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.

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.

Black Lives Matter

Graphic from NPR’s Code Switch (more on that below)

Somewhere around 4am, I found myself wide awake and unable to fall back asleep.  The thoughts keeping me awake were not really anything new. Not only is racism not getting better, in some ways things are actually getting worse.  I am not an expert, and would never claim to be, and I know that I can always do more, be better and take more action.  If you or someone you know are looking for somewhere to get started, I suggest starting here.

I know I will be.

I would be delusional if I claimed to grow up surrounded by diversity.  I lived in a small town and for seven out of my thirteen years of school, I attended small private Catholic schools.  Yet, all I remember was being taught kindness, love and equality regardless of how a person looked, what they had or what cards they were dealt. 

From a young age, I remember getting very upset when learning about our nation’s history.  As I got older, and seeing society try to perceive that we had “come a long way” and things weren’t “like that anymore”, time and time again it became more apparent that we really hadn’t. Too many people holding positions of power continued to sweep things under the rug, tamper with information and evidence, and time and time again acts of injustice took place.  

“It was just a joke.”  There’s no such thing as that; there is truth to any racist remark. Stolen opportunities of all different kinds.  Wrongful imprisonments.  Murders. 

I have never been able to comprehend how individuals get to a point where they have these thoughts and take these kind of actions.  I can only assume that they are deeply rooted in fear.

I am not referring to fear in the sense of an individual fearing for their life, so they murdered the other individual.  Fear that builds over time because an individual continuously feels inferior to a person or a group of people that look a certain way.  A fear that embarrasses them, one in which they can not admit to, so their entire mindset is overcome with hatred as they try to justify their thoughts and actions. 

Officer Chauvin did not fear that George Floyd was going to kill him as he kneeled on his neck, cut off his air supply and slowly murdered him in broad daylight.  He had three other officers there, all of whom were armed, making Floyd clearly outnumbered. 

The three men who hunted down Ahmaud Arbery while he was out for a jog, did not fear that he was going to kill them. This was a planned attack.

I realize that not all of the lives that were wrongfully taken throughout history were not done so by a person who held a position of power.  Yet, for the particular type of instances that are being referenced, it’s safe to say that they all did hold “power”; the privilege of their white skin.  

I also realize that we are not just talking about those who were murdered, but EVERYONE who has been and continues to be mistreated because of the color of their skin. 

At what point did they begin being exposed to racist thoughts and beliefs?  Did it come from their parents?  Older siblings? Other family members? Neighbors? Movies?   As they got older did they continue to have encounters to make them feel inferior?  An individual who was better at them in a particular sport.  Someone who got the girl and they didn’t.  Didn’t get offered the job.  Please do not think that I am trying to justify the action of these men.  I am trying to understand how people get to this point, so we as a society can ensure that future generations do not follow down the same path. 

My freshman year of college, I found myself at a random house party near Brown University.  I really don’t know how or why we ended up there, but I happened to meet someone who, fifteen years later, I still call one of my best friends. We only lived in the same city for our freshmen year of college, because after that, I transferred to a different campus.  Over the years, we have maintained our friendship, regardless of where either of us have lived and continued to reconnect in person when we can. Some of my best memories have been made with her.  All fun and good times aside, she has taught me so much about a lot of things.  Most relevant to what I am writing today, would be the racism that she had encountered throughout her life.  

From 2005-2016, I lived in North and South Carolina.  Living in the Carolinas is a little different than living in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  I honestly don’t even know where to begin to try to recap the 11 years as they apply to all of this.  Most of which are not my stories to tell, but suppose the ones that are, are an entirely different post that I will save for another day.  

I do not, and nor will I ever, know what it is like to live in this world as a black man or a black woman.  I can not imagine what it feels like for every time you leave your house (or as we recently saw with Breona Taylor in her OWN house) to feel as if you have a target on your back.   

I do know what it feels like to fear for the life of people that I love.  When you see headline after headline with another black American dead, put yourself in the shoes of their loved ones.  Trayvon Martin’s father.  Eric Garner’s widow. Philando Castile’s girlfriend. Tamir Rice’s mother.

I already fear when one man of my household leaves our home, and fear even more for the day that my son will be doing the same.  

If you can, take 22 minutes out of your day to listen to A Decade of Watching Black People Die from Code Switch on NPR last night.

And in case there’s still confusion around Black Lives Matter.  Here’s 9 different examples to help paint the picture better.

