Relationships // April 8, 2015

This article originally appeared on Danielle-Dowling.com. Read Part 1 here. 

:: Express your needs.

Some people like to text every day. Some people need a lot of alone time. Some people want their partner to plan exciting dates. All of these needs are equally legitimate.

But your partner will never know what your needs are if you don’t tell them. You don’t need to open a first date with a checklist, but once things are clicking along, it’s okay to say, “I want you to feel loved and appreciated. How can I do that?” and when you’ve heard their suggestions, you can share yours. When they do what you asked? Lots and lots of acknowledgement and appreciation.

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:: Give without any expectations. 

I know it’s incredibly tempting (so tempting!) to keep a mental list of all the nice things you’ve done for your sweetie.

Picked up a new yoga mat because I saw hers was deteriorating...

Made reservation for Friday...

Bought his mom’s birthday present...

This mentality will only end in tears and resentment. We can nourish our relationships by removing the expectation that they to do the same things that we have done for them. Let your partner give to you because they want to, not because they feel as though they owe you.


:: Don’t stop caring about how you look!

Male or female, we’ve all done this, right? Constantly hanging out in our gym clothes and dirty hair, eating pizza for dinner three times a week. You want to find your partner attractive and – not surprisingly – they want to find you attractive. Help them do that by keeping up with your workouts and saving the sweatpants for alone time.


:: Cultivate intimacy and independence.

It might sound counter-intuitive but you can connect while also retaining autonomy. Don’t stop doing the things that filled you up now that you’ve found a partner. Keep attending those pottery classes, keep working on your novel – and keep telling your partner all about it and why you love it.

Just as important? Give them the space to pursue a few passions without you. You’ll both be that much more excited to come home and tell each other about your adventures.


:: Inspire your partner by loving yourself fiercely.

The more you love yourself, the more others will follow your lead. We’ve all witnessed it: the confident woman who maintains healthy boundaries always seems to attract amazing partners.

Do your best to identify your needs and meet those needs yourself. Need creative inspiration? Rather than trying to date an artist or force your accountant boyfriend to take drawing classes, buy a DSLR and get to shooting. Crave a more active social life? Don’t hassle your introverted girlfriend into house parties and nights out. Call up your most outgoing friends and schedule a night out, complete with cute shoes and cocktails.

We teach people how to treat us and when you nourish yourself with love and respect, the world – and your partner – take notice. 


Published in Relationships

Dating // March 4, 2015

This article originally appeared on Danielle-Dowling.com. Read Part 2 here. 

Great relationships don’t happen by accident.

Just like that sweet little vegetable patch in your backyard, the more you nurture and nourish your relationship the happier you’ll both be.

And what does that look like? Quality nourishment requires pausing, listening, and paying attention to your partner. It requires that you learn to love people in ways that are meaningful to them and listen when they tell you what their needs are.

Here are 10 ways you can nudge your relationship into a happier, healthier, more fulfilling version of itself.

:: Stop pretending to be someone you’re not and just be yourself instead.
When we are who we really truly are – weird hobbies and all – magic happens. Being true to ourselves allows us to navigate life and relationships free of hangups, emotional baggage, or expectations.

In the beginning stages of relationships, many of us focus on showcasing our best selves in an attempt to garner love and affection. We become ridiculously, painfully focused on making a good impression.

But being who you really are and being who you think someone wants you be – it’s hard to do those two things simultaneously. Take a deep breath, release those shoulders, and stop pretending and polishing yourself. Just be right here, who you are, today.

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:: Smile at your loved one.
To the best of your ability, greet your partner with a smile when you see each other for the first time that day.

Imagine how good that would feel – after a tough day at work and sitting in traffic, you walk through the door and are greeted with a smile and a kiss from the person you love most. Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to start your evening?

This is not to say you’re never allowed to share the low points of your day, but maybe save them for dinner – rather than the first five minutes that you see your sweetie.

Other great times to smile at your partner: across a crowded party, before you part ways for the day, when you know they need encouragement.

:: Realize things change.
We’re living, breathing organisms – subject to the changing tides of emotion and circumstance. It can be emotionally crippling to get too attached to the “status quo” –  not just in your romantic relationships but in life. Change is inevitable.

Next week your partner might wake up and want to change careers, move to the east coast, or have kids (like, soon). Can you allow space for that? Could you create a new life with him while he pursued something new?

