Tough Experiences Yield the Most Fruitful Lessons

I guess you can say I’m a fixer. Whenever something happens that causes others stress or grief, I immediately got into militant mode.

I take over.

I go into action.

What I realized today is that my coping mechanism for grief can come off as lacking compassion; as too intense.

That broke my heart. Which was already bleeding.

Over the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time with my friends’ dogs. The dogs and I have been a wolfpack, as my friends have been traveling.

The last two weeks were very intense as one of the dogs was very ill. I did everything I could…followed all the rules…even slept with the dogs (which if you know me, I am NOT a fan of) because I wanted the sick one to feel comforted.

Yesterday, it got to the point where he was disoriented. He was walking into walls. He wasn’t able to control his bodily functions.

We took him to the vet and ultimately learned that the only humane thing to do for him was to aid him in crossing the rainbow bridge.

Truth be told, I had known for a few weeks that the time was coming. I thought I was prepared.

But how can you be prepared to say goodbye to a being that you had worked so hard to keep alive?

I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I held him as he took his last breath.

And I sobbed. I apologized to him for swearing at him as I cleaned up his messes. I promised him that I would take care of his sister and his parents.

And the vet and I had a few laughs because one of my coping mechanisms is laughter.

When we got home, I went into a mode that I can only describe as extreme Martha. I did all of the things that needed to be done. And I continued to do so this morning.

Then I was told that I needed to lighten up.

It was a kick to the gut.

But it was the reality check that I needed.

You see…in extreme circumstances, I rely too heavily on my masculine energy. I’m not used to having someone who wants to…needs to take care of me. I’ve been a lone wolf for most of my life. I hate asking for help. I hate not being able to do all the things.

What works for me in my family doesn’t work for me in a relationship.

That was an eye-opener for me. Sounds silly–I know–but when you’ve lived on your own for around a decade, things have to change when you’re no longer alone.

One of the tenets by which I live my life is that life doesn’t happen to you…it happens for you.

I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I have the capacity to love an animal and to allow animals to love me.

I learned that I am stronger than I ever knew.

I learned that it is okay to need someone to support me.

I learned that I need to find a way to connect with my feminine energy.

I’m sad that the dog passed…but our last moments broke open a piece of my heart that has been locked for a long time.

What tough experience have you gone through recently that yielded an aha moment? Talk to me.

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You Can’t Have a Plan B. This Has To Be The ONLY Plan.

On Monday, I had the opportunity to interview Bob Leone on the VIP Ignite podcast, who is a music legend. He is known as a star maker.

How did I get this opportunity? Let’s start from the beginning.

Two weeks ago, Michael Fomkin was in Los Angeles for a celebrity reading of the play, The Bench, A Homeless Love Story that VIP Ignite sponsored/produced. He sent me a picture of a business card–Bob’s business card–and told me that he had a meeting with him.

Being who I am, I had to google Bob. When I did my cursory search, my jaw dropped. I may have emitted a squeal as well.

I immediately texted him back, “YOU’RE HAVING A MEETING WITH THE MAN WHO DISCOVERED LADY GAGA?!?!?!?!”

They had their meeting, and the next thing I know, I’m getting on the phone with Bob Leone doing a pre-interview for the podcast.

So many things stand out from my conversations with him.

You can’t have a Plan B. This has to be your Plan A and your Plan B. It has to be the only plan.

When you are pursuing a career in the music industry, you have to eat, breathe and live music. It has to be the thing that wakes you up in the morning and that you dream about whilst you sleep.

I can tell you, firsthand from my conversations with Bob, that he practices what he preaches. When he talks about music and the talent that he works with, you almost feel a jolt of electricity come through the phone.

When he talks about discovering and grooming Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) he sounds like a painter creating a masterpiece. When he talks about how he wouldn’t let Lizzy Grant (Lana Del Rey) quit music, he beams with pride.

When he talks about songwriting, about the new talent that he is cultivating, about the state of the music industry, you know why he is so successful. It’s not only about him having the right connections–his first producer when he was in the band The Flame was Jimmy Iovine who worked with the biggest names in the music industry such as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Tom Petty to name a few–it is because he only works with people who can match his passion, his love, his work ethic.