#RunWithMaud

I’ve never tried running more than a few yards while pushing a stroller, but you know what else I have never done?

Tried running while being chased down, as I feared and fought for my life.

I’ve always been told that people fear what they do not know and do not understand. That does not mean that because of that, that anyone should take it upon themselves to take away the life of another.

I do not know Ahmaud Arbery, but neither did the men who took his life away from him. Took him away from the people who he loved, and loved him, most. Stole the opportunity for him to live his life.

There are so many things wrong about this. There are so many things wrong with the world that we live in, and that we keep seeing this happen time and time again.

I have never feared for my life because of the color of my skin. I’ve never feared for my life because another individual sees me, or someone who looks like me, as a threat. I know that is something that I should be, and am, extremely fortunate for.

I have feared for the lives of some of the most important people in my life. I have feared, and will continue to, for anyone who fits a certain profile, when seen by some, as threatening. I fear for anyone who is viewed as less or that their life is not as important or that they do not deserve equal or greater opportunities.

I’ll never understand, and I don’t want to, how someone could have so much hatred inside of them, especially towards a person they know nothing about. How does someone get to that point? And how can we make sure our youth never get to that point so that everyone can have a better future?

I have so much more that I still want to say, and feel that needs to be said. I wish I had an answer or a solution to make this stop. I pray that justice is served. I pray and hope that we find a way to stop seeing history repeat itself over and over again, and we stop seeing countless lives taken away.

What’s On Your Mind, Danielle?

I shared this via my personal Facebook page on Saturday morning. It felt like the first time in the past few weeks, where I truly had a moment to pause and try to process everything that has been going on.

As I went to post this, I realized that Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind, Danielle?” Well, since you asked:

On any given day, I (as I am sure many of you do) wake up not knowing what to expect, and what unexpected curveballs life might throw at me. Over the past few weeks, this has been top of mind and amplified more than ever before.

One day blends into the next, and while some hours seem to fly by, others seem to drag on and on. I’ve witnessed the lives of friends, family members and co-workers change in a blink of an eye. Loved ones lost, jobs taken away and trying to adjust to the new (hopefully temporary) norm, and what that looks like for each individual is a little different.

I’ve seen one extreme to the next. Individuals disregarding any recommendations of mandates provided by both their local or national government, and those that are literally paralyzed by the fear to dare to leave their homes in fear of their life or someone they love’s life.

Some people are busier than ever. Individuals who are now trying to work from home, as they simultaneously homeschool their three children and their partner has now also become their co-worker. Small business owners spending every single waking hour trying to save their business, and do anything possible to ensure they come out on the other side of this.

Workaholics that now have more free time on their hands than ever before, which could be a blessing, but when you are confined to your home, it can be quite challenging to see the sunshine through the clouds.

All of that being said, while I always try really hard to not judge a person, and give them the benefit of doubt, cause I never know what they are truly going through – I am truly trying to be that much more mindful during these unprecedented and strange times.

Most people are under so much stress, and it is so hard not to react when a comment that someone says to us, or that we see online, gets under our skin, but if we can pause for just a moment before lashing out, WE rise above and are better for it.

Similarly, before you attack a stranger, assume anything about someone’s life or make a decision that is solely based on you and you alone (not talking about taking some time for self care), maybe write it down rather than commenting on a post or call a friend or someone else that you can talk to get it off your chest rather than saying it to the person you might have said it to you.

A little kindness, empathy and love never hurt anyone. Oh, and a little (or a lot of) extra distance too.

Some days will be better than others. No matter how bad things are, there’s always some good – no matter how hard it can be to find it.

To all of my friends and family – I love you all and I am here, and always will be, for you. 

A Decade with Dani

Over the past 10 years, I’ve attended more events than I can count, have had the privilege to see some amazing people tie the knot, quite a few beautiful blessings brought into this world and been extremely grateful for all of the professional opportunities that have come my way. While there’s been a lot of heartache and loss, I am so lucky to have such an amazing support system by my side through it all.

In 2010, I moved to Charleston, SC, after living in Charlotte, NC for just over 5 years.

Charleston, SC

Seven months later (May 2011), I unexpectedly lost my sister, and my world, along with my the rest of my family’s, was turned upside down. Some days I feel like that was a life time ago, and other days, I can’t wrap my head around how quickly time flies.

Before my cousin’s wedding. AKA our last night together.

Five months after losing my sister, I found myself on a plane to Colorado to attend Pure Barre Training. Who would’ve thought it would become such a huge part of my life?

