Recovery After Relapse

 I have gone back and forth trying to decide whether or not I wanted to share this post.   I have been  a people pleaser most of my life and I didn’t want any one to be angry with me. Others will stop reading.  BUT there may be one or two who will be encouraged or know recovery is actually possible.

My first time in recovery, I shared with everyone.  I didn’t care who knew because NA and the people I met saved my life.  They helped me to learn about me which made me confident.  Some would say I got cocky, since after two plus years of daily meetings I walked away from the program thinking I was “better” and was healed.  I was given back all of the tangibles in my life – family, a career, a house, car and so much more.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed I have referenced my relapse and my walk back into recovery.  Pride and ego gets the best of me as I worry about what people will think.  BUT there may be someone out there who needs to hear this story….

When I started blogging in 2013, I shared the story of my addiction. The story of getting clean in 1991 was a blessing.  I was blessed with many years in recovery – from drugs.  Of course, I now know I substituted work for my drug of choice.  I became a workaholic – and some wondered if I cared more about my clients then I did my family.  As a workaholic, I had an occasional glass of wine figuring I had things under control.  Little did I know, it was the beginning of making a total mess of my life again.  See, I forgot one simple thing from those early meetings – a drug is a drug is a drug.  The truth is, anything we become obsessive about is a form of addiction.  So, as I worked for many years at a job I loved; I was able to “manage” my work – addiction.

When for health reasons I had to give up my crazy commute (4 hours a day round trip) and a job I loved – I was lost.  I had no real identity or at least I didn’t think so.  The first year wasn’t bad.  I worked on my direct sales business, and collected unemployment while I looked for something close to home.  The truth was being 54 with LOTS of experience was not an appealing trait for most employers.  All they saw was someone who was “older” and who they thought would quit when a better opportunity came along.

Over the next 7 years, my life would be like a roller coaster ride.  Taking jobs to fill the void and pay the bills.  But each time, my MS (not yet diagnosed) reared its ugly head, and I had to give my notice.  During 4+ of those years, not only did I struggle to find a job but I endured endless testing to determine what was going on health-wise with me.

Financial unmanageability was starting to wreck havoc in my life without a steady income.  MS started affecting my memory, my moods, my balance and my life. The unmanageability throughout my life got worse.  No steady income.  An inconsistent commission check from my direct sales business.  Using credit cards to pay for things or to shop or to keep up appearances.  Drinking wine to relax.  The old behaviors and feelings from my early days of using came back really fast.  Stuffing my feelings again.  Feeling like I didn’t belong.  Feeling alone.  Feeling like a victim.  Feeling unworthy of anything.  Playing the comparison game and never winning.  Being self-centered (I want what I want when I want it).  Angry. Letting pride rule. Jealousy.  All of those things I thought I had dealt with long ago.

See, the reality was I gave up the drugs but I never really worked on me.  I substituted work for drugs.  I identified as a Social Worker.  I identified as mom.  But I never identified as Hope – the person.  Looking back, I was happy with my life BUT I don’t think I was ever really happy with me!

One year ago, I walked back into the rooms of NA, I felt as broken and lost as the first day I walked into the rooms on October 26, 1991.  I have learned so much in the last year.  This year has been a turning point in my life…. you would think at 62 I would have finally gotten it together. LOL.

Are things perfect?  No but they are getting better.  I am learning to like me for me.  I still tend to play the comparison in my business but it is getting better. I am working on re-building broken relationships. I am building a network of strong women who I can lean on.   I am learning to accept my MS diagnosis and truly believe #mswillnotdefineme.

Why am I sharing this?  I want to help someone else who may be struggling.  I am coming face to face with my inner demons so I can move on from the past and embrace the future.

Have a blessed day!

Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

If you follow my blog you know, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

Last year, for Easter, and for Mother’s Day we donated baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

Why is Dottie’s House so special to me?  I was a child of domestic violence……..  behind the doors of our seemingly normal middle class family, the was abuse.  My dad was an alcoholic and my mom suffered the consequences sometimes – physically and verbally.  Mom never left.  In fact there was a time when dad left and because I was so clueless as to what was happening, I begged for him to come back.  My mom took him back.  My mom was brave for enduring the struggle.  These women at Dottie’s House are brave for taking their kids and fleeing.  

