We had the good fortune of connecting with Rosemarie Philip and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rosemarie, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
I have so many favorites! But first, a little clarity around affirmations as they are often misunderstood.

Affirmations must be something YOU BELIEVE AND VALUE, even if you’re only part way there. If not, it can be defeating, promote an unsafe space of toxic positivity where our real feelings are disregarded, and create a vicious cycle of stuck. For example, I love the affirmation “I am enough”. However, years ago this affirmation would have turned sour as I spoke the words because I didn’t truly believe it – not even just a little bit. I had to start with self like before inching my way into self love. Incorporating our story, our truth of the moment, are what spark a fire in affirmations. Taking this approach of honoring your journey personally and professionally requires a bit more work to land on what’s right for you. And it’s so worth it.

What does that look like?

I live with multiple chronic illnesses. Financial freedom would give me the best quality of life while also serving the community I love. Affirmations like “I am wealthy” or “I deserve wealth” just don’t resonate with me. I grew up with a conflicting story about money, a mixture of “it must be saved” (used only on basic needs) and “it must be given away”. Wealth essentially became a dirty word, and my basic needs include a lot of what others might consider frivolous – yet are crucial for me to have a quality of life with chronic pain and illness. I needed to reframe the story, because resting in my personal truth is when I’m my most powerful self.

My affirmation? Financial freedom provides a lifestyle where I can give to the world the BEST of me, instead of what is left of me.

The end of that affirmation “where I can give the world the BEST of me, instead of what is left of me” is my favorite part, and the checks and balance of every affirmation I create. If this part of the statement is not true, then the affirmation is not resonating with what I value. I can’t live out my purpose, I can’t experience true joy or peace, if I’m only giving what’s left of me.

When I get really stuck, I remind myself of this quote from Rumi: “as you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” Affirmations are a way for me to start walking.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
According to the CDC, 6 in 10 adults live with a chronic illness. I am one of them.

Chronic illness is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. We are forced into resilience for survival – constantly adjusting to pain, symptoms, and energy levels from moment to moment while also navigating doctor and appointment roulette, insurance denials, medical gaslighting, disease misinformation, delayed or misdiagnosis, work accommodations, hard financial decisions, changing relationships, and grief of what was or what may no longer be.

We are athletes, technicians, CEOs, teachers, artists, chemists, entrepreneurs, nurses – we are your neighbors, colleagues, siblings, partners. We are a community rapidly growing, over 133 million strong (not including the covid long-haulers joining our ranks with an estimated 10-30% of COVID-19 cases developing long-term symptoms).

And we are largely invisible and misunderstood. Why?

People living with chronic illness exist in a world centered around what you do not who you are, where value is assigned to “people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness” (a working definition of ableism by Talila Lewis). These constructs drive our invisibility through stigma and the ultimate silencer…shame. The discomfort of our lived experience with illness is seen as a flaw to be covered up or fixed (“have you tried…?”, “it’s all in your head”, “but you don’t look sick”), not as a piece of our collective human story.

If there was ever a question before that the chronic illness community is considered as “less than”, societal response throughout the pandemic has answered with a hard “yes, yes you are.” There is little sign that we too belong here. As the world finds its new “different”, we are considered collateral damage.

But I know better, I know the world is not complete without us. The humans that make up the chronic illness community are tenacious, loving, funny, brilliant, intuitive, and hold a deep empathy for others’ unseen struggles. I believe the more we feel our individual worth and value and feel true belonging, the stronger our voices get.

Imagine a world where people with chronic illness are empowered to be their full selves. A lofty goal I know… but that’s my mission.

I spent over 15 years as a coach and consultant, earning a Masters in Organizational Development and Leadership working as an ICF Professional Certified Coach across industries while learning to befriend the uncertainty that came with my illnesses. As the pandemic hit I quickly realized exactly where I needed to be.

