Advertisements
Tag Archives: strength

Still Here

9 Oct

restaurant

It’s amazing what music and the right song at at the right time can do. Many of you may not know that I started college as a music major, I was mainly focused on performance and music theater but finished with a science degree. I used to sing, dance, play the piano…all fun stuff for me (here’s me and one of my doctors after my 3rd cancer a few years back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deEFC2IQLWM&feature=share) . Music has always played a HUGE part of my life. Last week I heard a song during one of my meetings that not only made me tear up but also gave me the shove I needed to turn the corner on my sadness (plus I got a ton of funny stuff and jokes from last week’s blog so thank you!) if only just a little bit. The song is called Sound of Surviving by Nichole Nordeman.

This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear. This is my whole heart deciding I’m still here and I’m not done fighting.’ 

‘I’m still here. Say it to the ache, lying there awake. Say it to your tears I’m still here. Say it to the pain, say it to the rain, say it to your fear…I’m still here.’

Hearing this song and soaking in the words shifted my heart and mind because yes, I’M STILL HERE. The simple words and verses helped change my sadness turning into cynicism just enough to restore the hope and strength I needed to fight a little harder and focus on being grateful a little more. Despite the cancer, despite the broken world, despite the sadness, we are all STILL HERE! What does that mean? While we are living we can still change the world. The Las Vegas shootings happened this past week and it was awful. We can be sad, we can be angry, but we are still here. What can we do differently? We can love more, do more, be grateful more because we don’t know what tomorrow brings. No one knows how many days we have on this earth, cancer just gives you a clock, but still, who really knows? Love, give, be intentional, be someone’s magic because you can be. We are still here.

I spent most of last week in San Diego for a meeting…don’t be jealous, we didn’t  have very much free time. I arrived a little early so I could spend some time exploring. I ended up eating dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant and since I have cancer and I’m all about YOLO, I ordered everything I wanted from guacamole to Tres Leches cake. The bill was not small!  When the waitress came back with the bill I asked if she would take a picture of me with the beautiful painted mural wall as my background for my blog. When she asked what type of blog I wrote I said ‘lipstick and cancer’. She snapped the pic above. A few minutes later she came back to the table and said ‘I’m taking care of your bill. My mom just beat breast cancer and you remind me of her; you have the same fire and spirit in your eyes.’ She walked away and I broke down in tears. I ordered $65 worth of food and beverage for just me and I was blessed by this young and beautiful waitress. I’m still here and there are still awesome people in this world.

I am so grateful. ‘Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.’~ Curiano 

Today I wear Stila Color Balm lipstick in Elyssa. These are a newer formulation and are super moisturizing which I love. I chose this color because its a deep brown berry which is great for fall. Cheers!

Advertisements

Eclipse

1 Oct

 

img_6481
Every week since my diagnosis I have at least a few people ask me how I’m doing or how I’m feeling. My answer to them is generally ok, but I really don’t know how to feel. For the last couple of months now while I’ve been on this ‘watch and wait’ mode it has been a real rollercoaster of emotions literally minute to minute. Physically I feel fine but emotionally I could be fine one minute, devastated the next. My mind rolls through thoughts like crazy, some good some bad; Audrey’s a senior, will I be here for Alex’s senior year/ senior pictures, if I start some type of therapy will I have energy, am I eating the right things, will I still have energy to travel, what exactly is on my bucket list, etc…so much randomness in my thoughts. Without knowing when or if these tumors start to grow is a tough place to be but I know answers are coming soon.

So how do I feel? Right now, mostly sad and sometimes angry. I can’t say I’m really afraid of anything except maybe that I burst out crying at an inappropriate time. Something you may not know about me is that for my job I work in cancer centers and oncology offices all day long so I am literally surrounded by patients, doctors, cancer language, etc. I am not a doctor but I know just enough of the language and statistics to be educated about my own case which again is good and bad. So while I watch and wait I live in the twilight zone  because I can’t get away from the cancer conversation. It’s like that point of a solar eclipse when the sun is partially covered; you know the sun will shine brightly again but not until the moon passes over. For a short bit of time we have to live in the shadows of life’s eclipse until the sun can shine fully again. Some of the things I’m missing right now is laughter, joy, and maybe a little bit of hope. I know it’s a season and I know I’ll fight this bitch (excuse the profanity), but until then I think I may struggle here and there. Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ I read in another blog that God even wants you to seek Him with the parts of your heart that are broken. My heart is broken but I have enough life and scars on it that I know it’s strong. For now, I’m a little sad.eastervid

