How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Being Broken

Some days I feel totally broken. I look back at my past mistakes  (those I remember) then add the fact I’m living with MS……. all I see are the cracks and imperfections. I’m sure that is what most people see.  Working on my Fourth Step has been a challenge…. dealing with memory issues, remembering pieces of the puzzle and not being able to put it together, and being careful not to beat myself up over the mistakes I have repeated during my relapse.

I noticed something amazing happens when you hold me up to the light…… You may see my broken places…but, you also see what makes me beautiful, because in those cracks are the stories of overcoming and standing strong.  I have weathered many storms over the years.

It is because of those imperfections, I am who I am today…broken pieces and all. My scars tell my story. There was a time when I hid my scars, afraid of what others would think. My first time in recovery, I found my broken pieces were an inspiration to others. I was able to help other struggling addicts which in turn blessed me many times. Relapse made me feel as if those broken pieces should be hidden from the world.  Afraid of what others would think.  Comparing myself to others.  I’m now learning to embrace those repeated mistakes and look at the additional cracks as more blessings.

My MS scars may be invisible to the world, but their effects are made real as I struggle to get through some days. There are days when I can’t walk more than a few steps on my own, changing the sheets on the bed is a fight, holding things in my left hand requires both hands.…but I keep fighting. I push on. I keep going.  On good days, I over do then spend days resting and doing nothing.  There is often a sea of tears, but I keep going.

Each of you have broken places and cracks too. Your mistakes and hurts are real, as well as your disability (if you have one), but so is your beauty.  Let your beauty shine through and let your story inspire others. Just because you have cracks doesn’t mean you are worthless. Even if you are broken, you are a container of life, love, brilliance and beauty. Let those things spill out today.

Your story is in your scars and may be just what someone needs to hear in order to keep going.  So, just for today I will be grateful for my scars and the cracks I have.  I will stop worrying about what others think and let my light shine for all to see.

Have a blessed day!

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!

Thankful Thursday: Labels

Thank you  for inspiring today’s message…..
Who are you? I mean your “identity” beyond titles, labels and your history?  For me, this is a tough one because I never knew who I was so I was always used a “label”……

 

“Who are you?” is a really powerful question.  With so many of us are looking for personal growth you would think it would be an easy one to answer.  What is the first thing you think of when you are asked this question????

For me, I would usually answer: what I did – mom or social worker or now retired.  Occasionally I would say self-employed.  I have friends who would answer with one of these:

  • what we are working, wishing and hoping for (nope this one wasn’t for me)
  • who means the most to us and
  • where we’ve been and how we got to where we are

But, who are you? Think about it for a moment. Can you answer the question without rattling off your rank, title or accomplishments?  I know I can’t or at least I couldn’t before walking back into the doors of NA 16 months ago.  I was always a label, never knowing who I was.  A pretty scary thought.  I may not have an answer but I am working on one…https://deanafarrell.com/do-you-know-who-you-really-are-beyond-titles-labels-and-history/

I’m a wife, a mom, retired social worker, MS warrior, grant writer, Jesus lover, entrepreneur, reader, blogger, daughter, sister, friend, encourager, crafter, recovering addict,  jean wearing, often a hot mess who is making progress to being a better version of me! If I really thought about it, I’m sure the list could go on and on…. just like yours, right?

My list reflects my story,  labels given to me by others, some I cherish while others I struggle with.  I remember (vaguely) a time when I had it all right – years ago my first time around in recovery.  I was confident in who I was and where I was going.  I didn’t let what others think control who I was or what I was doing.  I realize when I had my identity right, everything else fell into place.

Is who you are defined by labels or are you defined by the core values you cherish?  Are you a reflection of who you were created to be or are you still struggling with finding yourself?  I will admit, I was eager to work my fourth step because it I wanted to get to gut-honest.  I wanted to take a “searching and fearless moral inventory of myself”….. be careful what you wish for.  LOL. I may be struggling through the process but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know once I can identify who I am beyond the titles, labels and my history – I will be a better strong version of myself able to make decisions – even the touch ones.

I love these words from Deana:

You will find yourself very clear on the direction you want to go, even if you’re not sure of what it will take to get there, because you know WHO you need to be in order to get there.

Stop trying to fit in. If nothing else today, take some time to ponder this BIG question “Who are you?”.

I know by continuing on this journey, I will become the person God meant for me to be.  Believe me, I am right there with you Working on making progress toward what I need to do in order to live out who I was created to BE !

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!