Launched in 2015 as a podcast, we birthed this blog in 2017 for creative, entrepreneurial, chronically ill, and still-searching women over 40. Straight Talk for a Curvy World® is a growing collective of hopeful, albeit sometimes anxious women from all over.
This blog is for all of us who are facing life with chronic illness, dealing with anxiety, depression, grief and wondering what's next. We'll tackle the deep stuff, find the humor, and discover new things that keep us going. You'll find inspiration, practical advice, helpful suggestions for things that make life easier, and more! We'll also talk about earning a living, writing, traveling, loving and laughing, all while. . .
abandoning perfect and embracing life with chronic illness.
Over the years we've defined ourselves through our roles with other people (think: patient, mom, daughter, spouse, employee, etc.), by the experiences we've had (especially the ones we don't talk about), and then BOOM, something significant happens, and we're looking in the mirror asking ourselves:
Who the hell am I now that. . . (fill in the blank)
. . . I'm over 40, 50, 60.
. . . my parents have died.
. . . I'm living with a chronic illness.
. . . my relationship has ended.
. . . this business isn't profitable.
. . . my anxiety and depression are not under control.
. . . I still haven't pursued my dreams.
If this sounds familiar, you're in the right place.
We know a thing or two about starting over, pursuing a dream, getting knocked down, picking up the pieces and facing the new normal of life with a chronic illness.
And if you stick around, you'll quickly discover you're not alone, you're not the only one, and you're not crazy either!
Whether you're looking for encouragement to conquer your latest challenge, the inspiration to keep on writing (or start writing), and even if you just need a little extra love and a friend to help you laugh through the tears, we’ve got you covered. Make sure you sign up to get our Love Notes sent directly to your inbox. Because seriously, who doesn't need some extra love?
I know I do and I sense you're a lot like me. We may have had different experiences, but I'll bet we've shared similar emotions about the experiences we each have had.
Whoa, do I know the pain of grief. A year after my mom died and I’d taken early retirement, I was waking up to an email ending my marriage. The very next day I woke up to discover the bank accounts were empty and my credit cards canceled. Soon after that, my phone was shut off (I'd had that number for 18 years!) and then he took the car. And all the while I was dealing with the divorce, which was nasty as you've probably guessed, I was facing the impending death of my father.
The divorce took eight months, and my dad died two months after that. I was alone and starting over. As in, I had to figure out how at nearly 50, I was going to support myself for the rest of my life! It was the scariest thing I'd ever faced. That is until I received the diagnosis of a chronic illness that has no cure.
But grief isn't the only emotion I've encountered.
Anxiety and depression are my on and off companions.
For me, anxiety was like the houseguest that doesn't know when it's time to leave. At one point in my life (when the above-referenced marriage ended), I had so much anxiety I was afraid to leave my house. No joke. For a time, I couldn't even force myself to sit at the beach.
And not only do I LOVE the water; I also LIVE on a lake!
I'm grateful to share I worked through the fear and anxiety and eventually went on to travel the world. (Not enough though — I have many more places I want to see and experience, so I'll be writing about travel, too!)
Anxiety still visits me from time to time, but today I recognize it and call it by name before it takes over my life. (Most of the time, anyway.)
Depression is trickier for me. It creeps in when I'm going about my business and slowly begins to take over. It starts with a feeling of being off and not knowing why and then attaches itself without explanation. It's one thing to feel depressed when someone dies, or a relationship ends, but when it shows up without any apparent reason, that's more challenging. Especially when it happens during life’s happy moments.
Two and a half years after my dad's passing, I achieved a childhood dream of publishing my first book. You can check it out here. Before it was even released, I'd already received four book awards and thanks to the encouragement of Big D and some work on my part; I was invited to have an author event at the largest bookstore in New York City (second largest in the United States) — Barnes & Noble Union Square! Not only was this a dream come true, but it was also a big deal. A REALLY BIG DEAL, as this store, brings in only the most prominent and most famous of authors. . .
and me it turned out.
When we returned home from NYC, I was on cloud nine. I'd come so far from that morning when the bank accounts were sitting at zero, and there was still so much to do with my book. And that is precisely when that sneaky bastard of depression re-entered my life. I didn't see it happening, and I couldn't stop it once I did. I shut down, leaving my by then, six-time award-winning book, on the shelf. There were no more book signings or events. I simply couldn't bring myself to take action related to my book.
And I didn't understand why.
At the same time, I was dealing with numerous symptoms that I could no longer ignore. Symptoms that became more intense once I returned from NYC. I started going to doctors, seeing numerous specialists, getting test after test, labwork upon labwork, and receiving a multitude of diagnoses. Suddenly and without warning, my daily pain levels were off the charts with no relief in sight. There was one more specialist to see, and I prayed for an answer to explain the pain. With Big D at my side, in the exam room at the University of Minnesota, we had the answer.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease with no cure.
RA, by far, is the most significant challenge I've ever faced. And if you've already read my book, you know I've lived through some pretty substantial challenges!
All this is what brought me here, to create this blog. I'll be honest and tell you; I struggled with this blog's topic focus. Straight Talk for a Curvy World® started out as a podcast, where we'd talk about the stuff we don't talk about, even the messy stuff. The things we hide because we're ashamed or fear we'll be judged. We covered all kinds of topics focusing on the over 40 woman, but chronic illness never came up.
Could I create a blog of the same name, with the same mission of helping women know they're not alone, not the only one, and not crazy either? Could I do this AND focus on chronic illness?
These are the questions I asked myself, and it has taken a couple of months to realize the answer is YES!
Yes, because just like the woman listening to my podcast needed to know she wasn't the only one struggling with starting over, recovering from trauma, or drowning in grief, YOU need to know you're not alone, you're not the only one, and you're not crazy either. All things those of us with chronic illness feel from time to time (or daily!)
Yes, I need to know those things, too!
If this is your first time visiting, I recommend you start your reading here, with a few of our classic posts:
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Thanks so much for stopping by.
I'm glad we found each other!
We're going to be the best of friends, I can tell.