Transcript...

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Learn what it means to be genetically optimistic and what you can do if that’s not you!

  • Learn some of Leann’s tried and true tricks to help shift perspective

  • Learn a different way to handle a crappy diagnosis, and what it takes to get there

Episode 21: The Power of Positivity

Katie Wrigley: This is episode 21 of the pain changer podcast. Last week we had a great chat with Steve Barton. He taught us about the power of the game of 10 and what it means to live at a 10, whether you have chronic pain or not. This week, we're going to kick up the positivity even more. Leann Stickel is joining me today. Leann has an incredible level of genetic optimism that is rarely seen, yet I always appreciate when I see it. Stick with me. That's coming up next. 

Before we dive into this week's episode, it's time to call out the listener of the Week. This week. It's someone who anonymously posted and it's also one of my current clients. I will keep them anonymous and simply share their public review. They said, “Worth your time. Hello everyone. My good friend Katie Wrigley has been incredibly gracious to help me over the past year in my journey, and I believe played a pivotal role in the gains I've made when it comes to quality of life while dealing with an injury that ranks as one of the worst types of intractable pain conditions that exist. She has been so helpful to me during the time I've been working with her. And now you have this amazing podcast that you can help reach so many others. She is an amazing coach and the work she's done for me will stick with me and help me for the rest of my lifetime. If you suffer from chronic or intractable pain, then you need to tune in to this podcast. Amazing story. Amazing journey, amazing coach, I really can't say enough. Check her out. You won't regret it.”

Thank you so much. My dear friend, your words mean so much to me. It is such an honor and a privilege to get to work with you in the ways that I do and keep up the good work. I know we have a lot more we can do together to help you even more. Please text me when you hear me call you out and I will send you a gift as my thank you for helping to spread the word that chronic doesn't have to mean permanent. And now for the show. 

Joining me today is Leann Stickle. Leann’s superpower is being genetically optimistic. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2009 at the age of 29. However, she believes that finding the positive in negative situations is a skill that can be learned, practiced and perfected. I agree 100%, Leann. Her mission is to teach her time tested tools to as many people as possible so they can experience the magic of positivity too. As a life coach, she's here to help you. She is your personal cheerleader, supporter, and advocate. Her goal is to empower you to be in charge of your story. During her 12 years living with multiple sclerosis, she has founded a nonprofit Try 2 Beat MS kids’ triathlon. After eight years, they have raised over $100,000 to help patients living with multiple sclerosis. True joy in her life is being a wife to Dawn and a mom to Marina Paige, Hudson, and Cadence. 

Wow, that is just awesome. Leann, thank you so much for joining me today and welcome to the pain changer podcast.

Leann Stickel: Oh, wow. Okay, thank you for having me. This is a treat.

Katie Wrigley: Awesome. It is for me too. So you mentioned that you are genetically optimistic. What do you mean by that?

Leann Stickel: Yeah. So I wish that you had the privilege to meet my late grandfather. But if you had met him, you would understand why I say this with such confidence. He had the world by the tail. It did not matter how he woke up. It didn't matter that he didn't have two nickels to rub together. He just “Oh, my goodness, Leann”. He would say, “Can you believe how good we have it?” And he would hold, back in the day that McDonald's 69 cent hamburger, “See? We can get this for 69 cents!” Just this zest for life and a joy. And it wasn't because of what he had monetarily. And while I appreciated that growing up, of course, we all loved Papa. I, in my journey with chronic illness have realized that I have that gift too and I believe that it's like music. And we all know a gifted musician, right? And they sit down and they play the piano and we're all jealous. Like, oh my goodness, how can you do that? Right? Yeah. And they share their gift. We're glad they share their gifts. Maybe they teach the lessons, maybe they perform. And all of that is amazing. Now my friend, I took 13 years of piano and I love to play the piano and I'm not a gifted musician. And I never will be, right. But that's okay, the lessons were still worth it, and I can still enjoy it. So I view my gift of optimism and positivity the same way. Like, it truly is a gift that I need to share. And I need to use it to teach others and other people may not ever be gifted, right? In this space, they just weren't born with that gene. And that's okay. There's still value in learning and practicing, right? The same. So I feel like the music analogy helps people to kind of wrap your brain around my view of this gift that, you know, for so many years, people have approached me, oh, my goodness, LeAnn, you're so positive. How do you do it? Well, you know, I appreciate the compliment. But it started my wheels turning to really step back from my life and observe what's happening, what's different about me, right? Like, why are people saying that? And why is this true? So that's really where… That's why I use a genetically optimistic because I truly, truly believe it's a gift.

Katie Wrigley: I couldn't agree with you more. So I'm not genetically optimistic. It was a practice that I cultivated, and it took a lot of practice and years of gratitude until it became automatic. And even now, it's so easy at this point to check myself but that is still my predisposition. My genetic makeup looks for what's wrong first. And now I can, before I even start to look, I'm like, “what's right about this? what's right about this?” and I shift it immediately, but it was, it took a minute. So you had also mentioned that you were diagnosed with what sounds like a fairly aggressive form of multiple sclerosis in 2009. So how did that impact your optimism?

