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For those struggling with depression, healing from abuse, anxiety, or living with a chronic illness - the idea of hope can sometimes feel disconnected from our reality. Matt Pappas joins me in this episode to discuss his own journey with hope. What's helped him tangibly engage and define his personal sense of hope and encouragement for listeners who may WANT to hope, but don't know where to start. Click here to give it a listen!

Thoughts on Hope: A Podcast Interview with Matt Pappas

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It’s been a few months since I launched with my first podcast episode for my channel, Grit & Grace and I loved hearing your feedback and connecting with you all. After that episode I went radio silent as it’s been a difficult few months of juggling treatment and work from home…But I’m finally back with our next episode!

Today’s Guest: Matt Pappas

I recently chatted with Matt from Surviving My Past about the reality and challenges of the word “hope”.  He is active in the online community, striving to bring encouragement to others who share his past of childhood abuse as well as those who battle anxiety, PTSD, and illness.

It can spark a variety of emotions in us when we hear or talk about the idea of hope, can’t it? Engaging hope when you feel hopeless can bring pain or discouragement. We may feel “less than” for not being able to grasp it in way others want us to or how we think it should manifest. All the while, others seem to keep the flame of hope burning inside, despite the struggle of pain, depression, or loss.

But wherever you’re sitting on this topic, you’re welcome here.

In this episode, Matt shares honestly on the ways he views hope, as well as the real challenges that both abuse survivors and the chronically ill face. It’s an insightful conversation, not a head-in-the-clouds message on hope. This is all about grassroots hope, real experiences, and encouragement for the struggling heart.

How do you engage hope? Let us know in the comments!

To connect with Matt more visit his blog at survivingmypast.net and be sure to download your FREE copy of his new book: Surviving Grief.

You can find Matt on the following social media channels:
Twitter: twitter.com/survivingmypast
Facebook: www.facebook.com/survivingmypast
Instagram: www.instagram.com/survivingmypast/

And be sure to subscribe to his podcast!

Want to listen to the episode on Marriage in Chronic Illness? Click here!


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Ignoring Injustice in the hopes these issues will just "go away" does nothing more than perpetuate what is already a problem. Emelda Coteau joins us on the blog from Live in Color to share her thoughts, and they are powerful and needed.

Ignoring Injustice Doesn’t Make it Go Away

 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

-Edmund Burke

My friend and fellow blogger, Emelda and I connected this year through the colorful squares of Instagram – and I’m ever so glad we did. Her perspective as an Afro-Latina woman living in the U.S. has been enlightening and caused a stirring in my spirit. It has challenged me to not merely observe, but to enter into – and learn from – conversations of social justice.

This blog began with the intent of engaging grace on a deeper level. And I believe some of the key ways that manifests in our lives is through kindness, compassion and respect for ourselves and others. Which includes learning to truly listen to someone’s story. To their truth, their reality. To perspectives that are different than our own.

I hope we will be willing to hear from more voices like Emelda’s here on the blog. And that we will not only read these words with an open heart, but that it would spark change, softness, and a willingness to advocate and support our neighbors who are different than us. The world needs more of that.

Ignoring Injustice Doesn’t Make It Go Away

By Emelda Coteau

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”

Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence Into Action (an essay)

Our country is erupting. Systemic racism, exclusion and police brutality are nothing new. And yet, so many folks wonder why there is such explosive anger now? Well, those of us who are marginalized because of skin color, sexual orientation, different abilities and gender identities, are tired of the big lie and its widespread impact on our lives.

It is the lie of silence. Some of our neighbors, co-workers, and even friends believe if they are simply quiet about race, injustice, and the benefits of white privilege, this uproar will dissipate; we can soon return to “normalcy,” and the seductive comfort of denial. Yet silence shields no one, slowly it swallows courage and suffocates thoughts, thoughts and words which could lead to healing.

The longer we allow the busyness of our lives to overtake the need for critical reflection and questions (How do I benefit from my race, gender, sexual orientation or ability? How can I begin to hear others?) the stronger roots of division become. American society has refused to see so many people for so long. And what is rejected cannot be understood.

"The cycle of silence and indifference only comes undone when there is a willingness to discard the myths and stories we tell ourselves, when we stand knee deep in the messiness of the unfamiliar."

As I share these thoughts with you all, I am listening to a song, “White Supremacy II” by musicians Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Jamila Woods. Macklemore’s words, his raw personal realizations, laid bare in this track, linger stubbornly in the quietness of my office, demanding contemplation:

“White supremacy isn’t just a white dude in Idaho. White supremacy protects the privilege I hold. White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home. White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent.”