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering pouches” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 31 since – 18 for the 18 units at Dottie’s House and the balance for the moms who have moved into their forever homes with Homes Now, Inc.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.

Since I began my “give back program”, over $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness charms for $7 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 12th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family.  I can also accept credit card payments directly.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

How To Have a Productive Day

We’ve all been there. Days you don’t want to tackle the “To Do” list, right?   I used to think it was easier when I was working full-time and juggling my DS business on nights and weekends.  I knew I only had a limited about of time to be productive before I crashed for the night.  I was focused and had a plan.

Now I work from home full time and hubby works the swing shift.  It is easy to blow off at least part of the day till he goes to work, hanging out and ignoring my business completely.  I have learned (the hard way)  I won’t achieve my goals this way.  When I worked at home as a grant writer, it was easier because there were deadlines.  Belinda went to school, I worked.  Of course some would say I always worked.  I had lots of deadlines and a passion in my soul to make a difference.  Now to use some of those same tricks in my DS business at home.

Having health issues and working at home full time, some days I need an extra little push in the right direction to get me going.  What about you?  Maybe you are crazy busy and you want to learn how to be more productive so you can get back on track with your goals.  Here are some tips which might help you….

#1 – Figure out the feelings.

I’m great at stuffing them so this one is sometimes tough for me.  Are you feeling burnt out? Are you dreading one (or more!) of the tasks on your To Do list? Do you lack inspiration?  Do you over analyze everything so you suffer from “Analysis Paralysis?”.  The truth is by figuring out why you are feeling the way you are,  you can acknowledge it and then work to solve it.  Change up the routine.  Have an impromptu dance party in the living room to get the juices flowing.

#2 Accomplish Something – ANYTHING – First Thing In The Morning

I’m usually up and in my office for by 7AM.  I have a checklist of daily things I have to get done a a bare minimum.  This gets the ball rolling for me. For you,  it can be a simple task like cleaning up the kitchen while enjoying your morning coffee.  On rough days, making the bed is my one accomplishment.  Pick one thing each morning and accomplish it.  Once you are done, spend a moment enjoying how it feels to have completed the task.

#3 Adjust your Morning Routine

Start your morning off on the right foot so you have a productive mindset.  Be sure you eat something healthy with some protein in it to start your day off right.   I’m not a big breakfast person but grabbing a hard boiled egg with my coffee helps.  While you’re enjoying a healthy breakfast option, start writing down your priority list. For me, I take the top 3 things I need to do and get them done!  You may want to start with the easiest task and work up to the more difficult ones.  When you use preparing a to-do list based on priority levels as part of your morning routine, you’ll naturally start to have a more productive day.

#4 Allow Breaks during the Day

I’m learning when I take breaks during the day, I am more productive.  It’s okay to take breaks throughout your day, especially if you have a heavy workload.  Breaks like 15 – 30 minutes not 2 – 3 hours.  Once you finish a task, reward yourself.  Take a break. Grab a snack.  Put on some music and dance around.  By giving yourself rewards (breaks) when a task is completed you will maintain your confidence and motivation. It’s great to take a break in between tasks because it helps transition your mind from one priority item to another.  Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a regular lunch break each day.  Get away from the office.  Clear your head.  You will be amazed at how much you get accomplished.

#5 Manage Your Distractions

There are LOTS of distractions when we work from home BUT the biggest distraction is social media.   The “just want to check one thing” on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram then it is 3 hours later and nothing has gotten done.  I’ve even used the excuse of “I’m working on my business”!  I need to remind myself, if I was working for someone else, I wouldn’t be able to take personal calls or texts, so why do I do it during my business hours?  Schedule your social media time so you can still maintain your online presence without having to be logged in at all times.

It is possible to have a more productive day – every day.  When you practice these tips, you will create habits which will lead to success!  What is your best tip for having a productive day?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

As you know if you follow my blog, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

For Easter, we donated 25 Easter Baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

While delivering them, I was sharing stories of my days as a Social Worker with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance when SMACK!  Mother’s Day was quickly approaching and I wanted these moms to feel some love.

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So, again with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering bags” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 18 since there are 18 units at Dottie’s House.  So far we are halfway there.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.   

