Hi all, Jenna here!
“Who???” You may be asking, “Why is this random person taking over Crystal’s blog?!” You have good reason if you’re actually thinking this, since I’ve been MIA since around mid-August… But enough about that for now. I want to get the good stuff out of the way before I pull you into the bad Lifetime movie that’s been my life these past 4 to 5 months. (If you’re interested, that story is at the end of this post.)
Today, January 6, 2016, marks the fourth year since I started book blogging. That’s right. In January 2012, I started my first little book blog, Making the Grade, which would transition into Jenna Does Books sometime in early 2013. Fate finally led me to a collaboration with Crystal here on Bookiemoji. Not only in today special for me (because if you ask me, 4 years of blogging is a pretty big deal) but it also has been a full year since Crystal and I opened this blog in January 2015. I cannot believe it has been a WHOLE YEAR!!
Working with Crystal on Bookiemoji has been one of the coolest bookish endeavors I have ever undertaken. It has taught me that some friendships are bigger and more significant than the distances between us. Though she and I have never met in person, I feel closer to Crystal than any of the people I have interacted with over the years – and our bookish family extends to so many whom we both speak with on social media and other blogs, as well. (You know who you are. *cough* see our side bar *cough*)
While I regret that I basically left Crystal high and dry – and with the sole responsibility of taking care of our little bookiemojis – during the later half of this past year, there have certainly been some high points in 2015. We’ve participated in a number of exciting book launches and blog tours, we’ve created over 25 unique bookiemojis (with more to come!), we opened a Society6 store and we were invited to be part of the Uppercase YA book subscription box in June 2015!
There is certainly a lot to cheer about in 2015 – and lots to look forward to in 2016!
To thank you ALL for making Bookiemoji more than we could have hoped for – we’d like to offer a giveaway right here on the blog for our readers and friends. *TWO WINNERS!* ONE person will win a book of their choice (under $20) from the Book Depository (International) and a SECOND person will win an item of their choice (under $25) from our Society6 store, Bookiemoji Designs (US only).
International giveaway is open to wherever Bookdepository.com ships.
Ends January 31, 2016. Must be 13 or older to enter. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I figured I would add this little bit at the end for those who have stuck with this post beyond the giveaways…
If you’re curious as to why I have not been around so much this year, I am going to use this space to talk about it. This will be my first time looking back at these past four or five months as a whole, so forgive me if I ramble. Back on August 20, 2015, my husband of almost 13 years, a man whom I have known for almost 20 years – he is my high school sweetheart and soul mate – fell while at work. He is (or was) an iron worker, a position he has been in for over 15 years. But because of his 35 foot fall this past August, he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that he didn’t wake up from for over 2 weeks. It kept him in the hospital for 2 months and, since then, he has required weeks and weeks of rehabilitation, doctor appointments and various other procedures. He recently went back to work (not as an iron worker) in mid-December – exactly four months after the fall. Now, almost 5 months later, his road to recovery is still not over and there have been some adjustments in our lives.
The questions at the very beginning involved: “would he make it?” and “what am I going to tell our daughter?” These questions then progressed to: “who would he be when he woke up?” and “is my husband as I know it gone for good?” Then: “will he walk again?” And finally: “will he be able to help support the family?” Well – call it a miracle, or good luck, or just plain stubbornness on the part of my husband and myself – after four of the hardest months of my life, I am happy to share that my husband is alive and well and, aside from sporting a few of the physical “scars” expected after such an injury, he is very much the man he was before (to the amazement of all of his doctors and physicians… and, I admit, even me).
There was a lot of uncertainly during his recovery and rehabilitation. It is still a challenge during those moments when I am reminded of what has happened, the changes in our lives, as well as the uncertainties of what is still to come. If you or anyone you love has ever suffered a brain injury, you know what I mean. If you haven’t or don’t, let’s just say that I would not wish the last handful of months on my own worst enemy (if I had one). I have dealt with everything from anxiety and depression, to moments of great joy, confusion, sadness and everything in between. I have had the best support system anyone could ever ask for, both inside and out of the bookish community. I do not know how I would have gotten through this time period without the support, kindness and love of others.
During this time, I simply went through the motions of day-to-day living. I was on auto-pilot. I forgot about all the things that brought me joy; including reading, my blog, work, music, etc. Only my daughter and visiting my husband at the hospital, and eventually at his inpatient rehabilitation center – day in and day out for months – kept me going. I was so focused on my own world and, even after things improved, I feared I would never regain interest in things like reading or blogging ever again. I tried to stop by Twitter every now and then to stay in touch with friends and to give the obligatory Facebook updates about my husband’s progress (or lack there-of). But even that died down over time. After all these months, I wondered: was it too late to even get back into those things again? Where did my enthusiasm go? Who am I now?
Then (actually very recently) the spark hit me again. I started plowing through books, rather than reading one a month (if I was lucky). I found myself genuine happy. I wanted to find out who I was again, to do the things I enjoy. I discussed these things with friends on Twitter and eventually started the #Back2BasicBlogging hashtag. As a result, I am here in front of you now, committing to read and to blog and to spread my enthusiasm for books once again. I cannot lose who I am. Why on earth would I want to do that?! All because of an event that happened in one single instant, many months ago? One that we both bounced (excuse the pun) back from and, I think, became closer and stronger as a result. Just like my husband will not let his brain injury define him, I, too, will not let these past few months define me.
Traumatic brain injuries are a widespread (over 1.7 million people are impacted by brain injuries each year) yet relatively unknown condition. If you ever want to learn more about what I have gone through, I would recommend reading the book Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back From Brain Injury or Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering From Traumatic Brain Injuries. They are not easy reads, but they are true and very personal to me.
To learn more about traumatic brain injuries, visit: http://www.brainline.org/.