Vulnerability and Authenticity with Chronic Illness

What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful…there’s a word for it: authentic

Vulnerability is a scary thing. We don’t want to look weak. We don’t want people to pity us or judge us. We know we can’t be perfect, but we don’t want to seem too imperfect. So often, we think our imperfections are our flaws. However, we shouldn’t confuse the two or make them interchangeable. Because our imperfections are what make us unique.

When you have a chronic illness, you experience a whole lot of vulnerability. Your parents become your at home nurses, your friends have to run errands for you because you can’t physically get out of bed, your partner sees you cry out of pain and frustration or curled up in the fetal position because any other position is too painful. These are all vulnerabilities that we can hide from the outside world, though.

It’s one thing to be vulnerable with the people who care about you and love you – it’s a totally new ballgame when you show your vulnerability to strangers!

But, spoiler alert – you are human. Every single person you pass on the street is self-conscious about something. Every single person has an imperfection (or lets be real, imperfections). But not everybody shares theirs  and because of that, someone else who may have a similar imperfection feels alone or isolated because they think they’re the only ones like them. They may end up confusing imperfections with flaws and look upon their own imperfections with a negative mindset.

I know it’s hard to share our stories and our vulnerabilities because we think whoever we’re sharing them with may judge us. As humans, we sometimes judge another person or their situation simply because we are unfamiliar with or can’t relate to them or their situation. But, that’s not fair, is it?

I can raise my hand and say that I am still working on sharing my story and my health journey with not only strangers, but sometimes friends, because I’m worried they’ll look at me funny, or think I’m strange or think I’m over exaggerating my pain & symptoms. So, most of the time, I turn to writing because it’s personal and I don’t have to show it to anyone else.

writing in DC

But recently, I’ve been trying to really open up to my own vulnerabilities and show all aspects of my journey without hesitation or reservations. And I urge you to do the same.

Share your journey with others. Give the world a window into the unique person you are. No one else shares your story, but I promise you that someone else can relate to your story. By being vulnerable and showing that vulnerability to the outside world, you could be helping someone else just like you. And, honestly, you’ll end up helping yourself most of all.

November Intentions: Grace and Gratitude

Hello November!

Setting monthly intentions has quickly become one of my favorite mindfulness practices. It’s a way to set goals for myself and a way to remind myself of the mindset I want to live in. I’ve started placing my intentions on my dresser so that I have to look at them every single day. This way, I’m not just writing the intentions to write them – I’m writing them so that I can really live them out.

With that said, here are my intentions for this month:

  1. Start each day by asking for grace
    For the past week or so, I have made it a point to start each day by asking God to pour out his grace on me so that I can face the day ahead of me and whatever it will bring along with it – good or bad. And I have noticed a difference in my mindset throughout those days. Sometimes I have to remind myself to do this – I like to compare myself to an athlete in training – training myself to pray consistently in the morning. Someone said something to me recently that really struck me – she said we can compare ourselves to cars and grace being our fuel. We can’t ask for grace once and expect it to last. We have to refuel, and ask for grace each day. So, I try to start my days by filling up on grace to get myself through the day. If praying isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you start your day by meditating for five minutes, or writing down your intentions for that day, or taking five deep breathes and silently tell yourself “I got this. I will conquer today. I will be patient through any obstacle that comes my way today, because I am strong enough to overcome anything.”
  2. Write three letters to people in my life (and continue this each month here after)
    One of my hobbies is creating handmade cards. I like the creative aspect of it and I like giving them to people and seeing their reactions. I like putting a smile on people’s faces whether it’s for their birthday, a holiday, a celebration or just because they’re super awesome and deserve a little extra love that day. Also, a lot of my family & friends don’t live in the same city as me. So, I’m going to use this hobby to fuel my creative tank and also to keep in better touch with the people I love and care about.
  3. Continue networking and saying yes to new opportunities
    In the past few months I have tried to put myself out there in a number of ways – I attended a BlogHer conference in NYC by myself where I knew zero people; I have attended events that people I don’t know very well have invited me to, where I knew I would know only that one person there; I’ve reached out to different chronic illness support groups as well as other advocates and influencers. I love meeting new people and learning their stories. I love sharing knowledge with and gaining knowledge from knew people. Everyone has something to teach us, so why not ask? I’ve also learned that I have had some of my best times at events and things that I wasn’t originally looking forward to that much or that I was really nervous to go to. Put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do something new. Explore a new city. Try a new hobby. Say hi to that stranger sitting next to you. You never know where it could take you.
  4. End each day with a grateful heart
    This is the season of giving thanks – but that doesn’t mean we should only be giving thanks during this one month. A couple of months ago, I created a new habit that I know I’m going to stick with. Each night before bed, I write down the things I am especially grateful for that day and I then write down ways in which I can improve (physically, emotionally and spiritually) the next day. It’s such an eye-opening way to see that we have so much to be thankful for. There are so many people who care about you. There is joy in the little things. And there is always room for improvement.

Have you set any intentions for November? What are you most grateful for right now? How do you wish to improve in the next month?

November intentions

Napping In Public & Not Letting Pain Cancel My Plans

This weekend I made a quick weekend trip away with my little brother to Duke University! He wanted to visit the campus & my Virginia Tech Hokies we’re playing them in a football game that weekend, so it was a win-win.

We enjoyed walking around the campus (I’ll admit, it was beautiful.) The weather was great, sunny & breezy & not too too hot.

But as luck would have it, I ended up with a bad headache about an hour or so before the game was supposed to start. I wasn’t surprised by the pain, because we had been walking around for hours in the sun (and the campus isn’t flat, so there were lots of going up & down hills/stairs.)

Walking up stairs, exhausted, out of shape

My exertion headaches have always been ruthless & I haven’t been able to find any treatment that has helped them. So I always just have to suck up the pain if I want to participate in certain outdoor activities.

Because my brother is so patient & always supportive, he was ok with us sitting down and relaxing in the student center for about an hour before the game. We managed to find a place where I could nap for a short bit, because I knew at that point, only sleep would help decrease the pain I was feeling. So that’s what I did, I shamelessly napped in the Duke University Student Center. But honestly, it helped! I felt a lot better when we got to the game and I was able to enjoy the experience with my brother & create those memories with him. I didn’t want to let my pain stop me from being able to do that.

Moral of the story: Listen to your body & do what you need to do to lessen your pain. Getting awkward stares while you nap in public is worth feeling good enough to enjoy whatever event/evening/etc that you had planned! And don’t be afraid to ask the people you’re with to adapt their plans to help you feel better, because trust me, they want you to feel better too!

Shout out to my brother who encouraged the public napping & who is always willing to adapt plans to make sure I’m feeling ok💛

Duke university