Category Archives: Life

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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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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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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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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One of my favorite books that does a great job of capturing the embodiment of womanhood talks about the two fears women face:

I am too much. 

I am not enough. 

For the longest time, I thought that I lived with both fears. I had too much personality. I was too loud. But I was also not smart enough. Or pretty enough. Or fit enough.

I’ve come to realize the lie of “not being enough” was my true enemy. Being too much was just a symptom of that.

I read a passage the other day that embodied these feelings from For Women Only:

Frank Maguire helped start Federal Express and earlier held an inside position in the Kennedy White House.

Every Friday as he left the FedEx office, Maguire called his goodbyes to FedEx founder, Fred Smith, and Fred would call back, “Thanks for going the extra mile this week.” Maguire always left with a bounce in his step.

Then came the Friday when his cheery goodbye was met with, “Frank, I want to see you first thing, Monday morning.”

“I had a lousy weekend,” Maguire said. “Not only me, but my wife, my kids, even Thor, the wonder dog. We all had a miserable weekend.”

On Monday, when he nervously asked Fred, “What did you want to talk to me about?” he was met with a puzzled look. “Oh, I forgot. It wasn’t important.”

You can guess why Frank Maguire had a miserable weekend— he was expecting to be fired. But why would he think that? He was a successful, valued executive at a fast-growing business. He had even been trusted by the president of the United States. So why did he assume a neutral comment was a portent of woe?

Because inside he felt like an impostor. And he was sure he had just been found out.

What would life look like if I lived in the confidence that I am just enough? Would I be more effective? Happier? Successful? Probably.

This lent season I am trying something new. Instead of just giving up something like sugar or soda, I am going to replace my fears with positivity.

In the moments of feeling like I am not enough I am going to stop. Literally stop what I am doing and go on a 5 minute walk. During those 5 minutes I’m going to pray for peace and comfort and go through an exercise of consideration that I am “just enough.”

I have a feeling I am not the only woman experiencing these fears. If you are looking to start new habits this lent season, I invite you to join with me. Perhaps we can even take a walk together in those moments.

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When I look back on 2014 I am in awe of the year that is coming to a close. I predict it will be a pivotal point to who I become as it was a year I took big leaps and risks across multiple areas of my life.

With all of the changes that took place, I predict 2015 to be a year of growth. A year to reap the leaps and risks.

But before I jump into 2015 or even put on my NYE party dress and saber the champagne – I want to celebrate the 10 things I learned in 2014…

1

It’s better to be alone than be with the wrong person

2

No one needs to know how busy you are

3

Always be the dorkiest dancer at the party

4

Chorizo makes everything taste better

5

Never take for granted your friends, you may not need them now but you could tomorrow

6

Always bring something to the party

7

Eat breakfast

8

TSA Pre Check is worth the $85 even if you only fly once a year

9

Be with someone who is delighted by you

10

Long walks with coffee are the closest thing to heaven on earth

 

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Seeing a movie is one of my favorite things to do. It is up there with reading a good book and discovering a new restaurant. Seeing a movie with my mom? That may just push it above the rest.

This past weekend we had a rare moment of quality time. I say rare because over the past month, our time together has been at my sister’s house spent with a cooing baby. As much as Noah has won over my heart, it was really nice to have some time just mom and daughter.

On this day, we took in an afternoon movie downtown and watched About Time.

A little over 2 hours long, this movie explores the idea of choosing joy and appreciating the moments while you are in them. The movie is slow at times but once it is finished you can’t remember a single instance they should cut. Instead, it felt real, the ideas explored attainable, and an extraordinary ordinary life could easily be yours.

Yesterday, a girl just two years older than me lost her husband in an accident that happened at work. Although I have known her for nearly 15 years, we were not close but my parents have gotten close with her and her husband over the past years. As my parents called to tell me the news and share the heartache, I couldn’t help to think back to this movie. How many times do we talk about treating each moment as our last but never take action upon it?

A life is measured by births, weddings, and funerals. But it is the moments in between that count and made more meaningful by the people we choose to share them with.

This is my extraordinary ordinary life and I need to be a lot better about sharing it.

 

Real Simple

September 12, 2013

Do you read Real Simple?

It is my favorite magazine and the only one I read cover to cover. A few months ago I was picked to be Real Simple’s Reader of the Month for October and I am so excited that the magazine is now out on the stands.

It may not be the book I keep saying I will write but it does delight me.

Side note:
I worked with an editor at Real Simple months ago and forgot what I had written to them so when I saw that my secret talent is “matchmaking” I fell to the floor laughing. It was just a few days ago that my friends told me I was the worst matchmaker ever. Apparently my matchmaking skills are only a talent in my mind!

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