One of the easiest things to do in life is to become like everyone else. To dilute our truth, our identity and stifle our voice in pursuit of feeling accepted, of feeling like we belong to something. – But here’s the truth, we were made to be the ORIGINAL and it’s time that we stop living as the carbon copy.
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I don’t think I’ve ever openly shared the stuff that catches my attention and gets added to my own ‘inspo’ folder so I thought it would be interesting to start sharing this stuff with you guys. A lot of times the thing that jumps out at me is a color theory or a certain look (styling) or a particular model. Other times it’s the way a product has showcased or the actual industrial design behind what now lives in our world.
As I opened the folder to make this post, I literally just dragged and dropped the first images that got added last and I could already see a theme of what and why the images initially interested me.
Today is a reminder that you have the power to brighten up someones day. It can come in the form of a simple “hello” or saying good morning to a co-worker. It can come in the shape of asking the cashier how their doing or complimenting a stranger. There are so many ways that we can use our internal brightness to illuminate the world outside of us. And here’s the most beautiful part – the more sunshine we give, the more we get.
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I got hit with a flash of inspiration during my 6am run on Monday morning. As my mental state was shifting from ‘fight or flight’ into a creative space, it was as if a light illuminated a dark corner of my mind where I found a concept that made so much sense, yet was never in my conscious awareness.
While running, I could see so vividly the concept and the content as well as the name of this new offering – ReelTalk™. Just as the name states, it’s a new space that lives in my Reels where I share verbal information such as my tips and tricks to happiness, the daily post-it notes of my life that serve as reminders for me to keep going and the insights that has resulted as the sunshine inside of me, regardless of the weather outside. These are like minute and a half mini podcast episodes that I personally need to hear over and over again because my human brain is a fickle machine. It needs constant reminders of the proven strategies that I’ve learned and how to implement and integrate this information into my every day.
I got home from my run and instantly started recording. It’s usually when ideas like this jump out at me, the ones that are not only creative and expressive but also rooted in something that is bigger than me – well, these are usually the ideas that scare the crap out of me but tend to be the ones with the biggest spiritual pay off. Let’s go!
When I find something that I love doing, creatively or professionally, I’m prone to overworking and taking on a million things at once. Part of it is a control issue and part of it is feeling pressured to run as fast as I can – like I’m racing against some imaginary clock. I become so obsessed with the creating and the doing, that I smother it. I hug it so tight that it can’t breathe, and that’s usually when nature steps in and pushes us apart. It shows up as a physical response in my body in the form of anxiety and stress, which is also the doorway to burnout. This time though, nature showed up and took away one of the things that I value most about myself, my ability to speak. I got a month long reminder of what can physically happen within me when I do too much, too fast, too soon and don’t slow down to simply enjoy the ride.
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I have a growing list of extremely powerful books I’ve read throughout my journey that have really helped shape new thoughts and expanded my perspectives. Literary explorations that served as an access point to SELF and ways to dive deeper into ’why I am the way I am’. Books that served as the precursor to Talk Therapy and books that explore the spiritual and creative process. Below, I’ll give you guys my very brief cliffsnotes and why the books are worth the read.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - This is at the top of the list because it was such a vivid reminder of how everything important and impactful to the human soul is experienced in the present moment. A guide on how to train your mind to find gratitude and peace in the stillness and how to equip yourself with tools that can put those rapid, overwhelming, thoughts on pause – which is probably one of the most difficult mental games we play. This book can be used as the cheat code that helps you break through the mental overwhelm and will sit you gently in the NOW.
When the Past Is Present by David Richo - This book was recommended to me by my therapist and was my first exploration into the writings of my favorite author in this space, David Richo. The way he expresses himself and contextualizes his words into visual pictures in my mind felt very familiar to how I think and speak. The book explores how and why we find ourselves in old patterns and habits. Why we tend to seek old people in new relationships and what pieces of us need to be healed in order to break through to the new ’US‘ that’s waiting to be discovered. This book taught me all about ’transference’ and man was it a game changer for me.
