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!

 

How Bright is Your Light?

Have you ever noticed, you are happiest when you are helping others, or making a difference in your own unique way?

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

The last month, I have been struggling.  Struggling with changes in my MS.  Struggling in my business.  Struggling with life.  I have been pondering why this month, what makes this one different.  I feel like my light has been dimming.  Sounds weird, right? I don’t mean it is a morbid way, just not feeling like I am making a difference anymore in the lives of others. No, I’m not on a pity pot.  I’m simply trying to adjust to the changes MS is making in my life.  A reality which is sometimes tough to grasp.  Talking with my sponsor the other day, she said “your brain my think things are jumbled but the words actually come out clearly and concisely.”  Yup, I needed to hear those words because it is the exact reason I have been taking a backseat in things.  Ok, I squirreled so, let’s get back to how you can let your light shit….

No matter what your purpose in life is, there is an underlying mission.  It is all about living your life in a way people say to themselves, “There’s something different about her and I want to know how to have some of the peace, joy, and love in my own life.”

Here are five ways you can let your light shine:

1. Look for ways to be a blessing.

Letting your light shine means letting everything good within you come forth. There is so much negativity around us on a daily basis when good enters our environment, it brings light into the darkness. It is a refreshing burst of clean air. Be sensitive to the needs of others. Find ways to be a blessing—even simple ways such as being a courteous driver, thoughtful friend, and kind coworker.  Small random acts of kindness do make a difference.

2. Refuse to be judgmental.

One of the fastest ways to turn people off – in business or in your life is to judge them. A person can done wrong without condemning them for it.  Honestly, I have made mistakes during my addiction BUT I was glad people did not judge me.  They gave me chance.  Honestly, we have all done things we need to be forgiven for, so be merciful to others. Embrace and support those you want to judge when they are trying to do better.

3. Speak up for what is just.

Speak up for what is just—not right. Do you confuse the two of these?  I know I do!  Focus more on being just so those who cross your path are better off for having done so. At work, in your business or in a personal situation, when others are being cheated, disrespected, or done a disservice, let your light shine and speak up. You can do it in a direct, calm, straightforward, and nonjudgmental way.  Of course, the “old social worker/advocate” in me is sometimes far from calm.  LOL!

4. Let go of the desire to fit in.

Maybe this is part of why my light has dimmed this month….. I’m a proverbial people-pleaser.  As the MS effects more of my life, I struggle to find a place to fit in.  I never thought about how difficult it is for my light to shine when I feel like I need to fit in everywhere I go. Sometimes, people think I am odd just because I  am smiling and talking to everyone.  I need to focus more on being a symbol of truth and love on a daily basis instead of trying to fit in.  What about you?

5. Don’t hide your spiritual life.

This may be a hard one for some.  For me, I have learned my Higher Power is central to everything in my life.  When I pretend that is not the case, my light dims.  It is by his grace, I have survived the craziness of my life.  I am not saying you need a Bible on your desk or a preacher’s robe to share your faith with others. When the chance comes to tell people where your strength comes from in difficult times, or to acknowledge how your Higher Power has protected or blessed you, be honest. Your faith is a part of who you are. When you free yourself to be who you are, you also free others to be who they truly are.

My Challenge to you is to identify one way you will share your light this week. Then set out to be a symbol of love and light in the world…  Share with us…..

