India

4 Mar

india-chris

India. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but what I found was love and joy. The universal language of love, touch, of being held, and the simple pleasures like skipping rope, playing catch, and red nail polish kept smiles on all the beautiful faces. How do you reconcile your life when you come back? The simplicity of living with only your basic needs being met and of a life trusting God to provide. What is this kind of trust; a faith that releases you from fear and brings you freedom to live with joy in the simple?

joy

india-touch

india-kids

How do you process a return to your ‘normal’? A life made complicated by financial responsibility, being over scheduled, mortgage. How do you return to simplicity? We all have the same basic needs right? Food, shelter, and also the need to feel like we matter, the need to feel loved unconditionally, to be touched and held; add the very human longing for a life of joy and peace. The conflict in today’s ‘first world’ society tosses between wanting to save the world by service and agenda and also trying to ‘have it your way.’ It can’t be both. We must first lose ourselves before giving ourselves away. Serving others, meaning even just the basics of loving them, hugging them, looking in their eyes, washing their feet…their joy and gratefulness, brings you joy and gratefulness and hope. It’s a start. india-feet

 

Advertisements

Adult Identity Problems?

12 Feb

img_2880

I’ve been feeling kinda blah lately and I was mostly attributing that to the lack of sun during this long gray Michigan winter, which still may be part of it. The other part is what I’ve been writing about recently regarding teens…the search for identity. Without clear ‘identity’ we lack direction and purpose to our days. I was getting overly annoyed at my teens for their struggle to figure out who they are and where they belong yet lo and behold, most of us struggle with this our whole lives. I started getting jealous of my daughter and her passion and fire, of some of the other women on Facebook that seemed ‘all together’ and doing what they loved, I was getting upset about getting older, having fewer choices in life, having overwhelming responsibilities, etc. Me Me Meeee. Then I had my ‘aha’ moment. I let life and my daily and never ending to-do’s take over and make me forget what was already done, my striving to be everything to everyone, keeping track of everyone’s to-dos, making sure all was set was drowning me. You guessed it, I’m a people-pleaser and beyond that, I was (am) trying to control the circumstances and outcome for everyone to make sure they’re ok and happy. How overwhelming and exhausting is that? I would venture to say that women more than men tend to lose who we are while making sure everyone else is good. Through all this stuff I was not sleeping that well and grinding my teeth in my sleep to the point that I was leaving tooth marks in my nightime mouth guard.

Well, this is where I was and I finally took a deep breath and prayed. I prayed for peace and clarity . I prayed for focus and to rest in the knowledge that my identity was in Christ. For the past month I was part of a launch team for a book called I Am by Michele Cushatt which speaks exactly of this and the timing couldn’t be better! It is such a great book. In one of the chapters titled ‘I Am Valuable‘ she lists out things like ‘You are worth more than the rejection that split you on two, you are worth more than the sum of your contributions to church and school and community, you are worth more than your best outfit, you are worth more than a week of sleepless nights and crazy days trying to cross items off your to do list‘, and so on. She ends this list with Jesus’ words ‘So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’

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. What does that feel like? When your once confident self gets belittled, to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, to constantly adjust to ‘fit’ another’s wants, needs, and expectations yet never quite getting there? What if the person doubting yourself is you?  In the Bible God says ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Did you catch that? If you don’t love yourself how can you love your neighbor? 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.

Today I wear Tom Ford lipstick in Misbehaved which is a pinky coral (probably a smidge too light for me).I admit, this is my most expensive lipstick purchase and I don’t use it too often but I do like it. These lipsticks are highly pigmented and fairly moisturizing. I chose this color because it reminds me of summer and I am so ready for that! Cheers!

This Is Us

26 Jan

ajbaby

I love this show and clearly millions of Americans love this show as well. I admit that I shed a tear or two or a hundred with every single episode. Why is this series so popular? I have my guesses; people have called it ‘real’,’emotional’,’accurate to life’. All those things are true but I think the main reason it’s popular is it validates us as imperfect human beings; it shows us that we are all human and our choices, good and bad, are a product of the experiences of our past and our current environment. Every person is wired differently and experiences things a little differently; three kids (triplets), raised by the same parents in the same home become three very different adults. Every single person on this show has a story, a ‘why’ they are the way they are and it opens ours eyes and makes us emotional because we can relate. We make mistakes, we make good and bad choices but it all comes from our story and just adds to our journey.

