I'm Sarah! I love to read, write, and create. My blog is to share my passion for life while living with chronic pain. I hope you'll enjoy this journey and a good book with me!
I haven't had a chance to update my domain to match my blog name, yet, but I'm working on making it all come together!
Visiting from a search engine? New here? This is what you need to know:
I'm not doing well, health-wise, so I have not been updating or writing as much as I would like.
However, I am trying to write once or twice a week!
Also, if you have a problem with the Le Tote post that I wrote two years ago, I'm sorry. It's the Internet.
Most Popular Posts
2017 Reading Challenge
- Le Tote: A Very Honest Review
- Love Jane Austen? 10 More Books to Read!
- How to Deal with One Sided Friendships
- 9 Ways to Ease Your Cervical Dystonia Pain
- My Dogs Love this Amazing Alternative to Greenies
- 10 Ways to be an Amazing Friend to Chronically Ill People
- About Me
- But You Don’t Look Sick: An Open Letter
I changed my blog's name, if you noticed at the top or my announcement on Instagram. I've even changed my name Twitter. All that's left to do is get my husband to change the domain name. I'm really excited about the name change, if you can't tell! When I started blogging, I hadn't been back to South Carolina for very long, yet I was so excited to get started blogging when my husband gave me the idea that I grabbed the first available domain name that matched any stupid thing we came up with. So, that is how Seriously, Sarah? was born. Last fall, though, I started thinking more about Southern literature, the importance of place, and how much the Carolinas mean to me, even if I was born elsewhere and moved around a little bit. I went to college in the best college in South Carolina, only to leave for the big city. A few years later, after I got sick, I had to come back to carolina, so my family could help me. Living on the North/South Carolina border has been interesting (not what I would have chosen...), but I did meet my husband here! Back in Carolina - South Carolina, that is - I bought my first home, had my first dog, had my wedding, attended more weddings and baby showers, and attended many homecomings, of course. Even though I only went to two years of high school and 4 years of college in South Carolina, compared to all of the other places that I lived, there is hardly a major city that I can't visit with my husband and have tons of memories to share (and know all of the back roads). I talk about wanting to pick up and start over somewhere new, but the fact is that place is as important to my heart as it is to a Southern novel, so South Carolina will always be home. And I am quite happy to be Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog's URL, so that I can find you.
Well, if you follow me on Bloglovin or read my blog regularly, you've probably noticed the extreme decrease number of posts on my blog - although, I'm still snapping and posting on IG. When I do post, I write about books. I do individual reviews of books that are usually from advanced copies that I get through companies like NetGalley. My group roundups are basically what I have always look forward to posting each month. Overall, all you're reading from me are about books. That's because I'm sick. I don't feel like picking up my husband's nice camera to take photos very often. I don't "do" anything, so I am not really capable of giving anyone a DIY. I really don't do anything fun or go out, so I can't tell you what fun things there are to do in my city. I have less life than I had when I started blogging. Mostly, I listen to audiobooks. I do read ebooks, but I don't read blogs or leave comments anymore. Reading blogs is how I used to get inspiration for posts. So, with no life and no inspiration, and really nothing to do, except talking about how excited I get when my 50% off pizza coupon works, I don't have much to say. Except, my husband just walked in and wanted to heat up frozen grilled chicken strips to put on his Ramen. GROSS. I put my foot down. My imagination is full from reading and listening to books and I want to write, although writing isn't very popular. My essays don't get shared, searched, or commented on--unless people really miss the point and leave a comment that makes that part obvious. Blog posts are supposed to be quick and easy to read. They're supposed to be in bullet points. They are supposed to have a thesis. They should share information. All I have to share are books. But being sick also makes it hard for me to look at a latop sometimes, even with f.lux, which I highly recommend (!). It can make it extremely hard to edit photos, when I do take them. And overall, I'm heavily medicated it sometimes; therefore I completely lack the ability to write anything that anyone wants to read. I feel bad. I spent a long time building my blog and networking. My first few months of blogging were pretty bad and funny. I finally got to a spot that I liked and then my body was like, nope. Sorry. Too bad. Go back to bed (but not to sleep!). Again, my imagination is on overdrive, but my body is stuck on zero. I hope to unstick my body one day. Until then, books for you. I hope to share some recipes, fashion, makeup, and other things that make me happy when I can think more clearly and do justice to the post. I would rather write no post than a less-than-great post. Please enjoy these pictures of my dogs, to make up for reading about why you will see a lot of book reviews: Please note that comments with links that are not relevant to the discussion will not be approved. Personal signatures with blog URLs will be deleted. Please use the Disqus profile to add your blog's URL, so that I can find you.