First and third photos were taken at training in August 2011. Second and fourth, three years later.

For the majority of 2012, I spent my days and nights all over South Carolina sitting on bar stools, tearing up dance floors and ensuring that Red Bull remained top of my mind for everyone I encountered. Somehow I found time to teach classes and having the balance of the two kept me sane… sort of. I even had the opportunity to represent the US in Amsterdam with some amazing men and women on the company dance and soccer team. Let’s be serious, I was a part of the team with the high kicks, not kicking goals.

I started 2013 on the right foot, literally, by running my first 1/2 marathon in Los Angeles. Midway through the year, I found myself packing my bags and heading back to Charlotte, NC to switch things up a bit career wise. This also allowed for me to join the Pure Barre Corporate Training Team in a part time capacity.

If competing on the dance team once wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to be a part of it again in 2014, this time heading to Red Bull’s mothership in Austria.

In Austria dancing my heart out.

By this point, Pure Barre was getting more and more air time in my life. After a lot of consideration, I left Red Bull and got even more involved with Pure Barre.

In April 2015, I moved to Greenville, SC to take a full time position with Pure Barre. I was in Greenville for about a year in half, but Pure Barre years are like dog years, so it always seems longer.

The Pure Barre Greenville Team ❤

After a potential international opportunity in 2016 fell through, I decided it was time to give New England a try as an adult.

Four months after moving home, I got engaged. Five months after that, I found out I was pregnant. Woah. That escalated quickly.

Put a ring on it.

Hello, 2018, where we welcomed Braylon Kirk Thompson into the world. Thanks to all of the videos and photos I took throughout the year, I am able to piece together all of life’s events… cause honestly, some days I think I gave Braylon half my brain, so I’m not entirely certain what even happened last year.

March 26, 2018

Similarly, as I look back at everything that has taken place in 2019 I am grateful, proud and tired. Can we stress the tired?

Owner’s Convention 2019 in Las Vegas

As I kick off 2020, I do not necessarily have any resolutions. However, I do want to continue to get better with:

  1. Using my mental pause button more – don’t react / respond as quickly
  2. Taking things less personal
  3. Saying yes less, especially when it means I am saying no to myself
  4. Everyone is going through some sh*t, and we often don’t know the full why – people choose what version of themselves they show to us
  5. Practicing a growth mindset more often
  6. Finding more time to write. Somehow. Someway.

I’m pretty sure my Mom is probably the only one who read this. If anyone else made it through, I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. Mom, if it’s just you, call me later on.

Walking into the next decade like.

An Extraordinary Angel

sun
The mind has an interesting way of holding on to and highlighting certain memories from our past. Eighteen years of traditions, vacations, play dates and endless summers. Bits and pieces of stories, paired with collected photos and videos from loved ones, allow her story and life to live on each and every day.

I’ve learned a lot since she left us. Made some decisions that I am not proud of and have done things that I regret. It is hard not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, and head down Glass Half Empty Drive. I know that I am very very blessed and fortunate in SO many ways, but sometimes all of the “noise” gets so distracting. I continue to strive towards living a life for the both of us to truly honor her carefree spirit and beautiful soul.

I don’t think it gets easier. In fact, some days, I think it gets harder. The more of life that I experience, the more I wish she was here to do it all with all of us.

When it’s all said and done at the end of the day, there’s a lot of that “noise” that really does not matter. Things have happened and continue to happen that put the bigger picture into perspective. I am trying to focus more on the things and people that truly bring me joy and make me a better person.

Ordinary moments and things that are shared with extraordinary people are the things that I find myself cherishing the most. These are the things that I would miss the most if I no longer had them. These are the things that I miss the most about Samantha.

The day is already off to a warm and sunny start.  I am off to go do some ordinary things with my extraordinary little man in honor of his Auntie.

Happy International Women’s Day

We all have days where we are the cheerleader, dedicating every moment to rooting on our friends, family members and coworkers. Other days, we need a little extra love, whether it comes from those same people or from ourselves.  Similarly, there are days in which the universe really seems to be putting us to the test.  While the people around us may be quick to point the finger or shift the blame to us, often times, we are guilty of putting too much pressure on ourselves becoming our own biggest critics.

The majority of the women that I know have quite the list of obligations. Full time job. Part time job. Other part time job. Part or full-time student. Mother. Caretaker. Wife. No two situations are identical. With all of the similarities and differences that exist, we can either allow for ourselves to become more connected and support one another or build up walls and push each other away.

