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The Soul Roadmap to Health After Hashimoto’s Diagnosis

“My goal is not to look like the airbrushed Photoshopped models. I just want to be healthy. I want to have energy to play with my kids.” – Sarah Bowser

Growing up, she always felt like the odd one out with her nerdy and weird interests. But when she finally gets a diagnosis for her health issues, she’s left feeling even more lost and alone.

Sarah Bowser, from That Weird, Nerdy Mom, has transformed her struggle with anxiety and hashimoto’s into a mission to help others find self-love and acceptance.

Embracing her weird, nerdy side, Sarah has learned to celebrate her uniqueness and encourages others to do the same. Through her own journey of self-discovery, she has developed a system for cultivating true self-belonging. She now shares this approach with other women seeking to live authentically.

Sarah’s sincere passion for empowering individuals to embrace their identities makes her an inspiring figure for those looking to find their authentic self in the wake of a diagnosis.

Discussed In this episode:

  • Unearthing the power of embracing your true self in the quest for belonging.
  • What to do when you feel overlooked and misunderstood by your medical team.
  • Recognizing the value of self-acceptance and mental tools like visualization and meditation for healing.
  • The healing power of heavy metal and horror movies.

Guest Spotlight: Sarah Bowser

Guest Sarah Bowser standing in front of a bookshelp

Sarah Bowser is that weird, nerdy mom. The one who always struggled with belonging, with finding her place in the world.

After struggling with anxiety, an autoimmune diagnosis, and suicidal ideation, she found her way back to solid ground. She put together her own system for finding her true self, cultivating self-love and self-belonging.

She now helps other weird, nerdy women do the same for their own lives.

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Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Sarah Bowserl

