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My hero, on a step ladder (sometimes we just need a little validation)

Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in caregivers, featured, relationships, Uncategorized | 19 comments

Last week, I had a super-aggravating experience related to what my husband, Joe, and I jokingly refer to as one of my “fibro super powers.” But luckily, it ended in the kind of validation I think we all need.   Every sound is so loud! Since I developed fibromyalgia 20 years ago, I have become extra-sensitive to everything—especially sound. I remember those first years post-diagnosis, when I would get frustrated about the sounds my neighbors made. I found myself plugging my ears every time an ambulance or fire truck went by, and started carrying ear plugs to wear whenever I traveled. And it’s not just the sound itself; the bass of loud music or trucks going by is also really tough on my system. And when you live in a huge city, it’s hard to escape. My amazing hearing is a terrible “super power” to have! But no one around me seemed to experience the same sensitivity; in fact, when I would complain about the issue to people I was close to, I was mostly met with blank stares, or flat-out negation. “I don’t hear it, so I think you’re imagining it,” my ex would say. “It can’t be that loud if I can’t hear it, so can you just ignore it?” he would ask. Um, no. He certainly was not the only person to minimize or deny my experience; co-workers, friends, and family all did the same thing. That negation was not intentional, I’m sure; I know that none of the people who did it was actively trying to hurt me. But wow, did it hurt. I learned to keep my mouth shut, even when it was causing me extreme distress. Sometimes, I would curl up in a ball in bed, with piles of covers over me, ear plugs in my ears, and just cry. It wasn’t just the constant negative sensation of the rock music from upstairs, or the nagging hum of the truck idling outside my window. The thing that hurt most was when people would shut down my concern or negate my experience. Experiencing validation from my community Recently, I attended a retreat for women with chronic pain. Spending a weekend with a handful of women who immediately “get” your experience is powerful. During one conversation, I discovered that at least two other people there with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions also live with the intense sound experiences that I have. It was amazing—I mean, I was literally amazed by how good it felt—to be heard, and to experience validation. Just knowing that someone understood my experience, and told me it was okay to be upset by it, made me feel like less of...

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Self-love: Jenni chats with Mary from Uncustomary about a powerful practice

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in acceptance, guest author, inspiration, self care | 0 comments

A few months ago, I stumbled across an Instagram account that was just irresistible. Mary is a strong, creative, energetic, authentic woman talking about the benefits (and challenges) of practicing self-love, and I adore her style. She offers resources at her website, Uncustomary, including blog posts, a podcast, a fun (and affordable!) membership service, a book, much more. We had a couple conversations and now, OMGOSH are we friends. I’ve written before about how we can rock our look as ChronicBabes; this babe rocks it Every. Dang. Day. Today, she’s hosting me over at her Uncustomary podcast, and I’m hosting another conversation here, too—because we both believe women with chronic illness deserve to love themselves deeply, no matter how sick they are. And have fun while they’re at it! Jenni: You’re all about the self-love and its impact on leading a happy life. What brought you to this work? Mary: The short answer is knowing what it’s like to be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum! I started developing multiple mental illnesses at just eight years old, and it seriously impacted my adolescence in terms of self-esteem and overall happiness. Feeling like I wasn’t in control of my body made me hate my body and myself which spiraled deeper and deeper. I finally got to a point where my symptoms were controlling my life and I knew if I didn’t at least try to do something about it, I was going to end up in a place I didn’t want to be. So I started cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is one of the huge stepping stones I pivoted on and feel changed my life. I basically learned how to deal with some of the most obtrusive symptoms in my life, and by doing that I felt this mental space open up in my mind. I finally wasn’t totally consumed by just getting through the day; going from one symptom to the next… I had room to wiggle around! I could even get creative! I dove back into crafty stuff I had missed from my childhood and started documenting it. From there emerged a blog, and that blog chronicled the progress of the journey of my self-love exploration and discovery that is ever-growing. Essentially, I realized that if someone who had five mental illnesses, a palm-full of pills to take just to function, and a panic attack metaphorically scheduled on her Google Calendar could start loving the body that had gained a hundred pounds in the process (from medication side effects) and herself, that it was possible for other people in better and even worse situations. I wanted to provide my perspective in hopes it would be useful...

