Lisa Copen: Building Your Support Team

36:22
 
Share
 
Manage episode 187729435 series 1549653
By Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio streamed directly from their servers.

Building a reliable support team means you’re never alone

An interview with Jenni Grover and Lisa Copen about building an awesome support team. Lisa Copen founded Rest Ministries, Inc. after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 24. Rest Ministries is a non-profit Christian organization that exists to serve people who live with chronic illness or pain, and their families. Find Lisa at RestMinistries.com.

Connect with Lisa

RestMinistries.com RestMinistries InvisibleIllnessWeek LisaJCopen line2_zig zag.png

Since 1996, RestMinistries.com (and its associated blogs and social media efforts) has reached hundreds of thousands of people, with more than 80,000 visitors to the website alone each month. And it continues to grow through the help of its volunteers, who keep it going every day.

Lisa also founded Invisible Illness Awareness Week, an annual observance that brings together a huge variety of people who share their stories and experiences with each other, in service of creating a supportive community for all.

Lisa and her husband, Joel, also own Gutsy Goodness, a jewelry company they began in 2015. Combining Lisa’s love of design and passion for encouraging others, Gutsy Goodness pendants and key chains offer hope to those who face challenges, yet who know life takes guts! You can find them on Etsy or Amazon Handmade.

Jenni: This is Jenni Grover from ChronicBabe.com, and we are here today with a guest speaker for Lesson 6, which is all about building your team. Today I am welcoming Lisa Copen, the founder of RestMinistries.com. She is also the author of the book Beyond Casseroles, which I think is such a fun and fantastic book, and it makes a great gift. So if you are curious about that, can check it out on Amazon.com or other major booksellers, and also at her site at RestMinistries.com you can order it directly from her. It’s a great primer on how to be a great friend to someone with chronic illness. Welcome, Lisa—it’s so great to have you on the line today.

Lisa: Thanks for having me.

Jenni: So, Lisa's been a friend of mine for years. We are both online a lot writing about life with chronic illness; she has, like me, multiple chronic illnesses... and she’s still rockin’ it, she is still cute and fun and sassy, and got it goin’ on. So, I thought she would be a great person to talk with us today about team building.

Team building is something I talk about a lot at ChronicBabe—about building Team You. If you go to my site, just plug “team” into the search box and you will see the first article I wrote about it. I think I said something like “having a posse isn’t just for people like J.Lo.” Something like that. Because I think being surrounded by people that support you is a great way to go. So, just to kick things off, Lisa, can you give us an idea of who is on your team, like who is on Team Lisa—the people who support you and are in your life in a big way?

Lisa: I think that I probably represent a lot of people out there who are living with a chronic illness because I have some amazing wonderful friends, and I have family, and I have friends across the country, and I have acquaintances. I have a lot of layers in friendships that would make up my team, and yet at the same time there’s also that feeling of “Gosh, who could I call right now to help me out with this? I can’t think of a single person!”

As I was writing something the other day I was asking this question, you know, about when you are a parent, does your child feel this way? Explaining it as a person with a chronic illness, we have a lot of friends sometimes who we can call in the middle of the night in an emergency. We have a lot of friends who, if we end up in the hospital, and need a ride home, we can call in an emergency. But sometimes we crave those friends who we just need to be able to call because we just need a cup of coffee, or we need someone to just come by and open a jar for us and hang out with us. Sometimes those are the hardest friends for us to find.

What I find is a lot of times, it is me telling myself I should be able to handle this. I don’t need to bug them right now, they are really busy, they have kids too, they have a family, they have their own illness, they have issues, I am the lowest priority on their list.

In actuality, that’s not necessarily true, because what I find is that lots of time people really do want to help, they just don’t know how. Sometimes people are literally in your neighborhood only a mile away and they find out later that you could have used them either for a gallon of milk or just a friendly hug for ten minutes. And then they feel disappointed that they didn’t know it.

