Coming Alive in the Winter Air (Pushing for Personal Changes & Group Advocacy)

Coming Alive in the Winter Air (Pushing for Personal Changes & Group Advocacy)


February…what should I say about 2020 so far? There’s been a mix of good and bad, as there always is, but let’s say that it’s been mostly awesome just for the new experiences in itself. Winter has been a fascinating season for me in every which way. The Lupus and Sjögren’s has been flaring all week, and then there’s the daily milder aches and pains. Yet surprisingly these aren’t what I remember when ‘looking back’ on the past month.

Shades and slices of memories in black and white and vintage colour come to mind. I think of laughter from strangers over hot fondue, the invigorating sting of winter air, steam from hot bowls of noodle soup for dinners, mist from glühwein, the fresh produce at the marketplace, and things like that. Somehow in my memories, the pain during those moments have been erased, and only the treasures remain. They are beautiful moments that my brain has chosen to tuck neatly into its folds; safe, sweet and sound.

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In my memories the pain is erased

I also met up with another spoonie, who has both Antiphospholipid Syndrome and Lupus as well (I don’t even know one personally in Singapore)! We ended up chatting nonstop for four hours straight, which might have been the trigger for the pain flares, but it was totally worth it. We’ve already made plans for dinner along with our partners, so that should be fun.


I’ve been in Berlin for a few weeks now, but have been a bit of a slob as I haven’t really ventured out as much as I can. Work has been surprisingly busy, so that’s my excuse. I thought that I’d been spending a lot of free time revamping my blog and services, but am really happy that I’ve had to put that on hold due to work as well. This is a big relief as that means more money for travelling and living expenses.

We’re looking at a few countries nearby to perhaps visit for short trips, but don’t really have any concrete plans and that’s fine by me. It’s the kind of ‘play it by ear’ that I can actually participate in for once, as everything is fairly manageable time, distance and support wise. If I had flown here on a with a more compact time limit, that wouldn’t be possible, so I’m grateful that I’m able to pace even the leisurely activities.

(Read Related Post: Your Thorough Chronic Illness Travel Guide (with 25 Additional Resources))


I set up the Chronic Illness Social Pod (CISP) Facebook group in January as well. If you’ve yet to join us, you’re more than welcome to do so here – we’d definitely love to have you with us! Just remember to fill in the questions so we know that you’re one of us. This is because I’d like to keep the group focussed on the chronic illness, mental health and wellness niches, in order to raise awareness with as much impact as is possible.

I’m still tweaking the timings, rules and such, to make it easier to participate in and manage for us both. So if you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to share them with me. If you’ve found some of the rules confusing, trust me that they’re mostly just words to keep things fair for us all. Just start by sharing one post in one thread, and I bet you’ll get the hang of it in a day or two 🙂 So come join us so we can grow together.

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Increase Social Engagement


Back to the subject of Berlin, I’m really loving the weather here! It’s invigorating on the outside, and cosy on the inside. Have I told you that I LOVE IT? :p Maybe winter is still a novel experience for me, being a tropical summer girl. But the humidity in Singapore was never pleasant for me either, even as a child. I absolutely hate the feeling of sticky skin. Humidity also causes me to ache. Whilst Berlin isn’t as dry as I thought it would be, the weather here has actually been kinder to my joints as compared to Singapore, save for the rainy days.

Going outside after being cooped up in pain at home for days always makes me feel as if I’m awakening, and coming alive once more. I take a deep breath of fresh, cold air, and feel a rush of happiness. This isn’t something I can do in Singapore, as the heat and humidity saps rather than boosts my energy.

(Read Related Post: A Roundup of Biggest Pain Flare Triggers (from 40 People with Chronic Illness))

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Breath of Fresh, Cold Air


I ditched my bullet journal in January; think I’ve gone through at least five or so by now. I started it at first mainly for the fun of pasting pretty stickers, tapes and colours in it. I’m not artistic like that, and can’t do incredible calligraphy or hand drawn charts, so I relied a lot on stamps, tools and the likes. I guess after a while it got a little boring, especially when I had to carry over lots of tasks month after month. You know, the things you ‘need’ to get done but never get around to 😉

I recently switched to an online to do list called TeuxDeux and have found it actually quite pleasant to use. Whilst the range of functions could be expanded, it suffices for now. Another option I tried was Columns which is free, but it was too simplistic so I didn’t like it as much.