When I close my computer at night for the last time, no matter how much I’ve accomplished that day, I never feel fully satisfied. There is always going to be more work that can be done, and I need to get better at accepting that. I’ve never been that great at telling people “no”. However, I like to think I’ve always been quite the multitasker. Once I had Braylon I found a whole new meaning to this, and some days I’m convinced I have more than 24 hours in a day when I think about everything I’ve gotten done not including all of my work..and then other days not so much.

Speaking of Braylon, well “being a Mom”…to all my Mom friends out there – when I was in my pre-Mom days if I ever said or did anything to Mom shame you, please feel free to slap me the next time you see me. Well, maybe not slap me, but steal my donut from me or something. Mom shaming is real y’all and you know what else is real? Mom guilt. So, Mama or not – be kind. Tread lightly. Or beware – you might unleash an inner beast.

We tend to focus too much on the weaknesses of others and our own shortcomings, rather than pausing for a moment to find the positivity and strengths. It can be easy to get caught in a mindset where we focus solely on what is wrong about something rather than figuring out what can be done to grow and improve. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are building you up, rather than breaking you down and ensure that you are doing the same for them!

Maybe a bit of early spring cleaning within your social (media) circle would not be a bad idea.  While I am not suggesting to Marie Kondo your entire social network, but rather if you are finding that there are people that do not inspire you, or align with your goals, it might be time to have less of them in your life.

I love staying connected with friends, family and colleagues via social media. The pros can be so so good, and the cons can take us down a deep dark hole leaving us feeling bad or just wasting time that could have been utilized in a much better way. When we’re able to avoid comparing, judging and envying and simply support, love and connect it really is such a great outlet!

We live in a world that is quick to make us feel bad about ourselves, and then provide products and services to just as quickly make us feel better. This whole cycle would be a little less disastrous if we, as women, could make a conscious effort to use our words to make one another feel just a little better each and every day.  Maybe you need to be a little less harsh on yourself, a tad less judgmental of others, avoid prematurely jumping to conclusions or a combination of all three. Whatever adjustments that you might need to make, do them with grace, strength and passion. And remember, you never know who else that you are empowering to do the same.

Finish the Day with a Grateful Heart

We are eight days into the month that is most often associated with gratitude. As we near the holiday season, and quite possibly one of the busiest times of the year, we often find our to-do lists getting longer, stress levels getting higher and schedules overflowing with commitments. Prioritizing can be a challenge, and saying “no” can feel impossible as we try to spend time with family and friends, keep up at work and make time for ourselves.

For some of us, we often move ourselves down the priority list as we put others first. Significant others. Children. Family members. Employees. Clients. When we do not make the time for ourselves, we risk increasing the chance of doing the exact opposite. While what that crucial “time for ourselves” looks like may be a little different for each of us, it plays an imperative role in the quality of our lives and the relationships that we cherish most.

Similarly, as we take time to appreciate everything and everyone that we are grateful for, we often forget about ourselves. It sounds a little selfish, but self-gratitude is just as important as the gratitude we have for all of the people that we appreciate and positively impact our lives. In order to best serve them, we need to allow ourselves to be the best version of ourselves.

It can be easier to complain than praise, recognize the wrongs rather than the rights and focus on the shortcomings of ourselves and others rather than all that we have accomplished. Ending each day by consciously acknowledging several things that we are grateful for, no matter how big or small, has the power to shape our attitude and consistently create a positive energy. Writing these things down or sharing them with someone else can only increase their power.

Oprah, someone who may know a thing or two about setting a good example, kept a gratitude journal for 10 years. She realized that when she stopped, she no longer felt the joy of simple moments. When she was going through her day looking for things to be grateful for, something always showed up. She also noted, “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

In the article that I am referencing, she shared her entry from 10/12/96:

  1. A run around Florida’s Fisher Island with a slight breeze that kept me cool.
  2. Eating cold melon on a bench in the sun.
  3. A long and hilarious chat with Gayle about her blind date with Mr. Potato Head.
  4. Sorbet in a cone, so sweet that I literally licked my finger.
  5. Maya Angelou calling to read me a new poem.

While I am pretty disappointed that I have not had the opportunity to get a call from Maya and have a poem read to me, I can most definitely identify with a good workout, enjoying healthy food, chatting with my bestie and eating ALL the desserts.

