My Birthday Reflections

Another milestone….. yes, believe it or not, Saturday is my 62nd birthday!  Do I feel 62?  I will admit, the days when I  feel my age are greater than they were last year.  MS has kicked my butt a little bit more often this year.

I know I am early but I don’t blog on Saturday’s so I figured today would be a great day for reflection and probably some tears.

I am blessed to have woken up this morning and every morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  Am I always this optimistic – NOPE!   I’m determined to be positive and make the most of each day.  It may take me two hours to clear the fog and get moving but being grateful for each small step it a gift from God.

Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

The past year has been filled with many ups and downs.  I walked by in the doors of NA almost one year ago – broken and struggling.  My Thirty One business has had some really great highs and some all time lows. I’m still trying to get the hang of not having a consistent pay check.  I have expanded “Hope’s Angel Connection” and love sharing angels with everyone.  The daily realization more memories are lost and struggling to find the right words to say has been big this year.  Through it all I hold fast to the mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day when low self-esteem and lack of confidence and those nasty inner gremlins made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. I’m great at giving but I’m not very good at receiving.  Today, I am looking at them a little differently – have I grown up?  Don’t count on it!  Entering back into recovery, I realized every day is a gift from God  and I am cherishing being able to spend another day with family and friends.  The celebration doesn’t need to be big, it doesn’t need to have lots of presents (maybe just one or two would be nice).

As a child, one of my favorite celebrations was the annual trip to New York City to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. This annual tradition was a treat from Edythe and Elsie. It included the circus and dinner in NY. I always felt so grown up! Both of them are now our guardians angels in heaven and the circus is now gone too.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness:

  • I grateful for my daughter, Belinda.  She has grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to call my friend.  Life was not always easy but she turned adversity into a learning lesson.  God could not have given me a greater gift than to be her mom.  We have had our hurdles this past year but I’m glad we are rebuilding our relationship.
  • To my mom….thank you for always being there.  We are not just mother and daughter, but we are friends.  The miles may separate us but I know you are only a phone call away or a short drive to Mays Landing.  You are always one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support you have given me this year as I traveled the road of recovery, again.

  • To my DS/Crafter Friends….words can express the gratitude I have for you.  This past year, you have helped in so many ways.  Sharing events, carrying my stuff when I am struggling, cheering me on and checking in on me.  You have helped me to develop and expand my Angel Connection.  Your ongoing support as we entered year 2 of fulfilling a dream to celebrate, and encourage other DS business owners through our networking group, Jersey Shore Direct Sellers Network.

 

  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t read this)…who is my ROCK!  I know I am not the easiest to live with (imagine that?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  Your support and encouragement this year after my relapse has meant more than words can say.  Your support and encouragement gives me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. Thank you for being one of my greatest cheerleaders.

There are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this year.  It has been an AMAZING journey for me and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 62 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Stop by my VIP group on Facebook, Hope’s Purse Closet, for a birthday present from ME to YOU!

Hope you have ThirtyOne-derful day!

Birthday Reflections

Another milestone….. yes, believe it or not, tomorrow is my 61st birthday!  Do I feel 61? Some days especially when the MS decides to rear its ugly head..

I’m a day early since I don’t blog on Friday’s, I figured today would be a great day for reflection and probably some tears.

I am blessed I get to wake this morning and every morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  I’m determined to be positive and make the most of it. It may take me two hours to clear the fog and get moving but being grateful for each small step it a gift from God.

Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

The past year has been filled with many ups and downs.  Receiving the “official” diagnosis of RRMS (Remitting Relapsing MS) and starting injections three times a week.  Working my Thirty One business full-time while learning the ebbs and flows of not receiving a consistent pay check.  The realization more memories are lost and struggling to find the right words some days.  The toughest part of the last year was the loss of my dad.  Through it all I hold fast to the mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day when low self-esteem and lack of confidence and those nasty inner gremlins made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. I’m great at giving but I’m not very good at receiving.  Today, I am looking at them a little differently – have I grown up?  Don’t count on it!  My dad was all about living life to the fullest and his passing is probably one of the reasons why I stopped saying “it is just another day”.   Today is a gift from God  to be able to spend another day with family and friends.  The celebration doesn’t need to be big, it doesn’t need to have lots of presents (maybe just one or two would be nice).

