How Do You Build Relationships?


Today I work up with the realization I suffer from “self-centeredness” on any given day.  SMACK!  When I walked back into recovery, I was unaware of how often I actually did this.  I rationalized and justified everything I did.  I thought I was being responsible.  I thought I was hard working (in other words a workaholic).  Slowly but surely I have found out what the true meaning of “self-centeredness” is and how selfish I truly was (or can be).

Self-centered is defined as “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests”I used to say this wasn’t me!  Then I looked at some other words for self-centeredness and they included egotistical, narcissistic, self-absorbed, selfish, self-involved, and I didn’t think I was any of those either.  Yes, I was an only-child.  Yes, I was spoiled – I was an only child, an only grandchild and an only niece BUT….. You know what they say “everything that comes after the word “but” is BS!  When I thought of egotistical or narcissistic, I thought of people who were so full of themselves, I mean they actually loved themselves.  Most days I don’t love myself and there are even the occasional days when I don’t like myself so how could I be self-centered?

My first time around in recovery, I didn’t grasp this concept.  I became a workaholic and as I was recently told – “I thought your clients came before us, even though you were there for the important things”.  SMACK!  So, this is a concept I am trying hard to understand.

“I choose relationships wisely and nurture them intentionally.”

Okay, so I may choose relationships wisely but I definitely didn’t nurture them.  WHY?  Because I didn’t know how.  YIKES!  Think about it. When there is turmoil in your relationships, it impacts your whole life.  As a result, my relapse and road to being totally self-centered has effected my business, and my personal life.  It has ruined friendships, it has left me sitting on a “pity pot” and struggling to figure out the difference between being self-centered and being responsible.  You would think at the ripe old age of 61, I would know the difference.

The truth is I struggle with building strong relationships and maintaining them. Even in the relationships I didn’t  choose – family members or coworkers – I mean they need to be nurtured in order to be strong and healthy too.  So, I went from people pleasing (pre-recovery), to workaholic (recovery) to self-centeredness (relapse) to relearning the things I learned in kindergarten about making friends.  Talk about a roller coaster.  Along the way has been filled with a lack of confidence and fear which causes me to become (or at least appear to be) self-involved.  I may not always say “ME, ME, ME” although I am grateful for people in my life who lovingly point out to me when I am being “self-centered”.  It is always like a lightbulb going off.

I know this is totally a ramble and for some they will tune out because they have healthy relationships.  They are able to make the best of those relationships by setting strong boundaries, building trust where they can, and expressing gratitude when others are a blessing to them. For those few people who may relate, take it from one who has learned the hard way….. self-centeredness doesn’t always mean we say “me” or “I”, it can come out through our actions.  Do you justify and rationalize everything you do to make sure your plans stay in take?

So, for today I challenge you to ask yourself this powerful question:

What one gesture could I make today to strengthen one of my important relationships?

Are you already feeling the panic?  What if if you made a simple phone call of support to encourage someone?  What if you wrote a thank you note to someone for something that touched your heart?  What if you put your phone away and gave your undivided attention to the person you are sitting next to?  My simple gesture lately has been to put my phone away and be present in the moment.  Is it tough, without a doubt!

Believe it or not these small gestures strengthen the bonds of a relationship, any relationship. We can’t achieve our goals or meet our needs alone –  we need people. And people need us.  So, if you think any of these may be you…. step out of your comfort zone and make a gesture – no matter how small.

Wonder why you are struggling in your business?  Wonder why you scroll through social media thinking the grass is always greener? The truth is those who are most resilient and successful have strong relationships.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Notice Others in a Selfie World


Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV.

My daughter Noelle and I were sightseeing in New York City. One highlight was rocketing up 102 stories in a mere 47 seconds inside the elevator of the Freedom Tower. Once at the top, we looked for a good spot to take in the glorious view. I couldn’t help but notice two teenage girls taking up a large space in the very front.

