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EP8 // It’s really ok to be pissed - and how to get past it! An interview with Ronda Barney

2021 happiness hack sisterhood stories Jun 21, 2021
Shannon Klenk Ronda Barney Episode 8


Can you do this one moment?  Just this one?  


I introduce you to Ronda Barney, L.C.S.W., R.D.  In this heartfelt interview she shares that despite all her professional experience, she found herself managing illness right after the birth of her first child and needing to implement all the strategies she taught to her clients.  Nearly 20 years later, she shares the joys, the moments of surrender, the heart, the grief, and the beauty of living a rich, full, connected, joy-FULL life even with illness.   


This is Episode One in Finally Effing Happy’s Sisterhood Stories, a series of interviews with kick-ass, can-do women who share their journey to joy through chronic illness.  You are not alone!  There is strength in our stories.  And it is an honor to get to share them with you.  Together we are powerful!  


Today’s takeaways:

  • It’s okay to be pissed at your illness - for a while. 
  • The anticipation of having to struggle over and over and over again, keeps us from living in the moment.  Can you do this one moment?  
  • Don’t do it alone! 
  • You can’t control the future moments, but you can control what you are doing right now.  
  • Learning to ask for help can be a gift.  
  • The littlest things can be the most powerful.
  • Sometimes the thing we are afraid we are going to lose as a result of our illness, is the very thing we are given as the greatest gift of our illness.
  • When you deal with the emotional aspects of your illness, your body can heal easier.    
  • Your body is a gift.


Here’s where to find Ronda and A Dose of Hope:

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Waitlist for her book >>>

Here’s where to find Shannon and The Finally Effing Happy Sisterhood:

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Connect >>>  [email protected]

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Shannon Klenk

Hey Beautiful, and Welcome to Finally Effing Happy, a podcasting community for kick-ass, can-do women living with chronic illness. I am Happiness Coach and Self Care Strategist Shannon Klenk.

And I share with you my personal journey to joy through chronic illness, bring you some amazing guest speakers and share tons of happiness hacks and self care strategies so that you too can live in joy and happiness despite chronic illness or condition you may be living with day to day. I am absolutely thrilled that you are here for today's episode because today is one of my sisterhood stories. An interview with a fellow kick ass can do woman who is not about to let her illness define her, who warrior like finds that balance between soldiering on and gently honoring her body and her experience.

And despite illness, she continues to see beauty laugh from the bottom of her belly and soak in friendships and love all around her.

So with no further ado, let's dive into today's sisterhood story. 


Hey, beautiful you.I am so incredibly excited for today's episode because this is the first of my sisterhood stories where I bring to you other kick ass can do women who are living with chronic illness to share their journey.

Because I know for me that sisterhood has been a critical part of walking my journey. And the more we share our stories, the more we know we're not alone and together we are powerful.

And so today I interview the one and only most fabulous Ronda Barney. She is a licensed clinical social worker and registered dietitian. But she's not coming to you today as a therapist or a dietitian. She's coming to you just as another kick ass can do woman who has lived with chronic illness. She is the founder and creator of the Beautiful Life Blueprint.

Oh, doesn't that sound so good? And I won't give away too much. But she has a book coming out shortly titled, "Dear Susan: Letters of Comfort and Peace for Women Facing a Life Changing Illness. I absolutely can't wait to read it. But full disclosure before we begin, Ronda is a dear friend. We met last fall through Cathy Heller's Made to do this program.

And seriously, if you are not subscribed to Cathy Hellers, Don't keep your day job podcast. You need to go subscribe right now whether you want to build a business or keep your day job or not. She has kept me sane for the last couple of years. But all that aside, I met Ronda last fall through the made to do this program, and as two women with similar journeys, she has become a fast friend. I absolutely can't wait for you to get to meet her, so let's dive in.

So hi Ronda and welcome to FinallyEffing Happy. I am so glad that you are here. As you know, this is a podcast and community for kickass women living with chronic illness who are committed to honoring whatever chronic condition that they live with while also not letting it be the thing that defines them so that they can live, just really fulfilling joy-filled lives. And I am especially excited that you are here, because, as you know, this is my very first interview for my podcast and also because our connection is a big piece of what led me to this point.

And so I just feel so grateful and honored and excited that you are my first interview for Finally Effing Happy, you have this amazing story. So much to share with my listeners. So why don't we start by just telling me a little bit about you.


Ronda Barney

All right, well, first of all, I am so honored, I mean, I am just completely happy to be here with you and so excited for your podcasts and your listeners are just so blessed by everything that you are sharing in your heart. Yeah. So, yes, I'm Ronda Barney and I have been on quite a journey the last 20 years.  I am a wife, I'm a mom, and professionally I have worked as a psychotherapist and registered dietitian.

