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Dana Baker-Williams is a Parent and Teen Coach specializing in ADHD and Anxiety, and mom of two. She’s living with Lupus as well as Sjogrens and Raynaud’s. But the very sickness that made her have to learn how to walk again also allowed her to be with her kids and see that her daughter was struggling. A whole new career and a thriving daughter came from having to go on disability. Listen to Dana’s amazing story, and hear her honest take on what helped her through the tough times – and how she’s moving forward with a new, successful career. 

Guest Spotlight: Dana Baker-Williams

Parent and Teen Coach specializing in ADHD and Anxiety. 

Through 1:1 and small group coaching, she gives parents the tools and support they need to understand the issues, parent more effectively and connect with their child. 

She also works with teens and young adults, encouraging them to advocate for themselves, develop resilience, manage their emotions and increase confidence.  

Dana’s devoted to giving clients the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to ease family dynamics and help them lead happier,  independent, and more successful lives. 

Connect with Dana Baker-Williams:

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

Dana Baker-Williams

Dana Baker-Williams
Today, I'm talking with Dina baker Williams. She has an amazing She's living with Sjogren's and Raynaud's, and I know you're going to relate to her on so many levels. We get honest in this episode and go deep into topics like acceptance. How important and how hard it is to be vulnerable. Connecting with other people, how to communicate with friends and families. When we have to bow out of plans again.
At the We both just get real about owning a business and finding that balance with the business and our health and all of the other obligations that we have on a daily basis. I love somebody who is as introspective as she She's really done her work and can talk about it in a really relatable . And I know you're going to love, hearing her talk about her story.
So please enjoy this week's episode and visit Andrea Hanson for more on Dana Baker-Williams resources. So we talk about in the show. And transcripts from today's episode.
Welcome to the live your life, not your diagnosis podcast. I'm Andrea Hanson, 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 you inspire you To achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw. Uncensored and judgment free.
Listener discretion is advised
[00:01:43] Andrea: I'm here with Dana Baker-Williams. She's a parent and teen coach specializing in ADHD and anxiety through one, on one and small group coaching, she gives parents the tools and support. They need to understand the issues, parent more effectively and connect with their child. She also works with teens and young adults, encouraging them to advocate for themselves, develop resilience, manage their emotions, and increase confidence.
Dana's devoted to giving clients the knowledge, understanding, and skills. They need to ease family dynamics and help them lead happier, independent, and more successful lives. Hi Dana, how are you?
[00:02:24] Dana: I'm great. How are you?
[00:02:25] Andrea: I'm good. Thank you.
[00:02:26] Dana: Thanks for having me.
[00:02:27] Andrea: I cannot wait to dive in. There's so much . What I really loved is something that you said when we were talking before that you had a whole new career at a thriving daughter that came from going on disability.
[00:02:42] Dana: Yeah, it's kind of crazy. Sure. Didn't think so when it happened, right. I started getting sick shortly after having my daughter and I would have sort of, it, it took years to get diagnosed, actually. I don't know if it took you a long time or not, but these things take a while. So I was numb. I was tingling.
I was weak and I couldn't, nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. One person thought it was MS, then it turned out it wasn't a mess. They said, you'll be like this forever. Someone else said, this'll go away in a year. It's all in your mind. So it was kind of a nightmare, honestly. But I also, I had a job at that point running editorial at Yahoo or editor in chief of their policies. So I traveled to Pasadena, California. I live in the bay area every week for a couple days. And as I did that, I got more and more sick. So it got to the point where I couldn't walk up the steps in my house.
I was literally crawling anyway. Eventually they figured out what I had and as I continued to get worse, I finally had to go on disability and stop working altogether after having paired it back several times. And the blessing of that was not at all the diseases. It was the fact that I was home, so I could see what was going on with my kids.
Right. They were young, really young. My daughter was by the time I stopped working, she was in kindergarten. And when I went to pick up the first day, The teacher said, oh, I'm so glad you're home. Now. Maybe her stomach aches will go away. And the headaches and I was like, what are you talking about? I don't know about any headaches or stomach aches.
Turns out she had them when I was away every week, whenever I was away. And so by coming home a, I was able to ease some of that anxiety for her, but I also just noticed a lot of things that she was struggling with. And over the years, the next couple years I would notice, and I would keep asking the teachers, I'm like she's having problems, remembering numbers or spelling or letters, or, and they all said, no, she's fine.
She would work does really well. And I thought, yeah, she's doing well, but she's working hours and hours of homework a night and she's in elementary school. So eventually we took her and got her diagnosed and, but, and she had Learning differential H ADHD, anxiety and some depression. But the key piece of this was that we were able to absolutely help her.
Right. There are people she could talk to there's therapists. There was medicine that we ended up putting her on and she was night and day after that. Totally different child, but there wasn't anybody for me,
There's nobody for the parents. And you get these diagnoses that are, big and overwhelming and you think, how am I ever going to help her?
It's isolating and scary and you don't talk about it. And so that was when I realized that this is what I need to do. So I started writing. I used to be a writer, articles. And from there I just gently morphed until I decided that I was going to go back and I learn everything I had to learn.
And I was going to be that person that wasn't there for me, for these other parents.
[00:05:58] Andrea: I love that. When we go through this, and we're, we go through the diagnosis. There's so much processing.
[00:06:09] Dana: so
[00:06:09] Andrea: There's so much just looking at your life and you've got this new life and all of these new circumstances. And at the same time, you are looking at your daughter in this whole new way, because now you have all this information that you hadn't didn't have before.