In the fall of 2021 I created My Illness Will Not Win, an accessible learning and coaching space to create a life well-loved with illness where joy and pain can coexist. In this community we aim to provide resources that support the process of restoring relationships with our mind, body, and spirit. We believe each and every one of us can empower one another, and that we are stronger together than apart. I am so humbled to witness the growth, love, and vulnerability the individuals in our community share.

For accurate information on endometriosis (access a free course made in collaboration with top excision experts and endo advocates) or to join the My Illness Will Not Win learning and coaching space, go to: community.rosemariephilip.com

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/tools/infographics.htm
Reference: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2021.698169/full
Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love taking visitors on a culinary and arts tour with a little nature in between! We have so much available to us in Houston. Some of my favorite areas to explore murals and delectable treats are the Heights, Montrose, and Museum District (free entry on Thursdays!). And even better if by bike!

First we’d stop by Central City Co-Op for some coffee and community, then wander historic 19th street shops and murals. Grab another cup at Throughgood Coffee which also serves my favorite Hugs n’ Donuts blueberry lemon donut (vegan!). Make sure to grab a bite at Verdine’s (the best all vegan restaurant in town) and catch a music show at Heights Theater. Swing by my friends at Wandering Star Adventure Emporium for some outdoors gear, stop by Eight Row Flint for some brussel sprout tacos (don’t knock it until you try it) and hop on any of the connected bike trails exploring the city. Catch a little shade underground at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern and bike a little further for a cold beer at the oldest craft brewery in Texas, St. Arnolds. There you can relax in a rocking chair or play some cornhole with the best view of downtown, or enjoy more murals from local artists and a few of our famous art cars.

Thursdays are the best because our museums have special hours that are free to the public! The Museum of Natural Science has an extraordinary dinosaur exhibit and butterfly garden, the Museum of Fine Arts hosts unique exhibit rotations (make sure to check out the sculpture garden across the street), and so many others all within walking distance. Need a little outdoor break? Just walk across the street and enjoy the beautiful McGovern Centennial Garden or peaceful Japanese garden in Hermann Park. For some great tunes, coffee, and vegan fare don’t miss Mo’ Better Brews nearby!

Last but not least, Montrose district. Park and just walk! Get your mixture of fabulous food (Riel is my all-time favorite – their smoked old fashioned is to die for), antiques, murals, hole-in-the-wall cafes and bars (Brasil cafe is a must). Make sure to stop at the Menil Collection and Drawing Institute, Rothko chapel, and Houston Center for Photography. There’s a lovely park for a picnic amidst it all! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention dinner at Pondicheri and dessert at their Bake Lab upstairs. Need I say more?

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh goodness there are so many people to thank: family, friends, clients past and present, coaches, mentors, and the chronic illness community. The works of Brene Brown have made a significant impact on my life, as well as the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. But I would not be here without the unconditional love of my best friends Celeste and Sarah. Through their steady love, patience, and forgiveness while I struggled with self worth I finally was able to see and believe that I am enough AS I AM. I also wouldn’t be functioning without my amazing and collaborative care team including Dr. Sinervo at the Center for Endometriosis Care, fellow advocates (Heather, Kate, and Sher big shoutout), Drs. Matt Arnold, Carissa Parish, Latisha Rowe, dietician Nicole Fennell (who quite literally saved my life), PT Crystal Flores, the list goes on. Living with illness requires a team and although it’s taken 20 years, I am surrounded by people who have the skill and expertise, who honor that I am the expert of my body, and who put ego aside and tackle problems TOGETHER. I am incredibly grateful.

Website: www.rosemariephilip.com (consulting and coaching)

Instagram: www.instagram.com/rosemariepcoach

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/rosemariephilip

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rosemariepcoach

Other: community.rosemariephilip.com is the My Illness Will Not Win chronic illness learning and coaching community

Image Credits
Professional headshot with me holding mason jar full of water, please credit Harold Emmers. If used, the image of my shirt cut open (from the moment I almost lost my life) please credit Rachel Liu. All other photos are taken by me!

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