Before I explain the title, let me just get a few points of business out of the way and answer the two main questions I’ve been getting.
Yes, there will be a declutter challenge! I just posted the details.
Yes, there is a 2021 planner! They were delayed this year, which I’ll explain in a second, but you can order your planner now from my shop.
Okay, now that I have that out of the way, let me try to describe this year.
Even without Covid-19, this year still would have been a pretty tough one for our family, but add in Big Rona and well … it was something else. Not that this year has been all tough, there has been a lot of goodness and joy throughout too.
I feel a little stuck on how to write this. I’ve been stuck, but today I told myself I had to sit down and write a blog post no matter what. Okay, I’ve told myself that several other days too, but today I’m sitting here really trying. How do I do any of it justice? The perfectionist in me is really struggling here, so I’m just going to remove the pressure from myself to say any of this perfectly and just do my best.
Ugh. (After a 10 minute break, trying again.)
In April, my father-in-law passed away from Covid. He was the first person I knew personally that died from Covid, though by now, I think we all know several. I think the hardships created by Covid are almost all I hear about in the news, so I’m just going to leave this here. It’s been hard for all of us and probably no one wants to talk about it anymore, am I right?
The SAME day my father-in-law died, our master bedroom flooded. We waited a while to have it fixed, because at the time in quarantine, it was still a frightening idea to have strangers in our house.
We finally had that fixed in May. The same week we had that fixed, I opened the baking cabinet in my kitchen where I kept flour, sugar, salt … and smelled a deep musty smell. Well aware of what this could mean, I took everything out of that cabinet and noticed the water damage. Evidently for a few weeks, our dishwasher had been leaking water each time it was used. We had to have a water emergency crew come in right away and take care of this one. There was no way we could safely dry out the cabinets and floor on our own like we did in our bedroom. (If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know we are not new to water damage. In fact, we may be experts.)
The emergency water specialists left us missing a big chunk of our kitchen. They created a temporary kitchen sink stand with 2×4’s, bless their heart. I’m so glad they did, because we didn’t get our kitchen fixed right away … that didn’t start until more than two months later.
Right before our second flood, my parents decided to move to our neighborhood – in the middle of Rona. At that time, we were both strictly quarantining, so we made the choice to include them in our quarantine-safety-circle, or whatever you call it. I was grateful for the distraction from my kitchen situation to be able to spend a lot of my time helping my parents pack up and move. We did a lot of the work ourselves, because my parents were nervous to hire very much help and be exposed to Big Rona. They had lived 1 hour away and now they live 1 block away. Their new house has a pool, which provided a lot of needed distraction and fun this summer for the kids and our dog Cookie (who loves to swim more than anyone else).
Right after my parents were safely moved into their new home, which took a couple months, we started to rebuild our kitchen and replace most of our floors. We had to move into a local hotel for 6.5 weeks. When we moved back into our home, we still couldn’t fully use our kitchen for a few more weeks, but we were glad to be home. I’m a home-body. I just like being home as much as possible. Hotel living was tough, though eating out for every meal was not the worst part of the year. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you that “eating out can get old after a while.” It was simply glorious to not have to meal plan, grocery shop, and cook for almost 8 weeks.
While we were living in the hotel, Matt and I would come over to the house in the evenings to do our part of the re-build. We decided to add a few projects while the house was torn apart. I mean, we might as well get some painting done while there were no floors! Contractors did everything tricky, but we personally painted our laundry room, re-vamped our fireplace wall, re-did our little guest bathroom by the kitchen, and a few little projects like that. It was a tornado of projects, but I was loving every second of it.
Until the concussion. To summarize the most boring concussion story of all time, I hit my head on a metal shopping cart at Lowe’s, then came home and hit my head again in the same spot at the top of a doorway when I was painting inside of a closet. We didn’t realize I had a concussion until I climbed up a ladder to help my husband hang trim at the top of our fireplace wall (I just needed to hold one end of it) … and then I almost fell off the ladder and my husband caught me because I started saying “uh-oh, I feel dizzy, I don’t feel right” and he immediately got off his ladder and came and helped me down. He looked at me and said “your eyes don’t look right.” My pupils were super crazy unevenly dilated and stayed that way for weeks and weeks. The concussion really changed the rest of the year.
