We Are Moving!

I have recently upgraded my blog and I am so excited. I don’t want to lose my followers because you are wonderful. 

I would love for you to follow me on my new blog. www.craftingyourlifetoday.com

Please take a moment and click the link so you can be a part of the Crafting Your Life Family. This is my newest blog. 

http://craftingyourlifetoday.com/5-steps-to-help-you-reach-your-goals/
See you there. 

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Help For WV Babies Affected by Floods

Go fund me for babies (1)

This is an unusual and unfortunate post.  As many of you know, WV has been devastated by flooding.  WV is where I live, play, work and shop.  So far, 23 people have died and the search is not close to be complete.  People all over the country are wanting to help my fellow West Virginians.  Donation of water, supplies and batteries are just some of the items coming into our state.  Families have lost everything.  unfortunately, the needs of babies and children are not thought of.

I have always had a heart for women and children.  Now my heart is breaking for all involved.  My desire to help in some way has led me to create a GoFundMe Campaign to focus on the needs of the babies affected by the flooding.  This campaign is focusing on raising money for diapers, wipes and ready to use formula.  I am asking for your help.  Not only do I need monetary donations but I need to spread the word about the campaign.

If you can donate, please do.  If you cannot donate, please repost this blog, share the link to the campaign on your Facebook page, Twitter account and other social media platforms.

The need is great.  The suffering is real.  The devastation is heartbreaking.  The link to the campaign is here.  https://www.gofundme.com/helpforwvbabies

Thank you for your help.

The Frustration of Me

What frustrates you-

 

Vacation is over.  Ugh!!!  The dread of returning to work is overwhelming.  While I was basking in the sun listening to the calming waves of the Atlantic Ocean, a question rolled into my mind like the waves rolling in the surf.  What frustrates me most about my day? Not the beautiful day on the beach but the everyday, monotonous, humdrum journey of life.  The question is not unique or complex.  With that being said, I found it hard to answer.  I complain a lot; about everything.  The thought of picking one frustration frustrated me even more.  So many ideas; so many scenarios; so many events.  Which would be number one on the list?

The answer was simple.  My attitude.  Yes, my attitude was the cause of my frustration. Gripe, gripe, gripe.  Complain, complain, complain.  Whine, whine, whine.  If I wasn’t me I wouldn’t be able to stand myself.  What an enlightening moment!  Now what?

Attitudes Can Change

Not a brilliant statement but none the less true.  Change is a difficult process.  I am stubborn and I often think that I am perfect and everyone else, well, they need to change. Sound familiar to anyone?  My negativity was skewing my outlook on my life and my hope for the future.  The next thing that I did may sound a little silly.  I wrote a letter to myself from an outsider’s perspective.  Remember I said that I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I wasn’t me?  That is the manner in which I wrote the letter.

Dear Michele,

We need to talk.  Actually, I need to talk and you need to listen.  Your attitude sucks.  You are always complaining about everything.  Are you ever happy?  Do you enjoy nothing?  I can’t stand your constant negativity.  When I am around you, my mood drastically changes and this negativity rubs off on me.  I feel like I need de-
programmed after we spend time together.  I know that there is more to you than your bad attitude.  There have been times when you have inspired me to do great things.  There have been times when we would laugh for hours until our cheeks hurt.  I want that person back.  Yes, life is hard.  Yes, things could always be better.  You were put on this Earth to be an inspiration not a Debbie Downer.  It’s time to put your big girl panties on; realize that someone somewhere has it worse than you.

Sincerely,

Michele

Ouch!  I didn’t read the letter until later that evening and it really opened my eyes.  I posted the letter in my office where I can see it everyday to remind me that my main frustration is me and my attitude.  Has it helped?  Has it changed anything?  Yes it has.  I am cognizant of my negativity and with that awareness I can now battle these thoughts and feelings before they get out of hand.  Change is hard.  Changing yourself is harder.

My challenge to you is this.  Ask yourself what frustrates you most about your day.  You can only pick one thing.  Once you contemplate the question and find your answer, write a letter to that frustration from an outside perspective.  Write the letter as if you were confronting a friend that needed your help or guidance.  Then, put the letter away and read it later.  Keep the letter in a place where you can read it often.

