Is anyone else out there sick of living in Struggleville? I can tell you I certainly am. This blog is probably going to be a bit revealing for someone who is a coach of others with CFS, but I’ve never been one to pretend I’m anything other than what I am. It’s pretty much all out there with me – not in an obnoxious way, but I’m quite renowned for my willingness to be vulnerably open and honest. Some may call it naive. I don’t. I call it “Me”.
Struggleville … A Town full of Frustration
So Struggleville? What do I mean by that term? I think anyone reading this will know what it means, but I’ll give you my own personal definition. Struggleville is that place where I always feel I’m struggling – to maintain a manageable level of health, to pay my bills, to manage a household, to be the best Mum I can be to my gorgeous girl, and to generally have a decent quality of life.
Now, I shouldn’t really whinge. I do have a lot of things many don’t have. I AM very fortunate and I DO have lots to be grateful for. But it’s sometimes hard to be grateful when I’ve had yet another set-back in my 20 year journey with CFS (just when I thought I was finally on track to recovery), when the one true hope I have to finally become financially free involves the use of computers almost constantly (which for me equals a constant bad headache! – see posts on electrosensitivity), and when I’m a single Mum trying to manage illness, grow a business AND be a Mum too!
Struggle … who’s struggling?! Not me. Really?!
I already feel uncomfortable writing this post because I rarely say the word “struggle”, let alone let on to people that I AM “struggling”. But the last few months have really been tough, and I’ve found myself admitting it to a lot more people. I don’t want them to feel sorry for me, but I think I’ve put on such a good face for so long that I haven’t given people a chance to understand what I’m dealing with. Most are so surprised to hear I’m ill in any way because I always have a smile on my face and, up until recently, just kept doing what was there to be done (with that smile on my face! :-)).
Keeping on keeping on …
No-one would know that today I’ve been weighing up what’s more important to get done, the dishes (so the kitchen is tidy and ants are less likely) or the washing (so my daughter has a uniform to wear to school tomorrow). It’s pretty much an either-or decision with my energy and pain levels today. They wouldn’t know I’m debating whether I can manage a trip to the supermarket, and if I do try, that I’ll have to do it early so that I can allow 2-3 hours of sleep to recover from it.
And they wouldn’t know that in trying to think of healthy, somewhat-palatable meals to make for the week, as much as I want to make a risotto tonight, which will provide us a few ready-made meals for the week, I’m worried my painful arm muscles will not cope with chopping the sweet potato that we like in our risotto. These are not considerations most people have to weigh up. And once again, I know I’m fortunate compared to many others with CFS who can’t even consider doing these basic activities.
A backward slide?
In some ways I’ve felt like I’m back at the beginning of the CFS when I had to explain the illness to people to try to get them to understand. But it IS different now. I don’t worry so much whether people get it or not. But I do worry that they think I’m just slacking off – especially in my roles as Parent Association president and School Council member at my daughter’s school. I have taken on these positions, and people expect me to fulfill on them. One particular person, in particular, expects me to fulfill on my commitments – Me! Because I’m a person who doesn’t make commitments lightly … perhaps to my detriment!
Struggleville … and why I’m back there
But, back to Struggleville. It really hit me the other day when I was madly trying to finish my first e-book and launch it by my “deadline” of last Thursday- my Dad’s birthday. The book is about spending quality time with your kids in small windows of time – 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids: How To Be A Better Parent in 15 Minutes A Day – so I thought it was appropriate to launch on my Dad’s birthday.
As the self-imposed deadline approached I knew the stress was increasing my headaches and fatigue, and I was on the precipice of a further downhill slide if I wasn’t careful. I’ve researched, written and designed a whole 200-page full-colour book before (on the history of my hometown football and netball club – see this post for some background to that), and I’ve also completed a Psychology Honours thesis, so I knew I was at that stage of a project where I was at the end of my tether, but just had to press on to finalise the last bits.
But I also remembered what that had done to my health in the past. With my health having been quite bad recently, since the stomach parasite earlier in the year, I have become a bit gun-shy of pushing my limits. And I KNEW I was pushing my limits.
And the thing is, I eventually had to ask myself WHY? Why, exactly, was I pushing so hard to meet a deadline I had imposed myself?
Desperation – a suburb of Struggleville!
Part of it was motivation – a deadline pushed me to get in action. But mostly, I realised, it was because I had let desperation get hold of me. I am just so desperate to be financially free, or at least improve my financial situation, and I see the e-book as one step toward doing this.
The Possibility of Something More!
Frankly, since really getting my teeth into learning about online business at the start of this year, I have, for the first time possibly ever, started to see some light at the end of the tunnel with regard to my financial situation.
I see that if I work hard enough and continue taking daily action (even if they’re small actions) that I can earn a living through the internet. The hope that this has given me is something I haven’t had in all my adult life. And now, at 40, I see it is possible – and I want it really badly!!
