Episode #118: Learning from the Wisdom of Your Chronic Illness with Alana Holloway

Today I’m chatting with Alana Holloway (she/her), a Chronic Illness Coach & podcaster, about the “chronic illness informed” approach to living, working and creating and selling our offers.

Listen to the Episode:

Ruth Poundwhite  0:00  
Have you ever considered that your chronic illness could be your superpower in life and business that it could help you learn to trust yourself and your inner voice? This is what I’m chatting to today’s guest, Alana Holloway all about in today’s episode, you’re listening to quietly ambitious with conversations about how it really feels to build a business that honours your whole self unapologetically. And that includes who you are, how you feel, what you really desire, the impact that you want to create, and importantly, the money you want to make. I’m your host, Ruth Poundwhite, and my superpower is supporting sensitive and ambitious humans to make more money by fully expressing and owning all of who they are. Let’s dive in. Hi, and welcome to another episode of The quietly ambitious podcast. So today, I am chatting with Alana Holloway, a chronic illness coach and podcaster. About her chronic illness informed approach to living working and creating and selling our offers. Alana supports people as they real rebuild the parts of themselves lost to the chronic illness struggle, which is a term that she uses to describe the status quo of living with chronic illness. And she shows them how they don’t need to be free of chronic illness to live a happy, joyful, fulfilling life in which they’re able to flourish to the fullness of their imagination. I love it. Much of a Lana’s philosophy is centred around integrating and embracing chronic illness as a guide, an ally, and a superpower that will help you to live the life you desire in a really supported way, all of which we talk about in this episode. So enjoy. Okay, so can we start by going over? What do you exactly mean by chronic illness informed?
Alana Holloway  1:54  
So I’ve been thinking about this actually, because I’ve been writing some web copy. And it’s, I think it’s actually a question. So chronic illness informed is a question you can ask yourself, like, all the time, it’s like a check check point. And it basically means that I suppose it started from the common narrative around chronic illness is very much about managing and controlling and like fitting it into a box that doesn’t disturb your life. But actually, that’s like completely anti, I suppose, or I’m completely anti that and it’s about tuning into your ear, when you kind of embrace your chronic illness as a part of just who you are and your body. It’s about tuning into to the symptoms. So symptoms being a messenger, tuning into your body, seeing how you feel and asking yourself, okay, how can I approach or give or receive in a more chronic illness informed way. So as an example, I know, for example, it coming to this interview to this conversation, I, I know that I’m going to get a bit like nervous and maybe have a bit of anxiety. So kind of I would sit I did sit for, you know, a couple of minutes beforehand, and really just took some deep breaths and like just centred myself and grounded myself, because I know also that I get really excited in compensation. So my adrenaline will be quite high. And what that can do afterwards is that I’ll get to come down and I’ll get like quite exhausted and, and this, the level of that come down will fluctuate, I suppose depending on how active my chronic illnesses at any point in time. And now it’s not very active. So the comedown might not be as high but if, or you know, as heavy, but if my chronic illness is quite active, I’d probably feel really exhausted after this in you know, in the best way. But that also might result in so I’ve got a skin condition, and that might result in me getting a bit Itchy and Scratchy. And you know, so preparing for that like cushioning this experience. So preparing for it with breath, your breath work and then following it with a rest period. That’s that’s kind of a being able to approach something in a chronic illness informed way. And yeah, so it’s an approach a give and receive. And it’s a question you ask yourself,
Ruth Poundwhite  4:17  
I love that I love the idea of it being a question rather than, you know, a set of rules, because I guess there is no set of rules when everyone’s unique individual everyone has their own needs. And like you said even seasons of Yeah, what you need as well.
Alana Holloway  4:33  
Totally. That’s it. So
Ruth Poundwhite  4:35  
with this kind of question with this process with this way of looking at stuff, listening to yourself, how does that show up in your business? So things like the offers that you put out there or the way you communicate with people or the way that you sell? How do you use this? And how does it work both for you and for your audience?
Alana Holloway  5:00  