In closing, I’d like to greet February with open arms and an open mind. Europe has been an interesting experience so far, especially on conversations I’ve had with Europeans with different mindsets and ways of thinking. I’ll also be aiming hard to get that blog revamped by the end of the month, regardless of work or not! Keep an eye out as this will be a major update. I might also need your help with testimonials and/or reviews, if you’d like to be part of the process 🙂 Have a good one!

*These writing prompts are part of a monthly community activity I host. Thank you for reading, and I hope to read your responses for February’s prompts too. CLICK HERE to submit your own entry, and to read about what others are up to as well!

*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.

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Coming Alive in the Winter Air (Pushing for Personal Changes & Group Advocacy)

Coming Alive in the Winter Air (Pushing for Personal Changes & Group Advocacy)

Coming Alive in the Winter Air (Pushing for Personal Changes & Group Advocacy)

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Rhonda - Spoonie Mom Blog
February 21, 2020 10:22

Hello my spoonie sister! Such a pleasure joining you again and getting a glimpse into your month. Wishing you the best February and sending you a gentle hug. xoxo

Sheryl Chan
February 21, 2020 20:22

Hello dear Rhonda, thank you for the love! Right back at ya! xxx

February 18, 2020 13:24

I love your positivity in seeing past the pain to hold onto the “beautiful moments” in your memories.

Sheryl Chan
February 18, 2020 20:12
Reply to  Carolina

Thanks Carolina! Haha I don’t think it’s so much positivity as just the way it is 😀 Thank you though!

Catherine Green
February 17, 2020 21:31

Hi Sheryl, it is good to hear you are enjoying Europe! I completely agree with your sentiment about happy memories – having grown up with sore eyes and rarely having a day without pain, I still only remember happier times and experiences. I had a fun swimming session with my husband and daughters last weekend, and while the chlorine in the pool stung my eyes and they were horribly dry and sore, I enjoyed the time with my family.

Sheryl Chan
February 18, 2020 01:37

Thanks Catherine! Yes it’s funny how our memories are always nice and golden. Rose-tinted glasses are real :p I’m happy you had a good time with your family despite the pain. Sending much love x

February 16, 2020 17:22

Lovely to hear how you’re getting on in Europe. I love that you are loving winter! I’m also a big fan although it’s been pretty tame in England this year so I’m a bit disappointed as my first one on the boat. I’m sure we’ll all help as much as we can in whatever way we can 🙂

Sheryl Chan
February 16, 2020 23:27
Reply to  Naomi

Yes it’s a novel experience for me! No snow (sadly lol), but I really do love the freshness and serenity of the air 🙂 Sending hugs and hope that storm has calmed down!

February 14, 2020 18:51

Hello for another month Sheryl, it sounds like you are having such a fantastic time in Germany!! I am so glad, and I hope your travels and adventures continue to go well, and can’t wait to read more about them! I really resonate when you talked about becoming awakened after being cooped inside for days; I often feel the same, even though it often causes some anxiety too. I hope you enjoy the rest of February. Take care!

Sheryl Chan
February 14, 2020 19:20
Reply to  Rhiann

Thanks Rhiann! It’s okay here, but I’m definitely loving the change in scenery and weather. It’s kind of the same routine back home really, and I’m mostly indoors with chronic illness and pacing but still fun haha. Sending you love too! Will let you know more maybe next month! 😉

Alison Hayes
February 10, 2020 00:38

Hi Sheryl,
I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying your time in Germany! It sounds fun – and I totally understand wanting to have an easy, play-it-by-ear schedule.

I love the visceral image of aches and pain being melted away by joy and connections – and agree that one of the most helpful forms of pain/symptom management I’ve found is distraction – often in the form of enjoyable activities!

