The Little Things

I tripped over my slippers a couple of weeks ago and injured my big toe.  I wasn’t sure if it was broken or merely sprained, but since the treatment for both is basically the same, I didn’t go to urgent care to find out.  I figured it wasn’t worth spending an hour or two in a waiting room surrounded by Covid, RSV and flu germs just to be told to stay off my foot, elevate it and apply ice.  Honestly, I didn’t think injuring a toe was a big deal.

Turns out, I was wrong. Although the swelling was minimal, I couldn’t comfortably wear most of my shoes or even my slippers.  And not being able to put weight on my big toe meant I couldn’t walk normally, which caused my back and other parts of my foot to hurt if I walked too much.  That meant I couldn’t do my regular volunteer shifts walking dogs at the local shelter, had to choose my outfits based on my limited footwear, and in general plan my life around what my injured toe did and did not allow me to do.  I felt guilty, annoyed and frustrated, not to mention embarrassed when I begged off commitments because “I tripped over my slippers and hurt my toe.”  I considered wrapping my ankle and claiming I’d sprained it rescuing a small child from a burning house, but I’m not that good of a good liar.

The good news is my toe is finally starting to heal, and I’m no longer limping very much.  I’m back at the shelter, but sticking to walking small dogs that don’t pull, and the list of shoes I can wear without pain is growing steadily.  I believe it won’t be too much longer before I can resume my normal life, and that gives me some much-needed hope.

I learned many things from the past two years, but one of the most important lessons was the importance of hope.  Dealing with hard times for the short-term is one thing, but when you don’t see any “light at the end of the tunnel,” it’s very, very hard to keep your spirits up.  Believing that things will eventually improve, one way or another, really is essential to our emotional heath.

I think about that when I sit in church, enjoying a Christmas concert, or dine with good friends in our favorite restaurant.  There was a time when such things weren’t possible, and yet I’m doing them again.  In the past year, I’ve visited friends and family I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic started.  Covid and other viruses aren’t going away, but we are learning to control them with vaccines and better knowledge about how they spread.  That’s progress, and that gives me hope.

My beloved Sanibel Island is still severely damaged by the hurricane that hit three months ago, but it’s also beginning to recover.  Some stores and restaurants have reopened, and the island will be open to the public for day visits after the first of the year.  That’s a huge step forward, and it also gives me hope.

The truth is, there are signs of hope all around us, hidden among the world’s many problems.  We just have to be willing to look for them, and to recognize them when we spot them.  It’s true that those signs of hope may be small and easy to dismiss, but trust me, the little things really do count….even something so small as a toe that is finally beginning to heal.

83 thoughts on “The Little Things

  1. Years ago I went forward and missed the 4 bottom stairs. My ankle turned black and blue and was double in size. I did nothing and when I had my next visit to my g.p., she told me that I had broken the bone and it was sticking out. To this day it still sticks out.

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    • Wow! And yes, that’s how I knew I broke my foot two years ago. I got a huge lump on it, about the size of an apricot, and the bruising was really spectacular. My friends urged me to have it x-rayed, and they were right. Luckily, my toe only had a little bit of swelling and almost no bruising. It just hurt, and some friends who were nurses told me simply to tape it to the next toe and keep off of it as much as possible, plus ice.

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    • That’s what my husband said, too! He said I have “turf toe” and I just have to let it heal. The problem is that the shelter is very crowded with dogs now and there aren’t always enough walkers, so I feel guilty about not “doing my part.”

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  2. Ann, I understand. Like you, the last two years have really “sharpened my skills” of finding hope in the small things. I’m glad your toe is getting better (I did love the story of the fire rescue 😉). My world was rocked this year. I’ve had many moments of questioning and wondering “why?”. In all the situations that have happened to me in the last 7 years it would be easy to lose hope,…become angry (and I have at times). I’m determined to rest in God’s peace, even when my body wants to fight it. I’ll unwrap the gift of his promise and hope and keep pursuing the peace that only comes from him. God bless you, Ann, for being such a light of wisdom and fun! Merry Christmas to you and yours! 💚🎄

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    • Thank you so much, Karla! Honestly, I am in awe of your ability to have hope and to simply trust in God as you move forward. Of course you question why at times and I’m sure you have your moments of doubts and anger too. It’s only natural. But you are facing the situation with courage and faith, and I hope you know how much we appreciate your blogging about it with such honesty. That’s a gift to your readers….. Merry Christmas to you too!!! And please know you remain in my prayers.

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  3. Sometimes all we have is hope. Once that is gone, life can be pretty bleak. Glad your toe is getting better Ann. We have to be careful at this point not to get injured or ill. The system is under such stress. It would be good if we could offer them a bit of hope. Stay well and stay safe. Allan

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    • Thanks, Donna! And yes, slow dancing is my style right now….which is okay, because I’m not a good dancer even when I’m not injured. I’ll pass on your comment to Finn, too, and please know it is appreciated. He takes his blogging audience very seriously and will be thrilled to be remembered by you!