It’s, so it weaves through everything that I do. And actually, it didn’t weave through everything that I do up until semi recently, and I kind of realised that I was doing, I was selling in a really what I believe to be non chronic illness informed way, I was following a pattern really. And so my offers are, I suppose they embody chronic illness informed they help people understand how to live in a chronic illness informed way. So they will guide my my customers, my clients through how to understand their body and how to tune into their body and how to live their life in a chronic illness and illness informed way. As well, that’s kind of like the backbone, I suppose that’s that’s where we start in a lot of ways. And then in the way that I perhaps create content, it’s understanding that a lot of text might not be the best way to communicate something because of energy levels is understanding that people might want to listen to something, you know, it also very much depends on where my people are at when I’m approaching, I suppose them and when we’re connecting. And that might change from programme to programme or from offer to offer. But you know, it’s understanding that they might be spending a lot of time in bed or on a sofa. So they might want to close their eyes and listen to something rather than having to read something in my sales content, and then my sales delivery, that’s changed, that’s the thing to have changed more recently. In the I now understand that, again, from an energy perspective, and from a nervous system perspective, I don’t want to be emailing my people all the time, or contacting them all the time. And I don’t want it to be a really short period of sales where they have to make a decision really quickly, I want something to be open to them so that they can come to whatever I’m offering at the time in at a point that suits them when they are ready. But I also want it to be a decision they can make without their nervous system being triggered without the kind of, you know, without them finding themselves going into that sympathetic branch of their nervous system and feeling. You know, feeling all the kind of adrenaline and anxiety around that. Because ultimately, that kind of energy isn’t going to do them. Any good. So it’s really like, how do I weave this question? And this approach throughout my throughout every part of my business?
Ruth Poundwhite  7:49  
Yeah. And you started by saying, it literally is part of your offers, and you support people on how to live this way. And then it became like, you use this as a way to ask yourself, how do I actually embody that in the way I deliver, and sell and communicate the offers?
Alana Holloway  8:05  
Right. And And to add to that, actually, I’m just thinking, you know, it also changes has changed the way I run my business, because I need to be running my business in a chronic illness informed way for myself. And so yeah, it’s kind of like from every angle, this question comes in.
Ruth Poundwhite  8:23  
Yeah. And you know, why chronic illness or not? I actually think that asking ourselves how we can embody the work that we do is like such a helpful question. Yeah. I feel like there’s an even deeper layer and deeper reason for it in the in the way that you’re doing it. But I think this is a helpful question for absolutely everyone. Like, how can I embody what I am teaching? How can I practice what I preach? In absolutely areas? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And one thing I also wanted to bring out was this idea that, well, firstly, you said, some of these changes you’ve made have been more recent, and that or that you’ve been operating out of like patterns and stuff. And I think that it’s really important to say that like, I mean, you said it right, the beginning when you said chronic illness informed is not a rulebook, it’s like a question. And I love that, I guess I just wanted to flag up that it’s okay to both, like try to radically embrace and radically embody something and change the way things are done and to say, I’m figuring out as I go, because I think it’s pretty, I think it’s brave, but I also think it’s actually really needed and really important. Yeah, figuring it out as you go. There’s no one perfect way to do things and you can only sometimes figure out some of the stuff by doing it in a way that actually didn’t work for you or that actually, you realise or that is pretty activating of my nervous system and exhausting and I don’t want to do it like that, but I’m glad I tried. So I got that information.
Alana Holloway  9:56  
Absolutely. And I think that is feeds into perhaps, you know, to a person living with chronic illness have under again, the kind of single story of how you should, should quote unquote live with chronic illness. There’s so much like, when I say the word trepidation, I think that’s the right word. But you know, people are so apprehensive of trying things because they get into a pattern of really like beating themselves up when something doesn’t work. And if they try something, and you know that it causes a flare or activate symptoms, the blame comes back to them. And that is, induces so much stress, and it just compounds, everything that’s going on for you. And your symptoms, you know, will likely become worse as a result. And just making sure you know, it is an experiment and I learn things all the time, you know, a person I learn things all the time, and being adaptable to to your season to your kind of chronic illness cycle. You know, I’m, as I say, I’m in what I would call like, the summer of my chronic illness at the moment. So afterwards, I might not, I won’t have to have a rest I know that so I can go on and do something else. Or I won’t have to like dance out my adrenaline sometimes I have to do that, because I don’t want it stuck in my body. And so okay, I you know, I know that for now. But now I’m historically in kind of seasonal winter, I also enter a bit of a winter my chronic illness. And so I’m aware that what what I call chronic chronic illness informed now will change as as that changes, and that’s okay. And it won’t be the same as last year, it might be better, it might be worse, I don’t know. But whatever happens, I’m never going to blame myself for anything that or feel horrible, you know, send hate towards myself, because if something you know, something hasn’t worked out or something has or have not been on the ball and for what you know, again, quote unquote, that kind of, I’ve not caught it in time or whatever.