How To Be An Adult In Relationships by David Richo - This book is a MUST READ for anyone in/or seeking a meaningful, deep-rooted, intimate connection. It explores how to navigate relationships in a loving and compassionate way. How to face fear and conflicts with grace and how the best ’WE’ can only bloom from the best ’ME’. I absolutely love this book and it was filled with so much beautiful information that I feel has really primed me and set me up for when my person arrives.
The Creative Act : A Way of Being by Rick Rubin - I’ve never read anything by Rick Rubin but have recently found myself being captivated by his connection to Source. This book was confirmation that we are all creative beings and the closer we are to ourselves, the more connected we are to the Source. And since Source is a creative vessel, then we in turn are vessels for creativity. The read was extremely easy and power-packed with examples, little stories and Mr. Rubin’s take on how he engages in the creative process. I tend to revisit the pages when I’m feeling a bit stuck and looking for a key to unlock mental inspirations.
I was on fire with the Podcast and then out of no where I abruptly stopped releasing episodes. This is why – I went too hard, too fast and my body had to force myself to slow down. I had a physical response to the stress I was experiencing due to taking on more than I could handle. I’m a one man orchestra when it comes to all things Steezy Studios as well as being a student and a practitioner when it comes to Self. I’m personally an ever expanding work-in-progress and so are the creative aspirations that I try my best to bring to fruition, and nothing about the two are frivolous. On the surface, recording and editing two to three episodes a week may not seem like a lot but when you dive deeper into the mental and emotional bandwidth I exert while trying to shape, mold and verbally express these highly charged segments is what makes it extremely taxing. – This is something we all need to pay attention to because it’s the road to burnout and health issues. The human brain can never override the human body when it shoots off S.O.S flares in the sky. It’s literally telling us to Save Our Ship!
When I record and open up so freely and transparently about these extremely personal issues, experiences, battles or beliefs, it’s like I’m reliving the initial events all over again. Though I’m not physically back in that space and time, my mind and emotions are, which then causes my nervous-system to react by sending signals through my body. All of the ‘slow down’ signs were there but my false sense of control wouldn’t let me take my foot off the gas. At first, my back started hurting and I just figured it was due to sleeping wrong or my posture while running. Then my arm started feeling tense and tight and that’s something that used to happen a lot to me when I was under the constant pressure of deadlines in the past. It got worse once the anxiety started to seep in and I was finding myself on the cusp of full blown panic attacks. I would self-sooth, focus on my breath and bring myself back into alignment for a moment then slipstream right back into my momentum. When I’m in this ‘beast mode’ I’m so consumed by the velocity of my pace that I forget to enjoy the actual race – And sometimes I even forget what I’m racing for.
Then, one morning a little over a month ago, I woke up and couldn’t speak normally. My tongue felt numb and in the way. It was a foreign sensation that I’ve never felt before and heavily impaired my speech. I couldn’t pronounce my words clearly and I sounded as if I was drunk. It was by far one of the wildest stress induced physical reactions I’ve ever had. And how fitting, the thing that I love to do, the thing that is so important to me, the thing that I was so lit up about is the one thing that was rendered unusable. I couldn’t talk freely, I couldn’t communicate, I couldn’t express myself with my words. I felt like a bucket of water was thrown on my fire to record content. I was forced to acknowledge and respect an interesting and powerful realization, this podcast not only has the power to bring me tremendous joy, it also has the power to bring me suffering. You can’t escape the contrast in life or the poles of opposites. Nature came and snuffed the flame, but rather than seeing it as a terrorist attack, I decided to decipher the message it was trying to tell me.
