Dillan DiGiovanni

coach | writer | speaker

What I Learned From Waking Up Alone On Christmas

InspirationDillan DiGiovanni5 Comments
madewithOver (2)

  In December 2007, I woke up alone on Christmas for the first time in my life.

It was one of the most difficult and beautiful experiences of my life--to date. I learned so much about myself, my inner strength and the power of fear. Fear is powerful, but it's not real.

I had moved to Boston from New Jersey (born and bred, baby) in July of 2006 and had traveled home for the holidays that winter. The following winter, I just opted to stay put. A few friends from my place of employment at the time offered me a place at their tables on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I was set. It would be weird, yes. Awkward, a little. They were people I knew and trusted, so that helped.

But it required some courage and confidence to prepare for the morning--when I would wake up alone. No presents under the tree. No one to hang my stocking, let alone fill it with anything. It was a departure from life as I had known it before. It was new territory, a demarkation carved into my cortex between my former and current self.

Would I be able to do it? What would happen when I woke up in the morning, alone, without a soul to see on a really important holiday?

Christmas Eve dinner was great. My host was kind, the guests kinder and there were cookies. Always a win, for me. I lingered but eventually had to leave. I don't remember commuting home or falling asleep.

But I do remember waking up.

It was quiet. It felt sad. I held my stuffed animals, placed strategically around me on all sides, and I cried. I cried tears that came for so many reasons, some related to the emotions of the morning, some that had nothing to do with anything I felt in that moment. Just tears. Tears cried in the solitude I had chosen to experience.

Eventually, I stopped crying. I got up and ate some cookies and made some breakfast. I watched The Godfather Trilogy, which was something I had set as a goal for myself.  I sat present with emotions ranging from pride to sorrow and back to pride, again. I had done it. I had woken up alone on Christmas and lived to tell about it.

I watched Fredo get the kiss of death. I studied Al Pacino's expressions and thought of my father, who resembles him. My father is also extremely talented and probably would have been an excellent actor.

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I got up, eventually, showered and dressed and found my way out on the commuter rail to a remote suburb for my Christmas dinner. More strangers seated around a table who made a place for me.

To this day, I remember that experience and all I learned from it, namely the profound depth of my inner strength. If we can feel the fear and face the tough stuff, we get to see what we are truly made of. 

I was so afraid of waking up alone on Christmas Day. Even though I chose it, I was worried about what would happen, how I would feel and if I would be able to handle the experience of waking up alone.

Turns out, I handled it just fine. Often, our fear of something ends up being way more difficult than the actual experience.

That experience transformed me and my experience of fear for the rest of my life. Every time I feel afraid of something, anything, I remember every moment of that Christmas in 2007. I remember making the decision to do it and I remember sitting with that choice all the way through the holiday.

Six years later, I still feel good about it. It was damn hard but I feel damn awesome about myself.

Merry DAMN Christmas!

Winter Wellness Warriors: 6 week virtual program to cultivate courageous health.

Health and WellnessDillan DiGiovanniComment
madewithOver
madewithOver

Be courageously balanced, healthy and strong in mind, body and spirit this winter season.

Be a Winter Wellness Warrior.

WHEN: January 15-February 26

WHERE: online/wherever you are

COST: $57*

*Group rate. Need some one-on-one support from me? Ask about a Winter Wellness Upgrade when you sign up.

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Register_Now_button_blue

What does 'winter wellness' mean?

It means hardiness during the roughest, coldest months.

It means eating well, getting consistent sleep and finding comfort from the shorter, darker days.

It means less stress. No fuss.

It means relaxation and a lot of comfortable blankets and warm, soothing drinks.

It means less colds, if any.

It means being in a state of balance, serenity and perspective.

The Tibetan word for warrior means, "one who cultivates courage". Well, it takes a lot of courage to go against the grain and actually use this season to rest, relax and slow down.