As a child, one of my favorite celebrations was the annual trip to New York City to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. This annual tradition was a treat from Edythe and Elsie. It included the circus and dinner in NY. I always felt so grown up! Both of them are now our guardians angels in heaven and the circus performed for the last time last year.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness:

  • I grateful for my daughter, Belinda.  She has grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to call my friend.  Life was not always easy but she turned adversity into a learning lesson.  God could not have given me a greater gift then to be her mom.  We may have missed out on the ThirtyOne cruise thanks to the hurricane but I loved spending time in NC with you.
  • To my mom….thank you for always being there.  We are not just mother and daughter, but we are friends.  The miles may separate us but I know you are only a phone call away or a short drive to Mays Landing.  You are always one of my biggest cheerleaders.
  • To my dad….who is now watching over me from heaven.  It has been a rough year but through it all, I remember your encouraging words.  You taught me to embrace life, living it to the fullest every day and to chose JOY, even on a bad day so everything will be okay. I miss you daddy!
  • To my Thirty One family.  An amazing group of women who have loved and supported me in my darkest days.  My team is AWESOME and they inspire me daily.  My hostesses and customers are so much more than just “orders”, building friendships with many of them.   They all hold a special place in my heart.  It is with their help and support I am able to work my business full-time.

  • To my DS/Crafter Friends….words can express the gratitude I have for you.  This past year, you have helped in so many ways.  Sharing events, carrying my stuff when I am struggling, cheering me on and checking in on me.  Thank you for your support as I ventured into fulfilling a dream of celebrating, and encouraging other DS business owners through our networking group, Jersey Shore Direct Sellers Network.
  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t read this)…who is my ROCK!  I know I am not the easiest to live with (imagine that?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  Your support and encouragement in my Thirty One “business” gives me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. Thank you for being one of my greatest cheerleaders.  I’m excited to spend my birthday with you this year, thank you for taking the day off.

There are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this year.  It has been an AMAZING journey for me and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 61 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Stop by my VIP group on Facebook, Hope’s Purse Closet, for a birthday present from ME to YOU!

Hope you have ThirtyOne-derful day!

Assert Yourself…

What do you think of when you think of someone who is “assertive”? Assertion is simply expressing yourself in a honest, straightforward way which helps you get what you need.  It shows respect for yourself and others.  So, why do we have such a hard time with it?  Why does it have such a negative connotation?

This was a recent topic at my Weight Watcher‘s meeting.  This people pleaser tends to have a hard time with being assertive when it comes to anything but food.  I can easily tell you what food I can and can’t have but when it comes to anything else – I am as timid as a church mouse not wanting to hurt other’s feelings.  I rocked being assertive when I was early in my recovery then somewhere along the lines, those nasty inner gremlins creeped in again.

Being assertive is not being aggressive although we tend to lump the two of them together.  We worry when we assert ourselves people won’t like us.  We allow others needs to outweigh our own (those people pleasing gremlins).  Honestly, I think this is a skill (yes, it is a skill) I never really learned.  The reality is, once you master being assertive in an effective way, you will be able to let go of the fear of coming on too strong.

Think about situations where you wish you would have been assertive.  Maybe it was saying “no” to a piece of cake or to adding another thing on your to do list.  Maybe it was simply making time for YOU in the course of a crazy busy day or week.  For me, it is usually about putting everyone and everything before what I would like.  Yup, the proverbial people pleaser.

Being able to respectfully but firmly express feelings and ask for support helps us in so many ways – staying on plan to reach our weight loss goal, overcoming an eating disorder, finding time to exercise, building our business or beating an addiction.  When we learn how to advocate for ourselves and NOT put others’ needs and feelings first, we are more in control of our lives.  We are in a better position to reach our goals, whatever they may be.