00:00:00 - Andrea W Hanson
Doing this podcast is one of my favorite things to do right now. And this week's guest is a prime example of why Sarah Bowser is the self proclaimed weird nerdy mom. And I love it.
00:00:13 - Andrea W Hanson
I immediately wanted to talk to her.
00:00:14 - Andrea W Hanson
When I read that, and she hasn't always been able to proudly say that she's nerdy and weird. For a long time, she did not let her nerdy flag fly. She had some issues getting her hashimoto's diagnosis and felt a lot of uncertainty and anxiety and even had some suicide ideation while she was learning to deal with her chronic illness. But along with finding help for her hashimoto's, she also started to embrace her creativity and let herself well, be herself. And now she helps other women embrace themselves, cultivate self love, and create a crucial sense of belonging. Sarah is so full of love and acceptance. She makes you feel like everything about you is accepted and celebrated. She even got me talking about a personal fascination of mine that I don't talk about much in the professional realm, and it felt so good to discuss it openly with her. So please enjoy this week's episode and visit Andrea Hanson Coaching, LLC for more on Sarah Bowser resources that we talk about in the show and transcripts from today's episode. And you can find that link in the episode description. Welcome to the Live Your life, not Your Diagnosis podcast. I'm Andrea Hansen, author, motivational speaker, and master certified coach. When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was told I would never reach my goals. But I did. And I'm on a mission to prove that life with a chronic illness can still be expansive and quite remarkable. Everyone has their own unique path. I'm talking to people living with a chronic illness that come from different backgrounds, have different points of view, and are achieving amazing life goals of all kinds to inspire you to achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw, uncensored, and judgment free. Listener discretion is advised.
00:02:11 - Andrea W Hanson
I am here with Sarah Bowser. Sarah Bowser is that weird nerdy mom, the one who always struggled with belonging, with finding her place in the world. After struggling with anxiety, an autoimmune diagnosis, and suicidal ideation, she found her way back to solid ground. Putting together her own system for finding her true self, cultivating self love and self belonging, she now helps the other weird nerdy women do the same for their own lives. Sarah, welcome. Hi.
00:02:44 - Sarah Bowser
Thank you so much for having me.
00:02:45 - Andrea W Hanson
Thank you so much for coming on. I have so many questions. I love everything about this. I love everything about this. When we were talking, all I saw was weird nerdy mom. And I'm like, yes.
00:03:00 - Sarah Bowser
There's two words that describe me. Weird and nerdy are the two words I know.
00:03:05 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, well, and it's so funny because I immediately identified as kind of a weird nerdy person and a weird nerdy child. Growing up even. Oh, yeah, totally identified with that. So tell me, how do you describe yourself? What makes you weird and nerdy?
00:03:23 - Sarah Bowser
Well, it goes back to childhood, for sure. I was always the one with the weird tastes. I was the one that liked all of the weird things compared to my peers. So fifth grade, while all my friends were listening to the Backstreet Boys and then Sync and all of the popular boy band type stuff while I listened to those too, I was the one listening and dressing up like Kiss.
00:03:51 - Andrea W Hanson
Oh, my God, I love it.
00:03:55 - Sarah Bowser
I liked all of the music that everybody in my class thought was weird. So I was listening to Kiss to Queen to Sticks to the Beatles to all. And as I got older and got into high school, I found peers that had those same interests, the same TV interests, all that kind of stuff. But I would always read the different books. And everybody else everyone else was always reading the young adult fiction and I was over in the corner reading murder mysteries and yes, all of this just stuff that you wouldn't necessarily think like a fifth, 6th grader towards high school. Yeah, it's more normal to have those weird interests, but you don't see that with younger kids. So I was always labeled like the freak or the weird one or just I was shy because I didn't fit with the other kids. And I kind of just kept progressing as I got older too. So, like well, yeah, I found some groups where my interests and everything kind of aligned. I was still trying to kind of not be the weird, nerdy one, so I was trying to fit in. So I wasn't ostracized in those friend groups. I went to a Andrea Hanson Coaching, LLC college while I'm listening in the library reading books about all of these different spiritualities getting looks shot at me by the nuns.
00:05:22 - Andrea W Hanson
That sounds terrifying.
00:05:24 - Sarah Bowser
It was.
00:05:27 - Andrea W Hanson
I totally understand. It's a weird time, especially, like you said, it starts when you're younger and you start to look at different things and experiments and everything is new and amazing and finding something that lights you up. Like, I was the same way I found at I think I was in fifth grade when I saw my first horror movie. And I loved it. I just loved it. I mean, I just thought it was amazing. That really started my lifelong love of horror. And even to this day, not a lot of people are into they're into true crime. Yeah, but horror is a totally different situation.
00:06:04 - Sarah Bowser
Totally different. Totally different, right.
00:06:07 - Andrea W Hanson
With its own different subgroups. And it's such a weird like, people are like, oh, really? Oh, my God. Yeah. And I do remember even in middle school really liking it and people being like because people with something like that, not everyone likes it, but some people are completely repelled by it.
00:06:27 - Sarah Bowser
00:06:28 - Andrea W Hanson
And so me loving something that other people are like, I can't watch it. I'm like, Is something wrong? Is it weird?
00:06:35 - Sarah Bowser
Right? Because you start to have the other kids and other peers looking at you like, what is she doing? So you start to have that feeling of, is there something wrong with me? Is this really that weird? I like different music. Is it weird that I watch different movies? Is it weird?
00:06:52 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, it can play with your self confidence.
00:06:55 - Sarah Bowser
