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Tag Archives: grateful

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!

Story

3 Nov

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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!

Blue Skies

20 Jul

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Have you ever opened your eyes to a new day and the sky just seems bluer than you’ve seen it in a long time? That was me today and it’s only Monday! There have been many changes in my life this year and the changes just keep on coming. For the past several months I have allowed these changes both good and bad stress me out a little. Questions about job, home, kids, and really about the future have infiltrated my mind, top that off with the general busy pace of life and it’s really been a lot. I ran into a good friend over the weekend and she said, ‘Trust God and take one day at a time.’ Ahhhh, yes. During my cancer journey that’s all I could do and I most recently have let life (and control of circumstances) simply take over. I heard a great song this morning by Greg Holden called ‘Hold On Tight.’ Some of the lyrics are “But I don’t take my life for granted. I’m gonna hold on tight to what I’ve been handed.” “So when you look at yourself tell me who do you see? Is it the person you’ve been or the person you’re going to be?” Really great lyrics and exactly what I needed to hear today to go with my blue skies. I have been handed A LOT! Two weeks ago I got the news once again that my tests (bloodwork and ultrasound) came out clean so I am officially 5 years-plus cancer free! I have my health, my family, my friends, and have found an incredible man who loves me for exactly who I am. Looking back at all my ups and downs with health, career, and family over the past several years there have been many many blessings and most of those revolve around people. Life really does take a village. I read somewhere that beauty grows in the soil of adversity. The writer says that in adversity we either give in or dig in and life in general needs to be planted firmly for beautiful things to grow. Dig in. Today, thinking about the past few months/years and all the difficulties, I have been blessed with amazing people filtering in and out of every circumstance and turn that life has taken me; some are friends forever and some God had with me for just exactly that moment but seriously, each person has had an impact one way or the other. These are the fertilizer while I’m ‘digging in’ helping me to grow.

We carry so much stuff around and lots of times we think we’re the only one or that we can handle it ourselves but if you look around there are people willing to walk right along side of you and if need be, hold you up when you are too tired to keep going. There will always be circumstances in life that throw you off balance, but get excited about all the people that surround you. There will always be plenty of people who will criticize or try to bring you down either to your face or behind your back…who cares. Listen to kind words, cherish in your heart the kind actions of others and remember you can be that person too. So for today, the sky is blue and the air is warm. Hold on tight to what you’ve been handed, take the lessons and experiences from your past and be excited for the person you are continuing to become.

Today I wear Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Watermelon which is a red/pink/orange-y color perfect for summer. These lipsticks are all natural and I think the container is not only biodegradable but also  I think if you plant them wildflowers grow. Cheers!

Mommy, Mom, Mama

9 May

kids1517  ACT, SAT, College visits. Growing up. Have I done enough? Do I love enough? I still love your hugs you know. Do you feel loved? Do you know I’m always here for you? ‘I love you mama.’ My heart bursts and breaks at the same time. You are on the verge of flying away. Do you know I can’t sleep until I know you’re home safe? You’ll always be my baby

16  The sweet age of your teen years. Working, driving, baby steps into adulthood. Did I say you could start dating? Did you know that I hold my breath when you drive?

15  You’re taller, you’re developing rapidly, you’re losing your baby face and looking more like a baby adult. Driver’s ed, talking about finding a job…please slow down

14-13  The weird ages. Junior High. Navigating through emotions. Changing friends, changing hormones, changing interests. Mom becomes two syllables..’Mo-om‘. You ask, ‘Am I good enough, pretty enough, popular enough?‘ Sorry, not everyone’s nice. I say, ‘You are beautiful, you are so special, you are loved.’ I pray you always believe.

12  Why are you taller than me? Voice changing, interests changing. You’re noticing the opposite sex, I’m trying to keep you my baby. Planning outfits, using deodorant, using hair gel, STOP GROWING UP ALREADY! Can I still tuck you in please?

11  ‘Mommy‘ starts turning into ‘Mom‘.’Don’t hug me in front of my friends.’ ‘I can walk to the bus stop myself.‘ I still want to hold your hand crossing the streetbus stop

10-5  I’m sorry babies, mommy has cancer. You are all in school now. 3 back packs, 3 lunches, all on the bus, the first good-bye’s. Learning, making new friends, growing independent;. Kindergarten, 3rd grade, 5th grade, I will fight as hard as I can because I don’t want to leave you. I am your mommy.

4-1  AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Am I enough? First steps, first teeth. I’m so tired. I still watch you sleep. I would die for you.

Birth  I can’t stop staring. You are beautiful. You are a miracle. I love you. Happy Birthday.

Motherhood is the hardest job in the world. You love with all you’ve got and you feel the deepest hurts. It is an extraordinary lesson in grace; giving all of yourself without necessarily getting anything back. There may be long days but the years go by so fast and seem so short. ‘Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.’~Jodi Piccoult 

Happy Mother’s Day! Pick a red lipstick and go with it. You are awesome!relaymom

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