I love the DESC model (now I just need to practice it) when it comes to asking for support, or getting someone to stop (or start) something or simply asking what you need.

DESCRIBE: 

First, you need to describe the behavior you want changed.  For example “You watch TV and I have to do the dishes after dinner so I don’t have time to get in a walk”.  What is the behavior you would like someone in your life to change?

EXPLAIN:

Now you need to explain the effect this behavior is having on you.  Okay, here is where I either get emotional or worry about saying the wrong thing.  For example, “I end up not getting in my walk most days of the week”.  Short and sweet.  No need for a lang drawn out explanation.  “Just the facts Dano”…. am I showing my age?  LOL.

SPECIFY:

Now is the big step….specify what you want or need to get the behavior to change.  This is where you ask for what you want.  Not demand but present a possible solution.  For example, “Would you please do the dishes Monday, Wednesday and Friday after dinner so I can walk for 20 minutes?”.  Seems harmless right?  If you don’t ask, you will never know what the other person is thinking.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) mind reading is not in our genes.

CONSEQUENCES:

Clearly state the consequences for you or how it is going to help you.  This is when I have to overcome the inner gremlin which says “you are selfish” or “it’s all about you”.  For example, “I’ll be able to walk three more times than usual and it’ll help me reach my FitPoints goal”.

My challenge to you this week is to identify a situation where being more assertive could help you get what you need then use the DESC model to practice being assertive.  

Thank you Weight Watchers for this lesson which can be applied to all areas of our lives.  Would love to hear how it went, share your success or your challenge with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Grow Your Self Confidence

Did you know 62% of all girls feel insecure about themselves?  How about 4 in 5 women have low self-esteem?  For some low self-esteem feels like a life sentence with no chance of escape.

Self Confidence by definition is realistic confidence in one’s own judgment, ability, power, etc.

With such a simple definition, why is is so hard at times to wrap our head around the idea?   I battle the inner gremlins of low self-esteem as well as a lack of self-confidence.  Honestly, I don’t know when it all started but I’m sure it goes back to those formative years in middle school.  I’ve learned (okay, so still learning some days), we each have our own unique story, and with help we can rebuild our life and rewrite our story.

The words self-esteem and self-confidence are usually interchangeable when we talk about our struggles but there is a distinct difference between the two:

Self Esteem is determined by whether you believe you’re worthy of respect from others

Self Confidence is whether you believe in yourself.

When we rebuild our confidence, we are actually retraining our brain to recognize our worth thereby increasing our self-esteem. Here are a few of my favorite tips which have helped me fight those nasty inner gremlins.

1. Dress for Success.

I am guilty of NOT dressing for success when my confidence is waining and my self-esteem is low.  How often are you worried about what others will think of you based on how you are dressed?  Feel like you are stuck in a rut? Battling with self-consciousness?  Take a minute to focus on your appearance. Scary, right?  When you feel good about how you look, your confidence will shine through.

Have a favorite outfit which always gets you compliments?  Wear it.  Need a hair cut?  Pamper yourself and get one. What makes you feel good?  It is a simple pedicure – go get one.  I’m not saying go on a spending spree, but you need to dress for success.  Use the things in your closet or check out a local thrift store for some great finds.  Working from home, I have found the sweats and no make up are an every day thing.  I find when I “dress” for work even at home with a little bit of makeup, I feel good.  When I feel good, I am confident.

2. Positive Thinking

I know I talk about it a lot but the truth is changing the way we think can change the outcomes in our life.  There are some amazing people out there who teach this – Dana Wilde at Train Your Brain; Eryka Peskin with her fierce cheerleading; and of course, Norman Vincent Peale in his book Positive Self Image or The Secret.

Negative thoughts bring more negative thoughts.  When you learn to shift your mindset, you gain the ability to see things in a new light, which in turn provides new alternatives and better outcomes.  Daily affirmations from Dana Wilde and The Secret have helped me to fight and win most days the battle with the inner gremlins.

3. Invest in others deeply

This one probably sounds the craziest right?  If you have low confidence and low self-esteem, how can you possibly get to know others and build a relationship with them?

