Tag Archives: breathe

Identity

20 Nov

firstsnow14
It’s been a bit of a challenging week. Work has been busy because it’s almost the end of the year, the holidays are creeping upon us at what seems a faster rate than normal, we had our first snow and it wasn’t exactly just a ‘dusting’, and I heard from a friend who had some not so good news (and those are just a few of the things from this week). Having cancer connects you to lots of different people but there are always a few that you really connect with because either your cancer or your journey is similar. Last year, at around this time, I received a goodbye email from my friend Bob. I’ve written about him several times and needless to say, his passing was extremely difficult for me (read about him here). This week, almost exactly a year later, I heard from a woman I have actually never met in person but have emailed fairly consistently since the start of my cancer path 6 years ago. I’m not sure how we even got connected but we had similar cancer stories; thyroid, multiple surgeries, radiation, etc. Anyhow, she reached out to me and told me she now has breast cancer and it hurt my heart. It was difficult for me to hear that after all she had been through she was once again back in the fight, this time a different type of cancer. She has an incredible faith in God and like all of us, she will do what she has to do.

I have a friend who’s a flight attendant. She loves talking to people and she told me that she recently started asking people she meets to sum up who they are in one or two words or phrases. I had to think about that for a minute because what would I say about myself? How do we define ourselves? I would venture to say that ‘cancer survivor’ may be one of those phrases that slips out of me but is that good enough? The definition of survivor in thefreedictionary.com is to remain alive, in yourdictionary.com the definition of survivor is someone who got through; so do I want survivor to be my word, my identity? Sounds a little…eh, no growth. Yes I had cancer but that is not who I am today. It’s easy to identify ourselves by what we’ve been through but maybe our description should be more about who we’ve become. Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.~Bernice Johnson Reagon. Life is challenging for everyone in many different ways but let’s not get trapped in events or life’s drama, good or bad, and let’s not have them define us. Maybe how we define ourselves is more fluid, ever changing based not on our experiences but what we’ve learned from them; always moving forward, always growing. So if we by chance happened to sit together on an airplane, how would I describe myself to you today? Courageous (based on the definition I spoke of in a previous blog, sharing my heart and vulnerable), easy going (because I take each day as it comes), and optimistic. These can change with the ebb and flow of life but I think our core generally stays the same. It’s been a challenging week like I said, but I’ll take it as a chance to continue to learn more about me and more about life.

Today I wear Nars Audacious lipstick in Olivia. You pretty much can’t go wrong with a Nars lipstick. This formula feels really light but packs a punch in terms of color, hence the name, audacious. I chose Olivia because it’s a deep red…loving life and feelin’ the red again! Cheers!

Scars

16 Nov

scar
I was sitting in a lunch room speaking to some of my customers when one of the staff members asked what the scar on my neck was from. She made some assumptions and I told her my story while she ate. Like most people, after hearing my story, she didn’t know what to say but I’m ok with that. Usually I start asking questions about them to divert attention away from me. I asked about her job, what her responsibilities were in the office, her plans for Thanksgiving, etc. What’s great is that typically when you actively listen to someone, they will continue to speak and open up (at least that’s been my experience). She ended up telling me all kinds of things from her job woes to her food allergies but ended up talking about her strained relationship with her kids. She had been a single mom for a very long time and now that her sons were grown and out of the house they were no longer speaking to each other. She teared up talking about some events that led to the situation and how hurt she was, but pride on both sides prevented them from speaking and she wasn’t going to be the first to apologize,hmmmm…sad. She said she has grieved the relationship with her sons like a death in the family and she will always have a broken heart because of it; sounds like ‘sorry’ would be easier.

I have a few scars, one on my neck from cancer, one on my shin from banging my leg into a car door, and probably a few that I don’t remember. Every scar tells a story, either a funny one or maybe a difficult one, but either way, it’s a wound that’s been healed while also leaving it’s mark.’Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.’~ Cormac McCarthy. What about the scars you don’t see? The ones left by hurt, words, anger, discouragement, do those heal? I think it takes a really long time and maybe, without the ‘sorry’ and forgiveness, will never heal. My daughter recently showed me a picture that her friend drew of herself. I was shocked and saddened to see this self portrait because it showed a girl, sad and scarred pulling a mask away from her face; the mask was of a beautiful smiling girl. Being a woman and a mom of a teenage girl, I know how hurtful girls and other women can be to each other and because of my past I am fully aware of how damaging words and actions can be. When scars heal they change the texture of your skin, what about the damage of scars on your heart and soul? The hurt always alters something. ‘It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.’~Rose Kennedy

We are all damaged and scarred to some degree and we should remember that when speaking to each other. How do scars of the heart heal? Kindness, peace, patience, love, sound familiar? (Galatians 5:22-23). Some scars run deep and are easily injured again, be patient, continue moving forward. Maybe your heart won’t be the same, but like the scars on your skin, you’ll be a little bit tougher.

