Enjoyment of life trumps fear of falling

Day by Day: Enjoyment of life trumps fear of falling

By LIZ THOMPSON
Feb 24, 2019
This Week News

It’s all relative.

As I listen to my daughter Mary’s busy schedule with her children, who are now young adults, I could see my own life as dull in comparison. But I do not.

I love that she is taking on new ventures in music and volunteering. She always has had a generous spirit — one of the many things I love about her.

Her challenges are different than mine. Each of us has things that push our limits in various ways — sometimes to the point we just want to crawl back under the covers and sleep a little longer.

I have lived with multiple sclerosis my entire adult life. Fourteen years ago, walking outside without a cane or walker became too risky. Falls have become my unwanted companion.

When I walk our dog, I use one of my scooters. Some people say it almost looks like he is pulling me, like a sled dog. That’s extra funny when you know my dog is a dachshund. I’m glad the sight makes people smile.

But one of my MS challenges is to stay upright and keep my legs strong. When I bought my first walker, the owner of the Arizona store had MS. She said she started using a scooter too early. I didn’t understand completely at the time, but I do now.

She told me that she should have kept walking, no matter how difficult, and used a scooter only when needed.

What I truly miss is walking easily for the sake of enjoying the outdoors or for exercise.

If I walk far, or on uneven surfaces, the risk of tripping gains momentum. When I shop, it helps to use a scooter if I’m going far.

Last year, I challenged myself to walk holding onto a cart in large stores, such as Sam’s Club. I wanted the exercise, and I wanted to walk. In smaller stores I am familiar with, I started taking my walker.

When my husband walked along with our dachshund and me last year, instead of using my scooter, I started using my walker. I had to let go of the worry that I looked older than my years.

I know all our street’s sidewalk bumps and anticipate, slow down, lift my walker and keep going.

Soon, I realized that if I held my husband’s arm and had a cane in the other hand in case I needed it, I could just walk. Our dog actually seemed to notice the difference, and his step was a little perkier when he wasn’t stopping to sniff every blade of grass.

The scooter provides a safe way to move about. That’s smart. But I, too, may have stayed in that scooter a little too long without alternating to my walking options.

For those of us who have fallen, after each incident, the fear of falling again can almost incapacitate us. I struggle to release my fear and keep moving.

With each fall, I evaluate why it happened and what, if anything, I can do to prevent another similar incident.

Falling, like MS, is unpredictable.

March is MS Awareness Month. Like the hundreds of thousands living with MS, we crave understanding without making it the focus of what others see in us.

My daughter’s challenges seemed so much more interesting when compared to me walking to the corner and back holding my husband’s arm.

But, as I said, it’s all relative.

Our grandson, Andrew, joined the Ohio Army National Guard and is at boot camp as I write. When he came home for Christmas and New Year’s break, many of us greeted him at the airport.

I took my walker. It was worth it to walk safely and have some modicum of control.

Andrew told me he was outside for drill when the first snow came. He thought, “The first snow! I should call Nana!”

Since he was young, every year, we call each other when the first snow appears. When he said this, standing there in his fatigues, I looked up and smiled.

My life is not boring.

 

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Mental image of rainbow still inspires

Day by Day

Mental image of rainbow still inspires

By Liz Thompson
This Week News
January 28, 2019

“The work can wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” –Patricia Hart Clifford

When living in Arizona, as I drove to work, the mountains and open sky surrounded me as I moved down the flat highway. I remember one day in particular when the rain fell lightly on my windshield and the sun shone brightly.

A rainbow appeared as vivid as one drawn by a child with wax crayons. Because of the expanse, I easily could see the beginning and end without swerving as I drove.

Twenty-four years later, I remember it like it was yesterday.

No one at work seemed as awed by the sight. But such rainbows were not unusual for those who had lived in Arizona for years — some for a lifetime.

Here in Ohio, if I want to see a rainbow from my home, I step outside while it is raining and the sun is shining and look to the east. Sometimes I am blessed with the sight, even if the trees and buildings block some of its glory.

I enjoy the possibilities.

Patricia Hart Clifford’s quotation above made me think of that morning in Arizona. I think of the wonder we can show our children. The possibilities.

In this day of electronic devices in our pockets almost all the time — or at least nearby — it might be easy to be so distracted that we miss the beauty of a rainbow’s colors and shape.

We can look up a multitude of photos on the internet on those same phones and say, “How beautiful!”

But the photos would be missing the expanse, the grandeur. I prefer to step into the fresh air or gaze out a window and look up, not down at a tiny screen.

Cellphones were not common in 1995. When I saw that rainbow in Arizona, had I the ability to stop the car to snap a photo, it would have been lacking.

Instead, my mind captured it — and no one can erase it.

