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Feeling Grateful

grateful for what I am

I have many things to be grateful for…

This past September didn’t go exactly how any of us predicted it would. We were sure that I would be spending about two weeks in Kentucky after Lydia was born, but there were also many unknowns. I had a bit of time to contemplate the month as I drove home from Pikeville on the 27th and 28th – about 2 days worth of time – and I kept coming up with the same theme. I have so many things to be grateful for.

Anna, Doug, and Lydia

grateful for the Meyer family

If it weren’t for Lydia’s arrival on September 1st, I wouldn’t have gone to Kentucky in the first place. I was so excited when they asked me early on in the pregnancy to spend some time with them after their bundle arrived. I am grateful that they didn’t kick me out after spending 24 days with them. A new baby is stressful enough when you are first time parents, but Anna and Doug also have her multiple sclerosis and his medical school schedule to deal with. We were a bit concerned when Anna had to be hospitalized for a few days due to an infection, but at the same time, I was thankful that they put Anna on the labor and delivery floor so Doug could bring Lydia to spend the days as a family of three. Anna’s infection triggered a MS relapse, so I was asked to stay a little longer to help care for Anna while Doug’s mom was there to take care of Lydia. Two moms in the house for a week, and we all survived! It was good for Karen and I to get to know each other better, and I liked that it helped me to understand Doug a little better as well. It wasn’t always easy being patient with each other, but looking back on our time together, I am grateful that I was able to stay and help as long as I did.

Jonathan

I know it’s pretty sappy, but I have to say, I am so grateful for Jonathan. He was so understanding and encouraging when I was homesick. I left home on September 1st, and arrived back home on September 28th. That is the longest we have been apart from each other in the 28 years we have been married. Jonathan and Laura did come to spend a couple of days in Pikeville during my time there, but most of that time was spent oohing and ahhing over our granddaughter.

After I arrived home, Jonathan has been kind enough to let me ease back in to “real life”. There are many things I need to catch up on before harvest gets super busy, and I am thankful that he has been so patient with me.

Farm Bureau

I am grateful to be part of an organization that understands the importance of family. While I was in Kentucky, I missed a few county annual meetings, a state board meeting, and an event with the American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. I felt bad about missing the meetings and event, but I was assured that family is first. There are many organizations that are not as forgiving when it comes to family events. That is another reason why I am thankful to be a member of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Family and Friends

I have a pretty awesome family, and an amazing group of friends. I am so grateful for the prayers offered when we asked for them…and for those offered when we didn’t ask. I also received texts, notes, and messages that seemed to come at just the right time. Thank you to the family and friends who lift my spirits constantly.

Living in a different region

grateful for seeing God's beauty

This is a view off of the front deck at Doug and Anna’s house during a rain storm. They live in a hollow (pronounced “holler”) in the hills. You can see the road winding up the road. They basically live on the side of an Appalachian mountain. I’m a lifelong Minnesotan, and I’ve lived on the prairie of Southwestern Minnesota for 28 years. After awhile, the mountains seemed to close in on me…but at the same time, the views were breathtaking. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in a different region of the country for a month. I fell in love with the Food City grocery store in Pikeville, and even brought home some southern versions of foods we like. I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t bringing home some boxes of Anna’s, I would have tried to bring home many more groceries from Food City! Anna and Doug have some pretty awesome friends as well. I had the privilege of meeting some of their medical school friends this trip, and am thankful they let this “granny” hang out with them. (Yes, I was totally called granny at one of Lydia’s pediatric appointments…I don’t have a bun like granny in Beverly Hillbillies, or the granny in the Tweety cartoons…yet.)

Feeling grateful…

My trip to Kentucky contained a roller coaster of emotions…heck, I cried all the way through it on my way home after leaving sweet Lydia…but the overwhelming emotion is one of gratitude. Thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, and friendship.  It’s good to be home.

