Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

How well do you accept things – mainly change?  Do you adjust quickly or do you fight it all the way?   Do you embrace change or close your eyes ignoring it is happening?

Since my health issues started in 2012, it has been a roller coaster ride of acceptance.  When the diagnosis of MS  finally came in 2017 I realized it would be physically challenging, emotionally draining, and around-the-clock exhausting with some extremely lonely times. The truth is for those who don’t have it, you can’t understand the challenges or how it is different in each person.  On the surface, I accepted things.  Those closest to me saw the struggles but I was still living a kind of denial.

I had been having a run of good days – when there is no brain fog, moving okay just a little slow and making it through most of the day before I was totally drained.  Then there are the days which take an extraordinary amount of effort to complete even a simple task. Try going through a day not knowing if you will be able to manage another moment of fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, dropping anything you get your hands on, and feeling as if you don’t have the strength to hold it together for one more second.  I accepted these minor challenges too… or at least I thought I did.

When I started my journey again working through my addiction, I realized I have never really accepted my MS diagnosis.  Why was accepting I’m an addict so much easier than accepting I have MS.   On most days I admit to those around me the limitations I have especially with memory as a result of my MS. Acceptance, right?  Then,  I came across this definition of acceptance in an NA reading.  “Acceptance is an opening of your heart to the realities of life and to the ways in which you have been impacted by your life choices. It means you don’t fight against the realities of your life, but accept them for what they are and use them to grow as a person and move forward in life. Accepting life on life’s terms.  Accepting the things you can not change while you focus on the things you can“. The truth is, I have not truly accepted my MS diagnosis.

Last week, I was told by disability “you are not considered disabled”.  One of their reasons was “you can use your arms and hands so basically go to work” and instead of getting angry, I started to wonder if they were right.  Then I was told by the physical therapist, I had flunked the balance test!  She said “you are a fall risk and need to have a cane with you”.  SMACK!  She had me pegged though, she said “you still think of yourself as an independent woman who can take care of everyone else”.  It took both of these things to make be realize I was still fighting the realities of my life.  I continue to fight the things I can’t change instead of focusing on the things I can change.  I can’t change I’m a 62 year old woman who struggles most days with MS both physically and mentally.  What I can change is the way I decide to handle things………working on eating healthier, getting sleep, getting up and moving when I feel up to it instead of just sitting around then resting when my body says it is time.

Now, your struggle with acceptance could be much different.  The difficulties you face may be different from mine, but I am convinced there is someone, somewhere in the world who is going through the same overwhelming moments as you. Just because you don’t hear about them or know them personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Believe me, I have been there.

Whatever your challenge, it’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart.  Eventually things will get better and you will find new ways of coping with all the changes happening in your life. I can guarantee it, but in the moment or in the heat of the battle it may not seem like it’s even possible.  I know, I am there fighting the battle of acceptance right now – with you.

It’s okay to ask for help.  I’m grateful for the rooms of NA where I can dump my stuff on the floor and walk away feeling a little less like a hot mess.  Find someone you can talk with about ways to help you manage your emotional chaos.  There is still hope for a better tomorrow whatever your challenge may be. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

When all else fails, repeat the Serenity Prayer and wait for an answer.  Of course waiting for an answer is not one of my strong points.  Answers will always come but they may not be in a way we expect them or it may not be the answer we want….. expectations is a whole other topic.  LOL.

So, just for today, focus on the things you can change.  Accept life on life’s terms and count your blessings.

Have a blessed day!

 

How To Do Fall Cleaning….

I will be honest, despite years of growing up and helping with “fall”‘ and “spring” cleaning.. it is not one of my strong points.  When I first had my own apartment, yes I cleaned bi-weekly.  Fast forward to being a crazy busy single mom, and cleaning was not on the top of my list.  The house was always neat but there have been the occasional dust bunny.  Now, when I struggle with days of not being able to move, I can see the dust bunnies and want to clean. YES!  I said I want to clean.  Then when I feel better, I am playing catch up and still don’t get everything done I wanted to do.

So, you are wondering how someone like me, can teach you about “fall cleaning”, right?  Well this is more about “decluttering” which may or may not lead to cleaning.  BUT it will help you get organized which could make cleaning much easier..