Is this an attack on white folks you may be thinking? No. It is a call to honestly wrestle with the ways whiteness equals privilege and protection in American society, and how, whether intentional or not, it denies the truths of people of color and our humanity. There is not a singular truth, there are many, many truths.

The cycle of silence and indifference only comes undone when there is a willingness to discard the myths and stories we tell ourselves, when we stand knee deep in the messiness of the unfamiliar…

Noted writer James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Our children will inherit the world we create. The questions confronting us today can either point toward liberation or complacency. The time for change is now. Is your heart open?

Emelda De Coteau is a loving wife, mama, creative, and believer seeking God anew in each moment. She is the founder of the inspirational and faith blog, Live In Color. Emelda is a columnist for Beautifully Said Magazine, contributing writer at Our Words Collaborative, co-founder of  #WomenCreativesChat, an online community, contributing writer and brand representative for Pretty Entrepreneur, a supportive network for women in business, and founding member of Black Womyn Rising, a radical organizing collective for Black womyn and girls.

do-justice-mockup-mat
Get your own copy of this print at my shop, Eight Fourteen Designs.

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How to Survive the Holidays When You're Chronically Ill | Three Bloggers Share Their Insight

How to Survive the Holidays with Chronic Illness

 

One of the hardest aspects of surviving the holidays when you’re chronically ill can be the simple task of

FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO IT.

How does one care for their sick self while still enjoying and engaging in the holiday season? How do we manage expectations, both our own and those of family/friends? Where do set our boundaries?

I’m sure we can all agree on this one point: this is going to be different for each of us. We all have our own unique limitations, abilities, personal expectations and individual family dynamics and traditions that will all play a part in how we best navigate this time of year.

But to get the wheels turning, I invited three lovely ladies to share their perspective, tips and any advice they have to share. And, my friend: their words are TRUTH.

Are you overwhelmed by the holiday season due to chronic illness? Check out these 3 bloggers' tips and advice for navigating this holiday season and still enjoying it!

Ivy Cirillo

Perfectly Ambitious
Find Ivy on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Navigating regular day to day tasks can be difficult on anyone with a chronic illness, but managing your symptoms during the holidays can be much worse. There are just so many unspoken requirements and expectations that it can be hard both physically and emotionally.

For me, this is the first holiday season after receiving a majority of my diagnoses. So, not only am I going to have to deal with my conditions, but I’m going to have to talk about them too. And since I’ll be expected to attend back to back holiday soirees and remain joyful during the process, I’ve picked up a few tips over the course of the last year.

1. Prepare
Prepare, prepare, prepare! Before any appointment or outing, I always try to make sure that I’ve gotten enough sleep, I’ve eaten, and I’ve kept up with my medicine schedule.

2. Listen
Listen to your body! No matter how much you prepare, there will still be moments when you’re just not feeling like yourself. Our bodies are unpredictable and no one knows your body better than you. So, if it’s telling you to go home early or cancel your plans all together, listen to it!

3. Enjoy
Enjoy each moment that you’re given! Truly joyful moments can be few and far between when dealing with chronic pain and illness, so if you get one, enjoy it! Drink it up!

4. Relax
Make time to relax! Going out can be exhausting and your body is already fighting a tough battle. So, you need to remember to schedule in a little you time! Plan to read a book, get a massage, or binge watch your favorite show while you relax and recoup.

In the spirit of solidarity this holiday season I invited three bloggers to share their tips for navigating this holiday season!

Marya Mesa

Chronic Mom Life
Find Marya on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

My first Christmas after getting diagnosed with cervical dystonia in 2010 was devastating. I couldn’t really do anything and had to watch my family do everything from the couch, where I lay in excruciating pain.

Things have improved for me since then and I’m able to participate more fully in holiday celebrations. However, I really have to pace myself according to how I’m feeling that particular day.

For one thing, we don’t have the most elaborate Christmas decorations. I put the tree up in the living room, decorate the mantel and dining room. That’s it.

I’ve had to let go of traditions I did with ease when my kids were younger. One of them was rolling out cookies. I just don’t do it any more. If I’m going to bake, drop cookies are perfectly acceptable and if I can’t do that, store bought items will have to do. It’s really okay.

Planning a schedule with margin is also important. I can’t handle back-to-back commitments without becoming completely exhausted. Not only that, I can always count on getting sick (or someone else in the house will!)

I’ve also stopped wrapping presents unless absolutely necessary and have really come to appreciate the convenience of gift bags.