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  4. I’m not quite sure what I would do if I couldn’t put my shoes on. I don’t even think the sandals I have would work with socks and it’s in the 20’s here so I suppose I would simply be stuck inside. Glad you are getting better Ann!

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    • It sounds so odd, but when only two of my shoes actually fit me without pain, it really put a crimp on my style! I’m no fashion plate, but when you can only wear white tennis shoes or one pair of black booties, it can be hard to dress appropriately for all occasions. And the worst thing was, no matter what shoes I wore, I could only keep them on for about two hours, max.

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  5. See? I told you Sanibel would start recovering sooner rather than later. And now your toe has done the same, even if the recovery isn’t quite as quick as you’d like. Still, healing makes a very nice Christmas present!

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    • You were so right! There’s still a lot of debris to be removed, and some of the buildings won’t be replaced for a few years because they are being build up high now, but the recovery has happened much quicker than anyone (except a few wise people like you) anticipated. And that is very good news indeed!!!

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  6. Ann! Stop hurting our Ann, wouldja?? And to be equally serious, hope is everything. I think of all things as being temporary, because in the final analysis, they will have been that, lol! However, I generally let that thought rush to mind over bad or negative things. It does seem that “Nothing gold can stay” as Robert Frost penned, but I don’t like to think of the good things and good times as being temporary! And yes — every time I come out with, “Well, it’s temporary” over something not stellar, some people laugh lightly here, because some things are 9 or more years into temporariness, but heck, it’s true. The sun’ll definitely come out (some) tomorrow.

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    • You’re right! Nothing lasts forever, not the good times or the bad. I remind myself of that to keep me from getting too comfortable when things are going well, or too despairing when they aren’t. It helps put things into perspective, at least for me. And yes, it’s time for me to give my klutzy tendencies a bit of a rest……

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  7. Ann, I’m real glad you’re on the mend. I did significant damage to one of my toes some years back and it took long weeks of truly painful limping and hobbling before I was back to normal. So, I really get you when you talk about all the limitations that come with such an injury. But there’s always a hidden light behind all of this as you discovered. I loved your precious message of hope, discovered only when we slow down enough to thank God from our hearts. In fact, I copied and pasted it in one of my folders. They come in handy when life gets too much and we start to believe that we can’t live unless we cram 36 hours into our daily 24. Like you, I too learned something valuable during my time of injury. I learned that I can achieve enough when I slow down. That most of the rushing about I tend to do is in fact so unnecessary and stress-inducing. It might appear that I’m getting a lot done but in reality, life is just fine or even better when it’s lived with fewer items ticked off endless lists.
    Thanks again for this beautiful post, Ann.

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    • You’re so right Caitlynne! When we are forced to slow down, usually from an illness or an injury, the first thing we discover in that it’s okay to do less, and nothing really bad comes from it. On the contrary, often we find so many gifts from doing less: we notice things we normally overlook, we relax and have time to live with our thoughts, and most of all, we begin to appreciate what we do have. My dad, who was a minister, always said that one of his favorite scriptures was “Be still and know that I am God.” I didn’t understand that when I was a kid, but now I do!

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  8. Ann I’m so glad you are nearly mended! I’ve never broken a big toe but have broken a pinkie toe which I don’t recommend! It healed but it was very sore for an extended time (fortunately in the summer so sandals were acceptable). Hope is always waiting for us to find and pick up – like a penny on the sidewalk. It is wonderful to read this when so many are in need of hope and the hope of finding hope! Merry Christmas!!

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    • Thank you!! I’ve heard that injuring any toe is painful, and takes a while to fully heal, so I’m not surprised you struggled with your pinkie toe too. I do believe it’s sprained rather than broken, because it didn’t look or feel the way my broken foot did, and it’s healing quicker. But who knows? All I really care about is that it is getting better, and that’s another thing that gives me some much needed hope! Merry Christmas to you and yours too!!!

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  9. Glad your toe’s healing Ann. It’s amazing how such a small part of us can have such a big impact! You have a wonderful, resilient attitude to life and I wish you and your loved ones happiness, good health and all the blessings of the season. Never, ever give up on hope. 🙏❤️

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  10. I would have gone with the sprained ankle story! 😇
    Hopefully, the hope of this season trickles down to everyone seeking it in those small ways. I can’t imagine (although I can) how the ones living in other parts of the World with food, water, heat, light, and crazy stuff flying overhead must feel…maybe a bit hopeless too. In view of that we all have a great deal and when you write about your adventures it makes me also have hope that things will always get better. Enjoy you holiday season.🎅

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    • I think that those who are living in a war zone or under very oppressive governments must have the hardest time staying hopeful. I hope that the support they see from others helps, but I honestly don’t know how strong I would be in their shoes. Thank you again for all you’re doing to help the people of the Ukraine. That is the best way to give them hope….
      And I hope you have a wonderful holiday season too!

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  11. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of hope, which reading your post made me realize has been pretty scarce in my life of late. Have been consciously working on getting it back and am once again starting to feel hopeful.

