Lottie Ryan has faced one of the most challenging health journeys we have featured on the Shift Series; she has used her own healing steps (not once, but twice!) to pull herself out of the darkest pain and despair and then cast a gorgeous feminine light on how to walk forward from illness with grace and incredible gumption. Lottie’s passion is to inspire women of the Chronic Illness community to find their way forward in beauty and light and more.

I know you will love her charm, wit and strength as much as I do. Such an honor to welcome Lottie here to the Shift Series.

In gratitude and more…


No one wants to be diagnosed with a chronic illness, let alone live with the numerous challenges, or grieve for abilities and opportunities lost.
Yet all is not lost. Your invisible, chronic illness also shows and teaches you many great things that offer enormous reward in life, and it’s good to sit and feel grateful for the brighter side of life with chronic illness.
Here are the 5 greatest life lessons we learn from living with chronic illness:
1. True Love
If it’s there you’ve likely discovered the meaning of true love.
When your husband changes your dressings, or ileostomy bag, or your wife happily fetches your painkillers in the middle of the night. When your child hugs you big and hard yet softly and gently to avoid your pain, when your mom tells you she loves you even though you weren’t able to spend time with her yet again. When someone looks into your eyes outside the OR and says “You will be okay, I love you”.

2. Compassion
Living with an invisible illness has taught you that not all suffering is visible or obvious.
You don’t judge when the man doesn’t offer you his seat on the train, because perhaps, despite appearances, he has Rheumatoid Arthritis and desperately needs to sit down.
You smile and send the woman who asks to jump the line in the ladies restroom, forward, as despite appearances you know that she might have an IBD, and her need for the bathroom is desperate.
You don’t comment when a person walks from their car in the disabled parking space, because you know that despite the fact she is seemingly walking well now, her chronic fatigue means that she will struggle to make it back to her car later.

3. The Value of Time
As you sit in a doctor’s surgery for the third time this week, listening to the clock ticking the seconds away on the wall, you understand time.
You recognize the minutes you lose sitting in waiting rooms, driving to appointments, and laying in bed feeling too much pain to move.
You also recognize the minutes you feel well enough to leave your bed, when you’re simply sat in peace drinking a cup of tea, or you’re able to take a walk with a friend.
You know how precious time is and you don’t waste it.

4. Community is Important
You need your community, and so you build a community, whether you realize it or not.
When suffering with a chronic illness you give your community purpose as it bonds through your need for support.
When your neighbor knocks on your door with a meal to save you the effort of cooking. When your friend calls by to take your kids out to play even though she has her hands full with her own children. When your elderly neighbor drops by with groceries, because despite his own struggles, he knows you need help.
In return, when you’re well enough you don’t hesitate to contribute to your community in thanks.
In return, when you’re well enough you don’t hesitate to contribute to your community in thanks.

5. You Recognize The Beauty in the Little Things
Your heightened senses, because of pain, mean you no longer passively interact with anything.
You’re sick and so often suffering, so you know darkness, which also means that you bathe in the light of anything beautiful.
You notice the blooming flowers as you drag yourself around the block for a painful walk. You drink in the lyrics of the music you hear, basking in their tone and meaning. You acknowledge a child’s delightful giggle as they look in awe at the bird flying in the sky. You see the beauty all around you.

6. Gratitude
You understand what it means to truly, heart deeply be grateful for every little thing.
You’re grateful for the doctors and nurses that help you maintain your quality of life and stay alive. You’re grateful for the moments you spend with your family doing ordinary things. You’re grateful for the Internet that allows you to stay connected despite often being housebound. You’re grateful for your children’s teachers who care for them with patience and compassion at times when your pain means you struggle. You’re grateful for the friends who take the time to love and care for you despite your frequent inability to show up.
You are grateful you are breathing.

LottieLottie has suffered with chronic illness and daily pain for the last 17 years. She is a JPoucher as a result of Ulcerative Colitis, and has Fibromyalgia, Chronic Migraines, GERD and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. You can find her at www.lottieryan.com supporting women with chronic illness to create the life you really want despite it all.