Thankful Thursday: Disability

You are a diamond created by the crushing, pressing fires in life… in other words the journey.

I am no working on my 4th step which is “We made a searching and fearless morale inventory of ourselves” which is pretty damn scary.  It means reflecting back on my resentments and the part I actually played in certain situations.  I am reminded every day, this is to the best of my ability because my memory definitely falls short.  It is a process and in order to get to the other side, I need to walk through this step.

:I will admit there are days when I look back at what used to be and wish life was different. I have even envied others who didn’t have an addiction or a disability. What? I know I can’t change the past and dwelling on it will not change the journey I am on.  I know I shouldn’t think like this but thoughts happen.  Some days in my head can be kinda scary. I can think of some crazy ideas and have some equally wild woe-is-me moments. Then there are days when I can’t remember anything from the past which I think is God’s way of keeping me at peace.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never wanted things to be different, because I have. Those thoughts seem to appear most when the struggle is at its worst. I don’t like feeling that way, but it happens. That’s just me being real.

I could let my addiction or my multiple sclerosis sour my life.  I could let it cause me to become as miserable as my body feels with thoughts of what used to be and what could have been, or I could spend each day trying to become a better person.  I can vaguely remember spending countless hours working on self-development – trying to change me especially where my business was concerned.  The truth was I needed to rid myself of the inner gremlins which have been haunting me for years instead of just stuffing them behind a locked door.  Sometimes the learning process was hard and it still is, but the lessons I have learned along the way are invaluable.  I am learning asking for help is not the sign of weakness I always thought it was – it is a sign of strength.  The ability to admit when we don’t know something or need help is a gift because it allows others to share with us their strength, hope and experiences.

One thing being back in recovery has taught me is to be thankful.  I’m even thankful for the MS.   Many people won’t have the opportunity to get through today; like the addict who will take their last drug.  That is enough to make me appreciate everything I have, whether it’s pain, the inability to do something, or the lack of memories MS and addiction can throw my way. I’m thankful through it all.

Fear is real but I can overcome anything if I am willing to let go and let God.  I can’t do any of this on my own – I need other addicts to walk me through recovery and I need others with MS to show me how they cope each and every day.  On those bad days, I take my day and break it up into tiny chunks.  Someone told me recently it’s easy to eat an elephant. STOP!  No haters – Not a real elephant, but a giant obstacle you are facing. Do it one bite at a time.  One step at a time which is why they are in a certain order.  So I break my day up…one bite at a time. I may find things hard to swallow at times, but when I keep at it I find I’m able to get through it. That impossible elephant suddenly becomes possible.

Having a dual disability (MS and addiction) has prepared me for the rest of my life. It has given me a better perspective on what’s really important. That highly successful career I held on to for way too long, wanting a big house, craving a fancy car, and lots of material things – they are no longer a focus for me.  I wonder why so many of us strive all our lives for stuff and titles? Those things don’t matter in the end. What matters is loving people and knowing you are loved. Everything could be stripped from me and I know I would make it.  Okay, so I am still working on this BUT I know God would provide.  Some days I wonder if other people could get through even one hour of what we with disabilities face, let alone a full day.

Living with a dual disability gave me an advantage over the rest of the world. In essence a second chance.  I learning  to appreciate the roses and the sunsets as well as the storm clouds and looming tsunamis. I choose to live life on my terms… not how other people think it should be done. It may appear strange to others, but I’m not trying to win an award. I just want to get through each day knowing I did the best I could with what I was given.

Whatever your life’s path…..You’ve got this. Don’t ever doubt your strength or your worth. You are a beautiful diamond. Your journey through your crushing pressing obstacles, and your  fire has made you the AMAZING person you are. Now’s your time to shine!

Have a blessed day!

The Kindness of Intentional Blindness

Thank you  Michele Cushatt for today’s message.


We were hoping for a long, slow dinner out with good friends. Instead, what we got was a mediocre meal and a rude waitress.

From the moment we walked in the door of the tiny cafe, we felt her chill. She didn’t want us standing by the door, nor did she like it when we sat in a couple vacated chairs while we waited for a table. When our table was finally ready, she seemed annoyed by the number of our children. Then, when we asked for an additional glass of water, she let us know she’d already brought enough for everyone. We must’ve misplaced it. Finally, when we discovered we’d been given a regular pizza when we’d asked for gluten-free, she made sure we knew we must’ve ordered it wrong and it was definitely not her fault.

Now, I’d love to tell you my first instinct was one of compassion and grace. Instead, I looked at this snarky young woman—young enough to be one of my own children—and I considered how a good solid smack down might do her a bit of good. She was rude, disrespectful, unkind, and not at all the example I want my youngest three children to see. Customer service was absent, not to mention basic manners and human kindness. Her behavior was unacceptable, and every part of me wanted to tell her so.

