Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day by definition is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today, I am blessed, to be a daughter, a step-daughter and a MOM!  Today will be a day filed with some tears I’m sure as I am not going to be with either of these TWO amazing ladies.

To my mom, my best friend and biggest cheerleader.  The road has been filled with more than our share of twists and turns but through it all you have stood by my side.  Through thick and thin, the good times and bad. Just like when I was a child, you were are there to guide and support me now as MS takes away my memory.  Thank you for being my traveling buddy and joining me in my pink bubble.

You have taught me about strength and kindness. You have taught me how to be a good mom. You taught me to cherish my family. Mom, thank you for all of the lessons. I may not have always appreciated them at the time, but I am grateful for them now as an older, wiser and sometimes more mature woman.  I am who I am today because you allowed me to grow and struggle through the bumps in the road. I am who I am today because you loved me when I didn’t love myself.  Thank you…..Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOM in the world. I love you!

To my daughter, Belinda who makes MY Mother’s Day so special. They say you never know what it means to be a mom until you have a child – I agree 100%. I now understand why my mom put up with everything (the good, the bad & the ugly) all of those years. My daughter is my heart.  It was “you and me, kid” for most of her life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Being a single mom had its struggles but with the love and support of family and friends we made it.  As a child, you were a challenge – having your own opinion and questioning everything but you helped me to grow as a person too. You have grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to say is “my daughter”.  MS may steal the memories by in my heart I know it will alway be “you and me kid”.

To those who have lost their moms, cherish the memories. To those who have a strained relationship with them, reach out, re-connect – bless and move on – for you don’t want to live with regrets when they are gone.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and those who have been like a mom to so many.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

What Does Your Success Look Like?

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and is something different to everyone.  The true meaning of success is up to YOU.

A new year at Thirty One allows me to reflect on my accomplishments, where I stand on my goals for the year and define (or re-define) what success will look like for me.  When you think of success, you probably think of more money, maybe another car, travel – all tangible things, right?  In the past, I always said success was being debt free. I still want to be debt free, who doesn’t, right?  But will it alone get me up in the morning?  For some the answer would be yes.  For me, no.

I want my legacy to be more.  I want to know I have made a difference in the lives of others.  I want the ability to give to those in need.  Success to me isn’t about just being debt free, it is about what I can do with the money.  Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason I have debt is because I give to those in need and try to make a difference in the lives of others even when I don’t have it.

Do you have tunnel vision when it comes to what your  successful life will look like?  Are you focused on the tangible things or are you creating a legacy?  I have heard it said often “people may not remember the day you were born or the day you die but they will remember how you lived your life (or made people feel)”.  What will they remember about you?

Success isn’t a destination—it’s a progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal.  What is your dream or goal?  Dream BIG!

Years ago, I had a dream of opening a house – a place where those infected/affected with HIV/AIDS could come and enjoy life forgetting about their life struggles for a moment.  In the early days of my work in HIV/AIDS, I created a place like it.  For some it was my office to get help with problems, for the kids it was a place to play and get snacks, and for others it was just a place to forget for a moment how cruel life could be.  The last time I was in Bridgeton, I drove by what used to be “Hope’s House”.  The small office, long since closed and moved to a new location, brought back some memories I thought were lost.  I honestly didn’t know what I was creating.  I didn’t know I would make a difference but my passion to help others showed through all I did.

As I moved from HIV work to working with struggling addicts, chronically unemployed and single moms – the dream faded slightly but my desire to make a difference in the life of others was still there.  Since retiring from social work, almost 6 years ago, I’ve been searching to find the dream and the passion.  Despite my best efforts, the MS beats me up and steals my passion as a result of stealing my memory.  Some days I feel like it is an excuse while other days I embrace the reality and enormity of it all.

Do I still dream of making a difference?  YES!  Do I know what it looks like?  NO!  Success to me is seeing a smile on the face of a single mom struggling to provide for her children.  It is seeing a struggling addict believe in themselves if even for a moment.  It is seeing a smile on the face of someone enduring the pain of treatment of a chronic disease. In today’s busy world, I’m not sure how my view of success fits in.  I’m the eternal optimist, seeing the good in everyone and looking for a place to make a difference.  What is your dream?

