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Beauty and Terror

16 Nov

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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!

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Notice

23 Oct

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I read an article last week which ended with a few challenge questions and one of those questions really stood out to me: ‘Do you keep watch for brilliance and beauty or do you always heed to immediate tasks and urgency?’

After I had cancer the first time I had many complications; the surgery went long, the cancer was worse than they expected, my nerve was cut leaving my right vocal fold paralyzed, and my prognosis wasn’t that great. I remember leaving the hospital and looking at the world a whole lot differently. By the time I was done with cancer the third time I noticed every single thing around me. I walked slower, I breathed air like I had never breathed it in before, I noticed people’s eyes, the sky and clouds looked new, I noticed just about everything around me and didn’t have to search far to find beauty, my eyes were wide open. Now I feel like I see only my calendar; deadlines, sales goals, the next activity, when I need to cheauffer kids, etc….Reading that challenge question reminded me to slow down, take life in, and notice.

There’s been alot of cancer around me lately. I don’t recall a time that cancer affected those in my immediate circle so much but in the past few months I’ve heard over and over the news that cancer has another in it’s grips-again that reminder to slow down, take life in, and notice. Life is busy no way around it but beauty is all around if you look for it; not just in things but also in people.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.

We leave you a tradition with a future.
The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.
People even more than things have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed and redeemed and redeemed.
Never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Your “good old days” are still ahead of you, may you have many of them.” ~Sam Levenson 

Swipe on some red lipstick.I recommend Nars Audacious Lipstick in Audrey which is a deep red (and also my daughter’s name)! Cheers!

sunset leaffall

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Homecoming

13 Oct

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It’s Homecoming season for high schools across the country. For high school boys and girls this means pep rallies, games, school spirit week, playing football against a local rival team, all culminating in a Homecoming Dance at the very end. Growing up the ‘dance’ part was always hard for me. I was a little awkward and alot shy. I always wished for the Sixteen Candles story of awkward girl gets noticed by popular guy but honestly I was never asked to any of the dances at school. I had many crushes throughout Jr High and High school (mostly with the same handful of boys) but alas, I admired them from afar knowing I didn’t really have a chance. My senior year of high school I was surprisingly chosen to be on Homecoming Court and I believe it was for one reason, I was kind to everyone. I didn’t belong to any particular social circle (unless you count choir and theater people as a group). I was just nice and respectful to those around me.

I have a super strong mom who is a retired social worker from Detroit. Her father passed away after an accident when she was a teen and because her mother then had to go back to work full time,she was a primary caregiver for her brother with muscular dystrophy; all while finishing high school then college where she graduated 2nd in her class.Then of course the whole move to Detroit from the Philippines with an infant not knowing anyone and having to find a job…yeah, strong.Both my parents would tell me I was beautiful but more than that they would emphasize kindness and respect. When I was disappointed that I wasn’t asked to dances or on dates my mom would tell me that my time would come and that it was because boys were just scared to ask.They taught me strength of character, trust in God, and pushed me to be a woman who could always take care of herself no matter what. They instilled this belief in me that I mattered and I was worthy of love.They taught me to persevere through trials, to have that internal drive, and to really believe that I could do anything I set my mind on. I lost some of that belief along the way because life is hard and words of others can be powerful in a bad way sometimes.

These are the lessons I want to teach my daughter. It’s really hard in the current culture vballwe live in today. Media, pictures, tv, snapchat, etc…the pressure to be liked, to be pretty, to be thin, to be popular; it’s the same stuff I struggled with in high school and beyond but the advent of social media outlets has made it crazy for these girls. I want my daughter to focus on bravery over beauty, kindness, compassion, and strength over number of ‘likes’ on posts. It’s a forever process and a constant reminder to focus because life is not a fairytale. In Proverbs it says that beauty is fleeting and it’s so true. How quickly someone becomes unattractive when their personality or character is ‘ugly’. Funny, I talk about and love lipstick but no amount of lipstick or make up can mask an ugly heart.

