Go First

April 18, 2016

A friend and I were, you guessed it, talking about vulnerability and she described it as the “willingness to go first.” That description immediately resonated with me and I realized I was surrounded by vulnerability artifacts.

  • It was on my vision board made months ago
  • It was in the Brene Brown video by saying the first “I love you”
  • It was in advice from another friend who told me you can’t ask someone to put themselves out there if you yourself are not willing to be out there

I had an interaction not too long ago where I did not go first and the conversation was quickly going downhill fast. The person was being defensive and (over) protective of themselves and taking us down a direction that had the potential to be really hurtful. It is in that type of situation that interrupting is highly encouraged, so I interrupted and I opened up. Instead of having the person put themselves out there first and set the tone, I shared. By doing so, I gave them a peek into who I am by giving them a part of myself. I didn’t get anything in return but our time together drastically changed and neither of us walked away feeling less than or cheated. I would even venture to say we both walked away feeling better than when we walked in.

More than just the willingness to go first, vulnerability is walking in the confidence that no one may go second and that is totally okay.

Vulnerability is the purest form of generosity. It is saying you willingly give a part of yourself asking for nothing in return.

This is my journey, a ridiculously hard one. But I am starting to see just why I am on it.

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As I sit at a sidewalk table at a coffee shop in London, I can’t help but think about the impact of vulnerability. Like I warned you last time, this is an ongoing discussion in my life and something I am striving to be better with. The scary thing about vulnerability is the perceived pain in allowing yourself to be open.

I have experienced many levels of pain in my life. From having my tonsils removed at 21 to breaking up with my first love when we realized there are some differences we could never overcome. Some pain may take longer to heal but, in my experience, all emotional pain hits at about the same threshold. There is pain or there isn’t. It isn’t a 1 to 10 scale no matter how many times a doctor asks.

But on the other spectrum of pain is joy and unlike pain there are infinite levels of joy.

In life and relationships we protect ourselves and limit vulnerability so that we do not get hurt but I have found, even when I do that, pain is still there when it doesn’t work out.

This theory may seem crazy to you but what if we lived in the mindset that although there is potential for pain we know at what threshold it will come and if we allows ourselves to be vulnerable we could reach a new level of joy?

At this point of my journey, the risk of missing out on experiencing joy has much more at stake than being hurt. I know I can survive pain, I have experienced it and lived to tell the tale. I can’t bear to risk missing out on the reward of joy.

 

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A Ted talk was recently shared with me about the power of vulnerability by Brene Brown. If you haven’t listened to it, I recommend you take a few minutes to enjoy a very insightful talk:

I love vulnerability. In fact, I search it out by surrounding myself with people who are authentic and open about who they are — both the good and the bad. Unfortunately, I have always struggled with returning that same gift of loving kindness to myself and I have found I keep even some my closest friends at arm’s length in attempt to play it safe.

I don’t know if it was turning 30, or a series of other events, but taking good care of myself has become one of my biggest priorities. I don’t mean the typical self-care of eating a certain way or swimming more laps. I mean in extending a little loving kindness to myself and not putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect. And in fact, taking the big step of giving myself permission to be imperfect and letting others see my imperfections as well. Let me tell you, my therapist has had her hands full helping me to courageously maneuver through this landmine!

Watching Brene’s Ted talk was like sitting in one of my sessions with my paid BFF (therapist). I walk in looking for solutions and right answers and fight her on every path as she teaches me there isn’t one right solution. It is good to have an impartial sounding board to reflect your life back to you or hold you to a path of growth and new insights. But, I have found removing tired thinking isn’t easy.  At times, when a breakthrough is near I want to hide and try to brush past an issue with a smile, a shrug of my shoulders, or a quick response of “it’s fine.”. But, she doesn’t let me get away with that, and instead she reminds me this is a journey and encourages me down the path of vulnerability.

I do not want to live a life where I can be accepting and forgiving everyone else’s flaws and failures but live in constant fear that people won’t accept or forgive mine. Instead, I want to believe that I am worthy of as much love as I give.

This is a journey.