I think it does, yeah, because you're sitting here thinking, I just want to be me. I want to be happy in my skin. I want to be able to just shout from the rooftops, this is what I like. This is what I want to share with my friends. And I don't want to be worried that people are going to think that I'm crazy and obsessive because I want to have all these conversations about all these deep fiends from Lord of the Rings or other different.
00:07:23 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah. It does make you kind of feel like you don't have that group, because sometimes it's not like finding somebody who has that same interest is like an immediate friend.
00:07:36 - Sarah Bowser
00:07:36 - Andrea W Hanson
They've got to have that Venn diagram where it's like, you got to know my interest, but you also have to be really cool. And I like you.
00:07:44 - Sarah Bowser
There has to be that sense of, okay, I can find community here. Yeah, we have same interests, but there still has to be that connection. So through a lot of my time growing up, yeah, I had these groups of friends in high school and in college where we had the same interests, but it was never really, oh, I fit. Oh, I've been granted that belonging, that I want to feel like I belong, but it was never really there. So it was like that balance of, all right, I can really just throw this out there and just be who I am, or if I want to belong somewhere, I have to start to mute who I am.
00:08:28 - Andrea W Hanson
Which one did you find yourself doing?
00:08:30 - Sarah Bowser
I was muting more than anything else, I would let myself express myself, my true love. In some ways, I was very proud of myself. For my wedding, I just let it all out, be nerded out. Like, I had a TARDIS card box, we had fortune tellers with quotes from different fantasy books and stuff like that. And it was nice to kind of throw that out there and have it out there and be like, this is who I am. But then there was also the areas of the wedding where, okay, we're going to keep it a little bit traditional, too, where maybe I would want to nerd out a little bit more. But it was still at least one aspect where in my adult life where I was able to like, I can do it. I can be me. But then it was like, as soon as it was over. It was like, okay, the event is over. I'm not center stage anymore. I don't have to put myself out there. I can come back into my little permit hole and just continue to morph who I am to fit whoever I'm with, and that way I can still belong and not be shunned or feel like I'm being shunned.
00:09:35 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, that's such an interesting way of putting it. Like morphing yourself to kind of fit into the different friends or the different people that you're in front of.
00:09:47 - Sarah Bowser
Absolutely. Yeah. Because your subconscious can always tell, like, oh, if I put this piece of myself out there, they're going to think this. And whether they think that or not is in reality is irrelevant because in your perception, in your head, you're thinking, they will never accept me for who I am if I put this piece of myself out there. So I have to twist this piece and put it out in this form. That way, from my brain's perception, they will grant me the belonging into that group.
00:10:15 - Andrea W Hanson
00:10:16 - Sarah Bowser
It's a perception more than a reality because we don't know what anybody else is thinking. It's just we're afraid. We're afraid because we've been maybe mocked or made fun of in our youth, so that stays with us. So we're like, all right, I got to keep it back and just show them what they want to see or what we think they want to see.
00:10:36 - Andrea W Hanson
And it's such an interesting place to.
00:10:37 - Andrea W Hanson
Be in because it's like, on one sense, we're like master manipulators. Right. Like we're manipulating ourselves because we know what we think and what we want to put out there. But then we're holding it back and muting ourselves or trying to change what we're saying in order for somebody else. Which, again, like, you have no idea what they're thinking. But we think we know what they're thinking and we want to manipulate what it is that they're going to think about us.
00:11:04 - Sarah Bowser
00:11:04 - Andrea W Hanson
So it's like we're manipulating ourselves. We're trying to manipulate another person in some kind of a sense. It's so exhausting.
00:11:14 - Sarah Bowser
It's extremely exhausting because at the end of the day, you're like, all right, I belonged today. I fit in with the group today. But then you get home and you're like, who am I? You get home and you're like, I'm putting this image out there, and I'm getting this belonging that I thought that I've always wanted. But I don't know who I am anymore because I've stuffed myself so far down in order to be what I think everybody else wants me to be, that I don't know where to look to actually feel that happiness that my true self would feel if it was allowed to breathe.
00:11:50 - Andrea W Hanson
I think that's so fascinating because it affects not just us and how we feel and our confidence, our self love and all of that, but it also affects all the other parts of our world, our relationships, what we do, the career path, and it also affects things like our health.
00:12:12 - Sarah Bowser
Oh, yeah, it does.
00:12:14 - Andrea W Hanson
So how do you feel like this? Because you talk about how getting diagnosed with Hashimoto's was pretty difficult.
00:12:23 - Sarah Bowser
It was extremely difficult. So with everything that went on through my youth and growing up and getting married and all of this, the whole stuffing everything in and down led to me having anxiety and depression for the majority of my life. So it's kind of like that the kindling that's just kind of like sitting there in the background that ever present. It's always there. So then my husband and I got pregnant with our daughter, had my daughter had the postpartum depression, had all of that, those struggles. And on top of dealing with a newborn baby postpartum depression, my normal anxiety and depression, that is just always there. I was dealing with no matter what I did, I would follow all of the trendy things to lose the baby weight, to get back into shape. My hair was falling out. I would brush my hair like normal and just like, clumps, I would be pulling off the brush. My nails were brittle and breaking. I felt like I needed to itch myself out of my skin just to feel any kind of relief. And it finally got to the point where I went to my doctor and I needed some kind of solution, like, this is what's happening. And all they heard was, I wanted to lose weight. It's like, I'm having all of these things. And they just were like, well, are you just asking us for a weight loss pill? No, I'm not asking for a weight loss pill. I am asking for you to help me figure out what's going on. Which led to, okay, well, run some thyroid tests. And