268: Designing a Joyful Life With Neurodivergence and Chronic Illness With Joy Valerie Carrera

268: Designing a Joyful Life With Neurodivergence and Chronic Illness With Joy Valerie Carrera

In this episode, we cover the topic of setting up systems and designing a joyful life with neurodivergence and chronic illness in mind.

Our guest is Joy Valerie Carrera and she is a first generation Guatemalan-American & proud ADHDer from New York.

She found her love adventure while studying at Rochester Institute of Technology and getting to study abroad, that made her brain curious and ended up 26 countries later and working in four different industries from advertising, technology, immigration, microfinance and social entrepreneurship.

Following her brain led her to now being a social impact business & productivity coach helping folks harness their strengths to build a life with more joy.

Together, we explore topics such as the importance of creating personalized systems, managing energy, and advocating for oneself in healthcare settings.

We also discuss the significance of planning joyful moments and tiny adventures to maintain a positive outlook amidst the challenges of chronic pain and neurodivergence.

You can connect with Joy at the following links:







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268: Designing a Joyful Life With Neurodivergence and Chronic Illness in Mind with Joy Valerie Carrera


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top global ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, [00:01:00] Dr. Yvette. Today we are going to cover the topic of setting up systems and designing a joyful life with neurodivergence and chronic illness in mind. Oh my gosh, this couldn't be a more perfect episode. I feel like I could talk about this on and on and on, and I'm so excited that I'm not going to be the one talking, that I have a really amazing guest.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Our guest is Joy Valerie Carrera, and she's a first generation Guatemalan American and proud ADHD er from New York. She found her love of adventure while studying at Rochester Institute of Technology and getting to study abroad that made her brain curious and ended up 26 countries later and working in four different industries from advertising, technology, immigration, microfinance, and social entrepreneurship.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Following her brain led, led her to now being a social impact business and productivity coach, helping folks harness their strengths to build a life with more joy. [00:02:00] Welcome to the podcast,

Joy Valerie Carrera: so excited to chat, um, and, you know, talk about this together, um, especially because I know this is something that we talk about in the DMs a lot, so I'm really excited that we're going to have this conversation.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know. I feel like this session is going to be just a little like fun fest of like spoony neurodivergent nerds uniting.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Hi everyone out there who could relate.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And to everyone who can't,

Joy Valerie Carrera: Just enjoy it. Just enjoy the

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: hopefully you learned something from us. Exactly. Okay. So Joy, for everyone who, uh, may be new to you and your work, let us know a little bit more about who you are, what you do, and anything you're comfortable sharing about your backstory and how you got to where you are today.

Joy Valerie Carrera: a little bit on my intro. So I, right now, I [00:03:00] am a productivity coach and social impact business coach. I also do consulting. I run a small Kind of agency focusing on folks that, um, are mostly, for the most part, work in social impact businesses, right? Like, um, I work, for example, folks who are doing educational aspects, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, I work with one organization that does technology, like teaching digital literacy, another folk who does financial literacy, um, and I think that, that really, you know, Just, I realized for me being a neurodivergent person, I was always the person that was like, I want to do everything, right? Like, um, even literally I set up my career that way where I was like, Oh, I'm really interested in microfinance, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I worked at a company called Green Mean America. And I also then was like, Oh, and immigration is such a big issue, right? Like my family's from Guatemala. So I was like, this is something that's important to me. And then realizing like, You can't do everything at once, [00:04:00] right? Um, I would even, I would try to do volunteer work.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I started a podcast back in the day called Basic Brown Nerds, and I realized that was really leading to me burning myself out to really big extremes. Um, And I think especially, folks probably relate, you know, I was always that nerdy kid, that straight A student, right? I cried when I got my first B. Um, very nerdy.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: gosh, me too.

Joy Valerie Carrera: a whole meltdown. My teachers were like, girl, like, calm down. And I was like, um, but yeah, then I kind of settled and right when I got to college. But I think especially for most of us who, who are diagnosed later in life, I was diagnosed when I was around 23, or 25 with ADHD, um, once I kind of entered the workforce and realized something was off, especially I went to RIT, which like, [00:05:00] very techie, very nerdy, lots of other people who are neurodivergent, but it kind of just blended, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Lots of innovation. Well, not easy, but I fell at home. And then when I started working, um, that's when I kind of was like, uh, what's going on here? My biggest struggles were mostly on the kind of social aspect, really. Um, but then also trying to balance my personal life and around then. I also, it was the first time I actually got insurance, like, good insurance.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I grew up, like, on Medicaid, um, and I always complained as a kid that I was, like, always in pain, like, something was always off, and it wasn't until then that I finally I had access to care, medical care, um, but I started realizing like, Oh, I actually have a lot of issues, right? I had a lot of gut issues, have a lot of gut issues, um, a lot of fatigue and a lot of just, you know, unprocessed [00:06:00] trauma as well.

Joy Valerie Carrera: So I started therapy. And that kind of started making me realize that I was using working a lot as a coping mechanism to really just not deal with the pain. Um, um, And as well as, you know, realizing now, kind of how this ties to what I do now. I think realizing now that I can be of service to people through helping, you know, through coaching, through consulting, still getting to be a little part of things, but also in a way that makes sense.

