A Wildflower in the Wheelderness - a Column by Katie Napiwocki

resilience, childhood art

Katie is a Wisconsin girl at heart who strives to paint with her words, illustrating a soulful connection with nature and inclusive outdoor adventure. She was diagnosed with SMA Type II during toddlerhood. With a background in human development and family studies, she finds fulfillment in encouraging others to embrace their distinctive beauty. When she’s not engaging in advocacy or writing, you’ll likely find her hiking an accessible trail, adoring a sunset, or eating a s’more somewhere. She has three companions who hold her heart — two of which travel by paws (the other has human feet). Follow her story on Instagram @wheelprintsalongthewildflowers.

Spinning Webs of Resilience

I’ve been grieving this month. On some days, the weather was impeccable. Morning dew twinkled on silk linens of freshly spun spiderwebs. The air smelled of sun-crisped leaves dipped in salted caramel. Other days were filmed in grayscale. Winds howled through my window frames. Ragged clouds hung in the sky,…

The Crackling Intimacy of an Autumn Campfire

Come, sit beside me at my campfire.  How about some apple cider or hot cocoa on this crisp autumn night? It’ll warm your bones. Help yourself to a s’more. I haven’t yet figured out a pumpkin spice recipe, but my maple version is some kind of dynamite. Would you…

A Narwhal Pierces Through Azure Ceilings

On my writing desk sits a narwhal.  Not an actual narwhal from arctic waters. That would be absurd.  It’s a stout piece of pottery I painted alongside my niece last winter. We sat together at a creative clay studio, sharing paintbrush swirls and rainbow palettes and giggles.

A Season for Bumblebees and a Time for Warriors

It’s late August.  The songs written by crickets in May have been arranged into full summer soundtracks, playing on loops of background music from dawn to dusk and moonrise to moonset. The aroma of sun-baked leaves swirls about golden afternoons.  By now, that usually means my outdoor patio…

A Damselfly Dances in the Face of Ableism

As we drove into the parking lot adjacent to a tried and true trailhead, the hollow moon had climbed into the bluest corner of the sky. Drifting thunderheads were perched atop the distant tree line like pensive giants.  “Beautiful day for a hike,” I said to my companion,…

14 Trips Around the Sun

Have I ever told you that my significant other, Andy, has Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)? Or that we met as kids at MDA Summer Camp? We did, indeed. Our hometowns sat about a two-hour drive apart. We stayed connected and remained friends throughout our teenage years but never…

Waiting for Fireflies

Dusk was settling in. The sun had clocked out for the day, and as it traveled farther and farther away toward its sleeping quarters, the moonlight grew radiant in the stillness of the evening.  I stared intently at the tall grass of the tree line. I waited patiently for…

The Blue Typhoon

Here in the Midwest, “going for a drive” is an authentic thing. When the tall grass gleams in the golden hour of a lazy Sunday afternoon, countryside rustic roads beckon people to roll their windows down, ignite the engine, and explore. In our current times, the splendor of this activity…

The Sunflower and the Hummingbird

I’ve noticed a trend in social media posts lately: Many of us are missing out on highly anticipated plans. Glorious vacation itineraries have been crumpled. Getaway maps have been folded up and tucked into glove compartments. Retreats sit silent without human reflection. We are all supposed to be somewhere we’re…