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Providing Contrast

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 26 OF 28

This challenge has been so hard for me. It has taken A LOT of my energy emotionally. Not because of the time spent doing it but because of the energy I’ve put in to the thinking about doing it. It’s always funny to me how I can stress about doing a task for an entire day and when you finally sit down to do it, it take 10  minutes. 

 

What I’ve realized from this daily writing challenge is the power of quality over quantity. The value in the writing that stems passionately from my soul versus these sorts of head dumps that occur at night when I’m tired and can barely keep my eyes open and feel somewhat forced. This is the contrast that reminds me of how beautiful the inspired passionate writing that comes to me, often times in the morning, that doesn’t always need to be shared. So often it is for me.

 

With just a few days left of this challenge, which I will excitedly admit that I am ready for it to be over, I am left to think of my next one. I will announce whatever it is in my last post of this month. I love to write but I feel that my writing is primarily just for me at this point. There’s still a lot I’m learning and it doesn’t feel like it’s meant to share quite yet. And that’s the purpose of this experiment is to show me these things. I am grateful. 

Food as Love

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 25 OF 28

I can very easily get in the habit of confusing eating as relaxing. I will work all day and then immediately reach for something when I get home in an effort to relax, but food doesn’t make you relax. It just distracts you for some time and takes you away from having to “do”. Whenever we reach for food when we’re not hungry, it is to satisfy something emotional. But if you’re tired, food cannot make you rested. If you’re lonely, food cannot give you company. If you’re sad, food cannot make you feel better. It may seem that way in the moment but what it’s really doing is distracting you. Numbing you just enough to turn your mind away from the tiredness or loneliness or sadness and tricking you into thinking it was the solution. But then the time passes and you’re left with the same emotion you were ignoring, now with an added layer of guilt or shame for eating way more than you needed to eat.  It’s a vicious cycle and one that I’ve been trapped in for my entire life. I’m working really hard to break it. To sit with my feelings and go through them. To pay attention to physical hunger versus the emotional type. I fail a lot. I eat a lot. But I’m getting better each day. 

Doing Enough

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 24 OF 28

 

Last night in my exhausted state I typed a lovely blog post as part of this challenge and then my website crashed and I lost it. And in an act of self-love, acceptance, and progress-not-perfection, I decided to close my screen and gently say to myself… It’s ok. 

 

It’s ok.

 

We are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we just need a break. Self-care is about tuning in to your needs in any given moment, not forcing yourself to do something so you can check a box. So you can say you did something “every day”. So you can do it “perfectly”. 

 

It’s a fine line that I’m not entirely sure how to communicate when it comes to creating new habits. I swear by my monthly self-challenges but I don’t swear by my ability to judge what is truly doable for me. I’m learning as I go but I don’t always get it right. I always say that the most important thing about these habit-creating monthly challenges is that they be nearly FAIL-PROOF. If you’re going to commit to anything “every day” you must set yourself up for success. Meditation for 2 minutes every day. Make your bed every morning. Write down one thing you’re grateful for. Keep. Things. Simple.

 

And so I’m here having to admit that I didn’t do it perfectly. I missed a day on my challenge and after further observation I realized I actually missed another. And that’s ok. More than ok. Because the second theme that has played out so strongly this month from a deep, wise, knowing place within me, is that I AM ENOUGH. Separate for what I do or say or achieve. We come to this human experience as perfect, flawless beings and our only trouble is that we so often forget that. 

A Return To Love

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 22 OF 28

There is an awakening happening and I feel blissful knowing that I get to be around for it. That's the way it is. The world can go two ways in its current state. We can keep destroying each other and our planet and end this entire adventure of being human, or we can realize that there's another way. We can love and co-create and feel and connect and unify. I choose the latter. I hope enough of us do too.

I just finished reading Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love, for the second time and I was once again reminded that it is by far the most transformational and powerful piece of literature I have ever read. Read it. But read it slowly. Take in every single word and read with the knowledge that your understanding of all those words could quite possibly be completely different than the way she uses them. I've never highlighted or taken more margin notes in my life. Books are such a blessing. I remember the days I used to read the same page over and over and have no idea what I read. My self-care habits and wellness have change all of that. They've given me the capacity to have a clear mind and an efficient being.

It's funny how this wellness journey, the clean eating especially, serves primarily as a tool for keeping my spiritual practice. Everything I do is in an effort to clear my mind and vessel in whatever way it takes to hear that inner voice just a little louder. To be able to tune in, focus, listen, pray, meditate. HEAR. 

