Fall in Love with Being a F*ck Up.

more than dreamers, fuck up, inspiration, courage, we learn from failure, fall in love with failure

About 10 years ago, I was laying on my back in my bed, with my eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Thinking of all of my dreams sinking to the bottom of the ocean and the only words that kept circling through my brain were “FUCK UP.” I was a fuck up. For years, I had practiced, toured and performed with my band and I was supposed to be a “rockstar.” And in case that dream never came to fruition, I promised my parents my plan of going to school to become a minister would be my fall back. Both of those dreams crashed and burned…hard. And almost at exactly the same time.

Day after day, I would just lay there, in the same place, contemplating what a failure my life had become, if I should just stop wasting up space and end my life. I’ve shared many times about how dark that season was for me. The one where I almost didn’t make it out alive.

Not only was I stripped raw of my “rockstar” identity and writhing in pain from that aspect, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my failure. Embarrassed that so many people believed in me and that I didn’t accomplish the thing I set out to do.

And those words to myself, “Fuck Up,” replayed constantly. They were harsh and filled with rage.

The thing that seemed to bring solace was to drive off to a remote area and sit in silence with nature, to a place where there is true silence and I could hear nothing but my own breathing and heart beating. It reminded me that I was still here, regardless of the pain.

Over time I attempted to pick myself back up. I found other things to occupy my time. I prayed…a lot and over time, I learned what grace was. Not with other people, but with myself. For some reason, it’s much easier for us to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. But after months and months of tending to my wounds and convincing myself that life was worth living no matter what, I learned to love and forgive myself.

I had this ideal image of who I was supposed to be, and growing up as a bit of a perfectionist, I was extremely hard on myself. But what I’ve learned is that life is far from perfect – no matter how much we would like it to appear to be. We shouldn’t try to hide our messes, nor should we be ashamed of them.

Perfect is a lie. Everything that is beautiful took work and has a back story. We are probably just unfamiliar with it and the gigantic mess that took place to achieve it.

And that’s what I’ve learned – it’s worth the mess. It’s worth the ugly and the imperfect.

When we fail, it means we’ve tried. We found courage to go for it, which is not always the case for many of us. We have to decide that the potential outcome of failure will still be worth the try. I promise that it always is.

Those big failures, those giant fuck-ups, they have shaped who I am. They taught me to love myself BECAUSE I tried, regardless if I failed. And there is almost ALWAYS a lesson to take with me. Whether it’s a lesson of grace, a lesson of hope or understanding life just a little bit more, it is worth it every time. I also love others so much deeper. Because I know true pain and because I want to wrap my arms around those who feel like they no longer belong here. Because I’ve been there.

At this point, I almost look forward to failure. Not because I don’t want to succeed, but because I never want to stop trying. I never want to stop giving. I never want to stop learning. Failure no longer means I’m a fuck up. Rather, it means that I have not given up trying. I am still here. Not just existing. No longer just staring at the ceiling; I am living. I love myself enough to keep going.

Courage shows up when we are able to forgive ourselves and forget about what others think. That comes with choosing love for ourselves. It sounds weird, but it’s a choice.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, fall in love with being a fuck up. I’ll do the same. We’ll be better for it. I promise.

The All-Too-Enticing Lie of Inspiration.

Inspiration is a lie, inspiration, motivation, discipline, routine

A lot happened in the early 2000’s. After MySpace exploded and the digital age of social networking had become common place, a phrase was being said frequently, “I need a new profile pic.” Selfies became a thing, because there wasn’t always somebody around to take the photo for you. It seemed that you either took a quick picture of yourself standing in front of your bathroom mirror on your point-and-shoot digital camera or you grabbed your flip phone and attempted to take a photo at a flattering angle from up high and then upload it onto your profile. Then there were those snobs who seemed to have these incredible photos of themselves taken by some professional with a “DSLR” and had it “edited” in some photo editing program. Sometimes I was lucky to have my photo taken and professionally edited because we needed “band photos” for our “digital press kit.” Perhaps, over time, I just became accustomed to this level of photo snobbery and that’s why I was inspired to pick up a DSLR myself. Either way, I had a lot of spare time after quitting my band and school and needed a “creative outlet” since I was now just a drifting “artist.”

Since I had this new toy to take more profile pics than I would ever actually need, it only seemed appropriate to attempt to start a photography business. Because it was 2008 and the world was crashing around me, I had plenty of motivation to bring in additional income alongside my day job that I was only getting part time hours from.

I took THOUSANDS of photos. I took my camera every where I went. I had business cards printed, mocked up contracts, and even learned Adobe Lightroom.

After a bad experience of shooting a 14 hour wedding and not being fed, I put my camera down.

The truth is, I like to say that it was the 14 hour wedding that caused me to put the camera down – but the actual truth is that I lost sight of my motivation (that and because I was hangry). I no longer had a motive to stay as involved in my photography business as I did when I started it. I created it for 2 reasons: a creative outlet and income. I no longer needed the additional income after being promoted to full-time at my day job and because I made the business about shooting for other people and how they wanted their photos to look, it was no longer a creative outlet for me. Poof – original motives gone.