Do you have that passion and drive for music?

If you do, make sure that you follow my blog. I’m going to be doing a series based on my conversation with Bob.

Please check out our website to get registered for our next open call. We have some amazing opportunities coming up for people trying to get into the music industry!

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If We Don’t Talk About It

We can’t eradicate it.

Today, I had the opportunity of a lifetime.

Back before it was a popular buzzword, I was learning about human trafficking.

What shocks me, truthfully, is that more people are not aware of what is going on in plain sight.

It was an intimate group of powerhouses.

People who are in the trenches, loving on people who have been victimized by other people for money.

One of the women is a survivor of human trafficking. If you saw her…you never would’ve guessed that she was a victim.

She doesn’t fit the bill.

She doesn’t look like a victim.

The woman who arranged it, Monica Watkins, got her start as a model. She went on a trip to Haiti and encountered a young girl who was ensnared in human trafficking after the earthquake that ravaged the island and claimed her family.

Now, the organization that she runs, Beauty for Freedom, has impacted the lives of over 2000 human trafficking survivors and at risk youth.

All it takes is one encounter.

All it takes is one person to start.

All it takes is one action.

What struck me the most about the whole day is the role that art is playing in the healing of survivors. Sometimes you don’t have the words…but you can create art that speaks louder than words.

What feels like a lifetime ago, my friend and I went into Philadelphia when President Bush was really starting to raise awareness on human trafficking and on helping non-profits get grants. I may have almost followed Franklin Graham into the bathroom…but that’s a story for a different time.

That day, again, I went because I thought it would be cool to hear the president and Franklin Graham speak. I had no clue that today I would be at an intimate panel in the NY Times building with people who were holding major corporations and brands accountable to doing their part in stopping the trafficking of human beings.

Why the hell are we having that conversation in 2019 still?

Because there are people who are still willing to BUY another human being.

There are people who make billions of dollars selling human beings.

Keep your eyes open. You know someone who is a slave. They may not have metal shackles on their ankles or chains on their arm, but you have encountered someone who is enslaved.

If you suspect that someone you encounter is there against their will, call the hotline. 888-373-7888.

Silence is complicity.

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Have you ever been fully present in a moment…

And felt like you had to pinch yourself to make sure it was really happening?

I had a moment like that a few nights ago. I was sitting at dinner after a long day, and as I took an inventory of the day, I found myself laughing incredulously.

You see, a few months ago, I was working a job that I honestly hated. It was a job that I had taken out of fear…and though it was good for what it was, it wasn’t something that was good for me.

Can you relate?

Now, here I am, nearly three months removed, and I’m having conversations that are unreal. Conversations that kids dream of…but that never appealed to me.

When I was in sixth grade, my best friend was obsessed with one thing: Hollywood. She made me watch every award show, every red carpet event…I obliged her because it made her happy…but it was never my cup of tea.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Hollywood for a huge networking event with VIP Ignite.

When we arrived, we ate lunch at the diner where a few of the scenes from Pulp Fiction were shot.

Then we went to the Walk of Fame and saw all the sights there.

Then we saw the Hollywood sign.

And I turned into a complete fan girl.

All of a sudden, I understood.

Fast forward to the other night.

I was sitting down at dinner after a long day, and everything that I’ve experienced in the past few months hit me. And even more than that, the conversation that I was having really struck me.

You see, a few months ago, my conversations were about how to keep a hygiene schedule full; how to get people signed up for Invisalign; how to get my staff to show up on time to greet patients.

Now, my conversations revolve around household names; around funding for projects; around things that a year ago were interesting to me, but not passion projects.

I have conversations with people who have the power to make or break careers; with people who are changing the face of how human trafficking victims are rehabilitated; who are going to change the face of social consciousness.

I jokingly said that the other day I lived an entire lifetime in one day…I did things that others dream about. I was told that I should start journaling it…so here I am, taking that advice.

I’m going to be sharing this journey with you.

