From Shame To Acceptance: It’s Possible

I have herpes type 1 (HSV-1). Yes, you read that right: I have herpes and I’m sharing that with you (well not literally so don’t worry). Remember, we can’t take ourselves too seriously.  

So why am I telling you this? Because I sensed you may be harboring shame about something that feels deep, wrong and maybe a little taboo, and I wanted to help you release it.

Here’s my story:

When I was a young teenager, I aggressively sought out male attention from older guys. When I was 15 years old, I flirted with a man I worked with who was in his thirties. He was funny, kinda cute and we had worked together for a few weeks. I trusted him. This guy flirted back and before long, I found myself at his house. We kissed. We had sex. It gave me what I thought I needed: to feel pretty, to feel wanted, to have an adult finally pay attention to me.

The day after our hook up, the outside and inside of my mouth were filled with large sores that tingled and burned so bad that I got a fever and swallowing was a task. I eventually ended up in the hospital. I had no idea what those sores were and feared something was terribly wrong with me.

At the time, I didn’t know herpes was a thing and when the doctor started to ask me about my sexual activity, it finally clicked: “I caused this. This was my fault. I’m a slut.”

For the next few years, my herpes breakouts would occur every few months and each time they’d come on, I’d feel deep shame and spew nasty comments to myself, “Danielle, you’re a whore. You’re nasty. You’re dirty.”

Not once was I ever mad at the guy twice my age who infected me when I was a kid nor was I mad at my parents who didn’t give me the love I craved resulting in me looking in other places for it. Instead, I was only mad at myself. Funny how that is, huh?

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized I was ‘that girl’ (the stereotyped label of ‘promiscuous’) because my story was complex; my early childhood trauma of being raised by addicted and neglectful parents shaped my behavior. Although I shouldn’t have been flirting with older guys, that guy (and many others) shouldn’t have taken advantage of my vulnerabilities.

Fortunately, I only get a herpes breakout about once a year. When it does come back, instead of shaming myself like I used to, I fill my mind and heart with love, “You’ve come a long way Danielle. You’re beautiful. This and everything you’ve endured has made you stronger. You are loved.”

From my story, it’s my hope that you:

  1. Unfold your shame. Don’t perceive your past actions and decisions as poor choices or wrongdoings. Rather, see if you can find how people, events and circumstances connect to the shame you’re holding. This may give you a deeper understanding of your feelings which will help you release them.
  2. Forgive yourself. It’s a fact: You didn’t know all the things you know now. Every day, every second, we are learning and evolving.
  3. Consider sharing your shame with someone. a friend, your partner, a therapist. When we talk about our shame, it loses power.
  4. Know healing is possible. Although we can’t change the past, we can move forward from it.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you release shame, I heal and forgive myself for harms I and others have caused. I love myself and accept the past.

PPS – Are you looking for other ways to release your shame? If so, here’s a writing activity. Find somewhere quiet. Go deep into your shame (I know, a hefty request but this will be rewarding!). Be honest with yourself about your experience with shame. What happened that caused the shame? What are you feeling guilty about? Disappointed in yourself about? As you dive deeper, allow yourself to feel all your emotions: sad, scared, frustrated, confused. Write them all down. Don’t judge what comes. When you’re feeling ready, stop writing and burn or throw away your notes as you repeat the affirmation, “I release what no longer serves me.” Symbolically releasing your shame can be magically healing.

Flip Your Funk: Finding Your Creative Shift

The other night I was in the shower trying to force ideas for this exact blog post.

“Come on Danielle, think… Okay, just think. There’s got to be something in there…You need an idea, just one before the shower gets cold.” Queue rambling thoughts of grading papers and old blog topics and, wait… where was I going with this? “Okay, this is ridiculous. Hurry up. Ugh, the water is freezing now…”

After reflecting on my icy cold shower, turns out, there was an idea in there after all: to write about my creative block.

The truth is, I’ve been in a creative funk. My ideas haven’t been popcorning. My energy hasn’t been bouncing. My projects haven’t been forward moving. Can you relate? Perhaps you’ve picked up the pen, guitar or spatula but your creative process wasn’t as smooth, soulful or artistic as it usually is. 