The problem was they were not even looking at the city below. They were posing for selfies – lots of them! They laid on the floor and posed. They struck different standing poses and snapped. I walked around and returned to that same spot about ten minutes later. They were still there! Posing in pursuit of the perfect selfie with New York City in the background.

I doubt they noticed the other people who would have liked to snap a picture where they had set up camp. I wondered why they didn’t turn around and enjoy the panoramic view with their God given eyes instead of the phone screen. With screens taking center stage, women can be obsessed with capturing the perfect photo to show the world.

Yet Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:26 (NIV) instructs, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each another.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to pose for a selfie? No – it can be a perfectly appropriate way to capture a moment. But there is cause for concern if you find that…

-You are overly concerned with portraying yourself a certain way to impress others

-You take numerous photos of the same pose to get it just right

-You compare your selfie to others and take mental notes on how you can improve yours

-You feel conceited when you see how favorable you look compared to others

-You are more interested in taking a selfie than meeting someone new or talking with an acquaintance

The Bible tells us to value others above ourselves. When we place the lens of our focus on the needs of others (instead of our own interests), we are having the same mindset as Jesus Christ. Popular culture fights against this notion. “Selfie” wasn’t even a word in the dictionary until 2013 but it’s commonplace today. The constant tracking of self can lead to a growing indifference towards others. The bigger we become inside the frame, the smaller everyone else becomes.

When you walk into a room, do you take the attitude of “Here I am!” or do you step in the doorway and think, “Ah, there you are!” Turning our “selfie” focus into an “others” focus takes practice and intention. God calls us to be “There you are!” people, women who are genuinely interested in others. But we live in a selfie world that caters to our natural instinct to preserve and exalt ourselves.

It’s time to switch things up. Instead of spending too much time preparing the perfect selfie, let’s quickly snap a picture of ourselves and then spend the bulk of our time focused on others. That view is much more meaningful.

Remember the teenage girls from the Freedom Tower? They walked out with some great selfies, but they never really took the time to take in the view. They missed out. Don’t miss the amazing people and things happening around you because you’re focused on your phone. Make it your daily practice to notice others in a selfie world.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Treasures God Longs to Give a Mom

1c72e184b26b691d71737c8ad0adda93Thank you ALICIA BRUXVOORT for today’s words of encouragement….

“I don’t even know who I am anymore,” my friend moaned as we sat side-by-side on a park bench at the end of a long summer’s day. “It’s like these kids are stripping away the old me, and I just feel hollow inside.”

She jostled the baby on her lap and dabbed the tears streaking toward her chin. Then she turned her head to gaze at our crew in the sandbox.

“We’re gonna make the biggest hole ever!” exclaimed one of our preschoolers, as he plunged his chubby fist into the gritty grains. The other kids echoed his enthusiasm and dropped to their knees to dig.

My friend stared at the cavern in the sand, and my stomach churned with empathy. I pulled my friend into a one-armed hug and tried to formulate a comforting response. But my thoughts were quickly interrupted by a squeamish squeal.

“Eowww! There’s garbage in here!” My daughter waved a dirty drinking straw in the air and flung it over her shoulder.

Sure enough, the deeper the kids dug, the more debris they discovered. Their gritty fingers unearthed soggy brown leaves and grimy grey rocks, twisted twigs and long-forgotten gum wrappers.

And that’s when I realized that my experience of motherhood has been a bit like a dirty sandbox dig. Simply put, motherhood is an unspoken invitation for God to excavate our souls.

I never knew what lurked in the depths of me until I became a mother.

I didn’t realize the expanse of my own impatience; I wasn’t aware of the parameters of my pride. I didn’t recognize the breadth of my selfish ambition or the width of my weakness, until God asked me to lay down my life for the children He’d entrusted into my care.

Let’s face it … kids expose our hearts on a whole new level. And in His infinite wisdom, God our Maker uses the daily demands of motherhood to excavate the garbage in our souls.

Selfishness? It’s uprooted piece by painful piece each time we rise in the dark of night to feed a baby or comfort an anxious child. It’s unearthed every time we hold a bucket in front of a sick child, mop a muddy floor or tackle a tower of dirty laundry.

