Hope Inspires

The Gift of Time

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT)

This has been a CRAZY year to say the least….. Yet, the countdown to Christmas is still on and you can see the panicked faces of the shoppers even in the grocery store.  I know you are thinking “how can you tell when everyone is wearing a mask”…. Watch as they leave the stores and take the mask off.  Look and SMILE at people as you are sitting at a traffic light.  You will see the stress on their face.

Everyone is worried about so many things this year……..finances, COVID, and this “new way of life”.  Christmas is still for the children, I know the presents are not the true meaning but explain it to a small child who has been watching TV and seeing Santa bring gifts.  So we shop online hoping to pick out the right gift for that someone special.

Can I tell you in some ways I am grateful Belinda is grown.  Yes, the gifts are a little bit more expensive but they are also a lot more practical.  Yes, I miss the wide eyed excitement of Christmas morning – I mean who wouldn’t, right? They are memories I struggle to remember but am grateful for the pictures.

Over the last 13 years, since Belinda left for college in North Carolina, our family has dwindled in size – the real meaning of Christmas as started to shine through.  It is sad it took death, separation, recovery and major health issues to make me begin to see the real meaning of Christmas.  Yes, we went to church.  Yes, we sang all of the traditional Christmas carols.  Yet, I still was worried about finding the perfect gift for everyone.  My hubby’s family is not big on gift giving once someone turns 18 years old so we used to call him the “Grinch”.  They would gather for holidays to spend time with each other and gave of their time.  The true gift one can give someone…

I re-read a devotion on ibelieve.com to help me remember to give the gifts which truly matter this year – the gift of time, encouragement and prayer.  I think back to the days when I used to make everyone’s holiday gift – holiday table runners, recipe rolodex, ornaments, etc.  It was done because I didn’t have the money to spend on presents but I think some of them were the best gifts. I took the time to think of each person and what would mean something to them.  I still like to do the handcrafted gifts, but I am not always the one making them.  I have been blessed with friends who make some amazing things so it makes shopping a little easier.

The gift of time is probably the most precious gift to give someone.  In this crazy COVID world, we need to take more time for our family and friends whether it is in-person or on zoom, skype or facetime.  I have learned the importance of “seeing” people instead of just talking to them.  You can truly get a sense for how people are when you see them – how well we jump to use the word “fine” when we are emailing or talking on the phone.

Being an absolute introvert, giving the gift of time to friends is a struggle.  Probably sounds crazy since I am in direct sales, right?  I am quite content to stay home seeing family.   Yet I know, it is not good for my mental health or my recovery.  The days I like myself are okay but on those off days, my mind can really beat me up.   What about you?  During these crazy times, are you learning to love yourself so you can freely give the gift of time to friends and family?

This year is the first year in our new home.  New traditions. Missing Belinda and wishing she were home even though she visited in July.  Life has had its ups and downs for all of us the last few months.  I’m grateful for FaceTime and the time we spend together.  Grateful for the time spent with Mom and the fact we are now closer so we can do things together.

The gift of time and encouragement – more precious than any material gift.  Who do you know who would love these two gifts from YOU?  Take a moment and remember the true gift of Christmas didn’t come wrapped up in a box with a fancy bow.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

MS will Not Define Me

Feeling Defeated???

If you feel defeated or have ever felt like it, know you are not alone!

Since March when COVID became our way of life, I’ve seen many posts about people who feel like their whole life is falling apart.  I will admit, I had those fleeting moments too.  You know the feeling when it seems like no matter how hard you try, you aren’t able to do anything about it.  We want to fix, manage and control things.  The very people you thought would stand beside you forever turned and walked away.   Those days when the waves of hopelessness flooded your heart and clouded your mind, inching you closer and closer to simply giving up.   The mere thought of facing one more day filled your heart with pain, fear and too much uncertainty to manage.  Who has been there? Maybe not during COVID but at other times in your life….

As a recovering addict who battles with MS, I will admit those days still happen.  I want you to know you are not alone.  There are others who have already been there.