My journey will look drastically different than yours but I wholeheartedly believe that “vulnerability is the birthplace of joy and creativity” and there are no better description than that for what I want my life to full of.

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Love Advice & Stuff

January 17, 2016

During my 30th birthday party I gave a toast to everyone who was able to attend as it was very important for me to honor those that have contributed to the women I am today. When I talked about my friend Jade I told everyone that she “gave me the most healing love advice when I was in the midst of heartache that she learned by being with Mark (her boyfriend).”

After keeping that advice to myself for nearly a year now, I think it is time to share.

(But first I must confess… as much as I fear not being enough there are moments I fear being too much. Now back to my story…)

I had been dating this boy for a month who was “perfect on paper.” We lived in different cities but our time together was during my heavy travel season which means I still saw him multiple times a week.

Both of our lives were crazy and he began to be fickle – one of my least favorite traits. I learned in my last relationship to say what I am thinking/feeling/wondering instead of making the person guess or hold them to an unknown expectation. So I did… I talked to him about the fickleness and he disappeared.

Ghosting… another thing I hate.

I was at Jade’s house for one of her lovely dinner parties and as I went to leave a little early she stopped me at the door as she could tell something was wrong.

In her hallway, with laughter and drinks clinking around the corner, she paused to be there for me and tell me this:

When it’s the right person – you can’t do something wrong. You aren’t too much. With Mark, she learned that you can mess up or not be perfect and that person will still care for you the same. With the right person, there isn’t such a thing as calling too much or asking too much.

Instead, being with someone should make you feel more able to be yourself – at your best and your worst, not less. When you are with the right person there is this safe space to be who you are, as well as dream and grow to who you want to be.

This was something that I desperately needed to hear as I was beating myself up for being too forward in making a request of my needs. I thought I had made the mistake of being too much.

It was only last week when I was reminded of this advice. As I was talking to a friend about a girl he recently began seeing he confessed to me, “I really like this girl. I am really nervous about messing something up.” In that moment I attempted to channel Jade to give this same reassuring advice but I secretly feared the same in one of my relationships. Perhaps this post of Jade’s advice is as much as a reminder for me as it is for you and my friend.

So what do we know? It’s going to be okay.

There are people out there for you that will be there… even when you fear you may be too much.

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Year of Intentions

January 9, 2016

When one of my girlfriends invited me to join her in making 2016 vision boards I immediately said yes. I had no clue what a vision board was or how to make one but I never turn down a new experience with a great friend.

Having now completed my 2016 vision board, I am a certified expert and here to teach you. You are welcome.

A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.

Making use of vision boards serves several purposes, some of which include helping you to:

  • Identify your vision and give it clarity
  • Reinforce your daily affirmations.
  • Keep your attention on your intentions.

There are many ways to make a vision board but here is how I learned:

Preliminary: “There is no wrong way to make a vision board. It is yours and so it can be whatever you want it to be. But if you are stuck and not sure where to start, it is helpful to think about all the things, big and small that you want to accomplish in the year.” – Kelsey

Step One: Write down three intentions for the years. These represent more of an overarching goal or theme that you want to focus on. They aren’t necessarily action based or quantifiable but instead virtues or fruits of the spirit. Some examples are: patience, self-worth, trust, confidence…

Step Two: Write down a list things you want to do more of in the next year. They can be qualities such as being more kind or actions like working out more frequently. Not all of these will necessarily make it into your vision board but it helps to set the tone and theme of what your year will be about.

Step Three: With your list in mind, begin scrolling through magazines and Pinterest, picking quotes or images that jump out at you or represent things that you are interested in accomplishing the coming year. According to my Vision Board Guru, subconsciously it helps narrow down what you really want to do in the year without confining yourself.

Step Four: With paper or poster board and a glue stick, combine the image that compelled you. Again, this is just for you so focus on an aesthetic that appeals to you.

Goals and real accomplishments take work, but when you begin to narrow down what your heart really wants, desires, and feels passionate about, you are more likely to make it a reality as you have taken it outside of yourself.

I’ve made mine… Now it’s your turn. Go!