My past few Christmases have been spent this way and I’m perfectly okay with it as long as I don’t compare myself with other mothers and accept the blessings that are in front of me for today.

How does one survive the holidays while chronically ill? Read how three bloggers approach this time of year in the midst of illness.

Stacey Philpot

Chronically Whole
Find Stacey on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I am a celebrator of all things, big and small. Did you get the job of your dreams? Let’s celebrate. Did you pass the big exam? It’s party time. Did you get through the day without losing your shine? Worthy of celebration in my book.

Yes, I am one of those annoying people with a box of decorations for every holiday, real or imagined. Buying presents, making presents, giving presents- these things are my jam. Or more correctly said, were my jam, before chronic illness took over.

The holidays were once the pinnacle of my celebration loving existence. They now feel like stress. To combat this, I’ve learned to reset my expectations. It’s taken a tremendous amount of time and trial and error. While I once approached the holiday season expecting magical holiday bliss, I now approach the season with the full knowledge my season will look much differently than others. I will not attend every party I would like to. In fact, I will not attend most parties or school plays or special holiday gatherings. Instead of beating myself up over this, I’ve learned to celebrate the “wins.”

When I do make it? I live fully in the holiday moment. I shake off any guilt about the present I didn’t have time to wrap (or buy) and I simply enjoy the moment. I am here, and that is lovely. There are many reasons the holidays may not look or feel the way we’d hoped but I think one way we can prevent disappointment is a simple realignment of expectations. The holidays will not be perfect, but they can be beautiful.

How about you? Do you have any tools that help you navigate the holidays while ill?

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3 spoonie bloggers share their ideas for how to buy a thoughtful gift for your chronically Ill friend or loved one.

Gifts for the Chronically Ill: How to Brighten Their Day

Have you been on the sidelines wondering what in the world to give your chronically ill friend or loved one? It can be difficult to know what they need, let alone what they would enjoy as someone who lives with sickness. Perhaps they spend their days at home and that fact alone is throwing you for a loop:

What do I buy for someone who can rarely leave home?

Today I’ve invited three lovely blogger friends of mine who are well versed in this whole “living with illness” thing and they’ve got you covered! These ladies have been on the receiving end of great gifts, know what’s helpful and what can brighten the day of someone living with illness.

So without further ado, here are their fabulous ideas. They’re sure to inspire you as you shop!

These 16 gift ideas are inspired by 3 chronically ill bloggers. They have you covered for gifts for the chronically ill!

Genevieve’s List

Whether it be humorous or endearing, a card is a classic for a reason. They can be kept for years and fondly looked back on.
– Genevieve Goetz

  • Flowers – Who doesn’t love beautiful flowers? First check for any scent sensitivities.
  • Card – Whether it be humorous or endearing, it’s a classic for a reason. They can be kept for years and fondly looked back on.
  • Gift Certificates – for Alternative Healing sessions like Acupuncture, Massage, Chinese medicine or a private Yoga class. Check first to see what modality would be best.
  • Online Grocery Shopping – Whether it’s a meal service or a site where items can be pre-selected, free food arriving at the front door is a blessing!
  • Cozy Clothes – Robes, blankets, socks, slippers, the works! It’s a reminder that it is okay to relax and rest, we are supported and secure.
  • Resources – Find community organizations, meetings, health care professionals, federal and local representatives, patient advocates, anything in that person’s area which could be a real game changer.
  • Visit – It is a dark and lonely road being this ill. Having quality time together is priceless, strengthens bonds immensely, and spreads unconditional love and support.
  • Inside Joke Gift – It should be silly and up to your imagination! Being able to see, wear, touch a piece of a great moment makes every day more fun.
  • Advocate – By paying attention to the specific illness, you can go to charity events, give donations, and spread awareness about the disease and its impact on human life.

Genevieve Goetz
genevievegoetz.com
Find Genevieve on Facebook | Instagram

Feeling lost shopping for gifts for the chronically ill? Check out this list written by 3 chronically ill bloggers! | Living Grace Blog

From Karley:

I’ve suffered from chronic illnesses over the last four years and in that time I’ve learned so many things that have helped me get through the tough times. I’ve had some great gifts from people over the years that have also helped me see the light in what sometimes seems to be a dark world.

Reading is a great distraction, not to mention really fun if you pick the right book for your friend.
– Karley Kay Linger

The first gift I think would make a great gift is a heating pad. It has helped me to manage pain, loosen my sore muscles, and just feels nice!

