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Tag Archives: courage

Power of Story

16 Mar

I heard a cancer survivor speak recently and I have to admit I was a little annoyed. I am incredibly happy that this person was completely cancer free and that her treatment worked for her, it’s a place all cancer fighters hope for. I think it was her story and her ‘after’ story that irritated me. The presentation was to a large group so I can imagine it may have been stressful but what I missed was a little authenticity, the guts of her journey. Maybe the story was too simple; got cancer, got treated, got cured, stayed positive, doesn’t remember having any ups and downs emotionally. Maybe I’m being too cynical, that’s probably it. All I know is for me to share in her joy and excitement I needed to be able to connect to her story and being a Stage 4 cancer fighter currently, the expectations and probability to connect was high but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t inspired, and all I could do was sigh, ‘that’s nice, good for her,’ a sharp contrast to someone I heard speak last year. Listening to last year’s survivor story left me on the edge of my seat, I was in tears as I was brought into her journey with her words and I wanted to seek her out afterward and know more. I didn’t even have cancer then.

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.’~Erin Morgenstern

Have you ever thought about that? The possibility that your story could actually take residence in someone’s soul and become part of their blood and self and purpose. Whoa. If that’s the case, would you be more truthful about who you are, your feelings, your purpose, your words? What I wanted from the speaker was authenticity, truth, and maybe her truth was just that simple. Maybe she didn’t have low points in her journey or maybe she just didn’t let herself get there. My truth on my current cancer path is different and that’s ok because we are all created differently. The authentic self is soul made visible. – Sarah Ban Breathnach  Be authentic.

Today’s page in my story is a jumble of words and emotions. My mind is all over the place. I have the consistency of work and kid rhythms but my mind and heart are still longing to save the world, to check things off on my ever growing bucket list, to see dreams become reality. I heard a fellow cancer fighter say that she tries to create such a big and busy life in order to shove down the ugly cancer stuff; in essence to make cancer just a small part in her mind. I feel the same, planning big, checking things off my bucket list and keeping busy helps me forget on occasion that I have cancer and it also helps me in a small way not to live from scan to scan. Faith. I recently read from an Oswald Chambers devotional that at the beginning of the Christian walk we are so marked by feelings, more by sight than by faith, but there comes a time when that joy is not what it used to be and that sometimes the soul gets dark but that is when God is taking the soul out of the realm of religious feeling and emotion into the realm of faith (all paraphrased). Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien. Deep faith. I’m right there now too. I have a sweet relationship with God that has deepened over the years through life, cancer, and other obstacles, and it’s what’s giving me hope. On Jen Hatmaker’s podcast she ends each episode with the question, ‘What is saving your life right now?’ I have to say for me, it’s my quiet time with God each day and the people I have chosen to surround myself with, my family and my friends; both give me hope, peace, and joy. My mind may be in overdrive but today I get to add another page to my story, I’m alive.

Today I wear Flower Petal Pout Lip Color in Chestnut Kiss. I was pleasantly surprised by these lipsticks from Drew Barrymore’s line. They are inexpensive, have great color, are pretty long lasting, and are fairly moisturizing as well. I chose this color because I was looking for an everyday brown that I could wear without looking ‘dirty’ on my brown skin and this was actually perfect! Cheers!

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Chasing Joy

30 Dec

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What a week. For Christmas we hosted almost 30 people, had 2 dogs (plus my own), a puppy, and a cat. Not super unusual for a large family gathering but most of those people and all of the animals also stayed at my house for 3 or 4 days. As annoying and chaotic as that sounds, it was a blast…and this is coming from an introvert! There was so much joy and laughter in my house that for the first time since my cancer’s return I forgot about it. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I cried and this was a regular occurrence over the long Christmas weekend. Did you catch what I said? The overabundance of joy and laughter made me actually forget I had cancer.

This is the last week of 2017 and boy has it been one freaking great year. Looking back I see mostly happy times surrounded by people I love and have tried to focus (as much as possible) on doing things I enjoy and spending time with people I care about. My focus of course dramatically heightened this past July when I found out I had cancer again. I saw a post on instagram that asked the question, ‘How have you changed or grown in 2017?’ It’s a great question and one I think we should all reflect on as we look forward to a new year. For me, the biggest area of growth was my voice which I had lost some time ago (figuratively of course and for reasons I’ve never written about). I am an introvert, people-pleaser which makes it tough to say ‘no’ and also tough to express your needs (easy target for people to take advantage of). 2017 gave me my voice and my power back…well, I’m still working on it but it’s been transformational. Also, I have become more laser focused on certain goals thanks to age and probably cancer. At the beginning of 2017 I chose the word ‘joy’ as my word for the year, recurrence of cancer has challenged that a bit for me but after this past weekend I know it’s still bubbling inside of me so for 2018 ‘joy’ is my word again.

‘When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?’~Ann Voskamp

This year, I will be chasing it. The moments I forgot about the cancer were monumental for me and I know there are so many possibilities out there for those crazy joy moments. Life is hard, teens are hard, work is hard, but what was it about those moments that made me forget? Telling stories, laughing, being myself and at ease with people I love, that’s one. What else? That’s my pursuit for 2018.

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.’~J.R.R. Tolkien

Joy like swords. Today there’s no lipstick. I img_1055bought a mascara from a great cosmetic company called Thrive, visit their website and read what they’re about. Anyhow, with my recent purchase which I just received yesterday, they sent a makeup bag (gift with purchase for holidays) which was perfect. Joy is the best make up! Happy New Year, cheers!