I hope you will give this some serious thought.  It may sound cheesy but do it anyway.  You may be surprised at what you find.  I would also be very interested in reading your comments about the exercise and what you found your one frustration to be.

 

Broken By The Body

Broken

This will probably be a very controversial post.  The topic has been in my mind for some time, but I have never had a forum until now.  I grew up in church as did my husband.  I enjoyed church; the fellowship, learning and being involved.  How involved?  My husband was a Sunday School teacher, Deacon and taught Awana.  Myself; Awana teacher, bible school director, choir, praise team, youth choir director, women’s ministry and Founder/Executive Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

When I got married, I began attending my husband’s church.  This was a church that he had been attending since birth.  His parents were founding members of the church and very involved as well.  We never thought that we would ever face humiliation, lies and betrayal from the church we loved.  Here is the story.

I briefly mentioned being the founding director of the crisis pregnancy center.  It was my calling and my passion.  I began that journey in 1998.  This mission consumed my life and my family played a vital role in the inception and running of the center.  We would hold several fundraisers a year including speaking a various churches asking for support.  There were many times when my family would provide the assistance needed out of our own pockets.  We purchased diapers, formula, cribs, maternity clothes, baby clothes and just about everything that a new mom and baby would need.  Thousands of dollars from our personal budget was given to the center in one form or another.  The center struggled financially at times, but we were there to support it.

7 years into this program, I became very ill; many hospital stays with no clear diagnosis.  I was discharged from the hospital and was alone at my home while my husband went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions.  There was a knock at the door and it was the pastor along with his brother; also a preacher.  I invited them in thinking that it was just a visit.  The words they were about to say would break my soul.

When the pastor began to speak and referred to me as “ma’am”, I knew something was wrong.  He would only use this term when he was angry.  I was told that there had been some problems with the bookkeeping and finances of the center.  Keep in mind that on several occasions I asked for help with the books as I was not well versed in math.  I never received the help I so desperately needed but I did my best.  He continued to inform me that he believed that I had been taking funds from the center and due to that belief, I was being relieved of my position.  I was devastated.  Crying, I asked them both to leave.

The pastor left but his brother would not leave stating that he wanted to talk with me further.  I agreed because I had, or thought I had, a good relationship with this man.  He began to preach to me and quote scripture.  By this time, I could not hear a word he was saying.  While he was there, I called my husband to let him know what was going on.  He told me to tell them both “to get the hell out of the house”.  Finally, they both left.

Later that day, we received a call from one of our Sunday School students informing us of a situation that had occurred earlier that morning at church.  The pastor and his brother had addressed the class stating that my husband and I had “mishandled” the center funds.  They also shared that due to my ongoing illness that they were fearful that I would end my life.  WHAT?!  We left the church.

After leaving, no one reached out to us; no calls, no emails, nothing.  The people that we had thought were friends, abandoned us.  People that had watched my husband grow up in the church never spoke to us again.  We felt betrayed and wounded in the back.  We vowed that we would never attend church again; no church anywhere.

Several year later, an old friend of ours started a church plant.  We discussed the possibility of trying church once more and started attending.  It felt good to be back worshiping and working within the ministry.  Soon my husband was asked to be an elder in the church and I was asked to sing in the praise team.  We agreed.  Our attendance was not regular.  We missed some Sundays here and there.  Then it happened again.  Out of the blue a call came while we were on vacation from a congregation member.

The voice on the other line informed us that the pastor of the church, which had been a very close friend, addressed the church body.  He stood in front of the congregation and spoke about my husband and I.  He quoted the following scripture.

Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Never once did this pastor come to us in private and discuss any concerns that he had.

1 Cor 5: 4-5

4When you are gathered in the name our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of the Lord Jesus, 5Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of our Lord.

He followed up the scripture by telling the body that a vote was to be taken as to if my husband and I should be rebuked from the church.  Vote was taken and we were rebuked. Immediately my husband called the pastor confronting him about the information we had just received.  The pastor confirmed what the caller had shared.  He attempted to justify his actions by stating that our attendance was not in compliance and he felt that we were not committed as we should be.  Once again we were broken; wounded in the back.  My family has not been to a single church since.