Most people will be all over the place, running themselves into the ground and bringing their health, joy and energy along for the ride. A Winter Wellness Warrior chooses differently.

Being a Winter Wellness Warrior means thriving at a time of year meant for introspection, hibernation and rejuvenation. It means cultivating the courage to care for yourself and be well.

It takes courage to cook for yourself, when take-out is easier...

It takes courage to set a bed time and stick to it. There are so many good shows on and so much to do...

It takes courage to slow down when you want to do more...

It takes courage to read books and be creative for pleasure...

It takes courage to look inside, reflect on what is and what has been, and strive for transformation in the coming year.

Not many people do this. 

You can be someone who does.

Tibetan-prayer-flags
Tibetan-prayer-flags

You might be a Winter Wellness Warrior if you are:

  • craving a life change or shift
  • want to be your own personal Island of Health in a sea of sick, suffering souls
  • feeling run down and want more energy
  • ready for some down time but struggle to find or make it
  • seeking renewal and healing
  • committed to join and stick with something for 6 weeks
  • willing to find connection and inspiration within a group of like-minded people

What will you get?

I know you're smart. You know a lot. This program will add to what you DO know for a good refresher with a few more new things to inspire your path to cultivating courageous health and wellness of mind, body and spirit.

This program contains the best of what I've learned over the 15 years I've been in the 'health and wellness world'. I got sick exactly one day last year, one of the most stressful and intense years of my life. Imagine what's possible for you?

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check-list-hi

                 a Healthy Habit PDF to chart your progress

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ygmlogo

        regular reminders via email to sustain your courage

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RESTORE_000014185704Resized

           downloadable meditation/relaxation sessions

Support_Group
Support_Group

   a virtual group of fun folks to stay accountable

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soup

             tasty recipes to boost immunity and inner warmth

Ready to cultivate courageous health?

Click below and take your first courageous step.

COST: $57*

*Group rate. Need some one-on-one support from me? Ask about a Winter Wellness Upgrade when you sign up.

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Love the Haters and Thrive Anyway

LGBTQ, InspirationDillan DiGiovanni1 Comment

  madewithOver (1)

 

So, last week was Transgender Awareness Week. I wrote a few blog posts about it and attended an awesome fundraiser for MTPC where I got to meet the 1st (and best) stand-up transgender comedian Ian Harvie. I did my part.

But there was something in me that was afraid to really say what I wanted to say during that week, namely the pervasive culture or mindset of surviving instead of thriving, and how it isn't serving any of us. I have struggled with saying it more and louder, for fear of the haters. The ones who don't agree and will make sure I know they don't. I know not everyone agrees with me. In fact, a lot of people have a big problem with my message of thriving, in particular some people in the LGBTQ community. One person commented:

"it felt like a punch in the gut for me to read that someone with your identities celebrated TDOR by thriving."

When I saw this, it didn't feel good, but it really helped me get over this fear I'd had. I finally got the reprisal I'd been fearing and it didn't shake me from my truth.

People aren't always going to agree with you and they can and will be fundamentalist about anything so you shouldn't let it keep you silent.

I knew a comment like that was coming. I've been bracing for it ever since I began taking responsibility for my own health and happiness four years ago. The more I've done that, I see where people stand. The more I stick by it, the more I see who I'm meant to inspire and what I'm actually here for.

I didn't come up with that thriving thing on my own. I take my cues from folks older and wiser than me. People like Pema Chodron and Maya Angelou who said, "surviving is important. Thriving is elegant."

I don't want to just survive. I want to thrive. And I want to spread that message for anyone and everyone who is on board with it.

It's a bummer that the ones who don't subscribe need me to suffer to validate their point of view. I watch this happen within any group of people, no matter their identity. It happened to my friend a few weeks ago when she took a stand about sugar. People get attached to an idea, usually in opposition to something. They then surround themselves with people who agree and become fundamentalist in a way that often recreates the whole cycle of the thing they were in opposition to. It just doesn't work for creating positive, lasting transformation.