And, you know, I thought I had it all in the middle of this beautiful life. There was a wave of illness that hit me. And it was almost  like a hurricane that hit the shore unexpectedly. It just came out of nowhere. And it literally turned me inside out where I just wasn't able to show up in my life as a mom, as a wife, as a professional, as a friend, the way that I had always shown up and.

Even with some of the tools that I had as a therapist or even a dietician, I just remember feeling like I didn't know where to look. I didn't know where to turn. I just felt like I was not prepared for what just hit me. And so with that, I yes, I have been on a journey of learning and growing and inhaling. And it hasn't been all bad. Yeah.


Shannon Klenk

And I think, you know, I hear this story over and over again that somewhere out of the blue like this, this illness came and it set us off guard. And we are these really amazing,can do,  multitasking women. And then we couldn't show up for the people in our life as moms, as partners, as sisters, as workers, as people who give in our communities.

Tell me a little bit about that feeling, that experience around just like I love the image of the hurricane. Right.

Like it's just this hurricane came on shore, turned me inside out, like everything gets tossed, just that part of the journey a little bit, because I think sometimes women share with me that they should be able to figure it out because we are such can do women and they're sort of taken aback by the quote unquote, inability as they perceive it, to figure it out quickly by themselves, efficiently, like we handle so much the rest of our lives.

But this is sort of a different experience when illness comes on shore and turns our lives upside down.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely,  I know for me, you're exactly right, because I had worked in the medical world and because I had colleagues in place, my first thought was I've got this, you know, and I expected for like my colleagues to be able to figure me out and for there to be answers. Of course, all the answers I gave everybody else, of course, they have to work or I wouldn't have given them to everybody else.

And unfortunately, I was finding that those answers weren't working for me. Some of the answers that I had, not everything that I had didn't work. But there were things that just weren't working. And then my colleagues couldn't necessarily figure it out. So I was left like, you're exactly like what you're saying. And in this place of. What do I do? What do I do? How and I guess  what I learned in that is it may not look the way that I thought it was supposed to look, and it may never be what exactly it used to be.

But where it took me, that journey has been incredibly beautiful and has had its own redeeming value and qualities that have shaped me and shaped my family in beautiful ways that would not have happened without it. So I guess not I'm not disregarding the grief of the pain. There was so much grief in that and so much loss that I've had to grieve and even grieving the ability to to feel like I knew, you know, because you almost have this false sense of, well, I know what to do or I know who has the answer.

But being able to grieve that and then come to a place of, OK, what do I have, what that beach does not look the same because the hurricane hit and it will never look completely the same. But there really are treasures that have washed up ashore that weren't there before. And can I find those treasures? Can I see those beautiful places of growth in me?


Shannon Klenk

I just love that. I love the imagery. I just identify with you. One hundred thousand percent.

And there are two pieces that  I talk quite a bit about and coach around this space of grief and the things that we.

Just need to grieve the loss of and sometimes the loss of is just my thought that I had it all together. Right, or my thought that I have this beautiful life and sure, I'll have challenges, but I got it.

Right. The loss of that idea and the welcoming of our genuine vulnerability is matched with an almost greater strength, a stronger fortitude that I didn't know I had, but I didn't know that until I walked through the grieving process in response to these waves of my condition and my illness.

And I love that you touched on that because it's you know, usually grief isn't something any of us enjoy diving into. Right. We usually try to avoid it as much as we can.

And is there anything in particular that you use to help you journey through that grief, either internally in terms of, you know, soul searching or externally in terms of self care, things that you used during that period of time?

Yeah, I have to tell you, one of my best friends is a journal.  I found myself just journaling the losses, journaling, the disappointment, journaling, the hard journaling, the confusion and journaling, and I felt like whenever I could get it out of my head, because if not, it just sort of like this whirlwind inside of me, you know, even subconsciously that just kept, you know, like tormented me.

But when I could when I could put it on paper and look at it and then it became more tangible. And I let myself cry. I let myself literally physically grieve, like just cry, the things that of the losses, like you said, the loss of that sense of control, the loss of feeling like things for my family, things for my children. You know, I had always been incredibly healthy. And I love adventure and I love to travel and I love the great outdoors.

And so I had always envisioned myself and I wasn't a mom until my mid thirties. And so I didn't get married until I was thirty three and had my first child at thirty four and my second at thirty six. And so, you know, and I didn't even know if I'd ever be a mom. And so when I was finally a mom, there was so much expectation of motherhood and so much excitement for it. And it was right after the birth of my first child that I began to realize that we had a major health concern that could be potentially fatal that I was going to have to address.

And so it was this whirlwind of grief, even with that, that here I have this beautiful gift of motherhood. Wow. Is it going to look the way that I had thought it was going to look and what my expectation was for raising my son or, you know, the things that I'd be able to do with him on a daily basis or  or  would I even be here for him as he grew up. So, yeah, there was a lot of grief in that.

