Normal for me looks like this: wanting to eat my mom’s Christmas cookies in July every night before bed (check), shopping to feel better (anyone else?) exercising when I feel “inspired,” (code for rarely) and loving in that passionate way that feels so good (but always ends up so bad).
But when I live like this, what happens? The same result (hint: it’s not the result I want!)
Same body, same debt, and same unhealthy relationships in a loop. And truth is, in all these equations, guess what the constant is? Umm … that would be me. Because, in fact, it’s not my norms, it’s my behaviors in the given situations. And those are hard to change, let me tell you.
New behaviors don’t feel organic.
Because it’s not familiar, right? And yes, I am all about acceptance, it begins there but if you want change, you ((really)) want life to be different, then you must accept that new choices won’t feel the same. Hell, they may not feel natural at all. Let’s be honest folks, new behaviors may not feel “passionate” and may make you want to run for the hills.
But if you stick with the new habit, that feeling is where the expansion is – this is where change happens; where results happen.
And remember it takes time! So you have to couple acceptance of yourself with new thoughts.
But how does this actually happen, you may be asking? Great question. Let’s take a page from my book, shall we?
I will say to myself: You are beautiful at 41. Let me tell you this is a hard thing to say because I have had beliefs about myself that are just so nutso, but that script is really what is getting old – not me.
Remember acceptance is not conditional.
So when I have those days where I want to just keep doing the same thing, or thinking in the same limiting loop, I, instead, give myself concrete things to do. I do something different. I don’t email the boy from London asking him what the hell happened? Or eat my feelings with mint chocolate chip gelato.Oh no, no, no. Instead, my new go-to has been exercise. What?! I didn’t see that one coming for me, but I’m finding that it works for me.
Coping in this new way has restored hope; it keeps me energized and on track.
But even with your new ways, you have to keep pushing yourself. Because as I peddled my ass off at SoulCycle, I hit that sweet spot of familiarity, that “normal” behavior of mine to take a back seat. I figured I was peddling fast and sweating, so no one would really know I wasn’t being challenged – I looked like I was pushin’ it.
But then a voice in my head said, “Di, challenge yourself, sweetie. Expand your norm.” And suddenly I engaged my ab muscles (ones I didn’t know existed) and almost peddled the bike out of the SoulCycle studio to the West Side Highway and I thought – this is what I’m after.
Identify your “norm” and choose to challenge it.
So off I go, living the fact that change does not happen living in your norm, justifying your defenses, and always going after what feels passionately familiar. I’m always doing life like it ain’t been done. New choices, new reality.
Your dream house is just a few behavioral choices away.
And it made me feel naked.
Let me set the scene: champagne bar at The High Line Hotel – one of my favorite NYC spots in the summer. My best friend and I are on our second glass of vino, the gas lit lamps are making us look fabulous, and the owner has just sent over my favorite gelato (mint-chocolate chip) as a treat. Thanks ((sooo)) much!
And the bomb drops…
“Di, do you think you are a happy person?” I pause, sip my wine, and catch myself wanting to lie. I look down and then back into her eyes. I am going to answer this honestly and holy shit, do I hate this answer.
“No, I don’t think I am a happy person.”
“I agree,” my friend says. “I wouldn’t classify you as a happy person, either.” Ouch! Well it hurt when I said it, but now it hurts even more when your best friend agrees.
In that moment I found myself wanting to throw down the “Well, my mom just died…” or “I am much happier with a partner so I suppose that’s weak, right?!…” but instead I realized this is not momentary happiness she is talking about. My best friend, who has witnessed me since I was 15 years old, is talking about my everyday life.
And you know what? She was right! I took a moment and thought about the fact that I coach people – daily – to find joy, be happy and open to more possibility, but I, often, struggle with this. So have I failed at my own teachings? Hell no! Because what I remind my clients is the same thing I remind myself.
Every opportunity invites you to react with defense or choose – what I call – expansion.
As we spoke, I felt so naked in my little, backless navy sundress. But then I realized that my friend knows me; she sees the real me and wants the best for me. And the truth is, I am a pretty pensive and soulful kinda girl.
I mean even as I look at baby pics, I remember my grandma calling me “the wise one.” I was deep at 2 years old, ok? For real. But I have to make room for expansion. Because let’s be real: you are either expanding, shrinking or coasting.
So as I lick my ouch, see the truth, and take two Advil after one glass too many last night, I see that happiness is not found; you create it by leaning into all that is good and putting less weight on the bad (sounds basic but always a good reminder). And one can have self-awareness without leaning into the intensity of needing to figure everything out (which I love to do y’all! I mean, it’s what I do for a living) and having to work so hard at life.
Life really is beautiful. How about we condition ourselves to see more of that. Because authentic beauty is so #DiStyle.
It happened on April 9th and still does not feel real.
I disappeared down the rabbit hole of grief. My brother and I found Mom’s body, buried her surrounded by family and friends, and a priest I wish to forget, but found humor in his narcissism (Who gives you his resume in a eulogy? This dude.), sold our family home, moved and gave away many of her belongings. My remarkable brother has been captain of the ship while I fell apart, daily, in the rabbit hole of grief. Each time I would come back to my apartment – back to my life – thinking, “How will I move on from this?” And slowly, as the weeks have gone by, I have realized…
As I was unearthing all of my mother’s belongings, I discovered her endless, organized boxes of nostalgia. Some boxes made me smile – the ones with all my book reports and every report card dating back to 1st grade (yep, that’s right).
But I also found two boxes that confirmed something about my mother I know I need to change for myself.
My mother was rooted in the past. She never lived in the present.
In one box, she had every letter between her and my father, in chronological order. There was so much betrayal and hurt in these letters. My father clearly cheated with her best friend and was begging for forgiveness (this was before they were married, mind you). I wondered why she saved them. It must have been so painful for her.