Ruth Poundwhite  12:04  
It’s okay. Yeah, I love that that kind of self compassion and not compounding thing, because it’s so related when you were like, oh, yeah, many good season, let’s just like do more stuff, and then actually beat yourself up because I push myself too hard. Like, I’ve got I’ve been through that myself with my product elders. And it’s just, it’s, it’s not, it doesn’t help me. It was not helpful. Yeah, yeah. No. And the fact is, there are no like, I don’t know, like you said, even one seat, even if I do notice a rhythm or a cycle, it’s not going to be the same from one season to the next time you have that. So yeah,
Alana Holloway  12:38  
absolutely. And that kind of like, attitude, it’s so deeply ingrained in any, I suppose, you know, I was going to diet culture, I was going to exercise culture, but in business culture, and in the standard ways things are done. They, they, you know, but the motivation is for people to always blame themselves for things going wrong, because then they look outside of themselves for answers. Whereas when you have that compassion, when you know that you will be there for yourself, no matter what, you also know that you can find the answer within yourself and, and to stay with yourself. And I think that is so key in in any area of growth.
Ruth Poundwhite  13:24  
So, so important, and such a big, obviously, as you know, like I’m a huge part of my business philosophy as well. I’m, I’m curious, like, given the kind of, because I know that, like your podcast, for example, is all about reframing chronic illness and like, not necessarily, what’s the word I don’t know conforming to the way that everyone else talks about it or thinks about it, or tries to treat it or heal it or whatever, whatever word you’d use. And I I’m just curious about like what it takes for you to trust your own experience of chronic illness and chronic illness informed bringing that into your business, in the face of so many people doing it so differently, because I think this is the thing with radically embodying our own work in general, it’s like, it takes a lot of self trust and self trust, then add on like having a chronic illness and potentially losing some trust in your body or understanding of it as well. It’s quite Yeah, I’m just interested to hear a little bit more about your journey to leaning into really trusting what you have to say about it. What you know about it.
Alana Holloway  14:37  
Okay, so I think this goes back actually, quite a few years and I, before I was doing what I’m doing now, before I was a chronic illness coach, I had a fermented food and drink business and this business came from discovering something that really helped. My body really helped my chronic illness so fermented foods and gut health and In the I suppose time that I started that business like wellness, the wellness industry was like, booming and you had a lot of wellness influences, I suppose, you know, you had quite Pinnacle people who all seem to kind of communicate a very similar message but also had a very similar look had a very similar way of talking and and then so there’s that one kind of thing then add to that the way that in probably again, in like every industry in the world, like in the wellness and health industry and in the way that society and tradition of Western tradition approaches the body, it’s all about like segregation, so And you even get it within chronic illness, you know, some person will have one chronic illness and other person will have another chronic illness, and I think they have got nothing in common. But our bodies are all connected, we are all connected, like our experience is all connected. But when I was running my fermented food and drink business, the the way I thought I needed to approach it was to be really absolute about the way I spoke really definite on on my ideas and why I was doing something and it was all about gut health. And that was kind of the message that I was, I was communicating. But three years after running that business, like I was probably the, like the most burnt out ever. i It was Christmas. And after Christmas, I literally just couldn’t get up off the sofa and my skin my chronic illness was so it’s the worst it’s been since I went through something called Topical Steroid Withdrawal. And I mean, that was like a decade later and, and yet I was doing all the right things, you know, according to the way you know, I was the things I was seeing. So, you know, I was eating in the way I thought I should be eating, I was living in the way that or I was trying to, you know, it was this like idea of like striving to always be better. And, and yet, at home behind behind closed doors, I was really ill. And so I was like peddling this message, and yet being really ill but because there was this idea that I was always trying and never, you know, I was never enough. So I was always trying to be enough, I was always trying to be more, I thought it’s okay, like, but something inside of me it just didn’t sit right and I hated that LRI got, the more I felt like a fraud in what I was saying. And that kind of Christmas. And that burnout period really provided me with the chance to reflect upon like how I was running this business. So in a really and chronic illness informed way. It was really, really taxing on my body and my stress levels, etc. It allowed me to and I didn’t have the language for this then but I just knew it didn’t feel right. And my chronic illness was telling me time and time again, this isn’t right, this way of life isn’t right, the way that you’re not living or speaking in an aligned way to what you truly truly believe. isn’t right. And so like all these symptoms, I suppose were coming at me and I wasn’t listening to to what they were trying to tell me. I’m just remember your original question, because I’ve definitely gone off on a bit of a tangent, but it’s a bit of a long story.