And the camera was put in my closet after that 14 hour wedding, never to be picked up again until I sold it off to a friend.

There’s a point to be made here. As well as a clear distinction that I’ve learned we humans tend to often confuse.

Motivation and inspiration are not the same.

Just because we are inspired to do something doesn’t mean we will continue to be motivated to do it.

Motivation often has a bigger purpose – a motive – or a why. It’s our reminder of why we continue to do something long AFTER the inspiration is gone.

Because inspiration WILL leave. But if we say we are committed to something, whether that be a Photographer, CEO, Mother, whatever, we will need to remind ourselves of the bigger picture to remain motivated.

If you currently have not a single clue what your motivation is for wanting something or working towards something then 1 of 2 things need to happen right now: 1. You need to do some self reflecting and figure it out what it is, or, 2. You need to stop. Yes, stop, for everybody’s sake. (As for me and Photography, I only shoot for me now. Not for money and not because anybody asks me to.)

Inspiration will run out. But your motive will keep you going.

Now there’s another important element here, that I want to be certain not to leave out.


I know waaaay too many people who are trapped in a lie and wait around to be inspired.

Going about their daily lives, giving their attention to other things right in front of them. Just waiting for the inspiration to knock on their door and if it does happen to show up, hopefully they happen to be in the right place at the right time to actually break away from their lives and do something about it.

That just all seems way too up to chance to me.

You want to get better at your craft? Allow your motivation to give reason to your discipline.

Create a space.

Plan frequent meetings with inspiration.

Sounds weird, I know. But if you are constantly knocking at inspiration’s door, at some point it’s going to be home.

Isn’t it likely that I become “inspired” more often as a Photographer if my motivation is in perspective and I am creating opportunities to practice? Rather than hoping it will somehow just come to me as I go about my life?

Discipline appears to be the struggle for most of us. Sticking with it, because we either don’t get instant results or we aren’t struck with wondrous inspiration every time.

It’s difficult to stick with because inspiration is often hidden amongst routine and labeled as boring or, even worse: work.

But if our motivation is constantly in perspective, we will be willing to trudge through the mundane until we strike the magnificent.

So, have you fallen into the trap of waiting around to be inspired? Do you truly know your motivation? Have you established a routine that regularly sends out an invitation to inspiration?

If not, what can you do different? What needs to change?

Addressing Self-Doubt & Finding Confidence

Self-Doubt, confidence, failure, more than dreamers, dreams, entrepreneur, motivation

“Hi, I’m a Life Coach, well, I’m trying to be…”

I said, after introducing myself at a recent networking event. For some reason, I felt completely uncomfortable giving myself this title that I had been working so hard for. It was my first time presenting myself to others AS a Life Coach. Not just saying I had been in school to become one.

It was this moment where, clearly, I seemed to lack all confidence and assumed I was being internally judged for having such a lofty title. “Life Coach.”

The word vomit kept coming. “It’s just really hard trying to juggle school and my day job and trying to take on clients…”

Blech! I wanted to punch myself in the face so that I would stop talking. It was a moment that replayed in my head for days. Why was I putting so much weight on this title? Why was I lacking so much confidence?

Recently, I did a survey and asked , “If you could improve 1 thing about yourself, what would it be?” An overwhelming response was: confidence.

Me too. Me too.

So I spent days thinking about it. Talking about it. Reading about it.

Here’s what I found.

When I was promoted to a Management position at my job around 6 years ago, I had no formal experience (well, once I was a Manager at a Beanie Baby store when I was 17, but then my Mom called the owner and told them I couldn’t work there anymore because I needed to go to sleep earlier because I was still in high school. Anyway…). I was what was referred to as a “known risk.” I’d been around a few years, people knew my reputation, my personality, my strengths and my shortcomings. In my interview, I was asked if I was “ready?”

Surprisingly, I considered the answer to that question a lot. Was I ready to do a job I had never done? But this question was often interpreted as, “Do you think you can do the job?” My response was, “‘Ready’ is a relative term.” And then went on to explain that I was aware there was a lot I didn’t know and would need to learn but that I was 100% committed to doing whatever it was going to take.

I wanted to be this thing, so I was committed to growing myself to become it.

Basically, my decision to be something + my actions = I am that thing.

There’s this saying in the church.

“God qualifies the called, not calls the qualified.”

If we remove the biblical context, it’s the same as the earlier equation. The decision to be something almost always comes before the ability to do so. But we sure do put a lot of pressure on ourselves to flip it around.

