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Tag Archives: people

Why Be Kind?

13 Nov
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Photo courtesy of Nicole Daniela Photography

Today is National Kindness Day…because we need a designated day to be reminded to be kind. I guess it’s fine since there seems to be a day for everything now. Last week I had a short meeting in Chicago. One of the best places to see human nature at its finest is at the airport during the boarding process and also trying to get off the plane after landing. We all know we all have to get on the plane and buckle up and we all know we have to get off so why the insanity? From my previous posts you know that my left arm is significantly weaker than my right and is also losing feeling. What that means for me and travel, is that I panic at the thought of having to lift a bag over my head to place into the overhead bin. On the short flight to Chicago, I struggled getting my stupid carry on bag up into the bin. I didn’t ask for help but as I struggled, broke a sweat, and bumped my head trying to lift my bag up, the man sitting underneath the ‘said bin’ sat and stared up at me with a face that said, ‘Are you serious, that bag is so small and you can’t lift it?’; I’m sure the people behind me wanting to get through were thinking the same thing. Coming back home I had to put my bag in the bin one row behind me. I’m sure you can guess, but trying to walk back even one row to get your bag once you land is not a party. Where does kindness go when you’re rushed, impatient, or inconvenienced?

My church spent a month highlighting random acts of kindness. They created a beautiful board for people to write what they’ve done to help and be kind to others. The acts of kindness ranged from the extravagant gestures to the simple ‘holding the door open for people’ ones. It makes me a tiny bit sad that we have to dedicate a month or even a day like today to be more intentional about being kind to others. Times are so weird right now; not only do we need reminders to be intentionally kind, sometimes it feels like when we are, we need to be recognized for it. We live in a very volatile world right now with hate, mass shootings, and racial tension but maybe, just maybe, it’s because we forgot the basic precepts of kindness, love, and respect for each other to the point of which we need a day to remember to be intentional about being kind. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into this but I do know being pushed out of the way even after waiting until the row behind me got out to get my bag was not pleasant. Had the woman known I had cancer and it would take me a little extra effort to grab my bag because of radiation damage from cancer, would she have pushed her way through me to get out of the plane? Do we need a reason for basic kindness and respect? Even the smallest acts of kindness matter, but if we’re too self absorbed to be self aware then we’ll miss those moments. Be nice, even if no one knows, they’ll remember.

Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own.~Lindsay Gordon

The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, They’re made out of memories people have of you.~from the book Wonder, RJ Palacio

Today I wear Laniege Kiss and Make Up Set. This is a full set of different flavored lip balms that they call ‘masks’ that you wear at night and wash off in the morning. Right now you can buy this set at Sephora for about the same price of a full size container (and you get a full size included in the set). I love it and had to try because it’s a top seller but I’m not attached because I do still love my Aquaphor at night. I chose it because it’s luxurious and necessary right now because of the colder weather and dryer lips. I also chose it because of the name of the set. Cheers!

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Motherhood And Cancer

26 Sep

facetune_22-09-2018-17-18-00Last weekend my son went to his first official high school homecoming dance. He didn’t have a date but neither did most of his friends. Interesting times but I guess less pressure if you just decide to go with a bunch of friends. When I first found out cancer was back a little over a year ago my primary thoughts were of the kids not having a mom around to see them graduate, get married, have kids of their own, etc. Since I’ve been stable over a year some of those thoughts have faded (a little) but every time something significant happens like graduation, off to college, or this homecoming dance, my heart swells and I feel so grateful to still be here.img_4293

What can I say about being a mom with cancer? Many of my emotions I can’t even iterate on paper. This may be the hardest part. When I first got cancer the kids were 5, 7, and 10 and my thoughts were consumed with being able to raise the kids to at least adulthood when maybe they wouldn’t need a mom as much, but now that my kids are there or close to that ‘adulthood’ age I realize they still need a mom and maybe even more. Watching them grow up and being there for these moments is both heartbreaking and beautiful. I guess the best description of being a mom with cancer is ‘overwhelmed’; every event, every moment, every time they lay their head on my shoulder, every great conversation, every text or call just to say hello, and every ‘I love you’ is overwhelming, like my heart may burst into a thousand pieces with joy and love. On the other side, every harsh word or rude comment, every ‘you’re so annoying’, every time they make a bad decision, it is absolutely piercing heartbreak. Thankfully the negative is not often but it still happens and it’s hard. Having cancer has magnified every single emotion for me and as a mom, sometimes the emotions feel unbearable, both the good and the bad.

