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Noelle Janka: Despite Chronic Illness, She’s Crafted a Career That Helps Others

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in featured, inspiration, Kick-Ass Sick Chick | 0 comments

It’s always great to meet a fellow ChronicBabe who’s managed to craft a career despite serious illness. Noëlle Janka is that kind of woman; she lives with chronic lyme disease and a couple other health challenges, but she’s still managed to find a way to work and help people. We interviewed each other last week about our work and other pursuits. Here’s my interview with her…I hope you’ll find it interesting and perhaps get inspired! One of the things Noëlle offers is group coaching, which I think is a great idea for those of us who have mega-high health care costs and limited money to spend on other things. She also has a thriving yoga practice. Now, before you flinch—yoga kind of gets a bad rap—you should know that we talked a lot about how yoga is more than just the poses. It’s a practice that includes mindfulness, breathing, awareness, grounding…it’s so fully encompassing, and customizable for your needs. And Noëlle also interviewed me! Here’s that interview. A Kick-Ass Woman with Chronic Illness Know another cool woman with chronic illness who I should interview? Let me know – jump in the comments below to share your ideas. Thanks! …and if you want to read another interview with someone super-cool, check out my conversation with Mary England from...

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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 | 18 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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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 ChronicBabe101.com 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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It’s a party: ChronicBabe 101 is out September 25

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in announcements, chronicbabe 101, featured | 4 comments

Friends, I am THRILLED to announce that my new book, ChronicBabe 101: How to Craft an Incredible Life Beyond Illness, comes out September 25. Woo hoo! To be the FIRST to know when it’s available for sale, sign up at ChronicBabe101.com – a website that will also be packed with resources to go along with the book. There’s so much goodness to share with you! There are 11 expert interviews with a collection of awesome folks I call my “Pep Squad.” There are tons of caregiver perspectives so we can be sure to understand what it’s like for them to love us. And the book is PACKED with practical advice, heartfelt encouragement, personal stories from my journey to becoming a ChronicBabe, and much, much more. There’s also fun swag! Starting September 25, when you go to ChronicBabe101.com, you’ll be able to order buttons, stickers, wristbands, and more so you can show off your ChronicBabe pride. I’ll also be hosting contests, giveaways, webinars, and much more in the coming weeks. The BEST WAY to keep up with everything is to check out my Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts – I’ve been showing off lots of sneak peaks over there for the past week and it’s really fun to see what y’all are loving! I also want to reassure you that this book will be available to you in all your favorite formats: print (my personal favorite), ebooks for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks, and I’m starting to work on an audiobook version (that one will take a couple months to work out). Babe, I hope you’re as excited as I am! This is gonna be FUN. xo,...

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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 | 17 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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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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