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!

 

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Being Broken

Some days I feel totally broken. I look back at my past mistakes  (those I remember) then add the fact I’m living with MS……. all I see are the cracks and imperfections. I’m sure that is what most people see.  Working on my Fourth Step has been a challenge…. dealing with memory issues, remembering pieces of the puzzle and not being able to put it together, and being careful not to beat myself up over the mistakes I have repeated during my relapse.

I noticed something amazing happens when you hold me up to the light…… You may see my broken places…but, you also see what makes me beautiful, because in those cracks are the stories of overcoming and standing strong.  I have weathered many storms over the years.

It is because of those imperfections, I am who I am today…broken pieces and all. My scars tell my story. There was a time when I hid my scars, afraid of what others would think. My first time in recovery, I found my broken pieces were an inspiration to others. I was able to help other struggling addicts which in turn blessed me many times. Relapse made me feel as if those broken pieces should be hidden from the world.  Afraid of what others would think.  Comparing myself to others.  I’m now learning to embrace those repeated mistakes and look at the additional cracks as more blessings.

My MS scars may be invisible to the world, but their effects are made real as I struggle to get through some days. There are days when I can’t walk more than a few steps on my own, changing the sheets on the bed is a fight, holding things in my left hand requires both hands.…but I keep fighting. I push on. I keep going.  On good days, I over do then spend days resting and doing nothing.  There is often a sea of tears, but I keep going.

Each of you have broken places and cracks too. Your mistakes and hurts are real, as well as your disability (if you have one), but so is your beauty.  Let your beauty shine through and let your story inspire others. Just because you have cracks doesn’t mean you are worthless. Even if you are broken, you are a container of life, love, brilliance and beauty. Let those things spill out today.

Your story is in your scars and may be just what someone needs to hear in order to keep going.  So, just for today I will be grateful for my scars and the cracks I have.  I will stop worrying about what others think and let my light shine for all to see.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: PAIN

I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain……  Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?

Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile?  Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house?   Is it really possible to not fall apart?

I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery,  I have lived with the pain of MS.  Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows.  The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional.  Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?

Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?

The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person.  It has helped me to see “joy” is possible.  I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense.  There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.

I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather.  I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love.  I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.

When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me.  In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads.  I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse.  I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.

There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating.  Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option.  #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me.  I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.

Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS.  The two get so jumbled together.  I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS.  The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel.  Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great.  Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.

MS has stripped me of the person I once was.  Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day.  Today,  I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.

Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with).  We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.

Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.

Have a blessed day!

Weigh to Goal

How to Stay Hydrated

 Last weekend was a heat wave at the Jersey Shore.  Temps combined with humidity were over 100 degrees.  I actually drove with my windows open until hubby yelled at me…. It seems my MS makes it hard for me to distinguish between hot and cold.  So, as I’m driving around with my windows open feeling okay, I was opening myself up for some major problems.  You would think I had learned when I couldn’t feel the heat from the stove until I actually touched it and burnt my fingers.  Yes, I squirreled.  LOL.  So back to how to hydrate without JUST drinking water for all those who profess to NOT be water drinkers.

The basics are this: daily fluid intake is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages.  How much you need depends on age, gender, weight, climate you are in, activity levels, and overall health. In addition, your environment plays an important part in your hydration needs.  Basically, the goal should be: for men about 125 ounces of fluid per day and women should shoot for about 90 ounces. Don’t panic!!!!  I know it sounds like a lot.   Roughly 80% of our water intake comes from fluids, while the other 20 percent comes from the foods we eat.

Not a water drinker,,,, here are some ways you can stay hydrated:

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1. Start your day with oatmeal. Not only is it hearty and filling, oatmeal is also very hydrating. When oats are cooking, they expand and absorb the water or milk they’re being paired with. I LOVE overnight oats. Served cold, overnight oats pack all the benefits of hot oatmeal with no heat. You can flavor them up and it will taste like you are having dessert for breakfast.  As an added boost, sprinkle chia seeds in your overnight oats when preparing, which soak up 10 times their weight in extra liquid and keep you full all morning.

2. Include more moo. According to a study by McMaster University, milk is more hydrating than water or sports drinks due to its source of protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and electrolytes. Bring it on! No a good solution for those who are dairy free.

3. Try carb alternatives. Ditch dry, carb heavy staples like pasta. Opt for zucchini noodles, or zoodles for short, which can contain about 95 percent water. When paired with a tomato sauce, which usually has about 90 percent water, this meal can pack a hydrating and healthy punch.  Family  not ready for a complete zoodles meal?  Mix it up with some pasta, this way they get their favorite and a healthy does of veggies.

4. Sip smoothies.  Being on the Wahl’s Diet, I start every morning with a smoothie.  I’m sure it is hard to believe for those who know me BUT they actually have been keeping me full for most of the morning.  I don’t use yogurt but all the fresh fruit, and veggies it is a tasty, way to stay hydrated. I mix and match LOTS – kale or spinach even carrots with almond milk and then lots of fruit.  I use a 1:1 ratio right now but I’m working towards having more veggies then fruit.  What is you favorite smoothie combo?

5. Pack your plate with vegetables.  Much like smoothies, salads are a great way to give you a hydrating boost. Most lettuce greens contain at least 94 percent water, and that’s before you add any other vegetables. Next time you whip up a salad, include celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.  Hubby says with as much salad as I eat, my nose is going to start to twitch like a bunny.

6. Slurp soup. When the craving strikes for a filling and hydrating meal, look no further than broth-based soups or gazpacho. Served cold, gazpacho won’t make you break a sweat come summer. Blend cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic cloves for this satisfying soup.

7. Freeze your fruit. Feeling nostalgic about the popsicles you used to enjoy as a child? Bring back this classic treat as a delicious way to rehydrate. Blend a hydrating ingredient like watermelon and fill Popsicle molds and freeze for 1 hour.

What’s your best tip for staying hydrated???

Have a blessed day!

 

Tasty Tuesday Recipes

Tasty Tuesday: SWEET POTATO SALAD WITH BACON

As many of you know, it has been recommended I try several different things in an effort to reduce MS symptoms and deal with my gastro issues.  Hubby came across a book by Terry Wahls, MD who has lots of success with this eating plan in reducing and in some cases getting rid of MS symptoms.  I have talked to several who are on this plan, and it works for them.  I am doing most of it anyway, so I figured I would go all the way.  The only change is that I will add some meat back into my diet, eliminate eggs and sugar while I increase fruits and veggies.  Hopefully, this will help with some of the new MS symptoms cropping up.  Thank you and Heather Christo for this yummy recipe.  This is from Wahls Protocol Recipes.

I love potato salad, but mayonnaise is not my friend.  So, this one sounds YUMMY!  The color and crunch from sweet potatoes, celery, and a bit of bacon sounds like the perfect combination. Serve this at your next backyard BBQ and no one will be missing the goopy white old-fashioned potato salad. 

PREP: 15 minutes     COOK TIME: 15 minutes     SERVINGS: 4 TO 6

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1 red Fresno chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 uncured bacon slices, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery hearts
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer until just fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and briefly and gently rinse them with cold water. Set aside.
  2. To make the mustard vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the chili, mustard, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, bacon, celery, and green onions and toss with the mustard vinaigrette. Season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Did you know????  SWEET POTATOES are one of nature’s best sources of vitamin A and a great source of vitamin C. One 8-ounce sweet potato will give you 100 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A. If you consume a little fat with the sweet potatoes (like the olive oil in the recipe here), it helps your body utilize all the vitamin A even more efficiently.

Want to take this YUMMY salad to you to work for lunch or maybe to the next barbeque???   Check out Thirty One’s Thermal Tote….  One of our most popular items, the Thermal Tote is the perfect-sized lunch bag for work, school, play dates, sporting events, golf outings, fishing trips or travel. The thermal lining and zipper closure help keep your food cool or warm, while an exterior pocket is the perfect place to keep your cell phone, wallet or other important small items. Also makes a great gift for your kids’ teachers, tutors and babysitters, or your coworkers, neighbors and friends!

The best part is…. they are on sale this month along with all of the thermal totes for either $10 or $15 with a $35 purchase.  This is a great time to stock up for the school year.  A size for everyone in the household.  Which one will you pick????

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day