Guest Post: My 10th Celebration of Life

This post was written by my daughter, Anna (Olson) Meyer. Today, October 13, 2014, is the 10th anniversary of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Read on about life from her perspective, and learn why we call this anniversary a Celebration of Life. This post is also being published on her blog, Smiles Squared.

 

On this day ten years ago….my mother and I traveled an hour away from my hometown to visit my neurologist to receive my official diagnosis. The results from the spinal tap had come back, and finally, Dr. Nelson would tell us for sure if I had a pinched nerve, MS, or a brain tumor. He had given all three of these as possibilities as to why my entire left side had stopped working normally, but his theory was that I most likely had MS. That is what we knew before we got to Wilmar, MN. I was CONVINCED that it was nothing but a pinched nerve, and for some unknown reason my name had been on the prayer list at church for the last few weeks.
On that day, ten years ago, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was started on some medical steroids, and I was shown how to use the Autoject for my three-times-weekly medicine shots, just under the skin. (It would be another year before I gave myself those shots….and, of course, I was bribed—because what other way is there for a kid to be willing to do something unless they get something in return?)
Since my diagnosis, we have called the anniversary of that day my “celebration of life.” It is the day when I can look back on a year and see all the things I have been able to do, even though I have MS. On this ten-year anniversary of this life-altering diagnosis, I reflect on the things I have accomplished in my life!

1. I’ve been on all sorts of cool vacations and stuff.

Who cares if I had to rent a wheelchair to go Disneyworld? I went to Disneyworld! I’ve also rented wheelchairs at zoos, and even the Minnesota State Fair. Those places take a lot of walking, and I don’t quite have the energy to walk all that way. But I still got to experience it and enjoy my visits! Those places, by the way, have been the only ones I rented a wheelchair for. I can still walk! ….just not super far. I’ve been to the Wisconsin Dells and the Black Hills of South Dakota, just doing the tourist thing because I could. In high school, I went to a youth gathering with a church denomination, and had an AWESOME time with my cousin Jenni and my aunt Sheryl! In college, I went on TWO summer mission projects. Just because I have MS, doesn’t mean I can’t have fun! So I have to plan a little extra, and the south is typically a bad idea in the summer. I STILL LIVE LIFE.

2. In middle school, there were no cheerleaders, and I wanted to be one, so I petitioned and found a coach for middle school basketball cheerleaders!

Anna and the Lakeview Cheerleaders

Anna is in the front row, second from right

The January after my diagnosis. I am second from the right, front row. You know, the one with the big smile?
We were moderately good. Our most difficult move was when one cheerleader stood on the thighs of two other cheerleaders, but we stayed safe. I wasn’t really into watching sports, but I did notice that when our middle school teams had cheerleaders, the whole “crowd” was pretty riled up. You know, for a middle school game. Smiley face. Of course, this cheerleading team kind of left the middle school when I did. I always wanted to be a cheerleader. Our high school had football cheerleading, but by that time, I just wanted to play in the pep band. (We see why I became a music major?)
I was also on the golf team for a few years before the walking became too much for me and I acknowledged that I wasn’t that great. But it was fun!

3. I got my black belt!

Actually, I started Tae Kwon Do in 4th grade. In 7th grade, I got my junior black belt. I was diagnosed with MS in 8th grade. In 9th grade, I got my 2nd degree junior black belt. After I turned 16, sophomore year, I got my first degree adult black belt. And senior year, I got my second degree adult black belt! I was involved in Tae Kwon Do for 8 years; 5 of those years after having MS. I remember difficulty in my first tournament after being diagnosed, but then I just focused on what I COULD do instead of what I COULDN’T. I taught and I was a referee as my level advanced. I became inactive in TKD after I graduated high school, but I will always be a second degree black belt!

4. I finished high school AND college.

One of my college professors once told me that he had never seen such determination in a student. So I wasn’t the best. Who cares? I did as best I could. I was DETERMINED to finish well and I learned a ton while in those college years. I wrote a post about what MS has taught me over the last decade or so here.