Leann Stickel: So, you know, I didn't see this coming. This was a curveball that I didn't ask for. And anyone that's facing health challenges, we didn't order it, right. It's something we didn't choose. And I really was healthy going into this diagnosis. I drank my water I did my walking, I had my babies on their due dates, you know what I mean? Like, I just in so and, and admittedly kind of lived in a rose colored glasses world. That was lovely. And I think that it was such a hard fall for me to realize that, Leann, you now have a chronic condition, this is yours, you're going to have to deal with it. And with a chronic condition comes chronic symptoms, chronic costs, chronic right, the burden is so overwhelming at the age of 29, to look out, right, the next 50 years, and think what in the world and this is going to progressively get worse. So my initial symptoms were numbness, tingling, fatigue. And those are things that I think often people dismiss for a long time. And my family doctor caught it. And I hugged him and high five him every time I see him. Because I'm so grateful for an early diagnosis. I'm sure that you have met a lot of people that have had to wander their way to answers. Yes. Right. To figure out what's going on in my body. Why do I feel this way? And while it wasn't the answer I wanted, I did find out rather quickly that in fact, I have MS. And so that was a test. Your original question was: What did that do to your optimism? 

Katie Wrigley: Yeah, 

Leann Stickel: well, my friend Katie, I was very sad. I had a bad attitude. And I was not positive. Yes. And this is an important part of the story that I really want all your listeners to hear. Yes, it is my gift. It is my superpower. And I was struggling. I was, I went into a period of mourning, I call it I was mourning the future that I had pictured. I was mourning the story that I thought I had all figured out in my firstborn type of way. And so I was sad. And while I had four kids six and under, so I was busy and taking care of them and right, like that was a good distraction. I would lay in bed at night and tears would just come down the side of my face every night and I couldn't help it. I was just sad. I didn't want to learn about MS. I didn't want to go to the doctor. I didn't want to freak out in an MRI. I didn't write, like there's a lot of valid reasons why I didn't go to medical school. And one of them being, I wasn't interested.

Katie Wrigley: Good Reason. Good reason.

Leann Stickel: Yeah. When you know this, when you become a patient you now kinda need to be a subject matter expert, to be able to ask good questions to advocate for yourself. Yeah. And you kind of, you go into this in those early, early months, right. It's like drinking from a firehose, you're trying to consume all this information, make decisions that feel huge. Yes. Whether it's financially, whether it's huge side effect wise, whether it's huge impact to your family, time off from work, whatever that is. Oh, my goodness. So, my newly diagnosed friends, I love you, and you're going to be okay, but not right now. And right now, you're in a, in a hard season. And that's okay. And that's where I really encourage people to honor the hard, respect it, don't expect yourself to come out clicking your heels in three days. Don't expect yourself to turn into the person on Facebook. That's like, I'm so much better because I have a chronic illness and everything I've learned from it. 

Katie Takes a minute to get there.

Leann Stickel: Yeah. And you know what, you and I would have been great without an illness. Yes. And so with all your friends listening, they would be great with or without an illness. And so it's just… we can be overwhelmed with these expectations of where we need to get to mentally. So the long answer is, it tested my optimism. It tested me in such a big way, that it really proved the power of it when I came out the other side is, yeah, right. And so when I decided and realized that really a pity party is like the least fun party to host, definitely not fun to attend for the people around you. Right? And that that journey, and that length of time, is unique to every patient. Yes, that you're going to get to that point. But you will. And I did. Yep. And I leaned into fitness, actually, I'm an academic, not an athlete. But when you have a disease that can affect your mobility, all of a sudden fitness feels urgent. Yes. Okay. And yet, I quickly realized that was something I could choose, it was something I could control. And a new diagnosis feels so out of control. Yes, it actually is. Like, there's a bunch of it, that you have no say in. And you can spend a lot of time and energy worrying about all these things that you can't control. Right, to no avail to actually your detriment. Yep. So I quickly realized and I felt this, it was kind of like, I looked at my bucket list, right? And I thought someday I would do a triathlon. And you kind of think that you'll have your act together in your 40s Which, by the way, I'm in my 40s, and I don't have my act together. Like I hope I didn't burst anybody's bubble. I had thought that, you know, your kids are older, I'll train and do something great in my 40s, you know, actually check off a triathlon. But now it felt like what if I couldn't? What if mobility changed, you know, my mobility? Right? And, you know, you and I, neither one of us know what next week will bring now but when you have a chronic condition, you feel like it's a little more, it's a little darker, right? Like the likelihood has now increased, that your story could hang a left in that be what you wanted. So I signed up for a triathlon, and I wasn't ready and I wasn't in shape. And what that did for me was created a training plan and it said Leann, walk this day, bike this day, swim the next day, and it decided for me it was something I could control and I could show up and be the boss of that, right. And that served me so well. Right? And you know, maybe we'll get a little bit more and I always say like, I am not fast and I am not ripped, but I got everything. And it helps me so much.

