Welcome to My Project

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The Girl

We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears.
— Taylor Swift

My name is Dani and I am a 33-year-old wife and a mother of two ridiculous pit bulls and a newborn baby girl.
I live on a farm-ette in rural Wisconsin and have absolutely no idea how to take care 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.
I will always notify you when there are rainbows or cows in sight.
I believe good things happen when it snows.
I could eat nachos seven days a week for the rest of my life.
I am a professional bargain shopper.
I am an early bird.
If I am not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I'm crying.
I will celebrate all of the Holidays, even talk like a pirate day.
I am 100% an Aries.
My greatest pet peeves are people who make noise in the movie theater, dried up Sharpies, 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 am learning 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.
Seasons of Love will forever be my favorite song of all time.
Leslie Knope, Taylor Swift, and Princess Anna are my soul sisters.
If I were a breakfast pastry I would be a toasted butter croissant.
I will leave at least one string of Christmas lights up year-round.
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.
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.

the inspiration

In February of 2018, I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon, seven weeks pregnant, and totally unprepared.

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 strive for.
It was a moment when I realized life is only limited by the beliefs and restrictions we create for ourselves.

On the way home from Florida, I started brainstorming ways I could keep this feeling alive: the feeling of accomplishing anything I set my mind and to live a bright, bold, and adventurous life.

I decided, on that Delta Airlines flight, I would set the goal to complete the RunDisney Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles in a series of four races through Walt Disney World over four days) and chronicle my daily journey.

It was the perfect plan to continue on this race-running high and the best way I could think of to be the best role model for my soon-to-arrive baby.
I was energized, excited, and eager to get started with my little peanut in tow.

Two weeks later, life threw a wrench in my mindset and my plans.

At our first doctor’s appointment since finding out I was pregnant, we found out the strong likelihood I was having a miscarriage.
A pregnancy that had completely changed our world slipped through our fingers like sand.
The idea of names and nurseries, hedgehog swaddle blankets and giant Pooh Bears had to be set aside for another patient day of peeing on a stick.

That day we discovered our 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 our doctor wasn't worried.
The 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 - 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.

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The Project

Through the ups and downs, here I am an entire year from crossing the finish line of my first half marathon and my miscarriage with a burning desire to turn those experiences into something even more life-changing.

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 that pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone brings you to a place where you can learn how capable you are and how amazing things can be on the other side of fear.
You learn how to cherish every day of the journey.
You learn how glorious the celebration at the finish line can be.

I am happy to have two major life experiences under my belt that have changed my life.
I am happy to get back to the impossible idea I came up with at 10,000 feet above the ground on that fateful flight home from Florida.
I am happy to be the role model that I am meant to be for my newborn daughter and the super hero I am meant to be for myself.

Powered by an excess of coffee and La Croix (not together … that would be weird), a daily chocolate habit, two rambunctious dogs, a stack of personal development books, an unwaveringly supportive family, a newborn baby, and a love of all things Disney, I invite you to follow along in my self-doubt and sore-muscle filled journey in going from couch to Dopey challenge.


 
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