Thankful Thursday: The Lens of Lovely

I  re-visited a blog I read some time ago by LYSA TERKEURST.  It changed my perspective on things a few years ago, and right about now, I could use a change in perspective when it comes to my weight and view of myself.  The blog was entitled  “Learn to Love Your Story“.  I am hoping it will chase  Negative Nellie away when it comes to how I view my body and my weight.  A change in perspective will help me get motivated and back on track to lose the few pounds I have gained…

Lysa talks about loving your story – your life – being content in the moment and enjoying it! WOW!  Most days I do love my life but then there are those curve ball weeks.  An emotional roller coaster and I am not sure why.  No major fiascos, no crisis – just little hiccups which quickly send me on a road less traveled (okay so maybe it is traveled a little bit more than I want it to be).  You know the journey with Negative Nelly where you struggle to see the light at the end of the rainbow?

Since starting my recover journey again, I can almost tell when I wake up, if I am going to love my story for the day.  Crazy, right?  Of course, I should carry a warning notice around my neck which was “STOP! NOT A GOOD DAY!”.  Send out a text alert to friends and family so they know to stay away.  LOL.  The reality is, on those days  I need to STOP, take a breathe and regroup.  The Serenity Prayer and the Third Step Prayer have become my go to for getting some peace in my life.  I need to then praise and thank God for my life… my story.  See I forget that sometimes.  My life may not be a story book or full of lots of happy endings but it is MY story.  It is the life God gave me or at least he tries to keep me on the right road when I take my will back.

Memories are hard for me.  But there are days when hubby and I talk about the past – reminiscing about days gone by.  I have no regrets nor does he because it is because of those things we are blessed to be in each other’s lives today.  We had our struggles.  We had our heartache.  We had our joys.  Life wasn’t perfect but we got through it to get us where we are today.  The struggles still come but now we try to look at the differently – together.  I am grateful for the times he helps me to remember by playing a song or sharing a picture.

Lysa talked about “pre-deciding” she would LOVE her story.  NOTE to self: change my point of reference BEFORE the day begins.  Stop thinking about the “what if” and “predicting” what may happen in any given situation.  I am learning to live in the moment thankful for being able on some days (working towards all days) to live without expectations.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says “I thank my God every time I remember you.” I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

So I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”

Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

Thank you Lysa for reminding me to look through the “lens of lovely” today.  What are you thankful for today?  Share it with us so we can all celebrate together.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Recipe for A New Life

This month seems to be full of transformations…..It has been 6 years since hubby’s 10 day hospital stay which ended with a defib pacemaker which changed our life slightly.  I just celebrated one year in recovery after a VERY long relapse.  I am feeling like God is setting me up for a change in my life.  I am by no means complaining, although as you can tell by my recent posts, life has been a roller coaster of emotions…
There have been signs all around me about changing my mindset and the importance of it….. from posts on Facebook to conversations with friends to my Just for Today devotionals.  Not only does this apply to everyday life but it I am seeing how it is being applied in my business.
When I was in rehab, I remember a saying which went something like this: If one person calls you a duck – you can toss it aside, if two people call you a duck – it deserves some consideration but if three people call you a duck – you MUST be a duck!”  I haven’t been called a “duck” lately BUT I am seeing some of my passion moving in other directions.  In the past, this has been when I jumped ship at a job – it didn’t happen often especially after I got into Social Work.  For now, I am lookin for my purpose and seeking my passion…
So starting this morning, this duck is going to work on making a change from muddling through the waters to finding my joy.  Letting go of fear and doubt is the toughest thing for me.  The people pleaser in me doesn’t want to let anyone down, and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.  The problem is, I can’t figure out if this is a temporary thing as a result of some MS issues or if my passion is truly changing.
Do you need to change your mindset?  Here are a few questions you can answer which might help:
  1. Identify the what happened to cause the change
  2. Why did it happen
  3. How can I use this for my personal growth
  4. What changes can I make to improve in the future
  5. Where can I find help or who can help
This is “recipe for life” was part of a devotion I had read.  Maybe this will help you in changing your mindset or counting your blessings:
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
(Author unknown)
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!

5 Years of Love


Five years ago, I married my soul mate. It doesn’t seem possible. Together for almost 15 years – WOW!  Our story seems like a fairy tale…


Rob and I had what some many call a “unique” love story. Hang in there if you have already heard this…

We dated the summer before High School. From two different schools – he was Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Two competitive schools from very different backgrounds.  We didn’t care because we were happy until school started. I made new friends, joined clubs and found what I thought was a “new interest”. So, I ended our summer romance.