I got one piece of generic blood work, and I got an ultrasound. And the blood work was at the very high edge of the normal range for TSH, which isn't a great indicator of thyroid function to begin with. And then the ultrasound came back with an abnormal nodule that the radiologist was like, oh, this should probably be tested further. But my primary was like, oh, you have a nodule. We're not going to do anything. We'll just keep an eye on it. And I'm, like, thinking to myself, this report is saying they use the words abnormal, and based on the measurements, this is not small. We should look into this further. And just the way that it played out, like, I ended up switching primary care doctors. I got myself an endocrinologist because I'm like, I'm not messing around with this because there's a lot of instances of cancer in my family. I'm like, I'm not going to take a risk. They're telling me there's an abnormal growth on my thyroid. I want to look into it. So the new endocrinology, I had the endocrinologist. I was like, all right. He's giving me all the blood work that I think I'm going to need. We're doing a biopsy. It's going to be great. My daughter's almost a year old at this point, so my husband and I are like, okay, we're going to get this figured out. We can start trying for baby number two because we're thinking like, all right, it took us four years to get pregnant the first time. We don't want to have a huge age gap between our kids if we don't have to. So let's start trying now. So get all the tests run. My husband and I are like, all right, we're planning for our future. And I'm sitting at work one day, I'm out in the field on a job and sitting in just this shabby little city hall, just trying to train someone, do my job. And I get this phone call, 830 in the morning from my endocrinologist, and he's like, Good news, it's not cancer. I'm like, okay. Awesome. This is great. Not cancer. And then he's like, you have hashimoto's? Basically, your thyroid is shutting down, attacking itself. Not much we can really do for it. I'll see you in, like, six months to a year. Oh, by the way, if you get pregnant, you'll most likely have a miscarriage.
00:16:02 - Andrea W Hanson
My jaw just dropped.
00:16:03 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah. I'm sitting in this conference room with someone that I'm trying to train, sitting there thinking, after everything that he had just said, I wish it was cancer, because then I'd at least have a game plan. Okay, I know, okay, this is what it is. Chemo, radiation, surgery, something. There would be a game plan. This isn't getting a diagnosis, but then being told, just be prepared to feel like this for the rest of your life. It's like, no.
00:16:34 - Andrea W Hanson
00:16:34 - Sarah Bowser
So I had an appointment with my primary care doctor not long after that, and I was sharing with her, and I was like, this is what he says. I'm struggling with this. I'm having a hard time. And she basically looked at me and was just like, I don't get what the big deal is. It's basically just hypothyroidism. I don't get why you're so worked up about it. I'm like, I'm being told that my thyroid is attacking itself, that it's just going to keep shutting down, that these symptoms aren't going to go away, that if I got pregnant, I'd have a miscarriage. You don't think that that's something that's going to cause some feelings? That there are feelings there there's devastation and depression and just this sense of what just happened to my life?
00:17:28 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, that's amazing. That she's like, I don't see the big deal.
00:17:32 - Sarah Bowser
I don't know. Yeah, go talk to a therapist or something. Was basically, like, the gist of it. And I'm just like, oh, my gosh.
00:17:41 - Andrea W Hanson
Oh, my gosh.
00:17:42 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah. It took me calling my endocrinologist Bawling on a Saturday for him to finally call back during the week. And say, like, all right, we'll put you on thyroid medication, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks. I'm like, okay. Like, cool, I guess meds to keep me where I'm at, but not like, we're not going to come up with a game plan to do anything else. Yeah, it was insane.
00:18:07 - Andrea W Hanson
That is insane, and it's insane, but it's sadly not unique.
00:18:12 - Sarah Bowser
No, it's not uncommon at all. It's really not like the fact that the first doctors first went straight to like, oh, you just want to lose weight. It's like no, a woman's goal in life is not to just lose weight. A woman's goal in life is thank you. To be healthy and to be happy and to be able to function in a way we can participate in life to its fullest extent. My goal is not to look like the airbrushed Photoshopped models on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition or whatever it is. I just want to be healthy. I want to have energy to play with my kids. I want to have energy to do the things that I want to do. If I'm overweight, so be it. But as long as I'm healthy, that's the goal. Just to live a happy, healthy life.
00:18:59 - Andrea W Hanson
You really hit on it where a lot of times when you're dealing and this is really with any relationship, it can be a relationship with your doctor, with anybody. But it really shows how somebody's assumptions about what somebody else is thinking, what somebody else's motives are, is so important because their assumptions about what you wanted was so off. And when you're dealing with something like doctors, it's like time is money.
00:19:32 - Sarah Bowser
00:19:33 - Andrea W Hanson
When you're talking to them, yeah.
00:19:35 - Sarah Bowser
If it's not within that 15 minutes that they'll talk to you, after they make you wait an hour past your appointment time, it's like yeah.
00:19:43 - Andrea W Hanson
And so if 15 minutes or twelve of those minutes are them talking to someone, it's like sometimes I remember when I was at various times, I actually just went through a health event last year where it's like, you feel like you're talking to someone and they're not even really talking to you. It's like, who are you talking to? Because you're not talking to me, because I don't feel like you even are acknowledging.
00:20:04 - Sarah Bowser
Right. They're just putting their notes in the computer as you're talking at them, and they're just like it's like, okay, but can you look at me and listen to me and actually absorb the stuff that I'm telling you?
00:20:18 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah. It's very frustrating, and I think, obviously, not all doctors are like this, but this is why I always say, like, look, if you feel like you're in a doctor, especially doctor relationship, really any relationship that's like this, move on, right? Call somebody else.
