I’m aware – what should I do?

Disability-Awareness-Month

As I face life with disability, T.R. and I frequently hear a passing comment, “Let me know if I can help.” Folks mean well, but it can be hard to pinpoint “help” that can be done. Like many of you, we like to live our lives, feel that everybody else has plenty on their plates also, so it seems lazy to ask for assistance with everyday things. And specific ways to help just don’t cross our minds.

We realize that friends really do wish to help, so as this month reaches its end, I thought I’d share a few examples of ways one can reach out to those facing physical issues (and their families!).

Groceries – Sometimes, we don’t even realize what little parts of our lives we take for granted.  For me, grocery shopping was one of them.  It didn’t seem big until it grew a little more difficult to maneuver all of the grocery aisles, fill the cart, wait in line… and have any energy left. Then my friend Christa, about fifteen years ago, said, “Hey Angie, I go each Tuesday to get groceries at Wal-Mart – if you want to get a list to me before then, I’d be happy to pick up yours, too.” She brought the receipts and groceries, and I paid her the appropriate amount, of course, but it was astounding to me how much of a help this was! Christa and I continued this for about two years, and I now have a similar deal with nearby family. I love viewing the grocery ads online and creating a list of what I know our family would enjoy – and sales are a bonus! When people asked how they could “help” our family, this had simply not occurred to me. If not with groceries and such, a simple “I’ll be in — at —, is there anything you’d like me to pick up for you?” can be a help.

Garden help – If a person has problems that involve energy, movement, or heat, helping with planting and/or pulling weeds can do a lot to not just physically assist, but to lift a person’s spirits. And if pulling weeds or helping children do so, make sure you can all determine what NOT to pull. Planting times have arrived this year for early seeds, and it takes dexterity and strength to correctly prepare and plant a garden bed. (Huge kudos to my dear husband for doing amazing prep work and then planting this past week!)

Food – This is especially true if the main “cook” in the family is one who is now facing physical troubles. When friends knew my MS was acting up more nastily than usual, a friend sent us a message that she was going to make a pan of lasagna for us – she just wanted to be certain of food allergies and such first. Then we’ve had notes with gift certificates for area restaurants with take-out and delivery… so kind! None of these are things we’d ask for, but I assure you they were all appreciated. [Angie note: if you wish to help with food-related things, make sure to find out about allergies. Even something as simple as black pepper can set off an allergic reaction… says the lady with the irritating black pepper allergy.)

Your presence – Sometimes, just having a friend drop by to say hello and chat can be welcome! Call (or email or text) first to be certain the time works – but a visit from a friend can help a person who spends a lot of time alone feel less isolated. And more loved.

This month has been one for developing awareness of those with disability issues, and I hope it can help us each give thought into ways we can reach out to and encourage our friends and neighbors.

 

 

Disability Awareness Month 2017 – not your inspiration

Disability Awareness Month 2017 has an interesting, unusual, and meaningful theme: “Not Your Inspiration.” When I first received a flyer about the theme in late January, I was surprised. I was also a bit apprehensive, as over the past few months, I have had a number of people share very kindly that I am an inspiration to them, as they watch how I face various struggles. I’m never quite certain how to appropriately respond to these comments, though I generally smile a “thank you.” And I don’t wish to overtly defy well-wishers. But let’s take a look at the message here:

So if not “your inspiration,” what would I wish to be? As I asked myself this question, I came to the conclusion that these posters don’t tell the whole story. Thinking of neighbors, coworkers and classmates who face challenges, I do see some whose stories and examples are inspiring. Many face difficulties not so visible to others, with no cane or chair or facial expression that paint the picture of disability. Like me, I think others wish to be seen beyond the outward bit, as the “not your inspiration” campaign insinuates. For those who know me, I’ll add a fourth poster:

I’M NOT YOUR INSPIRATION:
I’m your friend.

Admiring those who overcome disability is fine, but this month us a good time to focus on the people beyond the challenges they face.

