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Tag Archives: breathe

Fear

30 Jul

pier Are there only 2 sides? Is there really only fear and love? One or the other? Does perfect love cast out all fear?

I admit, I have many fears ranging from the typical spiders and snakes to the large catastrophic events like earthquakes, fire, and of course cancer coming back yet again. Many of my fears are inconsequential and not really debilitating. In fact, since having cancer, I still feel afraid of things but most of the time I overcome by thinking either ‘who cares’ or really ‘what control do I actually have over the situation/thing.’ If I can be totally transparent I have been struggling for a few years with a specific fear which for me has at times been a little debilitating. It is the fear of a person. I won’t be specific but because of events from my past and how they have shaped me, along with actual events that have happened, this fear to me was warranted. Fear has had me looking over my shoulder, looking out my windows at night, locking my doors (which I do anyway), not going to certain places ‘just in case’, adjusting my schedule…you get the gist. Fear changed how I lived. It is a work in progress but now alongside of that shrinking feeling of fear is anger. Anger that I am still making certain adjustments and anger because I still have that fear (vicious cycle) because just when I think I’m about to overcome the whole thing, something else happens. I am finding that anger is starting to take over that fear and maybe that’s a good thing.

When exactly does perfect love cast all that out? I’m honestly not sure. Yes, I believe God is in control. Yes, I trust God has my back but in between fear and love there’s a whole lot of anger, frustration, forgiveness and exhaustion. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. What I do know is that fear steals joy, peace, fun, and takes parts of your life that you may not even be aware of. It’s the thorn in your side day to day. Fear turns life into the what if; what if I get cancer back, what if I really am not good enough, what if my child gets in an accident, what if those threats are real, what if, what if, what if? Here is where I have to land…“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.  A daily active faith and trust in God. Our lives can be made dark by many things but fear takes away the freedom to really live. There is a song we sing at church with the words ‘I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.’ Every time we sing it, I cry because I need that truth every single day. Fear> worry> anger> faith> trust> breathe> peace> free>repeat.bird

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.’~ Yann Martel 

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude Radiant lipstick in Panko. Did you know yesterday was National Lipstick Day? Uh yeah, my friend Adrienne had to tell me (thank you)! Anyhow, I picked this one up and I have to say I like it! All of the colors in this line are supposed to be ‘nude’ with just a hint of color. They are creamy but more on the glossy side, not the one to choose if you’re looking for hard core color. I chose this color because it has a coral undertone but it’s not too orange. Thank you for doing life with me! Cheers!

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Church

18 May

church

I have been going to church my entire life. My parents did not exactly make church optional. This was not a bad thing really, I didn’t know any different and my parents didn’t make church look like a chore, it was a place they enjoyed going to. I grew up taking Sunday school classes, singing in the choir, working in the nursery, and really having community while learning about God. Although as a teen it wasn’t great fun and maybe I rolled my eyes those early Sunday mornings but we never missed. I have to say when I went away to college church was not on my mind but eventually I was drawn back. I missed the stability and the community and honestly the peace I felt listening to God’s Word so again in my 20’s I became a regular attender and volunteer.

I recently read another blog which said ‘the church is a beautiful and broken place..it can heal and restore and it can hurt and turn away.’ The author also says regarding current hot button issues, ‘…it’s a lot harder to just swallow what scripture says when there’s a face on the other side.’ Good stuff. So, last weekend I had a bit of an epiphany while sitting in church. The topic was ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ a loaded question which they unpacked beautifully. I have to say I have had a few not so fun things happen in my life in recent years and I did turn to my church and the people there for love, support, advice, etc. and have felt both loved and restored but also hurt. Awhile back I felt completely supported after months of asking questions and seeking prayer during an extremely tough time but after a single conversation about me with someone else who could speak more ‘bible-language’ the tune changed from supported to maybe more questioned and judged. It was hurt compounding hurt and I felt myself become guarded, distrustful, and distant. It became increasingly difficult to go to services and engage and to even look some people in the eye. The institution I had relied on my entire life, poured into, and loved did not feel like home anymore and I could feel my heart harden a little. Was the church really a SAFE place for ALL the broken; broken hearted, broken families, troubled kids, abused, blended families, those with more complicated life stories? Are those just empty words and invitations that can turn on a dime when a truly difficult situation happens? Is a person more religious and believable if they have more bible verses memorized? All questions running through my mind.2012-07-08 16.33.59