Joy Valerie Carrera: For me, as I'm also aging, right? I think that's the other part that I'm in very much denial, right? Where it's like, oh, I'm also getting older and your body starts to like,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: ha!

Joy Valerie Carrera: because sometimes I'm like, is it this or that? And I'm like, oh, I'm just getting older. Okay, that sucks, right? Like, um, but also realizing like, You know, designing a business that made sense for me, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: For my brain, that still gets me excited, but also I have the flexibility to be able to work and give [00:07:00] myself the time and need, space for doctor's visits, all of that. So I think that's kind of where I'm at now. That was a very convoluted way of getting there, but just a little bit of to expand on my backstory.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, And yeah, I think the biggest thing it has been that I, I'm really grateful that I grew up in an environment that my, my parents always encouraged me to kind of follow my brain's interests and not so much of like trying to suppress my weirdness. If anything, it was very much like, you know, I would be like, oh, kids call me weird.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Or they'd be like, embrace that we're weird, right? Like, we're all weird. You know, now that I'm older, I'm like, okay. I think this is because we're all neurodivergent, right? But, but also we're a weirdo,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That was my nickname, too, in middle school. I was

Joy Valerie Carrera: But I always like, I feel like, you know, I kind of took that and was like, you know what? I'm gonna find my band of weirdos, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And it's funny enough, like, as I've gotten older, especially in my 30s now, a [00:08:00] lot of my friends also were diagnosed, um, and it's like we all kind of find each other somehow, um, and also I think I grew up in a predominantly white area, um, so that was another thing that a lot of my friends were like kind of also other immigrant kids, right, or other neurodivergent kids, so I feel like You know, I kind of found my group and it hadn't really been until adulthood that I started realizing Not everyone is this cool in my word, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like I'm like the cool nerdy kids because you know, you're always I don't know about you But I was like in the honors classes and the AP classes, but I was like, oh, yeah, this is normal life, right? Like we're all just a little weird and we're all very like nerdy and then you go out and you're an adult and you're like Oh, the world is not like this.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, so yeah, so I feel like that's kind of led to where I'm at now. And most of who I work with are ADHDers, um, and [00:09:00] actually teamed up with my former ADHD coach and we run, um, an ADHD group coaching program once a year as well. So I feel like for me, it's also embracing that, like, I do a lot of different things with an underlying theme and that it also allows me the flexibility to Create the life that makes sense for my brain and body So that was a lot

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: think, yeah, well, I'm thinking about our listeners and how someone who, maybe Sees themselves in what you've shared like, oh, yeah, I was that weird kid or oh, yeah I was that high achieving kid who did well in school or the nerd and they're thinking well i'm still In school or i'm i'm still trying to figure stuff out or I still don't have access to the health insurance, etc And i'm i'm wondering about that process because you mentioned that when You You first started [00:10:00] working, that's when, it sounds like it was around the time

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yes, so I think um, and it's funny because even remember like when I was in college I changed my major four times like now looking back at it. I was like Oh, the signs were there, right? Um, but I think that was the big thing, right? Like, realizing I always felt like I didn't fit in, right? Where I was like, you know, there was people maybe around me that were just like, oh my god, I'm so passionate.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, I actually studied chemical engineering, right? So, my first three years of undergrad were chemical engineering and I was actually really good at it. Like, I had like I'm like, not to brag, but I will. I had like, I think I had like a 90, like a 3. 9 something GPA, and I was just like, really proud. It was the writing that like, brought it down.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And that was like, just because I did that, but I hated it. Like, I was just like, I don't know. Oh my God, I did lab research and I was like, I cannot sit in a lab [00:11:00] all day. Right. Like, um, personally me, I was just like alone in a lab all day. And I was like, I can't handle this. Like, this is just not going to work for me.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, but I started taking cultural anthropology classes and I was just like, Oh my God, I love this. Like, I love learning about other people, other cultures. And I tried to be like, okay, well, how can I blend these? Right. How can I make this work? Um, My, my last year I actually ended up switching my major to anthropology, but, you know, before that I was just like, well, maybe I'll try just chemistry.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Didn't work, right? Then I was like, what about biochem? And I was like, oh no, that's even worse. That's more lab work. Um, and now it's funny. Cause then I was just like, oh, I actually. Love the science, right? Like I loved math and whatnot. And I actually ended up, you know, through my career, I ended up working in logistics and operations.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And the wild thing is that like, that's, and that's what I [00:12:00] kind of, my main focus, you know, systems, operations, streamlining things. It's a little bit of like, you need to understand people, cultures, how they work also. Thinking systemically, right? I kind of draw a lot on my engineering background, right? And even just like building workflows and stuff and a lot of like the math and science, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Where I'm just like, okay, I need to think strategically, right? And like calculate numbers and do a lot of analytics. And it's very interesting because That wasn't really a career when I, like now actually I think it is a career like even if you look at like you could go into operations, right, like technology operations, advertising operations, but it wasn't a career when I started it.

Joy Valerie Carrera: It wasn't even really a role that people understood. So I think that's like another thing that you start to realize like you kind of create your own path and maybe like, if you're feeling now like, I don't have like a set thing. It's like, well, maybe that's not it. Your purpose, like, or that's not the goal, like, maybe you're someone that's going to pave a new path.