That image of memories as pictures resonates so strongly with me, and I’m so happy that you’ve made such great connections. I hope you keep enjoying your time there!

Sheryl Chan
February 10, 2020 04:00
Reply to  Alison Hayes

Hi Alison,

Yes I’m enjoying the weather especially (strange as it may sound)! So far it’s been easy-going but you know me, always needing to be chipping away at something on the blog 😉

Thank you for your kind words. It’s funny how our brains colour our memories to keep us alive, and give us something nice to look back to. Sending hugs x

February 6, 2020 01:01

I’m glad you’re enjoying the change in weather!

Sheryl Chan
February 6, 2020 02:57
Reply to  Kathy

Hi Kathy, yes I’m loving the weather so much, and the change in scene! 🙂

Nikki Albert
Nikki Albert
February 4, 2020 00:35

I think it is cool to be travelling and I hope you have a blast. I’m a bit landlocked at the moment but it would sure be nice to even have a wee vacation.

Sheryl Chan
February 4, 2020 16:10
Reply to  Nikki Albert

Hi Nikki, thanks so much! It is indeed cool just to get a change of environment, though my doc did say I was stretching it in terms of appointment! :p I’m sorry you are landlocked. I totally know the feeling (was landlocked whole of last year almost), and I love to travel so that doesn’t help. I do hope you get a small getaway, even nearby, soon. Sending love x

February 3, 2020 19:47

It sounds like you are enjoying life in Germany, l’m glad that travelling is working out well for you and that you have met a new friend.

Sheryl Chan
February 3, 2020 19:48
Reply to  Anne

Thanks Anne! It has had ups and downs, but new experiences whilst travelling are always a positive for me, so I view it that way! 🙂 Sending hugs.

Heather Keith Freeman
Heather Keith Freeman
February 3, 2020 05:34

I went to look at the Facebook pod but I am confused and intimidated; what does it mean to “finish” a thread? What are these things that you have to do in a timely fashion or be booted? I don’t want to invest the energy in joining something new, however interesting it may sound, and have it turn out that I can’t obey the rules.

I appreciate any information you can provide. It might be worth putting your reply in the group’s info as well; I’m sure I’m not the only one who is confused!

Sheryl Chan
February 3, 2020 19:56

Hi Heather,

What it means to ‘finish’ a thread is simply that if you participate in one, then you need to reciprocate as well. It isn’t a heavy load (something like 5-8 retweets/repins/FB likes or comments) over 2-3 days. And there is no set time limit in the sense that you can take your time to do so, but may not join new threads (every MWF) until you finish. If that makes sense 🙂


February 3, 2020 03:48

It’s so awesome when we have the opportunity to connect in person with someone who has the same or similar chronic illness. Sounds like you had a great time! I know some people would freak out by flying by the seat of their pants, but I find that is the best way for me to make social plans. It’s less stressful being that I don’t have time to worry if my body will cooperate or not. Enjoy the winter weather!!

Sheryl Chan
February 3, 2020 05:18
Reply to  Cynthia

Thanks Cynthia! It’s always great when you click with someone I guess, chronic illness or not. But somehow that just had a special bond (though one we rather not have, ha!) 😉 Yes I don’t always play it by ear, but whilst travelling everything goes! 🙂 Sending hugs.

February 2, 2020 20:30

This post is beautifully written. What you wrote about memory really resonates with me – I only seem to remember the good parts of my past, which I guess is a blessing. How exciting that you’re in Europe. Which countries are you thinking of visiting? If you fancy popping to Barcelona, remember that you are always welcome to stay with me (or have a tour of the city).

Sheryl Chan
February 2, 2020 21:15
Reply to  Jenny

Thank you Jenny! Yes I guess it’s our brain’s way of keeping us alive :p I’m not sure where I’ll be yet, but probably not Barcelona this time as I’ve been there (lovely place!), and want to visit some other places that I haven’t been. We might be in another part of Spain near the Basque Country though!