Gives Program, Unclutter Your Life

What Does Your Success Look Like?

Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and is something different to everyone.  The true meaning of success is up to YOU.

A new year at Thirty One allows me to reflect on my accomplishments, where I stand on my goals for the year and define (or re-define) what success will look like for me.  When you think of success, you probably think of more money, maybe another car, travel – all tangible things, right?  In the past, I always said success was being debt free. I still want to be debt free, who doesn’t, right?  But will it alone get me up in the morning?  For some the answer would be yes.  For me, no.

I want my legacy to be more.  I want to know I have made a difference in the lives of others.  I want the ability to give to those in need.  Success to me isn’t about just being debt free, it is about what I can do with the money.  Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason I have debt is because I give to those in need and try to make a difference in the lives of others even when I don’t have it.

Do you have tunnel vision when it comes to what your  successful life will look like?  Are you focused on the tangible things or are you creating a legacy?  I have heard it said often “people may not remember the day you were born or the day you die but they will remember how you lived your life (or made people feel)”.  What will they remember about you?

Success isn’t a destination—it’s a progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal.  What is your dream or goal?  Dream BIG!

Years ago, I had a dream of opening a house – a place where those infected/affected with HIV/AIDS could come and enjoy life forgetting about their life struggles for a moment.  In the early days of my work in HIV/AIDS, I created a place like it.  For some it was my office to get help with problems, for the kids it was a place to play and get snacks, and for others it was just a place to forget for a moment how cruel life could be.  The last time I was in Bridgeton, I drove by what used to be “Hope’s House”.  The small office, long since closed and moved to a new location, brought back some memories I thought were lost.  I honestly didn’t know what I was creating.  I didn’t know I would make a difference but my passion to help others showed through all I did.

As I moved from HIV work to working with struggling addicts, chronically unemployed and single moms – the dream faded slightly but my desire to make a difference in the life of others was still there.  Since retiring from social work, almost 6 years ago, I’ve been searching to find the dream and the passion.  Despite my best efforts, the MS beats me up and steals my passion as a result of stealing my memory.  Some days I feel like it is an excuse while other days I embrace the reality and enormity of it all.

Do I still dream of making a difference?  YES!  Do I know what it looks like?  NO!  Success to me is seeing a smile on the face of a single mom struggling to provide for her children.  It is seeing a struggling addict believe in themselves if even for a moment.  It is seeing a smile on the face of someone enduring the pain of treatment of a chronic disease. In today’s busy world, I’m not sure how my view of success fits in.  I’m the eternal optimist, seeing the good in everyone and looking for a place to make a difference.  What is your dream?

While I continue to search for a place to connect, I will continue to give back in small ways.  This month we are again doing our FIGHT HUNGER campaign.  A chance for YOU to make a difference in the lives of a child.  You can sponsor a thermal tote which I will fill with healthy snacks and school supplies.  These will be delivered to children in need in the local area to bring a smile to their face.  My Thirty One team, the Rays of Hope, will be collecting thermals all across the country and delivering them to children in their area to make a difference.

Remember you can also help me to make a difference by nominating someone on my “Give Back with Me” page.  Each month, a someone special will receive a Thirty One product and words of encouragement.  Do you know someone who needs some “loving on”?

I know I squirreled.  When I started today’s blog, it was about defining success in your life and I’m not sure I have helped you to do it.

I challenge you to take a moment and think about what success means to you.  Think about what people will say about you when you are gone – how will they remember your life?  I would love to hear your definition of success….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Personal Causes

World AIDS Day 2016

wad-poster-thumb-2016This day every year makes me emotional as I reflect on the lives of those who lost their battle, those who continue to fight and those who unfortunately will still contract HIV.  For those who don’t know my story, you are probably wondering why this has such an impact on me, right?

When I first entered recovery, I was on PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) and had to do community service.  They handed me a book and said “pick something”.  I selected the South Jersey AIDS Alliance and the rest is history.  It was then I started what would become a 15 year commitment to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.  From Case Manager to County Director to Advocate and County Ryan White Grant Manager.

For me, I am reflecting on the lessons that I learned when I worked for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance. As a new “inexperienced” Social Worker and a recovering addict, I was the “crazy white lady” stepping into Bridgeton wanting to help the world. Yes, many of my clients thought it and willing shared as we got to know each other.

I didn’t the people who walked through our doors as “diseased”, “hopeless” or less than. I saw them as people who because of their bad choices were sick. “There by the grace of God go I” was a constant reminder for me since I too had made bad choices over the years.

So what could I do in a little office (actually half a duplex) with little funding, the only paid staff, a handful of volunteers (who in many cases were also clients) and a heart to save them all. In the early years, AIDS was not a “manageable disease” for many it was a death sentence. It took babies from their mothers, it took moms and dads from their kids, it took people from all walks of life – yet no one talked about it. I can remember the first few funerals where the family said “they died of cancer” because they did not want their loved one to be remembered for the stigma of HIV/AIDS. This was the world I dedicated a large portion of my professional life to. Belinda grew up joining me in this battle to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS. She played with kids who were HIV-positive, she shared her toys, she helped with fundraising, as well as sorting and delivering holiday toys. She, too, grew up with a passion for helping people.

Fast forward to today, where little is spoken about HIV/AIDS unless a celebrity says the words. It is now a manageable disease so we seldom hear the prevention message. There are medicines, so why worry, right?

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We aren’t there yet – we are close. There are still 1.1 million people living with HIV in the US today. Only 1 in 4 people are making their way through the obstacles called health care and medications. Let’s not be complacent. Let’s continue to share how HIV can be transmitted.

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Today is in honor of those who lost their fight, and those who continue to fight every day. You blessed my life more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing this “crazy white chick” to be a part of your lives.

The theme this year is “Leadership, Commitment Impact”.  What will you do to make an impact?  Consider donating to agencies who help improve the quality of life for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!