Chapter One Goals

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 The Collections

 Most girls have a closet stuffed full of clothes with the tags still attached: just patiently waiting for the “perfect” day to be worn.

This girl right here has an entire bookshelf stacked full of blank notebooks and journals patiently waiting to be filled (and a closet full of clothes with the tags still attached). While I am a sucker for cute binding, my perfectionism regularly gets in the way of actually committing to writing on said pages. And because of my untamed need for there to be perfect penmanship with no mistakes, I have missed out on documenting a lot of opportunities that I wish I could look back on now.

In addition to that ridiculous collection of blank paper, after 32-years of living a relatively cautious, safe within my comfort zone, careful not to ruffle any feathers, but full of wanderlust and ideas of amazing things I would do “one day” when I am brave enough, old enough, have money enough and time enough … you get the picture … I have gathered a fairly extensive Adventure List of things I would like to experience in my lifetime. And just in case anyone is wondering, this Adventure List is organized into a color-coordinated Excel Spreadsheet.

The Plan 

Before I end up on an episode of TLC’s Hoarders: Buried Alive, I figured it was time I put both of my collections to good use.

Each notebook will serve as a chapter in this journey.
Each page will serve as a place to write down my favorite moments from each day.
Each day will be filled with pushing myself closer to my goals of running the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge and living an adventurous life.

The Chapter

Morning cups of coffee and Christmas tree lights are made for brand new journals and reflecting over how lucky I am that I get to spend the remaining days before Baby Girl is born doing all of the things that I love with all of the people I love. What an amazing new chapter of life we have ahead and I am trying to soak up every moment.

The First Chapter of this journey will take me to the end of my pregnancy (a time in my life I have been shamefully terrible at documenting thus far) and through about the first month of Baby Girl’s new life. As you can imagine, I won’t be jumping out of any airplanes or running any marathons as I navigate this period of my life, but I am set out to prove that you can stay active and stay adventurous through your second and third trimester of pregnancy and into the first weeks of new parenthood (a time when I’ve been woefully told I should prepare to never leave my house, shower, or sleep).


