Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!

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 lots of emotions – lately I have become a crier.  LOL.  Okay, so maybe I always way.

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. I’m grateful for a monthly “mom and daughter” days.  I’m grateful to be able to laugh and cry with you.  To share things I never thought I would.  When I was a child, you were there to guide and support me now as MS takes away my memory, you have been able to fill in those gaps.  Thank you for being my traveling buddy, my cheerleader and for always understanding.

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 a 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 love me when I can’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 can’t agree more. 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. Our road has been rocky lately but I’m grateful to be working our way back the bond we used to have. 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.

Do You Have a Dream You Need to Resurrect?

Life moves in a different direction.  Health struggles make you doubt.  And the result is postponing a dream……You are the only person who can decide to pursue your dream.  Whether it is a book you want to write, a business you want to launch or an adventure you want to go on – YOU need to take the first step and keep moving forward.
Have you postponed a dream? Is one of your ideas sitting on the shelf collecting dust? What hope or vision has been left for dead in your life?  Maybe it is time to dust it off and bring it back to life…..Believe it or not, it is not difficult to do.  So how do you do that? What’s the first step to get you started?
Walk through these powerful questions and you will be on your way…..
1. What dream lies dormant in your life you wish were still a possibility?
Is your dream buried so deep, you forgot about it?  Think for a moment. Maybe it is a dream connected to your professional life, finances, relationships, health, or personal life. What is it for you right now?
2. What do you need to give yourself permission to do about it?
There is a reason something important to you has been buried. Whatever the reason you decided you couldn’t pursue it any longer, now is the time to give yourself permission to do it.  Maybe you got hurt in the past and found a safer road to travel.  Maybe life took over and you let your dream die. Or maybe the dream seemed unattainable, so you gave up on it. Let the past be a learning tool to recast your dream. Have the faith to believe nothing is impossible with God.
3. What do you need to say about it?
Did you know the power of life and death is in the words you speak?  Speak life into your dream right now. Say it out loud. Allow yourself to hear the words. There is power in this exercise. Speak life, not death. Then watch how you talk about your dream to others. When you start with all the reasons you can’t have what your heart desires, you speak death to your dream. Each negative word is like a shovel, digging the grave and then piling dirt onto it until you can no longer see the dream at all. Negative words will steal your vision.  Negative words will NOT get you to your dream!
4. What action will you take next?
Faith without action is dead.  Did you know you may have killed your dream by inaction?  BUT when you take action, you can bring it back to life. Do you believe your dream is possible? Then take steps toward it. It doesn’t mean you have to take BIG steps or lots of them you just have to take them!  Even baby steps, when taken consistently, will get you to the finish line.
I challenge you to dust off your old dream! Give it new life.  Think about the dreams lying dormant in your life then answer the four questions above.  Share your dream with us and what is the ONE baby step you will take?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How Do You Build Relationships?


Today I work up with the realization I suffer from “self-centeredness” on any given day.  SMACK!  When I walked back into recovery, I was unaware of how often I actually did this.  I rationalized and justified everything I did.  I thought I was being responsible.  I thought I was hard working (in other words a workaholic).  Slowly but surely I have found out what the true meaning of “self-centeredness” is and how selfish I truly was (or can be).

Self-centered is defined as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests”I used to say this wasn’t me!  Then I looked at some other words for self-centeredness and they included egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed, selfish, self-involved, and I didn’t think I was any of those either.  Yes, I was an only-child.  Yes, I was spoiled – I was an only child, an only grandchild and an only niece BUT….. You know what they say “everything that comes after the word “but” is BS!  When I thought of egotistical or narcissistic, I thought of people who were so full of themselves, I mean they actually loved themselves.  Most days I don’t love myself and there are even the occasional days when I don’t like myself so how could I be self-centered?

My first time around in recovery, I didn’t grasp this concept.  I became a workaholic and as I was recently told – “I thought your clients came before us, even though you were there for the important things”.  SMACK!  So, this is a concept I am trying hard to understand.

“I choose relationships wisely and nurture them intentionally.”

Okay, so I may choose relationships wisely but I definitely didn’t nurture them.  WHY?  Because I didn’t know how.  YIKES!  Think about it. When there is turmoil in your relationships, it impacts your whole life.  As a result, my relapse and road to being totally self-centered has effected my business, and my personal life.  It has ruined friendships, it has left me sitting on a “pity pot” and struggling to figure out the difference between being self-centered and being responsible.  You would think at the ripe old age of 61, I would know the difference.

The truth is I struggle with building strong relationships and maintaining them. Even in the relationships I didn’t  choose – family members or coworkers – I mean they need to be nurtured in order to be strong and healthy too.  So, I went from people pleasing (pre-recovery), to workaholic (recovery) to self-centeredness (relapse) to relearning the things I learned in kindergarten about making friends.  Talk about a roller coaster.  Along the way has been filled with a lack of confidence and fear which causes me to become (or at least appear to be) self-involved.  I may not always say “ME, ME, ME” although I am grateful for people in my life who lovingly point out to me when I am being “self-centered”.  It is always like a lightbulb going off.

