Another year has arrived. 2021 is finally here and 2020 truly is hindsight, but alas the turmoil and troubles of 2020 haven't magically disappeared with the dawning of 2021. With that said, I still feel a renewed sense of hope and anticipation with each New Year, January 1, 2021 is no exception. While last year seemed to be historically bad, bringing a pandemic, civil unrest, and a world that seemed in even more turmoil than usual, for me personally, while it wasn't my best year, 2020 wasn't my worst year either, but rather a fittingly dour end to a rough decade of my life. My greatest hope for 2021 is that it will be the start of a new decade, a new chapter if you will, of my life, one that will bring at least a little peace and balance to the world, and to my own life.
For anyone who may follow this blog or me on my socials, you may have noticed that for the last couple of years, I've been quieter and a bit more scattered in my "public" presence and communication. I haven't posted near as much on this blog or updated the site in general starting in 2019 and even less in 2020. I've struggled the last two or three years with my "presence" on here and keeping the blog's "content" up while struggling with a chronic illness. I am hoping to change that this year. I've learned quite a bit about myself, my capabilities, and what I want out of this blog, and I hope that I can now move forward with this endeavor with new energy and with a better strategy that will allow me to keep this blog updated regularly while also continuing to work on my writing projects, as well as pursuing other interests, all the while maintaining my health and avoiding burnout.
Over the course of the last three years, I've tried different things with this site. I started out maintaining two blogs, a book blog called Modern Jo March and this one (Writing Just In Case), which is my personal blog. This worked for a time, and I truly enjoyed both blogs, especially getting to cover books and interview authors for Modern Jo March. I learned a great deal from that experience, but ultimately found that I just didn't have the time nor the energy to keep up with both. I found myself burned out by 2019, but still struggled along for a bit, posting here and there on Modern Jo March. After a long step back and some reflection on what I truly want out of this website and my "professional" life, I decided that while I did enjoy my work on Modern Jo March, ultimately it wasn't what I wanted to do professionally nor was it serving me enough creatively to warrant the energy that went into it. In January 2020, I finally decided to retire Modern Jo March and place my focus on Writing Just In Case and my other writing projects (to read more about what led me to this decision, click here).
Little did I know that retiring my book blog in January 2020 in order to narrow down the items on my plate and take a breather while I figured out my next step in life would end up being a year long hiatus, with the exception of a few posts. With the pandemic hitting in March of 2020 and the state (and country) going into quarantine lockdown for months, I had the perfect excuse to lay low and go silent, but the truth of the matter is that I just couldn't get my brain to function enough to write or really do anything but the basics of life. I touched on my struggles with Hypersensitivity & Sensory Overload in an early blog post in 2020 ending the post with a rather dreary outlook, totally unsure if I'd ever be able to function normally, let alone write again.
Fast-forward to a year later, and here I am writing again, for better or for worse. When I wrote the post a year ago, I truly couldn't see past the struggles I was dealing with and couldn't see a way that I could make all of this work with my brain being in the state it was in. I could not see a light at the end of a very dark, painful, sometimes numb and fuzzy tunnel. There were long periods of time when my brain felt like it was maxing out just trying to get through the basics of daily life, and honestly, it had me freaked out, so much so that I started exploring other professional avenues. I truly thought that any hope of continuing with my writing was lost. At times I had trouble putting enough words together to make a sentence, let alone write a full piece and have it sound intelligible.
While it may sound dramatic, I felt like my brain was revolting against me and that my world was crumbling around me. Ultimately, it felt like the straw that would break the camel's back. I'd dealt with chronic illness for eight years, all the ups and downs and the unknowns, and through it all I always told myself, "I can deal with whatever this illness throws at me, all the pain and sickness, as long as I still have my mind and creativity." Then the hypersensitivity/sensory overload started and my last stronghold was broken. My brain just couldn't seem to cope anymore. Suddenly, every day little things that I've never noticed became a problem, from lights being too bright to sounds being far too loud. Whole rooms of my house became far too bright to stay in for any length of time, the kitchen with all of its clanking and scraping was a nightmare, people's voices became too intrusive, and the normal day to day "busyness" of a household became too much to bear. More and more I found myself retreating...