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The List

December 14th, 2018 - May 22nd, 2019

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  1. Go for a sleigh ride

  2. Bake Christmas cookies

  3. Start a family

  4. Swim in the ocean

  5. Find the perfect black dress

  6. Stand behind a frozen waterfall

  7. Lay by the pool

  8. Eat fondue

  9. Take a Bikram Yoga class

  10. Design a room I love

  11. Perform a random act of kindness

  12. Buy myself flowers

  13. Take an art class

  14. Go for a Winter hike

  15. Go bowling

  16. Have my palm read

  17. Hit the town with bright red lips

  18. Go to the movies by myself

  19. Get a pedicure

  20. Get my nails painted sparkly

  21. Go out for ice cream

  22. Get the best drink at a local coffee shop

  23. Sit by the water on a sunny day

  24. Go to a nature preserve

  25. Tour an aquarium

  26. Go to the zoo

  27. Spend a day shopping with my BFF

  28. Eat breakfast in bed

  29. Make a chunky knit blanket

  30. Use a bath bomb

  31. Pop a bottle of champagne

  32. Celebrate Mother’s Day

  33. Celebrate my birthday

  34. Make Unicorn Hot Chocolate

  35. Make Circus Animal Cookie Dough Truffle Bites

  36. Have “adventurous” coffee

  37. Celebrate my time in Wyoming

  38. Go to an ice castle

  39. Make a New Year’s Resolution

  40. Wear a big chunky sweater

  41. Enjoy a solo spa day

  42. Enjoy a rainy day

  43. Make a Strawberry Cream Mimosa

  44. Start training for the Dopey Challenge

  45. Make a Snuffle Mat

  46. Try “The Grey Stuff”

  47. Go to a bakery

  48. Eat the best cupcake in town

  49. Stay in on a snow day

  50. Have a grilled cheese and tomato soup

  51. Make a pot of spiced cider

  52. Bake a cake

  53. Drink eggnog

  54. Bake cinnamon rolls

  55. Go snowshoeing

  56. Make fireplace S’mores

  57. Wear fuzzy slippers

  58. Go to a hockey game

  59. Wear something red

  60. Make Buffalo Chicken Nachos

  61. Go to a botanic garden

  62. Plant seedlings

  63. Wear a turtleneck

  64. Have a picnic

  65. Sit outside at a cafe

  66. Go to an outdoor Farmer’s Market

  67. Go to a microbrewery

  68. Pick strawberries

  69. Eat jellybeans

  70. Spot a rainbow

  71. Go to a smoothie shop

  72. Go ice fishing

  73. Walk barefoot in the grass

  74. Have newborn pictures taken

  75. Go to a museum

  76. Play arcade games

  77. Go to a chocolate shop

  78. Make Vanilla Rose Moon Milk

  79. Light a candle

  80. Go out for lunch

  81. Wear a striped romper

  82. Eat a gingerbread cookie

  83. Volunteer

  84. Fly

  85. Support someone who inspires me

  86. Have a Magical Day

  87. Wear overalls

  88. Make Dingelhopper Cake Pops

  89. Rewatch a favorite movie from my childhood

  90. Wear a buffalo plaid dress

  91. Make Tigger Tails

  92. Sit around a fire table

  93. Wear real Cowboy boots

  94. Go on a moonlight hike

  95. Go to an art museum

  96. Go out for breakfast

  97. Eat dinner on a farm

  98. Hike up a mountain

  99. Make homemade bread

  100. Go to a small town festival

  101. See ice sculptures

  102. Spend our first day home with the baby

  103. Meditate

  104. Celebrate the women in my life

  105. Have a  maternity photoshoot

  106. Make dinner reservations at the best restaurant in town

  107. Take a prenatal yoga class

  108. Drink a mocktail

  109. Eat dinner on an outdoor patio

  110. Make a homemade hair mask

  111. Eat a crazy donut

  112. Drink a Starbucks Holiday drink

  113. Wear something that sparkles

  114. Play cards

  115. Plant our garden

  116. Put up a bird feeder

  117. Have a movie marathon

  118. Listen to live music

  119. Go to the library

  120. Watch the sunrise

  121. Watch the sunset

  122. Eat dessert for breakfast

  123. Sit outside with a cup of coffee

  124. Exercise outside

  125. Light a candle

  126. Order a subscription box

  127. Make homemade waffles

  128. Eat a fancy pizza

  129. See Christmas lights

  130. Go to a distillery

  131. Eat at a rooftop restaurant

  132. Make homemade dog treats

  133. Photograph Hoar Frost

  134. Take a puppy yoga class

  135. Go to a farm

  136. Go to a locally owned bookstore

  137. Walk 800 miles

  138. Take 50 yoga classes

  139. Travel to 10 cities

  140. Celebrate three generations

  141. Celebrate Valentine’s Day

  142. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

  143. Go to a hibachi restaurant

  144. Read an entire book

  145. Drink matcha

  146. Spend a day shooting macrophotography

  147. Go to an antique store

  148. Learn to grill

  149. Wear high heels

  150. Get dressed up

  151. Go shopping at an outlet mall

  152. Leave footprints

  153. Try a mud mask

  154. Eat at a diner

  155. Spend the morning at a local cafe

  156. Tour a 100-year-old building

  157. Eat at a historic restaurant

  158. Wear flannel pajamas

  159. Enjoy silence

  160. Go to an old theater

Welcome to My Project

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The Girl

My name is Dani and I am a 32-year-old wife and mother of two ridiculous pit bulls, and an April baby-to-be.
I live on a farm-ette in rural Wisconsin and have absolutely no idea how to take care of all of it.
I am a dance teacher who will always leap in public places, squeal at Nutcracker music, and value being a good role model over everything else.
I have worked for 11 years in the animal behavior and welfare industry and will unwaveringly advocate for animals and the people who dedicate their lives to being their voice.
I will always notify you when there are rainbows or cows in sight.
I believe good things happen when it snows and am a professional bargain shopper.
I eat nachos seven days a week for the rest of my life.
I am an early bird who has a seriously hard time waking up in the morning.
If I am not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I'm crying.
My greatest pet peeves are people who make noise in the movie theater, dried up Sharpies, group texts with people, and people who don't put their shopping carts away.
I believe there is always a good reason to drink cheap champagne.
I become a vicious monster if I haven't eaten in more than three hours.
I, like many women, have gone through the devastation of a miscarriage, but I choose to become strengthened by the experience and grateful for the universe’s plan.
I am trying to learn how to cook but have an irrational fear of setting my house on fire.
I am namas'cray about hot yoga.
I lived in Wyoming for three years and it will always hold a big piece of my heart.
If I were a breakfast pastry I would be a toasted butter croissant.
I am an awkward conversationalist and DREAD having small talk.
My favorite places are Walt Disney World, New York City, and Yellowstone National Park.
I have a strong aversion about my hands and feet unexpectedly touching slimy stuff and will not swim in open water.
I love holidays, every single one of them no matter how big or small.
My favorite color is yellow.
If I were a dog, I would be a Jack Russell Terrier.
I believe impossible things are possible, that life is beautiful even when it is hard, and that the universe works in mysterious ways when we are on our true path. 
I believe life is about experiencing all that we can experience and celebrating every little thing.
I believe we live in a wonderful world full of beauty, wonder, charm, love, and laughter and there is no end to the adventures we can have if only we have the courage, curiosity, and presence to seek them.