Day 25 – Thirty Days of Thanks – random summer stuff

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Summer break is a time for fun mini-adventures, often within the walls of our house. “Fun” for us may not be what would excite others, but isn’t that part of what makes summer break especially lovely? The chance to pause and enjoy unique blessings – I’ll share a few of those below.

Today’s 5 Thankful Things:

  1. IMG_0613New recipes to try – When I saw “French toast waffles” in a recipe email, I decided to give it a try. And family members made it work – this was fun!
  1. IMG_0619Twinkletoes – or at least painted toenails. Though she has lovely blue-painted nails herself, my kind daughter painted my toenails a beautiful burgundy.
  1. Blog adventures with our girls – On her own blog, twin number one examined the inner struggle she faces IMG_0629while finishing an assignment due at the start of school. She has this final paper almost completed, and the last part of it finds her dragging her heels. (It IS vacation, and I wonder how many AP students will have this assignment finished. This girl will, I know. But that doesn’t mean she has to like it.)
  1. Blog adventure number two – The second sister has been continuing to post on her art blog daily. You may recall that she started the blog in early July – how fun to see the growth that has been taking place!
  1. More game adventures – My husband and his friends have been playing a “legacy” game over the past few months, a game where things change and cards are even torn up as they go. It is so fun to hear these four friends laughing and groaning and cheering and lamenting… proof that games aren’t just for kids. Or that “kids” are defined by more than age.

Day 24 – Thirty Days of Thanks – more writing … and chocolate, too

Continuing from yesterday – writing offers more than five things to be thankful for! So moving on, here are five more reasons I have to be thankful!

So here I go –

Today’s 5 Thankful Things:

  1. Online classes – Last fall, I was able to enroll in “Media Communications,” completing coursework at home and turning it in online. Professor Sara Brookshire was very encouraging. Among other things, I learned that I am not so fond of basic newswriting. I’d rather write something that can contain bits of personality, not just fact.
  1. recorder appSmart phone apps – Many thanks to Sara for introducing me to the “recorder app.” When I completed an interview for a course six years ago, I actually used a cassette recorder that I toted with me. (Yes, I was behind the times, but I didn’t own another portable recording device. Yet.) With a new smartphone, I was able to use a recording app that simplified so much!
  1. Siri Life 2 chocChocolate – As Siri told me just today, chocolate adds meaning to life. Even though I admit life has much Image result for Dove Chocolate Wrapper Quotesmeaning beyond chocolate, I do enjoy sharing words and chocolate with “Writers’ Bloc” frequently. I call these “chocolate fortune cookies,” as Dove chocolates have fun messages we read while enjoying our treats at our weekly lunches.
  1. Spring online class – What an incredible blessing my spring class was! “Nonfiction writing” offered many challenges and rewards. As I learned to hone this craft, life lessons came my way also. Remember my comments about March, how my nervous system turned extra-rebellious? This came to fruition the first full week of class. And it gave me extra reason to persevere – would this teacher let something like a burning tongue or uncooperative legs give excuse for missing an assignment? I think not.
  1. Wonderful instructor and new friend – Kim, a professor from a northern Indiana university, showed patience and skill. Thankfully, she believed me when I shared my reasons for schedule changes and such. But she took me seriously and took me to task as needed. My verbs are becoming more active, my sentences less bloated, and my messages more direct. Okay, sometimes … but I can keep trying. And I have a neat book project in the works!

 

 

Day 23 – Thirty Days of Thanks – about writing

A few words of thanks …

Background to today’s list: when I first decided to become a teacher, I hadn’t been able to decide whether I wanted to study to teach English, science, or general elementary grades (so as not to specialize, and to avoid teenage angst). Thirty years later, life has taken paths beyond my middle school classroom of 1994-97, my grad school years, and my Museum Educator chapter. Even my “adjunct professor” times. And the beautiful Kids Hope adventure.

During this journey, T.R. and others encouraged me to continue taking coursework that allowed me to keep my teaching license current. In order to keep my license renewed, I’ve needed to complete six hours of college coursework every five years. Graduate school classes were staggered enough that the first classes I took for this specific reason were about six years ago. My elementary license also includes middle school science and language arts, so I was thrilled to have the chance to take two writing courses to meet the licensure requirements..