Ultimately, our ability or skill level has nothing to do with who we say we are. Referring to oneself as a Photographer has nothing to do with whether you are a mediocre one or an extraordinary one (unless you specifically state that part of it…but that’s weird.). Let’s break it down. When I had a Photography business, I had a camera, I took pictures with it and people gave me money. Sounds legit to me. That’s really all that’s required. It’s up to me to hone my craft and go from a “good photographer” to an “incredible photographer” but, regardless, I am a Photographer.

Here’s one more that a larger population might relate to (Danette might say otherwise).

A woman discovers she is pregnant and is going to keep her baby. The moment the child is born, she is a Mother. Whether she is a good one or bad one is irrelevant. But she’s committed herself to figuring it out. She is a Mother. For better or worse.

Decision + Action = Result

Here’s what I’ve finally decided about this whole confidence or lack thereof thing:

We should not gain our confidence from our abilities, but gain our confidence from our commitment to improving/evolving our abilities.

When I was 18 I made up my life’s mission statement (who does that? Me. Nerd, I know.), “I want my life to be a catalyst that propels others into their destiny through a foundation of belief.” (Sounds like a Life Coach mission statement if I ever heard one). I will be 33 years old in 4 days. Because I’m a Math nerd; That’s a 15 year commitment. I’m committed. No question. And for most people who know me, my actions (or behavior) are also in alignment. Regardless of whether my title is Life Coach, Leader, friend, sister, Mentor, blah blah blah. I should be confident that I’m committed to this thing!

I have no reason to lack confidence. I am a Coach. I’ve been acting like one for years, it’s ok to start calling myself one.

Here’s why all of this is important: only you know your true level of commitment. Nobody else can tell you otherwise. It cannot be compared to another’s. Nobody else can tell you that you are or you are not committed. Ability can be assessed, commitment not so easily. We can, however, assess our own levels of commitment. We know how serious or not seriously we are taking something. And if we aren’t seriously committed, then we probably shouldn’t call ourselves such.

But if you know you are COMMITTED to whatever it is you’re doing, whether it be starting a business, being your 100% authentic self around others, or deciding to become healthier, be confident in your commitment to giving it your best…and have grace with yourself when you aren’t (don’t confuse discipline with confidence).

So, where have you been falsely placing your confidence (or sense of self worth) in your abilities? I encourage you to re-assess. Commit to yourself instead. Remind yourself you’re learning and will be learning for the rest of your life. Mastery will come, perfection is not required.

Wake up, Sleepy head. We’ve got work to do.

cat sleeping, sleepy head, time to wake up, action breeds action

What’s the best way to wake up a stubborn person to get the most out of them?

This is basically what my life’s work consists of. Figuring this out.

People full of unique potential who are stuck in their own ways and need to be shaken to wake up and take advantage of the gift and talents that the universe has bestowed upon them.

Trouble is, it turns out that not many people actually want to live a life doing what they love. Or so it seems.

I can probably count on one hand, people I personally know (and I like to think I know a pretty decent number of humans) that are actually living a life of pursuing work that matters to them.

It’s absolutely bonkers to me.

What it tends to come down to is one of 2 things: lack of belief or pure laziness.

Some disguise it with “I have no idea where to start…”

I get that. I have been there with many things, such as writing a book. Especially when you’ve never written one in your entire life.

But you know what uncovered one step and then the next and then the next and then the next? Action.

Action discovers more action. Action breeds action.

Stuck is generally a result of inaction.

Example: my brain place says, “dominique! You need to write a book on overcoming excuses and pursuing your dreams!”
Me in response to myself: “dominique! That’s absolute insane. What would you even call it?”
My brain: “So What!”
Me: “okaaaay. That’s not a bad title. But what the heck would I say?! How do I even get started?”
My brain on my drive to work that day: *information being downloaded to my brain at an overwhelming rate*
Me: “Ok, what next? Do I just data dump?”
My brain: start with a skeleton of chapter breakouts of the main points

Then chapter breakouts led to a skeleton of a book. Then I did a whole bunch of research on how to write a book. Learned that I need a book proposal to create clarity. Made one. Did some writing (by “some” I mean a WHOLE LOT). Started by practicing with a blog. Developed my voice. Asked people lots of questions. Learned more. Learned I needed a Literary Agent. Currently looking for one.

The point is, I didn’t stop. Even when I had no clue what to do.

Taking action will always uncover more action.

Sometimes too much action. Action that will make me distracted. And then I have to get back on track.

Today, people want the results without the action. Generally, laziness disguised as a limiting belief or vice versa.

Here’s the deal. Just START somewhere.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I have realized that regardless of WHEN I finish, I WILL finish as long as I keep going. It doesn’t have to be on a specific date by a specific year and hit this gigantically overwhelming milestone. I will get there when I get there as long as I keep taking action.

Are goals and milestones good? Sure, deadlines are helpful to assess progress. But I can’t live or die by them. Or make myself think, “There’s no way I am going to get this done by then!” And then do nothing at all. Because why even keep going?

And that’s where I needed to throw cold water on my face to wake myself up.

