Thankful Thursday: PAIN

I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain……  Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?

Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile?  Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house?   Is it really possible to not fall apart?

I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery,  I have lived with the pain of MS.  Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows.  The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional.  Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?

Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?

The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person.  It has helped me to see “joy” is possible.  I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense.  There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.

I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather.  I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love.  I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.

When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me.  In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads.  I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse.  I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.

There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating.  Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option.  #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me.  I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.

Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS.  The two get so jumbled together.  I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS.  The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel.  Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great.  Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.

MS has stripped me of the person I once was.  Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day.  Today,  I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.

Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with).  We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.

Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.

Have a blessed day!

Do You Have a Bold Decision To Make?

I’m not good at making decisions!  For those who know me, it is no big surprise.  Ask me where I want to go for dinner?  I will leave it up to you, because “I can always find something which sounds good”.  Ask me what I want to do?  I will usually defer to the person asking unless there is something really pressing on my heart.  So, why is it so hard? I’m a proverbial people pleaser – one of my character defects.  I don’t want anyone to be made at me or upset or get their feelings hurt.  The end result over the years has caused me to stuff feelings and was definitely part of my relapse story.
What about you?  Are you good at making decisions?  I don’t mean just the little every day things but the BIG ones.  The life changing ones – maybe it is time to retire, or change your career or quit your job or end a relationship or admit and accept you have a problem (or a chronic disease).
Do you make your decisions base on everyone else’s expectations?  Some decisions are tough – really tough!  Some conversations are uncomfortable.  Some choices are not popular.  A true sign of spiritual and emotional growth comes when you can stop making decisions based on everyone else’s expectations.  The greatest feeling is when you can lay your head down at night and be at pease with your Higher Power.  If you compromise the peace you have with him, then you have compromised EVERYTHING!
For many years, I was spiritual, avoiding church but having a great relationship with my Higher Poser then I got involved with the church again.  No hate mail please!  I’m not against organized religion but I will admit it is then I started  to make decisions based on others expectations (again).  Over the last 9 months, I have started to have a stronger relationship with my Higher Power again.
I’m learning to be bold and courageous in my decisions.  Pray.  Listen (this is tough for me).  Don’t overanalyze! (okay so I struggle with this too).  There are days I pray for an answer and when the answer comes via a person or event or opportunity, I don’t always recognize it.  I want the SMACK on the head or the booming voice to say “here is the answer”.  LOL.
Use your common sense, which is a blessing from God to help you make the right decision. Have you ever heard the saying: “Don’t be  like the frog in a pot of cool water who didn’t notice the heat had been turned up and the water was starting to boil. All he had to do was jump out of the pot!”.  Yup.  I’ve been there a few times.
All of this is to say, if you have a decision to make…. make it based on YOUR common sense, your wishes and NOT what others will think.  This is where I am at right now!  Decisions about my business and this blog.  My fear of letting others down has me struggling with accepting decisions I know in my heart are okay.  Fear of what the future will bring has me hesitating.  Fear of stepping into a new path where God seems to be leading me.

 

Do you have a decisions to make?  Don’t worry about what others think. Do what you know is right. No one else has to live your life—or your consequences.

I challenge you to “Rather than people-pleasing, be bold and courageous in your decisions.”  Can you do it?  If you need support, comment below and we will help!

 

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!

 

Reflection on Accountability in 2017

My word for 2017 was “accountable”. I was determined to be more accountable in all aspects of my life to reach my goals.  Let’s see how it went….

As I look back on 2017, I see so many ways in which I was blessed.  My goal was to start fresh – a new me for a new year.  By being accountable, I wanted to take responsibility for my actions – willing accepting praise and constructive criticism.

I will admit I was apprehensive about having this as “my word”,  Fear of failing. Fear of having to explain my actions. Fear of letting others down. You get it, right? Being accountable would mean I needed to be willing to share my dreams, and my plans.  I would need to share my successes and my failures.  I love helping others achieve their goals BUT honestly, I am not the best at taking my own advice. This word meant I needed to be utterly transparent, stepping further out of my comfort zone then ever before. It meant learning to love myself (the good, the bad and the ugly) unconditionally.  It meant being accountable in every aspect of my life which was scary as HELL!

I used the letters as an acronym which helped me to break things down into manageable steps.  I had the help of an AWESOME accountability partner and although may not have always communicated, we were there for each other.  Thank you Amber for helping me to let down the walls so I could grow  in my business.

