Looking Back and Moving Forward: Another Year

Last year, I wrote a blog post called “Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Spin On New Year’s Resolutions”. It was published on my “for fun” blog and was written prior to the “Cruise of Doom” in February 2018, prior to http://www.ibstakesguts.com, prior to low-FODMAP dieting…basically, it was prior to the gal I am now.

Not quite that dramatic, really, but sometimes it feels like it.

There are a lot of things about my life that haven’t changed in the past year – thank the Lord – but there are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of things that aren’t even close. As Erin and I read through last year’s post yesterday, I decided it would be interesting to continue the reflection for this year.

Same questions. Different responses.

What was something that made you laugh this year? When I first asked this question, we honestly both just sat there and stared off into the distance for a bit…trying to remember anything, anything at all, that brought laughter this year. It was a bit shocking, really, when we considered how little laughter we enjoyed in 2018 – especially in relation to the easygoing fun of 2017. It’s not that we didn’t have moments of joy throughout this year; we just didn’t have a lot of “happy”. It was a tough thought process, to be sure.

But, after some reflection, we talked about a drive home from a weekend getaway when Erin asked me to remind him of a stop we needed to make on the way home – repeated the request about 30 seconds later – and after having a good laugh about it, we proceeded to remind each other once per mile for about 30 miles. We even had a conversation that day about how we hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. It was a truly pleasant moment, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

We talked about how, when nothing could even make me smile last March, I laughed myself into tears one day from watching the entire “Nailed It!” series on Netflix.

We talked about how concerned I was, post-colonoscopy, when I asked my nurse how she was going to “pump up my butt” (she really said “pump up your bed” so I could get my clothes out from under it). That one brought giggles to the entire pre- and post-op room, I do believe.

We talked about other moments that brought laughter, and what we really ended up appreciating in the discussion was the small moments of comic relief that have popped up to help us through. This year didn’t bring us a lot of laughter…but it did make us appreciate it thoroughly when it makes an appearance.

What news from a loved one were you happy to hear this year? For both of us, we were thrilled to finally receive my diagnosis back in April. After ten weeks of sickness, starvation, fear, and worry, it was truly excellent to know what was happening to me so we could proceed with a game plan.

What’s gone well for you this year? After this question was asked, we both chuckled a bit. Has anything gone well for us this year? But with smiles on our faces, we were able to say, “Yes. Yes, many things have.” I’m here and breathing, for one. That’s a pretty big deal. I have medicines that are helping, food that we can eat, jobs that pay the bills, health insurance that’s kept us afloat…and let me tell you – I never realized, prior to this year, how many top-notch people we have in our corner. Family and friends and friends who are like family. We’ve been shocked and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support…and if that’s not a “gone well” item, I don’t know what is.

What three things were you grateful to have in your life this year? We actually had more than three, but we agreed that they are all too significant to leave one out: our faith, each other, ol’ Bud (our pup), our family/friends, my medicine, the low-FODMAP diet, and health insurance.

What’s your favorite relaxation activity from this year? This is going to sound like some kind of promotional item, but I promise it isn’t. The Spa’ah in Conway absolutely, positively helped us in a way that nothing else could this year. Erin and I both went in for massages on numerous occasions, and Jake and Kat couldn’t have treated us better. There were times I was nearly in tears at the end of a session because it felt so good to not be burdened for a little while. Those massages were more than just massages – they helped us through some really tough times.

What did you love trying to get better at this year? Once we worked through the initial shock/frustration/anger/grief of my being diagnosed with life-changing intestinal nerve damage (that took a bit to accept, y’all!), we took on the low-FODMAP diet together…and since then, we have actually found a sense of enjoyment in figuring it out together. We’ve learned a lot about cooking, a lot about patience, and a lot about what we (as humans) put into our bodies each day (it’s honestly shocking the sheer junk that so many people don’t even realize they’re consuming!).

How have you helped someone this year? I can tell you one thing, for certain: ol’ Erin has helped me immensely this year! And we’ve really enjoyed turning this experience into a vehicle for helping others through the blog and personal interactions.

Who warms your heart from this year when you think of them? This was probably the easiest question of the evening! Each other, our parents, our siblings, our nieces, our nephews, our grandparents, our extended family, all of our friends, our church family, our coworkers…the list just piles. We have seen so much love and support this year; it’s honestly a bit unreal.

What do you appreciate about yourself from this year? Erin said his persistence and determination with physical health. He’s worked really, really hard this year to get fit, y’all. I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this – but he’s done so well, I just can’t not! In the past year, he’s lost around 30 pounds, eaten better than he ever has, and worked out/gained muscle like crazy. I’m super proud of him!

I said I’m proud of my persistence and determination with life. This has, without a doubt, been the most difficult year of my life…and I’m guessing it probably always will be (at least in the top few!). If you had told me a year ago that I would go through the things I’ve gone through without losing my faith, my drive, or my optimism, I honestly don’t know if I would have believed you. The demons I’ve faced and the mountains I’ve climbed are numerous, so I’m just proud I kept going.

Next year, what new kindness can you show towards someone close to you? Neither of us have an exact game-plan in mind, but I will tell you this: we plan to continue using this year as motivation to help others who face chronic illness and/or life-changing difficulties. What that looks like, I’m not exactly sure yet; but we’ll know once we get there, right?

What are you going to make sure you slow down and savor next year? This answer actually didn’t change from 2017. We both said each other. We both said the time we have outside of work. We both said “scheduling less and enjoying more.”

Next year, who would you like to know how much they mean to you and when can you let them know? We answered this one privately, but I want to make sure it’s on here again in case you plan to reflect, too.

And with that…let the people say “AMEN!” Here’s to the hope that a new year brings. We wish all of you a happy holiday season and the most wonderful 2019.

With Love,

The Browns

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