We've all had one sided friendships. You know, the ones where you send five text messages before you get one back. The kind of friend who tells you about the dinner party that they're throwing, but doesn't invite you. Maybe you go out of your way to visit them, but they've never done anything for you. But, you get what I'm saying. The friendships are one sided, and you're the only one who is the friend. Yes, I chose a chain-link fence for that graphic on purpose. Because a bad friendship, like any bad relationship, can feel like a prison. It's a horrible place to be. This is a very complex issue, so I'm just touching on one aspect that I have had to deal with a few times since I got really sick. When you get really sick, you find out who is a friend and who is simply an acquaintance. My advice is not applicable in every situation. The most confusing things that I've realized about one-sided friendships is that when you finally confront the other side of the friendship, they usually have no idea. They think you two are perfectly good friends. #StabInTheHeart, right? Like, you've been being eaten up over what to say, how to deal with it, talking it over with your significant other/family member, and then the other person has no idea that she isn't even a friend. I don't even hold people to very high standards of friendships anymore. Like, "Glad you're alive," once a month is cool. There are tons of good reasons to try to maintain a friendship when it feels like you're alone in it - like if your friend is depressed or going through a hard time, so they aren't responding. But, there are plain old friendship fizzles. From some very painful, personal experiences, I'm here to share my tips.
How to Deal with One Sided Friendships
- Recognize that you're in a one sided friendship. Sometimes it's gradual. Like, she doesn't respond for awhile, but then all of a sudden she wants to meet for coffee, texts you, and is generally in your life. That's confusing, so you never know where you stand because you then text to set up the next coffee date and never hear back! The worst? When she wants to know why you didn't tell her you were going through a hard time. Maybe because you didn't think you were currently friends? Sometimes it's really obvious. Maybe your friend goes on and on and on about the great weekend plans she has, but she doesn't invite you. Guess what, you're not in her circle of friends.
- Say something. You don't have to be mean or start a fight. Since these people can be hard to get in touch with, you may have to email or text. I wouldn't suggest this with a coworker or someone you have to see on a regular basis - you probably don't have a one sided friendship with someone you see on a regular basis. You might not like them, but that's different. But, for like an old college friend or someone you have to go out of your way to see, technology is helpful.
- Be careful what you say. You might save your friendship if you don't attack her. I mean, you've been trying to be friends with the other person, so there is probably something you like about her. I have done everything from apologizing for bothering her (which I honestly felt like I was doing) to flat out telling the other person to just stop offering advice because she isn't my friend if she only talks to me on her own terms. Or even, as a generic example, "Are we friends? The way you _________ (don't respond, don't accept my invitations, ignore me, fill in the blank), communicates that we aren't friends."
- Decide what you want. Do you want to salvage the friendship? Maybe just letting her know that it's one sided is a wake up call for the other person, so she realize she's been selfish. If she's been going through something personal, but didn't feel comfortable telling you, that's her prerogative, but at least you will know where you stand. You don't need to pour your soul out to someone who won't confide in you. Do you want them out of your life because they've hurt you? Then let them know. You don't have to say "I'm cutting you out of my life, you life-draining, bitch," but you can let them know that you are sorry that you don't have room for them anymore after you bring the topic up.