If you’ve been with me for a while–even during the drought of writing, I hope that you stick with me. I know that this is a turn from how the blog started…but you’ll see how everything I’ve written before has led to this moment.

Are you ready to take the journey with me? Over the next few days, leading up to some huge interviews I have lined up, I’m going to be filling in the blanks that led up to this moment.

Make sure you subscribe to my blog…I promise you that as you ride along with me, you’ll be inspired to say YES to your dreams as well!

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Models, Murder and Human Trafficking

Have I told you guys that I host a podcast? I’ve been doing it for about a year now. I have had the opportunity to interview some of the coolest people in the entertainment industry. Actors. Models. Musicians. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

How did I land this gig? Well, I got connected with a company called VIP Ignite. We connect actors, models and musicians with casting directors, agents…you know…we get to help people make their dreams come true.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of nefarious people who prey on people who are willing to do anything to achieve their dreams…so we’re doing a 10 part series talking about companies who at best misrepresent what they can do for talent.

Just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

Last night, I had Alycia Kaback, the CEO of VIP Ignite, on the podcast…and we talked about a popular free website called Model Mayhem. If you’re a model, you probably know about them.

It seems like a good way to get some experience…I mean, every model needs more photos and looks…but it’s also a good way to come into contact with human traffickers.

And the website can’t even be held responsible. Think I’m joking? Listen to the podcast. If we were on video, you would’ve seen my jaw on the floor.

http://bit.ly/AlyciaTalksModelMayhem

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think after you check out the podcast! If you like what you heard–find the VIP Ignite Live podcast on iTunes or Stitcher and hit subscribe!

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Breaking patterns of repeatability

January has been health month. Annual checkup with the doctor. Mammogram. Annual gyn exam. You know, living my best life.

We are all so programmed to make sure our physical health is in check…but how often do we check in with our mindset health? Our career health? Our mental health? Or relational health?

We’re almost through the first month of the year…and though my physical health is pretty good…this weekend will be a time to examine the harder parts of my life.

I kicked off the year journaling, meditating, doing my devotions…but life happened. I’ve been dabbling in those things but not actively taking care of me.

Why?

Well…I can give you the excuses. Busy and short staffed at the 9-5. Burning both ends of the candle with the side hustle. But that would be me lying to you and to myself.

Somewhere inside, there is this angsty little girl who believes that I have to take care of everyone else first…then accept crumbs for me. She and I have been battling since I first determined that to be loved is to sacrifice yourself for others.

I have been consistently rewarded emotionally for putting myself last. I come from a codependent family where you’re made to feel guilty for not putting the family first. I am attracted to codependent relationships where I am expected to wait and sacrifice while getting very little in return.

So much honestly for a Friday morning.

In order for me to do all of the things that I am meant to do, I have to hang out with the little girl inside of me so that we can come to terms with how my life is going to work.

What does that mean? I am going to express gratitude for where my life is and has been. I am going to examine the root of why I still, despite having worked on this before, fall into the same patterns. Obviously I’m getting an emotional payoff of some sort or I would have broken the pattern.

After that, I am going to sit down and visualize, dream, write what my life looks like without those patterns. How it feels. The emotional payoff of doing the work.

Why am I oversharing? I’ve worked with a few Mindset coaches who have given me the tools I need to get to this point. A coach isn’t a cheerleader, as Rachel Hollis likes to say. A cheerleader is a yes man. A coach calls you on your bullshit.

If you need to break patterns in your life, you need a coach…not a psychologist, not a book. I’m developing a program that can benefit you if any of this resonates with you. Shoot me a message and let’s talk!

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What Is Wrong With You??

The last few days have been emotionally charged. So emotionally charged that I am exhausted on every level possible. I think my hair is emotionally and physically exhausted.

I have a very serious question that I am trying answer. What the actual f$&k is wrong with people?

People demand sympathy but don’t offer an ounce to others.

People demand service but are not of service to others.

People demand things be done in an illogical way yet refuse to understand why nothing is accomplished in a timely manner.

I am an empath. I FEEL all of things things in the deepest part of my soul. To the marrow of my bones.

