One classic piece – endless looks

LogoWe all need a few versatile items in our closet that can be worn year-round and dressed up or down. With a timeless piece like this season’s soft, flowy Silk Blouse from cabi, the possibilities are endless. Its straight silhouette, classic shirt shape and Henley placket, will likely make it a staple in my wardrobe for a very long time.

Silk blouse

Cabi calls the warm neutral colour Dove, but one of my friends dubbed it “greige”, somewhere between grey and beige.

Worn loose over leggings or jeans, the delicate silk fabric adds a touch of class to a comfortable, casual look.

Rolling the sleeves and a little tuck quickly changed the look.

IMG_5299

The blouse also looks good peeking out from under a sweater, in this case the Regiment Pullover, also from cabi.

IMG_5307

For a dressier look, perhaps an evening out with hubby, I dressed it up with skinny black pants and a sparkly jacket that I picked up at our local thrift store a couple of years ago.

IMG_5322

One of my fashion goals this winter is to try new looks with old pieces, so I dug deep into my closet and pulled out this tunic/jumper from several years ago. Though I haven’t worn it for quite awhile, it was once a favourite and I couldn’t bear to part with it. I tried wearing it unbuttoned over the silk blouse and black leggings.

IMG_5279

For a dressier occasion, I might wear it this way.

IMG_5289

Lastly, though I’m happily retired, the silk shirt would also work well as office attire. Is there anything that says business better than a pencil skirt and pearls?

IMG_5326

With a classic piece like this one, the possibilities are endless! Which look did you prefer?

 

Advertisements

On being radioactive

10991307_10153055708750915_6654881605691342497_nThough we often laugh and joke about it, there’s nothing fun about being radioactive two weeks out of every year. I don’t glow in the dark and I don’t have any special powers. I simply feel tired and have to limit the time I spend in close contact with other people. It’s not that bad really, but when I sit alone and watch Sunday morning’s sermon online and when my husband is out at a social event while I’m at home alone, it’s easy to start feeling a bit sorry for myself.

People often compliment me on my positive attitude and I think they’re right that it has a lot to do with how well my cancer battle is going, but there are moments when it’s hard to remain positive, when I’m tempted to invite myself to a private pity party.

For those who are new to my blog, I have neuroendocrine tumours (NETS), a little-known cancer that is often quite advanced at diagnosis due to the fact that its most common symptoms are very similar to more common ailments such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, asthma, and even menopause. Though it’s incurable, it is slow-growing and often treatable. I have the good fortune to live 2.5 hours by car from a state of the art treatment centre, one of the very few in North America that offer the latest and best treatment available for this type of cancer.

At this point, I am treated with radioisotope therapy once every six months. This involves an overnight stay at the cancer clinic followed by a week of semi-isolation at home. During that week I have to have my own bedroom and my own bathroom and I have to limit my contact with other people because I’m highly radioactive. I pose an especially high risk to pregnant women and children under the age of 12.

I had my most recent treatment on Wednesday. Scans the following morning showed that my condition continues to be stable. My cancer has not grown or spread. That’s exceptionally good news and when I start to feel sorry for myself, I have to remind myself of that!

The first couple of days of radioactivity aren’t bad. I spend a lot of time in the armchair in the corner of our guest room (which becomes my room for the week) or curled up on the love seat in my den. I’ve read almost two books in the past few days and drank copious cups of tea. By today, however, I’m beginning to miss human contact and I’m itching to be set free!

I did go for a short walk this afternoon. It’s a gloomy, grey Sunday afternoon in our very small town and the temperature is -5ºC (23ºF). Two vehicles went by, one at a distance and the other close enough for the driver to wave. Other than that, I didn’t see a single soul. Definitely no danger of radiating anyone! I could hear traffic out on the highway, my own feet crunching on the snow, and the occasional winter bird in the trees. It didn’t do a great deal to lift my spirits, but I’m sure the fresh air and exercise were good for me.

