My Life with RA

I have had RA for 36 years. It all started when I was 22. I was working as a temporary gardener in the park, weeding, digging, mowing, hoeing, pruning roses and driving a tractor. My work mates also expected me to lift the huge teapot to make everyone’s tea! It was a real struggle, my toes, wrist and fingers were so painful every day, especially in the mornings, but I had to keep going as all my work mates were chauvinistic males and I didn’t want to confirm their stereotypes about pathetic females! At night I put my hands under the pillows to try and numb the pain so that I could sleep.

Jasmin Jenkins 2It was ten years later before I had the diagnosis of RA and it came as a huge shock. At that time I had my three small daughters all under five and it was very difficult to manage all the dressing and lifting and even playing games with them was a bit hazardous. After the diagnosis I was referred to an Occupational Therapist (OT) and I was so impressed by the information, guidance and support she gave me that I was inspired to train as an OT. It’s been a great job but unfortunately just lately, at 58, my RA has finally made the job impractical for me so I decided a couple of years ago that I needed another new career.

I came across life coaching by chance about three years ago when I was offered a free basic coaching course. I enjoyed the coaching so much that I decided to train as a life coach so that I could make a real difference to people’s lives. I completed my training last October. OT and life coaching are very similar as they both have a positive focus. They both concentrate on encouraging achievements and abilities and they both encourage creative ideas and solutions.

Life coaching is fairly new. It came to the UK from America about 10-15 years ago but it’s only recently that it has begun to take off here in the UK. Life coaching is a non-judgemental, encouraging and supportive approach that helps people to focus and gain clarity about what they really want from their life. Life coaches help people to become more self aware, more confident and more optimistic and this in turn can lead to a happier and more satisfying life. 

The reason that life coaching is so beneficial is because we all enjoy having someone to really listen to us.  Particularly someone who can help us to explore our life from a different perspective; someone who can keep us focused so that we reach our goals. Life coaching is very beneficial for all areas of life whether you’re changing careers, improving relationships, gaining a plan for health and fitness, managing your work problems or gradually redesigning your whole life. You can choose to have personal life coaching or you can attend a life coaching group like “Lifeclubs” 

Jasmine and husbandSince I have been life coaching I have also gained some benefits myself. I have come to realise that I cannot take responsibility for everyone; sometimes I need to step back. I have learnt to be brave and to take chances. I have become more appreciative of things that I may have taken for granted (like my very supportive husband Keith!) and I have met with some really nice people along the way. 

I also know that dreams won’t happen unless I make them so I made a start on mine! Over the last three years I have flown on a microlite, experienced a tiger safari in India, become a paranormal investigator, visited Barcelona for “My Day for RA,” made a radio broadcast about RA and attended some really great concerts like Stevie Wonder in Hyde Park.

 “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary outcomes.” Anon

More information is available at www.yourtimeforchange.co.uk and the LifeClub website www.lifeclubs.co.uk.

Autumn 2010: By Jasmine Jenkins, NRAS Member and author of ‘How to live a full life with Rheumatoid Arthritis’