But, of course, you can't tell them that. I know, because I was there, too. I played into many ideologies for a long time. I did it with food, politics and with people. I noticed the more I did, the worse my life got and the more I became alienated from my family, my friends and my own self. It didn't make my life, and the lives of others, any better. It just kept me tired, sick and poor. WTF good was that doing for anyone?

It was only when I started allowing all things to be possible and deeply believing in that that I could allow others that opportunity, too.

When I became a health coach, I got a new perspective that shifted a lot of this for me. I learned HOW to thrive and WHY it works well for me and my work when I do. The healthier and stronger I am, the bigger impact I can make. The more lives I can touch. The more people I can reach. I have received countless message this past year from people who were NOT comfortable or familiar with transgender people before I came out and shared about it. They have told me how knowing me helped them get on board.

Hell, if that isn't reason enough to thrive and keep going, I don't know what is.

Last year, when I met Brene Brown in person she gave me this advice, "if you're pissing people off, you're on the right track".

Another mentor said, "when you stand for something, people will mess with you."

 

Love the haters. They help you see where and why your work is needed.

And thrive, anyway.

 

How to have an amazing Thanksgiving

InspirationDillan DiGiovanniComment

A few years ago, I was pretty bummed out around this time. I was totally dwelling on the fact that I was estranged from my family and wasn't going to have the 'typical' Thanksgiving experience. I felt broken and sad, like there was something really wrong with me and everyone else was having this great time.

As the past few years have gone by, I see that a lot of people are in the same boat, for many reasons. There was nothing broken or wrong about me. Others feel the same way, too.

It's true that SOME people have the experience that media tells us we should have. And BOY! don't they do a kick-ass job of it? You know the commercials of people serving a 50-lb turkey with all the trimmings dressed in perfectly-ironed outfits with fresh haircuts. Then, they all sit at the huge dining room table at Grandma's house. The message is: "Everyone is doing this. You should be, too."

How can we be so smart and such suckers to buy that crap every single year?!

This year, be real. Get honest. Those commercials are meant to sell you stuff. Buy this food, buy this device, buy this scarf--and you will be normal and really happy like these people. Some people have that experience, most don't. Whatever your situation, you are totally in the driver's seat for making the day amazing.

 

CHOOSE YOUR CELEBRATION STYLE

Got family to visit? Awesome. Head over and make it the best day possible. Take it on like a challenge or workout for your ego. Don't complain about it or want them to be different. Remember that some people would like to have family to visit. You have them. Love them for exactly who they are and exactly who they aren't.

Is your family far away or are you estranged from them like I was? For three years in a row, I am celebrating with the same people and omg, we make it better and better each year! You can also choose to celebrate alone or reach out and ask a friend if you can tag along with their plans. People assume you are taken care of, so express your need to someone you love and trust and see what happens. I did it a few years ago, and it was awesome.

Maybe you got an invite from friends but it feels weird to go solo. Maybe they will judge you. Maybe it reminds you that you don't have a family. You have options. Consider that you showing up makes all those folks happier than you could ever know, because they get to share their joy with you. Perhaps spending the day on your couch with your favorite foods with your favorite movies is just what you need. Brunch plans and then the movies on your own? Be creative! Think outside that box sold in those commercials. It isn't real. Your life IS real and you get to create it.

Make it happen. Whatever it is, CHOOSE it. Decide you love it and soak up the hours you have to bask in the day of your choosing.

 

ENJOY WHAT YOU'RE EATING

I see a lot of people getting a little freaked out about the amazing feast that is Thanksgiving. My advice is to eat the tasty food. Dieting today won't magically help you lose 10 pounds. You also won't gain 10, from one day of overindulging. Do whatever you need or want to do. Last year, one client of mine woke up and ate a very healthy breakfast of eggs and spinach and toast and then spent the rest of the day focusing on loving her family and enjoying her favorite dishes. She even brought a healthy dish to contribute to the table and got rave reviews from everyone!

