Tag Archives: Bobbi Brown

Laughter and Thanksgiving

21 Nov

I can’t believe it is almost Thanksgiving.  This year has flown by and time seems to move faster and faster. As I reflect on what I’m specifically thankful for this year, there are so many things. I’m thankful that this year I did not need any surgery or treatment for cancer (first year since2008). I’m thankful for my voice and my breathing which slowly gets better with each day. I’m thankful for my awesome family and friends who have been with me throughout.  I’m thankful for my incredible medical staff who are now my friends.  I’m thankful for my job which provides financial blessing for my family. The list goes on and on.

My funny kids

One of the things I’m most thankful for is the laughter in my family that carries us through.  When you’re a parent, you always worry about your kids.  When you’re a parent with cancer, you worry even more.  My kids have been dealing with this since I found a lump in December of 2007; the ups and downs, the surgeries, radiation, etc. I always hope and pray that they are ok, that their childhood has not been tainted by fear or anxiety.  I do know, as we sat around and watched Malcolm in the Middle the other night, we had not lost the laughter.  We laugh about stupid stuff like burping and farting, I make up raps and songs, my kids and I reenact scenes from shows and try to speak in different accents, I’m so happy we did not lose that. Bill Cosby says, “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it. ”  I find this to be so true. Looking back at this incredible journey, there was lots to laugh about despite the difficulties. Like the time I was trying to do the grout on the kitchen backsplash with a drain coming out of my neck, or when I couldn’t speak and life was a huge game of charades, the snapping and motions I came up with…truly laughable.

Now when I laugh it’s actually a little difficult.  Because my vocal cords are so close together and because one of them is paralyzed, when I laugh really hard, I literally can’t breath.  I have to force myself to try to stop laughing to take a breath…which then makes everyone (including me) laugh even harder.  It’s really too much.  Life is a funny journey and if you don’t laugh about it, you’ll cry too much.  Exercise those smile muscles, smiling eyes are beautiful.

Since it is Thanksgiving and I am truly a lipstick lover, I am not picking one color this week.  I am treating myself to the Bobbi Brown 20th Anniversary Lip Palette.  It’s 20 beautiful colors in one palette.  I have been a lipstick fanatic for about 20 years and I believe I have owned the ten original Bobbi Brown lip colors (which are the top ten colors in the palette).  Happy Thanksgiving, don’t forget to laugh!

Nature vs. Nurture

8 Nov

I have had a crazy, stressful week this past week.  I eluded to a certain situation in my last blog and this week everything exploded and I was caught in the firestorm.  Everything revolved around a single person and their actions which finally caught up to them.  I’ve always wondered if bad choices really ever caught up to some people (because some seem to get away with a lot more than others), well now I know, sooner or later they do.  It was interesting watching everything unfold and because I’m always curious about people’s stories, I wondered what this person’s story was that made him who he was today.  It raises the question. ‘nature or nurture’?  Did God make us this way or did our environment create us into who we are today.  I say both.  One of my husband’s favorite phrases when he’s on a stubborn streak is, ” That’s how God made me and no one can change that.”  I believe that to an extent but I also believe that environment can soften and mold us.  I can only imagine the type of person he would’ve been had his parents not reigned him in. I believe we are all created with unique personalities and temperaments but I think our families, friends, and the environment we are raised in mold us too; and then of course, the different choices we make throughout our lifetime direct us one way or another.

People are funny and interesting and knowing people’s stories not only help you understand them more, but accept them and love them too.  I’m not saying that you have to accept their decisions or how they treat you, but it gives you a better handle on things in terms of ‘being the change’ for people (even if it means walking away).  I’m hoping this event may precipitate a change for the better but who knows.  I read a quote which says, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”-J. Baldwin.  I understand we need to face our challenges or challenging people head on whether change happens or not.  Maybe it’s just to plant the seed or to be a part of that ‘nurture’. We all have a voice and I’m so thankful after cancer that I still have mine.  We need to use it not only to spark change but to be a blessing to others.

This week I wear Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Crimson.  It’s a rich, deep, wine-red, color and the newest to my ever expanding collection.  It’s great for the holidays and red is always that reminder to for me to live life to the fullest…wear it like you mean it!

