Reading Recommendations From Yours Truly

If you’re like me, when you think about summer, you think about reading. There’s just something extra special about sitting on the porch with a lemonade and a book or perhaps taking a book to the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves and the sand between your toes.

Ahhh… I may just take a drive to the beach this afternoon…

If you’re looking to add a book or two to your summer reading list, here are a few I think you may like. Send me your suggestions as well. I’d love to hear from you.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s been out since 2012, so there’s a good chance you’ve already read it but if not, make me proud, put it on your reading list and send me a note when you finish it so we can chat. Wild is a coming-of-age memoir that is gritty and human, written in a transporting prose. The book follows the author’s three-month solo hike from California to Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail after her marriage falls apart and she loses her mother.

What I like best about the book: Cheryl makes what some may call taboo choices. She’s candid about them. She owns them. She works to heal herself. And through the hurt and the healing, she made a beautiful life and beautiful art.
 
The Universe is Talking to You: Tap into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte

I hear this a lot from clients, “How do I tap into my spiritual side? I want to get messages from The Universe, from my loved one in spirit but I don’t know how.” This book is one of the many resources I recommend when helping my clients tap into their intuitive side. The Universe is Talking to You is an easy read filled with insight, direction and lots of tangible exercises to deepen your relationship with the universe. You’ll walk away with a clearer sense of how to recognize the synchronicities guiding you, and how to reach a higher vibe so it’s easier to connect with spirit.

What I like best about the book: It’s a great pick-up-put-down-pick-up kind of book. If you only have ten minutes, that’s okay. You’ll glean enough in that time to shift your perspective and try out some new things.
 
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

Many of us are born into families feeling out of place. There could be a variety of reasons for this: we feel we are different than other family members or we sense we don’t fully understand and know everything about our family (welcome to my childhood). Inheritance explores the author’s journey of finding out her beloved deceased father was not in fact her biological father. She discovers this after receiving the DNA results from a test she was given as a gift.

What I like best about the book: We get an intimate look at Shapiro’s family secrets. All families have secrets, mine included, but we often feel alone because we don’t share them (hence the word ‘secret’). Shapiro makes readers feel understood and gets us thinking differently about identity, forgiveness, family, and advanced technology and science. I also think Shapiro is a beautiful writer. Devotion is another good book of hers if you fall in love with her writing the way I have.

Ready Player One and Two: A Novel by Ernest Cline

The world Ernest Cline has created in Ready Player One and Two is just flat out cool. These books are my favorite when it comes to science fiction, probably because of how real they feel. If you’re looking for an escape from everyday life, this is it. These books have it all: fantasy, love, and a plethora of 80’s references. The book takes place in 2045. A few teenagers set out to find an Easter egg of sorts in a virtual reality game.

What I like best about the book: Wil Wheaton narrates this book on Audible. He’s the perfect guy for the job; his voice matches the narrative and personality of the protagonist perfectly.
 
Happy reading!

Oh and before you go out and buy these books on Amazon (no judgment though; I’ve been a Prime member for years), consider supporting your local library or local bookstore. If you want the convenience of online shopping while supporting local bookstores, bookshop.org is a site you’ll want to check out. Shipping may take a few extra pennies out of your pocket and a couple extra days, but a portion of your purchase supports a mom-and-pop store. Worth 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.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help allow yourself the time to read, “I deserve rest, renewal and rejuvenation.”

PPS – Still struggling with finding time to read? If so, this writing activity may help. Grab your journal. What’s your favorite book? Why is it your fav? How did it make you feel the first time you read it? What has it taught you? How are you different because of that book? Once you remember all the positives that come with reading a good book, remind yourself you’re worth that feeling again.

It’s not about you

Over the last few months, I’ve passed along several ‘I’m here for you if you want to talk’ messages to acquaintances and friends. I’d see something on Facebook that showed me they were struggling; maybe a less than cheery status update or an article they posted. Sometimes while chatting via Zoom, I’d sense sadness or worry they weren’t fully revealing something.

The majority of people I’ve extended myself to have thanked me for my kindness but haven’t actually taken me up on the offer. At times, this has been hard. I’m a healer after all. It’s a part of my life’s work to help people move forward from their hurt. And I’m a results-oriented person. I like success I can instantly measure like cracking a joke and making someone smile or giving someone advice and seeing their shoulders instantly sink into relaxation.

A few times, I’ve let my unanswered invites get the best of me, “What’s wrong with you Danielle? Have you lost your healer’s touch?”

Fortunately, the TrueMe is good about reminding my ego me that the way others choose to heal has absolutely nothing to do with me. I can offer to lend an ear. I can give advice. I can share stories of inspiration and hope. I can give tools and resources. But that’s all I can and all I should do. What someone decides to take and when (or not) doesn’t say anything about my abilities as a friend, as a coach, as a healer.

A bottle of water on my nightstand reminded me this. I know, this sounds really random but stay with me here. It’s a great story (in my humble opinion) and I think it will resonate:

Every night, I make sure I have a bottle of water near my bed. Normal enough, right? But, it’s rare that I actually take a sip of that water. Yet just its presence serves a purpose. Knowing I have that water bottle near makes me feel safe and prepared if I ever do get thirsty.

