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Caitlin Fisher is an anti-capitalist creativity coach, author, and podcaster, on a mission to help people in the neurodivergent, disabled, and queer communities get in touch with their dreams and break the rules that tell us we have to hustle. Saying no thank you themself to the daily grind, Caitlin shares about navigating the corporate world as a person living with a chronic illness – and their journey leaving corporate and opening their own business that supports their needs – both physically and emotionally. Caitlin also shares about having the courage to leave an abusive marriage, and how they cultivated a deep sense of self trust and confidence. Don’t miss this episode packed full of positive vibes and tips on how you can find your own passion. 

Guest Spotlight: Caitlin Fisher

Live Your Life, Not Your Diagnosis guest Caitlin Fisher

Caitlin Liz Fisher (they/them) is an anti-capitalist creativity coach, author, and podcaster, on a mission to help people in the neurodivergent, disabled, and queer communities get in touch with their deep-down dreams and break the rules that tell us we have to hustle.

After a lifetime of hustle and burnout, Caitlin was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019 and is also autistic and ADHD — so between chronic illness, neurodivergence, and the audacity to advocate for themself in the workplace, they quit their corporate job in 2020 and have been coaching creatives ever since.

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

Caitlin Fisher

Intro: Hi everyone today, I'm speaking with a fabulous Caitlin Fisher. They made one of the biggest pivots that people living with a chronic illness often make leaving corporate and becoming self-employed. We talk about what it's like to take that step. As well as asking for accommodations and communicating with a boss that understands [00:02:00] little to nothing about someone with a chronic illness.
Caitlin also talks about having the courage to leave an abusive marriage. Overcome an eating disorder and cultivating a deep sense of self trust and confidence. Their story is inspiring to anyone. Who feels like they're in a deep hole they desperately want to get out of, but feel they can't.
And don't miss our conversation at the end about perfectionism and the first steps to finding your passion. Caitlin was so much fun to talk to, and as always go to Andrea Hanson, to find out more information about Caitlin. Other resources we talked 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 [00:03:00] 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. Do you inspire you? To achieve what you thought was impossible. These stories are raw. Uncensored and judgment free.
This means that there may be some adult language sensitive topics and
possible triggers for listeners. Listener discretion is advised
I'm here today with Caitlin, Liz Fisher. They are an anti-capitalist creativity, coach, author, and podcaster. On a mission to help people in the neurodivergent disabled and queer communities. Get in touch with their deep down dreams and break the rules that tell us all that we have to hustle.
After a lifetime of hustle and burnout, Caitlin was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019. And is also autistic and has ADHD. So between chronic illness neurodivergence and the audacity to [00:04:00] advocate for themselves in the workplace they quit their corporate job in 2020 and have been coaching creatives ever since
Andrea: Thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the podcast.
Caitlin: Thanks. Happy to be here.
Andrea: So excited. I was, stalking you online as one does
Caitlin: to go. See what the vibe
Andrea: that's right.
That's right. And I was so super excited because I saw so many things that I think, people are really going to resonate with so many different perspectives and I just cannot wait to pick your brain about something.
Caitlin: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Please pick my brain.
Andrea: I love it. So one thing that I think most people, especially here in the states can vibe with is this hustle culture.
You were in corporate, right?
Caitlin: Yeah, it was in marketing. I was a content manager for a multi-million dollar national reach household products brand as a greenhouse. [00:05:00] So lots of flowers and plants and stuff like that.
Andrea: So it seems nice.
Caitlin: Yeah. Yeah. It seems, it seems nice. You can go , look at the flowers and all this stuff and play with the plants. And one perk was free plants, which was very nice, but the, the anti perk was the workload. And the fact that marketing just sort of got , bombarded with, to do is from people and nobody followed the process to give it.
It was always , I need this right now. And it was, it was very frustrating.
Andrea: yeah.
Yeah. It you know, I had this, I worked in corporate for a while and it's so funny when you work for a company that from the outside seems really cool. I get free plants and it's so nice. And it was the same way. And then you peel back the layers and you look at kind of what your day to day actually looks ,
and it's overwhelm and hustle and competition and getting [00:06:00] things out
Caitlin: It is a giant red flag to watch for is we treat you a family, cause it was, it was family owned. Right. And that really appealed to me as a person who didn't big corporate structure stuff. I've actually only, I think, worked full time for family owned companies. And one of them got bought out by a corporation.
So I can tell you that both sides of that sucks. I am not cut out for employee life. I just, I show up with a lot of audacity and bosses hate me. So that, that did not jive well, but yeah, being part of the family meant do, do what we say
right now, you don't need your procedures because we need our personal Christmas cards made by the department.
Andrea: Yeah. Well, I think that one of the interesting things, and it certainly happened with me is that this idea of, going and working the nine to five and being in whatever environment it is, it doesn't matter if it's huge corporation, family [00:07:00] owned you know, free gifts I worked at a company that worked with celebrities and we got free tickets everywhere.
Fantastic. I can
Caitlin: that's nice.
Andrea: see,
Caitlin: Yeah.