Why? Why do I need to be done by a certain date? Sure having praise and accolades would be super cool but there’s literally no answer other than, because “maybe I’ll never finish.”


That’s a possibility. If I die tomorrow, I definitely won’t finish. So that could be the result whether I take action or not. But If I do continually take action and I don’t die tomorrow or some other crazy thing doesn’t intervene…I’ll hit it.

And so, resume action. Always.

When we take action, we will inevitably run into the next step. Just like driving to my Mom’s house. Eventually, If I keep driving, I will have to turn out of my neighborhood and keep driving. When I get to the stop sign, if I don’t turn right, I won’t get there. But I know I need to turn right. And if I didn’t know, I can ask Siri. Or call my Mom and ask her. Or find a map with her address on it. There are actually many ways to find out and discover what the next step is. And then, I leave the stop sign and keep driving towards her house. Until I get there.

We are terrified to do anything without knowing all of the exact steps of how to do it. And so we don’t even try. Inaction. Stuck.

But here’s my thought:

What a boring life.

And so, I will spend my life taking action in finding ways to wake you up.

Some, I might need to jolt you awake. Some I might shout at. But, some I might have to do it gently, lovingly and maybe entice you with the aroma of a delicious breakfast. Then once we are there, we can have a great conversation about your thoughts, fears, limitations and what it will take to get you to take some action.

What I do know…is that I am tired of talking to myself about it. I’m already convinced you are great. Let me convince you. I mean, who doesn’t like hearing how great they are?

5 ugly truths of Leadership.

5 Ugly truths of leadership, annoyed cat, cat laying on bad, cat hearing loud noises

So you want to be a “Leader.” Many of us have no idea what we are getting ourselves into. Most of us have decided that we can do our boss’s job better than they can…until you become the boss.

Leadership is not nearly as easy as we have made it out to be in our own minds. I’ve heard this from most people who have crossed over to the other side. Myself included. Leadership is not for the faint of hearts. And if you fall within that category, you will be weeded out rather quickly. Probably due to not properly handling any one of the 5 issues below.

Know yourself.
I have come across many people who have a desire to be a “Leader.” They want to have an impact on others. Yet, they have no influence. Rather, thus far in their lives, they have been the influenced and not the influencer. Which is not completely bad. It’s a start. Not being either might be a bit more of a struggle.

Ponder this: When was the last time you followed somebody who had no idea who they were or what they stood for? If you don’t know, you might literally stand for anything, or worse, nothing. People are drawn to confidence. Perhaps it’s a self-preservation thing. Like an, “I’m gonna stick with this person because they seem to know what they are doing and I’ll probably be safer in their midst.” Here’s an example. I’ve worked with a guy for almost a decade. He’s perceived as a little nutty. Nutty as in, doesn’t touch tape to his fingertips, buries money in the ground, lives in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t have people over. Although others feel this type of behavior to be rather extreme, I’ve heard many people say, “If a zombie apocalypse happened, I’ll be with THAT guy.” He stands for something, regardless of how odd it seems. And others clearly know what it is. And in the right situation, they will be taking his lead. He never pretends to be anything he is not. People know what to expect from him. People respect this. They even prefer it.

This takes time. It doesn’t come over night. Not even over a month or a year. It’s a life long process, however, you can determine who you are by 2 things, what you’ve stood for up to this point or even, what you have decided you will stand for or be known for moving forward. And then do it. When was the last time you gave yourself a life assessment test? Where you asked yourself about the decisions you have made and why you made them. Are you ok with your choices? If not, what would you like to change and why? It seems like a lot of work, I know. But Leaders ask themselves the tough questions. They ponder and philosophize but they also take action. Mindless action, though, can get one into trouble. So take the time to discover your true authentic self. Your strengths, your shortcomings, your skillsets, your unique attributes. What characteristics do you convey that are worth following? If you are not confident in who you are, I promise, others won’t be confident in you either. It may not be what you would prefer. Know who you are or others will decide for you.

Bring on the haters.
Leadership, as glamorous as it might seem at times, is not a crowd pleasing job. Sure there may be crowds, but you will have to take unpopular stands sometimes. And similarly, as previously mentioned, if you don’t make the difficult decisions when it’s time, or even explain why you made a particular decision, someone else will. People read into things they don’t understand. They assign their own reasoning if it’s not done for them. And if you aren’t clear, it is very easy to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Sometimes, though, no matter how much explaining you do and regardless of how clear you are in your messaging, people will not agree or like you. Gary V is an extremely popular Leadership voice in the social realm these days. There are people who don’t like him. He may be too loud or too vulgar, says the F-word way too much. But he is himself regardless. So stay strong, because even if you have the biggest crowds, you will also have haters. It’s impossible to please everyone. Understand that it’s ok. Do not make the mistake of trying to please everyone. In doing that, you will only lose yourself. And remember, you need to be your authentic self, always.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Elbert Hubbard

The fault belongs to you.
When you’re the Leader, it doesn’t matter where in the chain things go wrong, the fault is yours. Have you ever seen a Leader give bad direction and then let somebody else take the fall for executing the action? I have, it’s nothing short of disgusting. A shameful display of Self-preservation. That’s not a leader. It’s a dictator who only cares about and protects themselves. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed…dictators often get overthrown. So if your ego is too big to accept lots and lots of failure, then Leadership is probably not for you. Be willing to take ownership. All of it. Even if something wasn’t your decision. At some point, somebody thought you would find their actions/choices to be acceptable. Perhaps you lacked clarity in your messaging. Protect your people. That’s true leadership. You’re a team.

