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How I Created My Vision for a Good Life With Health Conditions

The Charting the LifeCourse framework was originally created for individuals with disabilities as a way to help people of all ages and abilities develop a vision for a good life, and determine what they need to know, do and have to live the lives they want. It is a free system that draws on individuals’ and their families’ strengths, life experiences, supports and aspirations.

The LifeCourse framework was developed by families and stakeholders of Missouri Family to Family as a way of changing the way we think about supporting individuals with disabilities and their families to have good lives. The framework is now being used by many states across the nation. I live in a state that is incorporating this framework in how we support and advocate for people with disabilities — from the conversations we have with people to the policies we make.

The core belief is all people have the right to live, love, work, play and pursue their life aspirations in their community. The framework can be applied to any situation or conversation. The LifeCourse framework can be used by anyone, with or without a disability, who want to create a life plan.

Free tools and resources are available to help people identify what they need to know, do and have to achieve their vision for a good life. The tools help people think about what they want and don’t want for their lives, recognizing the choices they make move them towards or away from the life they want.

I used the Life Trajectory Worksheet to create my vision for a good life. The tool helped me identify what I need to do and what to avoid to achieve the life I want. It helped me think about how my life experiences, positive and negative, influence the trajectory of my life — what experiences support my vision for a good life, and what experiences to avoid because they push me towards what I don’t want. Managing my mental health is imperative.

I can see how my past life experiences influence the choices I make and keep me focused on having a good life. My childhood was marred by violence, instability, chaos and my parents’ addictions and unmanaged mental illnesses. As a result, my vision for a good life includes having a loving relationship with my husband and daughters; investing in my family; having a safe home; managing my mental health; maintaining good professional and personal boundaries; being financially stable; focusing on gratitude and saying no to things I don’t want to do.

As an adult, there were times I chose not to manage my mental health and I now realize how managing my depression and anxiety influences everything in my life. I know taking my prescribed medications, participating in regular counseling, asking for help, writing, getting out of bed every day, and spending time with family support my vision for a good life. I’m a breast cancer survivor and I value good health. I know taking medication, keeping oncology appointments, having regular mammograms and eating better move me towards my vision for a good life.

Positive life experiences and choices have moved me towards the life I want. This includes putting myself through college, marrying my best friend, working in partnership with my husband, having a career that focuses on helping others, and raising two wonderful daughters in a safe, loving home.

I don’t always make the right choice that moves me in the direction I want to go. Sometimes I do what feels good in the moment, like choosing junk food over grilled chicken, or lounging on the couch instead of moving my body. Sometimes I let the lies depression and anxiety tell me stir up a little chaos and overstay their welcome. Sometimes I’m not very kind to myself. I’ve let fear make important decisions on my behalf. I don’t apologize as soon as I should or easily forgive those who’ve hurt me, including myself. Because I know what I want for my life, when I make these choices, I acknowledge they are leading me away from where I want to be. But each day, I try again and refocus.

I’m on my way to the good life I see for myself and it gives me hope.

evgenyatamanenko / Getty Images
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