Tag Archives: lips

Just Breathe

10 May

It’s springtime in Michigan (finally).  Grass is starting to look green again, trees, flowers, and bushes are blooming, and for me, spring allergies are starting up.  What that means in my world is that since having cancer, surgeries in my neck, radiation, and vocal chord paralysis, it has become increasingly more difficult to breathe.  I already have a dry throat from the RAI and external beam radiation but since I take allergy meds, it gets even drier.  Sometimes the dryness makes me cough uncontrollably for long periods of time.  Because of my paralysis, my cough sounds more like a bark or a sneeze.  People either say “bless you” or they slowly move as far away from me as possible.  The coughing and drainage make my vocal chords swell which in turn make it more difficult for me to breathe.

  All this to say that breathing is a miracle.  We have five senses; see, hear, taste, touch, smell.  They say that when people are missing even one of these, that their other senses    become heightened.  But breathing on the other hand is life;  without breath, there’s no life and when breathing is difficult, there’s fear.  Last week I visited with part of my voice team (from the book, Dr. Rubin and Dr. Menaldi).  It’s amazing to me how observant they are. They can hear and detect different nuances to my voice and my breathing just when they hear me speak or even while I’m just sitting there.  I have less fear knowing that they’re prepared to aid in my breathing and speaking as necessary and are always there checking on me.

I know for me that my difficulties will happen every spring and fall, or even at random times, but that’s ok.  It’s now a part of me, a reminder of the amazing journey I’ve been through, and a reminder to slow down and listen to my body and to simply breathe in life.  Take a deep breath, smell the new flowers, the freshly mowed lawn, the springtime air, and remember to thank God for life and the miracle of new beginnings. 

This week I am wearing Bare Escentuals Buxom Lips lip gloss in Kanani.  It is a beautiful, sheer peachy pink color.  What’s great about the Buxom glosses is that they make your lips tingle when you put them on.  Since we’re talking spring and new life, I thought this tingle would wake your lips up!  I’ve also been asked about other cosmetics I use.  First off, I buy lipstick all the time, the rest of the stuff, maybe once a year. I’ll start with foundation for today.  For everyday, I use Bare Escentuals Mineral Powder-matte.  It’s just a light powder that melts into your skin.  For the days I feel like I may need more coverage (when I’m tired or for a special event), I’ll wear Armani Luminous Silk foundation.  This is a miracle product because it’s light as air yet covers every flaw, it’s also got buildable coverage.  So that’s it…Happy Spring (and always wear SPF)!

Thank You Mom

6 May

My mom is an amazing woman.  When I was 2 she traveled 23 hours by herself to the United States from the Philippines (apparently she was wheel chaired out of the airplane). My dad had immigrated 6 months beforehand to find a job and a place to live so we could start ‘The American Dream’. They left everything and everyone they knew to provide a better life for their children.

My mom was a working mom, we did not have much money since we were starting fresh so she took the first job she could get as a social worker for Detroit and stayed there 30+ years, never utilizing her degree in nutrition.  Although she worked 8 hours a day, she never missed a school function or recital and was always there when I was sick, sacrificing vacation time and sometimes even pay, I had no doubt that my mom would always be there when I needed her.  Recognizing my love for music, my parents sacrificed a couple paychecks to buy me a piano and also enrolled me in jazz, ballet, and tap at a very young age. We originally lived in a diverse Detroit community, but when we moved to a predominantly Caucasian suburb when I was 9, life got a little difficult for me.  I was incredibly shy and was teased because I was ‘different’.  By the time I was in Junior High, I wanted to move back to the Philippines.  My mom said, ‘For one year, get involved in everything possible at school and if after one year you still hate it, you can go.”  She was teaching me to persevere and overcome and I didn’t even know it!  Obviously, I stayed.  I was Student Body President, in choir, track, tennis, on yearbook committee, Honor Society, Math Olympics…just everything!  I made many friends and found a sense of belonging.