As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.~Rachel Cusk

Metastatic cancer generally has no cure, it’s all about time. Being stable means more time. Being stable over a year? Slow growing…more time. I don’t want to miss anything. When they were young, I wanted to see them through to adulthood. Now that they’re older teens/young adults I want to see the rest of their stories and how it all shakes out so I’m kind of mad about it. There is no good time to have cancer. The teen/young adult years, I have decided, are the hardest years to parent. This is the time when kids push boundaries, try to bend the rules, and try to shove their way into adulthood and oh yeah, they can drive away. Why am I mad? Because at a time when I want to hold them tight and spend every possible moment I can with them,  they are trying to push off into the world. It stinks. It’s hard in general to parent during teen years but even harder with cancer because again, it’s about time. So. Incredibly. Frustrating.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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How has cancer changed my mothering? I stare at the kids longer when I see them trying to memorize every feature. I move heaven and earth to be available for the times that they want to see me. I cry a lot more and not just when I’m sad, but when I’m ecstatic as well. I cry so.much. I hug them until they have to push me away and I pray for them and their future without ceasing. Motherhood stretches our hearts bigger and wider than we could have ever imagined and when you add cancer or any illness for that matter, your heart  stretches to the point of breaking. I read somewhere that cancer is not just a disease of the body but of the mind, body, and soul. So true. I will not let cancer break my spirit. I will take ‘stable’ as long as possible. I am a mom. I am strong.

Today I wear one of my favorite lips products of all time, Dior Lip Glow in Berry. I have this in 3 different ‘colors’. Essentially these are lip balms but each brings out a natural hue from your lips. I love these because they’re moisturizing and give your lips enough color to feel ‘finished’. Cheers!

Pain and Church

16 Sep

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I saw a friend the other day that I haven’t seen in years. After the initial surface questions and conversation she broke down in tears. She shared about the many difficulties her daughter has had from a lifelong illness and also shared recent difficulties in her marriage. She expressed her exhaustion, her sadness and her hopelessness; she is at the end of her rope. As she was asking me how I was dealing with having cancer again my heart was breaking for her because she looked so defeated. What was more heartbreaking was after sharing her pain she said one of the last places she wanted to go was church; she’s angry with God, she didn’t want to be judged, and she didn’t want to hear any ‘Christian-ese’ talk. Knowing some of my past struggles and now cancer again she looked me straight in the eyes and asked, ‘How can you still have faith in God? How can you not be angry?’ Tough stuff. When did church become ‘unsafe’ for the heartbroken, hopeless, and weary? Why do we sometimes feel like we have to put on our ‘best face’ to go to church? These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself for awhile.img_4188

I have a confession. When I first found out my cancer was back a year ago July, I also didn’t feel like going to church for awhile. Sometimes even now, over a year later, I still feel the same way. ‘With so much effort being poured into church growth, so much press being given to the benefits of faith, and so much flexing of religious muscle in the public square, the poor in spirit have no one but Jesus to call them blessed anymore.’~ Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church. I go to an awesome Christian church with great leaders and great people. I’ve been attending for over 20 years, have volunteered here, was on the worship team, and have gone on mission trips. I love it yet I wanted not to go after I got the news of cancer’s 4th return. Why? I can only speak for myself when I say that I didn’t want to put my happy, ‘God’s got this’ face on at a time when I felt raw, sad, and disappointed. I didn’t want to hear ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ or ‘God only gives you what you can handle.’  Phrases I’ve probably used before. Do we really think about things before we say them? I listened to a great interview with Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist who spoke about this exact thing, watch it here. She says that Christians are so used to these words and phrases (‘Christianese’) that we have stopped thinking, have we? Maybe. These phrases, words, and easy responses sometimes take away from us listening, thinking and loving the people who are hurting. Words have power and when you’re hurting you hear every single word so when you are on the receiving end of these patent phrases that we use all.the.time. you can’t help but want to roll your eyes and think, ‘You have no idea.’ I’m sure it’s all well meaning.

So what was my response to my friend? I hugged her and stayed silent awhile. Then I told her I was so sorry she was in such pain and that I truly had no words. I told her to be gentle with herself, and that it’s ok not to smile. I look back at some of my pictures from the first few months post diagnosis and I’m smiling but my eyes are not. I told her I’m not mad at God and even though I don’t want to go to church sometimes I know that I still have God and more importantly He has me. I told her churches are filled with hurting people regardless of the shine of the facade but vulnerability and authenticity can only happen if we’re willing. I shared my pain and told her that illness and in her case, serious adversity can be lonely because most people can’t know exactly how you’re feeling. I told her that for me, that is the reason I can’t let go of my faith in God. At the end of the day if I don’t have faith that God is real, if I don’t have God to talk to and if I didn’t believe He loved me I would have nothing to hope for after this life and there would be no possibility of joy in crappy circumstances. How do you convince a broken person that God loves her? You start showing God’s love by listening and loving. ‘Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. img_4187Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.’ I LOVE that quote from Morgan Harper Nichols. In my low moments I don’t remember many conversations but I do remember the encouraging notes, those who sit and pray with me, and the many hugs with no words…love. Can we think on our own and not defer to a Christian-ese phrase as a response to someone’s pain? ‘No one leads people to Jesus; He leads people to Himself. All the pressure’s off; just go love everybody without agenda.’~Bob Goff

