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Tag Archives: cancer

Dad

17 Jun

dadbaby

What is the difference between a father and a dad? Basically a father passes on his biology but a dad gives you his heart and his love. I have teens and as of late I have come to the conclusion with quite certainty that we as parents have to go through the teen years for a couple reasons. First, to be tortured and reminded that we are actually getting older, and second to remind us of how we were at their age and thus making us eternally grateful for the parents we have that tolerated us, what a cycle. So for my daddy, thank you…  dadlaugh

To the man who is the oldest of 7, the big brother and helper to his family, that married, had a child and decided to move his small family 8,304 miles away from home in hopes of creating a better life for his kids. To the man who makes us all laugh by laughing hard at the jokes he’s telling BEFORE getting to the punch line. To the one who gave me my love and appreciation for music by ‘air’ conducting the symphony in our family room; Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and always humming or singing around the house or simply singing a response to your question. Who took us to music in the park on Belle Isle and brought me to my first musical and concert. Who taught me how to catch a baseball, shoot a basket, and how to ride a bike. To the man who never missed my choir concerts, shows, or anything I did and who would randomly visit me at college to take me to dinner, then drive 3 hours home. To the one who disciplined hard but loved harder. To the man who took early retirement so my kids wouldn’t have to spend too much time in daycare and even now as lolo/grandpa will try not to miss any of my kids’ games or events. To the one redcoatdadthat continues to show me what love and sacrifice look like; who loves my mom and supports our family, who is still fiercely protective and gentle and giving. This is my daddy. The one who worried and was probably ‘tortured’ by me when I was a teen but who loved me to beyond and back. I am forever his little girl. I am forever grateful to have been blessed with a great dad. Thank you, proud to call you daddy.

 

Yes, this is still my lipstick journey so I will end by recommending one of my favorite lip products of all time, Dior Addict Lip Glow. It feels like a lip balm but brings out the perfect shade of pink/berry on your lips. I always have one in my purse! I chose this because it just enhances you and what you were already born with! Thanks dad, cheers!

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Never Forget

28 Apr

cancer poster

I had a mini breakdown this morning. I couldn’t get the clasp together while putting on my necklace for at least 10 minutes and out of anger and frustration I broke down and cried. After a few surgeries on my neck and external beam radiation to my neck and shoulder area because of cancer, I had some damage to my brachial plexus which, since most of my cancer tumors were on the left side of my neck, means I have lost some feeling to my left arm and hand. My doctor said that the effects of my radiation treatment could last up to 10 years with scar tissue continuing to build. Well, it’s been almost 7 years since my last treatment and over the past couple of years my left arm and hand have gotten progressively worse. Additionally I carry stress in my neck and shoulders so if I’m under any kind of stress I lose even more feeling in my hand so besides the breathing issues that bother me on occasion, my arm and hand are a constant reminder that I had cancer and it changed me. I don’t feel confident holding a cup of coffee, or a paperclip for that matter, and my left arm is significantly weaker than my right. Besides the loss of feeling in some of my fingertips and thumb, there is a constant tingling all through my arm. You know when you sit cross legged on the floor too long and your legs fall asleep? That is my arm 24/7. I’ve tried physical therapy and I work out fairly regularly but the damage has been done and it cannot be reversed. Playing piano is just about out for me, typing is more difficult, but putting that dang clasp together…almost impossible when you can’t feel your thumb or your fingertips. Of course I’m grateful I’m alive and if this is all I have to deal with the rest of my life then so be it. It just gets frustrating sometimes.

radiation

Me and my radiation mask

A couple days ago I was invited to join in an online discussion about cancer and stress through an organization I have been a part of since 2009 called I Had Cancer. One of the questions they asked was ‘After diagnosis did all your pre-cancer stresses seem trivial?’ (paraphrased). My answer was absolutely yes, but since it’s been 7 years since the last cancer diagnosis for me, I have started to forget what I went through and am back dwelling on some of those pre-cancer ‘trivial’ stresses. I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that after battling cancer 3 times in 3 years I was more fearless, more grateful, and less stressed about inconsequential things. I remember being more observant; the colors of the sky and of flowers and trees were more vivid, and the air itself filling my lungs was delicious. I craved life and living and never wanted to waste a single moment. What happened? Life, kids, work, time. My clasp and the ‘stress’ discussion reminded me once again of how far I’ve come and all the blessings and moments in between since then. I’m thankful for the reminder and now I know I have to be more intentional about living and truly stopping to breathe life in and smell the roses. ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ ~ Oscar Wilde

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Wonderland.  These lipsticks are great and I have a couple colors. They come in several colors and formulations but I tend to stick to the satin formula since it’s the most moisturizing. This color is a deep pink-red which is a serious pop of color pretty great for spring and I love the name. Life is a wonderland, cheers!

