Day 30 – Thirty Days of Thanks – Year five finale

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Five years ago, I decided that my “Invisible Issues” blog would focus on something besides disability difficulties. Why? Mom battled a breast cancer diagnosis, and I was so inspired by her beautiful outlook. When one faces deep struggle, there is still so much to be thankful for! Mom had a special little way of simplifying these thoughts, so leave it to me, her wordy daughter, to complicate the issue.

As the days, weeks, months, years have passed, I have continued to be wordy … why use one word, when two will do? (yes, that’s my attempt at levity.) I have so enjoyed these windows of thankfulness, time to focus on the beauty and blessings that are a part of life. Even life filled with “invisible issues” has its bright spots.

On this thirtieth day, I have struggled to narrow down today’s “Thankful list.” As I keep beginning this post then deleting and restarting, I decided to look back five years. On Day 1 in 2012, what did I say? How has my list changed (or not changed) since then?

Today’s 5 things of thanks (and those from July 3,2012)
The 2012 thoughts are italicized.

  1. IMG_2155My husband: friend, lover, father, caregiver – an amazing fellow – T.R. continues to fill each of these roles even more richly – I love you, Sweetie!
  1. Air Conditioning I cannot emphasize enough what a hugely meaningful factor air conditioning is in the summer life for a person with multiple sclerosis!
  1. The hummingbird feeder outside our window – I still adore watching hummingbirds hummerfeed through our sunroom window! About six weeks ago, our five-year-old glass feeder fell onto a brick path and shattered, so I found a replacement through our friendly Amazon account. This new feeder sports a perching bar that these birds really seem to enjoy. In fact, just today I watched a bird perch and drink for at least a minute. She came back and repeated this at least three more times. So fun to watch!
  1. Grandparents: this is the home where our daughters are now. Our parents! – My parents and T.R.’s parents play such an important role in the lives- of our children – and our lives! Five years ago, the girls had been at one of their homes, and I’m so incredibly thankful that Dad, Mom, Dave and Connie are in good health and still run life’s race with us!
  1. Electricity (for the AC, lights, this computer, and so much) – Again, we so often take these things for granted!

Five years ago, I wished to leave simple lists, without lots of description. Nice try, Angie. But I have had such fun taking a closer look at life’s blessings! You may recall that the beginning of this journey was also a response to Mom’s cancer experience. With other blessings, I am quite thrilled that Mom’s most recent follow-up appointment showed that she remains cancer-free!

Today does mark the end of my “Thirty Days of Thanks” blog adventure. What this has taught me is that every day is packed with blessings, so many we take for granted if we’re not careful. So my challenge to myself and to each of you: let’s continue to take note of life’s blessings, living lives of thankfulness.

Day 29 – Thirty Days of Thanks – Goodbye summer break, hello garden blessings

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What a joy it has been to focus on thankfulness as the summer continues on! With just two days left in my “Thirty Day” journey, I’ll make certain to highlight a few that are particularly timely.

Today’s Five Thankful Things:

  1. firstday16.JPGFirst Day tradition – Since our daughters were in preschool, we have taken a “first day of school” photo each year. And our lovely girls agree to hold up a sign and smile each year, with the promise that we will not follow them to college with these signs.
  1. Caring, intelligent teachers – Our daughters have attended public school since kindergarten, and we have been blessed each year with special teachers who really do care about their students. At a time when public schools face budget and political struggles, I have so appreciated Eastbrook Schools and the caring faculty and  at its heart.
  1. berriesBerries still! – Our blackberry bushes continue to be fruitful, and I try to enjoy them when I have the chance. Looks like we’ll be making at least one more batch of jam! And we have several quarts frozen. Fresh berries just can’t be beat!
  1. Fresh veggies from the garden! – Today’s lunch at IMG_0689home came from our garden, picked over the past couple days. Other than the large okra (should have been picked before it grew too large), I enjoyed sweet peppers, smaller okra, cucumber, and tomatoes. Then berries. Oh – and watermelon from our garden!
  1. Rose of Sharon’s first blooms – A few months ago, we planted a few saplings of “Rose of Sharon,” shared by my friend Ellen. Her bush is a combination of white, lavender, and pink blooms, as the bushes grew tightly into each other. But these were just planted here in April, and I hadn’t even expected them to bloom on this first year. What a beautiful surprise to find out this morning that these were both blooming!

