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Who's got Spirit?

By cakebyshannon, Jul 30 2015 08:00AM

It may seem a little absurd to celebrate having a disabling illness, but last month that is exactly what I did. After being made a Spirit of Enterprise finalist for the Elevator awards, (ran each year by Elevator - previously known as the Grampian awards for Business excellence) I had some mixed emotions. Of course I was over the moon (and half way to Mars) however I was also had my reservations about the whole thing.

The Spirit of Enterprise award celebrates those who have overcome adversity in business or their personal life, something I have a little experience in, but is it really something I should be celebrating? At the start of the process, I wasn't sure (I've got an illness, congratulate me!) - Until that is, I met Alex from Dee-Vine Living ( )

At a networking event celebrating women in business, an event I would not normally have attended thanks to social Anxiety with a capital A, I met Alex - one of my rival for the award. From the moment I met her, it was impossible to think of her as competition, she was far too nice for that, but moreover, she was like me! She too suffers from Fibromyalgia and anxiety, and as we stood there chatting, with our walking sticks supporting our gammy legs, I knew that this woman was the reason I had to celebrate being an award finalist. Here was a successful, proud business owner, who suffered like I did, who understood what I was going through, and who could still stand there with a smile on her face.

"Bitter rivals " ;-)
"Bitter rivals " ;-)

Owning your own business is difficult, unless you're Richard Branson, and even he had his own struggles in the beginning (illegal music store anyone?). I know that everyone will also encounter adversity in their lives at some time - life simply isn't easy! However when you throw a "disability" into the mix, everything seems all that much worse. It's not even the pain that causes the problem - you deal with that the best you can, but the fatigue, and "brain fog" that attacks makes things a little less straightforward. I can't tell you the amount of times I've forgotten simple words while talking to strangers (fork, I completely forgot what the word for fork was) and had to prattle on for a while until my brain caught up with my mouth. Or, having slept for 12 hours straight, still felt desperate for 12 hours more, though I had paperwork and marketing to do. I've burned myself more times than I'd care to admit because I keep forgetting to put oven gloves on before I reach into the oven...

Getting a business plan drawn up in the midst of all that is challenging, but I persevered (with a lot of help from some really wonderful people) and I came out the other side with a fledgling bakery business - one that understands what health means to people - and a sense of purpose that was lost the day my illness was diagnosed.

Presentation day - I told you I burn myself a lot!
Presentation day - I told you I burn myself a lot!

I have a lot to be proud of - I never asked for this illness, and I never considered myself "business minded", yet here I am, a year later, running Cake! and looking at my framed finalist’s certificate every chance I get. I have a lot to celebrate - the awards and my "rival" have taught me that.

In a way, the second you decide to follow a dream, no matter what your background or circumstances, you are already winning. And when the going gets tough, cake understands.

I have Spirit. I just needed to be reminded of that along the way.

Awards night
Awards night

Shannon x

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