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Creating A Social Enterprise With A Chronic Illness – The Story Of Spoonie Survival Kits

As I say goodbye to Spoonie Survival Kits, it felt only right to reflect on how the heck we even got here. Indulge me while I tell you the story, will you?

The Background

2014 Pippa really wasn’t thriving. On the outside I was trying to live my best life and enjoy being a student, but inside I was reeling from finally, finally being diagnosed with a chronic illness – a diagnosis that had raised more questions than it had answered. I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold. It was a struggle to get through each day, not only physically from the toll of ME/CFS symptoms, but mentally too. For a long time, I felt completely dispensable. I’d lost my sense of purpose, and I’d definitely lost my sparkle.

I can still remember the exact moment that the concept of Spoonie Survival Kits came to me. A few months after my diagnosis, full of listening and learning, I’d begun mulling over what I could do to raise some much-needed money for ME/CFS charities. I obviously couldn’t do any sponsored walks or runs or anything that involved physical activity beyond the mammoth remit of putting the kettle on, and I wanted to do something a bit different to the usual (albeit incredibly beneficial) care package schemes that are popular in the chronic illness community. I wanted to do something where I could simultaneously raise money for deserving causes, spread a bit of cheer, and ideally not completely destroy myself in the process.

View PostCreating A Social Enterprise With A Chronic Illness – The Story Of Spoonie Survival Kits

Classics And Chronic Illness – How To Tackle Challenging Reads

Pippa stood up holding pile of books. Pippa is wearing long-sleeved navy blue dress with tiny white spots, with brown hair down. Books are all classics from Wordsworth Collector’s Editions in a rainbow spectrum of pastel colours and titles embroidered in gold. Books top to bottom are The Great Gatsby, The Secret Garden, The Wind In The Willows, Pride and prejudice, a Christmas Carol, withering heights, Jane Eyre, and black beauty.


[AD. This post is not sponsored, but links marked with * are affiliate links. This means that I earn a small commission from any purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you. Books pictured here are some of the gorgeous Collector’s Editions series*, previously gifted from Wordsworth Editions – my collection is one of my most prized possessions. You can also find more of my favourite reads here!*]

Before we get started, let me leave my more general Tips For Reading With A Chronic Illness post here. You can also find my own published books and eBooks here and say hello on Goodreads here, and just before I hit publish I finished listening to my pal Natasha Lipman’s wonderful podcast episode that explores chronic illness, reading and pacing in more depth. Highly, highly recommend!

For anybody dealing with adversity, reading can be a lifeline.

Whether you’re craving pure escapism in narratives far away from your own or you’re seeking solidarity in stories that mirror what you’re going through, there are books out there that can give you exactly what you need, right when you need it. And I can only speak for myself here, but I truly believe my love of reading has shaped the person I’ve become.

The problem, however, is that when you’re dealing with a chronic illness, immersing yourself in the world of reading isn’t always straightforward. Brain fog and cognitive impairment can make it difficult to concentrate, issues with memory can make it trickier to follow plotlines and narratives, and even the simple act of holding a physical book open can be demanding on painful muscles and joints.

As somebody who’s contended with all of the above issues in varying levels of severity over the years, I feel really fortunate that my lifelong love of reading hasn’t been completely jeopardised by my condition. There was only a small period of time where I wasn’t reading at all, but that alone made me realise how much of a privilege this very thing can be.

I usually indulge in books within my comfort zone, mostly contemporary fiction and YA reads. However, as I’ve grown older and wanted to challenge myself more, it’s been necessary to adapt my habits accordingly… and my biggest battle to-date has been with popular classic books*.

Bar a few iconic reads, I consider myself quite a late starter when it comes to classics. I only really started testing the waters in my early twenties, but on reflection, I’m glad I waited until I was old enough to really appreciate what I was reading. It can be easy to sit yourself down and plow through these renowned works simply because you feel like you *should*, mentally ticking them off a list rather than truly experiencing the stories for what they are. However, once I learned to adapt my habits and actually appreciate these reads, I couldn’t get enough of them.

View PostClassics And Chronic Illness – How To Tackle Challenging Reads

Banishing The Winter Blues – Chronic Illness-Friendly Recommendations [AD]

Pippa stood outdoors and smiling, wearing navy blue winter coat, lilac jumper and pale pink bobble hat. Park visible in back (rather flooded with water at the time!).

AD – This post is sponsored by BetterYou*. Links marked with * are affiliate links, and you can use code LIFEOFPIPPA for 15% off your order. All opinions are my own. Always consult a medical professional before making changes to your medication or condition management, gang!

Oh January. The Monday-est of months. The blank pages of a brand new year don’t seem quite so appealing when they’ve been soaked through by drizzle in the middle of a global pandemic, hey?

The colder months feel so much easier to survive when you have things to look forward to, and fortunately the festive season tends to give us plenty to feel contented with. However, once the festivities are out of the way for another year, the looming months of cold and dullness before the days become lighter again can seem infinitely more difficult to bear. But fear not, friends. We’re going to do our best to change this narrative around.

Now, I know as well as you do that there’s a wealth of well-intentioned information out there on the internet and it would be quick and easy to find hundreds of posts discussing how to tackle the Winter Blues. However, as with most information you’ll find on mainstream sites and in the media, the advice shared often just doesn’t feel inclusive for chronically ill people.

If you try and tell me that the solution to feeling low at this time of year is for me to get outside more, exercise regularly, and book a costly private therapist… well, at least you’ll have given me a chuckle. Although I’m sure these suggestions are coming from a good place, there are dozens of invisible barriers that can make these things more difficult or impossible for those with long-term health conditions.

Because of this, my mission today is to share three of my own recommendations for dealing with these dreaded seasonal blues. They’ve all come from my own lived experiences, so my hope is that they may feel more accessible for other chronically ill folk as well.

View PostBanishing The Winter Blues – Chronic Illness-Friendly Recommendations [AD]

Chronic Illness And Self-Employment – An Honest Reflection On My First Year

Pippa sat at desk working on laptop, hands on keyboard and looking down at screen. Pippa has hair down and is wearing a burgandy woollen jumper, piles of paperback books in background

In December 2019, I made one of the scariest decisions of my life. I resigned from a working environment that was wrecking my physical and mental health and decided that 2020 would be my test year: 12 months to see whether complete self-employment could work for me. Before we go any further, you can read about my line of work and employment experiences up to this point in this piece about becoming a chronically ill freelancer.

I’m writing this post at the end of 2020 (though you won’t see it until 2021!) after doing some serious number crunching, to help me process my thoughts and give me something to look back on. However, I made the decision to share this online having been motivated by Shona Louise’s brave and brilliant blog post about being self-employed, and being a huge fan of Hannah Witton’s chatty videos about money and revenue streams on YouTube.

Though I’m not comfortable enough sharing my exact earnings myself, my reasoning for putting this post out there is that there must be other people as nosey as I am about the behind-the-scenes of people’s careers… especially when chronic illness is a huge factor in somebody’s working life.

View PostChronic Illness And Self-Employment – An Honest Reflection On My First Year