Happy Valentine’s Day

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Flowers? Chocolate? A special dinner out?

This year it takes on a whole new meaning.  Why? As a result of my relapse and changing healthy issues, I am learning to love again.  So it is a day to celebrate the gift of love in my life which I sometimes take for granted

Parents – I know you are thinking of course, they love us they are our parents, right?  I have learned over the years many do not have this gift.  Missing my dad BUT I am blessed to be able to spend time with my momma.  Through good times and bad, she loved me even when I didn’t love myself.  I’m grateful for her love and support.

My Daughter – Belinda.  The day she was born, I finally GOT it!  The 6 months on bed rest, the struggles with her biological dad, the days of being a struggling single mom – I got it!  I understood about the sacrifices a parent makes for their child no matter how it hurts.  I LOVE she has grown up to be an independent, strong married woman.  I admire her strength.

My hubby, Rob – a love story for the ages.  When we met back in high school, he was a blond haired, guitar playing guy whose smile gave me chills. He was from Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Our schools were rivals and it didn’t take long for me to succumb to peer pressure. I was and still am a people pleaser ( a HUGE character defect)! We went our separate ways.

The summer of 2002, he reentered my life. I long for the memories which flashed before me back then. Belinda was (and still is) a little protective of her mom. A roadside memorial with the name “HOPE” on it sent him on a hunt to be sure it wasn’t me. We emailed for months and then one Saturday, he showed up at a craft show to see me. To say the least, the rest is history.

We have had our ups and downs over the years. There are some days, I think he got the raw end of the deal. An overly independent woman, with a ton of baggage. Through it all, he has stuck around.  There are days he is my caregiver when the MS flares.  There are days when my lack of memories have him sharing tales of things he have done since 2002.

My recovery has taught me so much in just a few short months.  I am no longer the self-centered woman who doesn’t need anyone.  I have learned to trust again.  I am enjoying him being my best friend. He is my Ying to my Yang. He keeps me grounded when I am ready to fly in the wind.

Today is the day I honor LOVE. Remember LOVE is an intense feeling with deep affection and we are meant to share it with others – family, friends and random acts of kindness to a stranger.  I challenge you to put a smile on someone’s face to day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Do You Downsize Your Dream?

Do you have BIG dreams? The kind which scare you and make you wonder if they are even possible…

Do you dream BIG for a moment and before the thought even finishes, you have found 100 different reasons it won’t happen?

There was a time (pre-MS brain fog) when I would DREAM BIG of having my own business where I was financially stable (no debt) , I could make my own hours and do what I wanted, when I wanted.  The dream soon became reality – or at least a little bit.  I have my own business where I make my own hours and am slowly becoming debt-free but I have downsized those dreams.

WHY?

For me, it is more about health issues.  I dreamed of promoting in Thirty One, of being part of the Gives Council BUT over the last year or so, I have begun to accept some things.  Traveling is more difficult.  Processing thoughts is a struggle most days.  My memory is just not what it used to be.  Some would say I settled.  Others would say I am realistic.  I am happy where I am, enjoying the moment.

Do You Dream BIG?

The truth is most people downsize their dreams out of fear. Fear of criticism. Fear of failure. Fear of success and doubts about whether they can keep it up. It’s risky to dream big. The truth is, the real risk is living small. It’s getting to the end of your life and realizing so much more was possible, if only you had been willing to listen to – and pursue – the desires of your heart.

What’s your real dream? Not the dream you’ve downsized so it feels more manageable, but the true desire of your heart. Too often, we surrender to fear and settle for something less than what we really want. We even try to convince ourselves we don’t want what we want. But it’s useless. You can try to bury your dream, but it doesn’t mean it will die.

One of the most powerful decisions successful women make is this:

I do not downsize my dream.

Whether it is a vision of being debt-free and financially independent or a career calling you or a fitness goal – be bold enough to declare your real dream and go after it. Persist. Do the hard work. Be willing to face disapproval or the criticism of others. In doing so, you will be true to yourself and set the stage for creating a life which is an authentic adventure of meaningful experiences.

