Dani Rhea
A platform to connect, celebrate, and write your story.

Blog

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Blogs have a wonderful place here on the interwebs. As a new stay-at-home mom, I feverishly read "Mommy Blogs" searching for a voice like my own to tell me that I wasn't as crazy as i felt. The raw passion one can portray on a blog, be it about fashion, parenting, art, or politics, gives blogs a wonderful place for words to take shape. To exude feeling. To promote a cause. I can get lost in the blogosphere searching for that perfect place to share my own experience. I kept a blog when the kids were small because I rapidly fell behind on scrapbooking. The blog seemed like the perfect solution-you can take a gander at all those adventures at www.daniella-scrogdog.blogspot.com . Those were really special days. Now that my kids are teens, this blog feels so different. My babies are turning into people. They are learning to drive, taking advanced classes, and applying for college. Our story is changing-it's evolving, as everyone's does. These posts give you a glimpse into our evolution.

A Graduation Story

When I became a mom, I had lovely intentions of writing my daughter a letter every single month, and describing to her exactly how I was feeling through every milestone of her babyhood, childhood, and ultimate adulthood.

I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but I wrote exactly two letters.

I don’t know what happened, exactly. I love writing. At that time I was scrapbooking like a crazy person. I even had a personal blog when the kids were super tiny, but those paper letters, I just could never write.

But, this year, upon her high school graduation, I had an epiphany. I could write her story. I could take time now to somehow write eighteen years worth of memories, tears, laughter, milestones, and adventures into one letter. THEN, I decided to reach out to family and friends and have them write her a letter, and I plan to include those treasures in her Story. YES, the story of her. I’m in the process now of developing exactly what that looks like, but in my mind I’m just going to tell her all the things I thought, felt, and wanted during the years keeping her alive and helping her become a real human—a human I’m sending out into the world in just a few short months.

I’m excited. In fact-I’m GIDDY!

I created a scrapbook for my sister when she graduated high school, and the idea of A Graduate’s Story is much the same, only more personal. I plan to sprinkle a few pictures between the paragraphs, too, but I’m so eager to show her our love in a way she can physically hold onto as she takes this next big step.

I’d like to do this for graduates everywhere! I can do a simple interview via phone or in person, and we can create a great keepsake for your graduate! We can compile letters, pictures, and memories together for your graduate to cherish for so many years! Take a look at my services page, because I’m offering this storytelling adventure for only $225!! With a few hours of nostalgic conversation, a few shared pictures, and carefully woven pages, we can create something truly special. Message me soon! I can take up to ten clients before the end of May!

Daniel Pink-A Whole New Mind

In 2008, I took the leap back into teaching after staying home with my three children. I signed with a school for 7th grade science, a grade level and topic I knew and loved. I blindly walked into the classroom after a five year hiatus, and felt like I hit a wall. It was one of the most intense learning curves of my professional career. So much had changed in my absence from education that I felt i was drowning in technology every single day. Because of my insecurity, I pounced on every opportunity to learn, to catch up, and to adapt to this new teaching environment.

Enter the National Middle School Conference in St. Louis. I was chosen to attend this conference (probably because of my geeky eagerness to learn every single thing), and it was the exact most perfect experience for that part of my life. Not only did I gain huge amounts of knowledge in pedagogy, but I literally felt my brain expanding with possibilities to bring into my classroom. But, the absolute best part? The keynote speaker, Daniel Pink .

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Daniel Pink absolutely enraptured me with his intellectual talk of the future of fine arts, and the importance of negative space-the space between space. He discussed the content of some of his books including Drive , and A Whole New Mind . He discussed how the future of business and the economy was changing, and no longer belonged to the left-brained thinkers. Right-brained creativity, big picture thinking, and empathy to innovate were the roads of the future economy and society. His speech stirred something in me, and in that moment my philosophy of education evolved from the content of my lessons to the community of my lessons. While I had always wanted to make a difference in my work, the perspective Daniel Pink described struck a nerve, and it’s been strumming since that day.

Just this morning I was again visited by my intellectual crush, Mr. Pink through Oprah’s Podcast . She interviewed Pink about his book, A Whole New Mind, and revisited all the ideals I’d learned many years ago, but had faded into the background of my mind. He and Oprah discussed the importance of fine arts, economy, right-brains vs. left brains, and how they make a difference in their own lives every single day. They discussed how they approach their work, and how they have evolved through the years. They explained how they ask themselves the question at the end of everyday to reflect, to feel gratitude, and to think. Pink’s question: “Was I better today than yesterday?” Often his answer is no, but he rarely has two “no” responses in a row. That thought stuck with me. At this moment in my life I am again trying to make a difference with my work, and I’m trying to pave my own way, make my own mark. But, somehow, every single day no matter my good intentions, life has other plans. Silly plans! Like laundry, football practice, grocery shopping, vet appointments, and dinner. I approach each day and feel the gluttony of time to tell my stories, and before I know it, that time is gone. Filled. Negative space. When I curl up at the end of the day, most of the time I feel disappointed that I didn’t do more, but hearing Pink and Oprah talk about the small victories of everyday gave me Courage and Hope to keep going.

Was I better today than yesterday?

