Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

Acceptance is defined as “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group“.

For years, I didn’t feel like I fit in.  From about the age of 12, I started to stuff the feelings of inadequacy which raged in my head every day.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not doing the right thing.  Fear of disappointing others.  As  a result of stuffing those feelings, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms – bulimia along with many different types of addiction (drugs, alcohol, and shopping).  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I found true acceptance from others and with myself.  I spoke my mind and felt confident.

Over the years, on the outside I accepted who I was but on the inside the inner gremlins were starting to play the comparison game.  Slowly, the “old me” who was insecure in who she was, was looking outside for acceptance.  I worried about disappointing others.  I worried about whether I was good enough.  I worried about EVERYTHING.  The truth was I didn’t like who I was becoming.  Instead of sharing the feelings with others, I stuffed them.  I didn’t want family and friends to see my struggles.  WHY? Pride.  I was afraid of what they would think.  Unsure they could or would love me for who I was.  Unsure they would accept me broken and unsure.  Pride and fear kept feelings stuffed away.

As the feelings got stuffed deeper and deeper, relapse was inevitable.  See, relapse can take on many forms.  With me, it was in shopping and credit cards.  I was trying to live up to the expectations I thought everyone had of me.  When I walked back into NA, I was broken.  I didn’t like me at all.  I didn’t like the person I had become.  I didn’t like the pain and hurt I had caused over the years to the people I loved the most.  I didn’t like the financial mess I had made of my life.

With the help of friends and the support of family, I am again accepting who I am (okay, at least trying to).  I struggle with the picture I have of who I should be.  I struggle with worrying whether I am meeting everyone’s expectations.   But I know when I turn things over, it will get better.  The tapes aren’t on replay and I can live in the moment.

I am learning to accept what is in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am learning to accept I am wonderfully made even on my worst days.  I am learning to accept (very slowly) my struggles with MS, having faith in the fact it is all part of God’s plan.  Do I think God’s plan was for me to make a mess of my life twice?  NO!  I do know he has helped me through the struggles.  He accepts me for who I am – no matter what.

I am learning to be thankful…Being thankful helps you get through life’s tough times, because you can easily call to mind all of the good things in your life.  Being grateful just makes you happy and being happy can help keep your mind and body healthy!

Accept who you are, without relying on outside influences.  Accept we are not perfect and it is okay.  What are you thankful for today?

Have a blessed day!

Recovery After Relapse

 I have gone back and forth trying to decide whether or not I wanted to share this post.   I have been  a people pleaser most of my life and I didn’t want any one to be angry with me. Others will stop reading.  BUT there may be one or two who will be encouraged or know recovery is actually possible.

My first time in recovery, I shared with everyone.  I didn’t care who knew because NA and the people I met saved my life.  They helped me to learn about me which made me confident.  Some would say I got cocky, since after two plus years of daily meetings I walked away from the program thinking I was “better” and was healed.  I was given back all of the tangibles in my life – family, a career, a house, car and so much more.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed I have referenced my relapse and my walk back into recovery.  Pride and ego gets the best of me as I worry about what people will think.  BUT there may be someone out there who needs to hear this story….

When I started blogging in 2013, I shared the story of my addiction. The story of getting clean in 1991 was a blessing.  I was blessed with many years in recovery – from drugs.  Of course, I now know I substituted work for my drug of choice.  I became a workaholic – and some wondered if I cared more about my clients then I did my family.  As a workaholic, I had an occasional glass of wine figuring I had things under control.  Little did I know, it was the beginning of making a total mess of my life again.  See, I forgot one simple thing from those early meetings – a drug is a drug is a drug.  The truth is, anything we become obsessive about is a form of addiction.  So, as I worked for many years at a job I loved; I was able to “manage” my work – addiction.

When for health reasons I had to give up my crazy commute (4 hours a day round trip) and a job I loved – I was lost.  I had no real identity or at least I didn’t think so.  The first year wasn’t bad.  I worked on my direct sales business, and collected unemployment while I looked for something close to home.  The truth was being 54 with LOTS of experience was not an appealing trait for most employers.  All they saw was someone who was “older” and who they thought would quit when a better opportunity came along.

Over the next 7 years, my life would be like a roller coaster ride.  Taking jobs to fill the void and pay the bills.  But each time, my MS (not yet diagnosed) reared its ugly head, and I had to give my notice.  During 4+ of those years, not only did I struggle to find a job but I endured endless testing to determine what was going on health-wise with me.

Financial unmanageability was starting to wreck havoc in my life without a steady income.  MS started affecting my memory, my moods, my balance and my life. The unmanageability throughout my life got worse.  No steady income.  An inconsistent commission check from my direct sales business.  Using credit cards to pay for things or to shop or to keep up appearances.  Drinking wine to relax.  The old behaviors and feelings from my early days of using came back really fast.  Stuffing my feelings again.  Feeling like I didn’t belong.  Feeling alone.  Feeling like a victim.  Feeling unworthy of anything.  Playing the comparison game and never winning.  Being self-centered (I want what I want when I want it).  Angry. Letting pride rule. Jealousy.  All of those things I thought I had dealt with long ago.

