Jenny Knipfer–Author

Historical fiction author, Jenny Knipfer, shares her books, inspiration, and thoughts on life and writing. Purchase books, read Jenny's blog, or listen to encouraging podcasts highlighting the life of a writer.

I set out to write my thoughts down this morning, because my circumstances are getting the better of me again. I didn’t intend to craft this into a post, but that’s what happened. My words are honest. Maybe my honesty can help you deal with whatever difficult circumstances you might be facing. We all long for peace in the midst of life’s storms. I feel like I am trapped in a continual squall. Read on to hear how I cope.

My Circumstances:

I fell down again, carrying dishes from the dining table to the kitchen. Thankfully, I slid along the counter first before I twisted and fell, so it wasn’t an all out “Timber!” Every day I teeter from object to object in my home. I feel more stable if I hold on to something before I move. Counter to buffet—to metal plant stand—to dining chair—to bookshelf—to sliding door—to my chair. That’s the pattern I follow from the kitchen to the living room. The doctor calls this cruising, which sounds like more fun than it actually is. 

As I write this, my head ticks on my left side like I’m being mildly shocked with electric current. I hate this sensation because it has always preceded something worse. What’s around the corner with my disease? I don’t exactly know, but I do know my MS has progressed. My doctor says that I am in the second phase, which I picture is like a sled ride down a gradual slope with a crash landing at the end. 

I can still manage my personal care but just. After I shower, dress, and get ready for the day, I’m ready to rest in my chair for a good hour before I can do anythings else. Tasks takes twice as long, and I exude twice the effort to complete them. I’m tired all the time. My energy comes in small spurts like the rev of an engine. I feel like I’m in my late eighties instead of forties.

The function of my limbs is unpredictable and often painful, accompanied by strange sensations. I move as if I am the tin man from The Wizard of Oz: clumsy, slow, and creaky. I fill my days with frequent stretching and various therapies—medicinal, natural, and stimulating devices—to try to relax my muscles. Still I wonder how far away I am from being in a wheelchair or bed 24/7. Probably not far. The thought depresses me. 

My Coping Methods:

Limited Focus: I pare back my imagination and focus on the now and what I need to do next. Sometimes that’s just breathing, bringing myself back to a simple necessity of life, filling my lungs with conscious action. I set down the binoculars of far-off vision and keep my sight in the present. It’s really all that I have.

Finding Joy: I often search too hard for this state of being. It’s usually found in the simple things of life: spending time with loved ones or doing a hobby. At times, visuals like sunsets, sunrises, or the way the leaves dance atop the water in the wind at my favorite fishing hole speaks joy to my heart. The smile of my grandson brings particular joy to my heart.

I find myself smiling and losing myself in the moment when I: write, spend time with family, read, quilt, tend my potted plants and gaze at my orchid blooms. The company of my little dog, Ruby, comforts me as well. Peace settles on me when I pet her silky hair. I smile when she tilts her petite head back and looks at me with her big brown eyes, boarded at the corners with a fringe of curled lashes. Sitting in the sunshine near my bay window, which is filled with plants, brings me peace and joy. Life stills in this location, and I can simply be. I think this is when I have the most joy—when I pin myself to a moment and I am. I exist. I live. 

Prayer and Meditations: Lately, I’ve gotten out of the practice of reserving a daily time for this, and I can feel it. I feel less settled. Grounded. I used to pray while I walked, but I can no longer go for a walk. The activity of moving helped me stay focused, and I miss it. Using prayer beads helps me keep my thoughts on track. I created a system of my own and made several sets, which I have conveniently located by my chairs. 

Also, I used to keep a prayer journey, which I wrote in frequently. It helped me feel more connected to God and assisted me in emptying myself of the things which weighed me down. I want to start that again, although it will have to be a digital journal this time. 

Every once in a while I try to do a focused muscle relaxing and meditative process. This helps me feel more calm and at peace, but again this has fallen by the wayside. I want to change that and make it a daily event once more.

Remember What it’s All About: I must remember that my life it’s so much about what I can or cannot do or produce, but about how well I love and connect with people. My physical social circle is small; I don’t go out much. Online social activities have filled a void for me. I gain encouragement from interacting online with people from around the world, and It’s also a way for me to encourage others. It brings some purpose to my life. However, I know that no matter how much I scroll through and comment on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that I still need those core contacts, whom I know will assist me and be there when life gets more difficult than usual and vice versa. 

My recommendation for when you feel overwhelmed:

  • Limit your focus. Focus on the now and don’t try to see too far down the road. We weren’t meant to see miles clearly. What we see clearly and can enjoy is around us. Live in that space.
  • Find what brings you joy. Find the peaceful places which bring you back to simply being. Spending time in those locations, figuratively or literally, will help you keep going on whatever path your feet are on. 
  • Spend time in prayer or focused relaxation. Your spirit and body with thank you for doing so.
  • Remember what it’s all about—relationships. People. This may be easier or more difficult for you depending on your personality. But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you still need people in your life, and they need you. Take the time to cherish the relationships you have and work on making some new ones. Like much of life, it’s more about quality than quantity. 