Mornings All Day

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 20 OF 28

I was thinking today about how good it feels to start fresh every morning. The fact that we get to go to sleep and then wake up and give it another shot. I've been waking up most mornings around 4am lately. I do a 5am workout then spend an hour or two at the beach as the sun rises and I do my meditation, gratitude, prayer, writing, reading, and whatever other creativity sparks. I feel so alive during these times. So filled with light. So inspired. But as noon rolls around and then the afternoon, it's like I sign off from productivity and efficiency and, I hate to say it, worth. I know, I know, my worth has nothing to do with my productivity but that's a deeply rooted belief that I'm working on breaking. For now, it lives in me. And by the mid to late hours of the day, I assume I won't really be able to get anything great done. But it occurred to me that maybe that's just because I believe that. Maybe we can just choose in the middle of the day to give ourselves another morning. Have another coffee, shower, do my morning routine, shift my perspective. Time is just an illusion anyways. It's not real. So why not choose in the moment that we get a fresh start. Right now. And now. And now. 

Silent Communication

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 19 OF 28

Another short one but I'll continue telling myself that this is enough. I am enough. No matter what.

I often think about how ironic it is that I was a communication major. The more that I learn about myself and look inward, the more I realize just how horrible of a communicator I've been all of my life. I still have a hard time being direct and I still protect everyone else's feelings but my own. I thought I should be a communications major because I talked a lot but that was just noise, not communication. There's a big difference and in most cases I find that the majority of communication, at least the most valuable kinds, are without words at all. They are energies and feelings and connection. I crave that. I can be surrounded in people all day but still alone. I aim to break down whatever invisible wall it is that I have up around myself. I'm chipping away daily. I crave silent connection. 

My Favorite Quote

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 18 OF 28

My eyes burn and I'm overwhelmed still. I want to give more of myself to this writing but I'm doing my best and that's all I can do. And so I'll share the quote that lead to the most change for me. I'd heard this quote a hundred times but never fully heard it. And when it struck me it struck me solidly. 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Let Me Be A Kid

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 17 OF 28

I feel like a child today. Or like a grownup who wants to be a child. I am emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling like nothing is ever enough. There’s always more to do and be. I wonder if I’ll always feel this way and I wonder often if my massive dreams and expectations that I have for myself are pushing me forward or keeping me feeling inadequate. I am drained and I want to do nothing but I can’t stop. I can’t stand complacency. I can’t stand this overwhelm. 

Something In What We Bolt From

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 17 OF 28

I am perfect exactly as I am. My dream life is now. Not when I get some specific body or opportunity or paycheck. I am perfect as is. I am enough. No matter what. Nothing outside of myself can bring me joy. I choose joy and bliss in every moment.  

Thank you for the inspiration that I know will spark in me today. Thank you for the opportunity to see Gabby Bernstein and be surrounded in like-minded people. Thank you for the book Art of Asking that you placed in my hands. Thank you for the emotions I feel behind my eyes right now and for the calm that comes after we deal with them. Thank you for my personal growth and my bravery to touch what we often just bolt from. Thank you for having me know that there is something there. Something that makes it all worthwhile. Even if I don’t know what that is. 

My Greatest Entrepreneurial Advice

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 16 OF 28

The other day a friend asked me what the greatest lesson I've learned so far is during my entrepreneurial journey and I knew exactly the answer.

Get business partners.

That is the single best thing that I can suggest for anyone starting a business. Find partners who you trust and love and who believe in the same vision you do. Go in for it for many reasons but never for the money. Pair up based on the strengths and weakness that contrast within each of you. 

My business partners are my rocks and my family. It's easy to build something you love when you get to do it with people you love.

Progress Not Perfection

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 15 OF 28

I hopped out of the shower in a fret, realizing that tomorrow I will be on national television. Exposed to all. Vulnerable and not knowing how I will be portrayed, how it will reflect on my business, who it will touch and reach and inspire. I had the privilege of going back for a second round competing on The Food Network’s hit show “Chopped”, and it airs tomorrow night.

I’ve been doing this writing challenge for 15 days now. The challenge was that I share my writing here every single day for a month. As you may know, these monthly challenges have proven incredibly helpful for me in terms of creating new habits. My first one was doing a Whole30 challenge which ultimately changed the way I live and eat forever. Then it was a month of mediation. A month working out every day. A month of journaling. A year of sobriety. A year not watching television. And most recently, a month with no social media. These challenges work for me and so here I am, proudly keeping up with this one, which has been much harder than I thought it would be.

