#MSWillNotDefeatMe


Over the last month, I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in years (27 years for one)…. It should be a time for excitement as we reminisce about past adventures, unfortunately, it has been a struggle.  I’ve shared my diagnosis and the most devastating part is not being able to remember….

When they ask “What’s it like living with MS?” Uhm…there’s just not a simple answer.  To those who don’t see me every day, they don’t know the subtle changes taking place.  They figure all must be well since I am still walking.  I mean isn’t MS all about not being able to walk and constant pain?  The truth is there is so much more to it….

When I try to describe the occasional physical and daily mental difficulties I experience because of MS, it is often met with some interesting responses. They have stemmed from “eat healthier”, to “eat more potassium” for the spasms in my legs, to try those pills on TV to help with memory, to “take B12” for the exhaustion. When I explain, I do some of those things already but they simply don’t work, They look at me like I have 12 heads!   After all, it works for them so it should for me too.

Some people just don’t seem to understand that those of us living with MS aren’t like them. We have a damaged Central Nervous System and our immune system is in chaos causing our own body to attack us. Some of the damaged areas to our nerves have healed well over time but some haven’t and new damage appears all the time.

The exhaustion I experience isn’t always because I didn’t sleep well the night before or because we aren’t eating nutritionally. It’s a debilitating symptom which isn’t always remedied with natural herbs and better sleep. Those things can help, but it’s not a “fix”. Catch me between 1PM – 3PM and you might find me falling asleep mid-sentence.

The loss of memory is something i will have to live with FOREVER!  Some things come back – you know those random things – but maybe only a snapshot instead of the whole movie.  LOL.  I’m learning to be honest about it and thankfully most people understand.

A trip to the mall is exhausting!  Some days just making my way across the parking lot of the grocery store presents a challenge.  When I am with my mom I always say, I wish I could walk as fast as she does at 82!

Through it all, I have learned to look this disease of MS square in the eyes and say, “I am not defeated because of you and regardless of what happens in life I am thankful for each new day I am given.”  A friend said to me recently, “God has a plan for you through all of this, just remain faithful”.  My recovery and working the steps has helped tremendously with this process.  I am turning things over and waiting for God to tell me what to do!

We will never understand all the why’s in life. Why MS? Why now? Why me?

No matter what the storm is you are going through; face it and be determined to be thankful as you go through it. Yes, it is possible to be thankful even in the most horrible of circumstances, but it’s a choice; and you have it within you to make the choice. You can stand up (even if only on the inside) and say, “I refuse to be defeated by MS (or whatever storm you are experiencing).”

Strength isn’t measured by the amount of things I can do or by how big my muscles are, it’s determined by the attitude I have while going through the difficult times in life. You are doing it. You are making it. Square your shoulders back and hold your head up high today because you are STRONG even though your body is weak!

This is MS Awareness Month and his has been my mantra lately.  I’ve had more days then I can count where the reality of MS has hit me. From struggling to walk with an ache in my legs, to brain fog which never seems to end to not be able to process thoughts, words or sentences.  God has placed loving people in my life who help me through the struggles.  It is his plan and even though some days I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel…. I will hold onto my faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Tasty Tuesday: Wicked Good Spices Vegetarian Chili

Today’s recipe is from my friend Rachel at Wicked Good Spice Mixes Co.  I was introduced to their amazing products at the Brick Farmer’s Market about two years ago.  Their spot was a must every week.  From flavored vinegar to organic olive oil to spice mixes.  The best part is they have a multitude of uses for some of their products.  Who would have ever thought of using flavored vinegar in seltzer water for a refreshing drink?

I made this YUMMY recipe this week.   I will admit, I had a brain fog MS day and despite having the directions in front of me I forgot the spaghetti squash, and the tomato paste BUT the end result was still delicious!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash; sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash (peeled & diced)
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 each of diced orange, yellow, and red bell pepper
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, diced
  • 4 tablespoons of wicked good wild canyon pepper blend/ or pigs can fly blend (add more spice if you like more heat)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 24oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  2. Add onions and garlic.  Saute
  3. Add bell peppers, sweet potato and squash. Sauté until soft
  4. Add wicked good spices wild canyon pepper blend or pigs can fly. Mix thoroughly
  5. Add corn, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste
  6. Stir to blend
  7. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender
The main reason the company was started was to show people how easy, healthy and fun it can be to make a delicious meal at home!  Rachel always thought the hardest thing about cooking is how much of this spice and how much of that spice you should add.  So go ahead and throw all of those spices you use infrequently and start using our spice blends! They are fresh and economical!  Our blends are perfectly formulated to use for just about everything you like to cook.

The farmer’s market may be closed until the end of May BUT you can get these awesome products at the following locations:

Berry Fresh Farms, 151 Brick Blvd, Brick NJ 08723  (732)477-0606

Cream Ridge Winery, 145 Route 539 (PO Box 98), Cream Ridge, NJ 08514 (609) 259-9797

Dearborn Farm Market, 2170 Rt 35, Holmdel, NJ 07733  (732)264-0256

From The Garden, 353 Fairfield Road, Freehold NJ 07728 (732)866-1745

Cedar Post Farm and Garden Center, 147 NJ Route 70,  Lakehurst,NJ 08753 (732)270-8833

Delicious Orchards, 320 Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ  (732) 462-1989

New Egypt Marketplace, 53 Main Street, New Egypt, NJ 08533 (609) 458-7900

The Lusty Lobster, 88 Bay Ave. Highlands, NJ 07732 (732) 291-1548

Twin Ponds, Rt 9 Howell, NJ 07731

Lovelandtown Grocery and Provisions, 219 Bridge Ave, Point Pleasant,NJ 08742  (732)903-6855
Princes Farm Market , 1123 Mountain Ave, Mountainside, NJ 07092
(908)358-3311
Have a great recipe you want to share?  We would love to feature YOU!  If you try this, let us know what you think…
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Every Storm – An Opportunity to Trust God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message….