// This post was cowritten through g-chat by my vision board guru, Kelsey. //

 

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A Resolved 2016

January 3, 2016

I have been resolved on my NYE resolution for 2016 for some time. In fact, I began practicing a month early. This year… is not for the faint of heart.

Be Present

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Thoreau

As someone who is constantly on the move to uncover perfection, I am guilty of not being present – my body may be in front of you but my mind is elsewhere. As I’ve reached my 30th year I am afraid that I haven’t lived. I have been too busy in the past and future to be in the present, which is why my goal is to be here – in the now.

How in the world am I to accomplish something that has no tangible form? There is no a clear step or best practice there is just intention. So this is mine:

Whatever I am doing in that moment, be the best that I can be at it.

Give my all to my work, family, sewing project, friend, dani-veg-out-alone-time, etc…

It doesn’t mean I have to always be doing something big or glamorous. It means whatever I am doing, I do it with all my heart, even if that is just sipping a coffee while I read a book.

Seems simple enough but I did a trial run this past month and already discovered some pain points and learnings.

Do Give Grace: Just because this is my resolution, doesn’t mean it is the person’s I am with. Accept that the other person may be on their phone or be distracted. It doesn’t give me permission to do the same nor get mad at them for doing it.

Don’t Over Plan: Part of being in the moment means I cannot predict where life may take me. As a known planner, I found myself canceling plans last-minute because what was scheduled for earlier naturally continued.

Do Not Disturb: It is easy to be attached to my phone, which is why I now keep it on “do not disturb” 24/7. I am still reachable and prompt in getting back to people but respectful to the present moment.

So here we go. Just a few days in and many more a head. I have a good feeling about this year and determined to experience every second of it.

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“Don’t try to be a cool girl. You already are a cool girl.”

These simple words from a friend brought tears running down my cheeks as I sat in a coffee shop surrounded by strangers. We were catching up via Google hangout and I confessed some self-doubt I was working through. My friend’s statement was meant to be playful and silly, but it was just the reminder I needed.

As a not so calm, but totally collected and confident girl, I often have moments of self-doubt. Fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself by a select, but mighty, group of individuals who remind me who I am in those moments I seem to forget.

I recently turned 30 and to celebrate I invited several friends, both near and far, for brunch. Not everyone could make it that morning, but as I scanned the long table of familiar faces, and listened to their chatter, I realized how blessed I was. It struck me in that moment that I am surrounded by people who have chosen to love me.

And in fact, in this group there were a handful of people who not only have chosen to love me, but at times carry me when I need to be carried.

“In my effort to overcome my lifelong struggle with self-hatred, the despair of ever being worthy of love, I have been aided immeasurably by trusted and trusting friends who, with no ulterior motive, see something in me that I cannot see myself. They do not merely tell me, they relate to me in a way which shows me that find me lovable. Learning to trust my friends has been a slow but invaluable process.” – Brennan Manning

I am not very good at being vulnerable but learning to open up to the right people has been the most valuable gift I have ever given myself.

 

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Advice From A Big Brother: Tinder

September 26, 2015

I wasn’t born with an older brother, but I did get one very late in life when my sister married Vik. My new found brother-in-law took his new-found job as Big Brother very seriously.

In fact, as soon as he muttered the words “I do” he made sure that every single man at his wedding knew to not get within 10 feet of me. He wasn’t messing around.

I love having a big brother. Growing up it was always just my sister and me so I never got the protective advice one might get from having a big brother. My dad has always been willing to offer good advice, but he delivered his wisdom with more fatherly softness. And sometimes a girl needs unfiltered advice only a big brother can give… even if it makes me cry which sometimes his advice did.

Fairly recently, I made the decision to not be on any dating sites. (Mind you, I have been on them and even blogged about it.) My experience left me exhausted and accepting it wasn’t most healthy for me. But when every one of my single friends are swiping left and right on Tinder and filling their free nights with dates. It has made me begin to reconsider my choice.

I brought the question to my family, “Should I join Tinder?” Everyone said “NO!” but I wasn’t convinced. The conversation came up one more time with my sister and big brother (in-law). And finally his advice sunk in….

Let me be clear, it was still a resounding “NO!” but with a bit more color….

