Thankful Thursday: Be Yourself

Life in recovery with MS has been a struggle.  I have learned some hard lessons.  Through it all, the theme of “be yourself” keeps coming up.  I know I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with saying what you mean, doing what you love, or relaxing around certain people, right?  I usually blame it on the MS and brain fog but the truth is some days I am not feeling confident and comfortable with being me.  I have been digging  a little deeper lately through working the steps in NA and starting to accept me for me!   The steps help me  to uncover another layer of authenticity, and free myself to be unapologetically me..

Not being you is exhausting!   Did you ever consider the amount of energy it takes to keep up appearances, attempting to be perfect (like it will happen), pleasing other people (is it possible?), and trying to make yourself fit into situations which simply aren’t you? When we say “be yourself”, some of us even wonder what it means.  I honestly am not sure I even knew myself for many years.  I had a glimpse of me during my first go around at recovery and then it got lost in all of the “stuff” I got back as a result of my recovery.

Here are three practical strategies to help you maximize your best you:

1. Say what you need to say.

Do you beat around the bush figuring people will know what you mean when you say something?  Are you too afraid to speak up afraid of what others will think? Have you found yourself telling a little lie to avoid the embarrassment of telling the truth?  These are clear signs you are not being true to yourself.  This hit me like a brick – SMACK!  Try this simple exercise:  Identify one situation when you have not said what you need to say.   You know, you beat around the bush in the hopes someone understood.  Got the situation?  I want to you go to the person and just say it flat out.  If you can’t do it right now, mark it on your calendar to do it.  There was a time when I had no filters.  I said what I needed to say and didn’t worry about what people thought.  Early in my first recovery, I was eager to say what I was thinking and I didn’t worry about what people thought.  Over the years, things started changing.  Those old habits came back and I started the “people pleasing game again”.  We are as sick as our secrets, no matter how small those secrets are.  Authenticity means being forthright. Don’t waste your precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.  Take the word “FINE” out of your vocabulary.  Don’t let FEAR keep you in hiding!

2. Do what you know is right.

There is nothing more authentic than living your values. When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.  Do you actually know what your core values are? 

3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is a tough one for me!  The truth is when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is usually because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human.  In other words, we haven’t given ourselves permission to be imperfect.  We always want things to be perfect.  The perfect weight, the perfect size, the perfect family, the perfect house… it is all part of the “I will be happy when” syndrome.  When you relax, you enjoy yourself more. It is time we value the journey as much, if not more than, the destination.  There will be bumps along the road – embrace them.  Climb over them and keep moving forward, they don’t have to keep you from reaching your purpose (or your goals).

What situations cause you to not be yourself?  What are you afraid will happen if you show people the real you?

Today, I will accept my weight where it is knowing I am eating healthier and NOT gaining weight.  I will accept my limitations because of my MS and will not longer hid what I can’t do.  I will accept my business is my business and will not play the comparison game.

I am stomping out the inner gremlins and being true to me…. what about you?

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!

How To Make it a GREAT Day

No…. it isn’t Monday but I do love this picture!!!!!

Mornings are not my best time.  I used to LOVE them.  Yup, I was one of those crazy people who was on the go from early in the morning till I crashed at night.  Then I got OLD!  LOL.  No actually MS hit. Now,  I wake up in an MS fog which takes like an hour to fade away.  I used to say, “Don’t talk to me until I had my coffee”, now it is “Don’t talk to me until I can clear the fog”.

Despite the fog, I do everything I can to make it a GREAT day!  Some days are easier than others but I am determined to make the most of it.

How do you start your days?  Do you set the alarm to get up early (maybe an hour before everyone else)?  Are you full of motivation and anticipation for the day ahead or are you dragging and dreaded what might be.  Despite the struggles which come with MS, I usually have my days planned out in some detail – where I’m going, who I will meet, what work I will get done and even some white space on the calendar for those unexpected curve balls called life.that-wonderful-monday-morning-feeling-L-56cqQ9

Yup, it is all about the Law of Attraction.  The reality is your negative (dreading) thoughts are killing your productivity before you even start your day.  I know some days are tough.  Some times it feels like every day is a Monday.   I try to keep a positive attitude.  Do you let one bad day, set the tone for the rest of the week or even the next few days?  So, are you looking to make a change?

To be honest, when I decided to make the most of every day, I actually took control of my life’s direction.  Now, before you start the negatives of why you CAN’T do these things, give them a chance.  Remember baby steps are what help change the chaotic into the manageable.  I don’t always do them all perfectly BUT I give them my best shot.

#1 REST

Allow yourself to really slow down and unwind.  Maybe it is a glass of wine or reading a book or a bubble bath or a massage or watching endless episodes on Netflix?  Why not, right?  I know, you have a MILLION reasons but a little self indulgence lets you take some well earned rest.  Your weekends (days off) should be different then your work week.  It allows you time to forget the stresses and strains of being a busy woman on the go.  You get to recharge so you are ready to start all over again.

