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I spent the majority of my twenties trying to figure out my career path and personal life on this blog. In the beginning, it was just a place to voice my thoughts as I struggled to navigate the professional world. In the end, it became a haven–a sacred place for me to work through my personal experiences and share the emotions I always feel so deeply.

This blog changed my life. It gave me an outlet, introduced me to lifelong friends, showed me wisdom and humility, and helped me figure out where I belonged. Most importantly, it allowed me to discover who I am and become more of who I want to be.

But who I am is no longer a twenty-something.

I know. Believe me, I know.

While I’m closing this chapter here at twenty(or)something, the story’s not over.

 

susanpogorzelski

On my professional creative website, you can find my books, fiction, photography, and a continuation of this blog, including my experiences with Lyme Disease (select the green ribbon on the home page for an updated version of the Lyme Chronicles).

Brown Beagle Booksimage

On my business website, Brown Beagle Books, you can find all things related to writing and fiction, including information on my consulting, coaching, and editing services.

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On my Tumblr, I post everything from short snippets of fiction-in-progress to romantic pictures of bookstores and wanderlust travel destinations, quotes, and music.

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And then there’s Twitter. I’m always on Twitter.

This website will remain up indefinitely as an archive of my past writings and experiences. Feel free to have a look around if this is your first time here or say hi in the spaces shared above. If you’ve been here since the beginning–thank you isn’t enough.

I’m always going to be grateful for this little corner of the world–and to each of you for being a part of this journey.

lovealways

 

 

 

 

Chronicles, Life

What Makes The Lucky One

viadailytherapy

One and a half years in, and I’m at the stage of treatment Lymies like to call pulsing: off the meds for one week, then back on them for three more, repeating this for a few months until I can increase the time to two weeks off, two weeks on, and so forth until I’m medication and symptom-free for ~six months.

Then, that blessed little word full of such hope and promise:

Remission.

The happy part is that I’m 1.5 months into this healing (1 year, eight months, to be exact. Woot, woot.), I’m feeling better all the time and worlds apart from where I was in early 2012, and I continue to have the support of incredible friends and family who encourage me to keep going.

That’s the hard part about Lyme Disease –it’s the hard part about any chronic illness — the knowledge that I have to keep going, the acknowledgement that I’m not there yet.

The year before seemed like a nightmare I was leaving behind as I began to feel more alive and motivated and healthy than maybe I’ve ever been. In this euphoria, I managed to convince myself that I was better. And it was in this pretending — because I so wanted to believe it,  I so wanted to believe that I could be ‘normal’ — that I fucked up.

Taking my medicine became more like a chore than a life-saving necessity, and I shrugged it off when I forgot a dose or two or four. Or, you know, more. I was more driven than ever with the publication of my book (Ahem.) and establishing my business, and I eagerly took on extra responsibilities at my day-job. I stayed late a few days a week to complete projects, and when I woke up the next morning, I was actually excited to do it all over again. Happily, I still am.

One of the most difficult things to accept when you have Lyme Disease is how much you can lose, and I realize every single day how much I would have lost if it weren’t for the support from my bosses. I like to think that they knew who I was before I got sick, and that they believed in me enough to keep me on, even creating a more flexible role in which I could work while I was at my worst. Maybe that’s why I feel such renewed dedication, in part because I feel such gratitude towards them and in part because I want to show them — show the world — what I can really do.

And if there is one thing that surviving Lyme has taught me, it is, without conceit, that I can do anything.

There I go again, pretending that I’m all better when there’s still some battles left in this microbial war. That’s me again, rushing into the future wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to greet what it has to offer with outstretched arms and unabashed idealism. The opportunity that awaits, the beauty that surrounds, the inspiration to draw forth, and all the love to give — that’s the price of getting better; life, the best prize for winning, for surviving, for holding on.

But all of that doesn’t lie in the future. It’s here, now. I’m feeling it in each moment of every day, which is why it’s so hard to admit that I’m still in the process of getting better — because in my mind, I already am.

And days like today — when the germs believe, like I had, that they’re safe and come out of hiding, when I take my next dose and the bacteria release their toxins, when I awaken to a pain in my legs that I haven’t felt in months, when I stop ignoring the neuropathy that’s begun to migrate once again to my extremities, and when I feel the fog of fatigue weigh me down — I realize it’s still a journey. It would be a long one, I knew, but there was a small part of me that wanted to believe I’d be one of the lucky ones, that my recovery would be quick and easy.

Nothing is ever quick and easy. Nothing that’s worthwhile, anyway. Certainly not when it comes to your health and future.

I know that I’m still in the middle of it all, and though, stubborn as I am, I’m not as far along as I would like to be — working full-time, making plans without worrying I’ll have to cancel, having enough energy for a full week without spending the weekend in bed — I’m so much better than I could have imagined a year ago. I know that I have to continue to accept and be aware of my limits. I know that my first priority must be to my health. I know that I have to persist in treatment, however monotonous as it becomes.

I know that I have to keep going.

I know that I can keep going.

Maybe that makes me one of the lucky ones after all.

 

 

Administrative, Career Development, Life, Personal Development, Tootsie Rolls

When Everything Is Gold

I can’t quite believe it. Maybe I’m still in shock that all of this is actually coming true, or maybe I’m still in working-mode and the reality of it hasn’t quite hit me yet.