Again, Daniel Pink has awakened my brain. Again, he’s pushed me to learn more, craft more, think more, do more, and Drive toward my passion to make a difference. Right now, today, I’m doing my Soul’s Work. I met with two clients this week, one in person, and one through technology, and both clients have thanked me for being a medium for their healing. I know this is what I’m meant to do. While some stories are incredibly difficult to bear, God gave me the ability to bear them, to feel them, and to tell them. Our lives are filled with stories…tough stories, painful stories, emotional stories, but also silly stories, and stories that change lives—stories that make us better than yesterday, and stories that fill our future.

Daily OM, and your own story

I subscribe to DailyOM, and love their online courses and daily inspirational emails. Today I received an email about Knowing Your History, and it embodied why I want to write people's stories. I know so many people are intrigued by genealogy and mapping their family trees, but what about the stories behind those maps? That's what I want to know. That's what I want to write.

Here's a quote from that email this morning. Take a second to read it, think about it, and consider what stories you want to hear this Thanksgiving.

Knowing Your History

BY Madisyn Taylor
"In researching our individual histories, however, we may encounter relatives who made interesting choices or were involved in traumatic events. It's easy to overestimate the importance of these pieces of our past and to cling to them. Balance is key. While your heritage has influenced the development of the person you are today, you are more than an ethnicity, a culture, or a family name. You should not feel driven to alter your likes and dislikes, dreams, preferences, or values because you feel your heritage demands it. Knowing your history is about loving who you are, understanding where you've come from, and preparing for your future."

My second client, and her first words...

I met Jeanie in 2003 when we moved to Keller, Texas and I became a stay-at-home mom to a todder and newborn. She was part of my sacred playgroup—the group that kept me sane through those precious, yet trying years. I’ve always held them and our memories close to my heart, and I’m honored she chose me to help her write her Love Letters of Gratitude. She is a lovely soul, and these are her first words…

My diagnosis devastated me. Hearing doctors say the words “motor neuron disease” was the most crippling moment of my life, and I rebelled. I cried. I screamed, and I fell. I fell that day in the neurosurgeon’s office, and I fell into despair. I argued with my body. What do you mean ALS? I have plans. I want to see my boys graduate high school. I want to travel with my husband as an empty nester. I want to dance in the streets, and I want to hold my grandbabies. I bargained with my Faith, and struggled with my Spirit, but I finally accepted the fact that as much as I want these things, ALS is not something I can change. It has changed my body and my future, but it hasn’t changed my heart and my present. I have lived a blessed life. I was born into a loving family, and experienced many adventures as that family changed and blended. I rode my bike like it was the Millenium Falcon through the streets of Little Rock. I sang at the top of my lungs as I climbed Mount Pinnacle with my dad and sister--my best friend and biggest champion. I’ve sailed in Maine. I married a wonderful man, and we worked our way through becoming parents, starting jobs, changing jobs, moving houses, praying for peace, and living with ALS. I’ve lived a gluttony of blessings, and I’m so grateful. I want my boys to know how much I treasure our family, and I want my Angels to know how much they’ve made a difference in our lives. This isn’t just my story, this is my love letter to you--to all of you. This is my love letter of gratitude.

My first client...the first words of her story.

We’ve talked. We’ve cried. She trusted me with her story, and now it’s taking shape. Here are the first words of Battle Cry.

Cancer. When you hear the word, I know what images come to mind. You see thinning hair and sallow skin. You see a bald head. You see ports, needles, and hospital gowns. Maybe you think of waiting rooms and chemotherapy chairs. You visualize vomit, blood, surgery, and scars. You imagine prescriptions, doctor appointments, and tragedy. You sense death. I know you do, and that’s ok. We all do, because Cancer changes everything. It changes family, friends, work, and community. I’m here to tell you that there’s more to the story. You might not see the fight, the determination, and the sheer will. You might not know about the personal research, experimental medicines, financial sacrifices, and tedious documentation. You don’t know my story, and you haven’t heard my Battle Cry.

Netflix Binge-Madmen

I have a new goal, and most will probably find it rather…odd.

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I want to watch more TV.

Yes, you read that right. We have a few favorite shows: The Goldbergs, This is Us, The Good Doctor, and Modern Family. But, our schedules are so inconsistent in the evenings, and finding family appropriate television shows has become so difficult, that we tend to watch movies more than TV. Because of this evolution, I feel I am ignorant to a large part of pop culture, and need to catch up. I’ve surveyed facebook and my friends, and have a list of shows to try:

Ozark

The Handmaid’s Tale

Jane the Virgin

The Crown

Black Mirror

Friends from College

Bloodline

Madmen

Shameless

The Affair

Homeland

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United States of Tara

Game of Thrones

The Good Place

There is no way I could possibly get through all these shows, I don’t think. Some of them are knee deep in five or more seasons! But, this weekend I tried one. And, now I understand the term “Netflix Binge.” This binge is something I’ve heard people discuss (even my own children), but again, I’ve just been out of touch. A movie chews up a few hours of time, and I couldn’t imagine spending more time than that on one storyline. Plus, I like the anticipation of looking forward to a show when it airs. But, I took the plunge, and but a The Binge took over my life. I started Madmen based on the multiple recommendations from various sources, and could.not.stop. I was mesmerized by the culture of the 1960 workplace. I compared it to the current culture for women in the workplace. I was astonished at the shameful infidelity of the men. I was intrigued by the advertising business, and how offices completed tasks in the 1960s. Also, the smoking! The daily drinking! There was drama, but not the kind of drama we watch today. I feel like I’m watching a pop culture history show, and it never stops!

