Well it was another wonderful Invisible Illness Awareness Week thanks to Lisa Copen and Rest Ministries. I listened to almost all of the conferences live and was lucky enough to be able to call in ask questions of several of the speakers. I know I got a lot of really terrific information, and I know that many others have as well. The great part is that all the conferences are archived on Blog Talk Radio, so they are available at anytime for you to listen to. You can even download them all for free at ITunes and listen to them on your IPOD or MP3 player if you don't want to listen to them on your computer.
There were lots of talks on a variety of topics, but I wanted to mention in particular a few that I really enjoyed:
"Helping Others Understand Your Pain" - Karen Richards - Karen had great advice on not only speaking with family and friends, but also how to communicate with your medical team. I know I learned a lot, and I am a chronic pain patient and am used to speaking about this topic. Just goes to show you that you can learn something new each day.
"It's Okay To Say No: Building Healthy Boundaries" - Jenni Prokopy - A really terrific talk, whether you live with chronic illness or not, because, let's face it, we all need help setting boundaries. I loved how she managed to share her personal experiences and provide humor to help you cope. A perfect example is her "it's not my monkey" philosophy (a great tease because it's worth a listen just for this!).
"Finding A Heart Of Gratitude And Joy Despite Illness" - Maureen Pratt - Loaded with examples from scripture, this talk was inspirational without feeling unrealistic. This is another topic that we all struggle with lifelong, so it was great to hear Maureen's take on it and I learned so much. One point in particular that stood out to me was when Maureen said "How we behave and act toward our illness is going to affect how others see our faith". If that isn't a good reason to try harder, I don't know what is!
"Understanding How We Uniquely Deal With Difficulties In Life" - Georgia Shaffer - A terrific talk that made me think about how our personalities shape our reactions, which was something I hadn't given much thought to before. She provided some really concrete ideas of how to deal with others, as well as ways for us to cope with others reactions. A gem that I walked away with from Georgia was "Allow people to do what they are able or want to do, not only what you want or need them to do". That sounds so obvious, but how many times do we waste energy trying to get people to do what we want, instead of accepting that maybe we need to find another person to meet that need, or just being grateful the help that they are offering?
"Having Your Own Business When You Are Chronically Ill" - Lisa Copen - Lisa had to jump in and handle this conference when she had two last minute cancellations from speakers who had personal emergencies. I found her talk fascinating. She has done this herself, so she knows of what she speaks. She had terrific, specific advice that I haven't heard from other speakers, and this is a topic I have a real interest in. I don't know how she managed to do all she had to this week, in addition to jumping in and hosting conferences and being so prepared. She's my hero!
"Coping With Crises On Top Of Chronic - Chat With Two Gals Who Understand" - Jennifer Saake and Lisa Copen - This was a fantastic talk. I have never seen this topic covered anywhere else and it is so true of our lives. Just because we have chronic illness and each day is a challenge, doesn't mean we don't deal with all the regular crises that happen to everyone, from job loss, to the death of a loved one. Jennifer Saake is a wonderful speaker who gave a list of coping skills that anyone can practice and use to help them cope when life is overwhelming. Again Lisa and Jennifer both shared personal stories that help you to know they get where you are coming from and really care about each one of us.
I encourage you to listen to ALL the conferences, as well as to keep up with the Invisible Illness website as well as Rest Ministries. Many of the speakers have their own websites, including the speakers I have talked about above. I have links to Jenni Prokopy's site ChronicBabe on my blogroll, as well as Jennifer Saake's site Harvesting Hope From Heartache. Maureen Pratt and Georgia Shaffer also have their own sites, which have lots of valuable information.