Archive for Life Lessons

An Open Letter To The Lady Who Prayed For Me

I was one pound down since my check in two days ago. I told the nutritionist working that day goodbye through mumbled breath and she looked me in the eye and said, “I hope your day gets better.

Thank you,” I breathed and rushed as the waterworks I’d become accustomed to started. I ran to my car and at the same time noticed a car pulling up beside me. I was in full on sobs that would not be stopping anytime soon.

Tap, tap, tap,” I heard on the car window.

I looked up and opened the door to see an older woman I had never seen before.

Yes….I’m sorry,” I sobbed through tears.

Are you okay?

I felt my heart drop into my stomach, “I’m just having a bad day,” I continued to cry.

Can I pray with you?

Yes please.

This stranger grabbed my hands and proceeded to pray as tears flowed out of my eyes.

Thank you,” I said when she finished.

I don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t need to know, but I hope it gets better. Sometimes we need a good cry.

And like that she told me goodbye and walked inside.

I haven’t talked much (if at all) about religion on the blog. Not that I don’t have beliefs, but I just have my personal issues with organized religion and have made the decision to separate that part of my life from this one.

I’ve been having a rough time lately with my anxiety, and on that particular day, I was just counting down the hours till I could be in the safety of the office of my new therapist.  I knew if I could make it through the first 12 hours of the day to that 8 p.m. appointment I would be okay. Ultimately the universe had other plans and I became undone in that shopping center parking lot.

This chance encounter got me thinking about lots of things.

Why did I apologize?

I was having a private moment in my car (albeit in a public place) and she was technically interrupting it but I apologized.

I was apologizing for my humanity, for having a moment of weakness when I allowed the private me to be seen in the domain the public me usually rules. The world where I smile while I’m collapsing on the inside. The me that puts other people’s needs above my own. The me who doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my problems or emotions.

I realize I had no reason to apologize and that this kind stranger probably wasn’t expecting it.

The kindness of this stranger.

So often we are all in a rush and in our own heads. I know I am, if I’m in a public place, my head is probably turned down looking my phone or a book. I’m not proud to say that if the roles were reversed, I would have noticed someone sobbing in the car next to mine and even if I did if I would have felt comfortable asking if they were okay. I would have probably checked my phone to see how much time was left on my lunch break, in fear stopping to check on a stranger might make me late. Horrible to admit but true. I am positive I wouldn’t have thought to offer to pray for them. This interaction made me want to be more aware of the world around me and the pain of others.

The boldness of her belief.

We live in a country right now where we all value our freedom of speech but are just as quick to browbeat someone who has different beliefs or thoughts than us. That being said, even with the best intentions it can be scary to reach out.

For all, she knew I was an atheist or would get angry or even violent by her offer of prayer. This fear didn’t stop her from offering and trying to make me feel better. I respect her so much for that.

It made me want to be bolder in what I believe and not just in a religious or spiritual sense. They say the road to hell is pathed with good intentions but so is the road to hope and happiness. If you are genuinely trying to help someone I have to believe the universe has a way of putting this in the win column.

So to the woman who stopped and prayed with me, thank you for your kind words, your time, your prayer and your inspiration.

To anyone reading this, if you feel low or down there is help out there. Seriously, you don’t have to wait for a kind stranger to catch you having a dark moment. More and more insurance plans are covering mental health care and if you aren’t covered by insurance there are options including 7 Cups of Tea  and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You are not alone!

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017 Goals, Dreams & All

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Happy New Year. This is going to be a super huge goals post as it will encompass my December goals recap, January goals, annual review, and annual goals so enough pussyfooting around let’s get this done.

December Goals

Personal Goals

  • Move and unpack the new place.

I can’t tell you what happened. Maybe it was seeing all my stuff in a smaller place or the fact I’d spent most of the week unbelievably sick and sleeping, but I got this crazy fire in my body, and I was unpacked pretty much the next day. I had a few people offer to help me unpack, and I was like, “Yeah I’m done.” (Also PSA- Don’t offer to help me unpack, offer to help people move their stuff, that is the hard part. If you help me unpack I’m either going to take even longer telling you where to put stuff or have to look for things once you left because I don’t know where you put them. I know you’re trying to be nice, but I can decide where to put stuff, I could use help lugging it down a flight of stairs and up two more. Although I do totally appreciate you thinking of me.)