By taking the focus off of you and putting it on them.  As you start getting to know someone else, asking questions beyond the surface they will see you are genuinely interested in them.  As we start to care for others helping them to feel seen and heard while building a rapport with them, we are letting our own light shine.

We talk about this a lot in direct sales but the truth is when I do it every day, I have gained confidence.  I started many years ago as a newly recovering addict who was helping individuals during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.  My focus was on helping to improve their quality of life and through it, I became an expert in my field.  Confident, letting my light shine.  Most days, I consider my work in direct sales the same way.  Helping others with organizing or gift giving or just feeling good about themselves.  When I focus on helping others instead of “needing sales”, my confidence sparkles.  As an introvert (yes, I really am), I know it can be hard so it is something I am aware of and practice being more open to receiving every day.

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What is your best tip for boosting your confidence or has helped you to raise your self-esteem?  Share them with us…

Have  ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Stop The Comparison Game

12414868-Stop-sign-illustration-Stock-Vector-noWOOHOO!  It is the weekend, okay, the start of it and it is Feel Good Friday!  The day when we squash those inner gremlins who want to keep you from being happy…

When was the last time you compared yourself to someone else?  Over the years, I’ve compared myself to others when it came to school, looks, money, my business and more. The first step in stopping the “comparison game” is to acknowledge it.  The truth is everyone has done it at one point in their life. The difference is what happens after the comparison…

Some people compare themselves to others to determine their personal value which usually ends up with us feeling like crap, right?  Negative thoughts bring more negative thoughts.  Or do you play the comparison game and get inspired.  Does it motivate you to change your situation?  Honestly, this doesn’t happen to most people and in the end results in more negative thoughts.  Either way, by comparing yourself to others, you are holding yourself back.

Sure, you may not be able to reach a goal as quickly as someone else or it may require more hard work, but it doesn’t mean everything is impossible for you. Everyone is on a different path, and there are people who are better or worse off than you.  Instead of comparing your path to those around you, why not focus on what you can do to make your dream a reality.

Here is how you can stop comparing yourself to others…..

#1 – Realize comparisons are often negative and most of the time they do not help.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Be happy for others and instead of feeling jealous be happy for their success of others.  Good things can happen to other people, it doesn’t mean your life is any less important or any less of a success.  By being happy for others, you’ll learn to accept yourself and let more positivity into your life.

#2 – Be motivated, not competitive.

Be inspired by other’s success or happiness. The next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone, think about how you could possibly do something similar (if it’s what you truly want to do). Use others achievements as inspiration for your own life and goals.

#3 – Take a break from social media.

This is tough in today’s world so why not “stop following” those who you play the comparison game with.  I am still friends with some people BUT I don’t check their news feed for snipits of their wonderful life.  Social media can be fun but you are just seeing carefully selected pieces of someone’s life.

#4 – Be confident.

I compare myself to others because I tend to lack self confidence.  While I’m not as confident as I would like to be, I am getting better.  Gaining confidence can help you too.  Yes, you can learn to be more confident.  When you are confident, you will learn how to stop comparing yourself to others because you believe in yourself.

#5 Be positive and happy with who you are.happy dance

No matter how life may be going for you, I believe a positive outlook can help to improve your life. It’s all about being grateful for what you already have. Everyone experiences sadness, anger, being scared, etc., and sometimes it can be difficult to see the positive or to be happy in spite of the circumstances.  Negative thoughts keep you feeling stuck with the feeling like there is no way out of your problems, and zero options. While being positive helps you realize you are able to do things, you are in control of your life, and the little things will not kill you.  You will be able to move on and deal with stressful situations better.

#6 – No one is perfect.perfect1

Accept your past and present, realizing you can make changes for the future if you truly desire to do so.  You may be at the beginning of the journey while someone else is at the middle or end.  You don’t know what they’ve been through, so you can end the comparison game.

 

These things are sometimes easier said then done.  Pick one and focus on it if you can’t fathom doing them all at once.  Find YOUR dream, then figure our YOUR action plan.

How could you stop comparing yourself to others?