Beauty and Terror

16 Nov

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I had to do something last night that I truly dislike. If you are a parent that has a child involved in Jr or Sr high sports or even musicals or whatever kids try out for you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s the time when you as a parent are sitting in your car on the last day of try-outs waiting for your child to come out and tell you whether or not they made the team, got the part, etc. All of my kids play sports so sitting and waiting in the parking lot behind the gym is a pretty regular experience. I hate it because not every child makes the team and as they come out one by one you can see joy or disappointment on their faces and lots of times tears; heartbreaking even if it’s not your child. I personally have experienced both joy and tears and as a mom you feel double–double the joy and double the heartache.

Last night I had a different experience and I hate to even mention it but it’s real. Last night as I was waiting for my son to come out of basketball tryouts I was completely overcome with emotion. The one thought that shook me waiting in silent darkness was that I didn’t want to die. Even though I was not liking the experience of waiting to hear about Alex and the team, I wanted to be there; not just for that day, but for all days, for all life lessons that continue on into adulthood, for all the joys and disappointments, for the tears that we would share, for all of the hugs, for proms, graduations, and for birthdays. I want to be mom and I want to be there for all of it. ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.’~R. Munsch. Last night in my car I got incredibly sad and angry at the same time knowing that cancer was trying to purposely shorten my days and there I was crying in the dark in the back of the parking lot. I don’t want to die but I guess none of us are guaranteed our days.

It’s been just a couple of weeks since finding out my cancer was stable and my mind has wonderfully helped me deny I have cancer at all. From finding out in July until my last CT scan in October I struggled with the sadness that comes with finding out my cancer is back and has spread, but then literally after finding out it was stable my mind did a complete turnaround and everything for me was back to normal, no problems at all. Last night I was reminded that life is fleeting and I still have awful cells trying to take me down. Grrrrrrr, it stinks and I’m ticked off and sad at the same time so I’m back to my ‘oh yeah, I still have cancer’ normal…sigh. ‘Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.’~R. Rilke Sometimes that sums up exactly how I feel right now, loving the beauty of life and the people I’m surrounded by while also feeling terror and heartache of what’s next and who I may leave behind. ‘What day is it?’ ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh~A.A. Milne  Today is my favorite day because I’m still here. Oh, and he made the team!img_5339

Today I wear Lorac Alter Ego lipstick in Daydream which is a plum/fuschia color which is a little brighter for me but who cares! The formula is between a matte and satin finish so it’s a little drying but goes on smooth. Overall a great one to try! Cheers!

Can We Change?

14 Nov

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Recently I had a conversation with one of my coworkers about personality types and whether people could change or if we just are who we are; a deep topic but spurred on by another conversation I had with my boss. We are in sales so we talked about our specific personality types (defined by Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc) and how they relate to selling style and if one may be better than the other. In the end my coworker and I decided that we were created a certain way at our core and there are enhancements we can make to our specific types like being a little more aggressive or being a little more extroverted, but at our specific personality type stays the same. There’s a saying ‘fake it til you make it,’ can you fake kindness? Then there’s ‘this is how God made me.’ Is it? Is there a ‘bad’ personality type? I don’t believe there’s a bad type but maybe life experiences, disappointments, and our own insecurities make us ‘hard’?  Can we soften? Can people change? All tough questions.

I read this today and it really resonated with me: You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.Why did you spill the coffee? ‘Well because someone bumped into me, of course!’Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?” When life or business gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and impulsive reactions? Whoa. When faced with adversity who are you because that is when your true thoughts and heart show. I have been around people who have raged and placed blame outside of themselves in troubling times but who does that hurt? It shows a core of anger and insecurity and the ‘ugly’ that rolls off their tongues is truly the ‘ugly’ that’s in their hearts. Matt 15:18 ‘But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart..’ Can they change? Nothing is impossible with God but first they must look in the mirror. I am no saint but with all the challenges life has thrown over the years all I can do is fall to my knees, cry out for peace, and be grateful for another day. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t depend on personality type because at all of our cores is love and the need to feel loved. Maybe it’s all about control. We go through so much in life; illness, hurt, broken relationships, etc and maybe we become hardened because those are the things we cannot control. So here’s what must change…not our personality type, but our need to control every circumstance or person, or in other words, our need to be God. Just my theory. ‘All is not what it is-it is always more. What seems like your story is but a line in the whole story’~Ann Voskamp.

This weekend I was blessed by an img_7380-1unbelievable surprise. My son’s recreational basketball team comprised of most of his closest friends surprised me by wearing t-shirts especially made (by the moms) in support of  my cancer journey. I cry thinking about and looking at the pictures. The beautiful thing about releasing control over whatever situation you may be in is that it frees your heart to love more, to be more authentic and to be kind. You get to be more of your authentic self because you also release the need to control people and reactions and crap in general and you get to live the golden rule ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’~Matt 7:12. What you put out into the world comes back 10-fold and those shirts on those boys created by the moms was a HUGE 10-fold bounce back. My grateful heart is once again mush.

img_5039-1Today’s lipstick is YSL Rouge Pur Couture Dazzling Lights Edition Lipstick in Le Rouge which is blood red. These lipsticks are a little pricey but super moisturizing. For whatever reason the lipstick just feels luxurious on your lips but I’m not gonna lie, the color slips off my lips pretty quickly. Never the less, if you want to splurge, YSL and Tom Ford are the two brands that are splurge-worthy. I chose this color because it’s red and a great color for the holidays! Cheers!

Still Here

9 Oct

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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!

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

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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!

 

 

 

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