So what happened last Sunday? I let it all go. Forgiveness. I looked at everyone around me and even the pastor speaking at the pulpit and realized the church is just a bunch of broken people gathered in a building doing the best they can while seeking God. We’re all human, we all make judgement calls and sometimes they’re not always right (and that includes pastors because they’re human too).One thing I know for sure, that question, ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ He is right there with you. Whatever I felt toward ‘the church’ through the difficult times with cancer or family issues I never doubted that God was right there holding my hand and that He had a plan. Last Sunday despite the questions in my mind and heart, I realized the church and its imperfections were just part of my journey to continue drawing closer to God. People always say they feel judged or not accepted or maybe that they don’t have a place or feel welcomed but should that be the burden of the church or the person or maybe both? The true burden lies with us, the people professing to be Christians. We are the church. Why does someone feel judged, because we judge. Why does someone feel left out, because we place ourselves in our cliques or comfort zones and stay there. Last Sunday I felt my shoulders relax a little and as they closed out with a song near and dear to me, the song I heard in my head before fully waking up after my first cancer surgery, the words rang true for me, ‘It is well with my soul.’

‘The kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God~D. Campbell’

Today I wear my old standby Dior Addict Lip Glow. I ALWAYS have this in my purse. It is like a lipbalm but it brings out the natural berry of your lips. It is the only lip thing I buy consistently. I chose it today because of the topic and what this product does. Glow brings out the natural color of your lips and adds a hint of berry, being a Christian we glow from the Holy Spirit inside us. Let’s work harder to be a little nicer to each other showing less judgement and more mercy and grace. Cheers!

 

#thestruggleisreal

15 Nov

cold

I’ve kind of been feeling like a fake lately. I always write about finding the good in people, inspiration, and people having a story and how that story has shaped and molded them into who they are, their actions, their beliefs, etc. Well, I’ve been struggling and I mean really struggling at times with a couple things for a specific person from my past; hate and unforgiveness. That’s right, this is me being honest. I can find no other way to say it or to feel it. Yes, I know the saying ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ and also the conversation from the Bible where Jesus was asked how many times we need to forgive and He says ‘…not seven times, but seventy times seven.’ Believe me, I get it. I’ve listened to enough sermons that tell me that the one ‘suffering’ is the person who can’t forgive. Here’s the deal with me though, it’s the 70 times 7 thing. This is where it gets difficult because honestly it just gets tiring. It is so emotionally draining to forgive, release, then have another offense where you have to forgive again for essentially the same thing from the same person. Now, the hate comes in because the offenses done over and over are not directly toward me but to my children and I am one protective mama bear. I cannot stand the actions and lies told to them, and from where I stand it has become very difficult to separate sin from sinner. Fortunately my kids are older and wiser. Like all kids, they crave truth in both words and action and when the two don’t match they don’t pay attention and they lose trust. Sometimes there is this shadow of sadness that veils my days because of this situation and I can’t help but feel anger, then back to that hate thing. It’s a work in progress because I’m pretty confident it will never change.