Joy Valerie Carrera: There's always new [00:13:00] careers starting out, and I think the big thing that, as neurodivergent people, we tend to lean more towards black and white thinking sometimes, where it's like, well, if it's not this, then it's not that. And the funny thing, too, is that we also have this Big, you know, for lack of a better word, I know a lot of people don't like saying this, but like, superpower that we actually can see beyond like, wait, there's like so many other ways to do things.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, so it kind of is this like contradicting thing sometimes, but I think a lot of us do tend to steer towards that, where it's like, wait, maybe we create our own path. So I think, You know, if anyone listening feels really discouraged, it's also like, okay, maybe I can look at this in another way, right? Or maybe it's something more multidisciplinary for me.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, I think that was the question? Or the topic? Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah, well, yeah, so actually, well, I, I have two questions. And so the first part of the question, which is what I asked was like, [00:14:00] kind of like, when did you, like, at what point did you figure out you were a neurodivergent and get a diagnosis? And you've shared how it's impacted your, um, Your professional life in particular.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm curious about the chronic illness side, the chronic illness piece, because you did hint at it when you said you always felt like pain and other things going on as a child. But I'm curious, yeah, what that, what your journey in like figuring out that you had chronic, a chronic illness or chronic illnesses, what that looked like for you and also how that it has impacted

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yeah, so I think, you know, it's interesting because I feel like I'm at this stage right now where I'm at, like, kind of, I'm trying to practice, like, radical acceptance and surrendering. And I think for me, I actually just had a therapy session on this where it was realizing that I was like, okay, just, you know, surrendering and acceptance doesn't mean I have to give up or be like, well.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I'm fucked, right? Like, I'm sorry [00:15:00] if I, you know, cursed it up, but also thinking, you know, like, okay, well, this is it, and I'm doomed, right? Like, thinking of it in that way, um, because I think for a long time, I thought, like, well, if I'm not always trying to, like, heal, right? But I think I was looking at it in a way of, like, I have to heal, and I have to be normal.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Right, like, or I have to, even though, like, that's not necessarily what I believe, I realized it was this, like, very ingrained belief in me, like, that you start to realize, like, oh, that's the internalized ableism, right, that we start to be like, okay, well, it means I have to be normal, right, that one day I'm going to just, you know, Right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: But I think it's also looking back and I'm like, okay, accepting that some days are harder than others, but also accepting that I can create systems to support myself, right? Or just even accepting that, like yesterday was a rough day. I'm, I have no idea what the core root causes. And I think for me, that's a [00:16:00] big thing.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like being a science driven person, I'm like, I need to know what, what is causing all

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Me too!

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, when I talk to my,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's so annoying, isn't it? You're like, what was it? Yeah.

Joy Valerie Carrera: was like, I'm a chemi like, I was like, I have a chemistry background. Please explain it in that way. And they're always kind of shocked or kind of, I get annoyed sometimes.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I'm like, you know, if they're like, oh, try this medication. I'm like, can you explain the chemistry? And they're like, no. And I was like, what? I don't trust you right now, right? But, but on another note, um, I think for me, it's also realizing like, okay, I might not know the root cause yet, right? But it's also like, what can I do now to support myself, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: What can I try? You know, and, and even yesterday, you know, I definitely, I love neuroscience. I love all of these like, Productivity hacks. And you know, one of the big ones is always like our brain association, right? Like, okay, try not to like be in bed and do all these [00:17:00] things. Right. But yesterday I was just like, I literally can't get up.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like I'm breaking out in chronic hives, like from my waist down, that it like hurts even to sit for a long time. And I'm just like, uh, right. And that's not for anyone to pity me, but like the reality, that's what's happening. That I was just yesterday, like, you know what, I have this, um, And I bought it like a while ago, like, uh, you know, those little, little things to eat and breakfast in bed kind of, um, yeah, like a little lap desk tray.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yeah. But

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: trays, you know? I

Joy Valerie Carrera: laptop thingy. Right. So I was just like, yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: have one of

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I was like, okay, well, today is just going to be a computer work from my computer type of day. Um, And, oh no! I just realized, sorry, my charger was disconnected. Um, I

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Can I just say that it's such an ADHD thing too?

Joy Valerie Carrera: was like, dammit! I usually [00:18:00] So

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: At one percent.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I do workshops and stuff, I specifically have a slide at the front that's like, Grab your water, grab your fidgets, grab your charger!

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I'm like, it's It's mainly for me. I have to remember. Um, and then you see a bunch of people get up and be like, oh yeah, right. But um, at the same time, I was like, damn it, I forgot my list today. But that's the reality. Um, but yeah, kind of going back to what I was saying, you know, it's just kind of even accepting like, okay, today is like a low energy day.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, I was also on my luteal phase, like I try to track my cycle to just even accept, yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Oh my

Joy Valerie Carrera: because I started, my therapist actually really helped me that. Yes,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: can we go into this a little bit? Just, just a little bit. Just because I'm sure there are folks with uteruses listening to us and If they notice things shifting every month, you know, waves, uh, with their cycle, it might be helpful just, I mean, whatever you're [00:19:00] comfortable sharing, because I'm also down

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yeah. Well, so I think even that right? So well, let me finish up this thought and we can Even yes, right like I think just accepting that but I was like, okay today is a low energy day Like what is within my control and I was like within my control is you know, I can either Cry about it and be like, wah, and give up and not do anything.