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There are no commercials, so no reason to get up and do a chore. When an episode ends, the next one starts RIGHT AWAY. STILL NO REASON TO ESCAPE. I can push pause, but then I need to get back to it ASAP. I feel this way when I’m reading a book, and tend to withdraw from society until the book is finished, but a book ends in a few hours. NETFLIX can go on for days! I don’t know how to stop. It’s always there. I don’t have to wait for next season. I don’t have to wait a week for the next show. It’s ready for me right now. Just waiting. Definition of addiction: a habit or problem that is out of control.

Yep, that sounds about right.

My family doesn’t know what to do with me, because I haven’t laid up like this since I read the entire Twilight series in less than a weekend. They are having a grand time watching me “let things go” and “not make chore lists.” I’m going crazy knowing I need to be productive and feeling drawn to that red button on the TV remote. Maybe I need resolution in my life a little too much, or maybe curiosity does kill the cat. I don’t know, but why don’t you solve those problems. I’ve got a few more seasons to get through.

Once a teacher...

I accidentally became a teacher. I’ve told this story many times, but it’s still true. To be honest, I had a difficult time in college, not so much because of the coursework (although I didn’t graduate a perfect GPA), but because of the COMMITMENT. Choosing a Major was probably the most stressful, agonizing decision of my life (at that point, anyway). It terrified me to think of choosing a degree that would dictate the course of my professional life; therefore, I procrastinated the decision as long as I could.

I finally left General Studies for Rangeland Ecology and Management well into my sophomore year at Texas A&M University, and I only chose that degree because it didn’t require Organic Chemistry-something I knew I wasn’t well equipped. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I progressed in my coursework, and began to love sharing ideas with farmers, ranchers, and would-be environmental policy-makers (that’s where my sights were headed).

Enter my junior year, and I was frustrated at my limited scheduling opportunities of the grand university system, and I chose to take an Honors Educational Psychology class so that I would have the opportunity to register the first day along with seniors. The class would also count as one of those vague “humanities” so I was glad to broaden my horizons. Damn if it didn’t interest the hell out of me! After that semester I used my electives to take the classes that would enable me to teach secondary science. Boom. Double Major. Double Options.

As I applied for student teaching, I also threw in an application for a Congressional Internship in Washington, D.C. I limped through the interview process, and somehow, through the grace of God himself, snagged the last spot available to the freshman congressman Rubén Hinojosa from south Texas. I packed up my stuff, and drove to our nation’s Capitol. Mrs. Scroggins goes to Washington, because, yes, I had just celebrated my one year anniversary (that story is for another time).

After what I can only describe as the most educational semester of my entire college experience, I returned to College Station, Texas to complete my student teaching in 7th grade science. After two vastly different back to back “internships,” I had a decision to make. Do I try for a governmental agency, such as the EPA or do I teach? Both professions provided me the opportunity to “make a difference”—something I desperately in every cell of my body need to do. It came down to the first job offer: 7th grade science in Coppell, Texas.

The rest, as they say, is history. After that first assignment, I taught high school biology, and have since taught 5th grade science, 5th grade math, and elementary gifted and talented. I also acquired a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, which provides me the opportunity to work with teachers and administrators at another level should that opportunity arise.

Why am I saying this? Well, as you now know, I’m not teaching. Well, not really. In the summer of 2018, my husband and I made a family decision to slow down, and I resigned my teaching post. I chose to spend my waking hours on our home, our children, our dogs, and what we call “the business of our lives.” With (at that time) seven years of children in our home, we felt we were blessed with the opportunity to sacrifice some to gain more.

However, last year I took a long term substitute position teaching Biology, and had the opportunity to teach my freshman. This year, I took a long term substitute position to teach 7th grade language arts, and have the chance to teach my youngest hoodlum. Call it a blessing in disguise, but my children like me to be their teacher. I taught my oldest child 5th grade science, my middle child 5th grade gifted and talented, but my youngest has been saddled with “never having mom as a teacher.” Thank goodness for teachers having babies!! These last two temporary teaching jobs have been so rewarding in two ways: 1-I spent teaching time with my own personal kiddos! It’s really interesting to see how my own children interact with their classmates, and perform academically “first hand.” 2-I remembered why I loved teaching, and also realized I’m darn good at it. I love saying science words—I spent last year saying mitochondria and protein synthesis, and my nerd heart was giddy every single time. This year, my nerd is doing a happy dance teaching subject verb agreement and strong verb usage. Yep. I said it. Happy dances and giddy heart with both things. Also, as I’ve aged, I’ve become better relating to my students, meeting them where they are, and drawing connections for their learning. It’s exciting to see kids learn. Every. Single. Time.