The second is books, whether digital or not. Reading is a great distraction, not to mention really fun if you pick the right book for your friend.

And the last thing that I think would make a great gift would be a certificate for a massage or spa. We spend so much time feeling sick and dealing with our illnesses that we rarely have time to pamper ourselves, relax, and try to forget about it. I know I would want to go! To be able to finally relax and just stop thinking for a while sounds like heaven to me.

Karley
Dangerously Normal Spoonie
Find Karley on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

Need Ideas for what to buy your chronically ill friend? Check out this list of thoughtful ideas for your friend or loved one!

From Ness:

Buying for someone with a chronic illness can make things slightly difficult. What I would recommend is something pretty, practical and comfortable. Colours, fabrics and pattern can brighten up a painful day.

A pretty new mug is something to get excited about in my world. Beautiful, colourful, curved pottery mugs with Mediterranean colours always catch my eye. If you think beyond the mug it’s also a great talking piece for super Instagram photos for the chronic ill person.

Comfort is also essential when you are unwell so a soft pillow or a pretty soft blanket, socks, or even crochet wrist warmers are great ideas.
– Ness QM

You could even wrap it in tissue in a box with a mission list: “Each week you must post on Instagram an image of you and your Mug and something that made you smile that happened that week.” Funny things like that make me smile and I’m sure I am not the only one.

Comfort is also essential when you are unwell so a soft pillow or a pretty soft blanket, socks, or even crochet wrist warmers are great ideas. I just bought an amazing baby pink lace top pair from Conscious Crafties, a shop showcasing crafts by chronically ill people.

Journaling is something I have recently started. It is so relaxing. A hamper of journal supplies would be a great gift. You could include a nice writing journal, colourful pens, and pretty stickers. You may have to explain to the person all about journaling, but there are some great bloggers that have super ideas.

Take time out, don’t just give the gift.

See if they are on Pinterest or have even heard about it. You could show them all the journaling images on there to get them started. And if your friend or loved one isn’t up to a visit you could enclose a letter telling them all about it.

You could also give a stationary set as a gift. Social media is wonderful, but not as wonderful as a handwritten letter. Make a pledge to be their pen pal. Give the stationary set and time the post so that your first letter to them arrives the next day!

Ness
The Girl With Five Lads
Find Ness on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

Do you have something you’d add to this list? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Looking for more ways to support your friend who’s sick? Check out this post.

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Survey Results: Coffee and Pie Charts

Last week I posted a survey in an effort to hear from YOU, my readers. And boy did you guys rally!

Out of just under 200 email subscribers I had 42 responses. My secret [lofty] goal was to have 50 of you chime in, so I was pleasantly surprised to get close to hitting that number! A BIG thank you to all who took the time to participate. It meant so much to have your help!

So what did I ask? And what did all of you readers respond? Let’s start with the basics, in case any of you blogging friends want to get the full skinny on how I went about it.

How I Created My Survey

I used google forms to create my survey (for free) and I loved how easy it was to format and personalize. Linking a google sheet to my survey was a piece of cake and gave me the ability to read individual responses all in one place. It was also useful to see the results in pie chart form, which I loved! (Visual person, here).

When I was pulling ideas together for my questions, I knew I wanted my survey to meet the following criteria:

  • Take less than 5 minutes to complete
  • Consist of multiple choice answers (to give me the most clear feedback)
  • Straight forward questions
  • Include a response box for people to share as many of their thoughts as they wanted.

Through the survey I really wanted to get a feel for who I have following the blog. I wanted to hear how I can best connect and support you all through what I write here. But the process needed to be quick and painless for you while giving me valuable, clear insight.

So I stuck with 5 questions along with an open response box at the end for any added thoughts. Some would be fine completing the 2 minute survey without leaving any comments, but I knew others (like myself) might want to say more.

The Survey Results

This was my favorite part: hearing from you!! For starters, I know there’s a mixture of backgrounds among those who follow my blog. However difficult it is, I have accepted that I simply cannot please everyone. (Hello, I’m Kami: a glacially-recovering-people-pleaser).

But it IS important to me to do the best I can to share things that you actually want to read. So beyond general topics for the blog, I also wanted to know what would be most helpful/interesting to you whenever I create another eBook.

On to the juicy stuff! Here’s what I asked, what the survey-takers said, and some pretty, colorful pie charts to make you hungry. Grab your cup of Joe (or drink of choice) and let’s begin!

How I found out what my readers wanted from my blog

This first question was so helpful to me. It helped give me an idea of what you actually look for when you come here to the blog. I’ve been working on some new posts and series within these topics so I’m looking forward to sharing them even more now!