Today I’m feeling the red lipstick just because. I chose Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Love Drunk which is a deep red. Love the name, love the color. Cheers!

Blessings and Battles

7 Jan

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Rick Warren says that he used to think that the Christian life was a succession of battles and blessings but now he thinks of life as being on two tracks. At any given time there are usually blessings, but also battles to face (from bibleinoneyear.org).

There’s a lot of grief to process when you have cancer. I honestly don’t remember the feelings I had when I had cancer the first, second, or third times…I guess it’s like giving birth; you don’t really remember the pain until it’s happening again. All I can speak to is now and now my cancer is Stage 4. Ever since I declared joy as my word for 2018 I’ve been processing and working through all of the grief and sadness I’m feeling, mostly if not all, revolving around lost time. This past week I grieved my voice again. I have not over the years post cancer really thought too much about the fact that my voice was altered from a paralyzed vocal cord after my first cancer surgery, but the fact that I no longer do something I was able to do so well and was so passionate about for most of my life is sad; church, weddings, radio jingles, guest appearances, and even a Broadway stage one time…gone. Imagine something you feel was your special gift, your love and your passion, but you really can’t do it anymore, it’s a little heartbreaking. Then there’s the years of trying to please different people that in the end could never be pleased, the years of trying to be something for someone while giving up pieces of yourself, time wasted. Then there’s all this time looking at my life wondering if there was/is more I could do for my kids, my social circles, for humanity in general. I grieve and I fear that I have wasted so much time. I guess I’m a little angry too because I feel like I’m always battling my body. Maybe it’s normal. ‘Grief does not change you,… It reveals you.~ John Greenannabeach

I read what Rick Warren said about life being a series of battles and blessings, or I should say blessings with battles interspersed, and it really resonated with me. I also met with an incredibly wise woman who told me to be gentle with myself and to sit and think about all of the blessings that have come along despite the trials. I do know that my past has made me stronger and wiser and cancer has given me hyper-awareness of time and being intentional with time and relationships. I am still sad about lost time but it’s ok because we bend and grow through our experiences. I am a ‘feeler’ according to Myers-Briggs personality type and with cancer, my ‘feeler’ personality is magnified. Hurt is doubled, pain is doubled, but so is joy and happiness. When one of my kids says something hurtful it’s hard to bounce back because my hurt is magnified, I know my daughter is graduating soon and leaving for college and I think in normal circumstances I’d be sad, but now that sadness is magnified. It’s so strange. Blessings? Too many to count but with any health issue the battle part is always in your face. This week I shed a lot of tears but I still found that joy. I decided grief and tears are ok.

‘There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love’~Washington Irving

‘Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.’~Leo Tolstoy

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice lipstick in Backdoor which is a really cool metallic brown. There are a ton of colors and finishes available in this lipstick line and most are pretty moisturizing. I chose this color because I felt like I needed a little sparkle! Cheers!

Stable

1 Nov

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Stable. Last week was a good week, a really good week. I had a little birthday celebration almost every night of the week with friends and family, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and at the very end of the week I got my results for my follow up CT scan (3 months post getting the news of the return of cancer). The reports said a lot of things and yes, the cancer is still there but the bottom line is there was very little growth of the tumors and all is stable; best case scenario.

It’s been such a weird and emotional time and when I got the news it took awhile to process…literally a couple days. I didn’t even tell anyone for about an hour after I found out and I can’t decipher why exactly. It’s a strange place to be, knowing you still have cancer and sad about it, yet happy that it’s not growing or spreading too quickly. We define ourselves by many things and many cancer patients are defined as fighter or survivor and speak of times before cancer and after cancer. I don’t like any of those cancer terms that much right now because as someone who’s had cancer before I always feel like I’m fighting but the enemy is myself, my body, my biology. I’m also in the space between ‘before and after cancer’ and because it’s slow growing, I could be in this space a long time and not need any type of intervention so business as usual. I am not a survivor, I am surviving. If you watch the show ‘Stranger Things’ it’s kind of like being in upside down world right now.

