Category Archives: Writing

30 Posts in 30 Days: Looking Back on the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge

The final prompt for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge asks us to recap our experiences blogging about our health focus for the past 30 days. I had an absolute blast. Check out the photo-essay below on my experiences blogging about lupus for #HAWMC 2012.

I finished! I wrote 30 posts in 30 days, though one was a tad late.

#HAWMC increased readership of Butterfly Lessons: Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus. In February and March, the blog received about 600 visits each month, but in April, received app. 1,500 visits.

I was going to skip writing the #HAWMC post on the 19th, but changed my mind around 11:30 pm. By the time I posted the blog, it was already the 20th. That is why the 19th looks so sad on this calendar of my posts.

Most readers of are located in the United States.

According to Klout, Butterfly Lessons is a Socializer! During #HAWMC, I enjoyed "meeting" other health activists on Twitter and sharing my story with @Butterflylesson & @KRSProf followers.

I received great feedback from readers.

I received blogger love from other members of the #HAWMC family. This passage is from Rhiann, the blogger behind "My Brain Lesion and Me" - Reading her great #HAWMC posts reminded me that even though invisible illnesses differ, we all face many similar challenges.

The 2012 #HAWMC challenge may be over, but my lupus awareness journey continues. During May 2012, I will celebrate Lupus Awareness Month by continuing to blog and tweet about how to live a fabulous life with lupus.

Take care and stay fabulous,

Katina Rae Stapleton


A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words: A Butterfly Lessons Wordle (#HAWMC 30)

Today is last day of April and the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by Wego Health is coming to an end. My task today was to “make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind when you think about your blog, health, or interests.” I used Wordle, an online program to generate word cloud of the text that appears in

Wordle: Butterfly Lessons: Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus

I think this makes a pretty picture. I hope you have enjoyed my posts. I will be wrapping #HAWMC with a closing post on May 1, 2012. Then I look forward to blogging about lupus during May for Lupus Awareness Month.

Take Care,

Katina Rae Stapleton

Five Challenges & Five Victories of Lupus (#HAWMC 27)

Today’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Prompt is:

“Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.”

So, without further ado . . . .

Top 5 Most Difficult Things About Having Lupus for 20+ Years

1.    Lupus is painful
2.    Lupus is exhausting
3.    Lupus is “mysterious” & hard for people to understand
4.    Lupus gave me “Funny”, sensitive skin
5.    Lupus can affect any part of my body at any time

 Top 5 Small Victories That Have Kept Me Going 20+ Years with Lupus

1.    I developed an “Iron Will” to survive and thrive
2.    I do not take feeling good for granted
3.    I discovered that I have wonderful family & friends that love me
4.    Lupus provided inspiration for me to write
5.    Telling my story helps me help others with the disease

Keep strong and carry on,

Katina Rae Stapleton

P.S. In Dinner for Five I wrote that I would have loved to meet Orison Swett Marden, the author of An Iron Will. This is one of my favorite passages:

“Yet in spite of all this, in defiance of it, we know that an iron will is often triumphant in the contest with physical infirmity. Brave spirits are a balsam to themselves: There is a nobleness of mind that heals Wounds beyond salves.”

Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus (#HAWMC 26)

“No matter what the disease has thrown my way, I have never lost sight of my dream to have a fabulous life.” Katina Rae Stapleton

This week, I am coming into the homestretch of the Health Activists Writer’s Month Challenge. I am excited that I was able to blog every day (with the exception of a post that went live after midnight). Today’s HAWMC topic is close to my heart:

“Today you are challenged with the task of writing a tagline. This can be for your blog, your health condition or for yourself.”

Since I already have a tagline for the Butterfly Lessons blog, this assignment was super easy . . .

Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus

I picked “fabulousness” as the theme of my blog, because I hate low expectations. I refuse to believe that a lupus diagnosis must lead to a sad, dreary, lonely, painful life. I have a full life and know many fellow lupus butterflies who are overcoming obstacles to pursue their hopes and dreams. Many of them I have “met” online:

There is Christine Miserandino, who came up the idea of using spoons to describe living with lupus. Her website But You Don’t Look Sick is an oasis for spoonies who live with chronic illnesses and invisible disabilities. You can find her on Twitter as @bydls.

