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  • Writer's pictureNicole Danielle

STORIES FROM THE ROAD | That time the idea of "Somewhere Road" almost landed me a TEDx Talk on my very first submission. But then, it didn't...

When things don't go as planned, we often question WHY? We then get lost in the spiral of an outcome that wasn't expected. Yet, when we learn to trust that there's always a greater plan, we see that where we're lost is often exactly where we're supposed to be.



over my head


Summer of 2021, I quickly found myself mentally spiraling once again as my personal training sessions were coming to an end.  I have no problem admitting my weaknesses and flaws and one thing that is certain about me is sometimes I go all in way too fast and with too many things. I'm the kind of person that when I get an idea in my head or discover something new that I'm drawn to, I go all in. Like all in! If it sparks my interest and I'm feeling it, I'm committed - yet more often than not, unfortunately I get burned out and don’t actually accomplish anything because I then get overwhelmed with the massive amount of shit I took on and I just stop in my tracks without ever finishing.  From cleaner living and purging our entire house of bad food, toxic products and all things plastic to dot journaling for organization and inspiration to deep diving into Ayurveda and bio-hacking trying to learn how to naturally heal my body to DIY Cricut crafting and buying all the things to justify a pea-sized idea of having my own Etsy shop during the pandemic - ideas that seem amazing yet make me fucking crazy because i don’t tip toe into them, I dive into the deep end and struggle to get my head above water.


That summer, I had signed up for a purpose course with Jay Shetty, a podcast course with Jenna Kutcher, a blog course with Larry Ludwig, and not only a book writing course but also a speaker course with Jess Ekstrom.  Way in over my fucking head and guess how many actual courses I finished?  Zero.  I could barely find time to take a shower in peace yet somehow some part of my brain told me I could actually manage all those things at once… and succeed. 


Yet, all I did was fail.


I was so proud of myself for recognizing what wasn’t positively adding to my life and canceling my Facebook account during the pandemic (a story for another day!) and here I was signing right back up because some of these things also required you to be active in these private Facebook groups.  It’s such a catch 22 to me that so often you see people post and tell you to stop scrolling and how bad being on your phone is for you yet I often see it’s the same people pumping out other content and telling you to be present and active in social media groups.   There’s just no winning this game.  So, I found myself signing back up to Facebook, making sure I made it clear my account was just for business purposes, so I could be active in these groups and make connections. I played the game because I was determined to feel a part of something, a part of a community, I felt the pull to connect with other driven, goal-setting individuals.  I didn’t have that much in my personal life and I was trying to play along to feel like I was going somewhere because in reality, I was just once again lost in life.


out of my head


In one of the groups I was a part of, I saw someone post a link to apply for a TEDx talk.  I don’t know where in my brain I thought this was something I could do when I had never given a talk on a stage as myself before.  Sure, I grew up in the theater but the theater was me commanding the stage as someone other than myself.  A TEDx talk would be me commanding the stage as myself - and deep down the question I was asking myself was “Who would want to hear what I have to say?”  But then I looked this specific TEDx event up - it was for TEDxOgden.  I had never heard of Ogden so my next thought was to Google it and that’s when I came across this beautiful, charming mountain town in Utah, and oh goodness - it looked like a dream.  There is so much beauty in the world that exists and we don’t even know it.  That year’s theme was “an idea worth spreading.”  An idea worth spreading in a picturesque place I had never been - “there has to be something to this,” I thought to myself. 


So, I closed my eyes, envisioned myself walking through the lovely downtown area of Ogden and whispered to myself - An idea worth spreading? - Somewhere Road! 


Somewhere Road.  The place I discovered when my husband and I first escaped to Napa Valley and wandered aimlessly through the vineyards.  We weren’t just on a path to nowhere, we were somewhere.  And at that moment in time, I was once again lost - yet, it was somewhere in itself.  And I felt this overwhelming need to share it with the world. 


On a whim, I applied and submitted my original idea about Somewhere Road to TEDxOgden.

 

A few days later, I got an email that said “I am reaching out to let you know that we have reviewed all submissions, and yours, among the dozens of applicants, stood out to us!”