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Brain Jumble

letters
The cloudy cold dreary weather causes people to struggle with changes in their mood, and pain in their joints.  For me, add to it how it wrecks havoc on my foggy brain.   There was a time when I think my body just needs some oiling (lots of supplements/vitamins), and could definitely need some repairing but on those cold and dreary days….…I think a new one is the only thing that will help!
At the age of 61, some would say it is normal to forget appointments, people’s names, a movie I already watched (maybe more than once) or even what was said a few minutes ago….. the reality is my brain as seen on my MRI scans is filled with holes scattered all over the place. Some are bigger than others but definitely more than just the few which come with aging.
I love this explanation from a fellow MS blogger “I imagine words bouncing around in my brain, sliding from hole to hole and hitting road blocks in hopes of finding a way of escape. It’s kind of like they are stuck in a perpetual reality game of Chutes and Ladders.”   It is so true.  Combine that mess with missing memories and some days I feel like the movie “50 First Dates”.  Yup, I had to look up the name because I couldn’t remember it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is about a girl who doesn’t remember so each day is a new day.  An average day for me includes not remembering things BUT there are those crazy radon thoughts which find their way through the maze of detours.  It is those crazy random thoughts on a good day which make some think, I’m okay!
What happens to the thoughts and memories which don’t find a place to call home?  Do they just keep rattling around forever?  It’s such a weird feeling to know the words or the things I’m trying to remember are there somewhere…. stuck so they can’t seem to connect with my tongue.  Therapists wanted to call it selective memory or that I am repressing bad things.  What about the good memories?
I know I frustrate people from time to time with my long pauses, lack of complex vocabulary and not remembering things.  I frustrate myself.  I used to be able to multi-task, juggling lots of things and remember clearly important events (as well as random nonsense) in my life.  Most memories of my childhood seemed to be missing after my addiction so I adjusted or at least I thought I had.  I always said I probably burnt out more brain cells than I thought during my many years of using drugs.  Then along came the MS.   Only recently have they determined loss of memory can be a key factor in the diagnosis of MS so were the gaps in memory addiction or MS.  Guess we will never know…
I struggle to remember things when talking to my old HS classmates. I struggle to remember growing up.  I struggle to remember the birth of my daughter.  I struggle to remember the work and people I met doing social work for 20 plus years.  I struggle to remember my wedding.  I struggle to remember my accomplishments even looking at pictures or plaques seem like someone else.  I struggle with my business to remember prints, products, fellow consultants and even customers/hostess who have been with me for my almost 8 years in business.
I struggle to remember time frames so it may have been weeks/months since I talked to you but to me, it may be less than a week.  Some days I can’t remember anything at all, then some days I remember bits and pieces.  When people tell me things I have said or done, it seems so foreign to me. Like it was a different person – a person I can’t identify with now.  The memories I do have take on a different picture than those of the people around me – some things have fallen into the potholes of my brain still trying to find a way out.
I’m thankful for the people who are patient with me.  I thankful for the ones who give me the space and time I need to piece things together even when I get things all mixed up.  I’m learning to say “ I’m collecting my thoughts” which is so true some days.  I’m learning to be honest and say “I don’t remember” of course the blank stare I give when people talk is often a clue.  I truly know what it’s like to sift through words, thoughts and ideas as I attempt to make sense of things.
But that’s my world now…a jumbled up 3-dimensional word search game. The bad thing about it is someone keeps switching the game board and jumbling up all the words. I feel like they see I have made progress with my puzzle and then come along mixing up all of the pieces.  Just when I think I have things solved, BAM…there’s a new arrangement of letters, pieces and words to sort through.
Today’s blog was a rambling jumble of thoughts as I come to terms with living life with MS.  There are days I try to act like it isn’t there – things are normal (whatever that may be).  There are days when I am unable to move because my muscles don’t know what to do.  There are days when I actually do remember, and can function as if the MS is only a blip on the radar.  Most days, I’m just trying to sift through a sea of letters and words in my brain searching for…what was it again? Pancakes? Trashcans? Envelopes?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

How To Add Some Happy to Your Day

The last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.  Over the last several months, I have been facing “reality” in many areas of my life.

MS struggles seem to have increased with wobbly days, brain fog and a wide range of mood swings.  I have faced addiction relapse issues and am again fighting some inner gremlins. The lack of sun in Jersey hasn’t helped much either.  I know it is January and winter is here BUT a few days of bright sunshine would definitely help!

Okay, so I am rambling but it brings me to a list of things YOU can do to give yourself a boost.  Let’s get those HAPPY endorphins  moving.

1.  Go for a walk.  If you feel like chatting, ask a coworker, friend, or family member to join you!  I know it is a little chilly outside for this so why not head to the mall.  My favorite is walking up and down the aisles of Walmart just to get out!

2.  Be kind.  Pick a day and do one to five random acts of kindness.  They can range from feeding someone’s parking meter or complimenting a coworker. How about leaving a piece of chocolate for someone? Or even a simple thank you when they hold the door for you.  It can be just what another person needs to see to turn their day around—and how you can start a karmic shift!

3. Listen to your favorite song. Music can decrease anxiety experienced by patients before surgery, according to a study in the journal, Anesthesia & Analgesia. If tunes can calm pre-op jitters, surely they can help you find your zen place.

