Reflecting on 2019

 Happy 2020!  A new decade, a new year, a new month and a new day!  A clean slate all around….

It seems weird writing a blog post today since it has been about a month or so since my last one. For my regular readers, I am sorry I did not give you a heads up.  I needed a break after 6+ years of writing, I was empty.  I didn’t think I had anything more to say.  I’m still not sure I do but we will see what 2020 brings….

Last night I saw all of the posts talking about the last decade and it got me to thinking.  At first, I stressed over what I couldn’t remember then I asked for guidance and some memories came back.  So here goes my decade in review….

In 2010, I saw my daughter graduate from college with honors.  I was working full-time at a job I loved and commuting crazy hours to get work.

2011 was a roller coaster year.  I started my direct sales career with Thirty One.  We planned our wedding and after a 9 year engagement walked down the aisle.  Edythe, one of the rocks in my life passed away.  I retired from my job as COO at Bethel Development. We ended the year with a cruise for our honeymoon with family.

2012 is kind of a blur. Hubby had congestive heart failure and spent 13 days in the hospital.  I promoted to Director with Thirty One and walked across the stage to celebrate with my daughter.  I spent lots of time trying to figure out what I really wanted to do.

2013 – 2016 were a definitely blur. There was lots of testing to determine what was going on with me.  I was losing my memory (even more), leg spasms, depressed, and more I can’t remember.  I spend time working part-time jobs at WaWa and Wall Storage. Relapse was a strong part of these years. We planned Belinda’s wedding and celebrated their beautiful day in the mountains of NC.  Shopping, spending money, and drinking was my way of filling a void in my life.  I got the “unofficial diagnosis of MS” – grateful to finally have answers

2017 started rough as my Dad spent much of his time in the hospital and then passed in April.  I started Angels by Hope as an official business.  Still looking for ways to fill the void. My MS diagnosis became official and I started on medications (3 times a week injections).

2018 brought the smack in the face I needed to face the unmanageability of my life.  Credit card debt was high, income from my business was dropping and I was an emotional mess.  I walked back into the rooms of NA in May looking for the joy I once I had.

2019 brought a change in diagnosis to “progressive MS” and with it a cane and a brace for my left ankle.  Recovery has been a blessing as I am slowing rebuilding relationships with family.  I am blessed to still have both my Thirty One business and Angels by Hope going strong.

So, this is just a glimpse at the last 10 years.  I am grateful for Facebook memories and this blog (since March 2013) to help me remember when I can’t.

I have been searching and for a word for 2020.  Last year’s was Courage and it definitely fit the year I had.  Courage in so many areas of my life to step out on faith, out of my comfort zone.  This year’s word didn’t come so easily.  I prayed.  I took those “word tests”.

My word for 2020 is GRATITUDE!  Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.“.  I know when I practice gratitude, everything else in my life will be okay.  Not just gratitude for the good things but also for the challenges.  Through the challenges, I will learn and grow.

Best wishes for a safe healthy and happy New Year.

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!

How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

How’s Your Foundation?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the homes built right on the beach. Some were large and ostentatious while others were small and quaint – and some were either partially or totally destroyed. We had a friend in the church who built a lot of houses in that area, so I asked him why some houses seemed to withstand the storms while others didn’t. His explanation really hit home!

Some people wanted a house built quickly, so they simply built a house on the sand. They often used inferior materials and made little preparation, but they did see quick results. Others wanted a house built right. That not only takes superior materials, but a lot more time. The sand has to be cleared away, scraped down to the coral bed of rock. Holes are then drilled in the coral and pilings are attached. Finally, a cement foundation is poured, and the actual building of the house begins. The houses built on the sand could not withstand the storms of South Florida. The houses built on the coral rock could.

The same is true in our lives.

The foundation upon which a life is built will determine the strength of that life.

We are so human. We often make people the foundation upon which we build a life. Or maybe it is our career, our intelligence, our gifts and abilities, loved ones, a spouse or children. None of these things are strong enough to support the weight of life. Only God can do that. Only God can be the foundation that brings us purpose and meaning. Only God can empower us to withstand the storms of life.