  • Get all my Christmas shopping done.

Christmas shopping was about an hour at one store. I know a lot of people commented that it worried them that I wasn’t done at the start of December, but I had like five gifts to buy and had them all picked out.

  • Have a great time at Christmas with the family.

It was exhausting but so much fun. I got to spend a lot of time with my big sister. To be honest, it was probably the first time we’d spent more than a day together without wanting to fight. DAW! Look at us growing up.

Blog and Freelance Goals

I have been working on it pretty hard This course and the community behind it are amazing!

  • Finish working on

No, sadly I spend most of my website development time working on my course site but sadly I had a major technical issue on it the other day, so this is on hold (more about this all later).

  • Finish the articles for my feature in All Things Trend Magazine!

So as it turns out, I only have to write one. Whew! I have two drafts of two different articles but haven’t decided which one will go to the magazine.

  • Have 500 Facebook page likes

522! Finally! I have been trying to climb that mountain for a while.

  • Have 2850 Twitter Followers


  • Have 1040 Instagram Followers


  • Have 900 Pinterest Followers


  • Create at least one new Resource for my Resource Library

No. Maybe I should have only read one book and worked on this. I did start one and have a fantastic blog post ready to share with it, but it will be out later this month.

  • Post at least 5 times this month


  • Spend at least 10 minutes a day engaging on each of the above social media sites. That means repinning, responding to tweets of others or seeing what their links are, etc.


  • Crush the webinar I have scheduled this month. December 17th! Save the date!

My partner had to postpone, but there will be more webinars in 2017!

Health and Fitness

  • Walk 7,000 steps a day
  • Make meals at home 80% of the time or only eat out 4 times of the week.
  • Go to a gym class at least 3 times a week.

So I’ll just answer all of these together and say I sucked at Health and Fitness in December. Lol.

Wow, what a month. Now I want to take some time to review the progress on my yearly goals.  I set goals a year ago and then revisited them over the summer and discovered I aimed kind of low, so I raised them.

2016 Goals

Travel: Travel to Los Angeles and attend Blogher 16

I did, and it was amazing! You can read part 1 and 2 of that journey.

Publish Articles 262

So, this is a little hard to gauge. I published roughly 91 articles this year as Dia Darling. When I set this goal, I was publishing 2 posts week on, 1 guest post a month and about 1 post a week at my job. By that math 262 was a long stretch, but I had managed to do over 200 in 2015, so I said, “I got this.” I didn’t take into account that the first few months of my blog I was publishing about 5 times a week.

I started the year with the intention of publishing twice a week, once on Monday and once on Thursday. As summer, blogger burnout (link), a break-up and 2nd job change took it’s toll I made the decision to temporarily publish one post a week.

After a while I started to occasionally publish twice a week but ultimately decided that it would be better for my business as a whole to spend the time writing, editing, creating graphics and marketing the 2nd post on other projects like guest posting, working on content upgrades, taking courses and creating my course.

At my new job, I do a lot of copywriting and company blogs, so I am more than positive I have hit that doing on average 4-10 blog posts a week there, but I don’t count those toward my business goal. This year I will be making that a smaller goal. As I only plan to publish once a week on my blog.

Social Media

I mentioned my social numbers above, so I won’t repeat them, but I am happy to say that I did hit all my social media goals for 2016!

  • Facebook 500
  • Twitter 2000
  • Instagram 600
  • Pinterest 600

I had an amazing year. I built some strong relationships, worked with some terrific brands and learned a lot.

For this year I wanted to go a little bit of a new direction. I wanted to think of all the things I want to do and all the big projects I wanted to accomplish each month. That being said from now on my monthly goals post will include a monthly objective.

