Chronically Hopeful Award, September 2019
I am honoured to have been nominated for the Chronically Hopeful Award! And no, I did not create this award, the name is just a happy coincedence, although I had actually been planning to create one for spoonie bloggers myself. But as you can see, fellow chronic illness warrior, Pamela from There Is Always Hope, beat me to it!
I am so glad there is now a peer-nominated award to recognise and acknowledge all the amazing chronically ill and disabled bloggers and advocates out there and I hope that through this award we will all get to discover new blogs as well as learn from and support each other. A big thank you to Pamela for setting it up.
Thank You, Mishka
Mishka's blog is a very welcoming, personal and honest account of life with chronic illness and also features her lovely watercolour paintings.
I hope you will go visit her pages and show her some love!
Mishka's Questions For Me
1. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog?
Trying to maintain a blog has highlighted just how impaired I really am. I have over 170 drafts waiting to be completed, edited and published - so many ideas and thoughts I want to share, but there is just not enough energy, physical or cognitive, to carry them out to completion. Each post takes hours and hours to create and that usually means many sessions over many days, weeks or months. Some have been waiting for years.
As for lessons about blogging - I have learned that we each have a story and our story matters. Even though I cannot be consistent in my writing schedule and I mainly share my own experience and that of others, this blog has (and continues to) help many people. I know this because of the numerous thank you emails I get from my readers. Our personal journeys help others, so sharing them is important.
2. If you could tell people ONE thing about living with a chronic illness, mental illness or disability, what would you want the general public to know?
The one thing I want healthy people to understand is that chronic illness is different for each person, even if they have the same diagnosis. It adds a layer of difficulty to life that you can not understand if you haven't experienced it yourself.
Our pain is not the same as yours, our fatigue is not the same as yours. I always thought I knew and understood - but once I fell ill, I realised how judgemental and ignorant I really had been - I had no clue how bad it could get and I certainly did not imagine how ill somebody could feel while still looking so healthy. Not all illnesses and disabilities are visible and they definitely don't all look the same.
So always be kind and considerate and really listen to what your chronically ill loved ones are saying - even if you cannot imagne it - believe it!
3. Why did you decide to start your blog/advocacy work?
Blogging has been part of my life for many years, since way before I fell ill. My earlier websites were mainly about food, faith and hobbies, but ChronicallyHopeful.com was created in 2016 as a place to document my M.E. story and share information with other chronic illness warriors because I had found it so hard to find people with M.E. online.
I was regularly asked about what I was doing, what was helping me, etc. And I felt like I was repeating myself frequently on social media answering questions and sharing my experience, so having a place I could refer people to seemed like a great idea. It would save me energy and could eventually become a helpful resource.
The advocacy side of things has grown over time - initially through my Instagram presence and more recently on Facebook too. While many advocates focus on the science, facts and figures, my cognitive dysfunction doesn't allow me to focus much on such technical things.
I instead am passionate about sharing the experience of the people. Giving a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves, sharing their experience and equipping them to raise awareness by creating graphics and content they can relate to and share.
By sharing our stories, we empower others to do so too, we educate the masses, eliminating stigma, and we help other warriors know that they are not alone.
4. What is one thing you’re really good at? Don’t be modest — tell us something you have a talent for!
I wanted to say teaching - but I'm no longer able to do that for a living. I was really good at teaching though. My students' grades and their progress was proof of that and I loved it. My advocacy, in a way, is an extention of that. I guess teaching is a transferable skill, I now teach people about M.E. and chronic illness.
I asked my sister what I'm really good at and she said "Art". It is something that I thought of too. I can't draw or paint hyper-realistic images, but I do make pretty things and consider myself an artist, just like my grandfather and many others in our family. You can see some of my creations over on my arty Instagram.
I draw, paint, letter and I can doodle just about anything, It's another skill I used frequently when teaching people who couldn't speak English or children who couldn't yet read - illustrating with pictures became a valuable skill. Click the images below to zoom in and see some of my art.