And I love the fact that when we process things, when we go through things and really fully feel all the emotions and really process it, it morphs into something more manageable to where you just told me a story about going through years before you could get a diagnosis, finally getting a diagnosis and it's lupus.
Is that right?
[00:06:51] Dana: I have lupus. And then of course, cuz autoimmune disease is like more people to play with. I've got SROs, I've got REOs. I've got yeah. On and
[00:06:59] Andrea: And you had trouble, you said trouble walking, but you, I love that. You just kind of, you just flew through that and you're like, but then my daughter and this is what's going on. But and I think that's such a hallmark of someone who has really gone through and done the work and processed things,
[00:07:15] Dana: it's
[00:07:17] Andrea: yeah.
Let's unpack that a little bit. Tell me about when you were first diagnosed, what was going on? What were your, what were you feeling? What was that like?
[00:07:27] Dana: It was actually a relief because I knew something was seriously wrong and I knew it. And having people tell you and tell your husband and tell people, oh, it's all in our head and it's stress. It's sad. It's no, I'm sorry. I can't stand up in the shower. That's not stress , it's not in my head. I couldn't cut my meat.
It was crazy. And so it was a relief to get a diagnosis in some ways, because at least I could say, see, not faking it . But it was also overwhelming and it was scary. And I thought, am I going to be like this for the rest of my life? They didn't know. Right. You know, Lupus comes and goes and nobody really knows.
You don't know what causes it. You don't know you can't cure it. So it was scary and I felt guilty. I felt guilty because my kids, I had really young kids and I couldn't chase them as I used to do. I couldn't run after them. I couldn't necessarily hold Kylie. It's my daughter when she was crying or my son Tyler.
So I felt guilty about that. I also felt guilty because it frustrated my husband to no end when I was that sick. And that sounds worse than it was. That's how it felt to me. He was scared in dealing with his own stuff. Right. But how that came across to me was I needed to get up and do everything, which of course would just make him matter because then he's like, you're not supposed to be doing that.
So yeah, I felt guilty. I felt scared. I felt pretty alone in it. It wasn't something, I wasn't really a talker about that stuff. I wasn't vulnerable. It was, that was not the person that I particularly was. And so that was hard and it was discouraging, I was like how do I know what to do with myself?
How do I know when I'm going to be okay to do something and not right. As a parent, as a person, you need to be able to make plans. Plans went out the window, right? You want to go do something with people, but you don't know if you're going to feel up to it or not. So I was also determined that I wasn't going to let this interfere with my kids' lives, that I would go to all of the school things at least, and I would do everything I needed to do and wanted to do, and that they needed me for.
So it was a whole, it was a whole long process. And then there's figuring out when you feel well. And when you don't and can you check yourself as you're starting to get into a flare, but not go all the way into the flare? There's just so many pieces to chronic illness.
[00:09:43] Andrea: yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. There's a lot of pieces. I feel like there's a lot of nuance and I also feel like there's a lot of levels that happen. You said something that I absolutely, resonate with where you. Feel like you were able to be very vulnerable
at first. And I get it. I was the same way.
My first reaction was, hell no, this is not going to be my story. This is not I, I wasn't in, it's not that you're in denial.
[00:10:15] Dana: No, but you're determined.
[00:10:18] Andrea: Yeah. And a lot of times it's hard to be in that vulnerable space, but it's often where we need to go When it comes to healing our bodies, I also think it can be necessary for relationships. That we're in.
And you,
You touched a little bit on that, on the relationship with your husband and what you thought he thought versus what you probably thought
[00:10:44] Dana: right, right. And you know, you've got friends, but again, you don't want to make it all about you. And at a certain point you get sick of yourself. Right. You're kinda like, Ugh, I'm fine. I don't want to talk about me anymore., And then there's the anger, right? Your an I was. Angry. I was really angry at the doctors for not knowing what it was at first.
So it took me a long time to be willing to go back to a doctor about it,
because I thought they're useless. was in the hospital for three weeks, like in different hospitals. And so, yeah, I was angry at doctors and I just wanted to do it my way which is sort of like that determined piece.
Right. I'm stubborn. And I was not going to let this thing kick my butt. But at the same time then you overdo it and then you're in a flare for longer
[00:11:31] Andrea: Yes. And that's part of the level right. Of where it's you have to learn where your body is as far as how much you can push
[00:11:39] Dana: right. And
recognizing the signs. Of when to lie down and take one of your pills or whatever it is that you do to ease the pain. I had a lot of pain or I have a lot of pain when I sometimes joint pain and things like that. And exhaustion, right. One of my flares will be, you just exhausted can barely get out of bed, but you know, you have to get out of bed.
So you do
[00:12:00] Andrea: Yeah. And you talked a little bit about in the beginning having to relearn how to walk
[00:12:07] Dana: yeah. Way back when I got so sick, that was just after I went to the hospitals and they all said, it's a virus, it's nothing. It's whatever. I was not able to walk and I was not able to cut my meat and I could not take a shower standing up just washing my hair would exhaust my arms.
That was hard on so many levels. Right. It's scary. But it's also, again, I have a family, how do I support them and support myself? So one of the things I did was I have this really wheely chair. Wasn't a wheelchair, it was a chair with wheels and we had hardwood floors on part of our area. And so I'd have my kids push me around, where I wanted to go.
They'd like to help. And, but then ha I had somebody come to the house for a long time doing physical therapy and reteaching me exactly how to walk, how to support myself, and at first I'd use whether it was a Walker or I'd pull myself up by the stairs by that railing and things like that.