Katie Wrigley: And that's beautiful, there's so much that you said in there that is just wonderful. You know and your attitude is phenomenal. You know you guys can't see Leann but she's sitting here with a big smile on her face obviously totally accepting of life, of the diagnosis she's been given. And in early in my diagnosis I'm not even sure what early is anymore since the pain started in the 90s. And but around the time of disability is where I really said I dug in, which was four years ago. And at that time, I was seeing a chiropractor and every time I went to the doctor, I got more bad news. Like to a point where I was, I was pretty much crying every day, like you said, you know, you're crying every night, when you have that time to yourself, it's really important that we acknowledge those emotions. And then when we allow ourselves to feel fully, fully is the key, any emotions that are there. And one of the things that he told me when I kept getting diagnosis after diagnosis that I didn't want, and he said, you know, the diagnosis is important. And then what I want you to do with that, is let it go. Because the prognosis is up to you. It is not up to your doctors. The diagnosis simply tells you what you're dealing with, it's facts that you now have, that you can take and do whatever you want with. And that was such an empowering statement for me. And that's when I started coming up with affirmations. One of them's now my slogan for my company, which is chronic doesn't have to mean permanent. And the other one that I really like to use a lot is you can accept the diagnosis without accepting the prognosis. You know, and one of the ways that you can shift the prognosis for yourself is by having this lens of positivity, like you have Leann, you know, that's going to lead you to things. And I've heard story after story, you know, and there's a mixed bag of people say, Okay, well, if you don't have symptoms anymore, you don't have the diagnosis. Whereas some people say, Well, technically, I still have it. I'm just symptom free. I think it's an individual choice, what feels more empowering to you. But I encourage people to take the choice that does feel more empowering. If you say you don't have it anymore. And that makes you feel like a badass. Take it if you say you have it, but you have no symptoms, take it whatever makes you feel stronger. That ability to harness the power of the mind is all the difference in the outcome. You know, we've had a few people that have come into Cognomovement with multiple sclerosis and severe sclerosis in the brains. And we've actually seen the nerves route themselves around the sclerosis. And it all starts with the lens that you're looking for. Leann looks so excited right now, please chime in.

Leann Stickel: I mean, I can literally Amen, everything. It's such a big hairy deal. And I just want people to walk away from listening to this, considering the power, right. And until you have this experience, it's hard to like I understand the skeptics, right? But let me tell you about a magical moment that happened in the first year. And I talked about this, the numbness in my left hand and knee, right. And before I went to the doctor, I just thought I had a pinched nerve, right? And you can kind of understand like walking around with a kid on your hip. And like, it makes sense. And we can kind of Web MD everything and we think we're smart. 

Katie Wrigley: WebMD is dangerous. Just, just put that out as a cautionary tale. Please, continue.

Leann Stickel: The internet has been a wonderful gift for me and connected me with a lot of amazing people. It is also very dangerous. And I caution people newly diagnosed with like very, very carefully tiptoe through the internet.

Yes, yes.

So my hand is numb, and I get the diagnosis. And like, instantly, it was more now. Well, you and I both know that's not actually true, right? My focus became my hand, okay. And it was this constant reminder, and it was nagging and I would rub my fingers together and I'd be so salty, and I'd have such a terrible attitude. Like, like, really not cool, LeAnn. But just my friends don't have this. I'm only 29, I have four little kids. We use all three floors of our home. How am I going to do this? You know, like, I'm a stay at home mom, we're one income family. Just all the things

okay. . 

Katie Wrigley: Yes. All the things for sure. Four kids under the age of six. Just want you guys to remember that fact here. Please continue.

Leann Stickel: And so I'm looking at my hand. And I have always been a watch girl. I mean, this is practical that I'm wearing today. But I mean, I love watches fancy, cheap, bright, funky, whatever. And my watch catches my eye. Okay. And I think to myself, oh my goodness, Leann, what a good choice. I'm so glad I purchased this watch that is just so cotton picking cute. And I notice this thought that I'm having and that this watch caught my eye that was on my left hand. And I started mulling this concept of focus over and I started calling it my frosting. And I use the frosting theory all the time because and this is really hopefully what people will know me for. And it's all about perspective. Yep. So sometimes life gives you dry crummy cake. Right like not the plan, not what you're going for, you can mix all the ingredients and you weren't like fingers crossed this comes out crummy. Nobody does that. No, but sometimes it's what we get. And we can't change that. You know, I think that that's a hard reality with a diagnosis is like, the feeling of being powerless to change. Some part, we used to think that we could take an ibuprofen and be better, right? So before that, I'd be like, Oh, I don't feel good two days a month or whatever. And I can get rid of a headache in, you know, 17 minutes. Yep. So, when we have that dry, crummy cake, what do we do, we go to the cupboard, we get a jar of frosting, maybe two, we apply it, you can still enjoy the bite of cake, right? It's still sweet. We've all had cake that was kind of eh, but like with some wicked good frosting or whatever you like, right? You think, oh, this is still an enjoyable treat. So my challenge to people and really one of my number one tools is looking for the frosting in your life. And whether that sunshine new Birkenstocks, old Birkenstocks, Healthy Kids, your cute puppy, whatever it is, it's when you pause, notice, and are thankful for it, that it applies to your cake. You Katie have things in your life that are amazing, that are frosting that you are missing, you're glossing over, you're not pausing and noticing, right? We all do. And when we don't pause, and we don't notice, and we don't have a moment of food for that thing. It doesn't really work it's magic, right? It's still awesome. It's like frosting in the jar. It's still frosting, but it doesn't help the cake until it's applied. And that is so powerful. I can't even tell you. And so now I'm looking at my cute watch. And my hand is a little bit less numb. Yep. You and I both know the symptom never ever changed, right? The signal from my brain, my fingers, the feeling and all of that science never changed. But my perspective did. Yes. And that is the magic. That is the muscle that I need people to work on, right? It's like, I need you to practice. I need you every frosting Friday to find something and share it and tell a friend and teach this tool and forget who I am. But remember the lesson, right? Like, yep, make your own and know that it's just so crazy powerful. And how you feel and how you view your situation and your diagnosis. That's just, yeah, anyways, it's a big hairy deal.

