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.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Regret The Past

The other night, in bed with my husband Ron, I said, “Did you see that thing your brother posted? I really liked it. It asked, ‘If you could go back in time to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself in 3 words?’”

Ron responded, “No. I didn’t see it. What would you say?”

I replied, “Stop smoking now. You?”

Ron stated, “Just enjoy it.” He followed his three words with this: “You know, I wouldn’t want to change a single thing. Everything connects. Everything has gotten me to where I am today. If you change one thing you change it all.”

His words were profound and got me thinking differently about my smoker’s remorse. What would have happened if I stopped smoking earlier or perhaps never started in the first place?

While the obvious benefits would be a lower risk for cancer and fewer dental problems, I realized that if I had chosen to stop smoking, I may never have:

Fallen in love with my husband: When I met Ron at 19 years young, I was instantly attracted to him. His tall lean frame, his auburn hair and the fact that he smoked were all sexy as hell. As a smoker, I loved men who smoked, and most non-smokers didn’t want to date “a girl like me”. If I had quit smoking, perhaps Ron wouldn’t have been so sexy to me. Perhaps I wouldn’t have wanted to date a smoker because he may have triggered me, and maybe Ron only wanted to date a smoker.

Gained strong empathy for addicts: While I’ve experimented with my fair share of drugs and alcohol, I never got addicted (Thank you, God!). But I know what addiction feels like due to smoking. I started when I was 13 years old and the habit quickly spiraled to the point where I couldn’t hold a conversation, focus or function without the inhale of a Marlboro Red. Because I know what addiction feels like, I’ve found success coaching and supporting those with addictive personalities. If I never smoked for so many years and never tried to quit so many times, perhaps I wouldn’t have the enormous amount of empathy that I do now for addicts of all kinds (food, sex, drugs).

Saved Ron and myself: After I got pregnant with our son Aaron, I was determined to quit smoking, but after I had him, it was an all-too-typical cycle: stop, start, stop, start again. Ron kept smoking which didn’t make the “stopping” part stick. We’d fight and it’d get ugly. I’d beg him to quit, to help me quit. One night during a nasty argument, we both got so mad with each other – my arms flailing and Ron going into silent mode – that we swore we’d both stop smoking to avoid the fights; to avoid getting divorced. And we did. We quit. Without the opportunity to reach a place of compromise and synergy with Ron, he might never have quit for good and perhaps I wouldn’t have either.  

While there are still pieces of me that wish I never smoked, I don’t regret it. I forgive myself for the experience. I’m thankful for the learning and growth it gave me. And I accept the lightness and the darkness of what is.

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you let go of regret: “I live in the present and look to the future.

PPS – To explore your regret, get out your journal. Here’s a writing prompt: Describe the life you would have now if something you regret never happened. How would it be different? How would it be the same?

If You Don’t Know Why, Ask Me

The other morning, when my 14-year-old son Aaron asked me where I was going, I cheerfully responded, “To my eyelash appoint.”

Aaron’s nose crinkled as he gave me a judgy look, “Why do you try to be someone you’re not? Who are you trying to impress anyways?”

His response hurt; he was quick to judge with questions oozing accusation.

Excited for a change amidst the 2020 work from home same-old, same-old, a few months ago I started getting false lashes. My lashes have brought me joy. They make me feel more confident, more prepared and prettier for my dozens of Zoom calls. I’ve had fun waking up looking like Marilyn Monroe (hey, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and receiving compliments from my clients, students and even strangers I meet on my daily walks and trips to the store.

That’s why I was disappointed by Aaron’s assumption; that I was trying to pretend I was someone I wasn’t as opposed to enhancing the person I already was and am: Confident. Prepared. Pretty. I cringed hearing that Aaron thought impressing the world was a bad thing. What’s the problem with wanting to look good for others? I’ve found that the more put together and refreshed I look, the more others perk up and are open to my energy, which helps when I am teaching, coaching or giving a seminar. As long as self-esteem doesn’t solely rely on how others see you, then looking good can fuel self-love and happiness.

To snap me out of my critical feelings towards Aaron and I’s conversation, I found empathy. I reminded myself that Aaron’s limited viewpoint wasn’t his fault. He’s a freshman in high school, an age when many kids judge one another and make unfair assumptions based on appearance. He’s superglued to Snapchat, TikTok and I’m sure other apps I don’t know much about that seem to perpetuate this habit.

I took a deep breath in, looking Aaron straight in the eyes.

“This is important. I don’t like that you judged me right there. I am being ME. Just like my blonde highlights and gel nail polish compliment me, so do my eyelashes. A girl can want to look good and do that for different reasons. Some will do it for herself and others will do it for someone else and regardless, that’s their decision to make. These lashes make me happy. I’m not getting them to try to fit in or hide who I am; I get them as sort of a celebration of who I am. As a way to treat myself.”

I could see Aaron processing. I smiled and said, “I love you kid.”

Aaron told me he loved me back. He then gave me a ‘thanks’ and a head nod that showed me I got him thinking differently. And with that, we moved on with our day.  

I’m proud for speaking my truth – not always an easy thing to do – especially to my teenage son. Will he get it? Will he understand? Will he care?

I hope introducing Aaron to a new way of thinking opens his eyes to the importance of not snapping judgements and instead, becoming more conscious of others’ WHY. I hope he starts asking questions that come from a place of curiosity such as, “Does it make you happy? How so?”

Later that day, I started wondering how many people had judged me for my fake eyelashes and how many other females had also been judged for theirs. I then thought about all the women out there getting judged for their botox, their weight or their clothing. That number was enough to inspire me to write this post.

So, to those rocking new outfits that match your flair; those typing away with fake nails; those driving to work with a brand-new hairstyle: Go YOU! There is no need hide or be ashamed. You’ve taken the time to invest in yourself, and that’s beautiful self-love!

As for the others who judge you, remember that their judgment is a reflection of themselves, not you. Hold onto grace and patience in these moments; they don’t know your WHY. If they don’t ask, they probably don’t know any better. Keep rocking anyways.

If you’re making assumptions about others, how can you break those limiting beliefs and work toward appreciating the choices that others make?

And most importantly, how can we have meaningful conversations with our youth to ensure appearances don’t control their perceptions of others?

Did you enjoy this post? You can subscribe here

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you along your ‘I won’t let sticks and stones hurt me’ journey: “I am the only one responsible for my self-esteem.”

PPS – To remind you that empathy is possible in all situations, get out you journal. Here’s a writing prompt: Think back to a time when someone hurt you. What did that person do? How did they make you feel? Although you may not forgive that person, can you find empathy? What human experiences may have shaped the way they treated you? How do you think they feel about the situation now?