Today I’m wearing Cherry Chapstick, it’s a throwback kinda day! Cheers!

Que Sera Sera

20 Oct

Annababy

Doing what I love-West Side Story

Doing what I love-West Side Story

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Once upon a time there was a shy little girl who had big huge dreams. She dreamed of being Little Orphan Annie, of having powers like Wonder Woman or at least ‘adjusted’ to have powers like Bionic Woman, she wanted a love story like Joanie and Chachi, style like Charlie’s Angels, she wanted to be in the Olympics or at least get hair like Dorothy Hamill, then Farrah Fawcett, then the Go Go’s, then style like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna (in the 80’s not later). She wanted to be a musician, a dancer, an astronaut, Miss America. By the way, if you know all my references then I can guess what age range you’re in! She loved the world and everything was possible.
lissabday50spartysonggirlsmeandfranDLA2

Years later just days before her 45th birthday she believes once again that anything is possible. Life is full of adversity that can take you off your path, distract you, and maybe deter some of your dreams. She learned that adversity doesn’t really change people, it just exposes their character and brings them closer to who they really are. So, through cancer and a broken relationship, she stands strong and looks back at the many miracles God has brought. The healing of her body and her heart, the closeness of old friends and the beauty of new ones, the realization that life can change in a moment of time, and the gratefulness for each breath. Her senses are hyper-aware of all the little things, the stars, the sky, the rain, but most of all the people that surround her. Life is beautiful.
fam

My dad used to sing this song around the house when I was young (along with a bunch of other songs, of course), I just thought it was fitting for this post. Que Sera Sera (great version), whatever will be will be…I’m overwhelmed looking back at all that has transpired and all the people God has put in my path (sorry I can’t put everyones pictures up but you know who you are). You have all inspired me, thank you and I love you…best birthday ever. Oh yeah, Marc Jacobs Lust For Lacquer lipgloss in Magic because of the name, duh!

Happily Ever After

5 Oct

ut mts

Happily Ever After. That statement means alot of things to different people. Disney and Hollywood have made it a phrase to mean you’ve found your Prince Charming… the end. For some this may be true but I’m guessing for most it’s not. Maybe for some it means they’ve made it in their career, or maybe finally discovered what they’re meant to do or where they’re meant to be, and maybe for others it means getting the report that you’re cancer free. Like I said, could mean many different things, but the phrase itself puts a little pressure on people don’t you think? Is that what we’re all striving for? The happily ever after?

I’m not saying that it’s not good to have happiness as a goal, but life is constantly full of challenges and adversity. Most of the time I’m not whistling while I work and birds are not braiding my hair every morning (unfortunately); but here’s the great thing, there’s always an end. The challenges we face day to day, year to year always have an ending, not always the ending that you want but they do end at some point hopefully leaving us with nuggets of wisdom and a little stronger along the way. Our history and experiences shapes us into who we are, and what’s beautiful is that when there’s an end, there’s also a beginning. So maybe Disney got it all wrong. Happily Ever After shouldn’t be at the end, maybe it should be at the beginning because with each new day we get a fresh start or at least a fresh perspective based on where we’ve been and the decisions that we’ve made, good or bad.

The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.~ Arnold Bennett

Today’s lipstick is Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy (which is a pale pink color) with MAC Lustreglass lipgloss in Love Nectar (which is a shimmery peachy-pink) on top. I chose the two together because they are similar shades, both easy to wear but the gloss adds a little bit of pop. The names also remind me of the fairytales of Disney…Boy(s) and Love. Cheers!

About A Boy

25 Aug

AJ
My son just turned 17 and is heading into his junior year of high school. We were talking the other day about what the year has in store for him: ACT/SAT testing, checking out colleges, sports, and of course more immediate on his mind, The Homecoming Dance. He was talking about what he’d like to wear and whose house he was taking the ‘bus’ from, and when I asked him about a date he said ‘what?’. Ah yes, one of those dreaded ‘date’ dances where girls wait patiently for boys to ask them. If you recall, I was not exactly the girl anyone would ask to dances when I was younger (a little geeky, alot shy); I always hoped and waited, but didn’t actually get asked until my senior year, oh well, I’m over it. It’s alot different these days and I think it’s better, less pressure. Now, a bunch of people get dressed up, meet at a house, take pictures, and get on a ‘bus’ and go together…boys, girls, mostly all friends with very few actual ‘couples.’ Anyhow, he ended up telling me that a girl (who has liked him a long time) asked to match him…what? He said this girl asked him what colors he was wearing because she wanted to match him and get pictures taken with him (like they’re a couple), then, he wouldn’t have to talk to her if he didn’t want to for the rest of the night. WHAT? First I thought she was pretty bold for asking, then I thought, why would she want to do that? Settle for the crumbs? Just want a pic then you don’t have to talk to me?2014-04-09 23.52.39-1

