A San Diego Love Story

My goodness what can happen in 2 1/2 years…

My time in San Diego has been the most transformative chapter of my adult life.

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I decided to move to San Diego on a whim, kinda. I was flying from Hawaii to Virginia to surprise my mom for her 50th birthday. I stopped in LA to see a friend for a few days. I had this 30 minute layover in San Diego and when I got back on that little tiny death machine plane I thought (or heard) “I should move to San Diego.” I went to Virginia for 2 weeks and told all of my family that I’ve decided to move to San Diego. Coincidentally, that same trip, I was on Facebook and saw my now husband- then just facebook friend and former boss- posted something stupid about the mcrib being back. I think my exact comment was “ew.” He messaged me back catching up with me about where my life was and where his was in Seattle. I also told him that I had decided to move to San Diego. (It didn’t matter to me at all that I had no definite plans, job, place to live…I just knew (or heard) that this was where I needed to be next.) He was excited for me, told me I would love it, and that it was a great transition back to the mainland. We didn’t really talk again for months after this conversation but I still remember how excited I was that he sent me a message at all.

Anyway, on my way back to Hawaii I stopped in LA again to see my friend and break up the very long 12 hour flight. I sent my actual boss a message putting in my notice even though I still had 6 months left on island. I wanted it to be real and to start prepping. I realize then and now that it seems irrational to move to a city that you’ve never been to before because you claim to have “heard” it. That same whisper sent me to Hawaii and back to Brooklyn and back to Hawaii again…and it was the same feeling this time. An indescribable feeling that something really perfect was there.

 I lived out the final few months in Hawaii with 2 Japanese women who didn’t speak a lot of English. I did a photoshoot with one of them who owned a boutique downtown-I didn’t understand what anyone was saying for 3 hours of pictures- I only picked up on certain words ‘Kawai!”(cute) and “uh” (yeah). I hiked, sailed, camped, drank, danced, taught yoga, practiced yoga, paddle boarded, went on a solo trip to Maui and hung out in the rain forest during massive rain storms, met a guy that was living with his sister in a tent whose first words to me was “thirsty?” as he took his machetti out and chopped off a coconut to give me. I really made the most of my 4 years on a tiny island.

A really strange part of my love story is that 2 years before I moved to San Diego- still living in Hawaii and loving it- 27 years old and free, I used to tell my roommate Claire that I believed the love of my life lived in San Francisco. Well, around that time, the love of my life was living right outside of San Francisco and getting ready to move to Hawaii on a whim.

In April of 2012, a new guy started working at my job as my boss. I remember where I was when we were introduced, who was beside me, and that I was too shy to even say hi to him. I didn’t know why.I felt this significance when I met him. Without sounding too “new agey” I knew him already. I hardly talked to him but when he was working with me I was in the best mood ever- nothing really got me down. I hardly worked with him though because I was in my teacher training and only worked about 10 days a month and lived on lettuce and frozen foods.My friends and I would try to conjure up ways to run into him outside of work but we never succeeded. Once I did run into him in the mall around Christmas time. I was not prepared, this is not how we had always imagined it, and I was all alone. I just bought my first professional yoga mat for a ridiculous amount of money and was about to see the Christmas lights. I could have said any of that to him! I couldn’t think of a thing to say so I awkwardly said bye and ran off. I regretted it all night.I never got the chance to run into him again. The next April he moved back to Washington and it broke my heart. We had no real connection, we had never once hung out or had outside of work conversations, but there was something….

So around Christmas time, a few months before I took the leap to San Diego we started to have these simple and sweet facebook conversations. We spent all of Christmas Eve Day on facebook sending these animal videos back and forth. It was about 2 hours of this and easy conversations. I don’t love Christmas time- I’m always sad- and it was inevitable that someone at work was going to make me cry in the walk in cooler. I have worked every Christmas Eve for 12 years and the only people that go out on that holiday are pissed about it too. But thinking of this guy made it a little easier to bear- because I did end up crying in the walk in cooler.

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He told me Merry Christmas on Christmas Day, wished me a happy new year, we spent a lot of time sharing our favorite bands, he would send me hundreds of pictures of sea otters- his favorite animal and videos of cats. He never flirted with me but I knew.

In February, about a month and a half before I was about to move, he sent me a text message from Canada where he was snowboarding with friends telling me he was probably going to be transferred to San Diego but because of the poor reception, I didn’t hear another word from him for days!

When I finally heard from him again he was moving there. He offered to pick me up from the airport and even a place to stay! He may have regretted that right after he said it but he didn’t take it back! A month after he got here he came to get me from the airport and we were inseparable ever since. This is not to say that everything was perfect and smooth because this is not a fairy tale it’s real life. We had both been single for years and were stuck in our obnoxious ways that we had to communicate to get through. A year later we were engaged. San Diego gave me an incredible love story that I get to live for the rest of our lives.

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I was 29 years old- almost 2 months from turning 30 when I moved here. I had only worked in bars and restaurants my whole adult life. Something I think has given me a weird PTSD around drunk people. I cannot stand drunk people. Anyway, I was so unhappy in the service industry but the fast money and flexibility kept me attached. It’s also very easy to get a service industry job- well easy-ish. A few months before I moved here, I built a yoga website for myself, reached out to yoga studios to teach and take more trainings. I had a plan. I was going to teach yoga.

Plans go out the window when you move to a new city.