00:20:33 - Sarah Bowser
They work for us.
00:20:34 - Andrea W Hanson
That's right.
00:20:35 - Sarah Bowser
We hire them to be our doctors. And as someone with anxiety, it's taking a long time to get to that point where if they're not getting me what I need, if they're not listening to me, like, all right, I'm not here to spare their feelings. I'm going to find a doctor who's going to listen to what I have going on and listen to my symptoms and help me come up with a game plan and a solution. I'm not going to sit and stay with a support system that's not actually supporting me. I'm going to look for someone who's actually going to be there and like, all right, let's try this. Let's try this. Let's try this. Yeah.
00:21:12 - Andrea W Hanson
So is that what you did?
00:21:13 - Sarah Bowser
Eventually, yeah. It took me a while. It took me a while because, like I said, my anxiety was just so high where I'm thinking like, this is what they told me. I can't question the doctor. I can't question this is what it is. I've already switched doctors once. My insurance isn't going to let me switch again. Are they going to tell me anything different? It turned into this giant spiral where for the next couple of months after getting the diagnosis and everything, where it was just like, I can't do this. I don't have the energy to do this. I'm exhausted all the time. My daughter's not getting what she needs from me. My husband's not getting what he needs from me. My work is suffering because I'm just like, in this spiral all the time. And eventually it just got to that point, whereas they would all just probably be better off without me. My husband would be able to find a wife who could actually function. My daughter barely a year old. She wouldn't remember me anyway. She'd be able to have a mom who could actually function and play with her and do all this stuff. Getting to that point where it's like, all right, what's the point? And we had a 4 July we have this annual 4 July party in our neighborhood where it's this big neighborhood bash with a neighborhood parade and this big block party, basically. And it's always in our backyard, in our neighbor's backyards. And we had put our daughter to bed, had the monitor outside with us, and she had started crying. So both my husband and I went up to her room to try to calm her down. And I don't know what was the final push for me to say something, but I'm standing there cradling her in my arms, trying to get her to sleep. And I just looked up at my husband and I was like, I think you guys would be better off if I just wasn't here. In my head, I was thinking, like, terrified to admit it because I'm thinking, he's going to agree with me. He's in all this stuff. And I'm like, he looked at me and he was just like, if you weren't here, we would lose everything. And I'm just like that was kind of the moment where the switch came, and it was like, all right, I'm going to do this. I'm going to come out of the spiral. I'm going to figure it out. I'm going to get my life back. I'm going to get energy back. I'm going to get healthy again. And then it became like, all right, give me all of the books. Give me all of the books on hashimoto's. Give me all of the research online. Give me everything. And then it just became the trial and error of finding what worked and coming into finding a health coach and a functional medicine coach and just finding the support system and the people that would actually take more than 15 minutes every three to six months to listen to what I had going on and help me come up with that roadmap to get back to being healthy again.
00:23:54 - Andrea W Hanson
Is that where you feel right now?
00:23:55 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah. I worked with my functional medicine coach for about a year and a half, and while we're not working actively together anymore, I have that map that I can follow, that path that I can follow on my journey to, like, okay, I can maintain where I'm at now, and I can feel energy. Like, when I started working with my coach, all I wanted was to be able to have dance parties in my living room with my four and two year old. That's all that I wanted to do. They love music. They love dancing. I just wanted to be able to get off the couch and have the energy to dance with them. And we do that now. We put Kiss videos on. We put Bon Jovi videos on on YouTube, and we're all just, like, dancing around the living room singing. And it's amazing.
00:24:38 - Andrea W Hanson
I love it.
00:24:39 - Sarah Bowser
00:24:40 - Andrea W Hanson
I love that you're still listening to Kiss and you're indoctrinating your kids.
00:24:46 - Sarah Bowser
Listening to Kiss. I showed my daughter rock and Roll all Night, the music video from 1973.
00:24:52 - Andrea W Hanson
Oh, no. What do they think?
00:24:54 - Sarah Bowser
She now asks me on The Daily if I can get my eyeliner out and do her makeup like Jean Simmons.
00:24:59 - Andrea W Hanson
That's amazing. That's amazing. Because Kiss, it's like I liked the music, but as a kid, I remember seeing I just have this I'm the youngest, so I was exposed to things way past, like, what I should be exposed to as the youngest in the family often is. And I remember seeing I don't know what the video was, but seeing one of their boots. I'm not even sure who it was.
00:25:21 - Sarah Bowser
But they have a boot, probably jeans with the demon boots.
00:25:24 - Andrea W Hanson
Yes, with, like, the teeth. Terrified. Terrified. Although it probably planted that seed, because not long afterwards, I saw another is.
00:25:34 - Sarah Bowser
When you get into horror.
00:25:35 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, I saw a horror movie that I was, again, way too young to.
00:25:38 - Sarah Bowser
See, but that's okay.
00:25:39 - Andrea W Hanson
And I loved it.
00:25:40 - Sarah Bowser
I was like, this is amazing.
00:25:41 - Andrea W Hanson
I'm so scared. But I actually love that feeling. So I bet if I traced that seed back, it would be Jean Simmons boots.
00:25:50 - Sarah Bowser
I love it. I'm already being asked, like, have you ordered my Jean Simmons Halloween costume yet? And like, we're going to wait a few more months. That way I don't order it now and you don't grow out of it.
00:26:01 - Andrea W Hanson
Oh, my gosh.
00:26:02 - Sarah Bowser
But I love it. Yeah. She is like the spitting image of me in looks and in personality. So it's amazing to watch and it's amazing to think, too. I now know the ways that I can support her so that she doesn't feel the same need to hide herself the way that I did. And that's not like a dig at my parents or anything. Like, my parents were amazing and they supported me with all of it. It was more like I didn't the societal pressures that come down, I know now, having lived, that how to help my daughter. All right, we can do this. We can thrive. You can be who you are and not you can still find where you belong.