I’ve had CT scans, an MRI, seen the neurologist, done physical therapy, but my brain still needs time. So much stinkin’ time. Though I’m doing so much better now than at the beginning, my head still hurts after too much time on the computer. I’m still bothered by over-stimulating situations or bright lights. The neurologist said it could be a whole year to fully recover, the earliest would be 6 months (it’s only been 4 months).
And to add to it, there was also this:
- a country that seems at unrest (this can be emotionally draining for an empathetic person!)
- dealing with a daughter who keeps fainting (we finally saw the pediatric endocrinologist and am happy to say it’s “just” hypoglycemia, which is way better than the things google was scaring me with)
- adding another child to the gluten-free group in our family
- another of my daughter’s close friends going through leukemia
- dealing with such a weird school year (kids not being able to make new friends because of social distancing and kids having to wear masks all day)
- missing regular church and church activities
- missing church choir (it was one of my favorite parts of the week)
And even though it seems like I’m writing this crazy list and want you to feel sorry for me, I really don’t. I honestly feel lucky that Matt still has a job, that we still have a home, and that my kids are all still mostly healthy and mostly happy. I kept telling Matt while we were in the midst of some of these hard things – I’d rather be dealing with this than (fill in the blank). I really feel that way. Every day is a gift!!!
But yes, as you can see, blogging wasn’t the top of my to do list in the last few months. I’ve written a million blog posts in my head and have a backlog of (what seems like) millions of pictures to share. But, I had to start back somewhere, so I’m starting here right now.
It’s nice to be back.
From my home to yours,
Welcome back! Go slow, let yourself heal.
Thank you so much!
Alice Martin says
Welcome Back Mary!
You and your family have experienced more than your share of difficulties and challenges this past year and before that also. It seems your faith, strength and support of friends/family have helped you weather the storm. While everyone is very happy to see you are back and getting geared up for 2021, PLEASE give yourself as much time as you need for your and your family. It’s OK if we hear from you a little less until you feel ready.
Take care, Alice
Thank you so much, Alice! I hate disappointing people, but it will definitely need to be less for a while. Hopefully just enough to keep people going in the declutter challenge.
Ellen Stevens says
Glad you are a resilient and strong woman. God speed your recovery. Give that brain the time it needs and it will heal. Cannot rush it and you will have to be careful not to reinjure in the future.
Thank you so much. I’m crazy protective of my head now. I put my hands up in a protective stance if ANYTHING gets near me.
Anne Myres Sine says
I am so sorry. Especially (if it’s ok to pick one 😬) your concussion. My husband had a traumatic brain injury 7 years ago. It just take time, sleep, and managing your lifestyle so that you can kept your stress manageable, eat pretty healthy adequate rest. I’m sure you know all this…so I just want say…take care. Be kind to yourself. You’ll keep healing. Sending you lots of love,
That’s what I seem to be hearing from people who’ve had head injuries before. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m trying to be kind to myself, but it’s hard to feel the pull to be productive.
I’m so glad that you are back and feeling a little better. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Thank you so much
Cheryl Cottle says
Oh, my! You HAVE been through the wringer, haven’t you?!
Happy to see you back. Pace yourself, however, don’t overdo.
Thrilled to begin the Challenge again. My hubby has a cognitive impairment and, in an effort to be close to our son – I moved us from NC to Little Rock in March. Trouble is the movers moved us in on the day everything shut down! So, we’re in our new (to us) house but can only socially distance ourselves from our son and his wife due to Covid (they’re working). We haven’t met any of our neighbors and only go out to pick up groceries that I’ve ordered online.
Getting out Christmas decorations and wrappings, I’ve discovered that the movers didn’t move several of my tubs!
Need to really work the challenge this year, this house doesn’t have near the storage space that my old house had.