I know this is vague and confusing but relationships, good and bad, are complex. Forgiveness in this case is hard because it is an action that literally for me has to be exercised daily for this specific person and it is mentally draining. It is truly that 70 times 7. How easy it would be to forgive someone for a single offense and be done with it but this has to be a constant, active process for me.  ‘Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.’~Corrie ten Boom  Yes, I will continue to forgive and gain strength from that. ‘Let no man pull you so low as to hate him’~ Martin Luther King Jr. Again, work in progress but I already feel a little better just talking (or writing) through it. Hurting people hurt people because of their own damage and insecurities;love the sinner, hate the sin. Last quote from an unknown author, ‘Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior, forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.’ Done….for now.puppy

It turns out I don’t think I’m allergic to lipstick…I think I just have to stop rubbing my face in my new puppy’s fur. Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte which is a deep burgundy and great for this upcoming holiday season. These lipsticks are great because they have TONS of color and feel like nothing on your lips. Until next time…cheers!

Blue Skies

20 Jul

sky

Have you ever opened your eyes to a new day and the sky just seems bluer than you’ve seen it in a long time? That was me today and it’s only Monday! There have been many changes in my life this year and the changes just keep on coming. For the past several months I have allowed these changes both good and bad stress me out a little. Questions about job, home, kids, and really about the future have infiltrated my mind, top that off with the general busy pace of life and it’s really been a lot. I ran into a good friend over the weekend and she said, ‘Trust God and take one day at a time.’ Ahhhh, yes. During my cancer journey that’s all I could do and I most recently have let life (and control of circumstances) simply take over. I heard a great song this morning by Greg Holden called ‘Hold On Tight.’ Some of the lyrics are “But I don’t take my life for granted. I’m gonna hold on tight to what I’ve been handed.” “So when you look at yourself tell me who do you see? Is it the person you’ve been or the person you’re going to be?” Really great lyrics and exactly what I needed to hear today to go with my blue skies. I have been handed A LOT! Two weeks ago I got the news once again that my tests (bloodwork and ultrasound) came out clean so I am officially 5 years-plus cancer free! I have my health, my family, my friends, and have found an incredible man who loves me for exactly who I am. Looking back at all my ups and downs with health, career, and family over the past several years there have been many many blessings and most of those revolve around people. Life really does take a village. I read somewhere that beauty grows in the soil of adversity. The writer says that in adversity we either give in or dig in and life in general needs to be planted firmly for beautiful things to grow. Dig in. Today, thinking about the past few months/years and all the difficulties, I have been blessed with amazing people filtering in and out of every circumstance and turn that life has taken me; some are friends forever and some God had with me for just exactly that moment but seriously, each person has had an impact one way or the other. These are the fertilizer while I’m ‘digging in’ helping me to grow.

We carry so much stuff around and lots of times we think we’re the only one or that we can handle it ourselves but if you look around there are people willing to walk right along side of you and if need be, hold you up when you are too tired to keep going. There will always be circumstances in life that throw you off balance, but get excited about all the people that surround you. There will always be plenty of people who will criticize or try to bring you down either to your face or behind your back…who cares. Listen to kind words, cherish in your heart the kind actions of others and remember you can be that person too. So for today, the sky is blue and the air is warm. Hold on tight to what you’ve been handed, take the lessons and experiences from your past and be excited for the person you are continuing to become.

Today I wear Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Watermelon which is a red/pink/orange-y color perfect for summer. These lipsticks are all natural and I think the container is not only biodegradable but also  I think if you plant them wildflowers grow. Cheers!

Mommy, Mom, Mama

9 May

kids1517  ACT, SAT, College visits. Growing up. Have I done enough? Do I love enough? I still love your hugs you know. Do you feel loved? Do you know I’m always here for you? ‘I love you mama.’ My heart bursts and breaks at the same time. You are on the verge of flying away. Do you know I can’t sleep until I know you’re home safe? You’ll always be my baby

16  The sweet age of your teen years. Working, driving, baby steps into adulthood. Did I say you could start dating? Did you know that I hold my breath when you drive?

