Tag Archives: breathing

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!

Thank You, Doctor

26 Nov

sun

This past week I had my last appointment with one of my doctors because he is retiring. Unexpectedly at the end of my normal check up, I burst into tears as he said good bye, hugged me and told me it was his privilege to have taken care of me during my cancer journey. It’s hard to describe how I felt saying good bye to this man because the feelings kind of took me by surprise. Dr. K has seen me from the very beginning of my cancer story 8 years ago and has treated me like I was his only patient. He called me on Christmas to tell me the results of my PET scan because he knew I wouldn’t want to wait, after a medical conference he called me to tell me there was a new test for rare cases like me and although it had not been approved yet by the FDA he was going to arrange I have it done, during a period when I had no insurance and cancer was suspected again he told me he would take care of the additional tests necessary, and every time my cancer came back he would personally call doctors, surgeons, specialists across the country and tell me who he’d spoken to and who he would recommend; he himself a cancer survivor, always offered me the encouragement I needed. I feel so fortunate and grateful to have had him as part of my medical team.

Did Dr. K treat all of his patients like that? Probably, and it probably added more work to his days to make those extra phone calls and do extra paperwork. How easy would it be for us to squeeze in kindness, love, respect, empathy, etc toward other people in our busy days and should it really take that much effort? Dr. K made me feel important, valued, like I mattered, and isn’t that what we want in general? In our homes, friendships, workplace? His extra 10 minutes spent on me created a place in my heart and memory that will last me the rest of my life. ‘Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.’~ Mother Teresa. How do people feel when they leave you? Encouraged? Happy? At Peace? Like they listened? What memory are we leaving? Sometimes we only get one chance, let’s remind people they matter.

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be grateful for; health, family, home, and love. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families! Today I wear Dior Addict Lipstick in Not Shy, a pink-brown, which is my new favorite daytime lipstick. I’ve always loved Dior lipsticks for moisture and shine and this new formulation adds a little more staying power. Cheers from my family to yours!

Good and Bad

13 Oct

Sculpture called 'Changing Woman"

Sculpture called ‘Changing Woman”

There have been a few changes to my body post cancer that have just become part of my everyday. I’ve had 5 years now to get used to them but some days are a little more difficult. First, my breathing. With a paralyzed vocal cord the process of getting air in and out is a little tougher and therefore most cardiovascular activities for me are limited or ‘adjusted’, second, my voice is a bit quieter and gets tired more easily because of said vocal cord. Also, since my last surgery and radiation, I have had numbness and tingling in my left arm and hand. There are other things but these are the most bothersome. About 2 weeks ago my arm took a turn for the worse and I’m not sure if it’s a pinched nerve or what but it is just about completely numb, like dead weight. Throw that into the seasons changing in Michigan and allergy season which is my most difficult breathing time, well, makes for hefty reminders of that cancer past. In fact, it’s actually a little difficult to type so I am mostly using my right hand…I’ll be at the doctor soon.

Have you ever asked why God allows bad things to happen? It’s too big of a question so I try to not ask why and I don’t intend to try to begin figuring out an answer. What I do know is this, there is always a lesson or reason and sometimes you don’t know what it is until much later or maybe not even in this lifetime. Why did I get cancer when no one in my family has cancer? Why did it come back so many times? I’m not sure, but today I am a much stronger person then I was before; a warrior. A lot has transpired since that first diagnosis but I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not happened. I physically lost my voice but I have truly found it again. Cancer allowed me to see life with fresh eyes and consider life’s brevity; yes it’s fallharder to breathe but I have breathed in new life. There is a bible verse which says, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’ (James 1:2-3) It’s hard to consider it joy when you’re going through something but it helps to know that there may be a reason or a positive because of it. Here’s the other thing, with trials of faith like cancer or any illness, the person going through it is not the only one learning. Most of the time illness is not solitary; it affects family, friends, even co-workers and acquaintances therefore the lessons in faith and perseverance are multiplied 10-fold to those around you.

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.~W. Anderson 

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Maple Blondie. I LOVE these glosses because they’re super moisturizing, have good color , and they are inexpensive as well (the lipsticks are pretty awesome too)! I chose this color because it’s great as a light brown/pink neutral and because the name reminded me of fall (Maple). It’s fall in Michigan and all the leaves are turning colors, cheers!