5. What do you like to do for enjoyment?
Ooh, there are so many things I love to do! My most favourite things are exploring nature and daydreaming while watching the waves at the beach or the clouds rolling by... unfotunately those are things I cannot do anymore while mostly in bed, but I still paint, draw, letter, blog, create digital graphics to share online, watch Netflix and Amazon Video and read. I'm never bored, that's for sure!
My Nominees For The Chronically Hopeful Award
I am nominating 5 people with M.E. who each blog about a variety of topics including life with chronic illness, faith, hobbies, and more. Do go check out their blogs and give them some comment love!
Questions For My Nominees
- What is the meaning or reasoning behind your blog's name?
- Where do you find inspiration or motivation?
- Name 5 favourite activities you still manage to do regularly.
- What are your top 3 survival items or coping strategies?
- If M.E. was cured tomorrow - what would you do first?
- Share a favourite quote and what it means to you.
- Share 3 interesting or bizarre facts about yourself or your life.
* At the end of this page, I'll be answering these questions too - just for fun!
The Rules For Nominees
- Thank your nominator
- Recognize Pamela from There Is Always Hope as the creator of this award and link her URL – https://pamelajessen.com
- Use the Chronically Hopeful Award logo somewhere in your post
- Copy these rules onto your post
- Answer your nominator’s questions
- Write 5-10 of your own questions (they don’t need to be illness related)
- Nominate 5-10 other chronic illness, mental illness, or disability bloggers
- Comment on each of your nominees’ latest posts to tell them they have been nominated
Just For Fun - I'm Answering My Own Questions Too!
1. What is the meaning or reasoning behind your blog's name?
I have a chronic illness that has no treatment or cure (yet), but I am hopeful and excited about the future. I have not been down or felt hopeless at all since falling ill, and I hope to encourage others to remain hopeful too, so I think the name is quite fitting.
2. Where do you find inspiration or motivation?
All around me. Colours, shapes, sounds, people, their stories, words, nature and even tials, problems and illness - it's all inspiring and motivating to me - I love observing and daydreaming. I love finding solutions to problems, I find the challenge exciting. My mind is always thinking and planning and imagining things.
3. Name 5 favourite activities you still manage to do regularly.
I still manage painting, reading, drawing and blogging regularly while in bed and I enjoy the garden as much as I can, whether it's from indoors looking out or while walking around or sitting out in the sunshine.
4. What are your top 3 survival items or coping strategies?
- The ketogenic diet
- Adrenal cocktails
- Staying reclined with my legs raised
The keto diet has reduced much of my pain and the heaviness that comes with M.E. it's had many positive effects for me, you can read more about it here.
Adrenal cocktails are salty, mineral rich drinks which replenish electrolytes and help manage orthostatic intolerance and other issues that come with having low blood volume and poor circulation.
Staying reclined with my legs raised is much better than sitting upright. I can be functional for longer in this position. This again has to do with orthostatic intolerance - the inability to stay upright without deterioration.
5. If M.E. was cured tomorrow - what would you do first?
First, I'd cry and praise God while doing a happy dance around the house, probably with some worship music on nice and loud - I can't listen to music much anymore. Then I'd probably start running... just down the road and back - I have no idea what my neighbourhood even looks like!
Then I'll plan a trip to the seaside - somewhere with clean sandy beaches and clear water. I'd phone my friends to share the good news and hear their voices. I'd go to the supermarket!
Okay, this list would never end - I have so many things I want to do, so many plans - I cannot wait for that day!
6. Share a favourite quote and what it means to you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowlege Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
This verse from the Bible is my goal and aim in life. To trust God no matter what happens. His ways are so far beyond anything we can fathom and His way has always worked out to be better than when I tried to do things my way. He always makes a way through, even when there seems to be no way.
7. Share 3 interesting or bizarre facts about yourself or your life.
- I've moved homes at least 29 times in 37 years, living in 3 different countries.
- I speak 3 languages fluently: Afrikaans, English and Italian.
- I have this recurring dream where I have a pet grasshopper - the strange thing is that it happily lives in my bottom eyelid! Yip.
What About You?
You're welcome to answer any of these questions in the comments below! I'd love to know your answers too.
More About Char, Q&A and Awards
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