Joy Valerie Carrera: But I was like, okay, there's still some things that I could do from my bed. Cause the reality is, you know, we live in a capitalistic society. Like I'm really lucky I get to work for myself. Um, but even like some of the work I do, I was like, I can do that from my bed. Right. So I like was working on some client work yesterday and was like, I could do that for my bud.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Right. And I went stretching me there. Right. It wasn't any calls that I was doing. It was just some strategy work. And so I was like, okay, I was like, I'm just going to do this from here. Going to take breaks in between, like, give myself naps, um, also looked up my calendar and I was like, well, yeah, it's like my luteal phase.

Joy Valerie Carrera: So I was like, all right, we're just going to embrace it. [00:20:00] Um, and I think going on that note for me personally, like I worked with, uh, well, one with my therapist, we do a lot of like, Mind body work. Um, and I also worked with a wellness coach and started realizing, actually my therapist pointed it out, like my moods was changing so drastically, like week after week.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And like, you know, I'm just thinking like, Oh my God, maybe I have some other diagnosis I don't know about. Right. And she was just like, I kind of noticed there's a pattern. And she was like, I think it's your, like your menstrual week. Right. Like, and I was just like, Oh my god, right? Like starting to realize that.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I think I used to get really angry with my body because I'm typically, like maybe 80 percent of the time, I'm the type of person that like, you know, you know Barbie? You've watched Barbie, right? The movie? No! Okay! Anyone listening, there's Barbie!

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I watch, I watch episodic TV [00:21:00] shows. I do not watch movies. I fall asleep to them. Just FYI. Fun fact.

Joy Valerie Carrera: the Barbie movie, right, there's like, in the beginning, like, there's like, hey Barbie! And she just like, wakes up and springs out of bed, right? Like, and that's usually me on a good day, right? Or I'm just like, maybe like, 80 percent of the time I like wake up and I'm like, yeah, I'm like, I have things to do.

Joy Valerie Carrera: You know, I designed my life to be excited about the things I'm going to do. And then the 20 percent that I'm not, it's like, oh my God, right. But it's just like complete difference. And I started realizing that. And I was just like, wait, like I wake up and I get so angry because like my mind wants to do all these things.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like my brain's like, okay, we're going to do all these things. And my body's like, Nah girl, we need to just lay down, right? And I started realizing like, that was my frustration, like that gap there. Um, but you know, it's not something that I was like, all right, like, you know, my, my mind was trying to like, force my body to be like, let's go!

Joy Valerie Carrera: And then it was like, this, you know, anger [00:22:00] and realizing for me that was causing a lot of like, You know, just depression, really, right? Um, and very low lows, and then until, like, I felt better, and then I was like, okay, like, there's a cyclical thing to this. Um, and personally, I also have PCOS. So there's that, um, polycystic ovary syndrome.

Joy Valerie Carrera: So that's another aspect of it. Respect to everything that I had kind of ignored for a long time. A lot of my pains, I think that's what I realized, like, I was ignoring because it's so normalized in society to be in pain too, right? Like, just keep hustling, like, ponte las pilas, just keep going, right? Like, especially I think as immigrants where it's just like, you know what, like, we're just going to keep working through it, like, you're going to be good. Yeah, and even I

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: too. Yeah.

Joy Valerie Carrera: my family that I was like, wait, everyone's in pain. Right. And then I was like, I had this moment where I was like, I don't want to live like that. Like, I don't want to be in my fifties in pain. Like, [00:23:00] that's terrible. Like, I don't want to live another 30 years like this.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Right. Um, and ignoring it. And I think that's, that's the other thing, right? Like then I realized I was like, okay, well what can I do? And I'm like, I can't, you know, it doesn't mean like I'm all fine. Instead it's like, okay, what can I do to support myself through this? So. Cycle syncing has been a huge thing for me, um, especially because I have an IUD.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And fun fact, for anyone listening, if you have an IUD and you don't get a period, it does not mean you're not going through a cycle. Learn this out after like, 10 years of having this. I didn't realize that, actually, because I was like, well, my period's got away, so clearly I'm just stable all the time, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I remember telling this to my doctor when I got it replaced, and they were like, why would you think that? And I was like, because I don't get a period. Like, I just said it, like, I don't know, maybe I'm the only person, maybe someone can relate, but I was just like, I don't know. Yeah, I was like,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I can relate. I took continuous birth control for about six years to manage my intense [00:24:00] Endometriosis like pain. I was never formally diagnosed, but I've always had horrific cycles and pain. And I that's that's how I managed it. Yeah, and I just thought like I'm good because I don't get periods. Um, that's different now because I'm no longer on the I'm no longer on that type of contraceptive, but it's yeah, I, I had that same feeling.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I didn't really like worry about my hormonal fluctuations

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yeah, and then at the same time I thought like, oh, it would make it go away, which is why I hadn't really managed my PCOS as well, because I was just like, I'm fine. And then I realized I was getting horrible cramps, like during certain times of the month. And then I realized like, Oh, it's still not the root cause.

