Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

A Celebration With Reflection


The month of May is filled with lots of celebrations.  We go from my birthday, to Mother’s Day, to our wedding anniversary to my anniversary in recovery!  This year, each one has brought a realization of how blessed I am to have been given a second chance.  

A second chance to become the person God intended for me to be.  A chance to grow, to learn to like myself and to embrace the here and now.  A chance to have strong healthy relationships with the important people in my life.  A second chance at life!

WE HAVE 4 YEARS!  Four years ago, I was a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby with a mound of credit card debt.  I had a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else.  I was broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while hiding a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse is now a part of my story.  I let down my family, my friends but most of all I 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.

Four years later, I am blessed.  I have a new sponsor, a new home group, I am working the steps and I attend meetings regularly. Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I have a local network of women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  In fact stepping out of my comfort zone is important.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who were with me the first night 4 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the “stuck number on the scale” or how I think “I should look”.  Today, I don’t apologize for things I have no control over.  Today, I set boundaries so I can maintain my mental health.  Today, I willing seek out guidance from others who have walked this road before me.  I know if I don’t put my recovery first, I will not continue to have the blessed life I live today.  

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.  The program works when I am willing to work the steps, am open-minded, willing to listen to suggestions AND am honest with myself and others.  

Some days, I am unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as it takes 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 continues to give me glimpses but when it becomes too overwhelming, they quickly fade.  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.  

JUST FOR TODAY: My strongest desire is to have a spiritual awakening.  I will watch for its symptoms and rejoice when I discover them.

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 an Epic day!

 

Hope Wissel

A Birthday Milestone

Another year, a BIG milestone….. believe it or not, today is my 65th birthday!

Do I feel 65?  Not on most days but I will admit, MS has kicked my butt a little bit more this year.

I have been doing an annual reflection since I started blogging… and this year is no different filled with lots of gratitude!

As the world returns to “normal” (whatever that is) I struggle with stepping out of my comfort zone.  This introvert is content to be home with hubby.  I am grateful NA meetings have opened up and hugs are shared again.  This year, I have continued to learn so much about me. But mostly, I learned I am okay being with me which is HUGE!

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.  I no longer live in negativity or want to be surrounded by drama.  Thankfully, brain fog mornings have been few and far between.  I have accepted using my brace when I leave the house and will be doing some walking.  The scale hasn’t really changed much but the inches are slowly melting away.  I will take that any day, what about you???

The “birthdays” of the past where they were just another day are gone.  The days of low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and nasty inner gremlins who made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration have been let go. Today, I was blessed to wake up without expectations.  Expectations lead to hurt feelings and resentments so why have them, right?  Just for today, I like myself.   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.  Whatever the celebration is like today – it will be okay!

I stepped down as a Director with Thirty One this year.  I will always be a Thirty One girl.  I am happy to share my love of the products without the stress of hitting numbers.  Yup, I can easily get wrapped up in the shoulda, coulda woulda as well as the comparison game which steals my joy.  As a result, I am still a walking billboard happy to help anyone solve their gift giving or organizational challenge. I can’t believe it has been 11 1/2 years with this amazing company.

Angels by Hope has a busy Etsy store which I do take on the road locally for some craft shows.  I love sharing my angels with everyone.  Gifting my angels has been the greatest blessing to me this year… it allows me to bring a smile to the face of others as they heal through their latest struggle.  Allowing the creative juices to flow has been exciting and actually has been a form of therapy.  It helps with processing thoughts the same as working my puzzles help with eye hand coordination.  Puzzles are my jam (do they still say that?) and I average about one a week.

Because of my new love for cooking and trying new recipes, I have joined Epicure. Good food, fast and easy in 30 minutes or less including prep!   We are eating cleaner – much less processed, more organic, and definitely gluten free.  Hubby has even jumped on the bandwagon – willingly. LOL.  Check it out if you are looking for healthy meal solutions (allergen free).

I hold fast to my mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”  It seems like this is turning into one of those “holiday letters” you get from people you only hear from once a year…. LOL. Or maybe the makings of a Hallmark movie.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow and I am okay with feeling the feelings.  With the help of my NA family, a new home group and a new sponsor, I am learning to live life on life’s terms.  Working on steps and sharing at meetings has definitely helped this “old lady” to heal and grow.  I’m grateful and blessed to say God willing, we will have four years on the 22nd!