Be a cat lover.
I know that sounds strange. I’ll explain. I was never a cat person growing up, mostly because I am deathly allergic. But after having to make peace with some short-haired cats I’ve found my way. Something I have learned about cats is that they do what they want. It’s nearly impossible to train them unless they want to be trained. After years of trying to tell my cat to stay off the couch, I finally gave up. The more I tried to control her, the more she would just yell back at me. She does what she wants. And I resolved within myself that I’ll just have to vacuum more often. There’s a saying, “It’s like herding cats.” This saying also applies to Leadership. At least 50% of the time, you feel like you are herding cats. I can’t even begin to imagine what Moses felt like for 40 years leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Poor guy. Humans, like you and me, all have their own brains, personalities and priorities, as I am sure you are aware. The more we try to control what they do, the more likely they are to rebel. Ultimately, they will make decisions that are best for them and others but sometimes they also just do things without even thinking about it. Like my cat when she pokes her claws through the leather of my office chair because she just likes the sound and feeling of it. But I love her regardless. Be a cat lover. Less stress for you, less stress for them. We need to trust others do do the important things we know they are capable of on their own (like using the litter box) and don’t try to control all the day to day minutia. They’ll figure the stuff out.

You’re not a feelings person – better figure that out.
As a Leader, you will quickly discover that people have feelings…lots of them. Feelings about everything that you do that potentially affects them. They also like to be included in these decisions that potentially affect them. There are plenty people who will share their feelings, even when you think its unnecessary. Then there are those who will share their feelings about your decisions with everyone else but you. Ultimately, you want people to come to you. And if they don’t, for whatever reason, it’s your fault, remember? They may not feel comfortable criticizing you to your face, maybe because in the past you haven’t allowed their points to be valid. So they hold that against you as well. The best way to deal with all of the emotions that come along with Leadership is to become a great listener. People need to be heard, regardless of whether you agree with them. This doesn’t mean shut them down immediately. People need to be brought along. We need to allow people to ask questions. Let them know their voices are important and then be compassionate and clear when certain things don’t line up with the vision. And in many cases, when we listen to our people, we will learn something. Things that may cause us to lead differently. If we don’t listen to our people, soon we may not have anyone to lead.

The non-ugly truth – It’s worth it.
Regardless of the tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with Leadership, it is, by far the most fulfilling work that some of us will aspire to do. Connecting and growing with others in an authentic way is extremely rewarding. My favorite moments are celebrating in the successes of others. Some of my most important moments are the one’s where we have to address hardship and brokenness head on. Those are moments that will stick with others and myself forever. How we respond as caring and supportive leaders will help bring clarity to some of life’s toughest seasons for others. As long as we are willing to listen, to know we aren’t always the smartest person in every situation, but are committed to bringing our best and helping others be their best, this will be some of the most meaningful work you will ever experience.

Instant gratification has gotten me no where closer to my dreams.

instant gratification is a lie, self-discipline, pursue your dreams, life coaching, more than dreamers, dominique elise, better health, better wealth

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about self-discipline. What is it? How do we learn it? Things of that sort.

We live in a cultural society of instant gratification and self absorption with the intent to impress others. I’ve lived it.

I’ve been driving for 15 years. I’ve owned 9 different cars. NINE.

I was not wise with my finances. And I’ve definitely cared about what others thought. Too much.

These days, I realize that was a set back. Just one of many. There were so many areas in which I have lacked self discipline. There are still so many that I have no self discipline whatsoever. Like when a burrito is placed in front of me. No discipline. None. One day I might get there. Or…I just need to understand my weaknesses and avoid putting myself in situations that will tempt me. Like going to Roberto’s multiple times a week.

Building up self-discipline takes practice. Kind of like everything else.

It’s a mental muscle. It’s far from easy. But just like exercise, you have to start small and work your way up. If you go super hard at the gym for the first time and then are so sore that you can’t move for the next 3 days, you probably won’t be going back. True story. When we completely deprive ourselves, having discipline to keep going or even finish will only be more difficult.

So, why do we want or even need self-discipline? And how the hell does one actually begin practicing self disciple?

