Thankful Thursday: Being Stuck

I’m sure you are wondering WHY would anyone be thankful for being stuck, right?  I read a great blog post from my friend, Deana which got me to thinking.  I know, scary, right?

Think about it…. when was the last time you were stuck? Maybe you were reaching for a goal and just couldn’t seem to push past a block?   Maybe you were waiting for an answer from God and it just wasn’t coming in YOUR time?  Maybe you just weren’t making progress as fast as you would like?

Whatever it was, it didn’t feel good right?  It was frustrating, right?  You just wanted to move forward and no matter how hard you tried it just wasn’t happening.  Well, Deana says “being stuck is an indicator or a symptom that you need to grow“.  YIKES!  So basically being stuck your comfort zone?  If it is, then how many of us truly want to step out of our comfort zones?  I know when I get comfortable, I like to stay there and even wish it could be forever.

For many years I was stuck….. financially and spiritually.  I wanted to climb out of the mess but it just wasn’t happening.  WHY?  Because I wasn’t ready to take the steps necessary to make it happen.  When I walked back into the rooms, faced my relapse and asked for help – growth started AGAIN.  You may not be an addict and in need of a 12-step program, BUT you may be stuck or comfortable unable to move forward in your life.

Deana says we get stuck in 4 different areas which effect our lives.  They are:

Finances – the thing that propels you toward or prevents you from doing the things you want to do for yourself and even others.

Faith – the truth that we cling to when all the chips are down. Our actions are the result of our beliefs.

Fuel – the igniter to your soul. If your soul had a face, this would make it smile.

Family/Friends – the relationships we have, have to have, want to keep and those we don’t.

Being stuck helped me to resolve some financial issues and restored my faith.  I have developed new friendships and am mending relationships with family.  The one area I am still STUCK in is FUEL.  Some days I have it and then there are some days, I wonder what it is.

The one thing which ignites my soul (besides my family and friends) is my angels.  Creating them from different things.  I can see an angel in the making in just about everything.  Sharing angels with others.  Hearing the stories/ memories of other’s angels.  I take baby steps forward in my business and then fear kicks in.  I play the comparison game and think “it will never be more than a hobby” so I get stuck being comfortable – not taking chances or stepping out.

The reality is I (and I’m sure many) focus on the BIG picture which is our end goal.  When we should be focusing on the next small step…..If we repeat the same small step or at least one small step a day, we wouldn’t be stuck, right?  Better yet, we would be closer to our end goal.  .

So for me, today I will be thankful I am stuck and for the realization it is just a symptom of my fear.  Fear to step out of my comfort zone.  Fear to make a change.  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss of income.  Yup, there are lots of fears BUT when I take one small step…… like reaching out to those who have expressed an interest in buying some angels, it doesn’t seem to overwhelming.

As Deana says “Growing past our comfort zones is never easy, but always worth it!”  How will you grow out of your comfort zone and get UNSTUCK?

Have a blessed day!

How Do You Unplug?

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Today I am sitting at Jersey Shore Medical Center waiting patiently (ok maybe not) for hubby to have his procedure and head to a room.  I was in this same spot 7+ years ago.  The only difference is, this time is a battery replacement which they say is a simple procedure.  I know, what does this have to do with being unplugged right?  Well, I might be more plugged in today to pass the time but as soon as he is out of surgery, I am unplugging.

When was the last time you totally UNPLUGGED from technology?  A scary thought, right?  I used to think it was impossible.  I have my own business and I rely on social media and technology for a large portion of it.  What happens if……?

A million reasons run through your mind as to why you should NOT unplug, right?  What did we do BEFORE technology took over our lives.  I used to call people until I got someone on the phone or if they had a machine, I left a voice mail.  The truth is business survived and thrived, right?

The last time I totally unplugged was on our cruise in 2011.  By totally, I mean no cell phone or internet.  No communication with anyone who wasn’t on the trip.  After the first 24 hours (always the roughest), I actually didn’t think about technology.  I enjoyed the trip and the people around me..

I haven’t totally unplugged for a long time, I have changed the way I look at technology and its effect on my life.  My obsession with my phone is a habit I developed during my relapse – a way to escape and turn off the people around me.  Did I know it then?  NOPE!  I justified it in a million different ways.  Now, I struggle with putting down the iPad.  LOL.  I started during puzzles and word games to help with my cognitive issues with my MS but it isn’t long before I am moving into scrolling Facebook or checking email.

What effect does technology have on your life?  I bet A LOT of the requests for your time, your money, and your energy come to you digitally, right?  Probably mostly via email as well as messages on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites.  And it is stressing you out. It’s distracting. And worst of all you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  I know I am not alone in this.  I have always said “there is no PURSE (substitute your product/company/business) emergency”.  So it was time I finally practiced what I preached.

Yes, I used to check email in the middle of networking meetings; while stopped at red lights; in the middle of dinner with my family; and as soon as my eyes popped open in the morning.  I used to hate to have any notifications showing on my phone. Yup, all part of the obsessive/compulsive life.