Ruth Poundwhite  18:24  
It’s so great. It’s so valuable, but it’s about trusting your voice but also in doing that, I guess trusting what your chronic illness had to tell you. Yeah,
Alana Holloway  18:33  
so I suppose in that there was a lot of like deconditioning and unlearning about how I think I should be doing a thing. And very I suppose obviously, like a lot of these wellness people had glowing skin and bright smiles and happy and happy outlook and I had bright red dry, sore skin and like dead eyes because you do not I mean none of that vibrancy I didn’t have any of that vibrancy and so I couldn’t even be visible or show my face or the way I took Instagram photos for example was so like, it was all about the product and not really about me or I would always use photos from when my skin was, quote unquote good and, and so that that it required so much like unlearning and removing myself from that, that place. And then since then it’s been a building of tuning into myself into what I believe into. How I have understood that the way in which the wellness industry pedals this idea that I mean it angers me a bit because it’s got this holistic cloak, but underneath it’s really so connected to kind of diet culture and to like standard exercise fitness culture, you know where we are never enough and where we have to fit As ourselves and improve ourselves and fix our bodies, but because it’s got this really like, as I say, shiny, kind cloak, you can, you can fall into it really easily. So, yeah, I just had to, like, stop listening to all that stuff. And that looked like taking Instagram regular, like, I’m following loads of people who look like writing from my heart and not putting pressure on anything to put it out there. And I suppose yeah, over time of doing that, the more I’ve tuned into my voice, the more I found my voice and have not been so afraid to say things that might cause and this is such a work in progress. Because even the way sometimes I write my podcast episodes, you know, I’ll make sure I’ve written everything out. So I don’t say something wrong, or I don’t, you know, wrong is like, so that’s a massive work in progress for me. But just knowing that I needed to hear what I have to say, and other people will need to hear what I have to say, you know, had someone been there kind of almost taking that stand for all those years that I was struggling to fix myself. Maybe, you know, and I’m a big believer in like, the journey has like, led me to where I am today. But maybe it could have been a bit more pleasant. Yeah. Yeah.
Ruth Poundwhite  21:20  
I love that. Knowing that. Yeah, that I needed to hear what I have now have to say yes. When you were saying about your journey, I was like, Wow, just so many reasons to make you feel not good enough. Like what you said about that? What was it the lie you got? The more you felt like a fraud? I mean, yeah, pressure? What pressure to be Brian yourself? Yeah.
Alana Holloway  21:39  
And it’s like compounding again, you know, there’s just so many different areas that it like, it can compound and, and all of that compounding is so detrimental to health. Yeah. So it’s just like, it’s a big mind. Head kind of mess type thing.
Ruth Poundwhite  21:57  
Yeah. And it’s, and it’s really interesting. It just makes you think, right. Like, you don’t want to make your clients feel the way that you were feeling by giving them an unrealistic or, you know, just showing them the good bits. And yeah, it’s it. This is, I suppose, what is also included in like, radically embodying your work is like, also including the messiness of it, the crap times, you know, when it isn’t, you know, no one is perfect, no chronic illness is fully fully, like predictable, or, like avoidable for having flares and all this. So, yeah, it’s, it’s just a really important reminder, and I can relate to so much in terms of like, how I developed my own, you know, way of working as a business coach and mentor, like, based on so much of the stuff that I went through, when I first started out and pushing myself and putting, like goals and money and everything above all else, or thinking that I had to be a certain way to make it happen. And it’s just ultimately all that achieves is you you’d failing because you cannot, maybe you can never get this right. Yeah, it’s just not sustainable. And yeah, so I think that that is such an important part of the conversation. And one thing I want to ask you about as well is like, I know that you mentioned in when we were talking about what what we might discuss today, you were saying about how you allow your chronic illness to guide you in making decisions in your business and your life. And obviously, you’ve spoken a bit about that already. But how what does it look like to really connect with, I guess, like the wisdom of your chronic illness in that way?
Alana Holloway  23:49  