See, the reality was I gave up the drugs but I never really worked on me.  I substituted work for drugs.  I identified as a Social Worker.  I identified as mom.  But I never identified as Hope – the person.  Looking back, I was happy with my life BUT I don’t think I was ever really happy with me!

One year ago, I walked back into the rooms of NA, I felt as broken and lost as the first day I walked into the rooms on October 26, 1991.  I have learned so much in the last year.  This year has been a turning point in my life…. you would think at 62 I would have finally gotten it together. LOL.

Are things perfect?  No but they are getting better.  I am learning to like me for me.  I still tend to play the comparison in my business but it is getting better. I am working on re-building broken relationships. I am building a network of strong women who I can lean on.   I am learning to accept my MS diagnosis and truly believe #mswillnotdefineme.

Why am I sharing this?  I want to help someone else who may be struggling.  I am coming face to face with my inner demons so I can move on from the past and embrace the future.

Have a blessed day!

Gaining Confidence Is An Ongoing Process

I have been having one of those weeks…. yup, fear and doubt has crept in.  My confidence has been shaken and I am wondering what my purpose is in life.  What happened?  I’m not sure except I have had some weird health days.  Days of feeling unsure.  Most days I can shake it then there are some when I need a confidence booster.  Surrounding myself with supportive  friends and family is part of it BUT sometimes I need to work on me.

Here are some things I do to help shake those nasty inner gremlins:

1.  Share Your Gifts & Passion with Others

Everyone has gifts and talents even when our confidence is lacking.  When I have days like this, I start writing.  Because I know sharing my struggles with others is one of my gifts.  You have accomplished great things – don’t downplay what you have achieved.  I know I am guilty of this all of the time.  The truth is, we are all good at something and there is always someone who wants to learn.

2. Forgive Yourself for Your Mistakes

When I have days like this, I tend to focus on all of the mistakes I made in life. Remember negative thoughts brings more negative thoughts.  When we hold ourselves or others to high standards expecting perfection, we are usually left feeling less than, a failure, and unworthy. Give yourself a break!  Self-forgiveness is an important step towards building your self esteem and confidence.  Everyone make mistakes, you are no exception and you deserve to be forgiven.

3. Pay it Forward or Pay Yourself

Are you looking to right your wrongs or make a change due to mistakes from your past which may be holding you back?  We can’t wave a magic wand and make them go away BUT we can change the outcome.  Didn’t make school a priority in your life?  Go back and take some classes.  Maybe you weren’t there for friends and family – make amends.  As a recovering addict, my mission is to help those who are struggling because others helped m.  What mistake can you forgive yourself for so you can move on?

4. Be Solution Focused

I always say negative thoughts brings more negative – positive brings more positive, it is the way of the Universe.  So, when you are always complaining about not having enough (of anything), nothing gets accomplished. Look for solutions when things aren’t going as planned. This will take some practice before it becomes natural.  In the end, you will be able to approach a problem from a mindset of how to solve it instead of WHY ME victim mindset.

5. Smile

I know it is hard to smile when you are feeling less than BUT a little smile goes a long way. You would be surprised how it can actually change your mindset. It makes me feel good to smile, and it can also brighten someone else’s day.  In some cases this is where I advocate, fake it till you make it.   I don’t mean being fake to others, it is about learning to pick your head up and feel good along the way. The more you do it, before long, you will forget you were “faking it” and actually feed better, maybe even GOOD or GREAT!

6. Fear is Your Friend

FEAR is huge when we are not feeling confident (at least for me).  I am trying hard to use fear to my advantage! Think about it – fear shows up when you are about to step out of your comfort zone, stretch yourself and build your confidence. This is your secret weapon to growing.  When you recognize it is about to get scary, you are about to expand yourself which is HUGE confidence builder.

Despite popular belief (and my constant writing about it) I do struggle with confidence.  I am always amazed how I am more confident around people I don’t know then I am around friends or business colleagues.  Those nasty inner gremlins love to play the comparison game.

Share your struggles and your successes with us.  Let’s BUILD each other up so we are all successful in our business (and our lives).

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Boost Your Confidence

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Do you know what day it is????  It is WOOHOO WEDNESDAY… a day to celebrate YOU because you are AWESOME!

Alright, it may be a little over the top.  Maybe today is not a day your feel awesome.  Health struggles.  Family issues.  Financial issues.  I know the list goes on and it is th0se negative feelings which eat away at our confidence.  I have been there (and on some days still am).  We are going to change your thinking today.  We are going to boost your confidence.  The results are going to be an amazing kick butt day.

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Do you know confidence is what turns your thoughts into action? It is impossible to be successful without it.  When you are confident, you believe you can, you believe you are worthy, and you believe you will ultimately succeed.  When those inner gremlins get in and create insecurities, your confidence waivers.   There are just a few shifts you can make to immediately boost your confidence:

#1 Open your arms. Sit up straight.

A simple step but it works!  Before we dive into shifting your thinking which will boost your confidence, let’s start with this: Change your body position.  The position of your body sends a signal to your brain about your state of mind. When you slump your shoulders or cross your arms, you are  protecting your heart and shrinking with a goal of being invisible. So right NOW, roll your shoulders back and lift your chin – this is a signal of your courage to be seen and be bold.

