Moving on With MS

Today we are headed to the MS Center in Teaneck for my annual visit.  Truth is, I am really nervous.  The last year has brought some definite changes in my health.  I don’t always notice them but on a recent visit with my daughter in NC, she told me she is seeing the change and not for the good.

So for those who may be new to my blog, I will give you a brief history lesson.  I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) in February 2016.  I should say, I was told I had it BUT the doctors didn’t want to write it anywhere except on my chart.  See my symptoms didn’t fit the checklist they had for an MS patient.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) covering nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.

Let me back up just a little bit. For years, I have been complaining about not being able to remember things. As a recovering addict of 26 years, I always said “the drugs killed my brain cells” and life went on.

Fast forward to about 4 years ago when after my husband suffered a health crisis, he started saying ” you are different”. I talked about “not remembering things” to the doctor but no one seemed concerned. Then there were other health issues: IBS, glaucoma, chest wall syndrome (yes, it is real), unexplained weight gain, loss of sex drive (yes, I am telling all), adjustment disorder with depression and periodontal disease. Believe it or not, I was okay with it ALL until the night I fell apart telling hubby how bad the memory issue had become. I truly thought I was on the same road as my grandmother – Alzheimer’s. At my  next primary appointment, we finally got him to listen to how bad things were with my memory.

After countless visits to the Neurologist, MRIs, a spinal tap, endless blood tests, and an EEG – there was no treatment options available.  Just wait.  So wait we did, and in 6 months, I was blessed with no changes in my lesions.  Then in June 2017, we noticed some more changes.  Difficulty with my joints, not sleeping, and mood swings.  The new MRIs showed more and enlarged lesions so it was time to take action.

For some it may sound crazy but I opted to wait until now to go to the MS Center for treatment options. Why?  I didn’t want to be sick for the Leadership Incentive Trip.  I wasn’t sure what the future held and I wanted to enjoy the trip with my daughter. In the meantime, I have been working with a chiropractor using holistic options to help with some symptoms.  An adjustment monthly helps with the tingling.  A gluten free and dairy free diet has helped me to feel better.  The CBD oil and the iodine drops help with brain fog. It is a journey and I definitely struggle with all of the things I can’t eat.

This is not about a “pity” party or being Negative Nellie. Just for today, it is about squashing the inner gremlins who want this life challenge to defeat me.  I am not ready to give up fighting but some days it is hard to keep up the fight.

So, today we head to the MS Center to see the MS doctor.  I’m fearful but I trust God has a plan for me.

I am blessed to be able to work from home.  My WHY is about giving back to others and not letting MS take over my life. I will continue to use my business and my blog to encourage others who are struggling with this disease or any chronic disease. I want to bring a smile to those who are struggling on the inside but on the outside look “normal”.

Life has definitely become a challenge for my friends and my family. They have learned to be more patient, not only with me but with each other.  They are learning even if “I can’t remember”, I still care.  We are learning to embrace each moment – pictures become more important than ever – they do help me to remember a little.

“My planner” is the key to keeping my life in order.  I am learning I can still have a successful business despite the memory issues – lots of notes, systems and a sense of humor.  My customers are amazing despite my inability to remember the names of products or prints.  I am amazed with 98% of my business being online, I am able to grow and pay my bills.  Customers even joke when I call them by the wrong name or confuse them with someone else.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s blog which is definitely more personal than I have written in a long time. All I ask is you continue to keep me (and my family) in prayer, and be understanding when I give you a blank look as if to say “I should know you but I don’t”.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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Busy Mom Tips

Hopefully by now you have settled into a routine after the back to school craziness.  Are you wishing you could put an “out of order” sign on your head and run away?  Thank you to The Peaceful Mom for the inspiration for today’s blog…

Are you searching for a way to get it all done and stay sane?  Do you wonder if it is even possible to do that?  Is your to-do list growing while your time seems to be slipping away?

I know my daughter is grown but I do still run into days like this.  I think I still suffer from the same overwhelm I did so many years ago juggling work, business and family.  Here are some tips from the Peaceful Mom and me.