And what I found is in that grieving and surrendering this giving up, you know, some of those expectations. I was able to then receive the reality of what was in it, cleared my head and brought more peace so that I was able then to walk into, OK, this is where I'm at. And knowing where I'm at, then then I can make a path forward. But as long as I was stuck in the grief and all of the well, it's not supposed to be this way.

This is not the way I planned my life


Shannon Klenk

Right, this was not my plan.


Ronda Barney

Yes. And I really pissed about it, too. That's also part of grief. But yeah. So letting myself pissed for a while. But yeah. Getting working through some of that sadness and all of those stages of grief. And by the way, stages of grief don't happen. One day they come and go. Right. And you're not always on stage and then cleanly into the next, you know, it's not quite that cut and dry, but all that to say, I've continued to have to grieve different aspects through the last twenty years.

You know, it's when I am aware that there is something to grieve, then it does bring me back to solid ground where I have clarity as to how to move forward and what I want to receive and what is good in my life.


Shannon Klenk

I love that. I just love that. You said when you are able to receive the reality of what clears your head and brings you peace.

Whoever knew that when it was this process of really receiving being open to what is as much as it was not my plan for me to have a primary immunodeficiency where I spent most of my life sick, I wouldn't get diagnosed until just after 40. I virtually slept through my son's high school years because of the level of exhaustion.. That wasn't my plan.

But when I can receive that reality with some kind of gentleness, some kind of openness, the great paradox is that clears my head and it brings me peace and from that place.

I can then see so much more goodness. I can see the happiness, I can see the joy, I can be the silly, goofy spirit that I am at times, but I can't do that until I've done the former.

And what a powerful, powerful piece for all of us, incredible women who sometimes we can get so busy.

Like'' if I just stay in motion, if I just stay in action, then it's all going to be OK." Right. I got it. I gotta take this space. I've got to take this spiritual, emotional space. There was another piece that you said talking about after the birth of your children and wondering if you would even be here. And I know that this is a really big issue for our listeners, which is how to stay in the right now.

When you live with chronic illness, there is always this, well, what's it going to look like in a year? What's it going to look like in five years? What's it going to look like in 20 years and how to stay in the right now? And in your particular case, am I even going to be here for my precious little children that I've waited so long to have and have so much expectation around?  but I'm right here right now.

So how do I live in the fact that we're all here right now and not let that future thinking drive today?


Ronda Barney

Yes. Oh, my goodness. Shannon, there is so much I could say around this, in fact, this one point that you just asked me about, it's probably one of the biggest, like life changing mind shifts. And the way that I walked through my I mean, this. Yeah, this was one of the biggest lessons. So, yeah, I.

Mindfulness for me was more of a buzzword, and 20 years ago it wasn't even as much of a buzzword as it is now, like I knew about the concept, but I think now people are much more aware of mindfulness or being in the moment. But I was a multitasker man, I was not, you know, maybe that was for the yogis that, you know, like that didn't have a role. I don't know. It just that was that was it for a mom, a busy mom, you know, and and so for me

Staying in the moment was something I thought because I was a planner, I was an organizer, I was a fighter, I was a and so all that meant to me was anticipating the future, fighting it just, you know, and so there was into my into my journey, I got much worse before I got better and. There was a year where I hardly was able to get out of bed, and there I was in so much pain day in and day out and wasn't sleeping.

I mean, I could go three days without any rest. My body was in such a traumatic state that I just I couldn't I couldn't sleep. And so that actually messes with your mind as well, not only physically are you just drained but emotionally? You're just exhausted. And I remember there was one day that I got out of bed and I knew I needed to eat. I knew I needed nutrition. I knew I needed hydration.

And so  I came down the steps and I was in my kitchen and I opened the refrigerator to get something out of the refrigerator to eat, and I remember looking in the refrigerator and I didn't I had so much brain fog that honestly I couldn't even put together  what to pull out of that refrigerator to eat like I just couldn't even think like what? What it would be, and  I'm a dietitian, and I remember saying out loud, I remember closing the refrigerator and going.

I literally felt like everything that I was or had known had just been stripped from me, you know, like I am this I've lost so much weight. I was this frail little like and, you know, like I didn't know up from down in. I couldn't even think of how to put a meal together, and I remember closing the door, the refrigerator and hanging on to the cold stainless steel handles and crying and just saying, I can't do it anymore.

I just can't. And it was just as if God said to me in my heart, it was so clear. And the question He put in my heart was, can you do this moment? And I all of a sudden, as I'm standing there, it's almost like everything just kind of narrowed in, I  had the ability just to narrow into that very, very, very second at that very moment that I was standing. And I felt this sense of relief.

And I realized literally within seconds that it wasn't that moment that was so that overwhelming. It wasn't just that moment. That moment was overwhelming, but it wasn't just that moment. It was the anticipation of having to do it over and over and over and over and over again. With the unforeseen future that that's what was taking me under and so when I stood there and I was like, can I do this moment, there was a burden that was kind of lifted off.