Ownership

27 Oct

This week I celebrated my birthday.  You all know how much I love birthdays.  This was my first birthday since 2008 that I did not have cancer, was preparing for treatment for cancer, or recovering from cancer surgery or radiation.  It was a little bittersweet for me because I had to be in Philadelphia for a work meeting.  Although I hated being away from my family, I had fun with people I had trained with before, but I also met a new lovely woman who I know I will continue to stay in touch with.  For this meeting, my roomate was a beautiful girl who was almost 20 years younger than me.  It was great and interesting to get to know her as well as my new friend who is almost 20 years older than me.  I loved listening to their stories and perpectives on life, work , family, etc., and what led them to make the decision which led them here. 

For this birthday, like every birthday, I looked back at my life and everything I’ve been through and also looked ahead with apprehension.  I am comfortable with the decisions I’ve made and the path I’ve taken.  There are many things we cannot control, you know, “life is 10% of  what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” (Stephen Covey). We all decide which path we take in each situation, whether it’s which peanut butter to buy, which doctor to choose, which job, etc…what most people don’t want to do many times is take ownership on those decisions.  Sometimes we  blame the situation or end product of our own decision if it is not what we thought or planned.  Looking back, I have made many decisions that I thought I may have regretted but I look at where I am today and I’m content and feel very blessed.  I would not have chosen to have cancer, but I did choose to fight it and believe in a  positive outcome. Let’s own up to the decisions we’ve made and change our perspective a little, there’s no going back.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown lipstick in Chocolate.  It’s actually a soft , creamy medium brown which on me has a hint of a plummy undertone (probably my lips).  It’s great for fall and not as dark as it sounds or looks.  I chose it because it was my birthday and I love Chocolate (as well as the color).

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!

Remember

16 Sep

This past week we remembered the tragedy of 9/11. The events of that day were played and replayed on the television and radio. There were numerous memorials and gatherings where people recalled where they were and how it affected their lives.  It was an event that we hopefully will never forget, but how soon we do forget.  Just a generation ago they were saying the same thing about Pearl Harbor, can you name the date of that tragedy which killed thousands?  After those events, we were more united as a country.  People were more united, friendlier, happier to be alive.  More people went to church, more people had hope for something better, do we still?  Anyway, it’s all sad.  All of our lives are marked with some sort of tragedy and most of the time only the closest will remember.

It’s like being diagnosed with cancer.  I remember each of the three times I got the call.  I remember the emotions, where I was, who I called, etc.  Now, with my temporary clean bill of health, it’s easy to forget I had cancer cells on my PET scan just a few months ago.  I move forward but I never forget.  When I cough or have a hard time breathing or swallowing because of my paralyzed vocal cord, I remember.  When my throat hurts in the morning and it feels tight, I remember; and when I look in the mirror and see the scar at the base of my neck, it is always a reminder of everything I’ve been through.  When the people I know and love look at me I wonder if they remember or if they’d rather forget.  It’s ok to move forward.  I love the resiliency of kids and I’m happy to say that when I act normal, I hope the kids forget for awhile that I was sick.  The only signs they remember is when I can’t control my cough; they look at me with concern.  Also, when planning for future events like a vacation, now they ask, “If you don’t have cancer this summer can we go on vacation?”.  Yes, we all change through tragedy, but some things we push down because it’s too hard to remember those feelings.  My memories always linger near the surface but it helps me be stronger and that is the hope after any tragedy, an extra dose of wisdom and strength for the future.

This month is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month (along with a few other cancers that have not yet claimed a month).  Those who know a little of my story know that I found the lump on my neck myself.  My voice was hoarse and my throat was sore so I massaged my neck and found a lump.  Take a few minutes and check your neck, you never know.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown Lipgloss in Bare Sparkle-a champagne colored gloss with a pearl sheen, gorgeous alone or on top of lipstick.  Memories are a beautiful, sparkly thing!

Challenge

22 Aug

This morning I was driving an hour to my first appointment and I started feeling sorry for myself.  The sun was out, I was off to work, my kids were being taken care of by my visiting in-laws today, and we had just come off a great weekend of visiting a themepark (always fun people watching at those places) and just overall relaxing.  I got mad.  I was mad because without the cancer, life is really great.  I asked myself why I still had to be here, year after year, scan after scan, still showing cancer????  I was mad that my family and my friends had to go through this again and I hate being the downer of the group.  The one who has to say, ‘yes, it’s still there,’ or ‘yup, got cancer again.’  I really want to be normal and worry about normal things like what I should wear tomorrow or if my shoes match.  Is this my new normal?  I guess it is, and I’m not happy about it.  Being sick sucks.  I don’t look sick, I don’t feel sick and yet some small cell in my body is trying to take over.  I truly am ok with whatever may happen to me, I’m not ok with the fact that my family and friends have to worry about me again.  I’m sad for them, I’m mad for them.  I’m mad that my kids have to wonder how it’s all going to turn out, I’m mad that my parents,  friends, and the rest of the family have to ask how I’m doing and be afraid of the answer.

