After years and years of soul searching, therapy, life coaching, self-help books, and exclaiming weird shit like “I Am Beautiful!” into the mirror- something inside of me finally healed. And I have my daughter to thank.
Flashback to last Saturday…
I took both kids out to eat because we’d been stuck in the house all day (and to be honest I wasn’t in the mood to cook. If I’m really being honest, I’m never in the mood to cook). Anyway, on the way home Dylan seemed quiet but insisted she was fine. As we pulled into the garage the tears began to flow. She’s a sensitive butterfly (much like her mother), and it had been a long day, so I didn’t think much of it. But within seconds the slow stream of tears had turned into a full body, dry-heave-inducing, ugly cry. I quickly threw Max in the playroom so I could tend to Dylan’s emotional breakdown. I came back out to find her in the kitchen, still crying. I got down on the floor, looked her in the eyes and began to probe. After what felt like an hour, she finally confessed to sneaking a piece of gum from my purse and accidentally swallowing it….a week ago. I was absolutely horrified! Not because she had taken a piece of gum without asking, and not because she had swallowed it. I was horrified because my daughter had been carrying this guilt for over a week. How heavy that must have been for her 5 year old body. I cradled her in my arms like I haven’t since she was a baby and let her cry loudly into my chest. After she had calmed down a bit, I explained to her that she didn’t have to carry this guilt, that she could ask me to carry it for her, and I always would. I told her that she could tell me anything, and that I would keep all of her secrets, so she would never have to be weighed down by them.
It was when I said these words that something inside of me broke wide open. I was speaking to my daughter, but in some roundabout way, I was speaking to the part of me that has felt weighed down for years. I had a totally normal upbringing, the happiest of childhoods, and I think I’m doing pretty alright at this “adult” thing. And yet, I carry with me these unexplained feelings of guilt and shame that are heavy as f&*K. They keep me from putting myself out there, from being vulnerable, and from saying things I really want to say like “I love you” or “I need help”. I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown books lately (highly recommend!!) and almost all of her books touch on the concept of shame. She defines shame as a “fear of disconnection”, a fear that we may not be worthy of love or personal connection because, for one reason or another, we are flawed.
Battling the shame monster with my daughter on the kitchen floor was one of the most gut-wrenching, yet profound, moments of my adult life. Something inside of me was healed when I told my daughter it was okay to feel the very same feelings I feel (but have often felt I shouldn’t). It was in showing her compassion and acceptance that I realized I too am worthy of compassion, acceptance, and a solid cuddle. It’s okay to feel and to let others see you feel. To let the ickiest parts of yourself be seen by someone else is not only brave, it’s what connects us. I have never felt more connected to my daughter than I did in that moment. She’s brought up our “floor conversation” at least five times since then, and every time she does I can see her face soften and her body relax. She feels safe and worthy of love…and that’s a really, really good start!
– “Create Luck”
I remember this day so well! I walked by my now office on the way to a meeting down the hall. I stopped and stared in the window, fogging up the glass with my overexcited, heavy breath. My little Dan brain started to race as I thought about all of the fun and magical things I could create in this space. I went home that night and put all of my would be office furniture into an online shopping cart. I planned a new “Office Dan” wardrobe (very Downtown chic). I played out fake office meetings in my head, and swore that if I were to get it I would drink only champagne for lunch. It was only 300 sq feet and I had absolutely no need for it, but my gut told me that it would be the beginning of something. But it was the beginning of everything! This office has been the birthplace of AMagazine and countless meaningful relationships. It’s where I decided to dive head first into design, and where I really do drink champagne for lunch. It’s where I do all of my writing (and crying), but most importantly it’s the place where I turn on and allow myself to create. Long, emo story short, I’m renewing my lease
Siri and I have always had a love/hate relationship. She loves me (because she’s been programmed to), and I hate her. Actually, hate is a strong word, so let’s just say I don’t “get” her. We’ve been together since I broke up with my Blackberry in 2011, and this bitch still insists on spelling my name D-A-N-N-Y. I’m convinced she does it just to spite me, though as I type this I’m realizing it’s probably just because that’s the most common spelling of the name Danny. But here’s the weird thing, all miscommunication and general feelings of dislike aside, if Siri is giving me directions and announces that it’s time to “reroute”, I reroute. I change my course, without a second thought, and I don’t even trust this robot. Yet when my gut says it’s time to change directions, time to reroute, I’m suddenly paralyzed with fear. I no longer hear the word “reroute”. I hear the word “change”. I don’t know about you, but change has always been a loaded word for me- heavy with negative connotations and just ambiguous enough to make me fear taking any action at all. Change means potentially shifting our perspectives, and questioning outdated ideas and beliefs that we still subscribe to, even though they’re no longer consistent with the life we want, or the person we want to be. Change is hard work, and rarely is change the “quickest alternate route”. So we tune out our internal GPS, grip the wheel tightly (because we are SO in control), and continue down the path of least resistance.
Some food for thought:
What if we gave our internal GPS the same authority we give Siri? What if we shifted gears without hesitation every time something inside of us yelled “reroute”? What if we trusted the timing of our lives and accepted that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be at this very moment, and any move we make is a move in the “only” direction. Because I’m starting to think that there is no “right” or “wrong” direction- no one destination. And maybe our only job is to just keep moving in whatever direction our little hearts pull us.
As you’ve probably already guessed, something inside of me is telling me it’s time to reroute. I’ll call you to let you know I’m safe when I get to wherever it is that I’m going.
– “Create Luck”
They say that not all who wander are lost. I’d like to add that not all who attend a 3-day “Wanderlust” yoga festival are looking to find themselves. Alas, I think Dan found herself, or at least the intimacy-averse, highly-inflexible part of herself (she also speaks in 3rd person now, because she’s “enlightened”). I’m kidding, chill.
When I booked my ticket to Wanderlust, a 3-day yoga festival being held in Lake Tahoe, I didn’t ask many questions. I assumed we would engage in some downward dog type activities, drink a fair amount of Kombucha and socialize with bearded men- none of which I’m totally opposed to. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was excited, but I was up for a weekend with my girlfriends and the idea of roughing it in a condo fully stocked with premium tequila and extra-quilted toilet paper. As the festival grew closer, and life got more stressful, I started to grow more and more excited. Wanderlust was exactly what I needed. I would come back feeling recharged and totally Zen. Right?
After ingesting more kale than is humanly possible and a couple of really public ugly cries, I found myself feeling just the opposite. I felt drained. Vulnerable. Exposed. But why? Was dancing with half-naked strangers and singing in a tram full of random hippy-types out of my comfort zone? Apparently yes, and very much so. Turns out I can talk to a complete (but fully-clothed) stranger about the weather, my day, etc. but talking to said stranger about anything remotely personal makes me feel naked and afraid. While I can’t say I came back feeling recharged, I can say that I came back feeling extremely “awake”. I came back with a newfound awareness of those things that really make me squirm, those things that make my eyes well up with tears and my voice crack. And I really, really want to explore those things.
If attending a yoga festival, or getting naked with strangers in a densely wooded area isn’t your jam, I get that. But I still encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone (regularly). Look for the things that make you squirm, and start to ask yourself “why?”.
There’s something really raw and beautiful about feeling vulnerable. And there’s something really magical that happens when you let people in on that vulnerability. But I’ll let you experience that magic for yourself.