Thank you so much I will try to remember to pace myself – not always easy for me! Good luck with settling in. I helped my parents downsize this summer – it is a lot of work but will be so worth it when there is less to manage after you’re done!
So sorry to hear about your father-in-law. It sounds like you’ve definitely had some challenges this year. Good to hear you’re all doing well under the circumstances. Take your time. I’m praying for you.🙂
Welcome back! There was definitely a void while you were gone, but everyone needs a break and so glad you took it for yourself while all those important and time consuming affairs were going on. Happy to see you back – and definitely agree that this time has been so hard on people, even if we are still oh so grateful for the many blessings all around. So glad you can give yourself some grace – we all can follow that example and dole it out generously for ourselves and others. Here’s to healing and good health ahead!
Jenny B. says
I’m so very sorry for all of these struggles, but especially for your concussion and the death of your father-in-law. That side of your family has experienced so much loss. I just can’t imagine. I’m praying for you all now. I’m glad to see your post, but there’s no pressure to keep up any sort of pace. <3
Oh my goodness. I am so sorry you and your family have had such a trying year and will keep you in my thoughts as you continue on the road to recovery from the concussion (been there myself and it felt like it would take forever).
I’m sorry you had to suffer this too. I will never think of concussions the same again!
I have missed you! I need you now more than ever. Like you and many others this year has been extraordinary hard. My mom and dad died from _______in October. Now we have over 65 years of accumulated stuff to go through. My house has been turned upside down. There are boxes and more boxes to come of their things. It is so hard to decide which things I want of theirs and which I need to do without. One thing that I have learned so far is that I don’t want my children to have to figure out what to do with all my stuff.
With the Lords help we will all get through this and be stronger and better.
I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your parents. That’s an absolutely horrific blog. I’ll pray for you as you figure things out. I’m confident that the fact that you’re aware of not leaving “stuff” one day is a good start, because acceptance really is an important step. Bless you as you get through this difficult time. ❤️
GC Harman says
What a year you’ve had! I’m glad you are on your way to healing and I pray you soon see the full restoration of your health. Even though you have a lot of people turning to you, find ways to take care of yourself. It’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity.
Thank you, and I’ve learned the hard way this year how true that is. 🙂
Welcome back! I have missed you! I pray you will heal and have a full recovery. And I will happily wait for your next post.
Thank you so much
Oof. What a year! Just wanted to reach out and let you know that my daughter also had a time when she would faint. It started when she was 14 (She’s now 16) and lasted for almost a year. She has now been faint-free for a year. Initial diagnosis was “dehydration” which didn’t seem right in her case, because she was very well hydrated and continued to faint, so we kept looking into it. After many appointments (including the Mayo clinic, Upper Cervical chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, etc.); final diagonisis was “autonomic dysfunction or dysautonomia”. Not a whole lot to do for treatment other than high-salt intake and a crazy amount of water, exercise, and knowing when a fainting episode might happen in order to get in a safe position. (More than once we had to sit or lay down on a sidewalk or mall floor.) In her case, the fainting seemed to be triggered by hormone fluctuation. And she’s been better once that all settled down. But, it’s different for everyone.
Coincidentally a friend here has that same diagnosis, and she was with me a few of the times she fainted. If treating for hypoglycemia doesn’t help, we’ll keep searching to be sure we have the right diagnosis. The worst part (besides the fainting) has been that one of the blood tests revealed she was allergic to gluten … poor thing.
Welcome back! What a year! But you know, you survived this, now you know you are strong. God allows trials for YOU to find out your strengths. He already knows them.
Yes! That’s right. We just have to trust in God and be strong.
Suzy Taylor Oakley says
I was so happy to see you pop into my inbox today! I’m sorry for all the struggles you and your family have gone through, but I’m happy to see you “still kickin’.'”
My family has gone through much sorrow this year (with more diagnosed to come), and my two blogs and newsletters have suffered because of it, but I’m so glad you’re back.
Please take good care of yourself, Mary.
And have a very merry, blessed and safe Christmas.
Thanks, Suzy. I’m sorry for the suffering your family is going through now. I feel like we’re all really being tested on our faith and resilience this year. Stay strong!