Joy Valerie Carrera: It's like a band aid solution. I'm like, it does help me, right? But then I was like, okay, I still have to manage how to like, you know, to manage it, right? And that was the other thing that I started realizing in the last couple years and really tracking like, okay, this is the weeks that I'm going to probably feel a [00:25:00] little down.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I start to, you know, just plan even my schedule around it, like a lot of my work around it, especially because I work for myself. And I've realized, especially in the last like, Maybe nine months that like just accepting that like, Oh yeah, I'm a woman. I'm going to go through these phases that I'm just kind of, you know, like when I start being like, Oh, I hate everything.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I'm like, wait a second. I look at my calendar and I'm like, Oh, okay. Like, okay. Yeah. And I'm just like, okay, it's going to be gone. Right. So I feel like I've like navigated through it. And there's, there's a book that I really like, I think it's called the, not Red Tent. I forgot. I can send it to you if you want to put it in the notes. Yeah,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: can add it to the show notes. Yes.

Joy Valerie Carrera: but like, I really like it in the terms that it like, looks at the four different archetypes of women that like, basically like, that you go through, through your period phase, right? So I feel like a little bit of that also helped me to just like, accept it. Um, and then also realizing like, years ago, [00:26:00] like, I would have been labeled as someone with hysteria, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, or just, you know, because women's. Bodies have been so ignored as well, especially when it comes to pain. Um, even like I've had to like, I literally ended up in urgent care last summer because I was like, I'm in severe pain and they're like, and I was like, no, I have PCOS. I have a family history of like uterine cancer.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I was like, you need to check me now. Right. And then they did like, and bam, right. Like the cysts were back. Right. And they were getting worse. And I was like, I'm not making this up. Right. And I think that unfortunately, like with. The healthcare system that we have, sometimes like I even gaslight myself, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I'll be like, Oh, I'm not that bad. Like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Oh yeah.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I was like, my palms are starting to itch. I was like, Oh my God. And then I'm like, am I making this up? And then I went to an allergist. I felt a little gaslighted. And then like two weeks later, I started breaking out in hives and I was like, Okay, like, so I feel like there's a part of it where I'm just like, yay, I'm in tune with my body, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, I'm [00:27:00] getting, like, noticing when the symptoms start to flare, and then at the second part you're just like, oh shit, like, the symptoms are flaring. Um, but I think even, even though looking at those, I was like, you know what, those are still little wins, because I would have ignored it years ago. And just kept working, and that's literally what would happen.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I would keep working, I would have days, weeks, where I was just like, I'm just gonna not do anything at all, and thought that was completely normal, right? Or I was just like, oh, and now I'm realizing it's like, no, I would like, Burn myself out to the point of exhaustion. Isolate for a couple days. Do it all over again.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Right? Um, and even just be like And now, when I talk to even my friends, you know, there's a part of me that still would always just be like Oh, maybe I'm just, it's all in my head. Right? Like, it's all in my head. Like, it's something there. And even my friends have to remind me, they're like Hey, like, you know, No, you like my friends that had known me since I was even a teenager will be like you've always complained about being in pain or like something was always [00:28:00] hurting.

Joy Valerie Carrera: So I think there's a lot of that right like a lot of accepting it and then just being like, okay, well now what can I do, right, I think that's the second part of that kind of phase that I'm in, but also, you know, anyone else who struggles it's like, what can I do and I've realized. For me, it's also advocating for myself constantly when it comes to my doctors as well and, and being like, no, like I want, I want these tests, like I think I should have these tests.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I've become an expert at researching on PubMed, right? , and also being able to like step away from doctors that you do feel are gaslighting you at some point. , I think that's been a big part of my journey when it comes to dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You were just talking about having to switch gears and like to figure out, well, what can I do about it now? what that brings to mind for me is how you are a systems person and you are someone who [00:29:00] thinks like an engineer and you have to figure out systems and strategies that work for you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: for your mind, for your body. Uh, so I'm curious what that has looked like for you. Um, and what that might look like for others, because we are here to talk about like how to design a joyful life. And you're like, well, how do you do this when you are in a lot of pain? Or how do you do this when your life is just different?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You're the way your body is, the way your mind is, is different from what's quote unquote, the norm. So yeah, what do you, what do you,

Joy Valerie Carrera: I think it's, it's interesting. I love getting to chat with you about this, because I think a lot of the times People You know, if they see me, and I'm sure this happens to you, like, out and about, they're like, Oh, you're such a happy person! You're so great! You know, like, so bubbly! And then I'm just like, oh, I'm in pain, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, um, recently I was teaching, um, and, you know, I brought, like, my cushion with me, because I also have a lot of, like, back pain and sciatic pain, and people were [00:30:00] like, huh? Right? And then I was just like, for me, it was a big thing. That was, you know, because I was like, this is admitting that like, I'm not always okay, right, especially I think for those of us that maybe are, you know, labeled like gifted or high achieving, that when people see us, like, You know, it kind of is like, wait, what?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, how are you struggling with all of this? So for me, that was a little step, but also I was just like, I do feel better, right? And I like, have my cushion now in my car, um, and realizing it's like, I do feel better, right? And it was like a bit of like admitting to myself, but also realizing, okay, this is part of like my kit, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like my toolkit, um, like having my cushion, I have like my little massage gun, um, that really helps me. And trying to think of, cause I started realizing and I'm sure maybe others can relate. I got used to just being like, Oh, it's okay. I'll do it later. Right. Like I got used to the inconvenience of things.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Right. Cause I was like, well, that's just, [00:31:00] that's just life. Right. And then realizing I was like, okay, well what's like one tiny thing that I could do to make it better. Right. Like, and it's sometimes the silliest of examples. Like I kept driving around with a broken, um, what do you call it? You know the thing that holds your phone?

