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Dreams Deterred But Not Forgotten: More Than An Illness.

I wanted to share this video –— and this one — because they explain (at least a little more) about who I am outside of ‘Arthritis Ashley.’ 

You see, I’m in the running to be Justin Timberlake’s social media manager for a day, due to the #LinkedInTopCompaniesContest with Live Nation and LinkedIn. Granted, it’s a long shot, but I still remain hopeful and am keeping my fingers crossed.

The reason I share that on here is because of this: I’m more than Arthritis Ashley. Of course, my illnesses, my health problems, my surgeries, my health coaching work, and my advocacy are all a part of who I am. I am a patient, an advocate, a health coach, and a medical writer. I am passionate about health and wellness. I am chronically ill.

But still: there’s this other huge part of my life and my personality that I don’t always get to share with you guys quite as much because my illnesses have, at times, overshadowed it.

My dreams have been deterred due to illness — but they have not been forgotten.

As I discuss in the videos above, as well as often on this blog and in my books Sick Idiot and Chronically Positive, in addition to being a sick person, I also have (and have always had) a lot of other outside interests and hobbies: pop culture, going to concerts, celebrities, fashion, birdwatching, astronomy, volunteering, blogging, reading, writing, and more.

As far back as second grade (and maybe even earlier,) I had a fascination with the entertainment industry, and with music. And, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I went to my first concert in 3rd grade. It was Paula Abdul, Boyz II Men, and TLC. At that age, I loved Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, JTT from Home Improvement, and the Mickey Mouse Club — especially Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. In second grade, for my Holy Communion, I wrote a letter to Jesus, thanking him for many things: my family, my friends, my school, trees, stars, dancing, my pets, and, tellingly, music, dancing, Paula Abdul, & the Mickey Mouse Club. In third grade, I did a math project about my classmates’ favorite singers, including graphs, tables, and charts. In high school, I took an independent study in fashion design, was the entertainment editor for our school newspaper, and did my yearlong senior project on Music Marketing (using NSYNC as one of many examples.)  I also once cut class to go downtown and meet NSYNC, LOL, but that is neither here nor there.

After I got to college, the celebrity/pop culture/music/fashion bug remained with me. I started in marketing and then decided to go to Clarion University for Music Business. I was the Advertising Editor and an entertainment columnist for the Clarion Call newspaper. But sadly, after a medical withdrawal due to Bells’ Palsy, I came back to learn they’d done away with the Music Business minor. So I transferred back home to PITT (the University of Pittsburgh) where I majored in English & Communications, and did an on-air radio internship with DJ Bonics at 96.1 KISS fm. I also started an entertainment blog called Glitzburgh.

But I realized my dreams of working in the entertainment industry, doing music or fashion PR, or music artist/band management, were not all that realistic given my health problems. Nor was my “fallback” career of teaching. (I’d wanted to teach an elementary school gifted program, or high school English.)

So I did my own thing, dabbling in the corporate world with a few marketing jobs, and eventually becoming a freelance writer, social media consultant, advocate, and published author.

My passion for concerts, music, fashion, and pop culture didn’t die, though. Even as ‘Arthritis Ashley,’ I was inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame and my entertainment blog Glitzburgh won a local award.

Social media has been the glue that’s held it all together. From my advocacy work and connecting with other patients for support, to promoting my books and my writing, to managing social media for my clients, and interacting with celebrities, social media has helped to keep me sane through life with illness. And illness has helped me find perspective in my professional career, too.

That is why opportunities like this contest to manage Justin Timberlake’s social media for a day are just as important to me as my work as a patient blogger and advocate.

Illness may have caused me to quit softball and cheerleading. It may have caused me to shift my career path and alter my professional goals. It may continue to take things away from me.

But, illness cannot take away my drive, my ambition, or my love for music and social media.

Please help my dream come true by watching my video on LinkedIn. Please also comment, like, and share if you can, too!

Thank you in advance — and thank you for your support always, whether you know me as Arthritis Ashley, or just, Ashley Boynes-Shuck!

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