4. Count your blessings. People with a more grateful outlook on life tend to exhibit a heightened state of wellbeing, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers concluded “gratitude is linked with positive emotions including contentment, happiness, and hope.” At some point during the day, make a simple list of five or ten things you are grateful for in your life.

5. Take a breath. Take one minute today and focus on your breath with your eyes closed. A full minute.  I have to set a timer to make sure I am not rushing through this.  You will be amazed at how this can change your outlook.

6. Stroke an animal, like a cat or dog. If you don’t have a pet, go on YouTube and watch a funny animal video.  I know I am not the only one who scrolls through those YouTube videos, right?

Life is what you make it – if you focus on the negative, you will get negativity.  If you focus on the positive (no matter how small), it will come your way.  There are days I struggle to find the good and something to be grateful for.  It in on the days I beat myself up the worst, I work hard to find my happy place.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

May is Pay It Forward Month

May is Pay It Forward Month!  It is a month long campaign to encourage good deeds. #makeadifference

I love being part of company whose focus is on giving back every day. From Girls on the Run and Girl Talk to World Vision.  Thirty-One Gives supports organizations who share our mission to empower girls, women and families. Gives has been honored to donate $100 million in products and cash to nonprofit organizations like these since 2012.

Since our Consultants, Customers and Home Office staff are so generous through their work with Thirty-One Gives, it’s no surprise many have made giving back a family value.

Here are some tips for getting your own family into the giving spirit.

Pick out dog and cat toys to donate to an animal shelter

If you have very young children, it can be a challenge to find ways for them to become involved with community service.  Give your littlest ones a chance to give back by letting them choose a few dog and cat toys to donate to your local animal shelter. Bring your children along to shop, then drop off the donation – they might even get to see the animals enjoy their new toys!

Help with a local beach, park or trail cleanup

Picking up trash at a park, beach or trail is an easy way to give kids something active and concrete to accomplish. When they’ve finished, they’ll be able to actually see the difference they’ve made!  This can be especially motivating for older children who might need a little encouragement to put down the tech and perform some service – plus, it’s a great way to enjoy nature and get some fresh air together!

Make handmade cards for residents at a nursing home or patients in a hospital

Kids can get creative and brighten someone’s day by making handmade cards to deliver to a nursing home or hospital.  Deliver them together and, maybe even stay and visit with the patients or residents. Doing this can show your child the power of small gestures, and how easy it can be to make someone’s day a little better.

Go through their own toys

If you’re on a decluttering kick, involve your children, too! Have them comb through their toys and books to find ones they’d like pass on to other kids who need them. To make the process easier, give them a container they can easily fill, like a Mini Storage Bin or Deluxe Utility Tote. That way, they won’t stop at just one or two items!

Pack care baskets for a local hospital or shelter

Get a group of families together to pack care baskets for patients at a hospital or people staying at a homeless or women’s shelter. Make sure you coordinate with the organization you’re donating to first – you want to be sure to fill your baskets with things the recipients really need.

Thirty-One Gives sponsors the making of Hope Kits for women fleeing violence, abuse, poverty or disaster around the world. So far, our Consultants have assembled 32,000 Hope Kits containing toiletries and other essentials which are distributed through the World Vision charity.

 

Here are some more random acts of kindness…

  • Leave pennies head face up: Most people feel lucky finding a penny with the head face up. For one dollar you can make 100 people feel awesome.
  • Compliment someone:  It seems so basic yet for some reason we seldom do it. Make someone’s day by giving them a compliment.
  • Give up a preferred seat to someone in need: Whether it is on a bus, or just waiting for your take out food, this simple gesture could make their day.
  • Write a positive review for a restaurant you like: Share with the world your favorite places instead of complaining about the ones you hate.
  • Leave someone a huge tip: Give a tip to the guy who pumps your gas when you pay cash or leave a 31% tip for meal instead of the standard 15 – 20%.
  • Offer to take a photo for tourists: Tourist season is ramping up at the Jersey Shore, why not offer to take a picture for a group of tourists so everyone can be in the picture.  

What random acts of kindness will you do this month to “pay it forward”? Share it with us so you can be part of the Give on social media, and be sure to us #givebackwithme!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!