I’m willing to work hard to get it. I’m even willing to put up with the electrosensitivity headaches I get as soon as I start the computer. So my e-book that I started 4 years ago and had never finished has finally been finished, designed by a great designer I found on Elance, and I can see my first product so close to being launched – and potentially earning me some income. MY income that I’VE created myself. NOT government disability support income. MY OWN SELF-CREATED INCOME!
Pushing Too Hard
But as the deadline loomed, I was hitting the wall physically and mentally. I’ve been working on a bonus Resource Guide of blogs, websites, books etc to go with the 31 ideas of 15 Minute “Power Plays” that I have in the book.
I’ve waded through hundreds of blogs, reading every one because I didn’t want to recommend something I hadn’t read, and then doing a little summary about them in the guide, putting in the hyperlinks and so on. And it’s taken me much longer than I thought it would.
I even planned to have my launch “live” in a Google Hangout (which you may have seen in my last post). But as evening hit the night before the launch was to happen, I knew that if I was to release the e-book Thursday it would have been underdone. It would have lacked polish and may have appeared unprofessional.
The Voice of Reason … As Harsh As It Sometimes Is
I called my amazing friend Sonia for some coaching. And she asked the question “Why?” Why did it have to be November 14th? And I had lots of answers – “because I’m worn out and I just have to finish it”, “because other things are getting neglected like this blog and my own child, which kind of goes against the whole basis of the book”, AND “I really, really, really want to finally have a product on the market that may be my first step out of Struggleville!”
Money, Money, Money … (ABBA eat your heart out)
That was the crux of it! My health IS getting knocked around by the hours I’m spending in front of the computer finishing off the e-book and all the other reasons are valid too, but when I’m honest, it was the money thing that was driving me. And true to form, Son reminded me of who I am, REALLY.
Perspective … What am I really about?!
Despite my current feelings of desperation and struggle, I am about making a difference in other people’s lives. I didn’t write that book just because it might make me money. I couldn’t have. It would have lacked authenticity and I wouldn’t have been able to finish it if I wasn’t passionate about making a difference in parents’ and children’s life. And in amongst the struggle and desperation I had lost sight of that.
But that’s what Struggleville does to people. It sometimes makes you lose sight of what really matters, what you really stand for and who you really are at the very heart of it all. It makes me think of movies where you see starving people lose all dignity when food is thrown at them. Or maybe it’s more like someone lost in the desert who sees a mirage and runs toward it.
Patience, Time, Effort …
The thing is, I know that there really IS income to be earned online in lots of legitimate ways. It’s not a mirage. It’s really there for the taking. And even with my level of health and available time, I CAN still do it. And I AM doing it. It’s just that these things, when you do them legitimately, take time. To build up a blog and an audience, and then create valuable products such as e-books, coaching programs, teleseminars and even membership sites, it takes time. Time, effort and patience (not my strongest asset!).
But I’m still determined to do it. I’m determined to get to a point where I am earning enough passive income online that I no longer require any government support. I’m determined to be financially independent. But in the process, I have to maintain balance in my life, look after my health, and most importantly, stay true to myself and what I stand for in life.
Who am I really? … My Stand in Life
So what do I stand for? I stand for empowering people to fulfill their highest potential. I stand for being the absolute best human being I can possibly be and inspiring others to be the best they can be regardless of their circumstances. And I stand for integrity, love and freedom.
Leaving Struggleville … All Aboard!!
So I’m planning on getting out of Struggleville. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I’m moving out. (Of course it does all depend on my definition of Struggleville because if I just give up the whole concept that I’m “struggling”, I’m out of it right now. But just for the sake of this blog post, I’ll keep the “story” of Struggleville in place.)
A later post is going to be about why I’m leaving Struggleville and why I’m inviting you to come with me. I’m particularly looking for entrepreneurial bloggers with CFS /ME to join me on this journey. But more on that later …
Staying In The Present … One Step At A Time!
For now I have to decide if I can make it to the supermarket, what I can make for dinner tonight that doesn’t involve chopping hard vegetables, and I REALLY need to get off this computer because it’s both my ticket to “freedom” and my nemesis that causes me more pain. Oh, the many contradictions of chronic illness and pain hey?!
Till next time! Pop over and “Like” my Facebook Page if you’d like to show your love. I’m slowly getting in the habit of posting more, so we’d love you to become part of our community.
All the best with your version of Struggleville!
(Oh, and by the way, I have allowed myself another week or two to finalise my e-book and its bonus sections, which will also give me time to get the website looking the way I want it to. One part of my website is a section where other bloggers – or anyone really – can write about their own stories of quality time with their kids or memories of quality time with their own parents as children. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you through my list of questions! – they’ll be same/similar questions for each blogger, so it’s quick and simple to contribute!)
Louise(Photo by Stuart Miles: www.freesdigitalphotos.net)