Everyone has their own style and relationship to food, but what has worked best for me the past few years is to eat really well for breakfast and lunch, drink lots of water and eat some fresh fruit and veggies. At the late afternoon or evening celebration meal, I try everything in small portions, first. A bite of this. A taste of that. I sample everything and then eat whatever I REALLY like.

 

Be real about your situation, whatever it is. Don't apologize or be embarrassed. Be grateful for it, even more grateful, on this day. That's the whole freakin' point, right? Choose how to celebrate, make it your own and please--really enjoy whatever you're eating.

Make this an amazing Thanksgiving!

 

 

5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Stress

Health and Wellness, InspirationDillan DiGiovanni1 Comment

Guys, I didn't believe it when they told me I would change from taking testosterone. I was like, "naaahhh. Those guys act all macho and angry because they think they have to."

I was wrong. So wrong.

I've always had a temper but this T shit is no joke. Lately I get set off for simple things like not being able to plug my phone charger into the wall or because my computer is running too slow. It is me or is that whirring sound killllllerrrrrrrrrr.

After years of meditating (not often enough) and learning to listen to my body, I can actually feel the temperature rising inside, like a rage tidal wave. Sometimes I let it out. Sometimes I don't. Most times, I DO laugh at how childish it seems and how much like my teenage self I've become. Again.

Hormones are powerful things, and I've heard similar tales of woe from my pregnant pals and friends experiencing menopause. The terms might be different, but the experience is certainly the same.

And if the hormone thing wasn't enough, life brings any number of stressors into our day. My mom just texted me that she woke up to a busted hot water heater and electrical wires down from a felled tree. Ouch.

Anyone will tell you that stress isn't good for our bodies. Being angry and stressed isn't our only option for whatever life throws our way.

Here are five things you can do right now to reduce stress and feel better fast:

 

1) get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a night, on a regular schedule. Sleep deprivation takes anything mildly annoying and ramps it up 1000%. It's hard to respond in a cool, calm and collected way when you're bleary-eyed and cognitively impaired. 

2) breathe. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. When you're feeling the pressure build, stop whatever you're doing and take 4 realllllly deep breaths. Repeat as many times as you need until the needle moves a few notches from RED ALERT.

3) meditate more. This isn't just for Buddhists or yogis, anymore. There is a ton of research out there supporting the physical, mental and emotional benefits of meditation. 5-15 minutes every day can work wonders.

4) reduce your sugar intake. Adults joke about giving kids sugar...

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but rarely notice when they act exactly the same way. First comes the happy sugar high and then the moody meltdown. Don't believe me? Track your sugar intake for one week. Reduce it by half the following week and see what you notice about your mood, energy levels and response when triggered.

5) phone a friend. James Taylor's song "You've Got a Friend" isn't a huge hit by accident. People NEED pals. We really do. Next time your head feels about ready to explode, text someone on your recent calls list with this message: "I need to vent. Can you listen to me, unbiased, while I rant for a sec?" Then, set a timer for 2 minutes and let it all out. When the timer dings, you're done. Return the favor for your friend and you might get some perspective on your current situation. Maybe it wasn't as bad as you thought...

 

 

 

Got a quick tip that folks can do anytime, anywhere to reduce stress levels?

Feel free to share in the comments below. ;-)

 

How To Make Your Own Almond Milk and Why You Want To

RecipesDillan DiGiovanni6 Comments

I'll start by saying that I am not against cows milk. It's tasty stuff and I do enjoy half-and-half in my coffee. I also really like ice cream. But I try to keep it at a minimum in my diet, especially during the winter, because I definitely do notice I get more mucus-y and congested after consuming it. Do you? Have you ever kept track? Try that out and see what you see.

