Hope Wissel

Life is Full of Change

unnamed-2.jpgWhat a minute and life will change… is how I feel lately.  I no sooner get comfortable where things are and SMACK, things happen.  Trouble processing thoughts.  Unable to concentrate when more than one person is talking.  Finding motivation to do what I used to love in my business.

There are those days when I wonder where life with Multiple Sclerosis may lead for me.  Many would say, I have lived the last year or more in basic denial.  I refused to believe my life was changing when deep down, I knew it was.  Don’t get me wrong, I said the words “I have MS”; I occasionally used my handicap parking sticker when walking was difficult (or hubby pushes me) and when the memories wouldn’t come, I would simply admit MS was the cause.  My life with MS looks different than those who live in chronic pain.  Mine is an internal pain of being robbed of memories.

So what was the real result of living in denial?  I refused to believe my life was changing or would keep changing and I needed to make adjustments.  I booked events like there was nothing wrong.  I pushed in my business till my brain shut down from trying to process too much information.  I have days when I can’t put thoughts together.  I have days when I am an emotional mess because life is too much to handle.

If you have a chronic disease, I know how hard it is to accept your body/mind is fighting against you.  I know how much I would rather have pain (yup, I have a high tolerance of it) then to lose my memories.  I know how those with dementia and Alzheimer’s feel.  I know the frustration of not remembering people or important events (like the birth of my daughter or my wedding).  I know the reality of having to believe someone else’s memory of something because you can’t even remember it happened.

I know how much you want to simply fight back.  I really do. But denying MS (or any disease) is a part of your life will only hurt you later on. Refusing to accept what is happening to us is setting ourself up for defeat.

The best way to look at things is from a perspective of…”Yes, I may have MS (or any chronic disease) BUT as long as I am able to function, I will live each day to its fullest. Tomorrow may change and if should happen, I’m prepared for it.  Not really, BUT  don’t they say “fake it till you make it”!. Maybe not emotionally, but we are making preparations for the possibility of a life with limitations due to MS.

Many would say, preparing for tomorrow is living with a negative attitude. The truth is for me –  It’s living in the reality.  It’s not negative to prepare for tomorrow. It’s not negative to talk about my MS struggles or your pain or any other chronic disease. It’s not negative to think of ways to adapt your home or your life before those changes are needed. We are even finding ways to link pictures with music in the hopes it will trigger my memories.

Enjoy today, live in the now, savor the sweet memories you are creating with those you love, but don’t ignore the possibilities of tomorrow…good or bad. Change happens whether we like it or not.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

MS will Not Define Me

Are You Tired of Being Told to Pace Yourself?

I started physical therapy to strengthen my muscles to try to get rid of some of the “wobbles” from the MS.  The favorite line from the trainers is “pace yourself”.  I’m sure I have heard this before in my life but NOW it seems to grate on me.

In my business, I have been told to pace myself.  In other words, don’t play the comparison game.  Quick and easy will get the sales now but it won’t usually get you long term success.  After almost 7 years of being in direct sales, I am grateful I paced myself.

When I started with MS symptoms (or had flare ups), the phrase “remember to pace yourself” became the one thing people would always say.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when someone says it to me, I tend to speed things up! I know they mean well, but it can be frustrating – a constant reminder we can’t do things like we used to.  As unpleasant as it is to hear, the sentiment is not all bad. Taking some time to do things our way at our own speed can be extremely helpful and make for a more rewarding life. It’s something not only those with a chronic illness need to remember, but also those around us need to learn.

Runners, pace themselves in a race.  Those struggling to lose weight, pace themselves.  So why is it, those of us with chronic conditions seem to think it is a bad thing to do. I know it just can’t be me, right?

#1 Feeling different from everyone else

I have always been non-stop, on the go.  From to being a career woman, then a single mom and then working full-time and commuting.  I always seemed to have enough time to do everything.  I will admit, I don’t like the idea of having to slow down, or of feeling different from everyone else.  Heaven forbid if I feel like I am holding anyone up. So despite everyone’s best intentions when they say pace yourself, it makes me feel bad. It’s a huge reminder we’re different. On any given day, it can make me feel like I’m a burden to the person saying it.  I know they mean well, BUT if you know someone with a chronic illness, don’t tell them to “pace themselves”.  Just as a runner knows their body, we know our bodies.  Believe me, if we need to slow down, trust me, our body will let us know.