And, of course, things will change for you – your passions, your career, your family, your health. When your partner tells you that they’ve got some big changes in mind – a new workout plan, a move to the country, no more dairy – do your best to listen with an open mind and heart.

:: Work out together.
Exercise gives you energy and it’s great for your sex life! Studies show people who work out regularly enjoy more sex and feel more aroused more frequently. Also, it’s a wonderful way to show your partner that you’re interested in your health and you want to stay cute for them.

Trying new workouts together also helps you bond! Take a couple’s yoga class, a hip hop dance class, or try rock climbing. Even if you’re terrible, later you’ll be able to laugh together about his terrible downward dog or your totally failure to pop ‘n lock.

:: If you want quality time with your significant other, plan it.
You’ve heard this advice before and that’s because it works! Make time for thrilling, exciting things – not just birthdays and anniversaries. As your weekend winds down, take a few minutes to schedule in at least one fun date each week – whether that’s trying a new restaurant, going for a hike, or catching a movie at the second-run theater. Fun things happen when you make time and space for them.


Stay tuned for part 2 of 10 Tips To Help Your Relationship Thrive! 

Published in Love + Dating

Dating // December 1, 2014 

“Why doesn’t he ever follow through with his plans? He’s SO FLAKY. He has so much potential that he’s not using. I could help him if he’d let me.” 

“I wish she was ready to settle down. She knows I want a family but she’s so sure about backpacking through Europe. Maybe if I helped her get a better job she’d want to stick around … and get married.”

“Why is he always flirting with the wait staff? And why is he still listed as ‘single’ on Facebook? I don’t care if it’s just ‘innocent attention’ – if he loved me, he’d change.”

Sound familiar? (I can see you nodding from over here.) We’ve all been there – making a mental laundry list of the ways someone could ‘improve,’ an ongoing litany of their tiny flaws and all the ways we can polish and shine them to perfection.

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But I’m afraid I’m captaining the good ship Reality Check today, friends. Trying to change someone is exhausting, disrespectful and (most importantly) 100% futile.  

The upside of this? There is a truly life-changing sense of joy + liberation that comes with letting go of our need to control another. It’s when we let go that we finally feel loved and satisfied.

Pro-actively choosing to let go is different than clinging to something only to have it snatched from your clutches. Of course, actively choosing to let go of control – to let go of your need to change/improve another human adult – can be tough. But it’s also liberating and steeped in relief. 

Borrow the courage to let go before heavy takes root.

When you proactively choose to let go you make delicious space for what you really want to show up.

When you let go, you allow the acceptance of “what is” to begin healing you.

You stop fighting a fruitless battle + bow to the perfect limitations of your situation. 

With a heart ripped wide open you graciously, clearly understand;

:: This is all they have to offer + it’s not enough.

:: It’s time to move on. From this job, this town, this home. It’s been good but you must continue to grow–somewhere else.

Don’t wait until you’re “ready.”

The waiting is wrought with angst.

You have carried it and crouched under its weight long enough.

It isn’t until you give up on wanting them to change that you will find peace. 

A few years ago, I was dating a much younger man who, for a plethora of reasons, I shouldn’t have been dating. I felt insecure about my age and finding someone who would love me as-is. My boyfriend was young and careless, partied entirely too much and eventually cheated on me. 

After a lot (a lot) of meditation, journaling, and crying to my girlfriends, I realized that I could be at peace by accepting who he was and his choices, I could finally accept my responsibility for our relationship and for bringing him into my life. I decided to accept him for where he was in his life, and most importantly, to love myself. I let go of the weight of trying to fix him or wait for him to reach his potential and I felt hugely, immensely liberated. 

When I began to love myself more + be more honest with myself, I made better choices. Since I knew I couldn’t change him and he couldn’t give me what I needed, with love and self-respect, I left.


If you too, would like to let go of your need to change your partner or to cling to things that aren’t working, here are five steps to get you closer to self-love and self-awareness.

1. Accept that the situation didn’t “just happen to you.”

This person you’re dating? They probably didn’t bang on your front door, insisting that you begin a romantic relationship with them. It is doubtful that you are being held against your will in this relationship. At some point, you chose to date someone who, for whatever reason, isn’t meeting your needs. You were actively involved in the decision to be in this relationship.

