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Tag Archives: friends

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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Goodbye 2016

31 Dec
michael

Me and my cousin Michael

It is the last day of 2016 and there are so many things swirling in my head I’m not sure what to write. It’s been a year of deaths of so many icons from my youth; David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Mrs. Brady~Florence Henderson, and more recently Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. I don’t idolize them but holy cow, the memories of the music and shows they bring up. It’s sad and nostalgic but it’s also a reminder for me of aging and mortality…I’m getting older. A little over a week ago my cousin passed away after having a heart attack, he was 46. He was mostly raised by my grandma in the Philippines but came to the US as a teen. He stayed with us through his Junior High years then ended up moving to California to be closer to his mom. Michael struggled with depression and we kept in contact on and off through the years. His adult life was a struggle but I think he finally felt complete when his daughter was born; his was a struggle of identity and belonging, and depression and maybe his heart attack was really a broken heart. Over the past week my cousins and I have been in more contact with each other than I can ever remember thanks to technology and Facebook messenger. We didn’t all grow up together because we are all over the place; Philippines, Australia, California, Minnesota, Kentucky and me in Michigan. We along with our parents (the aunts and uncles) and Michael’s best friend have united in this tragedy and are helping cover expenses and arrangements for my aunt. Holidays are generally a time of family gatherings and I don’t really know what that’s like strangely until now. Outside of the friends that have surrounded my family I did not grow up with my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc so this connection of us around the globe has been kind of bittersweet for me.

I read a quote today ‘It takes the darkness to see the stars.’ Reflecting on 2016 and in my life so far it’s been so true for me. I’m so grateful for my friends and family who always shine in my dark times and during this dark time of Michael’s death I see our family as the stars in the darkness coming together to help in however way we can. There are always stars, sometimes we just can’t see them. A good blogger friend of mine, Elizabeth, wrote a piece about New Year and not having resolutions but instead having a word/thememyintent/mantra…choosing a path. We must’ve been on the same wavelength because for Christmas I bought a little bracelet for myself with a word on it as a reminder; I chose STRONG. I chose strong instead of strength because strength feels like something I hope to have whereas I wanted that reminder to myself that shoot, after all I’ve been through, I’m already strong. What is your word? What will be your theme? What is your hope for 2017?

Today I wear Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Mercy which is a deep berry. I chose it because Kat is pretty strong and bad ass and also for the name (the color si pretty kickin too). We all could probably exercise a little more kindness, grace and mercy in 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear

30 Jul

pier Are there only 2 sides? Is there really only fear and love? One or the other? Does perfect love cast out all fear?

I admit, I have many fears ranging from the typical spiders and snakes to the large catastrophic events like earthquakes, fire, and of course cancer coming back yet again. Many of my fears are inconsequential and not really debilitating. In fact, since having cancer, I still feel afraid of things but most of the time I overcome by thinking either ‘who cares’ or really ‘what control do I actually have over the situation/thing.’ If I can be totally transparent I have been struggling for a few years with a specific fear which for me has at times been a little debilitating. It is the fear of a person. I won’t be specific but because of events from my past and how they have shaped me, along with actual events that have happened, this fear to me was warranted. Fear has had me looking over my shoulder, looking out my windows at night, locking my doors (which I do anyway), not going to certain places ‘just in case’, adjusting my schedule…you get the gist. Fear changed how I lived. It is a work in progress but now alongside of that shrinking feeling of fear is anger. Anger that I am still making certain adjustments and anger because I still have that fear (vicious cycle) because just when I think I’m about to overcome the whole thing, something else happens. I am finding that anger is starting to take over that fear and maybe that’s a good thing.