Giving time to our children is more important than just about anything we can offer, outside of food, clothing and shelter. Teaching them to think and wonder and dream is a gift they will always have, even on dreary days with no rainbows. Daydreaming would be a wonderful distraction for our children — as long as it’s not during school.

Recently, one of my brothers was telling our mother that it seemed children didn’t play outside as much as we once did. I told her I remember washing my feet before crawling into bed on summer days.

When I do hear a child playing outside and hear the shrieks of delight in play, it makes me smile. An elementary school is a couple of blocks from our house. On some days, I can hear children during recess laughing and obviously having fun.

If a rainbow or interesting cloud formation appears in the sky, at least they are in a position to be able to look up and wonder. I hope the teachers would make a point of showing and encouraging them to daydream.

Our days do seem to be so busy. I remember when our children were young and I worked outside the home. It was difficult to fit everything into a day and have time to spend with our children.

We had an advantage that is now gone, unless parents take the initiative: We had fewer distractions. No cellphones. No computers. Landline phones with one line. If someone was on the phone, the others in our family had to wait their turn. Someone calling in would get a busy signal, not voicemail.

Now I sound like my parents or grandparents sounded when I was young. “When I was your age, we didn’t have … ”

“We had to walk to school uphill, in the snow … ”

Many things from our past are worth holding onto. We still have only 24 hours in each day. But we can make each moment photo-worthy.

Local Matters puts healthful meals in reach

Day by Day
Local Matters puts healthful meals in reach

By LIZ THOMPSON
December 31, 2018
This Week News

 “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This old adage is attributed to many different cultures. Unfortunately, food insecurity, including lack of access to fresh food, is real for too many.

During the holidays, many of us have reached for one too many sweets and second helpings of all kinds of food. Dieting becomes a New Year’s resolution.

We should be mindful of our diet, not dieting, throughout our lives. No matter our age, diseases such as Type 2 diabetes might plague us in part due to poor food choices. If we never learned how to prepare foods healthfully or have no available fresh food, it complicates overall health.

Through the years, I learned how to love cooking from scratch using basic foods. I have been fortunate to have a garden for many years.

Not everyone has these opportunities. That is where Local Matters comes in.

In 2005, co-founders Michael Jones and Noreen Warnock were looking for answers to big questions about our food system. They wanted to keep our children healthier and ensure that everyone had access to healthful and affordable food.

Jones is a chef. When he and his wife were expecting their first child, he read an article that said children of his child’s generation would be the first whose life expectancy would be shorter than their parents’.

When he learned that food was the root of the problem, he was called to action.

Warnock grew up in a low-income family that struggled to make ends meet. As a mother of two who understood the role food played in raising a healthy family on a budget, she advocated for organic food on local grocery-store shelves. She wanted everyone to have equal access to healthful foods.

Warnock’s work with community organizations led to the creation of the Greater Columbus Foodshed Project. This project helped create more than 20 community gardens.

These two founders’ visions became Local Matters in 2008.

The 20 staff members and 200 active volunteers work with families to teach them how to shop, plan and prepare healthful foods on a budget.

Local Matters, based in south Columbus (Ohio), has partnered with schools, hospitals, Maryhaven Women’s Center, Mount Carmel College of Nursing and food-access partners to reach those in need.

“Food is pivotal in health. Dietary choices can promote recovery from disease, worsen chronic illness and influence day-to-day energy levels,” said Kelsey Sicker, a member of the Ohio State University College of Medicine’s class of 2019. My involvement with Local Matters has given me comfort in discussing food and cooking, particularly in a relatable way for patients to readily apply to daily life.”

This year, Local Matters will launch Fresh Stand. It is an affordable, mobile, fruit-and-vegetable stand designed to provide food access.

It will partner with corner stores to sell fresh produce that, when paired with the store’s shelf-stable items such as rice, pasta, flour, sugar and oil, will allow customers to create a whole, healthful and affordable meal.

There will be hands-on demonstrations to show how to simplify food-preparation habits, build new skills and give people confidence to create a delicious meal.

Fresh Stand will work with leadership at churches and other places of worship to sell produce through Second Sundays, during which the Fresh Stand will sell produce and meal bags directly to residents on a monthly basis.

Local Matters will sell produce through Fresh Stand at schools, recreation centers and community growing spaces, allowing students and families to purchase meal ingredients after school hours.

We can make a personal difference with our own choices and teaching our children.

Learn more by calling Local Matters at 614-263-5662, emailing info@ local-matters.org or reading about what its volunteers and staff are doing at local-matters.org.

 

No present like time, Bexley students learn

 

Day by Day:
No present like time, Bexley students learn

By LIZ THOMPSON

Dec 3, 2018
This Week Community News

One of the best gifts we can give someone is time.

In October, 172 Bexley (Ohio) eighth-graders heard from speakers about community projects to help them choose how to serve their town with 15 hours of service.

