The summer has flown by. We are now almost to the end September, and I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I keep meaning to. Many times, I’ve sat down to do a blog post and then been caught up in something else like my other writing projects, or a Facebook page I run, and the next thing I know, there’s just no time left to write in this blog. I’ve even started writing this post, and then come back to it two weeks later.
It’s been a busy summer for Ben and I. I will share some photos, but it’s been so long since I posted last, I could overload the page if I’m not careful. Life has slowly been returning to “normal” and yet it will never be normal again. I guess perhaps it is more of a new normal. I started a new job, teaching from home online, while Ben’s neuropathy continues to get worse. Annie keeps growing and changing as she gets closer to being an adult dog, and our other two dogs have reached their senior years. Summer has felt like a whirlwind.
I’ve continued the physical and occupational therapy exercises throughout summer, but haven’t made it out to the gym as much as I wanted to. In the month of August, our puppy and I walked at least a mile every day. I’ve also continued to try to lift heavier things and build back my strength, as well as to do the physical therapy exercises I was taught to. It’s slowly paid off. A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to lift a 50llb bag of rabbit food into a vehicle by myself. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve lost as much strength as I had, it is.
I have good days and bad days as far as pain goes. When the weather changes, the pain often gets worse. I also had pain loading up the rabbit food in my left wrist, but that may be a life-long thing because of the damage. I tolerate it pretty well most of the time. My left leg continues to get stronger, and I can now lift it pretty high most days. When it rains, sometimes this all goes away and Ben will help me get into bed because it stiffens, and lifting it becomes very difficult. I am hoping that as it gets stronger, this will change. The quad muscle was damaged so much, along with nerves, and it is still weaker than on the right side, but I’m slowly getting it back. I also still have abdominal pain, although that’s gotten significantly better since last year’s surgery. I can always tell when I overdo it though, as the muscles in my core will start to protest.
The peripheral neuropathy that Ben has continues to spread. He is losing more feeling in his fingers and hands, as well as developing the same nerve pain that he has in his feet. We are hoping a nerve biopsy will be scheduled soon to try to determine what is causing it. He had cataract surgery in July, which has made a big difference in his vision. He was able to do the Farmer’s Market for most of the summer, but fall has been rough so far.
Summer Flew By!
Summer went by so fast! As I write this, fall has officially arrived. The leaves are changing, birds are migrating, and the nights are getting cooler. We’ve had a lot of rainy weather the last couple of days, and even turned on the furnace briefly.
We’ve enjoyed lots of blooms, especially from our native plants. I went to the rodeo with one of our nieces and one of our nephews. We got to meet a couple of authors at the AuSable Canoe Marathon, and enjoyed time outside. I’ll share a few photos below. Summer went by too fast, but I’ve always enjoyed the different seasons and am looking forward to the cooler weather and more rainy days. I’m counting the days until the first snowfall, as I always enjoy watching it come down. And yes, here in north-west lower Michigan, we often get snow in the fall.
Songs on Repeat:
Do It Again- Elevation Worship
It’s Going Down- KJ-52
I’ll Find You-Lecrae
If You Want Love- NF
Scripture and Quotes:
Now that I have returned to teaching, and summer is winding down, I hope to get back into blogging again on a regular basis. Until next time,
It’s been over a month since I posted last. I feel like that’s kind of become routine. I’m hoping to build a better routine for blogging, but it seems like every time I start to build one, something else happens and it throws everything off.
Since I blogged last, I’ve been trying to get to the gym for physical therapy exercises and have done them at home quite a bit too. We ended up with a couple of ice storms this past month, both on days I had scheduled time open to go to the gym, so we’ve gone a little less than I would like to, but the weather should be getting warmer sooner. At home, we have a trampoline, balance board, balance ball, dumbbell weights, an exercise ball, mat, stretch bands, and a few other things so it’s better than nothing, but I prefer the gym. What we have still allows me to get in some physical therapy though. As the snow clears, I’ve been able to get out for walks more too. It’s felt so good to get out!
I still have some soreness from the November surgery, but it is slowly getting better. The infection I had in February seems to have healed up nicely, and we are watching closely in case anything tries to come back anytime soon.