Katie Wrigley: Yes, it really is. And I love that analogy, too. At the frosting, you know, it's still amazing. But until you apply it to your life, you're not getting the goodness of it. It's simply not available to you yet. It's possible, but it's not available. And we talk about that a lot in cognomovement, the difference between what's possible and available. Everything is possible at all times. But is it available to you yet? Maybe yes, maybe no. And a lot of that is going to be dictated by the lens that you're looking through. So with my own clients, really at the core of what I'm trying to teach is awareness and empowerment. And so I break life into four areas, verbal, emotional, mental, physical, these are the four areas you can impact to shift life. So like you had said, you know, when you were first diagnosed, you know, you had a pity party. And that is an important part of the process as undesirable as it is for anyone and having people like your husband, Don, to be there to support you. That's huge. And, you know, I'm sure he didn't enable you, I'm sure he sat there, gave you space, and let you be empowered, because I know this without even knowing Don, and this is the first time I've ever spoken to you. Because you got out of it, you shifted out of it. And if he had enabled you to stay there, you wouldn't have had the motivation to do that. So that speaks volumes for the husband that you've married, you know, and the other thing that caught my attention as you were talking about it, you had four kids under the age of six, regardless how much you enjoy being a mother, you've got a lot going on right there. And as a stay at home mom, you're getting very little, if any, time to yourself as well. And there's a direct correlation with stress and illness as we know and stress and chronic pain. And I'm not saying it was your fault at all. It's, life happens, life is going to bring up stress and when stress comes up, that becomes an opportunity for disease for a condition to take hold in your body. And when the proximity of that diagnosis is so important, I hear Tony Robbins talk about this, I hear a lot of people talk about this. The earlier you know what is going on the more empowered you are to change it. And I can just say it's so easy to applaud you on the choices that you made. And to really like, applaud your practitioner, your doctor, who helped you see that, you know, I really I say a lot on the show a few times, you know, some of the episodes I've said it on haven't come out yet, but so important to do your research with doctors, because there are amazing doctors out there, like your doctor who caught an early diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis when a lot of other doctors would have dismissed it because you're young, because you're healthy, wouldn't have looked any further. You know, and there is another guest you guys are going to hear in a few more weeks, and she's talking about after, gosh I think it was eight or nine years of going through horrible. Just nothing was working, a general practitioner finally sat down with her and is like “what you're doing isn't working. And it's a little unethical that these doctors are still telling you to do this after this much time.” And that's when she had her aha moment. And she came out of it and built this amazing life, amazing practice. And I'm excited for you guys to hear her another day. The recurring theme here is empowerment, Leann empowered herself. Part of how she did that is the support around her, you know, and she's also, fitness became incredibly important to her. That was one of the reasons I decided to never skydive again, my ability to walk became much more important to me, after I couldn't do it for a year and a half without limping. Everything changes. It's all about perspective. And I have one last thing to say. And then I want to kick it over to you again, Leann. We've talked on the show about how the lens that you're looking through is what's going to bring it to you. It's pattern running and your subconscious mind that is drawing it to you. And Leann is choosing, key word choosing, she may have been genetically predisposed to it. But you also heard me say I'm not genetically predisposed, and I still choose the same lens, not as automatically as Leann does, but I do. But she's looking at the world through this lens of positivity, which is why she continues to see all of this goodness out there, despite the fact she's been given a crap diagnosis by most people's standards. She doesn't accept that she's just been given a diagnosis. It's part of her life. And this is what she's doing with it.