Today, I'll tell you how to make your own almond milk and why you want to.

almond
almond

I started using alterna-milks back in 2000 when I was a total hippie. I started with carob-flavored rice milk. It had a ton of sugar but I didn't read labels for their ingredients back then. I just looked at calories. 100 calories per cup. Great. I had no idea what was good or not good. I just consumed.

Things are very different now but I had to start somewhere. Over the years, I've learned that it matters what's in my milk. It matters about everything I eat, really, so I read labels and make sure I know what I'm consuming.

When I started drinking almond milk on the regular a couple of years ago, I didn't notice the long list of ingredients on the label. Things like: tapioca starch, carrageenan and sunflower lecithin. Those are mostly natural ingredients used as emulsifiers or thickening agents, so it is shelf-stable and resembles the texture of cows milk. The sweetened versions contain 15-20 grams of sugar* in an 8 fl oz (1 cup) serving! That's about 5 teaspoons of sugar, friends. Just in one cup of milk. And it's cane sugar that's been added in, not the naturally-occurring lactose found in cows milk.

Makes a big difference, huh?

A couple of years ago, I learned how to make my own almond milk to wipe out all those extra ingredients and added cane sugar. I've refined the recipe and process a bit and I am sharing it with you so you can reduce your milk intake. Why would you want to do that?

Cold and flu season is approaching, yes? Less mucus means less sinus pressure means less suffering. Savvy? Good.

HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK

Ingredients 3 cups raw almonds (preferably organic) 7 cups of water per 1.5 cups of soaked almonds 2 pitted medjool dates

Tools heavy-duty blender 2 fine-mesh wire strainers large airtight container

Instructions 1) Cover almonds with fresh, filtered water in a glass dish or jar and soak for 2-3 days in fridge. 2) Rinse and drain. Set aside. 3) Scoop 1.5 cups almonds and add one pitted date to blender and ~7 cups fresh water. 4) Blend on high for 5 seconds. 5) Pour through 2 mesh strainers into airtight container. 6) Let the almond pulp drain completely and toss it in the strainer to remove excess liquid. Store in small airtight container. 7) REPEAT.

This should make about a half-gallon (64 ounces) of almond milk that you want to use within a week or so. You can use it with oatmeal, for smoothies, in tea or coffee or for baking!

What can you do with the wet almond pulp?

Here's the best part of making your own almond milk--you get *free* almond flour!

Make sure the excess liquid is squeezed out and spread it on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature possible for 3 hours. Make sure you spread it around so it dries out well. Then, once it is dried out and cooled, blend it to reach your desired consistency for baking!

Cost breakdown:

I 32 oz store-bought container of almond milk (which may or may not be organic): $2.99

3 cups of raw almonds: range from $6.49 (non-organic)- $8.99 (organic)/pound yields 64 ounces of milk PLUS ~3 cups almond meal/flour for baking.

When I realized that the boxed milk might be a tad cheaper but wasn't actually 100% almond milk it was just a no-brainer for me. I'm paying less money because I'm actually paying for all those thickening agents and added sugar (in the sweetened varieties), not just pure almond milk.

I'll spend a tad more on whole foods ingredients, put in a little labor and get a LOT more in the end.

*info courtesy of BlueDiamond.com

When will you give this a try? Did this post help you feel a bit more confident to make the jump to making your own almond milk?

I welcome your comments and questions below.

NOTE: someone already asked me for recipes for other 'milks' due to almond allergies. I don't have those available...yet. ;)

Why Everyone Needs to See 12 Years a Slave

InspirationDillan DiGiovanni1 Comment

I'm a health and transformation coach. So why am I writing a movie review? Well, it's not a movie review. It's life advice.

I highly, highly recommend you make time to bring a friend, partner or family member to see Steve McQueen's latest film, 12 Years a Slave. I'll tell you why.

