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?

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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?

8 tips to bring more love into your relationship

Today is Ron and I’s 15th wedding anniversary. Our lives are filled with hikes and neighborhood walks together (with Charlie of course), us rooting our son Aaron on at football or wrestling events, excursions to new and familiar places, support and encouragement, amazing friends who come over for dinner and cornhole, and kisses on the lips that say more than words ever could.  Proudly, we are deeply in love, more connected and have never been happier.

We’ve experienced a lot together: family deaths, traveling, the joys and struggles of parenting, relationship challenges, and moving over 1,000 miles away from a state we called home for years. Although we are bouncing on cloud 9 together, that hasn’t always been true. There were times when we slept in different beds, lied to each other, spewed nasty comments and practically lived different lives. There were times when we were so close to divorce, we arranged separate living situations.

We’re together now and stronger because we made the choice, day-in and day-out, to be better people for ourselves and for our marriage. How did we do that? We put in the hard work. Over the years, I’ve learned to tame my outbursts (I have my Dad’s Irish temper), calm my desire to work 24/7, and release my unfair expectations of Ron to share my exact energy, passions, wants and viewpoints. In return, Ron has had to open up and communicate his feelings more, find things he’s passionate about, and put more effort into bringing spontaneity and romance into our relationship.

Carving out time for us, talking vulnerably and trying new things – all while getting rid of the habits that no longer served us – has led to us celebrating 15 years of marriage and the strong belief there’s so many more to come.

While I don’t claim love guru status, I’ve learned a lot over the years. In honor of my anniversary and Valentine’s Day (Ohhh, how I love LOVE), here’s my 8 tips to bring more openness to your relationship, or to prepare for a special relationship coming your way (it’s coming, I promise, just stay open):

  1. Love yourself. It’s that simple. You’ll never be able to truly love someone else until you love yourself. (How do you start loving yourself, you ask? Read on!)
  2. Learn from the past, let it go and move on. This means forgiving yourself, forgiving your partner and focusing on who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow as a couple.
  3. Make time for love. Our lives are busy. Just like we schedule time for a doctor’s appointment or to hit the gym, we need to do the same for love: a dinner date, TV and snuggle time or whatever else floats your boat. If it’s not scheduled, it may not happen.
  4. Have a life outside of your relationship. Being close doesn’t have to mean spending all of your time with your partner. A strong relationship should focus on quality over quantity.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your friends on Instagram have heart-eyes; the lead in your fave TV show has the love life you’ve been dreaming of… it’s hard not to compare. But your relationship is uniquely yours. Only you and your partner decide what it should look like.
  6. Embrace day-to-day conflict. Healthy conflict can be good; it’s a release, a way to get to know each other and find deeper understanding. If you try to avoid conflict, the little things fester and eventually become big things… and that’s when the explosion happens. Try changing your perspective to appreciate the quick spats and disagreements.
  7. Check in with each other frequently beyond ‘How are you?’ Every few months, have conversations about how the relationship is going, what’s working well and what could be better. Be honest about the progress you’ve made and what your relationship goals are for the upcoming months.
  8. Know when to say goodbye. Not all relationships are meant to last. Sometimes the best thing we can do for a relationship (and for ourselves) is to leave, taking with us the memories and lessons so we are more open for love moving forward. 

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to let more love into your life: “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of knock-my-socks off love. I’m open to receiving it; I’m open to creating it.

PPS – Let’s get you thinking about how you perceive love. Here’s a writing prompt: What makes you feel loved? Is it words of affirmation? Maybe receiving thoughtful gifts? Think about times in your life when you’ve felt loved, then take some time to describe those special times. Reflect on these moments and consider: are the things that make you feel loved similar to the way you express your love to others? Why or why not? How could you better understand what makes others feel loved?

Happy birthday to me and YOU

Tomorrow is my birthday. I may or may not be telling you this so you send me over some birthday love – or cake, I love cake. I’ll be 36. Yes, I know this is a shocker as I look a lot more like 25. Okay fine, 27.

