It’s The Little Things

Chicken City

Winter finally returned this week! Mid-week, another winter storm moved in, dumping several inches on us. Today, we ended up with a drizzly, icy rain that left a coating of ice on the vehicle. We enjoyed lots of time indoors with the dogs this week, and managed to get outside a little bit too.

Our basset hound is obsessed with a YouTube channel called Chicken City. She prefers it to be on the televsion all day long, and will often whine and bark if it is not. She also still loves to play with stuffed animals. For Christmas, my Mom got her a stuffed animal; her very own chicken! It was one of the best gifts she could have gotten, and she has been enjoying it since we opened it this weekend.

Time With Family

Between the blizzard on Christmas Eve, and illness, we didn’t get to spend Christmas with either side of the family. This week, we celebrated with some of Ben’s family early in the week and part of my family later in the week. I spent time with my mom, sister, a niece and nephew at a sporting event, and we exchanged Christmas gifts. It’s odd doing Christmas almost a month later, but since the accident, and with Ben’s health declining, we’ve needed to adjust our expectations and plans in so many different ways.

It was great to see family, and I enjoyed a nice drive. In north-west lower Michigan where we live, it’s often a drive to get anywhere. The weather was great though, and the drive took me through a lot of countryside with limited traffic, which was really nice. I spotted a couple of new species to add to my bird list for this year, bringing the total number of species to 16, and I was able to pick up a few groceries at Meijer on my way back. This may not seem like a big deal, but where we are at, stores like Meijer and Walmart are a bit of a drive, so we plan our trips carefully.

Books I’m Reading:

I haven’t shared book ideas in a while. Here are three books I am either currently reading or have recently read:

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  2. Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, by Becca Syme
  3. When We Were Young, by Karen Kingsbury.

One thing I’ve noted in the past that I’ll mention again now is that different people like different books. I recommend books I am enjoying, but may still be reading some of them. It is always possible I may miss something inappropriate or may not have read a section yet that is inappropriate. Also, things I don’t have a problem with, others may find offensive and vice versa. While I am enjoying and recommend these books, please use your own discretion when picking out books to read.

It’s the Little Things

This week, we remembered my sister-in-law Morgan, who has now been gone 15 years. You can read about that here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2023/01/18/fifteen-years-later/

So often, life seems to be able up of all the big things that happen to us. Deaths, marriages, babies born, graduations, new jobs, big moves, and so many other things that we encounter. And yet, in the day-to-day of lives there are so many amazing things that happen every day and we often pass them right by.

One of the things I will always remember about Morgan is how she focused on the ordinary, but made it seem extraordinary. In memory of her, my dad created a video on Facebook. I hope the link will work. https://www.facebook.com/100000178873722/videos/842670623469457/ In the video, you can see the photography that Morgan took, how it focused on not only the big picture, but also the little things like a butterfly on a flower, raindrops on a daisy or leaf, waves rolling up on a beach, or pinecones hanging from a tree.

Life isn’t just about the big events. The little things matter too. The way the sun slowly rises in the morning or sets in the evening, the way the rain falls softly on a windshield, or the way whipped cream slowly melts in a cup of hot cocoa; it’s these little moments that I think we’ll remember the most in the end. Sure, we’ll remember the weddings, funerals, births, graduations, and other major events. But I’ve found they often don’t stand out as much day to day as the little moments do.

The little things matter. They really do. Whether it’s finding time to read a book, or soak in some fresh air, feel the rain upon your face or feel like water between your fingers as you glide across a lake in a canoe, it’s those moments that make up every day. Often, we pass those moments by because they seem so ordinary, and yet, when we really stop to look at them, they often become extraordinary. Like an amazing sunrise we stop to admire, or a mother duck slowly gliding across a lake with her babies, like the way ice cream is so satisfying on a hot summer day, and how green grass feels against the toes when you’ve had nothing but snow for so long. Those are the moments we need to hold on to, to treasure. Sure, the big moments are important too, and we need to remember them as well, but it’s the little moments that make up our lives.

-Until next time,

Cindy

Catalyst

The Sun Will Shine Again

We’ve had a beautiful week here in North-west lower Michigan, finally getting some sunshine. Michigan isn’t known for its sunny days, especially in winter and this winter has been very cloudy. I’ve seen some reports saying we haven’t had a full day of sun since November, and it’s been weeks since we’ve really seen the sun at all. This week, the sun came out for several days. We enjoyed walks outside, and a beautiful stary night in January.