Let’s look at the goals for 2017:

  1. Reach my goal weight by maintaining the new eating plan. DONE!  The doctor set a goal weight for me and I am maintaing it.  I am 95% of the time gluten free and feeling much better.
  2. Be consistent in my business with book, sell, recruit.  Consistency in my business paid off.  I earned the Leadership Incentive Trip for the first time.  My personal sales increased by 18%, and my team’s sales increased by 24%.  My recruiting was down from last year BUT I maintained the same team members throughout the year.
  3. Nurture my relationships with my hubby, family and friends.  This is an ongoing process but I am blessed to have strengthened of my relationships.
  4. Pay off some of my credit card debt.  Well, this goal wasn’t achieved but I am not giving up.

For those who set goals in 2017 (or on a regular basis), you may say – these aren’t good goals. They are not measurable nor do they have a time frame attached to them and you are right. I have found those types of goals (resolutions) fall by the wayside and are never obtained. So, this year I tried by laying out my general goals, set a plan each month to achieve them and then was accountable for each step I take. The overall results were – GOALS MET (mostly)!

Have you selected a word for 2018? What drew you to the word and what does it mean to you? Share your word with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Looking Forward to 2017

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My word for 2016 was CONFIDENCE. 

CONFIDENCE to believe when the way is rough.  CONFIDENCE to hang on when the going is tough. CONFIDENCE will guide me when my business is slow.  CONFIDENCE will guide me as I move forward with the Rays of Hope – Angel Connection.  CONFIDENCE will guide me as I overcome doubt with my new contract working with a grassroots non-profit.  CONFIDENCE will guide me as I learn to live with my recent diagnosis of MS.  CONFIDENCE will guide me as I see and believe in the person that others see in me.  CONFIDENCE will guide me as I squash the inner gremlins that have haunted me all of my life.

As a wrap of to this year, I’ve been reflecting A LOT as well as praying on what my word will be in 2017.  I love the beginning of a new year, with all of the hopes and possibilities of what’s ahead, but I know it’s also easy to feel overwhelmed with having 12 brand new months to tackle too. By sharing some of the things I’m looking forward to next year, my hope is it will encourage you to think about what you’re excited about in 2017 so you can enter the new year feeling ready and raring to go!

1. 5 Year Anniversary!

I can hardly believe hubby and I will be married five years and we have been together for 16 years.  My goal is to earn the Leadership Incentive Trip with Thirty One so I can take him on a cruise for our special anniversary.

2. Adventures, big and small!

We’ve been lucky enough to do a little traveling – North Carolina to visit the girls and I headed to Ohio for National Conference.  We had adventures like traveling the State to see doctors about my MS & the many symptoms.  I want to embrace the mini adventures next year too – day trips out to explore new places, and weekend breaks.

3. Full-time in my business

I have been in direct sales for almost 6 years and I am really excited to see what this next year has to bring. I am committing to my business full-time so it will be my main source of income to help with the household bills.  No more part-time job.  I am so grateful to be able to work from home with so many amazing women.  Along with my direct sales business, one of my biggest priorities in my business next year is to continue to create different ways to show up and be of service to the community.  I feel so grateful every single day this is my job, and I want to just give it 100% and show up fully for my business in 2017 along the way.

4. Continuing to embrace less stress, more joy in work and life

This has been one of the biggest takeaways for me in 2016 – a mindset of less stress, more joy is what serves me best in my work and my life. Keeps MS symptoms at a minimum and makes for a happy Hope.  I am learning how to embrace the seasons in my life.  I’m feeling focused, productive, and inspired as I end 2016.  In 2017, I want to give myself permission to live my creative life on my own terms, and embrace my own natural ebb and flow of rest and hustle too.

5. All the growth, discovery, and lessons ahead to come

I don’t know about you, but I learn, grow and change so much during a year.  In 2016, I’ve discovered so much more about myself, who I am, and what is most important to me.  I feel so much more aware and connected to what matters most in my life. I’m so excited to experience all the lessons 2017 has to bring.

I want to thank you so much for following my blog this year.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect with you every day.  My vision in everything I do with my business and online presence is to support, encourage and inspire you to be the best YOU, you can be.  I hope to continue to do it in 2017 too.

I believe this is each and every one of you…d41d60aa5f46b43b9c0545e7f97b07c5

What will your word be for 2017?  Share it with us and let’s work together to make this year a success….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!