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Join me for a celebration – November 12 in Chicago

Posted by on Nov 2, 2017 in announcements, chronicbabe 101 | 0 comments

Now that ChronicBabe 101 is published, I have a little more breathing room—and I want to celebrate with you! I’m hosting a book party on Sunday, November 12 from 1-5pm in Chicago at TLR: The Living Room. The space is wheelchair accessible, and the party will be kid-friendly. We’ll have snacks and treats and drinks and music and free swag and book signings and… it will be a lot of fun! If you’re interested, please RSVP to the Facebook event. And please help me spread the word by sharing the event on your Facebook feed, inviting your friends, shouting from the rooftops—there will be room for all ChronicBabes and their loved ones at this...

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The ChronicBabe book is now on sale

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in announcements, chronicbabe 101, featured | 0 comments

The ChronicBabe book—ChronicBabe 101: How to Craft an Incredible Life Beyond Illness—is on sale today! After a few years of work, I’m thrilled to offer the first-ever ChronicBabe book! Head to right now to buy a print copy or ebook, and grab all kinds of bonus materials, including: A discussion guide for book clubs A fun habit checklist A special bonus PDF about making friends with illness Full audio of all the “pep squad” expert interviews in the book 10 fun life lesson videos Swag like buttons, stickers, and wristbands …and more The ChronicBabe book is packed with resources for you I organized the book into 10 “lessons” that focus on some key areas for women with chronic illness: It all starts with learning to practice acceptance (Lesson 1) Learn to kick those bad habits to the curb (Lesson 2) It’s time to turn around negative thinking (Lesson 3) Establish healthy boundaries to create confidence (Lesson 4) Learn to love your body again (Lesson 5) Build your “team” to maximize support (Lesson 6) Strengthen personal relationships to weave a safety net (Lesson 7) Adapt your education and career to boost success (Lesson 8) Become a talented communicator (Lesson 9) Get organized: Tips, tricks, tools, and systems (Lesson 10) Within each lesson are interviews with guest experts, who bring their personal voices to our conversations about life with chronic illness. They include two psychologists, one doctor, a pharmacist, a career coach for people with chronic illness, three ChronicBabes with successful businesses, an executive coach, and a sexuality expert. In addition, I included interviews with a dozen caregivers, who provide perspective on how it feels to love someone who has chronic pain or chronic illness. These perspectives may be tough to read at times, but they help us understand what they go through. This helps us to become better partners, spouses, daughters, mothers, and friends to the people who care for us the most. Other goodies included in the ChronicBabe book: In addition, I included homework assignments in each lesson (don’t freak out—I’m not grading you!). They offer guidance and additional resources. I’ve also included some fun “pop quizzes” throughout, designed to encourage you to think differently, explore alternative approaches, and make you laugh. And in the back of the book, an “extra credit” section offers more than 350 website that I think are amazing resources. Most of all, I want you to know that the book is written from me to you—in my voice as a ChronicBabe. This is because I think we’ve already more than enough dry books about our individual chronic conditions. Don’t get me wrong, those have their place. But in comparison to what you’re used to reading, this book offers a fresh voice...

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Join me and for a book release party September 25

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in announcements, chronicbabe 101, featured | 0 comments

I’m so lucky to announce that my friend Tami Stackelhouse, the Fibromyalgia Coach, is hosting a book release party for me on September 25, at 5pm ET, 4pm CT, 2pm PT. So fun! Join us as we talk about what it’s like to be ChronicBabes and creatives, and how together we’ve created three books—despite having chronic illness. It’s going to be a SUPER-FUN LIVE webinar and you’ll get to see inside the book, and hear all about all the fun things Tami and I do—including all the strategies we use to stay productive even on our worst days. We’ll talk about sexuality and chronic illness; enlisting the help of your “team”; managing your time and energy; and much more. Join us! Sign up TODAY so you can secure a spot for this exciting online launch party. I can’t wait to see you...

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