Alison looks up into a spruce tree, which has googly eyes placed in it to imply that the tree is an animal.

So it’s once more time for A Chronic Voice’s monthly linkup. This month’s words are incorporating, experimenting, sanitizing, launching, and writing.

This months words feel very business-oriented, so I’m going to roll with that feeling.

Before I say anything else, though, I want to invite you to join me for a presentation on November 17, at 7 p.m. ET. I’ll be doing a presentation titled “Taking ownership of your medical care: writing your own prescription for better health” I really hope you join me for it! I’ll be announcing a special deal that’s only available to the folks who watch!

Incorporating my business

I’ve been a disabled entrepreneur since about 2006, when I started my first business, Geographic Magic, LLC, where I offered consulting services to help organizations use geographic information systems.

I am looking forward to doing the legal niceties with Thriving While Disabled in the not-too-distant future. At the moment, this blog is a sole proprietorship business.

This model is the automatic description of a business if no paperwork is filed—basically, the business and the person are legally the same entity. The biggest problems with this are that (1) you have no legal protection whatsoever, and (2) unless you do some extra work, your business is identified by your Social Security Number, which increases your risk of identity theft and other challenges.

I actually have gotten around this issue, due to an experience years ago, when I used the Personal Preference Program to have the ability to hire my own personal care assistant (PCA).

During that process, they reserved an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for me, which I am now using for my sole proprietorship.

a pie chart and other information is visible on a sheet of paper.  Three different sets of hands gesture at the information, implying active planning
Creating a business plan is important!

All that means is that the work that I’m doing is a form of self-employment with no bigger entities around to protect me or be held responsible if anything should go wrong—or right!

I recently got started on my next steps in business by creating my business bank account and taking a few other steps to shift from being a hobby to a career, but I’m not there yet!

I’m hoping within the year to incorporate Thriving While Disabled into a limited liability corporation that will be a separate entity from me—with its own bank account, its own liability, and generally some business protections.

I may also run it as an S Corporation in order to better manage my own income, but it likely won’t matter much anyway since I own the whole thing.

In the long term, I’m hoping to either have the classes, coaching, and services I offer provide me with reliable additional income, or maybe to even be financially independent enough to get off of SSDI!

We’ll see what happens, but I am really excited by the opportunities that I’m creating with this blog.

Sanitizing my content…or not!

I’ve had a bit of an internal debate since I started my blog about writing about certain topics—like the LGBT community, incontinence, sex, politics, and racism. I decided to go for it.

Thinking about it, this bog is something I’d like to attract like-minded people to, and I realized that there isn’t a whole lot of representation for some of these identities, especially not as they overlap with disability.

I’m bringing my whole self to the blog, and I want my readers to bring their whole selves as well.

An Indigenous Two-Spirit person and a Black woman stand in front of a white wall with neutral expressions. They are both wearing prosthetic legs.
Seriously, what do you think? (image from http://www.affecttheverb/disabledandhere)

The first time I’ve written on each aspect of my experience or personality that might be viewed as controversial, I’ve had my moments of doubt, where I questioned myself on whether my topic or opinion would be helpful or hurtful to my blog and growing my audience.

Each time, I’ve pushed forward on it, because I truly believe in the impact the things I’m writing about have had, and I firmly believe in the value of a useful little saying: “Those that mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind.”

Even if you, as a reader, don’t share my particular belief, experience, or identity, I think my points help you better understand it, and I hope that if something isn’t quite comfortable for you, you either skip that post or try to learn something anyway.

I don’t expect any reader to precisely share my identity, but I hope that sharing so much of who I am helps you to understand that I’ll accept whoever you are!

While I have no desire to be controversial just to be controversial, I do have strong beliefs and embrace them, and I’d hope that other members of the community respect my beliefs and find me respectful of theirs, whether the beliefs are shared or different.

Experimenting by creating new opportunities

I’ve been doing some experimenting as well, and am hoping that folks have enjoyed it! Not only have I been a bit more open about my political and moral beliefs, but I’ve also started to incorporate guest bloggers and other opportunities into my space.

I’m also excited to share that I’ve been experimenting with course creation on Thinkific, and offering coaching and consultation services as well.

black woman sits forward in her chair, intently watching her laptop computer with her fingers ready to type.
Taking courses online is an exciting opportunity—and I hope you find what I offer worth trying out!

This is all somewhat new ground for me—though I have had some training in that direction.

I’m not sure yet what people like (or don’t) about my work and am still trying to find my way through all of this.

I always welcome feedback—so if there’s something I do that you like (or don’t), I’d love to know!

