Small Victories with
We were featured in Mobilize, an AwesomenessTV original series that connects with young activists who founded organizations that bring social good to their communities. In this episode, we worked with Alyson Stoner, Ricky Thompson, and Aaron Burriss to create a photo shoot that celebrated our small, every-day victories that can often be overlooked. When you are living with chronic illness, it's easy to be hard on yourself and not take the time to celebrate these accomplishments. You should be proud of yourself for going to the grocery store, getting to work that day, or just waking up in the morning. This episode and photo shoot focused on that concept.
Thank you to Julie, Gianna, Siobhan, Alyson, Madison, and Stephanie for sharing their stories with us.
Photography by Jake Thomas
Mobilize is presented by Visible
What's your small victory?
"I can now say no to things that aren't important so I can say yes to things that are most important. As a woman with narcolepsy, my energy comes in waves and when I have high energy, I feel invincible and over-commit myself because there’s so much I want to do as an advocate and community member. A fellow person with narcolepsy recently described this as: our 'elevator doors' of wakefulness tend to close sooner than we wish each day. Saying no to the things that don’t matter so I can say yes to the things that matter most is my small victory because it take daily discipline for me to stop before committing to something new to look inward and ask myself questions like: 'Is flying across the country to be part of a one day meeting on this particular topic the best use of my limited energy?' This also means I have to be clear on my priorities and actually walk away from certain opportunities. I’m still learning how to flex my 'no' muscle more consistently, but I know that when i do, this allowed me to prioritize my biggest goals, along with my health and happiness." - Julie Flygare
"I haven't had a severe flare up in over two years. Not having a flare in about 2 years has been absolutely liberating. After years of flares, trial and error for medications, hospital visits, and sickness, I was starting to lose hope for something positive to happen. A new set of medications and a mostly clear colonoscopy later, I'm finally in remission (for now). This disease has been, and still is, a battle- but it's taught me so much about myself, and I'm stronger than I've ever been." - Gianna Gravelese
"I'm proud to inhabit a sick female body. Sick women have been labeled 'hysteric' throughout history. There is ample evidence and research into how women have been mistreated in the medical system as a whole, even today. But living with illness is an experience with patience, persistence and kindness with yourself and your body and it braces us for this system. The sick woman is a radical body." - Siobhan Hebron
"I'm speaking publicly for the first time about something I've faced privately my whole life. Living with clinical anxiety isn’t easy. And until recently, it’s also been really hard for me to talk about. I mean, as if the blackouts, hair loss, and seizures weren’t enough, I’m not sure I want my friends, family, and random people on the internet knowing the ins and outs of my own personal chronic illness. I’m worried that they’ll only see my anxiety, and not the real me. But today, I’m taking a big step forward and talking about my anxiety out in the open for the first time. It’s a small victory, but an important one. A decision to stand up with confidence and embrace myself, my illness, and everything that comes with it—showing the world who I am and how I see myself. But more than anything, I hope that one of those random people on the internet, someone living with the same fears, pain, insecurities, and anxiety as me, sees this picture and realizes that they’re not alone. Because you’re not. And if I can step up, share my story, and love myself, so can you."
- Alyson Stoner
"I get to go to my dream film school. I was conflicted about whether or not 'going to my dream school' counted as a small victory when it is a privilege to even be accepted and able to attend despite the high tuition of private universities in America. Yet on another level, college students with chronic illnesses deal with a unique set of social and academic obstacles in addition to the typical issues all students are faced with. I felt like this relates to the shoot’s theme of conceptualizing everyday activities as small victories, even if they are not usually considered significant. For example, going to class, events, the cinema, shoots, and more are all situations I have to prepare for that many of my peers don’t. These experiences are not not bad but they are part of the reality of my everyday life and a reason I’m proud of myself." - Madison Kloeber
"My small victory is waking up in the morning." - Stephanie Ordaz
"I've been unapologetically honest about my bad days. Being upfront about when I'm in pain or not feeling well has been a struggle for me ever since I got diagnosed with #lupus. I've always sugarcoated my experience when that was not how I actually felt. I was afraid to be seen as negative, dramatic, or overreacting. I've been pushing myself to be honest about how I feel, no matter how it may sound or be perceived. Sometimes things just suck and that's the reality. Being open about it helps me to process my own experience while giving the people in my life insight into what it's really like to be chronically ill. It's truly been liberating." - Erica Lupinacci