Until later that evening, when we processed what had happened and an insight by my friend doused my fire:

“Did you hear what she said when she walked away? ‘I can’t do anything right.’ She must’ve been having a hard day.”

Just that fast, my annoyance turned to empathy. I knew what it felt like to have one of those days, when everything goes wrong and I feel like nothing but a failure. Sometimes it’s easier to erect a hard shell than crumble in a million pieces. Cold indifference feels safer than sadness.
I can’t help but wonder: What would’ve happened if I’d chosen lean in and extend kindness? What would’ve happened if I’d tempered my annoyance with both curiosity and grace? While her behavior was unacceptable, there’s a chance it might also be understandable. Perhaps she’d experienced a difficulty that day I knew nothing about, or even a loss my own heart couldn’t fathom.

Annoyance does nothing to lend comfort.

But kindness speaks calm to a storm.

“Fools show their annoyance at once,” Solomon said. By all accounts, I act like a fool more than not. I’m easily annoyed, especially with those closest to me, the ones living inside the walls of my house. Some days it doesn’t take much for my adolescent children to trigger a reaction. And, in many cases, their behavior deserves parental correction. But what if I responded to insults with kindness? What if my correction of them also included authentic connection? How might my calm demeanor melt the coolness of those around me?

After all, that is precisely what God does for us. When having a hard day, He doesn’t match my rudeness and obstinate  with His. Instead, He offers relationship, allowing His kindness to bring about the correction I so desperately need.

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

How well do you accept things – mainly change?  Do you adjust quickly or do you fight it all the way?   Do you embrace change or close your eyes ignoring it is happening?

Since my health issues started in 2012, it has been a roller coaster ride of acceptance.  When the diagnosis of MS  finally came in 2017 I realized it would be physically challenging, emotionally draining, and around-the-clock exhausting with some extremely lonely times. The truth is for those who don’t have it, you can’t understand the challenges or how it is different in each person.  On the surface, I accepted things.  Those closest to me saw the struggles but I was still living a kind of denial.

I had been having a run of good days – when there is no brain fog, moving okay just a little slow and making it through most of the day before I was totally drained.  Then there are the days which take an extraordinary amount of effort to complete even a simple task. Try going through a day not knowing if you will be able to manage another moment of fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, dropping anything you get your hands on, and feeling as if you don’t have the strength to hold it together for one more second.  I accepted these minor challenges too… or at least I thought I did.

When I started my journey again working through my addiction, I realized I have never really accepted my MS diagnosis.  Why was accepting I’m an addict so much easier than accepting I have MS.   On most days I admit to those around me the limitations I have especially with memory as a result of my MS. Acceptance, right?  Then,  I came across this definition of acceptance in an NA reading.  “Acceptance is an opening of your heart to the realities of life and to the ways in which you have been impacted by your life choices. It means you don’t fight against the realities of your life, but accept them for what they are and use them to grow as a person and move forward in life. Accepting life on life’s terms.  Accepting the things you can not change while you focus on the things you can“. The truth is, I have not truly accepted my MS diagnosis.

Last week, I was told by disability “you are not considered disabled”.  One of their reasons was “you can use your arms and hands so basically go to work” and instead of getting angry, I started to wonder if they were right.  Then I was told by the physical therapist, I had flunked the balance test!  She said “you are a fall risk and need to have a cane with you”.  SMACK!  She had me pegged though, she said “you still think of yourself as an independent woman who can take care of everyone else”.  It took both of these things to make be realize I was still fighting the realities of my life.  I continue to fight the things I can’t change instead of focusing on the things I can change.  I can’t change I’m a 62 year old woman who struggles most days with MS both physically and mentally.  What I can change is the way I decide to handle things………working on eating healthier, getting sleep, getting up and moving when I feel up to it instead of just sitting around then resting when my body says it is time.

Now, your struggle with acceptance could be much different.  The difficulties you face may be different from mine, but I am convinced there is someone, somewhere in the world who is going through the same overwhelming moments as you. Just because you don’t hear about them or know them personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Believe me, I have been there.

Whatever your challenge, it’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart.  Eventually things will get better and you will find new ways of coping with all the changes happening in your life. I can guarantee it, but in the moment or in the heat of the battle it may not seem like it’s even possible.  I know, I am there fighting the battle of acceptance right now – with you.

It’s okay to ask for help.  I’m grateful for the rooms of NA where I can dump my stuff on the floor and walk away feeling a little less like a hot mess.  Find someone you can talk with about ways to help you manage your emotional chaos.  There is still hope for a better tomorrow whatever your challenge may be. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

When all else fails, repeat the Serenity Prayer and wait for an answer.  Of course waiting for an answer is not one of my strong points.  Answers will always come but they may not be in a way we expect them or it may not be the answer we want….. expectations is a whole other topic.  LOL.

So, just for today, focus on the things you can change.  Accept life on life’s terms and count your blessings.

Have a blessed day!