People who know me, know I’m not a quitter…I never have been.  I usual face things with the confidence I will overcome and things will get better.  Honestly, there have been times when I’ve felt like giving up and waving the white flag of defeat. I’m not immune to having the feelings of being overwhelmed, weak and uncertain.  I have tried to do things my way only to find out I created more of a mess.  Those days when MS kicks my butt with brain fog, confusion and aching throughout my body.  Or the days when I  feel as if I’m not “enough” – frustrated with my weight loss efforts and life in general.  I struggle with admitting I’m powerless.  I struggle with wanting things my way.  

Recently, I saw a post about Emperor Tamerlane who was badly defeated in battle. He ran from the battle and hid in a barn. Enemy troops searched the countryside for him. By this time he was depressed, his troops had been terribly defeated and scattered, and he didn’t know what he was going to do.

It was then he noticed an ant trying to push a giant kernel of corn up over a stone wall. As he watched this ant attempt to do the impossible, he counted its futile efforts to see how many times the ant would try until it gave up.

One, two, three… twenty… forty… sixty-nine times the ant tried and failed to push the kernel over the wall. But in one last push, on the seventieth try, the ant made it. Leaping to his feet, Tamerlane excitedly said to the ant, “If you can do it, then so can I.” That day he changed his outlook, reorganized his forces, went back and defeated the enemy.

This story reminded me of the “Little Engine that Could” book I was given my first time in recovery by a friend who was also my boss at the time.  It was this book which helped to remind me on a daily basis things would get better.  Life did get better and then I thought I had things under control.  BIG mistake…..I know I squirreled but I do when I am writing (or talking, LOL).

I know you have probably heard it a million times but you can do it too!  On the outside, people don’t understand every day living with MS is a struggle for me.  On the outside things look easy but on the inside I am attempting the impossible – searching for memories, struggling to find the right words, and trying to carry on conversations.  Add my character defects (yup, I have them) linked to being a recovering addict and you have a “hot mess”.  just like the ant I failed more than once…but I don’t quit.  

I push, get exhausted, try some more, fail, rest, but still get up and try again.  I admit I am powerless in trying to fix, manage and control things.  I push through weakness, dizziness, muscle spasms, and a lack of sleep.  I push through going to meetings because I need to know I am not alone.  I push through feelings of comparison when it comes to my business.  I push and keep on pushing at everything I do. There are days when even a simple trip to the mailbox is a struggle.  

Do I still craft?  YES!  Do I still do puzzles? YES!  Do I still plan meals?  YES (if I didn’t, I never know what we would eat, LOL).  Do I still work my business?  YES (most days)!  Why do I keep pushing….. I think of the little ant who reminds us we can do it. The fight is worth it.  We can make it. Even though things look as if they are impossible, there is still some possibility there. Today, let me be the ant for you.  Remember “impossible” is actually “I’m possible”.

Don’t let the fact a situation, a person, an addiction or a health issue cause you to feel defeated. You can’t stop trying. You can’t stop pushing. Don’t let it win…now PUSH!

I haven’t written in awhile, not sure what to say or what to write about.  This morning, this was heavy on my heart so I figured someone needed to hear it.  I was also surprised by the number of people who keep stopping by my blog to check it out even though I haven’t been writing.  I’m grateful for my readers.  I’m grateful for those who support my business.  It is because I can make a difference in the life of one person I keep on pushing….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel

Birthday Reflections

Another year, another milestone….. believe it or not, today is my 63rd birthday!  Do I feel 63?  Nope, not this year!  I kicked MS to the curb A LOT this year.

I wasn’t going to do my annual reflection BUT last night I decided I had so much to be grateful for this year – I would!

Despite the craziness of the “shelter in place” order, I have been content.  I never realized what an introvert I truly was or should I say am!  I don’t mind staying home… sure I miss the hugs at NA meetings  and the running to the store when I get an angel idea to grab materials BUT overall I have learned so much about me through this process.  I enjoy cooking meals – even three times a day!  LOL.  I enjoy staying home because I can always find something to do…yup I squirreled!