It felt strange to be able to walk around outside in January. We often have several feet of snow this time of year, so having bare ground and not needing snowshoes to get around feels odd. It was really nice to be able to spend so much time outside this week though, without worrying about a lot of snow gear, or getting worn out quickly in the deep snow. I don’t know what lies ahead. We will likely get a lot more snow and cold temperatures in the days ahead, and probably a lot of cloudy days too. But eventually, the sun will shine again. There is beauty even in cloudy days, and they will not last forever. The sunshine this week was just what we needed to start off the New Year! A photo dump from this week:

Catalyst:

We originally started this blog back in 2012, transferring from another site to WordPress from another blog I’d started to share our adventures in north-west lower Michigan. For a couple of years, I posted occasionally, and then posts became even rarer as I started working on my first Master’s degree. For a brief time, I started posting again but it wasn’t much at all.

Then, in December of 2020, the accident happened. If you are just now starting to follow this blog, you can read about that here: A Christmas To Remember. It changed everything.

A catalyst is defined as “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action (Merriam-Webster.com., 2023).

The accident was a catalyst to so many things in our lives, including writing more on this blog. At first, it started as a way for us to update people all at once. Then, slowly, it has started becoming what it was originally meant to be to begin with; a way to share our lives with others and keep track of life. A journal in a sense.

For years, Ben and I had discussed the possibility of me working remotely from home, especially as his health deteriorated. After the accident, that became more of a necessity and a possibility than it ever had before. With Grad school between 2013 and 2020, with only a year break between 2 Masters degrees, there were so many things I stopped doing and had to give up because Grad school and working full time came first.

When the accident happened, I was still trying to figure out how to get so many of those things back, like my writing time, birdwatching, playing piano and guitar, crafting, gardening, and doing so many of the other things I like to do. The accident forced us to rethink things. I’ve always been away of just how short life is, but the accident made me even more aware of it, and left me wanting to do so much more before my time on this earth is done. I was already writing a fair amount, but I wanted to write even more. I was barely going out birdwatching, taking photos, or doing crafts because we just never made the time for it.

The accident, in so many ways, became the catalyst to getting my life back. Not only in the physical sense, but getting back to what truly matters. Slowing down. Taking time to sit out in the sun and read a book, hike through a forest in the middle of winter, and jam a tune on the piano. Taking the time to put together a craft, or play with the dog, blog, or try new things I’ve been wanting to learn. It isn’t that I wasn’t doing those things at all before the accident, but I wasn’t doing them much. The accident made both my husband Ben and I aware of what we were actually taking for granted without even realizing it, and what we needed to change to get to where we wanted to be.

So, we started making those changes. I now work from home. I’m blogging this year more than I have in a long time, and I’m writing pretty close to daily. I’m reading books faster than I have in years and taking the time to enjoy the sunshine on my face, and the cold air in my lungs. Life is too short not to.

When temperatures and system pressure change, they become a catalyst to the weather. Clouds move in or get pushed out, either covering the sun, or making room for it to reappear. Just like the weather, pressure and changes in our own lives, whether negative or positive, lead to change. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But eventually, long enough into the seasons, the sun makes it way out from behind the clouds again. Difficult days don’t last forever. And sometimes, they become the catalyst that leads us towards days better than anything we could ever imagine.

Until next time,

Cindy

Citations:

“Catalyst.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/catalyst. Accessed 15 Jan. 2023.

And With That, the 2022 Season Comes to An End

Two Years Later…

You know in books, or movies when they fast forward in time and have a little line that says “Six months later,” or “1 year older?” That’s almost how it feels now, as though we’ve fast forwarded past the accident. Sure, there are lasting effects, there always will be, but we’ve moved into a season, and with that, new adventures. Time moves on, no matter how much we want it to slow down.

Two years. As I type this, it’s just a few hours away from being 2 years since the accident. As you read this, it already has been two years. I’m starting this post the day before to give myself time to write it. Most of the time, I’m ok. Life has slowly returned to “normal” or at least as close to normal as it will get for us, whatever normal is anyways. And then I have moments when it hits me about what’s happened, what we’ve been through, and I need a little time to regroup and pull myself back together and move forward. But I think that’s all just a part of the process.

Last year, I wrote about the Adventure. You can find that post here, along with a link where I talk about the accident and what happened:

——————————————–What Would Life Be Without Adventure?———————————————

What Would Life Be Without Adventure?

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that horrific day. It’s a day we will remember for the rest of our lives. We set out on an everyday common adventure. A trip to the store, a trip for Christmas items. It was something we’d done many times before and since. But that day…

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Sometimes I look at photos of the accident, or photos I took of myself in the hospital, and it feels almost surreal. There were moments when I wondered how I would ever survive, how I pulled through despite everything that happened. But there is a plan and purpose that we don’t always understand.

And now, here we are. Two years later. This year, we wrapped up one season of our lives and moved on to the next. Like any good story though, what happened in previous seasons will always stay with us and sometimes, it may even come back around. This year, I continued recovering from a major accident, returned to teaching and landed a new position that I love ,which allows me to work from home, and we got a new puppy. I completed NaNoWriMo again this year, and wrote quite a bit, all things considered, in a book series I’m working on. On the downside, Ben’s health continued to get worse , he had cataract surgery, and my dad ended up in the hospital for over a week due to an infection. It’s been another roller coaster year. Sometimes it feels like every year is.