00:26:43 - Andrea W Hanson
I have to think that in and of itself is pretty healing.
00:26:46 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah, it is. It's amazing because I was like 4th, 5th grade when I got introduced to Kiss and started that journey. And she's four, almost five years old. She's like five years ahead of the schedule, and she is owning it. And it's amazing to watch.
00:27:02 - Andrea W Hanson
Love it. She's ahead of schedule.
00:27:04 - Sarah Bowser
Oh, she's very ahead of schedule, and I'm very proud of her.
00:27:09 - Andrea W Hanson
That is amazing. So talk to me about when you started thinking, okay, I'm feeling better with healing and with getting a plan, working with various people to help you figure out your own map, as you say, which I think is such a great way of saying it. When did you feel like you were ready to start kind of looking forward and saying, like, okay, maybe I'm going to help other people?
00:27:40 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah. So the pandemic was kind of a lot of, like the triggering points for me. I'm sure pandemic has been a triggering point for a lot of people with things changing and just the way that society has changed as a result of it. And I think at the end of the tail end of 2020 is when I started working with my functional medicine coach. 2020 was also when I had my son. And then I had a friendship that just kind of imploded out of nowhere with no warning, where it was kind of that seed. It was like the proverbial switch with the suicidal ideation and the switch slipping with my discussion and my admission to my husband. The end of this friendship just kind of was like that switch that was like, oh, I really have been burying myself so far down just to try to please other people, that the minute I start to show myself, this friendship just completely cut off. Ghosted that was it.
00:28:39 - Andrea W Hanson
Isn't that fascinating how that happens?
00:28:41 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah, I have my two kids. I have the family. I'm on my health journey. I'm getting there as we're doing the health, like the physical health roadmap to get my body and my brain back to functioning. It was also like soul roadmap, too, at the same time, to be like, all right, these are my actual values. This is who I am at my core. This is what I like. I do really like this thing. I do really like that thing. Oh, this sounds interesting. I'm going to experiment with this over there. And it turned into this, okay, I'm just going to keep experimenting and trying things. And it was soul searching and health searching all at the same time on the same path. So as I'm following this physical gravel path through the woods to finding my health again, I'm following the stars and the navigation up there to find my spiritual path and my soul path at the same time. So it's kind of like coming out of that and like, I know who I am again, and I know how I got here. So many other people, so many other weird, nerdy women like me who have been shoving down their love of Kiss and Lord of the Rings and all Doctor Who for years and years and years can just be like, all right, this is who I am, world. If you're with me, the people that I belong with will come. And you'll attract your tribe and you'll create the garden where you're meant to just sit and take it all in.
00:30:11 - Andrea W Hanson
I love how you say that. I think it's interesting because, I don't know, I almost feel like those things are so connected. It's like your health, but also, like, really what you're describing is just living your truth. And when we're not living our truth, there's a certain amount of agitation and resistance and stress that goes with that. And when you have that, it's real. It's not just some situation out in the ether. It's something that's happening in our body and it is working against creating health. Right? And so it's like, really, when we are finding that health, it's almost essential to find that truth, live that truth, accept it, honor it, and it can be really, really hard. And I'm not saying that you can't get healthy if you don't do that, but it can almost be like the gas and the brake doing those both at the same time, and it can really hinder it. But it can also be a very vulnerable, scary place to be where you're trying to figure out your health, where it's like, oh, my gosh. I mean, I remember I felt like my body was an alien when I was first really diagnosed and really like, that year or so, obviously before. It's very intimidating and at the same time having to figure out like, oh, gosh, I haven't really been living my life the way I want to and I haven't been embracing those values. It can be really daunting, but I do think that whole thing is just a packaged deal.
00:31:42 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah, it's learning how to take stock of, okay, I was changing myself this way to fit into this person's values. But when I think about it, when I think about you take a scenario that you were in with a friend where maybe things just seemed off, and you want to take that scenario and just think, like, okay, in a perfect world where I could just answer this scenario or react to this situation in a way that is safe and just my ultimate gut feeling. How would I react? How did I actually react in real life? And then kind of like comparing those two and thinking like, okay, this reaction over here, the ideal world reaction, this is what feels right. This over here does not feel right. I feel like I'm letting myself down. I'm letting the world down for not reacting the way that was the truth and the positive for me. And then learning, okay, kind of doing that for a few different scenarios or situations throughout your life, whether it's on your own, with friends, with family, with work, and just kind of like, okay, looking for those themes in those reactions and in those scenarios and like, okay, I can see the different themes and the different values that are popping up. And then you can be like, okay, this is kind of like the roadmap, the beacon out in the distance to kind of like, okay, this is like the foundation or the structure, the pillars of what's holding up my true identity. Let's start to kind of experiment a little bit and find like, all right, what's making all this stuff around the pillars and around those words turn me into the weird nerdy person that I am.