I do have a wonderful family and I feel extremely blessed for that. But they all live at least a thousand miles away. My mom would say in an emergency, I can get there in two hours on an airplane ride, but in reality that’s four hours to the airport. A two hour flight in the air maybe, but with a three-hour layover going the opposite direction. And so I find myself sometimes wishing that I did have family living closer.

So, family and friends, and then you know I think for someone with a chronic illness it’s very, very hard to ask for help, and that’s a whole other show unto itself. There are people who fall under the category of our well-known acquaintances, maybe people you are getting to know that you kind of clicked with at maybe a meeting or a Bible study or a support group meeting or a kids event, and it’s so hard to take that extra step and say, “Hey, could you pick my kid up after school this week or could you do this...” It’s so hard to go from being that acquaintance to someone who needs something, and I try to push myself.

Jenni: That’s one of the challenges a lot of us face, when we talk about asking for help. It is really hard to admit that you need help, to ask people you really don’t know that well for help. But what I’ve found is that simple requests are, for the most part, met with enthusiasm.

I mean, most of the people I bump into in my life, even when they aren’t very close friends, if I need something small and I ask for it in a gracious way, I can usually get the help that I need. But I also think the flip side of that is, I make sure that people know I am available, and if they need something they can call on me.

Many months ago, I was really, really sick at the beginning of the year and sick for weeks, had to stay in my house and cancel plane trips and all kinds of stuff, which is really pretty severe for me. I was having some breathing issues. A friend asked how she could help, and she lives fairly close by. I had been sitting in my apartment for days and days, eating the same food and feeling kind of bored, and I said “Could you go to my favorite sandwich shop, that’s midway between our houses, and get me a sandwich... an exciting sandwich from Chinatown!”

And I really am not that close to her, but she asked if she could help... I had been tweeting like, “Oh, I am stranded, I don’t feel good.” She asked if she could help and I said, “I would love to take you up on it.” And I have subsequently done things for her.

I think that the more open we can be about it, I think that really sets a precedent, helps people know it is OK to ask for help. Sometimes it’s the smallest things. I have written before about the guys at my UPS store, where I get all my mail. They know sometimes I don’t feel good and it’s really hard for me to lift a box, or they know sometimes I am waiting for a package or a paycheck and I am really excited and they will call me and let me know, which is totally not part of the standard service at UPS stores, to personally call you.

So when I think about people on my team I include all those people. I include the manicurist who does a really great job on my pedicures, because she is just really awesome. I include my cleaning lady. When I think about Team Jenni, it’s full of people; I am thinking about my healthcare providers. My team is majorly big... we have the major league team and the minor league team.

Lisa: OK, well, you just expanded mine! If you were talking about all those folks, it does take a village sometimes just for one of us. I think you learn what you want to do with your time and energy, and what you need to either ask for help on or pay someone to do. We have a gardener that comes and clips plants and cuts our grass. I have a husband who is perfectly healthy who could do it, but that is not a joy to him. He would rather do anything than gardening. And about the third day that he tried it we wound up in the ER for seven hours on a Saturday... and the co-pay alone would have paid for the gardener. I made the choice then (to get a gardener) and he’s perfectly happy with it. He is happy to come home and see the prickly thorn branches from the palm trees all bagged up; it’s a gift.

If you are talking about medical teams, it does take a village to keep us all put together, walking, keep us looking half decent and all those things.

Jenni: Yeah, I tend to think about all those little things. I include them, because here’s why: We had started to talk about asking for help, and I think a lot of times I’ve gotten stuck feeling like I couldn’t ask for help or I didn’t want to ask a friend for something really big, when in fact maybe just a small assist would make my day easier.

So I’ve started to try to think about moving through my day. Are there small ways that if I need help, I can ask for help and get it? And will that help my day go better? For example, today I was riding the bus and my knees and legs were hurting really badly, so when the bus pulled over to pick me up, I said, “Hey, can you lower the bus?” Because the buses here in Chicago go up and down to make it easier for you to step up on.