But with this comes the insecurity that there will be new eyes on my inner thoughts. I’ve been doing this writing but not really sharing it. Feeling “ok” with the idea that if someone just happens to stumble upon it, no big deal. But who knows how many eyes will come here from their television sets tomorrow, and I’ll admit that it brings up insecurity. “Should I delete that post where I said I was going to sell out Madison Square Garden?”. “Is my writing horrible? My grammar?"

Fear. Fear. Fear. 

If I learned anything in Overeaters Anonymous and through my own healing process with emotional eating, it’s that we should strive for progress, not perfection. That’s what this  writing challenge has been teaching me and if nothing else, that’s been enough. And so instead of going back to make sure I didn’t say something I’ll regret, I’ll surrender my worries knowing that everything I’ve written here has come from some authentically inspired place within me that felt true in the moment.

I am not afraid to admit I am in process. I used to think I had to wait until I was an expert to share. I’m so glad I dropped that attitude and I hope that you do too because I have a feeling there are millions of people that need to hear exactly what your message is at exactly the level you currently understand it. Any other time would be too early or too late. Share your genius with the world. You are here for a very specific reason and there truly is no one who can do the work that is unique to your purpose. 

If you’ve found me from Chopped. Thank you. Thank you for taking me right now, exactly as I am. I hope that I can do the same for you. We. Are. Enough. 

Startup

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 14 OF 28

It's Sunday night and I was about to go to bed and realized that I hadn't shared my writing today. I've made it almost halfway at this point without a missed day, so there's no turning back. I am committed. 

Sunday nights have become so reflective for me as I am always exhausted yet energized after a long weekend in our Model Meals kitchen. A weekend filled with "wedding jams" and packing dishes one by one with extra LOVE, especially today. Hours spent in a walk-in refrigerator packing boxes for delivery, and then the crazy rush of getting boxes up and down to our delivery driver's cars. There is so much more in the space in between these moments and though the pressures can be high when I'm in it, I return home each Sunday night overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who make this dream a reality and the realization that I do what I love for a living. I do what I am so deeply passionate about. I am so grateful. 

A startup business is an absolutely wild adventure. It's like a game every single day. There's always something new. There's always a new challenge or a better way to do something or a moment that exposes something inside yourself. It's hard work but the word "work" doesn't ever feel suited to it. I am filled with joy at this life and I am reminded that though I may not have much financially at this point, I have everything I could ever dream of. I am so happy. So grateful. And on Valentine's Day I am soaking up the self-love that has gotten me to this place where I am surrounded by so many people I love and doing everything I love. I want nothing more than to know that everyone in the world is vibrating at this frequency. I will do whatever I can to play a big role in making that a reality. 

Madison Square Garden

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 13 OF 28

Last week I decided to throw something BIG on to my goals list. I will one day sell out Madison Square Garden and The Staples Center with my motivational workshops. It will be a place that thousands of conscious souls come together to elevate each other, commit to living fuller and happier lives, and to share that with everyone they come in contact with. I can close my eyes and be there. I can feel the euphoric energy in that huge room. I can't wait to see you there. 

Just wanted to get this down in writing for you. Ya know, just in case I need another piece of evidence down the road when I'm reminiscing on the solid truth that we quite freely and effectively create our own destiny. Thoughts become things. Get there in your mind and I promise the material world will catch up shortly after. 

Pleasure and Presence

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 12 OF 28

As I learn to live in my body more, I’m really attracted to this idea of pleasure. Like as if it clicked for me how true that it is that pleasure is what we’re here for. Joy and happiness. It’s as if we’re taught to fear pleasure- that we’re not supposed to have that. I think the point of pleasure is to enjoy it as long as it isn’t at the expense of anyone else or yourself. Our pleasure does not occur at the expense of someone else having it, it is an unlimited resource.

And then I look at pleasure in terms of food. Some might argue that eating a bunch of sugar and fried foods would generate the feeling of pleasure, and it would, but in most cases, it generates equal amounts of sadness and guilt and shame on the other end of it. If it doesn’t, then by all means, indulge. But indulge fully and truthfully and openly. I learned today that in terms of the spectrum of emotions, shame and guilt are two of the absolute hardest on us.

