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!

Happy Valentine’s Day

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Flowers? Chocolate? A special dinner out?

This year it takes on a whole new meaning.  Why? As a result of my relapse and changing healthy issues, I am learning to love again.  So it is a day to celebrate the gift of love in my life which I sometimes take for granted

Parents – I know you are thinking of course, they love us they are our parents, right?  I have learned over the years many do not have this gift.  Missing my dad BUT I am blessed to be able to spend time with my momma.  Through good times and bad, she loved me even when I didn’t love myself.  I’m grateful for her love and support.

My Daughter – Belinda.  The day she was born, I finally GOT it!  The 6 months on bed rest, the struggles with her biological dad, the days of being a struggling single mom – I got it!  I understood about the sacrifices a parent makes for their child no matter how it hurts.  I LOVE she has grown up to be an independent, strong married woman.  I admire her strength.

My hubby, Rob – a love story for the ages.  When we met back in high school, he was a blond haired, guitar playing guy whose smile gave me chills. He was from Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Our schools were rivals and it didn’t take long for me to succumb to peer pressure. I was and still am a people pleaser ( a HUGE character defect)! We went our separate ways.

The summer of 2002, he reentered my life. I long for the memories which flashed before me back then. Belinda was (and still is) a little protective of her mom. A roadside memorial with the name “HOPE” on it sent him on a hunt to be sure it wasn’t me. We emailed for months and then one Saturday, he showed up at a craft show to see me. To say the least, the rest is history.

We have had our ups and downs over the years. There are some days, I think he got the raw end of the deal. An overly independent woman, with a ton of baggage. Through it all, he has stuck around.  There are days he is my caregiver when the MS flares.  There are days when my lack of memories have him sharing tales of things he have done since 2002.

My recovery has taught me so much in just a few short months.  I am no longer the self-centered woman who doesn’t need anyone.  I have learned to trust again.  I am enjoying him being my best friend. He is my Ying to my Yang. He keeps me grounded when I am ready to fly in the wind.

Today is the day I honor LOVE. Remember LOVE is an intense feeling with deep affection and we are meant to share it with others – family, friends and random acts of kindness to a stranger.  I challenge you to put a smile on someone’s face to day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What Is Your Vision?

I am taking this week as a week of reflection, a time to clear my head and get ready for the New Year.  I feel more focused in my business then I have in about 2 years – is it the new medicine, the physical therapy or is the remitting MS finally remitting?  Whatever the reason, I am excited to think about and plan for the upcoming year.

When I started my journey in direct sales, I had a dream…  What about you, what is your vision or dream when it comes to your business?

I wanted to quit my job and work from home.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job but the commute and the desire to make my own hours again was calling me.  Maybe you want to pay off debt. Maybe you want some ME time. Maybe you want to travel. Maybe you want to be able to give back to the community. Think for just a moment, what was the FIRST reason you joined your direct sales company or you maybe are now considering joining one.

Yes, I wanted to have my own business but I never really thought it would be in direct sales; I actually thought it would be a storefront.  When I starting with Thirty One, it was for the discounts.  With the discounts, I could provide gifts to women and children in need.  I wanted to fundraise to help others. Although sometimes I squirrel off my true course, I do always come back to it.

My “why” is and always has been to make a difference in the lives of others.

Our “why” is what motivates us towards our vision. It is the emotional connection you have every day with why you are doing what you are doing. For some this takes time to find – I am a true testament to it taking a long time.  For others, it is easy.

Sometimes our vision will hit us at the strangest moment and it is like a SMACK on the head from God. As I reflect on the last year, a smile comes to my face when I think about the opportunities I have had with the help of my customers to make a difference.

  • Dialysis Bags
  • Chemo Comfort Bags
  • HERO bags for our troops
  • Pamper Kits for new moms
  • Random Acts of Kindness with my Give Back With Me Program
  • Fundraisers

My BIG dream is to create a non-profit focusing on bringing smiles to the faces of women and children in need.

The truth is “kids are my heart” and anyone who knows me, knows I have been saying it since I first started with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance all those years ago.

I want to be able to use my Thirty One business to CELEBRATE – ENCOURAGE – REWARD kids and their moms who are struggling. Why kids? They didn’t ask to be brought into this world and in most cases have no control over the cards they are dealt. God has a plan for each of them; even those who are struggling. I want to be the light which shines in their life. I want to show them there are people who care. I want to make a difference.

The vision is cast, the goal has been set, now to put a plan together to reach the dream. If it is God’s will, it will happen – in his time, not mine.  I have been casting the vision for two years now, baby steps.

What is your bigger than seems possible (scare the crap out of you) DREAM or VISION? Share it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Your One-Sentence Eulogy

09c47c0706e253952c9a9d9e06be83e9

Thank you KAREN EHMAN for today’s message.

My kitchen contains some of my favorite things.

My big red Dutch oven where a batch of cheesy potato-corn chowder simmers. A watercolor painting of a bowl of fruit, purchased at an estate sale. And my aqua hand mixer. Because, well, I like to bake, and I love the color aqua! But the object I adore most is a lettered sign my mother-in-law gave me, made from rustic barnwood and stenciled with this simple phrase: “Scatter Kindness.”

I hung this inspiring inscription above the kitchen door that leads to the garage, so I’m sure to see it every time I exit my home. We live in a world filled with turmoil, sadness and despair. Of course, there are pockets of happiness too. On many days, though, it feels like the sadness overshadows the joy. It doesn’t take much looking around to find a soul in need of a little encouragement or a healthy dose of hope.

I was once told that there are two types of people in the world: those who enter a room full of people and announce, “Here I am!” and those who walk into a room, seek out another soul and lovingly declare, “Oh … there you are!” It makes me wonder, someday — when I am long gone — will I be remembered as someone who sought to encourage others or sought only to make herself known? Which one will be said of you?

The Bible tells detailed stories of the titans of the faith: Abraham, Joseph, Esther and Mary, to name a few. But sometimes it gives us an intriguing glimpse of some lesser-known characters, sketching their stories in a simple sentence or two. One such character is the New Testament woman named Tabitha.

We meet Tabitha in Acts, where the story of the birth of the Christian church is recorded by a doctor named Luke. Acts also introduces us to the founders of the church, including Peter and Paul. But tucked away in its pages we also find a portrait of a woman who demonstrated how to put others first and scatter kindness. I love her one-sentence description: “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36, emphasis added).

What a beautiful and unusual introduction! While most personal descriptions mention relationships (such as “a wonderful wife and mother”) or career accomplishments (“a dedicated nurse”) this woman was known for continually looking for ways to scatter kindness. Concerned about the poor, she actively worked to make their lives better. In fact, her actions so radiated Christ’s love that the author of Acts recorded these words for us to read 2,000 years later in our Bibles.

One reason we know about Tabitha today is because she died, and Peter raised her from the dead. But as glorious as her resurrection was, her character is what impresses me: “She was always doing good and helping the poor.” Oh, how this one sentence shakes my soul and stirs my heart!

If someone were going to record a one-sentence eulogy about us, what would they say? Would they observe about us — like Tabitha — that we were “always doing good” to others? Were we on the lookout for those who had a much harder row to hoe, or were we more concerned about our own safety and comfort, giving little thought to others?

While sometimes we may think our life is boring, could we see our humble and common circumstances as an opportunity for God’s eternal purposes, just as Tabitha did? Could we seek to scatter kindness, discovering an important and fulfilling ministry as we do?

Years from now, how will you be remembered? As a, “Here I am!” person or as an, “Oh … there you are!” sort of soul?

What will be your one-sentence eulogy?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!