Dillan DiGiovanni

Actually, I'm an asshole.

Dillan DiGiovanniComment

Spring is here! It's my most favorite season, representing all that's invigorating and hopeful about life and rebirth. I began this blog eight years ago, and as April arrives I think carefully about this theme of being reborn or coming back to life after the dead of winter.

This year, there was no struggle or confusion about what I'd share. 

This year included more death than I anticipated as well as my own rebirth.

And in this incarnation, the truth is actually, I'm an a**hole. And it's so liberating to share that after too many years of hiding and hoping no one would notice. I laugh to think the hiding was effective at any point along the way. I surrender to accept the glaring and obvious reality that's been blinding people this whole time.

Well, some people. Others think I'm this totally relatable, nice person. Inspiring, they tell me.

Perhaps it's all true. But here's a nugget that's worth sharing: to be inspiring, one must first be a real a**hole. And know it. And accept it. The reason being, nothing real or authentic comes from willfully ignoring or glossing over the often painful or unsavory nature of who we are as human beings. But too many of us spend so much time either pretending we aren't a**holes or, worse yet, hardly acknowledging we are if we can even bring ourselves to see it.

But we are. We're all a**holes. I am, and you are. We all are. We have aspects of us that manifest as wretched scarcity toward ourselves and other people. We deprive ourselves and other people of the love and resources and energy and compassion and patience we all need to thrive in this lifetime. We are mean. We are judgmental. We cheat. We withhold. We are impatient. We settle for less. We skip dessert. We drink too much too often and have plenty of time for Netflix binges but can't find time or money or energy to make ourselves dinner.

We are polite to a fault. We are fake. We are self-deprecating. We are "nice".

We limit ourselves and project those limitations onto others. We doubt. We mansplain or momsplain. We are ungrateful. We are manipulative and engage in explicit or implicit power struggles and say things like, "sorry I didn't return your call from three months ago. I am JUST SO BUSY! Hope you're ok."

We do this. I do this. And we do all of it until it's habit and becomes who we are for ourselves and other people, many of whom we claim to love. It's so interwoven into our daily rituals of behavior, it becomes barely discernable and, without a sense of self-awareness, remains a blind spot. Who we actually are lies outside our consciousness and we may go about life acting like a**holes with no idea at all.

Until we come to it, as I have this year. I came to see the things I do and the ways I am that make me a real a**hole. It's certainly not all I am, but rather than only focus on my strong points, I find a lot more freedom actually attending to and accepting the parts that make me an unsavory character. Addressing the a**hole in me actually makes me the best person I'm capable of being.

The self-awareness I've nurtured since opening the pages of New Age books in my early 20s has become a lot like the glaring streetlight that finds you through a bedroom window at night. You toss and turn and try to pretend it isn't there, but it waits patiently, bright as the sun, as your head finds the perfect spot on the pillow. 

But it's so comfortable here, can't I just be comfortable? Nope, says self-awareness. You need to see this.

And I see it. As the old me became a relic, I see plainly who that person had been.  That person wanted to be loving, but was selfish. That person wanted to be powerful, but often blamed. That person wanted to be right and seen and heard, so would silence and ignore others. That person wanted to be loved, so gave beyond healthy limits. All this and more I did subconsciously and without intention to be an asshole. 

But Dillan! (you're perhaps saying to yourself) you look so happy and seem to be successful in your life and especially in your career as a health coach. People seem to think you're a swell person. Have you been lying to us this WHOLE DAMN TIME?!

No. I haven't been lying. I've been sharing the authentic truth as best as I understood it from day to day, month to month, year to year. If I need to use the gender transition for the ultimate death/rebirth story, hell I'll do it. I'm not above symbolic metaphors. I was raised Catholic, after all, and it's Easter. 

This year was the year I completed a long journey that began when I opened the pages of a book titled Ishmael in 1997 and started thinking about my impact on other people. And I thought I was a lot less of an a**hole than I still am 20 years later. This year revealed that if it's true, it's only because I am finally able to admit it. And that happened only when I stopped long enough to reflect on what was going well and what wasn't and why I was the source of it all. 

This year was the year, as I struggled to find meaning and purpose in my personal suffering, and prayed or hoped for things to just go back to the way they were before or work out better than they seemed to be, it finally came to me: I was an a**hole. I had been one and was one and the only reason I wasn't more of one was because I had taken on this incredibly challenging path of personal development. I realized with this subtle nudge that felt like someone somewhere saying, "yeah, duh" that I would never go back to the person I had been, physically or mentally or spiritually or emotionally because I had evolved. I had transformed. And I wouldn't become the person I desired until I fully accepted who I had been. 

When I took on the transition, I naively thought it would be the slightly more male version of the old me. Turns out, the person I became is a much better version, inside and out.  

And it was because I decided to embrace my inner a**hole. When my transition went from empowering and exciting to debilitating and discouraging and eventually despairing to the point of suicidal tendencies, I figured it was time to reassess. Maybe this was here to teach me something more than I signed up for.

