Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day by definition is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today, I am blessed, to be a daughter, a step-daughter and a MOM!  Today will be a day filed with some tears I’m sure as I am not going to be with either of these TWO amazing ladies.

To my mom, my best friend and biggest cheerleader.  The road has been filled with more than our share of twists and turns but through it all you have stood by my side.  Through thick and thin, the good times and bad. Just like when I was a child, you were are there to guide and support me now as MS takes away my memory.  Thank you for being my traveling buddy and joining me in my pink bubble.

You have taught me about strength and kindness. You have taught me how to be a good mom. You taught me to cherish my family. Mom, thank you for all of the lessons. I may not have always appreciated them at the time, but I am grateful for them now as an older, wiser and sometimes more mature woman.  I am who I am today because you allowed me to grow and struggle through the bumps in the road. I am who I am today because you loved me when I didn’t love myself.  Thank you…..Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOM in the world. I love you!

To my daughter, Belinda who makes MY Mother’s Day so special. They say you never know what it means to be a mom until you have a child – I agree 100%. I now understand why my mom put up with everything (the good, the bad & the ugly) all of those years. My daughter is my heart.  It was “you and me, kid” for most of her life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Being a single mom had its struggles but with the love and support of family and friends we made it.  As a child, you were a challenge – having your own opinion and questioning everything but you helped me to grow as a person too. You have grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to say is “my daughter”.  MS may steal the memories by in my heart I know it will alway be “you and me kid”.

To those who have lost their moms, cherish the memories. To those who have a strained relationship with them, reach out, re-connect – bless and move on – for you don’t want to live with regrets when they are gone.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and those who have been like a mom to so many.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

How to Convince Someone to Change Their Ways

When I entered recovery over 26 years ago, I heard a zillion times “you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results”.  So, when life throws me a curve ball, it is time to make a change.  With a little bit of effort and commitment, we can make the change in our life

BUT what happens when we want to help someone change their behavior?

I was social worker whose clients were addicts, chronically unemployed, and those who had a hard time seeing life could be different.  As long as they couldn’t see their life as any different, there was no reason to change their behavior.

There are two elements which are an absolute requirement for trying to convince someone to change their behavior:

  1. They need to understand the effect change will have in their life.
  2. They need proof beyond a reasonable doubt change will help them.

There was one young lady who I had the pleasure of working with and still keep in touch with today.  Let’s call her D.  She was a heroin addict who also had an AIDS diagnosis.  At our first meeting, I knocked on her front door to find her and her dealer getting high.  I opted not to go in and told her I would be back in an hour to talk with her.  Of course, an hour later she didn’t answer her door.  As someone who was early in their recovery, I knew I couldn’t save her, she would have to save herself.  She would have to want to change her behavior.

Over the next year, we had many run-ins over her drug use but every step of the way, I was able to show her glimpses into the positive effect not using would have on her life.  Would it cure her AIDS?  No but it could prolong her life.  She could feel better. The medicine wouldn’t make her sick.  With each little milestone – a few days clean, not sharing needles to not using needles – we celebrated.  With each little milestone, she saw glimpses of how her life could be different.

First, the restored relationship with family.  Was it easy?  No.  Did she slip?  Yes.  Each time she did, she remembered the positive impact the change had on her life.  Today, she still continues to fight the AIDS battle (27 years and counting ), has fought cancer and even went back to school to get her GED.  She is living a life she couldn’t even imagine 26 years ago.

Believe it or not, I use the same social work tactics in my business.  From helping team members reach their goal to working with colleagues to help them move forward when they are stuck.

The misconceptions about change are:

  1. It takes time to change.  Yes, it is a process but can happen as fast as you are willing to work to move forward
  2. Someone has to want to change.  We all talk a good game when it comes to making changes BUT are you really willing to reach down to the depths of your soul to make the change?
  3. Someone needs to hit rock bottom before they change.  I believe each person is different and for some, yes this is VERY true.

When you are ready to apply the two elements to the area of your life you want to change, AMAZING things can happen.  Want to make a change in your business?  Want to make a change in your relationship?  All things are possible when you embrace these two elements.

What do you want to change?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

How to Stop Impulse Shopping

As I was cleaning out closets for the church rummage sale, I wondered why I had some things.  Shirts never worn, “stuff” on shelves which became dust collectors, things in boxes never used… what made me buy them?

During my early years in recovery, shopping was a replacement to my addiction.  It was something I did to fill the void.  Yes, we all like nice things but when did our wants become our needs or at least in our own heads.  I am more apt to imps shop during the holiday season.  Buying things for others and those sales!  This holiday season, I am determined to stay in control of my impulse shopping…

Have you ever thought about why you shop impulsively?