“No other single requirement for individual success is as important as self-discipline…. Self-discipline is the tool with which man may harness and direct his inborn emotions in the direction of his choice.” – Napoleon Hill

There are many ways. But first, it must begin with knowing and being honest with yourself of exactly where you currently stand in regards to where you want to go. So if it’s improving a skill, getting healthier or getting your finances in order, it will require you to self assess and know where you are and how you got there.

The following is important: do NOT waste time beating yourself up for WHY you have failed thus far. Do NOT live there. Just know why you are there so that when you begin slipping into the old routine (that has gotten you exactly where you are at currently), you can identify it and swiftly pivot back to the necessary direction to achieve success. Self-forgiveness is necessary for moving on. Self-loathing is NOT what we are shooting for. Of course you need to have enough of it to know you desire to change, but again, not staying there. We will not get stuck in feeling sorry for ourselves. Not if we, ourselves, harness the power necessary to change. And in almost all cases, we do.

After identifying where your patterns of weakness have been, then it’s time to develop a plan. A plan to practice. Gradually.

I’ve told my story many times. After a dark season of my life of walking away from my dreams, I gave up for some time. Years. Specifically, I gave up on planning. When I was 17, I had my life planned out through my 30th birthday. When things were derailed, I gave up completely. I gave up on myself. Nobody else did it for me. I went to my day job of doing tech support and did whatever I felt like with my free time. I would sleep in until 11am, eat whatever I wanted, drank all evening while playing video games. It was not an unhappy time by any means, but it was far from fulfilling. I also gained a solid 25 pounds and was always broke. No savings. Paycheck to paycheck and no plans to do anything of purpose with my life. I was coasting. Merely existing.

And to some people, that might feel ideal. But there are some people out there who deep down know and feel that there has to be something more. I knew there was more. It was not how I had imagined my life would turn out. I wanted to live a life of purpose and have done something significant with the short time I have here on Earth.

My life needed some work. Luckily, at the time, I didn’t try to do all necessary life repairs simultaneously.

I actually was most frustrated with my health than anything. Up to this point, for the majority of my life, I had been a petite lady. I felt sluggish and frumpy. In my younger days, between playing sports and drums, I always had quite the athletic build. I never worried about what I consumed. But now, I had become harshly aware that was no longer the case. After having a moment where I sat down in front of a mirror and happened to catch the profile of myself and saw my belly hanging over my pants, I went through my brief period of self-loathing and knew I needed to make a change. Because at this point, I was sick of myself.

But I didn’t stay there. I took action.

My Mom had taken me to the gym when I was younger. I was lucky to have a great example of health growing up. Between that and sports, I knew what had to be done. I needed to put the cider and the xbox remote down and get my body moving.

One day I opened my eyes and decided to go for a jog. Something I had not done in YEARS. I laced up some old sneakers I found in my closet and ran about a half mile around my neighborhood. Upon finishing the jog, I burst through my front door, immediately ran to my downstairs bathroom, puked my brains out and then collapsed on my bed.

That could have been it. I could have said, “forget this.” And picked my cider back up and burned my running shoes.

But I didn’t.

I did something even crazier, I got a gym membership. I woke up everyday at 4:30am so I could get to the gym before work at 8am and I did something even crazier. I stayed committed. Eventually, I decided I should probably watch what I was eating too. I cut back my drinking to maybe once a week, and every morning on the way to work, made a stop at the grocery store and picked up a banana and a salad. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just buy enough for the week, I literally picked up a fresh one each morning. I think the extra effort made me need to remain committed to it.

But I saw results. They were incremental, but every incremental change spurred me on further. It kept me going. I lost those 25 pounds and got into the best shape of my life. I made it a lifestyle. I remained committed to my health and still am today. That was 6 years ago.

And it was just the beginning for me.

It was an eye opening season of what I am capable of when I decide to create a plan and remain committed to it. I discovered what I am capable of when I choose to practice self-discipline.

Soon, I took the same skill and applied it to my finances. Using self-discipline at the grocery store, self-discipline in not going out to eat for two-thirds of my meals. Using self-discipline by making my coffee at home and not going to Starbucks. By leaving my house a few minutes earlier every Friday and getting gas only from Costco. By paying off thousands of dollars of credit card debt. By selling my Mini Cooper that had a $570/month car payment. By buying used car cash. By saving up a 6 month emergency fund. By contributing more to my 401(k). And soon, by wisely investing 20% of my income into things that will bring me additional income. I say none of this to brag, but to prove a point. And because people want proof, and results are proof.

It started with small things. Small forms of self-discipline. Small wins. Into much larger ones.

And now, I apply the same skill of self-discipline towards the pursuit of my dreams of a more fulfilled life for myself. Educating myself. Being better with my time. Connecting with others. Investing into my writing and content I share out. Mapping out how I will hit targets of things I want to accomplish. There is nothing too unrealistic. I know because I’ve surprised myself.

The reality is, we need that. We need an opportunity to surprise ourselves.

To prove our capability to ourselves.

From there, it’s a choice.