While I may not have set out to become a teacher, I know life has called me to relate, to connect, and to learn. Experience has taught me to observe, to internalize, and to communicate. As I embark on my new storytelling journey, I’m realizing my teacher skills have prepared me to witness to people’s stories—to serve people through teaching their story. I’m still teaching. I’m still learning. I just have a new classroom.

And, I love this classroom, too.

I have a college student!
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The news came last Thursday, and it was more exciting than I ever imagined. My oldest child texted me from school informing me that her classmates were logging into the application portal and realizing their acceptance to Texas A&M University. She asked if I had her application password (you know one of those like FGT$%^%$#) with me, and I didn’t. We were both in a state until I could race home, log in, and see that fated phrase.

Welcome to Texas A&M University

EEEEK!!! I texted her a screenshot, but before she even had a chance to receive it, I called her. Then, before we even had a chance to talk, I hung up, and facetimed her. Yes, I will admit it, I was a complete freaking out spaz of a mom. It was the exact same exciting feeling of taking that first positive pregnancy test—of wanting, and hoping so much for a blessing, and then seeing the actuality! It. was. overwhelming.

She actually works in my husband’s accounting office after school, so she carried me (on facetime) down the hall, and almost broke up a meeting to tell him. I’m not sure, but I think his eyes were a little shiny at the news. He wears an Aggie lanyard to work everyday, and just ever so slightly motioned to it with an almighty “Gig ‘Em". I think we were all floating.

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I immediately texted our “tribe” of family and friends to meet in town before the Decatur Homecoming game. I wanted to gather our people to celebrate, toast, and memorialize this moment. MY KID IS GOING TO BE AN AGGIE! After years of back and forth, not knowing if she even wanted to be an Aggie, and then deciding to apply, and THEN to be accepted! It was just one of the happiest days.

We celebrated with snacks and beverages, and then as rain caused delays in our hometown homecoming, we stayed for Book Trivia (which could not have been more perfect for my bookworm child). Friends, grandparents, parents, and siblings—we created a team, and worked together as much as we could muster (through our constant excitement when we remembered that thing about AGGIELAND).

After the trivia, we did manage to attend Hometown Homecoming, complete with a Senior Mum, and hugs from friends all around. It really was one of the best days—a day of things coming together, and a day to live, celebrate and love.

The Four Agreements, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

This summer, I went on a reading binge—an absolute reading binge. I must have read over 24 books, including fiction, brain candy, philosophy, online prints, self-help, autobiography, and even a book of poetry. I think I was trying to absorb as much perspective as possible as I brainstormed the launch of this website—this dream of writing down people’s stories.

The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

One of the first books of my summer was The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. This 140 page book resonated with me so completely that I refer to it almost daily in my spiritual practice, or in how I connect with people. These are four simple statements, but taken to heart can create wholesome relationships, fulfilling work, loving families, and self-love. I encourage everyone to pick up this gem, to stow it on your bedside table, and refer to it often—especially on those days the world seems a little too dark to understand.

Reach out and connect. Embody these agreements, and live your story.

The First Agreement: Be impeccable with your word.

The Second Agreement: Don’t take anything personally.

The Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions.

The Fourth Agreement: Always do your best.

Imagine living in a world where everyone abided by these agreements? I’ll admit, the second agreement is the most difficult for me. I take everything personally. As a sensitive person, anything can hurt my feelings. But, through reading this book, I can honestly say that now I have a slightly stronger handle on that weakness, and a cognitive goal to look past peoples’ actions to intent. The first agreement: “Be impeccable with your word.” Think about that word, impeccable. It means to purposefully choose words, body language, tone, voice, and again, intent in how you choose to communicate with your friends, family, spouse, co-workers, children, and strangers. Through being impeccable, you can choose kindness in everything. To me, that fills my body with hope. My pores absorb the freedom of pure, unconditional love, and my eyes open to the world around me—ready to take in the good—ready to Live Everyday. Celebrate Often. and Love Always.

Read it. Live it. Love it.

danielle scrogginsComment
People DO have stories!

I have a few new projects on the horizon after launching Dani Rhea, and I couldn’t be more excited. I have so many ideas of stories I could tell, but the ideas coming from clients give me goosebumps!

1-Life in Four Quarters: I’m working with a friend to create a sample product about her father’s life. I plan to interview her and a few members of her family to tell her dad’s story. He passed away a few years before the last of the grandkids were born, and I’d love to provide a concrete showcase of his life, love, and legacy. He was a football coach, so four quarters seemed like the perfect way to nod to his love.

2-A retirement present. I’m working with a client to showcase a lifetime of professional work. What a treat! I hope this project becomes a treasure of memories.

3-Letters from Grandpa. I’m working with a dear friend to create a book for her toddler with stories from both her grandfathers. They both passed away before she was born, and this book will tell their stories and legacies as she grows up.

These are a few of the types of stories I want to tell, to put on paper, and to publish, but there are so many more. Every graduate has a story about their childhood. Every parent has a story about their life before children, or the hope of children. Every teacher has a story to tell about their own growth or the growth of their students, perhaps one specific student. Every new business owner has a story to tell about their inspiration, plan, and launch. Every doctor or therapist has patients with stories of survival, personal growth, and triumph. Stories are everywhere.