#2 Going at our own speed

I joke with my mom who is 81, I inspire to run up the steps like she does.  There was a time when I could BUT life with a chronic illness, has taught me I need to pace myself. It is the key to enjoying life.  Whether it is a good day or a bad day, we can still accomplish a lot if we simply take our time and do it at our own speed.  Moving at a slower speed, taking breaks in between doing things can be frustrating, but more often than not, it can be rewarding. The key is having others understand we may be just a little slower or do things a little bit differently to get the task done.  I will admit I am still a work in progress where this is concerned…

#3 Little accomplishments can mean a lot

I have often joked about our “dust bunnies” but I will admit I do like staying on top of keeping things neat and tidy.  Fall cleaning (or whatever season) can be a pretty overwhelming task for someone like me even before MS.  My desire is to do it but I easily squirrel (forgetting how to do tasks or just get tired).  So now, I set small tasks to get done – scrub bathroom, wash kitchen floor, etc.  It won’t happen quickly, but it will get done. I need to enjoy the little accomplishments.   I know it may sound bizarre, but little accomplishments mean a lot.  Why is it “baby steps” are good things in life, showing we are moving towards a goal yet with a chronic illness, we tend to think of it negatively?

#4 Advice for family and friends

Patience!  Not one of my strong points.  If you know someone with a chronic illness, you will definitely need to practice patience.  It’s more important for friends and family to understand and respect our need to pace ourself, than it is for them to remind us to do it.  Yes, I do sometimes need to be reminded since slowing down can be helpful.  I would rather discover it on my own, no matter how painful it might be.  Sounds crazy, right?  So friends and family, please don’t tell us to slow down, but understand if we do.

Just as we would cheer for a runner who is pacing themselves towards the finish line…  let’s try to remember there is nothing wrong with going at our own pace when we have a chronic illness.

Today’s post was the result of some conversations with friends who also have chronic illnesses.  I hope it shed some light for someone, especially those who have family or friends who are newly diagnosed.  I believe God put this on my heart today to share for a reason.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Gives Program, Unclutter Your Life

What Does Your Success Look Like?

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and is something different to everyone.  The true meaning of success is up to YOU.

A new year at Thirty One allows me to reflect on my accomplishments, where I stand on my goals for the year and define (or re-define) what success will look like for me.  When you think of success, you probably think of more money, maybe another car, travel – all tangible things, right?  In the past, I always said success was being debt free. I still want to be debt free, who doesn’t, right?  But will it alone get me up in the morning?  For some the answer would be yes.  For me, no.

I want my legacy to be more.  I want to know I have made a difference in the lives of others.  I want the ability to give to those in need.  Success to me isn’t about just being debt free, it is about what I can do with the money.  Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason I have debt is because I give to those in need and try to make a difference in the lives of others even when I don’t have it.

Do you have tunnel vision when it comes to what your  successful life will look like?  Are you focused on the tangible things or are you creating a legacy?  I have heard it said often “people may not remember the day you were born or the day you die but they will remember how you lived your life (or made people feel)”.  What will they remember about you?

Success isn’t a destination—it’s a progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal.  What is your dream or goal?  Dream BIG!

Years ago, I had a dream of opening a house – a place where those infected/affected with HIV/AIDS could come and enjoy life forgetting about their life struggles for a moment.  In the early days of my work in HIV/AIDS, I created a place like it.  For some it was my office to get help with problems, for the kids it was a place to play and get snacks, and for others it was just a place to forget for a moment how cruel life could be.  The last time I was in Bridgeton, I drove by what used to be “Hope’s House”.  The small office, long since closed and moved to a new location, brought back some memories I thought were lost.  I honestly didn’t know what I was creating.  I didn’t know I would make a difference but my passion to help others showed through all I did.

As I moved from HIV work to working with struggling addicts, chronically unemployed and single moms – the dream faded slightly but my desire to make a difference in the life of others was still there.  Since retiring from social work, almost 6 years ago, I’ve been searching to find the dream and the passion.  Despite my best efforts, the MS beats me up and steals my passion as a result of stealing my memory.  Some days I feel like it is an excuse while other days I embrace the reality and enormity of it all.

Do I still dream of making a difference?  YES!  Do I know what it looks like?  NO!  Success to me is seeing a smile on the face of a single mom struggling to provide for her children.  It is seeing a struggling addict believe in themselves if even for a moment.  It is seeing a smile on the face of someone enduring the pain of treatment of a chronic disease. In today’s busy world, I’m not sure how my view of success fits in.  I’m the eternal optimist, seeing the good in everyone and looking for a place to make a difference.  What is your dream?

While I continue to search for a place to connect, I will continue to give back in small ways.  This month we are again doing our FIGHT HUNGER campaign.  A chance for YOU to make a difference in the lives of a child.  You can sponsor a thermal tote which I will fill with healthy snacks and school supplies.  These will be delivered to children in need in the local area to bring a smile to their face.  My Thirty One team, the Rays of Hope, will be collecting thermals all across the country and delivering them to children in their area to make a difference.

Remember you can also help me to make a difference by nominating someone on my “Give Back with Me” page.  Each month, a someone special will receive a Thirty One product and words of encouragement.  Do you know someone who needs some “loving on”?

I know I squirreled.  When I started today’s blog, it was about defining success in your life and I’m not sure I have helped you to do it.

I challenge you to take a moment and think about what success means to you.  Think about what people will say about you when you are gone – how will they remember your life?  I would love to hear your definition of success….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!