Today, I am grateful for:

  1. Braylon being on board with being in his bouncy seat for 45 minutes so I could get a living room workout in.
  2. Spending time with my cousin and Aunt…and it didn’t hurt that they came with my favorite pizza!
  3. Memes and video clips that were sent to me by several friends. Amidst all of the seriousness and stress, a laugh here and there throughout the day really keeps me going…so keep ’em coming!
  4. Blue Sour Patch Kids.
  5. The opportunity to see another day.

It can be really hard not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things and allow our mind to divert down a negative path.  I know for myself, I can often react too quickly, and at times, overreact (ugh, my Mother is probably reading this saying, “SOMEtimes?!”) when there really is not a need to.  A lot of the people I know, myself included, are often going a million miles a minute and could use to slow down a bit. There is so much to be grateful for.  Identifying and acknowledging the little things while expressing our love and gratitude for the big things can truly enhance our quality of life.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

To all my family and friends who continue to add a spark to my day I cannot thank you all enough.  ❤ ❤ ❤

100 Days In

One hundred days in to this little thing called motherhood. Some days, I feel like I just brought Braylon home from the hospital and other days, it’s as if having him here is all I’ve ever known.

Somewhat like my 50 Shades of Bay(baby) post, here are 100 thoughts, realizations…whatever you want to call them, that I’ve had over the past 100 days in no particular order…

I knew my life would change, but I don’t think anything could prepare me for how I would become a new version of myself.

For the most part, I enjoyed being pregnant. I was pretty nauseous and really really tired the whole first trimester, but comparatively speaking I think I was pretty lucky. Sometimes I really miss certain parts of it.

…mainly having two hands available to do all of the things.

Being really really tired found a whole new meaning in the “fourth trimester”.

Sometimes I have to stop to remind myself where this little human came from. It’s truly mind blowing and such a precious miracle.

Official theme for photos and videos of Braylon – CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP.

How can days seem so long, yet I’m constantly wondering how the heck it’s already 8pm?

I’m a prisoner in my home.

Oh, dear, please do not make me leave this house.

Wait, when is the last time I left the house?

When is the last time I showered?

When is the last time Braylon had a bath?

Do you seriously want to eat again?

Did I not just change your diaper?

What day is it?

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Do I talk to a baby more than any adult human being?

Allow at least an hour more than you think you’ll need.

… and you’ll still probably be late.

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I’m feeling great about myself…. tries on real clothes that are not athleisure… just kidding.

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If there was a way to be a parent first than a kid what a magical place the world would be.  Yeah, so basically Benjamin Button.

I’m turning into my Mother and now as a Mother, I can only hope that I literally can turn into the superhero that she is.

Sleep when the baby sleeps… oh, just shut up.

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No two situations are exactly alike, be veryyyy careful when offering new moms advice. Actually, be careful when offering any human unwarranted advice.

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The Internet is a wonderful thing.

The Internet is a terrible thing.

For the first month and a half to two months I found myself reading so many different things online — daily emails, googling any and everything, going down a rabbit hole on message boards from the past decade… and it made me start to feel a little cray cray to say the least.  I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at that and stopped obsessing (as much).

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I’ve never been good at asking for help.  Asking for help with Braylon has been no exception.  Hoping I can improve on this really soon.  Like three months ago soon.

Sometimes my mind starts to wander to the future and I try to bring myself back to the present.  There’s no sense in ruining the next 24 hours by stressing about the next 24 years. I’m really trying to actively be present in the moment with Braylon.

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If it weren’t for my Mom, I would have most definitely lost my mind.

Do you seriously want to eat again?

Taking care of a baby is a full time job.  Honestly more hours than a full time job.

Until you are in it (motherhood) there’s truly nothing that can fully prepare you for it.  No situation or person is exactly alike — different things work for different people no matter what anyone says (well, within reason people, c’mon)

I’ll do it tomorrow.

Priorities shift BIG time. There’s definitely days that I miss certain aspects of the old version of me, but then I look at Braylon and that doesn’t matter (or at least matters a whole lot less)

Laughing in his sleep. Priceless.

Seeing himself in the mirror. Even better.

Laughing at my jokes…. what, he’s not laughing at my jokes at this point? Oh, ok.

At this point, I’m pretty sure I can stand in for any person on Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel Air or The Office.

Caffeine and I became friends again. I tried to stay away, I really tried, but working more than forty hours a week and taking care of Braylon in the midst of everything else going on… it just wasn’t happening, honey.

I had hopes and dreams of blogging more once I was a Mom…. still waiting for that to magically happen… soon.

I’ve always hated doing dishes, but now it’s on a whole new level.

The dishes can get done tomorrow.

….or the next day.

Any time someone wanted to give me a “pass” since I was a new Mom…you better believe I took it.  I’ll keep taking them for as long as someone wants to give them to me actually. *18 years later*

“Being a Mom” counts as a workout, right?

Just like early on during my pregnancy, I planned to track EVERYTHING that happened with Braylon.  I quickly found that I would rely on photos, videos and various text / Facebook messages to piece it altogether. Guess it’s never too late to start and create a better log!

My Mom has always talked to herself (out loud) for as long as I can remember.  I’m convinced this originated with talking to me as baby and it just never went away… because even once Braylon can talk or is off doing his own thing, I don’t think I will be able to stop.

Stealing this one from my 50 Shades of Bay post. “These pants didn’t fit last week, so let’s try them again this week, surely this will fit. Give it up, girl.”

Oh, and this one…”Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your friend, coworker, relative, stranger, ANY other person felt, didn’t feel, did, didn’t…during their pregnancy. Sometimes, you just gotta focus on Y.O.U…. Or maybe all the time?” Just replace pregnancy with… LIFE.

Alright, I’m on a roll now… “There are some people that just know exactly what to say sometimes. Cherish those words. More importantly, cherish those people.”

I remember having really bizarre dreams throughout my pregnancy.  Now, I RARELY recall any dreams.  Is that because I don’t get into the deep sleep cycle EVER?! Did this happen to anyone else?

Stealing another one.  “Almost there.  Yes, with this post but I’ve found this being a common theme over the past months.  Planning is great and all, but there are certain things in life, like pregnancy, that you just have to kind of go with it.  Take it as it comes.  One day at a time.  I tried (key word tried) to stop obsessing about things as much as possible.  Focusing on what needs to be done in the next few hours…next few days… and so on.  I’m quite the planner when it comes to work and my personal life, but have tried to channel even more of the need for planning into my work and take a little bit out of my personal life.  It’s a work in progress.”  I need to take my own advice.

How can a baby grow from milk and milk alone?  It blows my mind.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

If you thought the 50 Shades of Bay post was all over the place, there’s a strong possibility that IF you’ve made it to this point, you’re just going to throw in the towel.

Is it possible to kiss your child too much?  Asking for a friend.

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The 24 hours before Braylon’s arrival and first few days after seem like they took place on another planet or during a different lifetime or were just a figment of my imagination.

Wow, I’m a control freak.

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I can do it all.

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I most definitely can not do it all.

No, I can do it all.

I’m convinced this car seat weighs 50 more pounds than it actually does.

“In giving birth to our babies, we may find that we give birth to new possibilities within ourselves.” – Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

I won’t write about the wide range (extreme opposite ends of the spectrum) of thoughts that I had about my marvelous significant other.

The dishes are still not done.

He’s been sleeping so well.

…whoops, spoke too soon.

Make that spoke too soon about everything. 😉

How is it already 8pm?

Ok, what year is it?

This is the worst day ever.

Just kidding, this is the best day ever.

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Is it possible to say anything without providing the person with some type of justification / logic behind it?

It shouldn’t take me too long to do this… *narrator* It took her much more time than she thought it would to do this.

How’s old the baby? …. I don’t even know. The other day I accidentally said three and a half weeks.

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Can someone please give me an IV? It is not possible to consume as much water as I need.

How do people have more than one child?!

Oh my gosh, I’ve got this, let’s have another!

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“You never understand life until it grows inside of you.” – Sandra C. Kassis

Some days I think I have more conversations with myself (in my head and out loud) and with Braylon than I do with adults.

Also, half the time I can’t differentiate from the conversations in my head with the ones that I’ve had with people…Did we actually talk about this or did I just imagine we spoke about this?

I want you to stay little forever… a few minutes later… I can’t wait for you to grow up… a few minutes later… I want you to stay little forever!

It’s hard to think back to what life was like before becoming a Mom even though it wasn’t long ago at all. One thing is for sure — I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If you’re still here, I owe you a drink or a donut or something.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

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Last, but not least, watch What Do New Moms Do All Day

It took so much longer than I anticipated to get to 100. Guess that’s quite appropriate for what this post is about. Hope you have a marvelous Sunday and maybe this even prompted a nap!