Dear daughter/sister/mom/girlfriend, you are special. Someone will love you exactly the way God made you. No need to beg, cry, change yourself, pretend to like things you don’t; no need to settle for the crumbs or less than the respect and love you deserve. As women, we serve naturally; we are nurturers, caregivers and sometimes we feel lost without someone taking care of us. We are strong. When what you love, what you do, and who you are, are not enough, then move on because truly… they are the ones not enough for you. Love yourself and rest in the knowledge that the One who created you loves you more then you can comprehend.You are beautiful.

Today I wear Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Hydrating Sheer Lipshine in Boy which is one of their all time best selling colors. This is actually my favorite formula in the Chanel lipsticks because they are hydrating and have just enough color. This is a very easy color to wear everyday; a pale pinky-brown…very neutral but not too nude if you know what I mean. I chose it partly because I love it and partly because of the name Boy. Is it always about a boy? Cheers!

Unrealized Dreams

14 Aug

changing woman
Recently I was able to reconnect with a friend who I haven’t seen in probably three years. It was great because we were able to talk like no time had passed yet our lives were so different than they were 3 years ago. We talked and laughed and really marveled at how life can change so quickly. We talked about the future and about our dreams and what we would like to see; some things we had in common, some we just laughed about. Something I shared is the realization after cancer that you just never know what will happen tomorrow, so I try every single day to do one thing that brings me closer to a dream or goal.It certainly keeps me busy. She asked how I manage to do all the stuff I HAVE to do PLUS all the stuff I WANT to do…I kept my answer simple…one day, one moment at a time. If I don’t fit all of it in, I don’t sweat it, I just move on to the next day. Here’s another awesome thing I discovered, if you live with your eyes wide open to opportunity, sometimes yellow flowernew dreams make their way into your life. Remember when I wrote about watching roller derby? I watched because the minute I saw their booth at a local fair and spoke to a couple of the girls, I knew I wanted to be a part…enter new dream! See how it works? I’ve been talking about this with a friend for awhile and she recently shared with me that she decided to pursue her dream of riding horses! She said that by me talking about doing something new it pushed her to also do something she had always been interested in. Why not? What stops us? How and why do we forget some of the things we loved? We all have responsibilities; jobs, kids, etc. but if we don’t do a little something that reminds us who WE are every single day, we slowly start to lose a little bit of ourselves. Thankfully we are all created uniquely us; different, special, and beautiful.
me and jen
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Today I wear Urban Decay Pulp Fiction Revolution lipstick. This is seriously a hot red; dark, edgy, awesome! You all know I love Urban Decay lipsticks and this is no different. Lots of moisture plus lots of color…limited edition so get it while you can! I chose this color because it’s bold. Live your adventure! Cheers!

I Lived

8 Jul

I,I did it all
I, I did it allkoy
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived-I Lived~One Republic

I spent the weekend with my family in New York visiting with my brother and just enjoying the city. We were able to pack in lots of food, shopping, and watching my brother’s show in just 3 short days. I even went out with him and a few friends for ‘adult time’ after the show. I spoke with one of his friends ‘C’ for a long time and was inspired by her. She’s a beautiful, strong, funny, outspoken singer/dancer/actor/black belt in karate chic who’s also divorced. I found her inspiring because she had so much life in her eyes, she was excited about where she was, what she was doing, and just plain living. She said she surrounds herself with people that give her life. I love that! I have been accused at times for being too positive and not really being able to express my disappointments or fears, well, work in progress, but do we really need more negative? Here’s the truth, life can be hard and ugly and disappointing; it’s not always how you want it to be but I have faith and trust in God that it’s how it should be sometimes. I have had enough ugly to fill several lifetimes which I may or may not write about, but I am choosing to live and I haven’t felt this alive in a while.