Which one do you want to tell? Leave me a comment and let me know!

College Essays

Over the last few weeks, I've had the surprising pleasure of helping some aspiring college students form their application essays, and some hopeful scholarship recipients do the same. And yes, I said it was a pleasure. I'm a writing nerd, remember?

In doing this, I've been reminded that writing, for me, is a personal form of expression, and one that comes easily. In fact, it comes more easily than verbal communication. I have always been able to process my thoughts, feelings, worries, and aspirations better on paper than in a conversation. I've also realized that not everyone is able to communicate their intentions in the same way, and this is a way I can serve other people.

Reading these essays, and working from the voice of these young people has been so inspirational and satisfying. I'm amazing by their talent, drive, and motivation for the next step in their lives, and hope those qualities have come across in my edits. Taking their words and molding them into their dreams is literally so. fun. for. me. 

Also, the feedback has been amazing, to the point of tears (on my part, of course.) To be told I've captured their hearts with words in a way they couldn't seem to say warms my heart, and tells me I'm in the right place, doing the exact right thing right now. I'm writing everyday. Sometimes a blog, sometimes an article, sometimes a text, and sometimes an essay, but I'm writing. I'm expressing. I'm observing and recording life. I'm storytelling.

Because that's what I do, every single day, and I can't wait to do more.

 

How can you work with me?

Yes, I am a blogger. Yes, I am a columnist. I'm hoping to grow both of those parts of me as I step into the role of Storyteller, because that's what I do-I tell stories, and I'm best at telling them on paper.

As a blogger, I plan to organically and casually chronicle the experience of Dani Rhea , and how I hope to turn my passion for storytelling and celebrating into a passionate, soul-filled, business of my own. I also will throw in a few stories about the crazy of my life--I have enough material to keep us in words for quite some time. The freedom of a blog is its spontaneity and gut level honestly. Heck, I may even throw a cuss word or two out there just for kicks.

As a columnist, I will continue to tell stories of motherhood, friendship, family, marriage, small town living, life milestones, and perhaps even a few political nods on occasion (not too often though, I like my energy harmonious.) The opportunity to write Life is Kid's Stuff through the Wise County Messenger has been such a gift for my craft. I would never have published in any way if not for this newspaper taking a chance on me. The Messenger has kept my passion for writing alive all these years, and now I want to fuel that passion and live in it.

As the founder of Dani Rhea I want to take my craft of storytelling to a new level. I want to tell other people's stories. I want to create keepsakes for generations and presents for milestones. I want to talk and connect with people, get their memories on paper, and portray their feelings with words. In addition, I'd love to make that milestone, that event, that memory even more special with a celebration-big or small. Because of my extreme empathic nature, I can help you bring heart to any celebration, an that's the heart of my business: storytelling and celebration. On my Work with Me site, I outline the services that I offer. They include:

  • Celebration Coaching : For some people planning a graduation party, anniversary party, or even Christmas Eve with the in-laws is an overwhelming task. I'd love to sit for coffee, take some notes, offer suggestions, and write a plan to take the worry out of hosting.
  • Your Story : This was my first brainchild. As a storyteller, I can write history, create connections, explain feelings, and portray a person on paper. Through questioning, interviewing, and looking at photos, I can create the story of a loved one--be it after death, for a graduation gift, a wedding gift, a new mommy gift--the possibilities here are truly endless. We are the sum of our experiences and stories. Let's write them down. 
  • Story Coaching: Some people love the idea of getting a story on paper, but they want to do the task themselves. Excellent! I love a wingman! Again, we could sit for coffee, talk , take notes, offer suggestion, and write a plan for you, the storyteller, to write something in your own words.
  • A Story to Celebrate: This idea was suggested to me through friends after I hosted large events to memorialize special moments. For example, I planned and hosted a 50th Anniversary Dinner and Celebration, A Summer Solstice Sweet 16, and even a small Memorial in our backyard for my dear Grandpa. All these celebrations were significant, and needed that extra touch of family, of connection, of magic. Writing this story and planning an event to remember would be a great honor, and one that I would love to serve.

I hope to grow this business and offer additional services as I grow in my role as a storyteller and celebration planner. Please consider me to tell your story, or to help plan your event. I have a few projects in the books already, and when those are complete I will post examples, pictures, and growing pains along the way. I appreciate you so much already-those that have called on me to do the honor of telling their story, and those that I know the Universe is sending when I am ready.

Much love,

Danielle

The Joy Thief

The past week has been a whirlwind of emotion as I've officially launched and shared Dani Rhea through my personal social media, friends, neighbors, and anyone that would click on my links. I've unexpectedly answered questions on the fly almost everywhere I go about my concept, clients, and products. It truly has been a humbling experience, and my hopes are sky high for the possibilities that can come from this business. Thank you so much to those friends and social media contacts that have shared my site and my posts. In this age of social media, that is the easiest and most productive method to share my message. I appreciate you with all my heart.

This whole process has brought me such Joy in such a short amount of time. I was filled with Joy designing my logo, assembling my portfolio, gathering contacts, and brainstorming the exact best ways to serve others. It feels all consuming and I want to share it with everyone. I want everyone to feel the excitement of possibility as we tell each other's stories, and memorialize them for our families and friends.  I want to shout it from the rooftops (or social medias, whatever works).

