Thankful Thursday: PAIN

I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain……  Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?

Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile?  Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house?   Is it really possible to not fall apart?

I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery,  I have lived with the pain of MS.  Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows.  The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional.  Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?

Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?

The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person.  It has helped me to see “joy” is possible.  I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense.  There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.

I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather.  I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love.  I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.

When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me.  In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads.  I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse.  I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.

There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating.  Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option.  #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me.  I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.

Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS.  The two get so jumbled together.  I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS.  The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel.  Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great.  Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.

MS has stripped me of the person I once was.  Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day.  Today,  I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.

Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with).  We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.

Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Being Stuck

I’m sure you are wondering WHY would anyone be thankful for being stuck, right?  I read a great blog post from my friend, Deana which got me to thinking.  I know, scary, right?

Think about it…. when was the last time you were stuck? Maybe you were reaching for a goal and just couldn’t seem to push past a block?   Maybe you were waiting for an answer from God and it just wasn’t coming in YOUR time?  Maybe you just weren’t making progress as fast as you would like?

Whatever it was, it didn’t feel good right?  It was frustrating, right?  You just wanted to move forward and no matter how hard you tried it just wasn’t happening.  Well, Deana says “being stuck is an indicator or a symptom that you need to grow“.  YIKES!  So basically being stuck your comfort zone?  If it is, then how many of us truly want to step out of our comfort zones?  I know when I get comfortable, I like to stay there and even wish it could be forever.

For many years I was stuck….. financially and spiritually.  I wanted to climb out of the mess but it just wasn’t happening.  WHY?  Because I wasn’t ready to take the steps necessary to make it happen.  When I walked back into the rooms, faced my relapse and asked for help – growth started AGAIN.  You may not be an addict and in need of a 12-step program, BUT you may be stuck or comfortable unable to move forward in your life.

Deana says we get stuck in 4 different areas which effect our lives.  They are:

Finances – the thing that propels you toward or prevents you from doing the things you want to do for yourself and even others.

Faith – the truth that we cling to when all the chips are down. Our actions are the result of our beliefs.

Fuel – the igniter to your soul. If your soul had a face, this would make it smile.

Family/Friends – the relationships we have, have to have, want to keep and those we don’t.

Being stuck helped me to resolve some financial issues and restored my faith.  I have developed new friendships and am mending relationships with family.  The one area I am still STUCK in is FUEL.  Some days I have it and then there are some days, I wonder what it is.

The one thing which ignites my soul (besides my family and friends) is my angels.  Creating them from different things.  I can see an angel in the making in just about everything.  Sharing angels with others.  Hearing the stories/ memories of other’s angels.  I take baby steps forward in my business and then fear kicks in.  I play the comparison game and think “it will never be more than a hobby” so I get stuck being comfortable – not taking chances or stepping out.

The reality is I (and I’m sure many) focus on the BIG picture which is our end goal.  When we should be focusing on the next small step…..If we repeat the same small step or at least one small step a day, we wouldn’t be stuck, right?  Better yet, we would be closer to our end goal.  .

So for me, today I will be thankful I am stuck and for the realization it is just a symptom of my fear.  Fear to step out of my comfort zone.  Fear to make a change.  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss of income.  Yup, there are lots of fears BUT when I take one small step…… like reaching out to those who have expressed an interest in buying some angels, it doesn’t seem to overwhelming.

As Deana says “Growing past our comfort zones is never easy, but always worth it!”  How will you grow out of your comfort zone and get UNSTUCK?

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Weaknesses

A weakness is defined as “a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault”.
Are you wondering why I am thankful for my weaknesses? Believe me, this was not always the case. For many years, I hid in fear of anyone finding out what my weaknesses were.  I  struggled to do everything asked – the people pleaser in me was afraid they wouldn’t like me if I shared my weaknesses.  How many of you can relate to this?
So, I focused on my strengths – to move ahead in my career, to grow my direct sales business, to build relationships and to hide my weaknesses.  Not letting many close enough to see my true weaknesses.  The first time I wrote this post, it was all about being in direct sales, this time it is more of a personal revelation to help those who may be struggling….
In business and in life, we can’t be strong in every aspect. For those of us who feel insecure, this is a hard pill to swallow.  We compare ourselves to others, afraid to admit what we don’t know.  Just because we may have a weakness, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  Trying and failing is part of learning and growing.
Think about your life (and your business).  Things are probably dictated by what you’re good at.  In your life, your hobbies, your job,  your relationships are all based on the things you are good at and enjoy, right?  What about your business?  If you are in direct sales, don’t you focus on the things you are good at whether it is booking, selling or recruiting?  I mean we can’t all be good at everything, right?  We are usually good at one aspect and struggle on another.  As a result, we place a majority of our focus on our strengths. Makes sense though right? If you’re strong in one aspect then it’s probably the part you most enjoy as well! But is thinking like this letting you grow?
I challenge you to be thankful for your weaknesses. We all have them, but sometimes it can be hard to look in the mirror and tell ourselves we need to be better at the part we struggle with.  I don’t mean in a “beat yourself up” kind of way.  I mean to look at the things you want to change or aren’t good at; find resources to help you learn, and strive to be a better version of yourself tomorrow.