This moment right now, it's doable and I remember just saying. Only if you hold me and I don't do it alone, I can do this moment and it was as if God said. I got you and I've got all your future moments, just let me hold you in this moment, Shannon, that I will never forget that day, that moment, it changed my life and it changed how I continued to walk my journey.

And it became literally a moment by moment. And the moment my mind would go to the what ifs and the and not that I get it perfect. I mean, of course, yes. I still there were days that I was thinking about whatever, but. It became this beautiful place of. Right here, right now, in this moment, breathing. He's got me and I would just ask him, like, what's next? What do I do next?

You know, because there was so much brain fog for me that I couldn't. It was really hard to be my own advocate, my own, you know, as far as health care, what? Because sometimes you're so sick you don't even like even making those phone calls or like there's so many things for self care. You're like, I don't even know what to do next. You know, like, I don't know. I'm sure, you know, like it just you can be so overwhelmed.

So instead of all the overwhelm, it was just what's next? And sometimes there was a nudge to drink a glass of water. Sometimes it was a nudge to check my emails. Sometimes it was a nudge, just to go rest. And I just sort of listened to those internal promptings of what's OK. Yeah. And in just staying in that moment, it kind of grounded me. That question I think for me was, OK, what is next or  in this moment  what do I need?

It was a way to ground me in the moment and keep me there and focus and and then just continually to surrender all of my future moments couldn't control them anyway so that I can control what I was doing right then.


Shannon Klenk

As women living with so many varieties of chronic illnesses. And I think that this is maybe some of the difference between those of us that live with chronic illness and the amazing women who don't live with chronic illnesses, that we stand at the threshold of that moment where we say, I can't do this anymore. I don't have it physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am at the end of my rope.  But there's still our life, there's still our kids, there's still our family.

The day is going to go on. So what do we do with that? Right.

And I love the vision of  the funneling in the narrowing in of that moment where you just heard. But can you do this moment? And so for anyone listening who's struggling right now, can you just do this moment? And whether you have a faith tradition or you don't have a faith tradition, that place of I know for me too I can't do it alone, I don't want to do it alone anymore. But I come from a background of fierce independence and I've got this.

And a lot of that has been shed to know that I don't want to do this alone anymore.

For me, I have a faith tradition and a belief in a power bigger than me Absolutely that carries me through it.

But a lot of times I see that divine in the women in my life.

And can you talk about some of those support networks that you were able to lean into or become willing to be open to in your journey?


Ronda Barney

Yeah, wow, this is a great question. I'm really glad you asked this. I tell you, you're absolutely right. I feel like  there was a network of people that were the hands and feet of Christ for me. I had a small, you know, my girlfriends, my girls, you know, going into this. And they came alongside me. But there was a vulnerability in that of letting them because I was always, you know, not always, but I enjoy being the one that provided the meals or watched the kids, you know, or  I was volunteering for school or whatever.

I enjoyed being the one that helped. Of course, I'm a therapist and a dietitian. Right. It's about helping. And so there was a vulnerability, first of all, allowing that in my life and allowing them to see me incredibly raw and incredibly needy and incredibly vulnerable. And so in order to be able to lean into those support systems, I had to open up that part of me and literally just be loved just for being me, not because I could give them anything in those moments, not because I could reciprocate because I couldn't, but allowing them to love me unconditionally.

And so that was and, you know, the beauty of that, Shannon, was that that was healing for me in some ways to be able to just be seen and known in a vulnerable spot and to be loved.


Shannon Klenk

Hey, beautiful. We're going to take a quick break from today's episode because there are two things going on at Finally Effing Happy that I wanted to make sure to let you know about. The first one is that every Sunday evening at 8 P.M., I go live in my Facebook group. It's a free and private Facebook group. And you can join in at And I go live every Sunday at 8pm as your personal self care accountability coach.

We take ten minutes and identify two or three self care goals for the week ahead to infuse our week with energy and enthusiasm and self care. And the second thing is that I am offering five free twenty minute one on one coaching sessions with me and I've called them discovery sessions because I am passionate about helping you take better care of you so that you can do all the things that you have to show up and do in your life and live that epic life that you want to live, regardless of whatever chronic condition you may live with day to day.

But I know that our conditions can be so unique and so individual, and I would love to hear from you. What is the thing that you are struggling with the most right now? What is your biggest obstacle and how can I help you with that? So if you're interested, come hang out with me for 20 minutes. We'll have some fun. You'll leave with a strategy or two. And if you'd like to schedule that time, you can do that at

All of these links will be in the show notes. But for now, let's get back to the episode.

This is before the days of Go Fund Me or any of those kinds of things. And we had this incredible financial hit that was just astronomical. And so some of the things that I would need that I was going to need were not covered by insurance, and were going to be out of pocket. And so my girlfriends got really creative. And they took their Christmas list of everyone that they would send a Christmas card to and they asked me, they wrote a letter on my behalf and they got my permission, wrote a letter on my behalf.

