Thursday, January 23, 2020

Writer Spaces: JoJo Tabares

Today, we introduce another new series - Writer Spaces. On Tuesday, we explored "A Day in the Life of JoJo Tabares" and today, we get a glimpse of JoJo's writing space.

JoJo’s Writing Couch
by JoJo Tabares 

When I was a young girl, I could write ANYWHERE!  Just give me a purple notebook. I’d write sitting on the floor, on my bed, upside-down. I even wrote stories in my dreams. As a homeschooling mom, I wrote my Art of Eloquence speech communication curricula on my desk top computer following the notes I had handwritten in my purple notebook.  It wasn’t the most comfortable place for a writer who stands 5’ nothing. I haven’t met a chair yet upon which I didn’t have “dangling feeticiples.” I often sat on my legs because it was a smidge easier for my arms to reach the keyboard.

As I got older and collected several more diagnoses, sitting in one position for too long resulted in neck pain that radiated up to my head the likes of which couldn’t be calmed by an ibuprofen tablet the size of Milwaukee. Fibro eventually took my ability to contort my body with any regularity and my writing couch was born.

One purple laptop later, and I was comfortably seated with my feet up, a purple blanket
at the ready in case of a chill and an elegant Chinese fan lying in wait for the inevitable hot flashes. Everything a chronic illness blogger needs for her day is within reach.

On the table beside me is my purple thermos of ice water and four TV remote controls for background noise—unless I push one button too many and end up listening to static and watching screen snow. In that case, I turn on my YouTube favorites and wait for my husband or son to rescue me from my technological faux pas. I’m perched in the perfect location to view anyone coming to my front door requiring my attention and I’m within earshot of an over boiling pot of spaghetti for those inevitable brain fog moments when I forget I’m cooking.

One of the writing couch’s adaptations was achieved entirely by accident.  My husband had taken off the legs the last time we moved in order to more adequately use space in the moving truck. Several months after setting up house this time around, it suddenly dawned on me that my feet actually touched the floor! We were able to find the legs tucked away in a box in the basement, but by this time, I had become accustomed to not feeling like a toddler, and my husband had become accustomed to not having to assemble anything else.

After each of my five recent surgeries, it was my writing couch by day and my bed by night. My writing couch remains my favorite writing environment catering to my specific chronic needs even as they are ever changing. From my writing couch, I cannot only write with relative ease, but I can put aside my laptop and rest whenever naptime strikes. (Okay, I guess I still am somewhat of a toddler.)

JoJo Tabares is a Christian chronic illness blogger at and runs a Facebook group by the same name. She’s been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses/conditions, but she sees the humor and joy in just about everything and shares how others can find the light God has INSIDE the chronic tunnel. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Day in the Life of Chronic Illness Blogger JoJo Tabares

Today, we begin a new series on the blog, introducing you to some writer and artist friends. On Tuesdays, we'll share snippets of their lives with you in "A Day in the Life of ..." column, and then on  Thursdays, we'll share a glimpse at their work space.

Today's special guest is author JoJo Tabares.

A Day in the Life of Chronic Illness Blogger JoJo Tabares

by JoJo Tabares

I’ve been writing since I was nine years old, but the way in which I write has undergone some “creative” changes in the past 48 years. Writing isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. Unfortunately, who I am is currently a chaotic pile of uncooperative body parts looking to make a difference.

I feel called to support and uplift the chronically ill and, as irony would have it, chronic illness makes that a bit complicated. Having several chronic conditions can put a damper on your focus, limit your energy, and in my case, also compromise your fingers. More on that in a minute.

After falling in and out of the night’s insomniatic slumber and prayer time, this writer’s day starts with coffee, the magic elixir of clarity and cognition. It takes me several hours to make it out of my medicated sleep stupor,  so I hop on Facebook for some daily humor and writing inspiration.

I love to create memes that speak to the lighter side of chronic illness as well as many other topics. I’ve been known to poke fun at social media and Facebook etiquette plays a recurring role. After satisfying my giggle quota, I share a few fun meme’s I created on my personal wall and on my Life Beyond Surviving Facebook group.

The rest of the day is a hodgepodge of chaos where my writing plays a sporadic and varied part in between housework and doctor appointments. My writing these days takes two forms. One feels almost like dictation where my fingers fly and very little editing is needed.  The other feels more like a brain dump of ideas followed by weeks or months of rewriting, editing, and/or staring at a title through brain fog so thick I can hardly remember my own name.

 The two biggest issues I face as a writer with chronic illness is fatigue and tremors in my hands that make it difficult to write, type, and edit. However, I’m a resilient sort and I live in an age of technology, so I have found some work arounds.

For many years, the only way I could write was on a notebook with a purple pen. As you may have noticed from my picture, purple is my favorite color. When I could no longer read my own writing, I began typing my articles and that’s when I discovered my talent for creating memes. Essential tremor is a degenerative condition and I’m slowly coming to the point where I will need to dictate my thoughts into a voice activated app. I do that now when I text and respond to social media via my phone.

Another adaptation I’ve had to devise is a plan for my other major chronic illness issue: brain fog. As you might imagine, sleep deprived and fatigued is no way to work your brain. It’s hard to put two thoughts together when you’re running on half brain cell wattage at best.

I have found that having the TV on as background noise helps me focus. I know, sounds counter intuitive, but it works for me.  When I’m in writing mode, that works for me, but when I’m especially brain befuddled, I switch gears and work on creating more JoJoisms (my humorous and sometimes insightful one-liners about life) in visual format using an app called Canva.

When I can no longer function, I give myself permission to veg out. Once I’ve had an hour or a day…or a week to get over a Fibromyalgia flare, I start the chaos all over again. I never know how much I’ll get done in a day, but as long as I’m moving forward, it’s progress. I have a lot to say. My body just has a lot of say over how much I say in any given day.

JoJo Tabares is a Christian chronic illness blogger at and runs a Facebook group by the same name. She’s been diagnosed with several chronic illnesses/conditions, but she sees the humor and joy in just about everything and shares how others can find the light God has INSIDE the chronic tunnel. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Travelogue Releases: Go West, His Momma Said

I'm thrilled to announce the release of the #LeapFrogs travelogue, Go West, His Momma Said. The book is in full color, and has almost 400 photos of our cross country, tent-camping road trip.

Here's the back cover blurb:

“Only one question remained: Do we stay or do we go?”

Faced with life-changing decisions, Tim and Tracy made the only choice they could—they went!

Go West, His Momma Said chronicles the Ruckmans on their 189-day cross country road trip as they tent-camped their way from state to state.

Piling into their SUV, loaded down with camping equipment and electronic gadgets, they determined to see as much of this land as they could. No set destination, no prepared plans, no schedule, but with a limited budget—the seniors explored and discovered as they went. They pulled out their bucket lists, then discovered they were adding just as many new dreams as they were checking off.

Come join them during the first half of their journey as they explore parts of the west, just as his momma told him to do.

Go West, His Momma Said is currently available in paperback and on Kindle, hardcover should be available within the week. Books are also available from most local booksellers by request.

Grace Lessons and My Word for 2024

Each December, for many years, the Lord gave me a “word” for the new year. The last couple of years, I sought words, but they never came. Th...