 

I will admit I have always been a “beat yourself up” kind of gal.  MS and recovery have taught me a lot.  I am able to admit my weaknesses, ask for help and then even try some of the suggestions I’m given.  Notice I didn’t say DO them but I said try.  My goal is to be a better version of myself every day.

 

Let’s start by writing down what you are strongest at right now.  What do you feel you do really really well. That’s the pillar you build upon. Next, write out what you feel you do decent. Not great but you can get by with the skills you have. These are items you’ll build up over time. But lastly, write out what you feel like you just aren’t good at, or not comfortable doing at all!

 

The last list is the one you have to go and face head on. These are the topics you should be searching for online, and watching videos to help give you the tools to succeed in your business or in life.   It can be hard to admit these to ourselves but it can be the most freeing exercises, as it’s you giving yourself the direction you need.

 

Some of my weaknesses I am thankful for today are being an introvert (shocker, right?), controlling my graze eating, taking everything personally when someone says something, and the dreaded comparison game.  The two things I am working on right now is controlling my graze eating and playing the comparison game.  Eating on the Wahl’s Diet which is designed for those with MS has helped but I still have the urge to “pick” once in a while.  The comparison game or being self-critical is a tough one to overcome.  Some days are better than others but I am learning to let go and let God on the days when I want to beat myself up for something I have no control over.  I am also learning asking for help allows us to meet some really great people and get to know others better.

 

What weaknesses are your thankful for?  Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday: The Lens of Lovely

I  re-visited a blog I read some time ago by LYSA TERKEURST.  It changed my perspective on things a few years ago, and right about now, I could use a change in perspective when it comes to my weight and view of myself.  The blog was entitled  “Learn to Love Your Story“.  I am hoping it will chase  Negative Nellie away when it comes to how I view my body and my weight.  A change in perspective will help me get motivated and back on track to lose the few pounds I have gained…

Lysa talks about loving your story – your life – being content in the moment and enjoying it! WOW!  Most days I do love my life but then there are those curve ball weeks.  An emotional roller coaster and I am not sure why.  No major fiascos, no crisis – just little hiccups which quickly send me on a road less traveled (okay so maybe it is traveled a little bit more than I want it to be).  You know the journey with Negative Nelly where you struggle to see the light at the end of the rainbow?

Since starting my recover journey again, I can almost tell when I wake up, if I am going to love my story for the day.  Crazy, right?  Of course, I should carry a warning notice around my neck which was “STOP! NOT A GOOD DAY!”.  Send out a text alert to friends and family so they know to stay away.  LOL.  The reality is, on those days  I need to STOP, take a breathe and regroup.  The Serenity Prayer and the Third Step Prayer have become my go to for getting some peace in my life.  I need to then praise and thank God for my life… my story.  See I forget that sometimes.  My life may not be a story book or full of lots of happy endings but it is MY story.  It is the life God gave me or at least he tries to keep me on the right road when I take my will back.

Memories are hard for me.  But there are days when hubby and I talk about the past – reminiscing about days gone by.  I have no regrets nor does he because it is because of those things we are blessed to be in each other’s lives today.  We had our struggles.  We had our heartache.  We had our joys.  Life wasn’t perfect but we got through it to get us where we are today.  The struggles still come but now we try to look at the differently – together.  I am grateful for the times he helps me to remember by playing a song or sharing a picture.

Lysa talked about “pre-deciding” she would LOVE her story.  NOTE to self: change my point of reference BEFORE the day begins.  Stop thinking about the “what if” and “predicting” what may happen in any given situation.  I am learning to live in the moment thankful for being able on some days (working towards all days) to live without expectations.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says “I thank my God every time I remember you.” I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

So I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”

Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

Thank you Lysa for reminding me to look through the “lens of lovely” today.  What are you thankful for today?  Share it with us so we can all celebrate together.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!