Now that I can talk normally again and without any residue of the reaction, I can see so clearly that the message was this, – ”Danny, stop trying to expedite the timeline. You are so focused on the progress that you are missing all of the gifts and beauty in the process. Pause, take a beat. Be present with what you are doing in the moment and why are you are choosing to do it. Find joy in every piece of it. From the second you start running to the time it takes for you to break through the ribbon at the finish line, there’s a space for celebration. Celebrate the ‘doing’ just as much as you celebrate the ‘done’. This work isn’t meant to be rushed, it’s meant to savored. – And just a little side note, Danny, you have no control of how fast the external results of your work will unfold for you. You only have control of how you show up as a result of the internal work you’ve done. Take actions today for what you want tomorrow while staying anchored in the NOW. The payout today comes as a feeling, the payout tomorrow comes as a reward. ”
I hopscotch between stages of being obsessed with clothes and the joy I get from styling myself, to dry-spells of inspiration. I’ll feel unmotivated to put any effort into my presentation. It’s usually in those moments of lacked interest that I tend to throw on a pair of denim pants with a vintage shirt and call it a day. And truth be told, I’m not much of a jeans guy. To me, they’re pretty much the equivalent to sweatpants – they’re what I wear when I’m feeling lazy.
So why do clothes matter and why are they such a huge piece of my life? Well, there’s the obvious, as much as I would love to frolic around in the buff, clothing is legally required. And from my shallow research into this particular subject, people who aren’t fashion conscious usually leave it at that. It’s purely a social requirement rather than a practiced and expressed curation. It’s the difference between saying “I’m here” and “I HAVE ARRIVED”.
Clothes, fashion, styling, whatever you want to call it, serves as an expression – a creative outlet. It’s the billboard that proudly displays who you are and what you’re into without having to mutter a word. It’s the receptionist at the front desk of how your feeling today and the representative responsible for telling the world what you’re into. It’s creative, it’s cultural, it’s expressive, it’s personal, and in a lot of ways – it’s the external medication for our internal deficiencies.
I’ve been trying to remind myself that not everything needs to be so philosophically charged. Some things aren’t meant to be dissected and squeezed for every droplet of data, but rather simply enjoyed for what they are – joyful moments. I’m trying to find my way back to the piece of me that can be silly and find the play in the tranquility of life. Those relaxed, light, unguarded moments with friends and loved ones that are equally as important as the highly charged experiences. I’m mindfully in pursuit of rediscovering the inner me that has no problem dancing on the surface because he knows he also has the ability to go deeper than most. The me that can celebrate the duality and have fun diving into either end of the pool.
I’m finding myself in this really interesting internal conflict where I want to surrender to my inner child, my humorous side. The goofball kid that likes to crack jokes and has a plethora of witty come-backs at his disposal. Yet I’m feeling tension and resistance there because there’s a bit of shame in the undertones. You see, I spent most of my life in that space. I shielded all of my flaws, insecurities and low self-esteem with humor. Being funny was my security blanket and a great way to distract people from paying attention to my self-perceived lack of intelligence.
Now that I’ve fully committed to being a student of life and a practitioner of the lessons and strategies I’ve acquired, I firmly believe this is the first time my EQ and IQ are in full parallel to one another. It feels amazing to be here and I’m extremely proud of myself. – But, in the garnering of these attributes, I lost touch with that other quality that brings me joy, the access to my childlike free spirited radiance. The playful silly side that makes space for me to sit comfortably in the neutral. I deeply feel that laughter is a gateway to an enriching and joyful life. It costs us nothing but air, yet it provides us with so much internal nourishment.
My current exercise is to remind myself to not always be so ‘serious’. To laugh loud and often. To allow myself to be disarmed. To give permission to little me (inner child) to come out whenever he feels like playing. To allow him to run freely but not blindly. As a man that had an archetype (Dad) that didn’t model this type of freedom past the age of ten, it makes sense as to why this is so challenging for me. Words like childish, immature, silly, foolish, etc, are all triggers to the internal firing squad within me that are yelling, “Stop! Grow up, Daniel! That’s not how a real man acts!”. Which is obviously my dads voice and not my own, and highly counter productive to my creative spirit.