This may change because as we know, life happens but here are my large monthly goals:

January– Get The Balanced Side Hustle Up website up/ List Building

February– Create a free video course

March– Launch Month

April– Create Facebook Group

May– Launch free teachable course

June– 2nd launch / Blogher 17

July– List Building Month

August–  Podcast connections month and Launch

September– Content Heavy Month- Guest posts and creating copy for launch month.

October– 3rd Launch

November– E-book

December– List building Month

Annual Social Media Goals:

Facebook Group: 200

Instagram: 1700

Pinterest: 1200

Twitter: 5000

Facebook Fan Page: 700

So with these yearly goals, I would subtract the current amount and divide it by 12 to see how much growth I need for each month. Having large goals is great but breaking them up into small chunks makes them more attainable.

For example Facebook Fan Page 700 goal – 522 current = 178 for the year so roughly 14 a month to hit 700 by the end of the year.

Other Goals:

  • Launch The Balanced Side Hustle
  • Start the 2nd form of content (think video or audio)
  • Attend Blogher 17 in Orlando
  • Work with more amazing people and brands.
  • Publish 76 blog posts.


January 2017 Goals

Objective: Launch (this won’t be the full course, the official launch date is March 6th). I was hoping to launch February 27th, but I had family and social obligations heavily in February and wanted to give the launch and you guys my full attention.

Personal Goals

Blog and Freelance Goals

  • Continue working on Launch Your Signature Course!
  • Finish the articles for my feature in All Things Trend Magazine!
  • Have 536 Facebook page likes
  • Have 3148 Twitter Followers
  • Have 1115 Instagram Followers
  • Have 966 Pinterest Followers
  • Create at least one new Resource for my Resource Library
  • Post at least 4 times this month
  • Spend at least 10 minutes a day engaging on each of the above social media sites. That means repinning, responding to tweets of others or seeing what their links are, etc.
  • Crush the webinar I have scheduled this month.
  • Do one guest post or contributor article.

Health and Fitness

  • Walk 7,000 steps a day
  • Make meals at home 80% of the time or only eat out 4 times of the week.
  • Go to a gym class at least 3 times a week.
  • Lose 5 pounds. I won’t put my weight but I started a new fitness program and am excited about it. (More details to come.)

Starting the year off strong with over 1500 words, lots of goals and lots of plans. I hope you are excited to take this journey with me.

Thank you to all my wonderful friends (cyber and real life) for being there for me this year (too many to name),  thank you to Jenn from for being the kick in the pants I need and a constant source of motivation, thank you to all the women I’ve learned so much for over the past year, Mariah Coz, Megan Minns, Melyssa Griffin, Maya Elious , Krista Rae, Brittney Lynn and Meera Kothand to name a few, and to all the people who take the time to read my blog, comment, connect and make my day. So much love your way! I hope 2017 is a beautiful year for all of the you.

Now tell me, what do you have on deck for 2017? What do you want to accomplish? What was your biggest accomplishment in 2016? Let me know in the comments.

Where Millennials Are Dropping The Ball

This post is sponsored by Aflac. I was compensated for writing it, but all opinions are 100 percent mine.

I want to tell you a story that changed my life. It was July of 2013, I had just turned 24 and was working my first adult job for about a month. My new boss told me she needed a personal favor, she asked if I would come in early and go with her to take her friend to the hospital. To be honest, I had no idea what I had signed on for. In fact, I was just thinking, “Yay a field trip. I’ll get out of the office for a bit and possibly get off early.”

One week later I met my boss at the office at 6:00 a.m. to drive with her to her friend’s house. She told me that she had met her friend, Allison in a professional group a few years back. Less than a year before she was one of the top executives at a local investment firm and took a higher paying job at a new company right before she discovered she had a brain tumor.

Within a matter of weeks, she was having surgery to have a stent put into her brain. While removing the tumor went well and she was for all intents and purposes cancer free things were far from being better.

Complications from the stent and procedures that followed left her with very little mobility, constant nausea and basically vertigo.