To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

- Peter Pan


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The Inspiration

In February of 2018, I completed the Disney Princess Half Marathon, seven weeks pregnant, totally unprepared, and it completely changed my life.

As I ran across the finish line, I broke into tears realizing I had completed something I had fully convinced myself would never happen.
It was a moment when I realized I was much stronger, braver, and resilient than I allowed myself to believe.
It was a moment when I realized I was capable of accomplishing much more than what I tell myself to strive for.
It was a moment when I realized life is only limited by the beliefs and restrictions we create for ourselves.

Two weeks after I crossed the finish line at Epcot, I was completely crushed when we found out the strong likelihood that I had lost our first pregnancy.

A pregnancy we had found out about just over one month ago, that had completely changed our world, and that had slipped through our fingers like sand. The idea of names and nurseries, hedgehog-patterned swaddle blankets and giant Pooh Bears had to be set aside for another patient day of peeing on a stick.

In our first ultrasound, fours days after the race, the what-was-to-be-baby measured ten days behind where we anticipated. I, naive and hopeful, thought nothing of it.
It was early, everything looked healthy, and the doctor wasn't worried; he scheduled us for an ultrasound one week later, where we were excited to see a tiny little peanut appear.

The second ultrasound, more thorough than the first, showed our not-likely-to-be-baby had not yet made its debut.
In fact, nothing had changed at all. It wasn't boding well. I hoped our doctor would reassure us that everything was still alright even though every fiber in my being was telling me it wasn't. He couldn't.

He recommended one last ultrasound one week later to give we're-just-hoping-to-be-fashionably-late-baby a chance to materialize.
Many tears, many bars of chocolate, and many wishes that I could drink a glass (or six) of champagne later, I became prepared for the news that 99.9% of me believed to be the truth already: I was no longer pregnant. Yet, I was not NOT pregnant because my body was still holding onto something that stopped growing nearly four weeks ago.

I had a D+C procedure, less than four hours after that final ultrasound, the one that finally confirmed what we had been expecting: I was having a miscarriage.

It was like waking up from one of those immensely vivid pregnancy dreams that used to horrify me in college - the ones that feel palpably real, but were just my brain's way of processing the fact that I was bloated from too much cheese bread.
I had woken up (from anesthesia), no longer pregnant, shoved to go right back to the "normal" life I had been leading for the last 32-years.

Was I OK? Most of the time I was - shockingly so at times. I probably didn’t handle it in the way people think I should have - I had plenty of people who didn’t see my meltdowns in the shower or on the way home from my first Hot Yoga class post-D+C tell me, “You know it’s ok to not be ok” or make a concerned face when I would joke about being able to drink champagne again - but in my grown up years I have grown quite accustomed to doing things my way.

Through the process, I would return to my key beliefs that "everything happens for a reason" and "the universe works in mysterious, magical, and intentional ways".
When the (many) Facebook pregnancy announcements would pop up on my News Feed, I would mentally go through all of the incredible and amazing things to be grateful for in my life and understand is a normal occurrence for 25% of pregnancies in their first trimester.
I was placed at the beginning of a new path: one I wasn't intending.

And through the ups and downs, here I am nine months from crossing the finish line of my first half marathon and my first pregnancy, happily and healthily standing with a nearly 21-week-old pregnancy, and eager for the new track that I am on.