And so there were like five women. And so they sent out letters. And so about five hundred people received letters about my story. And in the letter, you know, it just again, it just introduced my family, my young children and myself, my situation as far as medical and the option, if they wanted to help me, whether it was prayer, if they had a faith or any faith tradition, that they wanted to support me in prayer or even if they wanted to help me financially.

And again, that was incredibly vulnerable. Like that was a discussion between my husband and I, because he's like, what?

You know, like I don't know about this. But one of the things with this, like, gift that happened was as I was recovering, not only did people pray for me, but I got cards from all over the country, from people I had no idea who they were. I might get a check for ten dollars. Sometimes there was a donation of five hundred or whatever. But what really was the people that just sent me a note and a letter?

My goal every day was to get to the mailbox and back. And there were days that that wasn't accomplished. But I couldn't wait to see what was going to be in that mailbox. You know, I can't tell you the days that I opened the mailbox and just the right card with the right...again from a complete stranger. So that was just a way that my friends blessed me. That was just unimaginable to me. Yeah. And then, you know, the other thing that my friends gave me was a listening ear. It wasn't even all that they did for me and they did. I mean, I had friends that were willing to help me with my children. I had friends that were willing to help me with meals or shopping or  different things. And as you know, as you heal, you're going to need different things at different times. But really, it was their love and their ability to just listen and just meet me.

Where I was at was just priceless.


Shannon Klenk

I love that. Know that  one of the things my condition has taught me is  how to graciously receive when  I can't give anything in return.

When I'm in the middle of an IGG fusion. I can't sometimes, you know, I'm in the middle of an infusion and my husband's traveling and I need someone to watch my son and watch the dog and cook dinner and put me to bed. And sometimes I'll even have a girlfriend spend the night. Because if there was an emergency and I had just had my infusion, I wouldn't be able to take care of my family.

And at first that was so just like I can't believe I have to ask for this much help and to turn that into this gift of just to open my arms and receive, I can give with no expectation of anything in return and I receive with no expectation of anything in return.

And wow, that felt like an even harder spiritual emotional task than the giving. And I love all of those amazing examples that you gave. And I love the piece about the mailbox. I have one woman that I've worked with and when I talk about self care, we break it down to these tiny little baby steps of minutia. And so we were talking about her movement goals and she's like, I can't do movement. And that's it. That's it.

That's just too hard for where I'm at right now.

And her movement goal became making it to the mailbox every day.

And because it fits her, it was the most bang for her buck. She got outside, got some fresh air, she got some physical movement, and she had this emotional level of connection when she got to her mailbox. And so she got a lot of bang for her back out of that woman. And she created an intention around just getting to the mailbox. So I love that you shared that mailbox story and how something so little can be so powerful for us on our journeys.

You've shared so many amazing things.

I just love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. So a couple of quick questions.

Are there one or two really stand out things that helped you find joy through this journey?

Now, you've already shared some amazing things with us, but if there's just one or two standout things that maybe come to mind that really carries you through.


Ronda Barney

There's a few in my mind and I'm trying to decide.

I yeah, there's OK, let's just talk about the word joy for a second. I remember even before I was ill, I remember thinking, man, I've got it all like I mean when you think of all like I've got , I got married. All right. That was like that was one of my goals in life. And I was you know, I got married. I got like I've got children.

Those I feel so blessed and and we just bought, like, our house that we saved money for. We just were finally able to scrape it together and just get into that mortgage just like we got in. And, you know, I'm thinking I'm looking around thinking, OK, like aren't l supposed to be happy. Like, this is Joy, right? OK.

And I remember just feeling like, uh, like somehow I must be defective, you know, like because I'm not everybody else must be happy, but like, what's wrong with me that like somehow that joy or is it just not there. And so I became kind of obsessed with the word. And I do this like I'll get I'll have a word in mind. And I'm like, I want to understand that word.

So when I became sick, Joy just almost became like not even expected. Like, how could I even. You know it just was that's not for me. That's that's for somebody that has their life together and that's for somebody that's not dealing with pain and can actually sleep eight hours at night. And so it was Christmas time and I had these red velvet letters J-O-Y wooden letters that were about eight inches tall and they were over my kitchen window.

And I remember looking at them during the holidays, maybe like somehow by osmosis, I was going to like absorb that, absorb the joy or something. And then after Christmas, I put everything else away and I left those red letters, J-O-Y above my kitchen thinking, you know what, I'm going to leave them there. I'm going to continue to focus on that word. And as you know, as I was figuring out what in the world was going on with me medically or why all the whys and ifs and plans.

And like I was saying earlier, I found that I was actually getting worse rather than getting better for a while. And I remember one night I was able to sort of. Come downstairs and actually have dinner with my family and I had the strength to sit and eat with them, and that wasn't something that had happened in quite a while, and as I was sitting there in my chair and I'm looking at my my little girl, who's probably about five , and my boy, that's like seven and my husband, I was just overcome with a sense of gratitude that I could literally be at the table with them and that I could be sitting there.