Perfectionism? It’s shaved sliver by sliver as we trade firm abs for stretch marks and spotless windows for smudgy handprints; as we stumble through grocery aisles with spit-up on our collars and wailing ones on our hips. It’s steadily shredded as we embrace our tweens’ goofy mannerisms and our toddlers’ peculiar fashion sense.

Pride? It’s uprooted every time we admit that we don’t have all the answers and we can’t do it all. It’s eradicated when we choose to listen rather than lecture, to compromise rather than control.

It’s humbling — this heart dig — and harrowing at times. It can leave a mama feeling insecure and confused, conflicted and strange.

But what if this soul excavation is more than just an identity crisis? What if it’s a holy hollowing?

Our key verse, Ezekiel 36:26, reminds us God is in the business of making things new — including our hearts. He’s committed to scooping out the impurities within us so we have room to house more of His Spirit, a greater portion of His love.

The process may be painful, but here’s the good news: When God empties us, He doesn’t leave us that way. He offers to fill our purged places with something new. God’s excavation is always intended for transformation.

The chasm in the sandbox resembled a moon crater, and the kids stood back to admire their work. Suddenly, eyes brightened. “Hey, that hole’s big enough to hold treasure now!” a little digger declared.

And in an instant, our scoopers turned into scavengers. They scattered across the park in a flurry of excitement and began to search for hidden treasure.

My friend shuffled the sleeping baby in her arms and flashed me a subtle smile. And as our kids filled that huge hole with playground pearls, I wondered if a mama’s soul excavation is just God’s merciful way of carving out more room in her heart for the treasures He longs to give her.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What will You Give Up To Have Success

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I’m so excited…in just 4 short days, I will be leaving NJ to head to Columbus Ohio.  Okay, for some that may not sound exciting but for me it is a HUGE milestone.  It is HUGE for me because health challenges have subsided enough that I can travel.  I will be attending Thirty One’s National Conference.  I will be entering my pink bubble to re-connect with old friends and connect with new ones.  I will soaking up lots of training and getting a sneak peek at the NEW Fall prints and products.  WOOHOO!!

So this week, I will be talking about working from home and building a business that you love.  For those who say “I don’t have a business so this won’t pertain to me”, if you are a stay at home MOM, you are working.  Here are some things that I “gave up” in order to become successful in my business…

It’s selfish to consider my own needs first.

As women, we take care of EVERYONE!  We continually place our needs at the bottom of the list.  Not only can this mindset stop you cold in your ability to sell your products and recruit new team mates; it can also leaving your cup empty with nothing to give to anyone else. If you are overly focused on everyone else you will have a hard time asking for business (or help with household tasks). It is important to fill your cup on a regular basis.

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It’s my fault if others aren’t happy.

This is a tough one and I struggle with this in all aspects of my life.  You are not responsible for the feelings of others. Read that again and let it sink in.  There is NOTHING that you can do that will make unhappy people happy.  The reverse is also true that no one can make you unhappy either.  I encourage you to focus on what you can control (yourself) and let go of what you can’t (others).  I know this can be easier said then done.

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I must say “YES” when people ask me for my time.

No is a very powerful word. If you can get comfortable with it, you can free yourself from a lot of unnecessary commitments and headaches. If you are leading a team, saying NO to complaining, excuses and drains on your time can be empowering. Running a household, don’t allow people to suck you dry. Invest your time where you want and allow others to feel however they choose (check out #2!).

I wish things were different than they are right now.

Do you think like this?  When you feel like this, are you ready to quit before you even get start?  Forget about pursuing your dream, right? This is part of the comparison game of life.  Here’s a secret….you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Trust the process, keep working and know that each day you are making progress, learning new things and becoming the person you need to be

Tough lessons no matter where you are in your life.  I have found in the last month or so, when I began to accept 100% responsibility for my own actions, thoughts and attitudes, I am able to smile more and stress less.  My business is blooming (again), and there is more harmony at home.

Share your thoughts with us…Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!