction of tiny chips of silicon against the tender flesh between her toes. That’s life. It hurts, it’s dirty, and it feels very, very good.’~O. Card

In all things give thanks’~ 1Thess 5:18

Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’~ James 1:2-3

Today I wear the one lip product in my purse at all times…Dior Addict Lip Glow in pink (which is the original and only color available until recently). It’s a lip balm that’s moisturizing but also brings out the natural pink in your lips. I love it! I chose it because of the name and because it just highlights what you’re already made of. Cheers and glow on!

Love

16 Oct

fall

I had lunch with a friend recently and at the end of lunch she asked me if I still believe in love or being in love because she just didn’t know what that meant anymore. I had a few responses to her questions but I’ve been thinking a lot about them. In a lifetime we get to experience both love and hurt and a lot of junk in between. We love God, our parents, kids, friends, and pets, but when it comes to being ‘in love’ or ‘falling in love’, it’s a completely different definition. Being or falling ‘in love’ is a feeling that I believe comes and goes. The actual act or ‘action’ of love is what sustains a love relationship with a spouse or significant other. Yes, I believe in love and what that means for me is that I finally get to exhale because I get to be the person I was created to be with no risk. It means that in my current cancer journey I have no doubt that he will be there to lean on and to hold my hand at my appointments, scans, and all the times in between. Love doesn’t necessarily mean wanting to be with each other 24/7 because we are created as individuals and that would be just plain weird and codependent. There are no words necessary but there are actions which mostly build you up and make you feel like you’re ok exactly the way you are. Ahhh yes…at the end of a hard day…exhale, he’s there…you get good news…breathe, he’s there…news your cancer’s back…exhale, he’s with you to hold your hand. No human love is perfect because we are all imperfect. God’s love is perfect and I know he loves me exactly how He made me…exhale. I spent years holding my breath and now I get to exhale. I have a friend, I get to laugh, and I get to breathe. I’m so grateful. ‘Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.’ ~Lao Tzu

Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to speak to friends, coworkers, and many of the parents’ of my kids’ friends and teammates about my current cancer journey. We’ve shared a few tears and I’ve been so overwhelmed by the support, love, and help that’s been offered. I am beyond grateful and so blown away by the good in people’s hearts. One thing that I believe I’ve been able to impress on people is the essence of time, especially to my parent friends. Time is a funny thing; when everything’s going well we believe we have all the time in the world. I’m already sad that I have a daughter that’s a senior in high school and preparing to launch, but now I add the component of wanting to still be around to be able to watch my youngest who’s a freshman launch too. My heart hurts thinking about it. So if speaking to me, listening to me, or reading my words make you hug your child harder; if it makes you breathe in the fresh air of a new day and smile, if it pushes you to take the risk, if it makes you realize the brevity of life and helps you enjoy it more, then I am grateful. I have been able to sit back and see the beauty of people and I don’t miss a chance to hug my kids and tell them I love them. It’s a beautiful time. Love harder. ‘You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.’~ Mahatma Gandhibeach

Today I wear Thrive Cosmetics Glossy Lip Mark in Pamela which is the perfect everyday color (mauve/brown). This company works in collaboration with giving partners to provide products, services, and training to women going through cancer treatment at hospitals and events around the world. I love a good cause, I also love the color and texture of this lipgloss. It’s a little heavier than a typical gloss and has great color. Cheers!

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