Unfortunately, in my eagerness to share so openly with all my people, and their people, I forgot about the Joy Thieves. Joy Thieves manage to dim the light in someone's aura through their own intentional methods of doing life. Joy Thieves always catch me by surprise. Always. Every. Single. Time.  Someone targets road rage at me, I'm a little crushed on the inside.  A person speaks to me passive aggressively or underhandedly, and I'm left confused and hurt. A broken connection with someone fills me with rejection and sadness. Being an empathic introvert, I "catch" the feelings of others pretty quickly, and I think this explains why the Joy Thieves impact me so directly and deeply. Despite my pockets of Joy, this type of interaction zaps me.  And yes, there have been a few Joy Thieves pop up in the last week, but I'm choosing a different path this time.

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As a student of A Course in Miracles, I'm actively learning to see the world through a different lens, through a more spiritual lens. Lesson 33 states "There is another way of looking at the world." Lesson 34 states "I could see peace instead of this." Both of these lessons perfectly aid me in my emotional and spiritual growth as I vulnerably share my dream and put myself in the way of Joy Thieves. Instead of seeing a situation as negative, sad, lonely, dismissive, or unfriendly, I can choose to see it with peace, as specifically stated in A Course In Miracles:

"I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety, or worry, or my thoughts about this situation, person or event, with peace."

I am a storyteller. The Universe takes care of me and provides abundance. I am a light worker in this field, and I am Joy. 

It's time.

What is Dani Rhea?

This weekend, I was blessed with inquiries on what exactly Dani Rhea is about, and I'm over the moon to share details and examples of this brainchild of mine. Thank you for taking the time to read this kinda wordy post. ;-)

As I posted before, writing has always been a passion of mine, and I've used that passion to blog, journal, heck-even writing my Christmas letters was super fun for me. I've also been blessed to write my own column, Life is Kid's Stuff, for the Wise County messenger for going on a DECADE (so hard to believe). In that column I've discussed our experiences as a family, and my own experiences as a mom, wife, sister, friend, and teacher. The positive feedback from that column coupled with my own professional growth in the last few years pushed me to wonder, and to dream.

My dream is to tell your stories, and I KNOW I can do this. I see stories all around me, and want to put them on paper as a gift to your family, friends, business, school, or aspiration.

I currently have two projects in the works that will be my first examples. The first is the story of a grandfather through the eyes of his daughter, son, and wife. He is no longer with us, but through writing his story, and publishing it in a book like the one pictured, his personality and life will be available to the grandchildren that never knew him. I'm so excited about this project-and once it is complete, I will share more about this personal endeavor with a dear friend of mine. The second project I'm processing is a retirement present. My goal is to gather information, interviews, and stories in one product to present to the retiree as a gift commemorating his service to the people in his profession. I know I'm being a little vague here, but I don't want to give away the surprise. :)

Other stories I would love to tell:
-Graduation Stories: a love letter to your graduate about all the years leading up to this accomplishment. (I have a graduate this year! sniff, sniff)

-Engagement Stories, Anniversary Stories, Birthday stories: These milestone events always make us reflect on how we got to this point. What better gift than the gift of words telling that unique story?

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-Baby Stories: adoption stories! first baby stories! infertility success stories!

-Business Stories: Do you have a family business passed down for generations? How great would it be to have that story written down and in your office for your clients to read about your passion?

-School Stories: teachers, students, new schools, old schools, school district history--the possibilities are overwhelming. As a teacher by trade, my heart soars to think about telling these stories.

-Family Stories: Think ancestory.com meets a scrapbook. What story does your family have to tell? Did they come from Ireland? (We did!) Were they the first to settle a small town in Texas? What do you want your children to know??

In addition to storytelling, I want to celebrate your stories. I have a knack for celebrating the everyday, and I'd love to combine storytelling and celebrations.

So, @Dani Rhea is about Storytelling. Writing the words of your story, and celebrating those little moments that matter everyday. My website has examples of my writing through my blog and my columns from the Wise County Messenger. My blog will also tell the story of this adventure. Visit www.danirhea.com to see more information including contact information, services offered, and testimonials. I'm giddy with excitement to see Dani Rhea get off the ground, grow, change, adapt, and make a positive impact on your world.

Live Everyday. Celebrate Often. Love Always.

Much love,
Danielle

Maureen Horgan Miller-Remembering my Irish Grandmother

I wrote the following post in 2007 on my first blog when my grandmother passed away. As I work to launch this website, this storytelling business, she is on my mind because she had such a unique story. She's part of my history, part of my story, and I want my kids and the world to know her.

