Happy ThirtyOne Anniversary

 

Happy 8th Thirty One Anniversary to ME!!!!

I can’t believe eight years ago today, I started this journey.  For many, staying 8 years at a job, any job, is amazing!  I will admit in my own life, before recovery, I jumped from job to job always looking to make more money.  More money equaled prestige, a title and deep down allowed me to bury my lack of confidence a little further.  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I started to see happiness was more than just about the money, it was about making a difference.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot, trying to remember life 8 years ago.  2011 was a crazy time – I got married to the love of my life after a 9 year engagement, I left a job I loved because of commuting and health issues and my relapse took on a life of its own.

Why am I talking about all of this?  As I mark my eighth anniversary with Thirty One I realize the difference it has made in my life.  Despite the many times I thought about quitting because I wasn’t “as good as” or “didn’t have a good month” or “didn’t earn the leadership trip” or any of the other comparisons/excuses I made – I stuck with it.  God had a plan and even through my relapse, I felt it. For those who don’t know my Thirty One story, here it is.  Did I remember it myself?  NO!  I’m grateful for blogging because it helps me to remember.

Here is how the story goes…..

See, the truth is I joined Thirty One in 2009 and didn’t do much with it.  Yup, I was a kitknapper. I had a few sales but nothing much and it wasn’t long before I went inactive.

I can’t remember exactly how or why it all happened – God had a plan.  I started following Hope Shortt on Facebook and I read her story.  On February 7th, 2011, I talked with her and told her I wanted to join her Thirty One team. She asked me “what my why” was?  Kind of the standard question when someone joins your team…

I was nervous and being a “people pleasing person” I told her I wanted to earn some extra money.  I had a good job – Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit and who had time for much of anything else.  BUT the truth was, deep down I had a big dream but fear and doubt crept in along with Negative Nellie so I stuffed it down deep.  I started sharing the products at vendor/craft shows, not wanting to do home parties and really not interested in having a team.   Recruiting wasn’t an option because I joined the day before the FREEZE. No, not the weather although it was cold; Thirty One froze enrollment because they were growing so fast.  I was relieved. I had been doing craft/ vendor shows for over 20 years, so it was going to be easy.  Hope listened and said she would be there to help when I needed her. No pressure just support and kindness.2014-08-09-18-17-48-4

So started my journey with Thirty One.  I did LOTS of vendor events. Fear and doubt kept me company.   I didn’t have much confidence – I know amazing, right?    This was so far out of my comfort zone.  I was a grant writer and social worker, what did I know about sales.  I had several failed attempts at my own business so what was I thinking?

My first TWO potential recruits came during the “freeze”.  I was honest with them,  I was going to be learning along with them. Believe it or not, they still joined as soon as the freeze lifted and quickly qualified with $1,000 in sales.  I was now a Senior Consultant and in Leadership. YIKES!  I wasn’t sure what it meant but it was okay.  I was having fun and slowly building confidence.  Then my first home office lead wanted a HOME PARTY! Panic set in… it was someone I didn’t know and I was clueless.  I stumbled my way through it – no additional parties bookedbut I had sales and it was kind of fun.

My FIRST Thirty One National Conference was August of 2012.  It was there I set a goal and decided to write my dream on paper – I was going for Leadership. The goal was to be Director BEFORE National Conference 2013. The stats say those who go to national conference earn more – TRUE! Those who go to national conference – PROMOTE – TRUE! In October, 2012 I was a Director in Qualification and in January 2013, I earned my $1,000 Director Bonus.  I had gained confidence as a consultant but being a Director brought new fears and challenges.

At National Conference 2013, I was joined by my daughter and members of the Rays of Hope Team. I walked across stage and was CELEBRATED as a NEW Thirty One Director. Tears of joy flowed freely all weekend and continue each time I think back to the moment.  Hope Shortt, my Senior Executive Director, hugged me on stage.   It is weird, the MS has stolen the memory but the emotion of walking across the stage stays with me bringing me to tears each time I think of it.

Since then my why has changed so much.  I no longer work full-time due to health reasons.  We rely on my Thirty One business as the second income in the house.  It pays my credit card debt as a result of my relapse as well as some standard household bills (groceries, cell phone, cable and meals out).  It allows me to work from home as I struggle with my MS.

I struggle with my “why” and learning to DREAM BIG. I still get nervous before a Home party.  I struggle with personal development and fighting my haunting inner gremlins as processing thoughts are difficult most days.  I am blessed with a sisterhood across the country who helps me when I am struggling, who celebrates with me and who encourages me when I struggle.   My team inspires me everyday.  They accept me for who I am and have helped me to learn to love me for me.