2. Accept the person for who they are and where they are.

My 23-year-old self is (thankfully!) very, very different from my 37-year-old self. In fact, I imagine my former boyfriends would be quite surprised at how I turned out. The same goes for everyone. Who we are, what we want, the type of love we’re capable of – these things change as we move through life. It’s not fair to expect a 25-year-old to approach relationships the way a 40-year-old divorcee does. Yes, that woman might make an amazing partner once she gets over her ex – but it’s not fair to either of you to sit around, waiting for that to happen.

3. Know on deep level that the only person you can change is yourself.

You’ve probably heard this a million times and maybe you’ve recited it over coffee to a few friends. But saying it and really down-to-the-marrow-of-your-bones knowing it are different. You can’t change the fact that she’s not ready to settle down, that he has a lot of growing up to do, or that she’s constantly running late. You can, however, change how you react to those things and whether those people are allowed into your life.

4. Celebrate your desires + truth.

Focus on your inner world, what you love about yourself, what is true for you, and where you want your path to lead. Instead of worrying about his financial stability, think about how you’re going to earn enough money to buy a little cottage in the woods. Stop focusing on what she does (or doesn’t) love about you and focus on what YOU love about you.

5. Take action in the direction of what you want most.

Building the life you want (filled with the right people) is a daily practice of step after tiny, unglamorous step. Big things start with small actions and those action always involve us and very rarely involve people who can’t meet our needs.

With love and respect, say goodbye to the people who aren’t right for you right now, and turn your attention to something worthwhile – creating a life that thrills you.

Published in Dating

Relationships // January 27, 2014

This article was originally published on Danielle-Dowling.com.

It sounds like this:

It’s cold out, take a sweater.

Don’t leave that here. Put it back where it belongs.

That’s too expensive, you can’t spend that.

Oh no, you can’t do that!

Ladies: your guy is not a fresh-faced five-year-old.

Men don’t need to be trained and scolded like puppies.

For the love of your love life: resist the urge to whip out motherly advice. Our misplaced maternal tonality is more than emasculating. It’s a cease and desist order on those steamy nights you long for.

Sexy seductress? Forget it. When you’re busy demanding and reprimanding your man, you’ll remind him more of his third grade teacher. Or worse…his mother.

We know you’ve got his best interests at heart. You don’t mean to boss him around, but it just comes out that way, right?

It’s lovely that you want your honey to be A-OK but this is a prime opportunity to distinguish between the nurturing feminine qualities we recognize as the best in our own Mothers, and “mothering.”

And yup. You’ve guessed it- ya gotta quit mothering.

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Our femininity exists at a cellular level. We’re born with a galaxy of intoxicating qualities; facets of femininity that nurture, seduce and support the men in our lives.

We heal. We comfort. We empathize, sympathize, and we certainly know how to pay a compliment.

Your guy craves these maternal qualities. You make him feel cared for. You patch him up for his next battle. Your laser focused attention restores and renews him while your unwavering faith gives him strength. Your tenderness & encouragement is elation, lifts his mood and is nothing less than suh-weet.

Maternal affection is natural. Mothering is cruel. When you mother your man, your game is manipulation + control. Your advice, beliefs, and affection are no longer sweet gifts. They’re more like blunt hammers straight to his aching temples.

Try this power-duo of natural nurturing techniques instead:

1. Invite him.

Inviting is open, free-flowing and easy. Instead of: “Here’s some cold medicine. Take it.” Try: “You don’t feel well? Is there anything I can do to help?”

2. Demonstrate & Reinforce by Thanking.

Men are innately generous. They really do want us to have what we need, but they certainly aren’t mind readers. Kindly explain how you enjoy things done (Ahem… this includes in the bedroom. Meow!) When he gets it right, remember to thank him. Giving begets giving. Give patience, detailed information, and respect. He’ll give it right back.

Published in Relationships

Dating // July 15, 2013

This article was originally published on Danielle-Dowling.com

So what is it about the woman that always gets the guy?  You know who I’m talking about.

Every guy you know thinks she’s cool/smart/funny.  Men get giddy around her.  Conversations stall when she walks into a room.
What does she know that the rest of us don’t?

Girl, it’s not about what she has – so much as what she doesn’t have.  It’s pretty likely that men are attracted to her not only because of the things that she does, but because of the things that she doesn’t do.

And I can guarantee you that our Girl Wonder does not exhibit any of these three traits:

Neediness:


Ahh. The mother of all un-sexiness.