Moms

2 Oct

kids

I’ve heard that writing is a muscle and if you don’t use it, it gets weak and goes away…well they’re right. My writing has been sporadic because my life has had lots of moving parts over the past few months and now my thoughts are all over the place. September flew by with school starting, sports starting, and what seemed like an early homecoming game/dance, it felt like there was just not enough time in the day and now it’s October already. Many of my thoughts this month have revolved around my kids; who their friends are, what choices are they making, what are their thoughts, struggles, etc. Now that they are all teens it’s just so difficult to know. Fortunately, my kids communicate alot to me, some things I would rather not hear sometimes, but I try to remain open, loving, and understanding. It is not easy.

Motherhood is by far the most difficult job ever, period. It takes a toll physically and emotionally and requires superhuman strength and nerves of steel. I have been a working mom and a stay at home mom and one thing is for sure, we should not criticize or compare. I think as women in general starting from our youth, we’re drawn to the comparison trap and it stinks. Prettier, taller, thinner, more talented, nicer clothes….it’s endless. What makes it more difficult as a mom is now we add our kids into that comparison. My child is smarter, more well behaved, more religious, more caring, more, more, more. STOP. All I know is I’m trying my best based on how I was raised, what I know, and my circumstances and experience, we all are aren’t we? Don’t judge what you don’t know, and even then, still don’t because unless you’re living in someone else’s shoes you have no idea. Kids have enough pressure from their peers, teachers, and themselves that we as moms (and dads) don’t need to add to that by expecting them to be perfect for bragging rights. We live in such a virtually connected world that it’s easy to believe that Facebook posts are real life all the time. Seriously, Facebook, Twitter, snapchat, instagram are all only capturing the good stuff or the stuff we choose to show. What about the struggles and ugly of the rest of the 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day? You for sure won’t see my hot mess on Facebook but hopefully we all know what real life is like. Enough of my soapbox.leaf

As for the kids here’s what I do know, what was portrayed in the movie The Breakfast Club has not changed much…there will always be the geeks, jocks, the princess, the outcasts, and the burnouts. We need to love our kids and support them in whatever ‘group’ they fall in because so quickly they’re grown and ready to fly on their own. How about we support each other too?

Today I wear Lancome Lip Lover lipgloss in Bordeaux Tempo. This is a new lipgloss formula and so far I love it. My lips tend to be drier as it gets cooler out and this promises 8 hours of moisture to your lips. Not really sure it does that but it’s pretty and my lips are not drying out. I chose this color because it’s a deeper berry color on me which is great for fall. Cheers!

Evidence

7 Jun

sky

I’ve recently become addicted to podcasts, being in sales I have lots of ‘drive time.’ One of the podcast series I could not stop listening to is called ‘Serial.’ This particular podcast covers a true story of a teen convicted of murder in 1999. The investigative reporter digs deep into the case, unravels all the twists and turns, and speaks to numerous friends, families, teachers, etc. Each podcast left me wanting more and changed my mind from guilty to not guilty to guilty and so forth based on the evidence presented. At the end of the series I felt unsatisfied with the results. Anyhow, you should listen, it’s fascinating.

We are a society that loves evidence; it’s rare that people take a leap of faith to believe something. God is real…show me, healthcare reform is right…why, immunizations don’t cause autism…give me proof, homosexuals are born that way…prove it. All hot topics and my blog is not a debate blog so just examples of various topics and responses. We want evidence for everything…except when it comes to gossip. Why is that? I have teens so gossip is prevalent whether I like it or not in our household and I am constantly asking if they know for a fact or if they are hearing and repeating. Again, what is the evidence? We are so eager to believe something about someone most of the time without knowing all the facts. We hear something, we make judgements then worst of all, we sometimes share that information as if it were fact. Whether it’s our own insecurities or just a boring life, it’s wrong. So what can we do? Again, look for the evidence. Who are you talking about? Why? Do you even know this person, I mean really know them? So you hear something juicy or maybe hear something you never expected about that person; what is the character of this person? What is the history of their actions/what do their current actions show you? Again, actions speak volumes. Who is the one saying things? Are they reliable? Do they know the person they are talking about? What are they like and what is the history of their actions? See what I’m getting at? We love evidence for everything unless it’s gossip that tears people down. Be careful. Whether something is true or false, there’s always a story.