I do want to help folks, and I’d love to know how my experiments seem to you—what do you enjoy about my blog and what else would you like me to do?

I also am now experimenting in the sense of pushing myself a bit. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m investing in myself by hiring a coach, and so I am now engaged in that form of work on myself and my life—doing my best to really grow my blog into a business.

I’m rebuilding my perspective as well, since my partner Al is now working, leaving me home alone four days a week—during which I’m now focusing on rebuilding a good self-care routine and structure for working.

My own anxiety issues are a bit triggered both by the Covid-19 pandemic and by being home alone for so many hours after having Al around most of the time. I’m still working on managing that anxiety and converting that energy from distraction to productivity. It’s not easy, but it is important and healthy.

It feels good to have this sense of purpose, and with each new client I get to work with, my belief in my own ability to help others is growing.

I really enjoy this positive feedback loop that I’m building, and it’s only possible through the combination of my willingness to put myself out there and your willingness to invest in yourself by hiring me or taking my courses. I’m excited and curious, and glad to be on this new adventure!

Launching my newest offer

So just a few weeks ago, I decided to put out a really big offer—a major push for me! I’m now offering a six-month coaching program. It makes me a little nervous asking for so much money, but it is really exciting.

I’m just hoping to find one or two (or maybe three) people who think this sounds like a worthwhile deal!

What I’m doing with this is offering to help other chronically ill folks with managing their medical care.

We’d have a long meeting every month (about 90 minutes), with open communication in between. I’d help you recognize the big challenges in your medical care and help you to find the best solutions for them.

Alison sitting by water. Text on the top right: "let's solve this together" Text bottom left "I want to help you create a partnership with the right doctors, not just be medicated. Photo by: Terry Manning
I really want to help others really feel in control of their medical care

Currently, I’m working with a client on preparing for a complex surgery. She knows that if she does it, the process will take months and she’ll need to involve multiple doctors, but she’s not sure how much of it her insurance will cover.

My responsibilities are to help her through the steps involved and encourage her along the way.

Many challenges are easier with somebody on your side, and that’s part of what I’m doing for her. I’m also being a reliable and medically knowledgeable second set of eyes (and brain) to help her with doctor selection, insurance adjustment, understanding the process and risks, and minimizing the surprises along the way.

I’m also happy to help folks with better understanding their diagnosis, ensuring that their diagnosis is correct, finding better doctors, selecting the best available insurance plan for them, understanding medication options and side effects, or processing through the emotional upheaval that often comes with becoming disabled or chronically ill.

I know it isn’t easy, and I’ve been through a lot of challenges. I am really excited to be sharing my experiences and insight with you if you’re struggling. If this sounds good to you, please sign up to chat about it. I want to talk with any potential client and make sure that we feel comfortable with one another before we make this six-month commitment. Payment plans are absolutely an option!

Writing it all out

In some ways, my blog has been therapeutic in that I often find myself writing about challenging experiences I’ve had, or lessons I learned the hard way. I’m starting to need to search a bit more for topics lately, but for the most part so many of them flow out of my recent experiences, even when I don’t write them quite that way.

I think it’s so important to express emotions, especially more challenging ones like grief or fear, but I also always want my posts to leave my readers hopeful, because I know we do face so many challenges as disabled folks already.

I do my best to focus on and write primarily about practical solutions to real problems so that anybody reading my post will have some ideas of how to manage a challenge that they are facing.

typewriter, with the words 'stories matter' typed on the page
I capture my stories the best I can and want to share the stories of others.

Disabilities and the attitudes many have toward them make our lives challenging, and I do my best to acknowledge that in my writing—and offer suggestions on how to best manage the challenges I can identify.

I think it’s essential to recognize the challenges we face and then create useful solutions that help us get to those next steps in life.

My aim with every blog post is to help my readers get one step closer to living their best possible lives—I want to help everybody move from surviving their disability to thriving with it!

To be clear, I don’t know if there really is a perfect life or a perfect way to live. What I do know is that being stuck is hard and the feeling of moving toward a better life feels really good.

What I want is to help others see the good they already have and to be able to take the worst or scariest parts of their lives and convert them to something better, something more hopeful that leads to more hope and feeling happier.

I feel like each step taken in that direction can help so much. Thriving is simply gathering up that hope and positivity enough that you consistently are pushing yourself and those you love closer and closer to that movement of happiness with your life.

Paradoxically, reaching that point often leads to you finding another piece of your life to make that little bit better. It can be a beautiful project or set of projects.