We are in a story far greater than anything we could have ever written ourselves. Like every great story, there are ups and downs, there is danger and adventure. Two years ago today our lives changed, in a few seconds time. Nothing will ever really be the same again, but how can it be? We are not the same. Like any well-written story, our lives are no different. We grow. We change. Through the trials , when we keep on keeping on, we become better and stronger, more of who we were meant to be. The 2022 season of our lives wasn’t an easy one, but I’m sure life never really gets easier. We get stronger. We learn how to cope, how to deal better with what’s thrown at us. I know for me at least, my faith has grown stronger as well. I’m not who I was 2 years ago. I will never be that person again. And that’s ok. Somehow I think that’s how it’s meant to be.

Two years ago, we started off on an adventure that should have been happy and fun. It quickly became dangerous, painful and tough. Yet through all of it, we clung to our faith in God and to the promise that there will be a better tomorrow, even if it’s not this side of Heaven. Along this journey, we’ve found we are never alone, and that sometimes what happens to us isn’t about just us. I’ve had people tell me they don’t understand me. They don’t understand how I can still rejoice and be so joyful when so much has happened, so much has been lost. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I do have tough days, sometimes really tough days, but I try to keep my eyes focused on what lies beyond this life, not just the here and now. That’s what matters most in the end.

As 2022 comes to close, I look back on the past 2 years and try to give myself a moment to realize how far I’ve come, and how much we’ve been through. But I don’t stay there. For there is much to look forward to in the future, and work that still needs to be done. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’ll do a post on goals for the coming year, and what we’re focusing on next. I’ll leave you with some photos from 2020, quotes and scripture that have come to mean a lot to me, and photos from this past year. And with that, the 2022 Season comes to an end….

Where did Autumn Go?

It’s crazy how time flies. I keep meaning to write more on the blog, to do another post, and the days just get away from me. It’s not that I’m not doing any writing. I wrote over 50,000 words in November in my series. It’s just that I’m doing other writing and don’t get to any of the blogs I do. I hope to work in blogging again as a habit, so I do it on a regular basis more.

Occupational/Physical Therapy:

OT and PT still consists of what I do on my own. As winter sets in, it has become harder to do a lot of walking or to go out for hikes. Instead, most of my physical activity consists of using our small indoor trampoline, doing chores around the house, using a balance board and stretch bands, and just trying to move as much as I possibly can. We do have a gym membership, but once summer came, I was outdoors so much I barely used it, and getting there in the wintertime can be challenging with the road conditions.

My pain level still varies by day and by the changes in the weather. The cold is rough, having had so many broken bones and some nerve damage. I try to find ways to adapt to it, and bundle up when I need to go out so the pain isn’t so intense, but sometimes there is just no way around it. Sometimes I avoid outside all together if I can, which is one of the perks of working from home now. Sometimes I have to go out , or really want to, and we use hand warmers to help counter the pain. I love the outdoors, so staying inside all winter is difficult, so we try to find a balance between just staying indoors and finding ways to keep the pain at bay outside.

Ben’s Health:

Ben’s neuropathy continues to progress, with no known cause. Almost two years later, we are still waiting on the nerve biopsy that was supposed to happen a few days after the accident occurred. Some days it feels like we are no further closer to answers than we were a few years ago. For now, we just keep on searching for answers and trusting God that there is a plan and a purpose in all of this.

Where did autumn go?

It seems like just yesterday it was the first day of fall. Now, here we are in December, and I haven’t posted anything on this blog since September. Time goes by too quickly. Since my last post, I’ve enjoyed many outdoor trips, including hikes, outdoor tennis, and frisbee golf. Ben and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. Annie enjoyed the first real snowfall of the season, and I successfully made a hike down a steep hill. We’ve enjoyed sunrises, sunsets, and the beauty that Autumm brings all around us.

I’m going to wrap this post up here. It’s almost that time of year when I review goals again, so there should be another post coming very soon. Among my goals for the coming year is to get back into blogging regularly and making a plan to do so. Hopefully I will be posting more into the coming new year.

Until next time,

Cindy

Every Season Serves a Purpose

Sometimes it feels like time just flies by, and before you know it, it’s been over two months since I last posted anything. Time goes by too fast. We’ve been busy, and we’ve had a lot going on. This will be a longer than normal blog post, I suspect.

I’m not even really sure where to begin. I’ve started this blog post over and over again, but life gets in the way, and I haven’t published anything until now.

Physical/Occupational Therapy/ Medical Updates For Me (Cindy)

I’ve continued the PT and OT exercises I learned during my time in rehab. Sometimes it’s meant going to the gym to do them, other times going for a hike or trying to do everyday activities such as gardening and laundry. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments over the past couple of months too.

