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Tag Archives: mom

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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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!

Story

3 Nov

IMG_7348

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!

The Little Things

1 Sep

ajbabyA couple weeks ago I was watching my daughter play in a volleyball tournament. My mom was sitting in between me and another older woman. We were all in conversation together for awhile until I decided to watch my daughter more intently. On occasion I would hear the two grandmas talk about where they grew up, their kids, what they had in common, and of course talk about their granddaughters who were playing volleyball against each other at that moment. During their conversation about life I overheard the other woman say she had cancer a few years back and of course my mom chimed in with my cancer experience. After that, she said that shortly after cancer and recovery she had a massive stroke. She spoke about her wonderful husband and how he helped her learn how to walk, talk, eat, and function again; he was by her side through all the recovery of cancer and stroke but then suddenly passed away last January leaving her alone. Up to the day of this tournament she was questioning God, angry with the current situation of her life, and was wondering why she didn’t ‘go’ first. My mom, the social worker/listener, asked something very simple, ‘You’re here watching your granddaughter and that’s one good reason to be thankful you’re still here for, right?’ She nodded her head yes.

Sometimes you have to intently search for the little things that bring joy into your life even if at times they can be extremely hard to find, especially when you’re overwhelmed by not so joyous circumstances. My oldest son just turned 18 and for those raising teen boys…HELP! There are days when he is that sweet boy but there are other days when I think an alien has taken over his body and I am literally searching for anything salvageable. It’s like a light switch that turns on and off, Jekyll and Hyde, but right at the time I’m at the verge of wishing he would go away to college already, he turns and hugs me, or says thank you for something, or sits with me on the couch, or shares a story, or says he loves me and all of a sudden I’m having a hard time letting him grow up…it’s the little things. Amazingly enough, looking back at my life, many times it’s the smallest, most simple things that I remember as being some of the greatest and in the case of raising teens, it’s the small things I find myself clinging to most of the time. ‘Embrace the power of little things and you will build a tower of mighty things.’~I. Ayivor

Today I wear Laura Mercier Lip Colour Sheer in Tender Lips which is a sheer brown rose. I love these sheer lipsticks especially when transitioning from summer to fall. It’s just enough color and since we’re all losing our tan (or in my case turning a lighter shade of brown), all the shades are neutral enough to keep us looking healthy during this transition. I chose this color because it’s a perfect neutral for my skin tone. Seek out those little moments that bring you joy! Cheers!

Dear Mom

12 May
Mom with two of my kids

Mom with two of my kids

Dear Mom,

I would not be the woman and mother today if I had not had you as an example and encourager. You and dad changed your whole life and left everything and everyone you knew by coming to America so that your children could have a better life. Instead of using your degree in nutrition, you were offered a job as a social worker which you took in order to help support the family, then you stayed until retirement. When I was young you were there. Although you worked full-time you never missed a dance or piano recital, parent teacher conference, or any other activity in which a child would wish to have a parent there. You taught me perseverance. In Junior High, when I was shy and didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, I asked you to send me to the Philippines to live because at least I knew we were all the same. You were wise and told me to get involved in everything I thought I would like and if after a year I still wanted to go, you would send me. After a year of Student Council, Yearbook Committee, Basketball, and track among other things, I didn’t want to leave…thank you for pushing me. When I didn’t feel pretty, you sent me to etiquette school and entered me into a beauty contest hoping the judges saw what you saw, beauty inside that radiated out; they did, but when I won and different mothers were protesting, you told me to stand proud and confident. You were there to help me with my first heartbreak in high school, to put my hair up for prom, to attempt to teach me how to cook, etc. When I got cancer, although I know you were devastated, you were strong for my family.

Today I am a mom and I thank you for all the lessons and most of all the love. I love you!

Mom and Mom-in Law with AJ

Dear Diana,

One of the best parts of being married to Tony is that I inherited you as a mother-in-law. When Tony announced we were engaged, you threw a surprise engagement party and welcomed me with open arms. Despite the fact we’ve never lived closer than three hours, you have always been available. With the birth of each child, you were there. When cancer hit, you practically moved in to help with anything and everything. You have shown me a servant’s heart and have been a shining example of a woman of faith. You have helped me understand Tony more through the different stories from his youth. You have encouraged me and prayed for me and I am forever grateful and proud to be a part of your family. I love you!

Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder

Today I wear Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie lip gloss in Sparkplug. These lipglosses are sheer with high shine and high moisture. Sparkplug is a sheer mauvey pink easily worn alone or to add a little pink to any color. I chose it for the name because both my mom and mom in law are energetic and ‘sparkplugs’ which blazed the trail for me! Happy Mother’s Day!!

