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Everything has a solution – even in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language and your body is going haywire. You can find what you need, move forward – and still have a great vacation. Abigail Cummings proves that having a rare genetic condition, (Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, or BBS), doesn’t stop you from experiencing everything from going to college, traveling abroad with classmates and traveling solo.  If you’ve shied away from travel because of your CI, let Abigail guide you through it. She has great tips for travel logistics – and for having a great travel mindset to help you not only discover new places, but learn valuable things about yourself in the process. 

Guest Spotlight: Abigail Cummings

Abigail sitting in a chair with a hat

Abigail is an average twenty-something currently based in Southwest Florida navigating life post quarter life mid-life crisis. After exhaustion and burnout left her feeling hopeless and the pandemic turned her life upside down, she boarded a one-way flight to paradise and has never looked back.

Through sharing her raw and real-life experiences on social media, her goal is to inspire & empower others to live their life to the fullest, without the fluff that comes from expectation.

In the past year and a half, she has been on a journey of self-discovery, tuning out the noise of the world and instead listening to the whisperings of her soul.

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Abigail Cummings

[00:00:00] Andrea: I had the honor today of speaking with Abigail Cummings, she was born with a very rare genetic disorder that leads to progressive disabilities, but she doesn't let that stop her. She's determined to live her life, which includes traveling. And we have a great conversation about this shared passion of ours.
And how travel goes beyond just having amazing experiences. To teaching us all about fortitude and self-trust awareness boundaries. Choosing the right partners. And so much more. I loved talking with Abigail about her experience in college and her hopes for the She is so relatable and wise way beyond her years. If you have ever shied away from travel because of your chronic illness, this episode is for you.
You'll leave inspired with a solid plan for your next vacation. Please enjoy this week's episode and visit Andrea Hanson for more on Abigail Cummings, resources that we talked about in the show and transcripts from today's episode.
Welcome to the live your life, not your diagnosis podcast. I'm Andrea Hanson, author, motivational speaker. And master certified coach. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was told. I would never reach my goals. But I did. And I'm on a mission to prove that life with a chronic illness can still be expansive and quite remarkable.
Everyone has their own unique path. I'm talking to people, living with a chronic illness that come from different backgrounds, have different points of view and are achieving amazing life goals of all kinds. To you inspire you To achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw. Uncensored and judgment free.
Listener discretion is advised
[00:01:43] Andrea: Hello everybody today, I'm here with Abigail Cummings Abigail is an average 20 something currently based in Southwest Florida, navigating life post quarterlife crisis. After exhaustion and burnout left her feeling hopeless and the pandemic turned her life upside down. She boarded a one way flight to paradise and has never looked.
Through sharing her raw and real life experiences on social media. Her goal is to inspire and empower others to live their life to the fullest without the fluff that comes from expectations in the past year and a half, she has been on a journey of self discovery. Tuning out the, of the world. And instead listening to the whisperings of her soul. Hello, Abigail. How are you?
[00:02:32] Abigail: Hi, I'm doing well. How are you doing?
[00:02:35] Andrea: I'm good. Whisperings of your soul. I love that.
[00:02:40] Abigail: Thank you so much. I think there's so much noise and so much clutter that we hear from the world, especially when it living with a and all expectations in that bubble of what society wants you to do, what society wants you to live your life . And. Not always having, , the tools and the resources to be able to do so at times, just because of your illness.
And so not really being susceptible to those expectations and really just listening to what you need, listening to what your body, your mind, your soul is telling you to do. And, not really caring about the rest.
[00:03:23] Andrea: That's amazing. It's a huge asset to be able to do that for sure. To be able to tune out because everybody and you're right. Especially when you have a chronic. Everybody has something to say, everybody has an opinion. Everybody has a, uh, treatment or a cure or something that their cousins best friends, niece did.
One time that really worked. Everybody's got something and it is a matter of tuning that. And really having the courage to tune it out. Right. I mean, for a long time, I felt I had to listen to everything and try everything that everybody's best friends, cousins, nephew did, because I didn't wanna miss anything, but really being able to tune that out and listening to you're right.
That whisper. Cause cause when you first start listening to your internal voice, it really is kinda quiet. Cause sometimes it's not used to being listened to. So it's , hello.
Excuse me.