‘These are the few ways we can practice humility:To speak as little as possible of one’s self.To mind one’s own business.Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.To avoid curiosity.To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.To pass over the mistakes of others.To accept insults and injuries.To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.To be kind and gentle even under provocation.Never to stand on one’s dignity. To choose always the hardest.’~Mother Teresa

Today I wear MAC Lustre lipstick in Hug Me which is a brownie pink. Can’t really go wrong with a good MAC lipstick. This one is easy to wear because it’s moisturizing and just gives you a finished look for daytime. I chose it mainly for the name. I love hugs. Cheers!

Too Young

18 May
Senior picture high school

Senior picture high school

Last week I went with my son to two funerals of young people. It was heartbreaking and eye opening for both of us. One of the kids was someone he had played basketball with just before ‘the accident’. It was sad and gut-wrenching to be surrounded by parents, siblings, and friends who lost a loved one who was way too young. When we are young we look at our future with immense possibilities, the world is our oyster but when faced with sudden illness or even death, we begin to realize that there is only a finite amount of time and we don’t know the day or hour when that time is up.

Coincidentally my daughter brought out and started reading my journal from when I was 17 last week. We read certain parts together which made me laugh. I used terms like ‘suck my big left toe’, ‘stuck up’,’grody’,’foxy’…it was fun to read it with her. The overwhelming theme of my journal from my junior/senior year of high school was despite the not so fun parts of high school, I had hope and excitement for the future. I recently started mentoring a new cancer survivor through one of the cancer organizations I work with who is struggling with the emotions of being a ‘survivor’. It’s a place hard to describe and probably similar to surviving a trauma of any kind including a sudden death of someone close. I told him you feel more, hurt more, love more, realize what’s most important, who’s most important, where you want to spend your time and with whom. The toxic things in your life are magnified and that includes people, jobs, habits, and all you want to do is be done with those and live. It’s a lot of stuff and of course you add to that the feeling that life is really fragile.

Are we too future focused? What about today and being grateful with now. When I was really young I wanted to be a teen, then as a teen, I wanted to be 21, and then at 21 I wanted to graduate college and be an adult who had a job that paid for the things I wanted. Well, here I am at 40+ wanting to go backward a little so I can enjoy life a little more in my youth. In my last pages of my high school journal I spoke of fear for the future along with anticipation of what the future holds, but maybe hoping the future would be so much better or more exciting than the present took some of the joy out of the now. Let’s not do that. Life is fleeting and no one knows what tomorrow brings. ‘You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.’~Henry David Thoreau

Today I wear Christopher Kane for Nars Lipgloss in Glow Pink because it’s beautiful. Cheers!

5

29 Mar

beach

5 years. It was 5 years ago this month when I had my very last surgery for the cancer that kept coming back; lymph nodes, trachea, laryngeal nerve…scrape, cut, gone. I’ve been so busy with other things that I almost forgot this landmark. I’ve heard that 5 years is usually the landmark for cancer surviviors; 5 years and it’s a full remission, pretty much home free or so they say. I’m not sure about that,I’m sure I’ll always wonder.Looking back at the past five years it’s been quite a life.I’ve faced not only cancer,but I’ve also been on the receiving end of rage and anger,have experienced fear,as well as joy, strength, new beginnings, life…so much life.

Today is Palm Sunday and if you’re a Christian like me it is the beginning of Holy Week. The one thing that I know for sure is that with my faith I never lost hope, still have it.I knew and believed that whether it was good or bad news, cancer or no cancer, God had a plan for me and that simple belief always gave me hope for a future however that looked. Over the past months I have heard many things; God doesn’t want us happy, people are cursed for life because of their decisions,God judges different people differently,really? Who is that God? It is Holy Week and the God I know, the God I have experienced is one of hope, peace, love, and joy. Maybe happiness is not what God’s goal is for us, but what about joy? What about the peace that passes understanding? With that joy and peace I believe there is happiness.People cursing oher people? My God is the God of love and grace. I have no doubt that God loves me no matter what becuase He created me exactly me. Grace is the big one, it is unmerited favor, getting what we don’t deserve, being loved, forgiven, blessed without deserving any of it. It’s a crazy concept, hard to understand, showing kindness to a stranger, loving an enemy, grace is not just a blessing, grace is an action.

So on the 5th anniversary of finally being cancer free I am loving life. I have not only been given a second chance but after cancer a few times I feel like I’ve been given a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chance as I move forward with hope and excitement.‘What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.’~Rick Warren

Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Anna. Thank you to my friend Flor from lipstickandstockings.com for pointing out this lipstick! I chose is for it’s color; it says smokey rose but it’s a bit more ‘perky’? A brighter color rose? Anyhow, it’s name is Anna…how could I resist? Cheers!