I read a quote today, “Life challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”-Bernice Johnson Reagan (thanks Jennifer).  Well, I thought I had me figured out the first, second, and third time, but now I’m getting a little confused.  It’s that roller coaster again and today, yes, I’m mad about it.  Sorry to vent, it’s frustrating.  Is this challenge paralyzing me?  Of course not and I continue discovering new aspects of myself.  In fact, I hope I am becoming a better version of myself daily.  We should all strive to do that, cancer or not.

Today I wore Sue Devitt lipstick in Australian Bight.  On me it’s RED (I probably looked like a Geisha, oh well).  I know it gave me the fighting spirit to forge ahead.  In the next few weeks I will be seeing my radiation oncologist and getting another ultrasound to see if the tumor is growing so I am putting out a challenge.

I would like to put out a ‘RED LIPSTICK CHALLENGE’ for those of you who love life and have the fighting spirit.  Wear red lipstick daily for three weeks and e-mail me how you felt and any stories you would like to share.  With your permission, I will share a few anonymously.  For the men reading my blog, carry something red in your car or pocket as a reminder to live life and e-mail me too.  You can send all e-mails to lipstickjourney@att.net.

I can’t wait to read your stories!  Here are some suggestions for reds:  Bobbi Brown Burnt Red, Smashbox Marvelous, Lancome Merlot, Bare Escentuals Buxom gloss in Brandi, Covergirl Natureluxe Cabernet, Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia tinted lipbalm.  Have fun!

Tic Toc

30 Jul

“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 daylight, 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, from Rent.

Tic toc, all we have is time, how do we spend it?  I learned the news that I had cancer one week before leaving for training.  The last thing I wanted to do was leave my family and friends for three weeks and use those minutes with people I didn’t know.  I listened to this song on my way there and then again on my way back and I discovered that my attitude had changed.  On my way, I thought about the brevity of life and truly the limited time we have and wondered why I was leaving my family during such a critical time in my health.  On my way back, I thought about the new friends I had made and how those moments I spent on the new relationships impacted my life.  At the end of training we were given evaluations individually.  What my trainer told me was that in the beginning he couldn’t figure me out because I was so quiet, but in the end he said it turns out I was a quiet storm affecting one person at a time.  This made me cry.  Since cancer, my life mission has been to make a positive impact one person at a time and his statement was validation that I was doing something right.

You’ve heard me say this before but I will say it again and again.  We impact each person that we meet whether positive or negative, people walk away from each encounter feeling something about you.  Sometimes, it’s just a few minutes and in this case for me, it was three weeks.  What type of impact do you want people to feel after you walk away?  I choose to make it a positive one.  Yes, three weeks was a long time, but the moments I spent with certain people were not a waste of those precious 525,600 minutes.  People are not a waste of time.  So thank you to Michelle, Jennifer, Ashley(TX), Ashely(FL), Lauren, and of course, Fernando.  You have all impacted my life.

For my new friends I wear  2 colors, Chantecaille- Angel Skin ,  a soft pinkish nude, because you were all my angels during training; and Bobbi Brown -Burnt Red because it’s my reminder to live boldly (and because Fernando said he loves red lipstick).  Thank you for the shared tears and all the laughter.

No Fear

29 Jun

Here I am again in the PET scan room (written at 6:30am), waiting the 2 hours until the contrast they injected me with makes its way through my body so they can detect any cancer cells floating around.  Am I afraid? Of course.  Not so much for the test. this is probably my 10th or 11th scan in three years so I’m used to lying still with metal hovering just inches over my face and body.  No, I’m always scared to hear the results (they haven’t exactly been positive most of the time).  I also am seeing my laryngologist this week and that scares me too.  Mostly because I don’t really want to know how close or non-functional my vocal cords are.

