I am a planner at heart. I love to analyze the what-ifs and prepare for the unexpected. It really came as no surprise to me that I decided to major in education in college, with an aptitude for adaptability and a disposition for helping others. I began teaching in 2012 and wasn’t prepared for the difficult path that lay ahead. I learned that no amount of planning, discipline, or flat out determination can account for everything. I certainly didn’t plan on becoming disabled or the ever-increasing ask that comes with a public service position. I never imagined that I would have to give up a life I had planned due to a degenerative disorder and be forced to rediscover how to participate in my own life.
In July of last year, I decided to take the first step towards a new vision of what my life could be and started my own business. While my business is all about planning and thinking ahead, it has evolved and grown in ways I couldn’t have believed. I took my love of travel, something I thought I would have to give up as a person with limited mobility, and decided to find a way to help myself and others find joy in travel and leisure.
Travel and leisure can seem like daunting, lofty goals if you are disabled, chronically ill, or limited in mobility. The world at large was not created with accessibility in mind, and even the places that have to comply with ADA requirements still don’t do so as well as they should. It often feels frustrating to try and take time to plan for a trip or down time just to be stressed that your trip isn’t accessible or can’t accommodate your needs.
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, this is why I created The Chronic Concierge.
When you decide that you want to include joy in your life as a chronically ill or disabled person, the first step is the most important. Step-by-step, you can create space for things that feel impossible. If you are at a moment in your life where you feel like you just can’t make that space or feel as though you will never experience joy in its fullest, you are not alone. Chronic pain and management of symptoms is truly a full time job. It feels like an unmovable mountain with peaks dwarfing those of Mount Everest.
But, I assure you that there is hope.
Hope lay within that very first step. Perhaps it is reaching out to a nutritionist for help modifying your diet. Maybe it is making it to your first physical therapy appointment, or admitting that you need help managing your pain. The first step is the most important in achieving joy because it leads to the second step, and then the third and so on.
Honor wherever you might be right now. Acknowledge your progress even in its smallest forms. Decide today what your “next” first step is and celebrate that you are already on your way to finding and cultivating joy. No amount of planning can account for everything, but the first step is always progress towards that hope of joy.