I’m not even sure how much I’ve mentioned it to anyone, but during the scans completed after the accident, the doctors found white spots on my brain. After waiting to get into a neurologist, and further testing, it is believed the spots were caused by a stroke many years ago, possibly even as an infant. So I’ve had more tests to confirm this, as well as to assess my risk for another stroke. I meet with the neurologist again in July and will hopefully know more then. So far, everything is looking pretty good, and we are hoping it will stay that way. But life has a way of throwing you a curve, so at the same time, we’re bracing ourselves for that possibility too.

Physically, I’m doing better and better each week. I’m able to move more, I’m not as sore as I was, and I’m gaining strength back. I still have days when I’m pretty weak on the left side, and I’ve been having a lot of nerve pain as things reconnect but am making good progress. Being on my feet for very long is painful, walking hurts if I walk for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and my left wrist sometimes locks which is painful. I still have to be careful with all of the internal damage and nerve damage from the trauma. I may never regain full function of my left wrist, or the feeling in my left thigh, but I’ve come a long way. Most people would never know I was in a serious auto accident.

Ben’s Health Update:

Ben’s peripheral neuropathy continues to get worse. It is spreading into his hands and fingers, making it harder for him to grip things and open jars. The nerve pain, especially in his feet and legs, gets pretty intense at times. Basically, the nerves in his limbs are dying, but are going haywire in the meantime. So he doesn’t always feel when he steps on something, or grabs something sharp, but other times he gets super sharp nerve pain when he’s not doing anything at all.

We also recently found out he has a cataract. This is unusual for someone his age, and the doctors are not sure why he’s developed one, but his vision is pretty bad right now. He will be having surgery next month to repair it. It may be yet another symptom of whatever is going on with his body. We continue to pray for answers and seek out doctors who can help. We’ve tried a lot of things over the years, including natural remedies and elimination diets, but nothing has helped so far. In fact, some of the things have made it worse. We trust in all of this though that God has a plan beyond what we can understand.

Bring on Summer!

Summer is such a busy time of year for us. With a little help, I was able to get a garden in this year using buckets for containers and a couple of patches on the ground. I can’t wait to see what comes in for harvest this year!

I’ve started driving a little more again. I was driving again last summer, but after surgery in November, wasn’t able to for a while. As the warmer weather arrived and my body had time to recover more from the November surgery and infection in February, I was able to start driving again. It’s felt really good to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve been trying to stop between appointments to lakes and nature places, and on the rare day off, we intentionally schedule time to go too.

A few photos from the outdoor places and our garden:

Our puppy Annie is getting so big! She loves the outdoors and makes us laugh every day. We also had three baby rabbits born this summer, and introduced them to her. She LOVES the rabbits just as much as our older two dogs. A few photos of her adventures with us:

Songs on Repeat:

One Year Ago-KJ52

The Blessing- Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes

Goodness of God-Bethel Music

I’m Sorry- TobyMac

Give Me Your Eyes- Brandon Heath

Scripture and Quotes

Every Season Serves a Purpose

Life is full of ups and downs. For us, the past few years especially have been full of challenges and difficult times. Yet as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is joy even in the midst of the trials. We don’t know where this road is headed next. We don’t know where we’ll be a year from now, or if we’ll have any more answers than we do now.

What we do know is that there is a God in Heaven who has been with us every step of the way, and continues to be even now. What we do know is that He’s given us each other, and even when the road seems long and difficult, there is a plan and purpose beyond what we can comprehend. Every season serves a purpose.

This season we are in may seem long and sometimes never ending, but in the end, it is only a season. It will pass, like all the others before it. To quote Psalm 27:13:

“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13, NRSV

Times may be tough, the season may be rough, but God is still good, and there is a plan and a purpose even for a season such as this.

Until next time,

Cindy

A Little Joy

Physical/Occupational Therapy and Recovery

It is hard to believe it’s been almost a month since I was in the hospital again. You can read a little about it here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2022/02/14/its-not-always-about-us/. I ended up spending five days in the hospital. They found I had cellulitis, caused by a staph infection in my thigh and near my hip. We were afraid it had gone into the hip joint, and that I could be septic, but thankfully we caught it in time. After a lot of tests and nearly a week in the hospital with IV antibiotics, I was released with antibiotics to recover at home.

The infection has been slowly healing. I still have some soreness, discoloration, and a lot of itching, but that has been slowly getting better as well. I haven’t done a lot for physical therapy over the past few weeks as the leg heals but have tried to do a few at home as long as the pain is tolerable.

Occupational therapy continues to be everyday tasks at home. With the infection, I was pretty sick at first, but have been able to do a little bit more as I start to get better and stronger again. I still have some soreness from the November surgery, but it has gotten a lot better than it was. All of the trauma and surgeries have taken a toll on my body, and I’m just run down. 7 surgeries, at least 11 broken bones, and internal damage is a lot to recover from.