Survey results: What my readers want!

Obviously we have a few different camps here, but I’m glad many of you are happy to simply follow the blog. 😉 In the coming weeks I’ll be brainstorming details for a private community group as well as a “readers write in” series. So please be sure to shoot me an email if you’re interested in participating in either!

What do readers want? A look at my blog's survey and results.

After sharing my first podcast here on the blog, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a regular thing or just a one-timer. But, several of you reached out personally to say how much that episode resonated with you, so I decide to consider. Your answers will help me as I (slowly) work on creating a more formal podcast series!

Future eBook and Content

Knowing your audience: do you know what your readers want?

I was pleasantly surprised to see that over half of you would purchase a future eBook written by me! Your support means the world and I don’t take your trust lightly.

Find out what your readers want with a simple survey!

The top two desired topics were neck and neck! I’ll be brainstorming which direction I’ll be going first, but I’m super excited about both.

In addition to the questionnaire, I left space at the end of the survey for you to share further thoughts, concerns, or ideas. I was surprised and thankful for the time many of you took to give your suggestions and encouragement. Here are some of the highlights (no names):

You’re doing great work, sending lots of love and healing vibes to you!”

I think it would be great to see guest posts and or series featuring other writers who write about these topics, too.”

I truly enjoy your writing Kami. You have such a wonderful gift, please continue to share it with the world.

I think you’re doing a great job Kami, would love to see more podcasts in the future. You relate to your audience well! Keep up the great work!”

Not a chronic sufferer, but thought questions from fellow sufferers would be helpful to others.”

Just…WOW. You guys are the absolute best. The suggestions, advice, and encouragement were all so appreciated!

As I go over the results and brainstorm in the coming weeks, I’ll be updating on what you can expect through my mailing list first. Be sure to sign up if you want to stay up to speed. Also, if you missed the survey and wish to add your thoughts I’d still love to hear from you!

Here’s to continuing the mission here with grace and adventure. I couldn’t do it without your help!

What are you most looking forward to?

Do you blog and want to know more about how to run your own survey? Check out these resources that helped inspire me with creating and running mine:

The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Knowing What Your Readers Want

Bloggers: Do You Give Your Readers What They Want?

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I'd love to hear from YOU! Tell me what you'd like to read/see on the blog!

Reader Spotlight Survey: Your Voice Matters!

The survey mentioned is no longer open for responses.

I’ve been writing here on the blog for just over 4 years now. It started more as a journal of sorts. Occasional posting, no clear direction, but a whole lot of therapeutic benefit.

This year, though – something shifted in me.

I decided I really wanted to make this space an environment where people felt safe. Where they would find encouragement, helpful information, and practical suggestions for navigating the harder things in life. Be it illness, miscarriageloneliness or any of the other myriad of challenges we face.

I wanted to be committed to posting regularly, to connecting with other bloggers and the chronically ill, and I wanted this to be about more than just a “blog.” I wanted it to be about community. Authenticity. Grace.

And you readers have amazed me with the support you have given! From signing up for my email list and downloading my eBook, to connecting on social media and seeing you guys share my posts: you have demonstrated TRUST in me and I value that so much.

In the last few weeks I’ve been brainstorming, overthinking, trying to nail down direction for this blog. And then I realized there was a common vein in every.single.one. of my worries and thoughts: WHAT DO MY READERS WANT?!

My solution?

I decided this didn’t have to be complicated. I just needed to ASK you! (Cue the face palm).

So I’ve created a short survey that will only take you about 2 minutes to complete.

This is your opportunity to speak into where this blog goes. What topics you want to read about and what things you’d like to see. Do you have something in mind you’d like to be discussed here? Or would you like to interact with me in a different format (podcast, video)?

This is your chance to speak up: your voice matters!!

If you would take a couple minutes to help it would mean so much. And please feel free to share this post with your friends – the more entries, the better I can help prepare content you’ll enjoy!

This survey will be open through Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 11:59 PM PST. I’ll be sharing the results within a few days of the survey closing so be sure to check back! You’ll see what you can expect from me in the coming weeks as I put your suggestions into action.

Until then,

Kami

New to the blog? Check out my About page.

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These are the ways I've found community even as a chronically ill, mostly house-bound woman.

Navigating Loneliness: Finding Community in Chronic Illness

Lately I’ve been mesmerized by the passion fruit vine I discovered growing along our fence. I use “discovered” in the sense that I saw the vine when we moved in, but only could tell you it was pretty and green.