And it's exhausting, it's. It wore me out to try to stand and to try to walk and to try to come up with ways to play with the kids where I was sitting it was a lot, it was really a lot. And I think that, you know, the good news is I learned it all. I'm back.
I manage my life. I've got a career. I, I do still, you know, I get my days that are not great, but I've learned much better how to either give into it a little bit and give myself a little moment to rest versus just pushing through. And I've always been a push through it girl. So I think, as we said, that has good and has bad overall.
I think it's good for me because I feel like if I. Didn't do that. I feel like it had control over me, which it did for so long. And I didn't want to give it that satisfaction.
so to
[00:14:06] Andrea: I love that. Yeah, I'm a push through it kind of girl too, for sure. And so I totally get that. You don't want to, you don't want to give it the satisfaction as if it's this whole other being, I love mindset. I am fascinated by people's mindset. So talk to me a little bit, I'm sure. Part of it was your kids and your family, but talk to me about what it was that you pulled on to keep yourself going.
Even when things looked like, you know, sometimes we take two steps back
when we're moving forward. So what is it that, and it might be multiple things that helped you keep that,
that focus and that
[00:14:48] Dana: That's really good question. I. and you're right. I still have it today because I, now that I have this so many other things pop up, so whether it's a back problem, it's a, this problem constantly have some new problem, which is frustrating beyond belief for everyone. And as soon as I think I'm in a better place, something else happens.
I think what kept me going? It was my family, right? It was the kids. I didn't want them scared. I didn't want them to lose out on childhood stuff. I didn't want them to worry about me and, you know, , and they did. And then that could cause anxiety and I hated that for my daughter. So that was really important.
And I, and some of it's just who I am. I'm just really strong, I'm strong willed, I'm stubborn, I'm determined. And I didn't want that, that, wasn't what I wanted for my life. I didn't want to be someone who, you know, for a while I joined some, groups online to kind of help me figure it out. How do I deal with this?
And with that could be helpful. And other times that was like, Ooh, these people are all just so in such bad spirits that it brought me down. Or I didn't, I, it didn't resonate with me because I didn't want to be that I wanted to still be myself, but being able to move and do things and see friends and play with my kids.
um, so, you know, My, I had my husband, the whole family aspect was important because I did feel guilty. I wasn't who he married anymore. I wasn't what he signed up for. So that, that took its toll on me. But at the same time, the other side of that is, I needed to push through for him because that's what he was expecting.
That's who he was expecting. Right. That's the people we were, we're adventures, we're travelers. We love to travel. We love to hike. We love to kayak. We love to ski
[00:16:51] Andrea: Yeah,
[00:16:52] Dana: so I needed to find a way to, to be able to do those things,
[00:16:56] Andrea: I think that's, there's so much to that because it's this idea of, I think a little bit when we're and be interested to see what you think when we are thinking about, I need to do this because it's what so and so expects, like our spouses or our partners, whoever it is. I think there is a little bit of projection.
From our part to where it's really, I need to do this because this is what I expect of myself.
[00:17:26] Dana: For sure. There's that? I don't know. I think that, I think they're both true.
[00:17:32] Andrea: Yes.
[00:17:33] Dana: I think they were both true.
[00:17:34] Andrea: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I think it's interesting because this idea of guilt is so common. I felt it a lot. Honestly, I would be shocked if I talked to somebody who has been living with a chronic illness who didn't at some point feel guilt. It's just part of, I think the, just part of the wonderful array of emotions that we
[00:18:01] Dana: so many emotions
[00:18:03] Andrea: Yeah. And, but. at the same time. It's also, when you look at it, it's I don't want to say it's unnecessary because I think all emotions are necessary. But when you look at the reason behind the guilt,
[00:18:16] Dana: Right.
[00:18:17] Andrea: it's like why, how did you reconcile?
[00:18:22] Dana: I don't know that I fully did. I don't know that I, I can't say that I'm guilt free or when this happens or something happens to me again and, I throw my back out or whatever it is. I'm not sure. I don't still have some of that sometimes. Right. If it's stopping anyone from doing what they want to do, which it doesn't, which is good.
Right. My family's old they'll have their own lives here, but and my husband goes and does this stuff if I can't do it with him, but. It does still bother me. It does still ping at me a little bit sometimes. And I'm just like, Ugh., it's not fair to whomever. It is. I'm feeling guilty about even if it were like friends, right?
with friendships, you still have to participate. You have to make plans and follow through on the plans. So if you're someone who isn't able to follow through on the plans over and over again, right. That, that shifts that dynamic. It's not completely without guilt because , you're letting somebody down a little bit.
Right. I was supposed to be there. I'm not supposed to be going to do this weekend. I'm not. So I do think there's still some place in me that will feel guilty sometimes. , I do try to also just say it is what it is. Right. And it's not like there's something I can do about it. I'm doing everything I can possibly do.
[00:19:48] Andrea: Yeah. And I think that's the reconciliation right there is understanding that, and we all feel this, that it, something like that is not necessarily going to go away
[00:20:00] Dana: not in your control.
[00:20:01] Andrea: right. And it's not necessarily pushing it away when we feel it, but understanding that it's okay. It's okay. To feel guilty.
It's okay. Right. Not judging ourselves on these emotions. I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of I don't know what the word is. Belief out there for lack of a better word that you have to move on through these emotions in order to be successful and go out and do these things. And I don't think that's ever true.
I I think you said it beautifully it's like we don't necessarily stop feeling them, but the reconciliation is you know what? It comes, it happens.
[00:20:40] Dana: Yeah.
