Monday, January 24, 2011

Becoming Samantha

As a die-hard Sex & The City fan, I relate most to both characters Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones. But whenever I do those Facebook quizzes to find out which Sex & The City character I most resemble, Carrie Bradshaw comes up as the answer every time. And yet, I've told my friends that are also Sex & The City fans, that I'm really a Carrie Bradshow evolving into a Samantha Jones.

Why? Because as time goes by I have become less emotional and more detached when it comes to romantic liasions--just like Samantha. This character loves her life as a successful, independent woman and isn't willing to get swallowed up in an involvement that takes away from her identity. When it unwittingly happened to Samantha in the first Sex & The City movie, she walked away. I relate to her feelings of guilt over leaving her boyfriend Smith because he had stood by her during her breast cancer diagnosis and chemo.

But after treatment, your life goes on. Even though you must acknowledge those who stood by you, feeling indebted to someone shouldn't hold you back. Samantha is the oldest character of the Sex & The City foursome--hovering in her early fifties. That means she's probably gone through menopause. She's no longer a victim to hormones clouding her brain. That's why she can be so nonchalant as men trot in and out of her life.

The second chemo treatment I had back in May 2008, forced me into menopause. I thought my period would eventually come back, but it never did. Since then, I don't fret if it works out with a guy or it doesn't. I just carry on. If someone wants to be part of my life, they can wine me and dine me a bit. Just because I'm a breast cancer survivor, doesn't mean I'm not worth it. Similarly, having breast cancer never shattered Samantha's belief in her own fabulousity.

I am so excited about this year's possibilities and what I intend to accomplish. I can't believe how how much more detached I've become toward men and how focused I've become on crafting a better future. Samantha had it right all along.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Yesterday was my birthday. Lots of folks wished me happy birthday, but quite frankly, I see nothing happy about turning 54 years old. Not that I didn't give it a go and celebrate. Two friends came over to my place last night each bearing a bottle of champagne. I woke up this morning with a wicked headache and saw both empty bottles in the kitchen, which explained the pain in my head.

When you get to be my age, birthdays become highly over-rated. Who needs to be reminded you're one year closer to death? And we all know the path to aging is ridden with aches and pains that have nothing to do with too many glasses of champagne. It's bad enough that some Minnesotan astronomer announced to the world last week that all the horoscopes were wrong, making me a Capricorn, not an Aquarius. But to be a Capricorn AND 54 years old? There's only so many threats to my identity I can take.

Well, as they say Growing Old Isn't For Sissies. I used to think that was some pearl of wisdom from my mom but later found it was coined by Bette Davis. Now that broad knew a thing or two about the harsh realities of aging. She managing to act well into her fifties in a time when Hollywood only valued women for their youthful looks.

While I was in my "clear the clutter" frenzy three weeks ago, I stumbled upon some old modeling pictures of myself in a bikini at 21 years old. My first thought was: Damn did I look good! My second thought was: And look at me now--not so good. I hired Joe to clean out my garage (I believe my dad was channeling him). He asked if he could have one of the modeling pictures of me to keep. I happily agreed. He even asked if I would autograph the back. I felt like that main character of Sunset Boulevard--trying to cash in on who she was, not who she is. It's really quite pathetic.

I'm happy to report I don't do this kind of thing on a regular basis. So I'm not thrilled about turning 54, but I've decided once an Aquarius, always an Aquarius. Also, I may not look like 21, but there are days when I actually still feel like 21. With each passing birthday, I've lost my youth, my boobs and some other things, but they can't take that away from me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Kids Left Behind

It's hard for me to write about women who've lost their battle with breast cancer--particularly when they've left children behind. All Elizabeth Edwards wanted was to see her youngest child graduate from High School before she died. Alas, it was not meant to be. The image of her two younger kids at her funeral was heartbreaking for me.