Leann Stickel: Well, thank you. I mean, all of your additional comments are so flattering, but it is so true and right. Like, even what we're good at, we have to keep using, right. So the gifted musician continues to practice, they continue to challenge themselves with harder pieces, right? So they are not just sitting on their gift. So I'm using it right and stepping back. I mean, I'm an observer of life and of thoughts, and what makes people tick. And so I mean, I like to be a student in this space. And by being a student, I feel like it has really served me to keep lifting the weights, right, keep practicing to be positive, and looking at what it takes, and what it means. And what are the thoughts, the self talk that comes into that negative? And what do we do with that? Right? And turning positivity into tangible tools. It's not just “be positive”. Right? So how do you actually do that? So that has been, you know, really a special journey. And really, in the last few years, I've really dug in to say, What am I doing differently?  What really am I doing, and there are several things you know, and that I love to share. And you know, the frosting theory is just one of them. But it's just nuts how powerful that is when you can notice anything that makes your day sweeter, and feel thankful for it. The magic, right? And the impact that it has on your feelings about your life. Right. And it shifts your focus from over here from all these things that you can't control and that are not cool and are crummy and it sends it over here right to the space that is something that you love maybe that you have a say in and maybe it was your morning walk right and your frosting becomes fitness, which people always challenge me and say oh no, like fitness will never be my frosting. Right? Fitness is decryption and I'm like no no, no. You need to get clear on your why, why are you working out? Yep. When you are clear on your why then motivation will show up. People are constantly asking me how do you stay motivated? I'm not motivated. I always tell them, don't look for motivation. Look for your why. Yeah, you're looking for the wrong thing. Zig Ziglar says motivation is like bathing, like we already know that we have to do it regularly. Like it's not something that we have, you know, take one bath a year. It's something that we have to constantly work on maintaining. Yes. So the expectation shouldn't be that we'll just always be motivated. There's no magic pill but people are looking for that. And they're looking for this, like secret sauce, that's just going to make them love fitness and wake up at 5am. You know, and it's just not going to happen. But what can happen is they can be so dialed in to why it matters and why it's important. And for me, it's important because I can move today, if I can move today, it's more likely I can move tomorrow. So if I continue to walk in early in that first year, I came up with that layman's theory, right? That if I could walk today and teach my legs like, Okay, this is what it feels like to walk, even if they're heavy. Even if they're tingly and numb, then it's more likely they'll remember tomorrow. Yeah, and even if they feel worse, they'll at least it'll only be like, 24 hours ago, that they did the right thing. Right? Yes.

Yeah. That's so important. That was so powerful for me. And in my journey, I tripped over a study at the University of Illinois, in the exercise neuroscience lab, where they really were studying the connection of the central nervous system and fitness, which was amazing. And so then it was like, smart people had the same theory as me, which I was just, like, spit balling over the whole thing. So I participated in that study. And it was really remarkable the connection between fitness and the central nervous system, because we know it helps our cardio, we know it helps muscular, so why wouldn't it help the central nervous system too right?

Katie Wrigley: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, and to kind of give a synopsis in layman's terms, like part of what I was learning, you know, when I was learning pain management myself, which I found overall to be dry toast, which is why I tried to make it not so dry toast, I like to make a buttery or frosted toast,  much to your analogy, some little Cinnamon Toast going on there. And now I'm thinking about toast and I totally lost my train of thought.

Leann Stickel: Pain Management being like dried toast.

Katie Wrigley: Yes! And so one of the things I learned is that we have 45 miles of nerves in our body. And so what cardio does is it helps the blood flow through the nerves. As you're doing these movements, you're teaching your body because you're not going to just be walking in a straight line, at some point, you're gonna turn around, when you turn, you're going into different lobes of your brain. So if you're going in a loop, you're continuingly shifting the lobes of your brain. So you're teaching your brain, hey, I can walk and you're actually reapplying this over and over again, with repetition. So your brain stops to be open to the idea that you can't walk one day. And by insisting and showing your body through proof that you can, you are actually continuing to show your brain Oh, no, I can walk. This is good. Okay, and you keep going, you know, and it amazed me when I was like, there's 45 Miles like I immediately looked at my body and like, wow, that's a lot. And my mine had some road damage, you know?

Leann Stickel: Right, right. Yeah. It's amazing. And I know where I kind of diverted on the fitness path, but it is just such an important part of maintaining mental health. Yeah, and I need people to understand that those things are married.

Katie Wrigley: Oh, yes. And you know, your mental health is going to precipitate your physical health. Like they are not separate. You are one whole body, there is mental health. There's physical health, there is neurological health, there's dental health, I mean, break it down however you want, you still have one complicated body that you are trying to manage. And the more you can treat it as one whole system, not the separate silos with different practitioners who can't mesh them together without a whole bunch of paperwork, to give them permission to talk about you not in your presence, the easier it is going to be to navigate your illnesses or your pain and being able to move even if you're only capable of doing a few stretches and doing your PT exercises. Congratulate yourself for moving, you still moved, you still taught your body. You can do this and tomorrow, you may be able to do more, because you did it today.

Leann Stickel: 100%. I mean, you cannot believe literally for over a decade I have been telling people, “consistency. It doesn't matter what you do. I don't care how fast you go, how much you lift, I don't care. You have to keep showing up. That is the magic”. So, I don't want to miss anything that you wanted to cover. I feel like I took over.