And I was just I was feasting. I was taking in their little faces. And the fact that the four of us could just share a meal together. And, you know, before I was ill, I probably would be sitting there thinking about how much they were eating their vegetables. You know, what the conversation was, you know, just I'd be assessing and judging the moment. And I just came to that table with no expectations, no judgments, just complete gratitude that I could be there and be with them.

And Shannon, like, it was unexpected. But all of a sudden it was like this incredible joy just filled my heart of just being there with them in the moment without any judgments, taking in what was and appreciating what I did have. Yeah, it was almost like I was sitting there going, I don't want to move because I don't want to, like, you know, like make it go away, you know, I just didn't want it to end, you know.

And so I remember going to bed that night and thinking, that's joy, that's joy. It's not having the house or having the whatever it was being in that moment with my family without any judgments or expectations and just really, really soaking in the gratitude. Yeah and it was like this gift I received, it wasn't like something I needed to keep  digging for or like trying to find or trying to do that.

It just was yeah, I could breathe it in and so receive it. So that was also just like this light bulb moment of wow, that's joy.


Shannon Klenk

So incredibly beautiful. I love that visual. And you know, on that note, Finally Effing Happy is this balance between yes, we are a collective and community, a sisterhood of women who live with a handful of different chronic illnesses that have journey through illness, who want to focus on the blessings and the beauty and the happiness.

And so what are some other of those hidden gems that have come out of this journey for you.


Ronda Barney

Of focusing on the on the good and on the beauty


Shannon Klenk

What good has come out of this?

You know what's good? What good has come out of your illness?

Yeah. Oh, my goodness. When I think about it in retrospect now, because at this point my son is 19 and my daughter is 16. So I've really traveled through motherhood-- through my health journey and when I think back and what is good, there's so much I think one of the things that that is good that has come out of this is, you know, before I was. I was like a tornado, literally, like, you know, like  I was going through life at the speed of light, so to speak, and I was really missing it all. I was  all about getting to the next point, getting to the next goal, getting to the next thing.

Yeah,  it was a whirlwind. And I think one of the beautiful things about my journey has been that it has slowed me down and it's given me eyes to see that I, I think I experienced more of my motherhood, something that I felt like was going to be robbed of me.

It was actually given to me like I experienced more of it than I would have had I been healthy. I really saw my kids. I really  spent so much time with them, even if I was sick, we just cuddled and I read to them or we watched that movie together. And who cares if we watch two in a row, you know, whatever 


Shannon Klenk

like all of that perfection goes out the window so that you don't miss the moment, the precious moment of connection with the people that we love.

Yeah. So I think that was the greatest gift that I was actually what I was afraid I was going to lose is what I was actually given, though so incredibly beautiful. I just love it, I just love it. So you're on this end of your journey and do you have any favorite health care, self care hacks that you'd like to share? And what I mean by that is like some people love juicing or a special diet or some people have a particular kind of exercise or and this is really in the spirit of one of the things about us kickass women who live with chronic illness. We are resourceful.

We are so incredibly resourceful.

However, I just love our collective wisdom. It's one of the things that moves me on a regular basis when I get to rest into our sisterhood. Our collective wisdom is tremendous. And so I always like to ask if there's any particular things that you're doing right now that you really feel are feeding you physically, spiritually, like it can be a self care, external type of thing.

Exercise, food, hydration. It can be an internal prayer, meditation mindset, activity. Any of the above. Yeah.


Ronda Barney

Oh my goodness. Yeah. I think the first thing that I would just say about that is with self care is that  it's been for me, I think one of the biggest thing has been a mindset shift, actually, that's literally even happened in the last year for me that I think I was seeing my body as something I needed to manage, like something that I needed to manage. Yeah, that's where that comes. And it sort of felt like a chore.

It felt like a duty. And one morning as I was journaling and praying, I felt like all of a sudden there was a shift of.

My body is a gift. Oh, my gosh, and you know what? I knew that like I mean, if you'd asked me, is your body a gift? If you'd like. Of course, you know, but, you know, like  there can be moments when your head and your heart kind of connect and you're like, whoa, OK. You know, like, I just see it differently. So it was this idea of I get to take care of me.

Wow. Because I do that for my kids. I get to take care of them or my husband or my pets or my friends or whatever, like as far as I could give it away. But, you know, just like I get to but me, I get to take care of me. And so there's been this really fun, like shift in my approach to even self care that has made a big difference for me, that this is a privilege.

This is this vehicle, this body, this temple, this tabernacle, this whatever you want to call it for whatever background you're in. But  I get to journey to this life in this gift, this miraculous gift, and I get to take care of it. And then one of just practical things that has been really, really fun for me is I love music. And I was realizing that I wasn't incorporating that. In fact, my minor in college was music.