Joy and Imperfection

25 Mar

Anna166

I read this quote the other day which said ‘No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect. One only arrives at joy by seeing in every imperfection all that is joy.’~Ann Voskamp. I really had to let that soak in. 2017 has been interesting so far and I feel like joy has been a constant thread which I am incredibly grateful for; and that’s joy without perfection because believe me, life is never perfect. The thing about joy is that people tend to interchange it with being happy and those are two very different things. Happiness comes and goes but joy runs far deeper and I think it is more related to a deeply contented soul which then brings more peace in every situation.

The whole concept of trying to make everything perfect is exhausting and definitely not joyful, instead it is joy stealing. After cancer, divorce, and now as I edge closer to 50, the concept of perfect life, perfect kids, perfect job, being a perfect parent, etc. has settled into the knowledge that there is no such thing no matter what someone else’s posts and pictures look like on Facebook. I am also settling into a place that all that doesn’t really matter and is truly unachievable, but there is perfect peace in knowing that no matter what, God is in control and not me. Ahhhh…sweet relief. It’s really exhausting trying to control our circumstances, our jobs, our kids, our life and futile to think what we manufacture can actually bring us joy. I heard a Ted Talk where the speaker said that because of social media we have manufactured a caricature of our true selves; our focus has now become how to make our character on social media perfect and it has come to a point that we try to live our real lives based on who we portray on social media. Whoa and how sad for our children who’s identity is so wrapped up in how many ‘likes’ they get.Statistics (NACMS) show that the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased 450% since 1987 and I have to think social media and comparison has a little to do with that.

So what do we do? How do we get closer to joy despite our circumstances? First, release control. Control stems from fear; fear of failure, fear that your kids may make the wrong decision, fear you may make the wrong decision. A wise person said,’Fear puts a boundary on what your love will cover’~S. Unger. Let go of trying to control, trust God, trust yourself, trust your parenting and your kids. Yes there will be mistakes but don’t put boundaries on your or God’s love. Second (and I admit I have to work on this), spend more time looking at the flowers or the sunrise, your spouse, your kids’ eyes or even a book than social media. That way you’d be less likely to be able to compare yourself to someone else whose life appears more perfect than yours. Third, be grateful and try to find pieces of good even in the bad. This one is hard but if you can sit in quiet and dig deep there’s always something good, even if it may be a lesson learned or just becoming closer and more dependent on God, trials are where your faith gets to sharpen…seeing joy in every imperfection.

Today I wear Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Mark in JoAnn which is a plum/mauve. This lip gloss has lots of color and is super moisturizing. I’m pretty much in love with it because it’s so easy to wear. They say that it’s a longwear liquid lipstick/stain but it’s not. It’s really a lipgloss with lots of color that you’ll have to reapply often but I still love it. I love this company because the founder designed it to give back hence the name ’causemetics.’ For every product purchased she donates one to empower women thriving through cancer or domestic abuse. The products are free of some of the harsh chemicals used in products today. What’s not to love about that? Cheers! (photo cred: Leanna Vite photography)

India

4 Mar

india-chris

India. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but what I found was love and joy. The universal language of love, touch, of being held, and the simple pleasures like skipping rope, playing catch, and red nail polish kept smiles on all the beautiful faces. How do you reconcile your life when you come back? The simplicity of living with only your basic needs being met and of a life trusting God to provide. What is this kind of trust; a faith that releases you from fear and brings you freedom to live with joy in the simple?

joy

india-touch

india-kids

How do you process a return to your ‘normal’? A life made complicated by financial responsibility, being over scheduled, mortgage. How do you return to simplicity? We all have the same basic needs right? Food, shelter, and also the need to feel like we matter, the need to feel loved unconditionally, to be touched and held; add the very human longing for a life of joy and peace. The conflict in today’s ‘first world’ society tosses between wanting to save the world by service and agenda and also trying to ‘have it your way.’ It can’t be both. We must first lose ourselves before giving ourselves away. Serving others, meaning even just the basics of loving them, hugging them, looking in their eyes, washing their feet…their joy and gratefulness, brings you joy and gratefulness and hope. It’s a start. india-feet

 