Katie Wrigley: No, not at all this is about everything that you're bringing to the show. And I'm really enjoying this conversation. And you know, I love your energy, Leann, like just just sitting here with you like, I feel my own energy going up and I have quite a long day in front of me, actually, I'm going to be going for another, gosh, eight hours after we finish no, sorry, 10 hours after we finish this, and I have no doubt I'm going to make it because, you know, I'm getting this extra boost of positivity this morning. You know, and I love what you said about looking for the frosting in your life. And you're right, like, we can all continue to improve that and see that, you know, and I've done things to help me see frosting more like I've spent a lot of time in my yard to make it beautiful. So when I look out there, I take this big sigh and I just lean into the beauty that I get to enjoy every day. And I really like when I'm petting my cats, I focus on the texture of their fur because they're so soft and lovable and it’s really enjoying all those things. And I know I can find more places to bring that up. And when I'm feeling blue, I start to look around and say, Oh, I have this and I have this and it's not material stuff. I'm not looking at my TV going oh, wow, look at my TV. I'm not looking at my car going, Oh, well look at my TV, I'm enjoying my cats who were rescues. I'm enjoying my garden, which is a couple of dollars of plants. Like it's not a big expenditure. That's not what provides joy. And most of us find that it's not the things, it's the experiences, it is how it makes you feel. That's where you're going to be really finding these cores of positivity and motivation. What do you think, Leann?

Leann Stickel: Totally. And, I mean, it's like the fitness thing, right? It's all about consistency. And it's about taking the time and having the practice, right. So I challenge everybody to create the habit. And I don't care if that’s saying it on the way to work. I don't care if that's like thinking about it right? When you wake up, I don't care if you write it in a journal and you turn it into a novel, whatever, gratitude practice, whatever that means for you is perfect, if you do it regularly. So the secret is doing it regularly. So if putting a sticky note on your bathroom mirror is helpful to you do that, right? So you have to do it regularly. It has to be who you are so that you start to just automatically see those things. No, talk about them. Right? Like when you aren't stopped in traffic on the way to work. And you're like, Oh, my word that was amazing, right? Yes. Now I know we've gotten somewhere because you've noticed it. Yeah. And you can celebrate it and feel thankful that you didn't have to sit in traffic on the way to work. Yep, that is the autopilot that I really know is possible. And teach people that practice becoming that. So you don't just assume the good, we do assume the best. But we also notice all the things. And yeah, there's just so much hope. And we know that believing a drug is going to work makes it work better. Like there's a ton of research and I could be all science-y but I'm just not very science-y more about really practical things that we can help you within your mind and in your regular life. And, you know, what I always tell people is, be a good boss of yourself.You have to be a good boss of yourself talk, you have to be a good boss of your energy, your resources, be a good boss of yourself, and just know that you can do this, like, you know what a good boss is doing. Right? Like, you know what that looks like. So be that, like, show up for yourself and know that that's a huge deal. And you can know success and you can know contentment, right? So you know, a lot of people's goal is to or what feels elusive is to feel content in life, right? And so how do we feel content? And one of my theories is that progress brings contentment. And so identifying where you need to make progress and maybe that is in positive thinking, maybe that is in taking a nap every day. Maybe that is in reducing your stress. Managing your family of little kids, that feels stressful. Okay, so how can we change that story? So it's less stressful? Because you touched on this and I talked so much about stress and fatigue. Like Hello people, we have to manage our stress and fatigue. Yes, we have to like literally I yeah, I know. I will say this like 10 times like okay, if you walk away from this episode, please think about managing your stress and fatigue. I've already given them too many things to walk away from them. So like, I need you to, like set up, pay attention, and realize where stress is in your life where you're talking about it where you are putting energy. Okay, let's say I'm learning about MS. And that's stressing me out. And I'm learning more and more, and I'm trying to research all the drugs and all the side effects. And that's creating stress. Right? Like, pause, right? Because in that early season, I didn't have the information I needed. I wasn't going to be making a decision. So sitting there and consuming, consuming, consuming. That was creating stress in me.

Katie Wrigley: Oh, yes. I can imagine.

Leann Stickel: So I always challenge people to notice all week, to spend this week, the next seven days paying attention to when you feel stressed out. You have road rage? So okay, fine, the guy cut you off, and you're irritated and you shake your fist or whatever, that's stressful to you, then you come home, okay. And you are thinking about the ding dong driver. And at some point, you're like, “Oh, my goodness, this guy cut me off. And it was so annoying. And I could have gotten into an accident.” And you know, at your dinner table, you're not going to get into a car accident. But by retelling that story, and reliving that experience, you've now reminded your body of the stress. And your body has a hard time separating like, am I actually going to almost get in a car accident? Or am I just remembering? And your body's like, “oh, no, we are elevating your blood pressure. We're freaking out and irritated.” So I challenge people to look at those stressful things in their life. And could we just not tell the story at dinner?