As far as occupational therapy, I keep doing things around the house as much as I can to work my wrists and hands. Annie, our new puppy, helps a lot with that too. She loves to play tug of war and gets my wrist moving in a lot of different ways. We started seeing a new chiropractor as well, someone closer to where we live. She specializes in sports medicine and does physical therapy in addition to chiropractic. I’m noticing more movement in my wrist and less pain in the hip, so hopefully we will continue to see improvement.
Annie is getting so big! We are enjoying every moment with her. She LOVES being outside with me, and loves to play with Ben, myself, and our other two dogs. Her favorite toys are pull-ropes and stuffed animals. So far, she hasn’t been very destructive with toys though. She just plays with them and moves on to the next one. We are very thankful to have her in our lives! We’ve been tracking her growth week to week, and I’ve included some photos.
Songs on Repeat
KJ-52- One Year Ago
Grits-My Life Be Like
Start Over- Flame featuring NF
Scripture and Quotes:
Aslan Is On The Move
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, and when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia has been one of my favorite series since I was a child. I shared a couple of quotes above, and I think about them often, especially this time of year.
Living in the snowbelt of Northern Lower Michigan, it’s not uncommon for us to have snow until at least May, or even into June. Some of the “old timers” who have lived in the area a long time, will tell you they’ve seen snow pretty much every month of the year. So by the time we get to this part of the year, we are all ready for spring to come, yet it seems so far off.
I think often of Narnia. If you’ve never read the series, there is a witch who makes it always winter but never Christmas, and spring never comes. When the lion in the story, Aslan, begins to move, winter can no longer take its hold. It has to leave. The lion is more powerful than the witch.
For Ben and I, the last few years especially have sometimes felt like an endless winter. Sometimes it seems like difficult things keep happening. It’s like a cold, frozen, dark season that goes on forever and ever.
And yet, we know the Lion moves. In our Christian faith, the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia is often viewed as being an allegory for Jesus. As Romans 8:28 so beautifully states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Times may be tough, but it will not last forever. Spring will come. Better times will come. Even with all the difficulties we face, we know there is a reason and a purpose, and that better things lay ahead.
Today, looking out the window, we can see the sunshine. Tomorrow, it is supposed to snow. But we know it won’t last forever. Aslan is on the move! Winter cannot keep its hold on us, and eventually, we will get through the tough times of winter and move into a new season. Until then, we have each other, and our faith grows stronger in the trials. And soon, perhaps very soon, spring will finally arrive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a year this has been! I’ve spent pretty much this entire year recovering from the auto accident. Ben’s neuropathy continues to get worse, with no known cause. We’ve had our share of ups and downs this year, with it sometimes seeming like the downs outweigh the ups.
Sometimes finding the good with all the bad can be difficult. As we look back on 2021, we are thankful that we are both still here. We are both alive. Most of the animals are still alive. We lost our rabbit Samwise while I was in the hospital but gained some new baby bunnies over the summer. We have a house to live in, and good food to eat. We can read almost anything we want to read at the click of a button, and worship as we choose. As I write this, I’m typing it from a decent computer that runs pretty well, and I have the ability to back up things as needed. We have cold, fresh water to drink whenever we want it, indoor plumbing and electricity. It’s been a tough few years, but there is still so much to be thankful for.
We look to 2022, with hope and anticipation of what is yet to come. And with that, we plan for the year ahead, knowing any plan made isn’t likely to stick 100%, but striving to reach at least some goals.
Review of Last Year’s Goals
Every year, I (Cindy) set goals for myself. Here are my goals last year, and how I did on completing them:
1. Regain my independence: I’ve regained much of my independence. I lost some of it after the latest surgery but am in the process of gaining it back.
2. Regain my strength: I’ve regained much of my strength, then lost some of it after the latest surgery. I will soon be beginning the process again to get my strength back.
3. Have any further surgeries that I need to have and come back from that: I had the latest surgery in November, and am in the process of getting stronger from it.