- Stand by your decision. Sometimes friendships end. A lot of times, they fade out. That hurts. I think that hurts more than a friendship "break-up," since you don't quite get closure. I always wonder what is wrong with me. Why was I not good enough to be considered a good friend? Why didn't I get included in invitations? What can I do better with my next friend? Will I ever get another friend? When you just stop talking, it's ok, but if you're the only one keeping the friendship going, take a second to reevaluate why you keep pursuing the friendship.
How do you deal with friendship break ups? Are they as painful for you as they are for me? Do you say anything or just let it drop?
So, I've been reflecting on why I blog. When I started blogging, I wrote a lot of reflective essays. My goal for my blog was to raise awareness for all types of dystonia, but specifically to connect with Cervical Dystonia patients. I had no idea where it was going to take me. A year ago, I never thought that it would look like it does now. Eventually, though, I changed how and what I wrote, so that more people would read my blog. I was willing to do that because I really wanted to raise awareness for dystonia. I didn't write paragraphs upon paragraphs anymore. I would take an essay and break it into a list. Instead of a thesis addressed by paragraphs of writing, I would "defend my thesis," so to speak, with easy to follow bullets. I started to understand how visual people are, so I had to break things down into a few sentences at a time, which ruined my favorite part of writing - my own, unique voice and point of view. In fact, this post originally had a different title and went well over 1,000 words. So, I decided to split it into two posts and provide you with these handy bullet points. [If I could have made this a DIY post, I would have 🙂 .] Why I Still Publish Non-Dystonia Posts:
- There are other blogs about dystonia, but there aren't many, especially those offering any tips that are derived from personal experience. Yet, I belong to a private Facebook group with over 2000 members who all have cervival dystonia, which is only one type of dystonia. I knew there was a void of personal experiences, and I could fill it by writing what I wanted to read when I first got diagnosed. So, I made concessions in my writing style to bring in more traffic. Traffic means that my site will be seen and noticed. In fact, I've had posts get picked up by Healthcare Advocacy organizations.
- If you saw my Instagram post from Monday, you can see why I am going to continue to blog and put out the content that people want to read, in addition to the content related to dystonia. More people than just people with dystonia are suffering, so I at least want to offer a common experience, a listening ear, and maybe connect with them about some other interest because it's miserable to think about your pain all of the time.
- Blogging is fun because I've learned about photography! I am learning to play around with graphic design, which is something that I never thought that I would touch. I have always liked to paint and write, but I never thought of myself as creative until now.
- I've read more blogs and learned more about different lives and viewpoints than I would have by living in my own bubble, here in South Carolina. It's also amazing how much we all have in common, too. The human experience is amazing.
- Blogging has made me more creative. I have more discussions. Real life conversations become blog posts.
- Blog friends. You know who you are.
Sometimes I write posts that I love. Like, I will write them and want to hit publish right away, but I know that I need to wait until the morning or another open day, due to scheduling conflicts. I get a little Christmas Eve feeling when I know it's about to be published. Once that magical post goes up, I try to promote it. I do the best I can to reach other people with that exciting post. However, those posts usually flop. I don't get it. I may have poured my heart and soul into a post that I think will be helpful to other people, explain hard topics, or just generally be awesome, but I get crickets on the blog. The next day, I might post something silly, like just a bunch of pictures of Christmas decorations, and my phone will go off for days with comments pouring into that post. Some of my worst posts (in my opinion) still get comments weeks after they've been posted, while my best work goes unnoticed. My husband hypothesized that maybe it's easier to leave a comment on pretty pictures or something funny, but it's a little harder to leave a comment on a post that is challenging. I want to challenge you, people of blogland, not to just skip past posts that are uncomfortable. I know that I don't leave a comment if I disagree, usually, because I just don't care that much/want to start an argument. However, if someone writes a post that isn't just fluff, at least read it - maybe even acknowledge it. Especially for small bloggers, who just write for fun and because they are inspired, it is important to be read. Those are the people with something to say. They keep showing up because they want to share with you. I hate writing posts about my favorite blushes, top 10 whatevers, etc., when I know that I only write them to boost my statistics. Those posts get read. They get shared! They get comments. But, they take about 3 brain cells to put together. It's not a coincidence that the first three posts I had this week all started with "5." Let's just call it an experiment to compare the performance of those posts with a post that I wanted you to read and care about. Not even the best writers can turn out something soul-churning every single day, but when they do, take notice! It kills me to see fluffy blogs with 80 comments on someone's favorite fall clothes and Rstyle links everywhere.
