Be a Babe: Subscribe & get a free Beginner's Toolkit + more. Smooches!

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself to dance (a few words on the suckiness of self-judgment)

Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in acceptance, coping, resilience | 13 comments

It’s mid-afternoon, and I’ve got a roaring headache. My phone just crashed in the middle of an important call. My back is sore, and I’ve still got tons of work to do—but I can tell my body needs a nap. I crawl into bed, setting the alarm for an hour later…and lie there fitfully, unable to drift off to sleep. Eventually, I get up and grab a snack and a glass of water and sit down again at my desk. Now I’m even further behind than I was before, and I still feel unrested. I’m probably going to have to work well into the evening.   Or: I can ask myself to dance.   No judgment See, a friend of mine helps run a women’s dance group here in chicago called DDPP: Dance Dance Party Party. The group has three rules: no boys, no booze, no judgment. Twice a week, folks meet and take turns DJing, dancing together for an hour. You can dance however you want, and you can opt out of any song. It’s freakin’ fantastic. That part about “no judgment” is the thing that’s getting me on the dance floor tonight. Those two little words are a reminder to me that no matter how I show up, no one there is going to judge me. That’s especially important tonight, because I’m confident I’ll have to sit out a bunch of songs, or at least dance really slowly, perhaps just swaying or bobbing my head to the beat.   No self-judgment I have DDPP in my calendar as a repeating appointment, every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon, but sometimes I don’t go because I’m tired or sore and I won’t be able to dance the way I want to. Or the way I should be able to dance. Hear that? That is the sound of nasty self-judgment, and sometimes it creeps into my head and stops me in my tracks. I used to dance every weekend, hitting the club scene in Chicago and staying out til all hours. I prided myself on my ability to dance well past midnight, sometimes multiple nights a week. Since I got sick more than 20 years ago, I’ve had a really hard time accepting the loss of dance in my life. It’s not that I can’t dance at all—I just can’t dance to more than a couple songs at a time, or I can’t do all the moves I want to do. But that self-judgment is so limiting! It has kept me from pursuing a thing that brings me joy.   Tonight, I’m gonna ask myself to dance Yes, I’ve got work to do…but I know the quality of my work...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

5 Ways to Avoid Overwhelm When You Have Chronic Illness #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in acceptance, ChronicBabe Basics, coping, featured, practicalities, Work | 11 comments

Okay, I’ve got to remember to go to the dry cleaners, and call my health insurance about the EOB, and make sure I take my new vitamins this afternoon, and paint my nails for a photo shoot, and, and write a handful of emails, and… whew! I am overwhelmed! So it really resonated when one of our fellow #ChronicBabes emailed me to ask about overwhelm. (Did you know you can request a video on specific topics or questions around chronic illness life?) It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we have chronic illness, because there are so many things to juggle—and the world is just overwhelming all on its own! I hope you find some of my tips helpful.     *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: What kinds of things help you get calm and tackle overwhelm? I want to know! Tell me all about it in the comments below. Want more #AWAPwednesday? Check out our #AWAPwednesday video playlist, which has more than 130 videos packed with practical advice, lots of humor, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers. Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email. Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! (Rough) Transcript: Hi! I’m Jenni Grover Prokopy of ChronicBabe.com and today is AWAP Wednesday (that stands for As Well As Possible). Each week, I offer you my personal favorite tips and techniques to help you craft an incredible life beyond illness. Yes! I know you can. Subscribe to the ChronicBabe YouTube channel today to make sure you never miss another video, OK? One of our fellow #ChronicBabes wrote me recently with a question about overwhelm. She’s been feeling more and more of it since she got sick, and she wondered if I sometimes got overwhelmed, too—and what I do about it. Girl, you KNOW I get overwhelmed sometimes! Not only do I have a handful of chronic illnesses to manage, but I also run my own business teaching women how to live full lives in spite of being sick chicks, and I’m finishing writing my first book, and I have a couple of time-consuming hobbies, and friendships and a husband to maintain, and… I am SO with you on the overwhelm thing. I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to handling overwhelm. Here we go: Make a list. I know, it sounds obvious, but seriously: Make a list. Sometimes I use the reminders app that’s built into Apple computer products, so my lists are synced across all my devices. Sometimes I use the Evernote app if I want to make a list of things I share with my husband or a friend, so we...

Read More

Community Collab: How do you cope with the changing seasons?