Her support continued through high school, college, and beyond.  She was there for the birth of my two children (I was in Indiana for the third) and is still there for almost all of their events. When I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, she literally fell to the floor, but rose to the occasion (of course) by being there every single step of the way.  My mom is known to her friends as a kind and generous woman, a giver of her time and resources. Our house was always open to those in need; I can’t even remember how many people lived with us as I grew up.  She taught me many things about being a woman and being a mom.  She taught me to persevere, to be independent, to treat others even better than you treat yourself, and to always be thankful for our blessings.  I always felt loved and important. Thank you mom, I love you.

Yes, mom’s have a big job and incredible influence on their children.  This week my lip color is Le Metier De Beaute’ Lip Crème in Chocolate Cream.  It is a beautiful medium brown with golden undertones (the texture is awesome!).  I chose this color because mothers are as precious as gold (and chocolate)! Happy Mother’s Day!

Keeping the Faith

30 Apr

Me and Grandma Lucille

This week I’m writing about my faith.  Faith is one of those controversial topics but I make no apologies for my beliefs.  Everyone is entitled to believe what they want.  I am a Christian.  To me, it is not about being ‘religious’ (whatever that means) or being part of a certain denomination, it is simply that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and I will follow Him.  Going through the last few years of constantly being told bad news, I would not have been able to get through without having the belief that somehow, this was God’s plan and purpose for my life and that in the end no matter the outcome,  it was all for His glory and that my family would be taken care of.  I also believe in the power of prayer.  So many people were praying and I know that their prayers truly gave me a sense of peace.  With people constantly serving my family with meals and encouragement, I felt not just the presence of God at all times but also his heart through all of them.

Many have asked how I was able to stay so positive throughout my journey.  It’s very simple.  I trusted God and I still do and that gives me hope.  Of course I was sad about different aspects of my struggle but again, I trusted He had a plan.  I also was so uplifted by the people in my life.  The command to love others was cemented into my brain.  If you can get beyond the surface and look at people with compassion knowing they are a unique creation, you can love them.  When you pour your love out, it comes back ten fold, and that is what I felt…love overflowing.

My husband’s 94 year old grandmother died Easter Sunday.  She was resurrected on the day of resurrection!  What a testimony of a beautiful Christian woman.  I have known Lucille for the past 20 years.  She loved everyone, she NEVER complained, and she always encouraged and had a smile on her face.  Every birthday we got a card with a personalized letter, she never missed one.  This was a woman who knew that everyone wanted to be loved and remembered and I know that it’s because she believed in a God who made each person unique and special.  Because of my faith, and the hope it gives me, I know I will see her again!

Today I’m wearing Benefit Ultra Shine lip gloss  in Kiss Me (a beautiful mauve) in honor of Lucille because she loved to kiss people, again, making them feel loved and special. God is good, all the time!

Life Lessons Learned

26 Apr

My Family and Me at the Beach

Cancer is a funny thing. Not funny, just a sudden jolt of mortality. Many things flash through your mind when you’re told, “It doesn’t look good.” After hearing these words I thought of many things. First and foremost were my kids. They were 10, 7, and 5 at the time and all I could think of was I’m not afraid to die, but they need a mom. I get choked up thinking about it. Your perspective on life and truly living it changes in an instant. I was also told I would never sing again which was secondary at the time. I just learned that in the ‘private room’ my family was brought to discuss my surgery and all the complications, that in the end when the doctors finished by saying I would not be able to sing anymore, my mom started crying and said, “But she’s a singer.” It was something tangible and real that slapped her with the reality of the situation.

It’s been a long three years with the cancer coming back again and again and I have learned many things that I promised myself to never forget. Cherish and maximize every moment with your family, friends, and every person you get the chance to meet. We live in a virtual society so be present. People always walk away from your encounters feeling something. My goal is to leave them feeling positive or uplifted in some way. Live passionately and takes risks, life is short and can change in a blink of an eye…have no fear. Everyone has a story so don’t judge too quickly. There were long periods of time when I couldn’t speak because of vocal chord paralysis. It was my chance to truly listen and it was great. We take our health for granted sometimes. Having no voice was hard and frustrating; communication with the general public was difficult. Think about your voice, without it, you can’t go through a drive-thru, order at a restaurant, talk on the phone, etc. Just being alive and loved is a blessing. And of course, trust God and count your blessings; I knew He had a plan which gave me hope. Although it was different than mine I knew I had to trust Him.

