Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!


Gives Program, Hope Wissel

You Are Loved

Do you know what today is?  SURPRISE!!!  It is the day that I am introducing March’s “Random Act of Kindness”.

A BIG part of my “WHY” is my desire to bring a smile to the face of someone who is hurting.  Last month, I was humbled as you helped me present 21 Chemo Comfort Bags to Ocean Medical Center.  Although I was not able to take pictures, the joy that I saw on the faces of those in the unit receiving treatment brought me to tears.

The “Love Package” is designed for seniors who are in a nursing home and have no one.  Maybe their family is many miles away. Maybe they have been forgotten by family and friends.  Maybe they don’t have any family.  Whatever the reason, I want to bring a smile to their face for Easter.

Why did I pick nursing homes?  Growing up, I remember visiting local nursing homes during the holidays.  At that time, I didn’t understand that there were people living there who didn’t have any family or any visitors.  When my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we attempted to take care of her at home.  We juggled our schedules.  Half the time, Grams was in Ocean Grove with Edythe as her primary care giver.  Then Grams came to Egg Harbor Township to be with us (Elsie, Mom, Belinda & I).  Belinda was Gram’s “little princess” and she was the only one that could always bring Grams back to the moment when her mind strayed.

One night, Grams left the house without us knowing and wandered around the neighborhood.  She didn’t know where she was, who she was or why she was even in the area.  Thankfully, a neighbor several blocks over saw her wondering the street in just her undergarments on that chilly night.  It was the next morning, that the decision was made to find an Alzheimer’s Unit for Grams because we could no longer take care of her.  The staff at King David Care Center in Atlantic City were AMAZING.  When that facility closed, we moved her to The Lodge in Neptune because at that time there weren’t many Alzheimer Units in the State.  It was there that Grams lived for the last 7 years of her life.

“LOVE PACKAGES” are for those in local nursing homes who do not have any family or visitors.  I will work with the Social Workers to help identify these individuals.  My goal is again 31! Do you see a pattern here?  The $20 will cover the cost of the Oh Snap bin and personalization.  I will use my commission to fill them with playing cards, candy, tissues, chapstick, puzzle books and pen.  The Oh Snap bin can be hooked onto wheelchairs, walkers or even the side of their bed to hold their own treasures.

love package

 Would you like to sponsor a “love package”?  I will send an invoice for payment. Sponsorships will be taken from March 4th through March 15th.  My goal is to deliver these gifts to just before Easter.  We want those without family or visitors to feel loved during the holidays.

Fill out the form below:

Thank you for again helping me to bring share the LOVE!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#31gives #lovepackage #Easter #partywithHope

Hope Wissel, Personal Causes, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Thank you Mom!

Today is reflection Sunday – a time to relax, reflect and recharge.  I am excited to say that after church this morning, I will get to do that with my mom, Joan Heldreth.  Since I stopped the crazy commute to Millville in 2011, mom and I have had little time together.  It is ONLY an hour back to Mays Landing (Atlantic County) but on any given day it seems like it is the same 12 hours that it takes to see Belinda in North Carolina.  Most of our communication has been via email which is at a standstill since she is having problems with her Verizon email account.  Neither one of us seem to be good phone people.

My drive to Mays Landing today will give me a time to reflect on the many good times as well as the struggles mom and I have had over the years.  When Belinda and I lived in Egg Harbor Township, only about 5 minutes from mom, she was an active part of  our lives.  She traveled on business trips – my own personal babysitter.  She  attended cheering competitions & gymnastic meets all over the east coast – proud as a grandmother could be of Belinda. We vacationed together (some of which we wouldn’t have taken without her help).  She helped when Belinda was sick – always ready to pick her up from school and doctor her until I got home.  We didn’t always agree on the decisions that I made in my life but she was always there to pick me up when I fell.  Our relationship was not always perfect but what mom & daughter’s is, right?

I am looking forward to spending sometime with mom, talking about the things that have been going on in both of our lives.  Truth be told, I miss these times and part of my “time management” needs to include scheduled moments or days like this.  Thanks Mom for always being there through the good, the bad and the ugly!  I love you!

Here is a picture of the 3 generations at my wedding in May, 2011.  Mom and I definitely don’t like pictures – something we need to work on!

3 generations at wedding

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!  I know that I will…

Hope Wissel

Happy Anniversary Rob

Two years ago today, I married my soul mate, Rob.  For those of you who know our story, sorry for the repeat but it is a true tale of unconditional love.

Rob and I dated the summer BEFORE high school – me from OTHS and him from Neptune.  Not a great match due to peer pressure and just wanting to fit in as I went into HS.  We never spoke again after we broke up.  He went his way and I went mine.    

In July 2001, I received a note in the mail from him.  He said that after a year of searching, this was his last attempt to connect with me.  The search for me started because of a roadside memorial that said “HOPE”.  He wanted to make sure that it wasn’t me.    

When I saw the note, a smile of shock first then amazement crossed my face.  Belinda was like Who is this?  Tell me more? since she had no idea who he was nor did she know much about my high school days.  I wasn’t looking for a relationship and was content for it to be “Belinda and I” till she went to college.  I emailed Rob and for over 3 months, that is all we did.  I shared tales of my past as did he.  We connected but I never let him believe that we would be anything more than friends – I wasn’t interested.  On October 12, 2001 after working the midnight shift, he drove down to EHT to spend the day with me at a craft show.   Now at that time, I was making American Girl doll clothes – the day was busy with kids and business but he stuck it out. He helped me pack up and we went back to my house for dinner.  Belinda was with friends so we spend hours just talking and reconnecting.  He even showed me a picture of me from that summer that he had and continued to keep all of these years.  That was the first of many trips that Rob would make to EHT over the next 5 years.  You see, he traveled to EHT to spend his days off with us every week.  He traveled to cheering competitions, sat through practices, and went to craft shows.  

One year later, at Christmas, Rob proposed and I accepted!  Yes, we were engaged for almost 9 years before we got married.  He was concerned about Belinda.  He didn’t want to change her life as she was in high school – a competitive cheerleader, active in church and EHT was the only home she had ever known.  They had their ups and downs but he would have given her and still would – give her the world.  She is the daughter that he never had.  

When Belinda left for college, I sold our home in EHT and moved to Brick.  Not an easy move for me, Miss Independence. I had been in my own home for about 20 plus years and had built a life there.  Once Belinda became a resident of North Carolina and was in her final year of college – the date was set.  I was calm and just thought it would be a routine kind of thing until that day.

You could say that I was a little nervous even for this simple ceremony with a few close friends and family.  As my dad started to walk me down the aisle, the reality hit.  This was really happening – I was getting married.  I almost passed out walking down the aisle and the pictures show the slight look of panic.  It passed as I saw Rob, just as nervous standing with Pastor and Belinda smiling at me.  It was an amazing day – the weather was beautiful, our families were there and we got to celebrate with those that meant the most to us.  

I wouldn’t change a minute of the last 11 years.  We have had our rough spots but we have worked through them. Rob’s unconditional love has helped me to grow as a wife, a mom and a person.  We are definitely opposites but we do compliment each other – opposites attract, right?  

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, my hubby – Rob Wissel.