For many, impulse shopping or buying items we don’t need is usually a way to meet certain emotional needs.  We spend money in the hopes what we purchase will make us more confident, presentable or happy. Basically, we try to put ourselves in a better mood by buying things we don’t need. “Retail Therapy” as it has become known may help for a little while then it may turn into buyer’s remorse.

We say “If I could just get X, then Y will be all right.”  And for the moment, maybe we feel better.  Today’s marketing campaigns help to reinforce those internal insecurities which draws us to buy impulsively.  Did you know almost 90 percent of the items we buy impulsively are usually on sale?  We are easily seduced by the notion of paying less for things, coupled with the fear of missing out on the window of opportunity during the sales period which results in unnecessary spending.

How can we tell if our impulsive shopping is out of control?

Do you have credit card debt?  Do you wonder what you actually charged on the many credit cards you have?  Impulse shopping wrecks havoc on our budgets and can put us in a serious financial situation.  I don’t mean those small impulsive purchases, it’s those bigger high ticket items we buy with our credit cards which cause our debt to quickly spiral out of control.

Here are some signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  1. Are you unable to afford basic items because you spent all your money on high-ticket purchases like clothes?
  2. Are you arguing with the people in your life because they don’t approve of your spending habits?
  3. Do you feel a certain high, a sort of euphoria every time you buy something nice?
  4. Are you lying to your family members or friends about the cost of some of your possession because you think they would see it as a waste of money?
  5. Are you sneaking purchased items into the house to put them away when no one is looking?

Impulse shopping is a form of addiction, so if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an impulsive shopper.

What can you do to curb your tendency to shop impulsively?

Like other addictions, food and drugs, for some it will be easy to kick.  While for others there may be struggles along the way.  The key to success for those who want to curb their impulsive shopping tendencies is willpower and dedication.

First, avoid using credit cards, instead use cash for all purchases. I know it will be tough.  I struggle with this.  I am a debit card girl and seldom have cash in my wallet.  I broke the habit of carrying credit cards in my wallet which has helped tremendously.  Face it, is is easier charging a $100 purchase on a credit card than handing over a  $100 cash for something.

Next, if it is a BIG purchase – sleep on it or leave the item in the cart when shopping online.  When you feel the impulse to buy, train yourself to WAIT.  If you are in a store, go home and sleep on it.  If you are online, leave it in the cart and close the tab.  Then see if you still have the desire to purchase it in a day or two.  Chances are the answer it NO!

This is a big one…create a budget to help you monitor spending.  This will help you  appreciate the effect of every potentially impulsive purchase you want to make.

Lastly, being accountable to someone will definitely help. “The Someone” could be your better half, a friend, or a family member,   When we are accountable by sharing our receipts with others, they might be the nudge you need to be more responsible in your shopping.

What are your best tips for managing the urge to impulse shop?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What Does Your Success Look Like?

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and is something different to everyone.  The true meaning of success is up to YOU.

A new year at Thirty One allows me to reflect on my accomplishments, where I stand on my goals for the year and define (or re-define) what success will look like for me.  When you think of success, you probably think of more money, maybe another car, travel – all tangible things, right?  In the past, I always said success was being debt free. I still want to be debt free, who doesn’t, right?  But will it alone get me up in the morning?  For some the answer would be yes.  For me, no.

I want my legacy to be more.  I want to know I have made a difference in the lives of others.  I want the ability to give to those in need.  Success to me isn’t about just being debt free, it is about what I can do with the money.  Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason I have debt is because I give to those in need and try to make a difference in the lives of others even when I don’t have it.

Do you have tunnel vision when it comes to what your  successful life will look like?  Are you focused on the tangible things or are you creating a legacy?  I have heard it said often “people may not remember the day you were born or the day you die but they will remember how you lived your life (or made people feel)”.  What will they remember about you?

Success isn’t a destination—it’s a progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal.  What is your dream or goal?  Dream BIG!

Years ago, I had a dream of opening a house – a place where those infected/affected with HIV/AIDS could come and enjoy life forgetting about their life struggles for a moment.  In the early days of my work in HIV/AIDS, I created a place like it.  For some it was my office to get help with problems, for the kids it was a place to play and get snacks, and for others it was just a place to forget for a moment how cruel life could be.  The last time I was in Bridgeton, I drove by what used to be “Hope’s House”.  The small office, long since closed and moved to a new location, brought back some memories I thought were lost.  I honestly didn’t know what I was creating.  I didn’t know I would make a difference but my passion to help others showed through all I did.