I ran this idea by our son, who is a master carpenter and superintendent for a local construction company. At one point in his career, Jered bought and flipped houses for a living. I can remember his process of going to inspect several houses but choosing only one or two to buy. I had often wondered what criteria he used to choose the houses he wanted to remodel. Jered was quick to explain. “Mom, I always checked the foundation first. If it was unstable or unsound, I immediately dismissed it as an option. I knew I would basically have to start over if I wanted to sell the house. A faulty foundation will always support a faulty house.”

What is the foundation on which you are building your life? Today, make a new commitment to make a solid personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the relentless pursuit of His truth the rock on which your life stands.

Have a blessed day!

Feeling Overwhelmed?

So this is where I am today!  Feeling overwhelmed and not sure what direction to go in.

I woke up remembering today was Gram’s birthday.  My grandmother would have celebrated her 106 birthday today…. I know she is celebrating in heaven with all of my other angels; BUT this got me to thinking – scary, right?  My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and on any given day, her memory was shot.  With my MS, on any given day my memory is shot.  I think of what a struggle it is for me and I can’t imagine the pain and frustration she felt for so many years….. Yes, I squirreled but this is all part of me being overwhelmed.

This is the month things get crazy – I have craft shows every weekend from now (okay last weekend) till the second weekend in December.  Some week-ends it is both Saturday and Sunday, some it is just Saturday and then there are a few mid-week events I squeezed in.  WHY?  Yes, tis the season of selling angels and helping people make memories BUT I can’t seem to admit things get to be a struggle.  MS has caused me to walk a little slower, my brain is a little foggier and some days I just can’t seem to move because I am so tired.

In the past, my blogs and my focus have been on my business BUT things are changing yet again.  I’m not sure what direction I want to go in and some days, I’m not even sure if I want to keep blogging.  SHOCKING, right?  I have been blogging since 2013 first on a daily basis and then I cut it back to 4 days a week.  Now, even that seems overwhelming.  I wonder if anyone is still interested.  I know my recipes get a lot of sharing so that is definitely at hit.  The problem is, I struggle with finding new and different recipes to appeal to everyone… even ones I would like. So, today I am thinking of trying some of the things I used to do when I was feeling overwhelmed in my business…..

In the midst of all of this craziness, how do you manage to NOT feel overwhelmed in your business or in your life?  How do you manage to not loose your focus at the busiest time of year?  I found an article in The Self Employed which may have some tips to help you….

1.  Reset:  Before you panic (unless you already have) press the RESET button.  Make a list of things which need to be done and rank them by priority.  At the end of each day, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to relax, reflect on what you did and get ready for a new day.  You can’t change what happened yesterday but you can take control of today.

2.  Eliminate Outside Influence:  Do you have your own business?  Juggling kids and a job?  Juggling a chronic health issue?  Set aside time for it – maybe just a 1/2 hour, or an hour or even several hours.  Finish the most important tasks WITHOUT interruption.  Then focus on your family and enjoy.   Did you know it takes you 20 minutes to get back on track after a distraction.  YIKES!  Definitely time to weed out the distractions!!!

3.  Focus Down One Task – EAT the FROG  – you know the most daunting thing or the thing you hate to do the most.  The quicker you get this done, the easier the rest of the list will be to get done.  Get your productivity snowball rolling down the hill.  That works not only in your business but also in preparation for the holidays. Yup, it is going to be here before you know it!

4.  Ask for Help – alright, I know no one can do it the way you do it BUT they can help.  It doesn’t have to PERFECT but if someone is willing to pitch in, let them.  From helping get ready for the holiday meal to doing the small things in your office.  This is the hardest thing for me to do!

5.  Learn to Say NO!  Novel concept, right but it will not be the end of the world.  Remember you can’t do EVERYTHING.  As John Maxwell says – manage YOU because you can’t manage time, we all get the same 24 hours in a day.

Block time for work THEN enjoy the holiday.  Block off time for family and friends so you can enjoy without the guilt feelings.  What is your best tip for getting through this holiday season or just the every stress of juggling lots of balls without loosing your mind???

Have a blessed day!