Addicted to Our Thoughts…

It has been awhile since I blogged…. I didn’t know what to write.  I didn’t know if anyone actually cared. Believe it or not it was part of my addiction.  Obsessed with “my image” and what people would think.

See, addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol.  It is about anything which consumes us – food, people, shopping, sex, love, thoughts and so much more.  I needed to take a break.  I needed to STOP and think about what was important to me.  I needed to decide what I really wanted to do with my life on disability.  Tough decisions but things I had to think about.  Do I have all of the answers?  NOPE!

We are addicted to our thoughts.  We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

WOW!  I don’t know about you but this quote scares the hell out of me!  Changing my thinking has been the toughest thing at age 62 with 20 months in recovery.  It is a daily process which has affected all areas of my life.  My addition shows up in some of the strangest places….Here are just a few, any of these sound like you?

1.  Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.

It is this kind of thinking which  started my troubles during my relapse.  The grass was always greener on the other side.  I wanted to have what I thought others had.  It is a struggle for me to remember I  don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.  I remember my mom saying “if they jumped off a bridge, would you?”  I know that is an extreme but it is the wanting to be liked and to be like everyone else which contributed to my crazy way of thinking.

Now, I try to not compete with others.  I try to compete to be a better version of me. For some, this sounds lame.  Through recovery I am learning to not compare my outside to their picture “perfect” life because you never know what they have been going through.  I mean who doesn’t want to look good on social media or when gathering with friends? I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, right?

2.  Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.

This is one of the hardest things as a people pleaser I deal with.  The truth is “we don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.”  I know, easier said than done sometimes, right?  When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about us  WHAT??? You mean I am not the root of all things?  Self-centeredness is for another day.  It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs.  “Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent.   You’re allowed to think things and feel things.  You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space.  You’re allowed to hold on to the truth who you are is worthy.  And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.”  These are the things I am working on every day.

3.  Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.

Here comes the people pleaser in me.  I want everyone to be happy, so I will make myself miserable to see it happen.  I have been told I am self-centered because of my addiction.  Truth be told “I don’t always get it”.  The result of those words though has created the struggle of being able to love myself without thinking I am self-centered.  If this is you, you are not alone.  “There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care.  If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else.  Because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.”  This is one of my BIGGEST struggles.

4.  Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.

Letting go of the shoulda, coulda, woulda is tough for me.  The inner gremlins have a field day on bad days.  Letting go and turning things over is a daily (sometimes hourly process).  I have learned (most days) before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first.  I have to let go and bury the what could have been if I never relapsed.  I (neither can you) can’t change the past, or the outcomes from our choices.  The best thing we can go is: Let go.  Forgive.  Be present and free.  Just for Today.

Are you struggling with any of these things?   You are not alone!  Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, and leave a life free of addiction (all types).  The bottom line is it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.  It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being.  Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

I’m not sure if anyone needed this but it was on my heart this morning…

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Be A Blessing

Some time ago, I did a blog post on packing a blessing bag…… It is something I wanted to do but just never seemed to get to.  This post inspired someone to make it her mission.

I met Maxine through this “purse gig”.  She was on my team for a little bit.  She and I stayed in touch over the last few years by praying for each other and just being there for moral support.  She reached out to me to ask for some suggestions on growing a ministry which is near and dear to her heart.   Here is Maxine’s story in her own words…..

Awhile back I decided to do bags for homeless people. Nothing elaborate just simple items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, small soaps, a pen, a little note pad, a pair of socks, a razor, a pack of Kleenex, a granola bar, some cheese crackers, small snacks, hand sanitizer, and a rain poncho.  I was working as a home health care  aide and traveled on the bus every day.  I always carried a couple with me and if I came across someone in need I would give them one . I don’t put cash in them simply because you just never know.  Many people hustle for money for other things. Fast forward to now. I’m driving for Lyft and I come across a good number of people so I started doing it again.  Handing bags out to those who are in need – usually when I stop at a traffic light.  You can kind of tell who’s legit and who’s not when you hand it to them.  But regardless, I try to help everyone I can. I use ziplock bags to hold the items. I want to continue this ministry but I am struggling.  I come across a great number of people every day while I’m out driving.  I’ve been doing this all out of pocket!   The time has come when I can no longer afford to do it and it is breaking my heart . We are ourselves are  living in a hotel.  God has blessed up and we  get through day by day.  He makes a way!  Even when I cannot see it, He makes a way.  I am reaching out to others for donations – monetary and for items to fill the bags.

The hotel where we are staying has offered to do some extra soaps and shampoos to help.  I am reaching out to churches and other organizations to see if they can help with individually packaged snacks and things.  But there is still a gap.  The need is so great….

I am reaching out to my readers and my friends.  Won’t you consider helping?  Maxine has set up a PayPal account to collect monetary donations (https://paypal.me/maxineniemeier?locale.x=en_US).  Every little bit helps.  She lives in Chicago, so if you have any suggestions or contacts please let us know.  I’m trying to help her keep her ministry alive….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

World AIDS Day 2016

wad-poster-thumb-2016This day every year makes me emotional as I reflect on the lives of those who lost their battle, those who continue to fight and those who unfortunately will still contract HIV.  For those who don’t know my story, you are probably wondering why this has such an impact on me, right?

When I first entered recovery, I was on PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) and had to do community service.  They handed me a book and said “pick something”.  I selected the South Jersey AIDS Alliance and the rest is history.  It was then I started what would become a 15 year commitment to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  From Case Manager to County Director to Advocate and County Ryan White Grant Manager.

