May 29, 2012

My Spoonie Mentor

At my firm, there is a big emphasis on mentoring relationships.  We are assigned mentors, encouraged to pick our own, and look to how we can be mentors to the next generation.  Our interim & annual reviews are held with mentors, and budgets are dedicated to maintaining these connections.  Why have such a sophisticated structure in place to enforce relationships usually developed by happenstance?  Why put so much focus on this entirely human factor in the oilled machinery that is one of the Big Four.  Well, if you ask them, it's because these relatonships are critical to the development of each individual, which in turn affects the longterm health of the firm.

Hm...the passing of knowledge gained through study and experience has a strong impact on health - or vitality, fritfullness, and quality - of our futures.  Sounds kinda like something every Spoonie ought to be doing.  I have mentors at work: one assigned, one selected in addition, and even a few 'off the books' who have taken an interest in me.  But I also have a Spoonie mentor, who I was lucky enough to find very early in my activism.

For those of you who don't know, Shawn and I are on vacation.  Our main destination is in Georgia (which I will post about as soon as I can because it is beyond my best dreams), but due to the prohibitive price of airfare, we decided to drive down & back, staying overnight someone en route each way.  Shawn drove the whole shift yesterday, and briefly when we departed this morning.  Shortly into the drive I took over, and drove for several hours.  However, after roughly 5 hours (give or take) I had to pull over and ask him to switch.  I found myself squinting and blinking extra even with sunglasses (and given my sensitivity, I have at least 4 different types of them in the car and went through most on this drive) and still struggling to see comfortably.  My control over the vehicle within the lane seemed to be loosening, and I was starting to struggle to make sense of signs around me.  It was pretty clear I was fogging over.

As we pulled back on the road, Shawn behind the wheel with a reassuring word that he had no problem doing it, I was starting my usual habit of beating myself up in my head.  I hadn't even pulled as long a shift as I wanted to, let alone after he drove the whole time the day before.  Then I asked myself the question every Spoonie knows and hates: "Did I really need to stop or was I taking an easy way out?".

You know what I'm talking about.  Self-doubt is like a pimple on the tip of your nose - always shows up at the worst time, isn't usually actually your fault, makes you want to hide your face, and only gets worse when you pay attention to it.

But then I thought about fellow Sjoggie & clutz supreme (and she knows I mean that as a compliment), Julia.  Specifically, I remembered a post she wrote about a similar experience.  Not long ago during a visit back home, Julia found herself driving her mother when the Sjoggie brainfog rolled in.  Of course, by definition this thought-muddling experience interfered with her ability to identify & react to the other words, she kept driving despite her impaired mental capacity.  You can read her post for the rest of the details but suffice it to say everyone's ok but more by accident or divine grace than her road skills.

I don't think I needed Julia to tell me WHY pushing it to keep driving (especially at high speeds with cars up my rear bumper and intermittent surprise severe rain) would be a bad idea, but I did need her story to make it sink in.  I would be taking my own life in my hands, as well as countless other people on the road, and most importantly Shawn's.  Suddenly, I felt relief.  We had defeated the ugly self-doubt monster and let me know it was not only ok but back-slap worthy of me to invoke the switch.

It's not the first time Julia's been my mentor - sometimes knowingly (answering my myriad of questions ranging from vitamins to managing blog stresses to family and everything in between) and sometimes unwittingly, through her stupendous blog.  I know for a fact she's also mentor to many, many others, even if she doesn't know exactly who and when she's helped.

In all seriousness, I am grateful for Julia.  I'm glad I found her blog, even more glad I reached out to her, and ecstatic that she wrote back.  Maintaining this relationship is almost effortless for me and reaps so many rewards.  If nothing else, there is so much comfort in that resilient voice reminding me it will be ok - not necessarily as I thought it would be, but still ok and I'll be happy.  I encourage every one of you to keep an eye open for the mentor - or mentors - in your life.  Whether there's someone you already know or will meet in the future, there's bound to be a person with whom you can connect and get the support you need.  It's a rewarding experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, and so I wish you all the same gift!
Learning from those who walk before me, like the beauties in this image, found here.


  1. Julia's blog was the first blog on sjogren's that I read and through her blog, I've encountered so many other informative and helpful bloggers that share the same illness as I do. I feel part of a community and I have so much more information and support from my friendly bloggers than I get from some of my doctors.Thanks to Julia and all you sjoggie bloggers.

    I must say you work for a wonderful company that is really helping its employees function to the best of their ability. I wish you a great holiday, and just enjoy and relax and spend some lovely time with hubby.

  2. Amen to that!! And I second Annie's comment about feeling part of a community thanks to all of the sjoggie bloggers out there. :o)

  3. That's a great post. Mentor relationships of all kinds are so important, for people on both sides of the relationship. Sounds like your company has a good model. And better, sounds like you have a great personal mentor! Wow, what a blessing!
    Adventures in Anxiety Land

  4. I never really thought about finding a mentor for my illnesses but it is a really good idea. I have mixed connective tissue disorder plus a bunch of other things.

    I'd love to know what blog you where referring to in this post. FYI- I enjoyed yours very much. I'd love to link to your site in the future there were things I'd like to quote; however, you'll have to lead me by the nose on that one 'cause I'm a new blogger (my daughter helped me before, teenagers are great for many reasons). Thanks in advance.

  5. Wow, I'm so touched!! Thank you, Jennifer.

    I have to say that I have been greatly blessed by my relationship to Jennifer as well. She reached out to ME, and in doing so initiated a wonderful relationship. Although she may consider me to be a mentor, I have learned many things from her as well, one of the most important being that autoimmune disease is not exclusively a disease of post-menopausal women. She is a vibrant and educated voice for the many, many young people dealing with chronic illnesses.

    And....she's right. I am Klutz Supreme. Actually, I prefer the term Kluz Empress, come to think of it. Sniff. We royals need to be addressed correctly.....

    Hugs all around.

  6. I wanted to write as I suffer from chronic pain-Trigeminal Neuralgia and back pain severe enough to put me in a wheelchair. I'm 33 and decided to write a book about my pain and how to help others feeling the weight of such a disease. I appreciate your blog very much :) here is the info about my book:
    It's called Don't Waste Your pain. I would love for you to let me know what you think of it!
    Take care,
    Myndi Orr

  7. Jenny,

    I don't do twitter or facebook, so I don't follow you there, so I'm just hoping everything is all right with you, and you're just too busy to post, and not ill.Please take care.

  8. tracy.rose@healthline.comDecember 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Hi Jennifer,

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  9. Great information is shared on free energy healing.Keep continue to share the such information. Rebirthing simultaneously heals the emotional and physical body, it increases freedom from the past and moves us into our original authentic being.


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