4. Finish my book series, Or at least get it organized enough that I can have a deadline better for finishing it: I did not complete this goal. Looking back, it was pretty unrealistic, all things considered. I did get a fair amount of writing done, despite having two broken wrists, and I started to organize things a little more. I also started a different series, with the goal of completing the first book in that within the next year, and coming back to my longer series at another time.
5. Start a book about my experiences: I started a book about my experiences. I’ve gotten about 11,000 words. It’s a work in progress.
6. Write at least 10,000 more words in my series before the end of January using Voice to text.:I was not able to meet this goal. My hip re-dislocated during rehab, and I ended up having four more surgeries by the end of January.
7. Blog more regularly: I have blogged more regularly on www.talesfromnorthcountry.com, but not as much on www.myamuseinglife.com. I hope to do more of both in the coming year. Just in case anyone is wondering, My Amuseing Life is not a spelling mistake, it is done this way on purpose, as a play on words. A-muse-ing, with muse being one of the keywords of the blog. It is my blog for creative writing, everything from fiction, poetry, writing prompts, and more.
Goals for Next Year:
Over the past few years, I’ve started using a system from Charlie Gilkey, author of Start Finishing. He also has a business, Productive Flourishing, that puts out amazing planners. I read a lot of self-help books, but his system is one of the best I’ve found. One of the things he recommends is only doing 3 to 5 projects at one time. So with that, I’m trying to limit my goals for the coming year to five.
Goals for 2022:
By December 31, 2022, I will write a book, edit it, send it to beta readers, and seek out getting it published. This goal might be too much for one year with everything we’ve had going on, but I do have quite a bit written already, and I really want to start pursuing publishing more. So I am hoping to meet this goal, or at least most of it.
By December 31, 2022, I will make time to enjoy a variety of my hobbies each week, including in music, reading, photography, birdwatching, arts and crafts, and writing. My hobbies are important to me, but I often don’t make time to do them. I read a book called Atomic Habits, by James Clear this year, and have been working on adding my hobbies into routines I already do.
By December 31, 2022, I will gain strength and become more physically fit. This one is extremely important after the accident. I really need to complete workouts and physical therapy exercises to regain strength. I am hoping in the process, I will become more physically fit, but my main focus for this year is on regaining strength and building my endurance.
By December 31, 2022, I will complete tasks around the house following weekly, monthly, and yearly checklists. I’ve actually done this one for several years now, but with limiting myself on goals and trying to do well with what I am doing, this really needs to be one of the projects I do. It takes time to complete chores and other tasks around the house, so I need to make it part of what I’m doing. Otherwise, I try for too many projects and don’t complete half of them, and then feel discouraged.
By December 31, 2022, I will create and carry out goals related to work, including teaching, blogging and photography. This was a really tricky one to write. Normally, I would narrow it down more. I had hoped to return to teaching in January, but recovery from the latest surgery is taking longer than expected. I try to treat my blogging and photography like jobs, as I do sometimes get income from them, and I want to do better in both areas too. When I am able to return to teaching, I will create goals for myself based on the current needs. In the meantime, Occupational Therapy encouraged me to blog as much as I can, as it helps build my endurance for typing. I was also encouraged to do more with my photography, as using my hands more can help build endurance with my wrists as well. So it becomes like a second job and third job in a sense. It’s really hard to write goals for these areas with things up in the air, so this area will become a series of mini goals throughout the year. I may also have to change some of my other goals a little bit, or may not meet them 100%, but this is just an unusual year with everything that’s happened.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The past couple of weeks have been packed with appointments. This week is another very full week, but I wanted to try to get in at least a blog post. A word of warning, it will be a longer post.
One of those appointments was for Ben with the University of Michigan. They’ve started him on a new medication, which causes drowsiness. Ben’s primary doctor also started him on some new meds. His health has continued to change over the last few months. We’ve gotten a few answers, but those answers have led to more confusion, questions and concerns than anything. At some point he will be going to have a nerve biopsy to hopefully find more answers, but we are not sure when.
In physical therapy, I’ve continued to do the independent sessions. Occupational therapy is really about the day to day things I do, such as laundry, pouring liquids from one dish to another, and gripping things with my hand. I have weights and strengthening equipment at home I use sometimes as well to help strengthen my hands.
