For me, alone time isn't lonely or empty, it's sacred.

It’s been almost half a year since I last posted. I’ve been thinking I could churn out an update for several months now. But this year, my allergies took me entirely out of the game. I had planned on releasing audiobook versions of at least several of my books this year–and owe two of them to very patient contest winners from this spring. But the raspy, phlegmy version of my voice is not something I want to inflict on anyone.

Then I had the thought that maybe I could get back in the writing groove with NaNo. Something about the communal energy of producing words has always previously worked as a spur to my creative energy.

Instead, after a multitude of doctor visits and an array of tests (which are actually still in progress), I’ve discovered my adrenal function is basically at zero, and I’m allergic to everything in the world except cacao, penicillin, and white mulberries. Complicating my health picture are leaky gut and a crazy overgrowth of candida. I’m managing to drag myself through my existence by dint of willpower, which doesn’t leave energy after work hours for sitting even longer at the keyboard and producing my next story or blog post… or keeping up with Discord chats.

Following my inclination to hibernate has meant I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying my own company. Meditating. Aligning myself with the sacred. Embracing the fact that I am an introvert who could happily avoid 99% of human contact for months at a time.

Then I compounded the fun with a dislocated rib and shoulder on Thanksgiving. I’m not even sure how I managed those injuries, but the radiating pain and the numbness in my outer left fingers made me wonder for a short while whether I was having a heart attack.

As evidenced by this sign of life, some of our initial efforts to turn the ship seem to be paying off.

I still feel mostly broken. Mostly like the limit of what I can accomplish is a minimal baseline of feeding myself and my family and making sure my pups get their daily walks, while keeping up with my day job responsibilities. I have a backlog of reviews I was supposed to have posted over the summer, and work-related courses I’m still supposed to take.

Because certainly, The Great Resignation hit my team with a vengeance. A third of my staff elected to take control of their lives by changing the main thing they could: Their jobs. Think pieces like the one from the New Yorker may have some basis in fact for some segments, but did not reflect the things I was hearing from my colleagues. And what I’m hearing now about a reluctance to return to a full-time office gig are complicating conversations about how we manage our work and our time. Learning to balance work time with self time adds a different layer to the conversation, and I’m hearing more people talk about the different stressors they live with. Which makes this HBR article about the phases of making a major life change useful.

Choosing to spend time walking the doggies daily has turned out to be one of our most grounding, soul-feeding activities. Backed by research that indicates 20 minutes for three days per week is the minimum to see that benefit. (But only if done when not accompanied by your active cell phone screen…)

I’m hopeful my annual holiday break at the end of the year helps me complete the system reset we’re currently kicking off. I still have stories I’d like to write–in my mind, chapter 1 of book 3 is mostly written, and I have some ideas about the trajectory of Dr. Marina’s character arc that I think will satisfy readers… and reflect some of the inner journey I’ve been on this year.

Here’s wishing my readers a satisfying holiday season that allows you to find the sacred space it is intended to remind us all of. And learn to rest well.

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