I’m sure this whole pandemic thing has something to do with it, but I’ve been down this road dozens of times, trying to find my spark, trying to get back to me again. It’s lonely. It’s aggravating. It’s demotivating. And then I remember: the lightbulb turns on and the warm fuzzies fill me as I recall the lessons I’ve learned on my not-so-creative journeys. I then feel centered and a bit creative again, like I am now as I write to you.

Finding that spark can take time and effort. Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me and others make a creative shift:

  • Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. If our brains and hearts want to go quiet for a bit, we need to let them. We may need the rest for our next big thing.
  • Very rarely is forcing anything a good idea. Seriously. Can you think of a time you forced something, and it was for the better? Forcing should be a red flag to do the opposite of what we’re doing. Instead we need to allow what is. Our intuition may be trying to slow us down so that we see something different, so we can change our perspective and fuel our creative purpose at another time.
  • Sometimes all we need is an energetic change. Stuck in your home office? Try working a couple hours at your town library. Instead of writing on the porch, go to the coffee shop. Rather than reading and reflecting on a book alone, sign up for a book club. I’ve signed up for a few extra writing groups; joining other aspiring writers with similar goals always gives me a boost of word-adrenaline.
  • Distance does make the heart grow founder. We can put down our work and get inspiration from other sources. Are you crafting a speech? Play UNO with the family every day this week. Do you want to find the drive to finish that needlepoint? Go for a hike. A change of action and scenery can do wonders.
  • Reconnect with yourself. If there’s something weighing us down, we need to work that out. Revisit things and activities you love: for some, this looks like a 45-minute hot yoga session; for others, this may be volunteering at the local wildlife conservation.
  • Remember: our creativity always comes back. It’s never lost for good.

And now I’m off to take a shower where I plan to belt out some tunes (as opposed to think about what to write next!). I know the right idea will come in perfect timing.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you boost your creative confidence, “Creativity flows through me. My imagination and abilities are unlimited.”

PPS – Here’s a fun one to get your creative juices flowing. Get out your journal and write a short story using the following words: New York, tiger, flawless, apple, gum, love. Were you able to do it? See, I told you our creativity is never lost for good.

Liar, Liar, My Pants Were On Fire

On Good Friday, I walked into the kitchen and saw my fourteen-year-old son Aaron on his phone. Unbelievable. On his phone again when I just asked him to do the dishes. My blood boiledI puffed out my cheeks and squinted my eyes as I walked past him.

When I strolled by glancing in his direction, Aaron looked up and stuttered, “Mom, I was just picking a new song to listen to while I do the dishes. I promise.”

My heart melted. By his tone and his body language, I knew my sweet boy (who doesn’t even use his phone that much!) was telling the truthShit Danielle, not cool.

I softened my face and cracked a warm smile, “Huh? I didn’t say anything,” I lied.

Aaron looked to the ground and said, “You didn’t have to. You got me really upset. I could feel you were mad. I’m sorry.”

Stubborn and embarrassed, I quipped, “Nope, that’s all you. I wasn’t thinking that, and I wasn’t mad. Maybe you’re just tired.”

I booked it to my office, closed the door, and let the tears trickle down. Danielle, first you prejudged him and then you lied to your son… What is going on?

As I thought about the situation, I realized I let my pride get in the way of being honest. I wanted to be right, but I unfairly assumed that Aaron was avoiding dishes for scrolling through Instagram. I also had an epiphany; my lying could have a big impact on Aaron. Not only could my actions jeopardize our relationship, but it could also prevent him from trusting his intuition.

I started to worry even more. What if Aaron believed me when I said I wasn’t mad in the moment? Maybe next time he won’t trust his gut and his ability to read people deeper than their spoken words. This scared the crap out of me. As someone who regularly uses her intuition in work and personal life, I know how important it is to decision-making, protecting myself from people and situations I don’t want, and fostering more authentic relationships with others.

When I couldn’t take it any longer, I had a chat with Aaron. Blinking away tears, I took a deep breath in and said, “Aaron, you were right this morning. You did sense I was mad. I made a snap judgement when you were on your phone. I realized that was unfair of me, but I was too stubborn to admit it so I tried to make it seem like you were the one who was reading the room wrong. I am so, so sorry. I always want you to trust yourself. I love you so much. And I’m sorry for lying.”