15  You’re taller, you’re developing rapidly, you’re losing your baby face and looking more like a baby adult. Driver’s ed, talking about finding a job…please slow down

14-13  The weird ages. Junior High. Navigating through emotions. Changing friends, changing hormones, changing interests. Mom becomes two syllables..’Mo-om‘. You ask, ‘Am I good enough, pretty enough, popular enough?‘ Sorry, not everyone’s nice. I say, ‘You are beautiful, you are so special, you are loved.’ I pray you always believe.

12  Why are you taller than me? Voice changing, interests changing. You’re noticing the opposite sex, I’m trying to keep you my baby. Planning outfits, using deodorant, using hair gel, STOP GROWING UP ALREADY! Can I still tuck you in please?

11  ‘Mommy‘ starts turning into ‘Mom‘.’Don’t hug me in front of my friends.’ ‘I can walk to the bus stop myself.‘ I still want to hold your hand crossing the streetbus stop

10-5  I’m sorry babies, mommy has cancer. You are all in school now. 3 back packs, 3 lunches, all on the bus, the first good-bye’s. Learning, making new friends, growing independent;. Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade, I will fight as hard as I can because I don’t want to leave you. I am your mommy.

4-1  AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Am I enough? First steps, first teeth. I’m so tired. I still watch you sleep. I would die for you.

Birth  I can’t stop staring. You are beautiful. You are a miracle. I love you. Happy Birthday.

Motherhood is the hardest job in the world. You love with all you’ve got and you feel the deepest hurts. It is an extraordinary lesson in grace; giving all of yourself without necessarily getting anything back. There may be long days but the years go by so fast and seem so short. ‘Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.’~Jodi Piccoult 

Happy Mother’s Day! Pick a red lipstick and go with it. You are awesome!relaymom

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!

Unexpected Family

21 Jan

2013-07-05 04.25.31

My dad is the oldest of 7 and my mom is the youngest of 4, that being said, I have many cousins, aunts and uncles. Here’s the thing, when my parents immigrated to the United States in 1972, it was just us; me, mom, and dad…no other family. So what happens when you have no family around? You find people in similar situations, similar interests, or maybe just genuinely lonely and you make a family. I grew up with several other Filipino families who we met in our Detroit apartment complex, church, work, etc. who became my ‘cousins’, ‘aunts/uncles’, and ‘grandparents’. I don’t remember a time flipswhen families and extended family grew up and stayed in the same area. I know people who have this and it’s awesome, but with the changing times, changing family units, and the changing economy, families seem to spread all over the place for most folks. What’s the definition of family? Traditionally, family is defined as ‘a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household’ but I also found the definition of a family as ‘a group united by significant shared characteristics’.

The past few weeks have been filled with some super happy exciting things that I will talk about soon and at the same time the past week has been boutextremely stressful and at times frightening. Some of you know that I started getting involved with a local roller derby team over the summer. My time with them has been off and on because of a knee injury and now the current situation I’m in, but last Saturday as they welcomed me once again with open arms it was overwhelming. I couldn’t help but feel like I had another group of people that have become family. I have found unexpected family as a child through friends of family, and as an adult through a college sorority, work, church, and now derby. I am so grateful. There are many people who are lonely and have little to no blood relatives around, what’s your part? Would my life be different if my parents did not put themselves out there or if people had not reached out to us? Absolutely. Hands and eyes wide open, someone needs you as much as you need them.’There are the families that we are born into, and there are thederbysis families that we choose our circle of friends. While their faces may change over the course of our lives, the joy they bring us remains constant.’~unknown

Today I wear YSL Volupte’ Tint In Oil in Drive Me Copper. It’s winter in Michigan and my lips tend to get dry. I was introduced to these just a couple days ago and WOW. It’s oily but not greasy, it’s lighter but not exactly a balm or a gloss. I can’t really describe it but it’s awesome! It has a wash of color, enough to wear alone and since it’s YSL, it’s a bit pricey, but WOW. I chose this color because it’s like glistening gold on my lips (like sunshine)…cheers!

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