Fast-forward to a little over a year after the symptoms first started and here I am, slowly learning to function in a new way. I still struggle, I still overload at times, but I'm getting better at finding my limits and triggers, and not overtaxing myself. More importantly, I'm writing again, probably not as well as I once did, but I'm doing it and enjoying it. That's what truly counts, right? Every time I think I'm through with writing, that I have to give it up, I always end up going back to it. So here I am, moving forward, with a few promising prospects on the horizon and another fresh start. Here's to a new year and a new chapter, may it be more fruitful than the last!
2020. A New Year and a new decade. I admit, I have high hopes for this new chapter of life. Hopes for health, growth, and forward movement. I don't usually put much stock in "New Years" and all the fuss that surrounds it, but 2020 feels different. It feels as though God has placed a renewed hope on my heart..... I pray I'm not wrong.
Leading up to 2018, I started a new "tradition" for New Years. Instead of making impossible resolutions, I decided to pick a word and try to live that word for the year. In the few months leading up to January of each year, I would pray and try to be more mindful about what words seemed to stick out to me and placed on my heart. For 2018, it was "Brave". That word ended up carrying through to 2019.
This year, as I started to really look and pray for a new word, "persevere" popped into my heart. I felt it deep down in my soul, but I still wasn't totally sure. So I asked God to help me be sure. Soon, "persevere" kept popping up everywhere, in books I was reading, in sermons I was listening to... and I knew it was right.
2019 was an incredibly hard year, so the word "persevere" was both fitting and hard to swallow. 2019 took a lot of persevering to get through, and by the end, I wasn't sure I had any left.... but alas, here I am with "persevere" as my word for 2020. At first, I worried that I didn't have it in me. I was worried for what 2020 has in store. Is there something coming this year that I'll have to persevere through? Then, I reminded myself that God is always with us. If he placed this word on my heart, then there's a reason and there's also a lesson.
So 2020, here we are. I'll do my best to grow, to learn to persevere well, and to lean into the hard or uncertain times of life. Here's to a fresh year and a new decade, may it be a blessed one.
To say that 2019 was a really hard year would be putting it mildly. There were periods during the year when I honestly didn't know how I was going to get through it. 2019 was a year of illness, pain, letdowns, and change.
The year started out hard, as I found myself dealing with gallbladder issues and constant pain. I spent February looking into alternative treatments for my chronic illness, which I learned this year is Fibromyalgia. I first went to a neurologist, who suggestion injecting nerve blockers into my neck to get rid of the pain. Needless to say, I wasn't super keen on that idea and decided to explore other options. I soon found myself in a chiropractor's office...... It was there that I finally found some relieve and a few answers, for which I'm very thankful. That was a blessing in this hard year.
I started feeling a bit better and wanted to get back on track with my health and fitness. I'd been wanting to start hiking again, so in early March, I started easing myself back into that. I picked a fairly even grade up back of my house (which is all woods and mountain) and worked from there. I felt pretty good for most of March, like I was finally getting back to my normal self. Then April came.
By the time April came around, I started to feel very lousy pretty quickly. At first, I just attributed it to a flare up of the chronic illness, but then things got worse and I felt that this time was different, that there was something more behind it. By the time May rolled around, I could barely walk, was super ill, and was having passing out spells. I felt as though my heart couldn't keep up with the rest of me. On top of that, my migraines, of which I've suffered from for years, got worse. I finally broke down and got checked out, knowing that this was definitely NOT a flare up.
In May, I went to the Urgent Care Center. After explaining my symptoms to both the nurse and the doctor, the doctor literally looked me up and down, and said, "Well, I don't know what to tell you, you look fine." It was only at my very stern insistence that he, begrudgingly, ordered an EKG. The EKG came back with abnormalities. Evidently, my heart was indeed running slower than it should. The doctor then ordered blood tests to see what was going on. The diagnosis soon followed: It was Lyme's Disease. I was put on a round of antibiotics........ and then three more.