Songs on Repeat

Goodness of God by Bethel

House of the Lord by Phil Wickham

Here I am To Worship by Hillsong

Scripture and Quotes

A Little Joy

Towards the end of February, we added a new addition to our family. Meet Annie. She is a basset hound puppy. Her name means “grace” or “God has favored me.”

Almost two years ago, I graduated with my second Master’s degree in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. The one thing I really wanted as a gift was a puppy. We searched shelters and many different sites, trying to find one, but people were grabbing up puppies as fast as they arrived. Both of our other dogs are rescues, and they were a little older when we got them. Still in the puppy stage, but halfway through it, so we wanted a younger dog this time around.

Then the accident happened, and everything got put off. After almost a year and a half of searching and waiting, we finally were able to find someone who had puppies. We went on the waiting list, and were finally able to get a puppy in February.

Annie has brought a lot of joy into our lives in the couple of weeks we’ve had her. A few photos…

Life is full of ups and downs, and she’s added lots of laughter and happiness during some very difficult times in our lives. Before the November surgery, I was hiking regularly and getting stronger with physical therapy. Since the surgery, it has been a long recovery. My body is just worn down, and I’ve only been out snowshoeing once all winter, before the infection and hospital stay.

I am hoping as my body begins to recover more, I will be able to take Annie and our two other dogs out for hikes. Not all at once of course, unless I have someone else with me willing to take a dog, but it will be good to get out again. I’ve missed it! I am hoping with surgery behind me, and the infection healing, I will finally be able to get back to getting stronger and feeling better again. It’s been a long journey! I’m so very thankful for the little joys in life, like sweet puppy snuggles, the kind words of a friend through a card, and beautiful sunrises despite the winter cold. Life moves forward, even in difficult times, and finding the little pieces of joy, no matter how small, makes the dark times a little easier.

It’s Not Always About Us

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and other updates….

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I’ve slowly recovered from surgery in November and getting sick in January, I’ve started doing physical therapy exercises more consistently. Ben and I also signed up for a Gym membership. I’m hoping to regain the strength I lost on my left side after surgery in November. I also have a great workout buddy!

I’ve also continued to do everyday things around the house, such as laundry and dishes. Thanks to the help of one of our nephews and one of our nieces, I’ve even been able to get some cleaning and organizing done. I’m really trying to get back to a regular chair, instead of a recliner most of the time. I was getting there in November, but the last surgery took a lot out of me.

Our niece and nephew also went out snowshoeing with me. I knew it wasn’t safe to go alone, so they went with me. My hip was hurting a lot by the time we finished, and it took us over an hour and a half to go less than a mile. We used hand warmers to keep my hip and wrist from being to cold. My pain increases a lot when they get cold. We had to take breaks a lot, but it felt really good to get out.

As I write this, I’m actually in the emergency room. Last night, I developed a fever and wasn’t feeling well. I figured I was catching something. This morning, I woke up to a red hip and thigh. The skin is hot to the touch and very painful and itchy.

After a lot of tests, they believe I have an infection. As soon as they have a bed open, I’m getting transferred to Traverse City with more tests to come tomorrow. They plan to do a hip aspiration to find out more about the infection and go from there. Sometimes it seems this journey doesn’t end.

Scripture and quotes:

Songs on Repeat

Goodness Of God, by Bethel Music

Believer, by Imagine Dragons

Help is On The Way, by TobyMac

It’s Not Always About Us

If there is anything I’ve learned along this journey, it’s that it’s not always about us. Things that happen to us, difficult things we go through, problems we face. They aren’t just about us

Sometimes what happens to us are really opportunities to make someone else’s life better. Maybe through a smile at a nurse whose had a rough day, or a prayer for the person in another room who is obviously suffering. There is a bigger plan than just us and what happens to us. We never know the impact we have on someone else.

Going through difficult things can actually have a positive influence on someone else. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. We never know whose life is going to be better because of our hard times, because of how we respond and how we react to challenges. Difficult times are a part of life, but they don’t have to break us. Instead, we can use them to hopefully inspire others and make someone else’s life at least a little better.

Life isn’t about us. It’s about so much more. When we look for opportunities to help others and make their day just a little brighter, no matter how bad our day is, we can give others hope and inspiration.

If you’re facing tough times, it may not be about you. It may be about the opportunity to inspire and bless people you encounter on your journey. Look for those opportunities.

Until next time,
Cindy

When Life Gives You Lemons

Physical/Occupational Therapy and General Update

January has been a very off month. I was planning to start back up with physical therapy exercises, and even had an appointment scheduled to tour a gym, but then got sick. Ben was sick over Christmas and New Year’s, and then I came down with whatever he had near the beginning of January. So, the gym tour had to be postponed. I love the hospital gym I went to before surgery, after outpatient physical therapy, but scheduling with their classes and everything else we had going on was becoming difficult. Instead, Ben and I decided to do a gym membership so we could go together and have a more flexible schedule. Between a long recovery from surgery, and then getting sick, I’ve lost a fair amount of strength. I think my body is just run down.