One of the biggest blessings is the support from the Pink Bubble Warriors.  A group of Thirty One sisters with chronic diseases.  Together we inspire each other.  I gained some of my confidence back which was lost in HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, I earn FREE products! Yes, I earn a commission check every two weeks!  Yes, I found a sisterhood I didn’t know existed in my Thirty One sisters! Yes, I have grown in my walk with God, learning to trust and believe his will will be done in my business!  The benefits have definitely outweighed the negatives of those rough months.

This past year has been a true struggle – accepting my relapse, and the need for a twelve step recovery program to help fight the demons in my life.  It is the result of vision casting with the Beacon of Hope Team (my upline’s team) which has helped me to focus on my why again.  To Make a Difference in as many lives as possible while becoming debt free – is what keeps me going every day.  It can be a little act of kindness with happy mail or a hug to delivering a welcome basket to a new single mom moving into her forever home.  It is those things which keep me going when I am not sure what to do.

A $99 pink box eight years ago, CHANGED MY LIFE. Could it be the thing which changes yours? 

 

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Convince Someone to Change Their Ways

When I entered recovery over 26 years ago, I heard a zillion times “you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results”.  So, when life throws me a curve ball, it is time to make a change.  With a little bit of effort and commitment, we can make the change in our life

BUT what happens when we want to help someone change their behavior?

I was social worker whose clients were addicts, chronically unemployed, and those who had a hard time seeing life could be different.  As long as they couldn’t see their life as any different, there was no reason to change their behavior.

There are two elements which are an absolute requirement for trying to convince someone to change their behavior:

  1. They need to understand the effect change will have in their life.
  2. They need proof beyond a reasonable doubt change will help them.

There was one young lady who I had the pleasure of working with and still keep in touch with today.  Let’s call her D.  She was a heroin addict who also had an AIDS diagnosis.  At our first meeting, I knocked on her front door to find her and her dealer getting high.  I opted not to go in and told her I would be back in an hour to talk with her.  Of course, an hour later she didn’t answer her door.  As someone who was early in their recovery, I knew I couldn’t save her, she would have to save herself.  She would have to want to change her behavior.

Over the next year, we had many run-ins over her drug use but every step of the way, I was able to show her glimpses into the positive effect not using would have on her life.  Would it cure her AIDS?  No but it could prolong her life.  She could feel better. The medicine wouldn’t make her sick.  With each little milestone – a few days clean, not sharing needles to not using needles – we celebrated.  With each little milestone, she saw glimpses of how her life could be different.

First, the restored relationship with family.  Was it easy?  No.  Did she slip?  Yes.  Each time she did, she remembered the positive impact the change had on her life.  Today, she still continues to fight the AIDS battle (27 years and counting ), has fought cancer and even went back to school to get her GED.  She is living a life she couldn’t even imagine 26 years ago.

Believe it or not, I use the same social work tactics in my business.  From helping team members reach their goal to working with colleagues to help them move forward when they are stuck.

The misconceptions about change are:

  1. It takes time to change.  Yes, it is a process but can happen as fast as you are willing to work to move forward
  2. Someone has to want to change.  We all talk a good game when it comes to making changes BUT are you really willing to reach down to the depths of your soul to make the change?
  3. Someone needs to hit rock bottom before they change.  I believe each person is different and for some, yes this is VERY true.

When you are ready to apply the two elements to the area of your life you want to change, AMAZING things can happen.  Want to make a change in your business?  Want to make a change in your relationship?  All things are possible when you embrace these two elements.

What do you want to change?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

HIV/AIDS Still Exists

Today December 1st is World AIDS Day.  For some, it is just another day.  For others, it is a time to remember those who have fought the battle and lost, encourage those who continue to fight and educate to end AIDS in our lifetime.  Since leaving the field of HIV/AIDS many years ago, I seem to have become complacent about what was a passion.

Living with a chronic illness has brought back many memories for me. So today, I am reflecting on the lessons I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.  As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” who stepped into Bridgeton wanting to help the world.  Yes, it is what many of my clients thought of me and willing shared as we got to know each other.  I didn’t see any of the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than.  I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick.  “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I had made many bad choices over the years.  So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart wanting to save them all.  In those early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence.  It took babies from their mothers.  Moms and dads from their kids.  It took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it.  I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS.  This was the world I dedicated many years of my professional life too.  Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS.  She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys.  She grew up with a passion for helping people which I admire.

