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How a Seed was Planted

My Grandmother, Mary Don Sutley

My Grandmother, Mary Don Sutley, lived most her life succumbing to the pull of Multiple Sclerosis.  Grandmother Mary often said, “My mind says go, but my body says no.”

This is how I feel. My MS is pulling me deep with muscle heaviness and cognitive slowness.  Here I am now, understanding with deep empathy what my Grandmother Mary lived through.  I am being reminded that resting and healing is just as important as working hard.

It was a gift to live with my Grandmother and see the grace she exemplified during good days and bad days. Her words resonate, especially when I am weighted down or scared: “You have to believe and use the gifts God gave you.”

During the winter I would feed and watch songbirds with my father, Stephen H. Sutley, and my Grandmother Mary.  The seed we put out also planted a seed in me.  Perhaps they had no idea the lessons and inspiration they were providing. Not only did I learn about birds, but I observed the healing and magic in my Grandmother as she sat immobilized in her wheelchair watching the wintering birds.

My idea of magic goes back to her. Paralyzed for years, holding strong to her faith, all while teaching me she needed to use the gifts God had given her.  No matter what!

Grandmother Mary (front) with Dr. Stephen H. Sutley, Maree Barney Sutley, and Dr. Carmen Hall Sutley

Now as we move to winter bird feeding here in Wisconsin, the bird observatory at The Priory will help my knee recover from surgery and allow me to observe the habitat the children and I prepared this fall.  The energy I experienced during the migration season compared to the lack energy I have now is drastic.  It seems as if nature will once again help in my healing process.

Mother Nature is amazing.  With the winter season approaching, it will be very rewarding to teach, observe and participate in Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch with the staff and students at the UW-Eau Claire Children’s Nature Academy.  By providing food and water with the children, we are creating measurable magic.  We are collaborating together and seeing the spark in a child’s eye, all while using technology to support scientists and the health of our community.

Sharing the magic of nature heals my body and mind.  If these little songbirds can survive winter, so can I.

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