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?

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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!

 

Unclutter Your Life

How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed 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!

Tasty Tuesday Recipes

Tasty Tuesday: All-American Beefy Mac


Thank you Hungry Girl for today’s recipe….

Do you remember Hamburger Helper?  When life was crazy busy – full-time job, active kid and not a lot of time to plan meals, this and macaroni and cheese was a go to meal.  I kind of miss those days so this is a great way to enjoy the same yummy taste in a healthier way.

Whether you call it beefy mac, beefaroni, or American chop suey, a hearty pasta meal full of ground beef and rich tomato sauce rocks. Indulge in our AMAZING recipe without a lick of guilt…

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: 30 minutes     Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups frozen cauliflower florets
  • 4 1/2 oz. (about 1 1/4 cups) high-fiber elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 lb. raw extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tbsp. canned tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • Optional seasoning: crushed red pepper

Directions:

  1. Place cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir. Re-cover and microwave for 2 minutes, or until hot. Drain excess liquid.
  2. Roughly chop cauliflower, return to the bowl, and cover to keep warm.
  3. In a large pot, cook pasta per package instructions, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, and stir into cauliflower. Re-cover to keep warm.
  4. Spray the pot with nonstick spray, and bring to medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook and stir until browned, about 4 minutes.
  5. To the pot, add ground beef, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stir, and crumble until beef is fully cooked and veggies are soft, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients to the pot, and stir well. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low, and stir in cauliflower-pasta mixture. Cook until hot and well mixed, about 2 minutes.

Serving Size: 1/4th of recipe (about 2 1/2 cups):  Calories: 375; Fat: 6g; Sodium: 690mg; Carbs: 50g; Fiber: 10g; Sugars: 13.5g; Protein: 33g     PointsPlus® value 9*

Be sure to pack your leftovers for lunch the next day in Thirty One’s Around the Clock Thermal.  This is one of our most versatile totes.  It is great for lunch or snacks anytime, anywhere—work, school, festivals, road trips, pool, beach, golf course, boating or sporting events. The water-resistant thermal lining keeps contents cool and makes cleanup easier. A removable shoulder strap means you can carry it any number of ways, including crossbody for hands-free movement. An interior mesh pocket and exterior front zipper pocket provide separate storage options when needed. Makes a great gift for friends, neighbors, kids, teachers and everyone else on the go!

Have a blessed day!