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    • It’s hard to feel hopeful when you’re going through tough times, Bev! And it’s okay if you don’t always manage it, either. The trick is to be open to those little signs of hope that can cheer your heart in even the darkest times. I remember once when my family was going through some very tough times, and I looked out on our deck and saw that a bird which had hung around our yard so much we’d actually named it was back. The bird had been missing for over a week, and I thought it was gone for good. It was just a wild bird, but when I saw it perched on the deck rail, I suddenly felt certain that things were going to be okay.

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  12. It is hard when these things happen at times when there is a lot to do, like just before the holidays. Being forced to slow down is not always bad! Somehow we make it through with the hope and faith that things will get back to normal. Hope and faith and love….sounds like Christmas! I hope you continue your recovery and have a Merry Christmas.

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  13. You are so right, Ann. Signs of hope are all around us. Our task is to discover them and pass them on to others. But when we feel depressed, we are blind and need help from others to see. The same is true about Nature’s beauty. It took me a long time to see and appreciate it. So it is with hope. Have a wonderful Christmas time!

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    • That’s a really good point! Those of us who aren’t depressed do need to help others see the signs of hope around them. I think that’s why helping each other is so important…we all need help to feel hopeful sometimes. I hope you and your family have a terrific Christmas too!

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  14. Having gone through a broken ankle, Ann, I don’t think people realize how painful a foot issue is. And of course, it completely interferes with the ability to move. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this.
    Your positivity is inspiring. One take-away I had from my injury was that I would be more vigilant in preventing another fall. I’ll bet you are super careful now. I am wishing you a wonderful Christmas holiday and I’m so glad you are healing!

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    • Thanks, Judy! And yes, I’ll never again leave my slippers lying in the middle of the bedroom floor. I honestly hadn’t thought about it before, but I sure do now! And yes, it is hard for others to realize how limiting a toe injury can be, but luckily, my friends and family are being very patient with me. That helps! Have a wonderful Christmas and a terrific New Year!

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  15. Ouch. I could feel your pain as you started writing. I’m so glad your toe is almost healed up now, Ann, and just in time for the festivities. I broke my big toe many years ago by walking into the corner of an open door. That was ouch, too.

    Thank you for sharing such an inspirational post about hope. As your reader, Peter Klopp (above), said, when we are depressed, we need others to help us to see it. Your post was a reminder to me that there is always hope. At the present time, as I am coming up to my very last counselling session, I’ve been finding it very difficult to hold onto hope. Your post helped to put things into perspective a bit for me. Thank you.

    I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas, Ann, and I hope the New Year brings all good things for you. X 🎄

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    • I keep hoping for a miracle with your counseling situation! But I’m glad my post gave you hope. I think that can help us hang on even through the darkest of times. Nothing, whether good or bad, lasts forever. I have to remind myself of that sometimes…. I hope you have a peaceful and meaningful Christmas, and a wonderful new year!

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  16. I am so glad that your toe is healing! It is so easy to slip and take a fall. I hope that by Christmas, your toe is altogether better. You are so right about staying positive and keeping our hopes high when the situation looks grim. If we can focus on the positive and all the good things in our lives that are going ‘right’, we can handle the not so good stuff so much easier. Merry Christmas!!!

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    • That’s what I think too, Linda! Even the little things…. For instance, today I had to go to Target for some last minute purchases. I figured it would be crazy, and just vowed to be patient and endure it. But I was actually in and out very quickly, with zero problems finding a parking spot, checking out, etc. Who knew? Then I came home and was putting things away, only to discover I left a frozen pie on top if the refrigerator yesterday when I was rearranging the freezer. It has to be thrown out, and it was a cherry one, my favorite. So: I could focus on my dumb mistake with the pie, or my good luck at Target. And I choose to focus on the Target experience. Merry Christmas to you too!

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      • You are very wise! Wishing you blessings this Christmastime. I like to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. Usually, we are not in a rush to get the tree down right away. It is supposed to be quite cold this year!!! 🙂

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  17. So sorry you injured your toe, Ann, but I’m glad you’re on the mend. Accidents like that happen so fast, don’t they? And afterward, we kick ourselves for being clumsy, or inattentive, or hasty. I think we’ve all done something similar. You’re right, though — hope is essential for our emotional health. Wishing you heaps of Hope in the coming year!

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    • Yes, I was mad at myself for a while, but then I finally realized, “these things happen!” Best to just get on with things. Luckily, my toe is definitely on the mend. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with hope!!!

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  18. I’m happy that your toe is feeling better Ann. As for seeing and enjoying the little things, I’m a huge believer in that. I was taught from a young age to look at what is around us and enjoy it. For example, a simple flowering weed. Some might not even notice it while others think of it as just a weed. I look at how interesting the plant is and how pretty the bloom on it is. Or even watching a butterfly fly by is a little but enjoyable thing. Good post Ann and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

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  19. I’m sorry to hear about your toe, Ann, but I’m glad it’s improving, and probably at this point, is much better. You’re right about being able to see a light at the end of a tunnel. It’s important to maintain hope, no matter what.

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