At the price of your sanity
Andrea: It's the price that you're seeing at the end, it can really it can creep up. And so it can be really hard, especially. I mean, it's hard for anybody because we always have, everybody has circumstances. Everybody has things it can be hard for people who have a chronic illness or who are soon to be diagnosed
Caitlin: yes. Yeah. I ran into a lot of that in my. My final job, let's call it. Cause I don't think I'm ever going to go back to a nine to five. So in my final job our, the manager who hired me and quit because she got hustled to death and she had to leave for her wellbeing. And then we got a new manager and in my very first meeting [00:08:00] with him, he was , can you come into the office five days a week?
Because I had to work from home days. I alternated. I think I worked from home on Tuesdays and Fridays or something. Part of that was , I was hired in with that as a promise, , Hey, we know you live a little bit further away. So , we can, we're very flexible with work from home.
And then I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. And so those work from home days became very important to me to maintain my body and not have to be commuting all the time. Cause it was it was a kind of a long drive. And just right out of the gate, he's , can you come in full time?
And I was , no, those are, those are accommodations. I require those days. And that's part of my employment here. And I felt kind of embarrassed because I started to cry in the meeting. Cause I was very upset. He just came in. He was , hi, nice to meet you. I don't care about your needs and that upset me a great deal.
Andrea: really why was that
Caitlin: I write, I wonder why that sounds just normal [00:09:00] and it was. I mean, it was really dehumanizing because he didn't understand why I had worked from home days. And he actually, we later figured out, he thought that those of us would work from home days. We're only working. Part-time , he thought we weren't working from home.
He assumed we were just off those days. And I'm , I literally track my hours. I am as productive or more productive than I am from home. And he was , oh, I didn't know that. Why didn't you ask anyone? So he just comes in and sort of ruined my day. And he, he really , did not understand sort of the balance, the need for that.
Andrea: a lot of people have no idea.
Caitlin: it w it was a lot. So for those reasons and many more I eventually quit in the middle of a pandemic. So that was great.
Andrea: Wow. Yeah.
Caitlin: Yeah. And he was totally floored when I left too. And I was , we've been having [00:10:00] conflicts for a year. And he's , I thought that was water under the bridge.
And I'm , it was masking. you, you, you, I can't tell you about the autism cause you'd freak out, but
Andrea: and let's just as a side note, you don't have to tell him, right,
we don't need to go into our employers and be let me just let you know,
Caitlin: right. I'm disabled in, in these
Andrea: My hunch is, you say they didn't me and I was, a bad employee or whatever, but I'm , no, you weren't, you were just advocating for yourself
Caitlin: Yeah. But self-advocacy looks being a problem.
Andrea: yeah.
Caitlin: In the workplace a lot, especially the more you diverged from the norm. So, you know, , I'm very queer. And they sort of pretended that, that didn't exist. I'm , I have a bunch of facial piercings and a side shave, you should know, but um, I am fat.
I am femme, [00:11:00] I wasn't out as non binary until my, later in my career there. So I was assumed a woman. And when you step out of line and any of those things, you get sort of more punished for deviating from the norm And it was, it was rough. I tried to sort of diversify our department when I was hiring for people under me.
I was , I don't that. We're just a bunch of, , it was mostly thin white people who worked in our department. And I was , I want more of people, but we were kind of in a rural area and the applicants, weren't there. And that was a big disappointing thing. And then actually, my final straw moment was sort of an internal blowup over a black lives matter.
We were banned from posting anything about it, on social media. And they were , no, the company can't support that. And I was , oh, well then I, I can no longer work for you. I'm out.
Andrea: Made It made it easy.
Caitlin: it made it very easy.
Andrea: [00:12:00] You know, I'm so interested. I mean, I'm always fascinated with the mindset, you know, hence this podcast, but when you were there and you were dealing with that before that last moment where you were , okay, I'm out, walk me through your mindset, walk me through What you were trying to do and how you were handling what your days look .
So in general, I was, I was fairly unhappy, the moment that this new manager came on board and I am a very forgiving, nurturing, let's give this person a chance kind of person. So I was , you know, I'm going to give him six months to get his feet under him.
Caitlin: But after six months he really hadn't mastered any of our branding or anything that we did, the brand integrity of the product and stuff. And he was suggesting just really sort of off the wall things. And sometimes there's a time and a place for that, but , you know, we had standards and he would just come in and be , let's do this thing.
And we would have to explain to him why that didn't make any sense.
You [00:13:00] had standards, right. As far as what you wanted to, put up with, Cause you know, this is a relationship. This is somebody in your orbit.
Caitlin: right. And it, I was doing a lot of personal assisting for him. I was sort of making sure that he had all of the necessary inside scoop on everything, before he went into a meeting so that he didn't say something that upper management was , why are you doing this? And it started to feel I was babysitting him a bit.
And so after about six months, I started disengaging from that and putting up a little more distance now, my counterpart. She had been there a year or two longer than me, And she is a little bit more prickly and not a Teddy bear nurturing, let me help you with this.
Caitlin: So she had , put that distance
Andrea: Okay.
Caitlin: up with him quite early.
She had really good boundaries and I was , you get six months of , I will be your friend and then my boundaries. And , that was a mistake. So that, that boundaries
Andrea: I, yeah, that's so funny. I was [00:14:00] thinking about this the other day when we are in, certainly relationships this, , you're at your job or it happened to me recently with someone that I had hired to, do some work at my house. It's not that we're doormats.
