Owning Your Adversity with Karen Dwyer

August 9, 2022
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Napoleon Hill

Karen Dwyer is a TEDx speaker, award-winning health coach, and founder of MS to Success.

After a career leading multi-million-dollar businesses in finance, media, and luxury retail, Karen received a debilitating multiple sclerosis diagnosis that caused her to rethink every aspect of her life. Through a process we’ll get into today, Karen now lives symptom-free – creating a complete shift in her mental, physical, and emotional well-being – and is on a mission to help others do the same.

Through her keynote presentations, Talk Healing to Me podcast, and MS to Success programs – as well as the latest scientific research on neuroplasticity, nutrition, and movement – she is helping people all over the world to take charge of their own health and happiness.

Karen is a leader in neurodiversity, sits on a number of International Health Advisory Boards, and is a member of the International Coaches Federation. She has been awarded ‘Best Health & WellBeing Coach for the Republic of Ireland’ and ‘Best Non-profit Covid Response’ and been named one of the top female business leaders to watch.

In this episode, we talk with Karen about:

  • Her journey from diagnosis to being completely symptom-free;
  • How she eases fear and captures intent for those who are receiving a disease diagnosis; 
  • What she’s doing to build mass resilience at a time when the world needs it most; and
  • How you can raise your hand for help when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Before we begin, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode or could use some help to Win the Day, share it with them right now.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Karen Dwyer!

James Whittaker:
Karen, thank you for flying in from Ireland. It’s so great to see you! How does it feel to finally be on the Win the Day Podcast!?

Karen Dwyer:
It's surreal, James. I had this on my vision board and waking up this morning in LA, and being picked up like this, it's just insane. It's so great to be here!

You've got such a beautiful and genuine heart, and you've been able to help so many people around the world, so I'm really excited for the things that we're going to talk about today.

To kick things off, where did you think that you would be right now in your life and career, and how far away are you from that?

Oh, great question.

I wanted to be a singer or dancer when I was younger, something to do with musical theater. How close am I to that now? Oh, I couldn't be further away – other than singing around the house, and my kids telling me to shut up!

What about that Napoleon Hill quote I mentioned earlier:

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak carries with it, the seed of an equal or greater benefit".

What does that quote mean to you?

It's such a beautiful quote. 

I have a Facebook post at the moment that talks about how MS doesn't have to be a life sentence. And it's interesting, the replies that I got, because everything that I look back on now, I can see the joy, I can see the light, I can see the lesson, and I can see the reciprocity in it. 
It's not to say that I want to welcome hardship into my life, but if we expect a smooth road, we feel every bump along the way. Being able to look back and – instead of being resentful, angry, or upset – when you can take that and either forgive yourself or somebody else (if there's somebody else involved), you grow in exponential ways. It's a gift to yourself and to everyone else as well.

If we expect a smooth road, we feel every bump along the way.

A couple of years ago, I had a really bad financial year – I had to move home and there was a lot of outlays. And there were a few sleepless nights. Anyway, my daughter's starting college shortly. I had to submit figures for her to get this grant for her going to college. And it was based on the finances for that one horrible year. 

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Karen Dwyer does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, the one thing on her bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀

I actually said to my daughter, “Now I know why that was so hard. I can see that.” And I think the secret to living a superb life is when you're in the midst of something really shit, and you can say, “I know it's going to work out, and I know there's going to be a lesson in this.” That's the key. I really, really think because it allows your body to ease and relax and you're not pushing against something.

When we mention MS, we're talking about multiple sclerosis for those who don't know.

Do you want to give a bit of an overview of what that is, how many people it affects, and how it affects them?

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological degenerative disease and it affects about 2.6 million people around the world. There's a ratio of 3:1 women, and there's three different types – a relapse remitting, which was the one I was diagnosed with, there’s secondary progressive, and primary progressive. 

It's interesting because no two MS diagnoses are the same. Somebody might suffer with mobility issues, for somebody else that might be optic neuritis, or debilitating fatigue, or brain fog.