When I was 23, my body started shutting down. It became my own worst enemy. It didn't literally shut down, but I lost the ability to control my movements. Movement disorders are so scary. My neck became locked in place, which had the effect of bringing pain to the rest of my body. The tics in the other parts of my body wouldn't stop. My world collapsed as my health failed. Instead of growing into a strong, independent woman, I slowly rescinded back into a state of complete dependence on other people. When my body couldn't work all day, have fun, and allow for intellectual pursuits, I rebelled. I pushed myself to do the best I could at work, to accept every invitation to a party, and enroll in grad school. I was so young, yet my body was not in the same place that my mind was. My priorities were temporary and unimportant in hindsight, but they came at the expense of potentially damaging my life. So, I moved closer to home after a year of being diagnosed and treated. Treatments were not enough to get my life back in order. When my dad came to visit my apartment, he said that it was like a DEA raided crackhouse. There are photographs - it was that bad. During college, I always prided myself I'm doing great work, keeping myself organized, and having a full social calendar. But by the time I left my first two years of work in DC, I was performing at a minimally adequate level, completely unable to care for myself, and was isolated. People always say that you just have to push through the pain. While that attitude might work for some people, most people with my condition can't push through the pain. The more you push the further backwards you go. The cruel part of this disease is that my mind stayed intact. I know what I want to do. I know what I could do in the past. And I know what I won't be able to do in the future. As usual, this post was inspired by a few song lyrics: Ain't it funny how the simple things in life Are the only things that really matter? Your life is complicated, found your dreams are overrated Now you're old and wanna go back But you can't You spent your life running away from your family In your old age it's all that you're wanting Being sick forced me to grow up a lot faster than I would have before. As I heard someone say recently, everyone has been hit by something. Some people have been hit by a tricycle, but other people have been hit by semi trucks. In the end, we are all dealing with something. We all have disappointments, longings that are unfulfilled, and aching hearts. I feel like I got old, while I was young. I either had to completely reevaluate, rearrange, and create new priorities, or I was going to only get worse. My body needs a lot of sleep, gentle movement, and general care that is above and beyond the normal 26 year-old. Overall, it is simplifying my life – something that I am still working on – that is going to help me. It is hard, though, when my peers are excelling at their jobs, having children, and on the go more than me. But, I also learned that family is what matters the most. Family is different for everyone, but for me family is my parents and my husband. And the pain can make it hard to maintain those relationships because pain can make me bitter and mean. I am also still working on this, but I know that I have to stop running away from family and stop running towards the overrated dreams. Of course I have goals that keep me motivated. But my goals at 26 look significantly different than they did when I graduated college at 22. I thought I could have it all. I could have the world. Maybe some people can, but for my quality of life, I had to realize that there were only a few things I needed and wanted. And I have to work hard at those things – finding pain management, taking care of myself, being humble enough to accept help, and enjoying the precious time that I have with my family. I have seen too many people lose their family members far too soon, recently. I don't want to regret anything at the end of my life. And I know that I won't ever regret putting my energy, which is also a precious resource, into the simple things in life that really matter. I will regret wasting my energy on the complicated, the messy, and the unfulfilling.
