With the same circle of colleagues in the local journalism, marketing and public relations arena, I came across Tony Felice, owner and founder of the Felice Agency, on social media a few years back. What struck me the most were his selfies — they aren’t the typical, run of the mill point-and-shoot photos, but instead seem to tell a story with an intense level of honesty that I rarely see on social channels. A lover of all things selfie, too (it’s truly an addiction!), I had to reach out and chat.
“I believe negativity is as powerful as any drug,” Tony shares. “So, on Instagram, I began posting the best version of myself and who I wanted to become. It’s all part of the law of attraction. My selfies play a role in my journey.”
The law of attraction is defined as “the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on.” You focus on the good, good things follow. Same with the bad. Tony is a big believer in this law as well as the powers of intention and positivity. His own health and wellness journey the past few years is a testament to the fact that he seems to be on to something.
For someone who posts selfies and other photos of happy life scenes that include positive thoughts and motivating quips nearly daily, it’s surprising to find out that from 2011 to 2016 there are hardly any photos of Tony.
Always an athlete, he shares that he was shocked around 2011 he caught a flu that lingered for more than six months. It wouldn’t go away and a rash, bruising, fatigue, brain fog, and other debilitating symptoms accompanied it. “My job is to think and I couldn’t,” Tony says.
For years, he saw specialist after specialist. He grew frustrated and even began “unpacking it from an ego perspective” he says. “When your friends began to look at you like you might be making it up and some have lost faith in you; I’ll never forget the look in their eyes.”
By 2014, there was still no relief in sight and he even had thoughts of suicide. “I was planning on taking my own life,” Tony says. “I was going to go out to the desert with a gun. If it wasn’t for Tim [his spouse] I would have.”
Eventually, Tony was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), induced by Lyme disease. Both diseases present a wide variety of symptoms, including walking difficulties, weakness, vision problems, spasms, numbness or tingling, fatigue and more.
“We’re not sure how I got it; there’s no cure and it’s chronic,” Tony explains. “And the clincher is that I couldn’t be treated for the MS because my immune system was suppressed from infections.”
Once he had a hard-won diagnosis, Tony says he then felt like he had a monster to focus his efforts on. In 2015 — around the same time him and longtime partner Tim San Felice officially tied the knot after years together — he went to Dr. Timothy Peace, who gave him six months to live in his then-current health condition.
“I was mad. Angry. I said, ‘fuck you.’ I was pushing 300 pounds, using a cane, on my way to a wheelchair,” Tony says. “I wanted to be an athlete again. I told the doctor I didn’t want to hear the negative; just help me turn from sick to being an athlete again.”
A Changed Outlook & Life
With a grim view in tow, Tony did a 180 and dived into the power of positivity and intention. A book that changed his life is “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill. “It’s not just about the title, it’s stereo instructions for how the universe works,” he says.
This is where his social media came in. He began posting on Instagram his health journey. He began working out and became rigid about his diet, eating mainly organic and less processed foods. He got more intentional sleep. The main changes though came from within — it was about the power of believing in positivity over negativity; of being grateful. While he was — and still is — rigid about his diet and exercise, he’s even more rigid about gratitude and mindfulness.
“Negativity is as addicting as any drug,” Tony shares. “Through even the hard times; going almost bankrupt, having to fund my own treatment with yard sales; it’s all about the power of positivity.”
Through this journey, Tim was always by his side.
“We all sit in the audience of someone else’s life. We can see so much going on including their challenges. For Tony, that has been his health,” Tim shares. “He has always been tough through this part of our journey. Often very stoic and still able to keep his quick-witted humor, he always manages to make me laugh, every day. I do the best I can to be there for him, but more often he is there for me. Moreover, on those days when you think he is ready to fall over, he manages to keep himself steady. It’s as if he is a balloon that taps itself back up just before it hits the floor.”
“I don’t know how he does it, but there he is, unwilling to give in as he gets up, goes to work, pushes out great ideas and creative, makes dinner and then goes to the gym,” he continues. “I have seen him five minutes before a conference call. I know he is hurting, and without fail, the person on the other end of the line or Google Hangouts has no idea.”
“When I first heard about it [the Intention Stick] I thought ‘What is the catch?’” Tony admits. “But the power of intention is so life changing. We create every single day from darkness to light. From the moment we wake up, we are given the gift of life. Miracles do happen through the power of positivity. I was nearly dead and penniless, and now I’m healthier and wealthier than I ever have been.”
Tony points to studies about human intention by Abraham Hicks. He’s so enthusiastic that he is currently writing a book that takes his experience he figured out intuitively and backs it with science for those who need some statistics behind his message. He intends on the book being out next year and then hopes to go on a Ted Talk speaking tour to share his knowledge.
“I needed to get Lyme disease and MS to learn about myself,” Tony shares. “I had to face my fear of success, my fear of not being effective, my fear of not being worthy.”
“We have learned so much about each other through this,” Tim adds. “We aren’t the same people we were before. We have grown together romantically and spiritually and discovered so much together.
“When someone you love is given hard challenges you have two choices: be a victim or find the blessings within it. I know some of this may seem overly precious, but I don’t care, I love him. Not many people are lucky enough to live with their hero. So, as I sit in his audience, I still see he is undefeated, and I pray he always will be.”
When Tony reflects on how being LGBTQ+ falls into the mix of all he’s learned on this journey, he proudly shares “the queerer I get, the less I care, but the more I care at the same time — if that makes sense.”
“To be proud doesn’t require labels, but if you want to label it, own it! Get your shit together and let your freak flag fly.”
During his journey, Tony has gained so much perspective and lost about 65 pounds. When asked about health tips for those struggling with their own health battles, he shares: “No pain, no gain is bullshit. The purpose of living is to expand. Your birthright is joy. Your physical health is so important but so is your brain, your heart, and your gut. It will never lead you astray.”