Thankful Thursday: Progress

How many of you are paralyzed by perfection?  The perfect weight?  The perfect size? The perfect business?  The perfect house?  Being the perfect mom?  I have been there and some days still am….Perfection is all about playing the comparison game thinking of what we “should be” instead of focusing on the positives of who we are….

As I walk through recover this time, I am AGAIN learning it is progress not perfection which makes us better.  Here is a post I saw which made me realize on most days despite my best efforts, I am “stuck” worrying about perfection….

I would tell you I wasn’t staring at him, but I’d be lying. He immediately caught my attention as he wheeled himself down the aisle. Stopping beside me, he said, “Hello.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.  He lifted himself up in his wheelchair. Unabashed, he balanced on his knees where his lower legs used to be. Unable to move, I watched him stretch, reaching for something on the store’s upper shelf.

What if he fell?

He wobbled as he grabbed his item, and then sat back down in his chair. Before I could offer to help, he’d completed his task. He nodded at me and continued his shopping.  I stood there immobilized by my thoughts. What empowered him to be so, whole?  His exterior shell broken, but inside—something beautifully different.

WOW!  This made me realize how crippled I am on a daily basis.  I battle the inner gremlins of perfection which are often paired with the comparison game gremlins.  Yes, they love to tag team me until I am left battered and bruised.  On the inside I’m left feeling less than while on the outside, things look great.  Check out some milestones in my life….

  • 16 months in recovery after a relapse
  • Maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss
  • Doing what I love ever day in my own business
  • MS does not define in
  • A loving husband and supportive family

I don’t say these to brag but so I can appreciate the journey I am on to become a better me every da.  The list could probably be longer but the gremlins start to rear their heads when I think about the positives in my life. They want me to stay stuck in the negatives.  The addictive thinking which kept me feeling less than everyone else.  What about you, what are some major milestones in your life?  Do you focus on them or do you focus on your failed attempts?

Does your idea of perfection cripple you into believing everything you do has to be impeccable?  Does your worth ride on your success?  Think about the gentleman described above…. He elevated his viewpoint, lived outside the lines, and appeared content—all signs of living imperfectly.  Definitely not someone who is handicapped, right?

Here are three ways to become unparalyzed by perfection:

#1 Straighten Up

Believe it or not, standing up straight and changing our body alignment, can make a difference.  How often when we fail at perfectionism do we feel unworthy? As a result, we walk hunched over or eyes cast to the ground, not enjoying the world around us.  Why not practice your “supergirl pose”?  It is time to  change your perspective.  Maybe it is with positive mantras to change your mindset, Maybe it is  seeking your Higher Power. Maybe it is blessing and releasing those fears.  Whatever it is get busy!

#2 Live Outside the Lines

You are NOW standing up straight, so let’s step out of your comfort zone — live outside the lines. This can be tough especially when those gremlins are in the midst of a battle.  It doesn’t have to be something HUGE, just something simple.  How about:

~Driving with the windows down and let your hair get incredibly messy.  Toss the hair tie which will keep your hair neat.

~Get a cake and take a spoonful right from the center. Go ahead, eat from the middle.

~Color outside the lines in a coloring book—make the tree trunk bright orange, the leaves purple, and paint the sky green instead of blue.

“You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make it…”      Albert Einstein 

Just do something to push yourself outside the lines of perfection which keep you restrained.

#3 Love your life

Make the decision to love your life.  Despite the challenges you may have, proclaim contentment.  Remember the man I shared the story about, despite being a differently-abled person, he oozed contentment, even though he had every right to feel otherwise. You could tell he made a choice to love his life.

Perfection doesn’t validate us, it makes us invalid.

Will you challenge yourself in a new way?  Will you claim to love your life so you are unconfined from the handicap of perfectionism?  Share your story with us.

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: For Truths Not Shared

Truth-FacingtheLion

Truth is defined as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”.  As my MS progresses, my memory is sketchy.  My truth relies on the memories of others…. I wonder sometimes if their truth would have been my truth in the same situation.  I am sure those around me are tired of hearing “I don’t remember that” or “here is a random memory”.    The bits and pieces of my truth are a struggle but I trust God has a plan and his will prevails.

This blog post was one I found but really seemed to apply to how things are going today….I had the pleurae of meeting Traci Bild at the Mom Grows a Business Conference several years ago.   She talked about the “7 Truths that Women are Afraid to Share“.  Here awesome excerpts, see if any of them apply to you:

1. We’re Guilty, like ALL the time: WOW!  I thought I was the only one who felt like this, so nice to know I am not alone.  The word “sorry” is something I say a lot and most of the time it is for stuff I can’t even do anything about.  I am learning to not say “sorry” except if it is something I have actually done which is definitely hard for me.