Anyways…

My birthday celebration is starting today. I had my husband Ron take the day off so we could get in some me-and-him time. Here’s the itinerary:

  • Get the kids and dog to school/daycare
  • Take a long stroll on the Tampa RiverWalk to check out the Super Bowl Experience stuff (Go Bucs!)
  • Enjoy avocado toast and a London Fog at the Oxford Exchange (where I hope to buy myself lots of tea and books)
  • Kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (I hope we see lots of manatees!)
  • Whatever else comes our way

On Saturday (my actual birthday), I don’t know what we’ll do, but I’m sure it will be amazing – no pressure, right Ron ;)?

I’m thrilled for the festivities, can you tell?

Although I’m excited about my b-day, what I’m most excited about is that I’m excited. Let me explain. You see, there’s been many birthdays spent either fearing turning another year older or feeling shame for not accomplishing what I thought I should that year. Frankly, there have been birthdays (and years) I didn’t have a lot of zest for life and wasn’t too stoked to celebrate the fact I was living (thank you, depression). Now that things are different – now that I’m different – these low-vibing thoughts don’t surround my birthday.

When I think back to what’s changed, here’s what I came up with:

  • I’m closer to myself and I like who I am. This took years of healing old traumas, forgiving myself and others, journaling, connecting with my spiritual side, getting healthier physically, emotionally and mentally;
  • My relationship with death has evolved. I’m no longer scared of death and don’t view life as an hourglass of sand slowly spent to the last grain;
  • My perspective on getting older has changed. I now consider my wisdom and crow’s feet a beautiful blessing. With each year that passes, I am grateful for opportunities to share my experiences and to settle into a fuller version of me (like a bottle of fine wine. Hmmm… Am I more of a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Riesling or perhaps something else?);
  • I stopped using my birthday as a goalpost marker to evaluate my accomplishments. Now, I use it as a way to celebrate life: nature, art, love – The things that matter most  

Hopefully you’ll be able to put what worked for me in practice (if it calls to you of course) so when your birthday rolls around you can enjoy it fully. If your birthday isn’t for a bit, print this out or cut and paste it into your calendar so you have it.

Happy Birthday!

Did you enjoy this blog?  An even better gift than cake would be you sharing it with your community. Feel free to forward it to them, and they can subscribe here

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to use on your birthday (or any day you need a reminder that life and you are beautiful “I was born for a reason. Life is extraordinary and I add to its magnificence.

PPS – To gain a clearer sense of everything you’ve brought to the world, grab your journal. Here’s a writing prompt: Instead of looking back on just one year, look back on the last seven. What have you experienced? How have you grown? What are you grateful for? How have you made the word a better place?

Remove negativity

Thanks to 2020, I, like many others, have been in survivor mode: Protecting my physical, emotional and mental health has been my top priority. With the heightened focus on me, I’ve found it much easier to say ‘no’ to people and things that don’t support me, that don’t lift me up and make me stronger. Over the last few months, I have:

  • Changed nails salons so I no longer have to hear the nail tech talk angrily about politics;
  • Parted ways with my car detail guy who is awesome to shoot-the-shit with but doesn’t do the best job actually cleaning my car (and with a yellow lab that sheds a ton, this is a necessity);
  • Stopped going to the young woman who gives an awesome facial but steals away my relaxation because she complains of her boyfriend and tries to squeeze free life coaching from me

While my actions may seem small and obvious, they are big to me. Before 2020, I would have stayed in these unfulfilling relationships due to some jaded belief I should be loyal and avoid hurting others’ feelings. Or, I would have ended these relationships, all the while letting guilt live inside me for weeks, if not months. But I’m different now, and everlasting guilt is no longer my M.O.

Thank you, 2020, for helping me find my power (and hello to you, 2021 – prepare to witness my strengths!). Every time I took steps to remove negativity from my life, I felt nothing but better. I could feel it in my shoulders. I could feel it in my stomach. I could feel it in my mind, heart and soul. The calm, the ease. By choosing to honor my time, my money and myself, I’m lighter and more open to the people I need along my journey. I now have a new nail tech, a new car detail guy and a new esthetician, and all are enhancing my life and feeding my soul.

Do you have anyone in your life who’s dragging you down? If so, you know what to do.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you find the power you need to say ‘no’ to the things and people that aren’t serving you, “I am in touch with my wants and needs. I stand up for myself and am confident in my ability to make change and say ‘no’.