A few days after I got sick, Ben became ill again. It’s been a long month with both of us slowly recovering. I am hoping to schedule a gym tour soon and get a membership so I can get back at independent PT and strengthening my left side. In the meantime, I’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises at home that I learned during my time in in-home and outpatient physical therapy.

Occupational therapy continues to be mostly everyday tasks. With Ben being sick, I’ve been doing more of the cooking. I’ve never been much of a cook, but I’m learning to make a few things that are pretty good. One of our dogs used to sit and whine whenever I would attempt to cook because it never turned out well, but he’s starting to accept that I can cook a little. Sometimes I think he’s even looking forward to my cooking. 🙂 A few of the things I’ve made… Taco salad, fried chicken breast, Tator tot casserole.

Our Catahoula, letting me know he’s ready to eat and is looking forward to me cooking. We make our dogs food because of his allergies.

I am noticing a big difference outside this year. The pain in my left wrist especially, which has two metal plates, gets pretty intense. The colder the weather is, the worst the pain. My hip and ankle sometimes get annoyed with the cold too, but are easier to protect than my wrist, especially if I want to do anything with my hands outside. I am hoping handwarmers will help with this some at least.

Snowbelt Living

Living in the snowbelt of northwest lower Michigan, we tend to get a fair amount of snow. This year, we’ve had less than normal but got hit pretty hard over the last few days. I’ve been trying to take short walks around our yard. Walking in the snow isn’t easy for me, but I’m sure it will get easier with time. Like I said, I lost quite a bit of strength after the last surgery and am hoping to get it back. I do have snowshoes and want to try snowshoeing again soon, but it’s been so cold, and my body just doesn’t tolerate the cold temperatures well anymore.

Both of our dogs love the snow, especially our Catahoula. It can be pretty much a blizzard and he wants to go outside at least for a little bit. I’ve shared a photo of him enjoying some of the recent snow we had.

Songs on Repeat

Love Feels Like- TobyMac, Michael Tait, Kevin Max

Hurt -Johnny Cash

Ring of Fire- Johnny Cash

Keep Your Head Up- Andy Grammer

Quotes and Scripture From This Month:

When Life Gives You Lemons

This past year hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Between the car accident, deaths in the family, sickness, appliances breaking, and just life in general, things have been hard at times. The saying “When life gives you lemon, make lemonade” comes to mind in all of this. It’s a way of finding the positive, even in the really difficult times. A way of sweetening something that should be sour.

This isn’t always easy. But finding the sweet in the sour makes things a little more bearable at least. We’ve had a lot of lemons this past year. Yet there continue to be sweet moments too. Like the beautiful sunsets against the snow, or the chickadees coming to our birdfeeders to eat, or the extra time we’ve had to rest and recuperate because we both ended up sick.

For both Ben and I, our faith helps a lot with this. Knowing that even in the worst of times, God has a plan and a purpose for it all. Even before the accident, I would often try to find things I was grateful for. It helps put things into perspective and makes the difficult seem just a little less so. Life is full of lemons. But we don’t have to focus on that. We can choose instead to focus on the sweetness, and make lemonade.

Until next time,

Cindy

Photo by DESIGNbyJA on Pexels.com

What Would Life Be Without Adventure?

With today being the one-year anniversary of our accident, this post will be a little bit different. I had hoped to post earlier last week, but we lost power due to a wind storm. I hope to do another regular post and update before Christmas.

December 19, 2020

One year ago today, our world changed forever. You can read about that day here:

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that horrific day. It’s a day we will remember for the rest of our lives. We set out on an everyday common adventure. A trip to the store, a trip for Christmas items. It was something we’d done many times before and since. But that day was different.

That day we were swept off to an adventure of epic proportions. A dangerous, life-threatening adventure that nearly took my life, but an adventure, nonetheless.

Life is full of adventure, danger and challenges we must face. Some of them are mundane, every day tasks that take us from one thing to the next. Some of them are much more exctiing and fun. Others are dangerous and even deadly. We don’t always get to choose which adventures we take. Sometimes life chooses for us.

Powerless Adventure

This past week is another example of that. Thursday night, we had a major windstorm where we live, with hurricane level 1 force winds, even though we don’t have hurricanes in northwest lower Michigan. But this storm was strong, and the strength of it took down trees and powerlines. We ended up without power and heat for several days.

The first day, we lit candles and opened up window shades the best we could so we could see. I huddled under blankets for warmth as the temperature in the house dropped into the 50’s. Ben and I spent the day reading books, enjoying good conversation and checking our phones to see when the power might come back on. We have a couple of battery packs, so we were able to charge devices, but by the end of the day, the batteries in those were pretty well drained.