I am blessed to have woken up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  Am I always this optimistic – NOPE!   I’m determined to be positive and make the most of each day.  Brain fog mornings have been few and far between.  Physical therapy this year helped with the “shuffle” as hubby calls it.  LOL.  The brace has made long walks possible without dragging my foot.  I haven’t lost any of the weight gained because of my MS meds but I haven’t gained anymore either.  I guess that is a win.

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day.  I was filled with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and a LOT of nasty inner gremlins which made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. Today, I was blessed to wake up without expectations.  I have learned this year expectations lead to hurt feelings and resentments.  I have a little bit more confidence and am starting to like myself a little more each day.  I am sometimes still self-centered but I can actually spot when it happens.  I am grateful for whatever the day may bring.  Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

This year, my Disability was approved as a result of a change in my diagnosis.  I went from RRMS to Primary Progressive.  It was a hard pill to swallow but it does explain so many things.  As a result, changes needed to be made in my life.  Changes which made me put on my “big girl panties” and do…..

I made the decision to step down as a Director with Thirty One.  I will always be a Thirty One girl but I felt I was not giving my best to my customers or my team.  Trying to keep up with all of the exciting things happening in the company was taking its toll on me.  Doing home parties are tough from carrying things into the house to remember prints/products to processing all of the conversations which go on.  A hard decision but a necessary one.

Angels by Hope took off during the holiday season.  I love sharing my angels with everyone.  New ideas continue to come along…. some are a success while others are definite flops.  Allowing the creative juices to flow again has been exciting.  It helps with processing the same as working my puzzles help with eye hand coordination.

I have come to terms with more lost memories and struggling to find the right words to say.  Hubby’s guitar playing has helped with some memories as he plays songs which have meaning in our life.  As I look through old pictures, there is frustration with the occasional glimmer of a tiny memory.  The normal question of “do you remember…….?” when I see old friends or family brings stress and frustration because most times, I don’t remember.

Through it all I hold fast to the mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”  WOW! I feel like this is turning into one of those “holiday letters” you get from people you only hear from once a year…. LOL.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness…

  • To my NA friends and family…………thank you for your support and guidance this year.  You have helped this “hot mess” become a better person.  Actually you have helped me to find the person I lost so many years ago.  To those who take my texts at all hours of the night, to those who listen even when I repeat myself, to those who put up with this “old lady”…… I am grateful and blessed to have you in my life.  God willing, we will have two years on the 22nd!
  • To my daughter, Belinda.  God could not have given me a greater gift than to be your mom.  Has the road been rocky the last few years?  I think that’s an understatement!  My relapse created a wall between us which I never thought would happen. You have grown into an amazing woman who I am so proud of.  Today, I feel like we are on the road to rebuilding our relationship.  I know it will not be the same but I’m sure it will be better.
  • To my mom….You are my best friend. I don’t know what to say, you are always there for me.  I’m looking forward to the time when the miles no longer separate us.  Till then, I know you are a phone call or a short drive away.  You are one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support you have given me during my relapse and recovery.  I know dealing with my MS memory issues is tough but you are a trooper.
  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t see this)…who is my ROCK!  This past year has been amazing.  There are days I feel like we are back to when we were first dating (yup, that is a good thing).  I know I am not the easiest person to live with (imagine?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  I’m looking forward to your retirement this year, selling the condo and moving to our forever home.  Together we will do amazing things.

I’m sure there are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this past year.  Please don’t feel slighted…  This has been a great year and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 63 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Have a blessed day!

Recovery, Unclutter Your Life

How Honest Are You?

 The “Just for Today” reading this morning was about growing honest.  Think about how honest  you really are.  Do you return extra change to the cashier? Would you admit if you hit a parked car? 

Now, how about being honest with yourself.  Do you honor the person you are on the inside by honestly sharing with those are around you?  Maybe you are like me and don’t always know who the person is on the inside.  Maybe you have “white lied” or left out parts for so long, you have honestly lost the person inside….

