The picture is taken looking down at my arm and hand. Nigel is on the couch beside me, his paws touching the blanket I'm under. His tail is firmly wrapped around my wrist.

2020 was a rough year, and I’m recognizing the different pressures I’ve had, many of which were caused or magnified by Covid-19.

I’m recognizing that while I’ve managed to do a fair bit this past year, I’m now a bit fatigued and low on energy for self-care as well as resistant to following the routines I’ve laid out for myself.

I’ve been scrimping a bit on my self-care in some ways lately, and I’m working on listening to my body and giving myself a much-needed break this summer.

This post is using the prompts provided by Sheryl Chan of A Chronic Voice – and I’m grateful for her creating this excellent link party!

This month’s words are accumulating, harmonising, prioritising, carving, and training.

Accumulating stresses

I suspect the past year and a half have been hard on most everybody. For me, getting through Covid-19 has been about sheltering in place and having minimal contact with many friends.

While Functional Neurological Disorder(FND) isn’t particularly likely to worsen responses to Covid-19, I’ve learned that I’m especially prone to getting sick for prolonged periods with just your average bugs.

I feel incredibly fortunate that both Al’s and my families made it through Covid-19 without losing close family members, but I know that many people didn’t fare as well.

Rorschach(gray and white) and Nigel(brown tabby) sit next to one another on the top perch of a gray cat tree. It's a bit tight, and Rorschach is leaning his head away from Nigel
I wasn’t really alone either, I had the boys with me.

Being an extrovert, it’s been tough not being able to see folks in person, and worrying about either giving people Covid-19 or catching it from them.

I had the additional stress of Al starting a new job last June, a few months into the pandemic.

The shift from him being home all the time to him going to work most days(multiplied by his increased risk of contracting Covid-19) wasn’t easy for me, especially as I have a long history of connecting physically being alone with a sense of abandonment.

I made it through those challenges, and Al and I were fortunate enough to never feel sick, so we are pretty sure we never caught Covid-19.

Now that Al and I are vaccinated, we’re feeling more willing to see other vaccinated folks and family members, but it’s been a tough year for me emotionally, with the isolation and extra stress around every interaction with other people.

My movement symptoms have increased a bit this year from the everpresent concerns, but I’ve managed things – mostly by throwing myself into this business.

left side holds a picture of Alison gazing levelly at the camera.  To the right, white text reads "Medical care decisions feel overwhelming?" and in smaller brown text "Click here to learn about my medical care coaching".  The far right of the banner holds the Thriving While Disabled logo

Harmonizing my needs with the isolation I experienced

Since it wasn’t safe to meet with people in person, I adjusted my plans and expectations.

With most everything being virtual, I made a point of connecting with folks who I otherwise wouldn’t see.

I spent hours on the phone with a friend in Denmark, called fellow spoonies to chat, and found virtual coworking spaces to get to know folks in.

Alison Hayes(white woman with brown hair and sunglasses) speaks to the assembled members in front of Chris Smith's office.
I actually got to meet several others from Poor People’s Campaign earlier this month when I volunteered to speak. After a year of zoom meetings, I felt comfortable accepting a ride from a fellow committee member.

I also decided to match words and actions by participating in The Poor People’s Campaign and exploring other ways to help work towards social justice for both the disabled community and other intersectional identities.

Since distance didn’t matter as much as usual, and going out to see friends at a nearby restarunt was just as unlikely as seeing friends in other time zones, I reached out all over the country(and occasionally the world).

I also took advantage of most groups meeting online to join spaces that I normally couldn’t get myself to.

It’s been nice having these extra opportunities and I’ve been doing my best to enjoy these new options because all too often I can’t participate in things I’m interested in due to not driving.

Prioritizing Business

Since I couldn’t go out and see people, I decided to hunker down and work on my business instead.

I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve been doing monthly talks this year, and have now had a few clients.

a yellow-crowned night heron takes off from a bridge railing with green marshland in the background.
I love going for my walks on the trail by my home. This is a yellow-crowned night heron who I’ve noticed a few times and finally managed to photograph!

I’ve built up my social media presence and invested time, energy, and some money into getting all my hard work seen by the people who need it most – like you!