The secret to living a superb life is when you're in the midst of something really shit, and you can say, “I know it's going to work out.”

For me, it was numbness, I couldn't see in one eye, extreme pain, like so much stuff going on, but I suppose the disease itself, because there's no definitive path of... If you get another disease like cancer or something else like that, it's like, here's the treatment, this is what's going to happen. They can see a definitive path.

With MS it's like, well, we don't know. It might not get worse. It might get a lot worse. So there's a huge amount of anxiety when somebody gets diagnosed. Not only do they have the diagnosis, but things can spiral out of control because they don’t know what’s around the corner.

Take us into the moment that you received your MS diagnosis. What your life was like at the time and what mindset that then contributed to?

So it was not long after I had my second daughter, Sadie, who's now almost 11 and I was showering, and I was drying my hair and I realized I couldn't feel the heat on my head, so I started touching both sides of my body and realized the entire right side was numb. 

A few days before that, I did have numbness in my two fingers and up my forearm. And I did go to the hospital and ask because I knew I didn't feel right, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. They said, “You've probably slept on it funny” and sent me home.

But getting out of the shower this time, and I knew when I couldn't feel the right side of my body, I was wondering then, “Did I have a stroke? Am I having a stroke? Is it a heart attack?” Like what's going on?

I packed a bag silently, I didn't even tell my partner at the time, and got myself out to the emergency room. And this time they took me straight in for an MRI. They took me down in a wheelchair and I remember thinking, “Oh, there's something not right here.” I was extremely claustrophobic, so they had to give me a Xanax.

I was in the machine for about an hour, because they were doing it on the spine and on the brain and all the rest. And I remember these hot tears in my eyes when I was in the MRI machine thinking “Just let it be okay.” Like whatever it is, just come on, you're going to be okay. Because you can’t move in an MRI machine, but I could feel my own emotion coming out.

It was a tough moment to be present with. Anyway, they took me back out, they brought me back up, and they wheeled me into a smaller room. That's when I was like, “Oh, okay, there’s something really serious here.”

You can’t move in an MRI machine, but I could feel my own emotion coming out.

A well dressed doctor walked in wearing a three-piece suit and said, “Mrs. Dwyer the number of lesions on your brain would be normal for an 80-year-old.” He said there was severe demyelination there.

Of course I had been Googling and MS and demyelination had come up. I said, “Is it multiple sclerosis?” And he kind of looked at me pissed off and asked how I knew. I held up my phone and he said there’s a 99% likelihood that it is, and that they would keep me in and do a spinal tap or a lumbar puncture.

I had three emotions that day. I had fear of course like, am I going to end up in the wheelchair that they've wheeled me back up in? Cause that's all that I knew. I was very ignorant to what MS was. The second was relief because now I had a name to put on how strange I was feeling because I couldn't quite verbalize what it was, I just wasn't feeling right. 

Third, hope. I describe it as like having a little light in my tummy that was always there. But this time it really lit up and I was like, Karen, you know what? This isn't your first rodeo. You've been through a lot of shit before. You're going to be fine and you're going to get through this. 

Something said to me, and I get a little bit embarrassed when I say this, but I'm going to say it anyway! Something inside me said, “You're going to be a spokesperson for people with MS, and you're going to reverse it.”

I didn't feel like that all the time for the next few years, but you know, I have managed to get to a point where I have become a spokesperson for it and I've had other people transform their illness out of me showing them what I've done and bringing in extra research as well.

Was there a particularly dark day after the diagnosis that stands out?

I collapsed while driving on the motorway and I had to be taken into hospital. I’d been on lots of different medications and I kept having reactions to them and they brought me in this time and said that I have an infection on my brain, my liver count is seven times higher than it should have been, and I had to come off all medication. 

I was like, “Okay, now I'm up shit creek with no paddle.”

I didn't realize how low I had sunk until I was asked that question.

If I'm really honest, I think there was something in the back of my mind going should this medication be there? And I remember reading an article about finding a cure for MS in the next 10 years, so I think I mentally sat back and went, “It's fine. I'll just do what the doctor tells me and I'll wait for that.”