00:33:20 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, I love it. No, it is. I mean, it's very visual too, right? And it's so funny, because as you were talking, I was thinking that I talked to a lot of people who have chronic illness, and one of the themes that many, many people say, and you actually have said it here is that after diagnosis, and sometimes it takes a couple of years, but after diagnosis, it's almost like we're stepping into this new identity. I think it is tempting to say it's because we have this diagnosis and we're trying to figure out who we are with a diagnosis, which is very true. But I think it's also this idea of having a diagnosis or even like I don't want to say that this doesn't happen if you don't get a diagnosis. Right, because some people don't get an actual diagnosis. It happens when we realize that there is something truly different going on with our bodies and we need to adjust and we need to honor it and figure out what's going on but in doing that, we start number one saying, okay, who am I now that I have this diagnosis? Or I now have this health condition? But at the same time, I think, like we said, it's like those things are connected to let's find our truth. Life's too short. Why am I messing around with this? And as we do that, we tend to cut off friendships or change relationships. And that's something that happens a lot, and I think it can be changed. I mean, I think it's interesting that we're having this discussion because a lot of times people say, well, I got diagnosed and then my friends went away. But I think if you look at it on that deeper level, it's like.
00:34:52 - Sarah Bowser
Well, did they go away because you.
00:34:53 - Andrea W Hanson
Got diagnosed or did you got diagnosed and then start really living your truth? And maybe those friends that weren't aligned with your truth were going to drop off anyway. Maybe that's what it is, right?
00:35:05 - Sarah Bowser
Because with my diagnosis, at the beginning, it was like, just one more thing that made me different, one more thing that made me weird, one more thing that made me not fit in with everybody around me. It was like, all right, now I have to try to balance actually trying to get healthy and all the weird stairs when I change what I'm eating or what I'm doing or all this kind of stuff. As you're experimenting with the physical stuff to try to find what's going to bring you health again, and you're experimenting with the soul stuff to try to find, okay, who am I as a person? You're finding these things can start to mesh. And when you're finding the things that help you physically, whether it's going for a walk, going for a hike, eating the right foods, or finding the foods that are beneficial to you, or that your gut just doesn't like. You start to realize, like, oh, hey, I used to like this or doing this when I was younger. Or, hey, this triggered this memory for me. That kind of reminds me of this thing over here that I used to like. And then the pieces start to come back up to the surface, and you start, like you said, finding who you really are. And then as you find yourself, friendships, family, relationships, all that kind of stuff are going to evolve. And the ones that evolve with you are the ones that are truly people that are meant to be in your tribe. And we don't have to ask them for belonging. It's kind of like we're creating our own belonging by being who we are because we're putting our authentic self out there and we're kind of attracting the people who have those same values, who have those same interests, who have that same view or outlook on life of. Hey, we can be us and we can be just. Not every flower in the garden has to be the exact same thing. You want to have all of those different colors and shapes and sizes and everything. That's what makes it visually beautiful and that's what makes us beautiful. And that's what makes a true community of belonging, is just showing our true colors and just being ourselves.
00:37:06 - Andrea W Hanson
I love it. And I also find that when we are stepping into that true color, that area of ourselves, and are accepting of that right. Because part of this is like, we're not accepting ourselves, which is why we're not letting us.
00:37:20 - Sarah Bowser
Right, absolutely.
00:37:21 - Andrea W Hanson
Fly that freak flag of what we like. When we become more accepting of ourselves, it's always a mirror. We become more accepting of other people.
00:37:30 - Sarah Bowser
Yeah, absolutely. We will begin to see the true self of the other person that you're looking at those perceptions of what we used to think of, oh, this person's going to be thinking this about me, or that, or they're not going to want me to be this way. As we're accepting who we are, we're also seeing like, oh, those perceptions were the result of all the work that I did to bury myself. They don't actually think that. They just want to be them. And by being me, I can help them be comfortable in being themselves. And then it's just this beautiful cycle of everyone just opening up and finding what works and what they like.
00:38:09 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah. I always love finding I call them wizard of Oz moments, where you realize, like, it was me all along.
00:38:18 - Sarah Bowser
00:38:19 - Andrea W Hanson
Because and it's like me thinking that other people don't like me or whatever. And it's like, you know what?
00:38:25 - Sarah Bowser
Some people don't. Right.
00:38:26 - Andrea W Hanson
There's always going to be like, a third of the people aren't going to like you, a third of the people are going to like you, and a.
00:38:31 - Sarah Bowser
Third of the people are not going.
00:38:32 - Andrea W Hanson
To care one way or the other.
00:38:33 - Sarah Bowser
00:38:34 - Andrea W Hanson
But whenever we start putting that on somebody else, it's really about us and our own self judgment. And once that comes away, we realize like, oh, it was me all along.
00:38:43 - Sarah Bowser
It was all here. Yeah, exactly. Absolutely.
00:38:47 - Andrea W Hanson
So for people listening and they're thinking, I love this, and how can I step into how can I find my truth? What are some things that they can start doing to help? Because not everybody I mean, sometimes you can look back and say, like, oh, yeah, I did this in childhood, and I know this is kind of I've abandoned that and I'm going to come back to it.
00:39:08 - Sarah Bowser
But sometimes it's like you don't really know, right, because you varied it so far.
00:39:15 - Andrea W Hanson
You'Ve buried it so far. Or maybe you just never had that chance to really express yourself. Or maybe for me, I had some pretty crippling lack of confidence for a big part of my childhood. So even if I did like something, I didn't even let myself start it because I was so scared of what it would look like or if I would be ostracized or whatever it was, right, so for people who were like, I just don't even know where to start, what do they do?