This Is Us

26 Jan

ajbaby

I love this show and clearly millions of Americans love this show as well. I admit that I shed a tear or two or a hundred with every single episode. Why is this series so popular? I have my guesses; people have called it ‘real’,’emotional’,’accurate to life’. All those things are true but I think the main reason it’s popular is it validates us as imperfect human beings; it shows us that we are all human and our choices, good and bad, are a product of the experiences of our past and our current environment. Every person is wired differently and experiences things a little differently; three kids (triplets), raised by the same parents in the same home become three very different adults. Every single person on this show has a story, a ‘why’ they are the way they are and it opens ours eyes and makes us emotional because we can relate. We make mistakes, we make good and bad choices but it all comes from our story and just adds to our journey.

Anyway, I’ve been a little uninspired lately, partly being too busy partly emotionally drained from navigating teen parenting. Like my last blog said, parenting teens is soooo hard. I decided to look back at my story because sometimes we forget. The benefit of being fullsizerendera lifetime diary/journal keeper is that you can go back in time and discover what you were like. I recently pulled out and read my journals from age 16-19 and it was great because it really helped me understand where my daughter was coming from and allowed me to give her more grace and not take things personally. Reading my thoughts made me laugh, made me angry, and made me reflective of my life since then and I learned a couple things. Reading it brought me back and stirred up those same old feelings. I thought I was so smart and ‘adult’ and an expert at life (at 18) yet made some immature comments and decisions. I struggled with identity, wanting to be liked, be part of the ‘in’ crowd, and thinking no one understood me. Yup, confirmation I was in fact a teenager! Decades later reading my journals gave me clarity about who I was and why I made different decisions and mistakes and some of what I wrote made me want to shake the young me and scream at her but I guess that’s all part of our story right? It’s what makes living a life. There was also something I found beautiful, hope. I was so hopeful back then. I looked forward to the future with excitement and I believed the best of so many people. I was more carefree and surprisingly I was grateful. At the end of my entries I would write what I was thankful for, some of them dumb like ‘did 100 sit ups today’ or ‘took a long walk.’I take it back, those are not dumb because many days now I don’t have time for a long walk and I probably would throw up if I did 100 sit ups…or can I even do 100 sit ups?

Here are my lessons from me:

  • Stand back a little and let teens go through things as they transform into adults (a little more grace)
  • Be grateful even for the minutia of life because you may not be able to experience the same in the future
  • Be hopeful and look to the future with excitement (this perspective always makes the days better)
  •  Don’t forget other people have a story too

The show This Is Us is great but no show is as good and as complex as real life and no writer is better at writing your story than you. Today I wear Julie Hewitt lipstick in Jules. I was introduced to this lipstick by another blogger and it’s great. It feels like a balm and has ‘more than sheer’ color…not too heavy but just enough. I chose this color because it’s an easy everyday red/berry and because the owner made it for herself and pretty much named it after herself too. Her story. We have one life, one story to create, this is us. Cheers!

Blue Christmas No More

18 Dec
yellowdog

Christmas morning with one of my favorite presents ever, ‘Yellow Dog’. Yes, that’s what I named him. Circa 1979, one stocking the Christmas before my brother was born.

Christmas is coming and if you’ve been reading my blog awhile you already know that while most are in their best mood of the year I get a little sad-ish/melancholoy during this season.Part of it is from my parents; when they immigrated here from the Philippines when I was young, they left behind all of their family and friends so I mostly remember them having a little sadness listening to Christmas music missing their extended family. Don’t get me wrong, I have MANY happy memories of Christmas as a child including always going to midnight mass followed by tons of people coming to my house to eat until dawn along with Christmas caroling and lots of joy and laughter but in the stillness sometimes with music playing in the background, I could tell my parents were missing ‘home’. Then of course there was the time I got the call from my doctor the eve of December 24th letting me know that my cancer was back for the third time. He didn’t call to ruin my Christmas, but by then he knew that I would want to know as soon as he knew, hence the call, that was back in 2009. It has been 7 years and I just noticed something the other day while I was working and listening to Christmas music in the car…joy. There have been so many changes to my life since that time and joy has crept in so slowly in the years following that I barely noticed that underlying sadness had shifted. Despite the mess in between then and now, the absolute heartache and brokenness I experienced and the more than occasional sheer chaos of my life now, there is peace and joy.

