Finding A New Normal

Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness

Author Suzan L. Jackson self-published a nonfiction book in February 2020. She describes it as a combination of memoir and self-help. Here’s a synopsis:

Whether you are in the early days of living with chronic illness or have been at it for years (or decades), there are always challenges in living a life framed by limitations and restrictions, where isolation is a common issue. This guide provides inspiration, advice on emotional coping, and guidance on living your best life with chronic illness from someone who’s been there. Though it seems impossible at first, your life will eventually settle into a new normal, and while that life may be different than the one you had planned, it can still be a vibrant, fulfilling life based on strong relationships, a healthy emotional state, and finding joy in every day. The emphasis in this book is on LIVING your life, not just enduring it.

You may also purchase this book through her book sale website or find more information on her personal website. Suzan maintains two blogs: Book blog and Live with MECFS blog.

Suzan has two Facebook pages at bookbybook and Learning to Live with ME/CFS. Send Suzan a Book Tweet or Live with MECFS Tweet. To see what she’s currently reading vist her Goodreads Author Suzan L. Jackson page.

Suzan’s Interview

What is your (1) most favorite thing to do OR (2) least favorite thing to do?

My favorite thing to do is to spend time outdoors with family or friends. Although my physical stamina is quite limited due to chronic illness, I still enjoy short hikes, kayaking, camping, or just being outdoors. When the pandemic started, we switched from meeting friends in a restaurant to hosting friends in our driveway with a campfire in our portable firepit (which helps with social distancing, too). Nature and the outdoors make me happy and help to rejuvenate me, and strong relationships with friends and family sustain me.

Enjoy the outdoors!

You can travel back in time. Will you go back (1) 10 years OR (2) 25 years?

First, I LOVE the idea of time travel. My favorite kinds of novels are those that play with time: time travel, time shifting, parallel universes, etc. I find the “what if …” questions endlessly fascinating! While I am quite content in my life now, it would be wonderful to go back 25 years to before I got sick (19 years ago now), just to experience again what it is like to be able to do anything I want, without restrictions or limitations. I would take long hikes, go backpacking, walk museums for hours, and revel in intense exercise! Also, that would allow me to relive my sons’ childhoods, which would be a blast. I love them as adults, but I do sometimes miss those little kid hugs, playing games together, and reading them books at bedtime.

So understandable!

Are you a person who (1) makes and follows New Year resolutions OR (2) never bothers with resolutions?

I don’t make Resolutions, per se, because they are often BIG changes that are likely to fail. However, I love the fresh start of a new year, and the chance to revisit my goals and think about what I want to do in the coming year. I have 6 Lifetime Goals that rarely change, and for each of those, I set specific Objectives and Targets each year–small things I can do each day to move me closer to my goals. I find these baby steps in the right direction far more effective than resolutions. In fact, the last section of my book is all about improving your life with this sort of process. Even those who are limited by chronic illness (or other challenges) can still make tiny changes to move them toward the life they want to live.

One small step at a time!

What provides more inspiration to you: (1) art OR (2) nature?

Nature! I love spending time outdoors, and I find nature peaceful, calming, and refreshing. Even on my worst illness days, just lying in a chair out on our deck or screened porch–watching the clouds, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze–can rejuvenate me and inspire me. Getting away from the bustle and constant stream of inputs of the modern world and tuning into nature resets my brain.

Very introspective!

(1) Can you name just one favorite novel OR (2) you love too many to just pick one?

I LOVE to read, and I LOVE books! I am an avid reader and have had a book blog for 14 years, where I share reviews of books (and TV and movies, too) with other book lovers. I belong to two book groups and love to discuss books. So, I always have a list of favorite books (I just made my choices for Best Books Read in 2020, for instance) that often changes. However, my favorite book hasn’t changed in many years. It’s one that most people haven’t heard of, REPLAY by Ken Grimwood, a novel about a man in his 40’s who suddenly wakes up back in the body of his 18-year-old self. He gets stuck in an ever-narrowing loop, reliving parts of his life over and over, making different choices each time. It is fascinating and engrossing, heartwarming and heartbreaking. As I mentioned earlier, I love these kinds of novels that play with time mainly because they are so thought-provoking, leading to questions of “What would I do?” Other favorite novels that play with time in my Top 10 of All Time include The Time Traveler’s Wife (gut-wrenching yet joyful) by Audrey Niffenegger and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

A true bibliophile!

Thanks for being interviewed, Suzan!

Finding A New Normal book cover
Finding A New Normal

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