I was afraid. Afraid of missing out:on booking a party or the next big potential customer or potential team member; or maybe someone on my team had a question. I was afraid of just not being “in the know” or worse yet, them going elsewhere. Crazy, right?  The truth was (and still is some days) is I didn’t like myself enough to spend time with me so why would anyone else want to.  A harsh reality which has come from recovery.  As a result, I buried myself in social media where I could be who I wanted others to see – sometimes not letting them see the real me.

If you are in direct sales, thing about it…. who would want to join your team if we are  always accessible?  If your obsession is just with everyone else’s life, maybe unplug to spend some time exploring yourself and the beauty around you. Here are some tips for unplugging and re-claiming your life.

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#1 – I removed all notifications from my phone – the apps are still there but the only notifications I get are text messages.  My family does a lot of texting so it is a good way to connect with them long distance.

#2 – My phone is usually on “do not disturb except for my favorites”.  This keeps me focused on enjoying time with those I am with instead of grabbing the phone every time it rings.

#2 – I start my morning with devotions and a smoothie – social media comes later.

#3 – I don’t have multiple tabs open on my computer.  I try (sometimes I don’t succeed) in only checking email and social media periodically.  I actually am more productive.

What do you do to #UNPLUG?

Have a blessed day!

 

Get Rid Of Clutter AND Make Cash

The kids are out of school and what better time to clear out the clutter and make some money.  You have the kids to help and what better enticement for them then the chance to earn some money, right?  The trick is getting it done right.

I know you are already stressing about the amount of work, right?  I have several piles going in the garage with stuff I would like to sell BUT the reality is, it never happens.  Then it gets donated to church rummage sale or to the local thrift store.  The thing is, I didn’t get rid of the clutter, I simply moved it to another part of the house.  Not making any money and creating more of a mess in the garage.   I have finally faced the facts – I don’t have the time nor the energy to do a yard sale, sell on ebay (been there done it and it was a pain!) so I just donate to a good local cause.  If this is you, it is okay for admit it – it is the first step to getting rid of the clutter.

If you are going to have  sale –  pick a date (several months from now) how about just before the kids go back to school.  This way they will  have some of their own money to shop with, sound good?  This gives you a goal.

Now, set up several boxes to collect items for the sale.  Plastic tubs are the best because they keep the bugs out while you are decluttering.  I prefer boxes so whatever doesn’t sell can just go to a local cause.  BUT if you are going to save things to sell at the next one……..plastic is the way to go.

Okay, you have decided to have a sale, gathered your items and now comes the tough party – PRICING!  We have heard the tales of those who make thousands while most of us scrape by with a hundred or so (more if we are lucky), the key is finding way to price which works for you.

I like the color dot idea because you can grab them at the dollar store and it takes the stress of out individually pricing things.  Create a poster with a key showing what each dot means, price wise, such as a green dots equal one quarter, yellow dots are fifty cents, blue dots are a dollar, etc. The advantage of this method is, it is easy to slash prices at the end of the day, since you can just change the key for what the dots mean.  If you want, you can add these sticker to the item as you go through your home decluttering, so you don’t have to have a marathon session for pricing right before the sale.

The key to a successful sale or event is advertising.  I can’t tell you how many “garage sale” signs I pass and the information is so small you can hardly read it.  Either make bigger signs OR use arrows.  I actually found an amazing sale with just arrows pointing at every corner on the “garage sale” sign.  It was tucked away but people were finding it because of the signs.  Okay, enough of my soap box.  LOL

Try to coordinate with other families in your neighborhood, if possible, to all have your sales on the same day. The more sales, the more people will come to all of them. This will also help you commit to a deadline for your sale, since others are also participating, which can be a good motivation factor.

Now, spread the word far and wide. Some of my favorite inexpensive methods include ads on Craigslist, large colorful signs on major roadways, and notices on community noticeboards, such as in your local grocery store.  If you do a community yard sale, maybe invest in a classified ad in the newspaper.  Social media is huge so they will get you some customers too BUT don’t rely on just it for your foot traffic.  .

The key to keeping your sanity during all of this is be organized about the process. I know it sounds crazy because if you were organized – you wouldn’t need to de-clutter and have a sale, right?

During the whole process keep your two goals in mind as you prepare: #1 – make some money, and #2 – get rid of clutter.

You won’t be able to do a sale on your own and it is more fun, if you enlist helpers for the day. Give each helper a specific task, including directing crowds, answering questions, making sales, and taking payments. You may also want someone to help with entertainment, such as keeping nice music going, passing out (or selling) refreshments, etc.  Having some cold water or cookies are always a good way to make some quick sales AND get the kids involved.Make sure you  have lots of small bills and change.

Part of the fun of garage sales for those buying is scoring a deal and bargaining. Be ready to haggle and cut deals, since your goal is to get this stuff out of your home. Throw in freebies, or buy one get one half of deals, anything to get the stuff out of your home.  Don’t wait till the end of the day to haggle – be willing to do it all day long.

The truth is, you won’t sell everything.  Make arrangements for a charity to come pick up the rest, or drop it off yourself directly from your lawn at the end of the sale to the charity of your choice.  Remember we are clearing clutter!

A long post but hopefully a helpful one!  Share your best garage/yard sale tips with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

 

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Christ followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God.Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ.

The past has no hold on you.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

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!