Courageous. Brave. Strong. All words people have used to describe me but what do those all mean? I guess that means that I get up every day, pull up my big girl pants, and step one foot in front of the other. The hardest parts of my days are in the quiet but I know that it’s actually in the quiet where I find my strength. I just read Matthew 11:28 in The Message version of the Bible and I really loved it, ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me -watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and light.’ I’m praying for the free and light. I’m praying for joy and laughter and hope and I really want to have a dance party. You read that right, I want to have a party and I want to dance. Text me some jokes or respond to this blog with jokes or funny pictures. Thank you so much for all your prayers and words of encouragement but this week, I want to laugh (but still keep praying). This crazy world needs more laughter anyway!

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Red Wine Truffle. This gloss is seriously the best stuff and under $5 which makes it even better! I have it in several colors and you really can’t go wrong. I chose this particular color today because it feels like fall outside and the color is deeper, but because I also love red wine…cheers!

Homecoming

13 Oct

hc

It’s Homecoming season for high schools across the country. For high school boys and girls this means pep rallies, games, school spirit week, playing football against a local rival team, all culminating in a Homecoming Dance at the very end. Growing up the ‘dance’ part was always hard for me. I was a little awkward and alot shy. I always wished for the Sixteen Candles story of awkward girl gets noticed by popular guy but honestly I was never asked to any of the dances at school. I had many crushes throughout Jr High and High school (mostly with the same handful of boys) but alas, I admired them from afar knowing I didn’t really have a chance. My senior year of high school I was surprisingly chosen to be on Homecoming Court and I believe it was for one reason, I was kind to everyone. I didn’t belong to any particular social circle (unless you count choir and theater people as a group). I was just nice and respectful to those around me.

I have a super strong mom who is a retired social worker from Detroit. Her father passed away after an accident when she was a teen and because her mother then had to go back to work full time,she was a primary caregiver for her brother with muscular dystrophy; all while finishing high school then college where she graduated 2nd in her class.Then of course the whole move to Detroit from the Philippines with an infant not knowing anyone and having to find a job…yeah, strong.Both my parents would tell me I was beautiful but more than that they would emphasize kindness and respect. When I was disappointed that I wasn’t asked to dances or on dates my mom would tell me that my time would come and that it was because boys were just scared to ask.They taught me strength of character, trust in God, and pushed me to be a woman who could always take care of herself no matter what. They instilled this belief in me that I mattered and I was worthy of love.They taught me to persevere through trials, to have that internal drive, and to really believe that I could do anything I set my mind on. I lost some of that belief along the way because life is hard and words of others can be powerful in a bad way sometimes.

These are the lessons I want to teach my daughter. It’s really hard in the current culture vballwe live in today. Media, pictures, tv, snapchat, etc…the pressure to be liked, to be pretty, to be thin, to be popular; it’s the same stuff I struggled with in high school and beyond but the advent of social media outlets has made it crazy for these girls. I want my daughter to focus on bravery over beauty, kindness, compassion, and strength over number of ‘likes’ on posts. It’s a forever process and a constant reminder to focus because life is not a fairytale. In Proverbs it says that beauty is fleeting and it’s so true. How quickly someone becomes unattractive when their personality or character is ‘ugly’. Funny, I talk about and love lipstick but no amount of lipstick or make up can mask an ugly heart.

‘The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’ ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Today I wear Dior Addict Lip Glow which is always in my purse. It’s a lip balm which brings out the perfect color of your lips based on your pH. There are many imitations by other companies and believe me I’ve tried them but this one is the best. I chose this color because it brings out your own beautiful color. Let’s help our daughters focus on their strength and courage and what’s on the inside vs. what’s outside. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#thestruggleisreal