Aaron chuckled, “You’re so dramatic. I knew you were lying. It’s all good. I forgive you.”

I grinned, “It was immature of me and I’m going to do better. It makes me so stinkin’ proud that you trusted yourself.”

We hugged it out.

What’s the moral of the story? There are many here. Try not to judge others. Try not to fib. Own up to your mistakes when you can. Remember, you’re not alone if you’ve made a parenting blunder.

In my eyes, the most important lesson to carry with you is to be like Aaron and trust your intuition always. Sometimes, people won’t tell you the truth, either because they’re embarrassed, scared, or their ego has taken over. Don’t doubt yourself for a second. Your intuition is a powerful and needed tool in this world.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this blog to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation for those days when you question your reality (i.e. you feel one way but someone else claims differently), I am grounded and aware.”

PPS – Do you want to start trusting yourself more? If so, here’s a writing activity. Set a timer for 2 minutes. During that time, list as many things as you can that you’ve ‘done right’ over the years; small or big decisions you’ve made that have worked out well for you. Did you pick a comfy couch that has held strong for years? Did you suggest the last restaurant you and your friends went to and the service and food was awesome? Did you marry the love of your life? Once your two minutes are up, you should be left with multiple examples to remind yourself that your intuition and judgment are strong; that you have the power to trust yourself. Remember this the next time the world is trying to tell you differently.

When hate is okay

The other day, me and my good friend Ella were catching up and offering each other intuitive guidance. One of the many things I appreciate about our relationship is we rarely stay surface level. We skip the small talk and get vulnerable, get real and go deep so we can support each other on this wild journey of life.

Ella said, “Okay. I hate them. Yes, hate. And yes, I know I’m not supposed to hate. I know forgiveness is the path and I know holding onto anger hurts me, but I just can’t let go. I do all the right things: I meditate. I read about spirituality and forgiveness… But at the end of the day, I still hate them.”

Ella wasn’t referring to the parking spot stealers or the jaywalkers of the world. Sad and heartbreakingly true, she was referring to people in her life who hurt her and a loved one deeply. These individuals are responsible for years of manipulation and abuse which caused pain, trauma and a series of events that can never be undone. Ella, I am sending you and your hurt so much love.  

As Ella spoke, I felt a lightness to me and the words flowed out, “You can hate. Don’t judge your feelings. It’s okay to feel it all. Just continue to do what you’re doing and be healthy about that hate. Take care of yourself and work towards releasing the heavy emotions but know you can’t control the timing of that release.”

Ella sent me a note a few days later and told me she felt lighter. That simple act of ‘giving her permission’ to feel the not-so-pleasant stuff had removed the guilt and angst she carried.

Most of us have someone or even several people in our lives who have done us or others we love wrong: an old friend spoke lies about you, a mother made you feel small daily, an ex-wife stole your money, a friend or family member sexually abused you or someone you love.

If you find yourself fixating on someone because you’re harboring anger and disgust, that is okay. You’re beautifully human and you should experience all of your emotions without judgement. You’re not a bad person or a less spiritually evolved person for feeling what you do. Just keep putting in the hard work: the talk therapy, the meditating, the reading, the working towards forgiveness.

Amidst the hard work, be sure to manage your hate. You don’t want hate to control you or your actions (while it’s okay to feel something, don’t let that emotion lead you to do something that’s not in your best interest: revenge, hurting yourself, or hurting others are never okay).  

Similar to Ella’s experience, I believe if you allow yourself to feel your emotions, and you accept where you are on your healing journey, it will be easier to move to a place of love and forgiveness when you’re ready. Just like ‘love’ takes a lot of work to maintain, ‘hate’ takes a lot to remove, but it’s possible. I’ve had the amazingly beautiful opportunity to love many and to forgive several emotional, physical and/or sexual abusers in my life. While I’m healed now, the journey was tough yet worth every ounce of hate, frustration and patience.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this blog to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help support your healing journey, I give time and space to my soul to restore. I have the power to heal, and I’m getting healthier every day.”

