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How to respond when someone says “this is what you have to look forward to when you’re old”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in activism, ChronicBabe Basics, featured, relationships | 18 comments

Yesterday, I was relaxing in the hot tub at my gym. I had just completed an hour of strenuous water movement class, and my body was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME…so the hot tub was an essential relaxing moment. The usual gang of fellow classmates was there—women, like me, who take the class because it’s accessible despite physical limitations. What you need to know is, everyone else in the hot tub was a solid 20 years older than me. And that’s all good. We’re all in it together. (I mean, literally in it!) But yesterday, a woman I’ve never spoken with before turned away from a group conversation about chronic pain and illness and said to me: “This is what you have to look forward to when you’re old.” Sigh. I hate these conversations. I’m not sure what the goal is of someone who says that. Are they trying to freak me out about my future? Sorry, babe, I’m not that easily scared. Are they feeling awkward because they’re leaving me out of a group conversation, and somehow trying to explain why? But in a backhanded way? I don’t know. I can’t understand the benefit of ever saying that phrase to someone. I know I look younger than I am; no one ever guesses I’m in my mid-40s. And I’m the young one in the class usually, so I stick out. But still: There’s no need to single me out. An awkward conversation Anyway, I took a breath and started my usual spiel: “Actually, I’ve had chronic pain and illness since I was 25, so your conversation is familiar to me. No need to explain.” Her: “But you’re so young! You were diagnosed when you were 25? Oh, that’s so horrible! I’m so sorry.” Me: “Thanks, but no need for sorries. I’ve worked it out and actually made a life for myself in spite of it, and I’m proud of my work.” I described ChronicBabe, which she seemed to find fascinating: Her: “Oh, you’ve really made lemonade out of lemons! Good for you! But I’m so sorry.” Me: “Really, no sorries necessary. By the way, what’s your name?” We introduced ourselves, and then I said: “Of course, you can always just call me ChronicBabe if you forget my name.” Her: “Oh, no, I could never.” She looked down. She got uncomfortable. She started to climb out of the hot tub.  Me: “Okay, nice talking to you. Have a great day!” Her: Grumble grumble awkwardly departs. Is it generational? Sigh. I think maybe it is; I talked to my physical therapist about it today, and she reminded me that people a couple decades older than me were raised to...

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The ChronicBabe 101 book is almost here!

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 in announcements, chronicbabe 101, featured | 8 comments

I’ve been away for a bit, and a few of you have checked in to see that I’m okay—thank you! I’m just fine (well, I’m exhausted, but happy.) The project I’ve worked on the past few years—ChronicBabe 101: How to Craft an Incredible Life Beyond Illness—is almost here! It’s going to be a big, beautiful book…with an accompanying website packed with audio, video, and downloadable resources like worksheets and a study guide. It’s gonna be SO good, y’all. Once the book is out, I’ll be back to my regular schedule of YouTube videos and other social media nonsense, and many more blog posts and guest interviews. (I have some really fun new projects coming soon, too!) Can’t do this alone I’ve been very lucky to have the support of so many people, including the nearly 600 individuals and organizations who supported the project as part of my Kickstarter. In particular, my dear friends, husband, and family have been awesome in recent months as I went all-in on finishing this project. My BFF cooked me dinner; my husband did the laundry; my family texted me words of support. I needed every moment of it, because finishing this project has been a whirlwind of details and decisions and it’s been physically and emotionally draining. It’s not just the physical and mental work of crafting a 90,000-word book. It’s also coordinating the efforts of a handful of consultants who are helping me make it great, including two photographers, a graphic designer/illustrator, a copyeditor, a digital conversion specialist, and a web designer. It’s researching dozens of tools and services to make sure I’m using the right methods for delivering the book and all of its associated content. It’s balancing a budget and trying to pinch pennies without skimping on the product. Stepping out on a limb And it’s being extremely vulnerable, in a very public way. My entire life, I wanted to publish a book; this is my life’s dream coming true. While I’m very confident y’all are gonna love it, I also have moments of panic. What if all this work doesn’t pay off? What if people don’t love it? What if there’s a typo? Some days, my anxious side likes to try to take over. I know this, though: This work has already paid off, because I’m making something that will help people, and I’ve learned a ton through the process—and had the pleasure of working with some other wonderful creatives. I also know people will love it, because I’ve been bringing you ChronicBabe for 12 years and y’all just keep coming back. And I also know that, yes, there will undoubtedly be a typo or two, no matter how many times...

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The frustrating truth about the extra price we pay #AWAPwednesday #gymshorts

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in featured, practicalities, ranting | 26 comments

I was shopping today at Target and had a strong emotional reaction to some gym shorts. All the women’s workout shorts were very short. As in: my derriere would be hanging out the back if I weren’t careful. And none of them had pockets to hold my inhaler or my cell phone while I work out at the gym, or my keys if I want to take a long walk outside. And they were in cute colors, but also cut very weirdly in an attempt to accentuate my curves. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t care about my clothes accentuating my curves while I’m working out -that’s what the *workout* is for. So I browsed over to the men’s gym shorts and—lo and behold—all their shorts had pockets. Some of the shorts had THREE pockets! They were also a bit longer, so I wouldn’t have to worry about flashing my undies at fellow gym-goers when I’m doing floor work. Plus they were all about 30% cheaper. That’s right: 30% less money for shorts made with more fabric and with more bells and whistles and, ultimately, which fit me better. Woo hoo! I threw in a discounted sports bra (cuz I always look for sales) and went home with two new pairs of shorts… and my well-covered derriere (and my wallet) were happy. But seriously, can we talk? I got in the car and started feeling irritated. After a few minutes, I was downright angry. Why is it more expensive to be an as-healthy-as-possible woman? I already have to buy a sports bra (which men don’t have to do) – why are retailers also trying to make me pay more money for less benefits in the shorts department? Hmmmmm does this sound familiar? I see the same baloney in health care and maintenance today. Let’s start with period stuff: Women, over their lifetime, will spend approximately $18,000 on pads and tampons and stuff. Women also spend WAY more money than men on contraception. Plus the #wagegap. I mean, we start out at a disadvantage because most of us earn less than our male counterparts. We also tend to go to more health care appointments, because we require ob/gyn appointments and breast exams, and because we tend to have more chronic illness so we’re generally at the doc more. And much of that chronic illness hits us during our childbearing years, which are also prime income-earning years, so we lose out on all that money—and all that ability to save for our retirement, or build up cred in the social security system so our payments at retirement are less than most men. Sigh. The system is a bit rigged...