Step #1 – Determine if your clutter is, well, clutter.  

I know this may sound like a no-brainer but sometimes clutter is hard to recognize. Yes, it is true!   Seriously, hear me out.  We live in our house day-in and day-out, so clutter really becomes part of the landscape. Maybe you don’t recognize the piles and groupings of stuff because it’s become the norm. You know the pile of mail you are going to get to.  Or the stack of papers to be filed in the office.  Maybe it is the shoes piled by the door and never making their way to the closet.  Whatever your pile looks like, we are pretty good at ignoring clutter, or just plain not realizing when it’s moved in.

So, when do you realize it is clutter?  When you can’t find something you’re looking for, or realize you have bought something you already had – costing time and money. Admit it, you have run to the store to get something only to find it about a week later (after the tags were off and you can’t return it).

Are you wondering if you have clutter?  Try this:  Take a photo of the space in question.  Start small with a drawer, a closet shelf, or a bookcase. Zoom in on the photo. How does the stuff make you feel? Are you horrified what others would think if they saw it?  Does it make your head spin wondering how this happened?  Do you use all of the stuff? If so, how often? How would your life feel if the space was tidy, leaving room to grow?

The answers to these questions are a great indicator there is work to be done.

Step #2 – Accept you probably do need to declutter

Have you recovered from the shock of seeing the pictures of your clutter?  Have you now started to stress over whether or not you can part with ANY of this stuff?

Even with you think you have pruned your closets, drawers and home, you will likely still pick items up and think, “Why did I keep this?”  Life tends to bring new items into our space each day, and we frequently fail to recognize the pace at which we are accumulating things.

I used to clean out closets twice a year.  Donating them to the church rummage sale or Goodwill.  The biggest one was always before the holidays especially when Belinda was younger.  I knew the gift giving season would bring a whole lot more “stuff” while there were many things sitting in the bottom of the toy box which hadn’t see the light of day in years.  Now, as I notice things are no longer used or needed, they go in the box in the garage to be donated.  Slowly, I am decluttering…

Step #3 –  Let yourself let go

How many items do you have which you have only used once a year or maybe once in five years?  It is sitting there taking up space, right?  You wonder how you could live without it.  I have a wok which I have had for years and it hasn’t been used in years…. why?  you never know.

Ownership is overrated. We often feel we need to own something to enjoy it.  How many things do you have which you could have rented or borrowed instead?  The truth is we may get more pleasure out of borrowing or renting something than actually owning it.  Sounds crazy, right?   Well, when we own something, it requires we clean it, move it, store it, maintain it, and maybe even insure it.  It all takes energy. Be open to alternative ways to access and enjoy physical objects.

Step #4 Baby steps when setting organizing goals

Yup, I hit you with a lot in just a short period of time, right?  I know it is overwhelming.  What happens when you get overwhelmed?  If you are like me, you run and hide.  NO, seriously.  Do you avoid the situation?  Most likely, when you are overwhelmed, you lose interest and momentum.  So what if you just took baby steps.  Do a little bit every day.  Continuity is key.  Do small spaces first, as you do small spaces, you will begin to see the difference around you and you will feel energized to do more.

Organizing is not an end destination, it’s a process of acquiring skills, applying them, and being committed to being organized every day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Feeling Good about Jiggle Thighs

NO! This is not a picture of me….I have been on a journey to get back to goal weight since January.  Back to Weight Watchers, walking or moving more and I have been STUCK!  Well, the scale seems to move VERY slowly but those “jiggle thighs” don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I am looking forward to the Leadership Cruise in September so I am on a mission.  I am fighting playing the comparison game. I am fighting the gremlins who want me to be more concerned about what others will think of me than me loving me for me.  I’m sure I am not alone.  Swimsuit season is upon us or at least it will be VERY soon and it makes me CRINGE!  What about you?

I read a blog post on Women Living Well about learning to accept things.  It made me stop and realize I need to look at my “jiggle thighs” in a different way..