PPS – Healing hate requires a balance of focusing on your emotion/the situation at hand and giving yourself space from your hate. For this journal prompt, you’ll focus on getting space from whatever it is that’s driving your negative emotions. Here’s what to do. Breathe in and out a few times while picturing yourself as a ball of white, beautiful light. Once you feel relaxed, open your eyes and write about a time when you felt tremendous love. Was it when your new puppy licked your face for the first time? Was it when your husband proposed to you at your favorite restaurant? Focus on your senses to really get lost in writing the story (the process of writing is where the healing comings in). What can you hear? What can you taste? What do you feel? What can you see?

I’m Busy But Not Too Busy

Lately, I’ve been busy. Like, busy-busy thanks to parenting, writing, coaching, teaching, grading, walking, reading, researching, cooking, cleaning and a bunch of other ***‘ing things ;). I wish funning was a word because that would be on the list too. As you can see, I’ve been busy will all good things, but nonetheless busy…
 
Have you noticed (or you may be annoyed!) that I’m using the word ‘busy’ a lot? That’s what happens when I get busy… I lock myself in a box and make excuses for why I can’t do something. I shutdown and say ‘no’ to adding what always seems to be another checkbox on my to-do list. When I am (I won’t use the ‘b’ word here), when I feel like there’s too much on my plate, I also start telling myself I don’t have time to do something for someone else… Don’t call so-and-so back, you have too much to do. Danielle, you just gotta say no to things and people so you can get your to-list done.
 
Sometimes that voice is the sound of reason, but more often it’s a frantic, fear-based voice that tries to make me someone I’m not: someone who doesn’t have the time and heart for others.  
 
A few weeks ago, a teacher award nomination form was emailed to me from my niece’s elementary school (my niece lives with me). When I received the email, I lit up and thought, Oh goodness. Mrs. Smith and Mr. Hickson have been so great to Amy this year. I have to nominate them. They’re everything a teacher should be: engaging, compassionate, patient and informative. But my heart began to beat fast as my thoughts switched to, “No Danielle. You don’t have the time to write a nomination. Stick to the things you need to take care of.”
 
I deleted the email, felt crappy about myself and continued to sluggishly take care of my work.
 
A week later a reminder email was sent and this time, I listened to my heart and I clicked the nomination form. And guess what? It took me 6 minutes to fill out. 6 minutes! I shook my head and laughed; all they wanted was my niece’s name, the teachers’ names and 250 words or less. Once I hit ‘submit’ I felt proud, so proud that the energetic high I got from that simple good deed boosted my work productivity for the next few hours. I got tons of things done! The effect was like four cups of coffee, no jitters attached.
 

Two weeks later, I was at my office on campus spring cleaning (I’m a business professor). As I dusted my bookshelf, I came across ‘thank you’ cards my students wrote to themselves over a year ago before the pandemic hit. On the first day of class, I asked students to write the notes, thanking themselves for the preparation and courage it took them to be in college (I teach at a community college and many of my students are first generation, so being in college is an extra big deal). I planned to give them their cards the last day of class, but thanks to all that was 2020, that didn’t happen.
 
When I first saw the cards, I thought, “Awwww. How special. They’d love to see these.” My mind quickly shifted to, “Danielle, you’re busy. You don’t have the time to reach out to students if it’s not related to homework.”
 
This time, I listened to my heart right away. I sent emails and messages to the students asking them for permission to open their cards and send them a picture of it. This process end-to-end took a half hour. 
 
One student wrote herself a beautiful thank you note that said something like this: “Thank you for making a sacrifice and joining the military. Because you did, your school is now paid for. You’re now in a better spot and reunited with your family. I am proud of you.”
 
When I sent her a picture of the card, she told me she cried and that she was so thankful. I clutched the phone, as if to give it a hug. I felt so good about sending those cards out that I had a smile and lightness to me the rest of the week and because of that, I got even more things done.
 
The next time I tell myself I’m ‘too busy’ to do something, I’m going to continue to listen to my heart and remind myself that doing something nice for someone else (or myself) is an investment that keeps on giving.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this blog to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that you’re in control of your day, “I have all the time I need. I have everything to make today productive and abundant for myself and others.”

