This year has been one of the strangest of my life. A sickness that eluded doctors for years came to a peak, wreaking havoc on my body and forcing me into a slow-down. I don’t slow easily. I knew, back in September, when autoimmune eczema bloomed across my body, that I had come to the end of the line. I couldn’t push through the pain anymore. I made some drastic changes and made a serious commitment to rest.
I watched a lot of T.V. Whole seasons, whole series even! I watched more TV in a couple of months of being sick than I think I’d watched in the rest of my adult life combined. It was a LOT of T.V. I crocheted several whole blankets. One fits a queen-sized bed. That, my friends, is a LOT of crocheting. A did the best I could to put healthful food on the table and help with the farm and house, but frankly, for the first time, I simply could not carry it all on my shoulders. For the first time in my memory, I could not find my value in my accomplishment and my performance.
This has been the year of the white flag for me. I am a woman of faith. I profess to believe in a God I can trust, but frankly, trust is easy to declare when life is easy. This year brought a new level of surrender to my understanding. Or maybe, it brought a new level of trusting when I don’t understand.
Wintertime, specifically the holiday season, is always a time to collect myself. The garden is resting, our family is gathering around each other in tradition and love, and I am surveying the year. Through my season of forced rest, I guess you could say I made my peace.
I’m a content creator. It’s a really cool job and has made a way for our family to live an extraordinary life. Through those months of TV and crocheting, I still shot videos. I shared the garden plans and what little progress I was able to make, but it wasn’t the content I usually made. It hurt to walk. It hurt to be in the heat, to sweat and even to move at all. It took all the gumption I had just to get up and turn the camera on. I did it anyway. I transparently shared the struggle of the slowdown.
The truth is, our numbers dropped. Views went down. Revenue went down. For the first time in five years of doing YouTube regularly, I ended months with fewer subscribers than I started with. I thought it would be humbling, or discouraging, or sad. But it wasn’t. When I watched the numbers fall and chose not to succumb to the pressure of performance, instead turning to another crochet project and another season of Gilmore Girls and another evening snuggling in bed with my sons, I realized something. I was really, really proud of myself.
Priorities are hard. Life is hard. Caring for your family and sending the message to yourself that you matter and deserve to be cared for is a balancing act on a good day. In a season of survival mode and sickness? It’s a feat.
I finally got breakthrough on my health. The forced slowdown and subsequent dietary changes brought a lot of things to light. To keep a very long story short, an issue I’ve been dealing with for over 15 years has been discovered, named and treated in a way it has never been before. I am feeling better than I can ever remember feeling. Every day, I am coming to terms with how bad it was and how much better it is now. I am enjoying having full use of my body again. I can sleep through the night. I can run. I can garden without pain.
I am enjoying Christmastime, my favorite time of the year. The seed catalogs are coming in, and I’ll admit, I’ve placed a couple of seed orders (though, I’m sure there will be more to come.) I feel an eagerness for the garden that I thought, at the peak of my sickness, I might have lost.
I don’t know why I had to walk through this season. It’s been hard, and I’m only just coming to terms with that. But I can say one thing, as I count my blessings this Christmas, I am counting you. Those of you who have stayed, supported, prayed, sent messages and gifts and encouragement, you have made all the difference. Those of you who spoke up and said, “Care for yourself. Take the time. Do what you need to do.”
You, darling, made me feel brave in the face of a great struggle. You made me feel worthy and loved and surrounded. You were my community. You were my friends. I am sharing this to thank you and also to encourage you. I hope you will see this transparent journey of mine and feel the great bravery to care for yourself. To face the giants in your life (those pesky things you cannot understand) and trust anyway. To do what needs to be done. To be brave enough to be imperfect. To watch TV and crochet a blanket and not even feel a little like it was a waste of time.
You are worth caring for. And I was too.
Thank you, darling. I hope you know what it means to me that you’re still here.