The second box contained letters from the man she loved at 18 years old who she found again at 43. Their one-year, rekindled romance chronicled in this little box until he, too, betrayed her and broke her heart broke for the last time.
My mother kept her hurts in tiny boxes, always holding on, and never fully letting herself heal her War of the Roses divorce or the man from Princeton who she “wished had been my father.” And at 43, she never let herself love a man again. Instead, she used alcohol to cope and the rest is a very sad story.
The above sounds like a nice quote, right? But what does it really mean. Well, I strongly believe my mom died because she could not figure out how to live this quote.
There were certain things too painful for her to see, so she had to disown them in order to survive. A childhood and marriage so painful, a heartbreak that was her “last hope” so she put up defenses.
And we all have these parts in us, we just have to recognize them. Do you know those parts of you? The parts you don’t want to see and so you keep ending up with the same outcome and just don’t know why? It’s because of the disowned pieces that we need to acknowledge and heal.
And if you are like me, I take ownership of the disowned pieces, but not always in the best of ways. Translation: I own my shit like a badge sometimes. You can find me saying things like: “Well, that is just the way I love. It’s all in or I don’t do it, period.” But what I am not choosing to see is how dysfunctional this way of loving has been for me and for the generations of women in my family.
There is a gradual way to love and trust is built over time, not just given to every person because of a deep connection. These “connections” often allow me to disown pieces of myself. And just like Mom, I feel blindsided and broken. But I am choosing to recover.
By going through Mom’s home, healing wounds for the both of us, I realized we are all so human.
And perhaps that is the purpose of heartbreak, death, or loss; it is our willingness to be vulnerable, forgive, release shame, and change our thoughts and behaviors from the experiences and people that have gone before us.
Decide that the pain will not destroy you, but help you move forward towards the life you want.
I will do different and continue this healing that Mom was incapable of doing for herself. I now have a deeper compassion and understanding for the pain and vulnerability she never dared show. I found parts of her I needed to see, so that with the most compassion and vulnerability, I can begin again…for Mom, and for me.
This week, the message is simple: if you spend your life focusing on what “should have been” chances are you will not create all that can be.
And yes, I have been guilty as charged. This past weekend, I had the incredible honor of witnessing my dear friend’s wedding – a woman who has entirely created her own dreams and her own happiness.
She has had nothing handed to her on a silver platter. From several heartbreaks, working hard to really change challenging patterns, overcome fear and express vulnerability, she is living proof at just how amazing the payoff can be. This is brave work that I encourage us all to do.
She did meet the man of her dreams and married into one of the most loving families I have ever met.
She never gave up. She trusted the plan.
So it made me realize that if you want to create intimacy, then both parties must do two things:
- Surrender – Stop the controlling behaviors that make you feel safe. Intimacy and creating partnership does not live in control. We must let go fully to create connection and yes, it’s scary. Most people live in their controlling behaviors creating distance in order to protect their hearts. And that is most certainly not “trusting the plan.” To surrender is to risk – big, no matter what.
- Vulnerability – Being able to share who you are and what you are really feeling with another person and not wanting to run for the hills. We all think we must appear strong, at the top of our careers, independent, etc. when in reality it is vulnerability that creates deep connection.
And as I watched my dear friend take her vows, she was the most excited bride I have ever seen simply because she had all her priorities in the right place and she found someone willing to do the surrender/vulnerability right along with her. It totally inspired me and it’s total DiStyle!
Congrats my friend, you released the timeline and trusted the plan, and look at you now! It’s a weekend I will truly ((never)) forget!
- I have often stopped new beginnings because I was scared of bad endings.
- Everyone will hit a point in their life and want to throw in the towel.
My crew of amazing women regularly remind me that life starts over when you allow it.
My best friends and I have have seen each other through losing parents, devastating heartbreaks, cancer scares, divorces, miscarriages, as well as ((tons)) of good stuff along the way. And somehow, even in the greatest adversity, we have all come out on top.
I honestly believe it’s because we have each other. And we do whatever we can for one another to see to it that if someone needs to start over, we meet them where they are at.
What does this mean? One of my best friends was going through an adoption process. The baby she had always wanted had finally arrived. As she held this child in her arms, she was told that the birth mother wanted her back.
I listened to her as she cried. I cried, too. I did not try to fix it or go directly into problem solve mode. I came over and for awhile we sat in silence, and for days after I sent texts of random love.
Things like, “Hey, it’s 8:12 AM. Still love ya! Still mean it.” I met her where she was at and she did indeed begin again. She is now the mother of 3 boys.
And I was reminded life starts over when you allow it.
So how do you start over? Well, you know I would never leave you hanging. So I’ve created a little DiStyle Guide just for you…
The DiStyle Guide to Starting Over
- Be where you are at in this moment – Sometimes life happens and sh*t goes down. From the tragic to the mundane, you must honestly acknowledge where you are at and choose to feel the feelings. Figure out less and feel more. Connect with people who can handle you in these states. Know who to go to when you are down. No one friend is all things to all people, so choose those friends who are compassionate and understanding – preferably not the “fixer friends” (they can come in later).
- Allow for positivity – No one wants to be positive when something horrible happens. I get it. So this is why I say, “Allow for positivity.” You do not need to be Eeyore – always dress rehearsing disaster and living in the pain. Feel the pain but allow space for those tiny glimmers of healing and hope. It may not feel authentic, but I don’t think it matters. Focus on creating tiny spaces for positivity, even in pain. The rest will come.
I am living proof that you can write your best chapter yet. So where, in your life, can you start applying this DiStyle guide? Leave a comment below or email me.
Here’s to your extraordinary life.