So…here’s my answer to the question.

There is an emotional payoff. For all parties involved.

Deneen, that doesn’t make sense.

If you’re actively engaging in a way that drains you (and I’m looking in the mirror here) you like being drained. And complaining about it.

If someone demands sympathy but refuses to extend it, there is an emotional payoff in it.

Why do you act the way that you do? Do you enjoy the role of victim? (I don’t expect anyone to raise their hand, but I hope if you felt triggered, you journal on it.)

Do you enjoy the role of martyr? Jesus already died on the cross. Stop it already. No one likes a martyr, and the role doesn’t serve anyone.

Yes, I’m grumpy. Yes, I am tired. But I am also taking the time to look at why o choose these things and working on changing my story. I honestly have no time for bullshit excuses anymore.

If any part of this made you mad, you’re welcome. Send me hate mail…or contact me to coach you. You can’t correct what you don’t address. Make some changes in your life. Or stay the same, save some money today, and spend more in a year. It’s your choice.

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Comfort is Danger

Do you find yourself comfortable? In career? In relationships? In general?

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re comfortable, you are in a cancerous place.

Now…for the record, I’m no adrenaline junkie. I don’t seek out crazy situations. You won’t find me in line for a roller coaster or sky diving (though sky diving is somewhere on the bucket list.)

That being said, when I start to feel too comfortable in work, or in life, I know that I’m being complacent.

If you’re an actor, and you want to be successful, you’re always working on your craft. Taking acting lessons. Auditioning for new roles. Practicing monologues that challenge you as an actor.

If you’re a model, you’re consistently having photos taken. You’re trying out new looks, working with new photographers. You’re at the gym, saying no to cheeseburgers at midnight, networking and having yourself seen.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re networking, working in improving your business and team, tweaking your business model as the trends change, making sure that you are always learning from those further ahead than you are.

You get what I’m saying, right?

If you find yourself resting on your laurels, just going with the flow, you are in a dangerous place. Those who stay still are behind.

Now…I’m not insinuating that you should work 24/7…never take a vacation or a moment of rest. That will lead you to the ER with physical issues…or to the morgue if you’re not careful.

What I am saying is that it is up to you to challenge yourself. If you are waiting for opportunities to arise but you aren’t putting in the work you’re going to blink your eyes, 10 years will have passed, and you will be wondering why everyone is further ahead than you.

Let’s take this into your personal relationships too. If I’m going to poke the bear, I might as well go all the way.

Don’t be complacent with who is in your circle. Many times people are in your life for a season. And that is okay. I have people in my life from so many different phases in my life…and recently I’ve learned that they’re not all on the ride forever.

Sometimes we need certain people to get us through tough times…but when the seas are smooth they fade away. Sometimes you’re in someone’s life to do that for them.

Sometimes someone is in your life to kick you in the ass, show you who are are…but then you part ways.

The danger is in keeping people in your life because they are habits. Your friend you drink with when you’re in a mood. The friend you complain with because you’re mad at work, your boyfriend, life. Friends who belittle what you’re doing because they don’t want to change.

Surround yourself by people who challenge you. Who support you. Who pick you up when you’re down. Who kick your ass when you need it. Don’t surround yourself by lemmings who are yes men.

If you’re comfortable, wake up and start making some changes. Life is way too short to let it happen to you. What are you going to proactively do to make yourself uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments.

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Why Do We Hate Great?

So, last night I watched my team, the New England Patriots, win a bid to the Super Bowl. It wasn’t their easiest run…and the game went into overtime.

Most people hate the Patriots. They’ll call them cheaters. They’ll come up with a multitude of reasons. Most of the time I roll my eyes, but last night as insomnia withheld sleep, I started pondering the deeper reason people hate the Patriots.

People hate great.

People hate winners.

People hate those who are more successful than they are.

Why?

The only thing I can come up with is jealousy.

Truly successful people don’t have the time to hate a team with such deep vitriol that they resort to personal attacks of the fans. Well…Gary Vaynerchuk is an exception, but that’s because one day he is going to own the Jets, so I’ll give him a pass.

