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Tag Archives: inspiration

Dad

17 Jun

dadbaby

What is the difference between a father and a dad? Basically a father passes on his biology but a dad gives you his heart and his love. I have teens and as of late I have come to the conclusion with quite certainty that we as parents have to go through the teen years for a couple reasons. First, to be tortured and reminded that we are actually getting older, and second to remind us of how we were at their age and thus making us eternally grateful for the parents we have that tolerated us, what a cycle. So for my daddy, thank you…  dadlaugh

To the man who is the oldest of 7, the big brother and helper to his family, that married, had a child and decided to move his small family 8,304 miles away from home in hopes of creating a better life for his kids. To the man who makes us all laugh by laughing hard at the jokes he’s telling BEFORE getting to the punch line. To the one who gave me my love and appreciation for music by ‘air’ conducting the symphony in our family room; Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and always humming or singing around the house or simply singing a response to your question. Who took us to music in the park on Belle Isle and brought me to my first musical and concert. Who taught me how to catch a baseball, shoot a basket, and how to ride a bike. To the man who never missed my choir concerts, shows, or anything I did and who would randomly visit me at college to take me to dinner, then drive 3 hours home. To the one who disciplined hard but loved harder. To the man who took early retirement so my kids wouldn’t have to spend too much time in daycare and even now as lolo/grandpa will try not to miss any of my kids’ games or events. To the one redcoatdadthat continues to show me what love and sacrifice look like; who loves my mom and supports our family, who is still fiercely protective and gentle and giving. This is my daddy. The one who worried and was probably ‘tortured’ by me when I was a teen but who loved me to beyond and back. I am forever his little girl. I am forever grateful to have been blessed with a great dad. Thank you, proud to call you daddy.

 

Yes, this is still my lipstick journey so I will end by recommending one of my favorite lip products of all time, Dior Addict Lip Glow. It feels like a lip balm but brings out the perfect shade of pink/berry on your lips. I always have one in my purse! I chose this because it just enhances you and what you were already born with! Thanks dad, cheers!

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From my teen son on Mother’s Day…

14 May
2014
Al
I got this letter/story today written by my youngest son who is 14. Parenting teens is such a challenge and sometimes we have to hang on to just the occasional bits of love and affirmation we get to feel like we’re doing something right. Sometimes we don’t even know what affects our kids or what they hang on to. This made my heart melt and made me ‘love cry.’ (I asked his permission to publish):
Ahhhhhhh! I let out a yawn as I wake up to the soft sound of a piano. Momma! I rush downstairs to the living space where medium-sized black piano was placed with my mom sitting there playing. I sit in a chair next to her along with my dog Roxy. We both enjoyed whenever momma would play and sing beautiful melodies. I always pressed pause on my life to listen to her beautiful music. “On my own….” she begins to sing one of her favorite songs from one of her favorite musicals “Les Miserables.” This was one of my favorites too.  She sang it so many times that she perfected it by now. The way her fingers moved on the keys made it seem like my mother was a wizard of some sort. I closed my eyes and imagined floating up and relaxing. Pure relaxation. That’s what it was. As the song went on it brought tears to my eyes just knowing how much my mom really loved to sing and how beautiful she was. I told myself that one day I’d do something that I love and show my kids what happiness is.
     
Afterwards I made one egg over-medium along with a piece of toast and made one for my mom too. She walked me to my bus stop and I waited to embark into another day in 2nd grade. Every day was an adventure for me at that age; I was a pirate or ninja or something of that nature during recess. The bus arrived and as I was sitting there next to my fellow pirate, I realized how much singing meant to my mom. She sang all her life and I wondered if she would travel to the places I did while she was singing. Places high in the sky or beautiful meadows or… I went on in my head thinking of the beautiful places on Earth which matched my moms music. I eagerly awaited going back home to another concert.
The next day was mothers day and I woke up bright and early with my siblings to fix up some breakfast with love to serve to my mom in bed. As we served her breakfast along with many hugs and kisses she began to cry. I never understood why she would cry at moments like these. Were the eggs not cooked right? She claims it’s because she loves us so much. I never cried for loving someone but I just went along with it. Today was her day. I remembered always begging God for a “Children’s Day,” like mothers day and fathers day, but when I told my mom she said “Children’s day is everyday.” That always made me mad.
 
