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EP1 // Welcome to Finally Effing Happy!

2021 happiness hack Jun 20, 2021
Finally Effing Happy Episode 1

Episode 1:  Hello & Welcome!  Finally Effing Happy is a podcast & community for kick-ass, can-do women living with chronic illness who are not about to let their chronic condition define their life.

My name is Shannon Klenk.  I am a Happiness Coach, Chronic Illness Coach & Self-Care Queen!    

I share my story, happiness hacks, self-care strategies, and amazing guest speakers & fellow chronic illness warriors.

Today’s episode introduces my story, my heart, and my journey to joy living with chronic illness.  My illness wasn’t diagnosed until my early 40’s, so I spent much of my life feeling like crap, both physically and emotionally.  Nonetheless, I have found happiness using a combination of internal mindset strategies AND external action.  I have built a self-care superstructure that allows me to consistently ‘practice happiness’ so joy is within reach even when my body is not feeling at it’s best.  And I want that happiness for you too!   WELCOME!

Today’s takeaways:

  1. Happiness is to be had, even if you live with a chronic condition.  I am not my illness, and neither are you.  
  2. There is a balance between acknowledging and honoring the chronic condition, and not letting it be the driver of every day.  
  3. Happiness is welcoming all emotions and facing them head on.  Happiness is not denial.  
  4. Self-care is both internal mindset and external self-care.  
  5. Don’t do it alone!  Challenges are eased when shared and joy is doubled when done together.  


Hello Beautiful. My name is Shannon Klenk and welcome to Finally Effing Happy, a joy filled podcast for kick ass women living with chronic illness. That's right, you heard me correctly, those amazing women who are living with chronic conditions. I'm starting this podcast because I've been there. I am there, and I'm going to share my story with you along with the stories of other amazing kick ass, warrior women who have totally found happiness in the face of living with a chronic condition.  


This podcast is not about illness or symptoms or diagnoses, though we may talk about those from time to time. And to be totally honest, part of the reason why I am starting this podcast and community is because the times that I have reached out to support communities, they spend so much time focused on the illness, and not the happiness that is to be had fully in life. 


So this podcast is about unlocking and igniting a positive and powerful mindset, along with specific practical tips and tricks to make the most of living, of living life, even in the face of chronic conditions. And trust me, I am walking this journey right along with you. So whether your chronic illness is migraines or diabetes, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, lupus, Lyme disease, Crohn's disease, IBS, depression, head injuries, if you're a COVID-19, long hauler, or maybe you have a primary immune deficiency, like I do, whatever your condition, I invite you to join me in this supportive sisterhood, and have some fun, because I am all about the fun. You see, I am walking this journey, just as much as any of you might be walking this journey. So as I said, Before, I am diagnosed with a primary immune deficiency. What does that mean? It means that there are primary parts of my immune system that I just don't have, quite frankly, they just don't exist. However, my story is that it wasn't properly diagnosed until I was in my 40s. And so I spent my entire life sick, chronic ear infections, chronic sinus infections, stomach infections, UTI, is being really slow to heal whenever I got anything, being on constant antibiotics, exhausted, exhaustion beyond words. 


And to be honest, as an adult woman who had a child who was working full time juggling all the things that we juggle, somewhere in me, I believed or was led to believe that somehow it was my fault that if only I manage stress better, or if I ate, right, or if I slept more, or if I went to this doctor or tried that remedy, that somehow it was my fault. And all of this was accompanied by a low grade, and sometimes not so low grade, depression that I fought all the time. This Come on, Shan, get up. You can do this. One more day. This Come on, you can do it feeling like I was just squeezing myself through life. Or like gravity pulled on me just a little bit harder. And things were a little bit tougher. I tried everything. 


And let me be clear, this podcast is not about one health philosophy over another. I mean, I believe that those of us women with chronic illness, we have like warrior levels of perseverance. We do not give up.  We might get exhausted, we might get discouraged. We might get all kinds of things. But we don't give up and I'd tromp off to the next doctor or I’d try the next treatment or I’d try the next, you know, drinking a gallon of water every day or whatever it is and like, I'd feel hope for a little while until I was right back where I had always been. I've worked with naturopathic doctors. I've worked with Western medicine doctors.

I've worked with endocrinologist, EMTs. I love Louise Hay and Hay House productions, you can heal your life. I've been a vegetarian. I've been a non vegetarian, you name it. I've tried it. 


Total side note. Can you hear that music in the background? So a little side note about me. I am a mom. I am a bio mom. I'm a step mom, I'm adopted mom. I'm a doggie mom. I've been a working mom. I've been a single mom, I've been a married Mom, you name it. I've got mom covered. Which is part of why I wanted to start this podcast for kick ass women who still show up for all of the people that they love and who love them. Despite whatever chronic condition they are managing day in and day out. Truly wonder warrior women. Anyways, that's my 16 year old he headed upstairs to take a shower. But apparently he has to do so with the radio turned all the way up. But I'm gonna keep recording because that's really what this is all about. Right? Living in the mess, but still finding the happiness. 


Okay, so let's get back to the story. 11 or 12 years ago, I made myself, I remember it as clear as day, this amazingly delicious, eggplant and almond enchilada. I know the combo doesn't sound really intuitive, but trust me, it was delicious. And about 20 or 30 minutes after that eggplant and almond enchilada I doubled over in pain. And it took about three weeks for them to diagnose me properly with gastroparesis, which is essentially a paralyzed stomach. Here's the gift of that story. It was because of the gastroparesis and constant blood draws, that I finally started getting connected with doctors that noticed something was wrong with my blood profile. And that they started the investigation process. And even from that point, it took me almost five years of persistence, positive mindset, amazing self care, to get connected with a doctor who finally diagnosed me properly, and was able to provide some treatment that could provide some genuine relief. 