Truly successful people study those who are more successful than they are to learn how to achieve more. They don’t tear down others who are great. They choose to spend time with them.

Truly happy people are so happy with themselves they don’t direct ire at people they don’t know. They are too busy making sure they don’t lose that happiness, trying to spread that joy to be malicious.

So, if you’re reading this and I hit a nerve, good. Stop wasting your energy hating a group of men who get paid a lot of money to play a game and create a life that is so great that you don’t want to expend negative energy.

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Falling Back into Old Habits

So, last week was one helluva a week. Energetically, I let my week run me instead of me running my week. I allowed myself to be tossed to and fro by my emotions, by my insecurities, and by my Jesus complex.

There are so many things that I want to accomplish–so many goals that I have set for myself–that at times, instead of appreciating how far I’ve come, I grow faint at how far I have to go.

This week at work was particularly difficult because we are short-staffed, which means that I have desk duty. Mind you…I actually like working at the desk instead of being hidden away like the Wizard of Oz…but truthfully being around people over 40 hours a week drains my energy. It is just not who I am anymore.

So, add a 40+ hour work week to doing the podcast, pre-interviews for the podcast and trying to make a decision about whether or not to brave a ride to Syracuse with an impending winter storm…I relinquished control of everything. I let my week run me instead of me running my week.

I ate way too much takeout. I didn’t drink enough water. I neglected my meditation, journaling, gratitude and workout routine. I neglected my nightly routine to get me mentally prepared for sleep. I didn’t show up on social media in an inspirational way at all. Essentially, I fell back into the person I was instead of the person I am and I am becoming.

Why the confessional? Well, I know a lot of people who fall back into old habits. Not because they want to…but because those old habits are as comfortable as those old sweatpants that are full of holes that you still have from your college days. Old habits feel familiar. They are disguised as comfort.

In reality, the old me isn’t comfortable. She hated her life. She was miserable. She didn’t find joy in anything. She tried soooo fucking hard to make things happen that she strangled the life out of her desires and those around her. She didn’t train and prepare for the future, she felt like a victim to her circumstances, a prisoner of her decisions.

It would be easy for me to berate myself for falling back into that person. To feel like shit and wallow in my shit. Drink more wine. Eat more chocolate. Watch more tv. Numb myself.

Can you relate?

But…when I coach people through similar situations, I always tell them to be gentle with themselves. I tell them that today is the first day of the rest of their life. I tell them that this is the no judgment zone. I tell them that the misstep was a mere bump in the road, a story to tell later, something to examine so that we can find the root cause, address it and move forth.

Soooo….why wouldn’t I give myself the same advice?

Today is a cathartic day. I don’t feel bad about how my week went. I can’t change it…all I can do is make different choices. Examine why I reverted into old Deneen not with judgment, but as a student of myself.

I’m entering into a new adventure, and there are hundreds of people who are going to rely on me to show up as who I really am…not as that person I was. Even if that weren’t the case, I would still be sitting here writing the same words, setting the same intention.

You know why?

Because I deserve better. I deserve everything that God has lined up for me. Jesus would’ve died on the cross for one person…so making this change, solely for me, makes perfect sense as well.

This leads me to the point. When you are doing mindset work–which all of what I have described is–you have to do it for you and you alone. You can’t do it so that someone will see the work you’re putting in and make changes to themselves. You can’t do it int he hopes that someone will see the change and give you a high-five. The reality is that when you start to make these changes, people will be uncomfortable. They won’t understand.

They will try to bully you into remaining the same, or into morphing into the version of you that they envision. You’ll lose friends who aren’t aligned with making big changes themselves.

It gets super lonely.

But…as you make these shifts, you’ll also find that you are attracted to and attracting like-minded people. People who want to expand their lives and who are not willing to settle for normal. Our tribe comes in all different shades, sizes and flavors…but we’re out here, waiting for the time that we are destined to meet.

Today, the coach coached herself back into the game.

Let me know your thoughts…have you experienced anything like what I’ve described, or am I alone in this? Drop me a comment and let me know.

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