#2 Get a small win.

Self-efficacy – your belief you can accomplish your goal – can be built.  When your confidence waivers, set a small goal you know you can achieve and do it.  A small win boosts your confidence to go for bigger wins.  Instead of focusing on the weight you need to lose, focus on taking a walk or moving for 30 minutes.  Credit card debt overwhelming?  Set a small goal of paying off $250 in the next 2 months.

#3 Own your flaws.

We all have them because we are human.  We all make mistakes.  We have all been embarrassed about a choice or two we have made.  But here’s what matters: You’re still here and you’ve made a decision to keep moving towards your dreams despite your imperfections.  Think of it like this: “Yeah, I messed up and I’ve learned from it.” “No, I don’t have a lot of money in the bank, but I’m done beating myself up, and I’ve saving now. A little bit at a time.”  It’s not easy, but it’s honest. It’s freedom. Own your flaws. Don’t hide them. Get comfortable with your own imperfections. When you do, there’s no reason to hide. And people can’t use them against you. It’s a bold move freeing you to show up fully – just as you are.

#4 Drop the belief you need to know all the answers.

This was probably the hardest thing for me to learn.  Did you know one of the biggest thieves of confidence is the fear we’ll be found out – simply we won’t know the answer, won’t know how to “do” whatever it is we need to do.  The fear leaves you constantly anxious about messing up. What if you simply dropped the belief confidence is about knowing everything? What if instead confidence was about your ability to find the answer if you don’t already know it? With this new belief, the pressure to know everything instantly diminishes. Go into meetings and conversations with the attitude, “you won’t fake it till you make it”.  Be authentic. “I don’t know, but let me find out.”

What area of your life do you feel insecure?  When are you most likely to lose your confidence? Share your struggles and your tips with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Birthday Baby!

Belinda copyAt 7:57AM exactly 28 years ago my baby girl was born – Belinda Joan Heldreth Steinel.  I am sure she is cringing at me calling her my “baby” but she will always be my baby no matter how old she gets.

When I found out I was pregnant, there were a whirlwind of emotions. Belinda’s dad opted to leave us since he “wasn’t ready to be a dad”.  Was I ready to be a mom? Probably not.  This fun-loving, workaholic, partying women thought “I can do and have it all”.  Whatever “all is” right?  Reality quickly sunk in as I was banished to bed for most of my pregnancy.  I will admit I was a party girl – drugs, alcohol, late nights and not eating healthy all contributed to high blood pressure and being toxic during my pregnancy.

Life was a little, okay ALOT, crazy but I knew we would be okay.  I had family and friends who were there for me.  I searched high and low for a book on what a busy career woman could do when she became a single mom – YIKES!  There was no book, no script and most of my friends had never had a baby so tips were few and far between.

The morning Belinda arrived, I was due for a stress test because despite the doctor’s prediction, she was NOT early nor was she a preemie!  When I called the doctor to tell him I as in labor, he was like “I will see you for the stress test”. NO WAY!  Within an hour, the pain was unbearable so off Elsie and I went to the hospital.  We arrived at the hospital and admissions said “we need paperwork”. REALLY?  I was here and did it already.  I just want the pain to stop – NOW!  I was having contractions but the doctor said it was too early for pain meds.  By the time the doctor came back in it was too LATE for pain meds.  Yup, 100% natural labor along with a vow I would NEVER had another child.

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It was always “you and me kid”.  You were the reason I got clean during my addiction.  I picked and chose my battles while you were growing up.  Some things just weren’t worth it.  I was blessed.  You were basically a good kid.  A gymnast (thank you Edythe & Grams).  A field hockey player.  An All Star Cheerleader.  A hard working girl at the age of 16.  You always said “I never want to disappoint you” and I can say you never have.

Yes, I had tremendous support from my mom and the rest of the family.   But at the end of the day, it was “you and me kid” snuggled in our mobile home getting through life with the cats and Tinkerbell, the dog.

Do you remember the first time the realization hit you your “baby” was a grown up? Was it when they went to HS? How about when they got their first job? Or was it when they got their driver’s license?  Most will say, it was when they went off to college.  For me, the realization came as Rob and I walked her down the “aisle” to the waiting arms of her finance.  Yup.  It took that long – just one year ago.  I was not ready for the flood of emotion I would be hit with as we drove back to Jersey after the wedding.

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Belinda, you have grown into an amazing woman.  I have always been proud of you.  I love your giving heart.  I love your energy.  I love your self-confidence.  Yes, I even love your lack of tact when telling people how you “really” feel.  You have inspired others to reach for their dreams.  You have fought for those who could not fight for themselves. You have blazed a trail advocating as far as Capital Hill for the things you believe in.  You stand up for what you believe in even if it goes against the norm.

Our family has grown – Rob became your step-dad and Ashley your wife. And we are blessed to have them.  They love us for who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Yes, mom is shedding a tear or two as I write this.  We are not physically together today but our hearts will be bound together forever.  I wish you a day filled with love and happiness.  I hope all of your dreams come true.   Happy Birthday Baby!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!