#1 – KICK MOM GUILT TO THE CURB

It is okay if you don’t get everything done.  Let me repeat “it is okay NOT to get everything done”!  Some things can wait.  Yup, I still suffer with mom guilt.  🙂  The best way for me to get things done is to set THREE tasks a day as my top priority.  I used to do this when Belinda was growing up.  Picking just one or two things to get done during the week while I was working full-time and being mom taxi.  I seemed to forget how well it worked until a business coach, Desiree Wolfe suggested the same thing for my business.

Some tasks can wait, it all depends on what needs attention at the moment. I have started using my Passion Planner for more then just keeping track of office hours, weekly to dos, business stuff and medical appointments.  I am using it to list my 3 things for the day.  I love the fact it has space to make lots of notes  as well as a spot to celebrate “good things which happened”.  Now, I am sure you could accomplish more than 3 things in a day BUT for those days when getting 3 things done is a struggle, you will want to have this system in place.  Sometimes the list looks like this:

Yup, when brain fog sets in, this could be my list of things to do.  The biggest accomplishment is no losing my temper and on some days it is a true miracle.

#2 THINK TINY

Do you have “time pockets”?  You know the 5 or 10 minutes while you are waiting for the kids in the school line or washing some dishes as you cook dinner.  I like the term “time pockets” instead of multi-tasking.  Pick a task to do while you are waiting (one which will only take a few minutes)… waiting for the kids, waiting in line to check out, waiting for your gas task to be filled.  How many time pockets do you have and how can you fill them to get more things done?

#3 – CHOOSE YOUR TOOLS

Busy moms need practical, functional tools to stay on top of all the details. Let’s face it we are not only juggling our own stuff but things for the entire family.  I use a paper planner, the calendar app on my phone and Notes on my phone.  I talked about my Passion Planner.  It is where I dream big, set my goals and priorities then create a weekly plan to pull it all together.  I use my smart phone calendar to set notifications and keep track of appointments because it is linked to my iPad and my MAC.  The benefit of Google Calendar is you can keep everyone’s stuff organized then share it with everyone across all devices.  You need to find a system which works for YOU.

#4 – MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF

I take time each week to plan for the upcoming week. My planning time is Sunday evening and I plan out:

  • My Calendar: Set the goals, projects and top priority tasks for the week and time block on my calendar.  I also prep for the week for posting on all of my business pages with CinchShare.
  • Meals:  Planning for meals is a BIG help for busy moms.  Since I only cook twice a week, it is not tops on my list.  
  • Money:  This is now part of my Sunday night routine.  Review the bills which need to be paid and figure out what the budget will be for the week.  

When you take the time to plan, you will find the week goes some much smoother.  Include scheduling the planning time on your calendar so you don’t make excuses.

#5 – BUDDY UP

Carpooling can be a life saver for the busy mom.  Team up with someone to share the mom taxi role.  You take the kids to practice, she picks them up.  You watch her kids so she can run errands and then swap so she watches yours.  Remember we don’t have to do it ALL!  Teaming up with other moms gives everyone a break.  No help?  Why not limit your kids extra activities and your extra commitments.  No, it won’t make you a bad parent!  

The BIGGEST tip is to remember what is really important and stop obsessing over little things.  For many years, I felt guilty for leaving Belinda a daycare from the time she was 6 weeks old BUT when things came together and I was able to quit my job to work at home, I realized what was important.  She didn’t remember spending days at daycare when she remembers (I hope) is the time we spent together while she was in HS and my schedule was flexible.

Remember you are doing the best you can do with everything on your plate.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How Often Do You Say “I’m Sorry”?

16142225_10158214267640220_190293698090786954_nI have to be honest, I never really thought about how often I say this word, until someone flat out asked me “What are you sorry for?”  The truth was, I didn’t know why.  It had become a habit over the years as I dealt with my Adjustment Disorder and became a “people pleaser“.  I’m not talking about when you are truly sorry for something YOU did;  I’m talking about when we apologize for things we had no control over.  Be honest, I am not alone, right?

I started observing people around me and I noticed the word “sorry” is thrown around like wildfire, for the littlest things. But why do we do it?