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness magnets for $5 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Since I began my “give back program”, almost $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

So, who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 9th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family.  I can also accept credit card payments directly.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

The Struggle of an Optimist

Stomping out inner gremlins and banishing ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) from my life is an ongoing battle. When a crisis occurs, I jump into Social Worker mode.  Handle things, take care of everyone, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks… you get the picture, right?  I mean every crisis needs a person like this, right?  On the outside, I look like a rock while on the inside I am falling apart.

When I started blogging over 4 years ago, it was about my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Somewhere along the way it changed to sharing tips and tricks for organizing, business coaching tips and more.  Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and helping others but I believe in my heart I can also help people by sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences.  Why am I saying all of this?  Because today is about getting through a life crisis.

My dad is currently in a rehab and has been placed on hospice for end stage COPD.  Dad played hard during his life and it has caught up with him at the ripe age of 86.  On his good days, he still has his smart answers for the nurses but he is tired of fighting.  The pain has gotten too great.  So, on Friday, “social worker” mode kicked in.  I truly believed I was handling things well.  A10-minute meltdown after getting the call from the rehab about his condition and I was done.  Then on Sunday at church. a friend said “are you okay? you look like you are going to cry”.  The water works started again.

Today, I am practicing some of the things I would have told family members of clients many years ago when a crisis occurred:

Limit Your Pity Party:

A wise friend gave me some sage advise:  “Every now and then you have to have a good cry, your own little pity party to get your feelings out. Then the next day you feel renewed in your fight and battle on.”  

So, I let the tears fall, went to bed and woke up ready to conquer the world.  I am learning to share the details of what is happening without putting any negativity into the Universe.  Leaning on God for his strength to get me through the tough days.

Do What You Don’t Want to Do:  

A crisis hits and what do we do?  Crawl in bed and pull the sheets over our head?  Avoid friends, and family?  Stop working? Not eating or sleeping?  Maybe even turn to a drink or two to help numb the pain?

Guess what? None of it will help in the long run.  It will send you down a path which is hard to come out of.  For me, I have a business to run so I can’t just hide.  For those who work for someone else, going to work is a great way to keep some normalcy in your life.  For those of us with our own business, we need to find ways to keep moving through the tough stuff.  Here are some things I have been doing:

  • Feed your body fresh, organic food (hubby says my nose is starting to twitch like a bunny)
  • Walking more every day.  Got to get my steps in.
  • Read a book which inspires you.  I keep it to something short because my attention span is short.
  • Watch a comedy show and laugh.  I am grateful for hubby’s ability to find old comedy shows on Amazon Prime
  • I treated myself to a new outfit.  A way to give myself a little pampering.

Take Care of Yourself Before You Take Care of Others

Yup, I am the proverbial care giver.  Taking care of the rest of the world while I tend to forget about me.  My “me time” consists of early morning hours in my office for devotions and to work on my business.  As the day moves on, I tend to struggle with balancing how to care for others while getting things done I need to do. Then I get annoyed when I don’t get my “to do” list done.  Crazy right?  I know I am not alone.

The truth is to help anyone, you must put yourself first. If you don’t take care of you, who will? When a crisis drops in your lap, you will be better able to tackle it if you have been taking care of yourself — giving back to you. Never forget how much you matter. You cannot fully give to others, including your work, if you haven’t taken care of yourself.  A lesson I am learning (sometimes the hard way).

Relive Stress and Release Anxiety

For some this is writing?  Or exercise? Or work? Or cooking?  The key is to do something to help you release anxiety before it has its way with you.  For me, I have to start my day with a cup of coffee and devotions or I am a mess the rest of the day.  I stop for about a half hour to send positive energy into the Universe.  Writing also helps.  Blogging daily has helped me personally, as well as for my business. Find what works for you –  take up writing, or an art of some kind, or learning a new skill, or take up an exercise like power walking, yoga or kayaking. Choose an activity that causes you to thoroughly focus and helps you let go of tension or pent-up anxiety.  It is also important you get enough sleep. Overtired, overstressed and increased anxiety are your own personal crisis waiting to happen.

A long post but in my heart I know someone needs to hear this – even if it is just me.  Have  a ThirtyOne-derful day!