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.

Marching into Awareness

AngiewalkerAh, the month of March. For the past several years, I have been highlighting MS Awareness Month, wearing my “teacher” hat as I explain what MS is (and isn’t). This also gives me the opportunity to more openly share personal struggles of living with multiple sclerosis.

You may (or may not) have noticed something about this blog during March 2016. What was there to notice, you wonder… it seemed rather absent. The irony of last year’s “Awareness Month” is that I was more aware of my confused nervous system/immune system than I had been in the previous eighteen years. After thinking it was a dental issue that caused my mouth to feel as if was being attacked by scads of tiny, flaming pitchforks any time I tried to speak, swallow, and eat, a series of tests and MRI scans led us to the discovery that a major nerve in my tongue was quite confused. I didn’t have a cavity or worse, but the diagnosis came: “hyposlossal neuralgia.” In essence, the main nerve on the left side of my tongue, allowing me to speak and swallow and such, had a short circuit of sorts.

They say that “knowing is half the battle,” but what I really wanted to know was how to function decently despite the uncooperative tongue. For almost a month, we tried different medications to help tame the crazy nerve. The craziest part of the struggle came when medication that tamed the tongue also took away the ability for my legs to move. At all. Because I appreciate the ability to do such things as go to the restroom, this was not appreciated. So… by April, things were tamed enough. But MS Awareness Month had completely passed me by. And I had visited doctor offices and MRI machines in three different cities, very aware of MS.

So that was 2016. 2017 holds different challenges and paths, as my tongue is tamed. Usually, at least. My point here: MS is unpredictable, and those who live with it are “aware,” no matter what month it is. Over the next week or so, I will be sharing about MS in general. I’ll also share about March’s other campaign, “Disability Awareness Month.” My own journey into and through the world of MS and disability is just one story, and I hope to shine a little light to increase awareness for us all.

Day 6 – Thirty Days of Thanks

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Today, I thought I’d highlight a few simple blessings that may only warrant a passing thought. Time to think again – care to join me?

  1. Freshly washed sheets – What a wonderful feeling to have soft, freshly scented sheets to slip between. Aaaaahhh.
  1. Teflon pans – How nice for food not to be inexorably stuck onto the inside of a cooking pan.
  1. Soft carpet beneath my feet – what a blessing to have a soft surface to walk on, when my feet are bare.
  1. Electric lights – flick of a switch – and there is light! No candle, no fire, no mess. It’s magical.
  1. Music – I love the sound of piano melodies wafting through the air as a daughter practices “just for fun.”

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.

Day 18 – Thirty Days of Thanks – dentists, teeth, smoothies and such

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Summer break is not just a time for vacation fun, but it’s also a time to catch up on other things that are not quite as “fun.” But we are so blessed to be able to have dental care available, repairing problems with our teeth so that they can be useful for our entire lives. This has been a week with visits to the dentist and the orthodontist, and this care is something for which I am indeed thankful!

5 Bits of Dental Thanks:

  1. X-ray – I am thankful that an x-ray can peer within my teeth to find if there is a weak spot that will lead to problems… thinking of dental things a century ago, I can only imagine the troubles my mouth would have had. (I was born without a permanent tooth, so I know I would have at least one problem area.)
  1. Hygienists – These specially trained dental nurses do an outstanding job when helping give care to keep teeth clean and healthy. I can only imagine what it would be like to look into mouths, smile in the midst of halitosis, and carry on one-sided conversations each day. And smile in the midst of this.
  1. Dentists – A doctor who could literally be bitten by patients, who can interpret x-rays and stains and gums, and who can do all of this with a personable, professional smile, is indeed a treasure. (Dr. Raymond Maddox, we do miss you and are thankful for the years of service you gave here.) We look forward to having Dr. Matthew Maddox join things here later this year!
  1. Orthodontists – I’m thankful for those who helped me when I was in high school and college, working to move my teeth so that my jaw wouldn’t pop and lock… ah, TMJ. A wise orthodontist was able to use a series of retainers to get my jaw moving correctly, then braces finished the job.
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    Fresh blueberry smoothie from Emily! 🙂


    Not fun at the time, but I am thankful that I never needed surgery in my mouth. My daughters each have orthodontist trips now, and I know they’ll be thankful one day also for a bite that works as it ought.
  1. Smoothies – On the way home from dental appointments, we stop at a restaurant to pick up shakes, but I was even more blessed this week after an appointment with a filling repaired (one from a few decades ago originally). My daughter also had a filling on this day, so instead of stopping at a restaurant, she made a fresh blueberry and frozen yogurt smoothie for each of us. This was indeed welcome and appreciated!