I stayed with a girlfriend downtown. Thank you Sarah, you are so awesome. I was so stoked to be living in a big city again with so many things to do. It was a challenge for 29 year old me to focus and get stuff done. San Diego is a really really fun city.

I finally (2 months later) found a place to live with a beautiful soul, Emily and Klaus the kitty. We met on craigslist. It’s so funny to think that most of the friends I have are based off of a connection someone had through craigslist. It’s a sweet compound sharing a fire pit with the house in front and the apartment underneath us. They accepted me as a friend right away. It took some getting used to but every place I have ever lived has. Emily would let me teach her yoga down by the ocean and introduced me to some really special people. Mostly, it was so comforting to be living with an extremely smart and beautiful girl that was going through the same difficult ambition/ dream chasing that I was going through. Her ambition was very different- she pretty much has her masters in saving the ocean. We had lived in all the same cities at different times and she was just as obsessed with her cat as I am. She let me move in with her even though I didn’t have a job yet. She said she knew I would figure it out. Having her helped me adjust to my new life much easier.

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I made flyers for donation classes right away and took them all over the neighborhood pinning them up. Some people would come and pay with fruits and veggies from their garden, some would give what money they could. I taught at this little grassy spot by the beach right down the street from my house. That spot was so random. Ron used to call it my little corner of the world. Everytime I went there something wild or fascinating would happen. Like the old italian guy in his tiny bikini bottoms sitting in his grass chair. No one showed up to my class the day he was there so we had a long talk about business building and what advice he had being that he owned a cafe himself. His million dollar advice was to over price myself. “People think expensive stuff is fancy.” Another time, a woman rolled up to my donation class and was from out of town. She was so excited to find yoga at the beach that she gave me $100! I could not have needed it more at the time. There were random homeless people that would join in my class sometimes and sometimes it would just be me and my boyfriend. He didn’t like doing it but he wanted me to succeed so he always tried. Suddenly my little corner of the world started turning dark and hateful. Travelers/transients would make fun of me and try to ruin the class. I had to stop practicing there.

I was auditioning regularly for teaching jobs and applying all over the place for any jobs other than service industry. With zero experience in much else and very little teaching experience, it was a door slammed in my face daily. Looking for a job is hard but taking the bus to interviews seemed to make it much much harder. It would take 45 minutes- 2 hours sometimes to get to some craigslist offered job where you just never know who you will be meeting with. Sometimes my bus rides were interesting. I got on the bus one day and saw a homeless man give another non homeless man .50cents to ride. He talked to imaginary people. He was having the happiest conversation with the people he saw and when those angel people would leave or get off the bus he would laugh in a really jolly way and say “okay now, have a nice float!” They were not all like that though. That guy was special. I liked that guy. I won’t forget him.

When I finally bit the bullet and realized that getting involved in a yoga community in San Diego was way way way harder than I thought- I had to get a serving job. I got this really crappy job in a Hawaiian cafe. Like really really crappy cafe. I wouldn’t even eat there. It was only me and the cook there everyday. The owner would be there sometimes but everyone liked it better when she wasn’t. She wasn’t mean, she was just particular and it didn’t make any sense why she pretended to care so much about such a crappy place. The place reeked of this flying insect spray. To this day, if I smell that crap I’m out. There were gooey fly traps hanging in every corner. I touched as little as possible. Most days we would have 5 tables the entire day, other days we would close 4 hours early. I kept going to this job because there was so little to do and zero supervision that I could spend all day sending out resumes and setting up auditions and planning my next life move. What I found so interesting about this cafe was the regulars. We definitely had some homeless regulars. They almost always paid- there was only one I really disliked. His name was Colt and he had one real leg and one metal one. He was mean. I realize his life has been tough but he was so awful to me and always ran out on his bill. The cook would chase him down and make him pay for some reason. I usually didn’t see the point of taking his last few dollars for some eggs. There was a regular that came in who was a recovering meth addict. He always gave me the best monkey bread and told the funniest stories and watched his carb intake. The cook himself was a homeless man and recovering addict, father of 6 all of whom were grown ups except his newest little one who was 3 and his whole world. The kid lived with the mother’s mom and was a very happy and taken care of child. I wonder about the cook sometimes and hope that he’s okay. Working there sucked for sure, but it opened my eyes to a different kind of compassion. I’ve lived in lots of places with lots of homeless communities but none like OB. If I’m walking around on the sidewalk here and pass a guy with a sign, I ask him his story. If they have a dog, I buy him dog food. If you leave with anything from this story, know that not all homeless people did it to themselves.All humans deserve respect and acknowledgement. We are all in this together, find a way to help the human race. And animals.

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My little corner of the world.

I made no money at this job. Well I made enough money for rent and some food. I had to decide which bills to pay each month. Luckily I don’t have many bills. I never got a car, I just biked or rode the bus. Around this time, I actually stumbled upon a corporate yoga substitute teaching gig. I would go to businesses after their work day and teach. I tried to find my own clients and start my own businesses-awkwardly cold calling businesses and asking them who was in charge of their on site fitness program. Just another version of doors slamming in my face really. But i would spend hours a day calling them, listing more to call, and creating brochures to take to them. Nothing ever came out of that but it kept me focused and my mind filled with yoga.

I found another waitressing job down the street at a little family place, super clean and organized. My first day of training was fine- everyone was so nice. At 12:30 pm when I still wasn’t allowed to go home because I had to polish silverware I knew I was never coming back there. It was my third job of the day and I was just so done polishing silverware and wasting time doing what I hated! I quit. I knew I would rather be poor working towards what I loved than to be poor slaving away at something I despised.