[00:20:41] Andrea: It's just there
and That's and there's no reason to push against. Just feel it move
[00:20:48] Dana: Yeah. You get to a point with all these emotions and I tell this to my clients as well, it's a,
you can't avoid the emotion, you have to move through the emotion. And so if you're anxious about going to do something, for instance, because I don't want to get hurt or I don't want to fall or whatever it is I can't just avoid it because by doing that, you're reinforcing it. You're reinforcing that anxiety or that worry that guilt.
Something's going to go wrong. So instead the reconciliation comes from it, maybe sitting with it and letting yourself feel it for a little while before you say, okay, I need to put it back in my box or here now. And , I need to move, keep moving. I have to keep going because the other thing is, is if you're not strong and determined and wanting to push through it, that's not a fun place to go to, right?
To always be sad and angry and depressed and guilty and feeling bad about what you have and who you are. That's such a place that you don't want to spend your time and that's not who I want to be, and it's not what I want to feel. And I can give my lupus and my autoimmune issues do take control sometimes.
Right. They do pop up and they may get in my way, but they don't define me. And I think there was certainly a time when that's what it felt like. It felt like that was just going to define me. I'm just going to be this person who can't do anything.
[00:22:32] Andrea: Yeah, to me, that is the power mindset move is to realize this is something that's going to be, need my attention on, sometimes more than others, sometimes it sneaks up. Sometimes it happens. I get it. Sometimes my Ms is hello, but it doesn't define me.
And it's not, I don't even, I look at it as, not that my Ms is taking control it's that I am choosing to devote my attention because not about you, but I can certainly, if I want it to ignore things, Way longer
if I wanted to right. So to me it's such the power mindset move to say look, this is not defining me.
I am choosing to put more attention on my lupus today, my Ms. Today or whatever the illness is. I'm choosing to focus on that because I feel like that's what it needs. And that's me taking care of myself, but doesn't mean it's me. And I might feel guilty because if I have to put more emphasis on my illness, it might mean that I am totally bowing out of something that I had made plans for before.
And I'm maybe yet, again, that friend who can't follow through, but it's the idea of, I am choosing to focus on this. I am choosing to say, okay. Yeah, I feel guilty. I'm going to let that flow through me. Not letting it define me.
[00:23:53] Dana: Right. And it's finding that place where you can get a balance, you can balance your feelings and you can balance your actions and sort of say, okay, yeah, I'd really prefer to go here today, but doesn't look like that's where I'm going to be going. So let's recircle back. And how do I, if I'm in a flare, how do I keep this flare to minimal?
Right. And part of that is by making that choice to pay attention and say, oh, I'm feeling these feelings. I'm feeling this pain. I'm feeling this weakness. So therefore I better pay attention and take care of it. So it doesn't become, you know, a week long flare or a two week flare, or I end up back in bed.
Right. So you're right. It is, it's making those choices and. And feeling okay about making those choices and hopefully feeling somewhat good about making the choices because you're actually hopefully helping yourself out and keeping it from being more than it needs to be. Right then,
[00:24:53] Andrea: Yeah, I think that's key. That's something that took me a little bit
to figure out I wasn't always so Zen with it. sometimes I'm still not Zen with it.
[00:25:07] Dana: Yeah.
[00:25:07] Andrea: what, so what would you tell, cuz I'm sure there are people listening that don't feel as, as much ease as we're talking about. Right. I think it, you need to get to a certain point of processing and living and understanding your illness and how it works with your body, which is totally different with every single person.
And I'm sure there are people listening that aren't feeling so copacetic with it. So what would you tell them? Like how, what would you tell them as far as how they can move into that feeling of no, it's okay to not push yourself.
[00:25:44] Dana: It's a really great question.
I guess I'd say a couple things. One is, it is what it is, so you can't change that, right? Whatever you have, you have it. And as much as you may wish it away, it's not going to go away. So if it's a chronic illness, it's here to stay. And so how do you get to live with it and emphasize the live as opposed to emphasizing the illness.
And I think how you do that is. Giving yourself time. It does take time and giving yourself some self-compassion that leeway to sink into it when you need to. At first, because it takes, I guess it takes people different amounts of time. It took me years to really get to that place where I could read my body enough, even because I've been so programmed to push it away and push it away and ignore it.
that, that was a big mind meld for me to have to shift over and be like, okay I guess I'm sharing my body with you because you're not going away. So I have to incorporate you. And how do I incorporate you in a way that allows me to live my life and allows me to understand that you really have to take care of yourself.
No one else can do it for you. It has to be okay, that you take care of yourself. It has to be okay that you figure out who you are and what you need, and be able to ask for it, you know, so resilience, self-advocacy those things that I teach my clients, you really key to anybody so I'm lucky.
I was brought up in a family where it's all about resilience. You bounce back, you bounce back, You bounce back. And for good or for bad, that's who I am. And that's what was in me. And that's what keeps me going if I'm struggling. But what enabled me to live with this was a way of kind of having a growth mindset with it in some ways, right.
It's that not being very articulate.
[00:28:01] Andrea: I think you're being amazingly articulate. I was just thinking earlier oh my God. Get out of my brain because I totally understand. all that you are saying here.
[00:28:11] Dana: You have to make room for yourself, you have to prioritize yourself at some point and as women that's I think that's really hard for us in general. So my guess is, and I don't actually have proof of this at all, but my guess is women feel a lot more guilty and have a lot harder time giving themselves the space to understand what they're feeling and how they should or can help it.
How can they help themselves? How can they feel better? And then if that means lying down, which for me, sometimes it's lying down with my legs up on a pillow. How many years did I have it before I finally realized, oh, that works. like a lot of years.
