Confessions of an Optimist with Chronic Illness

It may sound dreamy to say that I’m literally typing this post while lying in bed, but here’s the reason: I slept very little last night and I woke up with pain all over my body.

Welcome to life with a chronic illness!

But I have one thing in my favor: God gave me a beautiful sense of optimism.

 

How Chronic Illness Works

Some days I am perfectly normal, with all the bounce and sparkle of my ENFP personality. I hike mountains, write books while chortling at my own mad genius, and try to see who I can bring a smile to.

Other days, I crawl into bed, shivering with unexplainable cold; crawling with pain; completely numb with exhaustion; sensitive to every light, smell, and sound; and overwhelmed by the idea of having to get up to go to the bathroom or get myself something to drink.

We’re still working on a full diagnosis, but right now the partial diagnosis includes babesia, a tickborne illness sometimes associated with Lyme Disease. With babesia, the nasty beasties hide out in muscles, blow up red blood cells, and wreak as much havoc as possible.

In 2012, when I first realized how sick I was, I struggled deeply with depression. Was this going to be my life? Would I ever have the energy to do things I loved? What if it interfered with my ability to have a family of my own someday?

Because of my chronic illness, I quit a job. I missed a chance to fly out for a visit with a friend. I cancelled on countless visits with friends. I lost a lot of opportunities because I knew I had no energy to commit to them.

The truth? I may never fully recover. My life is unpredictable, at the mercy of my body. My illness very well might affect my future family life.

But there’s more to the truth than just this grim reality.

 

How Optimism Works

God blessed me with a heart that sees possibility everywhere! And, though the partial truth is that chronic illness is hard, the whole truth is that it has brought me far more blessings than I could have imagined.

I’m optimistic about the future. Everybody has their own struggle. Mine happens to be chronic illness, so I’ve made it almost a game to find ways to live the most of every day God has given me.

So how does optimism bring joy to chronic illness?

  • Gratitude: Today, as I type in my bed, I am so grateful for my comfy bed. I am grateful I don’t have to work today. I’m grateful that my laptop is so conveniently portable. So many people around the world don’t have this level of comfort when they feel yucky. But I do! How’s that for cool?​
  • Focus: The things you give your energy to are the things you most care about. When you have limited energy, then you find out very quickly what those priorities are. For me, the priority is writing. Since 2012, I’ve published five science fiction and fantasy novellas and written several novels, all while riding the physical (and mental) rollercoaster. If I can do that, I can do anything!
  • Boundaries: I used to say yes to everything. Now I pick and choose my commitments. And you know what? It’s awesome. Every time I say “yes,” I can do so unreservedly and without resentment because I know I have thought through all the implications and know I can commit to it.
  • Pacing: In the proverbial tortoise and hare story, I’m naturally the hare. Zip! Zap! Then I take a break, and do it all over again. Now I am learning the benefits of being a tortoise. I used to write thousands of words a day. I don’t have the energy for that anymore, but hey! Doesn’t slow me down. I’ve actually gotten more serious writing done in the last few years because I’ve established a sustainable daily writing goal that I know I can stick to. Consistency really adds up over time! Who knew?
  • Resilience: This past summer, I had an episode in which I experienced two weeks of intense pain. My body gave me a few hours off every day to recover, and then I’d go right back to kneeling on the floor, rocking back and forth and sobbing in pain. That was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Why? Because I know just how powerful I am now (with the Lord’s help). I survived it! This gives me perspective when I experience other hard things.

I could moan about how the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but honestly, I’m too fascinated by the grass on my side of the fence. (Isn’t grass pretty? Have you ever stopped to think what the world would be without grass?) No matter what path your life takes, there are amazing things around the corner, if you keep your eyes open for them.

Yes, I’m chronically ill but so long as I stay chronically optimistic, I know I’ll be okay.

 

About the Author:

Yaasha Moriah believes that good fiction pulses with realism, honor, and invention, so that even fiction becomes true in some way to the reader. In 2015, Wings Beneath Water earned Silver Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest and is now available as a novella. Find her on Facebook and Twitter as Yaasha Moriah and visit her website at www.YaashaMoriah.com.