The summer was ending and I didn’t have much to show for it except  my crappy job and a substitute teaching job in which the woman that ran the business would always conveniently forget how much she said she would pay me.

I made a vision board with Emily just putting up pictures that I loved. Found a really cool image of a fairy and 2 separate words that said Lucky and Pixie. When I showed my boyfriend my board he casually commented that the Lucky Pixie would be a cool shirt brand. He also casually mentioned that he knew how to screen print. I casually brought it up to Emily in our living room where we would sit drinking our tea and discussing what we thought Klaus’ day was like. She thought it was a great idea and told me to look into crowd sourcing. I had never heard of that before. She suggested Kickstarter.

 

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Learning to screenprint!

I was so damn excited! I was gonna start this screen printing business and use it to spread a positive message and fund my healing yoga studio. The shirt said things like “Super Loveable, Yoga Kitten, Om, I bet you can fly you’re that special, Limitless, angels exist.” The kickstarter went way better than I thought and then I was on my own. I quit the cafe job and focused on building this business and continued to teach and would occasionally pick up shifts at that crappy cafe. I had 2 months to get this thing going. I kept saying “anything can happen in 2 months…” I made some sales, learned a new trade, and went broke again trying.

So I am back at square one. I started working at a customer service job answering phones for an online flower company. It’s the only job I’ve ever had where I sat at a desk. I would rather wait tables. People are awful to you on the phone. I am a calm person but I’m not very patient with mean people. I would just hang up on them. I didn’t get paid enough for the abuse. Also it took me 2 1/2 hours to take the bus there. Sometimes my boyfriend would be able to come get me but he had to work sometimes too. It was Christmas time- not my favorite time. I just couldn’t do it. So I quit going. I started working at the crappy cafe again. She just kept taking me back. I also got a catering job….the kind where your interview consists of you carrying a large tray full of plates in front of a lot of people and gracefully setting it on a tray holder thing. Damn it. My one and only job I took with these people was on New Years Eve in a huge hotel where I was a glorified busser. I just wandered from banquet room to another picking up cups in my stupid black pants and tie.Watching women slip in vomit in the bathroom and cry hysterically. My boyfriend picked me up that morning after I was finished at 3:30am. I don’t think I have ever felt that sad before. We gave a girl a ride home that had been catering the event with me. She lived in a hotel and studdered. She loved catering and living at the beach in a hotel. Perspective is everything. I never saw her again.

I don’t want to be misunderstood that I look down on the job opportunity in any way. Some people really like it, it is easy money, and flexible. I put in my 13 years of service industry in Virginia, NYC, Honolulu, and now all over San Diego and was really good at it. I did not love it. Quite the opposite. I really really really wanted to share my love of life through yoga. I wanted to help people feel at peace with their lives. I truly want to make a difference in the lives of others. Because I was so miserable at my jobs, this was never going to come across to anyone I met.

I could write a book about the amazing experiences I had bartending and serving in some of the coolest cities in America. I could write a longer book about the amount of abuse I was exposed to in this industry.

New Years came and went. My boyfriend moved in with me and my rommate moved up north for a job. I had an audition scheduled for about a month. I had the flu, my boyfriend’s friend was in town, and I would come home to nap between crap cafe and corporate yoga teaching to find drunk happy boys. Drunk people give me anxiety. Happy people made me sad because it was all I wanted to be but no matter how hard I was trying nothing was happening for me. I had this audition and I had to go regardless of mood or health. It was honestly the longest audition I have ever been on. All of us had to teach for 20 minutes…there were 12 of us. I stayed because I was the last to go… of course. I had no energy so I sat at the front and guided them through meditation and restorative yoga. I just had to trust myself. I usually would audition to show I knew the names of sanskrit poses or terms- or fancy peak poses- or a strong voice. Not this time. I could not. Afterwards the owner hired me and one other girl. It paid next to nothing but it was a teaching job! She was a very….eccentric person. 60 years old and zero knowledge of business building or team appreciation. At first she would call me and tell me I was a star teacher and give me 5 classes a week. She would have me sub her classes and not tell her students that she wouldn’t be there. They always got mad at ME! They were just as eccentric and unwilling to accept change as her. But I remained calm and grateful. Then she would send me long mean messages about my teaching style (even though shoe never took my classes) and that I needed to be more like this other teacher whom I’ve never met and also she fired. I remained calm still. Then she would tell me how much her students loved me. Then she would take away some of my classes. I remained calm still. Then a year later, at Christmas, she fired me. She said she hired someone who gets 300 likes on Instagram and thought they would be better at building her business for her than me. The woman she replaced me with only taught there for a month or two. I admit I was a little relieved to release this woman’s toxic exhausting energy from my life.

She wasn’t all bad though. She referred me to a private student named Aisha. We met in March that year. We worked together 3-4 times a week for almost 2 years  now. We’ve met each other’s families, she gifted me a room full of beautiful flowers for my wedding! She has meant a lot to me since we met.

Around the time I started teaching at that studio, a man called me out of the blue. One of the places I subbed for the county employees had an employee recommend me as a teacher. He got my number and offered me a job without even meeting me because I came so highly recommended. I taught them for almost 2 years too. I only said bye to them last month because I am moving. I also started teaching at a psych hospital to the nurses and employees. Loved them too.

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My “office”- where I taught corporate yoga.