Joy Valerie Carrera: The phone holder? Right? And I was just like, it was broken, it kept falling, and I was like, it's fine, it's fine. And then I was like It cost five dollars to just go to Marshalls, get like one that sticks, and I was like, okay, it works, right? And but I realized like how much that's perpetuated sometimes because it's like you're used to dealing with chronic pain that you're like Well, I could deal with this big thing.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Let me ignore like potential ways to make it better So I think whenever I catch myself, I'm like, okay, let me make a little system for myself And then the other thing, you know, those of us who do tend to be a little bit more You Systems oriented, right? Or, like, we also tend to deal with a lot of anxiety, um, and I started realizing, you know, that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm hmm.

Joy Valerie Carrera: part of me is the type that wants to, like, [00:32:00] just know, have everything in order, and it's just like, oh my god, if there's no thing in place, I'm The world is falling apart

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Little running around, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like the world is falling. And I realized for me, you know, I kind of, I definitely, I love, um, like IFS, right, and like parts work type of thing that I'm just like, okay, how do I recruit that part of me to really just be like, let's be part of a team. How do we calm you down? And I was like, all right, we need to.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Put you into systems mode, right? Like, give you a role. And for me, that's really looked like, okay, well, I'm going to be strategic, right? Like I started, you know, I created like a summary document for myself because I see a lot of doctors, a lot of specialists. That that was like creating a template and I could share it with you in case you want to share it with your listeners.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, that like, you know, just like a little summary. I always try to share it with people because I'm like, this is so stressful to deal with, right? Like that just, you know, it's like a little summary and it really, and I realized this, it helped me a lot. [00:33:00] Like even if I don't need it in the doctor's appointment because, you know, my anxiety, the ADHD kicks in when I'm like, in that environment, because doctor's appointments are really scary, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Or that I was like,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm hmm.

Joy Valerie Carrera: like, please listen to me, right? That I was just like, okay, here's the agenda, right? Like, usually before a doctor's appointment, I usually now, like, I'm like, here's my little agenda. If they have a way to send them a message, I'm like, hey, here are some topics I want to talk about, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, I've realized it's led to less, like, Feeling conflict with my doctors and also realizing like which are people that are like on my team, right? So really be like, okay, we're in this together Like we're both trying to figure it out because that's what I also realized like I was giving all my power to being like They're gonna figure it out right like and Realizing like oh, no, they're just also people.

Joy Valerie Carrera: We're also just doing process of elimination, right? We're kind of All really experimenting and I started realizing that instead of like, Oh, the doctors are going to cure me and they're going to figure it all [00:34:00] out, right? Um, and I don't know, I think that has to do a lot with, you know, a lot of Latino cultures also sees it as like, Oh, they're so like, well, you know, like, wow, so impressive.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And like, obviously, yes, they go to like a lot of school, but I think that's how I started realizing, like creating these systems for myself to be like, okay. Great, right? Like I also have, I don't know if I have it here, like my little pill organizer that's, you know, different days of the week, all different colors.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I have like a little flip system for them so that I can remember to take the vitamins and medications that I need. And I think it's really just that gives me a bit of a sense of control, um, without It being unhealthy, right? It's really just like, okay, this is what I can control, right? Like accepting to like, these are the little changes that I can do.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And it's starting from small ways, right? And even just, especially when it comes to advocating for yourself, um, especially as a woman, especially as a woman of color, [00:35:00] to just know, like, you can advocate for yourself. You can ask for second opinions, right? Like, I always thought that was things that, like, fancy white people did.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And then realizing, like, wait, I could do that too, right? Like, even realizing that. And I think those are just little ways that I started doing that. And a big way to share with folks listening, um, that has really helped me is Managing my energy overall, right? I think that's been a huge thing. One thing that I love, if folks want to look up, it's called, um, the, I think it's called Energy Management Chart, and it's like a nice little, like, flow chart, like, just create four parts.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And even just categorizing like the activities. I'm like, this is high energy activities. These are low energy activities. And it's really just kind of creating your own operating system, right? Like knowing how you work, right? Cause I think a lot of us tend to be like, Oh, I read this book and they said to try this [00:36:00] strategy.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And it's like, Okay, try it, but it's okay if you need to tweak it, right? And it's okay if it doesn't work because, you know, we're all individuals at the end of the day and we all have our own unique brain chemistry, body chemistry, right? And I think that's really the key is really understanding how you work and then thinking what works best for me, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Uniquely, um, and in this stage and situations that I'm in.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm wondering, um, uh, two things. Like, Is there's anything else you wanted to talk about related to designing a joyful life and what you mean by that? And because I feel like you've been talking about it, you've been talking about it, but through the context of your own, like what you've done for yourself, the systems you've set up for yourself.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But I'm wondering, because when I think about, uh, when you say designing a life or joyful life, I think about lifestyle design. And that's not something that everybody necessarily is aware of. But I'm

