So I guess when you send out vibes, desires, and dreams to you have to be REALLY specific. In the past, I have asked The Universe if things could just slow down and I could rest. I probably should have been WAY MORE SPECIFIC. I think The Universe said, “I know what will slow you down.” Chronic illness was NOT what I had in mind! I’ve made this mistake of being too vague often. It is time to be EXTREMELY specific. If you are taking the time to read this, maybe you can be part of my universe right now. Maybe you feel like you can’t do something directly, but you might know someone who can.
My biggest dreams in life are not to have a husband, children, or loads and loads of money. I am actually so happy with the friends and family I have. I am not asking for perfect health (kinda too late for that if you take into account preexisting conditions… “good vibes” in the future would be good though.) The thing I want the most right now: To help people. I There is a VERY SPECIFIC way I want to help people. I want to teach people to help themselves. I want to practice compassion, resourcefulness, and accountability.
I have spent the last 2 years conceptualizing how I can empower and educate our friends, co-workers, and community members about being their own best resource and to master the art of self-advocacy. Using my personal experiences and my education as a counselor, I set out to create Chronic Advocacy. Chronic Advocacy provides me the opportunity to work both individually and with groups to provide self-advocacy education to support individuals with chronic conditions. The education is not to address every specific condition, rather the universal challenges and barriers one might face when navigating the world as a person with a chronic condition.
Before my cancer diagnosis, I spent 8 years working in higher education as a counselor, advisor, hearing officer, case manager, facilitator, and resource specialist. I am able to relate to students with difficulties because when I was a student, my education was filled with highs, lows, incomplete classes, time off from school (One five-year break), trials, errors, and persistence. The most rewarding part of my experience was earning 2 degrees with excellent academic standing. No one gave me directions about how to persist or jump the many hurdles in my path. Sure, I had loads of support and encouragement, but no one showed me the specific skill of finding resources to successfully navigate my own path.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that I was not going to be able to succeed if I didn’t speak up for myself. I had to learn the art of understanding a problem, coming up with a solution, and convincing others that my solution was possible. I knew I wanted to make this easier for others. After years of practice and teaching students to find their own resources, I created the easy to follow SPEAK model to provide a step-by-step process for successful self-advocacy.
For professionals, I tailor workshops and trainings to teach the SPEAK model of self-advocacy and how it can be applied when working with others in higher education, healthcare settings, and in healthy workplace environments. For individuals, I provide sessions to learn the SPEAK model, integrate it into specific areas of their lives, celebrate positive outcomes, problem-solve for the future, and practice facing challenges that may arise. Of the two services, I would really like to focus on building my clients for one-on-one educational counseling.
What is Educational Counseling?
Educational counseling is a hybrid of counseling and coaching. I am trained in traditional counseling and therapy techniques, but focus on goal setting, resourcing, and exploring present issues. Solution-focused, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and person-centered techniques are part of the framework for this approach.
What is Resourcing:
Resourcing is the act of learning techniques for finding resources independently. First, clients are shown examples of how to find resources. Next, the SPEAK model for self-advocacy is applied to create and manage new desired outcomes and become an expert on finding answers and creating solutions for identified problems. Finally, clients have learned to SPEAK for what is needed to fix identified barriers.
Hopefully, I have provided a clear explanation of my work. My education and experience is that of a counselor, educator, and solution focused individual. What I am not, is an expert on marketing and building a business. I have used the SPEAK model for myself to investigate how to come up with solutions to this problem. I have identified my weakness, researched to find out what I still need to know, tried solutions on my own, and took action steps to be successful. Now I am at the K=Keep Going part of SPEAK. I haven’t come up with anything that is working and sustainable.
To become successful in my venture, I have uncovered some problems/solutions to getting to where I want to go. After a lot of consulting, I decided to become a for-profit business. I was heavily advised against becoming a non-profit. The advantage I am missing from this choice is being able to get the kind of donations and grants non-profit organizations get to serve their identified populations. At this point, I have created a website, a blog, and social media accounts for my business. I have also reached out to people in different organizations to learn more about building a business and networking to get leads and introductions. More than anything, I want to reach and serve the people of our communities who could benefit from this education. We all have people in our lives who struggle to find resources, making it difficult in a world that isn’t set up for living with chronic conditions.
Now is my chance to be specific in what I am asking. I do have a new idea! My ideal solution is to contract and partner with non-profits and healthcare professionals and higher education institutions to reach more clients who can benefit from my services. If an organization is able to obtain a grant to pay for my services for those who are not able to afford them, I would be able to reach a steady number of clients, I might not have reached without the help of financial assistance.
Now for my call to action. Here is where my community, friends, family, and my “Universe” come in. I am asking for a collective brainstorm/ networking/ solution. Do you know of any organizations who might have the ability or desire to provide financial support for these services for patients or clients? Are you directly involved with anyone who would have interest? Do you have a personal interest? Does anyone have expertise and time to donate to help me understand this from a grants prospective? Does anyone want to help me design a more effective marketing plan?
In the spirit of being specific, my top priority is to reach more people and still have the time to create and design programs and updates so the education I provide is evolving, relevant, interesting, and easy to apply. I want to spend less time searching for clients and more time providing services. I believe in my work and have already had some successful sessions with clients. Thanks to technology, I am able to work with people all over the world with internet.
Thank you, my dear Universe!