[00:28:52] Andrea: I it's like giving yourself permission. It's something I tell. I tell clients all the time. It's and it's so easier said than done,
but it's, it's just that simple act of giving yourself permission to take a nap to even just step back and focus on you.
Instead of thinking about what you have to do
[00:29:15] Dana: exactly. Right.
[00:29:16] Andrea: somebody.
[00:29:17] Dana: everybody else
[00:29:19] Andrea: Even if it's just a matter of, I have to show up because I don't want somebody to feel bad or frustrated with me. Right. That is a way that we are no longer focusing on ourselves. And it's this huge thing. I think it's the paradox of a chronic illness is that we all want it to go away, but the way we make it go away is to pay attention to it
[00:29:43] Dana: Right.
[00:29:43] Andrea: and give ourselves permission
[00:29:45] Dana: Yes. Take care of yourself and acknowledge that it's acting up and that it's saying, Hey, I'm here. I'm back. Can you take care of me for a minute?
[00:29:56] Andrea: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it's that permission to pay attention to yourself in a way that. Sometimes you never have. I know I never, I was pretty young when I was diagnosed, but I didn't know my body or what it was, no, I had never really paid attention to it. And so now all of a sudden I was like, oh, I need to, but now it's completely different.
[00:30:18] Dana: Yeah.
[00:30:19] Andrea: to do this all over again.
[00:30:20] Dana: And you get to that point where you could also have adaptations. Like I, I picked up a lot of that, that adaptations if I needed to cook, right. My husband doesn't home. My kids were hungry. I had to cook, but at five o'clock that in. Those days I couldn't stand up anymore. That was just it.
I was so, okay. You get a chair and you sit down at the stove or you cut your vegetables sitting down. And then, you know, I mean, silly things put a bench into my shower so that if it gets too much, I can sit down for a second. And those things are also really important because it's, that's a way of, you're still showing up in the way that you want to show up.
Right? You're still cooking the dinner. You're still going to the soccer game. You're still doing, what's important, you know, and you're not doing it or I wasn't always doing it for them. It, I was doing it for me cuz I didn't want to miss out on any of that. Right. I love watching my kids do stuff. I wasn't going to be a mom who missed that.
So some of it is incorporating it into your life and finding ways to make the difficult things easier. And. And that's really important too. It's okay. I would like to be able to stand up and do all of this, but you know, what, is there really a reason that I shouldn't sit down and do it? no, there's really no reason other than me being stupid and stubborn.
So just sit down, give yourself a break.
[00:31:50] Andrea: , I think there's a lot of tools like that, that we all just incorporate without thinking about it after a while. And it comes just from that from just questioning do we really have to do something this way? Who says we have to stand up while we're shopping
broccoli or whatever?
[00:32:05] Dana: Yeah. Yeah, no you don't need to. And that permission and that acknowledgement that, okay, I have this and today it's going. Maybe adjust how I act or how I work or how I do whatever, but that's one day it's not my whole life, right? I'm not like this forever. I will have my good days.
I will have my bad days. And you know what, even if you don't have a chronic illness, your friends have good days and bad days as well. And they have days that they cancel on you because they're just upset or they're in a fight or they're tired. So you're not actually doing anything that isn't okay. And I think that's important.
And I think it's important to get to the point. And this is where the vulnerability comes back in. You have to be willing to acknowledge it, not just to yourself, but to other people. If you're not going to show up for something or if you have to change something or if you have to say I can tentatively do it, but it actually is going to have to decide on how I'm feeling that day.
And that's big. at least it was big for me, but with that comes an acceptance where you from them, but also for yourself. So once you people know it, it takes that pressure off of you because you may have your own pressure for wanting to do it, but their pressure isn't there. Some do I have a friend who I'm not friends with anymore because it was a problem.
And that really hurt, but I couldn't, I can't change that. I always need to have the ability to say, I'm sorry, I can't do this today. And if your friend isn't okay with that, then for me, it's okay that's who I am and that's my life right now. So
[00:33:48] Andrea: Yeah.
[00:33:49] Dana: you're in, or you're not right.
[00:33:51] Andrea: Yeah. I totally get it. I I had the same thing. I think that when we are, like you said, when we are vulnerable with ourselves it opens ourselves up to that honesty, that acceptance. And I think going back to how there's kind of levels of dealing with this, I feel like that takes us to just a deeper level.
And at, when it gives us a little less, I should say it, it takes pressure off of us. I think it also takes pressure off of our friends and our loved ones and people who are in our orbit, because I think the energy is just changed.
[00:34:31] Dana: Absolutely. I know my friend. Sure. I have one friend who's wow, I didn't really love you. Love you when you were , you know, at Yahoo or whatever. And I'm like, huh, interesting.
[00:34:42] Andrea: good to know.
[00:34:43] Dana: I'm just. I'm much more open and you know that again, there have been blessings from this. And I think that vulnerability is one of them.
I think understanding, this new career is one of them because I'm able to be here for other people. And I think that it gives me a way of seeing people, other people with such big compassion for everyone and not that pressure. So I think it makes you a better friend because you don't want to put any pressure on anyone else and it makes you more open human being which just leads to deeper connections.
[00:35:22] Andrea: Yeah. And I think it leads to a big amount of just personal growth and I feel, and cuz I went through the same thing with, so I mean one of my best friends at the time,
[00:35:36] Dana: Yep.
[00:35:36] Andrea: totally no longer because. I went through a growth period. Sometimes you go through it really quickly when you're first diagnosed and when we go through personal growth, just as people not having to do with the chronic illness or anything.