So this actually, like perhaps touches on something you just said, like no chronic illness is ever fully predictable or fully. You can’t kind of, you know, predict it. And I think that is true to an extent. But also, I think that is something that we are again told by whoever dyno RGPS like, oh, you would just won’t know you just got to like live by in a really like reactive way. Which is like really stress inducing. But actually, you can a bit like you can learn to understand your menstrual cycle, you can really learn to understand your chronic illness cycle. And therefore over time, you can build your life, your business, your friendships, your relationships, whatever, in a way that is really supportive. It’s like it’s a symbiotic relationship. So your chronic illness can kind of support you in building a life that’s actually really aligned. And then your life can support your chronic illness in a way that it can over time become an I hate to say this because it’s really like a result thing you know, it’s still it’s going back to this idea that the whole goal is to get If your chronic illness so that’s not what I’m saying, but your chronic illness can become much less active. But it can still guide you. So in a kind of really practical way, that looks like when I, again was in a bit more of a winter of my chronic illness, I decided that a four hour work day was what would suit me, because I wanted to have time in my day to do my meditation, my yoga to have my slow mornings to build my routine. And planning has become something that’s been so huge in that and I used to, I used to really resist planning again, because there was this idea that I couldn’t plan my life because I’ve got a chronic illness and so whatever I planned, I’d fail out because I’d have to cancel etc, etc. So it’s it’s like self perpetuating circle. And actually, planning is something that can help help bring you out of that. That kind of really reactive way of living. So yeah, that started off with me working a four hour workday and then making sure I had all my lovely things in my day. And so in my planner, I kind of colour coat different things. And you know, I have like themes in there like connection or joy, or growth or health, or sleep or rest or whatever. And making sure my plan is really like, multicoloured so that I’ve got all of those things in and it’s not really heavy on the work or the or the kind of Yeah, at times it has had to be really heavy on the downtime, but knowing now that I don’t need so much downtime, I’m mindful that it’s not to to over heavy on the downtime, do you know what I mean? So it’s, it’s it’s real balance, a movable balance, you know, and I think a balance point is always moving.
Ruth Poundwhite  26:47  
And I think you already basically said that you there were times when in the past you were not listening to that stuff you were not planning in that way at all. How has it changed, like for you to go through this process to actually, because I think that that’s how we learned something right? By not just listening to what he’s trying to tell us. But then putting it into action in the way that you just described. That’s how we ultimately really learn it, and it becomes more like second nature. So I’m going to ask you, I think I’ve totally lost my train of thought.
Alana Holloway  27:17  
So I learned Yeah,
Ruth Poundwhite  27:19  
what how has it changed? If at all, like your relationship with I’m really curious about this whole question of like trusting your intuition and trusting your gut and trusting yourself? Do you think that listening to your chronic illness in this way, which is part of you? And then putting that into place in your life? Has it changed your relationship with your intuition or self trust in any way at all?
Alana Holloway  27:42  
I suppose it’s strengthened it because it’s all part of the same thing for me, like, there’s Yeah, I think I see what you’re saying. Because there’s like a cognitive, very cognitive understanding of living in a chronic illness informed way, but I only get that cognitive understanding by tuning into my intuition. So it’s, it’s kind of one in the same thing, and they’re never, in my experience, they never argue, like, My intuition is never saying something that my chronic illness doesn’t agree with, do you know what I mean? It’s actually just telling me what I already know.
Ruth Poundwhite  28:14  
Yeah. And I think personally, my part of my journey has been to allow myself to listen to my body more, you know, like, often it’s like, a very in my head, or I can, you know, connect with my heart and my journal and stuff, but listening to, I feel like there’s another layer of it, when you’re listening to your body. And sometimes, you when you’re really in tune with your body, you will literally get a bodily feeling sensation. And that is actually telling you something really quite directly. And for me, it’s been that has been a whole other layer of like, learning to listen to my intuition and understand what I really need. Yeah, and I just find it, I find it a really, like, important, I guess, yeah, I think to add to this whole conversation about intuition, cuz obviously, I talked about it a lot in the context of business and life and, and choosing strategies and come up with ideas that feel good to you that are more sustainable, but it’s not fully and I don’t think I don’t think it’s we’re getting the full picture unless we’re also listening to our bodies.
Alana Holloway  29:25  