But now it was like, oh, you've actually got to take a bit of accountability for yourself. And it was exciting in one way, but it was scary in another. 

That was the day that really stands out. For the first year after that, I didn't take anything on. And that was hard – the dark day turned into a dark year. It wasn't until a big life event happened and I thought, okay, now's the time.

We've mentioned Napoleon Hill a couple of times today, I have mentioned on this show before that a big turning point for me was in my early twenties when I realized that just as we can think and grow rich, we can think and grow poor

And that if we don't have the intent in being proactive about thinking and growing rich, that by default, we're already thinking and growing poor.

How did you feel about that time in terms of willing these different things – in the context that both positive and negative thoughts construct our reality?

Brilliant question. 

I didn't realize until somebody asked me, what are you grateful for? I didn't realize how low I had sunk until I was asked that question. 

I reacted angrily, like “How dare you ask me what I'm grateful for when I'm now a single mom with two kids, I'm on an invalidity pension, I have no job, I have no car, I'm living at my mom's, and I have no hope.”

At that moment I thought, oh shit, you used to be really happy, and you had a great job, you really loved life, you celebrated everything, you were out all the time, having fun with your friends. Now somebody's asked you what you are grateful for and you're having a visceral reaction.

It was like somebody just gave me the key to unlock my own prison.

It was that moment that I decided. I made a commitment by writing in my journal that I made a commitment to make myself happy. That was it. 

You mentioned creating that intent – and I remember listening to one of your other episodes where you said, “If you're not making a choice to win the day, you're automatically losing.” That's exactly it.

From that moment, I realized that I could influence my health, my happiness, and everything else that happened in my life. It was like somebody just gave me the key to unlock my own prison.

Was being a parent during that time a blessing or a burden in terms of the added stress and challenge?

It was a blessing, like without a shadow of a doubt. 

There was days of dragging my ass out of bed. Chronic fatigue was tough. I remember I had to go sleep in the car at halftime during my eldest daughter’s sports games, because I literally couldn't stand.

Having the kids there made me get up and make lunches and dinners and all the rest. And honestly, during that time, I didn't want to, but it was probably the only thing that saved me because if I didn't have them, I probably would've stayed in bed.

Did they understand what was going on?

Sadie, my youngest, didn't, but Alainn did. And she's very, very intuitive, like a really smart girl. And actually she wants to be a nurse now she's just finished school. She just has that caring nature about her. But I've no doubt that it's had an effect on her.

She's grown up a lot quicker than Sadie has, and first born stuff as well. I think they tend to do that anyway. There's definitely a part of me that gets upset when I think of how many different weeks in hospital, with different complications and relapses and all the rest. And I think God, her poor little head being at home and her mom's in hospital, like that can't have been easy.

Some people are forced to grow up quickly. It often means they have a tough head on their shoulders as a result.


When people meet her, they say she's the most well rounded kid and she's very giving and personable and all the rest, so I've no doubt that it has brought her forward. But also, you don't wish it on them either.

What was that moment when you realized the steps that you had taken had actually given you a lot of progress over the diagnosis that you had initially received?

Going back into my neurologist's office two or three years after being told I had to come off all the medication. And like I said, the first year after that was dark, I really struggled. After that, my ex walked out on Christmas day, which was like, oh my God, you're kidding.

That was another turning point where I thought, you know what, I've got to do this for me. I've got to stop waiting for somebody else to support me, go and do it for yourself.

But a year after that, I'm back in my neurologist office and I'd had a couple of MRIs, I had them every six months at that time. And I walk back into my neurologist office and each time there's always a pain in my stomach before I go in, because you don't know if they're going to tell you that you've got more lesions on your brain or your spine, or different medication. And I had so many severe reactions to them.

After that, my ex walked out on Christmas day.

I must point out medications work great for a lot of people. They just didn’t work with my body and my reactions to them.

But sitting down at my neurologist. I was trying to read his body language and his breathing and how he was looking, then he said, “All your lesions have shrunk. They've all shrunk. What have you been doing because you're not on medication?”