 On a lighter note, I sang in front of an audience for the first time since my last surgery and radiation treatment a year ago. Yes, I’m singing again despite having a paralyzed vocal cord! I was extremely nervous most of the day, but when the time came I swiped on some red lipstick (Lancome-Merlot…beautiful deep red, great for evening) looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh Yeah, I can do this.” It went great. I also got a job offer this week (Korres Lip Butter Glaze-Raspberry, perfect for summer)! I was also asked to bring a group of ladies on a lipstick and wine tour through the mall…ummm hello? OF COURSE!  Life is a great adventure…LIVE IT UP!

My Family and Me Four Wheeling

Finding the Right Shade

18 Apr

I will preface this by saying that I am no expert. I am just an everyday woman who has been searching for the right shade and texture of lipstick for at least 20 years, and believe me, I’ve tried EVERYTHING! Have I found it? Probably, but now the fun is on trying to find something better. Anyhow, I decided to first ask the experts on how they decide what the right shade is for women. I visited Diane from Bobbi Brown at Macy’s and Laura from YSL at Nordstrom. Both women said they look at the overall coloring of the person, dark haired women can usually pull off deeper shades while blondes, brighter shades. Generally, they try to match your lip color and either go lighter or darker from there.

Most women have a plum, pink, or reddish undertone to their lips. Mine is plum and to know yours is a good start.  For evening, I go deeper and for daytime I either go with almost the exact color of my lip in a gloss or go a little lighter for a lipstick. I stay away from matte and long-wearing lipsticks because I have naturally dry lips (which my doctor says is because I don’t drink enough water, FYI) and these tend to be more on the dry side. If you are going to wear a deep shade of lipstick, always exfoliate your lips first and then moisturize with a lip balm, this will help the color go on smoother.

So here’s the deal, for day, wear something close to your natural lips tone. In the evening, you can play with darker shades; of course red is a universal color for an evening out, just choose the right red for you (red-brown, red-blue, red-orange…try them on first!). Beyond all the rules…JUST PLAY WITH THE COLORS! Before I left, Diane from Bobbi put me in a hot pink shade…WOW, did it transform the color on my face! While Laura, put on a brown/peach Golden gloss from YSL, again, WOW! Two totally different looks and both very wearable and beautiful!

My favorite brands in terms of color selection and texture are Bobbi Brown, YSL, Christian Dior. In terms of drugstore, L’Oreal and Revlon, although all the new Covergirl lipsticks are also pretty awesome! Now go play!

Learning to Love My Lips

4 Apr

Photo Courtesy of PR Watch

When I was young, I was teased about my big lips (among other things). The last thing I ever wanted to do was to focus on them. I NEVER wore lipstick. In fact, I always had a funny smirk on my face thinking that ‘look’ made my lips thinner. So why did I write a book about lipstick and cancer only to draw more attention to my lips? As I grew older, a couple beautiful things happened.  First, my face finally grew into my lips (my lips are the same size now as they were when I was four), and second, Angelina Jolie became a megastar with her huge lips. All of a sudden, everyone wanted big lips and I finally wanted to show them off.

I have been searching for the perfect shade since college. I think I found mine, but I keep departing from it thinking there must be one better. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my purchases increased and my color choices went wild. I buy lipstick with every change of emotion or weather and with cancer I was an emotional hotbed!  Another hobby of mine is journaling. I have kept a journal since I was eight years old. Writing a book combining my two emotional outlets (lipstick and journaling) along with my faith was an incredible channel for me and I am hoping that it is encouragement for others.

I had a couple more job interviews this week which is, of course, an emotional rollercoaster (CoverGirl Natureluxe lipsticks in Hibiscus and Cabernet)—drugstore, since I’m jobless.  But the best news came with my recent ultrasound…I am CLEAN!  I have been officially cancer free for one year!  I splurged, the new spring colors are out so I purchased Chanel Rose Dentelle along with a gorgeous Chanel gloss called Insolence (a sheer hot pink). Those that have read the book now ask what color they should be wearing, I say whatever makes you feel good. Now, people are constantly looking at my lips to see what color I’m wearing. Believe it or not, I still get freaked out because I still think my lips enter a room before I do, but I know they’re beautiful, just like life is beautiful!

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