Eight years ago, my writing adventure launched in an unexpected way. Our area newspaper, the Marion Chronicle-Tribune, put out a call for community bloggers. As T.R. and I discussed, we has an idea: blog about the challenges faced by those dealing with disabilities. These topics are often misunderstood, usually unseen. “Invisible Issues,” one could say.

Six years ago, I enrolled in “Freelance Writing” and “Creative Writing.” License was renewed. Five years later, I completed “Media Writing” and “Nonfiction Writing.” Each of these four courses helped me grow in so many ways, and I do feel like a better person because of it! And definitely a better writer. (One who is willing to purposefully break grammatical rules, for instance … but only if she knows she is doing it.)

So my point here? Writing: is this how I am now meant to teach? Without the physical wherewithal to lead a middle school, college, or elementary classroom, shall I hone my writing abilities so that God can use these tools in ways I hadn’t planned? So begins today’s thankful list:

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Thank you to patient college professorsDr. Hensley and Dr. Householder both tolerated this student, two decades older than the other class members. I felt a little younger myself, and I hope I helped teach them a tad bit. This was in 2010 and 2011, when I was the slow student with the floral folding cane. Doc Hensley taught me to stop splitting my infinitives, among other things.
  1. Thank you to my supportive husband – Though I had planned to attend Gen Con with him next week, he arranged things so that I could also attend Taylor’s Writer’s Conference in August. What a beautiful gift, meaning more than I think he realized!
  1. Business cards – How cool is it that one can design business cards, then have a box of
    image1100 delivered to your door less than a week later? Awesome! Thank you to T.R. for designing them and to Zazzle for printing. (Of course they had a special also. Even online, I try to follow my mom’s example to use coupons and catch sales whenever possible.)
  1. Thank you to Writers’ Bloc – our writer’s group that meets weekly or so, encouraging each of us to continue writing, and offering friendship along the way.
  1. A laptop on which to type – Particularly after my laptop died in early June, I gained an even greater appreciation for this technology. What a wonderful gift this is!

Day 22 – Thirty Days of Thanks

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This lovely but HOT Sunday held many things for which I am thankful, but I’ll narrow it down for brevity’s sake.

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Air conditioning! – With today’s temperatures climbing to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (heat index over 100), I was very thankful for air conditioning!
  1. Willis Carrier – I am thankful for this American engineer who first designed a heating plant, then a lumber drying kiln, and even a coffee dryer before developing carrierthe first-ever air conditioner for a Brooklyn Lithography and Printing company. He was only twenty-five years old when he developed this design, and his invention changed the world!
  1. Blackberry jam – As each new day finds scads of blackberries for us to pick from our garden, I am blessed that T.R. and the girls were able to make several jars of jam for us to save and share.
  1. Blackberries to share – What fun it is to share berries with our friends and neighbors! Picking them becomes a little morIMG_0463e enjoyable when the weather cools a bit… and I will be thankful when it does.
  1. Writing – I am so thankful for opportunities over
    the past year to grow as a writer! Reading today’s blog, I see many imperfections, but I am thankful that I am developing a better eye for noticing those errors. More thoughts here will come over the next few days!

Day 21 – Thirty Days of Thanks – playing together

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1.  Game night! – Our church had its first “Game Night” yesterday evening – more than fifty people came together to enjoy card and board games! Lots of fun for ages 13-82, and everything in between.
  1. Showing that adults can have fun, too – How Image-1fun to teach new games and play them with friends last night. It is so fun to teach “Fluxx” to people who hadn’t seen it before.
  1. School supply time – it’s rather crazy to think that school begins in just a few weeks, but it does … and that means school supplies are on sale!
  1. New sharpies – “Sharpie” markers are the BEST, and back-to-school sale time is the best time to snatch them up. Sales are wonderful!
  1. Family movie time – We enjoy watching movies together as a family, and we had a delightful time watching the extras from “Zootopia.” We enjoyed this movie when we first saw it in March, and now that we purchased it on DVD, we are appreciating it even more.