It was the same lesson for love, for me. After falling in love for the first time, and learning what my heart was capable of, I decided love was a choice. And it didn’t only apply to romantic love. My heart was capable of more.

Once we know the truth, it’s merely a decision to act.

Many of us have not allowed ourselves the opportunity to surprise us.

We need that. We need small wins. We need them to gain momentum. To continue our forward motion.

Eventually it leads to much greater things. But only if we keep going.

I am convinced, as Napoleon Hill, that self-discipline is the single most important behavior one can employ to achieve success with their life. And success will be defined by our own terms, by our own dreams and desires.

But it is necessary for the success of anything.

So do you need to gain some self-discipline? How can you start small? How do you afford yourself an opportunity to try? And what will it take to surprise yourself?

And what if you do? What then? What’s next? What will it take to get to a life more fulfilled? What will the best version of you require?

You’ll never know until you try. But start small. Then crush it. Everyday. Because you know that you can.

And I believe you can. If you need some help, just ask. I’d love to support.

The dichotomy between self-discipline and creativity.

Close-up detail of piano keyboard and beautiful flower in monochrome look, more than dreamers, inspiration, creativity, self-discipline

It seems weird, to place structure upon creativity, to draw a box around it and say “stay within these lines!”

But what if the analogy is more about just providing a box in which to create, rather than having no box at all?

What if the structure given is merely an allotment of time so that creativity can occur?

Structure and self-discipline don’t have to been what kills creativity. It shouldn’t be saying, “do it JUST like this.” Rather Self-Discipline should be showing up in the creative world saying, “here’s an opportunity for you to practice. Everyday. A moment in time for you to exist; even flourish.”

The jazz piano is a great example. Jazz itself is meant to be felt, not read off of a sheet; the player allowing both rhythm and melodies to flow from their extremities and out into a glorious tune from the soul.

But if this jazz player hasn’t practiced frequently, what notes and tones to select would not exist in his vast repertoire. If he didn’t spend time practicing scales, he wouldn’t know what was going to feel right if he played it next. Rather, it could just be a lot of wrong notes and sound absolutely terrible and not jazz at all.

The structure of self-discipline, even in the creative world is necessary.

If I am a writer (which I consider myself to be), I should be writing, regardless of whether I am feeling inspired or not. Not everything I write will be a masterpiece. Not even close, if I’m completely honest. Additionally, nothing will be of excellence if I haven’t invested my time enough into discovering my voice.

Self-discipline should merely be the subtle act of allowing the opportunity for creative freedom to exist. It should not suffocate. It should not demand. It should serve.

It’s necessary for both to coexist.

How do you balance the two?

Living your life in 3rd person.

Living life in 3rd person, More Than Dreamers, Birds eye view

A couple of weeks ago I went on a quick trip to visit my Dad (I hadn’t seen him since earlier in the year on my birthday, when I convinced him to meet me in New York City). It was intended to be a short and relaxing fishing trip with my Old Man. One where we could catch up and spend quality time. One that we decided would be our first of Annual quality time visits. Unfortunately that’s not the way that it worked out. 30 minutes after getting out on to the lake that had taken me 8 hours worth of flights, a 2 hour drive from the airport and an overnight stay in a little hotel to arrive, we received a phone call for a family emergency that forced us to put the boat in drive and make our 3 hour drive back into town.

The next two days, we did what we could to keep each other company during a difficult family situation. Lots of silence, some conversation. Lots of driving around. Just moving forward. Forward motion. Do what must be done to get through it.

It wasn’t until I was buckled in to my seat on the airplane, bracing for take-off, while the loud engines roared that suddenly the tears came streaming down my face. There was no stopping them. As much as I wanted to, while being in public. I couldn’t hold them back.

I wasn’t an empty void during those 2-3 days. I was thinking constantly. Trying to process, but also trying to be present and supportive to my family that needed it.

But it wasn’t until I stopped, had a moment and realized what I had been thinking about when I had become such a wreck. When I was finally able to filter my thoughts for what they were, analyze them, give them meaning, is when they began to have an impact on me. This was a rare moment for me; one where I couldn’t help but take a particular situation personally, hence the tears.

I like to use the phrase, “Step outside of myself” often. And the best way that I can describe what I mean is to change the perspective of my life from 1st person to 3rd person. I am no longer only limited to my own thoughts and perspective, but am privy to how I am merely part of a much larger cog of the world and its spinning components. I go from being inside of my thoughts, my brain, seeing only outside of my eyes, to seeing things from up high, as if being a bird perched on a high point that can not only see what I am doing, but everything else around me. (Basically, It’s like going from a First Person Shooter to an RPG mode.)

I do this intentionally. Meaning, it doesn’t feel natural to do initially. It takes practice. And I decide to take some time to reflect on what I am thinking about, I like to zoom out in this manner. It helps me to not be as subjective. It also helps me better assign weight to particular moments that have occurred, taking in mind why others around me, who have influenced me, might have done things the way that they did. It removes personalizations and creates a better level of understanding. Often, it allows me to move forward rationally.

