Are you one of the millions living with a chronic illness or pain? Our diseases may be very different, but we have many of the same experiences, obstacles and frustrations. We are all working for a better quality of life knowing that pain and limitations will be our traveling companions. My name is Annette and I'm the host of Chronic Wellness, a brief, weekly, podcast where we talk about it all: sex, self-care, mental heath, loss of identity, anger, how to navigate health care and have less days that suck so hard.
I have this belief that: If health is the absence of disease, and wellness is the presence of wholeness; whether or not I'm ever "healthy" again, I can work work toward my wellness, my wholeness.
Curious? Join me where you listen to Podcasts, for a few moments of Chronic Wellness.
Episode 335: Who Is for You?
Have you ever been othered? Discriminated against or oppressed?
Growing up in a mixed-race family Texas in the late 70's/early 80's - -- we were familiar with overt racism. Moving north to Indianapolis, things were much more integrated and the racism was still quite overt, contrasted with the Northwest, where racism is much more covert.
Compared to my experience as a queer person living in a state with numerous anti-gay ballot measures in the span of a dozen years.
When the dividing lines become that clear, it's terribly painful. But the surprising silver lining was that you know who's with you.
The same was true of my experience of racism in Texas.
When I got sick, many people fled. I still miss the casual acquaintances.
But those who have hung in, who are still willing to give me a ride, bring a meal, and remember me after all these years. What an incredible privilege.
I hope there are such people still in your life.
I am for you. You are not alone. Reach out and connect.
Episode 334: Maximum Capacity
I've been away and for part of that time I have been in Northern California.
You may remember this summer when I posted about a walk I took that was waaaay too much for me because the 2nd half of the walk turned out to be sand.
With all the moving parts, how do we assess what we can do each day and live up to our limits?
On this trip, I took two "hikes" during the week and I didn't do myself in.
It also meant saying "no" to some things that my friends were doing.
It's worth celebrating the fact that I did this well.
I did come home and injure my back. However, I did manage my limits well on the trip and that matters.
There is no way to perfectly predict what I can do from day to day -- but nothing is more worthwhile.
How are you living fully?
What are the ways you assess how to manage your energy from day to day?
Episode 333: LOL Marimo not Mirabou!
Brain fog is dominating my day.
Treatment last week has left me feeling worse before I feel better.
Today I'm posting about a "creature" that lives in my bathroom.
Our bathroom doesn't get any direct sunlight so we grow marimo (NOT MIRABOU) balls -- incredibly low maintenance moss balls.
They're perfect for those of us with little time and energy because they require so little upkeep.
Perhaps it's my Piscean nature, but I think these watery plants have a metaphor to offer us:
When I think about the ways my life has been transformed by illness, disability and pain, it's easy look back to the life I once lived. Using that as my yardstick makes it difficult to envision a different life ahead.
This small moss ball lives on the lake floor, rolling around, in almost darkness, and brings me a lot of joy -- and that's the only thing it does, roll around!
How can we re-imagine our lives in a way that works better than trying to fit back into a self that used to be?
Society tells us these lives we lead don't have value -- but look at these sweet plants -- they're magic, and so are we! Not as we were, but as we are!
How can you imagine yourself into a different way of being?!
I'm off for the next two weeks, in the meantime, please go check out my new website - annetteleonard.com
Episode: 340 Suffering and Reward
I'm recording from a new space. We had a nephew join our house. For all these years, I've been recording from our guest room. Now I'll be recording from this, my guest room/my wife's office.
The pandemic feels relentless. How interesting that more people are getting a lens into what it means to live with more restrictions, less reserves, etc.
In Western civilization, we have such a narrative about the fact that suffering leads to reward. Nothing is made better because of my suffering. I can find a "silver lining." I've grown more as a person, internally, contemplatively, and learning how to work with pain than I would have without these conditions. However, this is still just suffering without any promise of anything better.
We fear this kind of suffering the most. Culturally, these fears show up everywhere and we are living with the manifestation of this fear. How do we make peace with it? This is suffering without the promise of redemption -- but there are millions of us doing it with you. It does not negate or alleviate YOUR suffering, it does mean that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Connect, reach out, let 2022 be the year of not doing it alone.
Episode 339: Combatting Overwhelm
New migraine therapy has been causing me a lot of pain.
It's tough to keep trying new therapies and remain optimistic that a new treatment will make a difference.
A few days ago my small dog suffered a spinal cord injury. We don't know whether the damage is temporary or permanent. I'm struck by how often the same is true of us.
Last night we also had a 19 year old nephew move in with us to spend the remainder of his gap year with us.
I'm thrilled and terrified about this new development. I'll be taking three weeks off to make some necessary adjustments and finding a new recording space after the new year.
I'm rapidly becoming overwhelmed. What is the next decision I have to make. What's next.
Make a note.
This present moment is all that I have. In order to enjoy it, I have to be in it.
Be loving and gentle with yourself during this hectic and often difficult season.
Episode 338: Knowing What I DON'T Want
Please visit my website and give me your feedback: AnnetteLeonard.com
Thanksgiving has passed and the weather is cold, the days are short, the light is gone. So many of our winter holidays are about bringing the light.
Often these holidays are loaded.
Knowing that our time and energy are our most precocious natural resources, I've learned to pay better attention to what I want and need.
But, my encouragement to you today is to consider: what do you NOT what.
I hope you make really good decisions about your December with that in mind.
Wishing you peace and clarity.
This podcast helps me feel less alone. She has a great voice and always gives me good food for thought!
I am so grateful for Annette - these are the voices we chronically ill need. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be seen and heard and validated and finally in community with others who are invisibly ill, like myself. Thank you for creating this space for us, Annette!!
Wisdom and insight
The wisdom and insights in these episodes will be a huge help to anyone who lives when chronic illness or loves someone who does. As a therapist I work with clients who deal with chronic illness and I have found Annette’s work invaluable. I highly recommend!