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power  ~ Psalm 138:7, NCV

My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to escape the poisonous sea creatures.

The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.

Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed … asking God for help.

And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it … the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and made it to the surface just before he passed out and was rescued.

We often react to a crisis in the same way.

When the excruciating pain of life leaves us breathless, we panic.

We are not sure which way to go.

We are soon paralyzed and in desperate need of rescuing.

And as a last resort, we cry out to God.

When will we learn that crying out to God should be our first response instead of our last resort?

The psalmist promises that God will keep us by His power. The word “power” means “strength and authority.” When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. He is our power link to God. And one of His most important jobs is to comfort us when we are in pain and sustain us in the storms of life.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative – and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you
(John 14:25-26, NLT).

Many times, when the storm waves of life hit, we forget every promise we know. That is when the Holy Spirit reminds us that …

·       God is faithful.
·       God will not forsake us.
·       God will never leave us.
·       God is always with us.
·       God will empower us to withstand the storm.

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God.

Life can be messy and bad things will happen, but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them – opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.

In the midst of the darkness, He will point us toward the light. When a huge wave of daily life knocks us to our knees, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. When a storm overwhelms us, we need to stop, look for the light, and swim toward it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How Do You Build Relationships?


Today I work up with the realization I suffer from “self-centeredness” on any given day.  SMACK!  When I walked back into recovery, I was unaware of how often I actually did this.  I rationalized and justified everything I did.  I thought I was being responsible.  I thought I was hard working (in other words a workaholic).  Slowly but surely I have found out what the true meaning of “self-centeredness” is and how selfish I truly was (or can be).

Self-centered is defined as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests”I used to say this wasn’t me!  Then I looked at some other words for self-centeredness and they included egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed, selfish, self-involved, and I didn’t think I was any of those either.  Yes, I was an only-child.  Yes, I was spoiled – I was an only child, an only grandchild and an only niece BUT….. You know what they say “everything that comes after the word “but” is BS!  When I thought of egotistical or narcissistic, I thought of people who were so full of themselves, I mean they actually loved themselves.  Most days I don’t love myself and there are even the occasional days when I don’t like myself so how could I be self-centered?

My first time around in recovery, I didn’t grasp this concept.  I became a workaholic and as I was recently told – “I thought your clients came before us, even though you were there for the important things”.  SMACK!  So, this is a concept I am trying hard to understand.

“I choose relationships wisely and nurture them intentionally.”

Okay, so I may choose relationships wisely but I definitely didn’t nurture them.  WHY?  Because I didn’t know how.  YIKES!  Think about it. When there is turmoil in your relationships, it impacts your whole life.  As a result, my relapse and road to being totally self-centered has effected my business, and my personal life.  It has ruined friendships, it has left me sitting on a “pity pot” and struggling to figure out the difference between being self-centered and being responsible.  You would think at the ripe old age of 61, I would know the difference.

The truth is I struggle with building strong relationships and maintaining them. Even in the relationships I didn’t  choose – family members or coworkers – I mean they need to be nurtured in order to be strong and healthy too.  So, I went from people pleasing (pre-recovery), to workaholic (recovery) to self-centeredness (relapse) to relearning the things I learned in kindergarten about making friends.  Talk about a roller coaster.  Along the way has been filled with a lack of confidence and fear which causes me to become (or at least appear to be) self-involved.  I may not always say “ME, ME, ME” although I am grateful for people in my life who lovingly point out to me when I am being “self-centered”.  It is always like a lightbulb going off.

I know this is totally a ramble and for some they will tune out because they have healthy relationships.  They are able to make the best of those relationships by setting strong boundaries, building trust where they can, and expressing gratitude when others are a blessing to them. For those few people who may relate, take it from one who has learned the hard way….. self-centeredness doesn’t always mean we say “me” or “I”, it can come out through our actions.  Do you justify and rationalize everything you do to make sure your plans stay in take?

So, for today I challenge you to ask yourself this powerful question:

What one gesture could I make today to strengthen one of my important relationships?

Are you already feeling the panic?  What if if you made a simple phone call of support to encourage someone?  What if you wrote a thank you note to someone for something that touched your heart?  What if you put your phone away and gave your undivided attention to the person you are sitting next to?  My simple gesture lately has been to put my phone away and be present in the moment.  Is it tough, without a doubt!

Believe it or not these small gestures strengthen the bonds of a relationship, any relationship. We can’t achieve our goals or meet our needs alone –  we need people. And people need us.  So, if you think any of these may be you…. step out of your comfort zone and make a gesture – no matter how small.

Wonder why you are struggling in your business?  Wonder why you scroll through social media thinking the grass is always greener? The truth is those who are most resilient and successful have strong relationships.

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!