By Friday morning, our cell phone batteries were draining, and the temperature in the house had dropped to 48. Originally, the power was expected to be restored Friday morning early, but it wasn’t, and the new time was for Sunday (today), early morning. We packed in a rather dark house, taking what we could find and see that we might need for a few days, then headed downstate to where my parents live for a visit.

We’ve spent the weekend at their house, on the family Homestead in Sanford. I’m sure another time I’ll do a separate post on the Homestead, but for now, I’ll just share a couple of photos. As a child, I helped to plant these white pine trees. It became kind of an annual tradition on Earth day. They have gotten so big! There are so many memories of great adventures on the Homestead, but that is another story for another day.

I am still sore, and wasn’t able to do a lot, but we could ride around to look at lights, and enjoyed time just sitting and talking. One of our nieces is also recovering from a recent foot surgery, so we got to visit with her as well and share stories of my own experiences with her.

Sanford Strong

It was very nice to visit with family, and we got to see some Christmas lights too. One of the light displays is a part of Sanford Shines. You may have heard about the dams breaking in the Sanford area in 2020. You can find ways to help the community through Sanford Strong, and footage of the flooding here:

Some of the lights we saw:

2020 was a rough year for so many people, and for my parents, their town was basically wiped out when area dams burst in May of 2020. The year would end with a bang, literally, when our accident happened.

Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

I know I’ve written several posts this year about getting through tough times and finding joy even it’s hard. I saw a post from someone on Social Media awhile back that talked about finding the extraordinary in the mundane, and I think this concept really helps getting through even the worst of circumstances.

Instead of running an errand, I’m completing a side quest. I’m not cleaning under the couch, I’m looking for buried treasure. I’m not a victim of a car accident. I was sent on a dangerous, extraordinary quest, and along the way, I met incredible people who helped me recover from the injuries I received during an encounter with the ice beast. Mindset is everything.

When the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, I think the really difficult things in life get just a little easier. We can face dangerous, even deadly situations, knowing that it’s all part of something greater than ourselves. There are no ordinary days, no regular people. Everyone has a roll to play in a story so much greater than any of us could ever imagine.

Sure, this year has been dangerous. Even scary and life-threatening at times. But it has also been an adventure. An adventure that continues to this day. But what would life be without it? If everything was always safe and warm, and cozy? We need adventure, even with all of the dangers that are faced along the way, the monsters and beasts we fight, the life-threatening situations we find ourselves in. Without adventure, life may be safe and calm but we would also miss out. We wouldn’t meet the incredible people we do on adventures, or find ourselves looking at life in another way because we can’t just turn out a light switch or turn up the heat. We would miss amazing sunrises and waves rolling in off the Great Lakes, or the silence in the woods after a fresh fallen snow. There are gifts, sometimes very special gifts for us on the most dangerous of adventures, if we will just stop and take the time to see them.

So I choose to see this as a great adventure, as part of a plan far greater than myself. I choose to find the extraordinary even in the ordinary, to find adventure in every single day. It’s not always easy, but the greatest adventures never are.

What a year this has been! I look back on this past year, and I’m amazed at how far God has brought me. I look to the next with anticipation of what adventures lay just ahead, and I watch for the ordinary to become extraordinary.

Until next time,

Cindy

It’s Enough to Keep Going

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Surgery

About three weeks ago, I had surgery to fix some of the internal damage caused during the accident. As I mentioned before, I had two hernias that needed to be fixed, one large and one small, involving a couple of my organs. The surgery itself went pretty well, but during surgery, they discovered that what they thought was a small hernia was much larger than expected, and more of my organs than initially thought were involved. The surgery took longer than planned, and recovery is also taking longer. It ended up being a pretty major surgery, but thankfully the doctors were still able to do it robotically with just a couple of extra small cuts.

I have a weight restriction until at least the first week in December, and have to limit exercise to walking. I haven’t been able to do many chores over the past three weeks either. Most of Physical therapy has been put on hold until I recover from this surgery enough to start back up. I will begin increasing how much weight I lift in the next couple of weeks, and see how it goes. Recovery has been much slower than we expected, but each day I am able to do a little bit more.

Writing

One of the few perks of not being able to do much after surgery is having more time to write. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse, so I’m able to sit back with an ice pack on my stomach and write while I rest. I mentioned writing briefly a couple of posts ago, and again in my Thanksgiving post, but wanted to talk more about it.