Let’s just say that I am a wanna-be green thumb who hasn’t quite achieved more than beginner’s status.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw when these beautiful passion flowers appeared several weeks ago. Soon after, tiny pods began to grow. I did a bit of research and SURPRISE: we have a vine covered with baby passion fruit!

I walked by that vine for MONTHS, you guys. To me, it was the same old vine every time. A beautiful piece of greenery in the yard, and one that I enjoyed.

I didn’t expect much, other than that the vine would be there to give me a pretty backdrop from my view on the front step.

Loneliness has been the backdrop to illness for me. It’s not pretty, but just as I viewed the vine for so many months: it’s just there.

It’s come with the territory of living with a disease that few understand. Combine that with being housebound and often physically unable to have visitors and this gets even more complicated.

That first year of illness felt brutal for me. I couldn’t enjoy community in the ways everyone else was able to, and so I (and my husband) naturally began to fall out of view of many of those around us.

Our lives were turned upside down by my sickness. And in a time when we needed friendship and support, we struggled. Our situation and needs/ability as a couple didn’t fit into any traditional community molds.

Many of my long-distance friends have been my rocks. Friends from childhood and college that have supported and loved me from afar. Through texts, care packages, fundraising, listening and learning about my illness – they were there. In spirit and love, they endeavored to be beside me.

New local friends became family, bringing occasional meals or picking up groceries. Offering their help, kindness and friendship along the way.

But, the loneliness still lingered.

When Loneliness Lingers: How I've Found Community in Chronic Illness

I remember a day about a year and a half ago that was exceptionally hard.

I was lying on my bed, with the tears flowing over how long it had been since I had seen someone other than Trevin. A combination of terrible pain and flare ups, the busy schedules of others and my own health forcing me to cancel any plans led to weeks of solitude. My spirit was tired and aching.

And oh so lonely.

As I lay there, frustrated and hurting over feeling so disconnected from my former life, I remember the following words playing over and over in my mind:

I am so lonely.
Why don’t you be a friend to others who are lonely?

I am in pain.
What if you were to share your pain and comfort the broken?

I am so limited with this body.
Why don’t you find ways to connect within your limitations?

There are few times in the last few years that I’ve felt God’s nearness or sensed Him speaking to me. But that is one day I felt him, gently there. Nudging me toward finding a way to not only cope with the heavy weight of loneliness, but to connect with others fighting similar battles.

So I began to find new ways to build friendship.

I gave myself permission to look for community within the limitations of my illness. I started to engage more with others on Instagram, follow their stories, support them and find common ground.

Within that community I found new courage to share my story more authentically.

I joined several chronic illness groups on Facebook and began to share my blog posts there, finding so many others who could relate to my struggle so well.

Through those interactions I felt comfort, encouragement, and it’s given me greater purpose as I write.

I’ve even connected with other illness warriors through friends of myself, Trevin and family. Those relationships have been such a gift! We send messages, texts, video and voice clips throughout the week, sharing the raw side of fighting illness as well as things to make each other smile.

They have provided a safe place for me to vent and “just be” when I need it most.

How I'm Coping With Loneliness in Chronic Illness

I’m not saying that all of the loneliness is gone. Some days I cope better than others and honestly it’s still hard. And I’m human.

But I’m learning to navigate this with honesty and an open heart. Through accepting that there are some things I can’t change and looking for ways to cope within my limits, I worry less about having “normal” community.

I embrace the tribe I’ve been given.

Just like the passion flowers that sprinkled my vine with cheer, these friendships near and far have brought light within my loneliness. Purpose and passion within my monotonous, quiet days of fighting illness.

They have reminded me we weren’t meant to struggle alone.

We are here to lean on each other.

So I’ll be here, leaning with you. <3

Have you struggled with loneliness? What are the ways you cope with it or find community?

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Friendship and Chronic Illness: 5 Ways to Support a Friend Who’s Sick

Being friends with someone who is chronically ill has it’s challenges. I’ll be the first to admit this as the one living with illness!

Many of us spend the majority of our days at home treating and healing, we cancel/don’t make plans, we aren’t always up for a visit, our symptoms can make staying in touch difficult, and we rarely answer the question “how are you doing” with a great report…because we’re always sick.

But you know the thing about us that remains normal? We need our friends.

I understand it can feel overwhelming. You’re not sure what to do, say or even how to be a friend to someone who’s either chronically or critically ill. But believe me when I tell you that you CAN play a part and, from personal experience, they most likely WANT you to. They just may not know how to ask (or if it’s welcomed).

