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Tag Archives: life lessons

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!

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!

Teenagers…

12 Jan

teen

I have a question, what is the age when kids finally realize their parents are actual people who have had some of the same shared experiences they have had and lots of times they really do know what they’re talking about? I am waiting for that transition. I get it, I’m 40++ and I can acknowledge my parents were once young, that their decisions are/were based on upbringing, values, experiences, etc, but I’d like to think that I learned this a long long time ago. Ok, maybe not when I was a teen but definitely by the time I was a working adult…or maybe later…I don’t know. Sometimes I just get sick of the phrase ‘I knoooooooow’ with that long drawn out ‘oooooooooo’ or even hearing them talk to friends and their friends saying ‘my parents are sooooo annooooying’ because of course if their friends are saying it they are too.

I have teens and they’re awesome; great grades, great friends, and kind to everyone (except each other sometimes).I have to say that this may be the most difficult age of parenting or at least the most challenging. Something about having them look more adult-ish, being able to drive and work, and shoot, my oldest can already vote so I guess he is an adult but I use that term loosely. Being an older teen/young adult/college age simply means something like this, ‘ I got it mom, I know what I’m doing but can you transfer $100 for food/toiletries/whatever else I need right now for college)? Teens ask for your opinion then roll their eyes, they ask for your permission but look at you like you’re an alien when you say ‘no’—‘no’ still is still part of the English language right? Me:No…((long pause))…Teen:But whyyyyy? The teen years is that span of time that lies between tucking them in and waving goodbye as they drive off to college or whatever path they’ve chosen and sometimes it just stinks for the parent. If only they could see that I was once young and my advice comes from a place of experience. Many of their struggles are not new, hormones, friends, school stress, boyfriend/girlfriend, being popular, smoking, etc…they act like we would never understand. I want to tell them my annoooooying self is just worried and trying to process and navigate my feelings about them growing up. I want to say that I repeat things because half the time they act like they’re not listening. I’ve told them that I’ve experienced pain, heartache, first love, first break up, challenges to fit in, longing to be popular, etc but again I get that glazed look in their eyes like somehow there would be no way I was their age. Ever.teen2

What to do? The gray hairs are compounding. There is an Italian Proverb I read that says ‘Little children, headache; big children, heartache.’ Kinda true; heartache when they defy you, heartache when they say something hurtful without knowing the context of why it hurts you, heartache when they say goodbye. Oy, parenting, how it expands your heart. There’s no perfect formula and no perfect family no matter how they look on Facebook. I read that children are the greatest gift and their souls are our heaviest responsibility. Don’t be afraid to say no, but don’t be afraid to say yes too.Teach, they see what you do. If you never say sorry neither will they, if you are fearful they will be too, and so on. Be present. Pray. Love. Open door. Open arms. Trust God. Trust yourself. Listen. Love them. Let them go.

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Bella. It’s the perfect pink/brown for me and I chose it because it’s my favorite color right now. Cheers!

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!!

 

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