15 Nov

cold

I’ve kind of been feeling like a fake lately. I always write about finding the good in people, inspiration, and people having a story and how that story has shaped and molded them into who they are, their actions, their beliefs, etc. Well, I’ve been struggling and I mean really struggling at times with a couple things for a specific person from my past; hate and unforgiveness. That’s right, this is me being honest. I can find no other way to say it or to feel it. Yes, I know the saying ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ and also the conversation from the Bible where Jesus was asked how many times we need to forgive and He says ‘…not seven times, but seventy times seven.’ Believe me, I get it. I’ve listened to enough sermons that tell me that the one ‘suffering’ is the person who can’t forgive. Here’s the deal with me though, it’s the 70 times 7 thing. This is where it gets difficult because honestly it just gets tiring. It is so emotionally draining to forgive, release, then have another offense where you have to forgive again for essentially the same thing from the same person. Now, the hate comes in because the offenses done over and over are not directly toward me but to my children and I am one protective mama bear. I cannot stand the actions and lies told to them, and from where I stand it has become very difficult to separate sin from sinner. Fortunately my kids are older and wiser. Like all kids, they crave truth in both words and action and when the two don’t match they don’t pay attention and they lose trust. Sometimes there is this shadow of sadness that veils my days because of this situation and I can’t help but feel anger, then back to that hate thing. It’s a work in progress because I’m pretty confident it will never change.

I know this is vague and confusing but relationships, good and bad, are complex. Forgiveness in this case is hard because it is an action that literally for me has to be exercised daily for this specific person and it is mentally draining. It is truly that 70 times 7. How easy it would be to forgive someone for a single offense and be done with it but this has to be a constant, active process for me.  ‘Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.’~Corrie ten Boom  Yes, I will continue to forgive and gain strength from that. ‘Let no man pull you so low as to hate him’~ Martin Luther King Jr. Again, work in progress but I already feel a little better just talking (or writing) through it. Hurting people hurt people because of their own damage and insecurities;love the sinner, hate the sin. Last quote from an unknown author, ‘Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior, forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.’ Done….for now.puppy

It turns out I don’t think I’m allergic to lipstick…I think I just have to stop rubbing my face in my new puppy’s fur. Today I wear Nars Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte which is a deep burgundy and great for this upcoming holiday season. These lipsticks are great because they have TONS of color and feel like nothing on your lips. Until next time…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!

I’m No Popeye

18 Aug

www.freepik.com

Does everyone know who Popeye the sailor man is, or am I that old already?  Anyhow, the gist is this, he was a small statured sailor who, when strength was necessary, would eat a can of spinach then BOOM, killer biceps and all the strength he needed to conquer his obstacle. Favorite phrase, ‘I am what I am.’ If it were only that easy. When I was battling cancer over and over people were commenting on how strong and how brave I was, especially when it kept coming back. Like I’ve said before, what were my other choices? Hide under the covers in bed? No thank you. Right now, to be completely transparent, I am currently going through a difficult personal situation which I’ve shared with only a few people and again, I am hearing the word strength being thrown around. Here’s the thing, being strong is exhausting and I don’t have a magical can of spinach to help me get through, wish I did. So here I am, tired. Tired of continually moving forward, tired of being strong, just worn out. There’s a song that I keep listening to and I feel the words (since I’m such a music lover, I can always find a song). It’s called Worn by Tenth Ave North, Here’s the other thing, remember that triathlon I was a part of in June? True confessions…I just recently got my sneakers back out and I have to say, it felt pretty good to be active again. Another thing weighing on my mind is next month I will be going through all my testing again. I don’t want to. I always have a little anxiety when it’s time for cancer check up because on average the news has been more bad than good. This is my first time going 6 months in between checks and it was a nice break. So, because of everything else going on, I don’t want to know, like I said, I’m already exhausted. So what’s left….the things I do know. Although I don’t have magic spinach, I have friends and family that love me and continue to support and encourage me, and I have a loving God who is bigger than any trouble or trial; that is more than enough. For today, I am going to stay in ‘suspend’, not focused on my testing, or moving forward, just staying still (except for when I put my sneakers back on later to work out again). Sorry for being a downer. Be still, and know that I am God-Ps 46:10

Today I wear Chantecaille Lip Chic lipstick in Heirloom. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these lipsticks. They have great color and are super moisturizing. The texture is fantastic! I am slowly transtioning from the summer glosses and shades to yes, fall. I chose Heirloom mainly because of the color. It is a berry/plum color which is right on target for fall, an even deeper shade that I love is Calla Lilly. Generally, you can’t go wrong with these. Try them out, Cheers!

%d bloggers like this: