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 🤣🥂

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It is Twenty Twenty One

Comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And there we have it. The first week of 2021. 🙄

Last year, I tried to find ways to slow down when I felt like I was going 100mph. To find piece of mind amidst all of the things that were out of my control. To lean on my people when I felt like falling apart. Learning how to ask for help rather than convince myself I could do it all myself. Trying to find patience as I realized I brought a mini version of myself into this world, and he’s already learned how to push me to my limits.

Perhaps, most importantly, becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Asking more questions, having difficult conversations and taking it upon myself to educate myself in new ways. Knowing the work is never done, and that the power lies in my own hands to stay informed and make a change.

Recognizing my privilege, specifically my white privilege, and rethinking everything that I was ever taught or told.

Once again, as I find myself rambling, knowing I won’t quite get it just right, the scale tips more towards saying something rather than remaining silent.

By not saying anything, you often say a whole lot.


We Need One Another

I’ve spent a little extra time thinking and overthinking over the past 9 months.  

One thought, and it’s a big one, that I keep coming back to, is the fact that everyone has varying measure points for everything.  Seems pretty obvious, but let me elaborate.

What one individual perceives to be a hard worker, could be entirely different than another’s idea.  While neither perception is right or wrong, how each individual will measure their own work, as well as others, can be drastically different. 

Similarly, we all learn differently — different styles, different speeds — and with that, retain information differently. 

What makes one person upset, may or may not phase another.  

What causes one person pain, physically and / or mentally, may barely be felt by another. 

What one individual has experienced as the worst thing ever in his or her life, often times would be on an entirely different level of what another individual would have experienced.  For the individual who may have experienced something that would be considered by others to be trivial in comparison to what some other individuals have encountered, should still be able to sit with their emotions, move through the stages of grief and not feel guilty for doing so.  Being empathetic is important, but so is taking care of your own mental health and well-being.

It can be a tricky balance of focusing on yourself, while being empathetic and putting yourself in another’s shoes.  I’ve found the best thing that I can do, is to stop assuming.  Rather than spending so much time imagining what another person is going through and feeling, let them tell you.  I am getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I have by no means perfected this, and still have a lot of ways that I can improve on this, but I am truly trying to keep this more top of mind.

I just reread this post, What’s On Your Mind, Danielle? that I wrote on April 6th. I never thought that when I wrote it, almost eight months ago, that we would be where we are right now.  

But, we are. And we can either embrace it, fight for what we want and continue to show up day in and day out for ourselves and those that need us or we can give up, back down and let this crazy beautiful life just pass us by. 

Hang in there, friends.  

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I Bet You Think This Post is about Ice Cream

A cinnamon bubble waffle with cookie butter ice cream, hazelnut drizzle, toasted fluff, and a biscoff cookie.

There are more days than not where I feel like I’m going to snap. And for most of those moments, I can almost always look back, and admit that it wasn’t that serious. Then, come the feelings of guilt, knowing how grateful I should be (and am) and telling myself that next time will be different. 🥴

And here I am. An hour or so ago, I quickly got Braylon out of the house (only after ordering curbside pickup of ice cream – I even got a second one “to go” for tomorrow), hopped in the car and immediately put on the remainder of the most recent “Unlocking Us” episode that I hadn’t finished yet. 🍦🔐

I (and for many people I talk to, especially women) have GOT to find the time to reset. For everyone whose home became their work, and you spend all sleeping and most waking hours there… yikes. I had already been working from home, but there’s obviously something quite different about this version, with the heightened stress, uncertainty and continued regulations for the “outside world” 🏡

Speaking of outside. Being outside has become such an outlet, even if it’s in my own backyard or walking around the neighborhood. As the colder weather approaches, I know I can’t let that go, especially with there being no end in sight for being able to have in person time look anything even slightly like what it used to. ☃️🎉

So, eat the ice cream. Listen to the podcast that makes you laugh until you cry, then makes you actually cry. Move your body. Get outside. Scream… or do nothing at all, and just breathe.💥🧘🏻

Do what works for you. When you can. How you can. Where you can. 🗓

And most importantly, remember your why…and what keeps you going. 💞

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I Need a Hug

I have so many amazing takeaways from the recent episode of Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast where she has both Emily and Amelia Nagoski on to discuss Burnout and How To Complete the Stress Cycle. 🔓🔥

I can not recommend it enough (PS – Brene Brown’s brand new podcast, Daring to Lead, launched yesterday — I can not get enough of this woman!) 🦸🏼‍♀️

For some reason when they were talking about the power of hugging, it was as if I had never heard it before. 🤷🏻‍♀️

That led me to reading an article on Healthline “What Are the Benefits of Hugging?” 🤗

  • Hugs reduce stress by showing your support
  • Hugs may protect you against illness
  • Hugs may boost your heart health
  • Hugs can make you happier
  • Hugs help reduce your fears
  • Hugs may help reduce your pain
  • Hugs help you communicate with others

Of course, the article details scientific evidence to back each of these, and I highly suggest you check it out!

What blew me away, was a quote from family therapist Virginia Satir who said, ““We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” 😮

The article was written in 2018 and notes that, “most Western people today — especially people in the United States — are touch-deprived. Many people live solitary or busy lives with reduced social interaction and touching.” 💯

WOW. This could not be more true to what so many people have encountered over the past 6 months or so. 🏡🔒

It got me thinking about how many hugs (and general contact) that I have with this little guy.  While I may be lacking in the sleep department over the past two and half years (with no end in sight), my oxytocin levels sure must be surging. 💞

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Do you ever feel trapped, mentally and / or physically? 🙋🏻‍♀️

Maybe it’s in a physical space, a job, a relationship, thoughts in your head or emotions and feelings in your heart 🧠💞

Sometimes I spend so much time overthinking and running possible scenarios through my head that I become uncertain of what has actually even happened. 🤯

How do you sort through all of the noise from the information that’s thrown at you just about everywhere you look? 🗣👀

How do you find the balance of filling the yearning to stay connected (with minimal physical options available) and embrace all the positivity and promise that still exists and block out the rest? ⚖️🙅🏻‍♀️

If you’re still reading these ramblings, that most likely do not make complete sense… know that on days when you’re feeling all of the things or maybe nothing at all that that is exactly where you need to be – where you are meant to be. ✨💫

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Summer Has Come and Passed

Actual photos of me all day today. All day? Who am I kidding, this is me more days than not. ⚖️

Feeling all the feelings, thinking all the things and maxing out with all of the “over”s. 🙂☹️🙃🤪

Overwhelmed. Overworked. Overreacting. Overachiever. Overprotective. Over-thinker. 🤬

But, also… Overjoyed. 💞

Dancing along the fine line of acceptance and guilt, patience and losing my cool, and always saying yes until I’m finally forced to say no. 🛑

Being ok with not always being ok. It’s ok to feel and be real. *wait, is it?!*🧍🏻‍♀️

While I (and maybe you) may feel more disconnected than ever before, in some ways it’s allowed for a new type of connection, a different appreciation and some really real conversations. 📱💻

Every time we leave the house, we’re surrounded by people in masks. Yet, we’ve been surrounded by people with masks, and many different ones at that, for far longer than just the spring of this year. 😷

I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning a lot about others. I’m learning more about the person I want to be, the kind of mother, wife, daughter, friend and coworker I want to be. 🦸🏻‍♀️

It’s a process. It’s a journey. And one that I am beyond grateful to have so many amazing people, both near and far, a part of. 🌎

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My Privilege

Continuing to try to accept that I can’t do all of the things all of the time and can’t be everything for everybody. 🤹🏻‍♀️

I want to change the world and have a positive impact on as many people as possible in all that I do. 🌍👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

When you set your expectations too high, you may be more likely to be disappointed, but I’m willing to take the risk. 💫

I’m tired, but there are far too many others that have been tired, in a way that I can not even fathom, for as long as they can remember. 💤

We talk about going back to normal. For too many people normal is injustice, discrimination and living in a country where they have never been given the same opportunities or have been continuously deprived of basic human rights. We can not go back to that.

As a white heterosexual female, I have spent more time than ever diving into what this privilege truly means. More importantly, how I can use this to be a part of what the world needs to help use my resources, use my voice and refuse to be silent. 🗣

We need to be ok with asking questions, having uncomfortable conversations and accepting that even small steps and little changes are still moving things in the right direction. We must make it a part of our lives each and every day. ☀️🌙

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I Will Never Be Satisfied

More often times than not, I can not seem to get my thoughts on paper and even more-so, articulate exactly what I want to say. So much so, that I often just hold most of it inside, settle with a watered down version or continue to overthink what is on my mind.

In an attempt to hold myself accountable, become comfortable with things feeling imperfect and knowing that the timing will never be just right… here I am.

After listening to the latest episode of Michelle Obama’s podcast this evening, I found myself listening to the Hamilton Mixtape. Yes, again. I have REALLY overplayed Andra Day’s Burn, and I am still determined to dream about the perfect choreography for a dance to Andra’s out of this world vocals and mind-blowing rendition. Then there’s Sia, Miguel and Queen Latifah on Satisfied, and I can’t decide which artist I want to commit to, so I find myself taking all three. “and she is helpleeeeeess” “doesn’t mean I want him any less

“You will never be satisfied
(I will never be satisfied)
(I will never be satisfied)”

And then, I paused. You will never be satisfied. 

Unsatisfied Dani in her early days.

So many times, I am the one that has set the unrealistic expectations for myself for all of the various roles that I carry. No matter how much I do, I always always feel like I could have done more or have done better. While that is great to always strive to improve, grow and move forward, there should also be a balance where grace is given, accomplishments are celebrated and that I am not so hard on myself. 

I know that I, along with many people that I know, especially women, rarely put ourselves first.

While 2020 has not been the year that I planned for, it gave me a much needed reminder to take a step back, but also a closer look at so many areas in my life, both personally and professionally. While all aspects are still a major work in progress, day by day (some more than others), I am beginning to see and feel small (and sometimes big!) changes. Too often though, I am still focusing on where I fall short, and completely overlooking the positive impact that I may have had on making steps forward in the right direction. 

“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career,” he said at the time. “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.” – Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020)

If you have not yet watched the full video from the Commencement Speech Chadwick gave at Howard University in 2018. I highly recommend you check it out here.

Almost six years ago, on October 20, 2014, I had shared a “note” on Facebook which included the following:

“I remember being at a networking event about a year ago and had someone ask me, “What is your passion?”  I had just met this individual and found myself without an immediate response.  When meeting people I’ve gotten so used to being asked “What do you?” or “Where are you from?” but had never been asked “What is your passion?” I had plenty of things that I was passionATE about, but what was MY passion? The more I started to think about it I realized that my passion was to be able to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.  I am so grateful that I have been able to combine my passion with my job.”

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article from INC Magazine, “To be Successful, Chase Your Purpose Not Your Passion“. For some reason, maybe because it was 11:50pm, it left me feeling more confused. 

Which then led me to stumbling upon (gosh, the Internet is truly something) The Difference Between Purpose and Passion where the author writes:

“Passion and purpose are distinct. Passion is about emotions, the motivation and what makes us feel good, i.e. “do what you love”. Purpose is the reason, or the why behind what we do, primarily for others, i.e, “do what contributes”. Where passion can be all over the place, wild and exciting, purpose is much more focused.  Passions can also come and go, whereas purpose tends to be longer term. Finally, passions are inwardly focused whereas purpose is outwardly focused on the greater impact you have on others and on your surroundings.”

Then, what caught my attention even more:

“Passions seem relatively easy to identify, but how does one find their purpose? Similar to Dweck’s research on passion, John Coleman, author of Passion & Purpose, says that you don’t find purpose, you build it. It is an evolutionary process of reflecting on your gifts, your values and what you want to contribute. The four reflecting questions I’ve found the most helpful are:

  1. How will the world be better off, thanks to you having been on this earth?
  2. What are your unique gifts and superpowers?
  3. Who have you been when you’ve been at your best?
  4. Who must you fearlessly become?

I look forward to truly reflecting all four of these questions (hopefully not at midnight) and really diving in. 

One thing is for certain, I know that I will be a part of the beyond overdue changes that will take place in our country to break down barriers, amplify voices and ensure every single aspect of our society has the appropriate representation. There is still so much work to be done, but I want and need to continue to be a part of it. 

More to come.

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Our Places

I’ve sat down to write this more than once over the past couple of months. I recently stumbled upon Why You Need a Third Place (And How to Find One) by Jordan Harbinger. It was written almost one year ago (8/22/19), which was particularly interesting to consider given what the past five months have looked like. I found myself resonating with just about every single sentence. It also captured what kept coming up in so many conversations that I had been having, or had been hearing on many podcasts, during workshops / virtual events and reading in other more recent articles.

“Your first place is your home, a private and domestic space. Your second place is your work, a structured social experience and where you likely spend most of your time. Your third place is somewhere you can connect with others, share your thoughts and dreams, and have fun.” – Jordan Harbinger

Earlier this year, for a lot of people, the first, second and most likely their third place merged into one overnight.

“No matter how much you love your job or your home life, you need a place to get away from work and you need somewhere other than your home to hang out. And if you work from home or have babies or young children, a third place can be the only thing that gets you out of the house.” – Jordan Harbinger

I’ve worked from home since I moved to Rhode Island in November 2016. Which meant I was used to having my first and second place have the same setting. There’s a number of pros and cons to working from home, but one things for certain, I always struggled with turning it off.

After having Braylon in March 2018, I had no choice to at least get a little better at this. Almost two and half years later, I think I’m getting there 🙂 Before March 2018, whether my third place was heading to the Pure Barre studio to either take or teach class or connecting with a friend over food and drinks at a favorite restaurant it was a bit easier to make this a priority.

In addition to not being great at turning off work, I wasn’t very good at asking for help or taking time for myself. Ironically, right around the time I felt like I was getting better at this, quarantine began. Wait, no! I’ve already been in quarantine. Kidding. Sort of.

In October 2010, I moved to Charleston, SC where I knew no one. Obviously, that’s a normal thing to do, and had moved to Charlotte, NC five years before without knowing anyone. That had felt a little less scary (at least that’s what I am telling myself now) since it was for college and meeting new people felt more natural and a part of the experience.

A few months after moving there, I discovered Daniel Island Hip Hop, and fell in love after my first class. It not only provided me with all the mental and physical benefits of exercise, but it was SO fun and the people there were beyond amazing.

I dug up some old Facebook messages that I had with the founder, and then started realizing how intense I’ve been over the years when I’ve found things that I like. Whether it was a restaurant, fitness class or a product, I have no problem telling a person or a company how much I love it even if I sound borderline obsessed.

One message in particular stood out to me. It was June 5, 2011 – one week after losing my sister.

“I just wanted to thank you for thinking of me. This has definitely been one very long and difficult week. I am still in Rhode Island and will eventually be heading back to Charlotte with my parents before returning to Charleston. I also want you to know how much you and your class have made an impact on my life. Moving to Charleston in October was a very sporadic decision and definitely one that I do not regret. However, with my job, almost every waking hour was devoted to that. Finding DIHH truly brought so much joy into my life. The energy of the class, from you and everyone else is so inspiring and uplifting. Growing up, dance was one of the biggest parts of my life. In part of my sister’s Eulogy that I wrote, I eluded to the fact of when she quit both dance and piano lessons because she would rather make up her own dances and write her own songs — that was just like my sister to be set on paving her own way and not having to conform to someone else’s ideas. I told my sister so much about DIHH and she was so excited to come to a class with me when she was going to be able to visit me. I plan on creating a scholarship in her name and hopefully, in the future, other programs that will allow children and teens to have more opportunities for music and art programs because that remains my passion and was one of hers as well. With all of this being said, I just want to thank you once again for inspiring so many people and providing a release from this crazy hectic world and allowing people to express themselves while bettering themselves both mentally and physically. I hope to stay living in Charleston – right now, I am just taking one day at a time and seeing what happens.”

Returning to Charleston, and getting back to class, was just as important, if not more important, than going to therapy. While I did that for a bit, and found that very helpful, for whatever reason that I don’t fully recall, eventually stopped going.

Thousands of fitness and wellness spaces have closed temporarily, indefinitely or permanently over the past few months. Many other “third spaces” whether a restaurant, bar, cafe, park or church, even if open, are operating much different and are still at risk of not surviving.

Support your local small businesses as much as you can.

I read an article in National Geographic this morning that said, “COVID-19 shutdowns have pounded Black-owned businesses particularly hard. Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 41 percent of Black-owned businesses—some 440,000 enterprises—have been shuttered by COVID-19, compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses.”

In another article, COVID-19’s effect on minority-owned small businesses in the United States:

“The COVID-19 crisis is affecting small businesses across the board. The 1.1 million minority-owned small businesses with employees in America are an essential job source, employing more than 8.7 million workers and annually generating more than $1 trillion in economic output. Women own nearly 300,000 of them, employing 2.4 million workers.

The crisis could disproportionately affect minority-owned small businesses for two critical reasons: they tend to face underlying issues that make it harder to run and scale successfully, and they are more likely to be concentrated in the industries most immediately affected by the pandemic.”

As much as I can, I’ve been trying to use as much time as I can to educate myself, become a better person and have a positive impact on the lives of others. I understand my privilege and want to use it in the best way possible. I also know that if I don’t make the time to take care of myself, that I am not setting myself up to be able to do this.

Last month, the top 5 global concerns were Coronavirus, Unemployment, Poverty & Social Inequality, Financial/Political Corruption and Crime & Violence. On any given day, I open my computer or an app on my phone to be overwhelmed by everything that is going on. I see so many people being too quick to react, jumping to conclusions and not being open to change. On the contrary, I’ve seen people come together, rise to the occasion and use their voice in truly inspiring ways.

Phew. This is all over the place. But, when is it not? Guess that’s just how my brain works especially when I have a 2 year old crawling on me and playing with his new dinosaur to car transformer from his Great Granny.

Today would be a great day to consider doing one of the following (in no particular order):

  • Sign up for The Ally Nudge with Dr. Akilah Cadet. “For one month, this program will help you continue doing the work to be an ally to the Black community, all via text.” It starts tomorrow, 8/16, and if you miss signing up before tomorrow, not to worry, it will just start the following Sunday! Dr. Cadet provides resources and information on the language of anti-racism, diversity in the workplace, racism in education, voter suppression, talking BLM with non-supporters, COVID disparities, forms of protest and how to empower future generations.
  • July 30th was End Human Trafficking Day. Save the Children has an informative, and heartbreaking post here.
  • Support your local (or not local) small businesses if you want to see them on the other side.
  • Recommend something to me! I’m always ALWAYS open to try new things, be introduced to new ideas, tune into a podcast, support a cause… you name it!
  • Take some time for you, especially if you haven’t in a while.