May 2017 Goals

I can’t believe it’s already May! The first 4 months of 2017 have flown by in such a blur, I can hardly remember anything that’s happened. Of course, a lot of that has to do with my medical issues. Ack! But enough about that.

May is a fun month for me because it’s my birthday month! I like to celebrate hobbit-style, so I have a bunch of giveaways, sales, and other fun coming up.

But first … let’s talk goals!

It’s been a few months since I had a goals post. That should tell you how disorganized I’ve felt. But, along with my health, I’m getting my life and work organized! I have a lot going on in my life between writing, editing, social media, homeschool, and regular life stuff. The more disorganized I am, the more stressed I get; the more stressed I get, the more apt to get sick I am; the more sick I am, the more disorganized I become. Vicious cycle!

I’m working with my doctor to get my health on track and working with my husband to get home life more organized. I will get on top of things!

In other news, I launched my first newsletter last Friday. My plan is to use this tool to keep everyone updated on all things fiction (mine and others) as well as adding in fun and encouragement. You know, typical Ralene. If you haven’t signed up yet, you should do so! I’ll be making an exciting announcement in the next issue!

My Goals for May:

  1. Get into a routine where I can better balance work and homeschool. I already have my schedule laid out, so it’s a matter of getting everyone on board and sticking with it!
  2. I got my first round of edits for Aletheia back, so I need to get those done before my birthday. That’s my goal. I’ll continue getting up early in the morning to edit for a couple of hours.
  3. Do a shakedown and reorganization of my work layout. I’m going to be focusing more on social media and book marketing (instead of editing). So, there’s going to be a learning curve. Plus, I’ll be changing my daily focuses to reflect this change.
  4. Get my homeschool paperwork organized!
  5. The first step to getting my health under control is to plan better meals! My husband and I are working together to plan out menus and find meals that we all enjoy.

So there are my goals for May. What about you?

 

What are your goals for May, work or personal?

 

Share your goals below so we can keep in touch. If you haven’t already, head over and like my Facebook page, which is where we’ll check in during the month.

Looking Ahead at 2017

busyThis post comes about a week late, but that’s okay. The kids and I were all sick last week and needed the time to recover. What a blessing that time was! But now we’re (mostly) recovered, and it’s time to embrace our time with renewed vigor.

Normally, in the week between Christmas and New Year, I take an evening to go off by myself and start considering my goals and such for the New Year. I take time to praise God for the stuff that happened in the previous year, and to pray about what’s to come. Then I start listing goals in different life categories:

Spiritual

Health

Relationships

Business

Education

Homeschool

Financial

(Most of these categories have sub-categories.)

I usually try to limit myself to 3 goals in each category. Then, each new month, I pick about 3 goals from different categories to work on. Even though I might have a few other goals during that particular month, those 3 are usually my focus.

 

Word of the Year

I could go through and list each goal for the year, but that would be at best cumbersome, at worst boring. I will say that most of the goals center around my word of the year.

to-michelle

Consistency has been something I’ve struggled with, especially given my health issues, for many years. I am always sick(ly), and I struggle to find the time to do everything when I’m in a perpetual state of catching up.

Inconsistency leads to more stress, more illness, more of all the bad things. In order to get myself off of this circle I seem to be riding, I have to break the cycle.

Of course, this is a big undertaking. I know that I cannot do it alone–I’ve tried time and again. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13), is definitely the Bible verse I’ll be clinging to this year (among others).

 

January Goals

So, what are my first few goals for 2017?

Health: I am focusing on menu planning and portion control as I aim to get my blood pressure under control. Each week, I’ll review my menu for the month and shop from that (cutting out most junk food). And with each meal, I’ll be sure my carb level falls within appropriate ranges.

Overall: Write out a new routine/schedule that will allow me to include all the necessary aspects of my life and business in a more orderly (less stressful) way. Be sure to include “me” to help me relax.