Fast forward to today when little is spoken about HIV/AIDS.  It is a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message.  There are medicines to keep you going, so why worry, right?  The theme for World AIDS Day 2017 is “Now Let’s End It”

Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications.  Let’s not be complacent.  Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.  Let’s all work together for a day when there is an AIDS-Free Generation.

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World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us and government HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What are you willing to do to help?  Today, I remember those who fought a great fight – Jackie Wise, Matt McCrossen, Sam, Maria and all of the others who walked through the doors of my office in Bridgeton and the other SJAA offices.  I honor those who continue to fight especially Jeff, Donna and Veronica.  They continue to inspire me with their strength and determination after 26 years.

Honor someone you know who is living with HIV/AIDS or who has lost the fight.  Share their names so we too can honor them.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

 

World AIDS Day 2016

wad-poster-thumb-2016This day every year makes me emotional as I reflect on the lives of those who lost their battle, those who continue to fight and those who unfortunately will still contract HIV.  For those who don’t know my story, you are probably wondering why this has such an impact on me, right?

When I first entered recovery, I was on PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) and had to do community service.  They handed me a book and said “pick something”.  I selected the South Jersey AIDS Alliance and the rest is history.  It was then I started what would become a 15 year commitment to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  From Case Manager to County Director to Advocate and County Ryan White Grant Manager.

For me, I am reflecting on the lessons that I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance. As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” stepping into Bridgeton wanting to help the world. Yes, many of my clients thought it and willing shared as we got to know each other.

I didn’t the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than. I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick. “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I too had made bad choices over the years.

So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart to save them all. In the early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence. It took babies from their mothers, it took moms and dads from their kids, it took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it. I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS. This was the world I dedicated a large portion of my professional life to. Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS. She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys. She, too, grew up with a passion for helping people.

Fast forward to today, where little is spoken about HIV/AIDS unless a celebrity says the words. It is now a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message. There are medicines, so why worry, right?

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We aren’t there yet – we are close. There are still 1.1 million people living with HIV in the US today. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications. Let’s not be complacent. Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.

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Today is in honor of those who lost their fight, and those who continue to fight every day. You blessed my life more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing this “crazy white chick” to be a part of your lives.

The theme this year is “Leadership, Commitment Impact”.  What will you do to make an impact?  Consider donating to agencies who help improve the quality of life for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Giving Tuesday

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Today, we celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Today marks the fifth year of a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

#GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I know you are thinking “we give all year long”, right?  The truth is many times we plan to give but the moment passes us by – lack of funds, lack of time or just “a senior moment”.

#GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.  As individuals, we have causes near and dear to our hearts.  Those who may have helped us personally over the years or maybe made a difference in the life of a family member.  Maybe it is just because you can relate to an organization’s mission.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community is through #GivingTuesday……

Here are a few of my favorite causes …

  • Redeem-Her was born in 2005 to create second chances for those who need it most. Their mission is to offer help and hope to women reentering the community from rehabilitation facilities, jails and prisons.  They have helped more than 150 women and your support will help them to make a difference in the lives of women in need of a second chance. No donation is too large or small.  If you would like to help us them with their vision of providing second chances for more women, donations can be made at: http://www.redeem-her.org/donate
  • South Jersey AIDS Alliance is a caring, compassionate Organization dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Located in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Camden Counties , their vision is to be recognized as a dynamic organization able to efficiently and effectively provide the diverse and integrated program delivery needed to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing nature of the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.
  • Bethel AME Church which also houses Bethel Development Corporation and Bethel Learning Center is the oldest church in the City of Millville.  It houses the longest running soup kitchen in Cumberland County providing hot home-cooked meals four days per week.  The Learning Center is open to children 6 weeks to 5 years of age as well as offering Before and After Care programs.    All programs at Bethel are focused on giving a hand up to those who are struggling – the addicted, the chronically unemployed and the homeless.

#GiveBackWithMe is my way of bringing a smile to someone who is struggling.  Every month, I select one individual who will receive a gift from me along with some encouraging words to let them know they are special and worthy.  To remind them, no matter what the struggle there is someone who cares for them.  Click HERE and help me to make a difference in the life of someone.  Nominations are taken 365 days a year…. one selected each month.

This November 29th, join the movement and give – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community.   #RandomActofKindness will #makeadifference in the lives of others.  It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back and then share your idea.

Share with us YOUR favorite cause with a link on how others can donate to them…Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!