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in acceptance, community collab, coping, featured, inspiration | 6 comments

This time of year is the hardest seasonal transition for me. As the days grow darker and colder, I feel myself sinking into depression—and I have to work VERY hard to not let that take over. So I wondered this week: How are YOU coping with the changing seasons? Kirsten said “complaining about my knees like an old lady! nah mostly I get the lovely scarves out and bundle up a lot. Also lots of curling under my heatmat in bed lol” (which made me want to research the full-bed heating mats I’ve heard great things about…) Beannachd said “I usually get super psyched for Halloween. It is the best holiday season! But the thought of the cold and the pain has got me really down this year. I lost the entire month of August and half of September to a migraine (apparently generic Kroger brand Afrin and Flonase are NOT the brand name ingredients!!!) Took me a month and a half to figure it out. I’m still not 100%, so when the pain hit with the cold snap, I just wanted to cry. It’s been in the 70s and 80s here this week, though, so I’m laying out and baking the pain away while I can. It has helped me resign myself to sweaters and socks at night. So I am trying to get into the spirit of my favorite season – Halloween lights are up, and we may leave them up til spring! Spiderwebs and spooky things and watching Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas – I totally want to be Sally! Mostly trying to enjoy what I can, and I’ll deal with the rest as it comes.” (which made me go pull out my halloween pumpkin, fill it with candy for the neighbors, and sneak a piece or two for myself…) Kyrie-Inn said “So much different in FL than it was in CT. Less adjustment. Miss my foliage though.” (which made me remember to appreciate the changing colors of all the trees around me here in Chicago…) Mary said “Here in Vegas the seasons don’t really change…” (which brought back fond memories of work trips there in January and February years ago, which offered me some respite from the snow and frosty temps here…) Delores said “I change the color of my blanket on the couch.” (which sounds like a dandy idea, so I went and swapped out the quilt on our living room couch…) And Laura simply said “Badly.” (which reminded me of how tough it is to cope, sometimes…) I hope this handful of interesting and fun ideas—and frank conversation about the realities we ChronicBabes face—is helpful to you. Feel free to continue to...

Read More

How Losing My Baby Saved My Life

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in acceptance, coping, depression, featured, guest author, pain, resilience | 5 comments

This post was guest written by Dany Barrett-Santaniello.   The mysterious purple rash appeared on my upper right thigh about four months into my pregnancy. Here I was, forty-one and doing the seemingly improbable: I was having a baby! Previously, I had had a miscarriage while on vacation with my husband and three teenage boys, but this time the nurse had said those magic words: “I think this one’s planning on sticking around!” My elation was insatiable and I was in love with this baby, this boy, we had found out. When I showed the rash to my husband, he noted that it was beneath the skin and said it was probably hormone-related. I was incredibly tired (hey, pregnant lady in her forties, what do you expect?), my body hurt and the pregnancy began to get very arduous. I reminded myself that I was twenty-seven when I had my first child, so hey, forties and pregnant, suck it up! Nothing seemed to be out of place : swollen joints, but regular blood pressure, normal heartbeats at check ups, my boy was growing strong!   During the sixth month of my pregnancy, on a night when my husband was traveling, I felt an internal tug, a feeling that woke me out of a comatose-type of sleep. The pain was so intense that I could not sit up and it traveled down my right leg. After regaining my breath and bearings, I called my obgyn and received the news that as long as there was no spotting (Thank you, God, no spotting!), it was probably leg pains and I should rest tomorrow. I called into work and rested. The next day, my husband returned home. I had spent the day resting and was ready to return to work as an eighth grade English teacher. I hadn’t felt the baby move, but I tried not to be too concerned. That boy had to sleep sometime, right? Right?! The next morning, I started to feel pains deep in my womb as if the baby were pushing against my cervix. I went to work and was talking to a colleague when the pain became so bad that I had to brace myself against the door frame. He asked me if I was ok, and I assured him that I was. During the last period of the day, I was giving instructions to my students when I was overcome with what I realized were labor pains. I called the main office and they had a teacher cover the end of my class while I called my doctor and began the hour drive to the office. I started to intuitively breathe in short bursts and drive. I...

Read More

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.

Links to other web sites are provided as a service, but do not constitute endorsement of those sites by ChronicBabe.com; we are not responsible for their content. We do our best to find the most rockin’ resources but hey, we’re human.

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!

As Seen In