5. I played a senior recital of percussion music.

At that time in my life, I had skill, because I was playing on these instruments all the time. I played a piece on the marimba, the timpani, some toms (drums), the vibraphone, and even flower pots! (Videos of all these can be seen on YouTube.) I loved that season in my life, when I could go from instrument to instrument in the percussion section in an empty band room and just PLAY.

6. I’ve had a “grown-up job” since I graduated.

Even before I graduated, I’ve been giving private lessons. According to some of my other music-major friends, I wasn’t charging enough, but still. As soon as I graduated, I got on the substitute teacher list for a few different school districts. And when I got to Kentucky, of course, I began working at a music store—giving lessons! And now I’ve started up this Mary Kay business! Before I was married, I paid my own rent, bought my own food, and loved when Mom and Dad came to Sioux Falls to take me grocery shopping. And now, I don’t get many visits from Mom and Dad (because I currently live, like, 20 hours away), but I still get care packages of coffee brands that aren’t sold in the south. (Thanks, mom!)

7. I’ve written, like, four novels.

Only one I’ve written is decent enough for me to want to publish it, but I do want to publish it! I also write shortstories and blog posts all the time. And other little things when I feel like it. I’ve kept a journal since I was diagnosed! And things have just kept moving from there. I don’t believe they will ever stop, either.

8. I wrote music for a class in college and directed an ensemble playing it in church one time.

So I maybe didn’t take into consideration that band instruments play better in flats than sharps. And that high school students can’t pick up music as fast as college students. But I was so proud of that piece! I even published my college friends and I playing the piece here on YouTube.

9. I GOT MARRIED!

Anna and Doug

Anna and Doug
Photo by tony miller photography

My handsome groom and I at our wedding this last July.
Just this last summer, if you are keeping up with me at all on this blog. (I’ve kinda talked about it a lot….) Never did I ever think I would meet a man who saw ME past the MS that has been so apparent in my life. I have a limp, which is the most obvious symptom to the world and the first turn-off to anybody who sees that instead of me first (which is pretty much everybody). But Dr. Wile E. Coyote, while he notices my limp, only notices if it’s a bad day or a good day and helps me stretch sometimes. Or if he’s walking with me, and I pull him around. (He’s not as sturdy as my sisters when they’ve walked with me, hehe.) I love Dr. Coyote, my best friend, and he is what I need. But God knew that. And I am privileged to be starting this med school journey with him and trusting the Lord until graduation, and beyond! (Like, forever. Every. Minute.)

10. I have become stronger than I thought possible.

Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have had to push past the limits of where I would want to quit because something is hard. Being diagnosed so young (at 13), I had to face many decisions and situations that most teens shouldn’t have to face. I thank the good Lord for my always-supportive family who helped me so much!

On this day in ten years, who knows what things I’ll accomplish that I’ll be able to remember? The thing about having MS is that though we have to plan a little more, sometimes sleep a little more, and maybe be careful of what activities we chose to partake in, we still live normal lives. I haven’t felt normal for years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would love to wake up one day and the Lord tell me, “You’re cured!” But I know that when people see me walking with a limp, unphased, it brings God more glory.
Anna E Meyer

 

Adding Color to My Sunset Sky

CarolynCares Clouds

I love this quote by Rabindranath Tagore…”Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” How many times do we feel the storms of life, or feel like the clouds are hanging over our heads? Flooding, planting delays, stress, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, life changes…all can be the storm clouds that seem like they’ll never part.

Tonight, I am thankful for the parting of the storm clouds, and the brilliant sunset. I am thankful for the rough patches in life that help me to see the beauty in the good times. I am thankful for the promise of a new day. A new start. A new opportunity to be a blessing. Tonight, I am thankful for the clouds that add the color to my sunset sky.

Thankful Thursday – Shout Out to the Septic Guys!