Business: Write 40,000+ words on Soter, the 2nd of the books contracted by Elk Lake Publishing (releasing in the fall, most likely). I will be writing 2,000 words in the evening after the kids are in bed.

I’m already plunging my way through the first 2 goals. Sadly, I haven’t even started on the 3rd goal, but I’m getting to it! I just have some catching up to do!

 

So, what are your goals for January? Do you have a word for your year?

Goals: November 2016

PIC1068506062It seems like on the first of every month, I can hardly believe that the old month is gone and the new one is here. Like I blinked and missed a whole 30 days. Yes, October flew by in a flash–but I did manage to accomplish a few things!

 

Last Month . . .

Although I didn’t  get around to doing it until about the middle of the month, I did schedule out a menu plan for the rest of the year, using gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. Now if I can just stick to it.

Bellanok did get finished, the Kindle version anyway. The paperback document just came to me a couple of days ago. I kind of gave a soft launch of the Kindle, but plan to make a big hooplah about the paperback release next week. It may be a few days later than I planned, though. Friday instead of Tuesday.

The rest of my goals didn’t really come to pass, and that’s mostly my fault, mishandling my time or too much time being sick. But never fear! A new month is here, and I can try again!

How about the rest of you who shared your goals in October?

Pam: *Finish revisions for my fantasy novel
*Write a short story for Travis Perry’s newest anthology
*Teach at a one day conference in Georgetown, DE on the 15th
*host a book event in my hometown on the 20th for Realmscapes
*plan and hold a Great Pumpkin party (it’s the 50th anniversary!)

Laura: *Host decluttering challenge & launch new product
*Finish painting baby’s room and move furniture in
*Publish one blog post per week and send weekly email newsletter

 

Tips for Goals:

Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish your goal, but do set a time. A deadline creates a sense of urgency and gives you a reason not to keep putting the task off forever.

 

November Goals:

1. Win NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those of you who are not writers, this is a competition to write 50,000 words in one month. In theory, it shouldn’t be too hard, but every time I have participated, life got in the way.

2. Finish the Realm Makers website by the end of next week.

3. Keep my husband and I on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet this month. Make use of the menu plan by looking at it every day, and even looking ahead a couple of days.

4. Have a successful book launch for Bellanok. I have some fun things planned, including a book tour, some giveaways, and more!

5. Plan for all the craziness in December. (Yeah, this is kind of an open-ended goal . . .)

 

So there you have it. My map for the month. Direction to keep me motivated.

Share your goals in the comments, and lets keep each other accountable! (I’ll be following up with you on the November goals post.)

Sign up for my newsletter so we can keep up with each other!

 

 

Goals: October 2016 (Plus Giveaway Winners!)

PIC1068506062We have now entered my favorite time of the year. Everything about October 1 thru December 31 sends delightful shivers through my body. Eee! Okay, I’ll calm down for now. As much joy as I get from these next 3 months, there’s still the matter of business and life.

Stay tuned at the end of the email for the winners of the giveaway!

September Goals

Last month, I had a wide variety of items on my goals list. Thankfully, I accomplished at least part of most of them. Did I confuse you there?

I did start getting up at 6 a.m. like I intended, but not every day like I wanted. Enough that I know that I like that routine and will continue to make it a priority.

My blood sugar is not under control yet, but it is a lot better. Taking my medicine and watching my portions has helped a lot. Now to rein the rest of it in and get those numbers to where they need to be!

I did plan a block schedule for my work. I’ve been working out the kinks and am excited to see how it works this month!

Obviously, I finished Bellanok and got it off to my editor.

The handbook from Realm Makers is done, and I got a jump start on the website, but it still needs work before we reveal it to the public. Soon, I hope.

So, I think September has been my most productive month of the year as far as goals go. I got a good jump on several projects and am excited to see what happens in the next 28 days!

How about those of you who shared your goals last time?

PAM: 1. finish revising my fantasy novel
2. plan and schedule some book events for Realmscapes
3. finalize everything for my fantasy picture book series, which a friend and I are indie publishing
4. attend an Artists in Residence weekend at Highlights
5. celebrate my granddaughter’s 10th birthday! “I’m gonna be double digits, Grandmom!”