 I have nothing but confidence now when I teach as I feel I have taught in so many different forums. I put myself on google and yelp and would get calls for bachelorette yoga and wedding day yoga, baby moon yoga at sunset cliffs, private sessions for tourists… I was a full time yoga teacher. I finally did it. I rented my own yoga space and held classes there every week. They went well and it was amazing to practice  what goes into owning your own space.

The thing I wanted most to come out of this pursuit of teaching was-and still is- to make a profound difference in someone’s life. Since I began this journey, I have received many phone calls, emails, and hugs telling me how I have affected them. I am in no way saying this to boast. I am saying this to explain how much those people have affected my life. I’m saying this to explain that helping is the point- to make a difference with whatever gift God gave you. We all have something unique to offer the world. Don’t shy away from it.  I do this to see you glow and transform. I’ve seen it so many times now and it lights me up. That is worth every single bit of effort. That keeps me going even when giving up seems like the obvious option. So thank you so so so much. We are all in this together.

“The genius thing I did was I never gave up.”

Somehow through the grace of God I was able to hold onto this wonderful man I have. He let me cry and scream and get mad and watched me become happy and successful. I think a lot of this is because of him. He never let me believe for a second that this wasn’t going to happen eventually. He did everything he could to support me. Came to every single class that he could, helped me print flyers, helped me fill classes, take me to the beach when I was sad….I’ve never felt so happy and blessed because a man like this loves me and lets me love him right back. It is because of him that I am so happy today. Thank you for always just letting me be me.

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From that Christmas I was let go from the odd studio owner woman, I have only become happier and more successful.However, I am forever grateful to her for taking  a chance on me and giving me space to spread my message. Everything is perfectly placed in life. Looking back on all of my opportunities- it seems as though “this” is what you get if you work this hard; “this and that” is what you get if you keep going just a little more; “this, that and all of that fluffiness” is what you get when you really go all in and trust the process. If things are not panning out for you yet in the way you imagined, ask yourself if there is an extra mile you can put in.

I have learned that it is not so bad to try something and end up looking like a fool. It is not so bad to try and have it not work out. It is not so bad to have a door slammed in your face. It is not so bad to work at a crap cafe and befriend homeless people. It is not so bad to do the jobs you reeeeaaaallllllyyyyy don’t want to do while you work your ass off for the one you want. It is really bad to be afraid of any of these things. You will only live the life you really want if you are willing to work- sometimes 5 jobs at a time- and believe in it. Believe in it more than you are afraid of it. BE ALL IN.

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In the middle of all this chaos, I got engaged and married and my husband got a job he really wanted and it is moving us up to the Bay Area in a week! My wedding was a dream day that went by too fast. I set my intentions for the day like I do everyday and they were to be grounded, present, sober, and to be sure to eat! I did it! It was an intimate wedding with all of our favorite people on Earth. My husband stayed sober with me and had my back! He just keeps proving to me that we are a team and will be for life. Somewhere in life I went right to end up with him.

My engagement was long and we had so much fun all over this city. We make sure to do something fun together at least once a week. We have seen everything in San Diego at least once. Holding hands and giggling together the whole time. We get stopped at Target by strangers asking if we are newlyweds because we are so cute together.

My honeymoon was so relaxed and romantic. Everytime we would share an inside joke I would look at him and just be so amazed that he is my husband now. I get to laugh with him and at him for the rest of our long long lives together.We get to watch each other continue to grow and support each other through everything. I have a partner in crime through all of life’s challenges. This is the most magical thing that’s come out of San Diego for me. I have a husband that I get so excited to see every morning and every evening. I have someone that just gets me and loves me completely. I got to marry the guy I had a secret crush on for 2 years.

San Diego has been the most transformational time in my life. People that see me now are amazed at the difference between the wild Danica they knew and the calm, collected, and focused Danica I’ve become. There is a huge shift still happening within me and I plan to keep embracing it and growing with it. This San Diego chapter has also been the most introverted and reflective I’ve ever felt. I’ve always had a ton of friends and parties and huge social network- but that seemed like it would get in the way of what I feel I need to accomplish. I wasn’t shutting people out of my life by any means but I was only spending time with meaningful people. Almost as if they felt effortless, we would just click, I trusted their vibe. I collected a small tribe of extremely inspirational women that I will always know, love, and root for in life. To my Guinevere, Emily, and Jennifer thanks for having my back these past 2 1/2 years- your friendship means so much to me.

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So now this brand new wife and husband and fur human baby kitty Murphy are heading north outside of San Francisco for my man to start his happy new career- could not be more proud of him. And for me to build mine again. I am not afraid of this challenge this time. I have way more knowledge and confidence. I am also aware that I have purpose here and as long as I keep listening to those seemingly irrational whispers from God I will fulfill that purpose. Lord knows I’m not naive- I would never have made it everywhere I’ve been if I was- but I’m going all in-In the most positive, manifesting, dream catching way I can think of.

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For all of you that have supported me all along, I think of you often and love you all the time.

I don’t know where life will take us next but I know I am in love, rooted in love, focused, and ready for the change.

Do not be afraid of failing. Do not be afraid of succeeding. Do not be afraid of growing into a new version of yourself. Trust. Good things are going to happen.

I love you all so much!

Danica

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Unstuck.

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What is standing between you and your dream life? I’m not sure if the question is inspiring or cliche. I do know, however, that this question goes through my head every single morning for the last couple weeks.