I was raised to know very little about slavery as it actually happened. I only knew the little I learned in school, which was hardly anything at all. When I began reading more books to prepare lessons as an 8th grade school teacher, my eyes were really opened. Now that I knew more, I considered it my duty to talk about it.

I often read the novel Roots, by Alex Haley, aloud to my students. They sat on the edge of their seats, "this is so real. It's so sad," they said. When they connected to the suffering of the characters, they were learning, really learning, in ways their carefully edited textbooks could never teach.

 

I've seen many movies and read many books about slavery. None of them compare to 12 Years a Slave, based on the true life story of a free New York citizen named Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years. While this was the fate of so many people, he is only one of a few people to be returned to freedom.

 

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This film was excellent. I could expound about the cinematography or the actor's performances, the set design, the costumes or the brilliant screenplay. But I won't, because that intellectualizes the experience. It was excellent because it told the truth in ways Americans, including me, need to see with their own eyes if we are ever to heal as a nation.

 

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From the opening scenes, I knew I was in for a spiritual journey. I was going to put my life worries and concerns to the side and be present to the stories of human beings who suffered tremendous terrors and injustices. For 2 hours and 15 minutes, I was bearing witness to my country's history and honoring the truths, however ugly, of the past. I was going to sit with my discomfort, grief and all the other feelings that come up when faced with the truth.

This, I believe, is the path to transformation. When we repress pain and avoid grief, true healing never happens. We are inauthentically 'dealing' with life. When we confront and accept what is with humility, compassion and forgiveness, we heal and evolve.

The more we do this as individuals, the more we can do it collectively as human beings.

I felt such awesome respect for the actors who portrayed the devastating lives of their characters with brutal honesty, profound skill and unrelenting passion. I felt grateful for the director who has provided us with a true masterpiece of cinema and art to capture and create what books could never evoke. It felt like a prayer--a prayer to the many who perished during this period of history. This prayer said, "we see you, we honor you, we remember."

While most movies are full of fantasy and sensationalized depictions of reality and suspended belief, this film was not. It was frame after frame of reality as it was lived.

During the most graphic and painful scenes, I kept my eyes glued to the screen. I wanted to honor the actors for their hard work, their own suffering and the suffering of those they represented. I sat in my seat, counting my blessings and privileges, and wondering how, in 2013, many Americans continue to live as though this history didn't happen and endure into our present.

In our lives, there are many things that we don't know that we don't even know, about our own selves and the lives of others. As painful as the awareness may be, ignorance is no escape. Awareness can bring reverence, respect and a shared sense of humanity. When I began to know more, only then I could initiate the process of forgiveness from a place of real understanding.

Everyone should see this film to dig deep into your own suffering and share in the suffering of others.

Find the connections. Experience authenticity and healing.

That is where you will find true love.

 

Have you seen this film? What was your response? What did you learn about yourself or this piece of our nation's history that you didn't know before and what will you do with that new knowledge?

Being Myself: meet my new intern, Desiree.

Dillan DiGiovanniComment

Hello all, my name is Desiree, and I'm Dillan's new intern for the fall semester. Clif Bars 061

 

Dillan has asked me to write on his blog and give a brief introduction as to who I am. I met Dillan at Lesley University. Dillan came to a class I was in called Application to Holistic Healing. The class was an intro to other holistic practices and the professor organized many guest speakers whose businesses are using holistic models.

Immediately, I was drawn to Dillan's humor and the way he promoted health in a non preachy, nonjudgmental way.

When he shared with the class his recent transition in life, to come out and begin his gender transition...I began to see how similar Dillan and I really were, despite our different journeys.

A snap-shot into mine:

I was raised in a single parent home and brought up in a christian family. I considered myself, as did others, a “born again”. I married a christian guy and we were significant leaders in our church. My mother was proud of me and my two younger siblings looked up to me. I lived among the Christian teachings for 25 years.

Then things began to change.