Sometimes (and this has probably happened to the best of us) we might feel a bit incomplete without a man or believe a relationship will solve our problems.  The man in your life will smell this desperation a mile away. And desperation?  It’s not a good look on anyone.

When you’re carrying around the (totally false) idea that you need a man to be complete, you’re giving away your power.

Pause right there.

Think about it – when you place your contentment + happiness in the hands of another individual, you’re at their mercy.  Are you willing to gamble your well-being on his actions or in-actions?

Besides, consider all the unnecessary pressure it puts on him! The pressure to live-up to your expectations of the perfect mate will be exhausting + a sure-fire way to incite disinterest.

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Want to reclaim your power?  Brilliant.  Start by putting the kabosh on these actions:

1. Needing his approval of how you look
2. Incessant emailing, texting and phone calling.  (not to mention obsessive checking of your own email or vmail–mmmhmm….we’ve all done it…)
3. Insisting you know where he is, was + will be 24-7
4. Too many whiny “I miss you’s” in that little girl voice

Insecurity:

The number 2 way to send your man running for the hills.

It sounds like this:

“Do you still love me as much as before?”
“Do you think I look fat in this?”
“Am I pretty enough for you?”

Insecurity is rooted in another false idea – the idea that you are somehow not adequate. You’re only human and self-doubt is a very real emotion that we all feel from time to time. Totally normal.

However, staying stuck and investing in the idea that you are “less than” is a slippery slope. The key to being desirable is to allow yourself to have the feelings of insecurity but not indulge in them! (Easier said than done.  I know.  But practice makes perfect- so give ‘er a shot.)

Simply notice when those feeling come up and reflect…. "Hmph.  There is that thought again. Interesting”…and then redirect your attention to what you’re doing at the moment.  Imagine sitting by a babbling brook and noticing how the leaves glide across the surface of the water past you.  Think of your insecure thoughts as those leaves.

You always have a choice.
You can either invest in your insecurity or your sexy.
You decide.

Overly critical of others. Especially of other women:

Let’s get straight to the point, shall we?  It is flat-out ugly when you
are outwardly critical, especially of other women.   Imagine this:  A beautiful woman walks into the room + your perfectly pleasant conversation with your sweetie quickly spirals into a sarcastic, snarkfest of gnarly criticism.

Why is it that women find it so difficult to compliment another gorgeous, accomplished woman? (Especially, in the presence of their honey?)

Answer: Yup, you guessed it–False ideas.

Somewhere we believe that by tearing other women down our man will not notice their attractiveness.

Reality Check: He probably noticed her 10 seconds before you did so it’s a waste of time.  Not to mention that being critical paints you as jealous, insecure + really, kinda mean.  And who wants to be That Girl?

Take notice of your energy level after such a barrage…does it feel heavy or light + airy?  Eventually you will recognize that the ill-will is draining.  On you + your man.

Personally whenever I see a hot, sassy mama I say to myself “You go, girl.”  I’ve even been known to call my boyfriends attention to her killer shoes, stylish dress or confident ways.  This way we both get to enjoy her shine + it fosters open dialogue between us. (Never a bad thing)

I will often stop a woman and tell her she looks great in her dress, or that her hair looks awesome and ask where she gets it cut.  The appreciation + gratitude bestowed on me are rewarding and she walks away feeling just a little more shiny than before.  Win-Win.

Let’s talk about how to amp up your sexy instead!

1. Take stock of how often you check your text/email out of a sense of desperation. This is your one and only life – slide back into the driver’s seat and reevaluate a better use of your energy.  What is an action you can take right now that will focus your attention on your overall well-being + happiness? Yoga at lunch?  Manicure with a girlfriend after work? Perhaps making that long put off phone call to your local graduate school or headhunter.

2.  Feeling insecure cause you don’t fit in your skinny jeans from 11 years ago? Get-rid-of-them!
Honestly, how realistic is it that you’ll be that size again…have you considered that it’s cruel to keep them in your closet?  That you are dismissing your present-day deliciousness? I am not suggesting that you pack on the lbs and ignore your health.  I’m encouraging you to honor + dare I say…celebrate your womanly figure.

Toss the jeans.
Seriously.

3. When you see a stunning women, immediately catch INSECURITY + CRITICISM, and silently take notice of what you admire about her. Say “good for her.” And if you’re feeling real bold + saucy get her attention and give her the gift of a compliment.