Here are 5 ways you can support your friend as they live with illness. Each inspired by some of my dearest, most thoughtful friends.

1. A message for their thoughts.

Friendship in Chronic Illness: Ways to Support a Friend

This doesn’t have to cost you a dime (or five of them), and it won’t unless you snail mail it! If you don’t live nearby, and even if you do, this is a great outlet for you to still support your friend/family member.

Some of my favorite texts/messages/cards from friends and family have been along the lines of “I’ve been thinking about you. How are you doing?” and even “Wanted you to know I think you’re awesome. And here’s a funny picture of my dog.”

You’re simply letting them know you are in this with them and wanted them to know they matter to you.

2. A meal for their belly.

Some of the sweetest moments in this difficult journey have been when people have offered to bring food (especially when it happened to be one of my worst days). I would breathe a sigh of relief because I knew we’d be getting takeout again otherwise.

Word of wisdom: ask before just dropping by with a meal (or for any reason, for that matter). It’s always better if they’re prepared for your arrival. They may have a full fridge or the meal taken care of already and could suggest a different day.

Make sure you are aware if they have a special diet. You can also consider including a few paper plates to save on dishes – that alone can be such a gift!

3. Food for their fridge/pantry.

Caring for a Friend in Chronic Illness: 5 Simple Ideas

Not able to cook? That’s okay, you’re covered here! Send them a text before you go on your usual grocery run. Something simple like: “I’m heading to the grocery store and would like to bring you a bag of groceries. What do you need?” If you have a budget in mind, share that to give them an idea of what they can ask for.

I haven’t always taken people up on their offer if I had a full fridge, but other times it’s blessed us to have someone bring the few items we were out of. Or that set of paper plates I mentioned above! When you’re down a driver because someone is ill, every little thing adds up.

4. Care in a package.

Send them a surprise package in the mail. This doesn’t need to be huge, just be creative and thoughtful. Remember: thoughtfulness always wins!

Some ideas for what you could include could be: an herbal tea, a note, a cozy pair of socks, a snack (if you know what they can eat), a movie, a journal, a magazine they would enjoy, a candle or maybe something ridiculous to make them laugh.

The package really could be as simple as a single item with a hand written card letting them know you’re thinking of them. I guarantee it will brighten their day.

5. A touch of cheer for their home.

Friendship in Chronic Illness: Ways to Support a Friend

Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers or plant, a favorite coffee or tea drink, a movie/tv series to borrow, lunch from their favorite place or even a funny text – cheer brings sunshine to the soul.

One friend bought me a beautiful watercolor print to hang on my wall and I cherish that. I see it hanging in my living room and it reminds me of her kindness. Think of what they might enjoy and offer to bring it by sometime.


You don’t need to be a licensed counselor, practicing doctor, be filled with profound words of wisdom or even live in the same town to be a friend to the chronically ill in your life. It really can be as as simple as taking the initiative and offering something specific from this list (or something you think of on your own!)

You may feel like stepping back because you don’t understand, are uncomfortable with the situation, or are overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what to do. But it is brave of you to find ways to be a friend, to enter into their story and remind them they aren’t alone in their pain and struggle.

And it is brave of those who are sick to accept and invite others in. We need and can learn from each other.

What would you add to the list??

‘For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:35-36

Are you fighting illness and feeling overwhelmed by the pain, loss, and un-materialized dreams? I’d love to offer you the book I’ve written from my own place of rawness. Click here to download your free copy!

This post was originally published in May of 2014, but has been updated.

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A story of how a moment of kindness can transform our perspective of community, of life and of reminding someone of their worth.

The Moment Sharing Kindness Changed My Perspective

A few years ago I nearly missed a life-changing moment. It was a moment that could have taken about 4 seconds, but lasted 20 minutes and ended with sharing kindness with a stranger instead.

Before my sickness took a deeper hold on my ability to drive and walk short distances without trouble, I spent my time resting and crafting when my hands were able. On my better days I’d drive myself to Michaels to pick up a few craft supplies for a project I could slowly work on.

On this seemingly ordinary trip to Michaels, I was checking out at a register with my newest installment of crafting materials. I was about to pull out my debit card when I noticed a few singles I had from a recent return.

I pulled them out to put toward my bill and paid the rest with my debit card. After finishing the transaction, I picked up my bags and headed out the door.

As soon as I stepped outside I was greeted by a man in his late 50s. He sat in a wheelchair, wore a hat and spoke with a thick, southern drawl. As I approached, he removed his hat and spoke.

