Reflecting on 2019

 Happy 2020!  A new decade, a new year, a new month and a new day!  A clean slate all around….

It seems weird writing a blog post today since it has been about a month or so since my last one. For my regular readers, I am sorry I did not give you a heads up.  I needed a break after 6+ years of writing, I was empty.  I didn’t think I had anything more to say.  I’m still not sure I do but we will see what 2020 brings….

Last night I saw all of the posts talking about the last decade and it got me to thinking.  At first, I stressed over what I couldn’t remember then I asked for guidance and some memories came back.  So here goes my decade in review….

In 2010, I saw my daughter graduate from college with honors.  I was working full-time at a job I loved and commuting crazy hours to get work.

2011 was a roller coaster year.  I started my direct sales career with Thirty One.  We planned our wedding and after a 9 year engagement walked down the aisle.  Edythe, one of the rocks in my life passed away.  I retired from my job as COO at Bethel Development. We ended the year with a cruise for our honeymoon with family.

2012 is kind of a blur. Hubby had congestive heart failure and spent 13 days in the hospital.  I promoted to Director with Thirty One and walked across the stage to celebrate with my daughter.  I spent lots of time trying to figure out what I really wanted to do.

2013 – 2016 were a definitely blur. There was lots of testing to determine what was going on with me.  I was losing my memory (even more), leg spasms, depressed, and more I can’t remember.  I spend time working part-time jobs at WaWa and Wall Storage. Relapse was a strong part of these years. We planned Belinda’s wedding and celebrated their beautiful day in the mountains of NC.  Shopping, spending money, and drinking was my way of filling a void in my life.  I got the “unofficial diagnosis of MS” – grateful to finally have answers

2017 started rough as my Dad spent much of his time in the hospital and then passed in April.  I started Angels by Hope as an official business.  Still looking for ways to fill the void. My MS diagnosis became official and I started on medications (3 times a week injections).

2018 brought the smack in the face I needed to face the unmanageability of my life.  Credit card debt was high, income from my business was dropping and I was an emotional mess.  I walked back into the rooms of NA in May looking for the joy I once I had.

2019 brought a change in diagnosis to “progressive MS” and with it a cane and a brace for my left ankle.  Recovery has been a blessing as I am slowing rebuilding relationships with family.  I am blessed to still have both my Thirty One business and Angels by Hope going strong.

So, this is just a glimpse at the last 10 years.  I am grateful for Facebook memories and this blog (since March 2013) to help me remember when I can’t.

I have been searching and for a word for 2020.  Last year’s was Courage and it definitely fit the year I had.  Courage in so many areas of my life to step out on faith, out of my comfort zone.  This year’s word didn’t come so easily.  I prayed.  I took those “word tests”.

My word for 2020 is GRATITUDE!  Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.“.  I know when I practice gratitude, everything else in my life will be okay.  Not just gratitude for the good things but also for the challenges.  Through the challenges, I will learn and grow.

Best wishes for a safe healthy and happy New Year.

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: Gratitude

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Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful”…..or I think this one better “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has”.

I will admit this has been a struggle for me.  There have been moments when I have appreciated what I have, not comparing myself to others or wishing for something better or different.  For many years, I never lived in the moment – I was always planning the future or regretting something in the past.  Over the last 18 months, life has become very different.  Recovery is teaching me (again) how to live in the moment and be grateful for what I have.  Do I slip into those moments of comparing myself to others?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Every night as I relax and reflect on the day, I have been thanking God for the blessings he has given me.  Even on my worst days, there is a blessing to be had or a lesson to be learned.  Taking a gratitude walk through my day has helped me to appreciate where I am instead of regretting the past or wishing for the future.  It helps me to not miss out on the special moments of the day.  Have you ever taken a gratitude walk?

November is the kickoff to a season full of gratitude.  Some feel they have nothing to be thankful for.  Others are too busy trying to fit into a role others have set for them to appreciate what they have.  Some are dreading the holidays as this will be their first holiday with out their special someone. Some are just thankful they have lived to see another day. What ever your frame of mind is, I am hoping this video clip from Kid President will make you smile – I know it always brings a smile to my face.

