Advertisements
Tag Archives: ann voskamp

Nothing and Everything

6 Oct

img_4451The weather here in Michigan is changing. It’s my favorite time of year as the nights get cooler and the leaves change colors. I love fall. Over the past two weeks I’ve been in a little funk because with the changeover to fall my allergies start picking up and along with that and cancer, breathing becomes a little more difficult. I have had trouble breathing here and there since I got cancer the first time 10 years ago because of a paralyzed vocal cord from the first surgery. Now that my cancer is metastatic to my lungs, difficulty breathing is a little more urgent in the doctors’ eyes. Apparently even though my cancer is technically stable, since I have multiple lung nodules, there are possibilities of other things happening simply because my lungs are now compromised. Ugh. Over the past month I have been to the ER because of my breathing issues (all turned out normal besides still having cancer-still stable), and more recently my doctor thought I should go ahead and get a pulmonary function test which was not a party. That turned out pretty much as expected.

I am not in the mood to see doctors right now but because of breathing issues (which again are not new) I’ve had no choice, and again a reminder of cancer. Something I realized about myself over these past few weeks is that I’m really bad at resting and being still. I was never like that before. I mean, I was never someone who took naps but I’m pretty sure I could sit on the couch for hours staring at nothing. Now, not so much. My mind won’t stop spinning. I have a deep urgency about everything, being everywhere, doing everything I’ve wanted to do, not missing anything in regards to kid stuff and life in general. It’s so hard to be on the line between dreams, responsibility, possibility, and sadness-hard to describe. It all boils down to time. How do we spend it and who do we spend it with? Close your eyes for a minute and think about your life today; your family, your friends, your job, your home, now take a deep breath and imagine yourself  in an exam room with a doctor telling you that you have Stage 4 cancer, or you need a heart procedure, or you have MS, or whatever it may be. In a blink of an eye your life has changed it’s course to something you had not planned. Now open your eyes and exhale because you’ve been holding your breath. What would you do differently? From that point on what would your life look like? What if some things couldn’t change because of responsibility, what would you do today? In the late Paul Kalanithi’s book When Breath Becomes Air he says, ‘I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but didn’t know when. But I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.’ Get it? Nothing changes yet everything changes so how are you going to spend your time?

img_4450-1I’ve been sad lately because there’s so much I want to do but I understand the facts of responsibility. I’m a wife and mom, I’m an employee, we have medical bills (obviously) and college bills so I can’t just tour the world or start a non-profit and help people. I get it but what can I change? What else can I do? This is why I’m restless. This is why my mind won’t stop. It’s kind of a lonely place to be, even lonelier when you try to pretend all is normal and the same as it always is or was because it’s not. I’m still grateful and I’m still forging ahead like there will be a thousand tomorrows because there could be. Today though, I’m seeking out the color amongst the gray because my heart’s been troubled and I know there’s so much beautiful color. I will soak in this encouragement from Ann Voskamp, ‘I have a Messiah who meets me in it, won’t leave me in it, and will carry me through it! We never cry alone. Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live truth. Give thanks. Love well.’

img_4499

Photo cred: E. Petersen

Today I wear Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Liquorice which is a deep dark red. This lipstick has lots of color and is fairly moisturizing. I chose this color because it’s dark like my mood but has that bit of red that reminds me that there’s still fire deep inside. Cheers!

Advertisements

Chasing Joy

30 Dec

img_1058

What a week. For Christmas we hosted almost 30 people, had 2 dogs (plus my own), a puppy, and a cat. Not super unusual for a large family gathering but most of those people and all of the animals also stayed at my house for 3 or 4 days. As annoying and chaotic as that sounds, it was a blast…and this is coming from an introvert! There was so much joy and laughter in my house that for the first time since my cancer’s return I forgot about it. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I cried and this was a regular occurrence over the long Christmas weekend. Did you catch what I said? The overabundance of joy and laughter made me actually forget I had cancer.

