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

New Years Resolutions 2022

Reflections

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Some of my goals have a lot of pieces to them. These pieces will get broken down into smaller goals throughout the year. They may also get modified as I find what is working and what isn’t. I write about that here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/12/31/on-setting-goals-and-reaching-them/

Here’s to a New Year, hope and chasing dreams!

Happy New Year!

Cindy and Ben

Tis The Season

Physical and Occupational Therapy/ Surgery Recovery

The recovery from the surgery I had in November continues to be longer than expected. I have been slowly building my stamina back up, and am able to do a little more most days. I still have days when I’m pretty sore, but have found if I rest for a day or two, the soreness mostly goes away and then I am less sore and able to do more afterwards.

Physical therapy has pretty much been put on hold until I recover more. I have been trying to do some simple PT exercises that my therapists taught me, such as lifting my legs as high as I can and rolling my ankles, but for the most part, I am not able to do a lot yet. I am getting closer though, and hope to return to PT after the New Year. For Occupational Therapy, most of what I do involves common, everyday things around the house such as pulling out laundry from the washer to the dryer, or folding it to put the laundry away. Sometimes I will use weights or a hammer with my wrists to help stretch the muscles out when they get tight.

Writing

My writing was slowed a little bit the past week, with the power outage. I’m hoping to catch back up in the next couple of days. I am aiming to write at least 50,000 words like I did for NaNoWriMo in November. So far, I’ve managed to write about 34,000 words this month.

I am also hoping to start posting a little more on www.myamuseinglife.com. It has been hard to get back into a routine now that I am able to type more, but I would really like to get my writing blog back up more.

Books On My Shelf

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Feeding the Soul, by Tabitha Brown

Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Please note: 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.

Scripture and Quotes:

Tis The Season

We are hoping to get a family photo at some point, but I thought I would share photos of our dogs for now, with their Christmas Bandanas. Christmas has been my favorite holiday pretty much my entire life. I like to go all out, with decorations both inside and outside the house as early in the season as we can get them up, and Christmas music playing, as well as special treats throughout the month of December. Last year, it was a very different celebration which I wrote about here…https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/01/01/a-christmas-to-remember/.

This year is still not going to be a “normal” Christmas for us. Between me still healing from surgery, a power outage, and Ben’s health, the entire season feels off. It’s not our normal. But it is a new normal. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about starting some new traditions and finding a new normal in all of this.

Ultimately, no matter what we end up doing, what matters most is the reason we even celebrate Christmas to begin with. Now I realize there are many different beliefs out there, and not everyone agrees on Christmas. To me, Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know this likely isn’t His actual birthday, and I am also aware that much of Christmas as we know actually came from pagans.

But I choose to celebrate because I want to honor the One who came to save the world. I need to be reminded every year, not only of the fact that He came, but how He came. Every year, we put up a tree and I reminded that my Savior gave His life on a tree for us. We add tinsel, and I am reminded of how Jesus is the One true King. We put up the lights, and I am reminded that He is the light of the world. We add ornaments, and I am reminded of all the years He’s given me on this earth so far. So much of this season reminds me of my faith. No matter what happens, no matter what traditions we miss out on, or how difficult things are, the one thing that remains constant is the Reason for the Season.

Last Christmas was a Christmas to Remember. This Christmas is as well, in different ways. In many ways, every Christmas is special, unique. Yet some stand out more than others, and the past couple of years are an example of this. Tis the season for lights, tinsel, gifts, time with family, decorations, and so many other things. Yet it is also the season of hope. Of a belief in a better tomorrow, and a time to celebrate a Babe born so long ago who came to save the world.

I know for non-believers, it doesn’t always make sense. There is so much about the Christian faith that relies on belief, not seeing. To quote from The Santa Claus movie “Seeing isn’t believing; Believing is seeing.” Sometimes, I think more often than not, we aren’t going to see the entire path in front of us. We just have to believe that it’s there.

This season may be different for us than many others in the past, but we choose to celebrate no matter what circumstances we find ourselves because it isn’t just about tinsel, and lights, good food, time with family and all the other little things we do. It’s about so much more. It’s about hope, faith, and love. It’s about a love so great that a baby would be born, and grow up to suffer and die for us. Our circumstances cannot change that. Tis the season for joy, for reflection and peace. Because in this season, we got the greatest gift we could have possibly dreamed of, and nothing on this earth can ever change that.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

-Until next time,

Cindy and Ben

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

30 days of Thankful For, Nov 2021


This blog post will be a little bit different than the ones I’ve been doing. I will do an update in another blog post, but with today being Thanksgiving, I wanted to do a thankful for post. During the month of November, I will often post something every day that I am thankful for on Social Media. I actually do this other months as well, but November tends to be the typical month for many people to share what they are thankful for because of Thanksgiving.

We had so much going on this year, and I knew it was going to be a challenge to try to keep up with daily posts on what I’m thankful for. At the same time, I think it is important to take the time to stop and count our blessings throughout the year. I thought a blog post with 30 things I’m thankful for would be the way to go this year.