One thing I want to make perfectly clear is that we were betrayed by the body and not Christ.  From our experience, the church has been a misrepresentation of what the scripture commands it to be.  These events have changed our lives forever.  My view of the church body will never be the same.  We question what we believe and how we feel.  We question motives, sincerity, compassion, love, friendship; I could go on and on.  We feel betrayed and embarrassed.  We have been broken by the body.

 

 

 

 

Tell Me I Can’t. I’ll Show You.

It was close to the end of my Junior year in High School; only weeks away from being officially a Senior.  I sat across the desk of my guidance counselor to complete my final year class schedule.  I had been an average student, mostly B’s.  There had been some trouble during my Freshman year, but I had overcome those issues.  With pencil and paper in hand and a list of classes to review, the conversation began.

Mr. Cook was his name.  The only time anyone had interaction with him was during scheduling.  There were several tracks that I could choose.  College Prep Major was for those intent on going to college.  College Prep Minor was chosen for those that wanted to attend college but were unsure.  Then there was General.  This category was for the students that had no intent to attend college and were either going to go straight to work after graduation or planned to learn a trade.

I checked the box for College Prep Major and chose the classes I wanted to take.  Excited, I handed the form to Mr. Cook.  He reviewed it and then removed his glasses and laid them on his desk.  The conversation went something like this:

Mr. Cook: “Michele, I think we need to re-evaluate your decision.  I don’t believe that college is a good choice for you.  I feel very strongly that you would not do well and would not complete the program.”

Me: “I really want to go to college and I know that I can do it.”

Mr. Cook (interrupting): “Now, Michele.  You need to realistic about this.  I believe that I know what is best.  I am your guidance counselor and I do this for a living.  I highly recommend that you choose the general track and find a trade like becoming a beautician.”

Me: “I don’t agree at all.  I really think that I can do it Mr. Cook.”

Mr. Cook (smiling smugly): “Regardless, I am going to place you on the general track.  We need to change the classes you want to register for.”

He handed me the new schedule and I left his office disappointed, sad, angry and feeling stupid.  That evening, I felt a feeling that I had never felt before.  I couldn’t describe it but I knew deep within that I would prove him wrong.

My Senior year was almost over and graduation was near.  My grades were straight A’s and I won a speech contest.  I was to be the speaker for the ceremony.  I was elated.  My acceptance letter to college arrived in the mail.  The feeling of pride and accomplishment caused tears to run down my face.  I made a copy of that letter and mailed it to Mr. Cook.

From that day forward, I would copy and mail every Dean’s List letter; every grade report and finally my diploma.  I graduated with an Undergraduate Degree in Counseling with a 3.3 GPA.  Haha to Mr. Cook.

Graduate School was no different.  I mailed Mr. Cook my acceptance letter, my grades by semester, my transcripts and then my diploma.  I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Counseling with a 3.97 GPA and was a Chi Sigma Iota Scholar.  Once again, haha to Mr. Cook.

Throughout our lives, we are surrounded with negativity, dream crushers and words that try to cut us down.  It would have been very easy to follow his direction, but I chose to prove him wrong.

What is the moral to this story?  You can allow the naysayers to win.  Conform to their beliefs of you and choose to be less than you can be.  You can also become one of these naysayers and try to cut others down and squash their dreams.  Easier than the alternative.  I want this story to encourage you to do the opposite.  Don’t let the negativity win.  Don’t listen to the people in your life as they try to make you feel like you are not capable.  Don’t let them win.  It won’t be easy; believe me.  I worked hard; harder than I had ever worked before.  The determination to prove Mr. Cook wrong was my guiding force to succeed.

Take what others tell you, say about you, believe about you and do everything in your being to prove them wrong.  Mr. Cook never responded to my abundance of mailings.  I have no idea if he ever read them.  What I do know is that his belief and “professional opinion” of me drove me everyday to something better.