PPS – It’s all too easy to settle for mediocre, to go out to a restaurant and be served a lukewarm meal and say nothing to the waiter because you’d rather not ‘look bad’ or cause problems. Get out your journal. Here’s a writing prompt to give yourself confidence the next time you need to speak up for yourself: Get your imagination going. Think of a situation where someone isn’t meeting your expectations (i.e. the lukewarm dinner you’re paying for!). Write out the scene. What happens? And what do you do to voice your concerns? Make sure the story has a happy ending and carry those triumphant feelings with you until you need to speak up for real.

I nominated myself and you should too

Towards the end of last year, Hillsborough Community College where I’m a business instructor, recognized me as a finalist for their Champion of Diversity Award. I was and am still honored. I promote diversity and inclusion in a variety of ways: sharing my unique life stories as an at-risk youth with my students, conducting research on diverse populations, writing on topics that promote a deeper understanding of the human experience, inviting a range of talented and diverse speakers into my classroom, creating programs and opportunities for those in need, volunteering at nonprofits that support underprivileged groups. The list proudly goes on and on.

Given everything I do to further diversity and inclusion, I wasn’t shocked to receive the recognition but there’s also another reason I wasn’t shocked: I asked my boss to nominate me.  

That’s right. This amazing award didn’t just fall into my lap like many people like to believe (or tell you). Not only did I do the hard work to have the credentials to be considered, I also advocated for myself to be nominated. I knew I deserved to be considered for the award; I knew the value I brought to the college and the community, and I also knew that my peers and my boss may not know about all my efforts.  

I drafted out the reasons why I should be nominated and sent my boss a note asking him to consider nominating me if he felt I was deserving. Within minutes, he wrote back excitedly that he’d be delighted to nominate me. Over the next few days, I worked on my nomination form with a friend, and sent it to my boss for feedback.

The point here is simple: If you want something, go get it. Yes, I absolutely believe in the magic of luck and good things happening to good people (thank you Law of Attraction), but I also believe we need to own our journeys and not wait for others or the universe to hand us what we want. I believe we need to be active co-creators in accomplishing our goals. To do that, we need to stand up tall and forge our paths, unafraid to shine our lights and show others what we are truly capable of achieving.

I want you to leave with this: There’s no reason to be shy or embarrassed for wanting to promote yourself and share your accomplishments with the world. Yes, there are times you will get rejected. Yes, there are times people will judge you for putting yourself out there, but you know what? These things don’t matter. What matters is that you show up for yourself. What matters is that the world needs more role models like YOU and every time you get yourself noticed, you inspire others.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help give you confidence to advocate for yourself: “The world is a better place when my light shines brightly. I courageously promote myself when it benefits me and others.

PPS – To get comfortable advocating for yourself, grab your journal. Here’s a writing prompt: What could you do this week to get your hard work recognized? Brainstorm a list of at least 10 ideas and then choose one and make it happen.

What if death wasn’t morbid?

A few months ago, during a Compensation and Benefits class I was teaching, I encouraged students to ‘think outside the box’ when it came to the benefits they’d like to see their employers offer on top of the standards such as health insurance and 401k contribution. Students responded with ideas such as,

“Free meals!”
“Free parking!”
“Pet insurance!”

As they responded, I pondered over my answer. I said excitedly, “What about funeral planning?”

The class fell silent as quickly as flicking a switch. One student exclaimed, “That sounds morbid.”

I was confused by her response. In my mind, my funeral would be a festive party, a large celebration of life: Family, friends, students and clients sharing stories about me, some funny and some triumphant. Hors d’oeuvres passed around, champagne flowing. People who felt I’d touched their lives in some way walked around smiling, looking at photos of me with my family and chatting over posters that proudly displayed my writing, my book covers and other mementos of my life’s work. The lyrics of Tom Petty and Taylor Swift swirled about the room. I saw guests bringing toy donations for the local hospital and leaving with a small token of appreciation, like a picture frame donning an inspiring quote.

I looked at the student, her face expressionless, and then it hit me: Death to her is different than it is to me.

