Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Along with the turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, there is another reason I like this holiday.  It gives me a chance to reflect on all I have and reminds me to be grateful.  Our day was a quiet one.  Leah and I spent lots of time snuggling, and I told my caregivers to go enjoy time with their families.  I had a friend from my church visit a little while ago and another friend/former caregiver is coming by tonight.  While Leah napped contentedly by my feet this afternoon, I took the opportunity to write the following list.  It helped me to get into what feels like the right mindset to me.  The last few weeks have been stressful given what Leah has been going through, but whatever happens in the moment, it helps me to remember how abundantly blessed I truly am.

  1. God loves me.
  2. I attend an amazing church where people love me for who I am, accommodate my needs, and take good care of me.
  3. I share an incredible bond with a fabulous service dog. We are a family.
  4. I can dance!
  5. I have some spectacular caregivers.
  6. My friend Andrea has been in my life for almost 20 years and her compassion and kindness impact my life every day.
  7. Dale has been in my life for almost 30 years and is one of the best friends I will ever have. When he was a caregiver this past summer on weekends for the month of June, we learned more about each other and our friendship grew stronger than it has ever been.
  8. I can see.
  9. I can hear.
  10. I can breathe without assistance.
  11. I can feed myself.
  12. I  get exercise on my parallel bars.
  13. I eat healthier now than I used to.
  14. I have enough food to eat every day.
  15. Leah and I like to sit outside in the sunshine.
  16. I own my own home.
  17. We live so close to a bike trail that I can access it from my driveway.
  18. I am learning more about a tapping technique that is extremely beneficial to me, and I met and get to work with an amazing guy named Rick in the process. He is one of the biggest supports in my life.
  19. I enjoy working with Amy, my case manager. We get along so well, and she rocks!
  20. I was asked to give my perspective about the East 9th project in Lawrence and got to meet some amazing people who were interested in and respected my opinion.
  21. I write a blog that I love, and I am challenging some negative perceptions in the process.
  22. I am not hospitalized nearly as much as I used to be. I like being healthy and taking good care of myself. I used to be on 14 different prescription medications.  I am now down to 1.
  23. I find several reasons to genuinely laugh out loud every day.
  24. I have had 7 of my stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
  25. I write a column for Lawrence Magazine.
  26. Brenda, the life coach I work with, is helping me achieve some of the goals I have set for myself.
  27. I know the value of baby steps.
  28. I am willing to try new things even when they are scary, like hiring male caregivers. Most of the time risks work out.  J
  29. I enjoy reading books about self-improvement and how to love God more.
  30. I have amazing mentors. They know who they are.
  31. I got to work with George once a week for 11 years, and he helped me make amazing progress on my journey.
  32. I check in with Pastor Bill often, and he sincerely wants to know how I am and what is going on with me.
  33. My power wheelchair lets me be more independent than I once was; it enables me to go places on my own.
  34. I love string cheese and eat it several times a day.
  35. Leah knows that I love her and that I will do everything in my power to get whatever she needs.
  36. Dr. Tom is a phenomenal vet and I have had the privilege of working with him for the past 18 years.
  37. I am friends with some of my former caregivers many years after they work for me.
  38. Because my family was a foster family when I was in high school, I know how to take care of babies.
  39. I like to cook for myself. Even if I can’t do it all physically, I like to supervise.
  40. Joshua considers himself my friend as well as my caregiver.
  41. I enjoy small pleasures in life and treat myself with patience and kindness.
  42. When I am overwhelmed, praying makes me feel better.
  43. I have lots of movies that I enjoy watching. Dramas and romantic comedies are the best.
  44. “Musical Chairs” is the greatest movie ever!
  45. I know how to get myself quiet and am becoming mindful of how to do it quickly.
  46. I allow myself to reach out for help when I need to.
  47. I make amazing Eggplant Parmesan if I do say so myself.
  48. A hot shower does wonders to sooth my stiff muscles.
  49. I walked a 26.2-mile marathon on my parallel bars this summer.  That was 10,100 laps down and back.
  50. I know how to set goals and accomplish them, and I do it routinely.
  51. I put towels in the dryer before I get into the shower, that way I can wrap myself in hot towels afterward. It makes me feel pampered.
  52. I have a journal where I write down all the nice things that people say to me. I write in it often.  When I am having a rough day, reading several pages makes me feel better.
  53. Now that I have my power chair, I can wear bracelets again. When I used to have to push myself in my manual wheelchair, they got in my way.  I got a bracelet for my birthday that I love from dear friends of mine.
  54. I can usually work out conflict with people around me, and afterward, we end up understanding each other more. I have come a long way in that area.
  55. I have hope that things will just keep getting better.
  56. I am resilient.
  57. I deeply care about other people, especially those I am around regularly.
  58. Adversity makes me stronger.
  59. I really listen to and absorb what others say to me.
  60. I appreciate what I have.
  61. I put positive energy into the world.
  62. I indulge in Hershey’s nuggets frequently. The milk chocolate with almonds and toffee is my personal favorite.
  63. I love listening to the rain and often open my doors during a downpour so I can hear it clearly.
  64. I make homemade popcorn on the stove whenever I watch a movie. I think it is so much better than the microwave stuff.
  65. Because I don’t always have a whole lot of power in my life, I am doing a better job of taking power where I can get it, like making my own decisions and letting people know what I want.
  66. Hugs are incredibly special to me. I love hugs, especially when people kneel down by my wheelchair so we are at the same level when they hug me.
  67. I am a talented writer.
  68. I surround myself with good people.
  69. Lots of people want to help Leah get the surgery that would help her to see well.
  70. Several people pray for me and for us on a regular basis.
  71. I am good at seeking out people who treat me well.
  72. I don’t sweat the small stuff.
  73. I continually want to grow and be a better person than I was yesterday.
  74. I let go of things that no longer serve me effectively.
  75. I have lots of people who edit my writing, and their feedback helps me to get better all the time.
  76. Marshall was an amazing service dog and he watches over me every day from Heaven.
  77. There are many awesome people in my support system who help me process the challenges in my life.
  78. Leah handles adversity like a champ and takes each day as it comes no matter what she faces.
  79. Music can speak to me regardless of what mood I am in.
  80. My past does not equal my future.
  81. When I was Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2007, I made powerful connections with some phenomenal people that I still have today.
  82. I pray consistently for people and situations I care about and I have been able to recognize the power of God at work in my world. I know that God hears my prayers even when He says “no.”
  83. I am capable of change.
  84. I teach important things to the people around me.
  85. Because I don’t like it when people judge me, I do not judge others easily.
  86. I learn from my mistakes and try not to repeat them.
  87. I haven’t eaten fast food in several months.
  88. I can communicate on my own.
  89. I love being “Aunt Lorraine.”
  90. Getting stretched out every day helps me to move better.
  91. I haven’t had a Coke in almost a year. I used to be pretty addicted to what was my “drink of champions” for a very long time.
  92. Facebook helps me to keep in touch with people I haven’t seen in decades.
  93. I work hard at what I do.
  94. I am a positive person.
  95. I have created a peaceful environment in my home.
  96. I have several things that I do every day. I have learned that having a routine is good for me.
  97. I have learned when it is best to keep my opinions to myself and when it is best to speak up.
  98. I have spectacular things on my bucket list.
  99. Snuggling with Leah is my favorite pastime.
  100. I embrace my diversity and I love my life!

Many warm wishes to all for a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Much love!