 

Do You Have a Dream You Need to Resurrect?

Life moves in a different direction.  Health struggles make you doubt.  And the result is postponing a dream……You are the only person who can decide to pursue your dream.  Whether it is a book you want to write, a business you want to launch or an adventure you want to go on – YOU need to take the first step and keep moving forward.
Have you postponed a dream? Is one of your ideas sitting on the shelf collecting dust? What hope or vision has been left for dead in your life?  Maybe it is time to dust it off and bring it back to life…..Believe it or not, it is not difficult to do.  So how do you do that? What’s the first step to get you started?
Walk through these powerful questions and you will be on your way…..
1. What dream lies dormant in your life you wish were still a possibility?
Is your dream buried so deep, you forgot about it?  Think for a moment. Maybe it is a dream connected to your professional life, finances, relationships, health, or personal life. What is it for you right now?
2. What do you need to give yourself permission to do about it?
There is a reason something important to you has been buried. Whatever the reason you decided you couldn’t pursue it any longer, now is the time to give yourself permission to do it.  Maybe you got hurt in the past and found a safer road to travel.  Maybe life took over and you let your dream die. Or maybe the dream seemed unattainable, so you gave up on it. Let the past be a learning tool to recast your dream. Have the faith to believe nothing is impossible with God.
3. What do you need to say about it?
Did you know the power of life and death is in the words you speak?  Speak life into your dream right now. Say it out loud. Allow yourself to hear the words. There is power in this exercise. Speak life, not death. Then watch how you talk about your dream to others. When you start with all the reasons you can’t have what your heart desires, you speak death to your dream. Each negative word is like a shovel, digging the grave and then piling dirt onto it until you can no longer see the dream at all. Negative words will steal your vision.  Negative words will NOT get you to your dream!
4. What action will you take next?
Faith without action is dead.  Did you know you may have killed your dream by inaction?  BUT when you take action, you can bring it back to life. Do you believe your dream is possible? Then take steps toward it. It doesn’t mean you have to take BIG steps or lots of them you just have to take them!  Even baby steps, when taken consistently, will get you to the finish line.
I challenge you to dust off your old dream! Give it new life.  Think about the dreams lying dormant in your life then answer the four questions above.  Share your dream with us and what is the ONE baby step you will take?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When a Dream Dies

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

I sat on my porch with my Bible in my lap and a hot mug of steamy coffee in my hand. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a smattering of birds.

I closed my Bible and looked out across the backyard. My eyes landed on a rounded mound of fur nestled in the grass under the willow tree.

I got up and moved in for a closer look. My heart sank as I discovered what appeared to be a curled-up baby fawn lying lifeless in the grass. Probably the same fawn my neighbor had seen nursing from its mom the day before. My heart broke. I understand the circle of life, but still. A baby fawn lay dead in my yard. Most likely the target of the coyote I’d seen roaming around.

I couldn’t get close enough to see the wound. Sometimes that is the way of things.

I did get close enough to see the sunlight passing through the velum-like ears, the intricate spots on its back, and the Bambi-like eyelashes resting on a perfectly shaped snout. I would have to wait until Steve got home to take care of the situation. I didn’t have the nerve.

All morning long my mind returned to the lifeless form lying in the sun. Hours passed. At noon I looked out of the window and the still fawn remained unmoved. Untouched. Undisturbed. I couldn’t stand it. I had to know what had happened to it. So I mustered up my courage and made my way to the fawn. Three feet away. Stop. No signs of an attack. I inched closer.
Finally, I knelt down by the beautifully crafted creature, admiring God’s handiwork. But I couldn’t see what had killed it.

“What happened to you, little deer?” I whispered.

Suddenly, the fawn’s head popped up! Startled eyes stared at mine…wide-eyed. Me like a deer caught in the headlights. The fawn simply caught. I fell back on my haunches! And time stood still for a moment as we stared at each other in disbelief!

Finally, the fawn sprang to its feet, wobbled a bit, and scampered off like a drunken sailor. I sat in the grass and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. So the fawn wasn’t dead after all. It had simply found a bit of grass and fallen asleep…until almost noon.

After my heart stopped pounding in my chest, God spoke to my heart, Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

I pondered those words for the rest of the day. I called a friend who was struggling in her marriage—in a very bad way. The sort of way that leaves you wondering if it will survive. I told her the story.

Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

Sometimes a marriage is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a friendship is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a dream is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

I think of how God told the prophet Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NIV)

I imagine Ezekiel felt pretty silly talking to those dry bones. And honestly sometimes I feel pretty silly obeying God and speaking life into the dry bones of some of my situations.

So here’s my word for you and me today.

For my friend struggling in her marriage…

For my friend who cries for her adult son who walked away from God…

For my friend who longs to cuddle up with a good husband rather than a good book…

Don’t assume the dream is dead. Sometimes it just needs to be woken up. Don’t give up too soon.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!