‘The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’ ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Today I wear Dior Addict Lip Glow which is always in my purse. It’s a lip balm which brings out the perfect color of your lips based on your pH. There are many imitations by other companies and believe me I’ve tried them but this one is the best. I chose this color because it brings out your own beautiful color. Let’s help our daughters focus on their strength and courage and what’s on the inside vs. what’s outside. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story

3 Nov

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I’m kind of addicted to the stories posted on Facebook from Humans of New York. If you haven’t heard of this and you’re on Facebook you should take a gander. Every day, or several times a day, they post a picture of someone (old,young, and all in between) along with a piece of their story. All the stories are so different and interesting. They have so many followers that they recently published a book of the many people and stories they have collected which my daughter bought me for my birthday. It brings to light the fact that everyone brings something to the table, everyone has different and unique stories, and also the fact that no one knows what happens behind closed doors. Looking at the beautiful pictures they post of all these different people, you would never know some of the things they have faced or celebrated; I find it so interesting.

Last week a close friend found out her young son was beaten by her ex-husband and more than likely not for the first time. It has been a long and stressful week for her but thankfully he is safe and ok for now. If you truly knew all of her story this would not be a surprise, but since most people don’t, it comes as a shock. What angers me a little is that people assumed the worst of her (or maybe the best of him) until this happened. Why? Partly because we love a great bad guy/good guy/gossipy story (admit it) but also because she stayed mostly silent. He continually spoke poorly of her and her choices while volunteering at church and school and putting his best face forward. He looked like the hero, people felt sorry for him, took care of him, and essentially believed his story without question. He was good at telling it, he was good at showing it, while again, she stayed away, she stayed silent. Is silence better? This has been a struggle for me because I have a whole piece of me that I’ve been silent about. I’m not so sure. What I’m fairly convinced about is this…the person who will not stop talking or accusing is typically the person feeling guilty for the thing they are making accusations for; they are the one’s having difficulty looking at themselves in the mirror and don’t want people looking so closely at them so point the finger elsewhere. Here’s the lesson…don’t assume until you know all sides of a story. Silence? I guess it’s ok for now.IMG_7347

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”~Maurice Switzer (Also see Proverbs 17:27-28)

Today I wear Aquaphor on my lips. Why? The unthinkable happened to me, the lipstick connoisseur…I had an allergic reaction to a lipstick. Which one? I have no idea because I used a couple new ones last week. Oh well. I love Aquaphor because it is one of those multi purpose products. Cheers!

Memories

4 May

maskI did something tonight that made me cry. The tears and emotion actually took me by surprise. May 10, 2010 was my last external beam radiation treatment for the cancer that wouldn’t leave me. For those not familiar with head and neck radiation you are fitted for a mask that is placed on you as you are bolted down to a table while getting radiation. I have saved this mask for years (in the basement). It’s creepy but I had several ideas running through my mind as to what to do with it. I originally thought some type of paper mache artwork mounted on my wall, then (since there are holes), possibly an earring/jewelry holder. Strange I know but I didn’t want to let the darn thing go. I felt like it would serve as a reminder of what I went through but today, I let it go. While cleaning my house and trying to simplify my life, I decided it was time to throw it out and when I did I felt a rush of emotion. So much has happened in my life since May 2010. The mask not only reminded me of the recurrent cancer battle, but also how much my kids had gone through and had grown since then, all the awesome people and lifelong friends I met, and really just how much my life has changed. Throwing the mask away made me miss my radiation friend Bob who I wrote about before, made me miss some of the doctors and staff who took great care of me during that strange 3 year period of my life, but it also made me think about the present and the future. How despite the twists and turns since then, I feel blessed, have joy, and mostly have hope for the future. My 17 year old son was watching me as I stared and cried at my mask.

Me, ‘Why am I crying?’ AJ, ‘Because you remember.’ I do remember, I’m sure he does too. I am so grateful. meandaj

I couldn’t be more grateful that the mask no longer has a use. It is just a memory; a painful, sad, but blessed memory that has given me strength and added to who I am today. I didn’t really need the actual mask to remember it all. What are some other things we can’t seem to part with? Most of the time the memories are enough.

Today I wear Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Bansar which is a perfect rose brown color you can use every day. I love these lip pencils becuase the are actually longer lasting and not drying at all! As for the name, who knows what that means but who cares, the color’s great. Cheers!