You can accomplish anything in your life.  You are stronger than those that will try to cut you down.  Do what is in your heart.  Do what you desire to do.  Most importantly, prove them wrong.

 

Help A Girl Out

I am a small business owner.  The name of my business is That Wreath Lady.  I have been making wreaths since 2012 and I love it.  To say my business is small, is an understatement.  I have one employee; me.  To make a long story short, I have applied for a small business grant through FedEx Small Business.  One of the factors that will help in the decision makingUntitled design (11).png process is through voting.  Even is I am awarded the smallest grant, it will help my business immensely.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I am asking for your help.  If you would be so kind as to go to the link below and vote for my shop, I would be so grateful.  You just click the link and it will take you directly to my voting site and click vote.  It is that simple.  You can vote once a day.  Please help a girl out. Thank you in advance.

 

http://smallbusinessgrant.fedex.com/Gallery/Detail/d1536d0e-abb1-42e3-93df-79f5feaa0ebe/?cmp=EMT-1003335-5-1-200-1111110-US-US-EN-SBGC
ENTRYAPPROV

 

 

 

A Letter To Our Angel Babies

Untitled design (10)

There are no graves to lay flowers upon.

No places to go so we can mourn.

No photos; no footprints; no tiny clothes.

Only thoughts of “what if” or how far you would go.

Our hearts still ache; our love still here.

How we wish we could hold you and wipe your tears.

What would you have been, a boy or a girl?

Dimples like your brother; would your hair have curls?

Would your eyes be green, brown or blue?

We imaging these things for you were gone too soon.

We remember the day they said you would come.

So much to be planned; so much to be done.

Now we are here without you to hold,

but we will always remember no matter how old.

Our thoughts and our love forever will be.

Our sweet little ones; our angel babies.

 

Living With Bipolar Depression

I have lived with Bipolar Depression since I was a teenager but only recently (2 years ago) was I given a diagnosis.  What is ironic about the whole situation is that I am a therapist.  One would think that if anyone could see the signs that it would be a therapist.  I am great with helping other people but pointing the finger at myself is a whole different story.  In retrospect, I can see all of the signs and symptoms that I displayed that is the road map of Bipolar Depression.  Severe depression that lasted for weeks; sudden increase in energy and hyper behavior that too would last for weeks then short periods of time when I was “normal”.  I try to explain it to my patients as a roller coaster.

roller_coaster_track

The Bipolar Roller Coaster is how I refer to the illness and what a person goes through that is diagnosed.  One thing that I want to make perfectly clear is that “I am not Bipolar!  I have Bipolar disorder.  It is like any other illness.  It is not who I am; it is something that I have.  Bipolar does not define me.”  It makes me angry when people, and yes colleagues, refer to those with mental illness as “being” the illness.  It makes me want to scream.

Mental illness has such a stigma attached to it.  Terms like “crazy”, “nuts”, “mental”, “psycho” are just a few of the labels that people give to those diagnosed with mental health illnesses.  I was called crazy and moody quite frequently.  I wanted to hide my diagnosis specifically for that reason.  I’m a therapist for heaven’s sake.  The last person that should be “crazy”.  It has been said over and over that doctors make the worst patients.  The same can be said about therapists too.

My life has not been an easy one.  I put my mother through a great deal of grief.  My poor husband had no idea of what he was signing up for.  The patience he has shown in our 22 years of marriage goes far beyond that of Job in the Bible.  We have learned about this illness and how to cope together.

The Depression

deep-dark-place-hole-feeling-depression

The best way to describe how I felt during my depressive episodes is that of a black hole.  Bouts of uncontrollable crying, excessive sleep, suicidal thoughts and feeling like my bed and dread was holding me hostage.  Irrational thoughts that my family would be better off without me would invade my thoughts everyday.  I felt hopeless and unworthy of life or love.  It was debilitating.  These emotions lasted for weeks at a time.  Loved ones would tell me to “snap out of it”.  I would have liked nothing more to snap out of this sadness, but easier said than done.

