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Announcing: ChronicBabe Pen Pal Kits

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in featured, practicalities, relationships | 6 comments

do you miss feeling connected? sometimes i do, too. and when i do, i try to make an extra effort to reach out to people and say hello. one way i do that is by sending snail mail. it’s such a simple thing to do – write a short little note, throw in some confetti, seal it with a kiss, and toss it in the mailbox. and i LOVE getting snail mail – it’s like a little present! so i decided this week that i would help y’all become better pen pals.today, i’m announcing today the release of ChronicBabe Pen Pal Kits! i am raiding my stationery collection and creating fun little packages from my stash. each kit contains:  at least 3 note cards. these might be blank, or might have fun phrases or illustrations, like “thank you” or “you’re awesome”3 Forever Stamps, to make sure you send your snail mail. these are good for mailing within the U.S. FOREVER, but don’t wait!at least one roll of washi tape, to use to decorate your envelopesat least 20 stickers from my massive sticker collection from all over the worldtwo ChronicBabe stickerstwo You Are Beautiful stickersextra decorative paper and other goodies I find as I raid my drawers the kits are for sale in my Etsy shop, and will be available until i run out of goodies. so these won’t last forever!  international kits available for those who live outside the U.S., i offer kits that don’t include stamps, for a slightly lower price. you’ll have to get your own postage. and next week, i’ll tell you about another component of this pen pal project: a pen pal membership component, which will make us pen pals. that’s right…you and me. pen pals. writing to each other. doesn’t that sound fun?! i’m working on the details now, and will announce next week how you can get involved. here i am, dreaming about all the snail mail i’ll get to send and...

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A step-by-step process for creating a morning routine #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in ChronicBabe Basics, featured, practicalities, resilience, self care | 4 comments

Do you struggle to make your mornings meaningful? Are you feeling frustrated because you’re not getting enough done early in the day, and you run out of steam by the afternoon? (I relate to that so much!) Do you want to prioritize self-care? Then a morning routine is for you, babe. We’ve been talking about this process in the Secret Club membership program, but this process is just too good to share only with my members. My meaningful morning: To create a more meaningful morning, I first review all the things I would like to do in my morning routine, and I make sure to get clear about WHY they are important to me. Here’s the list I created today during a Facebook Live video: wake up at 5:45 – so I can be sure to accomplish all that I want drink a big glass of water (equivalent to three cups) – hydration helps reduce pain and inflammation, and we wake up dehydrated, so this is the first thing I do heat up my back – I’m always stiff in the morning, so a heating pad helps me get loose work in my planner – I love my daily planner, and I fill my day while I’m on the floor with my heating pad do yoga – a standard 20-minute routine helps me limber up for the day; when I don’t do yoga, I feel awful all day drink tea – my only source of caffeine during the day, a couple cups of black tea have a healthy breakfast – protein is important for powering me up, and I try to sneak in as many fruits and veggies as I can in a big smoothie, so if my diet is not healthy the rest of the day, I know I’ve met my produce needs bathe – this might be washing my face, or taking a shower or bath, depending on how much time I have meditate – I’m trying to build up to 45-60 minutes a day, so incorporating a meditation moment in the morning helps me meet my goal creative time – this feeds my soul, so I try to do some hand sewing or coloring Whew! That’s a lot, I know. I’ve worked on this routine for years, and I know what I need to start my day right. I try to do most of these every day. Your first task: Make your own list Think through your ideal morning. It’s the time to get you pumped for the rest of the day, even if your “rest of the day” is going to be spent on the couch. What do you want? What do you need? What...