And so I have now this fun playlist. And when I wake up in the morning, my headphones go in and I go for a little walk, like this morning, it wasn't very far. It was maybe a 15 minute walk. But I am jamming with my music and there's actually little places where I know nobody can see me off the path and who cares if they do. But I'll dance. I'll just dance. And this morning I was dancing to Footloose.

So, you know, like it's just and as I move my body and mind, like there is something that happens as far as all of your feel good hormones too, you know, they get elevated. So I think sometimes we don't think we have the power to shift because I actually woke up this morning in a funk because I didn't sleep very well last night and I thought, OK, I have some choices here. And so it's almost become a little secret weapon for me is to put on the headphones and move my body a little bit and dance.

And when I change my body, often my emotions will follow them.


Shannon Klenk

I absolutely love that because music, you and I are total soul sisters in that because music is a core piece of my self care. And in my Finally Effing Happy Facebook group, we have Music Mondays, what's the song for the week?

And people can share whatever their song for the week is and start to create this again, a collective of inspiration and energy that just can take some of those moments where we are like, I can't do this anymore or I don't want to do this anymore or do I have to do this again?

And the music can just fuel me through the moments. And it's free and it's available and it's shareable and it's all of those things and so accessible to so many of us. But I too, for years sort of shut it down because I didn't know the technology or I couldn't find it or I couldn't whatever and have fully incorporated it back into my life. And it is both physically and spiritually, emotionally such an important part of my journey.

So I love that you shared that.

So as you know, my listeners, they are women who are great.

We've got kids, we've got jobs, we've got dreams. We are service minded. We're in our communities. We are givers. Right. Living with whatever chronic condition, anything from chronic migraines to cancers, HIV, people like myself with primary immune deficiencies.

We now have the whole class of covid long haulers that we are welcoming to our sisterhood of amazing women who live with these conditions and still somehow get it done with joy, because we don't want that to be the defining characteristic. We want to honor it and accept it, but not let it be the defining characteristic of our life or who we are. And so you have any one piece of advice or thing that you'd like to share with those women?


Ronda Barney

Yeah, I, I hear what you're saying because it literally can feel like that your illness defines you. And I know sometimes I even felt like there was shame around somebody even knowing that I was sick because I was. Like, fearful that they were going to define me that way, you know, that I was going to be the girl with such and such, you know, or I was the one that was sick. And so, yeah, I hear you.

You know,  I think what's been powerful for me is to realize that whatever I journey through, it is my journey. But in the middle of it, I am preserved. Ronda is preserved. Who I am can't be touched. My body may suffer with certain ailments or things may happen. But like there's a deep knowing that I've come to that. And I think for me for a while, I felt like in order to be Ronda, I had to get back to a certain former wellness.

And my goal in getting back to that former state of wellness was so that I could be me again. But that's based on Ronda who can do( that the doing part). Right. And that doesn't define me. What defines me as the being part. It's who I am. But the essence of me that that's that's me. And so I think it's given me more clarity, believe it or not, of who I am when some of those layers were just stripped away of what I could do or couldn't do, that part of me is preserved always.

There's a psalm that says that he preserves us and I love it because it's just a reminder that I am, that I'm preserved. And going forward, the things that I've journeyed through have only deepened me. It's given me more empathy. It's made me more human. It's given me more understanding. It's given me more wisdom. So it's I like to think of it as Ronda, who's just grown in different ways. Yeah, I look different, but I'm going to look different as I age anyway.

Right. So, yeah, I mean, things may look different, but I am preserved always and what I'm going through doesn't define me.


Shannon Klenk

You know, there are so many blessings that have come out of my journey for me that I would not have had had it not been for my condition that I never even would have wished for but make my life richer. I don't know how that happens. I just know it does

Last but not least, I know that, Ronda, you have your own journey and your own sharing and things that are coming up in your life that are exciting. And so I would love to give you some space to share some of those where people might be able to find you or follow you. What about that? Do you want to share?


Ronda Barney

I am, yeah. I've got some really exciting things coming up this year. The year twenty twenty one is. Yeah. It's just going to be amazing. So  I'm publishing a book and--.


Shannon Klenk

Yayy!, yes


Ronda Barney

It's letters that I've written to women that are dealing with illness. And I guess being a therapist , my heart is to give language for the emotional journey that people go on and so that they can process those emotions because we know that our body affects our emotions and our emotions affect our body. And so in dealing with that emotional aspect, our body is more likely to heal because of the mind body connection. And so the hope of these letters is to give words and language for the emotions that one is feeling and to validate them.

And then just to give maybe a little bit of perspective, a little bit of a way forward with what they are dealing with and so that we don't have an actual date that that's coming out. But I'm sure it's going to be probably in April that that will be available on Amazon. And it is called Dear Susan. And because it's the woman in my mind that is going through all of this turning this season. And just real quickly, and a miraculous thing happened where I wrote these letters in twenty eighteen.