It has been 6 years since my first bout with cancer and although at times the battle was rough, it strengthened me. I recently did an interview and was asked how I think cancer has changed me. We are all affected differently because we all handle obstacles differently, but I’m sure there are commonalities amongst all survivors. Cancer has made me stronger, less fearful, more open, more excited about life, more passionate, less stressed about the things that don’t matter and more dedicated to the things that do. Surviving gives me a feeling of a life unfinished…so many things to do and so many places to see and I also continue to surround myself with people that give me life and not drama! I was asked if I ever sunsetfelt depressed, or maybe fearful of the cancer coming back. Of course, ask any survivor the same question and you’ll get the same answer…cancer’s always on the mind. There were also the times when cancer came back that I was just plain tired of the fight but that’s when I pulled my bootstraps up and said ‘let’s do this’. Plus, having kids made me want to fight even harder. I don’t blame cancer on anyone. For me, it was a dumb abnormal cell in my neck that multiplied and wouldn’t go away for awhile, and why not me? I have an awesome team of doctors that I’ve seen on a regular basis and they have all commented on my strength and even keel. I was and am fortunate to have many people who support me and I don’t like to dwell. Depression or PTSD is not something I’ve struggled with but with any serious illness, it’s normal if you do. I do still hold my breath with every test, but I have to say that if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, that strength does not come from me but from my faith in God and the knowledge that He has a magnificent plan whether we see it or not…(and it may not be exactly what we planned either). Cancer changes your life but it can’t conquer your spirit. There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.~Albert Einstein

I quoted that One Republic song at the beginning because it’s awesome. At the end of it all I want to say that I owned every second this world could give, I lived. Today I wear Marc Jacobs Lip Gel in Strange Magic which is a warm nude pink. These lipsticks feel a little different on the lips, I’m still trying to figure them out. They’re really light on the lips but have lots of color. It says they’re long lasting but after eating I find you have to reapply. I’m not going to lie, I only picked this one for the name because life is like strange magic but I do own the color Voila which is like a magenta/red. Live life, cheers!

Real

1 Feb


I’m at a loss for words, no, really. Last week I dropped the ‘divorce’ bombshell and the amount of support from everyone was unbelievable; all of the wonderful messages both public and private were overwhelming. It was my most read blog of all time, almost 1000 people. Crazy. What does that tell me? Either a) people crave authenticity and truth or b) people love good gossip. I’m hoping for ‘a’ because that’s what I crave. We all walk around with amazing facades don’t we? We portray what we think people want to see; put together, nice, happy, perfect…how exhausting. I prefer the raw and uncut version because that’s where I am. It’s easier, but sometimes a risk. We all live imperfect lives and are flawed, thank goodness, perfection is impossible. If we all came to terms with that then maybe we would be more real with each other and not so judgmental. Ask me what I think now and I’ll tell you, no more pretense. For the people in the ‘b’ category, not my style. I’m fairly private despite a book and blog. I write observations on life not dirt about me or anyone else, sorry. Those close to me know some of the details but not all, like I said, I keep things close. I’m more about actions than words anyhow, you get back what you put out into the world and nothing someone says can outweigh what they do.

It’s been an interesting week of mixed emotions but I am still looking forward with great hope for the future. I have heard the ‘strong’ word thrown around a lot and frankly, I’m not feeling it; just living and doing the best I can. This week I got to help a friend going through her own difficult life circumstance. That’s one of life’s privileges, going through struggles, getting stronger, and helping others. Life is beautiful.

Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength’~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today I wear Lancome Rouge In Love lipstick in Fierry Attitude. These lipsticks are feather light and last a long time. They are a tiny bit drying for me but not as bad as some of the other long lasting lipsticks. I chose this color because it’s a deep berry which I love, I also love the name…living life with passion and a fiery attitude! Cheers!

Anti-Resolutions

30 Dec

2014.4
Christmas 2013 has come and gone and now the countdown to a New Year is upon us. I cannot believe it will be 2014 in a few short days but I am so ready. 2013 has not been a great year for me but at least I end on a healthy note. It started with bad numbers in my blood work from January leading my physicians to believe that my cancer was back but in a different area of my body. From there, the different scenarios; insurance that wouldn’t pay for testing because of my pre-existing condition, then the one unwilling to pay for the expenses of the PET scan, ultrasound, etc., followed by the numerous friends that offered to do fund raisers so I could have answers. Then the passing of my friend, and cancer angel, Bob. The toll of all of those on my brain and body; depression, anxiety, etc. and all that has transpired since then…. For now, I am cancer free and moving forward. Most people set resolutions right about this time, goals they want to achieve, promises they make to themselves about health and life in general. After cancer I reassess those things daily, so annual resolutions are not something I think about,I tend to just ‘go’ with life. Someone I know said to me a short while ago, ‘So just because you had cancer you think you’re strong now?’ Without a doubt. Lesson #1 from 2013: Watch your words, they stem from your heart. Enough of the negative can really damage a person and their soul…blog for another day.

