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Tag Archives: courage

Still Here

9 Oct

restaurant

It’s amazing what music and the right song at at the right time can do. Many of you may not know that I started college as a music major, I was mainly focused on performance and music theater but finished with a science degree. I used to sing, dance, play the piano…all fun stuff for me (here’s me and one of my doctors after my 3rd cancer a few years back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deEFC2IQLWM&feature=share) . Music has always played a HUGE part of my life. Last week I heard a song during one of my meetings that not only made me tear up but also gave me the shove I needed to turn the corner on my sadness (plus I got a ton of funny stuff and jokes from last week’s blog so thank you!) if only just a little bit. The song is called Sound of Surviving by Nichole Nordeman.

This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear. This is my whole heart deciding I’m still here and I’m not done fighting.’ 

‘I’m still here. Say it to the ache, lying there awake. Say it to your tears I’m still here. Say it to the pain, say it to the rain, say it to your fear…I’m still here.’

Hearing this song and soaking in the words shifted my heart and mind because yes, I’M STILL HERE. The simple words and verses helped change my sadness turning into cynicism just enough to restore the hope and strength I needed to fight a little harder and focus on being grateful a little more. Despite the cancer, despite the broken world, despite the sadness, we are all STILL HERE! What does that mean? While we are living we can still change the world. The Las Vegas shootings happened this past week and it was awful. We can be sad, we can be angry, but we are still here. What can we do differently? We can love more, do more, be grateful more because we don’t know what tomorrow brings. No one knows how many days we have on this earth, cancer just gives you a clock, but still, who really knows? Love, give, be intentional, be someone’s magic because you can be. We are still here.

I spent most of last week in San Diego for a meeting…don’t be jealous, we didn’t  have very much free time. I arrived a little early so I could spend some time exploring. I ended up eating dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant and since I have cancer and I’m all about YOLO, I ordered everything I wanted from guacamole to Tres Leches cake. The bill was not small!  When the waitress came back with the bill I asked if she would take a picture of me with the beautiful painted mural wall as my background for my blog. When she asked what type of blog I wrote I said ‘lipstick and cancer’. She snapped the pic above. A few minutes later she came back to the table and said ‘I’m taking care of your bill. My mom just beat breast cancer and you remind me of her; you have the same fire and spirit in your eyes.’ She walked away and I broke down in tears. I ordered $65 worth of food and beverage for just me and I was blessed by this young and beautiful waitress. I’m still here and there are still awesome people in this world.

I am so grateful. ‘Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.’~ Curiano 

Today I wear Stila Color Balm lipstick in Elyssa. These are a newer formulation and are super moisturizing which I love. I chose this color because its a deep brown berry which is great for fall. Cheers!

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Eclipse

1 Oct

 

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Every week since my diagnosis I have at least a few people ask me how I’m doing or how I’m feeling. My answer to them is generally ok, but I really don’t know how to feel. For the last couple of months now while I’ve been on this ‘watch and wait’ mode it has been a real rollercoaster of emotions literally minute to minute. Physically I feel fine but emotionally I could be fine one minute, devastated the next. My mind rolls through thoughts like crazy, some good some bad; Audrey’s a senior, will I be here for Alex’s senior year/ senior pictures, if I start some type of therapy will I have energy, am I eating the right things, will I still have energy to travel, what exactly is on my bucket list, etc…so much randomness in my thoughts. Without knowing when or if these tumors start to grow is a tough place to be but I know answers are coming soon.

So how do I feel? Right now, mostly sad and sometimes angry. I can’t say I’m really afraid of anything except maybe that I burst out crying at an inappropriate time. Something you may not know about me is that for my job I work in cancer centers and oncology offices all day long so I am literally surrounded by patients, doctors, cancer language, etc. I am not a doctor but I know just enough of the language and statistics to be educated about my own case which again is good and bad. So while I watch and wait I live in the twilight zone  because I can’t get away from the cancer conversation. It’s like that point of a solar eclipse when the sun is partially covered; you know the sun will shine brightly again but not until the moon passes over. For a short bit of time we have to live in the shadows of life’s eclipse until the sun can shine fully again. Some of the things I’m missing right now is laughter, joy, and maybe a little bit of hope. I know it’s a season and I know I’ll fight this bitch (excuse the profanity), but until then I think I may struggle here and there. Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ I read in another blog that God even wants you to seek Him with the parts of your heart that are broken. My heart is broken but I have enough life and scars on it that I know it’s strong. For now, I’m a little sad.eastervid

Courageous. Brave. Strong. All words people have used to describe me but what do those all mean? I guess that means that I get up every day, pull up my big girl pants, and step one foot in front of the other. The hardest parts of my days are in the quiet but I know that it’s actually in the quiet where I find my strength. I just read Matthew 11:28 in The Message version of the Bible and I really loved it, ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me -watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and light.’ I’m praying for the free and light. I’m praying for joy and laughter and hope and I really want to have a dance party. You read that right, I want to have a party and I want to dance. Text me some jokes or respond to this blog with jokes or funny pictures. Thank you so much for all your prayers and words of encouragement but this week, I want to laugh (but still keep praying). This crazy world needs more laughter anyway!

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Red Wine Truffle. This gloss is seriously the best stuff and under $5 which makes it even better! I have it in several colors and you really can’t go wrong. I chose this particular color today because it feels like fall outside and the color is deeper, but because I also love red wine…cheers!

