Failing to Succeed

This past week, I found myself struggling to focus on something positive. One day, I dissolved into tears. I rarely feel despondent, since I have an optimistic personality. On that day, however, I was overcome with emotion. All I could see was that I was a total failure.

I found myself focusing on negative aspects of my life. I was focusing on what I haven’t accomplished in my life, instead of what I have accomplished.

After my little cry fest, I mentally slapped myself and began turning my thoughts to what I have achieved. I have not conquered cancer, but I am still alive. I have a loving husband and three beautiful kids I have raised into adult hood. I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

It is so easy to focus on the negative aspects of life. The lofty dreams and ambitions we have should inspire, not depress us.

Each week in yoga, at the end of the class, our instructor tells us to think of one thing we’re thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Just Breathe

I try to take a yoga class once a week, Surrender (Yin). I always find that after class I feel refreshed and somewhat zen like. Since it was 3 weeks since my last class, I was definitely un zen like.

One of my favorite phrases when someone is stressing is to remind them to, Just Breathe. It’s funny how I seem to forget that saying when it comes to me.

This morning, our instructor reminded us to breathe. Yea, yea, I’m already breathing.

Then she said, “Pay attention to your breath. Pay attention as you inhale. Pay attention as you exhale.”

Okay, now I have to concentrate. I was busy stressing about the afternoon and everything I need to get done. I have to put this on the back burner because this breathing calls for more effort than I initially thought.

As I breathe, I decide to keep in tune to the soothing background music. Visions of waterfalls pop into my head.

The anxious thoughts that plagued me all morning are put aside.

I finish the class feeling refreshed and clear headed. Some of the jumbled thoughts in my head even start to make sense.

The breathing didn’t make my troubles go away, it did allow me to refocus on the most important person, me.

Just Breathe.

Tweaking Colors

One of my biggest complaints about makeup palettes is that I usually buy them to obtain 2-3 colors that I really want. The rest of the colors do nothing for me.

The other day, as I was contemplating ditching another palette, I grabbed three neutral, soft colors and began blending them with colors I would never consider wearing by themselves.

I didn’t want to spend the day removing the colors from my eyelids, so I rolled up my sleeves and starting blending.

The result was I decided to keep the palette. I used the following three colors as my bases:

On the left: Sephora Smell of Roses (a shimmery light pink)

In the middle: Pat McGrath Labs Celestial (a soft gold)

On the right: Huda Ultraviolet (a opal tint)

First, I blended Smell of Roses with Too Faced New Money (hot pink): The result a soft rose shade.

Next, I blended Celestial with Love & Cocoa: The result a soft suede finish.

Last, I mixed Ultraviolet with Livin Lavish: The result a soft mauve shade.

I still have some experimenting to do, but so far, so good.

Before you toss those colors, try a little experimenting. You may be surprised at the new looks you reveal.

The Pink Warrior

As I was going through some old photos, I came across this one from 2011. This photo evokes bittersweet memories. A year earlier, I had been rediagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. I considered myself a failure because I had done everything I could possible do and the cancer returned stronger than ever.

My husband tried reasoning with me, “If you go to war and return home wounded, you’re a survivor.”

I tried arguing with him, “But, I’m still battling and will be to the end of my life.”

“I know,” he replied, “but you are alive. There are a lot of women who can’t say that.”

His words finally convinced me and I went.

I never truly embraced the title, survivor. I like to think of myself as the Pink Warrior. It makes me feel stronger, more bad a…. Some days, it’s a battle to get out of bed, but I keep soldiering on.

These past few years have shown me others who face battles with a variety of different diseases. Whether physical, mental or emotional, these issues threaten to overwhelm us. I try to face each day with thankfulness and a desire to make the most of my abilities. Some days, I’m more successful than others. Some days, I want to curl up in bed and sleep the day away.

Like a good soldier, I wake and face the day.

To all the survivors and soldiers out there, I applaud you. Keep soldiering on.

Summer Lovin’

The first day of August and the day is bright and sunny. Summer has always been my favorite time of year. The warmer weather evokes a more relaxed setting. It is also a time when I become curiously nostalgic. This morning I woke and immediately thought of tropical islands.

Since traveling is complicated at the moment. I decided to share some photos of the beautiful islands that I visited in the past. Enjoy!

Top left- Bora Bora     Top right – Big Island of Hawaii      Middle right – Capri

Bottom left – Tahiti     Bottom right – St Lucia

I’m Perfect Because I’m Me

I spent most of my life chasing impossible dreams. The perfect child, the perfect student, the perfect employee, the perfect wife and the perfect mother. While I was so busy chasing these dreams, I lost sight of what I really wanted.

I have friends who are still chasing the “dream of perfection.” Their posts indicate frustration and bewilderment. It’s commendable if you want to better yourself. The problem arises when no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to be good enough.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to let go of unrealistic expectations. I do the best that I can, and that’s perfect. I no longer obsess about doing better. Of course, this took many years. Initially, I started with little baby steps. As frustrating as this sounds, my little baby steps led to larger and larger goals.

The most important lesson I learned is that with all my imperfections and flaws, I’m perfect. If you don’t love yourself, how can you truly love someone else. Start praising yourself, instead of pulling yourself down. Make a little note and smile at your reflection. Concentrate on your strengths. Quit worrying about what others think about you. Remember, you can’t make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try.

Remember, you’re beautiful!IMG_0885

Beautiful Isolation

Just because you’re in quarantine, doesn’t mean you can’t pamper yourself. As I’ve found, when I look good, I feel good.

To begin, take a warm bubble bath, or shower. When you exit, don’t forget to apply body cream all over. Whether you prefer scented luxurious creams, or an unscented natural alternative, don’t be afraid to slather it on. I love the Bath and Body Works Ultra Shea Creams. They have so many beautiful fragrances from which to choose. One of the ones I prefer is Japanese Cherry Blossom.

