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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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How to say “no” when someone keeps buggin’ you with questions about chronic illness #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in ChronicBabe Basics, featured, friends and family, ranting, relationships, self care | 2 comments

Do you get tired of people asking you to justify self-care? Are you sick of answering probing questions about “what’s wrong now?” when you need to reschedule something? Me, too! Today I’ve got my favorite phrases for shutting down those conversations and moving into more productive territory: I think this is something we all deal with, so I came up with a bunch of tips to help you – adapt them to your particular needs. *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: How do YOU handle conversations where people push back when you set boundaries? 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: Aw, thanks, but I’ve gotta wash my hair. Gee, that’s a nice invitation, but I have another commitment. Wow, you’re tenacious — thanks, but no thanks. Aw, hell no! 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?   Today I want to talk to you about saying no to people when they won’t stop buggin’ you about your chronic illness (or limitations related to it). I was talking with a friend the other day, and she lives in a community where people really push and push if you say no — they demand an explanation. I think that’s baloney! Most of the time, when you say “no” to someone, you don’t owe them a detailed explanation. But people can really make us feel like we have to explain ourselves. Today, I’m sharing a few strategies I’ve learned through the years that shut down unwanted conversations. Let’s say you need to cancel a coffee date with a girlfriend because you’re having a flare-up. You call her and say “I’m having a flare-up, so I’m sorry but I need to reschedule.” She responds with: “But why? I thought you were fine yesterday?” You could: Go into a lengthy explanation of your unpredictable chronic illness and its daily attempts to steal your fun. (That can be a real downer for both of you!) You could get defensive, and end the call abruptly. (That could damage your friendship!) Or… You...

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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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5 Ways to Feel Sexy Even if You’re Sick #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in ChronicBabe Basics, coping, featured, relationships, self care, sexuality | 2 comments

If you have chronic pain or illness, a decent part of your day is taken up with self-care and managing symptoms. Sometimes, you can get lost in that process, and forget that you’re also a sensual being. Today’s video includes five things I do all the time to maintain my sexy ChronicBabe side… and I’ll be curious to hear what works for you, too!     *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: How do you nurture your sexy side? 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: Oh, hey there. Hello. (Blows a kiss) Come sit down and let’s have a little chat, shall we, sugar?   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?   I’m sure you could tell from the intro that today, we’re talking about how to feel sexy even if you’re a sick chick. This is a challenge for me, and for many of us. If you have chronic pain or illness, a decent part of your day is taken up with self-care and managing symptoms. Sometimes, you can get lost in that process, and forget that you’re also a sensual being. For me, sexy is all about sensuality. Because I have fibromyalgia, my senses are always heightened to the max – that’s a huge part of the illness – so I often feel like I’m on overload, but mostly for BAD sensations. Embracing sensuality is about turning on your senses to all the GOOD sensations out there. It’ like pointing your little radar dish toward deliciousness. Here are a few ways I embrace sensuality in my day-to-day: When I wake up in the morning, I sometimes stretch and roll around in the bed like a cat. I try to embrace the languid nature of the wake-up time, enjoying that feeling of being in between asleep and awake. It’s lovely. I always put on some essential oils. You can buy these online from a number of retailers, and some grocery stores like Whole Foods carry them. You can go exotic, or you can go floral, or...

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Community Collab: How do you de-stress?

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in community collab, coping, featured, self care | 0 comments

Some days, we just need a little help to de-stress. Oh, what am I saying?! Every day we need to work to de-stress! So this week, our community collab post includes tons of things y’all love to use to de-stress. Personally, I like a hot bath, a lake view, some classic sci-fi, a little bourbon or some hot tea, some nice hand lotion, a great playlist, or meditation. Here’s what you offered (I got a lot of ideas!): Move a muscle, change a thought. Oh, and dogs. Sunshine and bare feet on the grass. If I can’t get out of bed then it’s binge-watching anything good. Cannabis, hot tubs, music. The beach. Salt air. Sun not necessary. It cleanses my soul. Something so large and powerful. I feel closer to God. I have to admit – today requires a Xanax. Hot tea & some chocolate, liberally apply a cat to my lap with my feet elevated and watch some distracting tv/movie or read. If I can’t sit, then some favorite music to move around to as much as I’m able that day. Hugs my critters. Watch a documentary (new info takes my mind off of what is making me antsy). Crafts. I have a chaise lounge in my backyard and I love sitting in it with a book or magazine. First go-to: fill the tub with sea salt and a few drops lavender essential oil, turn off the lights, candles, candles and candles and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I also love doing meditation or just listening to my iPod and a good book at Montreal’s Botanical Garden, literally a few minutes walk or 1 bus stop away on low spoon days. Epsom salts bath, then some restorative yoga. Unless it’s a really bad day and I can’t get in and out of the bath, let alone up and down off the mat. Those days it’s funny shows on Netflix or something. The Big Bang Theory is my happy place. It allows me to forget the pain for a half hour. I also enjoy guided meditations on YouTube. They are a huge help. On good days taking our kitty for a walk in the nature trail nearby. Being in the woods always restores my spirits. Meds, nap and read. Sitting under a shade tree looking out over any body of water. Taking a nap with my puppies! A nice long, hot bath and some gentle yoga usually help me destress! Even with this achy body, stretching is like meditation to...

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Whatever You CAN Do is Enough.

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in acceptance, coping, featured, friends and family, guest author, inspiration, resilience, self care | 11 comments

This post was guest-written by ChronicBabe Catherine Richardson.   I spent the first three years of my life with chronic illness completely unaware that I even had a chronic illness. I had daily symptoms and I even had a diagnosis, but a chronic illness? Sick? No. I wondered why it seemed like I had a harder time doing life than everyone around me, and I pushed myself too hard and stretched myself too thin in an effort to try and make up for that, but it never even crossed my mind that what I was dealing with was a chronic illness. After I got so sick that my whole life fell apart, chronic illness was still a really tricky concept to wrap my head around. It seemed horribly misplaced when used to describe me, but once I knew what I was working with I was able to start to reassemble my life accordingly. Four years later, chronic illness is my normal, and along with it have come other words and terms that I never imagined would be part of my life, words like hospital, feeding tube, central line, wheelchair and disability. Nothing about any of this has been easy, but that transition from the before to the after of realizing I had a chronic illness was also when other words and terms such as self-care, management, advocate, chronic illness community and acceptance became part of my life. These words are what have allowed me to cope with the scarier ones. My heart aches for that earlier version of myself because even though she was in better physical health than I am now, she so was burdened by the feeling that this was something she had to overcome and if she couldn’t make herself better it would be her fault. If I could go back in time I know exactly what I would tell her. It’s the same thing I tell myself so often when I’m worried about not being able to keep up. It’s what I tell myself every time I wonder if my brave face is going to be brave enough, every time I feel torn between what I think I should be able to do and what I realistically can do, and every time I try not to get my hopes up too high because I never know what my body will throw at me from one day to the next, even from one hour to the next. It’s also what I told my friend a few weeks ago when she used every ounce of energy she could muster up to attend a wedding yet she still wasn’t sure if it would be enough to carry her...

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