30 Things I am Thankful for:

1. My faith

My Christan faith has been an important part of my life since I was very young. I am so thankful for many different aspects of my faith, including the gift of Salvation and the fact that I am never alone in this journey.

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2. My husband

Ben and I met online through eHarmoney. We’ve been married for almost 10 years now, and have been together for almost 12 years. We’ve been through a lot in our (almost) ten years of marriage, but have an amazing relationship. I am so very thankful God brought Ben into my life!

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3. Family

I am so very thankful for both of our families!

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4. Friends

I am so very thankful for the friends we have. I figured it was a lot to try to share photos of everyone here, and I wouldn’t want to miss someone, so instead I’m sharing a photo of a quilt a friend made for us.

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5. Our pets

I am very thankful for our rabbits and dogs!

6. Life

I am so very thankful to be alive and to be able to celebrate life!

7. Clean Water to drink and good food to eat

I am thankful for clean water to drink and delicious food to eat!

8. The ability to write

I am thankful for the ability to write, and for finally being able to write more again! This month, I was able to complete 50,000 words in my fiction series as part of NaNoWriMo. This is the most I’ve been able to write since the accident.

9. The Bible

I am very thankful for the Bible!

10. Good books to read

A few of my favorites…

11. Music

I am thankful for music! I play a little bit of guitar and piano, but I’m also very thankful for the many amazing bands out there who make some awesome music!

12. Education

I am thankful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had to learn, and to teach. I am thankful we live in a country where we can all get an education in a career of our choosing.

13. Sunrises and Sunsets

I am thankful for the beautiful sunrises and sunsets we have!

14. Technology

I am thankful for the wide variety of technology we have.

15. A house to live in

I am very thankful for a warm house in the wintertime, and a cool house in the summer time!

16. Harvest

I am thankful for food we can grow, harvest and preserve!

17. The great outdoors

I am thankful for the great outdoors!

18. Art

I am thankful for art, for how it allows us to be creative and unique, and the beautiful pieces we have as a result.

19. Planners

I am thankful for planners that help me to focus and get things accomplished. I am also thankful for authors like Charlie Gilkey who share their insights and tools on organization with the world.

20. Good pens and highlighters

I am thankful for good pens and highlighters. I love Mr. Pen highlighters and pens for lighter pages, such as the Bible or thin paper, and Pilot pens for other kinds of writing.

21. Streaming services

I am thankful for streaming services that provide us with a wide variety of entertainment. (We don’t have all of these services; this was just the photo I found.)

22. Freedom

I am thankful for the freedoms we have in our country!

23. Ancestors

I am thankful for those who came before us, those who helped shape me into the person I am today.

24. Good footwear

I am thankful for warm boots in the winter and sandals in the summer time.

25. Snow belt living

I am thankful to live in the snowbelt of Northern Lower Michigan!

26. Changing Seasons

I am thankful for the changing seasons we have in Michigan!

27. Amazing Medical Staff

I am thankful for amazing medical staff and therapists who have helped me this year.

28. The little things we pass by

I am thankful for the little things we pass by every day. Sometimes we see them, but more often that not, we pass right by.

29. Open water

I am thankful for the Great Lakes, and other bodies of open water we have here in Michigan!

30. Wonders of the night

I am thankful for stary nights, full moons, views of planets, and so many of the other wonderful things we can see in the night sky!

-Happy Thanksgiving from me and Ben!

Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

Physical and Occupational Therapy:

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.

Surgery Update:

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.

Until next time,

Cindy

Slow and Steady Progress

Physical and Occupational Therapies

This week, I continued independent physical therapy at the local hospital’s rehab outpatient center. I’ve continued to increase the amount of weight I’m lifting. Depending on the machine, and what part of my body I’m using to lift weights, I’m now lifting between 32 and 70 pounds. Instead of walking the track at the outpatient center, I’ve been trying to get in walks at local nature places or in our yard. This allows me to have more of a variety. This week, on a trip to Grass River Natural Area with one of my nieces, we were able to walk about a mile, and I got as many steps in as I do on a low day when I’m teaching. It felt really good to be able to go a little longer this time! Last week’s walk was about 1/2 mile, for a reference. We also stopped to rest a few times during our walk, but I’m slowly building my endurance back. I still have pain when I walk, and numbness in my left leg from all the surgeries. Some of this may be permanent. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so usually I can go awhile before I have to stop because of pain, but I’ve learned to not push it too much or my pain level will greatly increase later. I also have twinges from the internal injuries still. We are hoping the surgery coming up this fall will fix this, but time will tell.

I can now get my left foot almost up to my knee on my right leg. I still need a sock aid to get a sock on, but this is progress.

For Occupational therapy, I do exercises the therapists taught me, and do everyday tasks such as laundry and vacuuming. I also draw, color and write to build endurance in my hands. When I first started, I couldn’t go more than 15 minutes without pain. Now I can usually go for at least an hour. Sometimes progress feels very slow, but it has been steady and looking back, it feels like it comes in leaps and bounds.