#2 LIVE POSITIVELY

You need to practice this one daily.  I know those inner gremlins are screaming at you.  I know you have bad days.  I have them too.  The first thing I do is remind myself my life is not this one day.  STOP and be grateful for the things in your life.  It will help you  to appreciate how good life really is. Your thoughts, your words, your status’, your tweets, your Facebook posts should ALL be positive. You wont be perfect but if you do your best; it will have a huge impact on the way you live your life.sunshine1

#3 RISE EARLY

I have talked about this before…Getting up early is the most motivating and self satisfying thing you can do.  When I used to wake up before 6am; I knew it was going to be a really great day. Devotions done by 6:30AM. Coffee and a shower and I am at my desk by 7:30am.   Why so early? So I can be done in my office by 10 to enjoy time with hubby.  Days like these, I am unstoppable. My mood is upbeat and I feel energized because I have been productive.  Okay, so things have changed slightly with the onset of MS BUT on those days when I am up early and am ready to go – my outlook is so much brighter.

#4 MAKE LISTS

This is more a part of my life since the MS but I have to admit, I LOVE seeing things checked off.  I make lists to ensure I don’t miss any thing and everything gets done.  It is also a great way to set-up my planner so I don’t over schedule or over commit myself.

#5 TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Yes, this actually is the key to being productive on any day.  By taking a regular break, I get fresh eyes and enthusiasm.  Planning all my tasks out in small increments helps too.  It ensures I am not working non stop (or running around) for long hours.  This is how I avoid the afternoon sugar and feeling lethargic so my productivity suffers.   Take a tea break.  Go for a short walk.  Take a power nap.  Read a little in your favorite book.  You will see a huge difference in the rest of your day.

So, what are you going to do to make a difference in your day which will ripple into making a difference in your week?  Share your ideas with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

 

Happy ThirtyOne Anniversary

 

Happy 8th Thirty One Anniversary to ME!!!!

I can’t believe eight years ago today, I started this journey.  For many, staying 8 years at a job, any job, is amazing!  I will admit in my own life, before recovery, I jumped from job to job always looking to make more money.  More money equaled prestige, a title and deep down allowed me to bury my lack of confidence a little further.  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I started to see happiness was more than just about the money, it was about making a difference.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot, trying to remember life 8 years ago.  2011 was a crazy time – I got married to the love of my life after a 9 year engagement, I left a job I loved because of commuting and health issues and my relapse took on a life of its own.

Why am I talking about all of this?  As I mark my eighth anniversary with Thirty One I realize the difference it has made in my life.  Despite the many times I thought about quitting because I wasn’t “as good as” or “didn’t have a good month” or “didn’t earn the leadership trip” or any of the other comparisons/excuses I made – I stuck with it.  God had a plan and even through my relapse, I felt it. For those who don’t know my Thirty One story, here it is.  Did I remember it myself?  NO!  I’m grateful for blogging because it helps me to remember.

Here is how the story goes…..

See, the truth is I joined Thirty One in 2009 and didn’t do much with it.  Yup, I was a kitknapper. I had a few sales but nothing much and it wasn’t long before I went inactive.

I can’t remember exactly how or why it all happened – God had a plan.  I started following Hope Shortt on Facebook and I read her story.  On February 7th, 2011, I talked with her and told her I wanted to join her Thirty One team. She asked me “what my why” was?  Kind of the standard question when someone joins your team…

I was nervous and being a “people pleasing person” I told her I wanted to earn some extra money.  I had a good job – Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit and who had time for much of anything else.  BUT the truth was, deep down I had a big dream but fear and doubt crept in along with Negative Nellie so I stuffed it down deep.  I started sharing the products at vendor/craft shows, not wanting to do home parties and really not interested in having a team.   Recruiting wasn’t an option because I joined the day before the FREEZE. No, not the weather although it was cold; Thirty One froze enrollment because they were growing so fast.  I was relieved. I had been doing craft/ vendor shows for over 20 years, so it was going to be easy.  Hope listened and said she would be there to help when I needed her. No pressure just support and kindness.2014-08-09-18-17-48-4

So started my journey with Thirty One.  I did LOTS of vendor events. Fear and doubt kept me company.   I didn’t have much confidence – I know amazing, right?    This was so far out of my comfort zone.  I was a grant writer and social worker, what did I know about sales.  I had several failed attempts at my own business so what was I thinking?

My first TWO potential recruits came during the “freeze”.  I was honest with them,  I was going to be learning along with them. Believe it or not, they still joined as soon as the freeze lifted and quickly qualified with $1,000 in sales.  I was now a Senior Consultant and in Leadership. YIKES!  I wasn’t sure what it meant but it was okay.  I was having fun and slowly building confidence.  Then my first home office lead wanted a HOME PARTY! Panic set in… it was someone I didn’t know and I was clueless.  I stumbled my way through it – no additional parties bookedbut I had sales and it was kind of fun.