[00:04:22] Abigail: Oh, Yeah.
[00:04:25] Andrea: you have a really unique story and there was, there are some parts of it that I really resonate with and I know people listening are really going to resonate with.
Um, and the very first thing was that you, you were diagnosed pretty young before you went to college, right?
[00:04:43] Abigail: Yeah, so I was diagnosed in mid high school, too mid college. It really. Spend a whole long time for me to actually get a diagnosis. So I have a super rare condition,, called Bardet-Biedl syndrome or BBS for short. And so it was this, this thing that was, we knew about, we had inklings my family and I had inklings about because it's super rare recessive condition and it present in these very odd.
Symptoms to start out when you're really young. So some of them are , I was born with extra digits on each hand and digits on each foot. That's the rare symptoms we had specific eye doctor. My and I had, because part of the recessive gene type of it is that usually it comes in pairs. And so my sister and I had both had.
You know, crazy symptoms that all kind of matched up. And so we went to our eye doctor because one of the major,, ways that this it presents is through having really poor vision and then eventually becoming blind, which is a little bit of a scary thought, but nothing about that at the moment. So when I was about 14, the eye doctor came back to us and.
Based on all your conditions and all your symptoms up until now, between the two of us, we think it's BBS, unfortunately it took years and years and years from first learning about it's not the answers going to so rare
[00:06:29] Andrea: Or it's going to have some really scary answers that actually don't probably
[00:06:33] Abigail: Or it's going to tell you exactly. Or it's going to tell you you're going to be blind by.
Which is ,
[00:06:39] Andrea: Not
[00:06:40] Abigail: as a 14 year old, you're what? I'm going to be blind in 10 years. What am I going to do? How am I going to live my life? a normal teenager?
[00:06:50] Andrea: Yeah. Whenever I'm talking to anybody who is new to a diagnosis or kind of wondering, I always say, do not Google. Just don't do it.
[00:06:58] Abigail: yeah. Well, curious me too at 14 was , oh, well, I'll do as much research as possible about this rare condition. I need to know all about it. And so even in high school, I had written a term paper about it and bad call as a high schooler, do not try to understand complex medical jargon, cuz you're just going to scare yourself more and more and more.
So I agree with you. Don't Google. If you're getting a new diagnosis, do not Google your diagnosis. But the thing is, so from age 14 to age 18, 19, I don't think I actually really officially got the diagnosis per se until I was about 20. When we got the genetic testing back that said, yes, you do have the genes for BBS.
So even from all of my high school years now getting more and more of the symptoms that came along with And really getting a diagnosis, but not a diagnosis. And then learning how to cope with that in the years that are your teenage years, most reformative years was a little crazy.
And then also going to college and having, you know, this illness that you know about, but do you have it, do you not have it? And then learning to cope with it was definitely a struggle, I would say to say the least, but something that has. Also so fun to figure out how to.
[00:08:25] Andrea: Yeah, and I love that. I love that perspective. I was going to ask what helped you get through college? Cause I know I was diagnosed when I was halfway through my master's program. And I immediately was , I can't, I don't have a luxury of school. , I've gotta, I gotta go get a job. I've gotta get money. I gotta get insurance.
I gotta figure this out. , , so what helped you. Stay in college and work through all of that while you're processing, what might be happening might not be happening is happening.
[00:08:56] Abigail: Well, I will say the number one thing that I am so incredibly grateful for and blessed for is that my parents have really good health insurance. I will say. Well, you mentioned that insurance partner was , thank goodness. I've never had to worry about that. I know a lot of people that's a big one for them, but I would say the biggest thing for me going through college and figuring out how to really cope with the, all the different symptoms.
And on top of actually having a diagnosis for me was just figuring out how to really understand how I can use these. These different symptoms as more of a way to actually understand myself more. So I went to school, I was an interior design major when I was in school. And if you know anything about being a design major in college, it's you do not sleep ever,
which which has, is positive, because there's so much to learn and.
So much creativity and so much freedom, but along comes with it is , there's so much to do all the time and you never sleep. And it's exhausting. So figuring out how to cope with the symptoms that are exhausting your body
[00:10:22] Andrea: Right.
[00:10:22] Abigail: from having a chronic illness. And then also being constantly exhausted because of school was definitely a hard thing to.