But I think when we go through a really deep level of that personal growth, it changes our relationships. And sometimes we see relationships differently and we realize you know what, that's actually not. That was actually never a great relationship. I just didn't see that
until now. I went through the exact same thing.
[00:36:08] Dana: There's also an acceptance of yourself. I think that comes from all of this. I think I'm much more a self-aware and B accepting of myself than I was. And it's. So I'm accepting of my chronic illness, cuz I still don't like that, but but I think that as a human being, I am cutting myself more slack.
I am more confident, more accepting of my good stuff and my bad stuff. I'm you know,
I am what I am. It is what its
[00:36:47] Andrea: yeah, I totally agree. I, for me, it led to a lot more compassion. For others as cuz I, as I found more compassion for myself, because again, I was doing the same thing. I was just accepting like this is going to happen or this can happen or whatever it is. I mean, Ms is fun. You never really know
what's going to happen.
it's just a bag of surprises. but as I had more compassion for myself and my body and what it's going through, it translated into compassion for other people. And I felt that in my relationships, I felt that with in a relationship with my husband, I felt that with everybody around me. And again, that also moves you into that area of self growth where like media other relationships aren't going to make the cut.
[00:37:40] Dana: right. Or they need work. Right. Or, wait a minute, we gotta have a conversation here. Cause this isn't working for me or in my case, it wasn't working for her that I canceled. Sometimes. I'm like
[00:37:50] Andrea: Right.
[00:37:51] Dana: I'd love for that myself. Not to have to do that, but that's not a reality. So I just have to let that go.
[00:37:58] Andrea: Yeah. I wasn't that mature when I was first going through that.
[00:38:01] Dana: this has been later
[00:38:04] Andrea: yeah. I'm like, yeah, that's not the conversation I had, but that's okay. they don't always have to be perfect conversations. I'd love how you were talking about different ways, different adaptive
ideas that you had. What are some, cuz we all have things that we do on a daily basis, even if we don't really realize it, but what are some of the things that you do even just on a daily basis that help
you either with,, keeping a flare from coming because it's, you know, some kind of a self care or something with really what, what are some things that you do.
[00:38:45] Dana: you know, it's interesting. I think right now what I'm doing, which I really never did before is asking for help sometimes. Not a lot, I'm not great with it, but I'm a lot better than I used to be. and if I'm struggling. So one of the things I have often are painful joints and weak joints.
So if I'm trying to open a jar or whatever, and I can't, I'm early enough, quickly enough, I'm like care, can you please do that for me? Which is obviously such a tiny little thing, but I kind of find those things hard for whatever reason I find that self. So I teach other self advocacy my own. it's a process. So asking for help is one of them., I'd like to say I lie down when I feel it coming on. I'm not really that good at it. That still takes me a little while to clue in and actually give in. But as soon as I do, I'm like, Why don't I just do this as soon as I start feeling this way., I think that, else do I do? I think I'd give in a little bit more to giving myself more time on something. If it's taking me a while. If showering is hard for me that day, either I won't, or I'll just do it slowly and use too much water in California. So I think I'm still learning all that stuff, honestly, to the clue in, but I've also been in a better place recently, or it hasn't been as my flares are quicker.
And I think that is because I do tune in and maybe I don't go and lie down as fast as I should. I cut myself some slack, maybe I won't cook dinner, maybe I'll order dinner. Maybe I won't clean the house. Little things that will just gimme a break,
[00:40:38] Andrea: Yeah, that's huge. I do the same thing looking for, I always say the devil is in the details. And like you said, like maybe if it takes you, let's say a minute to muscle open a jar. If you spend 15 seconds and then ask for help,
That's a big deal. That's a lot of energy. That's a lot of time. I know it doesn't sound like it, but if you do that during the day, can really help.
[00:41:03] Dana: Yeah.
Let's it go a little bit which helps the pain, cuz you're not doing it, but it also helps in that energy and that exhaustion, cuz you're not using the energy to open that. Or whatever it is that you're doing or not showering because that took energy. Like, you know, You only have, especially if I'm in a flare, I only have so many things I can do in a day.
Like I just don't, you know, I'm either exhausted and in pain. And okay. Maybe instead of getting up, washing my face, taking a shower, getting dressed, if that takes like most of my energy, then, okay, that's going to leave me not doing much for the rest of the day. So how do you balance how much energy you have and that, and I think that's now I'm thinking about it.
That's a big piece. It's taking stock and being like, okay, what is my energy level today? What is my pain level? What is my anything level? And then adjusting that accordingly and saying, you know what? Okay, showering takes too many of my spoons takes too many of my, too much of my energy. So we're going to leave that today,
[00:42:09] Andrea: Yeah.
[00:42:09] Dana: more energy to play with my kids.
[00:42:12] Andrea: I think when we're looking at tools, I think the tool of self-awareness is often overlooked,
[00:42:20] Dana: absolutely.
[00:42:21] Andrea: that is a tool that we need to use every single day
[00:42:25] Dana: Yes. Yes. Self-awareness and that's been a huge, that's one of the blessings of this, right. Is that I have, I've had to become more self-aware we all have, right. Because you have to tune in. And I think that's, yeah, that's really important. That's a great point. Yeah.
[00:42:42] Andrea: So you have. Really amazing business that you are working on. And you're not only are you working with parents, are you working with teens? Which as someone who actually doesn't have kids, I find that just fascinating.
cause my niece it's it. Teens terrify me. I'm just kidding. My niece and nephew just turned.