The strange part of the question to myself is that I thought I was living my dream. I worked very very hard to teach yoga as my only career and I have achieved that. I am marrying the best man I have ever known in about 2 months. I have a kitty. He’s mean but he has a sweet streak too. I really felt completely whole…for about a year. Now my soul is craving growth. And my heart is telling me that this time it’s going to be a huge jump. Something is whispering in my ear all of the reasons I have to be afraid but my heart is telling me that they are not real obstacles. They are not real whispers. There is nothing, literally nothing in my way…except fear.

I talk about fear a lot in my classes and writing. I talk about it so much that I’ve given it space in my life. I’ve allowed it to exist because I thought I had no other choice.

Something has shifted in me and I know the exact moment it did. It would sound absolutely crazy if I tried to describe it in this blog but ask me to tell you about it next time we meet. Suddenly I was filled and overflowing with intense ignition. This is the word. Ignite. I began to feel and hear whispers saying “I am done hiding behind my truth for fear or rejection or ridicule. I am done second guessing my work here on Earth. I am done feeling small or inadequate. I am ready to step fully into the person I am meant to be.” And I meant it. With fire.

When I tell people this that are accustomed to believe that we have to do things a certain way, or have little faith in a greater infinite spirit inside ourselves- they don’t quite know how to respond. I can make them uncomfortable- even bitter if they are really out of touch with their spirituality. If I can convince even one person that they matter and they are far from alone on this journey then it is worth it to put myself completely out there.

I’ve prayed and meditated on my purpose. I believe in finding purpose so much. We are not here arbitrarily. We are here to do something specific that continues to evolve as we continue to evolve. With each new evolution of our spirit, a higher purpose and opportunity is introduced to us.

I’m feeling big huge brave future for myself right now. I am feeling absolutely limitless in how far I can reach. I am feeling the power to inspire an endless amount of people.

So, naturally when these thoughts slammed into me I wanted to retreat. I sat with them and meditated with them. What I found so interesting was the whispers in my head were soooo loud and so positive. They were the majority of my thoughts so much so that when the negative entity would enter my mind to tell me “who are you to think you are special? Why do you think you can grow any bigger? You don’t have the courage.” I was able to hear it and dismiss it because the majority of my feelings were so positive and encouraging. I allowed myself to have confidence. I allowed myself to feel empowered. I allowed me to believe in me. That became my mantra. “I am allowed to have confidence in myself.

I have a mission. I want to help you see your purpose. I want to help you live a full life. I want you to know, beyond a doubt, that you deserve to live with purpose and pride. I can think of a million ways to share this truth with everyone. And writing in this blog every single day will serve as one way. Teaching yoga and workshops will be another. I will indulge every single idea that comes to me without regard to ‘if it works out’.  If it touches one person then that will be perfect. So worth it.

Follow along with my journey and please allow me to follow yours. Leave comments, email me, call me, hug me, dance with me, and love me forever! I will answer every single comment left.

If this sounds crazy, that’s okay. It’s my truth. I feel empowered and motivated and inspired by my spirit guides. I am not alone on this journey. As a matter of fact, the more I feel this and pursue this, the more people and life I will attract who are on a similar journey.

Surround yourself with inspiration. Every single day!

Sending so much love to you all! Tons and tons!

Danica Elle

We do not have time for fear. None.

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There aren’t many people in the world that have a strong desire to teach yoga.You can replace the last few words of that sentence with anything that you have a strong desire to do. Raise a family, run a business, fly planes, serve tables in a restaurant… anything. We don’t all share the same desires or dreams. That is a huge sign to me that we are given these dreams as a pathway to our purpose. Our purpose is unique and no one else will have the exact same purpose as you.

For most of us, it takes a very long time to gain the courage to work towards our dreams or desires. Lots of things hold us back. Fear that we are not good enough to make it is the number one thing that could possibly hold you back forever. It could strangle the real life you are meant to have right out of you. Fear is an entity all of its own. It can convince you, without a doubt, that what your heart truly longs for and daydreams about is out of reach or completely unattainable.

From what I am reading in “The Happiness Hypothesis” I’m understanding that this is the outcome of letting the brain do all the thinking. I know that sounds obvious and kind of silly- of course the brain thinks. What I am talking about is deeper. The brain is meant to serve us, problem solve, administer proper motor functions throughout the body. It is NOT meant to talk us out of something we know we would love. It is NOT meant to convince you that you aren’t worth the risk. It is NOT meant to become more important than the heart. When it comes down to it, you can live without much brain function- not a happy joyful life by any means but you can survive. You cannot live without a heart. It is the soul. It is the essence of life.

To put this into a more personal statement, I have anxiety. It’s new. I’ve never felt anxiety before and it’s awful. Anxiety is strange because it takes very normal everyday activities and turns them into HUGE deals. I would have anxiety about having to have a conversation with a stranger, meeting a yoga teacher, driving a car on the highway, a newfound paralyzing fear of flying… It has prevented me from doing a lot of small things like trainings, retreats, and even small get togethers where I wouldn’t really know anyone. I had a desire to do all of these things I was afraid of. A strong one. I love connecting with people and sharing this passion I have for yoga and life. But this bizarre entity was keeping me still or stagnant. I kept feeling that if my mind has the power to convince me of all of these imaginary circumstances being unattainable then perhaps I could begin to convince my mind of my strength and abilities. Maybe I have had the power all along. Maybe my heart tells my mind what to do and think. How do I do that?

