Are you having fun?

As I was scrolling through Instagram, a post caught my eye. It asked, “How many books have you read in your lifetime?” Pondering that question, I got emotional.

If I counted the number of how-to books I’ve read on becoming a better something or other: a better leader, a better negotiator, a better communicator, more productive, more influential…

And

If I counted the number of required reading books from bosses (I spent 13 years in Corporate America) and professors (13 years in college), I’ve probably consumed… Oh gosh… maybe 1,500 or so books.

But…

If I don’t count those and just add up books I’ve solely read for fun and enjoyment – because I wanted to, no hidden agenda, no trying to be better, no one assigning me the reading – I’d bet the number is around 100 or so. Maybe 150 if I’m being generous to myself (which I always try to do).

And that is why I got emotional. You see, most of my adult life was focused on egoYou gotta get to the top Danielle! Improve, improve, improve! There’s no time for fun… fun is a waste of time!

Fortunately, this isn’t me anymore.

Three years ago, when I was 33, I lost my job. That loss sparked a Dark Night of the Soul, a period of depression and a burgeoning spiritual awakening. I was forced to look at my life with fresh eyes: I was a workaholic using external validation and to-do’s as a way to distract myself from healing past traumas and stepping into my TrueMe.

For the first time in my life and because of this Dark Night, I put in the hard work. I journaled. I spent more time in nature. I had difficult (and needed) conversations. I worked closely with spiritual mentors.

My efforts eventually showed me how to have fun. I read, wrote, watched TV, played games and did many other things for the simple enjoyment of it. I realized fun is anything but a waste of time. It’s a creative reset. It’s restorative. It teaches. It’s one of the most authentic ways to experience and honor life.

The last three years, I’ve read about 50 of those 150ish books. I’ve savored novels and memoirs that explore things I care about: spirituality, family, sex, love, transformation. And I’ve consumed a few how-to books too; not out of ego, but because the TrueMe wanted to learn something that would feed my soul.

From my story, here’s what I hope you walk away with: Have fun! Travel. Take that cooking or ballroom or guitar class. Read that fantasy or sci-fi or self-help book. You don’t have to wait for your Dark Night to evaluate your priorities. Be proactive and prioritize what really matters. Your soul and your “books read” list will thank you.

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 to have fun, ‘I honor life by finding and creating joy, playfulness and celebration.

PPS – Has it been a while since you reflected on and prioritized fun?  If so, grab your journal and a pen. Take a few minutes and reflect on your childhood. What things did you like to do? Camping? Catching frogs? Doodling? Singing? Try and come up with as many things as possible. Once you have a full list, reflect on which of those have been missing in your life. Next, figure how to make those things a reality.

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.

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.

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.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

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?