Joy Valerie Carrera: yeah. So I think.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:37:00] this or like the whole

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yeah, for me, you know, I definitely start even, even with folks that I do business coaching with, right? Like I'm always trying to be like, okay, but what's the life that you want, right? Like really even seeing like the ways we make money as a tool for the life that we want, right? Whether that's working, having your own business, we're doing, you know, um, You know, having a company or having a job, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And there's nothing wrong with either of those, right? But it's really just, okay, well, but why? Right? Like, what's the life that I want? Like, for example, I worked with someone who thought they were going to start a business and then realizing what they wanted was stability to be able to be with their kid and be able to travel, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, and now that their child is older and she was a single mom and what we realized for her is, you know, the best. way was to have a A job that gave her the flexibility and benefits that she needed um to be able [00:38:00] to get to work from anywhere to work remotely and we ended up shifting to a job in tech Right and what I think Realizing and working with folks throughout the years, I realized the big thing is also like having things to look forward to, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: It really helps one, your brain to just like look for those things. And two, I realized in my own life, that is kind of how I kept going, right? Because I was like, you know, my big goal was always like, I want to travel the world, right? Like I want to see things. I want to like have all these experiences that I realized it was less. painful to go through a lot of like, you know, literally painful experiences, but also just things that like happened in the past. And I was like, how did I get through that in my twenties? And I was like, Oh, you know, I started planning trips, right? Like I started being like, I want to travel the world. And that's what led me to see, to see 26 countries, like even mostly on my own, like I just backpacked and went to do these.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I was like, that [00:39:00] kind of Pushed me through, even when I had this job that I hated, right? Like, I learned a lot, but it wasn't my favorite. Um, but, you know, I was still just like, Oh, right, like, those are the little things. And one of the big things I've realized is really planning those moments. Like, being really intentional about, like, planning joy into your life.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And we think like, Oh, I just need to plan for the doctor's appointments, plan for these things. But it was like, okay, well I can also plan for things that I look forward to. And I think for me, especially in the last two years, it was really planning those little tiny moments that kept me going because there'd be months where I would have like four, 16, Doctor appointments a month, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And it's like very exhausting, you know, kind of, you kind of just become used to it, but also it's like, ah, these are the only things going on in my life, right? Um, but planning little things. started to make it better, right? Like for me, it was like, okay, you know, a part of it was like, oh, I have, you know, clients that I'm working with [00:40:00] and I'm really excited to work with them.

Joy Valerie Carrera: But then I also started realizing like, okay, well, that's me giving to other people. Like, how can I give to myself? Um, and one thing I started doing, and I even this, I actually created this like in the worst Like depressive episode that I had because I was just like and it sounds very like ironic because I was just like Thinking about it and I was like, okay like how do I get myself out of this right because I was just like I think it was like understanding I was just like No, like, I'm going on appointments, I'm going to all my therapy sessions, like, I want to be alive, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: But I, but I was like, my mind was just like, we're so tired, like, I don't like, you know, I don't want to live in pain the rest of my life. So I started thinking like, okay, well, again, right, looking back, and I was like, I would always tell myself, like, we're gonna have an adventure, right? Like, um, and then the reality is I was just like, okay, well, I can't go on my big adventures like I used to, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, I used to just be like, I'm gonna go [00:41:00] fly all over the world and these things, but I was like, but I can start to create these tiny little adventures for myself. Um, and I started and I was like, okay, I'm gonna look at the year, and I literally planned out the year, and I was like, What are tiny things that I want to do, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: So like little tiny things where I was like, okay, or even birthdays, right? Where I was like, so and so's birthday is this. I have like a wedding that's coming up, right? Like I have things that we're doing that then you start to be like, Oh, I have things that I'm looking forward to. Right. And I think, especially for those of neurodivergent, we struggle with time blindness.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like it's a very real thing. Like. Time does not make sense to us, but it's very hard, especially when you're going through a difficult situation, to remember, like, there's going to be a better time, right? So, literally, I started doing that, and I was like, okay, little quarterly things, and then I kind of started refining it, um, And at the beginning of the year, I held this little workshop that I was like, okay, let's look at it in seasons.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, [00:42:00] where I was like, the first thing we're going to do, we are going to be responsible. And I, and I would encourage everyone to do this, right? Where it's be responsible and be like, okay, what are the things that I have, like my adulting things, right? Um, that's like, okay, I have these, Doctor's appointments, I have to change my car, oil, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: All the things. And then being like, okay, what are fun things that I could look at throughout the week, the month, right? Like, for example, really learning to manage your energy. Like if you're just like, I have one month where I have like a whole bunch of things going on, maybe I want to plan in something really chill, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: For myself or like a nice calmer activity. Um, and literally just like, Aiming to plan that for yourself, right, in the months. And I've realized, you know, even last month it got really cold and I was like, and then I like looked at my calendar and I was like, oh, I have this spa day that I planned with my friend like a month ago, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: But it's like, huh, like you start to realize like, you know, there's little things that we can look forward to, right? And I like to [00:43:00] call them the tiny adventures, right? I have the tiny adventures But, um, that's You know, a little thing that you start, that you can just start to look forward to, and it's not about like, oh we're gonna ignore that the world sucks sometimes, and that life is hard, but being like, yeah, but there's also things that I can be intentional and plan for, and also like, design that life that I want, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like, for me, I still want to be able to have, like, a nomadic life, right? Like, I'm very much about that, but it's, like, accepting that it's, like, okay, it's gonna be more of, like, a slow nomad life, right? Like, and, and being, like, okay, I'm gonna, you know, I can't necessarily be jet setting right now, because, like, I do have all these appointments I have to make, but also being like, okay, well, I can find little things around my town, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like there's, you know, um, a belly dancing class that I go to, right? Or like a heels class when I can. Um, and even just, you know, I, I started taking [00:44:00] like, um, a coding class, right? And I was like, these are things that just are fun, right? Even your local library, I highly recommend going to your local library.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Um, they have so many things and, you know, to continue to support, like, my local library has a microgreens class that I signed up for. Um, yeah, like little tiny things that are also like budget friendly, right? Um, if you're in college, like the cleanse. Actually, I used to do that so much when I was in college.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I was like, What else am I going to get to try out random activities, right? Um, but I think that's really just exploring it and not looking at it as like, I have to do this or like, I have to do a thing, but more of like, huh, let me just get curious and like, start seeing what I do like, right? That maybe I wouldn't have thought of before, or even treating it like an experiment where it's just like, I'm going to have a day that I'm going to, you know, decide to try a new hobby and not feel guilty about it.