And that’s just a small thing. Normally, I wouldn’t ask for it, but today, I said “Can you please lower the bus for me? It’s really gonna help me.” It’s a really small thing—it’s really actually part of the bus driver’s job—but I thanked the bus driver and was polite and friendly. For years I thought I had to be so independent, do everything on my own, that it wasn’t a good idea to ask people for help… and now I guess I’ve just gotten over it because I need assistance with different things.

Lisa: I think that happens with age and experience. You know, when you start doing little things like that, it becomes a little simpler every time you do it. The first time, if you’re someone who lives with a chronic illness, and you’ve never asked someone for help, it’s hard. Every time I’d buy a Snapple at the store and was going to drink it, I’d have to ask them, “Will you please open the bottle for me? Because I can’t get it open.” I’d just briefly explain, “I’m sorry, I have rheumatoid arthritis so it’s really hard for me.” And they’d just say “Oh, OK, sure.”

But every time you do the tiniest thing like that, it does get easier, and you’ll find most of us with chronic illness are real fighters. We will fight to do everything we can possibly do. When you ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of conserving your strength for the things that are important in your day and saving that for the things you really value.

And maybe you knew you were going to do a certain amount of walking later in the day, and if you stepped on that bus and your knee went out, or whatever, it would stop you from doing something healthy that you had planned. So it is a mindset we have to kind of take on, and sometimes you have to claim it before you feel comfortable with it, and with time it does get simpler.

Jenni: I think what you said about just doing the first little things, I think it’s such a big deal. It is true that in the beginning of my time of being a sick chick, I was really freaked out about asking my friends for help. I got sick when I was 25, and it felt like no one else I knew had any issues, so asking them for help with things, or expressing to them that maybe I can’t do that, or I need to do this in a different way, I felt so self-conscious about it.

As time has gone on, I’ve gotten over it. So maybe I just stopped worrying about what other people think of me. And in fact, it turns out that most of the people in my life just want to be helpful and get satisfaction out of being helpful, the same way I do. I mean, that’s why ChronicBabe came to exist. I find that just asking for those little things the first time can feel so hard sometimes, I know, but when you get over it, I think it makes such a big difference.

Lisa: It does, and I think the first time you ask any person it can be difficult. Then their response a lot of times will encourage you to do it again. I think what you said is important too, about how you can do things for them too.

My son is in taekwondo and he’s been at the same studio for three years, so I’ve gotten to know a lot of the moms over the years. Our personality, our outlook, our willingness to say “Oh yeah, that’s going on in my life too,” or “I’m stressed about the holidays too,” or whatever—they kind of get to know you to a certain level.

When you have to actually ask them for help, like when I had a splint on my hand for about three months… I had joint replacement surgery for rheumatoid arthritis, and I couldn’t drive. It was really, really hard for me to even find a ride to the studio because everybody’s lives are chaos. And to find someone who’s going the same day, same time, that’s in your kid’s same class, that’s nearly impossible. But I could take a taxi down there and that was about $10, and then I could just beg a ride back off anyone who happened to be there. And everyone was more than willing to give me a ride home.

You find that the act of even getting in someone’s vehicle and having three minutes of conversation on the ride to your house, or whatever it is, creates a new level of relationship that you didn’t have before. Even if you’ve known that person for years. And part of that is maybe getting in their car and seeing the chip wrappers, and the spilled drinks, and that they’re human too—and part of it is making ourselves vulnerable enough to say “I need some help with this.” You know?

But it does create a new kind of relationship, and we in turn can also be willing to help with whatever we can help with. When they’re sitting there trying to help their kid with homework and they’re saying, “I don’t know how to do that math problem,” if you do, you reach out and say, “Oh, I could help you!” It’s the tiniest things. What happens is from an acquaintance, a relationship can actually form. And then it becomes more and more easy to ask for help from those same people.

Jenni: I agree. I’m sure some people listening feel like they don’t want to appear weak, or they worry about how they’re going to look to other people if they need help with certain things.

Lisa: Sure.