I am also inspired by these super fabulous “tweeps” and fellow lupus bloggers:

Before you leave Butterfly Lessons today, check out the Blogroll for links to other lupus bloggers and organizations who are trying to make life better for those of us living with lupus (one day at a time).

Take care & be fabulous,

Katina Rae Stapleton

P.S. To learn more about how the blog Butterfly Lessons: Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus came about, read “About Katina Rae Stapleton.”

Patiently I Have Never Run: A Mad Lib Style Poem about Lupus (#HAWMC 21)

Today’s HAWMC prompt was to write a poem in a Mad Lib format. So, I went to and filled in parts of speech with words that reminded me of living with lupus.

This is the e.e. cummings inspired poem that was generated.  It doesn’t quite make sense, but neither does Lupus. I hope you enjoy it.


patiently i have never Run, quietly beyond
any Lupus, your Sun have their Outstanding:
in your most Painful Work are things which Fear me,
or which i cannot Protect because they are too final

your Exhausting look now will unRelax me
though i have Succeed myself as Money,
you Trust always Day by Day myself as Fatigue Worry
(Yawning recently , soon ) her Frustrating Anxiety

or if your Doctor be to Help me, i and
my Massage will Rest very much, amazingly,
as when the Pain of this Lupus Sleep
the Joy brazenly everywhere Playing;

nothing which we are to Cry in this Sorrow Shout
the Loss of your Glorious Freedom: whose Friends
Sing me with the Rash of its Sun,
Dancing Enemy and Nap with each Considering

(i do not Exercise what it is about you that Encourage
and Heal; only something in me Improve
the Starbursts of your Sun is Hopeful than all Fatigue)
Medicine, not even the Heat, has such Perfect Shoes

– Katina Rae Stapleton & e.e. cummings

Create Your Own Madlib on

Take care,

Katina Rae Stapleton

Dinner for Five (#HAWMC 19)

Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.
Orison Swett Marden

Thursday’s HAWMC prompt was:

Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

My five are:

  • Rosalind Joffe, author of Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease for inspiring women with chronic illnesses to stay in the workforce.
  • Dolly Parton, my favorite country singer of all time and icon of fabulousness.
  • Orison Swett Marden, motivational writer and founder of Success magazine for his sage advice on perseverance in the face of struggle.
  • Laura Hillenbrand, chronic fatigue syndrome survivor who managed to write the international bestseller Seabiscuit despite being homebound.
  • Salt-N-Pepa (who I am counting as 1), my favorite female rappers for inspiring me to tell my story.

Who would you invite to dinner and why?

Katina Rae Stapleton

How I Write Butterfly Lessons from idea to post (#HAWMC 15)

Today’s HAWMC prompt is Writing with Style. What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

Before I write:

Most of the time, my Butterfly Lessons posts start with an aha moment when I will hear, see, or read something and then think “that would make a great Butterfly Lesson.”  Whenever this happens, I try to write the idea down as soon as possible. If I am not at home, I will take notes in my Wizard of Oz or Rethink journals.

If I am only carrying my tiny purse, I email myself the notes from my smartphone. The problem with emailing myself ideas is that sometimes will ignore them later. So when I want to firmly remind myself to write about an idea I will add that idea to my SmartyTask (an online to-do list) or my PersonalBrain (an online mind-mapping tool to organize ideas and documents).

Sometimes I draw my ideas (using pictorial mind-mapping)  or assemble images on a vision board to brainstorm to organize my thoughts. Here is an example of the Butterfly Lessons vision board folder I made to keep magazine clippings that inspire me to write.

Writing & Refining

Once I have a basic idea that have jotted down in some form, I actually write the post.  I generally start by free-writing them.  Depending on my mood, I will:

  • Free-write the post in Microsoft Word, reorganize & refine, then spell check, print, proofread, make any edits and then paste the post into WordPress.


  •  Outline and then write the post by hand, type into Word, spell check, print, proofread, make any edits and then paste the post into WordPress.

Every once in a while I will have writers block and have to get rid of distractions. My favorite writers-block tool is Write or Die by Dr. Wicked, a productivity tool for writers that will not let you go to the Internet or any other program on your computer for a certain amount of time.

That’s the nuts-and-bolts of it all. This post started its life in a Word Document that was then inserted into WordPress. Then I added the pictures, links, and formatted.

Take care and happy writing,

Katina Rae Stapleton