It's not that we're, getting just run over it's that we want to try to keep the peace both for us and for the relationship. And maybe you want to give them the benefit of the doubt maybe. And sometimes especially when it ends up to where you're okay, now they, they failed the
Caitlin: Right. your, your probationary period of
Andrea: Exactly. Probation is over, and then you start thinking, well, crap, I shouldn't have even done that. But I think, you know, sometimes it's us trying to just do self-preservation of I just need to make this better for myself while I'm waiting. And then the boundaries the boundaries had already gone up and now it's
okay, let's put them up a little bit more
Caitlin: Yeah. And we, my, my counterpart in the department and I had gone to [00:15:00] our bosses boss with some issues and we're , look we have sort of these, these eight numbered 95 theses of , what's what the problem is. And
we talked to him. We had a couple of conversations with him and he was ,
I'll work on this with him.
You. You know, talk to him, , be clear, maybe, well, you know, we're going to, we can fix this. Right. And some of the things were , he was chronically late, which got sort of brushed aside. It's , well, we're kind of a, we're not that strict about, about starting times. And I'm , he will, he will show up 20 minutes late to a 30 minute meeting and ask if he missed anything.
that's, that's, that's not two minutes. Cause I ran over, but
Andrea: So finally, the probationary period is over
and your boundaries are up. And then the whole thing happens where you're , that's it.
I'm outta here. I think that is something that is. Such [00:16:00] a brave thing, because I'm the same way I left corporate culture.
Caitlin: Congratulations.
Andrea: A lot of people, want to, especially again, when they're dealing with some kind of a chronic illness and they're in a culture that doesn't quite understand, or they don't even feel they can talk to them
and help them understand that is it's, a big leap.
Caitlin: it's, it's huge. It's enormous. And it can be very scary.
Andrea: how were you, were you already thinking of where you were going to go next or where you're , that's it. And then all of a sudden okay, now what do I do?
What did that look for
Caitlin: a little bit of both. So I decided in early June, 2020, I want to say it was June 5th or sixth or seventh, the first week of June we had this blow up over black lives matter. And that was when that was after George Floyd was murdered. So black lives matter was everywhere. And , lots of brands were standing up and , yada, yada, yada.
So. Um, That happened then. And I told [00:17:00] myself , okay, I'm going to apply to all of the jobs. I am leaving this place by the end of June. And I gave myself a deadline that with, or without a job, I was giving my notice by June 30th. And I applied to, I want to say 80 jobs. It was so many I had a couple of cover letters that went out with other jobs, referred to in them because I was copying and pasting so much and I'm , oh no.
And I got a few emails back that were , Hey, you're super interesting. , we really you, we're going to keep you on file, but , we're going in, , you know, we want somebody with a little more of this or a little bit of that. And I was trying to make the leap into nonprofit communications.
So it was , I'm not doing this family-owned nonsense anymore. I'm not doing corporate culture. I will go into nonprofits because nonprofits are good. Right. They have their problems just everything else.
We don't have video on this podcast, but
Caitlin: yeah. [00:18:00] yeah. there was, there was a
Caitlin: So I'm applying to all these jobs and , yeah, I can do marketing and communications for an non-profit. , it'll be awesome. I'm playing feminist organizations and teaching girls to write and be empowered and stuff. And I'm , yeah, I was super jazzed, but all of it and didn't get any interviews, 80 jobs, no interviews.
I was a little miffed, but that's okay. It's it was a pandemic. It's hard, especially when you're looking for a remote job. And so your competition is the entire country, or even internationally.
Andrea: Yeah.
Caitlin: It's not just people in Akron, Ohio have applied to this job, you know, where I might stand out a little bit more, but yeah, so that didn't pan out.
And I was , all right, well, it's, it's June 30th. So I gave him my notice and I did, I will say I gave a four week notice so that I could bank a couple more paychecks. gave him a long lead time[00:19:00] and just started saving as much money as I possibly could so that I would have sort of a little nest egg and I did end up getting a job with a nonprofit.
It was a contractor role. So I was freelancing for a nonprofit doing their community. And I actually went back to them in 2021 again, and helped with their communications for this event that they do in the fall. And I might help out again this year. I'm not sure yet, and they're not sure yet, so, you know, they've gotta figure out budget and I got to figure out if I have the availability, because business is taking off because I just started a business because that's what I did.
Andrea: That's fantastic. Another thing that I love how you were , you know, I quit my job. I started a business. I, I applied to 80 companies and, nobody wanted to interview me, which is fine.
I love it because to me that is, that is the essence of your mindset.
It's this, this resilience and this confidence of , I just, I just [00:20:00] did it.
Caitlin: Amazed at my confidence regularly because I used to be, so I don't think we've talked about this at all, but I was in an abusive marriage and I also had emotionally abusive parents. So I have a long history of abuse and trauma. And when I was in that marriage, it was a seven year relationship. We were married for a year and a half of seven years.
So we were dating a long time and we lived together for about four and I was very meek and mild and small and unconfident and depressed when I was with him. And I, I didn't really have confidence in my abilities. He sort of. Took credit for some of them. And he was , I'm making you a good writer.
Cause he introduced me to a freelance contact. And so I started freelance writing and that's actually eventually how I made the leap into marketing. Full-time I don't have a marketing degree at all. I have a bachelor's in [00:21:00] psychology and a master's in higher education administration. I'm , yeah, whatever.