I guessed that death, in her mind, was scary, somber, and probably marked finality. I used to feel the same, but I now believe that death allows us to come home, that our soul lives on and we continue to communicate with those still in human form. We come to Earth again when we are ready.

My belief that there is something more beyond our deaths has expanded my understanding and acceptance of an imminent life event. While death may mark the end of life on Earth, it doesn’t mean my soul’s purpose fails to live on. Proof exists in those who attend my funeral; my everlasting purpose thrives in those who feel I’ve made a difference in their lives.

Since expanding my view of death, my life has shifted. I’m no longer worried about doing things ‘the right way’ and I don’t carry nearly as much regret knowing I’ll have a chance to do it all again in another life.

Thinking about planning my funeral and taking away some of the family burdens that came with that planning sounded fun, it sounded ‘me’. Afterall, I’m a Type A personality. Why not plan my own last “hoorah!” and have it funded by my employer.

This isn’t to say that death isn’t tragic and filled with grief – I empathized with my student. Death is unknown, mysterious, and flat-out hard, but I believe it can be more than just its inherent gloom. It’s a chance to connect with our intuition and our soul. A time to get curious and challenge our assumptions about life and death (and funerals) handed down to us. At my funeral, the last thing I want is people wearing black; I want everyone wearing an inspirational quote on a t-shirt and hope I’m buried in something cheerful and bright.

With the tremendous loss of life the world experienced in 2020, I want to challenge your thinking when it comes to death. What if death could be beautiful? What if death could be accepted? If you could change your perspective of death, how would the decisions you make in your life change?

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you open up to the idea of death, “Death does not break the bond of love.”

PPS – To get comfortable with death and grief, you need to think about it differently. Here are two different writing prompts, depending on what you want to focus on: Death: Write your own obituary. Aim for it to be truthful, vulnerable and light-hearted. Be sure to give yourself at least 3 kudos by highlighting some of your amazing life accomplishments and talents. To widen your perspective of death further, try adding some comedic flair. Grief: Write a letter to yourself from the person you are mourning. What would they say to you? What advice and kudos would they give you? What have they been doing to have fun?

Believe In Your Worth, Not The Numbers

After I write an article and share it on social media, I find myself all too eagerly awaiting the likes, comments and shares. I know I shouldn’t need validation that I’m putting out meaningful work, but it usually takes my ego 15 or so (okay, more like 30) minutes to remember that.

During that ‘window of ego’, sometimes I’ll spin out in a mental frenzy. Are people reading? Do they like it? Will I make an impact?

When I finally stop obsessively checking my social media stats and come to, I breathe in and remind myself of a few important things: what matters is sharing my truth and connecting with others; that the numbers will never matter more than the lives I impact. Some days, pulling myself out of a social media spiral seems impossible, my worry about trying to make a difference sends me reeling. And some days, the ones who pull me out of that spiral are exactly those lives I’ve impacted (and nine times out of ten, I had no clue I’ve made a difference in these people’s lives).

Last week, when I least expected it (i.e., when I wasn’t mid-frenzy and desperately refreshing my social media apps), a long-time friend posted a raw, vulnerable, unconventional post on Facebook. This person, who usually doesn’t go deep on Facebook, spoke about his grief and mental health struggles over the last few years and how 2020 was the year to give him love, healing and happiness. My friend wrote about how he went inward and got to know himself in a new way. He also bought a house in a community he loves and spent precious time with his wife and his dog. All of these helped him to move forward from his trauma and darkness. But although my friend had a beautiful year and a desire to share his experiences, he hadn’t because he felt guilty because many others had a difficult year.

Reading about his brave ‘coming out’ of sorts – the courage to share his story with others – gave me hope for deep healing in the world and reminded me of how much I love him. With happy tears in my eyes, I responded to his post, telling him how proud I was of him. I let him know that his words were beautiful – and I mentioned that I’d known him for close to 20 years and never knew him to be a writer.

He responded, saying he thought of me as he wrote his post thanks to the amount of vulnerable sharing and writing I’ve been doing lately. I was shocked to learn he’d been reading my work. I don’t recall getting a like or a comment from him in the past, but perhaps I have. I was honored to know that the work I’ve been creating spurred someone else to create meaningful work. With every new piece I write and choose to share with the world, more people will be thinking about the world differently, healing, bravely telling their stories and perhaps creating their own work too.