Katie Wrigley: Yes, absolutely. And the other thing I hear there in that example, is that someone choosing to hold on to stress they could release. There wasn't an accident, the person was a jerk. But thankfully, nothing happened. Let it go.

Leann Stickel: Let it go. Exactly. And what's so cool is that, even though you found some value in sharing with your family, you had this near accident, because we make these choices in our conversation, because something clicks in our head that we think they want to know the story. What I want people to consider is, Could you be in charge of this, like sharing and what you bring to the dinner table. And you can feel so good, like knowing that you're choosing not to share the stressful part of your day. Because it's good for you. It's good for them. And instead of having that story, you can talk about something that is of more value or ask a question of a kid or whatever. Right? So I mean, I just think, empower yourself, right? And you mentioned that earlier, not being a victim. And you're right, my support system was exactly what I needed. And I am so fortunate and I will share that for the first seven years of living with MS. While I was an open book to anybody that asked, I didn't share my story a lot. I kind of thought I had it too good because I had health insurance. And I had family. And I kind of felt embarrassed in front of people that had it harder than me.

And not to the fact I mean, I'm an extrovert, right, like in the dictionary, like I go into the gas station to talk to people. You know, you can kind of understand a little or maybe hear me, maybe not understand. So then in 2017, I had a relapse, and I developed optic neuritis. And  that really scared me. And that meant my drug failed. And I had to make a hard choice and go through another treatment series. And all of a sudden, my story had value. And that was crazy. Okay, my friend. All of a sudden, the scale had tipped, and Leann realized that she had been through enough hard, that her story mattered, and that I needed to share it and that I needed to help people with it. You and I both know my story mattered before. Yes, they both know that that was already enough hard to justify helping others and sharing and all the things but for me personally, that's what tipped the scale. And that's what really started me in the life coaching space. I had been fundraising and I started that nonprofit that you mentioned in my bio, and you know that journey has really served me because if you can do something great with the bad part of your story. It's so powerful.

Katie Wrigley: Absolutely. And I'm so glad that you brought up the nonprofits. That's where I wanted to go next is, tell us about this. I mean $100,000 over $100,000 in eight years. That is no small feat, Leann. And so tell us a little bit about that experience. And what is that $100,000 providing to people who are facing a similar diagnosis as you did?

Leann Stickel: Yeah. So it is more than I can donate, which is why I keep it because as long as it makes more than what I am willing to write a check for a job, I figure I should do it. So I knew that I wanted to fundraise because chronic illness comes with chronic costs. And I saw the burden being so great on other patients. And I felt very fortunate that our insurance was showing up in a big way and doing a lot of good for me. And here's my four kids, they're active, and we want to do some fundraising. And we look around and my kids had done an event like ours in Michigan, and Central Illinois didn't have anything like it. So we kind of saw a hole in the calendar of events in your community, and realized that there was space for this. So we are One Event Wonder, we are a kids triathlon for kids ages six to 15. And while our primary mission is to raise money to help patients, our secondary goal is to inspire kids to love fitness. So because fitness has been part of my story and has been so powerful and served me in so many ways, it's like, Oh, my goodness, we need our youth to be embracing fitness and just making it part of what they do who they are. And so they don't have to get to the hard part of life and think, oh, fitness, I have to add fitness, right and have this very typical bad attitude about fitness which is normal. So that is my motivation. That's my passion. And what's beautiful is that race energy is so powerful, right, like the excitement shows up. It's like a fun summer morning, and everybody's doing a hard thing. And you have all these volunteers and like, Oh, my goodness, I wish I could bottle what that is because then we would really make the money for the people. But you asked what that's done. So in central Illinois, we actually have an organization that is associated with our hospital system. And in our hospital system, we have an MS center. So we have a couple of neurologists that are only seeing patients with MS. And so what is so amazing is that we are like boots on the ground connecting dialysis patients, we are building ramps, we are paying copays, we are helping the transportation, we are remodeling bathrooms, we are changing bands into handicap accessible, I mean, the list is so long, and it is so exciting. And so the money that I raised with my nonprofit, go that direction. For the most part, I will put an asterisk here and say that some of those dollars also go to the National MS Society. And I view that as a big picture effort, right. So we're talking education, awareness, and research, all super valuable, but my passion is with local patients and the impact that we can have on their quality of life.

Katie Wrigley: Wow, that is I don't even have words that is just beyond amazing. All the ways that you're helping. And the fact that you're looking local, your focus local, but you're also contributing to a larger scale to that is just phenomenal. I did fundraising for how many years, I do a total, I think it was four years total with one year I couldn't because my health wasn’t in a good place. But I did a skydiving fundraiser to raise money for kids with brain tumors, 10 years ago next month actually, we got a little boy in the air. We became the first drop zone, to legally, keyword, get a 12 year old in the air, skydiving and talked about skydiving everyday for the rest of his life. So he was really the inspiration for that. And I mentioned that because the level of effort that it takes to fundraise is huge. So thank you so much for what you're doing out there to help kids start to get excited about fitness to help raise awareness, education, help people pay for their medical coverage. All of that is huge, especially right now with prices going through the roof on everything. Like I can't even imagine how much more important that money is to everybody right now. So thank you for what you're doing.