Kind of balance. And I think from learning that balance is how I was able to get through college.
[00:10:39] Andrea: So tell me a little bit about that balance. What was that balance? What did you do balance
[00:10:45] Abigail: Yeah. So I think a lot of the balance came from finding boundaries. I knew that I had to get myself, you know, back in bed by 10:00 PM. Did it stink because the rest of my friends were staying up, you know, at 2:00 AM having their all nighter party. And I was missing out on the social event, , absolutely.
But was I also able to wake up at 8:00 AM the next morning for class and be able to get through an entire, you know, eight to five load of schedule in a day? Yes. So it was really finding those boundaries of knowing. What is going to set me up for success and then sure. FOMO definitely kicked in, but understanding, you know, maybe I did have to give up, you know, a couple of those fun college things.
a great example of that for me, was , College bar culture, you know, all my
[00:11:51] Andrea: nothing about college bar culture.
[00:11:54] Abigail: no, you're you're
[00:11:56] Andrea: No, please go on
[00:12:03] Abigail: right. So literally, so not only was I was in school. I lived in my sorority house, which is literally across the street from, you know, all. College row with all of our bars and everything. So all my friends would be going out, you know, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, even sometimes Thursday, Monday, you know, drinking all the time.
And for me, I couldn't drink because of one of the,, one of the major symptoms of the illness that I have is renal failure and renal dysfunction. So kidney functions. . And so I learned the hard way freshman year. If I was going to drink, I was going to be sick on the couch for a week. And so, you know, another boundary there learning that maybe I couldn't go out with my friends, but in the long run I would be successful because I wouldn't be stuck in bed for a week.
[00:13:07] Andrea: right. Yeah. And I love it. I mean one of the most common comments I get when people are, , when people are reading, my book is, yes, my book is for people with chronic illness, but it's for people without chronic illness.
Because even though we have these limitations that. You know, place on us that we didn't ask for the coping mechanisms that we learn, because we are listening to our bodies and we are honoring the fact that we have, you know, whatever the chronic illness is. These are things that are just kinda good for all humans, right?
You're learning not to go out and, , drink a ton until three o'clock in the morning and then get up two hours later and go to. Right. A lot of what we learn through having these,, these illnesses and, and diagnoses is how to take better care of ourselves, which arguably I think everybody can be, can be.
[00:14:08] Abigail: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with that. I think especially in the college years, I was less willing to understand my body and understand. What boundaries? I did need to find that balance because I was almost feeling I was missing out on these rights of passage in order to honor my, and honor my boundaries.
But looking back at it now, , I don't remember the 2:00 AM, you know, parties.
[00:14:40] Andrea: Right.
[00:14:41] Abigail: I remember. Functioning and being able to continue to move on and still know that I was doing a good job every single day.
[00:14:50] Andrea: right, . You know, a lot of people with chronic illness have this feeling. When I was looking at learning to process my diagnosis in, you know, the very beginning I was young, I was in my early twenties. I knew my, my body was speaking very clearly to me, which it sounds yours was to you as well about what it d, what it didn't , what wasn't great. And I. Would choose not to listen sometimes because listening and putting up those boundaries to honor, it meant. Almost admitting defeat for me in some weird way. It meant , oh, this is real. And this is something that is never going to go away. And this is something that quite possibly, I have to, the way I looked at it in the very beginning was a way to limit myself.
And these are limits that I have to put on myself for the rest of my life. And that felt so big. And so imposing that I almost chose not to, because I didn't wanna admit that this was now my life.
[00:15:57] Abigail: Yeah, absolutely. I can completely relate. And I too, my diagnosis personally, a lot of the symptoms that I struggle with and I deal with, and that are related to the illness that I have are very silent symptoms in a sense. So I think for me, relating to your story too, I studied abroad my.
My first semester of my junior year and that semester I was with all the cool kids and I wanted to fit in and I wanted to do all of these things, you know, which included, you know, not, not sleeping a lot, maybe drinking a little more than I should eating weird foods. Cause I was in a different country and my body hated every second of it, but I wanted to fit in because there were only two dozen of us total on this study abroad trip.
So , Who wants to be the weird girl who goes to bed at 10:00 PM and won't eat any local food, you know? So you, You do these things to fit in, but at the end of the day, then your body hates you. So it's really walking that fine balance of , what can I do? That's going to honor what I need for my body.