We all say we want “the truth” but are we always ready to hear the “truth”???

I remember telling Belinda when she was growing up  “if she was honest with me, she wouldn’t get in trouble.”  I know you are probably thinking  “she’s CRAZY”, right?  Who is crazy enough to tell a child they wouldn’t get punished?  Was I scared of what she would tell me?  YES!  I wanted her to know I would always be there for her.   I stuck to my guns. When she did something wrong or thought I wouldn’t approve of some thing, she told me and she didn’t get punished.  I’m not foolish enough to think she admitted everything but I do know there were times when she did and I was grateful.  I think it helped us in building a strong relationship.

My first time in recovery, I was honest to myself.  I wanted the values I was learning (re-learning from my childhood) to be instilled in my daughter.  Sadly, as I made my way down the spiral to a relapse, those things were lost.  My “white lies” or not whole truths kept me from being the honest person I wanted to be.  It sent mixed messages when there should have been complete trust.  I chose pride over honesty until things were such a mess, I had not choice but to get “honest” with myself and others.

As I entered recovery for the second time, the phrase “honesty is the best policy” haunted me.  Doubt and fear had me convinced those I loved would walk away, never speaking to me again.  They trusted me.  They believed what they saw on the outside while I was trying to close the door on the inner gremlins seeking to get out on the inside.  How could I be honest with them?  I feared the pain I would cause.  I feared the outcome.  I feared the losing the people I cared about the most.  But we are only as sick as our secrets.  It was time to get honest and take the good with the bad….

With 22+ months clean, I am learning honesty is more about having faith.  It is trusting my Higher Power will be there to guide and protect me.  Do I still struggle with being honest about my feelings?  YUP!  I play through how I think the other person will react.  I play through all of the “what ifs”.  Then I turn it over (or at least try to) and trust in the process.

After losing a sponsor, I looked for another.  I valued this person’s honesty at meetings. In a conversation, they told me “you worry too much about what the result will be, just share your feelings.  Be honest because it is about YOU getting better”.  I tried their suggestion and it backfired. Because when stating my feelings, I lost all compassion for the person I was speaking to. I realized their honesty was often self-centered, without a caring and compassionate concern for others. NOT the person I wanted to be.  I learned compassion and honesty had to work hand in hand for me.  I’m learning there is a time and a place to be honest.  What I mean is maybe sharing my feelings is NOT appropriate at this moment and may be better done at another time….the feelings still get shared BUT it is done with compassion towards the other person.

”Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist.”~Mary Kay Ash

This quote was in an early blog I wrote about honesty in business.  It can be applied to any aspect of your life.  Do we have self-confidence when we tell those “little lies” to hide our feelings?  Do we let doubt and fear take hold, so honesty goes out the door?  If you are lacking confidence, maybe you should look at how honest you are being to yourself and others.

For some honesty is the only way they have lived.  For others, being honest is something they have to re-learn because of past experiences.  How often have we thought we were being honest yet we were not sharing “everything”.  

When we are NOT 100% honest, we weave a tangled web.  We are being deceptive.  Believe it or not, after awhile we start to believe our own tales.  One small tale leads to another sort of like digging a ditch (one shovel full at a time).  Before long you are confused and lost in your own stories.  Reflecting, every time I lied or left out details (the times I remember) I was usually convincing myself I wasn’t good enough.  I was afraid of not living up to the expectations of others (which probably wasn’t there to begin with) or I just wanted to fit in.

Honesty cuts through the red tape, the distractions, the frustration and the indecision. Honesty gets you where you want to go faster because you live how you really feel. Believe it or not your intuition will give you a feel for what is in harmony with your heart.

Start by being honest with yourself. Be honest about your thoughts, words, actions and wants. Then think about your interaction with others and your personal relationships. Do people know your true self? If not, what are you afraid of?  Tough as it may be, own your feelings when you talk.  Don’t blame others!  I will admit this takes some practice.  I’m still learning!  Isn’t our immediate response to defend when we are hurt or angry?  I know mine is.  I easily react to something someone says instead of expressing my feelings honestly and openly.