One Week

22 Jun

Two days ago I had writer’s block, I didn’t feel like there was anything interesting enough going on to write about. Last night I assessed the events over the past week and realized so many things have happened in just one week. A week ago my kids finished school. It was a landmark year for two of my kids because one is now officially going to be a freshman in high school and the other will be a 7th grader in Junior High which leaves my youngest child going into fourth grade and the last one in elementary school. The sad part is that he will no longer be in the same building with either of his siblings for the rest of his school career. Over the weekend my daughter had her dance recital. After a year of hard work learning and perfecting a dance, she had three shows over two days. She did great and was beautiful up on the stage. Three days ago my 9 year old had his second playoff game and lost. It was a great season and he was asked to be on the all star tournament team which made him happy. Unfortunately, we will be on vacation for a few of the games so he won’t be able to join the team this year. Last night my oldest son had his last game of the season. Although they lost by one point in the last inning, he had some great plays and ended on a good note. Add to those events my two boys going to basketball camp daily and my daughter going to a few swimming/birthday parties….well, kids keep you busy!

On a serious note, six days ago, my youngest son had a seizure. It’s only happened once before and it was frightening. It happened in the middle of the night and fortunately my oldest, who shares a room with him, heard him and woke us up. As we watched his little body convulse, I couldn’t help but cry. The following day he was tired but normal. Yesterday he had some brain wave testing done and something was abnormal on the test so today he is having a brain MRI. I am reminded once again of how things can change in an instant. I remember when I got the call that I had cancer, in just one sentence, ten seconds, over the phone my life forever changed. When it’s your child, hearing something bad is even worse. At least with me, I know I have the strength to do what it takes but for my son, I want to be able to fix it for him. Last night after the game we were all in the car driving home and we saw this rainbow.

 I was so thankful because it was a reminder to me that there’s always hope and God always has a plan. In the meantime, I thank all of you for your support and would appreciate prayers! Today I am wearing Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter Balm in Red Velvet. I LOVE these lip butters because they are so moisturizing and have lots of color as well. Loreal also has their version of lip butters which I also like, but the colors are very neutral while Revlon has some bolder colors. I chose Red Velvet because it’s red, also, while we were at the doctor’s office yesterday I was reading a magazine talking about ‘your cupcake personality’. I asked Alex which cupcake fit his personality and he said, “Red Velvet!”

Safe Haven

19 Oct

Today I had an appointment with my brilliant speech pathologist.  She has a PhD in speech pathology and also a love for music.  She has worked with opera singers and world renown choirs  so I trust her immensely with my fragile vocal cords.  If you’ve been following my story, you know that I am a singer and it is a deep passion for me.  You also know that the first surgery for my cancer permanently paralyzed my right vocal cord.  Eventually, cancer continued to spread handicapping my left vocal cord.  I have worked with Dr. Menaldi (and voice specialist Dr Rubin, MD) each and every time to restore my voice constantly giving me hope that I will speak well and I will sing again.  Through hard work and their constant encouragement I have been able to sing again (miraculously). Last June when the doctors saw cancer cells once again on PET scan, I gave up trying to rehab because I didn’t see the point.  Of course,  in September when ultrasound showed no tumors, I decided to resume and now I am back to ground zero.  Back in June I gave up on the singing, I grieved and I finally let it go. Today Dr. Menaldi said ‘no’.  My neck has taken a beating, but she will work with me until I am singing fully once again.  I never thought a doctor’s office would be a safe haven for me.  Since I have been diligently coming to this office for almost four years now, I have become friends with not just the doctors, but the staff.  They know my story, they have cried with me and encouraged me.  They have seen me at my worst and have followed my cancer journey every step of the way (not by choice of course).

It hasn’t always been easy for me to open up and be vulnerable, but illness left me with no choice.  I feel very fortunate to have quite a few ‘safe havens’; places where I can be myself, free from the worry of what others may think.  I count my friends and family, my home, and now my doctor’s office as safe havens for me (in my case, I also have to include the lipstick counters).  We all need at least one place because if you’re anything like me, it would be so easy to withdraw and have the only safe haven in the confines of your own brain…totally not safe!  So wherever it may be, a doctor’s office, a lipstick counter, or the comfort of your own room, find a place where you can be you to take the pressure off having to answer “everything’s fine”  all the time!

Today I wear Tarte Lipsurgence Liptint in Moody.  It is sheer deep berry colored stain which I love. I also love the name because sometimes I am moody (especially if my thyroid meds are off), and the people associated with my safe havens let me be that way!

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