Don’t judge other’s dreams or even when they change their dreams.  Don’t compare yourself to others if you have similar dreams or goals.  These are the thoughts which will keep you dreaming small or not dreaming at all.  They will keep you from living the life you were meant to have.

What is YOUR big dream?  Share it with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

4th Annual Chemo Care Tote Campaign

As part of “Giving Tuesday” I am kicking off  my “4th Annual CHEMO CARE TOTES” Campaign.

When I began my journey with Thirty One in 2011, I wanted to make a difference.  Actually, I have been making  difference all of my life – from collecting funds for MD as a child to working in soup kitchens and food pantries to bringing a smile to those who are struggling.  I want to share my spiritual gifts of “helps and encouragement” so others know someone cares when they are struggling.

Here is the message I received from past recipients:

Wanted to let you know I have handed out all of the beautiful bags you had donated for women battling breast cancer. Each person loved the bag and it put a smile on their face to know someone was kind and providing a sense of support as they started their chemotherapy treatments. Thank you again for supporting our patients.

Yes, I cried the first time!… Now, I get goosebumps every time I read it.  Cancer has touched each of us in some way – a friend, a family member, a sister, a mother, a father, a child, and the list goes on.

This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to my family who fought a good fight against this dreaded disease and lost: Edythe (kidney cancer), Elsie (breast cancer), Pop-pop (lung cancer) and my dad (prostrate cancer). I spent many hours in the Oncology Units with Elsie and Edythe as they underwent chemo treatments.  I held their hand when they struggled with the insertion of the needles.  I was there when they were sick from the chemo and sat by their bedside when they were too weak to go out.  As a friend said #cancersucks.  It takes many from us long before their time.  It ravages families.  It leaves children parentless.  It has parents burying children.

With my own health struggles, I have spent many hours in the infusion units of local hospitals.  I am blessed to only have to be there a short time – time for blood work and special testing.  The many women I have seen are not there for a one time visit, they are there for weeks of painful treatments.  They smile and carry on conversations  while encouraging each other.  My heart breaks and the tears come each time I leave the unit for I know what their struggles are like.

Your gift/ sponsorship of $25 will pay for the bag.   I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a blanket/scarf, notepad, pen, bottle of water, lotion, warm socks, chap stick and crossword puzzle book. Donations will again be delivered to the local Cancer Care Center at Southern Ocean Medical Center to bring a smile to the face of those who are fighting this dreadful disease.

chemo bagsLast year, we delivered 31 bags BUT this year, my goal is 50.  I know it is a HUGE jump but I am confident we are up for the challenge. Yes, I know it is the holiday season.  Yes, I know money is tight.  STOP for a moment and think how you would feel if someone handed you an unexpected gift – no strings attached – when you were feeling your lowest.  Let the love of this holiday season shine through with your help.

For $25 you can bring a smile to someone who is fighting the cancer battle.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check, credit card or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@comcast.net as a friend/family.   If you see me at a vendor event, I will be happy to accept your donation.

Won’t you help us to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Does Your Light Shine?

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

Happiness is derived from helping others, making a difference, and serving the world in your own unique way.  For me, I try to do it by helping those who are struggling.

No matter what your purpose is, let your underlying mission be to “live your life in a way people say  “There’s something different about them and I want to feel the same peace, joy, and love in my own life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Here are five ways you can share this idea:

1. Look for ways to be a blessing.

Letting your light shine means letting all the good within you come out. In a world full of negativity, you will be amazed at the light which enters your world when you do something good.  It is like a burst of fresh air. Be sensitive to the needs of others. Find ways to be a blessing to others with simple random acts of kindness.  It can be as easy as a “thank you” or holding the door for someone, or paying for someone’s coffee.  It can be for someone you know or someone you don’t know – either way, your light with shine.