Blessings to you, my friends,

J

6 thoughts on “Circumstances and Coping

  1. Linda McCutcheon says:

    First, bless you! There is so much I related to in this post. Having Crohns Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis and a hip replacement I too navigate the house by “cruising” along the counters and furniture. When I am out I use a walker. My daughter in law and I visited my 80 year old old mom, who is in the final stages of emphysema, at her nursing home yestetday. We then went out to dinner. My daughter in law was treating me for my birthday (I can’t believe I am 60!). When we got home I felt like I had gone hiking all day and just needed to lay down. I was asleep by 9pm.

    I too go through bouts of depression. I too have the best dog, 15 year old Lilith, who looks at me with pure love and joy so I know it’s not all awful. I too get frustrated and scared about my life and the future.

    What helps me are all the coping mechanisms you wrote about in this post. What also helps are the books that writers like yourself create to give me another world to enter so I can escape my world when I am overwhelmed by life.

    I just wanted to let you know, especially on the rough days, that you are not alone. Though we only know each other through social media I think of you quite often. I have your books on my nightstand and some days I talk out loud and say, “Hope you are having a good day Jenny” or ” Hope your day is going better than mine lol”!I

    So thank you for the escapism and the joy your writing brings to me and to so many others every day. Bless you for your strength,tenacity, and kindness. I hope and pray that today and most days you are having a “good” day!

    1. Oh, Linda. You brought tears to my eyes again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and kind words. It makes the hard times worth it when we can encourage each other. I consider you a dear friend, even though we have never met personally. I’m glad God connected our paths.

      I’m sorry you struggle with health issues too. It’s such a difficult path to tread. I think back to my younger days when I was in good health. I didn’t know at the time what a gift that was. But gifts come wrapped in strange packages sometimes, and I can honestly say my struggles have made me a better person and given me a deeper faith. Thank the Lord that He can use every thing we surrender to Him for our betterment and for His Glory.

      How blessed we are to have such loving pets. 🐶 I love the name Lilith. That’s the title of my favorite fantasy/fairy tale by George MacDonald.

      I’m thankful for books and movies. They help me escape when I need it as well!

      Sending you a hug! ❤️

  2. Judy Abel says:

    Thank you, Jenny, and to your friend Linda who responded. You both have been an encouragement to me today. I am a caregiver, as you know Jenny, to two in my home, but also have health issues I struggle with from time to time. Winter is especially hard and I can get to feeling down. Lately I have been processing in my mind the possibility of getting assistance when I need it from outside sources. Two that I am considering are: Visiting Angels (Christian based) and possibly Mayo Health System to have assessments done so that when I do need help that will already have been done. It is amazing to me how God orchestrates things in His time and His timing is always perfect! I know that as we keep on trusting in Him and release our cares to Him that He will reveal Himself and His truths in our hearts! Praise Him for His faithfulness!! Love and continued prayers for you!!

    1. Hi Judy,
      I am glad my words and Linda’s were an encouragement to you. It’s a humbling decision to make the choice to reach out for assistance. Those organizations sound wise. I will be praying you receive the help you and your family need. I’m convinced that life is really about learning to let go and trust.
      That’s been my biggest challenge and one I probably won’t conquer until I see Him face to face. In the meantime, as your are, I am grateful for His faithfulness and patience. Hugs.

  3. Joyce Woodkey says:

    First of all, I need to introduce myself, as we have a connection through your nephew, Phil, who married my granddaughter McKenzie. She was the one who introduced me to your books, which I absolutely loved! I can’t wait to read the third one coming soon! We also have them listed as our Book Club reads, where I belong to, at our church here in Minocqua! People I have introduced your books to so far have loved them as well! Our library up here has got them in as well!

    The main reason for my replying to your blog, is I had watched an documentary last night on Amazon Prime, called “Living Proof” by Matt Embry. Although I do not have MS, I thought it was excellent and thought of you right away. Maybe you already have seen it or possibly have checked out his website at mshope.com. He is from Calgary, Canada and offers so much on his free website on things that have helped him. If you haven’t checked it out, please do! My hope and prayers is that it will help you even more than what you are doing now, and also others as well with MS! You have a strong faith and pray that your will be blessed for many long years, even through this Corvid-19 virus and being quarantined. You have such a beautiful soul. As my daughter says, we need to “feed our faith now and not our fear!” Blessings to you always!

    1. Hi Joyce,
      I am thrilled that you’ve loved reading Ruby Moon and Blue Moon! Thank you so much for telling me. McKenzie said she had lent them to you. I’m glad to hear your book club has taken interest too, and that your library has them! Word of mouth is huge for an author. Thank you for telling others about my books.

      I have not heard of Matt. I’ll check his documentary out. I’ve tried a number of different lifestyle changes in the hopes that it will help my disease, but nothing has really helped. I’ll look into what he has to say, though. Thank you for the prayers and well-wishes. Whatever beauty I have comes from the Lord. Without Him, I am nothing.
      Blessings, J

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