If living with a chronic illness gave people superhero powers, it would explain Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe. Jenni, creator of the empowerment resource ChronicBabe, wanted to “provide an online community for younger women with chronic health issues who want to live their best lives.” And she definitely did. When she’s not promoting her site, traveling to conferences, and bringing sexy back to women living with chronic illness everywhere, she takes a few minutes for a Six Until Me interview.
Kerri: What prompted the dawning of ChronicBabe? And how did you make this dream a reality?
Jenni of ChronicBabe: I started ChronicBabe as a blog. After many years of living with chronic illness, and finally feeling like I had it mangaged well, I was eager to be the resource that I never found. Especially around the time I was diagnosed, I couldn’t find good resources that weren’t depressing and/or horribly dull medical stuff. So I created ChronicBabe to be, well, like I try to be: irreverent, hopeful, funny, creative. A friend who’s a web designer/developer offered to set it up for me, and ChronicBabe was born.
Now, we have ChronicBabe 2.0 – the redesigned site, which has many more features and room to start including ads, and selling information products (ebooks and teleseminars, etc.) so I can start really making a living doing what I love.
Kerri: What kind of feedback have you received from your readers?
Jenni: The feedback is incredible. I rarely hear negative stuff; mostly, it’s women who write in with stories of hope and gratitude. I get at least one message every day thanking me for creating a resource that’s different from everything else out there – for helping them feel heard, and understood. And for being funny, because so many health sites are so darn serious! Those messages are often very moving, and they keep up my spirits on those big flare-up days when I don’t want to work.
Kerri: If someone told you, five years ago, that the internet would be one of the biggest support venues ever for people with chronic conditions, what would you have thought? Has the internet revolutionized your own disease management style?
Jenni: Nope. Five years ago, I thought almost all the health information online was crap. It was mostly “online brochures” for medical associations, and forums where people whined and complained. It’s incredible what blogging has done for online health resources. Now we have big, great sites like WebMD and RevolutionHealth and others, and it’s clearly the new direction. And we have blogs and forums where people talk solutions and share resources. It’s an incredible shift.
The internet has only changed my own disease management style in the sense that now that I’m out there, talking about my health and preaching certain approaches, I feel like I’m accountable – that I have to do as I say. So it’s a sort of self-imposed effect. And it certainly is easier to get reputable information. But overall, I’m sticking with the same methods today as I have for years.
Kerri: There was Life BCB: Before ChronicBabe. How has life changed for you since starting on this adventure?
Jenni: Wow… lots of change. My whole career has been tipped upside down! Instead of writing about construction all day, which I didn’t love but was very good at, I now write about health and women, which I love. I feel personally connected to my work in a completely new way, which is great. My readers keep me feeling “wanted” – I know what I’m doing is worthwhile, has helped lots of people, and that’s very motivating.
I also feel braver than ever. Jumping out of my old career track and risking everything to start something new is very scary! I’m still not where I want to be with it, but I’m on track, and I’ll get there, no doubt. That risk-taking is great for me – it’s made it feel easier to risk in other areas, which is wonderful for someone like me, who has anxiety and used to be afraid of TONS of stuff.
On a superficial level, friends tell me I look healthier and younger. I think it’s because I’m happier, even when I’m stressed. I love what I do and that shines through, I think. Because I haven’t changed anything else or had work done, I swear! 🙂
Kerri: What’s the takeaway message that readers should find in ChronicBabe?
Jenni: That even if you’re a sick chick, you can still be a Babe. It’s all in your state of mind! You have to make the decision to do something good for yourself, and give yourself the space and time to grow and learn new good habits – and nurture your sense of humor. No matter how sick you are, you CAN find happiness and success.
Kerri: Jenni, you’re given the keys (?) to fire up the Six Until Me Hot Air Balloon. What do you chose to fly over?
Jenni: Iceland. I’m a huge Bjork fan, and I’ve seen lots of photos and footage of her native country, and it looks absolutely stunning. I would love to vacation there and just drift over all the volcanos and glaciers and hot springs and valleys and ocean and mountains – it’s all so gorgeous and I think it would be both serene and thrilling at once. And I’d probably have to follow Bjork’s lead and sing really loud as I flew over a volcano or something.
Thanks, Jenni! Be sure to check out ChronicBabe 2.0 and all the new features!