As you can guess, women are more prone to over-apologizing than men. There are actually some valid reasons according to researchers.  The main reason is women are more attuned to other people’s feelings which leads us to apologize for circumstances out of our control.

If you feel like you are saying sorry too much and don’t know why, here are some tips I am using to help me stop!

#1 – Are you avoiding conflict?

Do you find yourself apologizing for not liking someone else’s point of view?  Are you worried the other person may be upset by your point of view so you instantly apologize?  Everyone is absolutely entitled to their own opinion and there is NO need to apologize.   

The proverbial people pleaser in me wants everyone to be happy.  Is it going to happen? NO!!! I have been practicing embracing my point of view and attempting to have an invigorating discussion. Since dealing with the memory issues of MS, these kinds of discussions are a struggle but debating on topics which interest me seem to stir the cobwebs which is a good thing.

I am big on writing, as if you couldn’t tell, so I have started writing down the answers to these three questions about saying sorry so much: #1 What is making me say sorry?; #2 – Why?; and #3 – Where does it keep happening?. Then I can figure out how to fix it?  This gives us a pattern so we can change our actions.

#2 Do you have self-image issues?

When I share my past and how I have struggled with a poor self-image for years people are shocked.  Despite years of counseling and life changes, those inner gremlins hide for awhile but they are never really gone forever.  Believe it or not, sometimes when we say sorry, it is a reflection on how we view ourself. OUCH!!

The more confidence we have in ourself, the more confidence we have in what comes out of our mouth.  When I am feeling confident, sorry is seldom a word I say EXCEPT when it is actually something I did and need to apologize for.  I have not found a magic wand to wave for instant confidence or believe me, I would be sharing it with everyone.   Working on your confidence and self-image will naturally stop you from apologizing for everything.  Take it from one who knows.

#3 Do words fly out faster than you think?

If you find yourself over-apologizing, try to figure out whether you actually did something (or said something) wrong.  If you are like me, words fly out of your mouth faster than you think.  The old saying “open mouth, insert foot” was written for me.  I am trying to step back,  slow down my thoughts and think before I say something.  I know, it is easier said than done sometimes.  What often happens is the way I express the thoughts instead of the actual words.  Something I meant as a joke, others take seriously.  Something I say seriously, others laugh out.  You get the picture, right?

If saying sorry has become second nature and is easily said – STOP yourself before the word comes out of your mouth.  Consider if what you are saying sorry for is actually something you need to say at all.  I admit, it will be difficult in the beginning, but it will come with time.

Remember, you are not alone, LOADS of people are like you. Myself included. The main thing is you deserve better, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it either.  We usually feel worse after, right?  I have been told for years I am my own worse enemy so it is time for us to join together to combat the need to say sorry?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

How To Express Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

You are probably thinking this is a crazy subject for a blog during the holiday season, right?  I mean it is a time of giving.  The truth is there is a difference between giving and gratitude.

Did you know by practicing gratitude you can be healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic?  It can even  have positive effects on your career and relationships.

We easily embrace gratitude when things are going well, but what about during the difficult times.  Over the last few years, I have shared my struggles with the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder and MS.  Some days, I struggle with gratitude.  I struggle to find the good.  I am blessed with friends, and family members, who treat me with kindness, love, and compassion – something I know isn’t  always easy on those bad days.

I have learned to turn my attention from the negative where I dwell on my fears to asking myself: What can I be thankful for? Who can I thank today?”  The more I focus on gratitude, the less time I have to focus on my worries.

No matter whether you’re on one of life’s highs or one of it’s lows, you have a great deal to gain by sharing your appreciation with the world. Here are some of ideas:

1. Like every post on friends’ social media feeds

I know this sounds silly, right?  It is an easy way to express gratitude.  Those notifications can mean a lot to people and, unless you disagree with what’s being said in the post, why not show your appreciation for the person who shared it by giving it a thumbs-up or a heart?

2. Forgive someone who has hurt you

When you forgive someone who has hurt you (with or without an apology), you’re essentially expressing gratitude for the experience and for the opportunity to experience compassion for someone else.  Forgiveness does not condone the wrongdoing but it gives you a chance bless and release your resentment and anger.