CINDY: 1. Relocate to Iowa
2. Start my new job
3. Get the OCR text for A Suitable Arrangment settled
4. Do a couple marketing events (Book signing, a couple online things, etc)
5. Get busy on Christmas present crafts

GRETCHEN: 1. Finish my rewrite so I can plot in October for NaNoWriMo.
2. Keep up my morning quiet time.
3. Train for a half marathon the first weekend in November (my second one this year so continued training).

KELLIE: 1. Finish polishing book 1 before September 22.
2. Edit “The Lost Chapter”, which I plan to put up for free on my website in either October or November. (I’ve already got my other free chapters on there! That’s at least one August goal done!)
3. Battle that beast of a book 2. It needs a major rewrite.
4. Do all this around my three jobs. It’ll be tricky, but so far getting bits done on the commute to and from work and during lunch seems to be working.

 

Tips for Goals

Make your goals challenging, but achievable. They should not be so easy that you can achieve them with little to no effort. But if you make them too hard, you will find more discouragement than motivation.

 

14516388_1109048352477241_2121187037269415336_nOctober Goals

1. I need to work in some low carb recipes to help my husband and I get our blood sugar under control. This week, I’m going to plan out the month of recipes so that I can start shopping with purpose rather than on impulse. Though I don’t think I can get rid of pumpkin rolls . . .

2. Get Realm Makers website up and running while planning out some reveals for October and November. I need to get the website done this week so we can start adding the new stuff!

3. Plan and execute the launch of Bellanok as a complete ebook and paperback. (If you’d like to help, let me know!) I know there will be a blog tour, an online launch party, and other fun stuff. Yay!

4. Prepare for NaNoWriMo! I already know the story I’ll be writing, I just need to do some outlining and character sketching and all that jazz.

So, there you have it! All my goals and only 28 more days. With God, all things are possible!

Share your goals in the comments, and lets keep each other accountable! (I’ll be following up with you on the November goals post.)

Sign up for my newsletter so we can keep up with each other!

 

thankyou_circles_noto_email_us-main-_cb268957429_Giveaway Winners

A huge thank you to all of you who participated and helped to share the giveaway. I always have so much fun organizing these kinds of things. I won’t keep you in the dark any longer. The winners are as follows:

Heather S. won 9 Strategies to Build & Grow Your Author Platform.

Gabrielle Compolongo won Heir of Hope.

Sarah Grimm won the $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Congratulations, ladies! If you would just email me your physical addresses, I’ll get the books out to you.

Have a fabulous October, everyone!

Goals: September 2016

After a summer full of conferences, vacations, and fun surprises, I can hardly believe it’s September already! Everyone’s kids are back in school (or almost), fall is in the air, and my schedule is slowly down ever so slightly. How about yours?

After a week-long work trip, I took a day to relax and refresh. Now it’s time to kick my brain into top gear and get going on all these goals and plans I have for the rest of the year. I need to break the big goals down into smaller, more attainable chunks, so I can stay focused and get more accomplished.

PIC1068506062One of the big concepts I walked away with from ACFW is allowing for flexibility in all areas of my life. Flexibility for what? For God. I want to walk closer with God, and if I am making all these plans, it has to be WITH Him. I want His plans to be my plans, but I want to be listening for His cues because His plans may not always line up right with mine, right?

But I know there are some things I need to be doing to walk closer with Him and to be able to do what He needs me to do. Hence a few of my goals this month.