When I start feeling a little mopey, perhaps it’s a good idea to once again remind myself of the things that cancer cannot do.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple LOVE

It cannot shatter HOPE

It cannot corrode FAITH

It cannot destroy PEACE

It cannot kill FRIENDSHIP

It cannot suppress MEMORIES

It cannot silence COURAGE

It cannot invade the SOUL

It cannot steal ETERNAL LIFE

It cannot conquer THE SPIRIT

Author Unknown

It may leave me radioactive for a little while and feeling a bit sorry for myself. It may even eventually destroy my body, but as the poem says, it cannot conquer MY SPIRIT! 

As the old saying goes, “This too shall pass!” Two more days and I’ll be free again!

Shopping in style

LogoLately I’ve spent a few evenings helping sort donated items at our local thrift store. Last time, feeling a bit chilly, I took a sweater off one of the racks to wear while I worked. By the end of the evening I knew it had to come home with me!

This 100% acrylic hooded Vero Moda cardigan is lightweight yet cozy and warm; perfect for a day of Christmas shopping in chilly Alberta. Even at -8°C (17°F), I found that I could leave my winter coat in the car and dash from the vehicle to the store or mall, saving me the effort of hauling a bulky coat around with me. Like most of my thrift store purchases, the sweater is practically brand new.

IMG_5247

In the photo, you’ll also notice that I’m wearing a cross body bag. After writing a recent post about different kinds of purses, I decided to give one a try and I can only wonder why it took me so long! I found it much easier on my neck and shoulder, and I loved having my hands completely free. I’m definitely a cross body convert for long days of shopping!

NET Cancer Day 2017

Net Cancer DayMy weekly Fashion Friday feature is taking a break today as I have something much more important to share. November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, the disease that I’ve been fighting since 2013. Those of us who have been affected by NETS (neuroendocrine tumours) hope that for today our voices will rise above those of all the more well-known and prominent diagnoses. Today is our day to be heard by decision makers, health professionals and the general public. In addition to raising awareness, we want to encourage more funds for research, treatments, and patient support; and to advocate for equal access to care and treatment for NETS patients around the world.

So as not to disappoint those of you who came looking for a fashion post, here’s what I’m wearing today… my CNETS Canada t-shirt. I don’t usually wear graphic tees, but the message on this one is a vital one.

IMG_5232

If you don’t suspect it, you can’t detect it. 

So what’s with the zebras? Medical students are taught when hearing hoofbeats, to think of horses, not zebras. Neuroendocrine tumours are difficult to diagnose. Though they are the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, their symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health problems.  Many family doctors have never encountered a NETS patient. When presented with symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea, they naturally think of things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease or lactose intolerance. They think of horses, not zebras. Hence, the zebra became our symbol.

As with all cancers, early diagnosis is important. Sadly it doesn’t happen often. If the initial tumour is found before any secondary growths occur, it can often be removed surgically and the patient is considered cured. Once it has spread, however, the disease is incurable.

NETS arises from neuroendocrine cells which can be found anywhere in the body. The most common types are found in the lungs, bronchi, thymus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands, intestines, pancreas, appendix, and rectum. They may also occur in other areas including the ovaries, cervix, testicles, and spleen. NETS is a slow growing cancer that is often misdiagnosed. By the time a correct diagnosis is made, the cancer has often spread. In fact, 60 to 80% of NET cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease.

My primary tumour was in my colon. At the time of diagnosis, I also had three tumours on my liver and one in a lymph node. It was estimated that I had already had the disease for ten years when it was detected quite by accident! Off and on for at least seven or eight years I had been experiencing most of the common symptoms which include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, pounding of the heart, and wheezing or shortness of breath. Neither I nor my family doctor had any idea why.

Today coffee shops across Canada and around the world, including The Wooden Spoon here in Sedgewick, will be raising awareness about NETS by using special coffee cups bearing the slogan “Lets talk about NETS” and handing out promotional material to help educate their customers about the disease.

Lets-cup10

What can you do to help? You can help us spread awareness by simply reposting this on your blog if you have one or posting a link to it on your Facebook page. Thank you so much!

