I am always looking for people who inspire me. A few months ago I was a part of a Facebook group and met Deborah White. She is a productivity strategist for women with businesses. She also deals with several chronic illnesses and has a family. She is going to be talking about managing a business, illness and a family. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for my blog. I’m sure you will gain some helpful tips and insight.
My Fruitful Home: What chronic illness do you have?
Deborah: Fibromyalgia (17 years), Hypothyroid (5 years), Hoshimotos (4 years), Addison’s disease (4 disease), IBS (20 years), Chronic Fatigue syndrome (4 years).
My Fruitful Home: That is a lot to deal with. Do you have any children?
Deborah: Here are my children and their ages:
Scott (44), Brian (41), Tobi (40), Ryan (38)
Tobi/Dan: Julian (10), Milo (8), Kirby (7)
Ryan/Raena: Isaac (9), Joshua (5), Oliver (5) (twins)
My Fruitful Home: How did they cope with your illness?
Deborah: Before 4 years ago we seemed to find a way to cope with my illness and I think it had to do with how we all communicated about it. Then 4 years ago I got the flu that I didn’t recover from for 3 ½ years. It was then that the rules of engagement changed. I added a few more illness names to my list and I found myself on this mission to cure myself through Doctor visits. Then about 6 months ago I came to realize that I was going to have to change my approach and make my health come before their wants and needs. What my family could expect and work around then became an entirely new game to deal with. We are today still trying to find this new normal as my illness changes more than is consistent. I am sure that some of their dreams and hopes for an energetic Mom, Nana and friend have been shattered also.
My Fruitful Home: I can relate to that. It’s so hard when it effects our families. What is your business and how long have you had it?
Deborah: I work with women small business owners in their 2nd and 3rd year when the business changes from manageable to more on their plate than they can handle. We discover their personality style and build their business that best matches who they are so that they enjoy more free time, more money and systems that are in line with how they think and act. For me it is quite fun and for them they can start to breathe again. I started in 2009 working on a new direction for my life. Since then I am a ICF Certified Life Purpose Coach, ICF Certified Life Coach, Higher Ground Leadership Coach, DISC Certified, People Purpose Certified, and have a great amount of coaching and business education under my belt as well.
My Fruitful Home: That sounds fulfilling and challenging! How do you manage your business and illness?
Deborah: I am very fortunate that I have clients that will change a date here and there should I need to. Being that I am a Life Coach and love what I do makes a difference in my attitude too. I help women with their time management issues so that has given me a heads up on how I can motivate myself without causing exhaustion. My business has changed from being out in the public or speaking to large groups to being on the phone or Skype, talking with smaller groups and individuals and doing webinars and teleclasses from home. So what I did was not give up but I changed the venue of how I do what I love to do. My illness is not so much packed with pain as it is exhaustion and brain fog. On the days that I have a clear mind and my body follows, I go into my office in my home and work. When I don’t have that energy I do less taxing work like reading and resting. I have a swing on my porch and my mini doxy Pebble rides it next to me and we sit and watch the world from that view point. Either way it is a joy to be alive.
My Fruitful Home: It sounds like you have found a good balance. That’s one of the nice things about working from home. You can usually schedule things around your needs and move a few things around. Do you have a support system or outside help?
Deborah: I have been married to Dale for 31 years who is a wonderful man that totally understands. I have gone to great lengths explaining what I am experiencing so that he understands that I may look well but am not. We have a system that we use called coupons. I will explain to him that I started with 10 coupons today and have used about 4, so yes I can go to the store with you as I have 4 to use. I have also shared with my friends and family about my system too so that they understand. Dale never pushes me to do more than I can. He also knows that there are days I start out with more coupons but by the afternoon I may have used them all up and need to just rest with him on the couch rather than do what we had planned. Having a Husband that is not judgmental is wonderful. I just recently moved 2 ½ hours in distance from my Son and his Wife and three active grandchildren. So we are still working out our new relationship for what we can and cannot do to play with each other instead of how we communicated before. I have had to adjust my coupons as just sitting in the car going to their house costs me coupons just the same. And then there is the never ending energy of children that does cost me coupons too.
My Fruitful Home: That is wonderful that you have a supportive husband! That makes things a little easier. I’m glad you have found a way to tell him how you are feeling. I love that coupon idea. Do you have anything else you’d like to share with us?
Deborah: I wanted to say that I have moved several times since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 17 years ago. Whenever I moved I would teach everyone around me how to manage this disease with me. When I developed the coupon system it made how I live my life and how my friends and family cope with it much easier to understand. My advice would be to find a simple way to “measure” how much energy or pain that you have per day and come up with how you can explain that to everyone around you. They will thank you for it. I believe that they want to know how to deal with your illness and if you have a way to close in that gap they will understand you and your illness better.
By having some way to “tangibly” share if you have the energy or a pain free day, it makes it easier for them to include you. Until they understood through my coupon system I was left out. Now that I gave them a tangible way to discuss if I can go or not, I am included in their fun times all of the time. I will get a phone message saying “hey Deb we are going to the movies tonight, do you have enough coupons to go?” The other tidbit that I say to new people in my life is “if I am here then it is a good day, but if I am not then it probably is not a good day and I choose to rest.” Remember part of their “understanding disconnect” is that they don’t think like you. They think you look good if you come and are good when you are not there. So what they think is that you are just busy and look good all of the time. What the truth is that when they see you it is a good day and when they don’t you are probably on your back. So cut them a little slack, they just don’t get it.
The third tip: You can have a business and have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue too and in my case a few other things I deal with. Honest. Don’t tell yourself anything less!! I absolutely love helping people change their lives for the better. I don’t have to leave my home and yet still feel great when I hang up the phone from a client who had a change in perspective. So try to find yourself a job that brings in money but is not so taxing on you physically. They are not easy to come by but they are out there.
I leave you with the last tip:
You are NOT your illness. One of the first things I did to help myself was to try not to have it be my total conversation. It was a big part of my life, yes, but it is not all of my life. It does not define you but it is ONLY a part of who you are. Make peace with your journey for it is then when you can relax and become the best that you can be. If you continually fight it or think that you don’t have anything to offer the world – because you have it, you will make yourself sicker. Remember that we have an illness that even Doctors don’t get. You are a mighty force in this world my friend. Understanding and knowledge is your weapon and peace from inside-out is always the goal.
Thank you so much Deborah! I enjoyed getting to know you better. If you want more information on her business please see below.
The Fun Factor * Personal Development Coach, Business Owner, Certified Life Coach, Mentor, Teacher, Speaker and Author