With surgery coming up, I’m hoping I won’t lose much strength during the time I can’t do much. I am trying to build as much strength as I can before the operation in November, but my left side is still pretty weak. I have a come a long way since the accident, but I still notice differences in what I can do, especially when it comes to swinging or lifting my left leg or trying to turn my left wrist over. I am able to compensate in many ways, such as using my hands to move my left leg when I need to swing it over a chair, or using my arm to turn my wrist when I need to pour something, or squeeze a sauce out of a bottle such as ketchup or barbecue sauce. It feels strange to turn most of my arm over just to get some ketchup for a meal, or use my hands to move my leg over a chair, but it allows me to be more independent.
With the upcoming surgery, I will be limited on what I can lift for at least 2 to 6 weeks. I am hoping this won’t be a setback for strengthening my left side. As I mentioned before, this surgery is to fix some of the internal damage caused by the accident. I am hoping it will be a fast recovery, but a lot depends on whether they can do robotic surgery or have to do more in-depth surgery.
As an introvert, I’ve always needed alone time to recharge. It has been really hard to get that time with so many appointments, and I often find myself feeling exhausted and run down when we have so much back to back. We’ve really tried to make it a point to schedule down time. I know that may not make sense to some people, but for me, scheduling down time allows me much needed time to relax and recharge. Without it, my schedule gets so packed, I barely have a moment to breath.
The past couple of weeks, it has been really hard to get much down time in. Some days, we have had three, four or even five appointments on the same day, all back to back with very little time in between, so it’s been go-go-go. This has meant almost no hiking or walks for me, and only brief stops to parks to try to breath a little and take some time to get photos.
We are hoping this will change soon schedule-wise, but are also working on adding some down-time specifically into the schedule to help provide time to rest and recharge. Ben and I both really time to process everything that has happened this year, and you can’t really do that when it’s constant businesses. Everyone processes trauma differently, and for the two of us, we need time away from the craziness of life to try to deal with everything that this year has brought to us.
A few photos from our yard and brief stops at parks:
Photos from the only couple of hikes I’ve been able to do in the last couple of weeks: Grass River Natural Area, and Hartwick Pines
Books I’m reading or recently read
I’ve always been an avid reader, and sometimes people ask me what’s on my reading list, so I’m going to try adding in this section at least once or twice a month. I tend to read multiple books at once, reading parts of one then going to another before I’ve finished that one, and back to the first until it’s done.
Atomic Habits, by James Clear
Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
Mistaken Identity, by Don Van Ryn , Susie Van Ryn , Colleen Cerak , Whitney Cerak , Newell Cerak
Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking, by Dr. Caroline Leaf
Captivating, by Stasi Eldredge
I’ve never enjoyed cooking very much. In our family, Ben does the most of the cooking, including making the dogs food. One of our dogs has a lot of allergies, so we started making their food a few months ago. Occupational therapy has encouraged me to do more cooking, in part because when you cook, you use your hands a lot and this will help strengthen and increase the mobility of my hands. I tried cooking the dogs food for the first time over the last couple of weeks, and they enjoyed it so much, one of them came to get me the next time Ben cooked it for them. In the past when I would cook, they would sit by the stove and whine and paw at me because I have a tendency to burn things and mess up recipes, so it made me feel good to know they actually liked what I made this time.
We also do canning every year. We have a few of our own grapes, but thanks to Ben’s mom, we were able to get some more and canned some grape juice. Thanks to my mom, we were also able to get some carrots canned up as well. We also found a reusable microwavable popcorn bag at one of the local Farmer’s Markets. A few pictures from our cooking and canning adventures:
Scripture and Quotes from the last couple of weeks:
Songs on Repeat:
Goodness of God- Bethel Music
My Life Be Like- Grits
Rescue, Lauren Daigle
The past couple of weeks have been so packed. I hope to get some time to hike in the next week or two, before I go in for surgery. Life has brought us a lot to deal with this year. But our faith has helped us greatly, and been strengthened through this process. We’ve also been on the receiving in of so much love and care from family and friends. I wanted to share a photo of this beautiful quilt a friend made for me. It is pretty amazing!