Fast forward 30 years to July 2000.  Rob is driving in the Monmouth/Ocean County area and saw a roadside tribute that said “HOPE”. He wanted to make sure that it wasn’t me. Really??? Well, he spent about a year hunting me down.  I get a note in the mail with an email address in July 2001. A little skeptical but I sent an email and as they say – the rest is history.

In October 2001, after 4 months of emailing, Rob drove to Atlantic County to visit me at a craft show. I didn’t want a relationship. I was content for it to be “Belinda and I” till she went to college. He was divorced and wasn’t looking either. We agreed to be friends.

Rob spent that day with me selling our hand made American Girl doll clothes. He helped me pack up and we went back to my house for dinner. We spent hours just talking and reconnecting. He even showed me a picture of me that he kept  all these years. Over the next 5 years, Rob traveled to EHT to spend his days off with us. He went to cheering competitions, sat through practices, and went to craft shows.  I am not sure when but we realized that God had brought us together for a reason…. to be a family.

Our second Christmas, Rob proposed! Yes, we were engaged for almost 9 years before we got married. He was concerned about Belinda. He didn’t want to change her life – high school, a competitive cheerleader, active in church and EHT was the only home she had ever known. She is the daughter that he never had.

When Belinda left for college, I sold our home in EHT and moved to Brick. Not an easy move for Miss Independence. I had been in my own home for about 20 plus years and had built a life there.

Our wedding day was beautiful surrounded by family and close friends. It started off a little shaky – Pastor got stuck in traffic.  Then my Mom was running late because of traffic.  Who would have thought that my daughter would be the picture of calm as my Maid of Honor. I was a tad nervous. Really, I was!!!

3 generations at wedding

As I walked down the aisle, the reality hit. This was really happening – I was getting married. I almost passed out and the pictures show the slight look of panic. It passed as I saw Rob, just as nervous standing with Pastor and Belinda smiling at me. It was an amazing day – the weather was beautiful, our families were there and we got to celebrate with those that meant the most to us.


The last five years have been filled with tears of happiness and sadness. We have learned the meaning of “in sickness and in health“. We have learned the art of compromise.   We have had our rough spots but we have worked through them. Rob’s unconditional love has helped me to grow as a wife, a mom and a person. We are definitely opposites but we do compliment each other – opposites attract, right?

There is nothing that I would different and if Rob asked me again, I would marry him in a heartbeat.

Thank you for being there through the good times and the bad. Thank you for loving me when I didn’t love myself. Thank you for being my solid rock when I am ready to roll down the cliff. Thank you for being my cheerleader when I think I can’t go on any longer. I love you more than words can say and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you.

Happy Anniversary!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am feeling blessed for so many thing. As always it is a day filled with lots of mixed emotions…as usual, I am crying tears of joy and gratitude mixed with tears of sadness.

I am blessed that yesterday I got to spend a fun-filled day with my mom.  We spent the day Christmas shopping, talking and making memories that will last a lifetime.

I am blessed to snuggled in front of the TV to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade remembering the fun we had last year when Belinda, Ashley, Ashleigh (yes, two of them) and Amber were here.  I got to cross seeing the parade in person off my bucket list!

I am blessed to be spending Thanksgiving with my dad, my step-mom and my extended family.  I am excited to be having not only traditional foods but my niece will be making a vegan meal for me to try!

I am sad because today our family is apart.  Something that I need to get used to since Belinda is married and living in North Carolina.  Holidays are now split between New Jersey and North Carolina.

Memories of years gone are filled with high school football games, homecoming floats, dinner at Grams with the entire family. As in years past, lives changed and so did family dynamics. Along came Belinda and the splitting of holidays between family. The family has gotten smaller as our family of angels in heaven has grown.

I am blessed in so many ways. I am grateful that my family is healthy. The year has been filled with trials which have all been blessings in disguise.

Thirty One has blessed my life too. Who would have thought that 4 years ago, a $99 kit would make such a difference in my life. I have a growing business with a team of women who continue to amaze me with their strength and friendship. It has given me an income that allows me not to work full-time. I also have met women who are now customers, hostesses as well as my friends. I have been blessed to be able to share my blessings from Thirty One with those who are less fortunate giving back to our community.

Words can’t express how grateful I am today and every day. My wish is that each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving – enjoying the time with your friends and family. Cherish the moments for all the years to come.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Thanksgiving!