“‘Scuse me, Miss. Do you happen to have any spare change? Anything at all, I’d be most appreciative.”

I instantly thought back to handing the only cash I had to the clerk inside. I told him I was sorry, but I didn’t have any cash on me. He dropped his head, put his hat back on and smiled a sad sort of smile, thanking me anyway.

I took a step forward to leave and felt a tug in my spirit – a softly spoken,

Kami, what are you going to do with this moment?”

Even in the moments we think we have nothing to give because our pockets are empty or we are limited in our talents, gifting, or physical ability - we all have the gift of time to share. "The Moment Sharing Kindness Changed My Perspective." | Living Grace Blog

I paused and remembered that something I had much of in this roller-coaster-season with my health, is time. Lots of it. I’m not in a hurry as I have no place to be, so why am I feeling a need to rush off? I took a step back.

“While I don’t have cash I’d be happy to buy you a meal if you’re hungry. Is there a place nearby you like?”

I could hardly get the words out before he gladly accepted and informed me there was a “Panda Bear” nearby that he would most definitely like to eat at.

(If you’ve already figured out where he was talking about, good for you. I, however, had a deer-in-the-headlights blank stare. But I pretended I knew what he was talking about…)

“Sure! Whatever you want, sir.”

He was visibly excited. “Oh YES, that’d be just fine. They have that oriental food over there.”

I couldn’t help but smile. No filter or PC with that statement, but he had a sweetness that couldn’t go undetected. Finally, it clicked that we were heading to Panda Express.

So I slowly walked beside him as he navigated his scooter across the parking lot toward the “Panda Bear.” We exchanged names and I asked him if he would share a bit about his story.

He gladly began. He shared of his struggles, lost love, and matters of the heart. He told me about his family troubles and his life as a veteran. I heard his life story, the 10 minute version. As he shared from the various stages of his life, I could hear the pain in his words.

He paused his story as we waited in line for his food and on our walk back he opened up about the times he’s asked others for help. How he’s watched people flip through their 100s, 50s, 20s, 10s, and 5s only to respond that they’ll have to “go get change.” Only to return with a quarter or two that they toss at him for fear of getting too close or touching him.

The more he shared, the more I felt his ache. The feelings of rejection, avoidance, and of being discarded were palpable. But what he said next will stay with me forever:

“And you know, when they do that I just smile and say thank you because it’s more than I had before. But, you know what? It makes me feel like I’m gonna cry. Because it makes me feel like I’m not worth anything. That I’m not valuable enough.”

My empathetic heart paused and felt the weight of that statement.

I told him I could only imagine how that must feel, but that I believe everyone deserves kindness. I said that I hoped he felt that from me that day.

In that moment with my new friend, I had no idea what his spiritual views were. But as we neared the entrance to Michaels I sensed an openness about him. So I asked if he was comfortable with me praying with him before I said goodbye. He slipped his hat right off and eagerly agreed with a “yes, Miss. I’d like that.”

And there, in the middle of a parking lot, I placed my hand on his shoulder and prayed a short, simple prayer that he would feel loved and be provided for. I asked for him to be shown kindness in the days to come.

We exchanged a warm handshake and a smile, he thanked me and we parted ways. I never saw him near the Michaels again.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the times I’ve missed opportunities like this to share kindness. So many moments I was in too much of a hurry, had too much on my mind or didn’t have a dollar to spare.

This moment that he may or may not even remember, has stuck with me these last three years. Not because it was a big event, or because “I did something good.”

It’s stayed with me because I was reminded of an important truth. That although we can’t always help everybody in the way that they ask us to,

we can always show love.

We can listen.

We can care.

In doing so we reflect the heart of God, the heart of humanity. And, in turn, we gain a little more perspective on the things that truly matter:

People. Hearts. Kindness.

Community.

And it can all begin with one life-changing, yet ordinary moment over a plate of takeout with a perfect stranger.

In the spirit of sharing kindness, would you consider sharing or giving to my friend Nellie-Jean’s family fundraiser? Their burden, both financial and emotional is heavy: she is fighting Lyme, her 13-year-old son is going through chemotherapy, and they are about to lose their place of residence…just to name a few of their struggles.

Can we be community and support them? Maybe it means we skip the coffee or make a meal at home and spare $5, $20, $50 to help a neighbor in need?  Click here to give or share the Russell-Lopez Fundraiser.

Are you in a funk or facing some of the hardest moments of your life? Download my free eBook, Embracing the Raw: Pilgrimage of a Healing Heart and breathe in a few moments of healing, one soul to another.

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