I wonder if it will ever stop feeling so surreal…

Yesterday was the launch party where I got to celebrate a year of hard work and overcoming with loved ones and friends at a backyard picnic in the style of 1979 . Today, my very first book has been published and listed for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords, with availability pending on other venues.

My first book. My book. My words. A story I’ve imagined, a tale that I’ve spun, a world that I’ve imagined put to paper and set to be read…It’s so crazy for me to think that for all of the books I’ve read and loved and cherished, all those authors I’ve admired and emulated, I might finally be among them.

I’m such a mixed bag of emotions right now — thrilled and excited that a dream has been realized; humbled by all of the love and support I’ve felt this past year and, especially, these last few days; anxious at the reception; and, finally, eager for what’s to come next.

Because dreams don’t end, do they?

They only seem to grow once you realize that anything is possible.

 

* * * * *

“Maybe everything is gold if you just look at it the right way…”

There’s lots of exciting happenings to go along with the book:

  • The book is now available via Amazon (print) and Smashwords (digital). Keep an eye out these next few weeks as we release the Barnes and Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and iTunes digital editions.
  • The Gold in the Days of Summer: A Novella website is (finally) up and running! I’m especially excited for this, as it’s the place for everything related to Annie and the book. Check out the blog,  read the press-release, discover cool new features surrounding the book and Annie’s world, and find Annie’s social media networks all in one place! Thanks to Andrew Brown of Design For Writers for a beautiful website and the brilliant cover that captures the very essence of Annie’s story.
  • Not only have I been hard at work getting ready to publish Gold in the Days of Summer, but I’ve been building a business alongside of it! Brown Beagle Books, my publishing company behind the book, is also home to my new writing and self-publishing development services. Stay tuned to find out more about these services and how my experiences in writing, self-publishing, campaign fundraising, and marketing can better serve your writing goals.

So what else is to come?

Believe it or not, I’m already at work on the next phase of things when it comes to the creative life.

– Along with the new business, I’ll be continuing Annie’s story throughout the fall and into the new year with a free five-chapter prequel to Gold in the Days of Summer and a Limited Edition print book that include a few extra surprises I’ve got up my sleeve.

– In the spring, I’ll be releasing a collection of essays based on this very blog, including stories belonging to work, love, memory, life, and Lyme Disease as I wind down this website. For the past five years, twenty(or)something has been my home, offering me an emotional outlet and helping me to form a community of the nicest, smartest, and most generous people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. But as of September, I’ll no longer be twenty(or)something, and it very much feels like a new stage of my life is set to begin.

This blog itself and you, as readers and friends, have taught me more about myself and life than I could ever have imagined, and I’m grateful for all of it. But don’t go just yet! There’s still a little bit of catharsis needed here, and a lot more to share.

– There’s even more to come as we look further down the road…Reach out on social media or keep in touch via one of the websites below:

Susan Pogorzelski [dot] com | Coming Soon!

Brown Beagle Books | Coming Soon!

Gold in the Days of Summer | Now Available!

See you soon!

Career Development, Life, Writerly

Gold in the Days of Summer: A Novella

Gold in the Days of Summer: A Novella is on its way!

A few weeks ago, I found a package waiting for me on the front porch when I got home from work. I could see it from my car window, standing upright against the door, and my heart beat a bit faster as I instinctively realized what it was. When I picked it up, the return label confirmed my suspicions.

Typically, I would have torn open the box right then and there, but I was strangely calm, and I knew — I just knew — that beneath there was a storm of emotions just beginning to brew. There was a dream sitting in that box, a piece of light that had gotten me through the darkest year of my life, and I wanted to savor this moment — every single piece of it — so that I could tuck it in the pockets of my memory and remember what it felt like to hold my book in my hands.

I’d grown up with books, finding friendships in the characters, refuge in the settings, and adventure in each plot, so eager to return to the school library or the bookstore to find something new that would pull me under the spell of words again. The libraries and bookstores may have housed the books themselves, but the books are what held those words that filtered out the world around you and took you everywhere and nowhere at all. Each sentence connected to the next and the next and the one after that, weaving a world through your mind that made you laugh or cry or sigh when the last word was read.

It’s easy to take books for granted. It’s easy to pick up a book and get so lost in a world that you forget that it came from a person just like you and just like me — because reading is that magical, words hold that much power. It’s for this reason that I still can’t get over the feeling of holding this book in my hands, why I can’t begin to describe the feeling of knowing that all my imaginings have come to life in this physical form.

Just like all those books I grew up with, here was my story. Here was the family that lived within my mind, whispering their thoughts and secrets and waiting for me to bring them to life. Here was the town that I had crafted and lived in for over four years — printed on the page. Here was my own childhood re-imagined, manifesting itself into a story that holds truth at the very heart of it.

My name on the spine, words I’d written filling the pages from cover to cover, a world I’ve loved and lived and imagined…This book is so much more than what it seems. This book has been a form of healing from past loss; this process has been a way of healing in the present to ensure myself a future

And — sorry for the cliche — it’s been a dream coming true.

* * * * *

Click the picture to discover more about the book
or pre-order your signed, special edition (featuring a free promotional gift) below.

 

Awareness, Life, Personal Development, Uncategorized

I Have Seen The Rain

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.

Grow on.

 

* * * * *

Okay, so now that I’ve gotten all philosophical up in here again,
here are a few updates from the last few months:

The Book

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:

 

 

 

Lyme Disease

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.