I can only imagine the difficulties those two kids have already encountered navigating life without their devoted mom. There are so many things kids--particularly girls--take for granted when their mother is there. As each milestone of life presents itself--the first period, making the cheerleading squad, the first boyfriend--a teen will be reminded that mom is not there to share the experience.

The loss, the void in their life, comes up again and again, when they are denied the moment to say: Hey mom, guess what? I received an email from Beth, who lost her mom to breast cancer right after she turned 14 years old. She is in the process of trying to put together a documentary about her experience. I also have a dear friend who lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 15 years old. When she found out I had breast cancer, I was touched by how much she wanted to help me during treatment. She has also been generous with financial support when I've walked the Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure.

I am surprised that Madonna--who's mom died of cancer when she was only five years old--has not been more active in the fight against breast cancer considering how it effected her childhood. She has the power to impact all the kids who have undergone a similar situation. Anyway, I think Beth has a very important story to tell. I invite you to take a peak at her trailer that I posted on this blog.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Camouflaging Chemo Face

When I was going through chemo, my face was pale and puffy. I was down to a few sparse eyelashes and had no eyebrows or hair. The Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center graciously invited me to a makeover workshop for women undergoing chemo treatment. We got a goodie bag of donated makeup compliments of the American Cancer Society.

One of the best tricks they showed us was how to paint soft eyeliner around our hollow eyes and create the illusion of eyebrows with water and cake eyeliner. I wish I could tell you how to apply false eyelashes, but I never quite got the hang of that. Do use darker blush under your cheekbones to contour your face. And use plenty of blush/bronzer, since low white blood cell counts make you look white as a ghost. I thought this video might be helpful.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where's The Grace, Humor and Style?

This blog of mine has been evolving for a year and a half now. So with the new year upon us, I couldn't help but look at this thing I've created and ask myself if it's staying true to my mission.

I scrolled down through the blogs, the You Tube embeds, and pictures and asked myself, where's the grace? I found it in my blog about Elizabeth Edwards and my blogs about creating a beautiful environment in which to heal. I think of the classy women I try to imitate--Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepurn and Elizabeth Edwards. They gave of themselves to others. They acted with dignity in the face of adversity. My blogs reference acts of giving, and maintaining a facade of serenity when you feel like crap.

So where's the humor? Got plenty of that. I love downloading these happy You Tube dances of young survivors, and the Happy Glove dance put on by an Oregon Hospital during Breast Cancer Awarenes month. In my blogs, I laugh at myself alot. I've got good stories about my bald period that make great cocktail party chat.

And where's the style? I've got to step that up a bit. I did reference the fab leggings from Vera Wang at Kohl's, but gals going through breast cancer need to know more about great accessories--how to wrap wonderful scarves around their bald heads accented by bold earrings. My followers need to know how to apply soft eyeliner and how to create natural-looking brows when they have no hair. I wish I could tell you how to apply false eyelashes, but I never quite got the hang of that.

So in 2011, I plan to focus more on fashion and how it relates to women going through breast cancer treatment. I'm a former accessories editor, so I feel well qualified to give this advise. Until then!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Striving Towards Zen

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the uneccessary so that the necessary may speak."--Hans Hoffman

For the past 10 days, I have made good on getting my house in order in preparation for the new year. I've cleaned out four closets, cleared out the garage, (my VW beetle finally fits inside!) and hauled off enough unwanted stuff to charity to fill a Mac truck. It's amazing how junk starts to pile up taking up way too much space in your life.

It also makes you think twice before going out to buy more stuff. I believe in Feng Shui and I was advised that if you want new things to come into your life, you've GOT to clear out the old clutter in the physical space that surrounds around you. I'm happy to report, I've made a significant dent in that department.

I even got two bathrooms painted!(I confess, I did have help with that.) Who knows, at the rate I'm going, maybe I'll actually have a home that looks totally zen and streamlined like what I see on the magazine covers of Real Simple or Martha Steward Living. Well, it's something to strive for. Happy new year everybody!