As we entered her home, it was all I could do not to cry. She was laying in her bed with a portable toilet next to her, zip locked bags filled with mucus covered tissues and boxes of tissue and toilet paper rolls lay in multiple places all within reaching distance.

My boss introduced us and we proceeded to get her ready for her doctor’s appointment. This included changing her diaper, wiping her down with wet wipes and trying to comb her thin hair, all without causing her too much movement because as she moved she would become nauseous and start spitting up.

We spent 12 hours in total transporting her and taking care of her at the hospital.

The worst part?

She was getting by on the kindness of people she hardly knew. When she had to leave her job she didn’t have any medical coverage or long term plan. Luckily her home was paid for and she had some money saved but for a while, at that point she had been living off the kindness of business associates time, donations and her sister who lived more than 4 hours away.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because my friends a lot of us seem to forget that these sort of things happen. While we can’t predict the future we can prepare for it. I have personally seen times where I was so grateful for insurance like when my apartment got broken into, when I had bronchitis, when I got strep, when I drove a rental car into a ditch earlier this month. I am a big fan of insurance if you haven’t guessed. Because I have an extensive history using it and a previous history working in the industry I can tell you it’s important to get the right coverage for you and your family but a lot of my fellow millennials don’t really see how important it is. They know they need certain kinds of insurance to comply with certain laws but they don’t see the added values of select coverage.

Open enrollment

Open enrollment is the time of year business owners and their employees sit down and decide what coverage is right for them. According to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey, 56% of millennials say they don’t understand their health insurance policy, which just makes me sad. For a lot of us we only do the research when it’s too late. We wait until something has happened to call and find out what our policies mean instead of before, and often end up feeling disappointed and not accurately covered.

For a generation with so much information at their fingertips we base a lot of our insurance decisions strictly on dollar signs instead of doing research when given the opportunity.  I get it, we are focused on so many things, finding love, social media, that new food truck everyone is raving about, getting ready for our best friend’s wedding and catching the bouquet.20160423_212353

All those things are great but so is protecting yourself. Think I’m being dramatic about how much attention the average millennial pays to their insurance coverage? The survey also discovered that instead of completing their annual benefits enrollment they would rather be doing just about anything else. According to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey:

28% would rather go a day without social media

17% would rather talk to an ex

16% would rather change baby diapers.

As insurance continues to change remember that there are resources to help you figure it all out. Whatever company your employer provides insurance through should have a customer service line or certain representative to talk you through your options, which can not only save you money but protect you and your family in the long run.

Let’s be honest, most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. If we are saving it’s probably for a purchase or a trip, instead of an emergency. While high-deductible health plans (HDHP’s) are becoming more and more common, millennials do have a choice when it comes to supplementing their coverage.

One great way to supplement your insurance cover is to consider voluntary insurance coverage like a Health Savings Plan.

Voluntary insurance pays cash when you’re sick or hurt so you can focus on recovery. Major medical insurance policies pay doctors and hospitals but voluntary insurance pays directly to you, the insured (unless otherwise assigned).

Accident, disability, critical illness, cancer, hospital and life insurance are examples of voluntary insurance policies that complement your major medical insurance based on your individual needs.

It’s a hard truth that regardless of how sick you are, bills still have to be paid. The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report found that 65% of employees have less than 1,000 to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident if it happened today. So besides the price of the deductible, if you have less than $1000 in the bank how do you expect to pay your rent and other bills?

You know what is worse than being sick or injured and unable to work? Being sick and injured and having financial stress.

1376255808901You shouldn’t have to dip into vacation funds, holiday budgets or savings to maintain your lifestyle, and with voluntary insurance like Aflac’s you have access to cash benefits that pay you directly (unless otherwise assigned) and quickly- helping give you financial support and peace of mind.

What happened to Allison?

After several more surgeries, her life is still not what it was before. She currently lives in an assisted living facility but the vertigo has stopped.

Have you ever gotten really sick?  Do you know anyone who completely lost their mobility because of an unforeseen illness? Do you feel adequately covered? Tell me in the comments.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Z161128D  10/16