Anyway, I’ve been a little uninspired lately, partly being too busy partly emotionally drained from navigating teen parenting. Like my last blog said, parenting teens is soooo hard. I decided to look back at my story because sometimes we forget. The benefit of being fullsizerendera lifetime diary/journal keeper is that you can go back in time and discover what you were like. I recently pulled out and read my journals from age 16-19 and it was great because it really helped me understand where my daughter was coming from and allowed me to give her more grace and not take things personally. Reading my thoughts made me laugh, made me angry, and made me reflective of my life since then and I learned a couple things. Reading it brought me back and stirred up those same old feelings. I thought I was so smart and ‘adult’ and an expert at life (at 18) yet made some immature comments and decisions. I struggled with identity, wanting to be liked, be part of the ‘in’ crowd, and thinking no one understood me. Yup, confirmation I was in fact a teenager! Decades later reading my journals gave me clarity about who I was and why I made different decisions and mistakes and some of what I wrote made me want to shake the young me and scream at her but I guess that’s all part of our story right? It’s what makes living a life. There was also something I found beautiful, hope. I was so hopeful back then. I looked forward to the future with excitement and I believed the best of so many people. I was more carefree and surprisingly I was grateful. At the end of my entries I would write what I was thankful for, some of them dumb like ‘did 100 sit ups today’ or ‘took a long walk.’I take it back, those are not dumb because many days now I don’t have time for a long walk and I probably would throw up if I did 100 sit ups…or can I even do 100 sit ups?

Here are my lessons from me:

  • Stand back a little and let teens go through things as they transform into adults (a little more grace)
  • Be grateful even for the minutia of life because you may not be able to experience the same in the future
  • Be hopeful and look to the future with excitement (this perspective always makes the days better)
  •  Don’t forget other people have a story too

The show This Is Us is great but no show is as good and as complex as real life and no writer is better at writing your story than you. Today I wear Julie Hewitt lipstick in Jules. I was introduced to this lipstick by another blogger and it’s great. It feels like a balm and has ‘more than sheer’ color…not too heavy but just enough. I chose this color because it’s an easy everyday red/berry and because the owner made it for herself and pretty much named it after herself too. Her story. We have one life, one story to create, this is us. Cheers!

Teenagers…

12 Jan

teen

I have a question, what is the age when kids finally realize their parents are actual people who have had some of the same shared experiences they have had and lots of times they really do know what they’re talking about? I am waiting for that transition. I get it, I’m 40++ and I can acknowledge my parents were once young, that their decisions are/were based on upbringing, values, experiences, etc, but I’d like to think that I learned this a long long time ago. Ok, maybe not when I was a teen but definitely by the time I was a working adult…or maybe later…I don’t know. Sometimes I just get sick of the phrase ‘I knoooooooow’ with that long drawn out ‘oooooooooo’ or even hearing them talk to friends and their friends saying ‘my parents are sooooo annooooying’ because of course if their friends are saying it they are too.

I have teens and they’re awesome; great grades, great friends, and kind to everyone (except each other sometimes).I have to say that this may be the most difficult age of parenting or at least the most challenging. Something about having them look more adult-ish, being able to drive and work, and shoot, my oldest can already vote so I guess he is an adult but I use that term loosely. Being an older teen/young adult/college age simply means something like this, ‘ I got it mom, I know what I’m doing but can you transfer $100 for food/toiletries/whatever else I need right now for college)? Teens ask for your opinion then roll their eyes, they ask for your permission but look at you like you’re an alien when you say ‘no’—‘no’ still is still part of the English language right? Me:No…((long pause))…Teen:But whyyyyy? The teen years is that span of time that lies between tucking them in and waving goodbye as they drive off to college or whatever path they’ve chosen and sometimes it just stinks for the parent. If only they could see that I was once young and my advice comes from a place of experience. Many of their struggles are not new, hormones, friends, school stress, boyfriend/girlfriend, being popular, smoking, etc…they act like we would never understand. I want to tell them my annoooooying self is just worried and trying to process and navigate my feelings about them growing up. I want to say that I repeat things because half the time they act like they’re not listening. I’ve told them that I’ve experienced pain, heartache, first love, first break up, challenges to fit in, longing to be popular, etc but again I get that glazed look in their eyes like somehow there would be no way I was their age. Ever.teen2

What to do? The gray hairs are compounding. There is an Italian Proverb I read that says ‘Little children, headache; big children, heartache.’ Kinda true; heartache when they defy you, heartache when they say something hurtful without knowing the context of why it hurts you, heartache when they say goodbye. Oy, parenting, how it expands your heart. There’s no perfect formula and no perfect family no matter how they look on Facebook. I read that children are the greatest gift and their souls are our heaviest responsibility. Don’t be afraid to say no, but don’t be afraid to say yes too.Teach, they see what you do. If you never say sorry neither will they, if you are fearful they will be too, and so on. Be present. Pray. Love. Open door. Open arms. Trust God. Trust yourself. Listen. Love them. Let them go.