For as long as I can remember, I have had “bumps” on the top of my thighs. Yes, they have gotten smaller with the loss of 105 pounds but they are still there! I walk, maybe not as much as I could (or should) but you would figure loosing 105 pounds would have helped to get rid of them, right? Most of the time my clothes conceal them but I still know they are there. Of course you can really notice them as my waist continues to shrink and nothing is in proportion. Maybe this isn’t your problem area, maybe it is the “jiggle arms” or the muffin top or the roll our bra creates – no matter what we all seem to judge ourselves when we look in the mirror..

How about this thought….My jiggle thighs (or your problem area) are evidence of God’s goodness in my life! Sounds crazy, right? Mind you I never notice this or any other problem area on other people, just on myself. Most people don’t mention it – okay maybe an occasional child who is curious but why wouldn’t they be – I’m curious to know why God has blessed me with these wonderful thighs.

Jen Wilken said “The expectation of physical perfection hits modern females early and often. In middle school, girls cut themselves to deal with the pressures of conforming to the ideal. In middle age, women do, too—but allow the surgeon to hold the knife.” WOW! She then goes on to say “We carve the record of our self-loathing into the very flesh of our bodies—a self-marring, a literal carving of an idol. Increasingly, physical perfection is the legacy of womanhood in our culture, handed down with meticulous care from mother to daughter, with more faithful instruction in word and deed than we can trouble to devote to cultivating kindness, peacemaking, and acceptance that characterize unfading, inner beauty.”

Yes, I considered surgery.  We even met with a doctor to see what would be involved.  By the time we left, they had described a procedure which would cut me almost in half.  They would take out the cellulite and the excess skin from the weight loss.  The healing time would be several months.  Then he said “there is no guarantee the bumps won’t come back”. WAIT! You mean even after all of this, and sticking to my WW program there is still the possibility they may return.  I will admit, I was willing to take the chance.  Then after much thought, prayer and discussion with hubby – I decided against it.

So, every day I work on squashing the inner gremlins who want to torture me with lies about the need to have a perfect body or to be an ideal weight. It doesn’t mean don’t be healthy. It means strive for a goal reachable for you. I am learning to accept me for me – jiggle thighs and all – knowing I am beautifully made by God. Most days this is a tough pill for me to swallow.  I am not less than because it has taken me a “LONG” time to reach my goal weight. I am not less than because my body is not a perfect size 10.

Today, I am living in the hope, security and the arms of a Higher Power who loves me unconditionally. Give yourself a break today and know as long as you are trying your best – it is all God is asking of you.

For tips on healthy weight loss check out – Weight Watchers.

Have ThirtyOne-derful day.

A Rich Life Without Lots of $

“Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” ~Oscar Wilde

This week’s focus has been on money – we need to CELEBRATE it so that it can grow in abundance.  We all want to be rich (in some way), right?

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STOP racing for riches that make you feel unfulfilled!

STOP chasing for more that leaves you stressed!

STOP feeling like you will never fit in with your richer friends.

I will admit that I spent much of my career trying to make more money BUT when I achieved it – it didn’t buy me happiness! In fact, the more I made the more I spent. The additional money left me poorer in happiness, health, and relationships. I didn’t know how to relax and I found I was missing out on those special moments.

The truth was I often failed to recognize the riches I did have.  I was measuring my inner wealth by my external wealth.  I always said that I would never be materialistic yet the credit card debt kept accumulating.  It was not long ago that I started a journey to find my inner wealth and it has been AMAZING!

Here are the things that I learned on my journey:

  1. Authenticity – Stay true to yourself and be at peace with who you are.  It is the greatest richness in life.
  2. Acceptance –  Our natural desire is to control the uncontrollable. I have been there.  Replace that struggle with acceptance and peace. When you find yourself in a situation say “It’s okay. I accept this just as it is.”
  3. Curiosity  – Childish wonder is within us. Set a goal everyday of learning something new, no matter how tiny, then share it.  It will help to reignite your spark and excitement for life – you’ll be amazed!
  4. Creativity – Create something from nothing – a meal, a picture whatever sparks your interest.  It will give you the feeling of accomplishment amid everyday life.
  5. Forgiveness – The act of forgiveness is a true testament to your inner strength. I wrote this for each person: “I forgive you, [name].” Don’t worry if you don’t feel forgiveness the first time; it will come in due time.”  It was so freeing!
  6. Gentleness – Confucius listed gentleness as one of the greatest virtues. The ability to be strong without being abrupt or harsh is a rare and valuable quality.  Next time you want to snap, smile, AND speak softly.
  7. Patience – This is an ongoing process for me.  With patience, you can achieve things over time that may seem impossible. When you start beating yourself up over a missed goal, write a realistic time line, and remember to be as patient with yourself as you are with others.
  8. Gratitude – It takes dedication to notice what you have and be thankful for it. Acknowledging all the good things in each day will make you rich in happiness.  Be sure to note one thing each day that you might have taken for granted, and begin to build a treasury of blessings.
  9. Generosity – Give when you think you don’t have anything to give – it is the true generosity of heart.  When you do this, you realize that you always have enough to share.  Did you know that in this hectic world, your full attention is one of the most generous things you can give.
  10. Kindness – Being kind brings its own rich rewards—inner peace, happiness, and knowing that you are making a difference in the world, one that people will remember.
  11. Compassion – To understand and feel another’s pain is a truly selfless act. This simple acts of kindness will help you to appreciate the areas of ease and plenty in your own life.
  12. Love – Make an emotional connection with others, no matter who it is will bring an abundance into your life that money can never hope to match.
  13. Vulnerability – Letting down your defenses allows others to see the full you. Being vulnerable builds trust in relationships. This is tough for me, but I work at it every day.
  14. Contentment – Realizing you are already blessed with abundance brings serenity and contentment. Acknowledge all the wealth you already have because, as the proverb says, “enough is a feast.”

What are your best tips for living a life full of abundance?  Share them with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

dreams do come true

 

 

 

The Comparison Game

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We have all done it sometime in our life….

We have compared everything—our husbands, our children, our churches, our cars, our jobs, our homes, our schedules, our finances, our blessings, and our burdens.  Admit it!  It is what women (okay, I’m sure men do it too) do in an attempt to measure up.  It is one of the most dangerous and destructive behaviors that we as women engage in.

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When we compare our life, our family, our stuff, our failures, and our accomplishments to that of someone else we brew a bitter cup of jealousy and resentment.  I will admit that I have drank my fair share of that bitter drink.

Our comparison is based on just what we see on the outside.  Maybe it is all of those “perfect” posts on Facebook.  It is like comparing apples to oranges.  We know the good, the bad and the ugly of our own situation. Yet, we only know one side of the person that we are comparing ourselves to.

It’s easy to listen to the voices (those inner gremlins) that say, “You’re not this, and you’re not that. You don’t do this well, and you can’t do that.”  Those inner gremlins would LOVE to get in your face and keep you down.  You were made to be you, and are called to be uniquely you.

There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence. And being aware of areas in our lives that need improvement is good.  God has a plan for each of us and we need to accept that we are right where we are supposed to be at this time.  The sooner that we ACCEPT who we are right now, the happier we will be.  I’ll admit that I struggle some days.

When I struggle, I begin looking for things that I am grateful for.  Writing a gratitude list helps to squash those inner gremlins.  Believe it or not, even though things in your life appear to be a negative (a divorce, a lost job, an addiction, credit card debt, etc), they can all be something that you can be grateful for.  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  It is all about re-framing our thoughts and moving forward.  For YEARS, I let the inner gremlins take control of my life – beating me up for all of my past mistakes.  When I started changing the way that I thought about those things, I slowly stopped comparing myself to others.

What about your accomplishments?  Can you list them?  I have achieved so much in my life and because I was busy playing the comparison game, I missed enjoying some of those moments.  I won awards for the work I did as a Social Worker.  I raised an amazing daughter.  I inspire women every day to look for that little bit of sparkle in their life.  I beat drugs and am staying clean for 25+ years.  I lost over 100 pounds.  I am CEO of my own business. I am fighting MS.

I feel so blessed to have made so many connections with like-minded women. When we aren’t playing the comparison game, we are open and ready to welcome new mutually beneficial relationships into our lives.  Whether that is to help you grow your business or for personal growth.

It’s time we quit chasing the interests of others and start pursuing the passions that were written on our hearts. God wants us to stop trying to measure up to everybody around us and be content in Him.

Need some help or just want to talk… reach out, I would love to talk with you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!