After cancer, I don’t really trust my body.  Before each diagnosis, I have felt great (minus an occasional sore throat).  I would love to rejoice each time I get clean results or good news, but even when/if I do I am hesitant and suspicious.  Will I ever get that trust back?  I doubt it.  Will I let it control me and take away my joy?  I won’t let it.  Yes, I believe the fear of cancer coming back will always be there, but even if I don’t trust my body, I will always trust in God who created it and has a perfect plan for me.

All of us have our hesitations and fears but there are many things we cannot control.  happiness is based on our outside circumstances but joy comes from within, from trusting our Creator has a plan although it may be different from ours.  Fear is ok but don’t give it the power to control you and rob your joy.  Life is for the living!

I’m not wearing any metal for my PET scan, but one thing I am wearing is Bobbi Brown Treatment Lipshine in Rosy .  It’s a gorgeous warm pinky brown color that looks great on ALL skintones, not quite a full on lipstick, but also not quite just a lip gloss.  One thing I’ve learned is to live for today and today I choose to have a Rosy outlook on life!

Finding the Right Shade

18 Apr

I will preface this by saying that I am no expert. I am just an everyday woman who has been searching for the right shade and texture of lipstick for at least 20 years, and believe me, I’ve tried EVERYTHING! Have I found it? Probably, but now the fun is on trying to find something better. Anyhow, I decided to first ask the experts on how they decide what the right shade is for women. I visited Diane from Bobbi Brown at Macy’s and Laura from YSL at Nordstrom. Both women said they look at the overall coloring of the person, dark haired women can usually pull off deeper shades while blondes, brighter shades. Generally, they try to match your lip color and either go lighter or darker from there.

Most women have a plum, pink, or reddish undertone to their lips. Mine is plum and to know yours is a good start.  For evening, I go deeper and for daytime I either go with almost the exact color of my lip in a gloss or go a little lighter for a lipstick. I stay away from matte and long-wearing lipsticks because I have naturally dry lips (which my doctor says is because I don’t drink enough water, FYI) and these tend to be more on the dry side. If you are going to wear a deep shade of lipstick, always exfoliate your lips first and then moisturize with a lip balm, this will help the color go on smoother.

So here’s the deal, for day, wear something close to your natural lips tone. In the evening, you can play with darker shades; of course red is a universal color for an evening out, just choose the right red for you (red-brown, red-blue, red-orange…try them on first!). Beyond all the rules…JUST PLAY WITH THE COLORS! Before I left, Diane from Bobbi put me in a hot pink shade…WOW, did it transform the color on my face! While Laura, put on a brown/peach Golden gloss from YSL, again, WOW! Two totally different looks and both very wearable and beautiful!

My favorite brands in terms of color selection and texture are Bobbi Brown, YSL, Christian Dior. In terms of drugstore, L’Oreal and Revlon, although all the new Covergirl lipsticks are also pretty awesome! Now go play!

My Journey Through Thyroid Cancer

11 Apr

It all started with a sore throat.  I am a mom, a sales rep, and a singer and for months I struggled with a sore throat.  After a couple rounds of antibiotics, I sat in my car massaging my neck and found a lump. Less than a week later, I had gone to a doctor, done an ultrasound and biopsy, and was told I had thyroid cancer. Treatment was straight forward, remove the thyroid and drink I-131 radiation. After much research I discovered that thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers on the rise but also has a 97% survival rate.  By the end of the same month I was headed for surgery and confident about the results.

My journey took a turn there. Coming out of the surgery, I found out that my cancer was aggressive and that the nerve supplying my right vocal chord had been cut leaving my vocal chord permanently paralyzed. My surgeon told me I would never sing again and speaking and breathing would be strained, I couldn’t speak for months. It was an amazing trek after that. Over the next couple of years I had two more surgeries and endured aggressive external beam radiation which partially paralyzed my remaining left vocal chord.

Today, I am one year cancer free, talking, and miraculously beginning to sing again. I have learned many things:

  • Live passionately because life can change in an instant
  • Use your voice! Tell people you love them; stand up for what you believe in! Your voice and breathing is a MIRACLE!
  • Listen to your body and treat it well
  • Sometimes, God has a plan that is different from yours, just trust Him and go with it

Right now, I am wearing red lipstick, Bobbi Brown Burnt Red.  It’s a rich, creamy red which for me symbolizes my journey and how I want to live from now on, passionate, loving, and full of life!

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