Now I'm a, an anticapitalist creative coach, so sure. Thanks for the student debt. Uh, yeah, but he
he did not want me to shine. And so, actually got on antidepressants after Carrie Fisher died, interestingly, because she was such a mental health advocate. And so I was seeing all of her posts over and over again, popping up about how mental health medication changed her life.
And I was , you know what, I'm going to do it for Carrie. And so I went and I got on antidepressants and almost three months to the day, I think after I started them, I left him. And that's been four years now since I left. And it has been totally incredible. I'm in an amazing relationship. I do not suffer someone who will neg me.
It's , it is only good supportive people in my circle now. And I have much stronger [00:22:00] boundaries. Especially now that I've left that job. So, you know, those the last holdout of terrible boundaries was that boss. But yeah, so I've started a business. My partner's really supportive of that and it it's incredible it's it has really allowed me to flourish when I'm not in a relationship where I have to be , I have to him be more interesting than me.
otherwise he'll be mad.
Andrea: Talk to us about how you went from that to what I see in front of me, which is confident and spunky and
Caitlin: Oh yeah. I am. I have such an incredible self concept now, and it's such a gift because , I didn't have it for 30 years and I just turned 34 and , since I turned 30, it's been going up.
how did you
Andrea: start?
Caitlin: It was gradual. I didn't , as soon as I left, I wasn't , okay, now I'm incredible.
But , I will say there was a lot of Kesha music and a lot of , really empowering sort of femme. [00:23:00] Power that I was putting, putting myself into, I was getting photo shoots done of myself. I have a friend who's a photographer and she put me into her Cleveland bad-ass photo series that she was doing.
And I just kept sort of doing things that took me out of my comfort zone. I did have a, a relationship that lasted for about a year. I met this partner, just weeks after I left and it was supposed to be , you know, a fling, whatever. And I was , oh, , you're really , you know, he really s me.
We ended up moving in together, which was pretty short-lived because the, the shiny excitement, kind of wore off for him. And he realized he didn't actually want a live in partner. And he also I entered eating disorder, recovery, and. February, 2019 ish. So I realized I had a lifelong eating disorder.
I'm just, I'm just gonna keep dumping all my sad story into this podcast. And I'm , oh, did I mention this? Did I mention that?
and that's part of what I [00:24:00] love is that it's all in how we look at it. Right. It's all in how we break things down, you're obviously very introspective and you've gone through and looked at a lot of this. And so yes, you can have a lot of stuff happening, but this is such a great example of the one who decides
Caitlin: yeah.
Andrea: to mean for you.
Caitlin: That's a very powerful decision to make. I would say a lot of my confidence probably started kind of more skyrocketing after eating disorder recovery, actually, because I stopped hating my body. So I was raised very diet culture, very fat phobic. My mother put me on diets, when I was very young, 12, 13, 14, I started dieting.
And so I have damage from that and I, I lost close to a hundred pounds and looked [00:25:00] miserable. when I look at photos of myself at the time, I would have said that I was glowing and confident, but I look if you asked me how I was doing, I would burst into tears and pass out. I just looked so tired and just so empty.
And now I'm , look at my little chubby cheeks. I love them. they're rosy. I feel really good in my body, even though it's larger because I have done so much work to , let go of that part of my life. And when 80% of your thought processes are about, I need to lose weight, I need to exercise today.
I need to watch what I eat. I need to make sure I drink my water. seriously. My whole life was about losing weight. And it turns out when you stop making your life about losing weight, you can make your life about a lot more cool stuff.
Andrea: Yeah.
Caitlin: And , it was a void, , and what, what rushed to fill, where that was, was self-love and [00:26:00] ideas and creativity, and loving myself.
And I was , oh, cool, great. I'm never going to count a calorie again in my life, because , this is way better.
Andrea: right. yeah,
It, you know, it, it just goes to show when we focus on something, even if we think what we're focusing on is quote good for us, or society has said, it's good for us. It's going to be what, creates our life. you said, 80% of your thoughts were going to, I mean, can consume us and actually work against us
Caitlin: , and I some exercise, I love to stretch and do yoga and that even helps with my chronic pain, my pain settles and my low back and my hips a lot. So when I do a little bit of yoga that really loosens that up and stretches out my legs and that's awesome.
And we just got a dog a month ago. So now I'm walking and I did have to work up to being able to take her on longer walks. And that's something I've struggled with as well, because I used to run and I've run two half marathons. [00:27:00] And , that's a lot of running. You have to train a lot.
So I was regularly doing 4, 6, 8 mile runs.
In the morning before I ate, which please eat everyone, everyone listening to this, please eat. Especially before you go run eight miles. I would eat a normal breakfast, which was a weight loss meal replacement shake. Right. And I'd be , why am I so hungry? And it's , because you just ran eight miles, you fool, please have a sandwich.
So that's a whole other struggle. But yeah, bringing this back to , it, it just, it's all consuming. And so now what's all consuming is , I wake up in the morning and I'm , my life is amazing and I'm so happy I get to live it.
Andrea: fabulous.
Caitlin: If you think that every single morning, you have no option, but to be thrilled about your life,
Andrea: Yes. Yes. I used to run a lot too. I loved running. Until I didn't. I think is just getting [00:28:00] older and creakier but it's
the idea and I love that you're doing this, it's this idea of used to do all of this stuff, and now maybe we can't because of things our chronic illness or other, factors in our lives, and you don't have to mourn the loss of the fact that you're not running anymore.