Day 28 – Thirty Days of Thanks – celebrating the life of Uncle Otto

In “Day 27” of my thankful journey posts, I promised I would continue with “Day 28” on August 9. The past week and a half held many blessings, but one calendar addition came a little unexpectedly. How so? Allow me to explain.

Today, August 9, my uncle’s funeral is taking place as I finish typing this post. Uncle Otto  passed away at the age of eighty, and his final few years held the extra challenge of Alzheimer’s disease. For a strong farmer/businessman, a leader in his church and family, understanding and coming to terms with this hard-to-understand I malady weighed hard on Uncle Otto, Aunt Donna, his children and grandchildren. I know all of the family is thankful that they had the opportunity, while his mind was still here, to share final words with him. Then over recent months, we were all thankful for a loving “memory care center” that offered needed support.

But Uncle Otto’s life was beautiful and rich, not defined by his later struggle. So what to be thankful for on this day? I was unable to travel to the funeral, but I have no doubt that much will be shared about family, as children, grandchildren and cousins banter with a smile.

Five Thankful Thoughts in honor of Uncle Otto:

  1. Family roots – My mother’s only brother (with four girls in the family), Uncle Otto followed my grandfather’s farming footsteps. The farm carries on with my cousins Tim and Scott, then their extended families. In a world where family roots sometimes struggle to take hold, Uncle Otto’s legacy will carry on.
  1. ottofaamFamily man – Five children in the Otto and Donna Wuethrich family were neat cousins to grow up with, though I was much younger. I never really got to know the oldest cousin, Jerry, as I was only ten years old when he died in a car accident. The photo here is one Scott posted on Facebook – isn’t it a lovely image of Uncle Otto and two of his happy kiddoes?
  1. Man of Faith – Otto Wuethrich held strong to his faith, and I know he was a part of the leadership at the Apostolic Christian Church in Francesville, where my mother attended when growing up. Though the more formal, traditional church may seem unusual, the heart of this church is pure on a level often not seen in less formal houses of worship. After Grandpa Wuethrich passed away when I was in elementary school, I recall Uncle Otto leading a prayer at a large family gathering. And his voice sounded exactly like Grandpa had sounded, with as sure of a prayer.
  1. Outdoorsman – Uncle Otto loved to fish – and he even stocked fish in the pond behind their home. And young relatives who love to fish were able to do so! I appreciated him sharing this bit of his life with us.
  1. Aunt Donna – his high school sweetheart! I’m thankful that he brought into the Wuethrich family a gem of a sister-in-law for my mother. Aunt Donna, later in life, developed a sweet yet sardonic humorous routine, a la Erma Bombeck, and we’re so blessed that she is a “Wonderful Wuethrich Woman.” The long goodbye of Alzheimer’s was especially hard for Aunt Donna, who also faces Parkinson’s, but she stood by Uncle Otto even when it was tough. We love you, Aunt Donna!

Gen Con: chair view (part 3)

 

If you follow my blog but not T.R.’s, you likely missed part three of this Gen Con accessibility mini-portrait. As you may have read yesterday, I left Indianapolis at that time to head home and attend a writers conference at Taylor University. But Gen Con continues, going strong as four very full days create those “Best Four Days in Gaming“.

After my views from the chair, here you can find T.R.’s “Views from behind the chair.”

If others have experiences in this area, positive or negative, I’d love to hear about them!

Day 27 – Thirty Days of Thanks – nineteen years and counting

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Nineteen years ago on this date, the air felt decidedly hot. And quite humid. And very sunny. (Of course it was… it was July in Indiana.)  So what made it memorable? July 30, 1997 was the day of the official word, the day that Dr. Stevens confirmed that the preliminary June diagnosis was correct: I have Multiple Sclerosis.