PPS – Do you want more feel-good time in your day? Here’s an activity to put awareness around how you’re using your time. For at least a few days, write down everything you do: talk to your mom on the phone, go for a walk with your dog, attend a meeting with clients, drive to work, go grocery shopping, practice the drums etc. Once you have a few days’ worth of activities, go through and rank them from a scale on 1-10 on how much joy they give you (10 being the highest amount of joy). If you rank anything lower than a 7, ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and see if you can put together a plan around removing or minimizing that activity from your life or restructuring it so it gives you more joy.

That Mistake I Made Wasn’t A Mistake

A few weeks ago, in my Learn by doing newsletter, I talked about how I unintentionally interrupted Shawna, the host of The Quantum Shift when she had me on her podcast as a guest. The days that followed, I wasted time and lost positive energy as I hyper-focused on my blunder. Fortunately, I finally snapped out of my funk when I remembered that we all learn by doing and that my intention was pure.

I wrote that newsletter as a healing vehicle for myself (writing is such a good release), as a learning opportunity for you, and as an ‘I’m sorry’ to Shawna. I posted the newsletter to Instagram and tagged Shawna, feeling good that I owned my mistakes and that the air was cleared.

Shawna wrote me back and here’s what she said: “I don’t even recall you ‘interrupting’ me! You left me with the impression that you’re a very knowledgeable coach and lovely human with an absolutely huge heart from having overcome great challenges. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and hope to have you back again!”

I chuckled when I read her response, looked up to the sky and said, “Okay Universe. Message received.”

Can you believe it? I spent days beating myself up for a faux pas Shawna didn’t even notice, a mistake that didn’t even exist.  

Shawna’s note gave me a powerful reminder: I can be my own worst enemy.
The next time I doubt myself (and worse, bully myself) about how I think someone perceives me, I’m going to:

  1. Use the affirmation below as many times a day as I need to so that I quiet the negative noise in my head;
  2. Fill myself with understanding and grace by remembering the positive purpose of my actions;
  3. Directly ask the person how they felt about whatever it is I did or think I did.

Hopefully, you’ll be kinder to yourself too the next time you ‘make a mistake’.

Did you enjoy this story? Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you (and to help me!) stop focusing on others’ opinions, I live life without concern of what others think of me.”

PPS – To help you feel more comfortable with ‘mistakes’, think back to a time you made one and because of it, things turned out great. Get out your journal and write out the story. Did you miss your exit and ended up late to work but found an amazing coffee shop you wouldn’t have known about otherwise? Did you bomb a first date which led you to meeting your husband? Keep this story handy and the next time you are down-in-the-dumps because you made a perceived mistake, read this story to yourself.

Right Brain Secrets: Unlock Your Intuition

For many years, I’d always known there were two sides of the brain, and that each side contributed differently to how we function. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to dive deeper into this information. I realized quickly that I leaned hard on my left-brain: the side defined by linear thinking, facts and logic. My right-brain – the side responsible for creativity, imagination and intuition – was not the side I normally tapped into, if ever. I knew it was time to shift my dominant side. I received a calling (an intuitive hit of sorts) to exercise my right-brain; I accepted that challenge; and I’m so glad I did.

To strengthen my right-brain, I took classes and read books on things such as creative writing and spiritual development. I then started putting my learnings into practice: I now meditate, write for fun, pay more attention to art, talk to nature when I’m outside, and think more about ‘What if?’ than ‘What is?’.

Hopping into my right-brain more has resulted in me feeling complete – and less stressed. I’m no longer hyper focused on the destination and instead enjoy the journey along the way. Because of this, regardless if I am working or spending time with family, my days are spent more childlike in the best way possible. I’m curious. I daydream. I take risks. I stop to smell the roses (literally and figuratively).

One of the many benefits I’ve experienced from exercising my right-brain is a heightened intuition. My thoughts have much more clarity: I can clearly define how I feel about a person, what’s the highest good for me and others; what food, movie, situation will best serve me short and long term. This clear knowing removes that intense and exhausting analytical debate in my head, freeing me up for things that matter most (yes, that’s you Ron, Aaron, Amy, Charlie and Nicee).

With my instincts sharp, I make decisions with ease and confidence, and I want that for you too. If you want to activate your intuition to help you make clear decisions consider ways you can learn more about your right-brain: What books can you read? What conversations can you have? What classes can you take?