You know, sometimes I'm , ah, man, I used to love running and I can still remember. You get that runner's high and it's real. And I still can feel what my body felt when I was running. But fast forward to now, That's not going to feel the same way. That's
not going to be , if I started running, that would not be the same experience and it's okay.
Because there's other things love
Caitlin: Yeah, that's a really good reframe of it because I've definitely struggled with the, I used to I used to run half marathons. I used to do this and I would say it to myself negatively. I would say it when I get [00:29:00] winded or , whatever, but it's, I didn't, I was undiagnosed with fibromyalgia at the time.
I actually used to think that my pain was proof of my workouts working.
So that was, that was, rough. When I, , when I entered eating disorder recovery, I stopped exercising. So I was , okay, we were in a rest period. I just need to , let my body know that it's safe. We're gonna eat some cereal and not freak out about it.
I'm going to eat whatever I want. I'm going to not punish my body with exercise. And it turns out that my body's still hurt all the time. And I was , oh, Okay, something else is happening here. And I got a fibro diagnosis
and pain meds and that the ex boyfriend I talked about he was very diet culture.
So he fell in love with me because we were workout buddies. that's what he wanted. And so when I started when I stopped dieting basically and stopped working out, [00:30:00] he pretty quickly was , so I'm actually no longer, really attracted to you. You're, you're kind of pushing my upper weight limit of attractiveness.
And I'm , that sounds a you problem,
Andrea: yeah,
Caitlin: which was kudos to me for
Andrea: Yes.
Caitlin: That could have relapsed me, immediately. So I'm in ed recovery for three weeks and he hits me with , you're too fat and I'm , I don't
You anymore. You
Yeah, right. Yeah. Thanks.
Andrea: that.
Caitlin: Yeah, but he, as I was getting my fibro diagnosis was , kind of crocodile tears, crying and he's , oh, it's just, I just hate to see you in pain and not doing anything about it.
And I'm , I'm on meds. I bought a new car and I got a new mattress. you're just mad. I'm not working out, call it what it is. Cause you're being a doofus right now.
Andrea: Yeah. So fast forward, you are not in corporate, you are opening your business. [00:31:00] And you are finding out, about the fibro and you are looking at kind of this whole new world. And also what I wanted to, what I love is that you bring to the table, this this perspective of being neurodivergent.
Caitlin: Yes.
Andrea: So talk to me about that. What is the, the mindset look with having a chronic illness, which is, everyone listening knows that that is no small thing and impacts daily. You're looking at getting your own business started, which is a whole thing in itself. And you're also where you already diagnosed.
Did you already know.
Caitlin: So I am, I do not have an official autism diagnosis. There's actually a lot of structural barriers to being diagnosed when you are female or assumed female assigned female because it doesn't present the same way that it does in [00:32:00] young boys. So, There's a lot of, sort of barriers to that.
And already having dealt with barriers to chronic illness treatment and everything. I was , you know what? I know it, and that's good enough for me. , there's only so many times you can read about autism and be , oh, I do all of that
before. You're just sort of , okay.
And it turns out that self-diagnosis is quite valid within the autistic community, because we get it.
, yeah, I get it. That you don't want to go to the doctor for that because the doctors suck.
a lot of science still and things that diagnoses are based on were based on research, done with men.
Andrea: And so it's hard because we have different symptoms
Caitlin: And also because of the socialization of young girls to be nurturing , you know, it look back to the way I acted with my bosses. I was , okay, I will meet your needs. Here you go. I will go outside my job to [00:33:00] meet your needs for you because you are the authority figure, I guess, whatever.
And that also comes from a traumatic past, right. Because if I was useful, I was valued and my counterpart at work did not have that traumatic childhood. She had boundaries.
No I've grown mine, but I had to grow my boundaries, a chia pet. I was , okay, we're just going to smear some goo on here. And eventually it'll grow into boundary. Um, Yeah, but with, with autism, there's, there's a lot of barriers for people who were socialized as girls, because , we were sort of taught to be polite and we were taught to sort of fawn instead of , it's the same with ADHD.
I do have an ADHD diagnosis and those meds are a godsend.
Andrea: yeah,
That's what I've, that's what I've
Caitlin: yeah,
[00:34:00] it's it was night and day. when I finally got on medication that actually worked for me, I was , oh, oh, oh, do people just wake up this? , it was , the background, fan in my head got turned off and I could hear.
And I was , oh my God, I didn't know that fan was on.
So hurray for ADHD, but I have the lovely, co-mingling of ADHD and an autistic neurotype. So , I actually think that makes me really well suited to my business because as a coach, I can see patterns in things and I can make associations that other people might miss.
And it turned out that a lot of my clientele are also chronically ill and neurodivergent. And so that sort of become my unintentional niche is that I coach and disabled creatives.
Andrea: Right. [00:35:00] Yeah.
I mean, who do we attract? right.
Especially when it comes to getting clients, that's why when I first started working with clients, I worked with a lot of people with MS because I had MS. And people feel comfortable going because they know that you understand
Caitlin: right. That's so much of it. I've had many of my clients be , I am just in a bad flare. Can we reschedule? And I am really flexible with that because , yeah, I get it. And we can speak a lot of the same language. we share a lot of the same experiences and stories because, you know, I can speak really easily to internalize ableism because I have dealt with that and am constantly working through that and the sort of internalized capitalism from hustle culture and from being , oh, well, if I take a day off, it means I'm lazy.