Last week I was able to enjoy an awesome vacation far away from home. It was a great time to just relax and be far from work, laundry, cooking meals, and teenagers who always seemvaca2017 to need so much(it’s all good of course). Vacation did a couple things for me, helped me relax but also made me miss home. The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.~Maya Angelou  My son just finished his first semester at college and came home a few days ago. It’s been great having him here awhile before I have to once again say good bye and let him go practice ‘adulting’ again. Like the quote says, home should be a safe place, a place where we feel loved, where we can be who we are with no judgement, where there is no fear (unless you’re talking about teenagers then yes, they should fear me…haha). Home should be that place that when you’re far away you think about and smile,that safe place where the people you love and care about the most, live or come back to; not just the location but the relationships. The people in it don’t have to be perfect, just honest, loving, and safe.  I read the best quote published from an unknown 7 year old the other day, ‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents Christmasand listen.’  Isn’t that the greatest? I am so grateful to have grown up in a loving home and to have a loving home now. By the way, family doesn’t always mean by blood, my parents didn’t have blood relatives around initially so our friends became our family. ‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.’~author unknown.

I pray you all have a beautiful Christmas and are surrounded by people who make you feel safe and loved and home. P.S. There are many who are alone or maybe feel alone especially in this season so keep your eyes, hearts, and hands open.Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Blu-Red which is a bright red. These are the BEST long lasting, non drying lipsticks EVER. If you’re curious you can send me a private message on the ‘contact me’ link on the side of my blog page. I chose this color because it’s the holidays and everyone should be wearing their bright red lipstick! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

The Best Is Yet to Come

25 Nov

annabeach

The class song for my high school senior class was ‘The Best Was Yet To Come’ by Bryan Adams which I had the opportunity to sing at my high school graduation. One of the lines says, ‘ain’t it funny how time flies when the best is yet to come.’ It’s been almost 30 years later and after celebrating my birthday last month and now headed into the holidays and a new year I find myself sitting and reflecting on those words; maybe because I heard a DJ on the radio say that phrase recently…the best is yet to come. Is it? After graduation has the best come, did I miss it? Do we live in some type of twilight zone of expectation and anticipation for whatever the ‘best’ is that’s coming? I think we do. Is that ok? I think it’s fine as long as we’re not missing the people and moments that are in our face.

Our country just went through one of the ugliest and craziest presidential elections of all time. There has been so much passion and negativity which has continued on; the country feels divided, some feel hopeless for a positive future. Well, what about the kids? When I was growing up I felt like the world was my oyster, my parents constantly encouraged me and told me I could do anything I set my mind on. They also taught me that nothing is ever handed to you, that you had to work hard and stay persistent. I believed the best was yet to come. I have teen kids and listening to them talk to each other and their friends is eye opening. Instead of the ‘best is yet to come’, their attitude is ‘live for today cuz it’s all we have’ along with ‘the world is on a downward spiral, who cares.’ During and post election along with all the other happenings of our country and world, if our children are listening to all the adults and watching the news than why would they believe the best was yet to come? Why the entitled youth, the instant gratification kids we get so annoyed with? I believe alot of it has to do with the negative news and adults they are surrounded by. Instead of anticipation for an awesome future we have ‘media-ed’ the youth into a fearful future with no jobs, no health insurance, no equality and really no hope for ‘the best is yet to come.’ I want to be positive. I want my kids to be excited about the possibilities of ‘next’. I want my kids to work hard and be kind and be positive for what’s coming with no fear. I have learned the opposite of being fearful is not just to be brave. The opposite of fear is trust and faith; trust in the ultimate One who has a plan and faith in the One who is in control of the future. Trust makes me brave.’Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.’~Jeremiah 17:7-8

So what did I find after graduating high school? Has it been the best life? Cancer, divorce, job changes, lay offs? Yes. Life is crazy, painful, beautiful, challenging, heart breaking, and amazing. I cannot say that it’s always been butterflies and unicorns, stonesactually quite the opposite but holy smokes, the places I’ve been, the emotions I’ve been able to feel to the depths and edges of my heart, and the people, all the people that have stepped into (and out of) my life…wow! I am so grateful. Teach your kids gratitude because every single day there is always a ‘best’ part. ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, a whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God:See all, nor be afraid!’~Robert Browning

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Gingerbread. I was introduced to these long lasting lipsticks by a friends and I LOVE them. I am usually sensitive to long wear lip products and I also have chronically dry lips. These are amazing. You can only buy from distributors so if you want to try one email me through the blog! I chose this color which is a light pinky brown mainly for the name. The color is easy to wear for most skin tones but gingerbread because it’s countdown to Christmas 🙂 Cheers!

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