I Don’t Remember

As I sat at the computer thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I had a brain fog moment.  A moment when I couldn’t remember what I had been writing about the past few days let alone the past few weeks or months.  As I scrolled through the published posts and the scheduled ones, I couldn’t remember writing some of them.
So, why am I telling you all of this?  It has been awhile since I shared about my MS journey.  For some, you may tune out.  For others, they are curious.  While still others have been on this journey with me so they totally get it.
How often have you said “I don’t remember”?  Maybe you walk into another room and forget what you went in the room for?  Go to the store and forget to get things unless they are on a list.  Imagine if every day was like that – every hour even.  Welcome to my life with MS.  I don’t say it for sympathy, it is more about me starting to accept the impact it has on my life and others.
Most days, I just let things slide.  Family and close friends try to adjust to the fact I don’t remember things or even times spent together.  The hardest are the missing memories of childhood – mine, my daughter growing up, my wedding, high school and so much more.  Not to mention the frustration as I try to work my business remembering customers and hostesses or even the names of products or prints.
Those who meet me just think it is a “senior moment” when the reality is I honestly don’t remember.  I remember faces (most of the time) but names I’m not very good at.  I may know I “should know you” but don’t know how or why.
Today is Thursday and I can barely remember what I did on Saturday or Sunday even though I lived through them.  I think hard about the weekend but the only thing I remember is I can’t remember.  Thankful for my planner where I write down scheduled plans and even note things I have done in case I forget and try to do them again – like pay bills, make calls to customers, etc.
There are so many things which could have filled my time. It’s possible I might have buried a dead body in the back yard (nope, hubby is still here with me – LOL), I could have won a years supply of chocolate (now I’m stalking the UPS driver), or I maybe I robbed a bank and am now a multi-millionaire so I should have moved to a tropical island escaping the cold weather.  Who knows? I sure don’t.
The one thing I am blessed with I’m still breathing, I’m alive alive, and ready for a new day, It’s weird how my brain works. You have heard about selective hearing where people can tune out things which annoy them? Well I think I have selective thinking.  No, really at a talk last week, the doctor said “the most common symptom of MS is cognitive issues and memory loss”.  HELLOOOO!!! I have been saying it for years.  It honestly was nice to hear a medical doctor confirm it and say it out loud – or did I dream it?
What truly amazes me (and everyone around me) is I have no problem remembering the words to songs but easily forget Sunday is trash day or Wednesday is recycling.  If I didn’t have reminders on my phone or it written in my planner I’d probably not get anything done.
I forget to call people back, answer text messages and respond to emails. It’s not intentional. It just is what it is. If I haven’t responded to you…I’m sorry. If I forgot your birthday or anniversary…again, sorry.  If I can’t remember your favorite color, miss an appointment because I didn’t have it written down or forgot your name, trust me, it’s not on purpose.
Multiple sclerosis just has this way of scrambling my thoughts and at times turning them into mush. Sometimes I wonder how I get anything done at all.
Time to get some things done – now where did I put the list?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Managing Distractions

I can’t believe Christmas is just two days away – well, Christmas Eve is tomorrow.  I have been sort of a Grinch at home this year – no decorations until last Sunday but I did get some shopping done.  Yes, I squirreled but what else is new, right?

Last Sunday at church,  the first hymn was “Hark the Harold Angels Sing”.  I know it is “herald” but my grandfather always said it was his song and yes, his name was Harold.  I knew then, it was going to be a service I needed to pay attention to.  As we moved through the holiday songs, I found my thoughts drifting to the things I wanted to get done, the people I was missing (Belinda not being home for Christmas) and then BAM!  The sermon was on “managing distractions”.  I knew this was just for me.

The brain fog from MS causes me to get distracted easily, memory is short or sometimes nonexistent and sometimes I find it hard to concentrate.  But the reality is, even without MS, many of us have difficulty managing distractions.  Think about how you or your kids do/did their homework.  Do they need the music or TV on leaving you wondering how they can possibly concentrate?  Or do they need silence?  These days, I need silence.  I get easily distracted but there was a time when I could have the TV on or music and actually remember what I was supposed to be doing.  Do deadlines cause you to focus more?  Is one of your tag lines, I work better under pressure?

#1 Identify Inevitable Distractions

Distractions are going to happen – they always do.  So why not expect them – if they come, you are ready but if they don’t you are ahead of the game.  I can remember when I was a work at home mom, distractions happened and I was never really ready for them.  The TV was too loud or a million questions came just as I was working on a grant.  Then there was the “I’m hungry” cry.  Yes, I miss those days but the distractions are different now.  I start a project or work in the office and thoughts of 10 other things which need to be done in the house enters my head.  Before long, I have squirreled into the “this will only take a minute” project being completed distracted from the work I was doing.  I’m sure I am not alone especially during this busy holiday season.