I woke up the other morning. I woke up, which was pretty amazing because I felt pretty awful. Once I finally dragged myself out of bed, just long enough to grab a bite to eat, my alpha stim machine, and an audiobook, I slid right back between the covers. I listened to Sherlock Holmes. I listened to CS Lewis's The Problem of Pain, hoping to understand more about my problem of pain. I didn't. Pain is universal, which I already knew. Honestly, the intellectual understanding of suffering does next to nothing to change how my pain receptors, nerves, and body functions. I still felt terrible. I could feel the depression creeping into my thoughts, as my husband left with his brother to enjoy a day that I had planned for all of us. It's not his fault. It's not my fault. I'm not angry anymore. I'm sad. I am so very sad. At my age, I should have boundless energy. I should be able to live life on my own terms. In fact, I used to stay up all night, get up early, and generally enjoy life. Now I dread going to bed because I hate the time between laying down and falling asleep. I hate waking up because I know that I will hurt. No matter what, I can't get comfortable. I can't make plans in advance anymore. We had purchased tickets to a local minor league baseball game for that day, but I inadvertently bought the tickets for the wrong time--not that I felt like going anyway. My husband and his brother ended up going to a local amusement park without me. I purchased tickets to see my favorite band several months ago, but when the concert came, I wasn't able to go. That was the 4th time this year that I missed a concert that I purchased advanced tickets for--and everyone knows that I don't like to miss a good concert. There are retreats that I want to attend, but with the deadlines looming, I have no idea on August 1 how I'll fell at the end of October. Life doesn't feel quite right anymore. Life hurts. I've tried adjusting to the new normal, but it sucks. The new normal is full of pain, anticipated pain, and sometimes new pains that can't be explained, yet. Now I sit here, typing, because writing is my only form of therapy that works, emotionally at least. I don't know if I'll ever hit publish on this, but if I do, it's because I want other people to know that they're not alone. I have no answers. None. The only thing that I've figured out is that if I don't take care of myself it only gets worse. I haven't figured out how to make anything better--just not to aggravate anything. I want to pick up my coffee and drink it, but the tremor in my hand, which is making typing painfully slow--yet easier than handwriting--is preventing me. There is nothing more frustrating than not controlling your own body. Millions of people live with movement disorders. My heart hurts when I think about all of the people who can't pick up their own version of the coffee cup because their brains are telling their bodies to move without their consent. I don't know what to do anymore. Life doesn't bear even the slightest resemblance to anything that I imagined for myself. Yet, there are the unexpected joys that I wouldn't have, if I wasn't sick. I wouldn't be looking at the two sweetest dogs in the world right now. I wouldn't value my family the way that I do. Also, I may never have met Brian. I feel like a drain on him, but he still smiles at me. He loves me. I don't know why. Again, I know that life is not living up to expectations is a part of the human experience, not just for those who are sick. I have perfectly healthy friends who are in unhappy marriages, jobs they hate, or haven't met the right person yet. They all went to college with ideas of weddings after graduation, white picket fences, and dream jobs. Disappointment, like pain, is universal. I know I have written about hope. Hope that God is making all things new. He makes the broken things beautiful (cue Gungor), but being content with timing is so hard
You might remember the ridiculous conversation that I had with the satellite tv representative. We've been satellite free for a little bit now, so you might be wonder what we've been doing instead!
- Playing games! We've played Scategories and Phase 10 so far. Playing games together encourages way more bonding than reruns of Castle.
- Reading. Well, I've been reading. I still can't convince Brian to read.
- Playing with our dogs. Our puppies definitely prefer to have us throw the tennis ball until they can't walk anymore, instead of us sitting on the sofa.
- Movies. Again, instead of reruns, I'm actually watching movies that I've been meeting to watch. How did I go so long without watching Midnight in Paris? I've also gotten Brian to watch a lot of my favorite movies that he hasn't seen, like A Knights Tale, Never Been Kissed, and 10 Things I Hate About You. #howdidhegosolong?
- Cooking. Brian made quiche twice and homemade bread in the last week. It was wonderful.
- Writing. I've been working on journaling. Also, I really want to work on a short story soon!
- Walking. It's been a slow go, but I have started using my Jawbone Up24 again. I still only get about 4,000 steps a day, if I try really hard. I used to go 12,000-15,000. If I was watching TV, I sure wouldn't be getting in my steps.
- Talking. It's so much easier to talk without the TV on.
- Crafts. I've been working on a few crafty things that I might share soon!
- Netflix. Sometimes you need a little TV fix. And Netflix fits the bill!