While I continue to search for a place to connect, I will continue to give back in small ways.  This month we are again doing our FIGHT HUNGER campaign.  A chance for YOU to make a difference in the lives of a child.  You can sponsor a thermal tote which I will fill with healthy snacks and school supplies.  These will be delivered to children in need in the local area to bring a smile to their face.  My Thirty One team, the Rays of Hope, will be collecting thermals all across the country and delivering them to children in their area to make a difference.

Remember you can also help me to make a difference by nominating someone on my “Give Back with Me” page.  Each month, a someone special will receive a Thirty One product and words of encouragement.  Do you know someone who needs some “loving on”?

I know I squirreled.  When I started today’s blog, it was about defining success in your life and I’m not sure I have helped you to do it.

I challenge you to take a moment and think about what success means to you.  Think about what people will say about you when you are gone – how will they remember your life?  I would love to hear your definition of success….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Time Saving Tips

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Are you wondering how it got to be Friday?  Did the week fly by?  Is your to do list just as long as it was on Monday and you have been crossing off things you have done?  Sometimes I feel like little elves come in at night and add to the list or erase what I crossed off, what about you?

I have found some time saving tips so you can get stuff done and move on to the stuff you really want to do.

#1 Eliminate Non-Essentials

Decide your top priorities and don’t worry about the rest. Pick no more than 3 things you want to get done on a particular day and just do them.  If you have time and can, do something else off the list – BONUS.  What are some of the non-essentials tasks you could eliminate?

1. Washing and folding kids’ laundry – Let younger kids fold their own clothes.  Then pick an age when your child becomes completely responsible for their own laundry.  I never did this but I know lots of moms who say this works great.
2. Folding sheets — I don’t fold bed sheets. I keep one set of sheets for each bed, wash them once a week and place them back on the bed.  It helps we only have one bed now to worry about.
3. Making breakfast — Keep easy to prepare foods like bagels, cheese toast, cereal and yogurt so breakfast is a DIY event.  This also helps for those of us who don’t usually eat breakfast.
4. Answering the phone – Our house phone is turned down so low, we never hear it BUT people can still leave a message on the machine.  I am learning to turn off my cell phone too so I can focus on what’s most important. You can use the “Do Not Disturb” setting on your smart phone and answer calls and texts when you have time. I didn’t even know there was a feature like this!

#2 – Just Say “No”

The key to eliminating non-essentials things in your life is learning to set good boundaries. UGH!  Sometimes you will need to make the tough choice of saying “NO” to things outside your values and priorities. This is never easy.  Learning to decline social engagements, job offers and other requests will be easier than turning down friends, family and work associates. Sometimes it is necessary if you want to live your best life focusing on what matter’s most.  Remember it is progress not perfection.

#3 – Batch Tasks

Once you have eliminated tasks you can’t or shouldn’t be doing, how about finding a way to do them more efficiently.  One trick is to group them together and do them at one time. Here are some examples of task batching:

1. Bulk cooking — I always cook for 4 – 6 people even though there are only 2 of us.  Why?  Hubby works the night shift and I freeze portioned meals for us to use during the week.  No pre-packaged frozen meals in this house.
2. Errand day – Pick one day a week to complete all of your shopping and other errands. This not only saves time, but gas money because you can plan the most efficient route.

#4 – Use Online Services

I am learning how to do this more often.  We use JET.com where prices drop as you shop.  They offer discounts on your first 3 orders, Ebates offers a 3% rebate all of the time and shipping is free for orders over $35.  I am now using Amazon PRIME and learning as I go along. Have you checked out Amazon Family? It’s part of Amazon Prime and gives you 20% off on diaper subscriptions, free shipping, exclusive baby registry and family discounts and more.  You can get a FREE trial of AMAZON prime.  What is your favorite online service?

#5 – Create Routines

One of the best way to save time and simplify your life is by creating routines as much as possible.  Specific days for specific tasks, create a morning and evening routine for you and your family, clean your house in the same order every week.  Routines help to ensure you can take care of important tasks without expending much energy. Regular routines will also help your kids feel calmer because they know what to expect.  I learned this early when raising Belinda.  “Winging” things did not work well for her but when she had a set schedule, life was so much easier for this single mom.