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Bella. It’s the perfect pink/brown for me and I chose it because it’s my favorite color right now. Cheers!

Goodbye 2016

31 Dec
michael

Me and my cousin Michael

It is the last day of 2016 and there are so many things swirling in my head I’m not sure what to write. It’s been a year of deaths of so many icons from my youth; David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Mrs. Brady~Florence Henderson, and more recently Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. I don’t idolize them but holy cow, the memories of the music and shows they bring up. It’s sad and nostalgic but it’s also a reminder for me of aging and mortality…I’m getting older. A little over a week ago my cousin passed away after having a heart attack, he was 46. He was mostly raised by my grandma in the Philippines but came to the US as a teen. He stayed with us through his Junior High years then ended up moving to California to be closer to his mom. Michael struggled with depression and we kept in contact on and off through the years. His adult life was a struggle but I think he finally felt complete when his daughter was born; his was a struggle of identity and belonging, and depression and maybe his heart attack was really a broken heart. Over the past week my cousins and I have been in more contact with each other than I can ever remember thanks to technology and Facebook messenger. We didn’t all grow up together because we are all over the place; Philippines, Australia, California, Minnesota, Kentucky and me in Michigan. We along with our parents (the aunts and uncles) and Michael’s best friend have united in this tragedy and are helping cover expenses and arrangements for my aunt. Holidays are generally a time of family gatherings and I don’t really know what that’s like strangely until now. Outside of the friends that have surrounded my family I did not grow up with my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc so this connection of us around the globe has been kind of bittersweet for me.

I read a quote today ‘It takes the darkness to see the stars.’ Reflecting on 2016 and in my life so far it’s been so true for me. I’m so grateful for my friends and family who always shine in my dark times and during this dark time of Michael’s death I see our family as the stars in the darkness coming together to help in however way we can. There are always stars, sometimes we just can’t see them. A good blogger friend of mine, Elizabeth, wrote a piece about New Year and not having resolutions but instead having a word/thememyintent/mantra…choosing a path. We must’ve been on the same wavelength because for Christmas I bought a little bracelet for myself with a word on it as a reminder; I chose STRONG. I chose strong instead of strength because strength feels like something I hope to have whereas I wanted that reminder to myself that shoot, after all I’ve been through, I’m already strong. What is your word? What will be your theme? What is your hope for 2017?

Today I wear Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Mercy which is a deep berry. I chose it because Kat is pretty strong and bad ass and also for the name (the color si pretty kickin too). We all could probably exercise a little more kindness, grace and mercy in 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! CHEERS!!

 

Blue Christmas No More

18 Dec
yellowdog

Christmas morning with one of my favorite presents ever, ‘Yellow Dog’. Yes, that’s what I named him. Circa 1979, one stocking the Christmas before my brother was born.

Christmas is coming and if you’ve been reading my blog awhile you already know that while most are in their best mood of the year I get a little sad-ish/melancholoy during this season.Part of it is from my parents; when they immigrated here from the Philippines when I was young, they left behind all of their family and friends so I mostly remember them having a little sadness listening to Christmas music missing their extended family. Don’t get me wrong, I have MANY happy memories of Christmas as a child including always going to midnight mass followed by tons of people coming to my house to eat until dawn along with Christmas caroling and lots of joy and laughter but in the stillness sometimes with music playing in the background, I could tell my parents were missing ‘home’. Then of course there was the time I got the call from my doctor the eve of December 24th letting me know that my cancer was back for the third time. He didn’t call to ruin my Christmas, but by then he knew that I would want to know as soon as he knew, hence the call, that was back in 2009. It has been 7 years and I just noticed something the other day while I was working and listening to Christmas music in the car…joy. There have been so many changes to my life since that time and joy has crept in so slowly in the years following that I barely noticed that underlying sadness had shifted. Despite the mess in between then and now, the absolute heartache and brokenness I experienced and the more than occasional sheer chaos of my life now, there is peace and joy.

