Do we want to keep up with healthy people anyway?

This morning I was re-reading one of Rosalind’s chapters in Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease, “Challenges in the Workplace.” She shared numerous stories and examples to illustrate the complete unpredictability – and impact – of living life and working when you have an autoimmune disease (AD). Reading between the stories, I’d say Rosalind inadvertently illustrated the tremendous demands for a high level of productivity we all deal with at work.

I was reminded of one of the defining moments in my last job. I’d just returned to work after 2-plus months on disability leave. I was happy to be back and my co-workers were happy to have me back – thank goodness.

I looked forward to lunch with the usual group. We headed out, took the elevator and walked out the front of the building. And, I noticed something. They were headed to lunch at a pace synonymous with a mad rush from a burning building. I, on the other hand, was walking like I was taking a comfortable stroll on the beach. While away from work I’d slowed down, initially because it hurt to move too quickly and I didn’t have the strength. Then, it became a habit. I’d gotten off the treadmill.

Have you noticed that to help preserve your energy and keep your symptoms at bay, that you have to stay more centered in your body? That day I made a promise to myself. I decided I’d not return to that unbalanced, head forward, racing posture again. And, I haven’t. Sure, I can walk more quickly when I need or want to, but it’s never at the fire drill pace.

What about you? Am I crazy to think that we, with AD’s, have an opportunity to invite the rest of the working world to get real, to slow down a bit? What if “normal” is off kilter and we’re here to say, “Hey, this model for working is not working!” I know, you didn’t ask for this assignment.


P.S. If you want to read more about the effects of fast-paced busyness on the body, check out an article I wrote a few years ago, Busyness Is Not a Long-Term Health Plan. Scroll down the page to learn about the role of adrenalin in all this. Here’s to your health.

P.P.S WE’RE SO EXCITED. Our book is in the publisher’s hands, which means we should be getting it soon, which means is should be at in a couple of weeks. MORE NEWS: we got a fabulous review by the Library Journal. Scroll down a bit to find the review of our book.

Careers, jobs and chronic illness

People ask me, “Why does your website, focus on “professionals?”  And,  “Why does your book (Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease:Keep Working Girlfriend!) seem to focus on well-educated and well-heeled career oriented women? ”

Honestly?   I focused my company on this group because it’s the “low hanging fruit”.  People who are invested in “career” have invested a lot of effort to get where they are and aren’t giving it up without a “fight”.  I don’t have to convince them of the importance of work.  Nor of the difficulties.

And the book, Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend? Why did we write about women with “careers” rather than people who have “jobs”?  The simplest answer is that in my experience people who regard their work as a career are more invested in doing what they have to do to be successful.

FYI – for a perspective on this, read Amy Tenderich’s review of Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend! on her May 20 post in

And be sure to scroll down to  the email she got from “Funlover”. It’s a sad example of even when you live with a well recognized disease, like Diabetes, and you’re in a nursing school (can you imagine?)  people run into absurd roadblocks in taking care of their health while trying to participate in the “larger world”.  Go figure.

Do you feel like it’s time to start mopping the floors?

Sometimes working women need breaks too

Hi all, Rosalind and I are aware that we’ve not posted in almost 2 weeks. Rosalind had some personal matters to attend to last week – she’s ok – and I’ve been swamped with a couple of extra projects, one planned and one not. So, though we hold you in our minds and our commitment to post weekly, we’ve just not had the capacity for full blown posts.

If there’s anything my illness taught me, it was to pace myself and know when enough is enough, and that all will be ok, even if I don’t always do what I planned to do. About an hour ago I was sitting in a cafe plugging away to prepare for my Dare to Automate teleseminar tomorrow, and I ran out of steam. So I stopped. I felt my body say, “OK, that’s it Joan!” (Have you noticed greater atunement to your body too?) I packed my stuff and came home.

And, then I remembered I told Rosalind I’d post tonight. So I sit with my laptop back on my sofa and write what’s on my mind and share what’s going on at this moment rather than craft the message I had planned.

When your body says “no more,” do you pay closer attention than you used to? I’ve learned that needs tending will be there when I’m ready, and some seemingly pressing commitments often fall away.


Disability leave caused one woman to re-evaluate her career

A couple of months ago I met a young woman at a party. She’d been out on disability for most of the year, and was slowly healing from surgery for something I couldn’t even wrap my mind around. She was still feeling quite tender, but was out with her husband to celebrate the birthday of a mutual friend. I told her about Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease, and a few weeks after we met she contacted me.

We talked about her situation, and this overwhelming feeling she had that she didn’t want to return to her job. Though she had the skill set (she does IT work for one of the big consulting firms), she was not excited about returning to “the job,” and to the high-stress environment. But, as many people are when they’ve been on a particular track, she was uncertain about her ability to do anything else.

To compound her dilemma, she’s here in a work visa (from Canada) and even though she’s married to a U.S. citizen, any employer who would hire her would have to sponsor her, which means that they have to bring her on board for her special skill set. So, she’s got some extra constraints. But that didn’t stop her from dreaming. I loved her attitude.

I recommended 2 books that really helped me figure out what I really wanted to do with my life and for work, Do What You Are by Paul and Barbara Tieger, and How to Find the Work you Love by Laurence Boldt. About a week later, I received the following email (edited for relevance):

I  had a great week…  You are right I’m still coming to an ending and can’t wait for the beginning of exciting new times.  After we spoke last week I went to the small library near my home.  In the library there is a second hand bookstore that I checked out.  It was probably my third time there and they were looking for some volunteers to work 2 hours on one day a week.  So I signed up and did some training last week.  It’s really not very hard or super stressful and the people are very nice.  Plus it gets me out of the house into a new environment.

I did plan to look for the books you suggested in the library but got into the training at the bookstore first.  Then as I was helping to shelve some books these 2 books were staring me in the face… It was like it was meant to be and you can’t beat the prices for the second hand books which is great for us right now.  I was so into the training and helping out and wasn’t even thinking about the books at the time.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the Boldt book!!!! It’s so applicable and I feel like he’s really talking to me since I can relate to everything he mentions or even what the greats over time have known. It helps me to feel more hopeful about the future.  But at the same time I’m really looking forward to the future and working towards a new type of work and a new me!

Thanks again and have a fantastico week!

Can you feel her the shift in her outlook? Though it may take her a while to figure things out, especially with her potential visa constraints, I have no doubt she will. If you were talking to her, what would you tell her? Do you have resources that have helped you through similar transitions?