Traversing the {Chronic} Trail

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” {Helen Keller}

I read other blogs that chronicle personal lives of chronic illness, and they are soothing. I am not alone. I find myself inspired by reading how others manage their conditions, especially when they do so with great intention, deep thought, and positivity. 

So why am I afraid to write too much about my own condition? As human beings, aren't we longing for connection, for stories and accounts of what it's like for someone else?

I am afraid because I do not want to come across as dramatic or negative. I want to write the truth of what is, and quilt it together with inspiration and insights into hardship and suffering, comfort and prevailing joy. I want to show you my reality just as fact, not for attention or as an outlet for whining.

I have been struggling lately with this desire to express my experience. How do I do it in a way that is real and true and still inspirational?

How can I show you my world, through my eyes, so that you see (as I so often do) that hardships serve a tremendous purpose of bringing into focus what is important, and of amplifying the simple into a peace and joy that is enough?

I want to write to show those just becoming ill, just going through the diagnosis process, that there is beauty in a "chronic" life. I want to leave a map. And not just a map, but a sturdy pair of hiking boots that don't blister, and a bottle of cold water, and some hearty trail mix. I want to cheer you on up those hills so that you can see the beautiful view just over the top.

I'd love your input into how best to accomplish those goals.


  1. You already are an inspiration to us just by putting those words down and although vague at times it is obvious they come from a heart that is full, or giving and sharing, of pondering and lifting all at the same time. Those of us who walk a similar journey will be here to guide you and cheer you on, just as you do for us. It's ok to come in...

  2. I think I understand what you're saying. There's benefit for oneself in being honest and authentic, and when that becomes a blessing to someone else the benefit is compounded. The trick is with people who, for whatever reason, just don't want to know. It can be a delicate balance.

    I'm always ready to read anything your fingers type! Even though our experiences are not the same, I feel the comradeship from things we share and learn a great deal from the differences. You know I'm not strong on the practical how-to of things, so I don't have brilliant suggestions in answer to your question. I plan to be your fan, whatever you come up with! Love you!

  3. Your blog is lovely and always one I feel at home visiting. One thing I have learned through my own journey is that we each absorb life and its hardships in different ways. For some, it means doom and you sense it right away. For others hardships bring new chances to learn and become a better person. When I read your blog, I know you have chose to become a better person. Your words pull me in. Let the words you are feeling drive what you share.

  4. To me, as long as someone is being authentic about their downs and ups and in betweens- then it doesn't come across as whining or anything negative. Chronicling the truth of your days will indeed inspire and encourage others when they see how grace filled you are! I think you always strike the perfect balance! Just keep on girlie! Sending love!

  5. Jennifer - you already are doing a beautiful work of sharing your life - many aspects of your life - and that is the key! AS is one part - surely a key part - but part of the whole.

    As I read your blog and see other postings on FB, see your interacting with your family, see you counting in words and photos the many aspects of who you are, I cannot see you falling into any catgory that would be interpreted as whining or complaining or any of the concerns you voiced in this posting.

    As one who lives with my own challenges and who is a part of many groups composed of those stuggling with many chonic illnesses as well as hearing from those who read my devotionals - I know the difference. I see ( and hear from ) too many who only write about their pains and I come to know little else about their lives. Their chronic condition/s take on the focus of what they choose to share and for some seem to have become their identity. It has to make their jounreys more draining. I know I can get drained reading "only" the compaints. Suggestions and encouargement can be given but when more of the same comes back in return, I become aware that the very thing you are concerned about can consuem others. I can confidently say that you will never fall into those categories!

    Keep up the good work of sharing in a balanced way just what is going on in your life. We love you for it. We love YOU!

  6. Oh, my dear, dear friend, I know exactly what you are saying as I struggle with the very same thing!! I completely understand the battle going on in your heart and mind. I dance with it every time I write - longing to just "say it like it is", yet feeling the calling to be a messenger of hope. My mind tells me things like, "people are looking to you to provide encouragement and light IN the tunnel" or my ego says, "you can't look like a whiner or like you don't know how to do this" or "it's okay to write about the horrible stuff AFTER you have figured it out and made the best out of it...learned the "lesson".... Yet all the while, I long to be REAL. I think of how positive Sara always was.... and I convince myself that now is not the time... And then, every so often, I have a moment like when I posted the pictures of what my face usually looks like on any given day - in comparison to what I "allow" on facebook and my blog. And you know what - those time are ALWAYS the times when people literally come out of the woodwork - sharing their stories, asking for more...being real. You are right my friend, people ARE longing for connection!!

    I had someone tell me after writing that piece that I should never worry about looking like a complainer or someone that brings everyone down because that is not who I am. It simply would be impossible...unless I completely changed my personality for some reason!
    So my words of advice to us both is - work hard at being honest every day. Work hard at letting go of fear, because it is the fear that keeps the stories going in our minds that we MAY not be what we are supposed to BE....whatever THAT may be! ;-)

    I will tell you that I long for that truth. When I read a blog post from someone like you that finally gives me the gut level honesty...well...It makes me not feel so alone. And, it gives me hope. And be prepared, because when you do, there will be all sorts of loving people out there that get worried, send emails, tell you it will be okay....as well meaning as those are (and as much as we NEED to hear that)...it's difficult to hear. We don't WANT people to think we need encouragement. Well....let go of that story too! Bring on the empathy! Load me up with well wishes!! Lavish me with your compassionate words! Even though I think I got this whole chronic illness thing figured out...I still get pretty down sometimes. And that, my dear Jennifer, is what makes us beautiful people!

    Blessings, blessings, blessings to you.


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