It also helps to keep far less grudges. People do things for…reasons (surprise!). When we are willing to accept that, and NOT that their reasons are to spite us, processing difficult events in life become much easier to deal with. Too often, we personalize actions of others that were moments that actually had nothing to do with us.

Sometimes we get stuck in 1st person for a really long time. When we go go go go go. These are the seasons that it is easy to misconstrue moments that have occurred. If we don’t take time to reflect and step back to think about the things that we are thinking about, and possibly even course correct our thoughts, we create a very biased and subjective (almost even fictional) narrative. One that leads to questions like, “Why me?” Rather than, “How can we make this better?”

This morning as I was getting ready to have my quiet time of writing, I realized it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve had multiple days where I had things planned from the moment I woke up to the moment that I went to bed, giving myself not a second to process. Being on auto-pilot is NOT good. Sometimes it gives us a false sense of being “strong.” But “strong” will not be the adjective used to describe us when we finally slow down and reality hits us like a ton of bricks (those poor strangers on the airplane sitting next to a crying lady, like me).

An important thing to note about the appearance of being a “strong one.” People rarely understand when you have moments of “weakness.” They forget that you are human too. They don’t know how to handle your breakdowns when you do, because you’ve always played the role of helping others with theirs. But don’t fall into this trap of keeping up appearances. Be true. Be vulnerable. Show others you are human.

Appearances are dumb. Truth is best. Care will be genuine. To put it simply.

So, what is it that you have been thinking about? How have you let it affect you? Do you need to re-route some things? Change perspective? Get outside of yourself?

Give yourself some time to do so. Whether it’s sitting in silence somewhere, journaling, meditating, praying, find your outlet. But invest. Invest in your thought process. It will have a tremendous impact on how you navigate through your life’s journey. I promise.

2017 is still ours.

coffee with marker and papers, brainstorming, yearly planning, taking action, more than dreamers

It’s the middle of June.

Coincidentally, it’s also the middle of 2017.

I’m not sure about you but I set some pretty lofty goals for this year. Mid-year point is the perfect time to pause, evaluate and reset.

In looking back, I went pretty strong January through April. May was a nice month of relaxation, which was truly needed. Then June hit.

The storm.

An eruption of chaos and destruction. Almost perfect timing to derail me for the rest of the year. To push my goals aside and allow family drama, family attacks and family sickness to completely deter me.

I’ve taken nearly the entire month of June off of everything (other than work), to think and process and muster up the courage to continue moving forward. This summer heat surely doesn’t help. Forcing myself out of bed early in the morning to get my workouts in has been beyond difficult. I want sleep. I want peace. I want justice.

I’ve been having dreams about an old friendship that left me broken. My heart, it’s just trying to stay together.

The only thing that seems to keep me sane is supporting others wherever I can. It’s what brings meaning to my soul. Listening to and supporting the ambitions of others. Convincing them they are worth it and more than capable of pursuing their heart’s desires.

After more than enough of being distracted by feeling sorry for myself, all I can envision is me standing inside of an empty white walled room, with markers in hand, ready to draft new plans. An idea room.

I’m thinking at some point, I would like to make that a reality. No distractions. Just freedom of thought. For now, giant post-it easel pads will have to do (thank you, Amazon Prime).

The thing is, I can totally stay here. In this place of pain, drink coffee & eat burritos while waiting for my head to clear. But I need to make a choice.

The choice to continue on, to draft out the details of my next move, to decide that onward is what will be worth it. Because looking back later, I know I will be upset at myself for stalling out. Like that one 4 year season before. Never again.

What about you? Do you need to lock yourself in a room and allow yourself to dream again? More than Dream; plan and execute.

We’re not done yet. We’ve got 6 months left of this year. Plenty of time to acquire all of the things we initially set out to accomplish.

So, how might you do that? What will it take? What will it require of you? How much time are you willing to give it? How much focus does it deserve?

You can do it. We both can. I believe in you. I’m also going to choose to believe that you believe in me too.

Time to break open those markers…


dads, fathers day, dominique with her dad and step-dad

Most people have 1. I am lucky enough to have 2. 2 incredible men who have tremendously influenced my life. Men of integrity. Men filled with determination and ambition. But also fun dads who have a wonderful sense of humor and aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves…or me. Thank you both for shaping me into who I am today. Thank you both for letting me be my crazy self. Thank you for loving me in spite of my faults and shortcomings. Gil, thanks for not being mad at me that one time I lost the mattress driving down the highway. Dad, thanks for showing your disappointment in me when I was 18 and called out sick to work when I really wasn’t. Moments of grace and truth such as these have been important lessons in my life. Dad, I’m so excited for our annual adventures. Gil, thank you for always being more than just a step-dad. I love you both so much.

AKA “Pee-Wee”
AKA “kiddo”
AKA “Muscles”