I started listing out everything and he was like, “Okay, whatever you're doing, keep doing it.” I thought he was joking! Some of the simplest things – forgiveness of myself was one of the biggest things, like actually surrendering to where I was at.

Not where I thought I should be, not where I wanted to be in the past, letting all of that go and that commitment to making myself happy every single day had me start exercising, had me start moving and speaking in a different way about myself, had me eating and making different choices about who I spoke with, and who I hung out with.

Everything came through that filter of a commitment to make myself happy.

The decision to keep putting in the reps when you don't see the results, is so important. 


I say that with clients and stuff as well, if you go into a gym and you work out for one day and you look in the mirror afterwards, you're not going to see any difference, you're probably not going to see any difference after a week, you might see a little one after a month.

But I think when you can get to the point where you're not like in this fight or flight response, trying to force something to happen, that you can allow yourself to be and develop yourself as you're going and embrace the person that you're becoming and unbecoming in the process.

Everything came through that filter of a commitment to make myself happy.

It becomes a beautiful process rather than a moving away from, or being scared, motivation that you're running away from something that's scaring you, you're moving towards that person that you want to be and the life you want to live.

Something that you and Janine Shepherd both share is not being afraid to let go of who you think you were, so you can finally step into being who you are now and who you want to become.

That's the biggest compliment, being compared to Janine Shepherd!

What is your current reality now in terms of MS symptoms and quality of life?

It's all burnt out. No more symptoms, I haven't had any symptoms since 2014. 

Quality of life is great. I mean, the kids and I, I've got a beautiful home with my two gorgeous daughters, we live a great life. 

I accidentally set up a company helping others transform their MS into a catalyst for positive change in their health, but also in other areas of their life too. And so I think we're present in 24 different countries now with the program. 

It's great. And it forces you to let go of any of those little underlying “you're not good enough” or “who are you to do this?” thoughts. They still come up, every now and again. But when you’ve got a passion to cause some transformation somewhere, and you can see the before and after with clients, it's food for the soul.

I've had people reverse optic neuritis eyesight loss. I've had people who have gone back into work, and developed the confidence to have a relationship again, and they've had babies, or I've had people start to improve their mobility and start walking again.

It's hard not to get really emotional when you see people realize their own influence on their health. It's the most beautiful gift.

Because it's not me that's doing the work. I'm just holding the space for them. They're doing the work and I'm just cheering them on, it's brilliant.

What is the mission that you're hoping to achieve with your Talk Healing To Me podcast?

Launching the podcast has been so cathartic because I've been definitely playing small with what I'm doing. My clients come in and all of the work that I do is referral, so I've never had to put myself out there so to speak, I've never advertised or anything like that. 

Doing the podcast is a whole other level of vulnerability. It's forced me out in a really gorgeous way, with you James supporting me. I've had the little thoughts that I’m scared, but it's been the most beautiful thing.

Of course recording and publishing them and all the rest is great. But it's the messages afterwards from people who, someone in Zimbabwe that messaged me the other day saying, oh my God, that resonated so much. Thank you for asking that question, like I really felt seen. That's the joy because you never know who's listening, so if anybody's even thinking about a podcast, it will change your life personally and professionally, it's great.

Mine is called Talk Healing To Me: Stories for Women with MS. We do allow men to listen too though! It brings in all aspects of healing into a conversation, because the understanding of healing that I had was food and exercise. And it's so much more than that.

I have five pillars that I talk about with my clients: mindset first, then nutrition, then movement, then nurture – which is breathing, meditation, and those sorts of things – then sleep. It's so important that the person realizes that they can influence their health. 

When we go to Dr. Google, sometimes you can come away feeling more scared than inspired, and that doesn't help anyone. Whereas if you can be part of a conversation from your own living room, and hear real people having real transformations – not just from the perspective of a doctor who sees patients but from somebody that’s actually lived it, who has come through the other side.

I think that's priceless for whatever the subject may be. Mine just happens to be multiple sclerosis.

That spirit of community and bringing like-minded people and leaders together, it’s huge to give not only a sense of hope but practical tools – and the framework that you just shared – to give confidence for that first step and the inspiration to be consistent with it.