September Goals:

  1. Get back into my early morning routine. You know, I always feel better when I start my day with God, in the Word. It seems to give me more patience for the day, more focus and purpose. I’ll talk more about my routines in a different post, but this is one I’m definitely picking back up and making a priority.
  2. Get my blood sugar under control. Although weight loss is important, I’m not going to be doing much of anything if my blood sugar numbers don’t come down. This month, I am focusing on portion sizes and eating more veggies.
  3. Plan a block schedule for my work time. Between writing, editing, and other work commitments, I need to have a clear schedule so I know how much time I have to devote to any project on any given day during any given week. Time management has been a weakness of mine as I have struggled with homeschooling and health. But if I want to do all of this, I need to step up and do what needs doing.
  4. Ralene Bellnock 1 The Reluctant SaviorGet Bellanok compiled into one book, revised and polished, and ready to send to my proofreader/formatter by September 20. (October 14, folks . . . be ready!) I have 2 hours, M-F, plus a few hours on Saturdays, to devote to getting this done. If I can focus, might only take me a couple of weeks!
  5. I’m fresh from the Realm Makers planning retreat with a host of projects to work on over the next month. The main 2 projects being our handbook (for the planning committee) and a new website. I’m excited about finishing up both! Realm Makers will be part of my block schedule as well!

 

So there you have it, folks. I’m ready to tackle September and come out on top. What about you?

 

What are a couple of your goals for September?

 

Janeen and Sara, how did you do on your goals from the August post?

 

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, now’s the time! There’s lots of fun stuff coming up this fall, including the release of Bellanok and more Confessions posts!

Goals: August 2016

PIC1068506062So this post is a few days late, but my recovery from Realm Makers and my crazy week prevented the post from coming out any sooner than, well, today!

I didn’t do a goals post in July, so I don’t really have anything to follow up on. I did manage to get everything I wanted done in July done, except for finishing an edit on my own story. I’m okay with that, though, because I still pitched it at Realm Makers and got a request for a full!

Back to August–and my quest for world domination. Actually, this month, I’ll settle for dominating my to-do list. It’s kicking my rear!

So, here are my goals for August:

  1. I need get a jumpstart on my revision of Dividing Spirits, which is now being aptly retitled, Soul Seer. I need to get the first 3 chapters polished before ACFW.
  2. Which brings me to my 2nd goal: prepare for ACFW. I have to design a new one sheet for Soul Seer and get all the papers printed out. Yay! Plus, I need a newsletter signup/contest sheet for the freebie table. And I need snacks.
  3. Start on my diet. I’ve actually already started on this. Yay! My friends Amy and Michele are jumping in on the quest with me to lose weight and get in shape before Realm Makers next year. Plus, there’s the being healthy part, which is important too. 😛
  4. Get on a homeschool schedule. Yes, I only have 2 weeks to homeschool before I leave for a week, but I think it’s important to get everything together and organized and work the kinks out. That way, AFTER I get back from ACFW, we can jump in to the routine, rather than fumbling about for another few weeks.

And that”s all I’m giving myself this month. I think it’s important to focus on a few things at a time. And this is plenty. Especially since there was only 3 weeks between Realm Makers and ACFW.

What are a couple of your goals for August?

Let’s keep each other accountable. I’ll keep a list of those who respond, and we’ll all check in the beginning of September! Sign up for my blog/newsletter so you can check back in with us!

June 2016 Goals

PIC1068506062Can you believe that another month has flown by? I love May because of my birthday and Mother’s Day . . . and a bunch of my friends have birthdays. It’s a fun month–usually.

This year, though, it was a big ball of illness for my house. Half of April until the last week of May had at least one, if not more, people in my home laid out, too sick to do much of anything. It was rough, but we recovered.

As a result, though, I didn’t full accomplish any of my goals for May. I finished the first draft of Bellanok 4, but did not get revisions done (working on those now), which means I didn’t get the whole thing put together either. And being sick did not make for getting into routines or fixing our diets.

So, this month, is a try and try again type of month. Here are my goals for May:

1. Finish revisions on Bellanok 4 so I can release it mid-month. I should get revisions done by Wed. next week, then out to my proofreader/formatter. Hopefully, life doesn’t intervene too much.

2. Pull the whole Bellanok story together in one book and work on revisions.

3. Read through and make notes on revisions for Aletheia. This is a fantasy I was working on before Bellanok. It’s had a year to rest, so I’m hoping to use my agent’s and CP’s notes to make it stronger.