Jenni: That’s been a challenge for me, especially because with fibromyalgia, I don’t have visible symptoms. Besides the fact that I may walk slowly some days, or my eyes may look tired because I didn’t sleep. So people tend to think of me as a really healthy person and vibrant person, and that’s great—I want them to think of me that way. There’s no question.

But sometimes I will ask people to do something and they look at me a little funny, like, “Well, why do you need that?” You know? The classic one is asking someone to get up from the handicapped seat on the bus, for me, because that is so hard. I don’t look like I need a seat, but some days I can’t stand. And that’s a really challenging one. I don’t suggest that for first timers, for asking for help. It’s a tough one.

I think the biggest thing I’ve gotten from having a team and having so many people, is staving off isolation. For myself, as a single person living in a big city, in a high-rise apartment, I can feel like I’m just in my little concrete cube up here, all by my lonesome. Knowing I have all these people on my team really helps.

For example, my doorman knows I love to get mail and love to get packages, so every time I get a package, he calls me and tells me so I can run right down and grab it. And we always have a laugh about it, I do a little song and dance about it, and it’s fun, and I think it makes me more comfortable talking with him. I didn’t even really ask for that—he just knows, he paid attention—but then when he offered it, I was like, “Yeah!”

And I reciprocate by not walking by him when I’m leaving to go somewhere and not acknowledging him. I walk by and I say “Hey, how are you? What’s going on? How was your vacation?” Or whatever. For me, the isolation thing is a big issue. I mean, sometimes when you’re flared up, you’re kind of on your own—I mean, I know you have family in the house, but sometimes you’ve gotta feel isolated, right?

Lisa: Yeah, I think there’s a misconception among a lot of people that if you have a family, you’re not isolated. I feel blessed to have a husband and a son and they’re good guys, but I still feel very isolated.

There are a lot of people in marriages who are really hurting or that are abusive and that’s much worse than living alone, but I think that the most lonely times can be at two a.m. when you’re sitting in the dark and your body is throbbing in various places and the rest of the house is quiet, or else they’re snoring. And everybody’s content, and no one knows you’re hurting.

I went through a period of having some reactions to a medication in August; I was throwing up just about every night. From three o’clock until midnight, I was basically nauseous and then by one a.m., I’d just say, OK, I’m just going to throw up water. You know? And I thought, there is no more lonely feeling than throwing up by yourself. You don’t honestly want someone in the bathroom, but you want someone standing outside with a washcloth, saying “Are you okay? Can I get you anything?” You know?

Jenni: And at that point, you’re like, “Do I need an air horn in the bathroom so I can notify people that...”

Lisa: Right! It’s that feeling of, you don’t want anyone there, but you don’t want to be by yourself. You want someone to care. I think that via the computer, it’s an amazing tool for being able to connect with people, and some people would say that prevents the isolation in their lives, that they would have without it. Because you can literally log on at two a.m. and find someone who’s up, who also understands.

I think we can really be at risk of depending solely on the computer and our friendships from around the world. Even if, like you said, your connection is just with the doorman, or the mailman, whoever—I always see the UPS driver when he comes to visit me, he knows more about my life than some of my friends. All they have to do is look at what’s being delivered some days.

Jenni: So when you make “Team Lisa” t-shirts, he’s totally getting one.

Lisa: Right?! Sometimes it’s just having a conversation. And I always kind of feel sorry for the people who come to the door to sell me something, because half the time they walk off with one of my brochures.

The other day, someone came from a missionary and I ended up giving him my Beyond Casseroles book and a brochure. God bless you, thanks for doing what you’re doing, I gave him a glass of ice water. It’s connecting with the people that are brought in to your life, wherever they’re brought in, however you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to be major, you don’t have to do something earth-shattering in their life. Sometimes just talking to them, you might be the first person who has acknowledged them as a person today. And there’s something about that, that can refresh you as well.