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She was Irish-born in Ireland Irish. She came to America on a boat when she was just 13. She couldn't swim. She settled in northern Ohio with her brother and sister in an Irish Catholic Community. She attended Catholic Schools. Once, she skipped school and took the train to New York City for the day. New York City! The nuns were none too happy upon her return. She joined The Service as a young woman. She felt called to serve this country in a time of war and need. She prayed everyday. She married and became a mother. Two boys and a girl. One of those boys was my dad. Danny Boy. She would sing it to him as a baby, and to be truthful, as an adult. She always called him Danny. Danny Boy the Marine Fighterpilot. "You be careful on those planes Danny." She drank hot tea. Only hot tea. She drank hot tea in August at the Fort Worth Stockyards. She drank hot tea at Disneyland. She drank hot tea in our home. She drank hot tea with her own mother and pet bird everyday. That bird spoke with an Irish Brogue. Noone understood it. She taught me to crochet when I was 11 years old. We picked out needles and yarn, and cussed at scissors that "wouldn't cut butter." I made my dad a scarf. a very long, uneven scarf. I think he even wore it. She took me to work with her in downtown Columbus. We ate lunch at Lazarus. We even rode the bus. To me, it was so fancy and sophisticated. We saw E.T.'s phone. Once, we came for a visit and my sister commented that "all the trees had leaves back home in our country." Ohio seemed like that-another country. I always wished our lives could be more intertwined. I always longed for our visits to be endless. There are already so many goodbyes etched in my mind...

She would bake sugar cookies and send them in the mail to us for holidays. She always had jello pudding pops. I must have watched The Wizard of Oz 500 times on her disc player-the huge disc players before there were even VCRs. They had a pet swan named Charlie. He lived in their garage in the winter. I think he was mean. She took me to church with her. She always went to huge Cathedral Churches. I thought they were beautiful. She sang so loud, and already knew all the words. She was always looking for a sale, and always knew the best places to find one. She had to alter all her own clothes because she was only 5 feet tall. She had purses and shoes to match every outfit. She loved jewelry-especially home shopping jewelry. She gave me her Claudaugh. They always had pets. Molly, Ricky and Simon (dog, dog and cat). When Simon had used his 9th life she called, "So that's the end of pets then." She was "tell it like it is woman." We coined that phrase once during a visit and it stuck. In 8th grade she and grandpa came to Corpus Christi while my parents searched for a new home in Fort Worth. I broke my leg on a trampoline. I can still see the worry on her face. Never jump on a trampoline with a sprinkler...just in case. She always bought Texas souvenirs for people in Ohio. Truly Texas Souvenirs too-things with boots and armadillos plastered on every surface. She always talked about how "steamin" it was down here. "How could we stand it?"

She and Grandpa came for a visit while I was in Washington, DC. We ate at every Bob Evans restaurant in the area, and toured the Basilica of the National Shrine to the Immaculate Conception. I convinced them to ride the Metro out there, and-I'm smiling as I type this now. I don't even remember the details, except for Grandpa's mistrust of the transportation and Grandma's worry about the safety of the transportation. Grandma drank in every inch of the Church. She bought a rosary. She knelt in prayer. I took them back to their hotel every night, after dinner at Bob Evans of course. It was the only time I was with them just me and them. They thought I was a grown up, and were so proud of me. We celebrated at Bob Evans.

She was here for my confirmation, my high school graduation, my college graduation, and she met each of my children. She loved pacifiers. She sent a bear that sang "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" to me when Madison was born. She talked of how she made her own formula, used cloth diapers, put the babies to bed, cleaned the house, and made dinner in the pressure cooker. How could anyone survive without a pressure cooker? I don't even know what one is, but I'm not sure how I'm surviving. She hated bugs. She always sat straight up in a chair or on a couch. Her feet didn't reach the floor. She rode on the passenger side of the car with a pillow against her chest because she felt she wasn't quite tall enough to meet the safety requirements. She always slept really hard, but teased grandpa for "sleeping with one eye open." She watched soaps, but "could miss them anytime." She would just tape them. She loved sweets, but only took a small bite. She said I made beautiful babies and that I should hold them tight.

She cooked ham and cabbage, and loved it. I try-really I do, but I don't think the ham and cabbage gene passed its way down to me. She did not like spicy food. We would pick Mexican Restaurants that served hamburgers as an option. We would always try to get her to eat a jalapeno-just to see her reaction and to hear her protest. Each time it was as if we asked her to hike across the desert in the steamin weather without hot tea at her disposal. She carried tea bags and sweet-n-low in her purse. "Just in Case." She told it like it was. It was so funny. She was so funny. So unique. Her name was Maureen, and she was my grandma.

Today I'm flying to Ohio to say a final goodbye. It's with a heavy heart that I'm desperately pulling for these precious memories. I want to close my eyes and remember all those days and moments we made into memories. I want to remember her for those years and know she's still with me because of them.

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Where's Clifford?

This morning I lazily awoke at 4:30 to nudge my fifteen year-old out of bed, start the coffee, and make his breakfast. He catches a 5:00 carpool for football practice. At 6:00 a.m. I began round two with my twelve-year-old, collecting him for his breakfast and carpool with the Daddy at 7. He starts cross country practice today. At 7:15 my oldest hoodlum stumbled out of bed to grab her own coffee and prepare to drive her own car to school. By 7:35, I was alone in the house with my three dogs, and we were all a little confused. I didn't take anyone to school today? 

I have to admit, the experience left me a little melancholy and my thoughts drifted to their toddler mornings, which were full of noise, plastic bowls, sippy cups, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. I poured everything I had into those little people, and now here there are medium people.

