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?

original

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!

Hope Wissel, Recovery

Why is Trust Easier Than Faith?

Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”.

Trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”.

Why is it so much easier to trust someone or something than it is to have faith?  I will be honest, the two words sometimes get confused in my head.  Nothing unusual with the onset of MS….

We trust every day – driving on the highway a car won’t cross the line, flying in a plane we won’t crash – yet when it comes to having faith in a Higher Power (I chose to call God), we want more.  I often hear individuals talk about struggling with the idea of a higher power, of having faith there is something greater who is loving and caring.  Yet, we readily jump in the back pockets of other recovering addicts “trusting” they will lead us in the right direction since they have some clean time.  It is a very fine line but who doesn’t like the thrill of walking a tightrope without the chance of falling.

Life has had its ups and downs lately.  Nothing dramatic and probably no more than usual. The impact my relapse has had on my life (and my relationships) rears it ugly head some days which can send me spiraling.  Life on life’s terms was never promised to be easy.  I have faith God will restore relationships completely when the time is right.  I have faith he wraps his loving arms around me, giving me comfort when I am weak and struggling.  I have faith he will help me close the door on Debbie Doubtful and Negative Nellie when they come to call.  I have faith when the time is right those relationships will be restored and all will be well.  I also face the fact, they may never look like what I want them to be but I trust it will be right for those involved.

Today, I don’t have to be the selfish, self-centered person I was (I want what I want when I want it). I wanted to fix, manage and control situations and people so I could feel better.  I can change.  It took me a long time to totally understand how self-centered I was.  My justification used to be to make a list of the things I did for everyone else, or to sacrifice what I wanted to do, so how am I being self-centered?  I have learned to trust others when they point out this definite character flaw.  It is my faith which allows me to believe they were brought into my life for a reason.  See the fine line???

As the world reels from the “virus”….. “who do you trust?” “do you have faith?”.  Are you being negative and jumping on the anger wagon during this crisis?  Does this “interfere” with your life?  My one day at a time perspective and the inability to remember things has helped me keep a positive attitude in light of all of the negativity.  Showing kindness towards others in dark times is more important than ever.  Thanking those who are working hard to stock shelves.  Thanking those who are helping others who can’t get out.  Stopping by my favorite small business to share some “angel love” and support them during this difficult time.  I trust we will get through this.  I have faith this is a blessing in disguise.  Sometimes darkness needs to come before there is light.  Look at the positive side of all the closings.  Be grateful you have a home to go to.  Be grateful you have family to be locked in with -even if we may want to kill them.  LOL.  Be grateful there is some food and some toilet paper.  Please no hate mail.

I know I have probably squirreled throughout this post but my heart was heavy this morning thinking about things.  As we start to talk and plan hubby’s retirement, the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” come along.  I loose focus on who I am becoming, loving myself (okay I will start with liking myself) and start to force the memories of the past.  Struggling for memories brings frustration which brings negative thoughts and questions everything.  It is only when I trust in my Higher Power and have faith he will restore those memories if and when the time is right, I find peace.

If you are struggling with faith, look for the little blessings in your day.  What you call coincidences, I call blessings or your Higher Power at work.  Maybe your Higher Power is a loved one who passed.  Maybe it is your dog.  Yup, it can be anything or anyone you want it to be who is greater than you.  I’m a visual person since processing words is tough anymore… so someone holding the door, a random smile from a stranger, a hug from another recovering addict, a random call or text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile… These things are blessings from a power greater than yourself.  Are you struggling with finding supplies during the “stocking up”?  Maybe someone shares their toilet paper or drops off a meal for your family or gives you the gallon of milk from their cart.  These are all your Higher Power at work.  Have faith, even as small as a mustard seed……….they are really tiny!  All things are possible.

Check out of my favorite songs.  Listen and trust there is a plan for all of us…

So, just for TODAY, will you join me in trusting your Higher Power has a plan for you.  He will guide you when you swerve off course as long as you EMBRACE his love and open your heart to all he has for you.  As you do this, your faith will grow just like the mustard seed.

Have a blessed day!

Hope Wissel, Recovery

Peace Within

Hi blog followers….. I still haven’t figured out the road I want to take with my blog but this was on my heart today…,  Are you wondering “how can she did she get peace within”? LOL.  I have been wondering the same question.

I have 21 months clean today. I have a calmness I haven’t felt in a REALLY long time.  Is everything perfect in my life?  NOPE!  Honestly, what in life is perfect?  The difference has been my daily practice of the first three NA steps .Actually, I am grateful for a strong third step which says “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”.

On those moments I’m alone at home or driving in the car admiring the beauty of the sky, I think about how peaceful life has become.  I am grateful for my relapse. No, I am not grateful for the pain and heartache it caused. BUT it has helped me in so many ways to really appreciate the gift of life.  It has helped me to put my life with MS in perspective and not let it control me.

Over the last few weeks, I have been blessed with a clear head and vey little brain fog.  I have completed physical and occupational therapy – actually graduated out because I was doing so well. YEAH!!  Planning our vacation in April.  Clearing out the clutter so we can put the condo on the market by early summer.  Creating new angel designs.  Tracking my food even though the scale doesn’t seem to be moving much.  Sadly, I had to find a new sponsor which has its growing pains.  LOL. I am taking it one day at a time and enjoying whatever life brings.

Whether you are in recovery or not, here are some simple steps to help you find peace within…

Stop Thinking about Your Past. … 

I will admit for me this is a little easier than for most.  I don’t remember a lot of things –  thank you MS.  I have let go of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” kind of thinking.  I have stopped beating myself up for the mistakes I made which I can’t change.  Yes, I have regrets.  Yes, I get sad about broken relationships. Yes, the pain and heartache I caused is in my thoughts.  The difference is, I don’t focus on them.  I have faith relationships will be healed.  Definitely not in my time but when God sees fit to make it happen (I will be ready).  I stop focusing on the past and am enjoying the moment of today.

Don’t Push Yourself Hard for Something. …

As not only a recovering addict BUT also a recovering workaholic, this can be tough.  MS has taught me many things – don’t push yourself too hard because you will crash and burn (okay, not literally).  Do I still have goals?  Yup.  The difference now is I am enjoying the journey and where it takes me.  See, God has a plan for my life (and yours) so why not just let it unfold.  This can be rough for a planner (an old grant writing habit).  You can still set goals but don’t push so hard you forget about….

Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones.

Loved ones can be family, friends or someone who are important in your life.  I am learning to enjoy the quiet times. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoyed spending time with loved ones.  The difference is NOW I am in the moment focusing on them and our time together.  I no longer am thinking about the next thing I need to do.  I am grateful for time with hubby – looking forward to his retirement.  I am grateful for the days (not as many as I would like) I get to spend with momma.  I am grateful for the time spent with my fellow women in recovery.  Are there some I don’t get to spend quality time with?  YUP!  Do I mess them?  ABSOLUTELY!  Still I am at peace.  I can’t control others so fix, managing and controlling everything is a quality I have learned to let go of (there are still some days – LOL). I know in time, the day will come when I will get to spend quality time with ALL my loved ones.

Lastly, focus your attention on those things you can control. …

I have always been a peacekeeper, really “a people pleaser”.  I stuffed my feelings when they didn’t agree with what others thought or did.  I tried to fix, manage and control things.  It was how I hid my feelings as well as my addiction.  If I am focusing on others, I didn’t have to think about me. YIKES!  It used to scare the hell out of me.  I didn’t know who I was.  I didn’t like me.  NOW, I am grateful for being able to look inside and see me (most days).  Yes, there are still days I don’t ‘like myself.  There are days the number on the scale makes me crazy despite my best efforts.  The difference is now, I focus on the things I can control.  I watch what I eat  since eating healthier makes me feel better despite the scale.  I talk to others when those inner gremlins creep in instead of stuffing them behind a closed door.  I wake up asking for guidance and go to sleep being grateful for the day.

A long post but I know in my heart someone needed to hear it.  Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Focus

Today I am thankful for having focus….

Life with MS can be difficult – not usually physically for me but mentally.  Focus is defined as “a center of activity, attraction“. On any given day brain fog makes focusing on anything next to impossible.

Since stopping my Co-paxone (the doctor said it wasn’t helping with the change in diagnosis), I find I am having more days where I can focus.  On those days Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie pay a visit and I don’t need to tell you what happens then.  A mini-pity party starts and NOTHING gets done.

Some days, I loose focus because I try to get too much done in one day.  Sometimes I just wake up in a fog.  I keep a list in my planner and am grateful I am able to tick off more things getting done.  I love seeing the pink highlighter line meaning I have completed a task.  Some days I squirrel.  Yup, I have a plan and then get side tracked by something else.  Now, it could be something which also needs to be done BUT instead of being grateful to get another task done,  I look at the fact I am behind schedule.  Tell me I am not alone, right?

I listened to a John Maxwell program where Les Brown talked about focusing on what we have and not what we don’t have.  When we do this, we will get more done.  WOW!  What a way to change perspective.  Instead of thinking about all of the things I don’t get done and how behind I am – cleaning, errands, making phone calls, creating new angels, shipping orders, following up with customers, etc. You get the picture right?

I need to STOP and think… I am blessed to have customers to call, people who want to place orders, the ability to create things and a space to do all of this in.  The truth is the more I focus on the negative, the worse things get.  So I have asked Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie to leave. I am ready to restart my day with a change in my focus.

I never lose sight of my overall goals but when I focus on what I don’t have versus what I do have, they seem unattainable.  Life may toss you a load of lemons but it is what you do with them that makes the difference.  Will you make lemonade and share with everyone or will you grumble about the fact that it takes too much time and energy to make the lemonade?

What are you focusing on this morning – what you have or what you don’t?  Change your focus and see what happens.

Have a blessed day!