When exactly does perfect love cast all that out? I’m honestly not sure. Yes, I believe God is in control. Yes, I trust God has my back but in between fear and love there’s a whole lot of anger, frustration, forgiveness and exhaustion. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. What I do know is that fear steals joy, peace, fun, and takes parts of your life that you may not even be aware of. It’s the thorn in your side day to day. Fear turns life into the what if; what if I get cancer back, what if I really am not good enough, what if my child gets in an accident, what if those threats are real, what if, what if, what if? Here is where I have to land…“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.  A daily active faith and trust in God. Our lives can be made dark by many things but fear takes away the freedom to really live. There is a song we sing at church with the words ‘I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.’ Every time we sing it, I cry because I need that truth every single day. Fear> worry> anger> faith> trust> breathe> peace> free>repeat.bird

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.’~ Yann Martel 

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude Radiant lipstick in Panko. Did you know yesterday was National Lipstick Day? Uh yeah, my friend Adrienne had to tell me (thank you)! Anyhow, I picked this one up and I have to say I like it! All of the colors in this line are supposed to be ‘nude’ with just a hint of color. They are creamy but more on the glossy side, not the one to choose if you’re looking for hard core color. I chose this color because it has a coral undertone but it’s not too orange. Thank you for doing life with me! Cheers!

Church

18 May

church

I have been going to church my entire life. My parents did not exactly make church optional. This was not a bad thing really, I didn’t know any different and my parents didn’t make church look like a chore, it was a place they enjoyed going to. I grew up taking Sunday school classes, singing in the choir, working in the nursery, and really having community while learning about God. Although as a teen it wasn’t great fun and maybe I rolled my eyes those early Sunday mornings but we never missed. I have to say when I went away to college church was not on my mind but eventually I was drawn back. I missed the stability and the community and honestly the peace I felt listening to God’s Word so again in my 20’s I became a regular attender and volunteer.

I recently read another blog which said ‘the church is a beautiful and broken place..it can heal and restore and it can hurt and turn away.’ The author also says regarding current hot button issues, ‘…it’s a lot harder to just swallow what scripture says when there’s a face on the other side.’ Good stuff. So, last weekend I had a bit of an epiphany while sitting in church. The topic was ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ a loaded question which they unpacked beautifully. I have to say I have had a few not so fun things happen in my life in recent years and I did turn to my church and the people there for love, support, advice, etc. and have felt both loved and restored but also hurt. Awhile back I felt completely supported after months of asking questions and seeking prayer during an extremely tough time but after a single conversation about me with someone else who could speak more ‘bible-language’ the tune changed from supported to maybe more questioned and judged. It was hurt compounding hurt and I felt myself become guarded, distrustful, and distant. It became increasingly difficult to go to services and engage and to even look some people in the eye. The institution I had relied on my entire life, poured into, and loved did not feel like home anymore and I could feel my heart harden a little. Was the church really a SAFE place for ALL the broken; broken hearted, broken families, troubled kids, abused, blended families, those with more complicated life stories? Are those just empty words and invitations that can turn on a dime when a truly difficult situation happens? Is a person more religious and believable if they have more bible verses memorized? All questions running through my mind.2012-07-08 16.33.59

So what happened last Sunday? I let it all go. Forgiveness. I looked at everyone around me and even the pastor speaking at the pulpit and realized the church is just a bunch of broken people gathered in a building doing the best they can while seeking God. We’re all human, we all make judgement calls and sometimes they’re not always right (and that includes pastors because they’re human too).One thing I know for sure, that question, ‘Where’s God when bad things happen?’ He is right there with you. Whatever I felt toward ‘the church’ through the difficult times with cancer or family issues I never doubted that God was right there holding my hand and that He had a plan. Last Sunday despite the questions in my mind and heart, I realized the church and its imperfections were just part of my journey to continue drawing closer to God. People always say they feel judged or not accepted or maybe that they don’t have a place or feel welcomed but should that be the burden of the church or the person or maybe both? The true burden lies with us, the people professing to be Christians. We are the church. Why does someone feel judged, because we judge. Why does someone feel left out, because we place ourselves in our cliques or comfort zones and stay there. Last Sunday I felt my shoulders relax a little and as they closed out with a song near and dear to me, the song I heard in my head before fully waking up after my first cancer surgery, the words rang true for me, ‘It is well with my soul.’

‘The kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God~D. Campbell’

Today I wear my old standby Dior Addict Lip Glow. I ALWAYS have this in my purse. It is like a lipbalm but it brings out the natural berry of your lips. It is the only lip thing I buy consistently. I chose it today because of the topic and what this product does. Glow brings out the natural color of your lips and adds a hint of berry, being a Christian we glow from the Holy Spirit inside us. Let’s work harder to be a little nicer to each other showing less judgement and more mercy and grace. Cheers!

 

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