Totally, totally. And do you know, I’ve had a really weaving kind of in and out journey with medication, for example. So as I mentioned earlier, I went through something called Topical Steroid Withdrawal. And after that, I, I had a real issue with medication, I felt quite afraid of medication. And over the over the years, that’s I’ve definitely you know, that relationship has improved. However, I think there’s a line where medication can be used to suppress symptoms so that they don’t interrupt your day take a headache, for example, right? A headache is telling us something. It’s not just, it’s not just there to annoy us. And yet, we can just pop paracetamol and get on with our normal day. Whereas if we just take a minute to like to listen to that headache and to say, oh, okay, I might need to drink more water, I might need to get more rest, I might need a nap right now. I’m actually to take some moments to breathe, I’m probably not breathing deeply enough, you know, there’s so many different like, things that that headache could be communicating to us. And yet it’s it’s normalised and to just, you know, pop a pill and get on with the rest of your day. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with taking their medication, but to listen to what it’s trying to tell you first, yes. And then, okay, now I want to treat, treat what’s going on, because, you know, I don’t want to sell it, but I am going to take a nap as well, or I am going to drink more water as well. And that’s just a really, really basic example. So I think we were so afraid of pain and discomfort, but actually, it’s here to tell us something. And there are techniques to help us embrace pain and discomfort. And, you know, and to get really into the nooks and crannies of it and understand it and feel it and let it tell us what it’s there to tell us.
Ruth Poundwhite  31:24  
Oh, I love that so much. I think that actually that example is so helpful. Like it like yeah, just just take a moment to listen, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get rid of that headache. You know, you can we have the modern technology that allows us to do that. Yeah, but Yeah, listen to what it’s there to tell us what was there to tell us. And I think that such an important conversation in like the coaching industry, and where we talk about mindset and reframing and all of this stuff. But actually, I have found, the more I’ve gone into, like learning about somatic practices and in coaching and stuff like that, that literally just if you’re if it’s safe for you to do so like being with the feeling in your body, really tuning into how it feels in your body. It’s amazing what can come up from that place. And it’s so simple, but most of us, you know, it is uncomfortable. Like you said, it doesn’t feel nice, at first at least. So we don’t want to do it sometimes.
Alana Holloway  32:20  
Right. And that safety like that you mentioned there, it’s that is such a an important cue as well. Because if we’re not feeling safe to do that, then there’s work to be done there. And that’s why like, so, you know, my, my, I was gonna say my office, but my I’ve now got kind of one signature offer that goes alongside my one to one work, but so much of that is about building that level of inner safety and, and going into if you’re if you’re not feeling safe with feeling discomfort and pain, there’s a much wider thing in your life, because discomfort and pain comes from us at all angles all the time, not just within our bodies. And so we need to be in a place where we feel safe to, to work through that.
Ruth Poundwhite  33:06  
So important. Yeah. And something that you brought up when we were talking about what we’re going to talk about today was you posed a question, and I feel like this question is basically it really sums up a lot of your philosophy of chronic illness and how you look at it. But I also I want to pose it for the audience, potentially to journal on. The question was if you look past all the rejection, slash resentment that you might feel what is one part of your chronic illness that you can be thankful for, and why? So I’m just I’ll put that in the show notes for everyone. And I’ll just repeat it again, if you look past all the rejection, slash resentment you might feel what’s one part of your chronic illness you can be thankful for, and why. And it’s very, feels very relevant to me, given that I’ve been dealing with chronic illness for a couple of years now. And I’ve found it hard to even like fully accept it, because I don’t know exactly what what is, you know, and I, I actually submitted a question to your podcast about waiting for diagnosis. So definitely go and listen to it because your answer was like, so brilliant. So philosophical like and it made me think very quite differently actually about it. I’m glad Yeah. It’s even feels uncomfortable actually, to ask myself that question. Like, how can I be thankful for it? I totally see that I can. And I think for me, this being forced upon me to have this greater connection with my body is very, very important. And I’m very thankful for that. Like, my body is telling me something. And yeah, I’m thankful for that and I’m thankful so then how it how it then will show up in the way that I work the way that I structured my life. I think that that that is really important and I just Want to flip that question back at you, that was part of your chronic illness that you are thankful for. And why?
Alana Holloway  35:05  