Take the time to deep condition your hair. One of my favorites is coconut oil. Is smells delicious and puts me in a summer frame of mind. Leave it on all day and then shampoo your hair later that day.

Try a face mask. When I was a teenager, an inexpensive mask was an egg white. Now, there are all kinds of masks whether you prefer a clay mask, honey mask or a sheet mask. I prefer sheet masks because you don’t have to worry about getting clay in your hair (which never seems to come out). You can pick these masks up anywhere from Walgreens to Sephora.

Moisturize your extremities. Apply a rich moisturizer to your hands and feet and then apply socks and soft mittens. If you don’t have mittens, another pair of socks will do just fine.

Now that you’re Instagram perfect, what to do when you’re hidden behind a mask all day? Focus on your eyes. Shimmering shades will illuminate your eyes. Fringe with eyeliner and mascara and you’re ready to go.

IMG_3774

 

 

A New Normal?

During quarantine (we’re still supposed to stay at home, aren’t we?), I noticed numerous Facebook posts wishing for a return to normal. As more and more businesses open their doors, are we really back to normal?

I notice the wary gaze of strangers, whether they’re sporting a face mask or navigating through the world face first. People who sport masks are upset with those who don’t, and visa versa.

A visit to the doctor confirms the fact that the “normal” we had, no longer exists. Anxiety rears its ugly head as we contemplate this strange new world. Will our kids be able to return to school? What about my job status, or lack of job? I can’t even watch sports? Will DisneyLand and DisneyWorld ever reopen?

For cancer patients, like myself, and others with life threatening diseases, sanitary precautions and social distancing are nothing new. We learned if we want to lead a “normal” life, we need to take precautions.

I would love to return to the “old normal,” however, it appears that won’t be anytime soon, if ever. I found I’ve become more inventive when it comes to entertaining myself and my close family. Keeping busy helps in dealing with anxiety. Having small goals around the house. Reorganize that old photo album you’ve always wanted to do. Build an obstacle course in your backyard, or even in your house, for your beloved pet. You’re not the only one that’s bored. Try a project that not only involves yourself, but your kids as well. Enjoy a virtual luncheon with some friends. Get a small aquarium and decorate it with some colorful fish.

Try adapting to the situation because it appears sanitary precautions and social distancing are the “new normal.”

IMG_3180

 

 

Anxiety During the Pandemic

A little over a month ago, I wound up in the hospital for 4 days because of an allergic reaction to my new chemo meds. During the four days I was there, I was constantly given IV infusions because I was so dehydrated. The result of these infusions was that I gained 30 pounds.

Since I have lymphedema (chronic swelling) it is very difficult for me to lose excess fluid. I was given water pills to help with the swelling, but in the meantime, I was in a lot of pain. My abdomen was sore, my legs were tender, it was a struggle to move.

Then, the pandemic hit. Along with the constant pain, I now fed off the fear of others around me. I became anxious and depressed. The reason I mention this is because I know a lot of people are suffering from anxiety right now. People are losing their jobs, others that are working are afraid they’ll contract the virus. You, or a family member, may be a high risk if you get the virus. There are families dealing with home schooling their children. There is also the stress of feeling almost like a prisoner in your own home.

There are things I couldn’t control, so I focused on controlling what I could. I dutifully took the medicine to help me debloat. I started walking around the house, even if it was only for a few minutes. I limited my news exposure to twice a day…reading it all day long was driving me crazy. If the day was nice, I sat outside for a few minutes. I made a list for the week of things I wanted to accomplish around the house, even if it only meant reading a book for an hour. I played uplifting music and watched comedies. I contacted old friends and family members that I hadn’t talked to in a while.

Slowly I pulled myself out of this dark hole. When I wake in the morning, I have an agenda I can follow. Having a sense of purpose provides me with motivation to keep going every day.

If you’re looking for things to do, make a list. If you run out of things to do around the house, take up a new hobby. Try learning a new language. Step outside your normal routine and try something new. My husband has been baking non-stop. He’s become quite proficient at making bread, yum!

Remember you’re not the only one struggling. Keep going and we’ll all get through this together.

Staying Fit in Isolation

Lately Facebook posts from my friends have been replete with snacking non-stop and getting little to no exercise. The last thing you want to deal with as summer is approaches is added weight gain. So, how do you stay in shape when your yoga class, gym, etc. is closed?

First, I made a schedule. I committed to exercising at least 4 times a week for 45 minutes at a time. I marked this on the wall calendar to inspire and motivate myself.

I love to walk, however, the weather has been less than cooperative. I decided to make an easy obstacle course in my house. For 30 minutes I walk around chairs, tables, the puppy chewing on my slippers, etc. I then do simple stretching/strength exercises for the next 15 minutes. So far, with the constant reminder from my calendar, I have adhered to my schedule.

If this does not appeal to you, or if you’re not great at motivating yourself, stream a class whether it’s ballet, yoga, cross-fit, etc. There are so many great videos out there right now. Remember, if you’re starting something new, always check with your doctor first.

If you’re able to go outside, enjoy a walk, a run or a bike ride. Remember to practice social distancing. If you have a pool, jump in and do some laps. You’re not that great of a swimmer? Grab a kick board and start kicking.

Last, for those of you who can’t stop snacking, a mom on Facebook came up with a great idea for her kids. Each day, she gives her kids a snack bag. They can eat all their snacks at once, or they can spread it out over the day. These snack bags work for adults as well.

Hope some of these ideas help. I know whenever I exercise I feel better physically as well as mentally. I welcome any other suggestions on how to stay healthy. Stay safe. In the meantime, here’s a photo from our trip to Hawaii a year ago.

IMG_1087