The Dress

1 Feb

2012-07-02 11.07.09
I have this dress in my closet. It’s a deep emerald green so yes, a departure from my daily black and gray. I remember buying it off the clearance rack and wearing it a few times; every time I put it on I get lots of compliments so naturally I love it. Well, I haven’t worn it since 2001 and here it is still hanging in my closet waiting for the possibility of being worn again. I am one of the fortunate people who has been the same size since probably high school (minus the times I was pregnant). NO I am definitely NOT complaining but because of this I have a really hard time getting rid of clothes, especially dresses, work clothes, etc because they’re not worn as often and therefore stay ‘nice’ for a longer amount of time. I’d say 14 years of not wearing something should be enough time to decide I’m not going to wear it again?

Why do we hang on to things for so long? For some of us it’s a piece of clothing, for others a relationship, and for some a life long dream. I 2012-12-24 08.42.14believe there are certain things that we hold on to because maybe the memory of that ‘thing’ is actually greater than the thing or person itself, or maybe it’s a safe choice or a safe path, or maybe there’s just plain fear. There’s the other side of it too. Sometimes we hold on to pain, bitterness, resentment for the exact same reason; because we know it, understand it, it’s safe, there’s fear of what may be on the other side and maybe sometimes we don’t think we deserve anything different. Why the dress? It still fits and I think I may still wear it, but I honestly haven’t put it on in almost 14 years. So maybe some of that stuff is in my head. Today I put that dress along with many other ‘older’ items into a plastic bag to donate. Sometimes we have to let go of what’s past to create space for the future. What are some of the things you are holding on to? Tomorrow’s a new day, start cleaning your ‘closet’.

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Audrey. I like just about every Nars lipstick formula but these ‘audacious’ lipsticks have both lots of color coupled with a light texture. I chose this color because it’s like red wine and it has my daughter’s name. Cheers!

The Why

28 Jan

Sculpture in Sedona, AZ called 'Changing Woman"

Sculpture in Sedona, AZ called ‘Changing Woman”


I’ve been writing my blog for almost 4 years and it’s been quite the journey; and with the growing number of followers and subscribers comes an occasional critic but also a sense of responsibility and sensitivity to you guys,the readers. Originally, this was a place that I spoke about the challenges of cancer multiple times, surgeries, coping, and of course lipstick in a positive light, but it has turned into a place about just living life and seeing the beauty of people and the moment (and still lipstick). Lately, I have been thinking about the ‘why’, why I write a blog and reassessing if I want to continue. First,I have always been a writer. I have kept a journal since I was 8 years old, in fact, my daughter read through some of my high school journals recently. Being an introvert, paper and pen was the place I could sort through my thoughts and feelings and boy, it’s fun going back and reading some of the stuff I stressed about and talked about. My journals are a place I talk to my imaginary best friend and tell her my innermost feelings, it’s a place where I talk to God and write down prayers for me and for others; journals for me have been my safe place to be who I really am without getting judged. I write it, release it, pray, then close the book…easy. So I write, makes sense I have a blog. Well there’s this other thing, I am a people-pleaser. I admit it and have been working on it for years. I have to say that getting cancer has actually pushed me a little because life is so short and trying to please people at the cost of your own soul is truly exhausting. So what does this have to do with my ‘why’… a lot actually. I want my blog to be honest and authentically me with no apologies and without fear of getting judged. I have always been a positive person and that will not change, but there always seems to be someone who says I shouldn’t write this or that and it gets a little frustrating because I’m back in the cycle of making sure everyone’s ok with everything which then gives me a bit of writer’s block. Well I’m done with censorship and although there are still topics I choose to be private about, my blog will not always be a warm and fuzzy Hallmark card. Life is hard and ugly sometimes and we’re all trying our best. I will always dig for the beauty in each person and each day but I will always speak the truth about how I am feeling and pray that some of my experiences resonate with you and can be of some encouragement. In turn, I will always love hearing from you and find great inspiration from you as well. Thanks for reading and following me along this path (as well as listening to me rant and process too).

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.~May Sarton

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Today I wear NYX Cosmetics Extra Creamy lipstick in Snow White. These lipsticks are super inexpensive and can be found at Ulta, Target, and I’m sure a few other places. They are great! I use their extra creamy lipstick as well as the butter glosses and I love them both! Why this color? Snow White is famous for those ruby red lips and ebony hair; this lipstick is the reddest red. Live life real!! 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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