 

 

Pray for the persecuted church

As President of our local church’s Missions Council, one of the things that I do is present a short Missions Moment during the worship service every Sunday morning. These 3 or 4 minute messages are meant to give our congregation a global perspective and a feeling of connection to what’s happening on the mission field around the world. Though the response to these messages is always positive, one occasionally resonates particularly strongly with my listeners. This morning’s message was one of those and so I decided that perhaps I should share it more widely.

This seems especially timely considering the fact that as we joined Christians around the world in praying for the persecuted church this morning, 27 of our brothers and sisters lost their lives and more than two dozen others were injured in a horrific church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

November 5 and 12 have been set aside as International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

At least 200 million Christians worldwide are being persecuted for their faith. Christian persecution is any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.

Every month an average of 322 Christians are killed for their faith and 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed.

The number one thing that persecuted Christians ask for is prayer.

The Bible calls us to be a voice for the voiceless. Psalm 82:3-4 says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

As Christians, we are called to take a stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Praying for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith may be the easy part of what I’m asking of you today. I also want to suggest that we pray for the perpetrators; the ones who are doing the persecuting. The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. They need to experience the unconditional love of Jesus every bit as much as we do. Remember that the apostle Paul was once the greatest persecutor of Christians. He was on his way to bring violence against believers when Jesus showed up on the Damascus Road. God used this man, known for his hatred of Christians, in mighty ways to spread His gospel and plant His church. He can still do that today, so let’s pray and ask Him to radically show up in the lives and hearts of the persecutors. Pray against the evil but for those who commit it. Pray that they would come to know God and His forgiveness.

Throughout this week, let’s focus on praying for both those who are persecuted and those who persecute them. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

For more information and resources pertaining to the persecuted church, visit https://www.opendoorsusa.org/.

 

Favourite fashion quotes

LogoFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been a collector of words, jotting down quotations that appeal to me whenever I run across them. Most of my favourite fashion quotes were coined by people in the fashion industry, but the first one listed here was spoken by a Greek philosopher in the 1st century AD. It still rings true today.

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  Epictetus

The others are more current.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”  Marc Jacobs

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”  Rachel Zoe

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.”  Gianni Versace

“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.”  Ralph Lauren

“To me, style is all about expressing your individuality freely and courageously.”   Timothy John Byford

“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.”  G. Bruce Boyer

As I read through these, I realize that they’re all saying the same thing. I like them because they express my philosophy of style. What we wear is, or should be, an expression of who we are and shouldn’t be dictated by the current trends, the world of advertising, or by what everyone else around us is wearing.

My cabi stylist, Linda Kreamer, once put it this way, “Fashion is fashion, but style is your own.” (I’m sure she didn’t realize that I grabbed my notebook and pen and jotted that down when she said it!)

Our style is what makes us unique. While it’s great to take inspiration from what others are wearing, we each need to put our own stamp on a look. I’ve shared where some of my fashion inspiration comes from here.

There is no one more unique in the fashion world than Iris Apfel. I have a whole collection of quotes just from her, but this one fits well with today’s message.

“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”  Iris Apfel

t-iris-apfel-bruce-weber-cop

Iris Apfel

Another of my favourite fashion quotes comes from a fictional character.

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”  Little Orphan Annie

And then, just for laughs, I can’t resist ending with these two somewhat irreverent fashion quotations.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Mark Twain

“Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times.”  Betsy Johnson

 

I want to be a love letter!

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

During my devotions one morning last week, this passage, written by the apostle Paul to the early church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 3:2-3), stood out to me as never before. In fact, it practically jumped off the page and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

What does it mean to be a letter from Christ, known and read by everyone? Am I such a letter and, if so, what does that letter say to those who read it?

I want to be a love letter from Christ! 

Writing letters is rapidly becoming a dying art, but imagine days gone by when handwritten letters carried words of love to distant sweethearts. People took time to put pen to paper and pour out their thoughts. Letters were treasured, read time and again, tied up in ribbons and kept for decades. Why? Because they made the recipient feel cherished, valued, loved.

How can I be a love letter from Christ?

How can my life have that kind of impact? How can it demonstrate God’s love for those I encounter?

Colossians 3:12 comes to mind. It’s been my theme verse for the past few years.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Perhaps those characteristics are the ink with which to write my life, my love letter from Christ. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

love letter