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.
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 the littlest, silliest ones.
I am 100% an Aries - independent, impatient (working on it), headstrong (working on it).
My greatest pet peeves are people who make noise in the movie theater, dried up Sharpies, group texts, 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 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 light Christmas candles and leave at least one string of twinkle 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.
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.
But I have a lot of life-long limiting habits that have kept me from experiencing them.
I live for schedules, plans, and a color-coordinated closet.
I am perfectly content staying within my comfort zone and using any excuse possible to not say what I want to say, not do what I want to do, and not be what I want to be if there is even the slightest amount of fear present.
I will avoid anything challenging even if I know it would be good for me.
I am totally okay blending in, going with the flow, and not creating any waves.
I am programmed to automatically say “No” when an opportunity presents itself.
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.
On the way home from Florida, as I tried hard not to wince every time I had to move my legs, I started brainstorming ways I could keep this feeling alive: the feeling of accomplishing anything I set my mind, the feeling of wanting to live a bright and bold adventurous life.
I decided, on that Delta Airlines flight, I would set the goal to be more adventurous every day while on my training journey to being able to run the RunDisney Dopey Challenge: 48.6 miles in a series of four races through Walt Disney World over four days.
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 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 almost an entire year from crossing the finish line of my first half marathon and my first pregnancy with a burning desire to turn those experiences into something even more life-changing.
These life experiences also taught me how much stronger we are than we give ourselves credit for: taking a chance and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones (and past all of the self-limiting thoughts we tell ourselves) brings us to a place where we can learn how capable we are and the amazing things that can happen on the other side of fear.
I am happy to be able to share I am now standing with a 34-week-old pregnancy of a healthy Baby Girl with two major life experiences under my belt that have taught me how quickly fleeting moments can go by: these tiny moments can turn into days, and months, and years and suddenly we are left wishing we had stayed a little more present, been a little more grateful, and taken a few more chances.
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 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.