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A brief list of the ways in which I’m flared up a.k.a. fibromyalgia is a beast but I’m still trying to be #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in acceptance, featured, pain, resilience | 21 comments

Babes, you know my usual way is to share lots of uplifting videos and posts, but today it’s less about uplifting and more about realism and a reminder that you are worth taking care of. Some days, it’s enough to get on the computer for a bit and clear some emails. Today, for instance. That’s about all I can manage, work-wise. And this here blog post. That’s what AWAP (As Well As Possible) looks like for me today. I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now, and I’m amazed at how disabling it can be. After many years of trial and error, I feel like I have it pretty well managed and I’m mostly able to work normal hours and get my business done. But on days like today, I am humbled by this ridiculous condition. I’m flared to the max; it’s like every system in my body is inflamed. Here is a brief list of the ways in which I’m flared up by the fibro-beast today, starting from the feet up: My right foot is sore in a muscular pain way, making it painful to walk. I think it’s because I did some machine sewing last weekend, using the pedal to run the machine as usual. How dare I make crafts! A bruise I got from my shoe being too tight (!!!) has spread over most of my ankle. I’m in dire need of a pedicure. (Oh wait, that’s not fibro’s fault.) My knees are sore, and I have a tingling sensation in my right thigh—and not in the fun way. My lower back is stiff and sore, and no matter how many yoga poses I try, stretches I do, or heat I apply, I can’t get it to calm down. My hips are stiff and crackly. I tried doing some belly dance moves this morning to open them up, but no dice. (Although I think I looked pretty cute while doing them!) My skin is itchy all over. There’s no evidence of a rash, and I’ve applied anti-itch cream a bunch of places, but it isn’t making a difference. In any case, a full-body dip in calamine lotion is just not an option today. My shoulders and neck are stiff and sore, and that’s translating down into my hands, which are also very sore and unhappy that I’m using them on a keyboard. Too bad, hands! I have an area of irritation on my stomach that has no visible explanation, but is warm to the touch, and not happy that I’m wearing pants with a waistband. I’m dreaming of a mumu right now. Sounds are super loud to me today. My husband sneezed earlier and it...

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I’m still here. Here’s what’s been going on at ChronicBabe HQ…

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in announcements | 53 comments

Hello, my friends. It’s been a while since I posted, and I wanted to give you an update—especially since a few of you have written me recently asking if I’m okay. I’m okay. But just okay. It’s been a rough few months here at ChronicBabe HQ. I’ll tell you about it now, because a big part of the reason I run this project is to show the real side of life with chronic illness, including all of its ups and downs. And I want to fill you in on how this part of my business works, too, because it has bearing on how often I’m able to create new content. Acute illness In December 2016 and January 2017, I had an extreme upper respiratory infection that lasted for weeks and sent me to the hospital. It was very scary—struggling to breathe always is, right? Because of that, I missed a lot of fun holiday celebrations and travel. It took me a very long time to recover, and during that time, I was almost completely unable to work. That meant client work fell behind schedule, ChronicBabe projects fell behind schedule, and I spent a lot of time in my PJs… which sounds dreamy but seriously, after a few weeks, a girl just wants to put on a bra and get outside, right? I think all of us know how hard it is to live with chronic illness, and think it should prepare us for handling acute illness all breezy-like, except it doesn’t. In fact, I kind of resented the acute illness; how DARE I get another illness on top of all the other crap I have to manage day in and day out! Sigh… this is just life. It does help some, but when we’re already sick all the time and we pile on another sickness, it’s really tough. A beautiful thing is that I rallied for a couple days in there and got married! It was a tiny ceremony with a tiny group of friends, and low-pressure, and just perfect. I’m very lucky I found enough health to enjoy that day. Family tragedy Quick on the heels of my recovery from acute illness, my mother-in-law became gravely ill. My husband and I drove overnight to be with her and our family, and ended up staying out of town (mostly at the hospital, and then a hospice center) for a couple weeks. She passed away, we held a lovely service, and came home. And I felt completely numb. I’m crying as I write this. I only knew Connie for about seven years, but I saw what an incredible presence she was in the family, and I’m forever grateful to have...

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WE’RE NOT DOCS!

Info posted here should not be considered medical advice; it's not intended to replace consultation with physicians or other health care providers. 

Every Babe needs to find her own path for achieving optimal wellness. While we do tons to help guide you, it’s up to each of you to make well-informed choices and live with the consequences. ChronicBabe.com assumes no liability or responsibility for stuff that goes wrong.

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Take what you like from this space, and leave the rest. Use what you learn to make your life better. Be responsible for your own choices. And please don’t sue us. XO!

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