You can also try this activity:When you have a decision to make, check in with how you’re feeling about it. To get a sense of your true emotions (not the ones our mind creates like fear, anger and toxic worry), get somewhere quiet and comfy. Bring a journal with you so you can jot down whatever comes to you. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Close your eyes and visualize yourself turning your mind off (I picture myself turning my brain off, just like a light switch).
  2. After a few deep breathes, ask yourself (silently or out loud) how you’re feeling about the situation at hand. For this activity, I like to place a hand on my chest to help me tap into the heart-centered answer I’m looking for (remember, this is all about getting our intuition to ‘talk’ to us, not our mind).
  3. Keep focusing on your breathing and if thoughts pop into your mind, don’t get discouraged, just ask them gently to leave.
  4. Once you’ve settled into a calm state, focus on how your body is feeling. Is it tight? Is that tightness telling you something? Do you feel warm and supported? Is that sensation telling you something? Are you seeing anything, perhaps with your third eye? Visions of you doing or not doing whatever it is you’re questioning?
  5. Once you’ve received the information (whatever that information is), don’t overthink it. Instead, simply honor it (this is the most important step) by thanking your intuition and going down the path your intuition wants you to follow.

The more you tap into your intuition (through this activity and others), the stronger you’ll get. You’ll be able to turn your brain off faster (it will be thankful for the rest), get into that zen-like flow faster, and you’ll begin to recognize and understand the way your intuition talks to you (those sensations and pictures you’re being sent). As with anything, practice is important.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to get you trusting your intuition more, “I trust my own wisdom. I know the truth by the way it feels.”

PPS – Do you want to add more right-brain fun into your life? If so, grab your journal and get outside. Here’s a creative writing prompt: Based on what you see, smell, hear and feel, write a story using your intuition, not your mind. Don’t edit for typos. Don’t judge your work. Just write as you let yourself go into your imagination.

Learn by doing

For the last few years, I’ve been intentionally hermitting, focused on going inward so I could finish my memoir about my Dark Night of the Soul. My debut book is about my spiritually guided journey to heal past wounds, mend important relationships in my life and rekindle my marriage after I lost my job unexpectedly. Now that the first draft of the book is complete, I’ve started coming out of my shell to offer the world my wisdom and healing from my Dark Night through a variety of means such as this newsletter, workshops and private 1 x 1’s with clients.

A 2021 goal of mine was to start guest-appearing on podcasts to share my messages of forgiveness, healing and love even further. Although I was nervous to put myself out there over the airwaves (especially after the hermitting), I began listening to podcasts with audiences I hoped would connect with my message.

That’s when I came across The Quantum Shift podcast and noticed a friend of mine had been a guest. I listened to her episode and knew I wanted to be a part of that heart-centered energy, an energy filled with curiosity, support and empathy. I reached out to my friend to connect me to Shawna Pelton, the host. Next thing I knew, I was filling out forms to be featured on her show. I swear it was meant to be because Shawna connected to my message and invited me on.  

On the big day to record Episode 40, I felt prepared for our Zoom session. I made sure I looked the part (hairspray to tame my crazy fly-aways, foundation powder to control my oily face). I ensured there’d be no distractions (Thank you, Puppy Palace, for taking care of Charlie!). And I tested my equipment ahead of time.

During the podcast, I was in heaven. Shawna created a comfortable environment, asked thought-provoking questions and beautifully added her own wisdom and touch to the conversation. But by the end, I had mixed emotions.  I was proud of putting myself out there. Proud of speaking my truth. Proud of doing what I could to help people navigate their darkness to find their light, but…

I was also embarrassed. Among many things I could have done better (note to self: don’t clap into the mic and don’t overtalk about yourself) I interrupted the calm and patient Shawna at least twice.

For the next few days, all the ‘good’ my message would achieve didn’t matter to me. Instead, I walked around with a yucky feeling in my stomach. Even drinking my favorite tea couldn’t settle me. I gave myself pep talks in hopes of finding calm, “Danielle, this was your first podcast appearance. Brush it off! Shawna knows your heart. The two of you left off in a great place. The audience will understand your enthusiasm.” Although I was saying the right things to myself, the messages weren’t hitting the spot.