Day 13 – Thirty Days of Thanks – big anniversary celebration

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Charles Lyons and Betty Wuethrich were married on August 22, 1965.

Here is the exciting thing I alluded to yesterday… on the 15th, my brothers and I, with our spouses, celebrated something very exciting with our parents. On August 22, they will officially have been married for FIFTY years! This certainly deserves more than just a little list, and a fuller post will come on August. But here will be today’s list:
5 Things I’m Thankful for as We Celebrate Dad and Mom’s 50th Anniversary:

 

  1. Their true commitment: At dinner, we asked Dad and Mom Lyons anniversary picfor lessons they have learned or advice they have for us. Two big ones were to stay committed and to forgive. Both of these can be tough, but they’re worth it.
  1. Small town hospitality: As Chris, Matt, and I considered options about a small celebration, I was thrilled to connect with Maxine’s, a lovely restaurant near the spot where we’re staying for the week. When I called the restaurant last week to make arrangements, they not only were able to let us use a banquet room for just the eight of us, but the waiter and manager who arranged this for us made us feel special and celebratory. (Thank you, Kyle!)
  1. Real florists: In the world of 1-800-FLOWERS, I was able to talk with the florist near Maxine’s to order a centerpiece anniversary flowerswith flowers similar to those in Mom’s bridal bouquet. At The Joy of Flowers, they were able to order orchids the same color and type of the one at the center of the flowers she had carried… it was lovely indeed. (I also know that Dad loves fresh flowers as much as Mom, if not more.)
  1. Family pictures: Mom especially loves family pics, so we were able to snap a few Lyons adults 15together. And if you had seen all
    of the ones that were taken, you can imagine why we went through so much film when I was growing up… We’re thankful for digital cameras!
  1. Daughters old enough to babysit: The eight of us were able to truly enjoy our time of celebration because three sixteen-year-old young ladies spent an evening with their younger cousins. Not necessarily “babysitting,” but making fun memories with a movie, snacks, and balloons.

…then celebration week continued on the 16th

Day 12 – Thirty Days of Thanks – sales, ice cream, and memories

Another special day with family, making memories together… what am I thankful for?

5 thankful things for today:

  1. Extended family breakfast daily beginnings – On days when siblings, nieces, nephews, and parents are all staying together for a week at a lake cottage, I am finding it a joy to touch base with different generations as our day I starting.
  1. The Annual Outlet Mall tradition – We enjoy knowing that a Tuesday of our family vacation time will include a visit to a large “outlet mall” in northern Indiana – a fun trip indeed, with great deals on shoes, fun kitchen gadgets, and sale clothing.
  1. “Oinks”! – This fun ice cream joint  in New Buffalo, MI, is reminiscent of Ivanhoe’s, with more than 50 kinds of ice cream. Mmmmm!
  1. Sharing and learning – We enjoyed time tonight sharing stories of giving and growing… pieces of life that will gain meaning in years to come. I am so glad they have this special week together!
  1. Fun card games – “Euchre” and “Diamonds” are both fun, and playing with partners is particularly fun as we turn a bit slap happy.” 🙂

Day 11 – Thirty Days of Thanks – When Little Brothers “Grow Up”

I mentioned yesterday how sibling relationships grow through the years. This is particularly notable when one is able to see her “Little” brother on his 40th birthday! birthdaysign

5 Things that make me particularly thankful for Matt:

  1. Fun, interesting memories – One that brings a smile to my face is from a time he visited me during  my sophomore
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    Have fun deciphering Matt’s birthday shirt. 😉 And my t-shirt is “Thundercats,” in honor of Matt’s favorite childhood cartoon. (This was a Goodwill find from Saturday!)

    year in college. We decided to eat at Ivanhoe’s then attend a movie in Marion. As were in line, purchasing tickets to see “The Cutting Edge,” a flashbulb startled me a number of times. As we received our tickets and walked on, we were approached by a reporter, “I’m writing a story about teenage dating for the Chronicle-Tribune, and…” I stopped her short. “This is my brother.” I’m sure I ruined her story, as she saw a female purchasing the tickets and may have seen a story angle there.