It wasn’t until 5th grade I learned to appreciate my mom more and more. Divorce. That was the word brought up in conversation for the next 2 years. I could see that mom was more stressed than she had ever been. I had a hard time as well but had to fight through it to help my mom fight through it. She was stronger than I was, so we just helped each other along the way. She didn’t sing or play piano as frequently anymore, but when she did I would still sit and listen. She put ten times more effort and emotion into playing this time. I guess this was when her true colors came out. It was gorgeous to hear and I finally understood why you cry when you loved something. Sometimes I would hide in other rooms and listen because I was having a hard time and would often cry too. I routinely closed my eyes, forgot everything, and travel to another world with nothing but the sound of the piano playing in the background.
As I grow older it seems sometimes like I am growing apart from my mom, apart from myself and who I really am. Teenage years are a struggle for both of us and it must get worse before it gets better. I’m thinking back to my 2nd grade years trying to remember the relationship I had with my mom, then versus now. Trying to give her the tears of love again. She rarely plays anything anymore. I wish she did but I don’t wanna tell her. Just listening makes me set aside all my troubles for a brief moment. I will love my mom and her music forever. I’m always a momma’s boy at heart and I know I’ll never forget the music she played. It forever plays in my heart.
Happy mother’s day, love you❤

Never Forget

28 Apr

cancer poster

I had a mini breakdown this morning. I couldn’t get the clasp together while putting on my necklace for at least 10 minutes and out of anger and frustration I broke down and cried. After a few surgeries on my neck and external beam radiation to my neck and shoulder area because of cancer, I had some damage to my brachial plexus which, since most of my cancer tumors were on the left side of my neck, means I have lost some feeling to my left arm and hand. My doctor said that the effects of my radiation treatment could last up to 10 years with scar tissue continuing to build. Well, it’s been almost 7 years since my last treatment and over the past couple of years my left arm and hand have gotten progressively worse. Additionally I carry stress in my neck and shoulders so if I’m under any kind of stress I lose even more feeling in my hand so besides the breathing issues that bother me on occasion, my arm and hand are a constant reminder that I had cancer and it changed me. I don’t feel confident holding a cup of coffee, or a paperclip for that matter, and my left arm is significantly weaker than my right. Besides the loss of feeling in some of my fingertips and thumb, there is a constant tingling all through my arm. You know when you sit cross legged on the floor too long and your legs fall asleep? That is my arm 24/7. I’ve tried physical therapy and I work out fairly regularly but the damage has been done and it cannot be reversed. Playing piano is just about out for me, typing is more difficult, but putting that dang clasp together…almost impossible when you can’t feel your thumb or your fingertips. Of course I’m grateful I’m alive and if this is all I have to deal with the rest of my life then so be it. It just gets frustrating sometimes.

radiation

Me and my radiation mask

A couple days ago I was invited to join in an online discussion about cancer and stress through an organization I have been a part of since 2009 called I Had Cancer. One of the questions they asked was ‘After diagnosis did all your pre-cancer stresses seem trivial?’ (paraphrased). My answer was absolutely yes, but since it’s been 7 years since the last cancer diagnosis for me, I have started to forget what I went through and am back dwelling on some of those pre-cancer ‘trivial’ stresses. I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that after battling cancer 3 times in 3 years I was more fearless, more grateful, and less stressed about inconsequential things. I remember being more observant; the colors of the sky and of flowers and trees were more vivid, and the air itself filling my lungs was delicious. I craved life and living and never wanted to waste a single moment. What happened? Life, kids, work, time. My clasp and the ‘stress’ discussion reminded me once again of how far I’ve come and all the blessings and moments in between since then. I’m thankful for the reminder and now I know I have to be more intentional about living and truly stopping to breathe life in and smell the roses. ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ ~ Oscar Wilde

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Wonderland.  These lipsticks are great and I have a couple colors. They come in several colors and formulations but I tend to stick to the satin formula since it’s the most moisturizing. This color is a deep pink-red which is a serious pop of color pretty great for spring and I love the name. Life is a wonderland, cheers!

