Goodbye, 2016

via Unsplash

Despite this year being a hard year, I can’t exactly say it was a bad year. 2016 was full of growth, grief, and guidance for me, and though I suffered some major losses, I’m very happy with where I am right now.

I started off the year recovering from fresh trauma and working to overcome multiple traumas from my past. I was in a fog of PTSD-driven depression and anxiety, as well as medication withdrawal, and it felt like I’d never be myself again, never mind recover. But my therapist Erica believed in me. She insisted I’d experience something called “post-traumatic growth phenomenon.” She encouraged me to keep facing my demons and to write my story. With her cheering me on and with the support of my family and friends, I did. I’m still trying to find the words to tell that particular story, but after about six months of hard work, I started to feel whole again. And, even better, I started to feel like myself—but even stronger.

I got my voice back in 2016, and no one will ever take it from me again.

I lost my great-grandmother, though—my Biz Noni. In October, she passed away after battling dementia. It still hurts so much, especially because I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I wanted.

A couple weeks later, my great-aunt Gayle had a severe stroke. Thankfully, she survived and has been making fantastic progress. She’s always been strong, but watching her recover has been truly inspiring. She still has a long way to go, and many things will never be the same for her. But I’m grateful that she’s doing as well as she is, because we almost lost her.

I also really struggled with my autoimmune disease. My rheumatologist, who’d diagnosed me with Reactive Arthritis, suddenly left the practice. The rheumatologist who replaced her decided that I couldn’t possibly have any kind of autoimmune disease, and took me off all my meds. Just like every year, I went into a flareup as the weather got colder. It got so bad, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning or dress myself. After a phone conversation with my rheumatologist where I asked him to please give me a hand up, he took a closer look at me. I’m now taking Prednisone and Plaquenil, and able to get up in the morning, care for myself, and do normal things like dishes. However, I’ve really had to learn to pace myself and be more forgiving of and gentle with myself; I quickly get frustrated with my limitations and lack of mobility.

That didn’t stop me from writing, though. I wrote Just One More Minute, a small town romance novel. Then, as a Christmas special, I wrote a novelette starring the Just One More Minute characters. I also started the last book in the South of Forever series.

Meanwhile, the publisher I was with suddenly closed its doors and, as a result, I became an indie author again. At first it seemed like the absolute worst timing; because of my health, my husband and I have been struggling financially. I suddenly had to self-publish four novels, which meant spending money that I didn’t exactly have. Due to a contract snafu, I also became financially responsible for my publishing team. This was all right before I was supposed to be releasing the third book in the South of Forever series. Thankfully, my team was super understanding and we came to an agreement. Through crowdfunding, I was able to release What Happens on Tour.

I desperately needed to catch up on bills but still couldn’t return to work, so I launched a GoFundMe to get some freelance work. The response was overwhelmingly lovely; not only did I get some work, but many people donated and told me they wanted nothing in return. I hadn’t expected anything, so it was a huge surprise. I can’t even begin to express how grateful Mike and I are.

Toward the end of the year, I decided to cut back on social media. I needed to limit my use of the computer, and through time tracking tools, I realized I was spending hours every day responding to DMs, tweets, Facebook comments and messages, and other social media comments. It was a difficult decision but I had to make room for self-care—and to catch up on work.

I used the last few weeks to get some inventory done. I re-launched the South of Forever series with new covers and put it in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days. I also re-launched my Chick Lit novel, Becoming Natalie (more on that soon). I also wrote a business plan for 2017 and have been working on other things I’ll be able to talk about soon.

I came down with the damn flu, which knocked me on my ass (even though I got my damn flu shot). I nearly missed the Christmas festivities, but thankfully recovered just in time to spend the holidays with some of my family. I’m still dealing with a bit of fatigue, which I think has more to do with my autoimmune disease; I picked up some D3 and B12 this week just in case I’m deficient again. It’s also been pretty cold here in Connecticut, which is wreaking havoc on my joints. I’m snap, crackle, popping away (and it really hurts)!

Still… I feel content. Happy, even. I’m more me than I’ve ever been. Like the Alanis Morrissette song, “I’m broke but I’m happy,” and “everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine.” I feel strong, and I’m getting better at coping with my chronic illness. With the holidays over, Mike and I are spending more time together. I’ve been slowly connecting with friends and family who I haven’t seen in a long time. Even though I have some concerns about what 2017 will bring, and I don’t know what the future holds for my personal life, health, or career, I do know that 2016 was the year I grew strong.

Whatever happens in 2017, I’m ready.


28 on the 28th

28 on the 28th

A photo posted by Elizabeth Barone (@elizabethbarone) on

I woke up at 6:30 this morning for no reason. I tried like hell to fall back asleep, but it just wouldn’t come. Mostly it was because I had to pee, but I also started thinking the second my eyes opened. I tried not to; I stuffed in earbuds and put on my favorite audiobook. Maybe I’ve listened to these books too many times, though, because instead of paying attention to the story, I drifted in this weird half-world of total wakefulness and slight panic.

Just slight.

This morning I feel… pensive. I think that’s the best word to describe it. Otherwise I was going to go with the completely lazy and meaningless “some type of way,” but it’s actually kind of accurate. Yesterday I turned 28 and, even though I realize that’s not that old, it still feels like a turning point.

Like, Holy shit I am a real adult now and I’ve been doing things but still have more things to do and maybe do I want a baby or two because if I wait much longer I’ll be a fossil by the time they’re my age. That kind of peak. All weekend all I’ve been able to think about is how I’ve basically done nothing with my life.

I’m not at all downplaying all nine books I’ve published, nor do I feel like any of my other accomplishments amount to nothing. And I don’t exactly hear the ol’ biological clock ticking. It’s more like the way you feel on the morning of the first day of school after summer has ended: excited, slightly nauseous, and very serious. Playtime is over, but what did I do all summer? And what will I do now? Did that summer even mean anything?

I have no idea what I’m getting at here. This morning I woke up at 6:30 for no reason and it felt like such an adult thing to do. Being childless, I don’t normally feel very adult. I pay my bills and I write books, which is responsibility enough for me. Yesterday I read all about stocks, not because I felt like I should but because I really wanted to. Most terrifyingly, I enjoyed it.

*whispers* What is happening?

The season is changing and so have I. I feel like these past couple years have been a cocoon. I recognize myself but my markings are a little different. Hell, even my bunny birthmark is fading. Last week I had a major epiphany, and I could almost feel the air swishing by from that door closing. This was something that had dragged me down for 12 and 11 years, respectively, and yet within an hour of sitting and thinking, I let it go. That saying about arrows is so true.

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.


None of this feels bad. Going back to that first day of school metaphor, it just feels like I’m walking down the hallway, blindfolded, in a place I’ve never been. It’s different and I have only a tiny idea of what it’s going to be like.

Definitely another nine books (and then nine more, and so on). Possibly tiny humans, as long as I’m reasonably sure I won’t ruin them. And… who knows?

Please tell me someone out there knows what I’m talking about.