And that's equal parts capitalism, and my mom for me, but. Always. Yeah, love [00:36:00] love that. So it's, it's been really powerful me to take things that people would, would, see us flaws
as imperfections as outside the norm and be , no, I make money with that. That actually is why I am the best at what I do.
Andrea: Yeah.
And I think also because you were able to see that in yourself,
right? You are able to see , what I, one of the things I love about your story and what I'm hearing with you, talking with me about it is time and time again, you were , well, this was an issue and this is what I did, and this is what I learned.
And then I learned that this was an issue and this was what I did and this right. And it's this, this constant of what I think goes into a really powerful mindset, which is this combination of self-acceptance and self-love and resilience. And it helps you keep going. And when you were able to see all those things in yourself, even though I'm not saying, I'm not saying you were , born this, I'm [00:37:00] not saying that, these things aren't developed over time.
I'm not saying that at all. Cause sometimes we do have to learn, these things and pull ourselves out of dark places. But when you have it, it's easy to see that in other people.
Caitlin: I mean, yeah, I agree.
Andrea: clients are coming to you and they're , I don't know, you're , no, no. Let's look at
Caitlin: Yeah.
Andrea: all of these things.
Caitlin: Yeah. It's a reflection. And part of, part of what's great about hiring a coach is , you can hire a coach to know that they have the confidence in you, even when you don't. And it's a very safe place to be , okay, I'm feeling insecure about this. And your coach has your back and being able to have a coach who understands chronic illness and disability and neurodivergence and masking, and the ways that, that wears on you.
That's really powerful. And I think [00:38:00] that's why I serve my clients so well, so impactfully, because I'm able to be , oh, no, that's just society. with that, let's, let's unpack. Because that's not coming from inside the house that's coming from outside the house.
Andrea: Right. The call is not coming from inside the house.
Caitlin: And sometimes it does cause sometimes your parents put the, put the bug in there.
So we w I also talk a lot about , how childhood impacts us and in good and bad ways. one of the exercises I do to help people get in touch with their intuition when we're working creatively is , think about the hobbies that you had when you were a kid. So , I used to make a little town newspaper, on notebook paper with a blue crayon.
I know it's, it's very charming. And I still have , storybooks that I wrote in kindergarten and first and second grade. And I always loved writing. And then in this exercise, I'm , okay, [00:39:00] how has that continued throughout your life? So , I was on the school paper You know, I always really enjoyed writing assignments in school, yada yada.
And now, I have a published book and I teach people creative stuff. I love writing.
And that's awesome. So, you know, if you, as a kid were obsessed with dogs or horses, how has that continued? Oh, I took riding lessons, so I went to horse camp. Oh. I became an equine veterinarian, , oh, ta-da, that's your intuition talking.
That's your intuition giving you a nudge. that's something that you love that lights you up inside. That's your passion.
Andrea: Yeah. And you know, when we're kids, it comes through so much more clearly
our intuition because we don't tamp it down. We don't tell ourselves that, you're not going to get paid for that.
And I, I d that because one of the things that you are vocal about, which I think is great is the idea of finding your passion
of being creative and going into, and a lot of [00:40:00] times that can be hard, especially if it's somebody who is making the change, maybe even from, they don't want to continue with their, their current career or their current corporate job, because maybe it's become too hard.
It's, you know, I mean, it's, it's an unfortunate part of chronic illness. Sometimes it just happens where you're going to need to pivot . I think a lot of people feel , well, I can't, I can't pivot towards, doing my passion. I can't pivot towards that. I don't have that luxury because I, I know, I certainly felt I had to stay in that corporate environment.
Because I needed a paycheck. I needed insurance, I needed all that kind of stuff. And I'm , I can't do my passion. What are you even talking about? So talk to me about how that, how did that work for you where you were finally , Nope, this is what I'm going to do
Caitlin: Yes. Well, first starters, I did plan to pivot to another type of job. So it took
me a minute and I have sort of a
transitional I [00:41:00] had sort of that, that transitional thing. So I worked for one nonprofit from September through early January. And then I worked for another nonprofit for a month in February 20, 21.
And then all the while I was still doing my coaching and stuff and banking as much of every paycheck as I could, I eventually saved up 10 K that has dwindled, but that's what it was for. Right. It was there to support me as I'm growing the business, that's runway. That's , I know that this plane is taking off.
So every dollar I can save is another inch of runway.
So that my plane can take off and I don't crash and burn. So, So I just sort of let myself be , okay, I'm gonna, I'm going to figure this out. And . I joined a launch incubator program that was three months long, I think. And it basically taught me how to make an offer and launch my offer.
And I launched a. A membership program. [00:42:00] So for creatives, and at first I called it creatives against burnout. That was my placeholder name. And then eventually I call it Passion Pacers. And that, that actually harkens back to my running days because of pacer. when you're doing a half marathon is the person who sets a certain pace.
So there'll be a pacer for , if you want to finish. And this time a pacer for if you want to finish in that time, so on, there'll be , I don't know, pacer is a bunch of different time markers and they are just there in an official capacity to , for you to follow them. Cause they, they know that they're going to hit this mark.