Crystal Carley is the seventh- and eighth-grade language-arts teacher and community-project manager for Bexley City Schools.

“I asked speakers to talk about how they married their interests with a need in their community,” Carley said. “Students listened attentively and asked relevant questions that helped them understand possible avenues for service for their project.”

Speakers included Tim White with Mid-Ohio Foodbank and Taylor Nolan with She Has a Name, whose mission is to fight human trafficking.

Student Maya Murray was surprised to hear about human trafficking in central Ohio.

“I already knew what it was but things like that are hard to think about,” she said. “As a teen, the world will soon be in our care and so it is important that we take action to stop things like this and that our parents also inform us so we can protect ourselves and help other teens … escape the abuse.”

Speakers who are parents of students included Tricia Keels, Laura Robertson-Boyd, Monique Lampke and Deborah Grayson.

Keels started Souper Heroes. The organization holds dinners across the city from October through May during which volunteers serve homemade soups to guests. Donations benefit hunger-relief organizations.

Lampke spoke on the Make-A-Wish Foundation; Grayson talked about teaching English to refugees.

“The project that interested me the most was the one with the refugees,” student Keira Murray said. “I like anything that helps with the community but especially something more direct where we can help our community and get to know the people we are helping.

“I love being able to meet and work with people and think it is especially important to hear directly from them and what their experiences are. To me, the ‘unity’ part in (the word) community is very important.”

Keira said she believes volunteering is a way to get to know more people and build stronger bonds.

“We can reach out to people and with time they might reach back,” Keira said, “and then together we will be able to make a change.”

The students also learned about the Ronald McDonald House and Salvation Army. Bexley City Schools staff member Sandi Hoover talked about mission trips to Guatemala.

Meagan Warren, a sophomore and founder of Books for Bedtime, shared about her nonprofit organization and her efforts to promote literacy.

Student Evelyn Holzhall said she was surprised there were so many charities in the heart of town. She was interested in learning about Grayson’s work with immigrants.

She learned female immigrants and members of the charity meet to talk in English about their lives and culture.

“Grayson told us one time they cooked a recipe one of the women brought in after they put it into English,” Evelyn said. “Another day, they celebrated the feast of Ramadan. The immigrant families were so welcoming they even let the charity workers into their home for the feast.”

Evelyn said she was glad to learn about the efforts, but in the end, she chose to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I had known of it since I was 6, and it holds a place deep in my heart,” she said. “I just think it is awful for a kid to die of sickness at such a young age, but even more awful for their dreams to never come true.”

To Evelyn, volunteering assists the charities to help those in need, but it also ties her community together.

“If you give time out of your day to help members of our own community … our community would be so close and always caring for one another, and to me, that’s just awesome.”

Consider adding time to your gift list. These teens did with genuine enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

Veterans can fly for free through VAC

Day by Day
Veterans can fly for free through VAC

By LIZ THOMPSON

Nov 5, 2018

This Week Community News

Veterans Airlift Command provides free air transportation to post-9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and compassionate purposes through a network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.

Tim Fyda, 61, of Columbus is president and CEO of Fyda Freightliner.

He attended the Air Force Academy and received his pilot wings in the U.S. Air Force. He served for eight years as a pilot.

“In 2007, I saw a Newsweek magazine cover with a wounded female Army veteran,” Fyda said. “She happened to be an amputee. I said to my wife, ‘I wish we could do something to help our wounded warriors as they return from Afghanistan and Iraq.’

“The next day I opened Transport Topics — a truck transportation industry publication — and saw an article about Veterans Airlift Command. I went to the VAC website and saw that two guys I had served with in the Air Force were advisory board members. I called one of them and have been hooked ever since. I flew my first mission soon after and became a board member, as well.”

Fyda said he wants wounded warriors to know they have the love and support of their country. He wants to ease the burden on veterans and their families as they navigate the complex world of rehabilitation.

“As much as I know our mission helps our veterans, I assure you it helps me more than them,” he said. “I have met the most inspiring young Americans you can imagine. I ask many of them to fly up front with me if they are able to get to the seat.

“As one young Marine sat next to me on a long flight, he said he would do it all again, knowing the consequences, just in order to support his brothers in arms. That is dedication.

“Another young Army lieutenant platoon leader was rehabbing in St. Paul after almost losing his life in combat. His first order of business as soon as he could travel was to fly to Massachusetts to meet and comfort the families of two of his fallen soldiers.

“I learned more about leadership that day from that young lieutenant than in the 12 years I had served.”

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew H., 30, along with his wife, Heather, and 10-month-old son, Noah, once were Fyda’s passengers. He flew them from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to his home.

A Green Beret, Matthew — whose last name was withheld by Army officials due to the sensitivity of his job — has served in multiple deployments to North Africa and Afghanistan.

“We train, advise and assist foreign militaries in unconventional warfare,” Matthew said.