#2 Learn to Discern the Main Thing

SMACK!  Distractions sometimes pull us away from our main focus – family!  We get bogged down in worrying about having lots of time with family while we miss out on enjoying the quality time we do have with them.  What is your main focus this holiday?  Is it buying the perfect gifts, planning the perfect meal or enjoying the moments with family and friends?  I always “talk” about family being the most important thing to me – tops on my list.  Yet, I find there are times when I place other non-important things before spending time with them.  My focus turns to working in the office to make money to pay bills or being busy in my business (notice I didn’t say working my business).  Yup, I am one of those struggling recovering workaholics….

We have identifying the distractions, so how do you manage them, right?  You got this, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem if you are intentional about it…

#1 Clear the Clutter

No, I don’t mean the clutter in the house!  I mean the clutter in our heads.  Maybe you need to write a list or delegate chores or maybe decide not to do certain things at all – however you do it, JUST DO IT!  Prune your schedule. Control spending.  Weed out the things which aren’t the main thing.  I am working on calendar blocking AGAIN so I block out time needed to work versus time I will spend with family.

#2 Don’t Let Distractions Distract You

We know distractions will happen BUT don’t let them distract you from your MAIN THING! If the most important thing for you this holiday season is family – spend time with them, enjoy them. STOP watching the clock.  STOP worrying about if the house is clean enough or whether there is enough food or how you look.  Enjoy the moments….

The main thing is to make the Main thing the Main thing

This Christmas is different for our family – Belinda in North Carolina, missing my Dad, hubby working so others can spend time with their little ones  has left me trying to figure out how to embrace the change so I can focus on my main thing – FAMILY!  Grateful to have dinner on Christmas Eve with my step-mom and half sister then spend Christmas Day with my mom and step dad as well as my hubby.

What is distracting you this holiday season from enjoying your “main thing”?  When the holidays are over, will you have wonderful memories of the moments shared even with the distractions or will you regret being too busy to have enjoyed your “main thing”?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

Yup, it is Monday morning.  Even worse is the fact for some it is after a LONG 4-day holiday weekend filled with food, family & friends and lots of shopping.  Time to get back to work as we start to juggle the holidays with work.

Black Friday has passed.  Small Business Saturday is done.  Cyber Monday is in full swing.  But the question I have for you this morning is…

Will This Matter A Year From Now?

The countless hours spent rushing around for gifts?  The baking? The decorating?  The non-stop whirlwind of activity?  Some would say yes because despite the craziness, they are enjoying the moments.  For others, you are so busy racing around, you don’t even remember the moments.

Life is constantly changing…. just when you think you got what you were looking for, doubt starts to creep in.  Maybe this year you have more money (or less) for gifts.  Maybe you are working countless hours missing out on time with family and friends.  Maybe you have lost who you are as you spend time pleasing the rest of the world.

If you answer to the question above is a resounding NO!  Then “let it go”…. (here the music for Frozen playing in the background)

Why do we spend time worrying about things we can’t control or fighting for things which don’t deserve our energy?

Did holiday celebrations with family trigger a button inside?  You know the one of self-doubt, fear, or anger.  Did the inner gremlins rear their heads because you allowed someone to push your button? Now you are spending your time on things which are insignificant in the big picture of things…

Maybe it was fussing with a rude store clerk during holiday shopping, or making a point with a trouble-making co-worker, or nitpicking over every mistake your child might make. The reality is some things simply are not worth it.

Fighting every battle leaves you little energy for the ones which really matter. In the process, you can damage relationships and stress yourself out. When you are intentional about which battles to engage in, you are more effective in resolving those challenges. After all, if you let go of the small stuff, it becomes clear the battles you choose are important. As a result, the people in your life or more likely to take notice and listen.

As we head into what is probably the craziest time of the year, I challenge you to let go of at least one battle this week. Enjoy the drop in your stress level.

What battle(s) did you engage in over the long weekend? Will it matter a year from now?  If it won’t matter a year from now, are you willing to drop similar battles when they arise?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The BEST Deal on Black Friday?

Holiday Shoppers Seek Out Deals On Black Friday

GOOD MORNING!  Many of you may be seeing this post late in the day because you are part of the CRAZINESS called Black Friday.  As I sit here snuggled at home, I can’t help but think of past Black Friday mornings…

angry-kid

Black Friday has an array of memories….

The years Belinda and I camped out at Walmart to do holiday shopping for my best friend’s kids.  She couldn’t get there so we did the shopping and put it on layaway for her.  It was a game for us while others were getting crazy knocking each other over for what they thought was a GREAT deal.

Then there was the year the call came my Mom was in an accident on her way to work and was in the trauma unit at ACMC.  She was hit head on by someone headed to a Black Friday sale at Best Buy.  The focus on the deals and talking on her cell phone were more important to her then watching the road.  Our lives were changed for several months as mom healed. We thanked God he kept her safe.