When I wasn’t exercising, meditating, or doing other self-care activities, I spent much of the time Al was at work(and some of the time he was home) working on Thriving While Disabled.

I also invested in a coach and joined a mastermind group, both of which have helped me push myself that extra bit to get out there and be seen!

July brings around the end of the mastermind group, and our final activity will be a free summit where each of us will showcase our knowledge and services through some form of workshop.

I will be doing that in lieu of my talks, and my focus will be on processing medical trauma so you can see the doctors you need to!

I’ll be sharing out the details as I determine/learn them, but I’m really excited about the event and looking forward to sharing it with you!

left side holds a picture of Alison gazing levelly at the camera.  To the right, white text reads "Medical care decisions feel overwhelming?" and in smaller brown text "Click here to learn about my medical care coaching".  The far right of the banner holds the Thriving While Disabled logo

Training you to better manage your healthcare or social security experiences

So what is my business? What coaching services do I offer and why should you be interested in them?

I recognize that many of the systems that we need to survive are fundamentally broken and unfair. We still need to use them.

I view it as my job as a coach to help you differentiate between the broken system and your own challenges.

I believe that by recognizing the brokenness and separating that from your self-image, I can then help you gain the confidence to understand the rules and succeed in your goals.

All too often, we accept the societal message that our disabilities or lack of income are a moral failing, and the shame that is heaped upon utilizing the social welfare system.

woman dressed in black with a black face mask holds up a sign that reads "We demand reform"  She is part of a larger march down a city street.
While I absolutely want these rules to be reformed, my focus as a coach is on what they currently are and how I can help you succeed despite those limitations.

The social safety net has many holes in it, and it’s a byzantine maze to get through.

My job is to help you understand the rules and how to work within them, despite their arbitrary and unfair nature so that you can get the support you need for as long as you need it.

I provide coaching to help you get through the morass of applying for disability or thread the needle of working for yourself while controlling when and if you lose your SSI or SSDI benefits.

I also provide coaching services to help you manage your struggles with the healthcare system.

I offer a focused six-month program where we go over your current situation and challenges and I help you find the right doctors, get the care you need, and advocate for yourself as necessary.

My goal with that program is that by the end you have set up the best possible care network for yourself, seeing the doctors you need to, and having the tools to ensure that that continues to be the case.

left side holds a picture of Alison gazing levelly at the camera.  To the right, white text reads "Medical care decisions feel overwhelming?" and in smaller brown text "Click here to learn about my medical care coaching".  The far right of the banner holds the Thriving While Disabled logo

Carving out ‘me’ time

I’ve noticed the past month or two that I’ve been slower and sloppier to do some of my self-care routines.

I’ve been playing games on my phone when I’d normally be working, and I’m generally feeling a bit disconnected from the world.

Usually, I spend time with my family in the summer, but last summer that just really wasn’t an option.

Alison smiles into the camera, half-hidden by Rorschach(gray and white cat) who is lying on her chest
While I’m getting love from the kitties(and from Al), I’ve really been missing that close interaction in person with other humans. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I feel safer getting that contact with my vaccinated friends and family.

I’m feeling a bit burned out and emotionally tired.

I’ve been on high alert for quite a while, and extra symptomatic as a result.

I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to take July and August off from blogging.

I’ll be doing my best to frontload posts(some guest posts, some my own) so you’ll continue to have new things to read, but I’m trying to give myself a couple of months where I don’t need to be constantly coming up with something to write or otherwise trying to funnel my creativity into the business.

I’m still open to working with new clients on the days I’m not out and about.

My sister, mother and I are planning on doing beach days with my nieces and nephews a couple of days a week July through mid-August.

I have friends in NYC that may come down to visit and have beach days on Sandy Hook.

This month, I’m participating in Pride events and seeing friends in person again.

I’m really looking forward to recharging through in-person social connections, time with friends and family, and relief from the pressure of constantly coming up with something slightly different to write about.

I’m hoping that by taking this break, I’ll come back in September feeling refreshed and energized, ready to jump back in.

I’ve really enjoyed the blogging and am excited about the services I’m offering.

If what I offer sounds interesting, please sign up for a problem-solving session!

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