Jenni: I’m glad you mentioned that. I think we have a lot of those moments in our live that we don’t realize are opportunities to connect with people. And just that moment of acknowledgement that we’re in this together, we’re having a shared experience, whether you’re at work, whether you’re at church, on the bus, at the grocery store, whatever. Just connecting with people and sharing something with them is so simple.

It feels difficult sometimes for people who are shy or haven’t done it before, but when you start doing it, I think you build these great connections. Even if those moments are fleeting, even if it’s just for two minutes while you’re in line at the checkout and you’re both giggling over a magazine cover that’s ridiculous, or whatever. Those moments that you’re connecting, I think, are really incredible.

To your point on the online relationships, for sure: I’ve made so many friends online, especially through Twitter and Facebook and stuff, and they are definitely my lifeline in the middle of the night, when I’m not doing well and I’m by myself. They are definitely a big part of Team Jenni. They’re like Team Jenni all over the world, it’s kinda crazy!

So when you think about the idea of a team—sand for me I think that it reminds us that we’re involved, we’re part of a community—can you think of other places ChronicBabes like us could look for people who could be team members? I mean, we’ve talked about our family, we’ve talked about healthcare providers. Can you think of other places? I know you’re very active in your church community, right?

Lisa: I am. Actually, my husband and I just started going to a small group last week. We haven’t been involved in one for years, because for some reason a lot of them didn’t seem to have child care. When we took our son to one, they had child care, but it was basically us sitting in the living room listening to fifteen kids in a bedroom wondering who was going to be killed first… it was not the relaxing environment we were looking for.

So this year some friends, our dearest friends for over 15 years, their group started up again, and they have child care down the street at someone else’s house with a babysitter. We are so there. And there’s something wonderful about sitting in a room full of people with whom you have something in common, and I think for those of us that live with illness, it’s really important for us to have an outlet to speak about what we’re going through with our illness.

On the other hand, don’t box yourself in so that it is your entire life. You may be able to get the support you need for your chronic illness online because there’s not a meeting everyone has to go to, you aren’t dragging yourself there. And then you might be able to find a group or some different thing going on in your community that has another interest.

Maybe you’ve started taking up photography. Maybe you’re no longer able to participate in team sports, or something that you’ve done like played softball for years, but suddenly you can become the photographer. So don’t think just about illness but also think about other things you might want to be involved in and how those people can become your support network.

Let’s be honest, those of us with chronic illness, we reach out, we take meals, but if everyone on your team has a chronic illness, you know, you’re going to be cutting yourself off from a lot of the world and how the world lives. Because the reality is, most people out there still don’t understand aspects of invisible illness.

I also think support groups for those with chronic illness can be amazing tools, but there are seasons we will go through in our life where we really crave that, and seasons where we don’t really need it. And there are some really spectacular support groups, and there are some really awful support groups.

Jenni: I’ve been to some of the really awful ones!

Lisa: So if you’re in a season where you’re thinking, You know what? This would really be helpful for me to sit down with some people and talk about what I’m going through, because I’m not being a great spouse or I’m not dealing well with my job right now, with my illness. Or whatever it is. If you're in that season in your life, then go for it, and plan on maybe visiting two or three different groups, maybe for your specific illness, maybe at your library, maybe at your church… we have different groups through Rest Ministries.

Try to check them out; if you go to one and you don’t leave feeling better, my advice would be don’t go back to that one. Because you should leave feeling somewhat uplifted. And if you’re coping with your illness, and all your family and friends are saying “You need to join a support group. You need to join a support group.” If you’re not feeling the call right then to do that, it’s OK. We go through seasons.

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 24, and there have been times when it was really helpful and I wanted that, and times when I had things I’d rather do than go around and talk about feeling bad. Especially if I’m feeling decent that day. And now, with the internet, there are some great tools, with Facebook, FourSquare, check-in features, Meetup.com and more. Think beyond looking at your Starbucks bulletin board or your community newspaper; there are some great groups out there you might be able to find on Meetup.com that you never would have thought of participating in before.