Suzy Taylor Oakley says
I feel sorry for those who have no hope in Jesus. My faith is what helps me get through.
Dear, dear Mary.
Thank you for fighting your way back to us, the quiet observers who consider you beautiful, brave, an awesome spiritual warrior, and an amazing leader.
Your willingness to share helps even the loneliest BigRona quarantine sequestered people want to say “With the Lord’s grace you and your family will get better”.
So sorry for your struggles.
I cope by reading “Jesus Calling” (the daily devotional) and it helps focus my chaotic mind forward for the day. Thanks for writing again. Have a blessed Christmas. ❤️
Thank you for your kind and beautiful words. Daily time with God is a big part of surviving this crazy year!
family first…. of all the years for full understanding of just taking time to “be”… you take and will have all the grace you need.
Thanks so much, April! Family first, always. 🙂
I thought of you the other day and there you are, popping into my inbox… I’m sincerely sorry for your loss and everything that came along and hope next year brings healing and happiness… Best regards to you and your family!
Thanks! Same to you and yours!
your concussion (which is a TBI), needs proper care. My daughter was hit in the back of the head with a golf ball. The best thing that happened was being sent to a concussion specialist. If you are still getting dizzy, have your cortosol checked. If your pituitary gland was injured, it can cause a life threatening low cortisol. (My daughter had this and had to carry a shot in case she passed out.) The other big help is eye excercises. It’s been almost 4 years for her and she still has some of your symptoms. Prayers for a full recovery.
I’ve definitely been getting proper care: so many tests, neurologist, physical therapy. It’s a part-time job just recovering. Thanks for your understanding. I’ve definitely noticed some people do not understand how life altering it is until it heals. It was literally like my life just stopped for a while because I couldn’t function or drive or read or do anything. Luckily, my pituitary gland seems un-injured. I’m sorry for what your daughter has gone through. I hope you gets to a place of full recovery soon!
Nicole Leatherwood says
You were missed. Thanks for sharing even the hard stuff. I can sympathize with your loss…3 family deaths here, and one friend – only the friend’s was virus related. So glad you have the Lord to lean on, especially with the year you’ve had! I will keep praying you have a full recovery and that you get to have a breather in terms of life circumstances. Thanks for all you do to help us stay decluttered and organized…even my husband is getting into it a bit now. 😀
I’m so sorry for all of your loss, Nicole! That’s so much. I hope you get a breather too! I’m so glad you’re husband is into it now too, that helps so much!
Praying for you and your family. I’m hypoglycemic. What has helped me is having little snacks prepared and ready to go so I’m not trying to figure out what to eat when the sugar goes haywire. I combine a carb with protein: peanut butter on crackers, cheese with crackers, berries with yogurt or cottage cheese. My favorite is frozen strawberries. They don’t quickly jack up blood sugar but keep mine pretty level.
Hoping your brain heals quickly and that your house problems are now in the past.
Thanks so much for the tips. Luckily she likes nuts and yogurt, but she is picky and doesn’t like peanut butter or cheese … the doctor said her aversion to protein was definitely contributing! But she likes nuts! So now I’ve bought several little travel size nut packages. She’s also old enough to start making smart decisions despite her preferences, she gets that she needs more protein. Crossing my fingers that now we know, things will be continue to be a lot better.
Oh Mary! Thank you for sharing. I wanted to encourage you that I have had years like this, 2018 and 2020 come to mind for me 😉 and in those times it just feels like things stack up on top of eachother in unbelievable ways. I have had some of my biggest blessings come at the end of times like these. God rewards us for our perseverance and faithfulness in him. Be expecting a large reward. Blessings to you and your family! This sounds so generic, but I truly mean that. Hugs to you!
Thank you so much, that is very sweet. I have learned to ask “what’s going to go wrong next?” and just take things one day at a time.
Wow Mary! What a year! Please take care of yourself! A head injury can take a long time to recover from. I’m sorry for the loss of your father in law. Thank you fir sharing your story! Happy New Year!!
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.