The Mania

Thbipolar-disordere highs were not so bad from my perspective.  I was full of energy, very productive and felt like there was nothing that I couldn’t accomplish.  In reality, I wouldn’t get anything done; just the opposite.  Starting projects and not completing them was a vicious cycle.  Shopping became an obsession and a financial nightmare.  I would go for days without sleeping.

Bipolar Depression is different from Bipolar Disorder.  My mania was not as severe as with Bipolar Disorder.  I had what is called Hypomania.  This means that my highs were not as severe.  I didn’t shave my head or demolish my kitchen planning to remodel (just a few examples).  It was still a drastic swing from the depression.

Today

I still struggle.  What is different now is that I have sought professional help for my illness.  Bipolar Depression as well as many other mental health illnesses are a chemical imbalance in the brain.  If you had heart disease or diabetes, you would seek a doctor’s help in managing these illnesses.  Mental health disorders are no different.  There are numerous medication on the market that can help manage the symptoms.  Will I ever be cured?  The simple answer is no.  Bipolar Depression is not a curable illness but it is very manageable.  I see a psychiatrist monthly, take several different medications and counseling helps me cope with my changing emotions.

My mood swings occur less and when they do arise, my medications can be adjusted.  It took a while to find the right combination of prescriptions, but once I did, I have been able to function and somewhat control my symptoms.

I’m not writing this for my own encouragement but for yours.  If you or someone you love has any mental illness, find out more about the illness, its symptoms and the treatment.  You don’t have to live in misery.  Don’t fear the doctors or the medications or therapy.  You can combat these symptoms.  You can live a fulfilling life.  You can fight what is happening.  Most importantly, you are not alone.

Bipolar disorder background concept

Bows Knows

When I began to make wreaths, one of my biggest struggles was making bows.  I love ribbon and had quite a stash but had no idea where to begin.  I knew that I needed to master this skill in order to make my creations more beautiful.  The one thing that helped me was watching tutorial after tutorial.  Here are some of the tutorials that helped me greatly.

This tutorial features The Pro Bow The Hand.  The reason I decided to purchase this bow maker was because of all the different bows you can make with this.  Another reason was due to the fact that making bows by hand was killing my fingers and wrist.  I found that making bows by hand was causing my fingers to freeze in the bow making process.  This can be purchased at http://www.probowthehand.com/order-pro-bow-1.html.

This tutorial is a hand made bow.  It is a simple process that did not hurt my hand at all.  These style of bows are very popular for Christmas.

Another popular way to make bows is by using the Bowdabra.  You can make several different types of bows with this.  The Bowdabra can be purchased at any craft store.

Another tutorial on a very popular bow.  This one is not hard on the hands.  I love using this style of bows on grapevine wreath.  My favorite part is using different ribbons.  This is also a great way to use those scrap pieces of ribbon.

If you struggle with making bows, I highly recommend these tutorials.  The best advice I can give you is practice, practice, practice.  Watch the tutorials several times and don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it the first few times.

Happy bow making!

Crafting your life.

You may think that this blog will be all about crafts and DIY.  Well, there will be posts about different projects and ideas but there will also be posts about life, love, family, self-care, making your life what you want it to be, finding your passion and so much more.

Let’s get started with this.  Ask yourself “what am I passionate about?”  “Is therePRODUCTS something in my life that I need help with or need to change”?  “What do I do that is just for me”?  Hard questions to answer.  It may take some introspection for you to find out what your answers truly are.  Here are some steps to help you.

  1. Ask yourself the questions out loud.
  2. Write the questions on a piece of paper.
  3. Write your answers on a piece of paper.
  4. Go to a quiet place, close your eyes and imagine the questions, one at a time, in your head.
  5. Take time to think about your answers.  Don’t answer too quickly.

After you have taken time and found the answers, don’t be surprised or discouraged if you find that you do nothing for your self or perhaps you could not specify your passion.  That’s ok.  In a later post, I will give you steps as to how to find the answers to these questions and how to make a plan to incorporate into your hectic life.

For now, ponder these questions and take a good look at yourself.  Be encouraged that you can find your passion.  You can take time for yourself.  You can find a way to change the things in your life that you are not happy with.  YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!