Leann Stickel: It's literally my pleasure. I mean, it sounds cheesy, and I don't want to but you know what's happened in those eight years of doing that, is so many relationships have been built. And the truth about fundraising is that it's all about relationships. And for us to be successful. We have to have sponsors, people's entry fees cover the cost of the event, right but to actually get a successful fundraiser, you have to have sponsors. And sponsors, that is my love language. I mean walking somewhere and asking them for money, sign me up, like which is a such a weird thing to be good at.

Katie Wrigley: That is a great thing to be good at.

Leann Stickel: It's like, I don't mind if they say no, you know, and I think that because I give them space to say no, I get more yeses. Yeah. Which is so funny because like salespeople, and I have a mentor that's 83. And he has raised the majority of the money for the local fund. He's amazing. He's past president Caterpillar Inc. Anyways, I just valued him so much. And he, I mean, he's like, don't leave without the sale. We have different styles. You know, I'd rather go back and deliver doughnuts, and then all of a sudden I get a sponsor.

Katie Wrigley: Yep. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And there's a bunch of different approaches. So how can people and where can people find you, Leann? So do you work with people virtually or only in person?

Leann Stickel: Yeah, so I work with people virtually.. So I have on one space, and I also do a group coaching program. That is kind of a bootcamp style where I teach positivity and progress. And  I call it Bring The Joy bootcamp. And that's more of a group program. It's, you know, a lower price point, super fun, and it just runs for four weeks. And you know, once a week, anyways, it's magic. And so they can go to leannstickle.com. I spend the most time on Instagram, probably @IamLeannStickle. And I started a Facebook group this last year, because Instagram to me, it's kind of hard to cultivate community. Yes. And even though Facebook is kind of like, you know, questionable sometimes, I did start a Facebook community. And it's called Not Defined by Chronic Illness. And I encourage people with or without a chronic illness to join us there, because it's a great space for conversation. And my goal with it was, let's have good conversations around this. And it's like, what day your kids go back to school, right? So it's building friendships and connections, that don't want to just whine about their situation, which, you know, we all know, we trip over a lot of that, and it just doesn't serve me right. So I felt like maybe a few other people would agree and started. I know, there's a million options out there. But I would love to have people join me.

Katie Wrigley: Oh, I love that. And I'll make sure that we're putting your website, your Instagram follow and your Facebook group all in the show notes so that people can link to them and come join you. I definitely want to join your Facebook group to have these conversations about chronic conditions. And not feeding in or enabling the pity party, allowing space for that phase of the diagnosis to happen. And then helping empower people to come out of it. Like yeah, you just got dealt a shitty blow. Give yourself a moment here. And then put on your big girl or big boy panties again, and figure out what you can do with this because you've been given this. You didn't ask for it. It's yours. What you do with it is completely up to you.

Leann Stickel: Exactly. It doesn't define you in progress as possible. And there's so much hope. And hope really does change everything. But I will challenge everybody with that statement. That perspective is how you find hope. So if you focus on perspective, it'll domino effect in hope. So work on perspective and your focus. And you'll get there.

Katie Wrigley: Oh, I love that. I was about to ask what note you wanted to leave our listeners with today. But that was perfect. So thank you again, Leann. This has been such a pleasure. And thank you again for joining me today. The amount of energy I feel like I'm going into the rest of my day with it's just wonderful. So thank you so much. Again, I appreciate you.

Leann Stickel: Oh Thank you, Katie. This was such a great conversation. And I love your good questions. And yeah, you're 10 steps ahead of a lot of people so I appreciate that.

Katie Wrigley: Well we need people out there helping everybody. You know, even though it's very well worn path to help people find a way to navigate their chronic illnesses and not make it a permanent thing. There's still a whole lot of work we can do to help people find that path. And keep up what you're doing. Leann thank you again. 

Leann Stickel: Totally. You're welcome.

Katie Wrigley: Thank you my listener as always for spending time with us today. I hope you're feeling super positive right now right along with me. After hearing Leann share her gems of wisdom. 

If you have been intrigued by this podcast so far, then I invite you to take it one step further and come join me for my upcoming series, The Pain Changer. This is your opportunity to experience directly how quickly my methodology combined with congnomovement will shift your experience with pain. Go to my events page, which is KatieWrigley.com/upcoming-events. And sign up for my 6-week program, Become Unstoppable, which kicks off on August 10th. While you’re there, make sure you check out the video for the free masterclass that kicked off the series. You won’t wanna miss it! There’s all kinds of goodies in it. And I hope to see you there

Next week. I have Annie Miller joining me and she does some amazing work to help people learn how to sleep and to shift their perception of pain using something called pain reprocessing therapy. And yes, it is just as interesting as it sounds. I hope you'll come back again and spend time with us again next week. Until then, don't forget that you can accept the diagnosis without accepting the prognosis.