As I add the photos to this post, my head and heart are instantly catapulted right back to the day that my life was forever changed. Though the memories still bring me a great deal of sadness when I let them consume me, I’ve had to learn to control them. I’ve had to take agency and decide which perspective I choose to frame this challenging experience in, an experience that we all as humans will eventually have to endure. I can either let the pain break my heart, or I can transfer the energy into something that expands my ability to love. I chose the latter. And in order to honor my mom, I need not root her departure in sadness, loss, grief or despair, but anchor her existence in love and celebration. On this day, I sit in gratitude and appreciation for her being my mother. Though she was not perfect, she was mine. And in her imperfections, she taught me a great deal about myself. Her love and teachings still live on within me and through me as I navigate in this world, not only as the strong man that I am but also the scared little boy.
Reliving the days I spent with my mom as she slowly slid into her transition was a battle that I didn’t know I was prepared for. I didn’t know the relationship that I was building and creating with myself and God over the four years prior, would be the fundamental foundation that got me through life’s toughest storm. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was slowing building a bridge for myself that would get me from loss to love. From death to life and from darkness to light. As I reflect back on the yearlong timeline, I now see the gifts that I’ve received and the treasures I’ve found a long the way.
The first thing that jumps out at me is my resilience and trust in myself. This beautiful surrendering to the unknown and the assurance in my ability to love myself enough to get me out of the internal dark places. To not only be the boat, but also the lighthouse that leads me home. When my mom first passed away I was a wreck. Instantly haunted by regret and the “what if’s” “why didn’t I’s” “I should have’s” and the loudest internal statement of all “why wasn’t I a better son?”. All of this self-deprecation and negative talk was on a loop as I replayed all of the missed opportunities I had to show or tell my mom that I love her. This space of regret and shame is a slippery slope and I knew I needed to be kind to myself in this delicate state. I needed to show myself some grace. I had to acknowledge that I’m only human and I’m doing the best that I can, using the tools that I have at the moment. Once I broke through that barrier a whole new perspective opened up for me. I went from deficiency to discovery and found a whole new toolset. I took ownership of my experience and began looking for the gifts. I embarked on the healing phase by honestly asking myself a couple of questions and answering them not from human logic, but from a soul space deep in my heart – “Daniel, do you think momma wants you to be sad?” No, I know it breaks her heart to see me broken. “Daniel, how can you honor your momma?” To be the honest and loving man that she always prayed for me to become. To be happy and to continue to live in pursuit of my dreams. To be strong and show up for my family. To represent her in every action that I make, and to remind others of her sunshine. – And that, my friends, is what I continue to do.
There are so many personal lessons that I’ve learned from this. Some much harder to gather and implement than others but something that I’m very proud of is the bond that my sisters and I have garnered throughout this experience. There’s an unconditional love unlike anything I’ve ever received or expressed prior with my siblings. We’ve forged this connection that is deeply charged by compassion and love and it expresses itself in a way that makes us feel safe and supported. No matter how different our journey is or where we are on the voyage, we’re scaling the summit together. We’re hurting kids masquerading as adults who are trying to figure out how to survive without their emotional protector, and live in this physical world while being untethered to our external source of comfort – all while still trying to seek peace and freedom in the belief that she will forever live in our hearts and echo through our laughter.
If there’s one thing I am certain of, it’s that mom is proud of us. She raised resilient humans. Her strong-willed children that can endure pain and somehow find the gifts in the discomfort. Adults who choose love in the face of loss and who expand through the toughest growing-pain of all, the one where a mother leaves, and the parent within has to show up. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say ”Daniel, you are safe. I love you and now it’s my turn to protect you and take care of you. We are going to be okay and we’re going to get through this. Just because you can’t see momma, it doesn’t mean she’s gone. Laugh with her, dance with her, take her with you wherever you go. Talk to her often because you know she’ll respond.”
P.s. Momma, I could feel you next to me last night as I sat outside under the moon. I was playing the playlist that I made for you and when our song came on, we danced together in my mind. You were wearing a beautiful black dress and I was in your favorite suit of mine. I could hear you telling me how handsome I looked and how proud of me you are. It was just you and I but we were surrounded by love. I hate that I never got do dance with you like that in real life, but in my heart we will dance together for a lifetime. I love you and I miss you. Thank you for loving me and believing in me, even when I didn’t deserve it. – Until our next date, please save me a dance.
-Your son, Daniel