It wasn’t one event that led me away from the theology, it was a number of life events that made me rethink who I wanted to be. Making this change was not an easy adjustment, and once I did it my life didn’t suddenly turn into “boom, now I’m happy".

Everything unraveled right before I got divorced. I lost friends, lost family support, broke my foot then, lost my job, started an unhealthy relationship, stopped eating...

drank a lot of wine, and more wine.

I fought back every tear that wanted to be cried out because I was still performing for everyone else.

I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. They shaped me into who I am today, and I think I’m pretty cool! (It’s taken a lot of introspective work to be able to say that and mean it).

I wanted to do my internship with Dillan because I could relate to his personal story. Even though our transitions in life have been so different, we have more in common than not. We both have been through some life changing events that have shaped us into the people we are today.

But, if you really think about it, who hasn’t been through a transition in life that changed us forever? 

After I graduate, I’m interested in doing the same kind of work as Dillan. I look forward to learning from him. I respect his approach and how he communicates with his audience. His message is clear, that we can make an impact on the world by simply accepting ourselves for who we are.

 

If you hear yourself saying "I Don't Need This S$%^", chances are you do.

InspirationDillan DiGiovanni8 Comments

  Is this sentence familiar to you, too?

No? Just me?

OK. Maybe you have your own version of it. Take a look.

What do you say when you're completely fed up, done, overwhelmed, frustrated, annoyed and hopeless?

This is what I say: "I don't need this s%^*". It's my back door. My exit strategy. It gets me off the hook and I'm no longer responsible.

mj

I don't have to be compassionate when someone calls me female pronouns, despite that fact that I've corrected the person five times in a year. We even had a sit-down about it. And he's in a leadership role. Yeah, I know.

I don't have to accept that I didn't manage my time well and rushed my grad school paper and that's why I got a less than awesome grade.

I don't have to wake up early (like 5:30am, early) to write blog posts and put my newsletter together because my schedule is packed tighter than a tin of sardines lately.

Basically, I don't have to be who I need to be to do what I want to do in this life.

Guess what? You don't have to, either. You can actually make the decision to be, do and have anything you want. You can be as angry and nasty or as kind and compassionate as you choose. You can blame, judge and criticize people as much as you want or you can treat them with love, respect and patience. You can avoid timelines, deadlines, move commitments around, cancel appointments you make for yourself and with others. You can forget to call your mom. 

You can do all of these things. Or none of them. The only thing that gets in your way is you. But the opposite is also true. The only thing that can make anything possible, is you.

My life changed when I heard myself say, "I don't need this s%&^" and realized it was true, but it was also an access to realizing that in fact, I DID need it, in some way. I saw that each time I felt stopped, stuck or limited in some way---either in my words or behavior--it was a lesson. It was like someone pressed PAUSE so I could actually see myself stuck. I could decide, in that moment, what I wanted to do with the opportunity being presented. Why was I feeling challenged, annoyed, frustrated or hopeless? 

Often we get stopped when we're up against our own growth. It means we either see something about ourselves that isn't so awesome or we might feel vulnerable in some way, open to being wounded or hurt by someone.

Sometimes we see how awesome our lives might be if we keep being our awesome selves, even if it takes a lot of work. That's intense. It can be tempting to quit.

Next time you hear yourself say 'your thing' ask yourself if perhaps you really do need it in some way. Try to rise above and see yourself in a 360 degree view. What is this moment or experience teaching you? What are you seeing that you couldn't before? What can you do differently to change your life for the better?

Get frustrated. Life is hard sometimes. But it's all about how and what you choose to do with it. When you see yourself as responsible for your life, you'll hear yourself and 'your thing' in a different way. But don't miss a lesson for growth when it hits you smack in the face. At least use that s%^& for something useful.

 

Emmy's Organics Macaroons & More!

Dillan DiGiovanniComment

  Looking for something sweet, healthy AND organic? That's like a nutrition triple play, right there.