I mean, it’s a all of it, but actually, probably, at the moment, it’s been the journey, it’s taken me on to accept my, my, my parents and loved my parents. And I know it sounds really superficial, but for so long, I looked in the mirror, and I hated what I saw. And I would, you know, all the horrible stuff would come into my head, all the horrible language and, and, but that, that was never, it was a bit, but it wasn’t really about my parents at all, it was about the love that I had for myself. And through kind of going into it, and then coming back out of it, what it has taught me to do is to love myself no matter what, and to love my parents, no matter what. And now I can look in the mirror, and, you know, my body’s changed a lot since I’ve, since my chronic illness has become less active, and I’ve put on weight, and I’m now no longer, you know, the shapes that I’ve lived with for so many years. And, you know, I look at that in the mirror, and I can, I can touch myself and I can hold my, you know, my tummy or my whatever and not be like, You know what, grab it and be like, Oh, I wish that wasn’t there. But you know, I grab it, and I love it. And I like play with it. And it’s just so different. It’s really it’s like, you know, feeling yourself and touching yourself and loving yourself. That, you know, my chronic illness has helped me with that so much.
Ruth Poundwhite  36:38  
I love that so much. Thank you for sharing that. I’m just going to ask you my random finishing question from my deck of cards, which I warned you about before? You did just to finish off the episode, and what are some of the things at the top of your bucket list?
Alana Holloway  36:54  
So I’m so glad you asked me this in advance, because I usually get completely like stumped on these questions. But actually, this is quite a, an in depth answer. So when for so long, again, with the idea behind chronic illness, the status quo of chronic illness is that it’s a struggle, you’re in survival mode. And when you’re living in that survival mode, I call it the one day file, you put loads of stuff in the one day fast, you’re like, I really want to do that, I’m never gonna be able to do that I put it in the one day file. And this one day file gets really clogged up and like, you know, you, there’s stuff in there that it becomes non relevant and, you know, whatever, but I that’s kind of like survival mode. And then as you’re coming out of the chronic illness struggling to what I call ally ship, it’s, you get to live your life. And so that’s like living mode, and then all the living phase of that cycle. And it’s really great and, and it’s it feels really alive and oxygenated and brilliant. But also, within that living mode, you get to start dreaming about like how you’re going to thrive, I suppose. So like, you get to start dreaming about your bucket list. And you get to start like thinking oh, I can actually do that. And that I can actually not that you could couldn’t do it at what you know how have your chronic illnesses, but very much the energy behind how you’re living. So in a struggle or an ally ship, like you get to start actually planning this stuff out in a really chronic illness informed way. So something I read in a book, probably about 15 years ago, it was like an adventure book. And there was this trip that you could do where it was in Norway. And you’d swim in the fjords every day. And then you’d stop off in a in a hut or whatever lodge type thing and someone a local would cook you cook you like a traditional hearty home cooked meal. And then the next day you’d swim to the next Lodge. And it was like a thing. And I’ve always wanted to do that. And all the time that I was living in the Chronicle of struggle, it was just a pipe dream, it’s never going to happen. But in the past year and a half, I’ve been swimming in lakes. Again, I chose lakes because I can’t swim in chlorine because it just boggles my skin up. And so I found a chronic illness involved with swimming. But in that I’m I’m building up to the idea that I want to go on this trip. So I’m getting my distance is longer because I think like the minimum distance you get consumed, I want to say 5k But that’s quite a lot. So I don’t know, but I just want to go on this trip. Basically, I don’t even know if we’re still running but I’m going to find it you know, and start planning my way towards that, that looks like putting in my planner how I’m going to, you know when I’m going to book it, how I’m going to you know, save for it, etc, etc. So that’s my that’s my bucket list. It seems quite like there are probably other things on there. But I’d say that’s the that’s the biggest thing.
Ruth Poundwhite  39:50  
I love that and I love how very well it ties into the whole conversation as well. Yeah, just also highlighting what’s possible has changed for you and like how Uh, how I hopefully Yeah, inspiring that will be to other people and, and whatever it is like, you know, it’s a very specific thing that you’ve got there on your bucket list, but that’s what matters to you like, yeah, so I love it. Thank you. But thank you so much for this conversation. I think it’s gonna be really helpful. And yeah, and just ask posing that question, how can we run our businesses and live our lives in a more chronic illness informed way? I think Yeah. Such a helpful question for people. Thank you. And if you want to find out more about Alana and her work, you can find her on Instagram at Alana Holloway underscore, you can listen to her podcast reframing chronic illness or visit her website, Alana holloway.com. Thank you so much for listening to another episode of quietly ambitious, if you have a moment to rate and review know that it really does make a difference. And if you’d like to carry on the conversation, then you can connect with me on Instagram at Ruth Poundwhite Join me in the Facebook group or my personal favourite. Sign up to my newsletter letters to quietly ambitious humans. Just go to Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash newsletter to subscribe and keep doing what you’re doing because your work really does matter.

