Providing Inspiration Through Humor, Humility and Writing
Friendly Wheels, Issue 120 – May 2018
Last summer Sister Karen Zielinski came to visit us at our headquarters in Bridgeport, Michigan. Sister Karen is a Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. Be sure to check out the Sisters’ online store and learn more about Sister Karen.
Sister Karen Zielinski has dedicated her life to helping others while providing guidance and inspiration. As a Sister of St. Francis in Sylvania, Ohio, Sister Karen is committed to works that embrace human dignity. She is also the director of Canticle Studio, which creates products focusing on spirituality and health.
Sister Karen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975, and she has been active in the MS Society for more than 20 years. She has written for the society and participated in many of the organization’s events, and even created a team for the Toledo MS Walk called “Sister Act.”
Years after her diagnosis, Sister Karen began to struggle with mobility. She received her first Amigo from a friend, and instantly fell in love. In 2014, Sister Karen got her latest Amigo, a blue RD.
“Having an Amigo lessened my anxiety. I could go to a movie or come home for lunch on my own. It helped me feel secure, peaceful and confident,” Sister Karen says.
One time, before she began using an Amigo, a stranger scolded her for using a handicap accessible parking space because the person could not see her disability. After Sister Karen spoke with the person and explained the situation, he apologized for jumping to conclusions.
Karen realized these judgments must happen all the time and submitted a letter about the incident to Real Living with MS magazine.
“I thought I was the only one, but found I was not alone after all the support I received,” Sister Karen states.
That letter ignited her writing career. Sister Karen began writing a monthly column for the magazine and continued writing it for the next 14 years.
“There are enough resources out there medically to take care of health problems and challenges,” Sister Karen said. “What people need is a hand or somebody to say, ‘I’ve been there, this is what I did and you can get through it.'”
Sister Karen’s book, “Hope and Help for Living with Illness,” focuses on 12 topics to help people living with chronic illness. Each chapter is intended to weave spirituality into health challenges through scripture, real life experiences, reflection questions and inspirational quotes.
As she writes in the book, “We need to remember that the person matters first, not the disease. It is important to remember that we are God’s creatures, and although not perfect human beings, we are wonderful, yet imperfect creatures.”
Click the photo below to watch a short video with Sister Karen discussing her book, her outlook on disease and a few notes upon which to reflect: “I am more than my disease. [And, that] humor is a blessed thing … it makes us humble.”
“Hope and Help for Living with Illness” is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Click here to order your copy.