Take this as a reminder that while “Atta girls” (or boys), awards and social media love are important and feel great, they are not the whole picture and they don’t define your worth or impact. You’re creating value. There are many lives you’ve impacted that you don’t even know about and there will be more too.

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Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you of your worth when putting your ideas/work out there: I trust my work can and will make a difference. I believe that it will be received by those who need it most; I can feel my impact taking place.”

PPS – Do you want to kick your insecurities to the curb? Spend a few minutes journaling. Here’s a prompt: Think about a piece of work you’re putting out into the world: your food, your coaching, your writing, your music, your artwork – whatever that work may be. Imagine a few different people taking in your work: an older man with cancer, a young girl whose parents are moving through divorce, a mother of four suffering from depression, your ideal audience. How does your work help them? If you were with them 1×1, what would they say about how your work has impacted them?

The Power of Opening Up

During an advanced career workshop I facilitated a few months ago, one of the attendees (we’ll call him Tim) raised his hand. “You may be surprised by this question, but do you have any advice for when and how to inform my potential employer of a few felonies I have? I never know what to do with that in the interview process.” Tim then gave us some backstory to his predicament.

Tim was someone I’d met a few weeks prior. I found him to be charismatic, driven and flat-out talented. He was working towards a certificate in cybersecurity, working two jobs, and with all those positive characteristics, it’d be hard to associate him with crime. But I wasn’t surprised by his question, not the least bit. Why? Because I have also made mistakes and some less-than-ideal choices.

At age 13, I found myself on probation. The answer to how I actually got on probation is a story for another time, but how that experience shaped me is my point of human connection with Tim. The dark paths I’ve walked down (hell, some I’ve ran down and sadly, some I was pushed down) are the reason I’m so passionate about helping others explore their darkness, learn from it and then release it so they can step into their new selves, into their light, into their true selves.

After the workshop, I emailed Tim: “You were brave and inspiring today. Keep sharing your story. The right people will listen. Thank you for helping to break stereotypes. Thank you for not giving up on yourself and humanity.”

Tim wrote back: “I don’t normally open up like that, but I went with the energy in the room. Thanks for creating a culture of nonjudgement.”

Tim’s words left me misty-eyed and they got me thinking.  How do I create an open and inclusive culture?

Here’s what I came up with:

Be vulnerable. Share your story: You don’t need a gripping “I had a run-in with the law and turned it all around” story to promote an unbiased and accepting environment. We all have stories of adversity and struggle: Speak your truth so others feel comfortable doing the same.

Get curious: Listen to people. Truly listen. Ask questions about others and promote opportunities for people to ask you questions; the real questions, the questions that matter; the ones that could profoundly change someone’s life (like Tim’s question).

Don’t take yourself or life too seriously: Humor, levity, shooting the shit, whatever you call it – it’s healing and helps others not take themselves too seriously. Judgement comes from a place of closed-mindedness; humor (if done right) comes from a place of lightness. If you want people to feel open, then add some whimsy.

Vibe high: People pick up on energy. They can tell if something feels right and if something feels off. Do what you can to ensure you’re giving off the right energy. Keep yourself balanced, honest and healthy.

If you’d like to engage with an open and inclusive culture, check out my Dark Night of the Soul = A Life Found workshop series starting 1/7. It would be great to have you with us. You’ll join a strong community filled with people ready to get raw and real with their darkness – through sharing, listening and connecting – so the light can shine again.

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Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you along your ‘I’m going to create a culture of nonjudgement’ journey: “I increase my energy by choosing to love rather than judge. I expand my energy by giving love, receiving love, and promoting love.”

PPS – Tap into the power of nonjudgement. Think back to a time when someone chose not to judge you. Perhaps it was something as simple as your appearance, or maybe a moment you chose to reveal a deep truth about yourself (like Tim). Spend a few minutes journaling. Here’s a prompt: Write a letter to the person who didn’t judge you. Would you thank them? How did their act of nonjudgement positively impact your life?