There are many people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this past year.  Please don’t feel slighted… you have all been a blessing in my life.  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 65 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right? Now, I am really “over the hill” and not like I was when I turned 40 (that is a story for another day! LOL)

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Have a blessed day!

Feel Good Friday, Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board.

It is a perfect way to nosh yummy goodies over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or even a mocktail.  It’s a fun way to get creative and add pops of color to your menu to impress your guests. From the board up, here’s how to make an epic charcuterie board.  Whether you are hosting a party or enjoying a family movie night, these are alway a lot of fun.

 

THE BOARD

You don’t have to get fancy here! A simple flat, sturdy surface will work—in any shape or size. You’re going to add layers of goodness on top, so any wooden cutting board, platter, or plate will do the trick.

COLOR & TEXTURE

What makes a great board pop is layers of color and texture. Think bright: reds, greens, yellows, and oranges—strawberries, cherries, olives, sliced peppers—and texture, shiny and smooth, along with rough and edgy—think figs, crackers, and dips.

START WITH DIPS

These are essential – they deliver the extra punch of flavor to each bite. Put your dips in small bowls, along with olives and pickles, cubed cheeses, jellies, and mustards, placing them on your board first, then build the rest of the ingredients around them. This will anchor your ingredients and you can use different shapes and sizes to add depth and variety.

Try:

Nacho Cheese Dip Mix – best served with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream

Ooey Gooey Queso Hot Dip – serve with tortilla chips, pretzel bites, veggies

CCB Dip – delicious with raw vegetables, potato chips, or crackers

MEAT & CHEESE

Have fun with the style here—serve cheese in cubes, slices, and wedges, including brie, bleu, fresh cheese, and cheddar. Genoa Salami, Italian Dry Salame, Peppered Salami, Prosciutto are great additions to your board—variety is what will make it stand out! You can even wrap Prosciutto around pickled asparagus spears and layer them on the board. Don’t forget your

CRACKERS, CHIPS & BREAD

This part is important – the delivery vehicle for all that goodness! Try to add two to four different kinds here. Get fresh baguette from your local bakery and make home-made chips and crackers to really take this over the top! We love the versatility of Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers because you can make them with sesame, sunflower, or chia seeds in place of the flax seeds in the recipe…or a combo of all three!

Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers – pictured

Everything Bagel Crackers

Pita Chips

FRUIT, VEGGIE & GARNISH

After you’ve stacked your board with your bread, chips, and crackers, it’s time to fill in the gaps with fresh fruit, veggies, and garnishes. There are no rules here! Just go with what you have on-hand, and what makes sense to you! Apple slices and grapes are obvious choices, but you can go nuts here—really! Add almonds, walnuts, cashews, along with apricots, kumquats, and more! The possibilities are endless. Garnish with fresh rosemary, mint, or parsley to add that festive green colour.

And, one last tip, try to add something sweet, savoury, salty, and spicy to every board to perfectly balance the experience and suit every taste in your bubble!

What are your best tips for making “boards”?  With summer coming, what will you add to yours to make it POP?  Share your ideas with us…

Have an Epic Day!

Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Habits

As many of you know, I have been on WW for an eternity. LOL.   I lost my initial 105 pounds and am happy to say, I have kept most of it off.  MS has caused some weight gain – the only thing I can attribute it to since I track and am stepping. I’m not beating myself up over it.  It is all about healthier eating and NOT the numbers on the scale.  Now if I could only remember that, all would be well.  Are you focused on healthy eating or the numbers on the scale?

Here are five tips to help you adopt some new healthy habits:

1.     START WITH A PLAN 

Planning out your meals for the week is a great way to set you up for success. I started doing it so I didn’t have to deal with MS struggles over what to fix for dinner.

My advice – Keep it simple. 

I usually plan out on Friday or Saturday knowing I will grocery shop on Sunday or Monday.  Pick least busy day of the week and take a few minutes to pick out some recipes and create a grocery list. I have a meal planner I post on the fridge so I can not only plan meals but also not repeat the same ones constantly.  For some, having “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays” can make it a lot easier!  Epicure has several collections with pre-made grocery lists, swap options, perfectly balanced plate suggestions, and pro tips throughout!