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That time I went to the E.R. because I thought I was having a heart attack…and almost didn’t, because I was afraid I WASN’T having a heart attack

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in ChronicBabe Basics, fears, featured, pain, practicalities, resilience, self care | 10 comments

SPOILER ALERT: I was NOT having a heart attack. Last night, I was taking a shower when I had a sudden searing, clenching pain in my chest that took my breath away. It lasted for a couple minutes, and then got a bit better, but my left arm and shoulder and neck were clenched and sore. My chest felt tight. Was I having a heart attack? Nope. Turns out, it was a huge muscle spasm. I had never had one like that before. But WOW did it present like a heart attack. I Googled “women’s heart attack symptoms” and had almost everything on the list (minus nausea or vomiting). But did I go to the E.R. immediately? Nope. I felt scared, but not just that I was really sick—I felt scared that the staff would judge me harshly if it turned out I wasn’t having a heart attack. How messed up is that?! Have you ever left the E.R. with undiagnosed symptoms? Oh, babe—I know you have. I have, too, many times. I think it’s part of having undiagnosed chronic illness; as we try to figure out why we feel so broken, the E.R. is often the easiest place to get care for things that feel, well, emergent. I’ve done it so many times over the past 20 years, in fact, that I’ve developed a bit of shame about it. That shame has sometimes kept me from going, because I know the odds are that they won’t find anything. Tests will come back negative, blood work won’t show anything, and they’ll throw up their hands and say “we don’t see anything wrong, so maybe you’re under stress?” And then I’ll head home, dejected, still unwell, and alone. This pattern repeats over and over for many of us, and can begin to make us feel like it’s never worth going to the E.R. or the doctor’s office. But DO NOT stop getting checked out. What if I had been having a heart attack? Seriously, how terrible would it have been if I was having a heart attack, and didn’t get checked out because I was worried about being ashamed of not being sick? Super terrible. And I’m not a doctor…how should I know if I was sick enough to go to the E.R.? Google is NOT our doctor either, babe. But dang, even Google was telling me to go to the hospital last night. My husband, Joe, got home just as I was deciding to call 911. The operator said a person should never ever neglect chest pains, and that they were sending an ambulance. Joe spoke up and said he would drive me. A few minutes later, we were...

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What’s the secret to being as well as possible (AWAP) in spite of chronic pain and illness? Start with: Acceptance

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in acceptance, ChronicBabe Basics, coping, featured, practicalities, resilience | 20 comments

Sometimes, we need to come back to a foundational practice, one which I’ve learned is just that—a daily practice. I’m talking about acceptance, one of the most powerful tools we ChronicBabes have for staying AWAP.   When someone asks for my secret to thriving, I usually respond with “acceptance” I was talking to a loved one earlier today, and he thoughtfully asked if I was out of my flare-up yet. The way he put it, actually, was “are you feeling as well as possible?” “Yes,” I replied. “So you’re not having as much pain as a few days ago, I take it?” “Well, actually I have more. But I’m still AWAP,” I said. A brief moment of quiet passed between us. “But you were traveling last week—didn’t the pain keep you from going?” he asked. “No, I mean…the way I figure it, I’m either going to hurt at home alone, or hurt in a fun vacation house with 10 friends, so I still went on the trip.” Another moment of quiet. “If you figure out the secret to being AWAP even when you’re hurting so much, be sure to share it,” he asked. “It’s acceptance, all the way.” But what is acceptance? Acceptance is all about getting real with all the things that ail you, and looking them right in the eye and saying “I see you, ailments. I know you are not going away, or if you are, I have no control over when that will happen… but I’m not going to let you stop me.” It’s about saying the serenity prayer on the regular: “God (or Goddess, or Universe, or…), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to changes the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Acceptance is not letting yourself Google the same symptoms over and over and over post-diagnosis, hoping to find a new “fix” and driving yourself crazy. The practice includes asking for help when you need it, even if it’s more help than usual, and not apologizing for needing help. Acceptance is allowing yourself time to grieve because this shit is super hard. Practicing acceptance means doing all your regular check-ups even when your calendar is crowded with other health care appointments, because you know neglecting things like your teeth or your boobies could mean developing EVEN MORE health issues and who needs that? Acceptance is not trying to recreate the wheel every day. Instead, it’s creating routines that take into account all your needs, so you can do all that’s possible to make the most of your day each day even if you’re hurting or flaring up. It’s knowing that even if you feel...

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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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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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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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