Today holds the last guest post in this gratitude series, and you do not want to miss it! I have the privilege of introducing you to my incredible friend, Kathy. Kathy and I met when I was a student in her high school creative writing class. What a semester that was! I still consider Kathy to be one of the most influential people in my life, and I think you will see why. She exudes strength, humor, and joy in the face of immense challenges. When you are with her, she has this way of making you feel like the most important person to walk the earth. She has made me laugh when I didn’t think I could laugh again, infused hope into my life when my tank was empty, and given me some of the most thoughtful gifts that have left me feeling seen and loved. Kathy’s words feel like the perfect way to end this series. I hope you soak them up and share them with others.
“Beauty is possible in the storms, in spite of the storms, sometimes even because of the storms.”
On January 1, 2018, I posted the first of what will be 365 #MyYearOfGratitude tweets, taking me through every month, every week, and every day of 2018. The discipline of proclaiming daily gratitude has been at times simple and at other times daunting. I have both resented the obligation and found solace in it. I have fought to keep the tweets real, for myself rather than for my followers, yet I’ve been touched deeply when my tweets were both personal and also meaningful to others. Fitting that bit of gratitude into 280 characters was additionally challenging. Still, I knew It was what I needed to do after a physically, emotionally, and spiritually difficult 2017.
Some of my tweets highlight my life as a blind person working with a guide dog.
- Yesterday, I walked out of four buildings with Nacho guiding me and no sighted assistance. You who do this daily, don’t overlook the gift of independence. Knowing you can find a door means you can walk through it to anywhere and do anything.
- Big lab, big job, big brain, big head, big muscles, big paws… Still tiptoes like a big ninny when traversing rain-soaked parking lots!
Others include sweet encounters with children in the classes of new elementary school teachers whom I mentor.
- A kindergartner said, “Nacho is loving on you.” Definition of loving on someone: The Choice to display love through deliberate actions meant to let others know they matter. Decide to love on someone today. It is so needed.
- To the child who confidently sings the alphabet song three notes ahead of your peers, you will learn to harmonize one day and will enjoy it, but even then, don’t stop being your own bold self! I hear you.
Some of my favorite tweets feature moments of mindfulness and contemplation.
- In the chill of crisp autumn air, I hear distant church bells ring. For these moments when I am still enough in body and spirit to notice, I am grateful.
- I just witnessed wind chimes chiming not because of wind but because of rain. Beauty is possible in the storms, in spite of the storms, sometimes even because of the storms.
Not every tweet is joyful. I believe I have grown the most when capturing pain.
- Ugg, sometimes it’s hard. Can we be honest about that? Sometimes it’s hard to be OK or stay OK. That’s when we lean against those blessed pillars in our lives, until we can stand tall again and be a pillar ourselves.
- I lift him from the car. His brittle fur, depleted muscles, and seemingly hollow bones weigh as little as a much smaller dog. He struggles at first then stills. I hold him, remembering. Aging is taking him…but not yet. There is still time to love him.
In every tweet, I have discovered more about myself, my world, and My God. And because of that, I am grateful yet again.
- My best speeches, lessons, and heart-to-heart conversations include at least several moments when I have almost out-of-body experiences, listening to myself be wiser and better than I actually am. Praise God for such unexpected perspective.
- When the week ends and there is nothing left in my reserves, I hope…and I believe…that somewhere in the chaos, I did some good for someone.
Kathy Nimmer is the 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year. She teaches writing at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, mentors new teachers throughout her district, and is a frequent motivational speaker. Kathy is blind from a rare degenerative retinal disease. Faith in God has been her light in the darkness. You can follow her at: twitter.com/Kathy_nimmer.
And, I (Abigail) will add, Kathy is my friend 🙂