But at the same time, almost in a sense, still isn't limiting me. If that makes sense.
[00:17:15] Andrea: It does because on top of everything else, we're humans and we genuinely want these experiences. Right. I mean, you're studying abroad, you're doing all these cool things. you say, there's certain rights of passage that, uh, we all go through, you know, at different times and different ways, but when it's happening, we genuinely want to experience it.
And sometimes it's hard. It's, it's almost you're caught in between. Do I do know? Do I do what I know is right for my body? And not just right now, but right. For what I know will be weeks to come, because it might be some pretty long term consequences. Or do I do something that I know psychologically, makes me happy and gives me this experience and helps me grow as a person.
It's it's a very, I, I think talking about it a tight rip, I think you're right. It's it can be a total tight rope
[00:18:10] Abigail: Yeah, absolutely. And then as a something year old, you know, you add on the expectations of, of you. What does, what is college supposed to look ? Is, is life supposed
[00:18:26] Andrea: Yes.
[00:18:27] Abigail: that's layer to that hyper tight rope,, equation. If, you could say so
[00:18:36] Andrea: Well, and, and I, it does, and I think. Especially when you're diagnosed very young and something is put on you again, we don't, this it's put on and you need navigate, but at the same, you have these very genuine about it's twofold. Now it's , you have your genuine question about who am I in this.
, what am I, what am I here for? What is my purpose? Or what do I to do? What do I wanna do with my life? What do I want my life to look ? And then at the same time we have this diagnosis and it's okay, who am I now that I'll have this diagnosis? Who am I? Now that I have these, you know, I hate to admit it to myself, but clear limitations on things that I need to be doing or need not to be doing.
So it's kind of this twofold at a time where we're just trying to figure ourselves out.
[00:19:35] Abigail: And it's both, you know, a blessing and a curse in a way. And
I think for me personally, that's what really led to my. Demise almost where I hit this point where I was having a quarter life crisis. Cause I was continuing to go down a path of , well, let me just follow what I think I should be doing and what I should, you know, what.
What everyone's telling me, I should be doing, you know, career path wise, finding myself wise all of these different things. But then in, in the background in the back corner are the limitations that are coming from my chronic illness. So, , maybe I can't be in a job where I need to be working, 70 hours a week, even though, , it's, it shouldn't be 70 hours, , because.
I do need the limitation of having sleep or it's, maybe I can't be eating fast food for every meal because my body really can't cope with, fast food at all, but it's not realizing those things when you're continuing to go through, , early adulthood it's oh, well, let me just do whatever I can to get to a point where I will be successful and also, living in harmony with my illness.
[00:20:45] Andrea: It's very hard because there is such a hustle culture out there, especially when you are getting into the workforce and you're trying to establish yourself and you're the junior person being hired on if you're working at a corporation. And so that's going to be a lot of grunt work.
It's going to be a lot of proving yourself. It's going to be a lot of, tap, dancing and song and dance and jazz hands and all of that kinda stuff. And so it's hard to do that. If you think that's what you need to do, it's really hard to stop and say, you know what? No, I'm not going to do that. have that confidence to know , I'm enough, I'm awesome at this job.
And I don't have to do all of that. I need to listen , the courage and the self trust that that takes is huge.
[00:21:35] Abigail: Yeah, absolutely. And I will be completely honest. I was not there with my first corporate
job at all, because I was , you know, I don't think anyone was. And then on top of that, the pandemic whole, that. You know, the pandemic was the best blessing in the disguise too. But at the same time, it's chronic illness, hustle, culture, pandemic, all these things.
And it's , how do I still really find balance in all of this? When I'm also very susceptible to seeing on social media, all of my friends who are doing amazing things and getting. Raises and getting promotions and getting engaged and buying houses with their significant others and doing all these different things.
And then feeling almost behind on everything. as much as , I don't know that we want to admit it. there are definitely limitations when it comes to. Chronic illness. And so, you know, all your friends are up here doing all these amazing when you're down here at, and you're trying to play never there's that acceptance here, here at 5,000 miles an hour.
Even if my friends are up here at 10,000 miles an hour, doing amazing things that I wish I was doing for my life.