I’m anti anything that requires no effort from guys. You realize they are pooping while looking at your picture?

Part One:

“I’m anti anything that requires no effort from guys.”

Dating sites require little energy. Within a few finger swipes you can be connected with anyone, and with little or no effort a date can be set up. Swiping left or right doesn’t require any vulnerability as you have the anonymity of the device. The ease and lack of effort through these sites isn’t just on men, it requires no effort from women either. We are being passive players in our lives.

Part Two:

“You realize they are pooping while looking at your picture.”

Never, have I ever thought, I would write the world “poop” on this blog, let alone 3 times! But here it is folks! Vik elaborated on this illustration, no guy is carving out time to find a future wifey on Tinder, he is doing it when he has free time, is alone, and wanting some quick entertainment. Pooping?!? Not exactly a fairy tale start!

So there it is ladies. Tinder away, if you’d like, but at least listen to the advice from a big brother, You realize they are pooping while looking at your picture?

 

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I am no stranger to change. Almost like clockwork my life has been uprooted in some way every 7 years. It was never easy but it taught me to be highly adaptable.

About a month ago I found myself facing transition again – my 7 year trend became a 2 year cycle. As you might remember, a few years ago I left my job in corporate America to join an advertising agency as a strategy consultant for brands. It was what 20-year-old Dani would call her “dream job.” I got to work in a creative office with extremely fun coworkers and drive strategy on a few of the most well-known brands in the world.

Dream. Job.

With this job, I found myself in a season of busyness. I was traveling anywhere from 50-100% of the time. I had about 48 hours each week to fit in as much Home as possible and then it was back on the road. Life was the opposite of normal or stable.

As much as it was fast-moving and stressful, it provided some of the most amazing experiences and opportunities. More than I’d like to admit, I had different dates in different cities in a week’s span. There was no point in grocery shopping as I was always on the go. I racked up airline miles that could get me to Italy and back, twice. I created projects with my team that I will forever be proud of and a few that won some big awards.

It was fun but it was not sustainable.

You see, that’s the funny thing about dream jobs. Dreams change.

When I switched jobs a month ago I didn’t think it would be that much of a transition. Apparently the only person I was fooling was myself.

In a single moment, I had to re-learn how to live. How to have real relationships that weren’t rooted in Google Hangout chat. How to take care of myself with cooking at home and going to the gym. How to accept that since I am no longer in a constant run, it may get lonely. Very lonely.

And that, in truth, has been the hardest part. The quietness. When life goes back to being normal.

I haven’t given myself enough grace. I didn’t plan for this state of transition and I’ve been in denial that there is one. Instead, I would get disappointed with myself when I didn’t have it all figured out.

I had this moment after an evening that would have made Martha Stewart proud where I realized “I can do this!” Life is going to look different and it is going to take time. (I really need to work on that grace thing.)

But I am slowly learning how to be human again. I know, without hesitation, this is right where I am supposed to be.

 

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Show Up.

April 28, 2015

A story I frequently enjoy telling is of my short-lived soccer career.

It was third grade. A trying year.

I joined the soccer team because that is what you did as a Noah. When you are born into a sporty family you play every sport in school and accept that your dad will be by the sidelines telling you what to do louder than the coach.

I bought all of the gear. I went to every practice. I never started but I followed the coach up and down the field until she put me in. I knew I wasn’t the best but I showed up and I hustled.

After a game where we had gotten crushed my coach was dejected and frustrated. She may have been coaching a team of 3rd and 4th graders but she was expecting excellence. On the bus ride home she attempted a pep talk. Unfortunately, I think I am the only one that walked away remembering it…

Being tired of our lack of enthusiasm,

“Why can’t you guys be more like Danielle? She is not good but at least she stands by my side ready to go in. So she does.”

I  was humiliated in the moment but laugh at that story now, especially because I really was terrible. But I also laugh because in 3rd grade I learned something most people still don’t know.

I may never be the best but that isn’t what is important. What is important is the showing up and trying.

I think about this often.
If I am feeling insecure or not capable. When I know there are others that are smarter, faster, prettier than I am…
Show up. Give your best. Who cares if others are better, at least you are in the game.

 

 

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