Meditation, yoga, and journaling. Creating a mantra for yourself to embody love over fear.Some of mine are- “You have to love it way more than you’re afraid of it. People generally want to like you and be liked. What I project and share is what I will receive as well. I have a gift to share and gifts to receive. The world desperately needs all beings of light to shine and speak up and inspire. You deserve to be happy. Ignite from within and move with God.” Repeating this until you believe it. Writing it somewhere that you see daily so you really believe it.

The thing is, we really really really need all the love and light we can get. So gather yours and shine it into the world. Fear is not real. You will not fail if you are truly moving from the heart, then it is absolutely God’s will and you will flourish with every brave step you take. I am not saying that this will be easy. It most certainly will not, but how fascinating of a life it is to truly truly live the life you have always dreamed of. To wake up every morning filled with excitement because yo have so much purpose and you are surrounded with light.

“I do not dance around the perimeter of who I am meant to be. I step in fully and completely.” I will not be afraid to speak my truth anymore. I don’t have time to care if others are thinking negatively of me. I am here to inspire, heal, help, and support. I am living my purpose.

I love love love all of you.

xxoooxxo,

Danica Elle

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A beautiful mantra

“At the very instance you think ‘I am happy’, a chemical messenger translates your emotion, which has  no solid existence whatsoever in the material world, into a bit of matter so perfectly attuned to your desire that literally every cell in your body learns of your happiness and joins in.” -Deepak Chopra

This is resonating with me so much today. I keep finding these little gems of advice everywhere I look. I decided to pass this on and hopefully someone that needs to see it will stumble upon it.

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xooxo,

Danica

Social Media Slow Clap Fade Out

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Social media is such a weird beast. Not everyone gets hooked-actually the thought of it immediately turns people off. But for the other 85% of us…this blog is for you. Have you ever really sat for a moment and asked yourself what you’re really benefiting from it? I usually get off social media mad about something political that’s probably just not true or sad because there are so many animals that need to be rescued. Why is there no in between? 😉

There’s a ton of different ways now to communicate with friends and family all over the world. Facebook- the perfect site to post all of your baby pictures, wedding photos, aggressive political posts, quizzes about the meaning of your name(?), and to celebrate made up holidays. Facebook was my introduction into social media- wait for it- 11 years ago. It was brand new and I was 20/21 years old. You had to be in college to join, with a college email. Parents had not joined. It was a different time. As soon as I heard of Facebook and Myspace I thought it was the dumbest idea in the world. It sounded like such a lame waste of time. BUT, a guy I had a crush on was on there so I joined to be friends with him.

When I got on, I was surprised how many people I knew on there. It was exciting to become friends with everyone in this online outer space world. I was hooked the first day on checking to see how many more friend requests I had. I was collecting friends. It didn’t even matter how much I really knew them.

So I moved to NYC pretty soon after it all started blowing up in the college world. Myspace was still around but people were becoming less interested. Smartphones weren’t a huge thing yet and people still talked to each other while out in the world. I miss that.

While living in NYC, I remember being excited to go to FEDEX once or twice a month and check my facebook and email. I didn’t have a computer and got along just fine without it at the sweet age of 22 in acting school. I needed my imagination more than I needed a screen. I cannot begin to explain how much I accomplished that year in such a short amount of time. I had zero distractions. I was really living in the moment and Facebook was only there for a 5 minute block every couple weeks.

Now, 10 years later, it is only a place for ridiculous completely untrue articles about the country or world. It is filled with politics, baby questions, new mom frustrations, political battles and personal attacks on your beliefs, vacation pictures, rants about school systems, invites to things you live nowhere close to, and requests from people you know nothing about.

My problems with facebook and the addiction I feel for it is this: I’ve got things to do, man. I seriously have things to accomplish. I want to stick to my deadlines writing a book, create interesting classes and workshops to teach, I want to spend time with friends and family completely and totally there, I want to connect with what I have in my life today. Right now. I notice when things get challenging- instead of sticking with it and learning something about it- I tune out on stupid social media that infuriates me with lack of passion and compassion.

I no longer feel connected to facebook. I still share pictures and I still love to see what my friends are doing but I wonder if I would keep up with them in a way more personal way if I cut social media loose. I wonder if I would write more and feel more inspired. I wonder if I would feel completely okay with where I am in life if I relied my attention on that place rather than on what everyone else is doing with their life. I want to read things that will fuel my love for life and not scare the shit out of me. I want to grow my passion and hinder my distractions. I want to connect in a personal and true way to as many like minded people as possible.

The problem is, we think we have time. An endless amount of time. If you know exactly what’s getting in your way and distracting you from clarity, peace of mind, or your dream- ummmmm….get rid of it.

So I am going on a 6 month hiatus from social media. I’m going to use my extra time to read, write interesting blogs, make youtube yoga tutorials, plan my wedding, spend sweet time with my sweetheart, and continue growing my love community. I do not think it will be easy to cut social media at first, honestly. I love to share and connect. I do think I will notice what I am avoiding by jumping on it instead of writing for my book or creating more classes. I do think my inspiration will grow exponentially. That’s the point of it all.

Expect a new blog every week about what’s inspiring me lately. I have a feeling I’m going to feel a real freedom.

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Loving you!

Danica Elle (soon to be Mrs. Danica Haverkamp!!!)

Latest research on my quest for ultimate health and happiness…

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I am obviously not a doctor. I like to consider myself a happiness investigator. I am on the hunt for it everyday. I know it’s attainable for everyone, not limited to yoga girls or rich people. While it’s not always easy to put myself out there to the world- I love to share my life if for any reason it helps anyone at all then my vulnerability is so worth it….not to mention my life’s happiness research will not go to waste. 😉

So full disclosure on my health, how food contributes to your health of your mind and belly (where most dis-eases begin), and how I move my body when darkness takes over in my mind. Yeah, it’s gonna get personal.