My silly ritual helped me to remember that sometimes, somewhere in the world, we’re making a big difference in someone’s life even if they don’t respond back to our offers of help: just like the water bottle. Even if I don’t drink it, it still provides a sense of calm before I rest. I believe that’s what I’ve done for those acquaintances and friends I’ve offered to connect with: I’ve been that bottle of water on their nightstand, I’ve helped them to feel safe. They know I’m there if they ever need me.

If you’ve been trying to give help to someone, but you’re not seeing results the way your mind thinks you should, remind yourself it’s not about you (I say this with love). Then picture that bottle of water on my nightstand.

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 remind you that your heart-centered actions always have worth, ‘I trust when I act from the heart, others feel it in theirs.

PPS – A little bit of gratitude goes a long way, for yourself and for others. Remember, your actions always matter. Let’s do yourself and your community a favor. Grab some sticky notes (If you don’t have those, grab a sheet of paper and tear it into smaller sizes, just big enough to write a short message.) On the sticky notes, write down short messages of gratitude – messages that can bring you and others a moment of joy in their day. Examples: “You are loved”, “You are worthy”, and “Give yourself a hug; you’re doing great”. If you’re out and about today, place those sticky notes where others can see them. At home with nowhere to go? Place those on your bathroom mirror, or anywhere you know you’ll look at least once a day. You deserve this. And so do others. 

School’s Out For Summer

This business professor is officially on summer break! It’s been a looooong year teaching my classes online and via Zoom and I’m excited for the r&r.

It’s been a hard year too. I’ve missed the face-to-face energy of my students, the steps I’d get walking through campus as I admired the palm trees swaying in the Tampa sun. I’ve missed the café and their tasty soups; I’ve missed walking out of my office and eating a fresh cooked meal within minutes. Dang, it used to be so easy!

There’s a million ways I could wrap up my thoughts on teaching during a pandemic with a perfectly tied bow and a powerful learning lesson, but it feels more authentic and true to keep my reflections open. There were hard parts and there were light parts, and I’m still trying to make sense of them both. Perhaps the lesson is, I’ve accepted the dark and the light and allowed them to coexist, not rushing to find some reason for it all. Instead, I’m acknowledging the truth: the last year as a professor was heavy and I’m allowing my take-aways from the last year to unfold.

Some fast facts: student enrollment was lower than usual, student engagement felt lower than usual, my engagement was much lower than usual. Although there were rough patches, somewhere in the mess I found and created bright moments. A wide variety of my business friends came into my virtual classes to spice things up, sharing their knowledge and life lessons, giving me a much-needed break and dose of inspiration. And although I haven’t perfected my time management, self-discipline and organizational skills (and probably never will), working from home has allowed me to sharpen them.

Working from home was a whole new adventure (and not one I’d particularly choose to embark on, but here we are!). I’ve been glued to my computer more than I’d like to admit, been more sedentary than I’d like to admit, and I’ve eaten more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I can count (I don’t even make my own sammies… I devour the pre-made ones – Uncrustables – that I steal from my 11-year-old niece).

Crust-less sammies aside, darkness, lightness, shadows of doubts and beacons of hope all mixed together throughout this unique chapter of my life. But this summer, I’ll focus on moving forward, recharging and prepping for my fall classes. I’ll continue to reflect so that I take with me the wisdom and perseverance from the last year while dropping what no longer serves me.

I’ll be teaching face-to-face, but differently than I have in the past. I’ll have a limited number of students allowed in the classroom (about 12 as opposed to 30), everyone will wear a mask, and I’ll have a camera on me at all times so students can Zoom into the lecture from home if they so choose. But, I’ll have the in-person smiles of my students, and I’ll finally be able to feel the vibration of their laughter when I crack a joke that wasn’t really funny, but they are nice and so they’ll chuckle anyways. I’ll be able to eat my minestrone soup at an outside table while the palm trees dance in the light breeze and the sun keeps my soup warm. And I’ll get my steps in.

In closing, as I think about Dr. Clark going back to campus, I have no doubt the fall will bring highs and lows and I’m honored to experience them all, for experiencing is what makes us human.

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 the opening of the Serenity Prayer to help you accept what is while continuing to improve upon yourself and lifeGod grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

PPS – Have you taken time recently to reflect on your experiences during the pandemic now that we are slowly moving towards post-pandemic? If not, now may be a good time. Grab your journal and a pen. Narrow down your reflections by focusing on an aspect of who you’ve been throughout the pandemic. Perhaps you’ve been a student, daughter, father, artist, or manager. In this role, what shifted for you? What changes have you enjoyed? What differences have made you sour? Have you made discoveries about yourself? Or about your role? See if you can let your feelings and insights flow without structure. Try and let the light and dark coexist without having to make perfect meaning out of what you experienced.

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.

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.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

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.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

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?

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.

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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?

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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?