And as I spend more time in my body, I also realize how it is completely tied to presence. How when I’m paying attention to how I feel in my body, there is not past or future. There is only present. Only now. And that now is when I can choose to be blissful. I can put myself in situations in my mind that evoke love and passion and pleasure and joy and bliss and energy. I can take myself anywhere I want to go. It is so grounding. It is the tool I have been looking for. Presence and feeling and being. 

A Few Tears and No Cashews

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 11 OF 28

The more work I do on staying in my body and being willing to feel the emotions that come up, the more I become aware of just how often I’ve been leaving it over the last two decades. There was a complete disconnect and as a result I have been shutting off so many of the clues that it has been trying to give me about how to take care of myself. It’s no wonder I’ve spent so long trying to control food and my weight. I have never trusted my body to give me signals because I have very rarely lived in it. At some point years ago, I learned that eating would take the edge off. If I was stressed it would comfort me. If I was tired it would soothe me. If I was sad it would distract me. And by all means, it works... temporarily, but the feelings eventually return in a bigger and stronger way, and the cycle repeats itself.

 

feel discomfort… eat… temporary soothing… discomfort returns + guilt + shame… eat… temporary soothing… (and the cycle goes on)

 

I eat a very clean diet. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat grains, dairy, sugar (except for the natural sugars found in vegetables and fruit), or processed foods. Ever. If the way our body looked was 100% about what we ate, I would be a flawless vision of health. But it’s not. 

 

I still soothe with food.  In the past it might have been chips and ice cream, today it's typically roasted nuts and sweet potatoes. You can keep weight on while eating this way. While eating “perfectly”. It’s not ALL about the food. The food is incredibly important, but it’s by no means the whole picture.

 

Here’s the catch… if you are eating to soothe emotional hunger, the chances are high that you are eating too much. If you are not eating intuitively from a place of physical hunger and the need for nourishment and nutrients that your body is asking for (I promise it's asking, we just have a hard time listening and trusting) then it’s important to ask what you’re eating for. 

 

I had an experience last night that I thought worth sharing. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at everything I “had to get done", and I wanted nothing more than to grab the salty roasted cashews from my cupboard, and eat them mindlessly in bed by the handful while browsing the internet.  In the past, when these urges to compulsively eat came through I’d distract myself for as long as I could until the craving went away, but in most cases it didn’t. I’d essentially just postpone the eating until I’d finally cave. Last night I did something different. I stayed in my body instead of disconnecting. I closed my eyes, got quiet, and paid attention to what the emotional energy was doing (this process, though common sense to many,  is a completely new and unfamiliar behavior for me). I went in and out of myself, not trying to label any feelings or make sense of them, but rather just observe. And eventually, I stuck with it long enough and was willing to feel long enough, that I shed a few tears. Which is a BIG accomplishment for me. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter where the tears came from. I’m new at this and all I’m asking myself to do is observe at this point. And when they were done, when that emotional energy had been let out, even if just the tiniest bit, the miracle occurred. Two hours of feeling so strongly pulled to eat. Two hours of thinking about binging on sugar and chips or at the very least the salted cashews that had been summoning me… and just like that… a few tears… and the desire to eat was completely gone. 

 

This was a small but incredibly meaningful victory for me. I felt like an attorney who just got the evidence that proves their case after two decades of trials. I have proof that those strong overpowering cravings to eat are about the feelings. And I have even more proof that when we feel them, deal with them properly, that the urge to eat disappears.  The excess weight is about the feelings. The answers are in the feelings. The feelings are our compass. We spend our whole life bolting from them and as it turns out, staying with them is the answer.  We just have to be brave enough to do so.  

Emotional Intelligence + Feelings Timers

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 10 OF 28

I’m doing a lot of work in terms of reconnecting with the process of feeling my feelings. Emotional Intelligence is defined as “ the ability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”. And as it turns out, I’m not so great at, well, any of that. 

 

When I first noticed that I was eating for reasons other than physical hunger, I began my journey into understanding the power of emotional “hunger”. I knew there was more to the way I was using food than just to fuel my physical body. Food is the mechanism that I have used to soothe any discomfort for as long as I can remember. And using food in this way has lead me to carry a little bit of extra weight. Also for as long as I can remember.

 

For a long time I assumed it was WHAT I was eating that was causing this and so I spent the first decade and a half of my life dieting. Controlling and manipulating my food in order to solve the “weight problem”. But when I finally got to the point that I was eating such a clean healthy diet 100% of the time and STILL keeping on weight, it occurred to me that there was something more. That perhaps food was just the “pill". It temporarily numbed the pain, but it did nothing to solve what was at the root of the problem. 