As I moved from HIV work to working with struggling addicts, chronically unemployed and single moms – the dream faded slightly but my desire to make a difference in the life of others was still there.  Since retiring from social work, almost 6 years ago, I’ve been searching to find the dream and the passion.  Despite my best efforts, the MS beats me up and steals my passion as a result of stealing my memory.  Some days I feel like it is an excuse while other days I embrace the reality and enormity of it all.

Do I still dream of making a difference?  YES!  Do I know what it looks like?  NO!  Success to me is seeing a smile on the face of a single mom struggling to provide for her children.  It is seeing a struggling addict believe in themselves if even for a moment.  It is seeing a smile on the face of someone enduring the pain of treatment of a chronic disease. In today’s busy world, I’m not sure how my view of success fits in.  I’m the eternal optimist, seeing the good in everyone and looking for a place to make a difference.  What is your dream?

While I continue to search for a place to connect, I will continue to give back in small ways.  This month we are again doing our FIGHT HUNGER campaign.  A chance for YOU to make a difference in the lives of a child.  You can sponsor a thermal tote which I will fill with healthy snacks and school supplies.  These will be delivered to children in need in the local area to bring a smile to their face.  My Thirty One team, the Rays of Hope, will be collecting thermals all across the country and delivering them to children in their area to make a difference.

Remember you can also help me to make a difference by nominating someone on my “Give Back with Me” page.  Each month, a someone special will receive a Thirty One product and words of encouragement.  Do you know someone who needs some “loving on”?

I know I squirreled.  When I started today’s blog, it was about defining success in your life and I’m not sure I have helped you to do it.

I challenge you to take a moment and think about what success means to you.  Think about what people will say about you when you are gone – how will they remember your life?  I would love to hear your definition of success….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Dream Big

I was scrolling through old blog posts for inspiration.  Sometimes I get stuck – wondering what to write about or if any one would notice if I recycled an old post then SMACK, I remember I would would know the difference.  Sometimes an old post pertains to what is happening now in my life so it could stand another look…

Back in 2014, St. Pauls’ UMC did a church-wide study during Lent called “Daring to Dream”.  Back then, I was in the midst of letting fear keep me from letting my dreams soar.  Funny, I am back in the same spot and I am not even sure why.

On Easter Sunday, Pastor gave a sermon entitled “Dream Busters – Dream Builders” which in a nutshell was about faith, hope and the love of Christ which enables us to fly on the wings of God’s dreams for us.  I looked back at my notes from the sermon and at the book we were reading and it was yet another wake up call for me.  I say it a lot but God is always working in my life, allowing me glimpses of what he has in store for me.   Yes, I get scared but not scared enough to keep me from reaching for those dreams. Sometimes it is just enough fear to keep me focused and working towards his dreams for me.Here are the three dream busters which keep us from reaching our full potential:

  1. Yesterday’s failures. I know I am not alone in allowing the shackles of guilt and shame to continue to bind me. Of course, not as often as they used to but guilt about past mistakes do continue to haunt me.  I rehash the mistake over and over until I finally turn it over to God and let it go.  Sound familiar?
  2. Today’s frustration.  Are my personal expectations too high? YES! Do I compare myself to others (personally and professionally)? YES!  Perfect Polly creeps in on occasion and convinces me if I’m not “perfect”, I will never achieve my dreams. WRONG! It is NOT about perfection, it is about the journey. One of my favorite mantras.
  3. Tomorrow fears. Some days, I don’t even know what I am fearful of – fear of success, fear of not measuring up, fear of disappointing others or fear of failing?  Or is fear just an excuse for not trying?

Once we know what is busting our dreams, when can figure out how to change the dream busters into dream builders?

  1. Doubts dispelled. I need to remind myself daily with God all things are possible. Remember the mustard seed? I keep a mustard seed jar close (a gift from my Director) to remind me of this message.  Because as long as you have a small amount of faith, things are possible.
  2. Despair dispersed with confidence and hope.  I never realized what a control person I was until someone called me on it.  Let Go and Let God because he alone can provide for our needs.  Really?  It goes back to faith as small as a mustard seed.  Be confident God will provide for our needs.  He will also be there to wrap his arms around us and give us hope when we feel weak.
  3. Security of Love. Have you ever doubted God’s love?  Be honest!  I know in my darkest days, I wondered how he could possible love me.  The truth is God’s love has lifted me up from the depths of addiction along with my sometimes shady past and he continues to love me on a daily basis.

Are these some of the barriers holding you back from dreaming BIG? I have found as long as I open my heart to God and his love, I am able to DARE to DREAM.  Pause for a moment and think about your dream.  Picture it.  Feel the feelings you would have if you reached it.  Haven’t dreamed in a long time?  It may take some practice but be still and listen to your heart.

What are your barriers to dreaming big? Share them with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!