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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...

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5 strategies for facing the upcoming holidays with chronic illness

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in ChronicBabe Basics, coping, holidays, relationships | 7 comments

I used to really dread making it through the winter holidays with chronic illness. And I do mean “making it through”—that was the best I could hope for, never mind actually enjoying them! It felt like I had to claw my way through them.   All the ways the holidays can go poorly While it felt like everyone else breezed from party to party, I agonized about how to manage my limited diet when facing big, luscious buffets packed with things I knew would not feel good in my body. I watched in envy as friends wore cute, sparkly heels, while I crammed my pained feet into clunky boots that could accommodate the wool socks my Raynaud’s phenomenon-having tootsies demand. And I never felt like I had the energy I wanted as I socialized, and when I did, I would sometimes find myself without a lot to talk about. When you’ve gone through an extended period of illness, or fatigue, or depression, it can be hard to make witty small talk. And when it came to gift-giving, I frequently felt stressed out by planning, shopping, and wrapping. But mostly shopping: The malls! The driving! The carrying heavy bags! All while wearing a heavy Chicago coat in Chicago winters! I would count every penny and have to take deep breaths as I processed each purchase. Family was sometimes tough, too. While some family members are cool, some really don’t accept my health-related limitations, and that leads to a lot of awkward conversations and situations. It wasn’t all bad… I mean, I’ve also had some pretty great holidays. Decorating the trees, visiting my nieces, drinking hot cocoa by a toasty fire, sledding, goofing with friends. But let’s be real: The holiday season brings a lot of pressure. It’s hard not to succumb to the pressure to be everybody’s everything. We sometimes feel like our illness should take a vacation so we can meet the expectations of others. But that’s not how bodies work, babe. I know you know that, but the holiday season is going to try to make you feel otherwise. So let’s talk through a few changes I’ve made during recent years that have ensured my holiday season is much more enjoyable. These definitely have not removed all the stress, but they’ve minimized it, for sure. And it gets easier every year.   5 Strategies for making the most of the holidays with chronic illness: Stop sending holiday cards. Seriously, they cost a bunch of money, and most people barely glance at them. You spend hours shopping for them or designing them; you spend much moolah on printing or purchasing them, plus all that postage. And you wear yourself out putting together the mailings....

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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 | 12 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...

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How to find hope during difficult times with chronic illness #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in ChronicBabe Basics, coping, depression, featured, self care | 8 comments

Hello, there! I’m so happy to be back with a fresh video for the new year, all about the little things I’m doing daily to find hope: Yesterday, I was feeling SO down. The world is just bonkers right now, and it’s hard to stay positive when I see bad news every single day. That’s on top of living with chronic pain and its unpredictable, totally sucky nature! So try as I might, sometimes I just get really low. So yesterday I did a handful of things that really helped. Probably just one would have done the trick, but… I never like to do things halfway, so I did a bunch of them. This week’s #AWAPwednesday video shares all the details. I hope they inspire you to come up with your own list of hopeful activities! *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: What kinds of things are YOU doing to inspire hope in your day-to-day?  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!...

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3 Weird Sounds to Make When You Feel Bad #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in coping, featured, humor, inspiration, pain, resilience | 11 comments

When I’m doing my morning yoga routine, I hurt. And I tend to moan and groan a little as I ease into poses. But sometimes, I get so sick of hearing myself moan and groan. And on days when I feel my depression creeping in on top of the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, moans and groans can make my heart hurt, too. So I came up with three fun sounds to make instead to crack myself up. I think they’ll help you, too—at the very least, you’ll have a laugh! *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: How do YOU crack yourself up when you’re struggling? Tell me all about it in the comments below. Want more #AWAPwednesday? Check out our #AWAPwednesday video playlist, which has more than 100 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! (Loose) Transcript: (Jenni making weird sounds) 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? Sometimes when I’m doing my morning yoga routine, I hurt. OK, fine – let’s be real – I always hurt when I’m doing my morning yoga. And I tend to moan and groan a little as I ease into poses. My beau, Joe, is used to this. Sometimes I feel bad, because I know it must make him feel uncomfortable to hear me groaning so much – but when I say “I’m sorry,” his response is always, “babe, don’t apologize – you’ve gotta express that pain so you can let it out.” (He is so smart!) But sometimes, even I am sick of hearing myself moan and groan. And on days when I feel my depression creeping in on top of the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, moans and groans can make my heart hurt, too. So I came up with three fun sounds to make instead to crack myself up. The sounds are really simple. First: cartoon horn. Ah ooo gah! Just imagine shouting that as you feel pain, instead of sighing, or moaning. Ah ooo gah! Next up: karate sounds. Hiyah! Just imagine you are bending over to pick up something and your back twinges. Instead of groaning, a little hiyah! can really hit the spot. Finally, try this one out: Hey-oh! This one is just...

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Stone soup: How to create something from nothing when you have chronic illness

Posted by on Oct 31, 2016 in coping, Creativity, guest author | 10 comments

This post was guest written by Therese Kay. What is Stone Soup? Stone Soup is created from “nothing.”  Several variations of this old folk tale exist, but here’s the gist:  A couple of hungry travelers venture upon a town asking for food.  The townspeople refuse to feed them, claiming that all their food has been eaten or needed.  The travelers convince the town to feed them by making stone soup.  They build a fire and ask for a pot.  Filling the pot with water and a stone, they proceed to “cook.”  At this point, he travelers say, “It’s wonderful and we’ll share!  We just need a few things to make it delicious.”  A carrot, some seasonings, a bit of potato… you get it.  Remove the stone, and – Voila!  Soup!  The travelers tricked the villagers into sharing their food and they created a tasty and nutritious soup to share with everyone. Assess Your Soup Pot Hungry for some soup?  A tasty and nutritious life?  Let’s get busy!  Yes, you may only have a stupid stone and you’ll have to use one of your precious spoons to do it, but the results will be worth it! First, what’s in your soup pot?  Just that stupid stone?  Mystery ingredients?  Gross stuff? Take a full inventory.  Be sure to scour all of your “shelves.”  You probably have ingredients hidden about that could make life pretty tasty.   Skills?   Resources?   Friends and family?   Medical team?   List them all.  Sometimes we forget about some ingredients.  The limit of what you can add to your soup is your imagination – and the imaginations of the people who we allow to add to our soup! Get Others to Add Ingredients In order to make a nice soup, we need a bit of help.  Very few of us have all of the ingredients we need to make the tastiest most nutritious soup to feed ourselves.  How can you convince the villagers of your life to share their ingredients?  Remember, in the fable, the travelers didn’t simply rely on the villagers’ curiosity, the said what they needed! So, the best way to get those ingredients? Get cooking with what you have!  Build the fire, put on the pot, plop in the stone.  The villagers will be curios. Likely, they will begin offering what they have to add to your soup.  Don’t be afraid to make suggestions – ask for what you want and need.  If you want a carrot, ask for a carrot.   The best way to get help is to start helping ourselves and then inviting others.  Action begets action.   How Do We Keep Out Unwanted Ingredients? Uh-oh.  Here comes a villager...

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