Figuring Out the New Me

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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sewing activities


Before lupus hit me, I stayed insanely active. I spent almost 20 years in real estate and was a fashion blogger doing many events that took me to various boutiques all over a few cities. I was having the time of my life. I’d recently moved to a new city to sell homes and was just beginning to get out and learn the different areas. Then I hit a brick wall.

Over the past few years, my life has become quite calm — I’m not accustomed to that. I have had to find new ways of doing things. In my quest to figure out lupus life, one of the troubling things has been a lack of pleasurable activities. Everything I did before lupus required a lot of energy. I was into exercise, visiting different restaurants and trying new foods, hosting fashion events that had me dressed to the nines with full makeup, and doing lots of speaking. Lupus forces me to sit; at times, I’ve been unable to walk and talk at the same time. Standing or even sitting up straight some days have been pretty tough.

Over the summer, I started practicing a couple of engaging activities that don’t require much energy. I have always been attracted to creativity, so I took six weeks away from social media and learned how to use Adobe Illustrator for design. As a laptop entrepreneur, I thought this could help me earn more income. It has been a big help. Also, a friend taught me how to sew. I thought sewing would bore me so I didn’t want to commit to buying a sewing machine. I was pretty surprised when the sound of the machine seemed to comfort me. As I put together the puzzle pieces of the project, I became fascinated with creating something from scratch.

This is what I learned to sew over the summer. (Photo by Kellie McRae)


I started watching DIY videos and wondering if I could one day create fun bags and useful items. A few days ago, I finally went and bought myself a sewing machine. As an entrepreneur, I am always looking for new ways to earn income; however, when I considered using my machine to earn, it just didn’t feel right. My first project on my own was a simple double-sided fleece blanket.

This is my first sewing project without someone helping me. (Photo by Kellie McRae)


My feet are always cold and this blanket really warmed them up! So, I decided that instead of making them for sale, I will give them away. I learned that the city I live in has elderly homeless people who sleep on the steps of churches downtown. I will give my blankets to them. I also learned that many of the surrounding villages have children who sleep on floors, I will make blankets for them, too.

I have always been a giving person. For the most part, my hobbies before my diagnosis required me to be very active, but they also benefitted my surrounding community. This project excites me. I am looking forward to learning to make not just blankets but also fun bags and clothes to give away. Sometimes when you are trying to put your life back together, it doesn’t hurt to help others who are also having a tough time.

This is the fabric I will use to create two new blankets for the needy in my town. (Photo by Kellie McRae)


Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.


TC avatar


Exploring different facets of life because of lupus, so it becomes life-expanding instead of limiting... This is so, so inspiring, Kellie! :)

Also, self-empowerment through charity!? Wow!

Your initial projects already look very well-done and sophisticated... so good, they don't look "crafty" enough LOL

You're good at everything! :) (Even good at lupus... ;) )

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi TC,

You really know how to make a girl feel good lol I, like so many of us, am just trying to keep my sanity. Lupus is so much harder than they make it seem in the movies hee hee (I've really only ever seen one movie that mentions it). Thank you for the compliment on my projects. I'm having fun with them so far and I have always done what I could to help those in the community around me. I just love seeing people smile and if my little ego can contribute to that, then I'm all for it. Nothing feels as good as giving. I hope you have an amazing day and thanks for always stopping in and offering encouragement.

TC avatar


Dear Kellie :)

I'm not sure what you're comparing yourself to, but compared to me, you're really good at so many things, including crafts. And for some strange reasons, a lot of people around me actually consider me an overachiever.... while I don't understand why they think that, but by vicarious comparison, that makes you a hyper-overachiever all around! ;)

Also, I only drop by when the site sends out its weekly newsletter... so you should thank the thoughtful admin for the lovely feature instead LOL

I've been wondering why I find special resonance in your column. Perhaps it's the idiosyncrasy of the disease's nature that makes individual cases wildly dissimilar, which makes it difficult to form a common lupus experience.

Your column has been an outlier, because you're candid with the highs and lows, the anger, the despair, the sadness, the hopes, the strivings, and the endless disappointments and the subsequent search for more courage to go on.... which I've not seen so lucidly expressed anywhere else.

The literary expression of lupus tends to be either too depressing (a good case example is the poet Meghan O'Rourke's New Yorker essay on her journey with autoimmune disorders, "What's Wrong with Me?" and her book, "Sun in Days." Many of us will definitely find special console in her writing, but, by goad, it makes living with lupus feel so effing awful!) or too cheery (basically every Kindle book ever written by a lupus patient: "Do this, and you'll be a normal human being again!" They totally lied lol. Sigh.)

You've been a fine example of what living with lupus can be like, just by being you. :)

Minor lupus symptoms first began showing up when I hit puberty, which was before I was ten, and I wasn't a healthy child to begin with. I have no knowledge of life without lupus or as a healthy human being. I often feel like lupus took away my life before it ever began.... Every single day, I'm bedeviled by the thought that I could have done so much better if it weren't lupus.

I lost my close cousin to lupus a few months ago. We grew up in the same house and were like sisters. Her sudden passing was a shock, especially since she's always been so much healthier than me. She's younger than me, which made me feel especially strongly that I've "outlived" my due....

Your column has been a source of strength and inspiration to me. Thank you for your courage and honesty in life. Thank you for being you. :)

btw, which is the movie that has a lupus character?

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi TC!

Wow, thank you, there were soooo many compliments in this response, I think I blushed :-) I def don't feel like I'm over achieving at much these days but I am doing my best to find some joy wherever I can. I will be honest (which seems to be working for me here), I do grapple sometimes with what to share, I wonder sometimes if I am becoming more doom and gloom or if I share too much at times. When I agreed to share my battle, my goal was to be as honest as possible. You and I both know, this thing is just not easy and it moves not just from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. I am grateful for that newsletter that goes out and our admins ROCK OUT LOUD! lol They truly are the best in my opinion (I might be a wee bit biased). I hope I never become too sad or too happy about this battle, I just want to be real. I'm so sorry to hear of your cousin's passing and whenever a butterfly gets their wings, it really breaks my heart. I often wonder what you have expressed, what our lives would be like if we didn't have this battle but we can only go forward with our reality and do our best to make it as good as possible. You have not outlived your due, you are here like you're supposed to be, providing encouragement to folks like me. Thank you for coming over and not ignoring your email. Sending you healing hugs for your heart, I can't imagine what you are feeling at the loss of your cousin but I do know hugs help everything.

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

OH, I think the movie was Soul Food, it was from years ago and one of the characters was diagnosed but they didn't dwell on it for very long, I don't know why I remembered that because at the time I didn't have it but I did have a cousin who passed of lupus in the 80's, they didn't know what was wrong with her until her autopsy sadly so anytime I've heard the name of this disease, it seems to have stood out for me.

CMS Sanders avatar

CMS Sanders

Hello my dear;
Way to go! You are the master at re-invention and truly inspirational.
I enjoy quilting and the design work involved. Like you I give them away. I use the AccuQuilt to cut out pieces easily and the same size.
Keep us posted on your progress.
Wishing you the best.
Hugs from far away,

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi Chris, I am definitely progressing with the sewing and its exciting. I think its great that you give your quilts away. So many of my friends keep trying to convince me to sell my wonky creations but there is something satisfying about creating just for the fun of it. I hope your quilts are bringing both you and the people who receive them joy. Thank you for sharing!


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