For me, I am reflecting on the lessons that I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance. As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” stepping into Bridgeton wanting to help the world. Yes, many of my clients thought it and willing shared as we got to know each other.

I didn’t the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than. I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick. “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I too had made bad choices over the years.

So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart to save them all. In the early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence. It took babies from their mothers, it took moms and dads from their kids, it took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it. I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS. This was the world I dedicated a large portion of my professional life to. Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS. She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys. She, too, grew up with a passion for helping people.

Fast forward to today, where little is spoken about HIV/AIDS unless a celebrity says the words. It is now a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message. There are medicines, so why worry, right?

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We aren’t there yet – we are close. There are still 1.1 million people living with HIV in the US today. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications. Let’s not be complacent. Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.

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Today is in honor of those who lost their fight, and those who continue to fight every day. You blessed my life more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing this “crazy white chick” to be a part of your lives.

The theme this year is “Leadership, Commitment Impact”.  What will you do to make an impact?  Consider donating to agencies who help improve the quality of life for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Our Self-Esteem Impacts Our Children

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Today is the day many kids are headed back to school.  With it comes fears and anxiety especially for those entering a new school or just starting school.  Regardless of the age, positive self-esteem is important.

As parents, we want to believe our kids are confident – maybe just a little shy.  We want to believe they are ready to handle any situation.  The truth is despite our best efforts, some children don’t always get it.  The cold hard fact is they learn by example.  They follow our lead.  Are you a picture of positive self-esteem or does Negative Nelly invade your space?

I struggled with low self-esteem since I was a child.  There is not one incident which changed things for me – just a lot of little things.  As I grew into an adult, the fears and negative self-esteem were stuffed deep down.  My fear of disappointing others became the one thing that controlled my life.  Only to later show up during my years of addiction and recovery.  There are still days when Negative Nelly shows her face.  There are still days the fear of disappointing others control my actions.  I say all of this to share how this impacted my daughter….

In reflection, my negative self-imagine had a dramatic impact on my daughter.  What I perceived as a confident, self-assured athlete with lots of friends was far from the truth.  I made excuses for her not showing emotion in most situations.  I tried to overcompensate so she would not fall victim to Negative Nellie.

Years later she shared her true feelings.  She shared about the years of bullying.  The years of stuffing the negative feelings.  The years of never wanting to disappoint me.  Why?  Because she saw me do it.  YIKES!  Despite my best efforts, Negative Nelly made her way through the “perfect veneer”.

Thirty One provides these statistics – my daughter was one of those statistics.

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Social media was not big until my daughter’s teen years, so the negative self-image was a direct result of what she saw in school, conversations she was involved in combined with the harsh words of the other children.  Now a days, social media is a strong  basis for social comparisons, self-evaluation or self-enhancement.   images

As our kids go off to school, we need to be aware.  Aware of their reaction to positive or negative evaluations of themself when they compare to others.  The verbal comparisons our kids make in conversation can shed the light on their personal self-esteem.  Also, the things they don’t say.  Their actions or lack of reactions.  Bullying or social comparison is HUGE in today’s society.  We unfortunately live in a world driven by more money, better clothes, the perfect looks and the need to have “it all” (whatever that is).

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In this busy world, full of social media which allows us access to information about a wide range of people and allowing unlimited networking opportunities, there is a potential downside to frequent social media use. When people with low self-esteem use social media sites, it can create a vicious cycle which can further impact their negative self-esteem.

Okay, so I have been rambling a bit today.  Some brain fog BUT I wanted to share how important this subject is especially as kids head back to school.

My concern is for the 62% of children who have low self-esteem; who think they are fat, or not pretty enough, or not good enough.  For those children who believe their parents aren’t as good as their friends who appear to have a perfect life.  I grew up in an era of, what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.  The secrets of the family stays in the family – so on the outside things looked perfect but on the inside things were a mess.  It is those beliefs perpetuating the negative comparisons that effect our children.

Let’s work together to put a stop to the bullying and the negative self-esteem.  Let’s make a difference in the life of a child, letting them know that they are special and worthy EVEN if they are different.  Won’t you join me?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Your forgotten dresses can help others!

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Are there dresses hanging in your closet that you have only worn a few times? or that even still have the tags on them?

Redeem-Her, a not-for-profit organization helping women recently released from prison, jail, or rehab, is seeking donations of slightly used or new dresses for its fall fundraising event, “The Art of Dressing.”

The dresses will be sold at rock-bottom prices at the event on September 17, 2016 at Christ Church, Route 35 and Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All seasons, sizes and types of dresses are accepted. Donated dresses can be dropped off at the Second Chance Thrift Store, 101 Third Ave., Neptune City, NJ.

Or you can call the contact numbers here to schedule a pick-up: Jan Smith, 732-275-5486; Prudy White, 732-245-9055; Marilyn Rocky, 732-747-5373.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward supporting the education, training and basic daily needs of the women living in the Redeem-Her transitional house.

13227073_275533016122349_5982495762996308701_nRedeem-Her supports women who are pursuing a substance-free, productive life following drug rehab or incarceration. The organization maintains a transitional house for returning women in Toms River and supports employment for them at the Second Chances Thrift Store in Neptune City, which sells clothing, knacks, furniture, books and other household items. For more information, call:732.776.7006

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!