They've done this before. And so you just match them and then you get where you're going and the time that you want. And I was , I can do that. Cause I, I, have done a passion thing. I started a business. So . I sort of developed this framework which is currently under redevelopment, I'm going
to be re redoing the curriculum and , rereleasing a bunch of incredible things.
I'm very excited about it. That's taking place in the next month or so. But basically it was [00:43:00] , okay, I can teach creatives to prioritize their creativity. And it's, it's been really cool. We have about 20 members right now, but it's, it's growing and it's actually pretty stable. Most of the founding members have stayed in it for over a year now.
So that tells me that it's, it's doing something. And actually a lot of what we work on is not creative projects, which I thought it would be right. I thought it was going to be , oh, this week we're all working on this thing right now. It's rest it's permission to not have to go, go, go. And that has been the most valuable thing for people.
And also one of my clients. How did they put it that their creativity is just as important and worthy of nourishment as their need to eat or drink, so it used to be that when they were super stressed creativity was the first thing to go. But now when they're super stressed, they know that creativity is the first place that they need to go to help reduce that stress and recenter. And that has been [00:44:00] such a powerful shift for so many members. But the most valuable transformation has been permission to, to do something just for yourself.
Andrea: So beautiful. I love permission.
I love giving people permission to give themselves permission
is, you know, and it, and I love how you put it where I think with creativity, a lot of times people think, I have to start writing or I have to go back and ride horses but it, it doesn't even have to be more than just a little something for yourself.
One of the things I think that really fosters that is the idea of quiet. And, and sometimes that is hard
for people. stillness. is not, , that, I'm not saying that in this little , oh, just, sit and be quiet and let yourself rest. that can be in itself so hard.
Caitlin: it's, it's very hard. [00:45:00] It's, it's hard. for me. It's something that I'm still working on and practicing. Because I, I always want to be working,
Especially now that I'm self-employed right. So I'll feel , well, if I'm not currently offering someone a product, then I, I'm not gonna make any money and I'm gonna die in the street.
Andrea: I mean, you have to, sometimes you have to talk yourself down, but you know, we talked about earlier where your own personal reality comes from you. It comes from your mindset. It comes from your thinking.
It comes from a lot of other things, but it comes from from you. And so sometimes, and I did this I think a lot of people can relate. It's you leave the big corporate hustle culture, or you leave working for somebody and you're doing what you love. If you haven't necessarily dealt with everything that you bought into, because we all buy in to things or else we wouldn't be in it to begin with.
If we don't deal with that, then all of a sudden, even this [00:46:00] beautiful passion project business that we're working on becomes our own personal hustle.
Caitlin: Yes. Yeah.
Andrea: be sneaky because we love it, but it's still kind of the hustle.
Caitlin: Right. there's so some of my, some of my clients and passionate Pacers, do you have a creative business? , you know, they sell paintings for commission and they sell jewelry. But a lot of them just create for themselves. So they just want to connect with their creativity, but not monetize it because that sort of tendency that, and that's how it's hustle culture.
It's , well, if you're going to have a hobby, it should make you money. And it's , not necessarily, you are allowed to have things that you just enjoy for you. And that comes back to the permission thing. you have permission to not monetize your hobby. And then people are , oh no, but that means, that means it's just for me.
And I'm , yes, it's dangerous. Live dangerously.
Andrea: I love that It [00:47:00] is, it can be for some people it's , holy cow, what do You mean?
Caitlin: Yeah. It feels scary.
Andrea: and sell it. And
that's amazing.
Caitlin: you can just, you can just live your best creative life all by yourself. Nobody ever even has to see it. But if you want to share it, do that's great. , I have a friend who I have this tendency to be , oh my God, you could sell that. And I have had to train myself off of it because she has no desire to do that.
She just, she takes art classes because she loves it. And she paints because she loves it. And I have, I did it a couple times. I was , oh my God, these would make great, creative, profile photos, , cause she did , a portrait, but it was in , mosaic paint, bright color style.
It was incredible. And I was , oh my God. That would look totally dope as my profile picture. And I was , well, you could sell these. And I was , actually scratch
that. , I'm [00:48:00] sorry, I know that you don't want to sell these. And she was , thank you because not everybody wants to monetize.
And I, I don't want to be the person who's , yeah, monetize your hobby, monetize your hobby. Cause I'm, I'm literally the coach over here telling you that you don't have to do that. But even, even with me, it's still ingrained in there. I'm , oh, what a great business idea.
Andrea: Yeah. Yeah. I, yeah, it's, it's really funny how, as we. As we progressed just with growth personally or in our business or with our health to where we heal ourselves and identify more things and healing as we do that, I think sometimes people get this idea, all of a sudden your mind is free and clear of all negative thinking.
Caitlin: Oh, yeah. that's a
one because that's
perfectionism, that's perfectionism, that's thinking I must be perfectly healed before I can do this, that is thinking I have to be ready in every way. And there is so much power [00:49:00] and joy in just doing it messy. if you're a mess, just do it anyway.
just love it anyway. you, there's no way, there's no way you can fix your entire life in order to have earned
a creative hobby or a passion. , you know, you just have to get out there and do it and then learn.
Andrea: Yeah.
Or even not even to earn any kind of a hobby, earn validity,
right. To earn your spot in the world. How many thoughts do we have in our heads with tens of thousands of thoughts every single
day. And there's going to be a few in there, you said, where it's , oh my God, you should monetize it.