2.     MAKE TIME FOR COOKING 

Now for the fun part—preparing those delicious recipes you picked out!  Making time for cooking gives you the opportunity to try out new recipes, make good food choices, or even remake your favorite takeout dishes in a healthier way at home! YES, it’s also a great way to lower your food bill. Meal prepping looks different for everyone.  For some, it may involve prepping a variety of foods in larger quantities, so you don’t have to worry about it during the week. For others, it is cooking once and using the meat in several meals during the week.  Of course, you’ll need plenty of containers to store your meals and keep things fresh. Our storage solutions make it simple to portion out your ingredients and tackle hassle-free meals on the go!

3.     EAT COLORFULLY 

Adding color to your plate is a simple way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients. Keep an eye out for recipes with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. These foods are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats—key components to maintaining good health! Plant-based foods are also friendlier to our environment as they require fewer resources and greenhouse gases to produce. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint while also benefiting from the amazing nutrition benefits these foods bring to the table.  Check out some of our favorite plant-based recipes here!

4.     MAKE USE OF HERBS & SPICES 

Many people consume more sodium than they need. It’s easy to exceed the dietary recommendations, but the good news is salt is a largely acquired taste. So, over time you can actually sensitize your pallet to embrace lower levels of salt. Changing to sea salt or himalayan pink salt is better too. Seasoning your food with more herbs and spices is a great way to limit your sodium intake without missing out on flavor!  Epicure’s hand-crafted spice blends are perfect for creating low-sodium meals while also simplifying your time in the kitchen!  Many of them have NO sodium too!

5.     DON’T SKIP OUT ON DESSERT! 

Toss out the idea there are morally “good” and “bad” foods!

A healthy, sustainable diet won’t leave you feeling deprived and miserable. Food is meant to be enjoyed and your journey to good health should be no different. By giving yourself permission to eat “bad” foods, they lose their novelty and we’re less likely to obsess over them. Remember it’s not about restricting yourself, rather making balanced choices. Give yourself the freedom to consume the foods you love and your health journey will be a lot more enjoyable.  PLUS you’ll be more likely to stick to your routine long term.  Take a look at some of our favorite healthy dessert options !

The journey towards getting AND keeping healthy habits can take time so be kind to yourself. There may be challenges along the way but try to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I am always here to bounce ideas around with you.  Remember, you are NOT alone. If you’re looking for motivation, support, and dietitian-approved tips, we invite you to join our online community and #EpicLife Challenge starting on May 10th!

Have an Epic day!

Hope Wissel

How It All Started: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I know it is Tuesday and we usually do a Tastefully Tuesday BUT this is a milestone for me.  I swear it has been longer BUT the internet doesn’t lie, right?  LOL.  So, 9 years ago today I took the first step towards blogging.  For those who don’t know the story………it was a challenge issued by the AMAZING Vanessa Coppes to step out of my comfort zone.  Well, I did it!  It was the start to a daily  blog posting for many years.  Since MS, I have cut back to about once a week but I’m excited to be writing again.

My heart breaks that this still goes on today.  Bullies come in all shapes & sizes; young & old.  If you know someone who is making you uncomfortable in your surroundings (home, work or neighborhood)… guess what you are being BULLIED!  No one deserves to live like this…. With the advancement of social media, the bullying techniques have changed; sadly it now is more prevalent than ever before.

This is MY first every blog post… yes there are grammar mistakes, yes there are some typos.  I didn’t change anything about it because it was from the heart ❤ and I wanted to share my heart with you………

I just wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means that you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

As a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things that I had when I was growing up and more for my daughter, Belinda. Isn’t that every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  I moved to a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area that had a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and it was affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to be changed to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken that she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

Here is when the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker that loves working with troubled kids. As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park that as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure that her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talks about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives that people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t do any of that. 

Many believe that if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all that I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know that bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I that “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure that Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent & confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Thank you for taking the time to read this….share this with someone who may need to know they are not alone….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!