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.
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 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 learning all of the facts and not 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.
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 completing the 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.