They're just now teenagers and they're lovely. So I'm
teenagers are great. But I think that it's amazing, but going into it, how did you know you were ready? I know you said you just kind of started writing. That's how you got slowly went into it, but how did you know you were ready for a business.
[00:43:21] Dana: I think it was, I got so much positive reinforcement from these articles that I wrote. And so many people sending me letters saying, oh my God, you've changed my life. Oh my God, this is really helpful. Oh my God, that's my child that you're describing. What do I do? you know, I think that was helpful for me to give me that boost that felt that I could do it.
And it wasn't easy. Like it's not something they just say, you know, as you know, right. You turn on your coaching career and everybody flock you. That's not how that works. And so it's a lot of consistency. It was a lot of having to show up, even if I didn't know how. And so I think it supported myself as I went because I would, as soon as I felt like, Ugh, I can't do this.
Somebody would give me a thank you or a, I really need your help. And then I thought, okay, I can do this. , so in some ways it was gradual and in some ways there's ups and downs in it, right. In any business there's seasons and stuff like that. I think what really did it for me was just that I was just adamant.
That there had to be a better way that people, parents do not. And teens, nobody has to feel like this is you're the first person to go through it. Right. It's so daunting and isolating. And that's so sad because it doesn't need to be because at you, luckily nowadays mental health is being talked about more, but it wasn't when I was doing that.
And even now, my clients are like, yeah, I don't talk to my friends about this because it's not just about their child. It's about the family dynamic. It's about how you handle the family dynamic, whether it's a chronic illness, whether it's ADHD, whether it's anxiety, there's a dynamic that shifts and changes and it can be a spiral downward pretty easily.
And I think my conviction that this was needed and I just needed to be there for people. I've always been such a people person and such a, I have a big heart and I think I just let that lead me.
[00:45:26] Andrea: Yeah, I think there's a lot to be said for that passion piece. Yeah. I think on one hand I have never ascribed to the idea of if you are passionate about it, just go for it and it's going to happen because you love it and that's all you need. And that sounds really pretty. I don't think that's necessarily all of it, but I do think that when there's that passion and when we see not necessarily because our clients are ourselves, but when we see ourselves in how we're helping our clients, we know that, Hey this is how I helped myself.
And this is how I felt, and this is how you can feel. And this is how you can be helped. There's that piece that really keeps us going when the doubt steps in.
[00:46:17] Dana: Yes. And the doubt does come in and then it's, that's exactly right. It's that, That's where the passion helps because that will help sustain you in those times that you're like, eh, nevermind, I'm done. I can't do this. And then you're like, Ugh so the passion and again, the stubbornness that determination, right?
That, that resilience it's I can do. I can do this and I should do this and I'm needed out there. Not me for me, but because of what I've been through, be because of what I've learned, because of all the knowledge and it doesn't come, people, kids don't come with a handbook and I can help with that.
I can help give a handbook to somebody then, that's important. It's important to be able to help other people it's important to be able to learn from what you've gone through. Right. So part of it helps me. I'm always learning. I'm always learning. I'm always researching and I'm a lifelong learner I love to learn.
And so all just kind of flows. I dunno,
[00:47:15] Andrea: Yeah I, in the same way, I love researching. I love learn. I always have. I've always thought it was really interesting. One thing that I know just from experience, but when it comes, especially to starting your own business and having our business, there's a lot of moving pieces. There is a lot that can suck you in and that our to-do lists can, if we let it can become a mile long.
So what do you do? Having a chronic illness being, self-aware taking care of yourself, taking care of your body, taking care of what's going on with your family, also having a business. How do you balance all of that? What do, because I, cuz we all know that there is no such thing as
the work life balance. let me just say that. We all know I don't. No.
[00:48:09] Dana: not.
[00:48:09] Andrea: So how do, what does that look like for you?
[00:48:12] Dana: so , it's interesting because what. What I did back when I was working at Yahoo that was helpful was that I had to travel for a couple days every week. So why that was helpful was it took me out of the home. So I couldn't be the person doing everything, getting my kids to school, getting 'em ready, doing the whole routines.
And so when I was in Pasadena, I was in Pasadena and I was able to just do that. And when I was home, I just did that. Actually I didn't have help. And I worked on the days that I was home. So I wasn't very good with that, but I think you're right. It's much easier to kind of figure out which needs you more that day, almost like, how are you going to balance a day?
Cuz it's not a life work balance all the time at all. One of the ways this year I shifted was to block my Friday afternoons. That was a, I just thought, wait a minute, this is my business. I can, I, you know, I, I was very busy and I realized I was working late some evenings cuz working with teens, they had to get home from school and all that stuff.
So I started eating into all of my time and I thought, wait a minute. Wasn't the reason for me doing this, I went back to work was partially so that I could balance my life. So I've blocked my Friday afternoons and I'll open it up if I need to for something. But that's my choice. And if I keep it blocked, at least, then that gives me that option.
I chose not to work late every single night. So I'd have a couple days that I take the teens, so I do that. I try right now, one of the ways I'm working that is. Not to do all the things, right? Cause there's so much you can do and social media and all of that can just suck your time and energy and you know, so, okay.
Maybe I'm not posting something every day. That's okay. My clients don't come from my Instagram account so, you know, I give myself a break on that. So little things that I can find to help me balance the time that I have. And then if I'm not in a good place, whether it be for my kids are busy and I need to do something, or I went to Africa a couple, few weeks ago and I took that time and I didn't post and I didn't interact. And I was just like, no, I'm in Africa. I'm going to actually be in Africa. even though there's wifi, I am not necessarily going to be. Having my clients and I, I didn't see my clients. I waited till I got back. So making those choices and they can be hard to make sometimes because, you feel like you should do everything or I feel like I should be doing everything.
