Alison, a white woman with glasses and long brown hair stands with her right hand leaning against a tree branch. She is wearing a green and white dress with trees in the background
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So it’s once again time for A Chronic Voice’s monthly linkup. This month’s words are incorporating, breathing, smiling, stopping, and relishing.

This month is the three-year anniversary of creating this blog!

I can’t really believe that it’s been three years. I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve published a new post every single Friday since I started three years ago.

Some were better than others, and some were more emotional, and some were more raw—but I’ve gotten something new out every single Friday for three years.

I actually just switched to a new hosting service last week, as part of my work to keep making this blog and business a bit better every chance I get!

Incorporating new aspects of my business

I’m always trying to do better, and be better. One of my big next steps is creating monthly free webinars where I go into a topic I care about in detail.

While I’m using my blog content as a basis for these talks, sometimes people absorb spoken words better, and I’m hoping that these talks will encourage people to take those big next steps toward helping themselves—which may include hiring me to help them along the way!

I’m excited to announce that this month, I’m going to be talking specifically about self-employment and working while on disability.

The talk (Don’t be afraid to work!) will be Tuesday, March 16, at 6 p.m. ET, and I hope that you can make it!

woman in a wheelchair is pictured in a wide shot.  she has her computer open and is waving to somebody on the screen
My webinars are intended to support others with disabling conditions with the issues that they are most concerned about!

I’ve been alternating between being nervous and excited about these talks, with excitement mostly winning out.

I did my first one in February 2020 and have been increasing how often I do them!

Besides the talks, I also added in coaching programs about a year and a half ago, my first real attempt to earn money and shift this blog from being only an information source to also being a space where I can help others (like you) and be paid for doing so!

I’m really proud of myself for launching this as a business and for being able to keep moving this forward.

It’s really exciting to think about the growth that Thriving While Disabled has experienced—when I first started blogging, having one person visiting my site was cause for excitement, and now I have over one hundred people a day visiting this site!

I’m thrilled to have added online courses and coaching opportunities to my business, and I’m hoping to add more over time.

Breathing deeply to keep centered

I tend to get really deeply into things, and too often, I get so enmeshed in my project, concept, or action that I forget to come up for air.

One of the big things that I’m constantly reminded of while trying to build this business is the importance of taking a deep breath and focusing in on the basics, like breathing.

I use a meditation app, Calm, most days to help me manage my FND symptoms and generally maintain emotional stability.

I alternate between listening to the meditations they share daily and doing specific meditations around emotional self-care and other specific challenges.

When I recognize that I’m especially impacted by particular emotions or events, I try to select appropriate meditations for that.

Meditations on grief, or anger, or pain management are some that I revisit regularly.

Black man sits cross-legged surrounded by boxes.  He holds his hands up in a meditative position and has his eyes closed
Meditation is actually especially important when you least feel like doing it.

I use these meditation sessions as a way to keep myself balanced and healthy. But there are some days when I get distracted from my self-care and just jump straight into some aspect of this work—and there are days when I either can’t handle the work or just don’t feel like doing it.

Keeping myself on an even keel always seems like a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping a reasonable work-life balance.

I’m quite sure I’m not alone in getting so immersed in my projects that time just seems to vanish.

However, what I’ve learned (and continually been reminded of when I fail to stick to the plan) is that balance is both important and hard to maintain.

I try to remain vigilant and keep myself balanced, handling that all-important self-care first before going into any other work.

If I make sure I take the time to eat a healthy breakfast, take my medicine, go for an energizing walk, and set aside 15 minutes or so for meditation, I’m much more likely to write well, think clearly, and generally create quality work that is helpful for you, my readers.

Missing a day or two of any of these isn’t the end of the world, but the less careful I am in maintaining those practices, the more likely I am to get off-balance and have a harder time staying focused and doing quality work.

Also, I’m more likely to have worsening symptoms, trouble sleeping, or other challenges that make life in general harder.

I use breathing as my anchor for most of my meditations. It’s so important to take care of those basics and practice good self-care.

Remembering to breathe—both physically and metaphorically—is such a vital part of living a good life with a disability.

Smiling as often as possible—and meaning it!

It’s really important to recognize and feel all emotions and responses to the things that happen around you.

One of my goals in life is to have smiling as my natural default.

How do I do this? By recognizing the positives in my life, and by recognizing and working through my emotions as soon as I possibly can.

Last week, I learned of my neurologist’s passing. It is a sad event and one that needs to be grieved.

I took that energy and channeled it in productive ways—I wrote the post, did meditations on grief, and let myself cry when I needed to.