The universe loves that stuff!  I bet a compliment is already on its way to you.

Published in Love + Dating

Dating // April 22, 2013

Give me a “Hell yeah!” if:

- you want to have a drama free relationship.

- you want to euthanize insecurity.

- you want to end the dating exasperation you have experienced up until now.


Hell yeah?

Good. We agree.

Let’s start with a heart-centered strategy.

Why?

Because you are SO ready to have what you want.

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The strategy begins with exposing some of the relationship falsehoods we’ve been fed by society. Somewhere along the way you have been misled about what it takes to create a legendary duo. And when you’re operating with faulty facts, it’s nearly impossible to manifest the results you want.

But no more.

Let’s clear up a few of those falsehoods, douse you with raw reality (ouch), point you in the right direction for romance + set you on your smoldering, love-making way.

Juicy, right?  I guarantee that by following these two essential tips, you will extinguish 98% of your frustrations in relationships and pave the way to experiencing the kind of mutually rewarding + loving partnerships you not only crave, but deserve.

How’s that for a proposal?

I love going big.


Truth 1: Men Are “As-Is” Merchandise

Have you ever found yourself on a first or 22nd date thinking he’d be perfect if only he lost a few pounds, put on a few pounds, had hair, had a more impressive career, was wealthier, more affectionate, younger, older blahblahblah?

FACT:  Men don’t want to be changed or improved.

But we L-O-V-E to tweak ‘em don’t we?  The truth is, if you’re a woman and have ever dated anyone, you have probably wanted to change him. What if I told you that this behavior may be one of the reasons you’re single or unhappy in your current relationship?

Let’s meditate on this.

Men want to be appreciated for who they already are and you have got to give up trying to change his original packaging. One of the biggest mistakes women make is trying to improve a man into something he’s not.How would you feel if the man you were with was constantly trying change or “tweak” you?  What if he suggested you lose a little weight, earn more money, dress sexier and learn how to cook? Would you feel attracted to him?

Imagine it’s date number one. Assess how attracted you are to him, understand what he can provide in a relationship and then decide whether or not you are interested in him. You must look at WHAT IS and decide if he is a good fit for you RIGHT NOW.

If a “yes” bubbles up, then keep enjoying his company. But if a laundry list of “tweaks” begin to stream through your dolled up, date-ready self? Let. Him. Go.

So if you’re not happy about some aspect of the man you’re dating, you have two choices.This is not to say if your honey of two years has suddenly packed on 35 pounds you should just accept it. Communication is critical in any healthy relationship. However, there’s an immense difference between communicating about what works for you and what doesn’t, and trying to improve someone.

1. To communicate clearly (and with compassion) what is concerning you + then wait for his response. It’s possible that you’ll be in agreement! At which point you can discuss possible resolutions + work together as a team.  However, if not...

2. Keep it moving, sister. If you feel very strongly about your concerns and it’s going to burn a hole in your stomach + he doesn’t want to comply – you’ve gotta move on.  He is just not the one for you.

Ultimately, your job is to simply be there and speak your truth about what is working and what isn’t.  If he wants to adjust anything, he’ll need to pull up the strength within himself to do so.

If your priorities are misaligned, be courageous enough to move on.  It’s ultimately selfish to stay in something that isn’t fulfilling. You both deserve to be with someone who celebrates you just the way you are.


Truth 2: A Relationship Will Not Save You

A man will not save you. Filling the void in your heart cannot be accomplished just by having a man.

You must be the administer of your own rescue.

Rescue yourself.

You’re worth it.

Operating from the mindset that a relationship will save you, complete you or usher in the success you have been yearning is a guaranteed way to remain both single + unhappy.

I, myself, have made the mistake of believing that I needed a man in order to feel whole + emotionally and/or financially secure.  In a way, it is woven into our genetics.  Our DNA has a sharp memory + for longer than not, women have needed men for survival.

But! We’re living in a time when women have the choice of being with a man because we LIKE him – not because we need someone to pay the rent. However, our cultural morals haven’t necessarily caught up to reality and women are conditioned to believe we’re somehow incomplete without a committed relationship.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’re looking for a sustainable sense of security and wholeness it cannot be found in any outside resource. A relationship will not rid you of the feelings of loneliness, fear or insecurity that are inherent in the human condition. There is no man, no job, no home or amount of wealth that can ever generate an ongoing, uninterrupted sense of fulfillment in you. You are already SAFE.