Be honest with your friends, family and co-workers.  If you mess up – ADMIT it!  They will appreciate the honesty.  If we are viewed as “perfect”, others may hesitate to approach us.  The way you present yourself to others, being true to yourself and your values will shine through.

Honesty can lead to better health….. “Telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health, according to a “Science of Honesty” study.  Makes sense, right?  Less stress.

Have a blessed day!

Recovery

Addiction Shows Up in Unlikely Places

I don’t know about you but the more time I spend with me, the more the “past” haunts me.  During these “stay at home” times, most nights I’m by myself since hubby is an essential employee.  Despite my best efforts, the inner gremlins of the past creep in.  I think about those I have hurt.  I think about the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” things.  I think about “what if”.  Not always a good place for a recovering addict.

I love this simple message:

“Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive about a habit which trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

I had an “epiphany” last night.  As I was thanking God for the blessings of the day and asking for his guidance, I realized I had again substituted one thing for another.  My addiction had shown up in an unlikely spot –  not really unlikely for me. Showing up in unlikely places is not uncommon for addicts if we don’t keep things in check.  No, I didn’t have thoughts of using drugs or drinking.  No, I didn’t go on a shopping spree.  I was eating “junk food” and hiding it.  Crazy, right?

I thought about the went last 5 days hubby had worked.  I went to pick up some groceries and here is what happened.

  • I stopped to Dunkin for my iced green tea.   It was Friday so I got a “free” donut”. I was out a second time on Friday to pick up Baby’s medicine.  Stopped at Dunkin again and got another “free” donut.
  • Went to Aldi’s for some fresh fruit and fresh veggies – a good thing, right?  They had Cadbury mini eggs on sale.  I have been obsessing over them for a week so I bought a whole bag along with a bag of Robin’s Eggs.
  • Stopped to Wawa and picked up bottles of Wawa diet tea. Not very healthy because of all of the artificial sweeteners.
  • Had to stop myself yesterday from going out just to get a Dunkin tea and a donut.

Each time I go on a shopping run, I end up buying something I normally would not eat or drink.  WHY???  I want what I want when I want it.  LOL. The crazy part is I was hiding all of this stuff from hubby.  I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal BUT it is how it starts, right?  Substitute one thing for another and keeping secrets.

I know I am only as sick as my secrets so I am letting them into the light….I’m sharing it publicly as a way to be accountable.  As harmless as it may seem to someone, it is the start of the spiral.   I beat myself up.  I start to justify things with “I haven’t gained any weight”, or “it is stress eating” or when this is over I will do better.  The truth is by then it will be too late…..the weight will be back and I will be miserable.  I have been riding the stationary bike every day for at least 20 minutes which has helped to keep me from gaining weight BUT it doesn’t justify the sneak eating.  This is an old behavior from my days of being a bulimic – the only difference is, I’m not purging.

I know I’m not alone….finding things to keep us busy and out of our heads can be tough.  I have been creating angels, reading, sewing and cleaning out closets.  I have been doing at least one video meeting a day – over the weekend it was 3 meetings a day.  WHY?  Because I know when I hear what others share, I am out of my head and I know I am not alone.

Today I am giving myself grace – it meets us in the asking for strength from our Higher Power.  Because of this I can move forward (and so can you) in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

It’s not about locking things in a secret compartment of your heart. When we turn things over, no matter how insignificant it may seem to our Higher Power, He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in our Higher Power. With this faith, the past has no hold on us.  Grace fixes our gaze forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to beat myself up because of a mistake, I will turn things over to my Higher Power and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash a painful conversation, not to blame another person … not to stumble on things behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for my Higher Power and call to Him for help.

This seems like a jumble of thoughts but I need to be accountable.  Are you struggling with keeping away from the “junk food”?  What are your best tips?  Share them with us..

Have a blessed day!