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“What my chronic illness has taught me to do is to love myself, no matter what”
Alana Holloway

Show Notes

Today I’m chatting with Alana Holloway (she/her), a Chronic Illness Coach & podcaster, about the “chronic illness informed” approach to living, working and creating and selling our offers.

Alana supports people as they rebuild the parts of themselves lost to ‘The Chronic Illness Struggle’ (a term she uses to describe the status-quo of living with chronic illness), and shows them that they don’t need to be free of chronic illness to live a happy, joyful, fulfilling life in which they’re able to flourish to the fullness of their imagination.

Much of Alana’s philosophy is centered around integrating and embracing chronic illness as a guide, ally and superpower, that will help you live the life you desire in a really supported way, all of which we talk about in this episode.

Some of the things I talked about:

  • What it means to be “chronic illness informed” in our work and life
  • Connecting to the wisdom of chronic illness and using it as an ally and superpower (vs. something to fight against)
  • How connecting with our body can connect us with our intuition
  • Alana’s journey of finding her voice and breaking the traditional messaging in her industry
  • Question for you: If you look past all the rejection/resentment you might feel, what’s one part of your chronic illness you can be thankful for and why?

Links from the episode:

Other episodes you might like:

“A bit like you can learn to understand your menstrual cycle, you can learn to understand your chronic illness cycle”
Alana Holloway

Quietly Ambitious

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When you subscribe to updates you get access to 3 bonus episodes of the podcast – exclusively for email subscribers – that dive behind the scenes of my business (I talk about failures, money, community & more!)