Sharing the lessons along the way…

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Unlikely Gratitude

I have a neighbor who has a little Chihuahua dog and he never kept him on a leash when they were in their front yard.  My boys and I struggled going past the house on our because my boy Amore’ often would get aggressive with other dogs.  When Amore died, Duke met the dog and the dog would often come to the other side of the street to see us on our walks.  Ruby met him too.  The guy seemed like a nice enough guy despite the one negative experience I had.

When I was using the walker and the motorized wheelchair, we didn’t have a choice but to go by his house because the sidewalks on the other street were better and I was less likely to fall.  But we always had to take that chance of the little dog coming and my dog or dogs pulling me off balance.  Once the neighbor yelled at me because I wouldn’t just go on down the same street instead of passing his street.  I yelled back that the sidewalks sucked and that the walker didn’t work well and to please get his dog.

We still exchanged pleasantries after that incident and I had no hard feelings because he couldn’t understand why sidewalks would be a problem or that Amore was often unpredictable—who could who hadn’t had to try using a walker or had a problem dog.

Fast forward from that moment three or four years ago to July 2017.

Hope Fiona and I were walking on a Friday evening past his house, which is our normal route.  I had noticed I hadn’t seen much of him this year and that he appeared to be frail and wasn’t walking that well in the past month I had seen him.  He stops me to tell me he was in a bad car accident in January and when he was having to learn to walk again, his first thought was of me.

He said he remembered me always continuing to walk my dogs whether it was with a wheelchair, a walker or a cane and that he hoped he had the same strength as he was struggling through his recovery.

He shared his journey from wheelchair to walker to cane and was proud to say he was getting around pretty well without the cane now and could walk around the block.  He asked me how I found the strength to do it and continued to say how much he thought of me during and still because he had a tremendous head injury that has to continue to heal.

We talked about muscle memory and physical therapy and water therapy, and even though it was starting to rain and Hope really wanted to walk, we talked about the importance of continuing to move forward no matter what.

He asked me my name because in the 12 years I have passed his house and talked with him, we had never exchanged names.  He thanked me for something I had no idea even happened.

This experience reminded me that I was doing something right in this life, but also reminded me about how someone is always watching you and that making an impact on others’ lives is far bigger than what you deliberately do for someone else.  It is more about who you are and how you are while you are doing the simple, routine things in this life that has just as much of an impact.




Zombie-Proofing the Holidays #1

In holiday zombie mode, we are more likely to go back to old patterns of behavior whether we mean to do so or not.  It all starts with the old patterns of thinking we have about holidays, family, loss, etc. and quickly turns into some sort of unhealthy obsessive or compulsive behavior.

This sort of thing can go unnoticed because it is the time of the year where it is socially acceptable (and encouraged in our society) to spend more money than we have, and eat and drink more than we need.

Back in my holiday zombie days, even when I knew I needed to do something differently to break those patterns, I found it almost impossible to find the motivation and drive to do it.  I can remember the exact year I figured out how to do it anyway.  My zombie-hazed brain didn’t realize that simplifying the goal and making the change very small would make a big difference until that year.

Holidays are temporary.  Shifting my thoughts to “get” that made a difference.  Although that wasn’t always enough to make it through.  From there, I eventually realized that holidays can be enjoyed whether it is the “ideal” holiday scenario.  No matter where I am or who I am with, or not with, there can actually be enjoyment celebrating a holiday.

Seriously, there can be if we decide it can be.  I have celebrated many more holidays without family than with them.  The ones I spent wishing I was with family (or had family that didn’t make the holidays crazytown) weren’t as enjoyable because I was wishing I was somewhere else.  If I wish I am somewhere else, there is no chance I can find pleasure where I am—that is a fact.

Next time I will share another zombie-proof holiday trick I have learned.  In the meantime, please continue to share how you get through the holidays—no matter what your experience is.  Even the happiest of holidays often is hectic or includes notable losses.  My hope is to get every one of us through the holiday season without being any worse for the wear on the other side, so any thoughts are considered helpful.


Challenge Completed!

Open Hearts=Open Doors

I feel a great sense of relief to have made it through the entire 30 day writing challenge, but I have to say that I also am a little bit sad about it being over.

Some friends asked me Saturday if I planned to continue blogging every day after the challenge was over, and I quickly (and without any thought) said, “Nope.”  It hasn’t been as easy as it might seem to come up with a worthwhile and coherent post each day, although my days are not without the inspiration to write several different posts.

I have enjoyed the challenge of it most of all because I wasn’t sure I could rise to the occasion, nor was I all that sure I wanted to do it when it began.  I took it five days at a time, as that was all I had originally committed to once it began.  It is easier to commit to something in short increments for me (and most people).

I have enjoyed getting back into the habit of writing daily and making something (I hope) to be of value to others using words.

Writing definitely helps me to stay grounded and no matter where I start when I write, I can almost always find a positive spin by the time I am finished.  If I cannot, then I must not be finished, so I just keep going until it happens.

November has been full of lessons for me.  Each of those lessons has directed me back to the basics and back to being grounded and focused.  Writing each day has certainly helped reframe some of the less pleasant lessons of the month, while truly enhancing the more pleasant ones.

