TODAY's Jill Martin opens up about painful 2020 losses in powerful new essay

After ending her engagement while navigating professional changes, Jill couldn't get out of bed for weeks — until her dad told her two little words.
/ Source: TODAY

Like so many people during the coronavirus pandemic, TODAY contributor Jill Martin has had some big challenges over these past several months. The shopping expert shared how she coped and is moving forward in a recent essay for NBC News correspondent Maria Shriver's newsletter.

To start, Jill explained that in May, she was going through a phase where she couldn't get up, unless she was filming a remote segment on TV for TODAY or QVC.

"These were the only times I left my bed," the 44-year-old wrote. "My sister-in-law would set up the segments for me as I was barely eating and just couldn’t find the energy. It took every bit of strength I had to shower, get dressed, do my hair/makeup, and prepare."

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"The pandemic was winning," she added, before explaining that her uncle had also become very ill with COVID-19. Now, he's home and recovering, but at the time, he'd "been on a ventilator for two and a half months ... and the outlook ... was extremely bleak," Jill recalled.

There were professional challenges, too. The TV personality was working all three of her full-time jobs remotely with "so much unknown," she said, and the show she'd launched before the pandemic hit was postponed indefinitely.

"For the first time in 15 years, I had given up my apartment in New York City and to top it all off…my engagement just ended," Jill wrote.

"I felt hopeless," she continued. "The year was a mess. I always knew life had challenging chapters, but it seemed like everything was upside down. I was always the person to look for silver linings and bright spots, and now I just couldn’t find them."

Following this whirlwind of instability and change, she was only able start "turning the page, writing the next chapter and moving forward," she wrote, when her dad spoke two powerful words to her.

"'GET…UP' spoken matter-of-factly-but-with-a-loving voice by my father as a form of loving motivation, have become my empowerment mantra and a game changer for my outlook on life," Jill wrote.

Adopting this mantra has also inspired the New York Times bestselling author to pause and reflect.

"I didn’t celebrate the victories and I didn’t mourn the failures. I was constantly rushing…too fast…too all over the place," Jill explained. "I have always measured success in terms of how happy I am. I now realize, deep down, I wasn’t really happy, just very distracted by the constant movement. Something needed to change."

"The pandemic has served as a 'strainer' for me in so many ways," she continued. "Things that are supposed to be in your life remain, and what is not goes. I believe energetically we are given what we can handle. I have learned to live in the moment, feel heartbreak and sit with it, look for the bright spots (because they are always there), stay in on a Friday night with absolutely no FOMO (fear of missing out), and most of all — find gratitude for all that I have."

Jill has even gotten an opportunity to test out her new motto with someone else in need after a close friend's mother died suddenly.

"We spoke every morning after it happened and one day I shared what my father said to me: I said, just 'GET UP.' That is all you have to do," she recalled. "I cannot pretend to imagine the heartbreak of losing a parent (as I am typing this, even talking about it, I have tears running down my face), but I knew my friend needed a push.

"Every morning since then, my girlfriend texts me, 'I’m UP!' And now she moves on with her day — often with tears, but she’s up ... living ... doing the best that she can. And right now, all we can ask of ourselves, is to do the best we can."

Now, Jill is focusing on "finding silver linings and bright spots wherever (she) can," she told TODAY. One of them is hosting a special edition of Holiday Steals and Deals, streaming for free on TODAY All Day on Peacock at 9:00 a.m. ET on Nov. 23.

"My prayers go out to everyone going through heartache of all different kinds," she added. "I am trying to focus on the things that I am grateful for instead of the things I can’t control."

Jill's also been shocked by the positive reception to her essay, she said.

"I am blown away, humbled and extremely grateful that my article has impacted so many," she told TODAY. "I have gotten so many messages filled with stories and reasons people have chosen to 'get up.' Or amazingly, how they they will now choose to do so."