Yeah, it's beautiful. And I love being able to highlight and showcase the success stories. 

I see it over and over again. There's success traits within all of my clients, like being open and being committed and actually having the belief that they can do it, so if they see somebody that's even just one step ahead of them, they can have that belief then too, or they can borrow from them so that it helps them move forward and get unstuck.

It's a really lovely thing to be a part of with people around the world.

You’ve helped people in 20+ countries now. When someone is given a diagnosis for a disease or chronic illness, what is the mental battle they go through?

The feeling of being out of control is certainly one of them, because it's like a lot of people say, MS is a disease where your body is attacking itself. It's not directly true, but it is in a way. 

For many people, it feels like they're living with an enemy every day. A lot of times people want to say how scared they are, but they don't want to be pitied, they don't want to be looked down upon, and they certainly don't want to be treated differently. I certainly didn't. 

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Karen Dwyer does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, the one thing on her bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀

So there's this barrier between “I want to be honest and I want to be open and I want support,” but also there's the commitment to “I'm not going to let this change me,” so the person ends up on this hamster wheel probably trying to overcompensate so that they continue doing the normal things that they're doing so that they don't fall behind.

A lot of times people want to say how scared they are, but they don't want to be pitied, they don't want to be looked down upon, and they certainly don't want to be treated differently. 

But on the other side, they're exhausting themselves trying to keep up. And so not allowing themselves or their body, the grace or the honor to actually heal, so it's a really kind of complicated head space to be in.

Also, I see it over and over again, people will do things every day – they'll go and give their absolute best to work and to their kids and to everybody else around them. And of course that's brilliant and people have commitments, but people often find it very hard to stop and to look in the mirror, and it's really hard and scary thing to do when you're facing a disease, because what if you do try something and it doesn't work and then you may have wasted time, or money, or energy.

Sometimes it's just easier to keep doing what you're doing and just hope for the best. I don't believe that's the best thing to do because I think when you take action, action cures fear. When you know that you're putting everything that you can into yourself and you're taking those small incremental steps.

It’s not about doing crazy diets or exercise regimes, I'm completely against that. When you do believe and trust in yourself, everything changes. Everything changes.

Obviously doctors and specialists are paid to give their professional opinion and advice, which is exceptionally important, but they're not the ones who have to live with the illness. That’s when the opinion you have about yourself is important to consider, too.

How do you balance the respect for an unbelievably qualified doctor and specialist who you have consulted to, versus the power of the mind to help you live with the illness on a daily basis?

It can be a hard one if you choose it to be. We can put all of our autonomy over there with the doctor and they're brilliant and they've studied for so many years and you're right in saying you're left with your own thoughts and your daily life. 

That's not taken into account when you see a specialist every six months or a year, so I think it's important to be able to take on what they say and ask as many questions as you possibly can, like: How will this affect my daily life? What should I avoid? What should I continue doing or maybe look into a little bit more?

Having your own autonomy, drive, and commitment to the lifestyle you want is important, too. How is it that you want to live? And not waiting for appointment to appointment to be told either good news or bad news, because in between then, you're not living.

When you take action, action cures fear. 

And we do sometimes hand them complete power. I still do! So if I go to the doctor, I'm like, “Okay, please tell me,” rather than actually going, “Okay, well, what can I do for myself?” And a lot of times you have to wait for a doctor; they're there for a reason and they do great work. We just need to add in a daily practice – the basic fundamentals of a really solid morning and evening routine.

We need to make sure your lifestyle works for you – what you eat, what you do, but also planning and taking responsibility around that. That's the biggest thing that we can do. I’ve seen people make the tiniest changes and two months later have a completely different life, so I think balancing out your own influence and power and putting that together with your doctor's advice is so important.

Well said. 

When I was living in Boston, I had this really damaging shoulder injury and I saw a doctor who gave me a whole bunch of powerful painkillers, which made me horrifically depressed. It was a really depressive time in my life as a result, because he had also said that I wouldn't be able to do a lot of the things that I love doing ever again.