And then you catch it. You're , oh wait, hold on.
Caitlin: Yeah. The, the act of catching the thought is very powerful because
you having a negative thought doesn't mean
have messed up, right? It's ,
Andrea: Yeah.
Caitlin: it's noticing that thought. It's saying, wait, I don't believe you.
Andrea: you.
[00:50:00] know what? I just had that thought and I don't care. Right.
Looking at it, even with a completely
neutral there to look at me. That's my favorite thing. , look at me saying that that's, That was that was interesting Look at, look at me having that thought.
in my head and, and not attaching immediate weight and importance and validity to it.
And, but, and, and so I think that's, I love that you brought that up because it's , Yeah. Here's somebody who is, you're helping other people with these, you know, big, huge parts of their lives. And you're still saying things and thinking , oh wait, hold on.
Caitlin: Yeah.
Andrea: not, that's, that's part of this whole backstory
Caitlin: Yeah. And then even as a coach, you can take that and be , oh no. How dare I coach when I still have things that. But anytime I mentioned that to my clients, they're , yeah, that's why I working with you because you're not on some , pedestal acting you're the expert. you're still doing this work on your own.
beside me, and also helping [00:51:00] me stay accountable to my work. And there's just really something to be said for coaches who are messy, right next to you, , I'm, I'm always going to be messy. I'm always healing,
Andrea: Yes. And honestly, and honest, authentic, messy, not the pretty messy
Caitlin: right?
Andrea: on social media or whatever,
Caitlin: When people are ,
oh, excuse the mess. And it's some immaculate living room. I hate, excuse the mess. Or , I hate that , oh, pardon the picture? And I catch myself doing it too, but I'm , oh no. Pardon the pop cans we live here. we had soda last night and didn't clean it up yet.
every, everybody apologizes for the imperfections, but those imperfections, nobody would have noticed it. If you didn't say anything, if you're not , I have a zit by my mouth. nobody was looking at that, but now they are.
Andrea: Well, and again, it's the eye of the beholder what you see and imperfection. Someone else actually might see as something that is okay,
cool. [00:52:00] she's got a, you know, soda can, in the back
Caitlin: be comfortable
with this person.
Andrea: and it allows them to be comfortable with themselves because so many people are listening to this and they're thinking , oh, okay, I can do this too.
Just you did with Carrie Fisher, right? You don't have to be perfect in order to take that next, proverbial step or, or decide to just try to be quiet, which again can be hard in order to really find out what it is that you love or are passionate about and something that can help you
Caitlin: Yeah, for sure. There's there's so much power in recognizing that you don't have to be perfect. And letting
go of the perfection, diet culture is perfectionism. Right. I would be , I would go hungry because I, I wasn't in the mood for carrots. So I'm , well, if I'm not hungry enough for these carrots, I'm not hungry enough for anything else.
Either. [00:53:00] Guess what? I don't raw carrots. I think they taste gross. So I was placing these impossible standards on myself. And that's what we do in so many ways.
Andrea: So many
Caitlin: Yeah. We're just , well, no, I have to meet this, this weird standard nobody's ever actually told me. I just made it up because I think I have to, I don't know, achieve X, Y, Z in order in order to rest.
That's another thing that chronically ill people have trouble doing is resting.
You have to , we ha first of all, everybody needs more rest. everybody is working probably three times as much as they should be, we're all doing too much.
Andrea: I love, I love that it's rest.
is. It's so important. And I think it's valued, but I think a lot of people don't give themselves those permissions because it doesn't fit in, or it doesn't look right to other people. And, and I think, a lot of times, especially when there's a chronic illness where there's fatigue or chronic pain or something, you feel [00:54:00] you're not doing enough as it is I think that's a beautiful place to, come to is realizing that rest is so important and giving up the perfectionism is so important.
And just giving your self permission to just be , you don't even have to be something just
Caitlin: Yeah. Just, just be you. Actually, I had a post to my Instagram recently, which you might've seen in your stalking, but I was , you don't, you don't have to have a super power. you don't have to be the exception. You don't have to be incredible. You just have to be you.
Andrea: I love
Caitlin, thank you so much.
Caitlin: you're so welcome.
Andrea: way too much of your
Caitlin: No.
Andrea: we could talk to you for another three hours,
but okay.
Caitlin: Yeah. I'll come back.
Andrea: fantastic. Tell everybody where they can find you.
Caitlin: Yes. Okay. You can find me on Instagram at Caitlin, Liz Fisher. You can subscribe to my podcast, run [00:55:00] hell toward happy where I talk about all things, creativity, anti hustle being awesome, I would say the best place to go right now is to get on my email list because I have a lot of cool stuff coming up in may.
And I have a, another training called how to prioritize your passion and still get shit done.
Andrea: I love it because you are getting shit
Caitlin: I'm always doing
stuff. ,
Andrea: Yeah, yeah,
Caitlin: and I love
it. And when I think about it, I'm , oh yeah, no, I should, I should rest more. Cause , I really am doing a lot and
Andrea: I
think that's another thing that's that is in the eye of the beholder is how much you need to rest. And, it's different for everybody and not everybody
Caitlin: yeah,
that's true. I think if I tried, I would explode.
Thank you for having me.
Yeah. Let's keep in touch. Thank you for tuning into this episode of [00:56:00] live your life. Not your diagnosis. If you 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

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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