I haven't quite figured out my feelings on the matter yet, but I can tell they are swirling around in there. I guess this year is going to be a transition. I wasn't ready for that. I was gearing up for NEXT YEAR to be a transition. TWO TRANSITION YEARS?

Geez.

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I'm subbing up at the high school today in a lovely classroom, and have students that I've had many times before. The smiles on their faces delighted me, and are just what I needed. I'm teaching parts of speech today, which i can do, and which honestly the nerd in me kinds of love.

I'm also emailing newspapers across the state, sending my portfolio, and putting hope into the universe.

So you know, a basic day.

The Last First Day of High School

I'm just sitting down from the first day of school festivities. Today I sent a 7th grader, a sophomore, and a senior into school once again. Because they are growing up, and doing their own things, we didn't have our traditional first day breakfast together followed by first day pictures. I was out the door with my sophomore by 6:00 a.m. to drop him off at early morning football practice, and then headed to set up for the Senior Breakfast. My youngest had a special morning with my husband at McDonald's, and then warily walked into the field house for his first athletics meeting.

I had all the feels, but I couldn't quite figure out what the names of those feels were??

At the breakfast I chatted with moms and dads, took some group pictures, and a selfie with my own child. I poured juice. I hugged kids. I stepped back and realized she wouldn't be here next year for this first day of school. She will have her own first day of school. Away from home. 

Our family will feel different.

I think I'm slowly processing all of this change.

Thankfully, some veteran moms had arranged a "Boo Hoo Brunch," and we met for food, drinks, and support. I listened as moms talked about sending their youngest off to school, and how they were looking forward to empty nesting. I watched as a few moms teared up, knowing their lives were going to be vastly different this time next year. Most moms were brave, looking forward to what their child will do this year, how they will mature, and become ready for life as an adult.

It made me quiet. I could feel my quiet.

I think I've just cracked open this emotional experience. Right now I'm holding it together, but I'm honestly not sure how my heart will weather this Senior Storm.

Columns

Good afternoon on this sweaty summer day! I'm setting down from a month long adventure marathon! Ten days in Spain with my oldest child. Three days in Denver with the hubby. Ten days on the road with the hoodlums, hubby, camper, and the Wild West. I thought I would be able to social media and blog along the way during all these adventures, but technology and interwebs eluded me. Silver Lining: I have SO MANY thoughts swirling around that I can't wait to get down on paper. It's been an interesting summer, and we still have a month to go.

On the Dani Rhea side, I have posted my last two columns for the Wise County Messenger. Look under the "columns tab" to see what my professional self is doing. I'm sending my information, resume and portfolio out to newspapers across the state of Texas. I'm nervous to say that I'd love to be picked up by more papers. It would be a dream to become syndicated and to write as a professional. 

In the meantime, I'm sorting my thoughts, posting columns, and would love some feedback: website, social media, topics, anything! I'm ready for it all. :)

 

I'm still trying to find the words....
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We are back in the States. I'm still processing the entire trip abroad to three countries, accompanied by many teenagers, and a Swedish tour guide. I had anticipated posting and discussing our adventures while on the go, but to be honest, I was immediately so overwhelmed with emotion due to the beauty of Spain, the richness of culture, and the compassion of the people, that I lost my connection to technology. I didn't use my phone for days at a time, and it.was.wonderful. While I love being connected with people I don't have the pleasure to see daily, nothing, absolutely nothing, beats real-life, in-person, soul-scanning connection with kindred spirits. This trip absolutely changed me in so many ways. It changed me in ways I didn't realize needed to be changed. It helped me let go of shame, darkness, regret--all that shit. Shit I guess I knew I was carrying around in my Spirit, but that I didn't realize was weighing down my Soul. I literally baptized myself in Connection, and came out the other side ready for my Witness to the World.

I know this may sound a little Woo-Woo for many of you, and I realize I'm still on the travel-high, but I wanted to be over the top in my words because my emotions and Spirits are bursting at the seams. I want you to feel my exuberance, and go on this journey with me. I want you to know what now I know deeply in my gut--down in the digestive parts of my intestines--every single thing not only happens for a reason, but it happens just as it should happen for every single lesson is taught to us in a unique way--a way that allows us to learn at our own pace. Reflecting on the last two years of my emotional life, I know why they were so dark--that darkness led me to this light.

And now, I want to shine on you.

I know that's a teaser--but honestly, I must process more before I can fully explain this part of my awakening. Come back soon. Leave me a note. Ask me a question. 

Viva Spain!

My daughter and I are off to Spain this morning as part of her Spanish IV class. There are 29 kids and adults going for 10 days, and we will tour Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. I've never been to Spain, but I love travel. I love immersing myself in the culture, learning about the landscape, and marveling in the art, architecture, and treasures of another country. My husband joked with me this morning that I did indeed need to come back and not become part of Moroccan culture--he knows me well--beaded jewelry in an outdoor marketplace is my own slice of heaven. I know we will come back with some stories--especially since I'm boarding the plane with two broken toes as the result of walking on tile last week. I've already volunteered to be the caboose in the group, and might just have to stop at a cafe and drink a small glass of vino while the group does a few things. Sounds like a solid plan to me.