I just wish I had known of stories like yours and Janine Shepherd’s and so many other stories out there of resilience. Even just looking up #adaptiveathletes on Instagram or TikTok will give you this mosaic of so many different inspirational people.

It's great to see hope and opportunity, rather than reducing yourself to what you might be capable of achieving based on someone else's belief – even if it is an exceptionally well qualified belief.

Totally true.

And thank you for saying that because I've had clients that come to me and they'll say, oh, my neurologist said this to me. They’re like a deer in headlights because they’ve been told they’ll never be able to do an activity they love ever again.

I’m like, who in the hell said that to you!? And I've asked for neurologist phone numbers from my clients. I'm like, “Give me that phone number. They have no right to say that to you!” I've a healthy frustration with the medical world and I love them dearly – and they've done great things for me – but there's a lot of times where the bedside manner could do with an improvement.

Because what they’re saying, and what people are left with, can be really, really damaging or really, really healthy. And when somebody is in a very vulnerable state, you're like Velcro, you're really sticky to whatever your doctor says. One sentence could literally change the trajectory – as you say in the beginning of your podcast – of someone's life. 

A doctor holds immense power, so I'm always very, very conscious of somebody making a great relationship with a neurologist and actually being able to say, is that your personal opinion or is that a medical opinion? And to be able to see what has merit.

I'm going to get bashed now from the medical system, I can see it!

You're talking about the lessons from your own journey like Janine Shepherd who was told she'd never be able to walk again. I mean, she's had three kids, can ski, rides a bike, despite still being classified as a paraplegic. There are very real cases of this. I think it's important to let people know that.

What are the greatest realizations or discoveries that you've had from your own journey? What really stands out?

The biggest realization is that I can directly influence myself and my health, because when you're younger and you grow up, you feel like you're a young person and you're probably told to be quiet or don't do this or do that. And you kind of put everything else into somebody else's hands. 

Then when you grow a bit older and you start to flex a little bit of, okay, I can actually do this for myself or if I do this, then this happens, so consequence and impact. But actually like really taking charge and ownership of yourself and being responsible for yourself is actually quite an exciting thing. It can be like, “Oh my God, I've got to be responsible,” or “Or, oh my God, I can actually be responsible for my own joy, my happiness, and great health!”

Taking that seriously with joy and with some fun, that’s been my biggest realization. It doesn't have to be all hard work and no joy in order to have good health.

Extreme ownership is such a big one. The more you are accountable for your own situation, the more empowered you are to be able to fix it. 

At the end of the day, which is a common theme of every single person who comes on the show, there is always something that you can do to move forward, even ever so slightly. To think bigger, surround yourself with better people, or improve the circumstances that you're in.

Even just your words. Like one of the rules in my programs is no gossiping, and no talking badly about yourself – no taking yourself down.

And if you're involved in that conversation, it's either excuse yourself, or be like, “Hey, I don't do that anymore because it just doesn't work for me or my health or my wellbeing,” and really being responsible around that.

Huge, huge changes in that too.

Your MS to Success programs, tell us about who that's for and what type of work you're doing?

Sure, so I specialize with women with MS. Like I was saying earlier, I’ve helped people on 24 different countries now and what most people come to me for is the diet and exercise. Tell me what to eat, tell me what to do, but it's the last thing that we do.

The first thing I work on is around mindset and calming hidden inflammation. Most people think that inflammation comes from food and yes it does. But also stress is a major, major factor in that, so a lot of people, and I see it in a lot of health and wellbeing programs. It's like, okay, eat this, move like this, and go really hard. And I turn that on its head. It's like, do not be doing crazy exercises, do not go straight into a really strict diet.

We've got to make sure that your foundation of health is built. It's like a house, if you build it on something with lots of cracks, you're going to end up having to go back and fix it, so we assess people's stress, we look at their daily life, we look at what's working, what's not.

And we observe the automatic negative thoughts and we look at people's beliefs and values because it's not one size fits all, it's got to be personalized, so we create a brain health blueprint for every single person. It's personalized to your health. 