4. Get into a summer routine where we are still doing homeschool while I am working on big writing/editing plans!

We will get our diet under control by using a monthly menu plan and working it into our routine.

What about you? What are 1-3 of your goals for June?

(Let’s hold each other accountable!)

If you sounded off with your goals on May’s post, how’d you do? Were you more successful than I was? I hope so! (Amy, Jennette, Janeen, Becky, Randy, Liberty, Celesta, Jill, and Josh)

Goals: May 2016

PIC1068506062At last. We have come to one of my favorite months of the year. So many fun things happen in May–including Mother’s Day and my birthday. 🙂 This year just happens to include a book birthday as Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath will be released soon.

So, what are my goals for the month? I have 2 writing goals and 2 life goals:

  1. Finish Bellanok 4 so I can release it in June. I should finish the first draft this week, then after a revision send it off to my CPs. Hopefully get it back mid-May so I can apply edits before sending it to my proofreader/formatter–and get ready for a June release! Who else is as excited as I am about this?
  2. Revise Bellanok as a whole to get it ready for paperback release. Yes, you heard that right. I will hopefully have a paperback version available sometime this summer.
  3. My husband and I sat up a new schedule/routine for us to find some stability in our crazy busy lives. We start today. So it is my goal to keep with this schedule and make sure that my family does as well. Hopefully this will help me to keep from dropping too many of my various spinning plates.
  4. My husband and I are also determined to start getting healthy. We both know what we NEED to do to get healthy, but we just keep putting stuff off in favor of more convenient options–largely due to lack of planning or poor scheduling on our part. Number one this month is to get our diet under control.

I think that’s plenty for one month, don’t you? I’m looking forward to feeling better and less crazy, and especially excited about having another completed book–and one that is published at that!

What about you? What are your goals for May?

Share a couple of your goals, and let’s keep each other accountable!

February 2016 Goals

PIC1068506062Can it really be the start of a new month already? I feel like all of January was completely lost to me.

Well, in some ways it was. I caught a nasty bug right after the new year, and it held on for 3 weeks! I’m still reeling from the exhaustion of it all. Thank goodness for my wonderful kids and my amazing husband.

Needless to say, when I am sick for 3 weeks in a row, nothing gets done. I made some progress on my January goals, but didn’t fully accomplish any of them. So, my goals for February look pretty similar–mostly extensions of January’s goals.

February 2016 goals:

  1. I will start getting up at 6:00 a.m. so that I can have quiet time with my Bible and prayer before starting my day. My husband also needs to start getting up at this time, so it works out.
  2. I will work on controlling my diet more this month. I have a doctor’s appointment again today to find out what my labs have been like the last few months. We’re still working to get my blood sugar under control, but I know a large part of that falls to me and controlling carb intake.
  3. Prepare Bellanok Part 3 for publication by the end of February (though, hopefully before that). I still have to revise and send out to my critique partners/editor. I hope to get that done by mid-February. Final edits, and then off to my proofreader/formatter.
  4. Write Bellanok Parts 4 & 5. This will help me get a jump start on March!
  5. Put out my first official newsletter to e-mail subscribers! (Sign up here if you haven’t already.)

So there they are. I have quite a few things to work on, but with God on my side, I can do all things!

Stay tuned this month. I’ve lined up some great guest posts that I’m excited to share with you. Also, look for some better consistency now that I’m not sick. I pray you all have a great week!

What are a couple of YOUR goals for February?

Let’s share and keep each other accountable! (If you leave your goals, I will put you on a list, which I will be praying over all month long. In next month’s goal post, I will list your name and goals at the bottom of the list and ask to see how you did! Won’t it be nice to share struggles and achievements?)

Below are the goals people shared in January. How’d you do?

Pam H.:

  1. Create writing space in bedroom.
  2. Pull out all notes on novel revisions and finish them.

Jason J.

  1. Complete edits on YA book.
  2. Shop suspense book.
  3. Initial edits on book 2.

Grace F.

  1. Better plan time.
  2. Schedule cleaning and organizing routines.