FACT:  Holding back in your life is what’s keeping him away.


Stop waiting for Prince Charming to come along and make it all better.

Stop putting off your dreams.

Stop delaying taking action on the things you know you want most for yourself.

Invest, now, in your career.

Invest, now, in your education.

Invest, now, in your finances + health.

When you invest in yourself first and stop holding back all the neediness that drives men bonkers, it will evaporate because you have made the executive choice to stop using a relationship to fix yourself.

Instead of secretly waiting for things to get better once you meet “the one,” you begin living your life with authenticity + spunk.  Understanding and acting on this knowledge will instantly make you more relaxed, sexy, and genuine to men.

Now. Go get him + keep him, honey!



Published in Love + Dating

Dating // March 11, 2013

Scrap your Mr. Perfect list.

What if I told you that when you annihilate the borders of restriction you allow in a tide of eligible men?

Would you be willing to release and let go of what you think will make you happy in a man?

Yes?  Cool.  Stay with me a minute.

Courage is key here.

Up until now, your checklist has been a self-erected barricade to love and probably held you back from getting precisely what you want – and more. Is it possible that your list has become a convenient excuse allowing you to dodge the challenge and closeness of a real relationship?

Often it can seem easier to remain single and independent, than to expose ourselves to the vulnerability and intimacy that is inherent in love’s blind faith.

So with fear at our backs – what do we do?  Seconds after meeting someone, we compare him to our Mr. Perfect list and judge him as not “the one.” Sound familiar?

(I’ve been guilty of it too, ladies.)

Who is Mr. Perfect anyway?

He is an idealized vision you have of the man you should be with for the rest of your life. He’s an illusion – a fictional character you’ve created based on limited, crumbling, and faded information from your past. It will be impossible to find the right man for you now – in the present – while your check list is based on an old, less brilliant version of you.

Take notice of where you are anchored.

Is it in the past, in fiction, or in reality?

Get to the pulse of your consciousness.

Let’s use me as an example.  I am 35 this October, and about 7 years ago, I sat down and wrote out my perfect man checklist.  I sealed it in an envelope and put it in a wish box under my bed.

My Mr. Perfect looked like this:  6'2", sandy blonde/brown hair, and boyish, all-American good looks. Think Matt Damon, but taller. He would be a power executive at a major firm who had VIP meetings on his cell phone, while drinking a wheatgrass juice on the way to the gym.  He had to live in the city, and have an impeccable sense of style.

Four years later, I still hadn’t found him. Why? Because I constructed this list based on old thought patterns, reactions, and judgements. I was unable to see that anyone else existed.

And I was lonely.

I needed to create a new normal for myself – pronto.

I set out on a mission to penetrate the present. I ripped up my perfect man checklist, and immersed myself in discovering what was true for me now. I began investigating the way I dated.  I let go of the stale ideas of what I thought would make me happy in a man. I was petitioning the universe to bring me something completely new and fresh.

Today, I’m in love with an amazing man who brings me complete elation.  He is 5'11", with dark and thick black hair, sexy ethnic eyes, hates wheatgrass, and has an obsession with coffee. He is passionate about his career, which is prosperous, but he’s certainly not wheeling and dealing major real-estate ventures. He owns his home out toward the desert, and to my lovely surprise, I enjoy listening to the rustle of the trees at night rather than honking horns.

See the contrast?

My ideas of the ideal man were so pale and so restricted compared to his shine.

Are you short-changing yourself?

Is it possible that your vision of the perfect man is way too narrow?

Why confine yourself to some fantasy idea of who you think you should be with?

Love is art, and art is risky.

Take a risk.

Torch self-limiting dating concepts.

Love is waiting for you on the other side.

And she is pure and she is encouraging.

Published in Love + Dating
Monday, 11 February 2013 07:55

Made Woman of the Month | Danielle Dowling

Made Woman of the Month // February 11, 2013

What does it take to be great? It would be so much easier if we could call up Oprah and ask her, but most of us don’t have that luxury. Instead, we have to try, fail, win, lose, step up and get shot down before we can figure it out. The mental warfare involved in just getting through a Made Woman’s week can be overwhelming. That’s where Danielle Dowling comes in. A life coach by trade and a “spiritual ass-kicker” by design, she has made it her mission to help women like us: Women striving to be great but may be in need of a little mental kick in the pants every once in awhile.