Mom Wars?

30 Mar

IMG_5134

I grew up with a working mom. She was a great mom who worked hard as a social worker in Detroit. I have lots of great memories as a kid and never felt deprived of mom time. I didn’t grow up with alot and both my parents had to work but one thing I knew without a doubt is that I could depend on my mom (and dad), even to this day. They made sure to never miss a concert, a play, a teacher conference, a field trip, etc, they were and have been consistently there for me and now their grandkids. A few days ago a friend of mine posted something on social media which made me sad. She was at a sporting event far away from home supporting her child but sitting in the stands she felt ignored, irrelevant, and judged as a mom.

When I was a young mom I remember the mom battle was between working mom and stay at home mom(SAHM) and there seemed to be lots of articles and commentaries on the subject. I would drop my kids off at preschool while dressed in a suit and remember feeling judged by some of the SAHM’s. Whether it was in my head because of guilt (mommy guilt is a whole different topic to discuss!) or whether it was because I wasn’t invited to some of the play dates/coffee dates so I didn’t know them as well, it was hard to ‘rise above’. Now (and maybe this is more relevant because of my kids’ age), it seems we are judged, compared to, or criticized by how much we do for our kids; lessons, private coaching, travel sports, $$$$$, etc. Here’s one thing I do know, we are all doing the best we can and we really just need to support each other. No one knows the depths of our circumstances or what happens in our homes. We are a bunch of imperfect people trying to raise perfect kids…ha, no such thing, don’t you remember your teen/young adult years? We cannot control who they like, what their interests are, and for the most part we have no control over the decisions they make after a certain point(trust me, I have a son who is almost 20 in college and I would LOVE to control some of his decisions). Go ahead and be alpha, tiger, or helicopter mom but don’t look down at the ones who choose not to or who simply don’t want to mother any of those ways or simply those who don’t have the energy.

Being a mom is one of the if not THE hardest job in the world. I would venture to say that when we hold that baby in our arms for the first time we are not looking at them with tears in our eyes saying, ‘I hope you rebel one day’ or ‘I hope you do drugs’. No, we want our kids to succeed and be kind and conscientious adults, we want them to love others and to be confident in who they are, and as a parent I think we ultimately want them to know that no matter what, we love and support them, and that we are their biggest fans. This mom says it best, ‘Let’s make a deal. Stop the mom-judging. It’s tiring. … My soul needs rest and sometimes a friendly glance from another mom in the trenches who can totally relate on any other given day. Knowing you are not alone is such a gift to a mother’s spirit. Our choices may look different on how we feed, clothe and discipline our children, but our love for them and for others should outshine all of it. At the end of the day, all kids really need is love. Let’s focus on that.’~Laura Coffey.  So to the moms who have felt ignored or who may have felt judged by me, I apologize. I’m still an introvert so sometimes all I can manage is eye to eye contact and a smile and generally introverts are not going to be the first to start conversation. Feel free though to engage me in conversation and I will of course talk! Moms, let’s hold each other up and give each other encouragement. We don’t need to all be best friends but let’s make sure we don’t judge each other because we’re all doing our best. ‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’~Mother Teresa.

Today I wear Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with Sunscreen in Berry. I have this tinted balm in a couple different colors. They are super buttery and loaded with color. I chose this color because it gives a serious pop of berry and I am so ready for spring!! Cheers!

