We have seen the rain, together
We have survived the pain, forever
Oh, it’s good to home again…
Pink, “I Have Seen The Rain”
I can’t believe it’s been over four months since I last posted here. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone this long without at least some kind of journaling, though I’m pretty sure the long emails, phone calls, and relentless Twitter and Facebook posts have more than made up for that.
Truth be told, I haven’t felt the desperate need for this catharsis that I once did, trying to understand myself, the world, and this life through the medium I know best — writing. And while I know there will be times when I seek this outlet again, right now, I feel completely at peace, like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do…
As if I’ve gone through exactly what I was supposed to in order to get to where I’m supposed to — here, right now, this place, this being.
Which is great for my spiritual state, but not exactly ideal for keeping up a blog, I know.
See, everything began to change for me with the start of the new year — or, at least, I had begun to change. I’d chosen to spend New Year’s Eve alone, finding myself craving the solitude, as if peace in my home was exactly what I needed to find peace in my heart. Little by little, as the evening wore on and the seconds ticked towards midnight, I could feel a subtle shift begin to take place — joy began to peek through the darkness, and soon that weight of all those months of illness and doubt began to lift. I was putting 2012 behind me in every sense, saying goodbye to the suffering and saying hello to someone I hadn’t seen in such a long time…
(Hello, Susan. It’s been a while.)
The real me. That bursting-with-passion, talking-a-mile-a-minute, thinking-positively me. Only, when I looked in that metaphorical mirror, I could tell there was something else there, too — a self-certainty, a tenacity, a strength. Experience and life lessons had changed me — not in the dramatic way that I had feared and fought so hard against, unsure of who I was to become — but building upon the very foundation of who I was to start with.
These past few months, I’ve felt lighter and stronger than maybe I’ve ever been. The old me laced with something new — an understanding of myself, a self-assuring and life-affirming spirit, a confidence and pride that I’ve grown into and accepted as something beautiful. And as much as I thought I knew about the world, I’ve learned so much more and have realized I’ve barely even scratched the surface.
Even this, at only twenty-nine years old, is just the beginning.
All these years writing on this blog, all that time searching for a way to find myself again, to lead me back to who I used to be…And now I’m here. Only, I’m not who I used to be, not at all.
I’m so much more than that now.
This illness has changed me in so many more ways than I can ever explain, and what I once feared losing — that compassion and empathy that has always been such a huge part of myself,my life — hasn’t gone anywhere. Other pieces have changed, yes — I’m more assertive, less willing to excuse ignorance and injustice, less likely to tolerate the negative…But that compassion and sensitivity has only blossomed into something more powerful, something more beautiful.
Maybe that’s what change really is. Maybe that’s what it means to grow. Maybe the core of who you are remains fixed, but it’s the spirit that grows, a soul flourishing with truth and purpose and awareness.
There are certain circumstances in life that simply force you through those changes, kicking and screaming and desperate to hold on. And only when you look back do you realize that you haven’t lost anything, you’re just a better version of who you were. And though I wish it didn’t take all of this suffering to lead me here, I’ve realized that my illness was the catalyst for this change, for these opportunities, and even for this acceptance and peace that flows through this beating heart.
You are your own foundation, with each experience becoming building blocks — not to change who you are — but reshaping you into beauty and strength, purpose and meaning.
* * * * *
Okay, so now that I’ve gotten all philosophical up in here again,
here are a few updates from the last few months:
I’m so happy to announce that the publication of Gold in the Days of Summer is moving along smoothly, with only two months left!
We’re set for an official mid-June launch, but pre-orders and gift editions will be shipped by the end of May.
Keep an eye out for the Gold in the Days of Summer website coming at the end of April, where you’ll be able to pre-order your own special edition of the book for a limited time. The special edition pre-order includes: a signed copy of the book, a personalized note, and a small promotional gift.
In the meantime, be sure to follow Annie’s story on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to see what’s happening in her world as we head into the book’s summer days.
Don’t forget! Sign up now for the Beyond The Book Newsletter, and you’ll receive exclusive content every month, including publishing news, Annie’s updates, behind-the-scenes looks at the writing and publishing process, event announcements, and more!
As an added bonus, if you sign up today, I’ll send you the first two (original) chapters of Gold in the Days of Summer! Just enter your email address below:
Next month marks a year since I was diagnosed with Late-Stage Lyme Disease, and June will mark a full year of treatment. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am to have my doctors, my family, and most importantly, my friends — old and new — who have remained beside me through the most trying period of my life. I’ve met some incredible people through mutual acquaintances and while chronicling my battle with Lyme on this website, and their own stories of courage and strength have helped to fuel my own and keep me going. We’ve realized we’re not alone in this battle, and that bond is inexplicable, their friendship immeasurable.
So, it’s almost a year, and I still can’t quite believe how much time has passed and how much things have changed. When you’re going through hell, you don’t think it will ever end, but now, when I look at where I am and where I was, I realize how beautiful time can be in its passing, in its healing. I still have a hard time realizing how bad it was, all I’ve gone through, and all I’ve since overcome. But I’m grateful.
Last spring, I could barely stand for a few minutes before passing out, my face ashen, my mind in a constant haze of incoherence and detachment; last summer, I was so fatigued and pained I couldn’t walk, could barely talk, and couldn’t even recognize one of my best friends as she stood right in front of me.
With each passing month, I seem to notice a more marked improvement, and my doctors have said I’ve rounded the corner. While there are still hard days, they’re nothing like they were 12 months ago. It’s a slow recovery and a difficult fight, but I didn’t give up. You never let me. And now, I can see the end of one journey — one filled with illness and loss and all that goes with both — and the beginning of another.
I’m working 30 hours a week now, walking Riley around the corner almost every day, handling my own errands and grocery shopping, and, best of all, realizing that there is a future for me behind this disease. The stronger I get and the more my body keeps responding, the more I’m able to step outside the doors of this house and become a part of the world again, to be living again, fully and without restraint.
Okay, maybe a little restraint. Cart before the horse and all that…
There really is a brave new world out there. A new life, it seems, waiting just out of reach, just a little bit longer, waiting for me.
And I can’t wait to embrace it.
Lyme Awareness Month
As if building a company, publishing a book, and increasing my work hours as I heal from this illness wasn’t enough, I’ve added one more project into the mix.
Nothing sparks passion quite like experience.
Through my own experiences battling Lyme Disease, and in being there for others as they fight for their lives, I’ve found my purpose. Nearly every day, I speak with someone who had been infected with Lyme before, who knows someone who had been or is suffering, or who has been newly diagnosed. I have always believed that awareness and education is what creates the ripple effect of change in this world, and awareness for Lyme Disease is no different.
Next month, a friend and I are putting together an event to help promote the education and awareness of Lyme for Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Cases of Lyme Disease within the United States are escalating, impacting almost every state in the nation; however, the understanding of what this disease entails, as well as its lack of proper diagnoses and treatment, remains woefully negligent. Deer ticks are no longer the sole threat to our health, and woods are no longer the only breeding ground. Mice also transport the ticks who carry this disease and its co-infections, and there is increasing evidence that Lyme Disease may be carried by mosquitoes and birds, making the threat of illness all the more alarming.
The time for education is now, especially as we enter into the spring and summer months, when the risk of infection are at its peak and hiking and camping season begins. Read up on how to protect yourself, learn about the life-threatening risks, and show your support for loved ones by asking questions, seeking answers, and awakening your compassion.
More details of this event will follow in a post of its own, but you can begin learning about Lyme Disease, including my own story of diagnosis and treatment, via Lyme Chronicles.
Thanks. For everything.