May through September, I battled Lyme's disease, the effects of the disease (and the antibiotics), and the damages it did. The whole summer is just one awful blur to me. Nothing really sticks out. I spent a lot of time in bed or in the ER, nothing else was done or accomplished. Since then, I've been trying to get back on my feet, which took longer than I was expecting. You see, the Lyme did some damage that's irreversible. It also brought on three of the worst Fibro flareups that I've had in years. My Autumn was spent mending and again, in bed.
While this month (December) seems to have brought improvement in my health (I finally feel like I'm getting back on my feet), it has also been spent learning to function again and more importantly, how to live and work around the issues caused by both the Lyme and Fibro flareups. I know this will take time, and though it's frustrating to me, I know there's no other way. I feel as though this year was a big waste. I accomplished nothing. I spent most of this year just surviving. But I guess that's the key: I did survive.. and maybe I'm stronger for it (though I don't feel like I am currently).
Though this year was one of the hardest I've had so far, I'd also like to acknowledge a few good and fun things that happened. For starters, I had made the decision to try to broaden my horizon color scheme wise. As an Enneagram 5, I'm known to stick to basic colors in my wardrobe... mainly black, with a little pink mixed in. They've always been my two main colors. This year I made myself step out of my comfort zone and try some new colors and patterns, and I'm quite happy with the outcome. I also cut way back on my use of makeup this year, which I felt was a needed change. I wanted to be more authentic and didn't want to feel like I "needed" to wear it. I've learned to feel a little more confident in my own skin this year.
While I did spend the majority of this year sick and in bed, I did have some good, quiet times with my faithful furry companion, my little shepherd Beau. I also managed to get out and do a few fun things like: going fishing (only once this year, sadly); going to the county fair with my kid sister, where she won me a stuffed llama; and going to the Wool & Arts festival this September. These activities may not sound like much, but to me they were sweet blessings.
So while I'm definitely ready to see the back of 2019 and look towards the hope of 2020, I would like to thank God for another year (hard as it was) on this earth, for good friends and family who've been supportive this whole year, my faithful little companion Beau, and Hope. Hope for health, hope for growth and forward movement in the year to come, hope for opportunities..... and Hope in God. That He is who He says He is, and always will be.
Here's to a New Year full of new hopes and new mercies!
The 2018 New Year is upon us and I’m actually looking forward to it. 2017 was fairly uneventful in the grand scheme of things, but it was a good one and I’ve learned a few more lessons and gained a few more insights along the way. That’s all I really ask of a year these days and I leave the rest up to God. Last year was the first year I noticed the trend of picking a word for the New Year rather than making resolutions. The idea is to pick a word that’s on your heart, and then try to live it to the best of your ability through the coming year. Though I have made a few resolutions, I’ve also picked a word for 2018.
I have been carrying around the word “Brave” the last few months of 2017, so I’ve decided that it will be my word for 2018. I’ve been working through a new devotional the last 60 days or so. “100 Days to Brave” was released this past October and it was written by the wonderful Christian author/speaker Annie F. Downs. I’m a fan of Annie’s and was so excited to get my hands on this devotional. I’ll be finishing the book sometime in early February, therefore it will be carrying me into the New Year. I also received a Giving Key bracelet with the word “Brave” on it for Christmas, further cementing the word in my heart. So this year, I will be brave, I will do things that I’ve always been scared to do, and I will take more risks, chances, and opportunities.
I pray that 2018 brings peace and calm, or at the very least a little bit of it, to the world. I pray that I myself have a more successful year, maybe make a few goals happen, and dreams come true, but ultimately, my goal for every year is to just keep plugging away at life and never give up, one of these days things will work out. Right? ;) I pray that all of you have a happy, successful, and healthful year as well. God Bless.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She also acts as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.