Follow Your Heart

30 Aug

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked….follow your heart…Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”-Steve Jobs

What a brilliant man. Think about it, why don’t more of us follow what’s truly in our hearts on a daily basis. Now I’m not saying quit your jobs and run away to do something crazy, because we all have responsibilities, but if we know our heart’s desires and dreams, why not take steps to go in that direction or somehow reinforce that desire daily or weekly? I still love singing, dancing, and music in general, they bring me joy, so now I play the piano longer, I sing in my car louder, I dance when I hear a fun tune and those things put a smile on my face; even hearing good music can stir my heart. We are all destined to die. For me, cancer gave me a warning and reminder that it may be sooner than later.

My son had a birthday party recently, 25 teenage boys and girls and talk about trying to live up to external expectations, yikes. The pressure teens face to look good, be smart, be popular, get into the right crowd, is tough, but it doesn’t change much as adults (especially as a woman). We all fear embarrassment or failure but what do we have to lose? What would happen if we did fail? So what? I would hope to teach my children to pick themselves up and push forward, not looking back. Life is too short and knowing that we all die no matter what should be freeing. For me, it lifts the burden of ‘what would they think…’ because when we die, does their opinion really matter? Be your own person; follow what’s in your heart because God put it there, and love people knowing that they are all unique and they all have hopes and dreams too.

RED LIPSTICK CHALLENGE: This past week I had an appointment with my radiation oncologist and wore bright red lipstick. (Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Luster lipstain in Fever—fun red, be brave). When the PA whom I’ve never met before walked in the room he looked at me and said, ‘Wow, where are you going after this appointment because you look great,’…all that before he introduced himself! Me and my red lips felt pretty satisfied. If you know some of my story you know that I used to want to hide my lips, now, red lipstick…hello, I’m here to live! Keep sharing your stories and challenges, I love hearing them! Talk with you soon….

Friendship

24 May

My mom had many friends growing up but the two she spoke about the most were Adele and Rolly.  She shared many of her childhood stories of them with me. They were best friends through thick and thin and maintained their friendships well into adulthood (that’s 50+ years of friendship)!  Rolly’s family ended up in Toronto and Adele’s family in California.  She spoke to them by phone and more recently through e-mail.  Since we were in the Detroit area, we visited with Rolly and his family many times, I grew up knowing him and his kids, we even called each other cousins.  I didn’t see Adele quite as much because she was in California, but every time my mom spoke to her (and still speaks to her), they are laughing, crying, sharing memories, and creating new ones.

On April 17th, Rolly went to see a doctor because his skin was turning yellow.  They determined it was a blocked bile duct so they put in a stent.  On May 10th, he went back in complaining of pain.  Last Friday my mom got a call from Rolly’s wife saying that it was serious and it didn’t look good, Saturday my mom was on the phone with her friend Adele crying and reminiscing about their younger years with Rolly.  Sunday morning my mom took a bus to Toronto to see one of her best friends in his hospital room.  They were able to talk and laugh and cry when she arrived Sunday night and by Monday morning, he was gone.  In one short month, he went from vibrant to gone.

It is so hard to share your life for so long with someone and have only memories left, but is it worth it?  Absolutely!  We are made for relationships; to share our struggles and our joys, our heartaches and happiness.  Friends are God’s way of taking care of us.  Through my struggle with cancer, my friends made sure me and my family were taken care of.  They prayed for us, made meals for us, offered to drive my kids to their activities, drive me to my appointments, etc.  Without them, it would have been a lonely walk; they were God’s hands and feet to me during that difficult time.

Cherish the people God has brought into your life and tell them how much they mean to you.  You may not get that ‘later’ or ‘tomorrow’ or ‘I’ll tell them next time’.  I truly believe there is a purpose to every ‘chance’ meeting you have with someone.  Open yourself up and let people in, it’s hard and I’m bad at it (but I’m working on it too).  I can’t say it enough, we are a rushed and virtual society because it’s easy; but take the time to get to know someone and be a friend, it can only make your life richer.  From the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Lipstick today is Angel Skin from Chantecaille.  It is a nude color with a hint of pink.  If you’ve read my book you know I’m not that fond of nude so I top it with a Chantecaille gloss called Charm.  I chose Angel Skin for the name; to honor the death of Rolly but also the friends I have who to me are my angels here on earth.  Thank you for your friendship!

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