Mama, Pure Barre, Think - Speak - Inspire

Little Words

Show up. Keep it Real. Inspire.

Breathe.

Getting back in a groove after taking six days off really gave me a run for my money. 🥴

And right around the corner, we’re starting a whole new chapter with pre-k, fall sports and more. 📚⚽️⚾️

Today, I did a virtual workout with some pretty special people, and I surprised myself, in a good way, at what I’m capable of from both a mental and physical aspect. 💪🏼😅

These days, my workouts are often 30 minutes or less, usually interrupted and done at home, which is most definitely not preferred. However, given what a “typical” day with Braylon and Emeryn entails… that offers some next level “working out” 🥵

BUT, (isn’t there always a but) I wouldn’t be able to do half (or more) of what I do if it weren’t for what I’ve become capable of overtime by making time to move in a way that essentially provides me to be training for a better quality of life. 🙏🏼

Here’s to showing up, keeping it real and being inspired by so many people in my life… and if I’m lucky, maybe inspiring a few.

Oh, and remembering to breathe. 🧘🏻‍♀️

🌟 You can use my code DANICOTE at checkout to get 15% off your entire purchase @ littlewordsproject.com 🌟

25% of the sales from the “Keep it Real” bracelet go towards It’s A Girl’s Life. 25% of the sales from the “Inspire” bracelet go towards Buy From a Black Woman. “Show Up” is a Little Words Project – WNBA collabo. ❤

Think - Speak - Inspire

Independence Day Ramblings

Emeryn 7.4.22

It’s more common, and I suppose human nature, to be more reactive than proactive. To make decisions based off on our own lived experiences. To not feel compelled to speak up for something unless it benefits us or someone close to us.

I’d like to think that the vast majority of people don’t like having decisions made for them. Even when someone would prefer to have someone else make a decision, whether it’s the color you’re going to paint your walls, what you’ll have for dinner tonight, who you can or cannot marry or what you can or can not do with your body, I think many would at least believe they should have the right to be able to choose.

You can try and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes but you can’t walk a mile in their heart, soul, mind and body.

We can debate with strangers and friends, believe what we want to believe from the flood of misinformation, facts and data, science backed evidence and let our own bias take over. If we’re not willing to step outside of our comfort zone, have difficult conversations and find ways to take real and meaningful action we will not ALL be free. Holding ourselves and others accountable can seem impossible and make us lose hope.

Change remains constant. Some changes remain solely in the hands of each individual human being, but many do not.

Today I’m fearful, but also hopeful for the future of these two. I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting, along with working towards better informing myself, on what I can do to ensure they, along with those who historically have not, can have a future where we see more equality, safety and better systems for all.

Braylon 7.4.18
Mama, Think - Speak - Inspire

Welcome to the World, Emeryn Sienna!

3/14/22

Pregnancy is wild. Birth is wild. Motherhood is wild. 

Not to say that whatever adventures that you embark on in this crazy beautiful thing that we call life aren’t wild, I’m just currently spending just about every waking and sleeping minute with these things on my mind.

All along, I had it in my head that I would not go the full 40 weeks.  I had Braylon at 37 weeks, and was convinced that his little buddy would show up right around the same time OR on his birthday, 3/26 (which I was really hoping wouldn’t happen)

I waited a little longer than I probably should have the first time around, but I credited that to being a beginner.  I thought for sure, I would do better this time, but of course that didn’t happen.  In my “defense” things really did escalate kind of quickly! 

I woke up on 3/14 around 5am and something told me that “today was the day”. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for what felt like forever, but this one felt a little different. 

Mondays always feel a little hectic work wise, but I got on another level and was like, “oh, no, this is REALLY happening” I feel like I sent about a million emails that day and the whole day was a blur… especially afterwards, once I realized that I was working during labor. 

Around 6:45pm, I put Braylon in the bath and started to time the contractions on the app (this is SO helpful btw) that I used last time. 

At some point, while he was in the bath, I completely lost it.  I looked at him, and I was just so overcome by emotions (and probably hormones) and realized he’s not my little baby anymore. Also, I think it finally hit me that baby girl was going to be joining us by the end of the night or at least by  the next day.

In short, and without oversharing more than anyone probably cares to hear, we got to the hospital a little after 9:30pm, and Emeryn joined us less than an hour after arriving. 

I had planned on getting an epidural, but I was already fully dilated when I arrived and it was GO time.  

I’m incredibly grateful for the wonderful staff at the hospital, and also for the fact that I was able to do Pure Barre and 305 regularly throughout my entire pregnancy.  Having done the Pre+Postnatal Coaching certification through Girls Gone Strong also took my knowledge to a different level, and I really felt like I had been training, both mentally and physically, for the big day! 

Leaving the hospital on 3/16/22
Uncategorized

Lights, Camera, Caption

I had intended to post on here the same day that I had posted on my personal IG account, but that clearly did not happen, so here we are!

Is this thing on?

Our intent can be incredibly different from our impact. I spend a lot of time reading (and thinking) about the power of our words. 

From a professional standpoint, whether I’m putting on a mic, hopping on a Zoom, sending an email or having a conversation with someone, it’s nearly impossible to know how the other person (or people) are going to interpret my words.

We all have different life experiences, perceptions, preferences, backgrounds, belief systems, thoughts and values. 

What could have a positive impact on one person, or seen as motivating and inspiring, could negatively impact someone else as the words may have an entirely different meaning for them. 

Well-meaning compliments, comments and questions may take just seconds to say, but the person on the receiving end may hold on to them for days, weeks or even years.

Often times, even for the people that we think we know very well, we only know bits and pieces of their story. 

The roller coaster ride that we’ve been on for the past two years, has presented all sorts of discomfort, disconnectedness and awkwardness. I often find myself being hyper aware of almost relearning how to interact with people in person, which is something that used to come far more natural. 

Through all the fumbling I try to find moments to pause, give grace, admit fault and remain open to growth and change to continue to propel myself onward and upward.

Photo 11/20/21 – 21 weeks pregnant ❤

Do you ever have moments when you’re driving or working out where you’re like give me a pen and paper right now I need to write this down?

Afterwards, those seemingly magical thoughts don’t come out nearly as wonderful at they seemed when they entered your mind? 

One thing that we can count on to remain constant is change. If we’re not open to change, then we’re often more likely to not feel satisfied…even when the change can seem to be accompanied by discomfort and uncertainty rather than progression and joy. 

Even when we embrace change, we often forget that how, or the rate in which, others are going to change looks far different than our own experiences. 

There’s very little that can be controlled, but I’m working towards controlling how I respond, react and show up. What will I allow in and how can I avoid giving too much of myself? 

We’ve only got so much time in a day and so much of ourselves that we can give. 

If we find ourselves getting frustrated with other people, it’s often that we are actually frustrated with ourselves – for not setting boundaries, for not asking for help, for not having the conversation with the person. Having an endless internal dialogue doesn’t get us where we want to be.

I’ve been focusing more on not comparing myself to others, but possibly more important, not comparing myself to past versions of myself. Each chapter looks different and all of the internal and external factors contribute to why I was … who I am .. and who I will become. 

What I might have been “ok” or not ok with in the past, may not be where I am at now…. and THAT is ok.

Limiting the comparison, but somehow simultaneously being conscious of the progress and growth.

Knowing that I need to show up for myself, so I can better show up for everyone else without having to compromise my physical and mental well being.

Right after class, I pressed play on a podcast that I was listening to, and America Ferrera happened to mention some of the best advice she was ever given, and it was to “learn how to allocate the resource of you.”

Thanks for your timing, universe. ✨ 

Pure Barre, Think - Speak - Inspire

Happy Teacherversary

August 2011 in Vali, Colorado

I taught my first Pure Barre class on October 16, 2011 in Charleston, SC, and it’s safe to say that I had no idea where it was going to take me.

I had taken my first class a year and half before in Charlotte, NC. Even after just one class, I knew there was something special, even though at the time, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.

I went to Teacher Training in August 2011, not fully knowing what I was in for, but was ecstatic to say the least. I had moved to Charleston less than a year before, not really knowing anyone, to start a new job that I was thrilled about.

Three months prior to Training, I had lost my sister. That, along with the work hard play hard nature of my full time job, I knew I needed something to balance things out a bit to keep me on track both mentally and physically.

It’s probably safe to say that I started teaching for somewhat “selfish” reasons. However, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of others, in the way that so many individuals in the dance and fitness industry had done for me.

I may have begun thinking I would be the one doing the inspiring, but I’ve been continuously blown away by the people I meet and get to teach (and work with) who inspire me. Yes, GET to teach, as this is one beautifully rewarding (but a hell of a lot of work) thing to call a job.

Over the years, I stepped into different roles within the world of Pure Barre, eventually taking it on full time.

The Teacher role, still has, and always will be, what keeps me going on. Without the Teachers the show does not go on. Without our Clients, the show does not go on. We need each other. We show up for one another.

Let the show go on, my friends. 🎬

Think - Speak - Inspire

SJC

Samantha Jill Cote
11.27.92 – 5.29.11

I’ve been staring at this screen for quite some time.  Each year as this day approaches, I wonder what will come to mind, and what I could possibly write that could be much different than the previous year.  Regardless, I know nothing will ever fill the void of her absence. 

Do I sit with the grief and sadness? Should the day be filled with tears or laughter? Do I celebrate her life and the time we had together?  Do I swipe through old photos and reflect on the eighteen and half years she was here?  Do I think about everything that has happened in the past ten years since she’s been gone?  What could I possibly do to honor the person that she was and all that she would have become? 

I’ve grown to realize that whether you have someone in your life for 18 days, 18 weeks, 18 months, 18 years or 80 years, the power of the impact that the person has on you is not always dictated by the duration they are here with you physically.  There are events in life, especially the ones involving those leaving and entering this world, where we are transformed as individuals.  When we part ways with someone as they depart our lives, in any aspect, our very essence is often transformed. And when we bring new life into this world, we are in a sense reborn as a new version of ourself.  

Over the years, I knew that it would not necessarily get easier, and at times, things would actually seem even more heavy.  Seeing friends and family members, or even complete strangers move through their own loss and heartbreak would reignite the feelings and emotions.  Always wanting to empathize and be there for them, but also recognizing that each person moves through things differently.  And then, all the other loved ones I’d say goodbye to and navigate not having them here. 

Not having Samantha here for the big moments, like holidays and birthdays hurts, but more often it’s the ordinary moments when I miss her the most.  With everything that has happened over the past decade, one of the most difficult things has been experiencing life with Braylon without Samantha.  I think of the bond they would have.  I see so much of her in so many things that Braylon says and does.  

If you knew her, you know “how lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.  If you didn’t, here’s a portion of what I wrote ten years ago to try and capture just a tiny piece of all that she was and will forever be: 

“If Samantha wanted to do something, she would find a way. Being told she couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t was not an option. In a paper she wrote this past year at Worcester State she mentioned, “Some fears are worth taking the risk, meaning they can make you happier if you face them.” Samantha was not afraid to face her fears. That is, if she even had any. I can’t recall a time in which she was scared to try something new or was hesitant to take a risk.

As a young child, Samantha had her infamous “funny face” that would always bring joy to those who were with her. Over the years, she continued to find ways to make people laugh through her crazy ideas and creative mind. To some, she may have appeared as shy. Always remaining humble about the things she was good at, often left people pleasantly surprised to see Samantha’s talents and achievements. I remember when she decided to quit both dance and piano, because she would rather write her own songs and make up her own dances. Why should she have someone else tell her how it needed to be done when she could pave the way for herself? Always excelling academically, she also was a very skilled artist. I couldn’t believe how beautiful her drawings were, and that was just like Samantha to brush it off as if it was no big deal. 

Most recently, she decided she wanted to join the Nursing Program at Worcester State ensuring she could assist in bettering the lives of others. Her plans and dreams didn’t stop here, she tossed around the idea of opening a business together one day, because then we could do things our way – not having to answer to anyone else. Again, this was just like Samantha – she always had her own plan in mind.

Samantha has made me a better person. I’ve learned more about life from her than I could ever imagine. I know we all have our own stories with Samantha – stories of laughter and tears, successes and failures. All of these memories captured a special moment in time and now tell the story of the beautiful woman that Samantha has become. I will never forget any one of these moments and I ask that you all don’t either. 

Because Samantha lives on through all of us and I know she’s somewhere laughing at all of us, with that beautiful smile, thinking we’re foolish for crying. Because that is the way of Samantha – not allowing any time for being sad because she’s too busy living life to the absolute fullest and planning the next adventure.”

Think - Speak - Inspire

Ch-Ch-Changes

What I think about when I can’t sleep. 💤 💭

How could change not be necessary, when the systems and structures in our country were built by people to protect the people that looked and thought like them? 

How could change not be necessary, when entire industries profit at the harm and expense of entire groups of individuals? 

If it’s a learned behavior, then you can unlearn or learn a new one.

If it’s an entire way of thinking learned over years and years, then day by day one can continue to evolve and learn an entirely new way.

It isn’t always about “not knowing any better” People know what happens when you question and challenge people who hold power and authority. 

“That’s just the way it was back then”? That’s just the way it was back then because that’s how it was built and meant to be, and was passed on from generation to generation. 

Change isn’t often easy. It’s often met with resistance and failure despite persistence and determination. Change often comes with a lot of give and take, and the unwillingness to risk or lose so others can be seen, heard and valued.

Change means unfamiliarity and uncertainty. It’s scary and messy, but it is constant. 

Our mental and physical self changes every day. As kids we can’t wait to grow up and get older. As adults we reminisce on the way things used to be, but often still yearn for the future where things will be better and in turn, spend little time living in the present. 

We are sold products and services to help do anything possible to fight the aging process and prevent our bodies from changing. 

People can change because of pressure, shame, blame and guilt, but lasting change seems to happen when it comes from a much more positive place of inspiration, one with hope, vulnerability and empathy.

Something is ignited from within. Maybe it’s a single instance or a series of events. It may be from an incredibly low place, a breaking point, perhaps at a crossroads, where something gives that extra nudge to make the change. 

Change is inevitable.

Dine

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Happy first day of spring!

I made this two years ago for Easter, and it was a huge hit.

Let’s cut right to the chase, and get to what you need, and what you need to do with the goods, once you’ve got them. This was a bit of mashup of a few different recipes I found.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box of Vanilla Chex
  • 1/2 bag, bag was 12 oz., of mini pretzels
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 12 ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of Cadbury mini eggs (I stick to Milk Chocolate, but you could use Dark if you’re into that)
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • A lot of powdered sugar (don’t hold back, boo)
  • Festive sprinkles, optional (if you’re extra, like me)

NOW, LETS GET TO IT

  1. Put Chex and pretzels in a bowl. I used a 4 gallon glass bowl and it was a little too small so I ended up putting some of it in another bowl (for mixing purposes)
  2. Put butter, chocolate and peanut butter in bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir. Repeat until the chocolate has melted completely.
  3. Pour the melted mixture on pretzels and Chex. Mix gently. 
  4. After the pretzels and Chex are covered. Start adding in the powdered sugar. I found it worked well to put a lid on the bowl and shake it. You want all of the pretzels and Chex to be covered in the sugar.
  5. I know some people put in large Ziploc bags (or even a trash bag – but make sure it’s not a scented one) 
  6. After that, I added the bag of Cadbury mini eggs and some pastel sprinkles (no real purpose except to be festive)

That’s it. That’s the post. You didn’t need to read a story about that Easter, this year’s Easter or any other Easter for that matter 😉

Product Reviews

20TIMinutes

20TIMinutes was founded, and is hosted by my friend, Tim McCarthy, and is a podcast that focuses on mental health with a sense or humor. 🧠😄

It airs every Tuesday on all major podcasting apps. 🗣

Each week, Tim has a different person do his introduction. A few weeks back, he asked if I would be interested, and I obviously say, “yes!”

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, that Braylon was also interested in being involved. You can check out just some of the outtakes below.

Battling to be the center of attention.

I was going through old photos on my phone, and I stumbled upon this one from December 2014. 🗓

Randall and I had flew up to Boston from Charlotte for a long weekend, and we had met up with Tim, and his awesome wife, Lindsay. 🍻

Lindsay, Randall, Me & Tim
  • I miss nights out with friends.
  • If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out his podcast.
  • Take a lesson from my buddy Tim, and don’t forget to tell people how you much love them. He often references that on his podcast, as he signs off with “I love you guys”
  • On the other hand, if you don’t actually love someone, don’t tell them that you love them… especially if there’s like a proposal involved. Things could get weird. 🥴
  • Back on a serious note… far too often people that you think might be receiving praise, gratitude and support, and just overall “doing well”, often aren’t, and you never know how powerful your small act of kindness just might be. 🤗

Bye for now.

I love you all.

*quickly checks my 4 followers to make sure that’s accurate 😬

Think - Speak - Inspire

Weight of the World

I hit a wall yesterday. 💥

The day before, I was non-stop from 6am-10pm, which isn’t uncommon for me, but guess it finally caught up. 😴

I always feel guilty about complaining because I know there’s SO many people that have it so much worse. I’m not necessarily referring to their situations with work, partners, children and society… but, what’s going on in their head – the sometimes dangerous expectations they set for themselves, accompanied by all the thoughts that they have. 🧠

I read an article this morning from Jeff Valdivia entitled Don’t Carry the Weight of the World of Your Shoulders, Just the Weight of the Moment. Spoiler alert, it concluded with:

“So, stop killing yourself by trying to carry the weight of the world. Instead, carry the weight of the present moment. All it demands is we be brave, be honest, be compassionate, and be kind. And these actions are always available to us. If you can do them in each moment, you have won, not just a better life, but a better world.” 🌎

On a lighter note, “A good conversation always involves a certain amount of complaining. I like to bond over mutual hatreds and petty grievances.” – Lisa Kleypas 🤣🥂