[00:23:12] Andrea: also an exercise in staying in your own lane. Right. And knowing that everybody's lane is different, knowing that everybody feels behind when they look at social media, all your friends that are going 10,000 miles an hour, feel behind when they look at social media, because their friends are doing something that they wanna do.
And it's just, you, the joys of social media., but it's about staying in your own lane and realizing , Hey, I'm doing really well. Right. , I'm actually doing well with, whatever it is that's going on. I'm I'm doing well with honoring my body. I'm doing well with managing my symptoms or I'm doing well with my career or my networking, or just for some people you're right in the pandemic I'm doing well, staying sane.
for me, I am very extroverted. So the whole pandemic I wasn't going out because I was, I couldn't, I didn't wanna get sick because with a chronic illness, it's a whole different level. And so I am an extrovert. looking for that connection and my gym was cut off and that was always a big source of social.
Um, Connection. And you can't do going out with people anyway. It's just, it was really hard. So even just staying in your lane and realizing , Hey, this is tough because of these reasons. And here are the reasons why I'm doing really, really well and allowing yourself to ignore the people going 10,000 miles an hour.
Because by the way, they're all going to crash at some point.
[00:24:50] Abigail: I completely agree with that. And I'll be honest, I've been at that program where I'm completely crash and burn too, but then, you know, you pick yourself back up just off the pieces and put yourself back together. But going off of that too, something that I practice every single day, mindset wise is just celebrating the teeny tiny little wins.
Did I get up and make my bed today? Yes, I did. Congratulations me. What is the one thing I can do to now celebrate it? Is it going to get a Starbucks on my way to work? Perfect. You know, it's reinforcing those little, teeny tiny wins because then if you happen to on social media later in the day, and you're seeing your friend, who's , here's my life update.
And look at all the amazing things that I'm doing, you can still be , oh, well I did X, Y, and Z today that I needed to do for me. And I'm okay with them out here doing their own thing, because I'm okay with what I've done for the day.
[00:25:49] Andrea: I think that's why it is so important to have people that celebrate those wins with you that understand that you're, you're, doing amazing work and that you are happy and that you don't have to compare to anybody else.
[00:26:07] Abigail: Oh, absolutely. I have. You know, I have great friends from college and I have friends from college who are , why are you still where you are today? , for me personally, mid pandemic, life kind of crashed and burned. So I, you know, picked up the pieces pivoted, but I moved back home to move in with my parents.
And I had a couple of friends from college who said, why in the world? Would you ever move back home to live with your parents?
[00:26:34] Andrea: Oh my God. So many people
moved back home with their parents.
[00:26:36] Abigail: Oh, my goodness. It has been one of the best experiences ever for me. But then I also, you know, there are some people who always tell me when I reconnect with them.
They're , well, haven't you lost all your independence. Why would you ever with your parents, you to gracefully those people, people to the side and say, No, I really don't want your opinion. Thank you. But, and there are people in college and school who are still amazing. You, the circumstances, what I'm going through on personal level and know that.
Sure. Maybe, you know, moving back home was the best decision for me, right? Or sure. You know, only doing two tasks on my to list is a huge win because of balancing energy levels.
[00:27:35] Andrea: And those are the people that you hold close, right? Those are the people that are going to be in your life for a very long time. And the other people are going to be posting on social media about. Everything that they did.
[00:27:47] Abigail: goodness.
[00:27:49] Andrea: so one part of your story that I love, because I also love this is you're moving to paradise.
You're traveling because I don't know about you. I grew up traveling, so I felt very comfortable doing it even once I was diagnosed. I mean, I would travel and I would time it with my medication and I would, , still do things. Go up and, , climb the Inca trail up to Machu Piccu, but I would just make sure it fell in, , a certain, certain timeline.
And I could still take care of myself, but for some people it's, it's something that they really wanna do. And then they feel they can't because something a chronic illness is going to keep you,, at home. So talk to me a little bit about that when you decided did you, I guess, first of all, did you grow up traveling?
How comfortable were you with traveling? Just to begin with?
[00:28:45] Abigail: So I was comfortable in a sense, my family did a lot of traveling when I was younger, but it was always in a very structured sense
As in we were going specific places. For small amount of time. And, , it was all in a very controlled environment because, something else on top of the chronic illness, you know, part of the chronic illness is having all these random symptoms.