(oh? you want vegan, gluten-free and raw, too? OK. Done.)

lem maclem

I first tasted the awesomeness of these macaroons when I worked at Cambridge Naturals, a local natural food store in Cambridge, MA, a few years ago.

When I found out the company was owned by a couple of young adults like me, I knew I had to blog about them. You know how I love blowing up other peoples' courageousness, especially fellow business owners and entrepreneurs! We all need help getting our message out there!

ianandsamantha

 

When I followed EMMY'S ORGANICS on instagram, they sent me a gift package like the one they sell on their website right here. Early holiday shopping, anyone?

(I REALLY wish I hadn't eaten all of them. I could have made a giveaway for you. Next time, promise!)

 

emmys

 

I asked Samantha, the co-owner and founder, some questions to learn a bit more about her company, her product and her mission. She took precious time away from her biz to answer some questions for me.

 

DD) Um. Your products are so, so good. What was your inspiration to create such a great product?

S) Since Ian was a teenager, he has dealt with a number of digestion and food allergy issues. This forced him to change the way he looked at food 360 degrees. He has to stop eating dairy and gluten and didn't know much about alternative ways to eat for health. He took a trip to a family-friends raw food restaurant in San Francisco and quickly changed his mindset. There he learned about super-foods, juicing, dehydrating and many other ways to prepare raw foods. Eating a lot of raw food also helped him feel really good, physically. This is where it all started for him.

For myself, I have always been interested in the best way to take care of myself. Its just a natural desire of mine. When I was in college, my step-mother checked herself into a raw detox center in San Diego because she had some pre-cancer cells in her eye. She came home weeks later totally emerged in raw food preparation. She also felt amazing and her cells were healed. Eventually, she lost interest in some of her raw food tools so she gave them to me and I started experimenting.

Ian and I played with all different kinds of food, both raw and cooked and this is how our company emerged. We have always kept a very strong emphasis on simplicity and ease and Ian's chocolate macaroon recipe fell right into that category ;-).

DD) what was the biggest obstacle you faced in building your company? 

I think for any small company, growth is a very big obstacle. In the very beginning, Ian and I did EVERYTHING. We didn't take days or even evenings off. We managed the production, bookkeeping, sales, cleaning, packaging, you name it. There comes a time when you get so much business that you actually can't handle it. Hiring that very first employee was huge and scary for us. We were so used to doing everything ourselves so we were nervous to take that next step.

DD) one of my biggest messages is living fearlessly. How did you overcome fears, obstacles and set backs while growing the business?

S) We gave up control, made plenty of mistakes (we still do) and learned from them. We have gotten a real education in communication and listening over the past 4.5 years!

DD) your products use such clean, quality ingredients when it would be easier to use cheaper ones. Tell me why. 

We use clean ingredients because that is what food is to us. They are what feed us and nourish us and give us energy to do the things in life that matter.

DD) what has been your biggest success since you launched?

S) We launched a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo.com at the end of 2010 to re-brand all of our packaging. We raised over $15,000 from fans, family and friends to take this next leap. It was a success, both financially and mentally. It was the first time that we got to see how many people supported our dreams and what we are out to achieve. It was an amazing experience that has impacted us forever.

DD) I love that story! That's amazing. OK, so what's next? I'm all about setting goals to make progress in life. Name 4 goals you have for yourself and/or your company in the next two years:

S) 1. To visit where some of our ingredients are grown.

2. To successfully launch at least 2 more product lines.

3. To continue to grow the benefits that we offer our employees.

4. Become a B-Corp! (learn more about that here)

 

Thank you so much, Samantha and Ian, for making an awesome product and for sending me some special gifts!

Emmy's makes more than macaroons. Head over and take a look at their website right here: http://emmysorganics.com/

You can find Emmy's at major stores like Whole Foods as well as smaller, independent natural food and product stores like Cambridge Naturals in Porter Square, Somerville, MA.