Want are you best time saving tips for moms?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Conquer Laundry Mountain

Happy Monday!  If you are a busy mom, I’m sure the weekend included some (or many) loads of laundry, right?  I am always amazed at home much laundry we have in our house when there are only TWO adults.  Some days I feel like there is more than when I was a single mom with a baby.  3aeec5f983d285791643424c2a8aa6d5

Do you have piles of clothes around the house? Are you constantly feel overwhelmed by the never-ending cycle of keeping clean clothes in the dresser drawers?

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Most of us know our family needs clean clothes but we also hate doing laundry so we procrastinate. And procrastination makes doing laundry even more unpleasant so we continue an ugly cycle, and unfortunately it’s not the spin cycle.

Here are 3 tips to put a stop to the cycle….

#1 – Create a Routine

Let’s face it, kids produce a lot of laundry, right?  No matter the age, it seems like they product PILES of laundry.  The easiest way to stay on top of the endless mounds is to make laundry a regular part of your schedule.

I used to do the Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine when it was just Belinda and I.  Now, I do the Monday Friday Method.   Some may need to do the Once-a-Day method.  Whatever the need, put it in your routine.   Start a load first thing in the morning, move it to the dryer after breakfast and fold it in the afternoon.  When I worked outside the home, I would start a load as soon as I came home from work,  move it to the dryer after dinner and fold it before going to bed.

I will admit my current Monday Friday method would get lost, if I didn’t write it on in my planner.  cmemhkbu8aasmif

#2 – Organize the Baskets

I know you don’t believe laundry could be pleasant, right?  It is when you have control over it.  Let’s be honest, picking up the dirty clothes then sorting them is an effort BEFORE you even begin the washing/drying process.  The Peaceful Mom suggests gaining control by designating baskets for each type of laundry load you do. Of course, the toughest part could be getting everyone in the house to follow the rules.

The 3 Basket Method works like this: darks (colors might bleed), lights (colors will not bleed), towels (washcloths, rags and towels need to be washed in hot water). If you have a lot of white clothing you may want to add an additional basket for those clothes.

Another way to organize laundry is by child.  Each one gets his or her own basket for dirty clothes, then wash a complete load of only his or her clothing.  When the drying is done, the child can take the basket of clean clothes to his room, fold it and put it away. Okay, I can hear the skeptics now.  It takes practice.  Of course you also take the risk of clean clothes not getting put away and dirty clothes being thrown on top of clean.  What is your best solution for this struggle?

#3 – Recruit Help

I will admit I was not very good at this.  Belinda didn’t do laundry or put her clothes away.  I tried it for a little while BUT the result was more trouble then it was worth.  As a single working mom, I picked my battles and laundry was not one of them.  The downside, when she went to college she was clueless on how to do laundry.  Opps, I squirreled.

The truth is teenagers can help but even Toddlers can help match socks and fold small items like washcloths and their own pants or shorts. They can then carry the clothing to their room and put it away in a drawer.

Children as young as 4 or 5 can fold towels and clothing. The clothing may not be folded according to your standards but the point is to get your children involved.  It will teach them responsibility and hopefully work yourself out of a job.  Believe me, no one is going to open your linen closet and judge you for a few sloppily folded towels.

Children between the ages of 10 and 12 can start washing their own laundry. Post a written list of the steps and provide lots of supervision until they get the hang of it. (‘No, we don’t add bleach to the load with jeans.’) Then leave them on their own.

I challenge you to pick a laundry system. Since it takes time to develop a routine or a habit,  write a note to remind yourself or set an alarm on your phone or put it in your planner.

Which system do you prefer to use for laundry –  once a day or once a week?  Share with us your best laundry tips.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

How It All Began – The Bullying Story

On March 29th, 2013 I started my blog journey.  It was a challenge by Vanessa Coppes as a way to grow my business.  I didn’t get it.  How could blogging grow my business?  But I was up for a challenge.  Here is my first blog, one that touched the heart of many of my readers.

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I just wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means that you may have taught your child the coping skills they need deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

I was a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things that I had when I was growing up and more for my daughter, Belinda.  Isn’t that every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  I moved to a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area that had a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and it was affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to be changed to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and her friends went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken that she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

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Here is when the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker that loves working with troubled kids. As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park that as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure that her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talks about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives that people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t do any of that. 

Many believe that if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all that I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know that bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I that “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure that Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent & confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day (event is over) for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. This is an amazing cause and I truly believe that children who are visibly and “in’visibly” bullied can benefit from this type of program.

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Have a ThirtyOne-derful day1