chronic illness, MS

Crafts and chronic illness

I recently had some surprising reactions to the fact that I’ve been playing around with watercolours and calligraphy. Surprising, as in not terribly positive or supportive.

So, partly to get it out of my head but more importantly to share the BEST little craft for us spoonies, I decided to pass on another discovery.

First of all, as to the why am I doing ‘weird’ things like watercolour and calligraphy? Ummm…have you met me? Well, most of you haven’t, but whatever. Besides being Handy Mandy, I’ve always been crafty like that.

Handmade candles for 250 at our wedding, many Halloween costumes, school costumes for my students’ annual plays. Oh, and my extended family has always loved getting handmade gifts for Christmas. BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Too bad, it amuses me. 🤓

My happy place

Anyway, the crafties have returned because the writing muses have gone on strike, or fled to a tiny house in Timbuktu. Also, I like learning new things so the rest of my brain doesn’t join them.

And the truth is, I spend a lot of time resting, not by choice. Sitting on my butt reading, watching tennis or skating, because that’s all my body will tolerate.

Fatigue is a son of a bitch. Worse for me in the winter. But even though my body is pretty much permanently conked out so it’s like moving through setting concrete, my mind wants to be doing something productive.

So at the moment, I am queen of the simple crafts. I’m so excited to decorate for our handmade Christmas, but that’s another post. And not handmade gifts, as our children feared when I mentioned it last night. Just decorations people, you can all relax. 😂

Right now, I have to share the best craft I’ve found that I can do with little effort and not even looking – finger knitting! So simple and forgiving but the possibilities are endless.

I had a 6 year old try to teach me in my last year teaching but I was already struggling so focusing on the instructions while multitasking in a busy classroom was beyond me. Boy she was patient as she tried to teach me with so many interruptions and my clumsy brain and fingers tangling everything up. Sweet kid.

Anyway, in the quiet of my bedroom I’ve figured it out and it’s perfect. Here’s the link I used to learn:

If I ever knit anything beyond a long string, I’ll post it here. 😏 Planning to try for a scarf. People make all sorts of cool things with it though.

❤️ Amanda

Now I found out you can finger crochet too – look out!!

life, writing

A new career – finally believing

The questions never stop

Can I teach again?

Should I try it?

Am I just giving up?

The best days are the worst

The doubts eat me alive

Two years I’ve pretended

Waiting to get busted

Who gets to call themselves a writer?

Not me.

And yet, the shift has happened

The genes have shifted

What once needed to teach

Is striving to teach through words


I believe

I have a story to tell

Worth telling


life, Poetry

The End – 20 years before retirement

On June 28, 2018, I walked out of ‘my’ classroom for the last time. I haven’t been teaching for the last three years thanks to the monster, but it was still my position and my room to come back to, if I was able. No more.

I went back to pick up this clown (I know, weird.) that I used to have in my childhood bedroom. I used him to teach about perseverance and hanging on when things get difficult so it seemed appropriate to bring him home and hang him in the garden. I had forgotten that I had about ten other boxes of teaching resources that I had created and stored away, as well as various toys and games.

Besides retrieving some stationary supplies and containers that I had bought myself, I also came across a file of photos and special thank you cards I had received over the years. Before I thought to have a look at them and focus on the good, I had to let myself wallow in the sadness for awhile. I tried distracting myself with feel-good videos on Facebook, but the words and emotions had to come out.

The End

The words won’t come

It hurts too much



This time the pain’s not physical.

The road stretches in front

Up hills and


But you’re never prepared

For the S curve.


Life changes direction



This pain is not physical.

What if?

How come?

Did I?

And the ever popular

Why me?

A career takes a long time to build

So many layers of learning

Acquired only through years of experience



But always growth.


The end

No fanfare

No goodbye

Sorting through once important things

Leaving it all behind for others

Hopefully not for the garbage

This pain is not physical.

This pain is suffocating.

Heavy. As I’ve gotten older, my eyes have started doing this terrible swelling thing whenever I cry. I look like the poor kid from ‘Mask’ today. But, perspective has returned.

I can’t change the direction my life has taken, all I can do is make the most of where I’m going. I may not have had as many years as I would have liked to become the teacher I wanted to be, but I have so many wonderful memories. The feeling of knowing that you have touched young lives and started off their educational journey on a positive note, is priceless.

Eager students, brilliant colleagues, appreciative parents and the wonder and simplicity of kid art. These are the things I choose to focus on, instead of what might have been. Life only goes in one direction. I’m on a new path and I’m going to continue striving to do the best I can and be the best person I can be. In that way, nothing has changed.

Cherubic faces and cherished colleagues
Parents taking the time to acknowledge means so much
And even more from the kids! Love their phonetic spelling. 🙂

Toot toot! Such a thoughtful gift from a parent.

The list above was part of a time capsule project in celebration of the centennial of our school. I love how many of them spoke about extra play time after recess. Kids learn through play, and they know it.

I want to end this post on a lighter note with some of the cute and often mind-blowingly wise answers they gave to the question:

What advice would you give to future generations?”

– Follow what the teacher tells you to do. Have a really good life, be smart, grow up to be really proud about yourself.

– Don’t worry.

– I would give homeless people a home, I would make everything in the world free, I would make as much water as there could be, and I would make sure the world never ends.

– If somebody didn’t know they were being a little mean, I would like to tell them not to be mean.

– Take care of yourself.

– To be a good learner.

– That recess is an hour long and the time to eat their lunch is longer so they don’t have to rush, and that they get lots of playtime. Pets in the school, a bunch of flowers for the field and lollipops for life.

– Keep safe. Grow more trees.

– If they didn’t know how to fly a kite I would teach them.

– Don’t play with matches.

– Go west, that’s the best way to go. (🤣 Boy, I loved that kid! You can just imagine…)

– Know how to play video games.

– Give them advice on how to be a good spy.

– Listen to their teacher and love their family.

– Have fun and learn lots.

– Work hard.

– Love is the most important thing.

I’d say they pretty much have it covered. 😊

On a final note, I am so grateful for the support I have received from people in my personal life as well as many unmet fellow Spoonies in this new chapter. There is an awful lot of ugliness in the world and unfortunately that is often the focus in the news. There is also a lot of love, empathy and compassion flowing quietly underneath. Thank you so much to the kind souls who have reached out in support and understanding, it helps so much. Love is, truly, the most important thing.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a wonderful week!

❤️ Amanda

When the going gets tough, hang on tight. Try again tomorrow. 💕