I’m asking that you join me on that journey with each post—and see your challenges and use my advice to get yourself that step closer to thriving!

Pinterest image: In the upper left corner of the picture is the Thriving While Disabled logo, while the upper half is a picture of Alison looks up into a spruce tree, which has googly eyes placed in it to imply that the tree is an animal. The lower half of the image reads 'My life as a disabled entrepreneur',
Pinterest image: In the upper left corner of the picture is the Thriving While Disabled logo, while the upper half is a picture of Alison looks up into a spruce tree, which has googly eyes placed in it to imply that the tree is an animal. The lower half of the image reads, “My life as a disabled entrepreneur.”

As a reminder: I want to invite you to join me for a presentation on November 17, at 7 p.m. ET. I’ll be doing a presentation titled “Taking ownership of your medical care: writing your own prescription for better health.” I really hope you join me for it! I’ll be announcing a special deal that’s only available to the folks who watch!

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12 Comments

    1. Hey, one step at a time! Just being willing to identify as disabled is a huge step!

      Keep up the self-awareness and write what you feel. You’ll get where your going!

  1. Wonderful post, Alison. It is so good to learn more about your business! As someone who has been self employed and running my own successful business for over a decade, I can say that it is a lot of work, but very rewarding. Having had the opportunity to lead the Chamber and launch a program for expat entrepreneurs here in Taiwan to help them find capital and help them to hone their business pitches has also been a lot of fun. I like how you incorporated all the prompts into this month’s link up party!

    1. Carrie,
      Thank you! Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it can be so rewarding.
      I’m really impressed by the work you have done (and are doing), and want to thank you for your kind words.

  2. I love how you share what you’re doing in a way that encourages others to follow their passion. You’ve created a safe place for those who could use some extra guidance to wade through the obstacles of chronic illness are able to get it. And you provide a wealth of knowledge, care and understanding.

  3. What a fascinating blog post, thank you for sharing!

    Here in the UK I think we assume that we don’t have much choice with our medical care because it is government funded with the NHS. It is common knowledge that you cannot easily switch doctors and hospitals within the NHS, and not many of us can afford private health care.

    But I wonder if a little external advice might help some people who are really struggling? Good luck with your business!

    1. Catherine – I understand that it may be more difficult to change doctors under NHS rules, but I’m sure there have to be some options! I’ve talked to a few fellow FNDers in the UK who were able to get referred to FND treatment programs and FND-aware neurologists. Also, even if you can’t change doctors, there are ways to find choices while under that doctor’s care – like by asking about alternative treatments, or doing further research into your condition and discussing those recommendations with your doctor. I firmly believe that everyone has some choices, some options, and that we all deserve to be treated well.
      I really appreciate your comment!

  4. Well done on starting up your new venture and I hope it all goes really well. It sounds like you are keeping yourself busy. I also admire you for being open and honest and writing about things without restriction. I have so many posts on my blog just sitting in draft because I don’t have the courage. Good luck with everything.

  5. Thanks so much, Anne! I hope you feel able to share those posts in your draft folder…you can share yourself!
    I am all about choosing to share my stories and letting my readers know who I am, including the messy aspects. Share what you are comfortable sharing…but I suspect if you wrote it, you do, on some level, want folks to read it.
    Thank you for sharing your experience!

  6. Hello again Alison, I love how you have incorporated this month’s prompts to inform us about how you are using your experiences as someone living with a chronic illness and disability to help others as well as helping you to start your business. It is so admirable for someone to use their own experiences, especially ones that are difficult and painful to help others in similar circumstances! Wishing you all the best with it all!

  7. Riann – thank you so much for your kind words!
    The more I recognize the privileges I have had in my life, the more I realize I have to offer to others who have similar needs.
    My father did have a good understanding of how healthcare and taxes and other complex necessities worked, and he taught me how to process that information and make the decisions most likely to help me.
    My mother had friends and colleagues who worked with mental health consumers, people who needed social welfare support, and disabled folks. They, and she, were able to help me have a realistic expectation for all of this, instead of feeling like I was a failure for not immediately understanding the systems, or for feeling bad emotionally for using them.
    I had supportive family who could afford to help me financially and were willing to support me in the ways I needed – I wasn’t afraid of being homeless or uninsured, it was just a question of how to make it work best.
    I want to help others feel the way I felt- that they have somebody caring and knowledgeable on their side, ready to help them make sense of these challenges.
    I think it’s important to have hope. Empowering to feel in control. I want everybody to feel like they’ve got somebody on their side in this struggle -just like I have throughout mine.
    thank you!

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