And again, one of the things you learn with chronic illness, you can't do everything. You can't do it all at the same time anyway. So you can have it all maybe, but not all at the same time.
[00:51:07] Andrea: Yeah. And you know what a little secret is, even if we didn't have a chronic illness, we still couldn't do
everything all the time.
[00:51:12] Dana: that's absolutely true.
[00:51:14] Andrea: yeah, I think that's something. Yeah. I think that's something that I certainly forget and I think that's something that's easy to forget when you have a chronic illness, you think were it not for this chronic illness, I'd be able to do fill in the blank.
And that fill in the blank is like the, everything to everybody all the time. And it's just not
[00:51:33] Dana: That's not true.
[00:51:34] Andrea: yeah no, not true,
but I love
[00:51:36] Dana: not true.
[00:51:39] Andrea: Exactly. But I love the empowerment. I've always loved the empowerment that comes with, like I am choosing to, I am choosing.
to turn off my wifi when you're travel. I mean, That's amazing that you're traveling still and you're, you still have all of these things that you're doing and you're choosing to,
[00:51:55] Dana: Right.
[00:51:57] Andrea: I mean, Honestly, what they are is that you're putting up these boundaries, right.
[00:52:00] Dana: Great
loving boundaries. Yes.
That conversation with a client this morning. you can have boundaries and you can do it in a loving way. That's good for both of you.
[00:52:11] Andrea: absolutely. I think boundaries are a hundred percent for us, honestly. I think if there's, if it benefits somebody else, I feel like that's a bonus, but I feel like first and foremost, it's for us. And within that boundary, it's making a choice.
[00:52:26] Dana: yes.
[00:52:26] Andrea: with that choice comes empowerment
[00:52:29] Dana: I think language is important on that one. Actually I think the fact that, using choose is really good. I actually said to my husband last night, he was saying, I don't remember what he was saying, but he was saying something about, I need to do this. And I was like, you're choosing to do that. And he's like, oh yeah, that puts a better frame of mind on it.
And I was like, yeah, cause it is, every everything you do and everything you don't do, those are choices with whether you do nothing. That's making many choices.
[00:52:58] Andrea: Right.
[00:52:59] Dana: So it's a great way to feel. If you can put that power back in and say, I choose, I want, I get to, instead of I need to go exercise, I get to go exercise right now.
You're lucky me
[00:53:13] Andrea: Yeah. There's so much weight that comes from constantly telling ourselves I have to do this,
[00:53:19] Dana: yeah. Have to, should have, oh my God. They're so hard.
[00:53:22] Andrea: Yes, or I need to do this well. Yeah. Or I should do this. I mean, there's, There's so much mental energy. That's just given away
[00:53:30] Dana: right.
[00:53:30] Andrea: we
talk to ourselves that
[00:53:32] Dana: yeah. And you don't think words could have power in that way and could really let you relax if you choose to not have a should or choose not to listen to that should today because, could I would've shoulda have not always, just cuz you can doesn't mean you should all the time
[00:53:51] Andrea: right?
[00:53:52] Dana: and and choosing that is a lovely way again, of feeling how much energy you have.
Right. Cuz you can get a lot of energy back if you cut yourself that slack and just say, Hey, Nope, can't do that today.
[00:54:09] Andrea: Yeah.
[00:54:09] Dana: that's.
[00:54:11] Andrea: Hundred percent. It's giving ourselves that permission, understanding that it's okay. Knowing how we talk to ourselves and not putting anything that we have to do. Cause you feel, what do we have to do? We have to breathe. That's about it. Many chronic illnesses have fatigue and lack of energy.
And just in talking to yourself, you can get some of that back.
[00:54:32] Dana: Yes.
[00:54:33] Andrea: again, it's those little things. It's those little
[00:54:35] Dana: It is little things, all those little things add up and that's so important to know, and to try to hang on to and remember so that when you are having a little thing that you can gather up that energy that you're collecting by not doing it, or by not feeling that way, or by not putting that pressure on yourself, like pressure and shoulds are heavy. There's a lot to be said for lightening up your load, whether you're sick or not sick, doesn't matter. having that ability, I think is really, that's a really great point.
[00:55:11] Andrea: So, So well said well, Dana, thank you so much. I could talk to you for another hour. this
is, this is so fun. I am absolutely going to have links in the show notes from today's episode on how people can get ahold of you. But why don't you just tell us a little bit about what you have going on and how people can find you.
[00:55:29] Dana: You can find me at parenting in real and I am sort of an all social media as parent in life or parent in real life or some semblance of that. And I have a blog there it's free. It's about everything, parenting and everything, mental health. So go for it, read something. Let me know what you think.
If you do go read anything, yeah, I really appreciate you having me on today. This has been great. And it's actually been a great reminder cuz I'm thinking through things as I'm hearing it from you too. oh yeah, gotta remember to do that.
[00:56:05] Andrea: I know. That's why I love these conversations with people because it does, it, it kind of reminds you of oh yeah, you know what? I used to do that, but I haven't done that for a while.
[00:56:13] Dana: Sharing that
[00:56:13] Andrea: uh,
[00:56:14] Dana: is fabulous.
[00:56:15] Andrea: yeah. Well, Thank you so much. It's been a joy to talk to you and I can't wait for people to hear everything that you have going on and go and read her blog.
She's an amazing writer.
[00:56:30] Dana: you. 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 Thank you for joining me And until next time take care
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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