So back to the resolutions…yes, I have the typical thoughts of eating right, exercising, being grateful, etc, but for today I thought I’d set my anti-resolutions; things I don’t want to do in 2014:

1. I will not let any person dictate to me how I should act or feel or who I should hang out with; I already have a God that counsels me on that
2. I do not want to ever forget that God is in control and that He will never love me less despite my mistakes
3. I will not let someone’s opinions, anger, or bitterness affect or change my perceptions and opinions
4. I will not say ‘yes’ when I mean ‘no’
5. I will not feel guilty for eating carbs and sugar. I like them both and when I try to stop or cut back, I want them more anyway
6. I never want to be too busy to help someone or to listen to them
7. I will not feel guilty for missing a day or a week of exercise…although my body, heart, and mind will be mad at me
8. I never want to view life as a glass half empty, it’s too awesome just being alive
9. Although I talk a lot of taking risks and fearing less, I do not want to sky dive…ever
10. I will not stop playing Candy Crush because sometimes we just need a little bit of brainless activity…

I do look back at 2013 with a thankful heart too. I reconnected with some old friends, I started a new job with an old boss that I love, I’ve met some amazing new people, my kids are awesome and never cease to amaze me, going through tough times I have realized I am abundantly blessed with friends and family that support me; it’s really quite overwhelming. You know that saying that what you put out into the world comes back to you ten fold…it’s true, so be kind. I look at 2014 with excitement and eyes wide open for whatever adventure lies ahead but life happens moment by moment and I just want to soak it all in. ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’~Soren Kierkergaard

Today I wear NYX Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Snow White.This is a perfect red, exactly what you think Snow White would wear…not too orangey, more of a blue-red. The other plus is that it’s only $4.00. The formula is moisturizing and semi-long lasting. These lispticks can generally be found at Ulta or Target, they are really great! By the way, none of us need true love’s kiss to wake us up! Cheers and Happy New Year!

Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find….
No one else can speak the words on your lips. Drench yourself in words unspoken,live your life with arms wide open.Today is where your book begins,the rest is still unwritten‘~ Unwritten,Natasha Bedingfield

Christmas Memories

21 Dec

Christmas

Christmas always brings lots of memories; some great ones, and some not so great. Growing up in Detroit, I remember my parents waking me up as a young child to attend the historic Old St Mary’s Church in Detroit to go to midnight mass. What I remember about it (since I was so young) was that it was huge and outrageously beautiful. But I also remember the pews being hard as I fell back asleep on them during mass (oops, I was REALLY young). Anyhow, traditionally, we would go back home afterward and eat until dawn. Though the church location changed when we moved to the suburbs, that tradition carried on through high school, sometimes with only my family, and sometimes with friends coming to our house. I remember moments around Christmas like ice skating around the frozen fountain at Belle Isle, the Thanksgiving Parade, and shopping at the old Hudson’s in downtown Detroit.

The two most memorable Christmas’s to me were both significant moments in my life. The first was awful, 2009. It was the morning of Christmas Eve 2009 when I was at the hospital with my three girlfriends at 6am. They came with with me to support me during my PET scan to check on suspicious activity in my neck. At this point I had and beat cancer twice already with my last surgery just the September before. They came with me to sit for the three hours it took to finish. When I came out, two were sleeping in chairs in the waiting room and I’ll never forget how grateful I was they had taken time away from their families to be with me that day. At 4:00 the same evening my doctor called and I received the devastating news that indeed the cancer was back. He said, “Merry Christmas, I’m sorry.” The other Christmas I remember was in the 4th grade, I was 8 or 9 and we had just moved to the suburbs from Detroit. At this time my parents were both working and my dad had even worked two jobs to move us to a nicer area. That Christmas I wrote Santa a long letter. I remember writing a list of things I wanted and then adding things for my hard working parents. When I came downstairs Christmas morning, nothing from my list was on the fireplace. All that was there was a large (to me it was life-sized) yellow, stuffed dog. I remember being a little disappointed that Santa hadn’t brought the presents I asked for for me and my parents, but I loved that stuffed animal. It stayed with me for years! Looking back I now realize that we didn’t have a lot of money and my parents gave me the best they had. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.

After cancer and life’s difficulties in general, Christmas along with every day is special. We were given the gift of Jesus on Christmas Day and that is the best gift. Every moment, every memory, every breath whether Christmas or the days after is icing on the cake. Today’s lipstick is my favorite red Lancome L’Absolu Rouge in Merlot. Moisturizing, deep red. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

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