Fine

1 Sep

survivor

When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves. If we don’t allow painful emotions to surface, then we are setting expectations for ourselves that even God cannot meet.’~Esther Fleece, from the book No More Faking Fine

I started college intending to have a career in musical theater (but ended with a science degree). I have been a sales representative for over 25 years. I am a people pleaser~someone who ‘adjusts’ myself and my needs to make sure others are ok,comfortable, happy, etc. Here’s the bottom line…I am REALLY good at faking fine. Think about it, as a sales rep I get to practice everyday; smile, be nice, be considerate to customers, even when they don’t reciprocate you leave graciously and prepare yourself to come back in a week or 2. Well guess what? Maybe it’s because I’m inching toward 50 but more likely because I have cancer again, I’m done. Let’s not get crazy, I’m still going to do my job and I’m still going to smile and be nice but I am done with faking fine. Remember last week when I talked about living in the in between? How do you truly live in the in between unless you are authentic? How can you be authentic if you’re faking fine?

I have not been fine. I had some hard moments last week which I’m sure won’t be my last. I have cancer cells that have decided to go rogue and creep to other parts of my body outside of my neck where they started. Thyroid cancer deemed the easy cancer (because of course any title followed by the word cancer can be ‘easy’…NOT) has not been and continues to not be easy for me. I am in the elite group of thyroid cancer, literally <5%, that gets to fight for her life. Your mind can do funny things and last week I struggled to ‘maintain’ until about Friday when I could not maintain anymore. Like I said I am a sales rep so I’m used to maintaining no matter what in that arena, then my house is chaos because of teens, school starting, sports, and again, teens…as moms we’re used to maintaining the ship or holding down the fort. It was in the quiet and the in between times that I was swallowed in my thoughts; the drive between customers, the early mornings in prayer, the late evenings awake after everyone was asleep, I grieved my diagnosis. By Friday the sadness came out of the shadow of privacy and showed itself. I cried in the open just sitting on my couch with my husband watching nothing in particular on tv.  Afterwards I felt great. After a week of having to fake fine for my job and to maintain the busy household it was a great release and I realized that it was ok to tell people I was not fine. The process of being authentic with each other involves having real conversations and we have to be ready to hear ‘crappy’ when you ask someone ‘how are you today?’.

This week has been better. I stumbled upon a small Facebook support group of people with the same diagnosis and it’s been extremely helpful and hopeful. I genuinely feel more hopeful knowing I am not the only one with this type of disease and because of that I can honestly say there were exponentially less sad moments this week. I just watched Collateral Beauty with Will Smith and one of the opening lines says something like, ‘We’re here to connect…three things connect every single human being…love, time, and death. We long for love, we wish we had more time and we fear death.’ As a Christian I don’t necessarily fear death but as a human I’d like to time it right (after kids graduate college, get married, have families, etc) but of course we can’t. The blessing cancer has given me has been the reminder to slow down, soak in every moment, and brush off the negative because who cares, haters gonna hate 🙂 Does it take cancer or devastation like in Houston to focus on love, time, and death? Hope not

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. ~Steve Jobs

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Nighthawk .This lipstick comes in different formulations and a ton of different colors. I prefer the satin finish because it’s the most moisturizing. I chose this color because it’s almost fall and I’m into red lips. This one has a base of brown so it’s not too offensive for daytime. Cheers!

 

 

 

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!

Homecoming

13 Oct

hc

It’s Homecoming season for high schools across the country. For high school boys and girls this means pep rallies, games, school spirit week, playing football against a local rival team, all culminating in a Homecoming Dance at the very end. Growing up the ‘dance’ part was always hard for me. I was a little awkward and alot shy. I always wished for the Sixteen Candles story of awkward girl gets noticed by popular guy but honestly I was never asked to any of the dances at school. I had many crushes throughout Jr High and High school (mostly with the same handful of boys) but alas, I admired them from afar knowing I didn’t really have a chance. My senior year of high school I was surprisingly chosen to be on Homecoming Court and I believe it was for one reason, I was kind to everyone. I didn’t belong to any particular social circle (unless you count choir and theater people as a group). I was just nice and respectful to those around me.

I have a super strong mom who is a retired social worker from Detroit. Her father passed away after an accident when she was a teen and because her mother then had to go back to work full time,she was a primary caregiver for her brother with muscular dystrophy; all while finishing high school then college where she graduated 2nd in her class.Then of course the whole move to Detroit from the Philippines with an infant not knowing anyone and having to find a job…yeah, strong.Both my parents would tell me I was beautiful but more than that they would emphasize kindness and respect. When I was disappointed that I wasn’t asked to dances or on dates my mom would tell me that my time would come and that it was because boys were just scared to ask.They taught me strength of character, trust in God, and pushed me to be a woman who could always take care of herself no matter what. They instilled this belief in me that I mattered and I was worthy of love.They taught me to persevere through trials, to have that internal drive, and to really believe that I could do anything I set my mind on. I lost some of that belief along the way because life is hard and words of others can be powerful in a bad way sometimes.

These are the lessons I want to teach my daughter. It’s really hard in the current culture vballwe live in today. Media, pictures, tv, snapchat, etc…the pressure to be liked, to be pretty, to be thin, to be popular; it’s the same stuff I struggled with in high school and beyond but the advent of social media outlets has made it crazy for these girls. I want my daughter to focus on bravery over beauty, kindness, compassion, and strength over number of ‘likes’ on posts. It’s a forever process and a constant reminder to focus because life is not a fairytale. In Proverbs it says that beauty is fleeting and it’s so true. How quickly someone becomes unattractive when their personality or character is ‘ugly’. Funny, I talk about and love lipstick but no amount of lipstick or make up can mask an ugly heart.

‘The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’ ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Today I wear Dior Addict Lip Glow which is always in my purse. It’s a lip balm which brings out the perfect color of your lips based on your pH. There are many imitations by other companies and believe me I’ve tried them but this one is the best. I chose this color because it brings out your own beautiful color. Let’s help our daughters focus on their strength and courage and what’s on the inside vs. what’s outside. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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