And so my little sister who also has this same illness, unfortunately had a lot of the symptoms a lot stronger than I did. So she actually ended up, Having a lot more struggles than I did. And because of that, we really had to structure everything so that, , she could take her certain medications at certain times of the day that she could be, , able to travel when she wanted to.
But not in a sense because, , she had to be home for doctor's appointments at certain times. So I completely relate to your story about, , needing to do things on a certain amount of time, because that's how growing up was for. A lot when it came to travel, what really kinda set me on a different trajectory for travel was when I did go and study abroad, which was great because I really found that independence of, I love to travel and I'm going to travel, and this is how I can travel within, within boundaries, of course, because you have a, a chronic illness and.
Energy levels. A lot of times can kind of go
[00:30:19] Andrea: Right.
[00:30:19] Abigail: or that way and mood swings. And, , just having changes in general is definitely something hard, something that is harder to cope with when having a chronic illness and traveling, but also then finding the ways to empower yourself when you're traveling.
And for me, what that looked was. Maybe I can't go whole hog, 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM exploring a new city, but I can do a pocket from nine to noon and see something super cool. Maybe I'll have to take a nap middle of the day because whatever I've done is super exhausting and. In the afternoon you do something, doing something a little more lowkey, but just really honoring again.
I think it comes back to boundaries and balance honoring what you know you need, but still then having a super fun time while you're, while you're, uh, honoring those boundaries.
[00:31:20] Andrea: And traveling with people that understand that.
[00:31:23] Abigail: Oh, absolutely that too. I remember my first ever trip when I was studying abroad, I went on a weekend trip with two friends who were not as close anymore because they just, they didn't understand that I couldn't wake up at 6:00 AM and keep going all day long with action packed activities, full of everything without taking two seconds to breathe.
Because they didn't understand the illness,
which I would definitely take responsibility for too. I, they didn't even know I had an illness at the time. Cause again, weird girl with an illness studying abroad, but I digressed,, and I totally lost my train of thought too. Jog my train of thought.
[00:32:11] Andrea: Traveling with people who didn't know that you had to put up boundaries and couldn't just go, go, go all day long.
[00:32:17] Abigail: Yeah. So traveling with that group of friends was kinda eye opening to me because I didn't understand that not everyone what it was to not have the energy, to just keep going all day long and not have to. Sit down for five seconds. but then later on in my study abroad trip, I ended up going on one of the most amazing trips of my life up until this point was someone who was super chill and was , okay, so we're only doing one thing today.
And the rest of the day, we could just do whatever we want. And so really finding those people who understand what your needs are. And then also being able to communicate what your needs are while you're traveling with different people. If you know what you need, , I think being your biggest advocate is something that's super important when it comes to traveling with an illness.
If you can't do certain things or eat certain foods, or even if you're just not feeling comfortable, being able to advocate your needs to the people that you're around. And then trusting that the people that you're with are going to honor those needs that you're advocating.
[00:33:35] Andrea: Yeah. Or trusting yourself that if they don't honor it, you're going to, and even if there's still go, go, go, you're going to, you know, peace out and go back to the room for a little bit and take a.
[00:33:49] Abigail: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's something that's definitely a little bit harder to do, you know, especially when you're traveling with other people, but really just. Understanding what you are needing. And then FOMO aside, if you need a nap, you need a,
it's not a bad thing to need to nap. And I think just even changing some of that understanding when it comes to our mindset, the things that other people may say are bad or negative, aren't negative.
And that was one of the biggest things that I had to learn. taking a nap, isn't a bad thing. You need a nap, you need to replenish your energy so that you can continue to do amazing things. You need to stop for, to eat food. Wonderful. You're replenishing your body with the nutrients it needs. it's not a bad thing to have needs. And so even just switching up that mindset in for yourself too, especially when it comes to when you're travel.
[00:34:54] Andrea: I think that on certain levels, we're all just still in high school. For the rest of our lives. and it's FOMO, it's people looking at you. you need to take a nap and eat. You're so weird. That's such a
encounter, , peer pressure and wanting to in and wanting to, to be on the same level, whatever level that is. That doesn't mean it's a level above, , as other people, but. I agree. I think it's about choosing, it is with all it. It's about choosing your partners it's about, or, , even if you're just traveling alone, that makes it super easy to, , honor yourself and, and stop when you need to stop.