Nineteen years later, this journey continues. Few wish for struggles, and I admit that I do not enjoy them, but my MS path does indeed contain pieces for which I give thanks. Today’s list will focus on that:

5 things I’m thankful for, highlighted by MS in my life:

  1. Embraced Slowness –I’ve never been super speedy (as my parents and brothers can vehemently attest), but MS has enforced a movement level that has me running races with snails, and sometimes they win. But you know what we’ve discovered? When you refrain from being speedy, you notice and appreciate things you may have missed otherwise. It can be refreshing.
  2. Connections with others –More people than I can count have contacted me for assurance or advice – or commiseration – after receiving a frightening diagnosis. This was never a lesson I had planned to teach, but I’m thankful that I’m able to step in here at times.
  3. Little everyday ADA blessings –I credit the ADA for many bits of blessing, and I am thankful for things like not-too-steep ramps, early boarding for an airplane, and special seats at the theater. I read last year that we are now a part of “Generation ADA” – we have indeed come a long way. I have an understanding here that I never would have before!
  4. Learning the blessing of giving AND receiving –For some of us, giving is a lot simpler, more comfortable, more joyful than receiving. And rightly so… but I have finally realized that by being an appreciative “receiver,” I bless the life of those on the other side of the equation. For a proud and independent type of person, this wasn’t a simple lesson, but I feel that I am experiencing this truth more fully after nineteen years.
  5. Deeper family relationships –Life as it is in the Knight house requires a level of giving, understanding, patience and love that I don’t think would be if not for challenges MS brings our way. My husband and daughters are so very special, and there are bonds within our family that have been strengthened by this thing called MS.

So “Thankful for MS”? Not today. Thankful for (sometimes hidden) blessings that abound? You bet!

 

[Note about “Thirty Days of Thanks”: I continue being thankful, but writing about days 28-30 will actually begin again August 9. As mentioned above, I am indeed slow, and my energy is limited. I will be attending two conferences, and my writing time and energy will be focused there. I love adopting a mental and spiritual posture of thankfulness, and it will be fun to bring my thirty days to a proper close!]

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 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 18 – Thirty Days of Thanks

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Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. RP Amish Inn MysteryReading through an entire book – As life throws curve balls my way, I rarely have the chance to read through for an entire book in one week, just for fun. But last week, I did! Many thanks to Rachael Phillips for writing more than a cozy mystery, but a heartfelt tale of a young, intelligent lady who searched for and found Amish roots she didn’t discover until she helped uncover the story of a shocking murder. I can’t recommend her book Secrets of the Amish Diary enough. (And if you enjoy bulldogs, you’ll fall in love with the dog, “Beans.”)
  1. Bagels and blueberries – Cream cheese and fresh blueberries atop a bagel were IMG_0571
    such a lovely breakfast feast this morning – many thanks to my daughter, Emily, for putting this together!
  1. DaisyFresh, cheery daisies – So nice!
  1. Our garden’s first okra of the season – Tender and tasty, I had to enjoy it raw – these okraare even better than I remembered. Yum!
  1. Queen Anne’s Lace – After bringing in daisies, Queen Anne's LaceEm also entered with two stems of Queen Anne’s lace, my favorite wildflower. I had a version of these in my wedding bouquet twenty-two years ago, and I’m sure people would pay good money to grow these in their gardens if they didn’t grow on their own.

Day 17 – Thirty Days of Thanks – First fire

 

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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 15 – Thirty Days of Thanks – There’s no place like home

home sweet home

I wrote this on Friday the 15th, but due to craziness of luggage, laundry, and anniversary celebration, it wasn’t posted. Here it is, a tiny bit before Day 17.

Today’s 5 Thankful things – Returning home

  1. Fresh streusel – http://www.harbertswedishbakery.com/ Starting our final lake morning with fresh streusel from the nearby Swedish bakery was indeed lovely. (Thank you, T.R., for the bakery trip yesterday!)
  1. Sweet hugs from young nieces – It was nice to see our young nieces, ages 9 and 11, for an entire week. They may be similar, but they are as different as our own two daughters (more, of course, since they’re two years apart rather than thirteen minutes.) It reminded me of our girls’ elementary years, while also helping me appreciate how far Em and Rach have come.
  1. Ahhh, home – How nice it was to step into our own house. Aaaahhhh.
  1. Sleeping in our own bed – Our own mattress, sheets, pillows… so we can be home for our anniversary. Nice.
  1. A home without stairs – I don’t fully appreciate the way we designed our own home until I spend time at a place with plenty of steps. Our stairway-free house is appreciated even more at times like this!

 

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