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 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 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 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!

 

Day 14 – Thirty Days of Thanks – making special memories

Today’s 5 Thankful things – blueberries, shopping, and unplanned tech adventure:

  1. Fresh blueberries – Fresh blueberries are one of my very favorite fruits! I think I was first turned on to this delicious, juicy, plump and tender berry when I was three-and-a-half. How am I so specific? When Matt was born, toddler me was staying at Aunt Chrisann’s house. And she took us to a local blueberry farm one day, where we picked these wonderful berries. Buckets in my mind, but when they came home we brought them back to the house and ate the fruits, I thought they were the best ever. Surprisingly, I never picked blueberries at a farm again. Not able to do the picking myself, I so appreciate when we can visit a blueberry farm and purchase boxes of these delicacies, pre-picked by folks that day. Mmmmmm… will talk more about these in days go come.
  1. Unplanned tech adventure – The day we arrived at the lake is the day I first heard in the news about a little game called pokemon go… you may have heard about it. But my brother and husband have spent several days finding and collecting digital characters as they took walks on the streets in this area. And we’re talking about two tech professionals here… it’s been fun to watch.
  1. Wireless internet access – I appreciate having the ability to make a connection to the online world at a new place, making it so I can upload this blog without needing to plug in somewhere.
  1. Outlet bargains – Our first day in town, we went straight to Pepperidge Farm outlet store, where we purchased 8 or so loaves of bread and a bag of bagels for only $12.23, or something like that. A week of sandwich bread and such… awesome! (This even included a loaf of blueberry swirl bread!)
  1. Family shopping traditions – The outlet mall offers a neat place for kids in the family to find back-to-school shoes and such each year. Great tradition, even if it means that school is less than a month away. …yes, it is.

Day 10 – Thirty- Days of Thanks – prayer

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On this lovely Sunday, our family’s time of worship had us looking at prayer – an amazing gift that I continue to aim to understand. So today’s thankful things will start with prayer!

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. God who answers prayer – Even when the answers aren’t quite what we thought we needed.
  1. spring robin 2God who knows – …even when we don’t. This photo of the robin was taken in front of our house four years ago, and it’s in honor of the similar robin we affectionately named “Dumb Bird.” Why? I’ll give the story next.

 

  1. Because too often, I’m the “dumb bird. This particular robin decided that he needed to build a nest over our front door, on the little ledge there. At only an inch or so deep, we knew a nest there wouldn’t survive, so we continually removed the pile of nest-building material he’d pile there. Each time we’d remove them, he’d pile them again. He didn’t see that we had removed those for a reason. Dumb Bird’s story was a parable God offered me – when I desire to build a nest that wouldn’t work, I know God has a tree somewhere that would suit me better than the ledge I deem as perfect.
  1. Family helps answer many of our prayers and needs – I continue to be amazed at how God continues to answer prayers and meet needs that I didn’t even know I had.
  1. Laughter – I love how happy laughter of family and friends can help lighten the heart and mood, giving God a chance to turn my ear to Him!

Day 9 – Thirty Days of Thanks

 

As hot weather looms nearer, this cooler day was much appreciated!

fm cheese

5 things I was thankful for on this lovely, cooler, windy day! 

  1. Cheese curds – When we visit an area farmer’s market during our annual summer trip, one thing we always make sure to purchase is a bag of fresh cheese curds. Mmmm!
  1. IMG_0260Waves – Waves, even on a lake, are both beautiful and fascinating. Wind, even though we can’t see it, holds tremendous power!
  1. Smooth rocks – I love how water smooths rocks beautifully, making perfect skipping stones.Em finding rocks
  1. Skipping stones over lake waves – This was something we had never experienced before!
  1. Cooler break in the heat – I always appreciate it when what is generally the hottest time of year has a little alteration from normal. I like being able to appreciate a bit of nature, when heat so frequently keeps me penned inside.

Day 8 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Time for another look at five more things I’m thankful for – summer is so full of these! (So are spring, fall, and winter, but summer is when I have time to contemplate them, I suppose.) So here we go –

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5 Things I’m Thankful for Today:

  1. Fresh rhubarb pie – Who was the first person who decided to eat the thick stem of this tangy fruit/vegetable? And who discovered that the leaves were toxic? Fun dinner conversation.
  1. Baked pasta dishes – Either lasagna, baked spaghetti, ziti, or something totally different, cheesy and saucy recipes bring a smile to my face. And make my tummy happy.
  1. McDonald’s restrooms – Okay, this may sound silly, but I am thankful that when we’re traveling, I can always count on McDonald’s restaurants to have a clean, safe restroom I can stop in when I need. And I don’t feel guilty if we don’t purchase something every time we go, as our family has given the golden arches lots of business over the past decade plus.
  1. Coupons we remember to save – I love it when I remember to save a coupon, and have it with me when we need to use it!
  1. Things like Twitter that teach me to choose words carefully – and letters. Can I share a coherent thought in under 140 characters? I can try.

Day 7 – Thirty Days of Thanks – physical

disabilitiesThis morning, as I went through normal bits of routine, I couldn’t help but notice a few very obvious snippets of life here that I was very thankful for! Why does that bit of thanks deserve an exclamation point? Well, as you may recall, my “invisible” disability is sometimes very obvious, as MS impedes my dexterity, to put it mildly. So here I’ll share some thankful things that are very real to me.

5 helpful things I’m very thankful for:                      

  1. shower seatChair in the shower – I’m not sure why it took so long for me to figure this out, but last year, my husband and I realized that a shower wasn’t invigorating me, but was exhausting me. After a time or two when I dropped down to the floor, we decided that sitting while showering was worth a try. Boy, did this help!
  1. Bars in the shower grab bars– We’ve had these for almost a decade now, and I appreciate this so much!
  1. toilet gripsHandles around the porcelain “throne” – It is so helpful to have a handhold when sitting on or getting up from the toilet. Not fun to talk about, but even less fun to struggle with when you’re stuck.
  1. Rockerrocker switches and bar light switches – I’m so thankful that our light switches are all this type, so I can hit it with an elbow or palm of my hand, rather than having to hook a toggle switch. For those who have traditional switches, changing to this type is a simple, inexpensive way to add accessibility to a room.
  1. rampSmall ramp near garden – Most of our doors out of our house are at ground level, but our back door has a small step. This was a tiny bit frustrating, but T.R. found a tiny ramp we could order to help fix this stumbling spot. Cool stuff!

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.”

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