Fear of the Unknown

What scares you? What have you always wanted to do but never have? What is that thing on your bucket list that never gets done because obstacles stand in the way? Do you fear the unknown?

Have you ever thought, “Man, I sure would like to ______,” but at this stage in life you’ve just never quite gotten around to it.

What is your fill-in-the-blank?

I recorded a Facebook live version of this yesterday while on my paddle board out on Lake Keowee in SC. But then the rocks got in the way and the recording took an interesting turn and then it disappeared off Facebook. I learned that self-videography and paddle boarding on choppy waters with lots of boat wakes bopping me about is more a recipe for disaster rather than a recipe for a great Facebook live message. So….here I am at my laptop, plunking out the message in written form. There are fewer mishaps this way. And truly, I am a writer at heart.

I ask these questions because they are relevant to all of us and because I’ve been pondering these things while out on my paddle board this past week, dodging choppy waters and strong currents in four different states in the span of 7 days. After crossing the St. Croix river from Minnesota to Wisconsin, I saw a post by my long-time friend, Cindy Chrysler, that included photos of Pictured Rocks National Park at Lake Superior. The photos made me want to go there. And then I started thinking really I want to visit all 5 Great Lakes on my Bote board. But…..it’s all so far away. And, the water might be too cold. And it will cost money. And I won’t get to sleep in my own bed and enjoy the comforts of my own home. I’d be away from my family, what about my high school-age child and her busy schedule? And then there are the pets to care for and the four businesses to run…..so many obstacles. There’s also the fear factor – the unknown. What if? What if? What if?

The quote in my planner one day this week was perfect for the occasion: “Do something every day that scares you.” (anonymous). Fear cannot be your driving force if you want to accomplish anything noteworthy. And then today’s quote by Thomas Jefferson, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Now there’s a real gem to live by! It turns out I have learned a lot and accomplished much by following the lead of some of America’s great dudes of the past. (Another favorite is Ben Franklin and his “6 things a day” model, which I wrote a blog post about and still follow pretty much every day).

So, here’s what I’m getting at….we all have a fill-in-the-blank thing we’d like to do but never do. There are obstacles. What are yours?  Identifying the obstacles is the first step in overcoming them.

If you want to achieve a personal accomplishment goal, first write it down and then list the obstacles that stand in your way. Next, work through the obstacles one at a time to determine creative ways to overcome each obstacle. Then, like Nike says, just do it. What are you waiting for?

I’ve learned through my years of teaching and speaking in the grooming industry that there are two types: the go-getters with failure-is-not-an-option attitudes and those who give up when an obstacle stands in their way. The first do amazing things. The second mainly just whine a lot about how nothing ever works out for them. They are their own worst enemy.

So, in light of all of the above, and after making my obstacles list, sorting through my overly jam-packed calendar, and getting the thumbs up from my fabulous husband, I hope to head out from Hershey Groom Expo in less than a month with my Bote board on top of my SUV and make the 14-day trek up and around the Great Lakes region to board in all 5 lakes and even take a jump into each lake, despite the coldness, which for me is an obstacle of ginormous proportions. The trek will ultimately end up in Delaware in time for Lynn’s wedding before making the last leg home to South Carolina. In total, I will drive about 6300 miles. Along the way, here are my objectives:

1. Use Facebook live to raise enough money to buy a cow (or 2 or 3!) for some villages in Uganda, which will be delivered as part of #cowproject with the Call to Africa team going in early 2017. This will cost $1400. Divided by 5 Great Lakes that’s $280 per lake. I need folks wanting to get involved in making a difference in these folks’ lives, a real immediate, everyday, sometimes life or death difference by pledging $280 per jump in a cold lake, alone, maybe in bad weather. Whatever. I’m committed to doing it. Who wants to #getdirty?