So I’ll begin about a month and a half ago. (the boiling point.) I was really really sick all the time. I had absolutely no energy, I was nauseous anytime I was standing up, I was having a lot of trouble breathing in fully, no motivation, walking two blocks exhausted me, and I would see pictures of people all standing around talking to each other and got jealous that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that because of how sick I felt all day everyday. It was pretty rough. I had this really really tender place right at the bottom in the middle of my rib cage. It hurt to the touch. When I explained these symptoms to a western doctor he would brush it off as anxiety, depression, a stomach virus, or antibiotics….I was put on antibiotics indefinetly!!! Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?!?!?! How is this person licensed to practice medicine? So it became very clear to me that western doctors are not going to help me or take the time to investigate the cause- just “treating” random symptoms.

So by the grace of God, I started teaching yoga at a healing arts center back in January. There are so many healing practices there that I never knew about ever! The studio owner told me to see her naturopathy that practices/truly heals there. I didn’t know what to expect. The visits are an hour long compared to my 5 minutes on the doctors table. I explained my symptoms and that I felt I was falling apart at the seams. He does a series of pressure point massages and testing my strength before and after each series…..there’s a lot more to it…and he has been doing this forever…I thought he was in his late 50’s- he is 77!! We discovered that I was born with a weak liver. It has been weak for ever. Working overtime and robbing energy from other organs to keep working. Liver is in charge of the connective tissue in our bodies- so it weakened my diaphram which allowed my stomach to push through and hang out up in my chest (causing my shortness of breath) and well as my body’s inability to absorb nutrients. Food was getting stuck in the part above my diaphram and composting!!! So when it finally fell through to pass through my digestive system- my body was trying to digest rotting food. My muscles were absorbing this crap causing muscle and joint pain (also known as fibromayalgia) and that why I was in pain and exhausted. So I had been malnourished for freaking years probably. It’s called a hiatal hernia and from what I am reading, it is very common. He gave me a few exercises to do everyday and had to manually pull my stomach back down to where it is supposed to live. That did not feel awesome but afterwards instantly I could breathe and the pain in my SI joint was gone and my shoulder sockets weren’t in pain, and the headaches stopped. So I guess you could say it was a little wake up call and life changer.

All of this to say that I have a weaker digestive system. Perhaps because it is used to not having to work very much or it has given up because it had to work extra hard when I wasn’t aware of what I was doing to myself. I love to munch on stuff. Peanut pretzels to be more specific. 😉 I knew it wasn’t excellent for me but I had no idea that it was like a poison to me. It occurred to me that I didn’t really know what food was doing what to my body and right now is the time to find out. I don’t know if you have ever known anyone with fibromayalgia before but it is pretty debilitating and some people accept this as a disease they will suffer from for life. Not me. I know that the body is capable of healing itself (and God) but you have to find what it needs. That’s the tricky part because ayurvedically speaking, one man’s medicine is another man’s poison. Some people cannot have ginger, for example, and ginger is commonly thought to be very good for you.

So aside from my peanut butter pretzel addiction, I tend to eat pretty well, I thought. But I still felt this sluggish, unmotivated, foggy feeling a lot even after my treatment. Suddenly, the whole 40 diet kept appearing all over the place. I remember a friend doing it when I lived in Hawaii but it always sounded like something I could never stick to. I looked a little closer into it and found that it really helps to reboot your digestive system. After the 30 days, I could start slowly adding things back into my diet one at a time to find out what exactly I am allergic to or unable to digest easily. It’s not super easy- it really takes planning and work and faith and patience and most importantly THE DESIRE TO FEEL AMAZING! Because you will really really quickly.

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So I will explain what it is and what it is not, what I have been eating, and what changes have magically appeared with my dedication to my body.

It is not starvation! I can eat as much as I want of the reccommended things. I will tag the link to the allergy elimination diet my fiance and I have been sticking to at the bottom of this blog. What I am staying away from: gluten, dairy, most grains, legumes, sugar even things like honey and agave, soy, most meat and any meat we eat is organic/grass fed/no antibiotics, no nuts except coconuts, and several oils and margarine. So looking at it in terms of what you can’t have is pretty tough, yeah? Here are some things I can have: Cold pressed olive oil and coconut oil, fish, rice and rice noodles, zucchini noodles, spices, salads with homemade poppyseed dressing, juices, homemade avocado sauce, coconut rice noodle vegi stir fry….. the list goes on!!! At the end I will post another blog with some recipes. I think it’s important to know what vitamins and minerals your body needs by doing some reading so you know what vitamins to supplement for things you are allergic to. I struggled with breakfast- it’s my favorite. I love toast with avo or flaxseed oil “butter”, bacon, cereal… I can’t have gluten. I know a lot of people consider the gluten thing a trend but it’s a real food sensitivity and is hard for my body to digest, breaks my skin out, and leaves me feeling lethargic. Our food unfortunately is being made a little to a lot differently than it was being made ten years ago. New food allergies are not uncommon. Now I start my day with amazing juices that I make. I feel all glowy afterwards. So we cut out major food allergens for 30 days and we are now on day 12. The thing to remember while you are going through it and craving junk or even stuff like beans is that this is not permanent. It would be strange to cut all of that out forever. It’s a jump start for your digestive systems and a way to discover what makes you feel your best. Completely.