I’ve been a writer since I could put pencil to paper. I’ve written articles for others blogs and newspapers, run my own blogs such as this one and www.myamuseinglife.com, and had a little something published in someone else’s book, but I have yet to publish my own books. Over the past eight years, I’ve really started taking my writing seriously and tried to write more each year. For the most part, even with getting two Master’s degree, I’ve been successful at writing more and more. Until this year at least. Not being able to write has been really tough. I found ways to keep trying to write, like speech to text, but it hasn’t been easy, and I’ve found myself feeling anxious a lot. It’s made me realize just how true the following quote is:

Writing has become as natural as breathing. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as we call it in the writing world. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is where you write 50,000 words or more in a month. Some people are what we call “NaNoWriMo Rebels,” and they may set smaller goals as well. I did this back in July, knowing I wasn’t likely to hit the 50,000 with everything going on. My goal in July was 15,000 and I was able to meet that.

I usually do NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo (which run in April and July) every year, every chance I get. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. But I try to remind myself that every word I write is more than what I would have had otherwise. NaNoWriMo has changed my writing life, and I often write 50,000 words under normal circumstances during non-NaNoWriMo months as well. Before the accident, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have 5000-6000 word days, especially after I finished my second Master’s degree and had more time to write. Sometimes I would even have 8000-10,000 word days.

Since the accident, I’ve been able to write very little. Most of the writing in this blog after the accident was done at first using a microphone and speech to text software. As I started being able to type, I began writing more with the keyboard, but it’s been a long road back.

This month, November of 2021, I met my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. I averaged about 2000 words a day, took a few days off for surgery recovery, and had a few 4000-5000 word days as well. I even managed to finish a few days early, and started writing more in another series I’m working on. All together, I’ve written over 60,000 words this month. This is huge. It’s still only half of what I could write on an average day, which means if I had the time and physical ability, I could probably write almost twice that in some months, but I managed to meet my goal. It was a pretty big deal, and another step on my road to recovery. It’s also helped to keep my mind busy while recovering from surgery, since it is taking much longer than expected. So this week, I celebrate not only meeting that goal but going over it.

Ben’s Health

We’ve mentioned Ben’s health a few times. Most people know that he has idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. We still don’t have any real answers on his health, and the neuropathy has started spreading to his hands. We try to just take it one day at a time. He has several medications that he takes. One of them makes him sleepy a lot, but it has helped him get more rest and improved his overall mood and pain level when he is awake. Hopefully one day we will have more answers than questions, but for now, we keep searching and asking those questions.

Songs on Repeat

Help Is On The Way- TobyMac

Lauren Daigle- Rescue

Lecrae- I’ll Find You

This one really isn’t a song, but worth the share…Jordan Peterson; A Wing and A Prayer

Scripture and Quotes

It’s Enough to Keep Going

This year really hasn’t been an easy one. If we’re honest, we’ve had a lot of really difficult years. A lot of loss, pain, death, sorrow.

Ben and I will celebrate ten years of marriage on Friday, and even in all the loss, even with all the pain and grief we’ve faced, there is still light and hope. Our relationship is strong, and good. God has given us each other to lean on even in the really tough times. And there certainly have been a lot of them, but that seems to be so much of life. Just when we think things might get easier, better, something else happens. Life is full of surprises. To quote Michonne from ‘The Walking Dead’ TV show:

“But it hasn’t gotten any easier. Sun keeps rising. Days keep passing. World keeps spinning. Time- it just keeps moving forward. Weeks, months, even years go by., while you try to make sense of it all. Try to find where you belong, try to look ahead to a better future. But the truth is, the path ahead has only grown darker. It’s harder to see. You can feel so lost, so alone, so desperate for something, anything that might show you the way.

But even now, after all this time, surrounded by darkness, there are still flashes of light, tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us. It’s not enough to light the way ahead, but it’s enough to keep going. Keep trying, keep fighting, Keep dreaming. So that’s what I do. Every second of every day. For you, for us. I haven’t given up, and I never will.”

Life is full of so many twists and turns. Sometimes it feels very dark, and yet the light is always there. Our Christian faith carries us through these dark times. Our trust that God is there, lighting the way, even if all we can see is a small flicker of the way ahead, is enough. Years fly by, and sometimes we can’t understand everything we are facing, but we don’t have to.

The little flickers of hope are always there. The love we receive from others, sometimes strangers we barely know, the messages from those who don’t even know us but want to reach out, the love from family and friend are all beacons of light. Our story becomes part of others stories too. All of it speaks of something greater than all of us, of a purpose for everything that happens.

I’ve always loved the Christmas season and enjoy watching Christmas lights blink on and off. It’s amazing how much those little tiny lights can light up a dark room. In the Christian faith, Christmas is important because it is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. Now I know that He wasn’t really born at this time, but it is when we celebrate. Every year, when I see the lights, I am reminded of the Light that came to the world.

Sometimes when life throws us so many curves, it can be really hard to see light through the dark. But light shines through the darkness, always. Sometimes only in small flickers, but it is always there.

Look to the Light. He’s enough to keep us going, even in the midst of dark times.

-Cindy