How many of these have you forgotten to say sometimes? As we approach the holiday season and begin to consider our blessings, maybe it is also time to add some of these “words” back into our everyday conversations. It is amazing what a simple “thank you” can do to change a person’s perspective on a day. What was your favorite one?

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: Progress

How many of you are paralyzed by perfection?  The perfect weight?  The perfect size? The perfect business?  The perfect house?  Being the perfect mom?  I have been there and some days still am….Perfection is all about playing the comparison game thinking of what we “should be” instead of focusing on the positives of who we are….

As I walk through recover this time, I am AGAIN learning it is progress not perfection which makes us better.  Here is a post I saw which made me realize on most days despite my best efforts, I am “stuck” worrying about perfection….

I would tell you I wasn’t staring at him, but I’d be lying. He immediately caught my attention as he wheeled himself down the aisle. Stopping beside me, he said, “Hello.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.  He lifted himself up in his wheelchair. Unabashed, he balanced on his knees where his lower legs used to be. Unable to move, I watched him stretch, reaching for something on the store’s upper shelf.

What if he fell?

He wobbled as he grabbed his item, and then sat back down in his chair. Before I could offer to help, he’d completed his task. He nodded at me and continued his shopping.  I stood there immobilized by my thoughts. What empowered him to be so, whole?  His exterior shell broken, but inside—something beautifully different.

WOW!  This made me realize how crippled I am on a daily basis.  I battle the inner gremlins of perfection which are often paired with the comparison game gremlins.  Yes, they love to tag team me until I am left battered and bruised.  On the inside I’m left feeling less than while on the outside, things look great.  Check out some milestones in my life….

  • 16 months in recovery after a relapse
  • Maintaining a 100+ pound weight loss
  • Doing what I love ever day in my own business
  • MS does not define in
  • A loving husband and supportive family

I don’t say these to brag but so I can appreciate the journey I am on to become a better me every da.  The list could probably be longer but the gremlins start to rear their heads when I think about the positives in my life. They want me to stay stuck in the negatives.  The addictive thinking which kept me feeling less than everyone else.  What about you, what are some major milestones in your life?  Do you focus on them or do you focus on your failed attempts?

Does your idea of perfection cripple you into believing everything you do has to be impeccable?  Does your worth ride on your success?  Think about the gentleman described above…. He elevated his viewpoint, lived outside the lines, and appeared content—all signs of living imperfectly.  Definitely not someone who is handicapped, right?

Here are three ways to become unparalyzed by perfection:

#1 Straighten Up

Believe it or not, standing up straight and changing our body alignment, can make a difference.  How often when we fail at perfectionism do we feel unworthy? As a result, we walk hunched over or eyes cast to the ground, not enjoying the world around us.  Why not practice your “supergirl pose”?  It is time to  change your perspective.  Maybe it is with positive mantras to change your mindset, Maybe it is  seeking your Higher Power. Maybe it is blessing and releasing those fears.  Whatever it is get busy!

#2 Live Outside the Lines

You are NOW standing up straight, so let’s step out of your comfort zone — live outside the lines. This can be tough especially when those gremlins are in the midst of a battle.  It doesn’t have to be something HUGE, just something simple.  How about:

~Driving with the windows down and let your hair get incredibly messy.  Toss the hair tie which will keep your hair neat.

~Get a cake and take a spoonful right from the center. Go ahead, eat from the middle.

~Color outside the lines in a coloring book—make the tree trunk bright orange, the leaves purple, and paint the sky green instead of blue.

“You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make it…”      Albert Einstein 

Just do something to push yourself outside the lines of perfection which keep you restrained.

#3 Love your life

Make the decision to love your life.  Despite the challenges you may have, proclaim contentment.  Remember the man I shared the story about, despite being a differently-abled person, he oozed contentment, even though he had every right to feel otherwise. You could tell he made a choice to love his life.

Perfection doesn’t validate us, it makes us invalid.

Will you challenge yourself in a new way?  Will you claim to love your life so you are unconfined from the handicap of perfectionism?  Share your story with us.

Have a blessed day!