I know this is totally a ramble and for some they will tune out because they have healthy relationships.  They are able to make the best of those relationships by setting strong boundaries, building trust where they can, and expressing gratitude when others are a blessing to them. For those few people who may relate, take it from one who has learned the hard way….. self-centeredness doesn’t always mean we say “me” or “I”, it can come out through our actions.  Do you justify and rationalize everything you do to make sure your plans stay in take?

So, for today I challenge you to ask yourself this powerful question:

What one gesture could I make today to strengthen one of my important relationships?

Are you already feeling the panic?  What if if you made a simple phone call of support to encourage someone?  What if you wrote a thank you note to someone for something that touched your heart?  What if you put your phone away and gave your undivided attention to the person you are sitting next to?  My simple gesture lately has been to put my phone away and be present in the moment.  Is it tough, without a doubt!

Believe it or not these small gestures strengthen the bonds of a relationship, any relationship. We can’t achieve our goals or meet our needs alone –  we need people. And people need us.  So, if you think any of these may be you…. step out of your comfort zone and make a gesture – no matter how small.

Wonder why you are struggling in your business?  Wonder why you scroll through social media thinking the grass is always greener? The truth is those who are most resilient and successful have strong relationships.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Turn Challenges into Opportunities

I have been talking a lot lately about my struggles.  Of trying to decide if the glass is half empty or half full?  My vision has been blurred (and not just by the glaucoma) with the struggle to process thoughts, find my passion and to stay focused. Do you look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Some days I do.

We’ve all heard those sayings, right?  We may have actually felt the distinct difference between viewing life with a positive perspective and viewing it with a negative one.  Positive beliefs draw more positive things, right?

My struggles with emotions is real… some days I want to curl up in a ball and cry for no apparent reason.  Then there are days when I feel like the movie “50 Dates”, you know the one where she keeps reliving the same day and is always happy.  All of these challenges hold opportunity but the key is learning how to change the mindset.

When it comes to facing life’s challenges—because we all have them—we have the change to reframe them,  appreciating how struggles help us build strength and resilience. I could be a world-class weight lifter if that was the case.  LOL.  The key is to train our minds to view these challenges in a more positive light by first reflecting on our lives, identifying those tough times, and understanding how they shaped us and made us stronger.

As I reflect on the past challenges, those I can remember, I struggle with understanding them but I do see how they have made a huge impact on my life.  I can see how the negative mindset has led me on the path of relapse and had me looking at life as if I was a victim.  As I moved into recovery, I am slowly able to embrace the positive in all of life’s challenges and move forward.

In every challenge—and in the time which follows—we build strength and resilience. We don’t have the power to change the past, but we do have the power to find the positive within the past and use it to create a greater impact today.

Thank you for sticking with me during these challenges… my blog posts tend to ramble, my Thirty One business continues despite my bad days, and The Angel Connection is starting to grow.  I guess you are wondering where is the challenge, right?  For me, the challenge in finding my passion and deciding where I want to head in the future.  How am I moving forward?  I am reflecting on these key questions:

What are you learning? How are you growing?

I’m looking for the growth from each difficulty especially in my relapse and my MS diagnosis.  I’m trying to identify new knowledge I’ve gained, relationships I’ve built, or personal growth I’ve experienced. The truth is I’m moving forward despite these challenges, which means I’m strong and resilient, right? I need to open my eyes to the positive outcomes.  I know the lessons I have learned will help me to find my passion again and decide the direction for my business.

How does this challenge reinforce what you are grateful for in your life?

Practicing gratitude has been BIG during my recovery.  I have felt ungrateful for all of the problems which came from my relapse.  I felt resentful.  I needed to find gratitude for what it’s given me and what it’s shown me. As I  look at everything in my life—the big and little things—and learn to appreciate them, it is those things which will help me during the tough times.

What boundaries will you put in place in your life to avoid future challenges and allow yourself to grow?

With the lessons you learn and the strength you build, consider whether there are ways you can adjust your mindset or actions to prevent future challenges. Sometimes life events are out of your control, but other times, you can make changes to move you toward a life of growth, positivity, and purpose.  My MS may be out of my control but continuing in recovery is something I can work on daily.

Today’s post has been a ramble, a way for me to share not only my personal struggles but to try and reframe it to help someone else.  It you are struggling to discover your strength and resilience today, try these simple steps:

  • Use the above questions to look at a challenge from your past. How has this challenge made you stronger and more resilient?  Believe it or not, it has!
  • Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Focus on the positive in your life, no matter what the circumstances. Large or small, it doesn’t matter.

Now, think about one way you can live out your purpose today—and then do it! It could be as simple as a random act of kindness or buying someone a coffee.  Living with purpose requires strength and resilience. Tap into those and challenge yourself to grow further.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!