Joy and Imperfection

25 Mar

Anna166

I read this quote the other day which said ‘No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect. One only arrives at joy by seeing in every imperfection all that is joy.’~Ann Voskamp. I really had to let that soak in. 2017 has been interesting so far and I feel like joy has been a constant thread which I am incredibly grateful for; and that’s joy without perfection because believe me, life is never perfect. The thing about joy is that people tend to interchange it with being happy and those are two very different things. Happiness comes and goes but joy runs far deeper and I think it is more related to a deeply contented soul which then brings more peace in every situation.

The whole concept of trying to make everything perfect is exhausting and definitely not joyful, instead it is joy stealing. After cancer, divorce, and now as I edge closer to 50, the concept of perfect life, perfect kids, perfect job, being a perfect parent, etc. has settled into the knowledge that there is no such thing no matter what someone else’s posts and pictures look like on Facebook. I am also settling into a place that all that doesn’t really matter and is truly unachievable, but there is perfect peace in knowing that no matter what, God is in control and not me. Ahhhh…sweet relief. It’s really exhausting trying to control our circumstances, our jobs, our kids, our life and futile to think what we manufacture can actually bring us joy. I heard a Ted Talk where the speaker said that because of social media we have manufactured a caricature of our true selves; our focus has now become how to make our character on social media perfect and it has come to a point that we try to live our real lives based on who we portray on social media. Whoa and how sad for our children who’s identity is so wrapped up in how many ‘likes’ they get.Statistics (NACMS) show that the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased 450% since 1987 and I have to think social media and comparison has a little to do with that.

So what do we do? How do we get closer to joy despite our circumstances? First, release control. Control stems from fear; fear of failure, fear that your kids may make the wrong decision, fear you may make the wrong decision. A wise person said,’Fear puts a boundary on what your love will cover’~S. Unger. Let go of trying to control, trust God, trust yourself, trust your parenting and your kids. Yes there will be mistakes but don’t put boundaries on your or God’s love. Second (and I admit I have to work on this), spend more time looking at the flowers or the sunrise, your spouse, your kids’ eyes or even a book than social media. That way you’d be less likely to be able to compare yourself to someone else whose life appears more perfect than yours. Third, be grateful and try to find pieces of good even in the bad. This one is hard but if you can sit in quiet and dig deep there’s always something good, even if it may be a lesson learned or just becoming closer and more dependent on God, trials are where your faith gets to sharpen…seeing joy in every imperfection.

Today I wear Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Mark in JoAnn which is a plum/mauve. This lip gloss has lots of color and is super moisturizing. I’m pretty much in love with it because it’s so easy to wear. They say that it’s a longwear liquid lipstick/stain but it’s not. It’s really a lipgloss with lots of color that you’ll have to reapply often but I still love it. I love this company because the founder designed it to give back hence the name ’causemetics.’ For every product purchased she donates one to empower women thriving through cancer or domestic abuse. The products are free of some of the harsh chemicals used in products today. What’s not to love about that? Cheers! (photo cred: Leanna Vite photography)

India

4 Mar

india-chris

India. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but what I found was love and joy. The universal language of love, touch, of being held, and the simple pleasures like skipping rope, playing catch, and red nail polish kept smiles on all the beautiful faces. How do you reconcile your life when you come back? The simplicity of living with only your basic needs being met and of a life trusting God to provide. What is this kind of trust; a faith that releases you from fear and brings you freedom to live with joy in the simple?

joy

india-touch

india-kids

How do you process a return to your ‘normal’? A life made complicated by financial responsibility, being over scheduled, mortgage. How do you return to simplicity? We all have the same basic needs right? Food, shelter, and also the need to feel like we matter, the need to feel loved unconditionally, to be touched and held; add the very human longing for a life of joy and peace. The conflict in today’s ‘first world’ society tosses between wanting to save the world by service and agenda and also trying to ‘have it your way.’ It can’t be both. We must first lose ourselves before giving ourselves away. Serving others, meaning even just the basics of loving them, hugging them, looking in their eyes, washing their feet…their joy and gratefulness, brings you joy and gratefulness and hope. It’s a start. india-feet

 

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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