00:39:42 - Sarah Bowser
One of the things that really helped me on as I was starting my own journey was like a visualization or like a guided meditation between YouTube and a bunch of free apps out there. There are so many places where you can find guided meditations and I typically went for ones that were more not just guided breathing or anything like that. It was more like kind of taking you through some kind of visualization of either what you want the future to be or just different scenarios or even something sometimes in the past. And I would kind of just go through those and it took a lot to get at the beginning. I'm just kind of like, I can't imagine this stuff. I have a great imagination, but it always goes to the worst case scenario. I can't imagine positive good things like what is this? The more you do it, the more that you can start to get your brain to train and kind of flip to like, okay, maybe I can think of something neutral, maybe it doesn't have to be the worst case scenario, it can just be something neutral. And then as you go through, you just get better and better at all, right, I can actually think of something good happening, I can see myself in a positive way, all that kind of stuff. And then I kind of went from there into Affirmations and stuff like that, where not necessarily saying like, I am amazing and I am great and I can do this. It was more like, again, kind of stepping my way up. One of the things that I learned from a really amazing mentor was you can give yourself permission first if you can't get to be I am strong and confident and worthy, you can start with I give myself permission to believe that I am strong, confident and worthy. And then you can slowly kind of work your way up to okay, I can give myself permission to believe this, or I can give myself permission to be this. And then it can be like I am this. And I'm not necessarily at the I am stage for a lot of things still, but it's an amazing way to just kind of jolting yourself out of a place where you've been stuck for decades in your head, where just like, don't open those curtains. I don't want the light to come through. You're not going to undo a lifetime's worth of shoving yourself down overnight. It's going to take time. So it's finding the ways that are kind of build you up and help you take those incremental steps to get out of where you are, to get to where you want to be. The visualization, guided meditations and affirmations were huge. And then from there, it was kind of working up to looking at the different scenarios that I've been through in my life to think, all right, perfect world, how I really reacted, and then kind of going into my core values from there, and then just, all right, let's experiment. Let's find all the stuff that I actually love.
00:42:36 - Andrea W Hanson
Yeah, I think it's one of those things that I always describe it where it's like you're taking baby steps and you're being very, very gentle, but at the same time, that doesn't mean that it's going to take 20 years. Right. It takes some time. But if you are gentle and tread lightly, especially in the beginning as you're trying to wiggle yourself out and get yourself unstuck, the faster and faster it's going to go. And then sometimes there's all sorts of facets of your life that you work on this kind of stuff with, but sometimes it's like you just have a.
00:43:08 - Sarah Bowser
Moment where you look up and you.
00:43:09 - Andrea W Hanson
Realize, oh, my God, I just said XYZ without even worrying about it. I can't believe I just sent that email. I can't believe I just published that. And you realize, like, three months ago, I never would have done it.
00:43:19 - Sarah Bowser
Exactly. Yeah, because it's like and everybody is different, so everyone's timeline is going to be different. There's no wrong timeline for this kind of work and this kind of process for me. By the time I got my head in gear to actually like, all right, I'm going to do the work, it was towards the end of 2020. And then it took me about a year and a half to really get myself to the point where I was like, all right, I'm putting myself out there to the point where I got published in a couple of books. I'm now writing books, which has always been like a childhood dream, even if they never get published. I'm writing and I'm fulfilling something that I've always wanted to do, whether it's just for me or if it's something that will go out in the world. I'm dancing with my kids in the living room. I'm enjoying all these different things that I never thought I'd have the energy to enjoy again. And yeah, it took me a year and a half. It might take someone else a couple of months, it could take someone else longer than a year and a half. But there's no wrong timeline. The timeline, it's up to you, and it's up to your comfort level and how safe you feel taking whichever side step you're taking at that point in time, depending on the map that you have and how clear the path in front of you looks.
00:44:35 - Andrea W Hanson
That's so well said. So well said. Well, thank you so, so much. I'm going to have all of your information in the show notes where people can get you, but just for people who don't go to the show notes because I understand. Tell people just quickly where they can find you.
00:44:54 - Sarah Bowser
Yes, I'm on Instagram at that weird nerdy mom. And then I have a website. perfect.
00:45:04 - Andrea W Hanson
I love it when all the handles line up.
00:45:06 - Sarah Bowser
I know.
00:45:08 - Andrea W Hanson
Well, Sarah, thank you so much. I really enjoy talking to you and I know people are going to get so much out of this.
00:45:14 - Sarah Bowser
Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it. This has been great.
00:45:19 - Andrea W Hanson
If you like the show, don't be shy. Please give us a five star rating and review. Follow us on Apple podcast, Amazon Music or wherever you're listening right now. To see complete show notes and resources mentioned in this episode, visit Andrea Hanson Coaching, LLC. Thank you for joining me. And until next time, take care.

About Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis podcast

Hear inspiring discussions with people living with chronic illness. These people went after their passions and big goals -even when everyone told them they couldn’t. Listen to stories of resilience and gratitude in the face of uncertainty.

I’m your host, Andrea W. Hanson, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Autoimmune Rebel living with multiple sclerosis. You’ll not only fall in love with these guests, but you’ll soak up positive mindset tips and ideas to find your own unique path to success.

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