Life isn’t always easy, but as Romans 8:28 says, God is working all things together for our good, and we trust Him, even in the hard times.
This week, I was able to get up to 2 miles in about eleven minutes on the indoor bike. To my athlete friends, this may not seem like much, but it was a new record for me since the accident and something to celebrate. I haven’t added more weight since last week (I’m still at 40-75 lbs) but am trying to do more repetitions with each machine I use.
I have been trying to walk at least a mile a day. This week, I made it out to Hartwick Pines after an appointment, as well as a marina in Petoskey and Deadman’s Hill. I’ve really made it a goal to hike somewhere after every appointment I have, and most of the time, I do. This week was packed with appointments, but I managed to squeeze in a few hikes.
It looks like I will be having surgery in early November to repair some of the internal damage from the accident. My abdominal wall was nearly destroyed in the accident, and my liver and colon had to be stitched, so there is still some work to do. Hopefully the surgery will go well, and recovery should be about 2 to 3 weeks.
Adventures This Week:
A gallery of some of the photos from this week, taken at Hartwick Pines, Deadman’s Hill, a Marina near Petoskey, and a few other places in North-West Lower Michigan:
Fall is in the air!
When I took photos this past week, we weren’t in full color yet but getting close. I love this time of year! The colors are so bright and cheery! A gallery of color:
Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
I try hard to keep a positive attitude about things, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. This was a week with several days where I was late for appointments because it was just one thing after another. I overslept one day, got stuck behind a construction vehicle another day, and stepped in dog poop a couple of times on my way to places. I always leave extra time, but it just wasn’t enough some days.
I also discovered I can’t use a video-teller or drive-up ATM machine, at least not with my left wrist. It just won’t turn over enough. I have a hard time in drive-throughs too, such as at fast food places. I have moments when I get really frustrated, but I try to allow myself to feel the frustration and work through it. I’m learning to live with a new normal. Hopefully I will get more and more of my left side back , but there are no guarantees, and when you’ve lived certain ways most of your life, it takes time to adjust to something different.
We also spent part of an afternoon in the emergency room again for Ben. He has a toe with what the doctor says is a blood blister. It looks very much like it did the last time it developed an infection, so we are keeping a close eye on it. With Ben’s Peripheral Neuropathy, he checks his feet regularly anyways as he has no feeling in them.
Today (October 10) is also the birthday of my sister-in-law, Morgan who passed away several years ago. I wrote about that loss, as well as several others here:
Today is both a sad and happy day, bittersweet. Sad that we have had all of this time without her, but happy that she is living her forever in Heaven. Happy Birthday in Heaven Morgan!
If I’ve learned anything in my lifetime so far, it’s this; even in loss and in pain, there is happiness and joy. Even in the darkest of moments, there is light. My faith plays a big roll in getting me through all of the things I’ve been through. It’s knowing that I will see loved ones again, knowing that anything that happens to me here on earth is just a blink of an eye, that helps me get through even the toughest of days. Philippians 4:13 has stood out to me time and time again during this journey, and is something I keep going back to when life gets really tough.
Songs on Repeat:
I’ve always loved music. Throughout the week, I often find myself playing certain songs on repeat. This varies by week, although I have a few that I tend to play often. This week’s songs include:
Goodness of God- Bethel Music
Graves Into Gardens- Brandon Lake/ Elevation Worship
The Stand- Hillsong
Say I Won’t – MercyMe
Life has this way of throwing unexpected curves at us. Sometimes those curves take us to unexpected places. Sometimes we find ourselves in the most amazing moments, and in the next breath, in the most horrific moments. Life may not be all sunshine and rainbows. But it is still good.
This is going to be a longer post this week, so I’ll try to keep this section brief. This week, I continued with Independent Physical Therapy. I’ve up to 75 pounds with parts of the exercises I do, and 40 pounds minimum for most things. This is a long way from the 1 pound limit I had with my wrists after the accident! I continue to work on building strength, especially in my left side.