  1. We shared my first “chocoholics anonymous” sundae at Ivanhoes – Check out number 22 on the menu http://www.ivanhoes.info/menu/ – I had seen it, but I knew it would be too much for one person. And the only other person I’ve enjoyed one of these with is my husband. 🙂 (Yes, the sundae is as good as it sounds.)
  1. He incredibly smart and witty – …but he is also very kind and humble. There are so many tidbits that all come to mind as examples, but none of them quite gives the whole picture.
  1. He and I were our own kind of naturalists and explorers – When growing up, Matt would join me in traipsing through the woods that surrounded our home. We named different mini-regions, swung from the giant vine swing, identified flowers, repeatedly felt what happened if you stepped on a honey locust thorn, made shredded dandelion stems curl magically in a bowl of water… fun memories indeed.
  1. Matt is a great family man – Matt is a wonderful father to his two lovely daughters, and he and his remarkable wife keep each other on their toes. Matt also shows frequently that he cares for his extended family, and I’m so glad that he, his wife and daughters live just six hours rather than three time zones away! (The move came a few years ago, and it’s been nice to see him more than two or three times a year.)

Happy Birthday, Matt – love you lots!

Day 10 – 30 Days of Thanks – family and flexibility

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Blessings are present every day. Some are incredibly obvious, almost being shouted from the rooftop, but others are less ostentatious; they may be overlooked, or even interpreted as an annoyance. Not something to be thankful for, anyhow. This has indeed been a day with both!

5 Thing I’m thankful for in regards to Family and Flexibility

  1. Family travel time – Road trips for the four of us have been fun memory-makers. And when two sixteen-year-olds drove for long distances, and we have still never had a traffic accident, THIS is a reason to be thankful!
  1. Books on tape – When an adult is driving, we enjoy listening to books on tape, and our current book is Tom Brocaw’s The Greatest Generation, read by the author. Wow. (more on this later, I’m sure.)
  1. Sibling relationships strengthened by time – When I growing up, I remember people saying that one day, my brothers would be great friends of mine. I didn’t believe them. And I’m glad I was wrong.
  1. Weddings and flexibility – This summer, with rain almost every single day, is a dangerous time to plan an outdoor wedding… the beachfront would have been lovely, but I am glad that a window of dryness allowed for my nephew’s wedding to be outside NEAR Lake Michigan. Congratulations, Jordan and Heather!
  1. Change in Goodwill Sale day – The Goodwill stores of Central Indiana always have “50% off Everything!” sale the first Saturday of the month… unless the first Saturday is a holiday (like July 4). So today was this day… and though the store is usually packed and lines long on this monthly occasion, it seemed that people had forgotten about the make-up sale day. Lines were short, items were not picked over, and this was one of the most fruitful GW trips we have had for several months! (clothes, books, cd’s, games… unbelievable.) This was a great start to our day! (you’ll hear about one of the finds tomorrow. 🙂 )

Day 6 – 30 Days of Thanks – Games and such

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All of these games were played during our long weekend with our Canadian friends. Four or five of them are ones I played, but we all enjoyed “Timbits.” 🙂

My husband, an amazing fellow who wears many hats, spent time this morning reflecting on something he values: play. His own blog, www.freelancehight.com, focuses on his freelance work in the game industry, and after reading of his thoughts,  I knew where today’s thankful list needed to stem from.

5 Reasons I’m Thankful for Play:

  1. Childhood connections – Playing games of all sorts can help connect across generations, can cut through boundaries that seemed to be there. With Kids Hope, this is often a connection point between an adult mentor and a shy chid.
  1. Friend sharing times – Time for playing games gives a great reason to gather! This is especially nice for less extroverted folk who would not otherwise plan elaborate social engagements. <cough, cough…>
  1. Equal ground – I’ve never been an athlete, so that hasn’t changed, but there are physical limitations that I have..… As such, card or board games are a nice way for me to interact in an activity without feeling or looking like a clumsy buffoon. 😉
  1. Variety – I appreciate how a weekend of playing games holds so much variety! I really enjoy card games like Euchre, but board games have grown tremendously since I was young (and my brother always beat me at Monopoly). Games like Quilt Show open the world of board games up to a new group of friends.
  1. Memory-making – The activity of playing games together does help make special memories, and for that I am indeed thankful!

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