Jenni: Absolutely. I think it’s valuable to look for support groups for illness-related stuff, but also look for groups that are just related to some of your other interests. I agree, making everything about your illness and making everything with your team about your illness, that’s boring and people are going to get frustrated. You’re going to get frustrated and tired of it. We can’t spend 24/7 on illness. Well, we can, but we shouldn’t, in my opinion, spend 24/7 thinking and obsessing about our illness and only relating to people in regards to it. I think the best thing we can do is fill our lives with as many other interests as possible, you know?

Lisa: I think we need to think of our illness as a tool in order to help us maybe find our passion, or what our purpose is going to be. And you know, everything I do through Rest Ministries has to do with chronic illness. But I really get rejuvenated when I go to a Christian women’s mastermind group. There’s a book marketing conference, national writers and speakers associations groups that I go to, and that’s where I’ll meet other women who have a lot in common with me. A certain percentage, maybe five percent or so, will also have a chronic illness, or maybe they’re a cancer survivor, or something, and we’ll have that in common.

But you come away with a new perspective and you’re able to take it back to the illness community and grow from there. So you kind of have to get out of your little circle to be able to grow and use it as a tool to reach out to other people. Which, I hope, I know not everyone who has a chronic illness wants to be an advocate for it the rest of their life, but if you have a chronic condition, you now understand suffering in a way that you probably never did before.

And for those of us who are Christians, we’re very familiar with the story of Job, in the Bible, who had everything taken away. There were a lot of things taken away from him and he did not crack. And then the last thing that he had was boils on his skin and physical illness, and that was the thing that kind of set him off, and he went “I’ve had enough.” There’s something in that. When you lose your children and you lose entire crops and you lose everything you own, there is nothing left to take from you but your health and you’re still OK. And then you have that taken from you!

Illness is a tool and it teaches you suffering like no one else. You can go out and encourage pretty much anyone who’s hurting, because you definitely understand, even when not to say anything. So if your best friend is going through a divorce, if your sister is diagnosed with cancer, if someone’s going through a really rough patch with their child who has a chronic condition, you have the ability now to know when to say “I’m here for you, if you need to vent, put me at the top of your list. Pick up the phone.” You know? They probably have a lot of people in their lives who have that as their first instinct, and so, you get the honor of being someone who gets it. And that’s a great place to be.

Jenni: What a great concept. I guess I’d thought about it, but not in such an eloquent way—that we are almost like ambassadors. I don’t want to say we’re ambassadors of suffering, but we kind of are in a way.

Lisa: We kind of are. Every time you ask the person at 7-11, “Could you open my Coke for me?” Every time you do that, and they give you a look, and you, say “I’m sorry, I have such-and-such condition and I just can’t do it today.” You have now educated that person.

They give you this look like, hmm. And if you come back two weeks later and the same person is there, they’re really gonna remember. But they may never give someone else that look again, of Why would you possibly need help?

It’s the same way when you park in the handicaped spots legally, and you get the looks. If someone pulls over and says something to you, it is so hard to remain calm, and most people do not want to be educated on it. If they’re the ones standing there telling you something, they just want to vent. But…

Jenni: The thing is, in those moments, you’re taking care of yourself, like asking at the 7-11 to have someone open your soda. You’re taking care of yourself, and by getting your needs met, you’re educating that person so they are more knowledgeable and more compassionate, and they are going to take that along, like you said, and share that compassionate perspective with other people, we hope. In the best cases, that’s what happens. We are using our illness experience almost as a tool to help the world, to help everybody live in a more compassionate place.

Lisa: Yeah, so when you have to ask for help, don’t mumble it under your breath and act embarrassed. Give them a smile and say, “You know, would you mind opening this for me? Because I have rheumatoid arthritis.” Or whatever you have. “And my hands aren’t working today.” I can even hold up my joints, and my hands are pretty obviously deformed.

Have a sense of humor, smile, and that’s what they’ll remember. It’s a great feeling.