I did have trouble getting myself to sleep (an issue that started a couple of weeks ago), and so today I made sure to go out on a walk, and I’m hoping that the weather will continue to be nice enough that I can continue that habit with fewer challenges.

Black woman with her hair up in two puffs smiles broadly with her tongue sticking out as she makes the 'v' sign with the fingers of both hands
If you put yourself all in with all of your emotions, you may find that when you smile, your whole body expresses your happiness!

I need a sense of purpose in my life.

For the past three years, this blog and the work around it have helped me maintain that sense of purpose.

I feel better, having that. I’ve got an additional reason to get up, to take care of myself, to exercise. I’m creating something bigger than myself that’s intended to help others like you.

Having that bigger picture gives me an additional push, a reason to keep learning, to keep trying.

There’s a lot to learn to run a blog well, and I’ve been slowly adding to my skill set by working on this.

Even as I write, I find a smile forming on my lips—thinking about people reading my words and finding comfort, hope, or inspiration from them.

Learning new things energizes me, leaves me smiling.

Walking in nature brings a smile to my lips.

As I was writing, my cat Rorschach plopped himself down on my arm, making it harder to write on the keyboard. His antics make me smile.

I do my best to find the good in my life and celebrate it—and to let my other emotions blow through me, leaving me impacted for a minimal time, and allowing me to learn the lessons I needed to from the events that triggered them.

Stopping my depressive tendencies

I have a deep-seated fear of sadness, depression, and other “negative” emotions. I’m afraid that they’ll stay.

The reason for that fear isn’t too far-fetched either. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder when I was nine and put on antidepressants shortly after.

Thinking about it, I believe I’ve been on antidepressants for over half of my life.

My depression has been severe at times and included brief periods of suicidal ideation, as well as longer periods of mild self-harm and times of uncontrollable anger.

I’ve been in emotionally unhealthy relationships, and have spent time in pretty negative head spaces.

dark cloudy sky, with a tornado and lightning striking the ground
Most storms pass eventually, so let it rage for a while, and channel that energy the best you can. I still fear that the storm will just stay instead, but know that I’ve gotten through each one every time.

I want to be a happy person, but there are times when I literally can’t be. And that’s okay too.

I’ve taught myself over the years to respect my feelings and be true to them—whatever they may be—and let them pass through like a storm.

As I recover from whatever triggered those emotions, I find my way back to happiness and hope—much more quickly than I would have if I’d spent all that energy trying to suppress or hide those feelings.

Depression is painful and difficult, but forcing feelings down, hiding them, or otherwise pushing them away is only going to make things worse in the long run.

So I do my best to acknowledge my feelings and process them so that I can return to being the cheerful person I love to be in a completely authentic manner.

Relishing the positive feedback from the folks I help

I think a big part of what makes me happy in running both the blog and business is when I learn that somebody else found my efforts helpful.

It’s so nice to hear that my suggestions made a difficult process easier or helped somebody feel more sure of their decision.

I love knowing that because of the post I wrote or the insight I shared, somebody else had an easier experience or had a success when it could have been a failure.

I want to help others get the most out of their lives, just like I want to get the most out of mine.

For me, part of that is knowing that I’m making a difference and helping others.

I want folks to learn from my mistakes and experiences so that they don’t make the same ones. I want others to succeed, to find the better option, and to feel more secure about their decisions.

a brown-wrapped present with the words 'thank you' written on it.  The hand holding the present has a lovely rose tatooed on it
Knowing that you’re reading this and finding something helpful in it is what keeps me going!

My blog is all about recognizing those potential stumbling blocks and pointing them out so that others don’t trip.

I can’t spot all the potential challenges in your way, but if I share the ones I’ve seen, the trip is that much easier for you. And it’s just so nice to know that I can make a difference!

So please let me know if my writing is helping you—or if there’s something in particular you’d like me to write about—either by leaving a comment or sending me an email!

I really want to help you live a better life—and I love learning more about what others need!

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  1. Happy 3 years, my blogging and chronic pain friend. I totally agree about a walk in nature bringing a smile to your face. I am so lucky that I have been getting stronger so I can take my dog on an invigorating walk daily. Hope you have a great month making new memories w/ your blog and journey through life.

  2. Congratulations, Alison! These milestones are absolutely something to celebrate. I’ve watched your site grow over the past year and it has grown immensely as you’ve found more confidence in your work and what you are doing! Really happy for you!

  3. Happy 3-year Blog Birthday! Thank you for your help with dealing with my doubts and emotions of applying for SSDI. You’re doing a lot to make yourself and others thrive despite living with disability. Keep up the great work!

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