The next day I was on a Zoom with a panel of individuals making up the committee, going into more depth about my original idea.  One of the committee members was actually a woman who was a part of that Facebook group I joined.  She was the one who posted about TEDxOgden accepting applications.  As I spoke, the feedback was incredible.  They were nodding almost the whole time, smiling, confirming what I already knew in my heart - that Somewhere Road was a thing, that people could connect with it, that other people out there have felt this way too but didn’t know it until now.  That was validation right there. 


I hung up that Zoom call and was on a natural high.  I was a finalist for my first ever TEDx talk submission and it was an incredible feeling and a moment that gave me hope - believing exactly where I was, was exactly where I was supposed to be because it was guiding me towards my new path to journey down towards who I was becoming. 

angels above me


We were on vactation in Hawaii when the email I had been waiting for came through. This was Wylder's first trip and not only did we want to take him to our special place on the North Shore of Oahu (where we got married) but given the pandemic we had been living through, we wanted to experinece some new firsts together as a family. So we spent a few days on the North Shore before hopping on a short flight over to the Big Island. As we were recharging our souls, driving along Hawaiian Belt Road on the island of Hawai'i, I detoured back to reality and decided to check. my phone. And there it was. The email I had been waiting for regarding my Somewhere Road submission for the TEDxOgden talk.


Everythhing the past weeks had led to this moment herea nd now.


This was is.


I was going to do this.


I was really going to do this.


Except... I didn't get it.


They didn't pick me.


In that moment, I avoided telling my husband about the email.  I was suddenly feeling even more lost than I had been feeling five minutes earlier.  I’m 40.  Is what I thought.  What am I doing with my life?  How did you think you could actually have been chosen for that?  Are all of my ideas just something in my mind but make no sense to others?  Are they not enough? Why don’t you just go back to producing shitty reality television?  Ugh, I don’t want to produce shitty television - I want a life of meaning and purpose, to inspire others in some way, to create something my kids can be proud of.  That I can be proud of.  I believed I could do this - why did I believe I could do this?  No one wants to hear what I have to say. 


Safe to say, I got wacked with a hefty imposter syndrome stick at that point.  But then, that’s when it happened - I put the phone down and looked out the front window and I saw what I believed for so many years to be true but never saw with my own eyes before… the never-ending ocean that went out out out, and just to the right of me a never-ending forest of trees that went up up up.  Both, in one view. 


You see, when I was in high school, my mom presented a question to me that has had me thinking about it for over two decades.  She said, “If you could only look at one thing for the rest of your life, which would it be - a never-ending ocean that goes out out out or a never-ending forest of trees that goes up up up?”  And I always struggled with answering that because I loved both views equally for their own beauty and meaning to my life.  My initial response to her upon pondering that question was “Why can’t it be both?  Maybe we all just need to see through a new set of eyes.”  But everywhere I’ve looked, I never saw that image.  Ever.  I held onto that question ever since she first asked it. 


And then, as we were continuing to travel south down Hawaiian Belt Road, after receiving the email that my next plan wasn’t meant to be, I looked out and I saw it.  For the first time, I didn’t have to choose.  I could see them both, and it was, perhaps, one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life.  A never-ending ocean that went out out out creating tranquility and a never-ending forest of trees that went up up up so high they kissed the sky - in one single view.  It took my breath away.  It confirmed we must hold onto our beliefs and our dreams in our hearts and even if it takes time, even if it takes years for the proof to be seen we have to hold onto it.  Because when life finally reveals it to you, it’s nirvana.  


(And no. I don't have a better photo. That was all I got because I was lost in the actual beauty revealed in front of my eyes.)


Even in that moment of feeling lost, unsure of what was to come next, the universe had been trying to show me the beauty that can happen when we’re not taking the fastest route but taking the scenic one.


That was a surreal moment for me.


When we are free to roam along Somewhere Road, when we can be lost long enough from the real world to be given the freedom to silence the opinions and voices of others,  that’s when we can finally discover what our inner voice has been trying to say.  I sat with that as we continued driving along the Hawaiian coast, having left the volcano to travel to put our feet on a black sand beach. 


What was my inner voice trying to tell me? 