My FIRST Thirty One National Conference was August of 2012.  It was there I set a goal and decided to write my dream on paper – I was going for Leadership. The goal was to be Director BEFORE National Conference 2013. The stats say those who go to national conference earn more – TRUE! Those who go to national conference – PROMOTE – TRUE! In October, 2012 I was a Director in Qualification and in January 2013, I earned my $1,000 Director Bonus.  I had gained confidence as a consultant but being a Director brought new fears and challenges.

At National Conference 2013, I was joined by my daughter and members of the Rays of Hope Team. I walked across stage and was CELEBRATED as a NEW Thirty One Director. Tears of joy flowed freely all weekend and continue each time I think back to the moment.  Hope Shortt, my Senior Executive Director, hugged me on stage.   It is weird, the MS has stolen the memory but the emotion of walking across the stage stays with me bringing me to tears each time I think of it.

Since then my why has changed so much.  I no longer work full-time due to health reasons.  We rely on my Thirty One business as the second income in the house.  It pays my credit card debt as a result of my relapse as well as some standard household bills (groceries, cell phone, cable and meals out).  It allows me to work from home as I struggle with my MS.

I struggle with my “why” and learning to DREAM BIG. I still get nervous before a Home party.  I struggle with personal development and fighting my haunting inner gremlins as processing thoughts are difficult most days.  I am blessed with a sisterhood across the country who helps me when I am struggling, who celebrates with me and who encourages me when I struggle.   My team inspires me everyday.  They accept me for who I am and have helped me to learn to love me for me.

One of the biggest blessings is the support from the Pink Bubble Warriors.  A group of Thirty One sisters with chronic diseases.  Together we inspire each other.  I gained some of my confidence back which was lost in HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, I earn FREE products! Yes, I earn a commission check every two weeks!  Yes, I found a sisterhood I didn’t know existed in my Thirty One sisters! Yes, I have grown in my walk with God, learning to trust and believe his will will be done in my business!  The benefits have definitely outweighed the negatives of those rough months.

This past year has been a true struggle – accepting my relapse, and the need for a twelve step recovery program to help fight the demons in my life.  It is the result of vision casting with the Beacon of Hope Team (my upline’s team) which has helped me to focus on my why again.  To Make a Difference in as many lives as possible while becoming debt free – is what keeps me going every day.  It can be a little act of kindness with happy mail or a hug to delivering a welcome basket to a new single mom moving into her forever home.  It is those things which keep me going when I am not sure what to do.

A $99 pink box eight years ago, CHANGED MY LIFE. Could it be the thing which changes yours? 

 

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What Decision Does Every Successful Woman Make?

Fearless. It’s a frequently used word. We’re told to be fearless. It is something we aim for, right?  But what does it really mean?  According to Webster it is to have a “lack fear”.  And fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat“.  Is being fearless really what we want tor need in order to succeed?  Many say fearlessness is a myth.  The truth is if you want to succeed and have a more fulfilling life, you need to be brave – NOT fearless.

Brave and courage are synonymous…. Courage is my word for this year.  Think about it…

If your heart gets broken, you become afraid to open it to the possibility of love, right?  Isn’t courage which gives you the hope to love again.

When you get burned out in your career (or your business) and you dream something better is possible, isn’t it courage which empowers you to try something new.

When you’ve made poor money decisions, have credit card debt or are blindsided financially and have to start over, it takes courage to believe it’s possible, right?

Over the last month, I have had the courage to make some major changes in my life.  They all actually started in some way about 8 months ago but I have had the courage to face some things head on this month.  I started opening up about my past mistakes to others without fear of judgement.  I am only as sick as my secrets and I don’t want to be sick anymore.  I see the glimmer of hope as my creative juices start to flow again – ready to venture into doing more of my angel side hustle.  I have revamped my budget and am keeping tight reins on my spending.  I am willing to accept suggestions on how to run my business from those who have a more experience instead of hiding in fear.  I am willing to accept and embrace my MS and the changes it has caused me to make in my life – facing the limitations with courage instead of allowing fear of what I am losing take over.

Do I still have hurdles to climb?  YES!  Do I still struggle with fear?  YES!  The inner gremlins of pride, comparison and worrying what people think play with my thoughts.  Each day I gain a little bit more courage which translates into a little bit more peace in my life.

No matter what your challenges or dreams are, you will face obstacles causing doubt and fear to rise up.  Those inner gremlins you thought were long buried or even gone will raise their head and feel revived when they sense even just a wisp of doubt.  The difference can be every single time YOU can make the decision to choose courage. Even if your first response isn’t courage (yup, it happens sometimes), your second response can be. Over and over again, if we are going to live authentic, full lives, we must choose courage.

Today, I challenge you to repeat this simple mantra when you are struggling – :“I choose courage over fear.”  Some days, I use the Serenity Prayer multiple times to keep me on track.  What situation or area of your life do you need to choose courage over fear right now?  Share it with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!