After working as a sales and marketing director for companies like Bloomingdales and Equinox, Danielle recognized the need for someone who could speak to successful female professionals in a language they would understand.  She found herself attempting to do just that, becoming a sort of informal therapist to women around her struggling with the dual pressure of pursuing career goals and managing a personal life. “I enjoy helping people work past an issue,” Danielle imparted when I spoke to her, “I became very interested in life coaching and how the mind works.” In 2010, Danielle decided to make her gift of offering guidance into her career and started her life-coaching practice. Since then, her portfolio has expanded to include speaking engagements, writing for multiple publications (including Made Woman Mag) and her own digital guides and workbooks.  

On top of a successful life coaching practice, she is working toward obtaining her doctorate in psychology (just 1,000 lab hours and one dissertation away!). But a stuffy, traditional psychology practice is not what she has in mind. “The goal is to inspire women to lead inspiring lives; to achieve their dreams, whatever those may be,” Danielle says. There is not one dull thing about Danielle, and breaking through the clutter and catching the attention of the busy female professional is her forte. Here’s an excerpt from her Facebook page:

“I'm interested in compassionate ass-kicking and radical transparency. I believe in truth that frees and guts, guts, guts. My clients are women who are looking to step up their game, in love + life. They're either already good at what they do and want to be better or are stuck and want to get unstuck.”

Danielle offers a fresh and intriguing approach to dealing with the mental roadblocks so many of us encounter. Her passionate approach is based in psychology research and her own years of experience as a life-coach. “[Clinical] psychology looks at the past, what are the roots and causes that have you stuck? We work-shop the past to understand how you got here. Then we create a custom blueprint to get you to where you want to go. I approach coaching from a therapeutic angle with an action oriented goal.” She has tailored her approach to fit the clients she hopes to attract: dynamic, fun, funky, progressive winners; the type of individuals who may be put off by the traditional approach of psychology and not seek help, fearing that they may seem “broken.”

Naturally, a huge area of discussion for her 20 and 30-something clients is romantic relationships.The dating market these days can seem bleak to many of us, but the reality is that it gets worse, not better, as you get older and busier with your career. “In modern relationships, people are looking for partnerships. Partners who help us attain our goals in life. We are so far away from where we were 50 years ago, when the only expectation was a house and a paycheck. Higher expectations for our potential mates may complicate things. This is a phenomena Danielle sees all too often.  Take for her example her beautiful, 31-year-old client who works as an executive but is unhappy about her long list of failed relationships. She’s capable of locking down a great job with great pay, but is unable to make a lifelong connection. “We looked for a pattern in her relationships” Danielle remembers, “This brought up issues of bullying from when she was younger. We found that she had a false belief system around self-image.” The prescription? A 10 week, 10 session regimen where she identified patterns in her client’s behavior and established a stronger sense of integrity. “We broke it down and rebuilt her self-esteem. She’s now with someone new and feels celebrated and at peace.”   

While Danielle has become somewhat of an expert on dating and romantic relationships, she says that she hopes to help women deal with relationships in general, “How to handle your relationship to anger, your relationship to joy, your relationship to your self esteem”  It’s not easy helping others work through their issues. She learned that talking to her clients about their joys, disappointments and rage triggered her own joys, disappointments and rage. Her advice to others who are interested in life coaching or psychology? “Get really comfortable with your own sh*t, specifically your past.  Accept, analyze and try to have forgiveness. Otherwise you are going to get stirred and distracted.”

The power of Danielle’s message, combined with her abilities as a former marketing and sales professional make her a force to be reckoned with. I’ve interviewed her, worked with her and heard her speak, and there is something so intriguing about her approach. With her upcoming book, “Soul Sessions: Practical Tools for Freedom Fighting and Accessing Your Power,” her t-shirt line, “Soul Candy,” and emergent online presence as a dating expert (including a video series with Your Tango), the sky truly is the limit for this Made Woman.  And since she is a professional spiritual ass-kicker, we’re sure she’s taking a few of us with her.

Published in Business

September 24, 2012 

Seriousness has an important place in love + life.

Deep and meaningful conversations. Life-changing decisions.
Support at times when emotions are running high.

But playfulness is just as – if not more – important.

Laughter is a language that people use to bond. To mend. To escape.