2. Drop in on some CFMGs along my route and shoot some “Danelle Drops In” videos to share a glimpse into the world of these amazing folks living out their dreams. Real groomers, real life. Making it happen. If you are along my route, let me know so I can work out my travel schedule, fitting in whatever is possible.

3. Train 2 new Remote Certifiers for the NCGIA. We need more. I’m coming through New England/ON/Great Lakes region. I will train. Together we can save the world one cat at a time by making CFMG certification testing more accessible to those that want to pursue this fabulous opportunity and become a cat ninja warrior.

4. Shoot one child portrait session. Want photos of your child? Dramatic, adorable, editorial style, personality-driven photos you can share on social media and proudly hang on your wall? I’m coming through the above-listed regions. Let me know so we can schedule and make it happen. I will definitely be wanting some #behindthelens time!

5. Conquer a personal challenge, step out of my comfort zone, and do something kinda scary and adventurous and filled with unknowns. Inspire others to do their own scary, adventurous, life achievement, fill-in-the-blank, major accomplishment, so-glad-I-did-it thing.

BEFORE I take on this huge project and drive all those miles, I’m taking a vote. I’m not doing this unless I get at least 100 affirmative votes via commenting on this blog post or on Facebook.  And at least some of you comment and tell me what your fill-in-the-blank thing is. Let’s do this together. There’s no point in doing it alone if my 5 objectives are not met. I’d rather stay home, see my family, sleep in my own bed, have a hot beverage on my back deck, ride my horse, and hit the local 93-degree lake near my house for a bit of boarding. So let me know you’re in. Cast your vote. If I’m crazy, tell me to stay home and read a book (I’m totally good with this plan).

If, however, you want to go along for the ride by joining me via blog, Facebook live, and through meeting my 5 objectives above and making a difference at the same time, leave a comment. Can’t wait to hear from you!


UPDATE: I set up a YouCaring account for donations. Please use this to donate during the challenge if you feel so led. Thank you to all who have expressed interest thus far!

My 6 Things Lists

How do you eat an elephant? My husband asks me this all the time, because all the time I am overwhelmed with overly long “to do” lists created by enormous projects that are part of my business growth plans (and often personal goals as well). The answer: one bite at a time. And even though I know this answer, Mike asks me this question frequently because I forget that the best way, the only way, to eat an elephant, is one bite at a time. Projects are a lot like elephants.

I’d say one of the most common questions I am asked (besides “how do you groom an aggressive cat?”) is “how do you do all that you do and keep up with everything?” In fact, just today, in an email someone asked me how I keep up with so many projects going on and not let things fall through the cracks. To be honest, I do let things fall through the cracks. I do try, however, to make sure they aren’t really big, important things.

In 2015, in the midst of a chaotic frenzy of too much to do and not enough time to do it all, I had a breakdown moment. You know the kind where you cry a lot and say you’re going to crawl into a hole and give up even though you really don’t mean it? In the middle of my tears and angst, my dear sweet husband (again coming to the rescue) told me about a podcast he listened to not long ago whereby the speaker told of Ben Franklin saying something to the effect of “you can only do 6 things a day.”  That may not be the actual quote, but it’s what I heard, and it’s what stuck in my brain. At first I dismissed this. “Ha!” I exclaimed, “Ben Franklin didn’t have my life, that’s for sure! There’s NO way I could get very far by doing only 6 things a day!” Well, I was wrong. My 6-things-a-day days have truly changed my life. I’m less stressed because of 6 things. I’m more productive because of 6 things. I’m more organized and more FREED UP with 6 things. (Thank you, Ben Franklin!)  So how does this work exactly?

I have no idea how this worked for Ben back in the day, back before we had cell phones and apps and iclouds and such. But I can tell you how this works for me.


Step #1 – Write down goals
This may be goals for the year, goals beyond 1 year or goals for the coming month. I typically chart out my main goals for a year before the end of the previous year is complete. The goals list always grows along the way because I come up with new ideas, or an employee shares a fabulous idea, or things change. But the idea here is to come up with some general goals (not super specific at this point.)

