This is the time of year where we always look back at the preceding 365 days to think about all that we accomplished (or perhaps didn’t) and look ahead at all of the potential there is for the next 365 days. I probably say this every year, but I love New Year’s! I love any opportunity that I am given to start over, refresh, reinvent myself. I am a big believer in new beginnings and second chances.
I also tend to be fairly quiet around this time of year, as I come off the high of holiday craziness and spend some time thinking about what this past year held, the accomplishments and the disappointments, and about where I want to go next.
I took a look back at my goals for this past year that I set out on January 1, 2014. My 5 main goals included: Implement changes for The Stolen Colon, Get organized/save money/stay on budget, Stay focused on another semester of grad school, Run my third half-marathon, and Plan an amazing vacation. I am very pleased to say that I accomplished every one of these goals in the past year. Maybe not as fully as I would have liked at times, but I’m glad to be able to read through this and know that I did follow through on some things. What I’m disappointed about is that I really didn’t stay focused on these things. Some of them were things that just naturally happened, but I really wish that I had continued to remind myself of these goals and not just hoped that they would happen at one point or another. Continue reading →
2014 has been a busy year. I got settled into a new job that has since morphed into something completely different from when I started at the end of last year. I completed (read: survived) my first full year of grad-school. I finally made it to Europe and spent 10 days eating fabulous pasta and drinking delicious wine. We remodeled our kitchen. We sold our first home and bought a new one. I celebrated my second year of life free of my colon and had my first year in three years without any surgery!
I’m so proud of all that happened in this year and what has been accomplished, especially on The Stolen Colon. So I wanted to take a moment and go through some of my favorite posts from the past year. (In no particular order…)
How my ostomy and I became frenemies: Realizing this year that I don’t have to be 100% OK with my ostomy 100% of the time was very freeing. I have found that coexisting is a much more attainable objective than feeling as if we have to become best friends.
Wearing swimsuits with an ostomy: This was one of my first video blogs and now has become a favorite post. I was so excited this year to find some cute bathing suit options that make me feel comfortable and excited to spend time at the beach or pool. I found several great options for still enjoying the summer by the water.
The first time I saw my stoma: This was one of those blog posts that I wasn’t sure where it was going until I was in the middle of writing it. I see now what a defining moment it was for me to see my stoma for the first time and to see how I have progressed past that feeling of loss and perhaps a bit of disgust to acceptance and gratefulness for the life it has given me. Continue reading →
I wrote last week about the hardest part of living with a chronic illness, and in doing that, I started thinking about some of the good things that have happened, too. I thought about how well I know myself and my body and how I’ve learned to pay more attention to my health. I thought about how much I have enjoyed all of the good days and learned to live them to the fullest after experiencing the bad days. I thought about how thankful I am for all of the great things I have in my life. But mostly, I thought about all of the amazing, incredible, strong, inspiring people I have met along the way.
Crohn’s disease has changed my life. Having an ostomy has changed my life. I can never regret them because I honestly don’t know who I would be without them. They are ingrained into my identity and the person I have become. Living with them has brought me to exactly the spot where I am right now. And you know what? I am totally fine with that. While things are far from perfect in my world, I am so thankful for the people in my life and all of the things that I have been able to accomplish and be a part of over the past 28 years.
I lived for 13 years without really ever knowing anybody else who had been through the same thing as I had. I learned to accept the loneliness and hide what I was feeling really well. But once I started speaking about it, I found a whole new world of acceptance and inspiration. I have formed bonds different from any I have ever known. I have made friends who I hope will remain friends forever. And that’s the best part of living with chronic illness.
That chronic illness makes you different. It makes you experience the world in a way that others who have not dealt with chronic illness could never understand. And it can make you feel like an outsider. It can make you feel alone.
But finding a community of people who know what you’ve been through and have walked in your same shoes… it’s an incredibly freeing feeling. I think one of the things we strive for most in this world is to be understood. Some people search for that their whole lives. I consider myself pretty lucky to have found it.
These people… These people make living with a chronic disease worth it.