Now for the good stuff. How has this positively changed my everyday life: I haven’t felt this amazing in my body in years. I’m waking up and making it to yoga by 7:30 something I have really wanted to do for a while but just could not get my tail to move in the morning. My mind is soooo clear and motivated. In my meditation I can see what my next move is for my career and start putting it into action. I am way more calm- I think because of the lack of processed sugar or the overall feeling of bliss taking over who knows. The anxiety that was seeping into my brain and taking over is gone. It was getting pretty wild. I was becoming insecure about what people thought of me, what I thought of me, and who I am. It was holding me back for sure. I sometimes wouldn’t go to yoga to practice because I didn’t know how the teacher would judge me. If you know me, you know that’s not normal for me. I was beginning to develop a depression. Not having any control over my thoughts or breath. It’s honestly a thing of the past. I have excitement and joy and I dance all the time! I look forward to everything and I am able to appreciate all the hard stuff that led me here. I know its because I cut out the foods that I have a reaction to. Your gut health directly affects your mind health. It is your other brain. Do not treat it like a garbage can and throw whatever is 99 cents at the convenient store in it. You have to live with this body forever! and ever!! I am 31 years old with problems with my body already…can you imagine what you feel like in ten years if you don’t start taking care of your whole body right now?

One last thing to add to your daily routine is to move your body in all the ways you can. For depression, take up a lot of space! For stiff bodies move your spine in all the directions, for anxiety, run even if only for 2 minutes! Dance in the morning when you are getting ready for the day just to move and perhaps to set the stage for the whole day. Moving is as important as sitting still for 5 minutes a day with your precious breath and add the best nourishing foods to your day and in 5 days at the most you will feel and notice a difference in several aspects of your life. Just try and let me know how it goes!

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet – this is the plan we are following in case you are interested in trying. You may say its expensive to eat healthy or organic- but it is cheaper than doctor bills. The truth is you are either creating disease with your food or fighting it. It really is that simple.

I love you guys! Leave me any recipes or feedback that you want! I am open to answer any questions!

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You are what you eat so don’t be cheap, easy, fast, greasy, or gross!

I’ve tested this theory. For pretty much my whole life I didn’t pay much attention to what I ate.  It never occurred to me that a night of soda and pizza was what was causing my lethargy and foggy mindedness. So I got into yoga a few years ago, took my teacher training and still would think it was “flakey” when they would talk about their latest cleanse. But I started wondering if it could be true. Would I have more energy if I cleansed my whole visceral body? Would my face look brighter? Would my thoughts be better? So I tried it just to see what all the hype was about.

I did the Wild Rose 12 day herbal detox. It was right for me because my life is so active I didn’t want to starve. A liquid cleanse was asking to fail for me. So this one you are allowed to eat but just no dairy, sugar, or gluten. I gave up coffee about a week before and it actually made me sick. Coming off of coffee is no joke. I swore I wouldn’t touch the stuff again…. It’s been over a month now and I love coffee again…could be worse. I crave sugar all the time anyway but this was hard to fight. Sometimes I would sneak a little spoon of peanut butter on a celery stick…. I know its cheating but it’s better than the creme brulee I was being tempted with. But out of everything I was the most lost without bread. I realized I was eating bread for almost every meal. And without it I had no idea what to eat. This was the hardest part for me. I’ve never been a cooker so thinking of new meals everyday with several restrictions was tricky. I ended up eating a lot of kale salads with apples and cucumber, sweet potatoes, quinoa with sauteed vegis… and that’s pretty much it… for 12 days. On my nights off I would make fish or something a little more elaborate but I didn’t have many nights off throughout this. 

Discipline all the way. It took discipline not to eat what everyone at work was eating and to make my own food before I went into work in the evening and to take all of those giant herbs before every meal and to not cheat while no one was around…except for my occasional spoonful of peanut butter! I really wanted to see if this changed anything within me.

The first 6 days were not easy. I was pretty miserable actually. Moody, extremely hot (not sure if that was a side effect of the cleanse or not but I couldn’t stop sweating), tired, hungry to the point of pain in my tummy because I was on a very different time clock of eating because I work at night. But I got through it and by the end of the cleanse, while I was for sure ready for it to be over so I could have the option of eating whatever I wanted, I didn’t want to go back to my old eating habits again. I felt this lightness inside of me. My body image was different. I was no longer looking for flaws I was happy with my appearance. My skin was very bright and glowy!! My energy level and motivation was super high! I felt regular. I felt really really really good!

This cleanse showed me some habits I had of eating when I wasn’t hungry out of boredom or stress. Taught me to make new things up with food. Showed me how amazing it feels to eat healthy.

So fast forward about 3 weeks after the cleanse. Still no dairy or bread. I wanted a grilled cheese. So I ate one and it was yummy, yes, but I biked home after and went to sleep. The next day I slept til about 10:30 when I had been waking up at 8:30 or 9 and I still felt tired. Really tired. I couldn’t help thinking that eating like shit is correlated. 

It was this huge learning experience for me and I’m ready to do another one soon for my liver. I just want to live healthy so I can think clearer and love myself and others. Be fully prepared when going into a cleanse that there will be some challenges but that nothing worth it is ever easy.

Let me know if you have more questions and tell me about cleanses you have tried. Also, I got mine from Down to Earth but they have at Whole Foods and online too. 🙂

xoxoxox