We build that in very well designed steps, then we move into a little bit of nutrition and tracking, but we've got to look at what people are doing now in order to be able to move forward. We need to have that solid base.

Then we look at everything from breathing, getting your autonomic nervous system aligned before we put anything else there. If people start changing their movement patterns and we don't do exercise, it's more movement related, we've got a movement therapist and a neurophysio so it's all very, very aligned to getting the best out of your system without overexerting yourself. 

Then we look at sleep secrets for optimal health, meditation, EFT. I mean, we've got so many experts around the world. We actually had a music therapy workshop the other day, so even creating playlists for when you're feeling tired or aligning your mood, taking you from tired all the way up to energetic.

I'd like to say that we think of every part of your life, I'm sure that we can always learn and add in some more, but it's a very, very special journey that we co-create with people along the way.

I always get frustrated with ‘one size fits all’ solutions, and that’s why I love how personalized your work is. So many ‘gurus’ neglect to ask more questions to get clear on exactly what the problem is and what the person is trying to achieve. And it sounds like you the work you do gets to the root of that.

Thank you. 

Look, I created this because that's what I would've wanted. I had Dr. Google and I tried different things and honestly, James, I failed for every success that I've had. I failed at least 20 times. I've cried or felt desperate or didn't know what to do, and honestly wanted to give up, so this is why I created that. Because I felt like I was doing different things with different people in all different parts of the world. 

Honestly, I was spending a lot of money. I was feeling guilty about that, because what if it didn't work or what if I wasn't able to keep up with it? And then you end up feeling much shittier than when you started, when you have that excited feeling, so I've brought all of the health experts together who I believe make a difference to MS health. I’ve brought them into one place and then people get to create it themselves.

But the program is designed for you to fail at points in it so that you're not doing it by yourself. The people that are the most successful lean in whether it's good or bad. And the one thing that I say to everyone is whatever way you show up works, just show up. I don't care if you come on to one of the calls and you're crying. Great, you're here, let's work with that. Showing up is half the battle.

A good life lesson too!

For someone who's just received the diagnosis of chronic illness or in the midst of any type of adversity and hardship, what can they do to raise their hand for help so they can start to open up and get the support that they need?

When people get diagnosed, first they look at what can I do to help me? Or how, how can I do this? 

I think the secret is in asking who has done it before? And I'm not saying you need to see me. There are loads of other people that have done what I've done as well. Find someone who can support you and someone that you can lean into and say, “I am here, there's a gap between where I want to go to, can you either support me or help me find someone?”

Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Karen Dwyer does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, the one thing on her bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀

That's the biggest, biggest thing that I wish I did years beforehand, but I felt too proud and I didn't want anyone to realize that I was suffering so much. It's the scariest thing, but it's the biggest gift that you'll ever give. And if that person can't help you, find somebody else who can. 

How do you handle bad days when they happen now?

Sometimes I handle them badly!

If I'm honest, sometimes I just want to sit down, eat, and watch really shitty TV. Sometimes that does the job. I find that sometimes I'm having a day where I'm overwhelmed or there's just so much going on, the best gift that I can do for myself is to do nothing and to just have the restorative time.

So actually it's such a gift. Even just sitting there and staring at the window can be the biggest thing, so taking a break from whatever I'm doing. And then other days it's sitting down and eating some of my favorite food and watching some really bad TV!

I think a lot of people will find that refreshing, because most people end up running harder on the treadmill and you just get burned out. It's not good for anyone if that happens.

Yeah, totally.

Look there's other days where like, yes, I'll meditate and I could say all those wonderful things, but actually there's some days that I just go, fuck it, I'm just going to rest.

On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?

Anything is possible.

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

Practice gratitude.

Karen, thank you so much for coming on the show!

Oh James, thank you. Vision board, complete!

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Until next time…

Onward and upward always,

James Whittaker

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Resources / links mentioned:

Karen Dwyer website

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🗝️ Success with MS Quiz (and free report)

🎤 Karen Dwyer TED Talk

🎧 Talk Healing to Me podcast

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