There are a lot of sons I’ve noticed lately, I don’t know if God’s trying to send me a signal because I have an eight year-old-son… but there was a guy at one of the stores I asked to open my thing, and someone came to my door about something… these young men in their early 20s keep showing up for me, and I’ll say “I have rheumatoid arthritis,” and they say “Oh! My mom has that!” You know? And they’re relieved to find someone else who has it. And I’ll say “How’s your mom doing?” We have this whole conversation and they’re like, somebody gets it. I think of my son and I’m like, I hope he turns into a man like that someday.

Jenni: Oh, he will! I think that is what the whole team idea is about for me. Connecting with people, feeling connected, feeling part of a community, making sure you don’t feel alone, and making sure that the community you’re a part of, that you’re contributing to it. You know, that it’s a shared relationship, a symbiotic relationship. And I think that’s the best-case scenario when it comes to building your team and thinking about who’s on your team. That guy at the 7-11? He’s on Team Lisa!

Lisa: Whether he likes it or not!

Jenni: He may not know it, he may not know your name, but he then becomes an advocate for you. Even that small thing: it does make a difference in your life, and I love that idea. I think that’s a great place for us to kind of wrap up our conversation.

I’ve had such a fun time talking to you about Team Lisa and Team You and building teams today and asking for help. It’s such a challenging concept for a lot of people. I hope we’ve given them some great ideas and reinforcement that they’re not alone in that struggle, and that they can do it. Did you have any final thoughts you want to share?

Lisa: I guess just to reiterate, Jenni, you and I know how hard it is to ask for help. We’re not trying to do anything that we have not struggled with and still struggle with sometimes today.

But in our hearts we know it’s the right thing to do, and so we practice. And I think that you can find the joy within yourself and go out and experiment and when you need to ask for help, put your chin up, and say thank you so much. There are people that have jumped up to open a door for me, not realizing I had rheumatoid arthritis.

I had someone once see me trying to carry a huge mail bin out to the car from the post office, and he helped me carry it out. And I stopped him and I said “I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I've never had someone offer to carry it out for me. I have rheumatoid arthritis and you’ll never know what a difference that just made in my day.” It was one of those horrible flaring days, but I had to get mail. And he said “You’re kidding! I can’t believe no one’s ever offered to help.” It made his day.

If your illness exists, don’t be embarrassed by it, don’t be ashamed of it—it’s a tool that you can show now and then as part of your ID to people, to say “You really made a difference in my day today.” There are people that just will do something out of the kindness of their heart and they don’t realize how much you needed help that day.

So don’t be ashamed of your disease. Use it sometimes in a positive light, to let people know that you needed that help and you appreciate their help and it really makes a difference in your day. And it makes a difference in our attitude and our outlook on the world in general. We feel like maybe there are some people out there willing to go the extra mile. I know it’s hard, and there are days I don’t want to appear ill, and days I need help, but don’t deny it if you do.

Jenni: Thanks Lisa, as always, it is such a joy to talk to you, and I think you have so much to offer. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Lisa: Thank you Jenni, for doing this. This is an amazing thing you’re doing and I’m excited to see how it will impact peoples’ lives.

Jenni: Aw, thanks. Well, if anybody is not familiar with Lisa, if this is the first time you’ve heard her speak, you can check out her website at RestMinistries.com—she’s got so many resources there. Take it from me, a Buddhist, you don’t have to be a Christian to get a major benefit from her site. So for anybody who’s curious about that, you should just know that there are wonderful resources there for each and every person with chronic illness. It’s a resource that I recommend to every person that I encounter.

Lisa: Thanks Jenni.

Jenni: Oh, you’re welcome, it’s my pleasure. Well, thanks again, I’m going to sign off. This has been Lesson 6 on building your team, so if you’re ready to move on to the next lesson, go for it! Otherwise, sit and ruminate, listen to it again, take this out somewhere on your iPhone, do your thing, and until you hear my voice again, I hope you are as well as possible. Thanks!

11 episodes available. A new episode about every day averaging 30 mins duration .