2. We WORRY about EVERYTHING: There is never enough time in the day and no matter how hard you try, you will never get everything done. There is simply too much to do.  Is your To Do List way too long with things that could probably be done with the help of others?  Just for Today, I will turn things over to God and let him handle things.

3. We’re Letting our Health Slip:  In the past, I used to do this and yes, I still do sometime.  Having a diagnosis of MS, letting things go is not an option.  There are others in my life (primarily hubby) who tend to put me before their own health concerns.  Do you have a tendency to say “I am fine” even when you are not feeling great?

4. Our Work-Life Balance Looks Like a 2-year-old on a Balance Beam: A nice term, most women simply can’t strike it. So busy living life, you don’t have time to work ON your life and find ways to create balance.  I LOVE this.  My feeble attempt to work on balance was to take the notifications off of my phone so the only time it “rings” is for an actually call OR a text message.  Novel concept huh?

5. Our love lives are on the Back Burner:  GUILTY!  Enough said.

6. We are in Constant Comparison Mode:  From my ability to maintain my goal weight, to the amount of dust bunnies taking up residence behind the couch to my business – I always compare myself to others!  Social media plays a factor in this craziness for me which is why I have left groups, unfollowed people and just try to limit my time on Facebook.  Being in recovery, I am learning more how NOT to do this.  Spend more time living your life than watching others live theirs.  

7. We’re Still Not Happy!: The end result is people are not happy. While women have more opportunity than ever before, we are more unhappy than at any other time in history. You have the power to create happiness but it requires tough decisions, laser focus on your priorities and standing by them at all cost.

So, how many of these truths are you?  Let’s be honest with each other…Just for today, I am going to focus on me, and spend some quality time with hubby and family.

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: PAIN

I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain……  Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?

Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile?  Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house?   Is it really possible to not fall apart?

I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery,  I have lived with the pain of MS.  Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows.  The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional.  Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?

Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?

The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person.  It has helped me to see “joy” is possible.  I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense.  There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.

I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather.  I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love.  I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.

When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me.  In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads.  I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse.  I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.

There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating.  Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option.  #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me.  I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.

Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS.  The two get so jumbled together.  I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS.  The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel.  Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great.  Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.

MS has stripped me of the person I once was.  Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day.  Today,  I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.

Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with).  We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.

Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: My Story

Today I am thankful for my story….

There was a time when I was Negative Nellie, looking at my past and not liking myself very much.  I’m sure I am not alone, right? My story is a bit messy – addiction, relapse, recovery, and a whole lot in between but it is the story which made me the person I am today.  There are days when I don’t like the way I look or sit on the “pity pot” because of circumstances BUT for today, I am grateful for all of these things.  I am even learning to like myself, a little bit at a time.

I recently re-read a blog post by LYSA TERKEURST entitled “Learn to Love Your Story“.  It is helping me to change my perspective every day but especially on those days when Negative Nellie comes for a visit.

She talks about loving your story – your life – being content in the moment and enjoying it! WOW!  This week has been an emotional roller coaster and I am not sure I even know why.  No major fiascos, no crisis – just little hiccups which quickly sent me on a road less traveled (okay so maybe it is traveled a little bit more than I want it to be).

It is strange but I can almost tell when I wake up, if I am going to love my story day.  Crazy, right?  Hubby always ask for a warning or a text alert message.  Thankfully, I am starting to share how I feel without getting snarky.  On those days I  STOP, take a breathe and regroup.  Praising and thanking God for my life… my story.  See I forget sometimes.  My life may not be a story book or full of lots of happy endings but it is MY story.  It is the life he gave to me.

Hubby and I were talking the other day about just this thing.  We were reminiscing about days gone by.  I have no regrets nor does he because it is because of those things we are blessed to be in each other’s lives today.  We had our struggles.  We had our heartache.  We had our joys.  Life wasn’t perfect but we got through it to get us where we are today.  The struggles still come but now we try to look at the differently – together.  I’m learning this time around in recovery, marriage is a joint effort and I don’t have to carry things all on my own.

Lysa talked about “pre-deciding” to LOVE her story.  NOTE to self: change my point of reference BEFORE the day begins.  Stop thinking about the “what if” and “predicting” what may happen in any given situation.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

So I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”  Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

Thank you Lysa for reminding me to look through the “lens of lovely” today.

Have a blessed day!

When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s  message:

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time?I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a money changer set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was.If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a blessed day!