 

Through a lot of my journaling and introspection, I realized that I had created a very solid habit of using food as comfort. Eating to take the edge off. Stuffing down feelings because I didn’t know how to deal with them. 

 

Fast forward to today and I’m not doing a lot of deep work in order to reprogram myself to not just feel my feelings but to label them and eventually use them in a constructive way (hint: eating them away is DEstructive).  The hardest thing for me has been remembering to check in. I’ve spent most of my life separate from my body, not wanting to feel, so I’m like a child re-learning a basic human behavior now. 

 

In order to learn how to properly deal with my emotions, the first step is to create awareness around the fact that they are occurring and so I have set alarms to remind myself, every hour, to take a few moments and feel. To put words to the sensations in my body and to pay attention to where my emotional energy is located.

 

And though I have my moments of wondering if ignorance might in fact be bliss, there’s just something deep inside me that knows there is something really important on the other side of this self work. And I will practice and make progress, even in the tiniest amounts. And I shall start with awareness. 

Awakening Via Food

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 9 OF 28

Again I’m here, late night, or at least my version of late night: 10pm, remembering that though I’ve written plenty today, I haven’t put something together that felt worthy of sharing. But I’ve committed to sharing daily and in that is the lesson. Over and over I am reminded of progress, not perfection.

I wish I didn’t define so much of my enough-ness by how much I accomplished in the day. I wish I didn’t turn to food to numb my overwhelm or stress. Sometimes I wish I never deepened my consciousness and could go back to the “go with the flow” day-to-day attitude I used to have. And then I’m reminded of just how rewarding this inner work has been. It is grounding and filling and inspiring. I hate to call it an awakening as I think that can sound entitled, but that feels like one of the only ways to say it. My awakening started with changing how I ate. I did the Whole30 challenge and after 30 days there was no way I could ignore the significance of my transformation. My brain had never been so sharp, so clear, so focused. And it was completely natural. I started seeing things and knowing things that had puzzled me for over two decades. It cleared the fog enough that I started listening to a place inside of me that I had never before accessed, and in there I found all of my answers. Clean eating lead to meditation, gratitude practice, improved sleep, fitness, writing, and so many of the other self-care techniques I use daily today. It is why I am so incredibly passionate about the power of food. It changes everything. I wish I had the words to express the depth and magnitude of this transformation fully. It frustrates me that I can’t communicate the bliss that shifting what I ate has had in my life and can have in the lives of others. I want them to feel it. But it seems there’s a disconnect. I hope one day I can solve it. I hope one day I can not only help to change WHAT people eat but HOW and WHY. There’s so much to this food game. 

Random Thoughts

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 8 OF 28

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Newport Beach - 15th Street

{From this morning's journal}

I haven't written (in my journal) in a few days and in a way it leaves me feeling somewhat "clogged", foggy, and spiritually congested. I find this happens after too much DOING and not enough BEING. Too much noise and action and plans and busy. I need the quiet space of creation and awareness and attraction. The quiet where I can hear that deeper wisdom within me? Are you here? --> Always. 

I often feel overwhelmed by the to do list in my head --> remember just to be. Everything that requires doing, that truly relies on it, will get done. Know that. 

Self-Care Daily Habits

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 7 OF 28

I received such a beautiful compliment today from a friend who does some work with Model Meals on the weekends. She said that she admired that I was able to run a business and be so busy but still manage to find time to take care of myself. I told her that I was grateful to have learned that if I don't take care of myself, I certainly wouldn't be able to take care of a business. We cannot give what we do not possess ourselves. 

And while it's late now and I'm eager to go to bed but sticking to my commitment of sharing my writing every day, I wanted to share some of the daily self-care practices that I think play a key role in my own wellness, and that I think would be great tools in anyone else's personal growth, wellness, and self-discovery. 

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditation
  • clean eating: I avoid all grains, dairy, sugar or any sweeteners, alcohol, and processed foods
  • stream of consciousness journaling
  • prayer
  • gratitude
  • affirmations
  • writing a biography of yourself as exactly who you want to be in this lifetime
  • writing a journal entry from your future as if you woke up in your dream life and were describing the reality around you
  • read or learn something new (books, podcasts, etc)
  • vision board - I use pinterest

Much more to come on these habits specifically, but these are the ones I practice nearly every single day and have changed my life immensely. I'm about to get started right now on that first one. Goodnight.