I have enjoyed reading the posts from my fellow Team Peppers and have some new bloggers to follow that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.  I have found beauty and value in situations and individuals that were initially a challenge, and I probably wouldn’t have made such a conscious effort to do so had I not felt the need to create an experiment to look harder for it.

I am grateful for my favorite Dino Rara for leading the charge with the team of tiny peppers and I am grateful for each one of you for cheering me on through the month.  Clicking “Like,” posting a comment, sending a text, or telling me in person definitely goes a long way!

At the end of 30 days, I feel more grateful.  I feel more grounded and more connected to all things in my world—near and far.

Thank you all for playing from the bottom on my heart!  I cannot promise to write for you every day, but I can promise to do better than I have in recent months.  I am confident in my ability to do weekly posts after doing it daily for so long.

Feel free to subscribe your email so that you don’t miss any, particularly if you rely on your Facebook feed to deliver them.  Check out some of my fellow bloggers too!




But really, how are you?

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you may be wondering how I can write 28 days in a row and mention nothing about illness or the status of my symptoms.

The thought really hadn’t occurred to me that it would be of any interest until last night after multiple people asked, “No, really, how are you doing?” after my first response of “Good” just didn’t seem to satisfy.

I make a conscious decision not to focus on my symptoms, and if I do, it is merely to figure out a way to better self-manage them so that I can continue focusing on the mission at hand.  Focusing on them for any other reason simply doesn’t serve me.

Does that mean that I am not aware of what my body is experiencing?  Of course not.  Does not focusing on the symptoms make them magically not exist?  No, but wouldn’t that be something!

All it really means is that I acknowledge each symptom as I go, and figure out a way (or many ways) to work around them to do what needs to be done.  Working full-time this year has challenged my ability to manage my energy, maintain this level of mobility, manage pain, manage my emotions, work in time for physical therapy, and a myriad of other things.

Part of staying focused on my mission encompasses these things.  Being able to better manage the illness, the residual issues from all the surgeries, and maintain balance with all of it, is the only way I can serve in the way I want to serve.

So, if you need to know specifics, I can oblige…

There is still burning nerve pain in my torso, there is still clonus and spasticity in my feet and legs, the neurogenic bladder and bowel are still with us, my feet and ankles hurt all the time from the tightness, the jaw clonus continues to create dental issues while I sleep…

That all being said, there is a list a bit longer of the things that I can do in spite of all of those things!  It’s fine with me if you would like to focus on the list of positives and not the other stuff right alongside me!

Day 29…one to go!  Yay Team Tiny Peppers!!


Discovering Bridges


We are fortunate to live in a day and time where the internet has served to bridge the vast expanses of our world, and where sharing with one another is possible.

As social creatures, humans need to feel that they are a part of a community.  When we share, and others share in return, we find common ground.  We find togetherness; we find a community.

There are many such communities on the web.  There are many such communities right here that require no Wi-Fi connection.

How connected we feel has very little to do with our cable/internet provider, however.  Our level of connection is directly proportionate to how much we put out there of ourselves for others.  How much we share and give of ourselves, is often related to how connected we feel to those around us.

The more freely we share, the more intimate the level of connections we feel.  The more openly we listen and hear, the more intimate the level of connections we feel.

In all honesty, I believe we are all connected.  There is more common about us than not, no matter how unique we each are and no matter how unique each of our life circumstances has been up to this point.

We miss making connections because we have a tendency to make snap judgments or perceive others in terms of black and white, good or bad.  We all have good in us, just as we all have the capacity for bad.  That doesn’t change the basic premise that there is always common ground, there is always a connection waiting to be discovered.

Part of my challenge for the last several days has been to see those opportunities for common ground, to see positives where I may not otherwise look for them.  Not everyone “gets” just how much I believe it is possible to find them, but I have yet to be wrong about this particular thing.

It has actually been an honor to take the time and to be present enough to find those positives.  I have seen them in every arena of my life, and in doing so, feel even more connected to the people in my world.

Day 27 and still very grateful for each of you.


May we all feel loved


It is the eve of the day set aside to give thanks.  It is day 25 of the writing challenge.  It is my sister friend’s birthday.  It is a beautiful full moon.  It is day 2 of my positive experimentation.

It is the second day in a row that I have seen one of my favorite toddler sisters.  It is the day that will go down in history as having had the best-prepared collard greens EVER.

My experiment is going well so far and I have only had one instance where I struggled to find something positive about someone.  I haven’t done that well in sharing the positives that I see, so I will work on that tomorrow.  It is quite amazing how much good and how much common ground we can find when we are looking for it.

Today didn’t exactly go how my work calendar said it should, but it was a day to be grateful for just the same.

As the moon sets tomorrow morning, the sun rises, and we all prepare to spend time with family and friends, it is my hope that we can all celebrate one another for all the good we recognize in each other.

And that such love and gratitude can ripple out to those who will be struggling during this holiday because.  May we all feel love and appreciated tomorrow (and every day).





Kitt O'Malley

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