A trio of autoimmune diseases roosts in her body, but unstoppable business owner Elle Kirks overcomes limitations using adaptations for her Minnesota-based Sick Printz shop, where she is able to work from her recliner and wheelchair at home, illustrating and producing prints on all sorts of materials.

“Knock me down seven times, get up eight.” Listen to how a combination of constant research and adjusting from set plans has helped this survivor thrive in the face of unthinkable challenges.

1. Always plan on not having a plan.

Elle has two degrees and taught high school Spanish for 10 years. But after suffering head injuries due to complications from her diseases, she cannot perform academically like she used to.  “Now I’m on a totally different path. God’s laughing at me because I had a plan — but my plans never work.”

2. Research, research, research.

Elle would not be able to do what she does now if she chose to remain in the dark about her condition. Little is known within the medical community about her particular diseases. So she has taken it upon herself to do the research to increase her day-to-day functionality. 

3. How you react to life situations shows your true character.

As her illness progressed, quitting teaching was one of the hardest things Elle had to do. She had wrapped up her whole self-worth into her career. But she was able move out of that mindset and become the proactive entrepreneur she is today. “Being upset about it isn’t going to change a damn thing.”

4. Someone else’s mountain might be your molehill and vise-versa.

In dealing with her diseases, Elle has learned that everyone views different experiences differently. “Someone could say — how do you handle all of this stuff going on in your life? Well to me, it’s molehills. But if someone asked me to go skydiving, yeah, that’s a mountain to me.”

5. A pity party is not fun for anyone.

Elle says that those who are newly diagnosed with chronic illness need to stop expecting pity parties or handouts. Their self-worth is too important. “You need to take life into your own hands and figure out what it is that you are able to do.”

Find Elle Kirks here:



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