Last week I was able to enjoy an awesome vacation far away from home. It was a great time to just relax and be far from work, laundry, cooking meals, and teenagers who always seemvaca2017 to need so much(it’s all good of course). Vacation did a couple things for me, helped me relax but also made me miss home. The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.~Maya Angelou  My son just finished his first semester at college and came home a few days ago. It’s been great having him here awhile before I have to once again say good bye and let him go practice ‘adulting’ again. Like the quote says, home should be a safe place, a place where we feel loved, where we can be who we are with no judgement, where there is no fear (unless you’re talking about teenagers then yes, they should fear me…haha). Home should be that place that when you’re far away you think about and smile,that safe place where the people you love and care about the most, live or come back to; not just the location but the relationships. The people in it don’t have to be perfect, just honest, loving, and safe.  I read the best quote published from an unknown 7 year old the other day, ‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents Christmasand listen.’  Isn’t that the greatest? I am so grateful to have grown up in a loving home and to have a loving home now. By the way, family doesn’t always mean by blood, my parents didn’t have blood relatives around initially so our friends became our family. ‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.’~author unknown.

I pray you all have a beautiful Christmas and are surrounded by people who make you feel safe and loved and home. P.S. There are many who are alone or maybe feel alone especially in this season so keep your eyes, hearts, and hands open.Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Blu-Red which is a bright red. These are the BEST long lasting, non drying lipsticks EVER. If you’re curious you can send me a private message on the ‘contact me’ link on the side of my blog page. I chose this color because it’s the holidays and everyone should be wearing their bright red lipstick! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

The Best Is Yet to Come

25 Nov

annabeach

The class song for my high school senior class was ‘The Best Was Yet To Come’ by Bryan Adams which I had the opportunity to sing at my high school graduation. One of the lines says, ‘ain’t it funny how time flies when the best is yet to come.’ It’s been almost 30 years later and after celebrating my birthday last month and now headed into the holidays and a new year I find myself sitting and reflecting on those words; maybe because I heard a DJ on the radio say that phrase recently…the best is yet to come. Is it? After graduation has the best come, did I miss it? Do we live in some type of twilight zone of expectation and anticipation for whatever the ‘best’ is that’s coming? I think we do. Is that ok? I think it’s fine as long as we’re not missing the people and moments that are in our face.

Our country just went through one of the ugliest and craziest presidential elections of all time. There has been so much passion and negativity which has continued on; the country feels divided, some feel hopeless for a positive future. Well, what about the kids? When I was growing up I felt like the world was my oyster, my parents constantly encouraged me and told me I could do anything I set my mind on. They also taught me that nothing is ever handed to you, that you had to work hard and stay persistent. I believed the best was yet to come. I have teen kids and listening to them talk to each other and their friends is eye opening. Instead of the ‘best is yet to come’, their attitude is ‘live for today cuz it’s all we have’ along with ‘the world is on a downward spiral, who cares.’ During and post election along with all the other happenings of our country and world, if our children are listening to all the adults and watching the news than why would they believe the best was yet to come? Why the entitled youth, the instant gratification kids we get so annoyed with? I believe alot of it has to do with the negative news and adults they are surrounded by. Instead of anticipation for an awesome future we have ‘media-ed’ the youth into a fearful future with no jobs, no health insurance, no equality and really no hope for ‘the best is yet to come.’ I want to be positive. I want my kids to be excited about the possibilities of ‘next’. I want my kids to work hard and be kind and be positive for what’s coming with no fear. I have learned the opposite of being fearful is not just to be brave. The opposite of fear is trust and faith; trust in the ultimate One who has a plan and faith in the One who is in control of the future. Trust makes me brave.’Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.’~Jeremiah 17:7-8

So what did I find after graduating high school? Has it been the best life? Cancer, divorce, job changes, lay offs? Yes. Life is crazy, painful, beautiful, challenging, heart breaking, and amazing. I cannot say that it’s always been butterflies and unicorns, stonesactually quite the opposite but holy smokes, the places I’ve been, the emotions I’ve been able to feel to the depths and edges of my heart, and the people, all the people that have stepped into (and out of) my life…wow! I am so grateful. Teach your kids gratitude because every single day there is always a ‘best’ part. ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, a whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God:See all, nor be afraid!’~Robert Browning

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Gingerbread. I was introduced to these long lasting lipsticks by a friends and I LOVE them. I am usually sensitive to long wear lip products and I also have chronically dry lips. These are amazing. You can only buy from distributors so if you want to try one email me through the blog! I chose this color which is a light pinky brown mainly for the name. The color is easy to wear for most skin tones but gingerbread because it’s countdown to Christmas 🙂 Cheers!

%d bloggers like this: