Hope Wissel

I Don’t Remember

As I sat at the computer thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I had a brain fog moment.  A moment when I couldn’t remember what I had been writing about the past few days let alone the past few weeks or months.  As I scrolled through the published posts and the scheduled ones, I couldn’t remember writing some of them.
So, why am I telling you all of this?  It has been awhile since I shared about my MS journey.  For some, you may tune out.  For others, they are curious.  While still others have been on this journey with me so they totally get it.
How often have you said “I don’t remember”?  Maybe you walk into another room and forget what you went in the room for?  Go to the store and forget to get things unless they are on a list.  Imagine if every day was like that – every hour even.  Welcome to my life with MS.  I don’t say it for sympathy, it is more about me starting to accept the impact it has on my life and others.
Most days, I just let things slide.  Family and close friends try to adjust to the fact I don’t remember things or even times spent together.  The hardest are the missing memories of childhood – mine, my daughter growing up, my wedding, high school and so much more.  Not to mention the frustration as I try to work my business remembering customers and hostesses or even the names of products or prints.
Those who meet me just think it is a “senior moment” when the reality is I honestly don’t remember.  I remember faces (most of the time) but names I’m not very good at.  I may know I “should know you” but don’t know how or why.
Today is Thursday and I can barely remember what I did on Saturday or Sunday even though I lived through them.  I think hard about the weekend but the only thing I remember is I can’t remember.  Thankful for my planner where I write down scheduled plans and even note things I have done in case I forget and try to do them again – like pay bills, make calls to customers, etc.
There are so many things which could have filled my time. It’s possible I might have buried a dead body in the back yard (nope, hubby is still here with me – LOL), I could have won a years supply of chocolate (now I’m stalking the UPS driver), or I maybe I robbed a bank and am now a multi-millionaire so I should have moved to a tropical island escaping the cold weather.  Who knows? I sure don’t.
The one thing I am blessed with I’m still breathing, I’m alive alive, and ready for a new day, It’s weird how my brain works. You have heard about selective hearing where people can tune out things which annoy them? Well I think I have selective thinking.  No, really at a talk last week, the doctor said “the most common symptom of MS is cognitive issues and memory loss”.  HELLOOOO!!! I have been saying it for years.  It honestly was nice to hear a medical doctor confirm it and say it out loud – or did I dream it?
What truly amazes me (and everyone around me) is I have no problem remembering the words to songs but easily forget Sunday is trash day or Wednesday is recycling.  If I didn’t have reminders on my phone or it written in my planner I’d probably not get anything done.
I forget to call people back, answer text messages and respond to emails. It’s not intentional. It just is what it is. If I haven’t responded to you…I’m sorry. If I forgot your birthday or anniversary…again, sorry.  If I can’t remember your favorite color, miss an appointment because I didn’t have it written down or forgot your name, trust me, it’s not on purpose.
Multiple sclerosis just has this way of scrambling my thoughts and at times turning them into mush. Sometimes I wonder how I get anything done at all.
Time to get some things done – now where did I put the list?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!
Hope Wissel

How To Express Gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

You are probably thinking this is a crazy subject for a blog during the holiday season, right?  I mean it is a time of giving.  The truth is there is a difference between giving and gratitude.

Did you know by practicing gratitude you can be healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic?  It can even  have positive effects on your career and relationships.

We easily embrace gratitude when things are going well, but what about during the difficult times.  Over the last few years, I have shared my struggles with the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder and MS.  Some days, I struggle with gratitude.  I struggle to find the good.  I am blessed with friends, and family members, who treat me with kindness, love, and compassion – something I know isn’t  always easy on those bad days.

I have learned to turn my attention from the negative where I dwell on my fears to asking myself: What can I be thankful for? Who can I thank today?”  The more I focus on gratitude, the less time I have to focus on my worries.

No matter whether you’re on one of life’s highs or one of it’s lows, you have a great deal to gain by sharing your appreciation with the world. Here are some of ideas:

1. Like every post on friends’ social media feeds

I know this sounds silly, right?  It is an easy way to express gratitude.  Those notifications can mean a lot to people and, unless you disagree with what’s being said in the post, why not show your appreciation for the person who shared it by giving it a thumbs-up or a heart?

2. Forgive someone who has hurt you

When you forgive someone who has hurt you (with or without an apology), you’re essentially expressing gratitude for the experience and for the opportunity to experience compassion for someone else.  Forgiveness does not condone the wrongdoing but it gives you a chance bless and release your resentment and anger.

3. Make and share a list of someone’s good traits

Every time you notice something wonderful about someone else, write it down. When you have a nice little list gathered, share it with him or her to express how thankful you are for his or her wonderful traits. Don’t keep those thoughts to yourself!

4. Share your positive reviews with others

How many times have you complained to a store manager or restaurant or write an online review because of a bad experience and want to vent about it? What if you shared every positive experience you had with a product or service? Leaving positive reviews and telling managers about positive employees is a fantastic way to express gratefulness.

5. Put your phone away when you’re with people

I can see the eyes rolling now!  The best way to express your gratitude to others is to be fully present in their presence.  I know how hard this can be. Try your hardest to put your phone away when you’re interacting with others. Doing so will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them.

6. Pick up and throw away litter when you see it

This is BIG picture gratitude. If you’re not spending time appreciating, and caring for, the world around you, you’re missing out on a great gratitude opportunity.  Picking up litter when you see it, is a small act, but if we all did it, the world would be a much better and cleaner place.

7. Teach someone about something new

Everyone has unique skills and talents. Whether it’s something small or big, we all have something we can share with others.  Sharing what we know allows us to show we value them enough to teach them something, but it also is a chance for us to be grateful for our personal knowledge and skills.

Whether you choose to express gratitude using one of the creative gratitude tips or not, it’s my hope you’re inspired in some way to think outside the box when it comes to showing appreciation for the people and experiences in your life.

Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to make your world a happier place, and the more you practice it, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel

You Don’t Look Sick? 

The last week or so has been a challenge.  We got back from vacation where I had some really good days.  Some aches but nothing major so I was feeling like “I’m okay”.  The false security of being able to go back to the way I used to do things – constantly on the go.

Fast forward a week later.  The aches have turned into not sleeping, exhaustion, tingling in my arms and legs along with the ever changing mood swings.  Now there are more tests scheduled and the 6 month round of MRIs.  Now there is talk of looking for a comprehensive hospital specializing in “difficult cases”.  I just love hearing I am a difficult case.

I was talking with a friend who was truly trying to understand my struggles when I shared  “the spoon theory”.  The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino was used to describe her battle with Lupus to a friend.  It is a great way to explain those silent diseases. You know, the ones where we don’t look sick.

My days go 50/50.  Some are great while there are days when I struggle.  I walk a little slower.   But don’t most people creeping towards 60.  Breathing issues come with weight gain but really I didn’t have this much trouble when I was almost 300 pounds.  Yes I was!  Memory issues – we all have them, right? Senior moments have progressed to not remembering key events in my life.  The unexplained mood swings and actually having to talk yourself into getting up in the morning because you just don’t have the energy to move.

There is frustration when people make comparisons to our struggles seeming like it is no big deal.  Our struggles are real.  Isolated symptoms are manageable but when they are all put together it is a nightmare.  The difference in being sick and being healthy is having to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

So what is the spoon theory?  Start with a handful of spoons (say 12)…

If you are healthy, you have a never-ending supply of “spoons”.  But when a silent disease forces you to plan your day, you need to budget those “spoons” throughout the day. So you start with 12 spoons.  You always have to be conscious of how many you have, and don’t drop them because you can’t forget you have _________ (fill in the blank with your hidden diagnosis).

Now, list all your tasks for the day, including the simplest one – the ones you don’t even realize take any effort to do.  Each task will cost you a spoon. Yes, each and every one of them.

Crack open your eyes and take a mental assessment of your body.  Getting out of bed is an effort because you didn’t sleep well (1 spoon).  Get a shower (1 spoon). Wash your hair (1 spoon). Get dressed (another spoon). You are already down 4 spoons and you haven’t even made it to the kitchen. Two more spoons to make breakfast and clean up.  You are down to 6 spoons and you haven’t gone to work.

Commuting to work (1 spoon).  Sitting too long, one of the toughest things for me (another spoon),  Lunchtime – skipping could cost you a spoon.  Three more gone and half a day of work left. More long hours sitting or a hectic day at the office will cost you another spoon.

Commute home (1 spoon).  We are now down to 1 spoon.  Dinner to prepare, laundry, prep for the next day at work or maybe you were supposed to meet friends for a movie.  You may not be able to do it all.  OR, if you do it all, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

So, what happens when the spoons are gone?  We are done – unable to push any further and it is time to rest or crash.  Regardless of what your silent disease is, we live with the looming thought tomorrow may be a better day BUT it could be worse.

The hardest thing for me is slowing down.  I want to do it all. I want my old life.  I hate missing out on things. I get frustrated,  I need to think about the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one thing.  I miss the freedom of just doing. . I miss never having to count “spoons”.

I share this not for sympathy but so others can understand the challenges of those with a silent disease.  I see this as a blessing just as I saw my addiction as a blessing. I am forced to think about everything I do. I am forced to be in the moment and not waste time or energy.

Do you know someone who is struggling with a silent disease?  Take a moment and give them a hug to let them know you NOW get it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel

What Defines You?

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Happy Friday!  I am in Day #2 of covering for a co-worker while she is on vacation at my part-time job.  There will be time to reflect, set goals and get down on paper what I want to do for the rest of the year.  It can be a very quiet office.

Today’s subject is a little different.  I have talked endlessly about the time I spent reflecting last week and this topic actually came up.  I have wondered what direction to take my blog.  Do I want to focus on business topics?  Do I want to focus on life? Do I want to have simple solutions to life’s challenges?  Then driving home, it hit me……….

The picture above was posted by my daughter as we had a moment before we left North Carolina.  Being in the gray area of diagnosis for my MS and Addison’s has caused me to feel like I am my illness.  Crazy, right considering I am always saying #mswillnotdefineme BUT the truth is I was letting it define me.  I was letting it become a part of everything – the reason I was gaining weight, the reason I was emotional, the reason why I had aches & pains and the list goes on. In an effort not to own or be responsible for what was happening, I quickly and easily blamed my diagnosis.  The truth is I am a 59 year old who beat up her body for years.  The years of drug addiction, bulimia, abortion, playing hard and never thinking about my health.  I had aches and pains before I had a diagnosis or two.

As a people pleaser, I always listen to what others have to say then adopt my actions.  I think back to when I started blogging, nothing planned just sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences.  Over the years, yes 3 1/2 years to be exact, I have changed to fit into a mold of what others are doing or suggesting, simply trying to find a purpose.  Playing the comparison game.  Hoping for more readers.  Hoping to turn those readers into customers or followers.  Believe it or not, I actually have lost my love for writing.  YIKES!  Scary but true.  I have wondered if I should continue or give it a rest. I wondered if anyone would notice.  So many questions.

Then as I reflected on this simple post, I realized what I loved about my blog was I got to share and write whatever I wanted – business, personal, tips, recipes and I didn’t care because I knew somewhere it would touch the person who needed it.

So, I will continue writing.  I may share about my struggles with doctors and my health.  I may share about my amazing pink bubble and my business.  I may share recipes.  I will continue to share words of encouragement on Sundays.

I am owning my diagnosis, realizing it is just one part of me and what defines me.  I am owning my blog as mine to do with as I want.

Another ramble but I hope it has touched someone – whether you are struggling with a medical diagnosis, growing your business, finding yourself or just looking for something to read.  I would love to hear from you via comment or email at HopeWs31@gmail.com

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

Only Guaranteed Today

images“If your forever was ending tomorrow, would this be how you’d want to have spent it? Listen, the truth is, nothing is guaranteed. You know that more than anybody. So don’t be afraid. Be alive.” ~Sarah Dessen

I have spent the last week in the mountains of North Carolina where peace and tranquility is an every day occurrence.  I have re-connected with what I want from my life, plan with hubby for the future and just enjoy time with family.

I have spent many years letting fear hold me back from pursuing my dreams. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough, strong enough, or smart enough to accomplish the big goals I had for myself. I didn’t think I was special and I definitely didn’t think I deserved to be successful.

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Have you been there?  Have you been tempted to take a leap of faith but then stopped?  Have you played the “what if” game?  The results are usually negative, right?  What if you changed the end result and the “what if” was all you dreamed it would be?

I did a lot of thinking this week.. I’ve decided I need to stop letting fear get the best of me and start taking action toward my goals.  What are you waiting for?  The SMACK of a near death experience?  The sudden loss of a family member or friend?  The diagnosis of a chronic disease?  What will it take for YOU to embrace today and reach for your dreams?

Why are you waiting to transform your life?

Cherish Your Loved Ones

At the end of the day, if I had nothing else in my life but the people I loved most, I would be content and happy. Your loved ones are there for you during the good and bad times. They are your cheerleaders and support system, and their love is unconditional.  How many of us have let work and the busyness of life get in the way of what mattered most.

It’s important to cherish your loved ones and make time for them because when they are no longer around you will wish you had one more moment to spend with them.  Call your mom, visit your friend, and make the most of the short time you have on this planet before it’s too late.

Prioritize Your Health

This has become my number one priority.  I have placed my health last for many years – drug addiction, bulimia, abortion and just bad decisions. Then came the “gray area” diagnosis of MS and Addison’s Disease.  My health was put in perspective.  The truth is if you want to live a long and healthy life, you must start prioritizing your health.

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A change in diet – no gluten, no dairy and  no soy.  Okay, so I am a work in progress but I do the best I can.  It’s time to stop all the excuses of why it’s too hard or there’s not enough time to eat healthy or exercise. Nothing else will matter if you get sick or pass away tomorrow because you didn’t make an effort to be as healthy as possible today.

Stop Taking Everything So Seriously

Are you caught up focusing on all of the little problems and challenges you face daily?  Do you stress and worry about things you have no control over? Do you obsess over your mistakes and waste time trying to fix them?

I’ve been there and some days still am!  For years, I’ve worried and stressed over the mistakes I made at work, not being the “perfect” parent, or not being thin enough. I’m a people pleaser, and extremely self-conscious.  My feelings get hurt easily and I tend to take things way too seriously.  The truth is, when you are faced with life or death, these so-called issues do not seem to matter at all.

Life is Too Short

We are only ever guaranteed today, so stop waiting for tomorrow.  If you want to quit your job, make a plan and do it. If you want to find your soul mate, then put yourself out there and find him/her.  Don’t wait until a near death experience to wake up and realize you need to make a change in your life or get your act together.7ffad5f50b12067b61738c109ad079d1

You Are Enough

I let fear and self-doubt hold me back for years, and I know I’m not alone. We all struggle with fear, self-doubt, and shame and we allow it to take over our lives. Successful and happy people are the ones who experience these feelings, but follow their desires anyway.

Whether you believe it or not, you are enough and you deserve to be happy. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this and I still work at it every day, but I now know that I am enough… and so are you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!