But if you're traveling with somebody else, it's about picking your partners, picking who you travel with because not everybody wants to go, go, go all day long. my husband, it's not vacation without a nap. , what are you even thinking? not taking a nap on vacation,
[00:36:00] Abigail: I completely agree with that. And I think sometimes too, it, I think something that we have to remember too is , you have to be patient when it comes to finding those partners.
, you can think you're so combat compatible with someone and then you go and travel with them and you're , oh, you're not the person who I thought you were.
So then also understanding maybe the people. You thought they were aren't the people you thought you were and treating everyone with grace, but also then still knowing that you need to advocate for what you.
[00:36:35] Andrea: Yes. Yeah. Nothing, nothing shows you who another person really is. traveling for sure. And, and I mean, nothing shows you things about yourself. I think traveling. That's why I, I love it so much because you're always learning about yourself. You're always learning about other people. And if you. Do you're right. It takes some time. Uh, but if you do find those partners that you enjoy traveling with, it's you learn more about them in so many amazing ways, but I think that's one of the things that I love so much about traveling is that it always presents these opportunities for you to learn and grow and just see more of yourself. In different situations because there are stresses, there are times where you can't honor what, you know, you need or times where you have to, separate and go lay down while people are maybe going on excursion and things that. But it just allows you to, I, the risk of sounding cheesy, it's it allows you to get to know yourself that much more and get that much more comfortable and connect with.
[00:37:50] Abigail: You know, you're not sounding cheesy at all. I was going to say the same exact thing.
I did not learn. I did not learn more about myself than I did. Every time I traveled. And especially every time I traveled by myself, because even sometimes you second guess your abilities and your comfort level on certain things, because you think , oh, well I've never had to do these things before, or I've never had to have these coping mechanisms for my illness before.
Why do I all of a sudden need them? You don't even think of those things until you're in circumstances where it's , oh crap, I can't eat anything.
What do I do?
[00:38:34] Andrea: Yes.
[00:38:35] Abigail: you, you learn along the way, you just, you know, you find solutions and then you keep going. And I feel that's all travel is, is learning about yourself learning how you can find solutions to the problems that you're encountering.
[00:38:49] Andrea: I think it also allows you and I say allows you because some people fight it and some people don't travel well and some people hate it and that's okay. But if, if you are someone just love to travel, it allows you to learn how to be flexible in situations that quite possibly you've never been in before.
And it helps you to practice resilience it's the epitome of stepping outside your comfort zone and then practicing. All of the, what I think goes into a great mindset that helps us in so many other ways, but things patience and flexibility and resilience and gratitude and problem solving and all sorts of things.
[00:39:35] Abigail: Absolutely. I completely agree. And then, not to sound a Debbie downer, but then you add in, chronic illness,
one step above, and it's everything, everything shift. But in a good way, because then you just have to be even more patient, even more resilient, go even further outta your comfort zone.
And so you can really learn on a deeper level. not only how can I become better and how can I step myself outside of my comfort zone, but how can I do so while still honoring what I need to be surviving every
[00:40:15] Andrea: right. And honoring, changing needs. So not only is your environment different and changing, but your body might be different in changing there's so many layers to it,
[00:40:25] Abigail: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
[00:40:28] Andrea: I know there are people listening who listen to us and think we're so cool. I'm just kidding. Who listen to us. And they think I wanna travel this. I've always wanted to go to this one place. And they are a little bit hesitant because they're dealing with a chronic, either with a diagnosis or just with, you know, a chronic illness that might not be diagnosed, but they know their body is just. Funky. And something's not quite right, but they don't want to put life on hold and they wanna go to this one place. So talk, what would you tell somebody who really wants to go travel? Isn't quite sure what are some things that they can do? What are some steps that they can take to get comfortable with it?
[00:41:14] Abigail: Oh, goodness. Well, that's a loaded question. Just a story.
[00:41:19] Andrea: I love a
[00:41:19] Abigail: but
I I would say I am very type a and I think that's something that has really helped me when it comes to traveling with a chronic. So really think about , Not in a bad way, but , think of all the possible things that could go wrong and then just plan for them to go wrong and be prepared.