2. Refuse to be judgmental.

One of the fastest ways to turn people away from God is to judge them. And sometimes we do it without even realizing it.  Have you heard the saying “hate the act not the person”?  Basically, we can acknowledge a person has done wrong without condemning them for it.  We are all sinners and fall short every day.   We have all done things we need to be forgiven for, and by grace the grace of God,  we have received forgiveness.  Choose to pray for those you feel tempted to judge – not always an easy thing to do. Embrace and support others when they are trying to do better. .

3. Speak up for what is just.

Speak up for what is just—not right. Do you confuse being right with doing right? I know I have.  We should really be focusing more on doing right. No matter what, especially during conflict, it’s essential you treat people justly. Ensure those who cross your path are better off because they encountered you.  When in a situation where others are being cheated, disrespected, or done a disservice, let your light shine and speak up. Don’t ATTACK but do it in a direct, calm, straightforward, and nonjudgmental manner.  It may not always be easy but it is important to do.

4. Let go of the desire to fit in.

This is probably the toughest thing for this “people pleaser”.  Letting our light shine when we feel the need to fit in everywhere you go, is probably the hardest thing for me.  I am learning a simple smile, talking kindly to people can make all of the difference in the world.  When we are more concerned about being an instrument of truth and love rather than fitting in, our light will shine.

5. Don’t hide your spiritual life.

Do you have a relationship with God but pretend publicly he is not central in your life?  If God is an important part of who you are, why would you keep it to yourself?  Does it have something to do with fitting in?  I don’t mean you need to have a Bible on your desk or quote scripture all of the time. When an opportunity comes up  to share where your strength comes from or how blessed you are, be honest.  Your faith is a part of who you are. When you free yourself to be who you are, you also free others to be who they truly are.  You will also stop trying to please the world.

8330AB52.jpgHas your light dimmed in today’s crazy world?  I challenge you this week to find one way to share your light with the world.  Share how you did it with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How You Can Make A Difference

October has arrived and it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  This is a cause near and dear to my heart….

Since the age of 18, my aunt Elsie dealt with little lumps on her breasts.  They were always removed and thankfully they were benign.  In 1989, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy and an implant.  Life was good and she was placed on tamoxifen for five years.  When she stopped taking it and it worked its way out of her system,  they discovered a problem with the implant.  PLUS her cancer test came back positive.  Studies now show how tamoxifen can give false positives.  Another surgery including reconstructing her breast from a tummy tuck.  Those days, there weren’t many options.  Life was good for a little while after the surgery, she fulfilled her dream to have her own business and was doing treatments.  Then things started to change – her eyesight got worse (glasses weren’t even helping), and the pain throughout her body was taking its toll. After a trip to Maine with some friends, she lost the battle and ultimately  the will to live in May, 1999.  She was my buddy, my friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders.  Maybe my favorite color is pink for this reason – she is always close to my heart.

Thirty One is donating all Round Ups this month in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.  So be sure to round up when you place an order. 

How can you make a difference with your business?  Here are some ideas:

  • Fundraising for local organizations.  This helps to not only get your name out to the community but also helps the organization raise much needed funds.  It is a win-win situation.
  • Be a sponsor.  It may be a table at an event or advertising when they hold an awareness program – whatever it is be a part of it.  I have taken ads in program journals, donated gift baskets for auctions, sponsored “water” for a run – think outside the box.  Get creative.
  • Promote Local Causes.  I need to do this more.  Tag a cause on my Facebook Page to help publicize their work or mention their cause when talking to customers.  Distribute flyers when your favorite cause is hosting an event.  It will help to build good-will and ultimately, your business.
  • Volunteer.  I know, no time, right?  Make a Difference Day is in October with MANY ways to get involved.  It may be making bags at a local food pantry, pulling weeds, building a home – whatever time you can spare is appreciated by the organizations.  While you are volunteering, wear your company tee shirt.

How are YOU going to MAKE a DIFFERENCE this month?  Stay tuned for more details on this month’s Chemo Comfort Bags for Southern Ocean Medical Center.

I would love to hear about your favorite causes…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!