The process took a lot longer than I would have liked but phew! I made it! And what I see will hopefully be a balm for masses of people who grapple with feelings like mine. If you're feeling left out because you're cisgender and not trans*, please don't. Everyone's included in the personal transformation life adventure of discovering and uncovering yourself as an a**hole!

I began my process by asking, "who am I, really?" over 20 years ago and persevered through more changes, choices and challenging than I can count on all my digits. 

It was the final choice, the choice to claim my inner asshole or the ego as it's often referred to, that made the ultimate breakthrough possible. 

It's quite a challenge to see ourselves as an asshole, let alone embrace and accept it. But if you can start now, you increase your chances of not ending up as an older version of yourself with no clue as to why things go as they do and why you feel like something just won't quite click into place no matter what you do, say, eat, watch, wear, buy, or build. 

If you can start seeing that actually, you're an asshole, things will begin to move in the right direction. The a**hole keeps you limited. Admitting you're an a**hole makes much more possible. And don't worry about what people will think, they already think it anyway. 

So, are you ready to become who you truly are?

Why You Should Fire Your Coach

GeneralDillan DiGiovanniComment

 There comes a time where you just need to do it. You need to fire your coach. Whether it's a health coach or life coach or business coach or athletic coach. Or lactating coach. Or...I'll stop there.

If you have ever hired someone to support you in changing, improving or shifting some aspect of your life, it's important to know when it's time to end that relationship.

Ready means different things to different people, as I've learned from both being a health coach and also hiring different coaches or other practitioners to support my own health and my business.

Readiness determines action which determines success. 

And it's usually time to fire your coach if you're really not ready to do the work involved in that relationship. If you DO feel ready, however, another reason it's important to know when to fire your coach (or other support person) is if you can tell it's not a good fit. You want to change but you need the right person to help you. 

So, how do you know which it is and what to do?

1) You'd rather complain than take action. Hey, we're human. When we aren't ready to change, we make excuses in the form of complaints. The excuses are a defensive mechanism to avoid the pain and truth of taking responsibility for our lives and our health. "You mean I have to actually cook for myself if I want to eat better--my partner/friend/parent/boss doesn't count?" I say this as someone who has personally fought tooth-and-nail to understand and overcome this, and witnessed hundreds of others do the same. BEWARE! Your excuses can often be highly-credited and widely-agreed upon amongst your circle of friends, family and colleagues--why else would you hang around those people if not to have the feeling of being "right" most of the time?? We could complain our lives away and probably surround ourselves with people who listen and do it too, as long as we want to stay the way we are. If you find you're complaining about the tasks or assignments you're being given by your coach, it's time to fire that person.

2) You keep rescheduling appointments. My gosh, your life is busy. You have SO MANY things to get done and the hour needed to catch up with your coach is just...the straw that will break your back. It's nothing personal, you are just too busy. 

3) You find yourself resenting the support or recommendations. Your coach asks good questions or makes recommendations and you find yourself instantly coming up with rebuttals or reasons why it wouldn't work for you. If you hear from your coach between scheduled sessions, it annoys you. The questions the person asks make you think and/or feel things you'd just rather not deal with. Or maybe you've clearly asked what you need and the person seems to miss it. They talk over you. They aren't really listening to you, they are talking to hear themselves talk. They are bringing an agenda, consciously or not. Either way, the "support" isn't occurring like support at all for you.

4) You dread appointments instead of count the hours between them. Similar to the above, you find yourself trying to find ways to get out of your scheduled sessions and you spend time crafting perfectly-worded emails or planning to call when you're pretty sure the person won't answer the phone. And then you put off calling because now you're not sure if they will answer or not ...

5) You don't trust the person. Something just doesn't feel right. You can't put your finger on it but it's there. You've done all the right things and you sincerely crave a change but this person doesn't seem to get you or hear you. Or for some other reason, you just don't trust this person really gets what you're going through or can be the person to help you through it. 

6) You just aren't getting the results you hoped for. You've stuck with it. You've done everything you can think of . You gave it the old college try but, nope. You feel little to no progress and things aren't shifting despite your best efforts. 

Maybe it's timing. Maybe it's chemistry. Maybe it's your readiness for change. Maybe it's the person's limitations. Whatever the reason, get clear on your part and decide if things aren't working because of something you're doing or not doing or because you just need to fire your coach. Do you need to take time away from whatever change you're trying to make or find a new person who might be a better fit?

If you're not sure, don't keep doing something that isn't making you a better, healthier, happier version of yourself. Only invest in a relationship that helps you do this.

 

 

How to cultivate cozy and content.

Health and Wellness, Inspiration, GeneralDillan DiGiovanniComment

Last weekend I passed up a date for a cozy afternoon alone. 