So , something for me is I know I need to always bring snacks that I can eat because I, in places where other things won't go well with my stomach. So thinking ahead of. How can I be prepared if there's nothing that I can eat, I can bring a snack I can eat before I leave the hotel.
thinking of all of the, almost worst case scenarios and planning for those things. And then just having a whole suit of armor on your back with all of these solutions before you even step foot in another city or in another country, I would say it's the biggest thing that you can have when it comes. Just feeling apprehensive about traveling with a chronic illness. I would also say just just do it, even if you're worried there is always going be some kind saving grace or some kind of angel that's going to come in and save the day. for me personally, I was studying abroad in Rome, Italy. I ended up having the worst.
Ever possible. I won't go did to the medicine I needed in Italian. Absolutely not. But there translate my super sweet professor who speaks you flew in Italian, was willing to take me to the pharmacist to get the specific medicine I needed so that I would be okay. Sure things are going to go wrong, but there's always going to be some form of something I preach about a lot is divine guidance.
There's always going to be something or someone that's going to come in and save the day. So sure you can be super worried about all the possible outcomes and all the possible things that can go wrong and you can plan for them. But at the, at the end of the day, it's going to go. And so I would say just take the risk if you're feeling apprehensive about traveling with a chronic illness.
Cause it'll all work out in the.
[00:43:48] Andrea: I, I love that. And I think that embodies. The mindset to have when you are doing something this is just knowing, you know, you can plan for everything that you know, that you can plan for. But as far as other things that you don't plan for, it's going to be okay. You know, walking and knowing there are solutions.
And when you walk in with the mindset with that positive mindset of. There's always going to be a solution. There's always going to be something that can help me. There's always a resource I have planned for, you know, 75%, probably 90% of the things that,, can go wrong or I'm going to need, or are going to be just a bump in the road for the rest of it.
I open to finding a solution and just by being open that, That's when you see it, that's when you're able to see somebody who can help you and accept that health and look for it. It's, it's such an essential part. I think of that travel and I think you described it so beautifully. It's you just have to have the security and have that positive mindset that things are going to be okay.
And that you can figure it out.
[00:45:00] Abigail: Absolutely you can plan for 99.9 9 9, 9, 9% of the problems. There's always going to be that very, small subset of things that you. Oh crap. Why didn't I think of this now? What do I do? But when you're already in that solutions focused mindset, when you're , oh crap, what do I do you think?
Okay, what's my next best option.
What's my next best solution. And how can I keep moving forward?
So it becomes less about apprehension and more about , OK, I can do this. Sure. I'm in a foreign country or sure. I'm in a place. I don't know. , quite yet, maybe I don't speak the language. Maybe a, my chronic illness.
Isn't doing great, right. The second, but I'm going to figure it out and I'm going to keep moving forward. And I'm still going to have, maybe not the best time I would've had if I wasn't having these problems, but I'm still in this place where I get to have these amazing experiences and I'm going to be grateful for it.
Even if crap is hitting the fan.
[00:46:01] Andrea: Right. Yeah. And by the way, it doesn't have to be that you're gone for an entire semester. Right. You can go for
you can go for three
[00:46:09] Abigail: for a day, 12 hours.
[00:46:12] Andrea: Yeah. You can totally, you can go for a day. There's so many different options. If you are hesitant, you don't have to just launch.
You can do little baby steps and get used to it. Well, Abigail, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming here and talking about all the things with going to school, with travel, with the, this amazing mindset that you have as far as tackling new, hard, different things and doing it with the utmost grace.
So thank you so much for coming.
[00:46:46] Abigail: Well, thank you so much for having. Here. It's been so much fun. If you the show, don't be shy. Please give us a five-star rating and review. Follow us on apple podcast, Amazon music or wherever you're listening right now. To see complete show notes and resources mentioned in this episode
visit Thank you for joining me And until next time take care

About Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast

Hear inspiring discussions with people living with chronic illness. These people went after their passions and big goals -even when everyone told them they couldn’t. Listen to stories of resilience and gratitude in the face of uncertainty.

I’m your host, Andrea W. Hanson, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Autoimmune Rebel living with multiple sclerosis. You’ll not only fall in love with these guests, but you’ll soak up positive mindset tips and ideas to find your own unique path to success.

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