Joy Valerie Carrera: I think that's a big thing as neurodivergent folks. We tend to [00:45:00] be like, I have too many hobbies. And it's like, you have a lot of interests, right? Like let yourself get interested. Um, so I think that's also about like designing a life that makes sense for you. Right. And a lot of people might not understand what that looks like, but also I think that's one of the gifts of being neurodivergent is that we see the world differently and we get to experience a lot of things if we let ourselves.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Right. I really love your concept of tiny adventures because I think it is very like neurodivergent and chronic illness friendly and it's something that anybody can try out to self for themselves, personalize. Um, in terms of just closing words or final advice, is there anything else you want to share with my, uh, primarily first gen BIPOC audience?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm hmm. related to how they create, can create a life of joy or even like setting up systems either or, or what you, you know, [00:46:00] expanding on what you just said related to, you know, prioritizing your joy in whatever ways

Joy Valerie Carrera: I think it's accepting that you are on your own timeline at the end of the day. Um, because we're so easy, like we easily can compare ourselves to what maybe our peers are doing, what our parents expect of us, right? Or trying to be like, they made these sacrifices, I have to do all these things. I'm really kind of just It's accepting that like, you know, you are in charge of your own timeline, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: And it's gonna look different for everyone. And at the end of the day, like you really have this experience that we're going through that it's really about like, okay, I get to choose how I show up at the driver's seat, right? Like if you're, for example, if you're in traffic, I love this analogy where it's like, if you're in traffic, you can, Stay mad that you're stuck in traffic, or you could just be like, I'm mad and this sucks.

Joy Valerie Carrera: And I can also like jam out right now, right? And listen to some music [00:47:00] or scream in my car, right? Like decide how you're gonna navigate that. And I think that's a great way to look at life too. Like there's gonna be these bumps along the road and these hard moments. But it's also about being like, wait, I'm the one in control, right?

Joy Valerie Carrera: Like I get to decide how I'm going to experience this. Doesn't mean the experiences aren't going to help it. That's more just being like, okay, I can choose how to navigate this right now. And I can let myself feel angry when I need to. Right. And knowing it's just temporary. I love

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm that person that chooses to feel angry in traffic.

Joy Valerie Carrera: screaming too. I'll be like, I'm scared. I'm like, okay, ya me paso, right? Like instead of bottling it up.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Joy. I wanted just the last question is, um, for folks who want to learn more about your work, feel free to share more about your work, your services, and how folks can reach you or connect

Joy Valerie Carrera: filled with joy [00:48:00] on all social channels and the best way to reach me is on Instagram. Feel free to shoot me a DM, let me know what related with you, um, and yeah, I'm trying to host a quarterly, uh, Tiny Adventures Workshop, if anyone is interested and we'll basically do it together. Um, and I'll give people the prompts so that we actually do it.

Joy Valerie Carrera: It's very neurodivergent friendly. Uh, and yeah, if people are interested in working together, feel free to shoot me a DM or book a call with me, um, or look at my website at boldwithjoy. com.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Well, thank you once again, Joy, for, you know, sharing space with me and with us today, for sharing your wealth of knowledge and strategies and insights and just all the fun stuff you shared. I'm like, Oh, I have some ideas for

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yay! I know, I was like, I

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I

Joy Valerie Carrera: hope I didn't talk too much!

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: No, no, no, I loved it. Thank [00:49:00] you. Thank you for everything that you shared. And I feel like I could totally have you again. I feel

Joy Valerie Carrera: Yay!

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: there's, there's a follow up to this.

Joy Valerie Carrera: Well, thank you!​

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The [00:50:00] last way to show your love is to order a copy of is grad school for me. My graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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