3. Make and share a list of someone’s good traits

Every time you notice something wonderful about someone else, write it down. When you have a nice little list gathered, share it with him or her to express how thankful you are for his or her wonderful traits. Don’t keep those thoughts to yourself!

4. Share your positive reviews with others

How many times have you complained to a store manager or restaurant or write an online review because of a bad experience and want to vent about it? What if you shared every positive experience you had with a product or service? Leaving positive reviews and telling managers about positive employees is a fantastic way to express gratefulness.

5. Put your phone away when you’re with people

I can see the eyes rolling now!  The best way to express your gratitude to others is to be fully present in their presence.  I know how hard this can be. Try your hardest to put your phone away when you’re interacting with others. Doing so will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them.

6. Pick up and throw away litter when you see it

This is BIG picture gratitude. If you’re not spending time appreciating, and caring for, the world around you, you’re missing out on a great gratitude opportunity.  Picking up litter when you see it, is a small act, but if we all did it, the world would be a much better and cleaner place.

7. Teach someone about something new

Everyone has unique skills and talents. Whether it’s something small or big, we all have something we can share with others.  Sharing what we know allows us to show we value them enough to teach them something, but it also is a chance for us to be grateful for our personal knowledge and skills.

Whether you choose to express gratitude using one of the creative gratitude tips or not, it’s my hope you’re inspired in some way to think outside the box when it comes to showing appreciation for the people and experiences in your life.

Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to make your world a happier place, and the more you practice it, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Post Holiday Blahs

“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”  Maori Proverb

It is Tuesday morning after a long weekend.  For some the weekend was about work.  For others it was about family and friends.  It was about barbecues, parades and parties.  It was about celebrating life.

Stressed-mum

Then there were those who struggled. Maybe they struggled because they were alone.  Maybe they struggled because they lost their job.  Maybe every day is a struggle for them. Maybe they just can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Which one is you?  In either case, you may want to turn your alarm off and go back to bed.  Most will get up and face the day while some will hide under the covers and avoid life.   I remember those days.  The days that I forced myself to get out of bed.  The days that I sat and cried for no reason.  The days of sadness. The days of trying to fake it till I could make it.  That is what it was like living with adjustment disorder combined with depression.

Sounds pretty awful, right?  Those days of  highs and lows seemed to never end.  All I wanted was to be normal, whatever that is, right?

I saw a small light occasionally which is what kept me believing.  I had a choice – “Let life lead me, or lead my life.”

I realized that I was a fighter (deep down).  I wanted to always look for the best in others. I wanted to fall down and get back up again — and again.  I fought through the struggles of abortion, addiction, homelessness, debt and depression.  I was fighting to be the optimist – staying positive when giving into the the negative would have been easier.

1. I stopped saying things like:

“It figures,” “Isn’t that just my luck,” “It would only happen to me,” and, “I just can’t catch a break.”

2. I stopped joining in other’s pity parties.

Empathy and compassion are important.  I am learning to acknowledge feelings of negativity, but not dwell on them.

3. I thank my lucky stars.

This one is HUGE for me!  When I start to get stressed and depressed, I stop and say “thank you.” To anything. Thank my house, for providing warmth and four walls. Thank my car, for continuing to start. Thank my job, because it keeps you clothed and fed.  Thank my business, because it keeps me reaching for my dreams.  Sounds crazy, right?  But it does work.  Gratitude goes a long way to chaining your attitude about life.

4. Make someone smile.

Buy a coffee for the person next in line,  or buy a balloon and ask the cashier to deliver it anonymously to the next kid who gets in line.

Don’t have the money to do anything – email/text a friend with a message to have a nice day.  Hold the door with a smile or compliment a fellow shopper on their outfit.

Living an optimistic life takes work and slip-ups will happen.  Find the good in every person, in every situation.  You have to fight for the light at the end of the tunnel.

If I weren’t a fighter, I wouldn’t be here today.  I may not have always thought of myself as a fighter but I never gave up. It was and is about believing in the power of good, not bad. It’s about turning off the negativity and looking for the good in everything.

If you are struggling, reach out and let someone know.  Help is just a hand (or call away).  God placed this message on my heart this morning for someone.  I hope it brought a smile to someone.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!