Day 20 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Skype – How lovely to chat with our friends, Dave and Heidi! I still feel like I’m living in the world of “The Jetsons” when I talk at a screen, then see and hear a response. Amazing – and even more wonderful is the chance to spend an hour sharing with friends, being able to look into their eyes as we share about our lives.
  1. Sharing veggies with friends – and spending the morning with our lovely friend Armila, who picked some berries then helped Em and Rach pull someDaisy stubborn weeds. (Thank you, Armila, for the weeding assistance!) I also appreciate how we all agreed that “weeds” with pretty flowers are only pulled if it’s to place them in a vase. (That is where my little white daisies keep coming from.)
  1. Music stores – the kind that sell instruments, not img_0584albums. We visited a Fort Wayne music store that we’d seen the name of but hadn’t visited… and a seventeen-year-old was able to test play different saxes to consider the
    purchase of a new one really soon. Neat trip!
  1. Missing the rain – I love it when rain is just starting as we walk into a store, we hear it pounding above while we’re inside, and it stops as we exit an hour later. And our formerly dusty vehicle now looks sparkly clean!
  1. Fruit cobbler – Baked on Wednesday, T.R.’s large dish of blackberry cobbler left goodness that can still be shared over the next couple of days. Yum!

    cobbler

    fresh, warm cobbler with frozen yogurt

Day 17 – Thirty Days of Thanks – First fire

 

fire

Today’s 5 Thankful things – The home fires are now burning, and more:

  1. First fire in new fire pit – We got to share this with our special neighbors, the Dennings. T.R. and I had the chance to put our “Official S’more Tester” t-shirts to proper use.IMG_2155
  1. Patio and fire pit designed with accessibility in mind – The path to the fire pit from our house is clear and open, with benches around ¾ of the circle, then a space for me to sit on a chair without needing to scoot in on a bench. Or to stay in a wheelchair if necessary.
  1. fresh flowers.JPGGarden flowers – Emily cut a lovely zinnia and coneflower bouquet to adorn our table – I do love fresh flowers!
  1. Family movie together – Since T.R. and I are “children of gb posterthe 80’s,” we were intrigued by the idea of a Ghostbusters reboot… and when we saw that the ghostbusters were all females this time, our daughters decided they had to see it also. What a fun trip!
  1. Revitalizing lovely spots – I’m so glad that Wabash has revamped the Eagle’s Theatre! This historic Vaudeville Theatre had been turned into a movie theater when I was growing up, but after many years of disuse, it was reopened a year or two ago. With renovations inside and great prices, our family appreciates the chances to stop at the Eagle’s on occasion!

Day 3 – Thirty Days of Thanks – Sunday thanks!

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I do love Sundays, for so many reasons! This leads very logically to today’s list:

Today’s thankful things:

  1. God’s grace – Though I don’t deserve it, I am so blessed to know that the incompressible, infinite, all-powerful God of the universe loves me. Kinda crazy and hard to understand, isn’t it?
  2. Church family Upland Community Church-Upland,IN – Our church, Upland Community Church,  is not just a building. UCC is made up of friends and family from many places, all of whom are special in so many ways! They offer help, comfort, encouragement, support and friendship that cannot really be quantified.
  3. Carry-in Picnics – When a lot of good cooks bring food to a celebration picnic, tasty foods are there to choose from. After a hamburger with yummy sides, sugar cream pie cannot be beat for dessert. (…or fresh peanut butter pie, or gooseberry pie, or awesome cookies…)
  4. Sabbath rest – Sundays are days that allow for rest in a special way! Though some work is necessary, rest from outside work and big responsibilities gives time to focus on what this day is all about.
  5. Conversations with friends – Having the chance to sit and converse over fun foods was such a lovely time! It’s something I wish I could do more frequently, but life with an uncooperative body that likes to emphasize fatigue and lack of coordination, chances for nonawkward social times are treasured when then come.

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