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Tag Archives: courage

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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#thestruggleisreal

15 Nov

cold

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

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

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

Story

3 Nov

IMG_7348

I’m kind of addicted to the stories posted on Facebook from Humans of New York. If you haven’t heard of this and you’re on Facebook you should take a gander. Every day, or several times a day, they post a picture of someone (old,young, and all in between) along with a piece of their story. All the stories are so different and interesting. They have so many followers that they recently published a book of the many people and stories they have collected which my daughter bought me for my birthday. It brings to light the fact that everyone brings something to the table, everyone has different and unique stories, and also the fact that no one knows what happens behind closed doors. Looking at the beautiful pictures they post of all these different people, you would never know some of the things they have faced or celebrated; I find it so interesting.

Last week a close friend found out her young son was beaten by her ex-husband and more than likely not for the first time. It has been a long and stressful week for her but thankfully he is safe and ok for now. If you truly knew all of her story this would not be a surprise, but since most people don’t, it comes as a shock. What angers me a little is that people assumed the worst of her (or maybe the best of him) until this happened. Why? Partly because we love a great bad guy/good guy/gossipy story (admit it) but also because she stayed mostly silent. He continually spoke poorly of her and her choices while volunteering at church and school and putting his best face forward. He looked like the hero, people felt sorry for him, took care of him, and essentially believed his story without question. He was good at telling it, he was good at showing it, while again, she stayed away, she stayed silent. Is silence better? This has been a struggle for me because I have a whole piece of me that I’ve been silent about. I’m not so sure. What I’m fairly convinced about is this…the person who will not stop talking or accusing is typically the person feeling guilty for the thing they are making accusations for; they are the one’s having difficulty looking at themselves in the mirror and don’t want people looking so closely at them so point the finger elsewhere. Here’s the lesson…don’t assume until you know all sides of a story. Silence? I guess it’s ok for now.IMG_7347

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”~Maurice Switzer (Also see Proverbs 17:27-28)

Today I wear Aquaphor on my lips. Why? The unthinkable happened to me, the lipstick connoisseur…I had an allergic reaction to a lipstick. Which one? I have no idea because I used a couple new ones last week. Oh well. I love Aquaphor because it is one of those multi purpose products. Cheers!

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!

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