I closed my eyes, and listened:


"This is me, wandering down Somewhere Road.  I’m giving myself permission to take the space I need to figure it out.  I’m not going to rush right back to producing shitty reality television that people don’t care about, or pick up shifts at a bar, or panic to just find any job that will stock the fridge a little more.  Right here, right now, in this moment - this is me giving myself permission to not do what is expected of me.  This is me saying for the past 6  years I have given every single ounce of myself to the best things in my life and for the past 40 years all I have done is what has been expected of me.  I’m so tired of not making time within this space of life for me.  So now is the time to do that.  That is what this is.  Yes, we need the income I used to make, especially on top of the last shitty pandemic year of not having much work at all.  Yes, I need something for me to feel human again in the eyes of the outside world… but not at the cost of compromising myself or my sanity.  Not just to do what life has told me I need to do.  So, I’m gonna sit in this space a little longer.  I’m going to keep roaming until the moment I know.  And that is OK." 


What I finally came to realize is - sometimes the only permission we need is permission from our own self to say “Hey, you… listen!”  For me it’s, “Nicole, you’ve done this for everyone for so long and now it’s OK to do this for you.”  It seems like such a hard thing, yet it’s such a simple thing to recognize that sometimes, we just need a moment to BE with our own self without the rest of the world yelling at us to do what they want us to do and be who they want us to be.  I decided to be OK with not knowing what was next.  I was content in the unknown, trusting everything would reveal itself in time.  I chose to embrace the enigma and let that be the beginning of this next chapter in my life. 


We hiked the waterfall, we went to the volcano, we put our feet together on the black sand, a tropical storm came and went, leaving a double rainbow in the sky surrounded by my boys, and I saw the wide-ocean, endless-forest image of my dreams… all while traveling with my family along Somewhere Road.  


It was indeed a perfect day.



gold


A month after we got home from Hawaii, I got a voicemail from a number I didn’t know.  His message said that he had absolutely no clue how my resume wound up on his desk but he wanted to talk to me about a project he was Showrunning in the premiere documentary space.  Premiere doc, me?  Real storytelling!  After talking for about 10 minutes, he threw me on a Zoom with Archie Gips, who is Mark Wahlberg’s producing partner for their company, Unrealistic Ideas.  After the Zoom, I got offered the job on what was a very small team of extremely passionate storytellers and I ended up being trusted to creatively tackle the first episode of this new show with my new boss, which ultimately evolved into more than we ever could have imagined.  It was gold. 


A few weeks went by and I remembered that the TEDxOdgen event would be coming up in a few days.  I was interested in seeing who the panel chose for their speakers and what original idea they had that, ultimately, was more on par with what messages they wanted to spread at that event than my idea of Somewhere Road.  So I pulled up the website and that’s when I saw it...


The event was canceled. 


I instantly sent a big fat thank you out to the universe.  Had they picked me for that event, I would have poured everything into preparing for it and I never would have accepted the tv show I was offered, only for the TEDx event to get canceled, leaving me with nothing. 


I was so glad I had taken the space and time I needed for myself to just trust that there was going to be something else, if I allowed myself to remain lost a little longer.  There was a bigger purpose for that happening.  And because I did take that time for myself, because I embraced the moment when I was lost, life did its magical thing and gave me the opportunity to creatively be a part of something my kids would be proud of, that I am so proud of.  It was an honor to work on that project and, to the day of writing this, Discovery’s “Gold, Lies & Videotape” is hands down the best show I’ve ever worked on in my career thus far.  And now that I’ve tasted that kind of gold, there’s no way I will ever go back to producing the kind of unfulfilling television I was producing before. 


There comes a point in your life when you discover you do have value and worth and you get the right to choose what you want for your life.


It seems like such a hard thing, yet it’s simple: recognize this is our one life and we deserve to live it.  Part of that is being okay with being lost at times.  Sometimes, we just need a moment to be with our own self, to feel the hard and happy feelings alike, without the rest of the world yelling at us to do what they want us to do.  To be who they want us to be.  We need to give ourselves permission to simply exist, without the cages or the restraints - to breathe and discover and roam freely as children are allowed to wander through their imaginations. 


Take the time you need to just be.  To think and reflect and question but don’t ever doubt… just take a moment to sit and quiet your mind and believe that you will find the way. 


Because the truth is, call the higher power whatever you believe it to be - the universe, God, Sprit, Buddha, life - when you are aligned with your true self and trust in your inner-knowing... you know, that higher power has your back! And is creating miracles for you that you just can't see yet.


So remain patient, take some deep breaths, embrace the unknown & trust in the magic that's already happening for you.


XO, Nicole

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