He said his Special Forces team was tasked with clearing a city of enemy combatants in Afghanistan. On the morning of Jan. 24 his team came under enemy fire.

“During the exchange, I was struck with AK rounds to my right elbow, right ankle and left thigh. I was also struck by an IED shortly thereafter,” he said.

“I have extensive soft-tissue damage to my left thigh and lost my right leg below the knee. I have spent eight months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical (Center) to learn how to walk again.”

Matthew said he has used the VAC service several times.

“Tim has flown me just one time. He brought me home to see my family,” he said. “I have used the service two other times for similar reasons.”

Due to the swelling in his right leg, he is unable to bend his leg to or near a 90-degree angle.

“I could have never fit my leg and new prosthetic in the small sections of commercial airplanes … traveling through an airport with a wheelchair, 10-month-old and luggage would be impossible.

“Without the VAC, I would have not been able to return home.”

Matthew will return to the Special Forces community once he is healed completely.

“We always need more volunteer pilots at VAC. They can contact us through our website,” Fyda said. “We have a very lean organization and staff.”

For more information on Veterans Airlift Command, visit its website, veteransairlift.org; email info@veteransairlift.org; or call 952-582-2911.

 

Heart songs recovered via new keyboard

Heart songs recovered via new keyboard

By LIZ THOMPSON

October 8, 2018

This Week Community News

It was a birthday surprise. But more than that, it was a chance to try again.

Would my fingers and eyes coordinate after nearly 20 years absent from any kind of piano keyboard?

After my husband finished the task of putting the stand together, he firmly placed the full-sized keyboard on top and fastened it in place. We moved it close to the wall, and I placed the old hymnal on the music holder.

The inscription in the front of the Methodist hymnal read: “To Elizabeth Ann, from Mother and Dad, Christmas 1968.”

I was a senior in high school and had been in school and church choirs since first grade. Even though I gave most of my sheet music to my grandchildren, I had kept this gift.

You might ask why I write about music so often. Music was a comfort and a major part of my identity through my first 40-plus years — singing, playing guitar and piano, and writing music. It was my second language — one I learned from my mother and grandmother and various teachers and directors through these same years.

It was my main choice for praising God and sharing my faith. Those same songs wrapped me in warmth and safety when my life became turbulent.

I know I took this gift for granted and never expected the day would come when music was completely silenced. Even as my hearing faded, music remained a part of me.

When my deafness arrived, the music played on in my mind and heart. A new comfort: ” … I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15)

Earlier last summer, on a trek with my daughter to exchange her harp for a larger one, I stepped into a piano store. I felt surrounded by old friends made new and shiny. A young woman was playing one of the pianos, and I listened.

Over time, my perception of music with my cochlear implants has improved. I have determined to simply enjoy whatever I could. Instrumentals especially sound good.

The woman stopped playing, and my daughter was making her purchase. I took one of her harp-music sheets and played it on one of the beautiful baby-grand pianos. It was a melody with single notes, no chords.

The piano keys felt good to my skin, and I remembered what notes to play. It transported me to the old upright I learned to play on.

Before we left the store, I asked for advice on keyboard purchases. I was hoping to touch one to see if it felt like a piano.

The next room, which we’d missed somehow, housed several keyboards. Never had I set piano music to memory, so I played a scale. It felt very close to the piano I had played moments before.

“Someday,” I mused.

Days later, I searched the Sweetwater website, from which we had purchased drum accessories for our youngest grandson.

There was “my” keyboard. The price was lower than the Columbus store, so I sent the link to my husband stating it was the keyboard I had told him about.

I didn’t know he saved the link. Nor did I know that, months later, he would order it for me after talking with our daughter.

Throughout the summer, I brought up the idea of purchasing the keyboard to Bob, and he said I should order it. I hesitated time and again. Would I remember how to play chords and more than a single line of notes with one hand? Was it like riding a bicycle?

More than that, would I play? My singing voice is all but gone, and I used to play more as an accompaniment for my voice.

So when I placed my hands on the new keyboard, my fingers worked to remember their old friends. My eye-hand coordination was tested.

I just didn’t expect the tears of joy when I realized I still could do this.

It is a gift I will never take lightly as I play my favorite hymns and show tunes and hum along.

 

Guest Post

Recently I joined American Christian Fiction Writers online. (See link to the left if you are interested in learning more about ACFW.) I wanted to learn more about fiction writing. In the process, I have met some interesting people doing so many different things with their writing.

One such person is Patti Shene. She hosts a radio show and has this website to spotlight writers. This section is Over 50 Writers and I qualified.

Please take a moment and check out the link below and check out the other writers she has spotlighted.

http://www.pattishene.com/theover50writer/572-WELCOME-AUTHOR-ELIZABETH-LIZ-THOMPSON?sel=1-