People who take themselves too seriously (and lack any sense of lightheartedness) exude an emotional heaviness that penetrates their inner orbit + everyone in it.

And quite frankly – they’re a drag to be around.

But laughing till your sides ache and you can’t really breathe?
Or you can’t quite swallow your coffee because you’re chortling so hard?
It’s an instant breather from the stress of your day.
Humor can recharge you + your relationship’s emotional battery.

It soothes awkwardness + tension.
It reduces stress hormones while an influx of warm + fuzzy endorphins are released in your brain.

Laughter is just plain good for you + your relationships.
So why the sour puss? Why must you remain in control? “Right” or unfazed at all times?

Consider the levity laughter + humor brings.
Consider the freedom + perspective it offers.
Consider, for the love of god, having a good laugh at yourself.

Life is short + you have a choice about how to navigate the bumps in the road.
Using your humor will change things.
For the better.

Have you ever said something so ridiculous during an argument that you made yourself + the person with you laugh? And to your delight, the disagreement quickly became moot?

Humor rapidly lifts your mood and gives everyone involved the emotional distance needed to view events with a fresh perspective.

Dropping the serious act (when not necessary) and cultivating your humor
instead will euthanize the stress.
It will shed shiny, shimmery light on an otherwise shadowy landscape.

Humor helps you navigate tumultuous terrain.
Relationship expert John Gottman calls this type of humor a “repair attempt”- a statement or action silly or otherwise that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.

And these repair attempts?
The success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether their relationship endures or peters out.

When you and your partner laugh together, you put defenses on hold and open yourself up to a new kind of connection. All that giggling deepens emotional intimacy and allows greater trust to take hold.

So don’t be afraid to cultivate the inside joke.
To have kitchen dance parties and even the occasional food fight.

Life is short. Spend it laughing with the one you love.

Published in Relationships
Monday, 13 August 2012 04:55

Dating | New Ways to Meet Guys

August 13, 2012

You’ve dated your way through your friends’ friends.
Your coworkers are off limits.
And after one too many rom-com-worthy bad blind dates, you’re no longer accepting your family’s setups.

Where are you going to meet someone who’s right for you? Someone who will get your quirky jokes and likes rock climbing and extra extra spicy Thai food?

Here are five new ways to meet guys!

1. Host a Party
Everyone you know has a super-nice-I-don’t-know-why-he’s-single friend.  Now imagine putting all those great guys in one room--a room filled with your equally awesome single girl friends.  The likelihood of finding a match just got a lot higher, didn’t it?

2. Visit a sports bar on the night of an important local game

Tons of guys in one place + a very obvious conversation topic.  “Who’s winning?”  “Why would they put him in to pitch?”  “Do you think they’ll go all the way?”  See?  Easy conversation for hours.  Bonus points if you actually know something about the sport in question or if you research the game ahead of time.

3. The gym
You might not feel your cutest when you’re wearing yoga pants and a sheen of sweat, but it’s a look that lots of guys like.  And it’s incredibly easy to strike up a conversation--you can talk about how much you like the spin instructor, how you totally can’t do crow pose or how that one guy should really stop singing along with his iPod... 

4. Online - but not the way you think

You’ve probably already tried online dating (which can be awesome!) but have looked through your Twitter feed?  Or your friend’s Facebook friends?  Or your Linkedin connections?  The internet is filled to overflowing with platforms that connect people and non-dating websites can present a more realistic version of a person.  Even better, chatting with someone on Twitter or Facebook is less likely to be riddled with sexual tension and romantic expectation, so you can get a better read of their real, day-to-day life and personality before you go on a date with them. Don’t think of it as stalking... think of it as research.

5. Anywhere you’re engaging in a hobby that YOU love
Let’s keep it real.  This point?  It’s the most important one.  While taking a proactive approach to your lovelife is vital, it’s really important that you continue to be you and do things that light your fire.  Everyone--male or female--is attracted to enthusiastic, engaged people.  And if you’re doing something you love--sailing, taking cooking classes, going to poetry readings, hiking--you’re more likely to meet people who like similar things and to attract those people because you’re just so damn excited about what you’re doing.

Ultimately, you need to be the type of person you, yourself, would want to date.  If you’re a happy + active + excited person, you’re going to attract lots of the same. 

So get out there, own your awesome, and wait for the dates to roll in!


Published in Dating
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