The years Belinda came home from college and we headed out for “kid and me” time.  Not crazy early but just a day to see what deals we could find after the crazies headed home.

Then there was the year of late night shopping with the girls. It was fun scouring the shelves for great deals.  Trimming the Christmas tree like we did when Belinda was little on Thanksgiving weekend topped the events while we shared stories related to each of the holiday ornaments.

Today, I am thankful for the memories despite the fogginess as a result of the MS.  Memories of happy time and sad times but cherished none the less.  I will head to PT and get ready for tomorrow’s event in Avon. Who knows maybe I will pop some specials on my  Facebook VIP group to join in the frenzy?

How are you spending YOUR Black Friday?  Shopping?  Resting? Working?  Visiting with family?  Share your favorite memories with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Overcoming Discouragement

Happy Monday!  If no one has told you lately, let me tell you how amazing you are.

For some of us (yes, I’m included), no matter how much we achieve or how much progress we make, we still have those nasty inner gremlins (and maybe some outer ones) who want to knock us down.

It’s the gremlins in our head saying:

  • “You’re not good enough.”
  • “You’ll look like a fool.”
  • “Who do you think you are?”
  • “You are self-centered. It isn’t always about you”.

When these mantras start, it is sometimes hard to silence the noise.  Verbal abuse whether external or internal can eat away at us.  Did you know there are things you can do to actively combat those nasty inner gremlins?  If it is an outer voice saying these things, the inner voices feed on those comments long after the outer voice has stopped talking.

Here are four simple ways to overcome those nasty gremlins:

1. Start talking to yourself

“You need to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself again.”

Those nasty inner gremlins are setting you up for failure.  We are what we feed our mind.  When we feed those nasty gremlins positive things, they will shrink in the corner and the good will overcome.  When we feed them something negative, you know what happens.

The bottom line is: the statements and questions you use in conversations with yourself make a huge difference in what you do, how you think, and how you feel.

Instead of questions like, “Why am I having such a hard time?” or, “Why does this always happen to me?” Try, “What just happened, and what can I take away from this?”  Ask yourself questions which are life giving not life killing. OUCH!  What we do, how we think, and how we feel are all dictated by the conversations we have with ourselves. Pay attention to those conversations and watch how your life changes.2. Celebrate Often

When was the last time you celebrated a small victory?  Or do you wait until you reach a huge milestone to celebrate?  Did you know by waiting to celebrate, you are giving those nasty inner gremlins a chance to sneak in the back door crushing your joy?

Why not celebrate everything and everyone—all the time?  It’s hard to stay discouraged when you’re constantly searching for something or someone to celebrate. The seeds of depressions have a tough time taking root in a grateful heart and the same is true with discouragement and celebration.

You have your goals set, right?  Now create smaller ones leading up to the BIG one and plan some kind of celebration when you reach a small milestone. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—just give yourself a reward for making progress.  Then watch for others who are hitting their small milestones, and recognize them when they do. When you acknowledge an achievement others are overlooking or discounting in their own lives, you can do wonders for their confidence.

Celebrating small wins along the way will keep you motivated and encouraged. Don’t neglect it!

3. Prune Your Negative Vines

This one can be tough but it is probably one of the most important pieces to the puzzle.  When you don’t prune unproductive branches off a fruit-bearing tree, you can’t expect much of a harvest.  The same goes for us.

We must distance ourselves from negativity. If we don’t, we stunt our own growth.  Your dreams, visions, and opportunities will always require you to become more than you currently are. In short, you must grow to achieve them.  So, how can you grow when you are surrounded by negativity?

Those outside voices feed the negativity to those nasty inner gremlins and the result is they squash your dreams saying things to discourage you.

The vision you have for your life (and your family’s life) holds more weight than other people’s opinions.  So distance yourself from negativity. Don’t listen to people whose intentions are just to slow you down.  For some, the most negative people in your life can be those who are closest to you. You can actually use these four strategies to distance yourself from them.

4. Establish Boundaries

Imagine how easy it would be for an army to capture an unprotected city. The same thing can happen to your mind if you don’t establish boundaries.  Boundaries are the castle walls surrounding your mind, preventing discouragement from walking right in and taking control.  The problem is most people are scared to set them.  I know I am sometimes.

We don’t want to offend others, so we tolerate the negative people and activities influencing our thinking and behavior. When we do this, we let their meaningless opinions take priority over our own goals and dreams.  Whom you spend time with, what you spend time doing, and what you allow in your mind will either help you overcome discouragement, or fall to its forces.

Boundaries are the only mechanism for keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. If you want to overcome discouragement, boundaries are vital.  We’re all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis—is it just part of living life.

But, we can choose how we react to whatever life throws at us, including discouragement.  When you equip yourself with the proper defenses, you can overcome it and live the life you were made to live.

Share a time you overcame discouragement and how did you fight back?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!