This is the last week of 2017 and boy has it been one freaking great year. Looking back I see mostly happy times surrounded by people I love and have tried to focus (as much as possible) on doing things I enjoy and spending time with people I care about. My focus of course dramatically heightened this past July when I found out I had cancer again. I saw a post on instagram that asked the question, ‘How have you changed or grown in 2017?’ It’s a great question and one I think we should all reflect on as we look forward to a new year. For me, the biggest area of growth was my voice which I had lost some time ago (figuratively of course and for reasons I’ve never written about). I am an introvert, people-pleaser which makes it tough to say ‘no’ and also tough to express your needs (easy target for people to take advantage of). 2017 gave me my voice and my power back…well, I’m still working on it but it’s been transformational. Also, I have become more laser focused on certain goals thanks to age and probably cancer. At the beginning of 2017 I chose the word ‘joy’ as my word for the year, recurrence of cancer has challenged that a bit for me but after this past weekend I know it’s still bubbling inside of me so for 2018 ‘joy’ is my word again.

‘When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?’~Ann Voskamp

This year, I will be chasing it. The moments I forgot about the cancer were monumental for me and I know there are so many possibilities out there for those crazy joy moments. Life is hard, teens are hard, work is hard, but what was it about those moments that made me forget? Telling stories, laughing, being myself and at ease with people I love, that’s one. What else? That’s my pursuit for 2018.

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.’~J.R.R. Tolkien

Joy like swords. Today there’s no lipstick. I img_1055bought a mascara from a great cosmetic company called Thrive, visit their website and read what they’re about. Anyhow, with my recent purchase which I just received yesterday, they sent a makeup bag (gift with purchase for holidays) which was perfect. Joy is the best make up! Happy New Year, cheers!

Joy and Imperfection

25 Mar

Anna166

I read this quote the other day which said ‘No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect. One only arrives at joy by seeing in every imperfection all that is joy.’~Ann Voskamp. I really had to let that soak in. 2017 has been interesting so far and I feel like joy has been a constant thread which I am incredibly grateful for; and that’s joy without perfection because believe me, life is never perfect. The thing about joy is that people tend to interchange it with being happy and those are two very different things. Happiness comes and goes but joy runs far deeper and I think it is more related to a deeply contented soul which then brings more peace in every situation.

The whole concept of trying to make everything perfect is exhausting and definitely not joyful, instead it is joy stealing. After cancer, divorce, and now as I edge closer to 50, the concept of perfect life, perfect kids, perfect job, being a perfect parent, etc. has settled into the knowledge that there is no such thing no matter what someone else’s posts and pictures look like on Facebook. I am also settling into a place that all that doesn’t really matter and is truly unachievable, but there is perfect peace in knowing that no matter what, God is in control and not me. Ahhhh…sweet relief. It’s really exhausting trying to control our circumstances, our jobs, our kids, our life and futile to think what we manufacture can actually bring us joy. I heard a Ted Talk where the speaker said that because of social media we have manufactured a caricature of our true selves; our focus has now become how to make our character on social media perfect and it has come to a point that we try to live our real lives based on who we portray on social media. Whoa and how sad for our children who’s identity is so wrapped up in how many ‘likes’ they get.Statistics (NACMS) show that the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased 450% since 1987 and I have to think social media and comparison has a little to do with that.

So what do we do? How do we get closer to joy despite our circumstances? First, release control. Control stems from fear; fear of failure, fear that your kids may make the wrong decision, fear you may make the wrong decision. A wise person said,’Fear puts a boundary on what your love will cover’~S. Unger. Let go of trying to control, trust God, trust yourself, trust your parenting and your kids. Yes there will be mistakes but don’t put boundaries on your or God’s love. Second (and I admit I have to work on this), spend more time looking at the flowers or the sunrise, your spouse, your kids’ eyes or even a book than social media. That way you’d be less likely to be able to compare yourself to someone else whose life appears more perfect than yours. Third, be grateful and try to find pieces of good even in the bad. This one is hard but if you can sit in quiet and dig deep there’s always something good, even if it may be a lesson learned or just becoming closer and more dependent on God, trials are where your faith gets to sharpen…seeing joy in every imperfection.

Today I wear Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Mark in JoAnn which is a plum/mauve. This lip gloss has lots of color and is super moisturizing. I’m pretty much in love with it because it’s so easy to wear. They say that it’s a longwear liquid lipstick/stain but it’s not. It’s really a lipgloss with lots of color that you’ll have to reapply often but I still love it. I love this company because the founder designed it to give back hence the name ’causemetics.’ For every product purchased she donates one to empower women thriving through cancer or domestic abuse. The products are free of some of the harsh chemicals used in products today. What’s not to love about that? Cheers! (photo cred: Leanna Vite photography)

%d bloggers like this: