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!

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!

Is Impatience Your Problem? –

Patience can be developed with practice. 

As a recovering addict, patience has not been one of my strong points.  Sure I had patience (most of the time) with my daughter as a single mom BUT not when it came to other things it was non-existant.

What about you?  Is there a goal or desire are you rushing toward? What is the one thing in your life you just can’t wait to see happen?  I’m usually an “instant gratification” person but I’m working on changing which takes time (and patience).  Are you getting the vicious circle?  LOL.  It is usually the thing we want the most which take the longest like the struggle to reach your goal weight.

And while we’re waiting for things to happen, we are usually tempted to make things happen — we want the magic wand for things to happen NOW!  In most cases, the solution we find to the problem or desire is not a perfect fit and as a result we muck things up.  We get a SMACK to remind us it is time to practice patience!

The truth is a lack of patience is often a sign of fear and those inner gremlins called fear are waiting to squash your  goals and desires.  We want what we want now!  I know I am not alone, right?   We get anxious and worried then begin pushing for things to happen before their time (remember it is His time, not ours).  We need to learn to slow down.  We need to trust.  We need to breathe. Patience is an act of faith, even when we don’t know when or how things will work out.

Here are four key areas of your life where you may need to practice more patience…

Relationships

Are you short-tempered with people? Does waiting in line at the store irritate you?  Do you get impatient with someone who is trying to do something especially when they don’t live up to your expectations?  Are you scared your dream relationship will never happen?  If you are single, have you pushed a relationship to be “serious” when it may not have been meant to be.  Why?  Because you fear someone special won’t come along, or maybe you think you’re getting too old to get married, or your choices are limited so you are tempted to marry the wrong person.   Love happens when you least expect.  I was one of those who always rushed a relationship.  It was when I made the decision to let things happen it did.  In fact, I told hubby I didn’t want a relationship.  Here we are almost 16 years later and still together.  Don’t rush into things.  Be patient. Trust. I am a definite believer of when you relax about things, the door to love (and other things) will open. Are you willing to wait?

Work

Patience was a lot tougher when I worked in an office. I found my lack of patience sabotaged my relationships with coworkers and clients who came into the office.  Now with my own business, on days I have no patience, my relationships with my customers are in jeopardy.  I was a job-hopper for many years because I thought it was the way to advance in my career.  Then in recovery, I learned some patience and VIOLA things changed.  I worked for 9 years at the Aids Alliance before moving into a consultant position. Then I was with Bethel for about 7 years – both of these long term positions allowed me to put my skills to use.  Is your job hopping depriving you of the chance to let you sparkle?

Finances

The lack of patience and the need for instant gratification leads to consumer debt.  For those, with no patience, we also tend to have a sense of entitlement because we think we deserve things even if we can’t afford them.  The result is we rack up credit card debt instead of saving for things we really want.    Yup, I have been guilty of this which is another part of my addictive personality. We often play the comparison game too.  We want to be like everyone else but never realize we are probably comparing their end to our beginning or middle.  When you have a little patience in fulfilling material desires, you might be able rein in your spending.

Health

If there is one thing which takes patience and perseverance, it’s eating healthy and exercising. It took me 7 years to reach my goal weight and it takes LOTS of perseverance to maintain it.  I lost and gained the same weight many times because I wanted the quick fix.  It wasn’t until I joined Weight Watchers where I learned patience.  The results were slow and steady and before long the changes were noticeable!   Are you looking for shortcuts to good health? There aren’t any. Make a commitment to start making one change on at a time and you’ll build up good habits which lead to good health and better looks.

This week I challenge you to practice patience in an area of your life where you are struggling.  What are you afraid will happen if you are patient instead of racing to the goal line?  Practice patience. Good things do come to those who wait.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Managing Distractions

I can’t believe Christmas is just two days away – well, Christmas Eve is tomorrow.  I have been sort of a Grinch at home this year – no decorations until last Sunday but I did get some shopping done.  Yes, I squirreled but what else is new, right?

Last Sunday at church,  the first hymn was “Hark the Harold Angels Sing”.  I know it is “herald” but my grandfather always said it was his song and yes, his name was Harold.  I knew then, it was going to be a service I needed to pay attention to.  As we moved through the holiday songs, I found my thoughts drifting to the things I wanted to get done, the people I was missing (Belinda not being home for Christmas) and then BAM!  The sermon was on “managing distractions”.  I knew this was just for me.

The brain fog from MS causes me to get distracted easily, memory is short or sometimes nonexistent and sometimes I find it hard to concentrate.  But the reality is, even without MS, many of us have difficulty managing distractions.  Think about how you or your kids do/did their homework.  Do they need the music or TV on leaving you wondering how they can possibly concentrate?  Or do they need silence?  These days, I need silence.  I get easily distracted but there was a time when I could have the TV on or music and actually remember what I was supposed to be doing.  Do deadlines cause you to focus more?  Is one of your tag lines, I work better under pressure?

#1 Identify Inevitable Distractions

Distractions are going to happen – they always do.  So why not expect them – if they come, you are ready but if they don’t you are ahead of the game.  I can remember when I was a work at home mom, distractions happened and I was never really ready for them.  The TV was too loud or a million questions came just as I was working on a grant.  Then there was the “I’m hungry” cry.  Yes, I miss those days but the distractions are different now.  I start a project or work in the office and thoughts of 10 other things which need to be done in the house enters my head.  Before long, I have squirreled into the “this will only take a minute” project being completed distracted from the work I was doing.  I’m sure I am not alone especially during this busy holiday season.