It is amazing how quickly your mindset changes when you realize you are having a baby. Certain things suddenly become much more important while things you used to stress about don’t phase you at all. In the last few months, many things have happened in and around my life that, along with Baby Girl, have shifted my perspective on what is truly the most important.

Life serves us many opportunities to make a choice. A choice between what is easy and what is hard. A choice between what pushes us out of our comfort zone and what keeps us safely in our bubble. A choice between what we wish to do in our future and how we can spend our time now to get one step closer. A choice between what is right and what is wrong (even when it feels so right). A choice between really learning all of the facts and not just blindly “picking a side” in a world that seems all too quick to divide us all up. A choice between what will make us stronger and what will keep us where we are.

We have the choice to look at the positive and see all of the good around us. We have the choice to believe in greater things. We have a choice to be honest. We have the choice to apologize and own up to our mistakes. We have the choice to believe in people’s integrity and their ability to grow even when they make a mistake. We have the choice to disagree with someone without becoming a nasty, angry person over it. We have the choice to be a part of the bigger picture and stand up for what we are passionate about. We have the choice to face our fears. We have the choice to change for the better. We have the choice to be grateful for the life we have even when it is hard.

Life is all about choices and in times when it may be easier to be mad or close-minded or unforgiving or stuck in the past or impatient or totally overwhelmed I decided that if I had to pick just one goal for my future it would be to simply be a good role model.

To stand up for the people and causes I believe in. To be a nice person even to someone who is being a total a-hole. To put my shopping cart away and change the paper towel roll. To be courageous in the face of fear. To actively listen to others and learn about the world around me. To be patient. To be understanding of people’s differences. To be bold and approach life with an enthusiastic rhythm. To know that I am stronger than I allow myself to believe and am capable of so much more than the wallsI have built around myself. To be kind to others, to the world, to myself, and to my boundaries. To trust my intuition. To be present and appreciative for the moments that make life wonderful. To finally do all of the things I have always said I have wanted to do.
To, simply, live.


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The Project

Running a half marathon is a very lonely experience. It's just you and the road. You, alone, have to push yourself to keep moving forward. No one can understand the exact mental and physical rollercoaster you are going through, even if they have been through it themselves.
Going through a miscarriage feels pretty much the exact same way … except that no one talks about it.

But through both experiences you learn similar things. You learn how much stronger you can be in the face of adversity. You learn how many people are rooting you on. You learn how to be patient and trust that, eventually, the end will present itself. You learn that you just have to tell yourself “You CAN do this” one more time than you say “You can’t”. You learn how glorious the celebration at the finish line can be.

That is the true inspiration and motivation behind this blog and my goal to live healthy, live foolish, and live outside of my comfort zone - an idea that crossed my mind as I crossed the finish lane in the parking lot of Epcot, but seems even more important now.

Powered by an excess of decaf coffee and La Croix, a daily chocolate habit, two rambunctious dogs, a stack of personal development books, an unwaveringly supportive family, and a love of all things Disney, I invite you to follow along in my blister, self-doubt, and sore-muscle filled journey to go from couch to Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge.

But life is about so much more than fitness goals, and fitness goals are about so much more than physical strength.
Don't turn away from this page if you hate running, health food, and keeping track of how much water you're drinking. (Spoiler alert: So do I.)
Alongside my daily endurance training, I will be pushing myself to try all of new adventures I have put off or told myself I could never accomplish over my 32 years.

Life is not all about crossing the finish line, but the experiences we have along the way.
Life is not about waiting to begin our lives until the day we've accomplished all of the things we want to accomplish.
Life is not about only living for the weekend or vacation or special occasions or when everything else is done. It's not about only rewarding ourselves when we've conquered everything on our calendar.
Life is about experiencing all that we can experience.
Life is about celebrating every little thing while we are on the way to accomplishing our biggest dreams.
Life is about doing all of the things we've always said we wanted to do.
Life is about LIVING it instead of just Pinteresting it.
Life is about actually getting out there and living the brighter and bolder life you've been watching other people live on their Instagram accounts.
Life is about what you can achieve when you stop talking and begin doing.
Life is about venturing outside of your comfort zone and realizing how rewarding it can be.
Life is about discovering who you are and fearlessly being that person.

I will be sharing the good, the bad, the ugly, and the vulnerable when it comes to sweat and self care, wanderlust and wandering willpower, courage and compassion, miscarriage and motherhood, and anything that lies between.