CarolynCares Thank You Septic Guys

Last week was quite a week for drainage issues at our place. The first issue was related to the two inches of rain we received on Thursday. The outlet for our house storm drainage was under a foot of water, which meant the tile lines around the house were level full. Every time the sump pump ran, it would pour the water back into the house. Jonathan and I were not home when that happened, but thankfully, our daughters were. We were able to tell Laura how to cut the pipe with the Sawzall and attach a hose to extend the drainage into the yard. The girls were awesome, and even started cleaning up the water before we got home.

While dealing with the wet carpet, we noticed that the sewer line was backing up a little bit. We weren’t sure the cause, but thought the septic tank could have gotten too full, so we called a local septic tank guy. We were on a no water in the drain order until after he came to check out the situation. I was very happy to see Gary show up!

Last summer, we had some landscaping done where we took out all the shrubs and the sidewalk around the house and regraded the soil to help prevent water issues in the basement. This meant that they tapered the soil and tilled up a swath of grass as well. This was seeded to grass seed, and looked really nice. What we didn’t think about at the time was the fact that they took out the divots that marked where the septic tank covers are. So we needed to start probing the soil. It took a little bit to find the covers, but once we did, it was easy to dig down and uncover the pump outs. We found out that we had an issue in the line, so after the septic tank was pumped, the guys went to work figuring out the issue. I’ll be honest. It totally grosses me out when they work on that. I can handle animal manure, and baby diapers, but I can’t handle sewage.

Because the whole thing grosses me out, I am so thankful for people like Gary who do this every day. He is the nicest guy, and is so easy to work with. You don’t really appreciate guys like him until you need them…which is why the septic cleaners and fixers are my Thankful Thursday focus this week. Thank you all for being willing to deal with crap every day so we can flush at will!

Thankful Thursdays – A New Series of Gratitude

CarolynCares Thankful Thursday Lessons in Gratitude

I’ve always felt a little funny about the phrase, “Thank a Farmer”.  I guess I just have a difficult time asking people to thank me for a job that I love doing. I mean, why would I ask people to thank me, when my parts guy isn’t asking me to thank him for keeping the equipment running? Recently, Jenny, from Prairie Californian tweeted about thanking the people that make our lives easier. That conversation got me to thinking about starting a new Thankful Thursday series, where I can highlight some of the people that I come into contact with on a regular basis, and thank them for their work.

I’ve been working on gratitude and thankfulness in my own life lately. I’m a words of affirmation girl, and I understand how a kind word can make your whole day better. I also understand how an unkind word or unsavory expression can ruin what was a good day. I would love to see the world become a more positive place, where people are kind to one another, and where Please and Thank You are not just words to a Barney song.

My hope is that this journey will help us to have more of an attitude of gratitude when we are at the grocery store, the local coffee shop, the gas station, the parts store…wherever there are people helping us out. It is so easy to get crabby with the waitress when she’s a little slow, or get mad at the parts guys for not having the correct hydraulic tips. It would be cool if instead of getting upset, we could be thankful that these people are here to help us, and are willing to work at that establishment.

If you would like to join me in my Thankful Thursday series, put a link to your blog in the comments. I’ll add your link at the end of my posts.

You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.

Author Unknown

 

For The Beauty…

CarolynCares For the Beauty

Happy Ag Day 2014!

National Ag Day looks different to all of us. Some are celebrating the birth of Norman Borlaug with ceremonies in Washington, DC and Iowa, some are celebrating by volunteering at various agriculture events, while others are celebrating as they work on their farms and ranches. I want to take this opportunity to say “Thank You!” to all the farmers and ranchers for the hard work they put in so we are able to eat whatever we want, whenever we want.  I also want to give a shout out to all of those whose jobs in agriculture are forgotten about – seed salesmen and seed warehouse workers, plant breeders, agronomists, soil scientists, animal nutritionists…the list could go on for a while!  Thank you for your important role in farming & ranching!

Happy Ag Day, everyone!

CarolynCares Farmer

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