This isn't rare. It's my life as I've built it over the past two or three years. Weekends are no longer spent running around feverishly trying to make up for what I wasn't able to tackle during the week. I'm not booked solid with commitments, personal or professional. I don't run errands in a panic. I'm not keeping up with the Jones' social calendar. I don't even know anyone named Jones.

After years of filling my calendar in a misguided attempt to fill some void, I stopped.

I get it. Life is busy. There is a lot to do. I know this because it's been only me doing all the things for as long as I can remember, including the years I spent living with people. Having roommates helped a bit with sharing chores but we often had different priorities. I remember when one roommate wanted me to mop the floors from the muddy mess her two large dogs made. For me, that was a "no". And even being partnered for a time didn't mean we were a happy couple seamlessly moving from thing to thing. We sometimes handled the basics ok but often bickered about dinner or cleaning the bathroom right. From what I hear, this happens more than not.

After years of roommates of all kinds, living alone again meant adjusting to solitude which I managed by booking myself solid with commitments, some fun, some obligatory, some unconscious attempts to escape the loneliness. I see this in a lot of people who run from thing to thing and book themselves on the regular. Sometimes it's pure motivation in action. Completing grad school while running a business required me to be fiercely motivated around the clock. Sometimes people want busy lives because they want to see and do a lot with the time they have.

And sometimes, perhaps more often than people care to admit, it's also an attempt to outrun something. Maybe it's a fear of failure. Or maybe moving around can help them avoid the lack of love or connection to something that feels right and good. Or a mistake they made that they regret. They drink another thing or eat another thing or do something or go somewhere, anywhere but here--because here is something to fear. I don't think many people stop to think about this. I sure didn't, until I chose to.

I chose to think about it because living alone means I need to do everything: do the laundry, earn the money to pay the bills, do the shopping and the cooking and the dishes and the cleaning, and of late the wood stacking and ash bucket dumping. I can't say I'm really bummed about that last one, haha. Or any of them, really. And because I value living my life like this, I need to make time to make it all happen, otherwise, it doesn't.

But living alone also means I've been able to cultivate cozy and content on a regular basis. It means I'm able to carve out time, wherever and however I need to, for rest and relaxation. Living alone means I intentionally sit with what and why and how I spend every moment of my time and, by extension, my life.

Mindfulness like this helps create a life of intention and meaning. When life is so busy, it's even more important for us to nurture the Skill of Stopping. All of the doing with none of the down time does get us to a point of burnout which serves no one, not us or anyone around us. We end up fatigued, not fantastic. We can end up resentment and miserable and it's no way to live. We can also end up running from thing to thing and not really seeing what we're in fact running from and why we're doing it and how it's not really serving us.

On the flip side, sloth doesn't serve us, either. Avoiding responsibility because you just can't, even, is another way to hide out from life. Being so busy that you literally don't have the time or energy for adulting.

Finding the middle way to make it all work is the goal.

Last weekend was an especially wonderful weekend of comfort for me. I live in a renovated barn and my woodstove has become a near and dear friend. I packed it full of wood and sat beside it looking out the big picture window at the two feet of new snow. I'd already been snowshoeing that morning and I could see my tracks. Winter fitness, check.

I had just received a small shipment from Amazon Prime containing three items: a book on spirituality that I started to read in the library before I moved out of Boston last year, a brand-new journal to write in and the novel, The Revenant, which was made into a movie starring one of my favorite actors, Leonardo DiCaprio. I bought those three things with a gift card that I've kept close for over six years of different dwellings. Turns out that shit really doesn't expire.

I laid myself down on the couch, opened the book and turned on the soundtrack which I bought last year on iTunes after I saw the film (twice). I played it over my Bose mini speaker which I recently got on sale with another gift card.

PS all the frugality is foreshadowing for something to come, stay tuned.

I said to myself, "this is a slice of heaven right here."

After a few hours, I worked on my taxes. Then I went right back to the couch. I read that book cover to cover in 48 hours, something I haven't done for over ten years. The required reading I did for graduate school doesn't count, of course.

There were a few moments where I felt that familiar pull to be cleaning something or doing something for my business. My brain and body, both so habituated to momentum, struggled to settle. But I sat with the urge and let it pass. I intentionally cultivated cozy and content on my terms in my own way.

Cultivating cozy takes work. After childhood passes, we have to be more vigilant to make it happen in meaningful ways. But it's worth the effort. I entered the week feeling vibrant and fulfilled despite the bleak winter and shared the story of my cozy weekend with my clients who ooohed and ahhhed and started thinking of ways they'd create a similar experience for themselves.

For the first few retellings, I said, "listen to what a dork I am, this is what I did," and then I stopped giving that disclaimer. I changed my story to, "listen to the incredible experience I created for myself this weekend."

Unlike the protagonist in the story and my former self who strived and struggled for days on end to run from something or fill my time to look busy or cool or God knows what other reason, cozy and content is the new me.

revenant cozy