Throughout all of this, I was raising my son, I was a single mom, I had gotten into a relationship and out of a relationship. I had moved from Washington State, Idaho to California, like life was still fully in session in the midst of all of this going on, because that's the thing that's amazing about us. We don't say, Oh, I'm sick. And now we're gonna everything's gonna stop until I figure it out. No Life goes on. And we are these amazing service minded spiritual warrior women who continue to move forward with our lives and the lives of others, even in the face of chronic illness. At the beginning of this podcast, I told you that this podcast was not going to be about illness and diagnosis. And I've been talking a lot about my illness and diagnosis. But here's the point. 


The point is, is that I've walked this journey, and I want to live in the happiness sandbox. I don't want to live in the illness sandbox. And I want that for you too sister if you are fighting chronic illness. Because you are not your illness. You are not the chronic condition. I am not my illness. I am not the chronic condition. I live in a world where I find this balance between being knowledgeable and aware so that I can be the strongest advocate for me, but not obsessed on a daily basis with symptoms and conditions and lab results. Oh no. I despite having a chronic condition. I want to live a purposeful life. I still want to have my career goals and my girlfriends. I want to laugh so hard the snots coming out my nose. I want to smile until  my cheeks hurt. I want to see beauty in the smallest of things. I want to live fully and completely. And I want that for you too my friend. 


SoI'm here to share with you. I'm here to share with you my tips and tricks, as well as some amazing stories from some other amazing warrior women who are living their lives to the fullest with a variety of chronic conditions. But let me start by telling you, the three things that have been most critical in my finding and living in this space of joy, and happiness. 


The first one is that happiness for me, is not about this sort of Pollyanna living in denial kind of happiness, quite the opposite. All emotions are welcome here. Sadness, disappointment, discouragement. Yep, all welcome in my happiness sandbox, because I found that the more I honor, and acknowledge and embrace the realities, the more I can live in joy, the more they can be released, and let go and not define and govern my days, regardless of how my body is or isn't feeling. 


The second piece is that happiness for me is not just an inside job, though, that's really important. But the external things that I do, the self care routines, whether it's the water I drink, or the movement I try and participate in, or making sure I'm advocating and staying current with my medical care, etc, etc. Those outside things are as important as the mindset piece for me. It's true, that when I focus on the good, the good multiplies. And when I focus on the bad, the bad multiplies, so mindset is important. However, I can't think my way into having more white blood cells or having more platelets are natural killer cells. Now, don't get me wrong. I believe that on some spiritual plane, there's space for miracles. And miracles do indeed happen. However, if I live by that philosophy, and that philosophy alone, in terms of my health care mindset, and I try and think my way into more white blood cells, or platelets, or natural killer cells, and then when I get that next lab results, I don't have more white blood cells, or platelets, or natural killer cells, then somehow, once again, it's my fault. Which just adds to the potential ongoing negativity, managing my chronic illness, and I don't want to live there. And I don't want you to live there either. And so for me, this self care piece is both internal and external. And I can't wait to share with you my gratitude hack to make gratitude authentic and genuine. The tips and tricks that I use to keep me motivated to maintain my positive mindset, but also stay in motion around the things that I may not want to do. And it can be as little as drinking the water than I need to drink or doing the movement and exercise that impacts my mental health, or showing up for other family and friends when I am feeling quite frankly, like crap. So finding happiness for me is not just an inside job, nor is it just an outside job. It's this fluid blend of both of them. And I can't wait to share some of those tips and tricks, but also learn some of yours. 


And that's what brings me to the third thing that I've learned that is most important in my journey to happiness. And that is that I really can't do it alone. Now, don't get me wrong. I am a strong, smart, resourceful, capable woman and I know you are too. But here's the deal.

Isolation and loneliness are enemy number one, and I can feel lonely and isolated in a roomful of people can feel totally alone with my condition, even when there are people around me that I know love me know and and I know a lot of us come from a background that values individuality that values independence. No, no, I got this, I'll take care of it myself, thank you very much, as opposed to the deep connection and reaching out to say, I may not fully understand exactly what you're walking through, because I don't have the same condition as you. But here's the deal, sister, friend, you don't need to do it alone, I will happily hold your hand and walk through it, so that you don't have to do a single step of it alone. And it's taken me in my own journey, years of deep acceptance, to reach out to some remarkable women in my life, who helped carry me through the really hard days, the really scary moments, the times when I know everything is going to be fine, but my heart is just a flutter when I'm physically exhausted, and so emotionally and spiritually, find it so hard to show up for my family, but also to those days where I feel live and energetic and spirited, because one of the things you'll get to know about me is I love having fun. There are a few things I love more than laughing until the tears are rolling out of my eyes and my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard, but I found that most of those moments happen when I am sharing with others. So despite living with a chronic condition, I can tell you unequivocally I am finally effin happy. And I want that for you too. 


So do me a favor, bookmark this podcast and join me because I'm going to be coming to you twice a week, sometimes with interviews and amazing warrior women and their stories and tips and tricks, and sometimes with my own. And then second, come join me on Facebook. It's a totally free group. Finally effing happy. And I hope to see you there from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for listening. I can't wait to share more with you so that you too, can finally find happiness and be the warrior woman that you are even in the face of chronic illness until we are together again. Please be kind to you because you totally deserve it.

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