I was also able to attend a class at Grass River Natural Area. We did a short walk, and learned how to collect seeds from Native plants. It was a great class, and I learned a lot. My left side was sore afterwards, but it was worth it, and very nice to be able to take another class.
Most days I am able to walk close to a mile. My goal is to get up to at least 3-4 miles a day. Right now, pain and weakness stops me from going further but it gets better each week.
This week, we lost my Aunt Esther, my mom’s sister. Loss seems to be so very much a part of life. C.S. Lewis in ‘The Four Loves’ says:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
C.S. Lewis ‘The Four Loves’
Between 2003 and 2010, there were at least 11 family and friends that passed away. We also lost my dog Cora and my brothers’ dog Bear within a couple of weeks of each other. Losing a dog may not seem like much of a big deal if you’ve never owned one, but they become family and those who have owned dogs or other pets will likely understand that loss. From 2013-2017, we lost at least 11 more family members and another dog we’d loved for many years. Since 2020, we have had at least six family and friends pass away, my husband and I were in a serious car accident, and we’ve dealt with everything the pandemic has brought about.
I say all of this not because I want people to feel sorry for us. I don’t. In fact, I hesitate to even say anything when someone I know passes away anymore or something bad happens because it feels so surreal, so unbelievable. I need to process all of this, and one of the best ways I can do that is to write it out. I could go back further, where there were more losses as well, but right now, I’m processing the past 18 years or so. So very much has happened. Some positive, but a lot of really hard difficult things too.
My mom comes from a family of 14 kids, the oldest died shortly after birth. Most of her siblings had children and many of them have children so it’s a big family. My dad comes from a smaller family, but the cousins on his side of the family are close, so we have relationships with family we might not have had otherwise. With that comes loving and dying. The more people you know, the more you have a chance of losing someone you love and care about. Death is as much of a part of life as living is. Loss is a part of the world we live in, like it or not.
When you’ve lost as much as I have, when you’ve been through one thing after another, it becomes normal, even if it’s not. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for the next loss to happen, for the next bad thing to take place. I’m not just talking about all the death, I’m talking about the loss of our “normal” lives with the pandemic, the loss of the use of my left side as I “normally” would, and the loss of a year of my life that I will never get back.
And yet. I feel as though two simple words hang in the air despite everything we’ve been through. They give us hope. And yet, we will see many of our loved ones again. And yet, there is hope for the future. And yet, despite everything we’ve been through, all of the loss and pain, there is still so much good in the world. And yet, despite our hearts breaking over and over again, there is joy. And yet, when it seemed as though all the world was ending, Jesus came to save it. And yet.
Death isn’t the end. No matter how much death and loss we experience in our lifetime, no matter how much loss I experience myself, it is not the end. Praise be to God for this! And yet, death does not win. Even in great loss, we have this hope.
Ben and our Pup
Ben continues to deal with his peripheral neuropathy and all the issues it brings with it. His feet have been swollen and painful a lot this month, and it has spread up to his legs and into his hands. He has also had some problems with blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the last month or so, which he hasn’t had before. We are working with his primary doctor and the team at the University of Michigan to try to figure everything out.
We’ve also been dealing with our dog Wesley having an ear infection. He’s had one for well over a year, off and on getting worse. We’ve been to the vet many times, changed his diet, had him tested for allergies, and tried lots of medication, including sending a sample to Michigan State to get a specialty made antibiotic for him, but his ear infection just doesn’t want to give it up.
We are trying several medications at once this time, in the hopes we can knock it out. Otherwise it will be a trip to a specialist for him.
This week, I took a little drive with our two dogs. I needed to clear my head. I needed to process everything that has happened as much as I could. I headed out to Lake Michigan, where the waves were supposed to be somewhat high. We weren’t disappointed. There were people taking pictures and videos, someone windsurfing, and someone collecting rocks. It was chilly, with the wind blowing hard, but a beautiful day. The sound of the waves was so peaceful and relaxing, and I returned from our trip feeling at least a little more clear. Life can be tough. And yet…..
And yet there is still so much to be thankful for. We are dealing with a lot. Some days are really tough. And yet there are days like this, when the world is as it should be….