Finally, after mulling around my disappointments for days, I finally pieced together the pep talk I needed thanks to Dan Blank’s podcast episode ‘Why I Create and Share’ that focused on the importance of learning by doing. The words of wisdom I finally gave myself sounded like this, “Danielle, you went in with love, not ego. You interrupted out of excitement and inexperience (and being a hermit for a few years). You were a kid in a candy store, jumping for joy, elated to be speaking to a like-minded individual… Your intention was pure.”

Once I reminded myself of my intention, my mistakes no longer mattered as much, and the self-judgement melted away.

What are you beating yourself up over? Was your intention pure?

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to encourage you to “live and learn”, to enjoy and reflect on what brings you happiness without falling into self-doubt: “I am trying new things and creating a brighter reality; I believe in what feels good to my soul, and I am intentional in all that I do.”

PPS – It’s so easy for us to hyper-focus on our mistakes and fixate on what we could have done better in the moment. Here’s a journal prompt to shift your focus a bit and put you in a positive growth mindset: Think about some of your most recent accomplishments and write them down. These could range from winning an award at work to adding an extra mile onto your daily walk. Then, consider the efforts that went into achieving these things and jot those down. Did you work late a few nights a week? Did you give yourself daily pep talks? Did you sacrifice TV time? While you’re journaling, do your best to not let self-criticizing thoughts pop into your head, such as ‘I could have done better.’

Annnnnnd – Don’t forget to support my first ever podcast appearance and get to know the talented and soulful Shawna. Be sure to listen to Episode #40 Move Beyond the Dark Night of the Soul on The Quantum Shift.

How I navigate impostor syndrome

Last week, I sent my memoir off for copywriting. I have to say that again because damn, does that feel good! My memoir (somebody pinch me, is this real?!) is in the copywrite stage. After almost three years, my book is complete and is now getting polished, which means it’s another step closer to being in your hands as you sip your morning latte on a sunny Sunday morning.

This milestone has had me thinking about everything it took to get my book to this stage. What comes to mind immediately is navigating impostor syndrome.

The first time I ever considered writing a book was when my mentor said she envisioned me writing one about my spiritual journey after I lost my job (I refer to this period of my life as my Dark Night of the Soul. If you want to hear more about this experience, check out my podcast guest appearance with The Psychic Wives). While I was excited about the idea of writing a book, I didn’t exactly know what that story was and if I could actually write about it.

Over the next few months, any time I’d sit down to write about my past – many of those experiences traumatic – I was overcome with emotion. I’d cry as I relived intense memories. I’d cuss at myself and the computer for not knowing what to say (hello, writer’s block).

During that time, you’d see me frozen at my desk letting unhealthy thoughts spin in loops, “Do people even care about you and your story? You’re not even a real writer. You don’t have any training and experience, so what makes you think you can write a book?”

Regardless of these uncomfortable thoughts, I pushed forward as another voice inside me kept saying, “You need to tell your story. You can do this. You are a writer.” I had to keep this voice alive, so I bought myself a typewriter necklace I wear almost every day to remind me of my goals. I also joined writers’ groups, writers’ workshops and filled my bookshelves with writing guides and memoirs from authors I admire. I wrote positive affirmations on my office chalkboard and often spoke them aloud to replace my doubts.

While these things helped me move forward, impostor syndrome never quite left me alone. It appeared in slightly different ways, making me second-guess my memoir pursuit, “Can I call myself a writer yet? I don’t actually have anything published… Should I tell people about it? They won’t take it seriously… And what if I never finish? Even if I do, will it be successful?”

The way I worked through these new doubts was the same when I first started writing: I moved forward regardless. I changed all my bios on every social platform, like LinkedIn and my professional website, to claim that I am a writer. I started telling people I was writing a memoir. I started crafting newsletters and blogs about my experiences as a writer.

My debut memoir is where it is today because I didn’t let my worries and doubts win. I still have my days when impostor syndrome brings out the skeptic in me, but I’ve gotten better at recognizing it and letting my true voice (the one focused on my goals) soften the negative noise.