An important part of goal charting is to also include a “due date” of sorts. In other words, when would you like to accomplish said goal? By the end of the year? By July 15? By next week? Whatever. You decide. Make it realistic though. Don’t set a goal to lose 20 lbs by the end of February. That probably won’t happen, which means you are setting yourself up for failure right from the start.  Instead, set yourself up for SUCCESS!

My example goal on 2016 list:
Transition workload from cat grooming instruction to full-time photography

Sub goals (or tactics to help facilitate primary goal):
Transition blog from NCGIA to 4DP Photography
Transition travel from cat-related to photography related

Step #2 – Plot out goals on calendar
You can do this on paper or do this on a computer. The main thing is to write it down. I’m going to say that again…..WRITE IT DOWN!

I prefer to use iCal to print out blank calendars 2-3 months ahead. If I print my filled-in iCal months they are too full of appointments and things so for the goal charting I print blank monthly calendars that are free of clutter.


Using my example goal above, I made a list of blog topics that are fitting for my transition period and charted them out over the next 4-6 weeks. I will add more to keep up with the pace, but for now I don’t want to get ahead of myself and eat more than a bite of elephant at one time. I also have a calendar for travel, which is pretty much mapped out and slam full for the cat grooming thing through the rest of this year, but I can begin to focus on adding in the photography shoots as time allows. The visual of what my travel time looks like helps me stay focused on the objective. This makes it easier to say “no” when I need to say “no” and “yes” when it fits my objectives.

Step #3 Make a “6 Things” list
This is where Ben Franklin comes in. I used some 8 1/2 x 11 laminated sheets from our homeschooling years and used a dry erase marker to write headings, one for each day of the week. This means I have a total of 7 laminated sheets. On each sheet, I wrote out numbers 1 through 6 so I can list each of my 6 things for any given day. These sheets change week-by-week to fit the needs of the day and the goals I have set for that specific date.

Now it’s time to go back and reference my calendar with the goal mapping on it. If, for instance (going back to my example goal given earlier), I have a blog post due on Monday, it will be one of my things on the 6 things list. If I have nothing on a given calendar day for that week, then I do not transfer any calendar “to do” item. Instead I still have 6 openings for things that day.

Next I add in other things from my daily calendar that MUST be done on a given day (i.e. appointments of any variety, kids’ events, etc). After that, I add in what I want to do for me. If I want to exercise or read or take a nap, I put it on the 6 things list. What I’m doing here is prioritizing. First, the things that help me accomplish my goals. Secondly, things that MUST be done (appointments and the like). Thirdly, things that are good for my health and well-being so I can keep eating that elephant. And then……….wait for it…….the other tasks of the day that really should be done. The last items, things that should be done, fit into the remaining slots on the 6 things list in order of priority based on time sensitivity or importance. Did you catch the order of priorities here?

So the question then is…..what constitutes a “thing?”
That is a great question. It is one I had when I first put some thought into Old Ben’s quote. It took some tweaking to figure out just what a realistic “thing” is for my lifestyle. But I have mastered it and nailed it just about every day since.

I’m going to revise my goal mapping calendar and throw in an additional blog post to delve further into that because this post is getting rather long…..stay tuned. I will get to this tomorrow. I’ll be an on airplane from Greenville to LA  so there will be some time to flesh out the remainder of this post. What I’ve written so far should at least give you enough to get started, right?



NOTE: There are some amazing apps out there to make goal planning and 6 things lists easy to do. Or an old-fashioned notebook or super cool Moleskin will work just fine. I use both of the above, favoring Evernote as my online note taking, list-keeping, idea jotting app (it syncs to all my Mac devices so I have access to my notes pretty much all the time). I like Moleskin notebooks, Cross notebooks and other fancy journal as well, keeping several around for different projects or general idea planning and goal setting.