Art at Grass River Natural Area

Grass River is the local nature center, and they offer art classes throughout the summer. This summer, between appointments and my limited mobility, I wasn’t able to make most of the classes but I did make it to two. One a couple of weeks ago on clay, and one this week on watercolor drawings.

I’ve never been much of an artist, but I enjoy drawing. I could really tell the difference in my wrists though, as it was hard to hold a pencil and shade the drawings compared to before the accident, but it was good to work the wrists that way. There was some pain, but not a lot.

When I was in the hospital, I set a goal for myself to one day walk the boardwalk trail at Grass River. This week, we did part of it. It felt so good!!!! As always, I took a lot of photos. Here are some of them.:

Summer Beauty

Besides appointments, and walking at nature places between appointments, I spent a lot of my time at home. We were able to visit with a niece and two of our nephews this weekend. They helped us plant native plants in our yard earlier this summer, and we’ve gotten some really pretty flowers in our yard from them! The birds also planted a little sunflower garden for us from the birdseed. It’s also a busy time of year for Ben, with harvest season beginning. My mom was able to come up and can some green beans for us, that Ben’s mom gave us. Both the beans and the canning were greatly appreciated!

It’s been a rainy month in August, and this has led to some awesome cloud cover. We’ve had a few clear nights too.

Quotes from this week:

Until next time,

Cindy

Journey to a New normal

My first day of home occupational therapy was yesterday,  and first day of home physical therapy was today.   My left side is so weak,  and we have a lot of work to do.  I have moments when I feel a little overwhelmed,  and wonder if life will ever be the same again.   I know it won’t be.   It can’t be,  with so much that has happened.

  At the same time,  I also know this doesn’t mean I’ll never walk right again,  or that I’ll never use my left wrist.   It just means I have to learn to do it again,  and maybe differently.  It’s a new normal, like so many other things in life have been.

Looking through my timeline and old photos, I see photos I’ve taken from journeys I’ve taken before, and it leaves me with a longing for more adventures. Adventures that right now, I’m not able to take yet, but in so many ways, my journey is an adventure all its own.

I look forward to the day when I can go out for a hike in the woods again,  snowshoe, take photos of nature around me.   I desperately wanted to write again,  without using voice to text,  and stand on the shores of Lake Michigan as the waves roll on.   I’ll get there.   It just takes time.

For now, I’m just trying to enjoy this journey as much as it can be enjoyed, and to photograph the adventures along the way. It’s the little things I want to remember, like Wesley moving his dog bed closer to me just so he can watch me sleep, Chewbacca trying very hard to stay close without hurting me, and my sweet husband taking the time to make sure my legs are propped just right.

This verse stood out to me during my hospital and rehab stay,  and became something I quoted to myself during tough times.   It was also in a coloring book a family friend gave me,  and I realized yesterday that it’s on a plaque in our living room too.   It’s the perfect reminder of where my strength comes from.  My journey is far from over with,  but I’ve come such a long way. 

This journey isn’t one I would have chosen, and it’s not an easy one, but one day, maybe not too far off, I’ll stand of the shores of Lake Michigan again, and watch the waves roll in. I’ll hike through a forest and listen to the sound of birds in the trees, and I’ll finish the books I’ve been writing. And when I do, it will mean all that much more because I’ll know just how far I had to go to get there.

Rehab Round 2, Day 7; No Going Back

Occupational Therapy:

In Occupational Therapy,  we worked on getting dressed with the reacher and sock assistant.   I was able to get a shower in,  and we practiced sliding on the shower bench to get in, leaning back far enough to not break my restrictions.   I will most likely be using a shower bench when I get home.

Physical Therapy:

In Physical Therapy,  we practiced walking with the regular walker again.   I walked 100 feet the first time,  and 75 feet the second time.   We practiced getting in and out of bed,  including a higher bed,  and practiced getting in and out of a car.  We also practiced walking with the walker on a mat for a different type of surface and practiced going up on a board to simulate crossing over a threshold. 

Other:

Today I enjoyed coloring in a coloring book,  and continued to work with family on the plans for me to come home. This week is flying by, and there are still a few things to do before I hopefully get to head home!

I’ve discovered I actually like Sour Patch kids. My taste buds have changed over the last couple of months, to an extent.

Songs to Focus on:

From my mom….

Other songs to focus on…

Scripture to Focus on:

From my mom….

Other Scripture to focus on…

Movie Lines….

These movie lines have been standing out to me. After something like this, a person is never the same. And why should we be? Trauma changes you but it can make you stronger.

There is no going back. There is no returning to normal, only moving forward and finding a new normal. For events such as the accident I was in are not meant to send us back to who we were before. They are meant to change us, to help us grow and become stronger. It’s up to us to decide whether we will allow the trauma to change us for the better or worse.

You can’t be the same after something like this. Sure, you can return to a sense of normalcy, but it will never be the same. And it shouldn’t be.