Yes, writing my memoir was hard (so f’ing hard at times) AND that payoff was worth it. I healed. I learned a new craft. I made sense of my life. I listened to my true self. I enhanced my empathy, self-discipline, and time management. I created art to help others heal, grow and break free from their own judgement habits.

What has your true voice been telling you to do? Have you been listening to it?

If you want to learn more about impostor syndrome, check out my podcast guest appearance on The On-Call Empath.

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Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation if you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, “I was born to try new things and to create. Only I decide what success looks and feels like.

PPS – Do you want to remove some of the fear you have towards a project you’re working on (or should be working on)? If so, get out your journal. Here’s a writing prompt: What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if you moved forward with your project and didn’t succeed? What’s the absolute best thing that could happen if you moved forward with your project and you did succeed (get dreamy here). Is the potential payoff worth the risk?

Check on your strong friends

My son Aaron, a freshman in high school, said to me casually one night a couple months ago, “I’m not doing too good in my AP class. I’m at a ‘C’.”

Even though he had never received a ‘C’ in his life, I didn’t flinch; I didn’t get curious. In fact, I didn’t think too much about it. This is his first year in high school, plus he’s taking an AP class. He’s busy with sports. We’re in a pandemic. He’ll be fine, he’s strong.

I responded, “Okay. No problem Big Guy. I know you’ll get your grade up.” I smiled, patted him on the back and walked out of the room.

A month later after the holidays, Aaron came to me and my husband Ron. His voice shaky, his face red, it was immediately apparent that he was distressed.

“I got a ‘D’ in that class… I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I’m not myself. I’m struggling with mental health stuff… I wanted to tell you, but…”

Ron and I were shocked.

Looking back on the night Aaron mentioned the ‘C’, I made an unfair assumption that Aaron was fine, believing he’d figure it out and thinking everything would be okay because ‘It was Aaron. He’s strong.’ 

Here’s a list of things I could have done better in that moment (which I’ll use to make positive change in the future):

Be present: Although Aaron came to me with a cool tone, if I were more in the moment, perhaps I would have picked up on the real message: he needed help. Maybe I would have noticed his energy was off. Maybe I would have noticed him looking down to the floor.  Maybe I would have heard a crack in his voice.

Probe: I took Aaron’s words at place value. I didn’t ask how the ‘C’ made him feel. I didn’t ask why his grade was low. Was it trouble with vocabulary? Not enough time to study at night? Not turning in assignments? If I had been more curious, perhaps one of those questions would have sparked a deeper conversation.

Be more involved: Ron and I had the opportunity to attend an open house at Aaron’s school, but we didn’t. We reasoned, “It’s not needed. Aaron always does well.” Ron and I have access to Aaron’s school grades; we never checked them, “Aaron always gets good grades.” If Ron and I were more active in Aaron’s studies, we may have seen the signs of Aaron’s struggles earlier.

Although I missed signs, I never got down on myself when I realized I could have done better and I never lost sight that Aaron could have done more on his part. As my Dad used to say, ‘It takes two to tango.’ What I did do is turn this into a learning opportunity and a way to get closer to my son. 

What I hope you take away from this story is that, especially in these difficult times, take time to check on your ‘strong friends’ (or kids). Those in your life who you perceive as having it all figured out, those in your life who are usually the ones taking care of others, those in your life who are usually crushing it at school, work and life… They may need you.

I also hope you walk away with this: You’re human. You’re not going to be that ‘perfect’ parent or that ‘perfect’ friend or colleague. You’re going to miss some signs and some moments, and that’s okay.

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Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation if you’re struggling with mental health: “I will come through this challenge with a better understanding of myself. I deserve help and feel confident asking for it.” Here’s an affirmation for those who have missed signs from loved ones: “I did the best I could yesterday and today.

PPS – Are there people in your life who always seem strong and put together, but perhaps there’s more happening underneath the surface? Let’s focus on pinpointing signs of help or distress in others. Here’s a journal prompt: Jot down the names of a few of these seemingly strong people. Then, consider the last time you interacted with each of them and consider the list above in my blog post. Were you present and invested in the conversation? Were you genuinely curious about how they were and did you probe/ask questions? How would you describe your involvement in their lives in the past couple months? Based on these reflections, what can you do now to show them you are there if they need you?