And then last summer I actually met and the letters were to Susan and then last summer I met a Susan, who I was able to share the letters with on her journey and  get her feedback. And so in honor of her and in honor of all the citizens of the world,  the name of  the book is called Dear Susan. And then I've also started a Facebook group, and it's called A Dose of Hope for Women Facing Any Illness.

And you can find that on Facebook. And we would love to have you in. And that community and there I just share different doses of hope throughout the week, and I'm also on Instagram, The Ronda Barney, you can find me there as well and I will be opening. Of course, as well coming as well in March, that is going to be more in depth from the book, just that emotional toolset of going through--  the course is called Ample, and it's about living with illness, with abundance that there's still ample for us.

And so, yeah, that will be coming. And then lastly, I am offering coaching. So if anybody is interested in one-on-one coaching, feel free to find me, DM on Instagram or on Facebook, and I'd be happy to to meet with you.


Shannon Klenk

Oh, my gosh, what a year. I know from a book, the Facebook group, I just love it. It's so exciting.

And so you and I talk a lot about how we can show up and be supportive through our journey to other women, other sisters on this journey to join a journey of abundance, even in the face of such remarkable challenges that we face quietly yet so profoundly.


Ronda Barney



Shannon Klenk

And so I just you were going to touch so many lives and help so many women on this journey. And I'm so, so lucky to have you as one of my sisters in this journey. So grateful that we met 

. I'm going to step back to the book real quick. Do you share the story of what inspired you to write the letters and then two years later, meeting someone with that name to share the letters with you?

Share that in the book. OK, so I'm not going to share it here because you're going to share it on your podcast when you have a podcast someday, I am sure, if not all, have you come back when the book comes out and share the story?

Because truly it's one of the most inspirational, lean into knowing that there is some kind of power and grace in this world that's going to take care of us, and that's going to give us answers, even if sometimes the answer is just how to put words to my emotions as I walk through this healing process.

And it is such a powerful, powerful story for anyone who's listening.

You're going to start checking Amazon in April or May for Dear Susan, and I'll be promoting it here at Finally Effing Happy because it is going to be so powerful.


Ronda Barney

Just knowing you, Shannon. There is joy. There's joy in your. Yeah, there's just joy in your face and what's sweet about it is that it's real. Like  you know, you're real. You're not like a Pollyanna kind of you. You dig and you are real. And and yet in that realness there is a joy that radiates from you and it's beautiful.


Shannon Klenk

And you know that I am all about that. Happiness is not the absence of quote unquote negative emotions. Happiness has actually been the embracing of those emotions. It's been the embracing of the grief, the embracing of the loss, the embracing of the fear of missing out, the embracing of the anticipation of all the future moments, of not knowing how I'm going to get through by embracing it like a dear friend. Like if you were to come to my house and I'd be like, oh, what can I get you?

Can I get some water? Can you make your coffee? How do you like your tea? I mean, I would just embrace to do that with those emotions, with an acceptance. I'm so far beyond anything I thought was the intuitively right thing to do.

But I've actually found that that's been the journey to happiness and as a result of doing that hard work.

Oh, I see beauty.

I see joy. I see silliness all around me a lot of the time.

I am one of those people that people look at and they're like, yeah, she's a little cooky, she's a little out there.

And I think winner, winner chicken dinner. Don't you wish you can be this happy, right.


Ronda Barney

 so that's awesome. I love it. Just what you just said about because sometimes we think we can be selective with our emotions. You know, I can deny. But when we cut off even the hard ones, we're cutting it all off. It all comes into the same spigot. Get out. And yeah, it's about embracing it all, growing with it all. Feelings are information.


Shannon Klenk

They're good, it's good information. And taking that information and growing is so important. Thank you so incredibly much for listening to today's episode. Here are a few quick takeaways. 1), it's OK to be pissed at your illness for a while 2) the anticipation of having to struggle over and over and over again keeps us from living in the moment. Can you do this one moment? 3) three, don't do it alone. 4), it may not look the way you think it's supposed to look, but the journey can still be beautiful. 5) learning to ask for help can be a gift. 6), the littlest things can be the most powerful. 7), knowing and accepting where you are at allows you to create the path forward. And last but not least, your body is a gift.

If there is anything that you've heard in today's episode that has been inspiring or helpful do me a favor, write a comment and Apple podcasts so other kick ass can do women living with chronic illness can find this community, hope and strength.

Or even better, take a screenshot of this episode and post it on Instagram and tag me at Finally Effing Happy if you want to hang out some more. Come join me in my free and private Facebook group And remember, I go live every Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. If you need a self care accountability coach or if you'd like to schedule a free 20 minute one on one coaching session with me, go to

All of those links are in the show notes. And thank you again from the bottom of my heart for listening to today's episode. And until we get to connect again next be well and be kind to you today.


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