We cannot change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.’~Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of the living. We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.’~Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

I guess I’ll play my hand and live in the moment. The greatest gift over the past few months has been the realization that not too much in my day really matters except how I interact with people; being crazy busy with sport schedules..eh, being a chauffeur to teens…eh, having a hectic work schedule…eh, and all the little annoyances no one can control, who cares. In fact, it was in the chaos and loudness of a bunch of teens in the house that I had my first happy crying breakdown this weekend. Something that’s typically annoying made me cry with joy because I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I may have that chance to watch these annoying teens grow into adults. How awesome is that? How awesome life is; more time to laugh and cry, more time to hug, and more time to just be. Enjoy your loved ones and laugh in the chaos because there’s not much you can control.img_7271-1

Today I wear Nars Satin Finish Lipstick in Gipsy which is a warm berry. I like Nars lipsticks because they have a ton of great colors to choose from. The satin formulation is the most moisturizing which I like better. I chose this color because warm berry  colors look great on pretty much everyone and I love the name. Although it’s spelled differently I feel like I’m a little gypsy at heart. I don’t get attached to homes or towns and I love wandering and seeing new things. Cheers!

Fine

1 Sep

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When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves. If we don’t allow painful emotions to surface, then we are setting expectations for ourselves that even God cannot meet.’~Esther Fleece, from the book No More Faking Fine

I started college intending to have a career in musical theater (but ended with a science degree). I have been a sales representative for over 25 years. I am a people pleaser~someone who ‘adjusts’ myself and my needs to make sure others are ok,comfortable, happy, etc. Here’s the bottom line…I am REALLY good at faking fine. Think about it, as a sales rep I get to practice everyday; smile, be nice, be considerate to customers, even when they don’t reciprocate you leave graciously and prepare yourself to come back in a week or 2. Well guess what? Maybe it’s because I’m inching toward 50 but more likely because I have cancer again, I’m done. Let’s not get crazy, I’m still going to do my job and I’m still going to smile and be nice but I am done with faking fine. Remember last week when I talked about living in the in between? How do you truly live in the in between unless you are authentic? How can you be authentic if you’re faking fine?

I have not been fine. I had some hard moments last week which I’m sure won’t be my last. I have cancer cells that have decided to go rogue and creep to other parts of my body outside of my neck where they started. Thyroid cancer deemed the easy cancer (because of course any title followed by the word cancer can be ‘easy’…NOT) has not been and continues to not be easy for me. I am in the elite group of thyroid cancer, literally <5%, that gets to fight for her life. Your mind can do funny things and last week I struggled to ‘maintain’ until about Friday when I could not maintain anymore. Like I said I am a sales rep so I’m used to maintaining no matter what in that arena, then my house is chaos because of teens, school starting, sports, and again, teens…as moms we’re used to maintaining the ship or holding down the fort. It was in the quiet and the in between times that I was swallowed in my thoughts; the drive between customers, the early mornings in prayer, the late evenings awake after everyone was asleep, I grieved my diagnosis. By Friday the sadness came out of the shadow of privacy and showed itself. I cried in the open just sitting on my couch with my husband watching nothing in particular on tv.  Afterwards I felt great. After a week of having to fake fine for my job and to maintain the busy household it was a great release and I realized that it was ok to tell people I was not fine. The process of being authentic with each other involves having real conversations and we have to be ready to hear ‘crappy’ when you ask someone ‘how are you today?’.

This week has been better. I stumbled upon a small Facebook support group of people with the same diagnosis and it’s been extremely helpful and hopeful. I genuinely feel more hopeful knowing I am not the only one with this type of disease and because of that I can honestly say there were exponentially less sad moments this week. I just watched Collateral Beauty with Will Smith and one of the opening lines says something like, ‘We’re here to connect…three things connect every single human being…love, time, and death. We long for love, we wish we had more time and we fear death.’ As a Christian I don’t necessarily fear death but as a human I’d like to time it right (after kids graduate college, get married, have families, etc) but of course we can’t. The blessing cancer has given me has been the reminder to slow down, soak in every moment, and brush off the negative because who cares, haters gonna hate 🙂 Does it take cancer or devastation like in Houston to focus on love, time, and death? Hope not

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. ~Steve Jobs

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Nighthawk .This lipstick comes in different formulations and a ton of different colors. I prefer the satin finish because it’s the most moisturizing. I chose this color because it’s almost fall and I’m into red lips. This one has a base of brown so it’s not too offensive for daytime. Cheers!

 

 

 

Mom Wars?

30 Mar

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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!

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