#2 Learn to Discern the Main Thing

SMACK!  Distractions sometimes pull us away from our main focus – family!  We get bogged down in worrying about having lots of time with family while we miss out on enjoying the quality time we do have with them.  What is your main focus this holiday?  Is it buying the perfect gifts, planning the perfect meal or enjoying the moments with family and friends?  I always “talk” about family being the most important thing to me – tops on my list.  Yet, I find there are times when I place other non-important things before spending time with them.  My focus turns to working in the office to make money to pay bills or being busy in my business (notice I didn’t say working my business).  Yup, I am one of those struggling recovering workaholics….

We have identifying the distractions, so how do you manage them, right?  You got this, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem if you are intentional about it…

#1 Clear the Clutter

No, I don’t mean the clutter in the house!  I mean the clutter in our heads.  Maybe you need to write a list or delegate chores or maybe decide not to do certain things at all – however you do it, JUST DO IT!  Prune your schedule. Control spending.  Weed out the things which aren’t the main thing.  I am working on calendar blocking AGAIN so I block out time needed to work versus time I will spend with family.

#2 Don’t Let Distractions Distract You

We know distractions will happen BUT don’t let them distract you from your MAIN THING! If the most important thing for you this holiday season is family – spend time with them, enjoy them. STOP watching the clock.  STOP worrying about if the house is clean enough or whether there is enough food or how you look.  Enjoy the moments….

The main thing is to make the Main thing the Main thing

This Christmas is different for our family – Belinda in North Carolina, missing my Dad, hubby working so others can spend time with their little ones  has left me trying to figure out how to embrace the change so I can focus on my main thing – FAMILY!  Grateful to have dinner on Christmas Eve with my step-mom and half sister then spend Christmas Day with my mom and step dad as well as my hubby.

What is distracting you this holiday season from enjoying your “main thing”?  When the holidays are over, will you have wonderful memories of the moments shared even with the distractions or will you regret being too busy to have enjoyed your “main thing”?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

How to Stop Impulse Shopping

As I was cleaning out closets for the church rummage sale, I wondered why I had some things.  Shirts never worn, “stuff” on shelves which became dust collectors, things in boxes never used… what made me buy them?

During my early years in recovery, shopping was a replacement to my addiction.  It was something I did to fill the void.  Yes, we all like nice things but when did our wants become our needs or at least in our own heads.  I am more apt to imps shop during the holiday season.  Buying things for others and those sales!  This holiday season, I am determined to stay in control of my impulse shopping…

Have you ever thought about why you shop impulsively?

For many, impulse shopping or buying items we don’t need is usually a way to meet certain emotional needs.  We spend money in the hopes what we purchase will make us more confident, presentable or happy. Basically, we try to put ourselves in a better mood by buying things we don’t need. “Retail Therapy” as it has become known may help for a little while then it may turn into buyer’s remorse.

We say “If I could just get X, then Y will be all right.”  And for the moment, maybe we feel better.  Today’s marketing campaigns help to reinforce those internal insecurities which draws us to buy impulsively.  Did you know almost 90 percent of the items we buy impulsively are usually on sale?  We are easily seduced by the notion of paying less for things, coupled with the fear of missing out on the window of opportunity during the sales period which results in unnecessary spending.

How can we tell if our impulsive shopping is out of control?

Do you have credit card debt?  Do you wonder what you actually charged on the many credit cards you have?  Impulse shopping wrecks havoc on our budgets and can put us in a serious financial situation.  I don’t mean those small impulsive purchases, it’s those bigger high ticket items we buy with our credit cards which cause our debt to quickly spiral out of control.

Here are some signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  1. Are you unable to afford basic items because you spent all your money on high-ticket purchases like clothes?
  2. Are you arguing with the people in your life because they don’t approve of your spending habits?
  3. Do you feel a certain high, a sort of euphoria every time you buy something nice?
  4. Are you lying to your family members or friends about the cost of some of your possession because you think they would see it as a waste of money?
  5. Are you sneaking purchased items into the house to put them away when no one is looking?

Impulse shopping is a form of addiction, so if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an impulsive shopper.

What can you do to curb your tendency to shop impulsively?

Like other addictions, food and drugs, for some it will be easy to kick.  While for others there may be struggles along the way.  The key to success for those who want to curb their impulsive shopping tendencies is willpower and dedication.

First, avoid using credit cards, instead use cash for all purchases. I know it will be tough.  I struggle with this.  I am a debit card girl and seldom have cash in my wallet.  I broke the habit of carrying credit cards in my wallet which has helped tremendously.  Face it, is is easier charging a $100 purchase on a credit card than handing over a  $100 cash for something.

Next, if it is a BIG purchase – sleep on it or leave the item in the cart when shopping online.  When you feel the impulse to buy, train yourself to WAIT.  If you are in a store, go home and sleep on it.  If you are online, leave it in the cart and close the tab.  Then see if you still have the desire to purchase it in a day or two.  Chances are the answer it NO!

This is a big one…create a budget to help you monitor spending.  This will help you  appreciate the effect of every potentially impulsive purchase you want to make.

Lastly, being accountable to someone will definitely help. “The Someone” could be your better half, a friend, or a family member,   When we are accountable by sharing our receipts with others, they might be the nudge you need to be more responsible in your shopping.

What are your best tips for managing the urge to impulse shop?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!