"NOT NOW" DOESN'T MEAN "NEVER".

Tuesday, April 25 at 3:26pm I was scheduled to be on a long awaited flight headed to Madrid.

Today is Friday, April 28 and...I'm still in Atlanta.

What happened, you ask? 

Well, life happened.

Business opportunities have come up, things I need to address, ideas I want to launch and as all of those things started converging, something deep down was nudging me, "Dayka, it's not time." And let me tell you, when you love Madrid as much as I do heeding to that voice isn't always easy. The final straw came last Friday, after suddenly finding out from my doctor that I have some gastrointestinal issues which require me to be on a very strict diet. Going to Spain & Morocco while on a diet that keeps me from eating all of the bread, cheese, eggs, rice, & sweets that I want?? It felt like more anxiety than bliss.

So I got up Monday and cancelled my airline ticket, just 21 hours shy of my departure. 

But leading up to that dramatic, last minute cancellation, I weighed my options for weeks. Talked about it with a few close friends. My best friend asked me last week, "What are you feeling overwhelmingly led to do?", and I didn't really have a response because there wasn't an "overwhelming" feeling at all. Instead I just heard a quiet but strong voice of encouragement saying, "You know what to do." And I did.

The right thing, for right now, is for me to stay put in Atlanta. 

To be clear, I am still moving to Spain....I feel this deep in my spirit. I still feel the pull of Spanish life and am looking forward to the experience of building a new life in a new country very soon.....it's just not gonna happen for me this week. And this decision, of course, has made me think a lot about the ways that I attempt to direct (read: control) my life.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to Surrender--to be open to the fact that something greater than I can imagine is organizing itself in my favor. Most of the time, even with the best of my intentions, "my plans" are in the way of that greater good, because I'm only considering with what I THINK is possible. Possibilities that are based entirely upon my limited perspective of who I am, where I'm from, what I look like, where I've been, past relationships I've had and more. But the reality is that there are FAR MORE possibilities for me in this world than I can imagine. And I always want to stay open to that truth. For all I know, postponing my trip may just be a happy detour from The Universe that's leading me towards a new opportunity that covers ALL of my expenses, both here and abroad (!!!). Or one that puts me in connection with some amazing people doing international work that I really want to be a part of. Whatever it is, I'm totally open to receiving whatever goodness wants to come my way. In fact, I'm beckoning it forth.

A few people have asked me if I feel embarrassed because I postponed my trip, or if I regretted sharing with the world that I was going.

But I don't.

On the contrary, I'm super proud I put it out there. Proud that bought my ticket and started downsizing my house and researched apartments in my desired neighborhoods and found a co-working space and already had plans to hang out this past Wednesday night. I'm proud that I started walking the walk of what it means to move forward with the intention of building a new life in a new country because these kinda things just don't happen overnight. Big ideas are birthed from tiny little ideas and the only thing required to execute them is that we take one step at a time, again & again. Whether or not "my goal" was obtained is actually neither here nor there, because just doing all of this preparation has changed me. I am better for having done the work. 

I've had to remember that not leaving on April 25th doesn't mean that I'm NEVER going, it just means exactly what I'm hearing, which is "Not right now." And sometimes we get those things confused, thinking "no" automatically means "never", when that's hardly the case. It's usually a "you're not ready just yet" or an "I have something better for you". And this is what you have to remember every time it looks like the door is closing in your face--there is something greater for me to know here.

Spain may not have been in the cards for April 2017 but best believe it's still there for me. And so is whatever you may have tried that didn't quite work out how you'd planned the first time around. Detours are ALWAYS the set up for something greater, as long as you remember that everything is here to teach us something. Learn your lessons and keep it moving!

SO MUCH has been going on in my life since January and I can't wait to share it all with you. But until that time comes...you know where to find me. Thanks for being excited for me anyhow.

BE VULNERABLE.

I put all of my business out there on Instagram this week. Emphasis on all. 

And instead of feeling scared, or worried about what people might think, I felt free. And incredibly empowered.

It was a reminder that I am a REAL person with a REAL body and, like many of you, going through REAL things. I think a lot about how I show up on social media & always try to make sure that I'm sharing the truth about who I am from as many angles as possible. Yes my life is good but...it's also "good" because that's the only truth I'm willing to consider about it. Things are always working out in my favor.

This Instagram post is something that, years ago, I thought I'd never do because there was a time when it seemed like being diagnosed with Vitiligo was the worst thing that could happen to me. Funny what a little time, perspective & experience can do for those self sabotaging beliefs that we unknowingly cling to for dear life....   My truth is that I'm not perfect. I don't have all the answers (the ones I do have are often subject to change), I can be impatient, I'm not always kind, and I have my own share of emotional wounds & sore spots that I'll be working to release for as long as I'm alive. But you know what? I am here. And I show up for my life, with every single thing I have, every single day. And I'm really proud of that. Yes, I do it for myself but I'm also clear that my life isn't just about me...it's about you, too. Because we need each other to survive. 

I wrote this & posted it on IG a few days ago but I think it's worth sharing here again:

"Part of the reason we must commit ourselves to telling the truth about who we are is because WE ARE ALL JUST LIGHTHOUSES FOR EACH OTHER. The only way we ever reach the shore is with HELP from another human being--I share mine, which helps you share yours, which helps someone else share theirs. We don't do each other any favors by pretending to be (have/live/do) things that we are not (and most of the time folk know when you're lying anyway!). Whoever & whatever you are is good enough, right now. Walk in Truth. Be a lighthouse."

Never be afraid to be vulnerable and share the truth about who you are because there's never a wrong time to be a lighthouse. Or a gatekeeper. Never forget that there's someone out there right now, who won't know that it can be done (whatever "it" may beuntil YOU do it. And that's pretty powerful. So allow yourself to be vulnerable with people.

There's no one right way to be vulnerable--I get that social media route is not for everyone--but the point is, allow yourself to be exposedGive yourself the privilege of being known, and watch people rise to support you....and in turn they will also support themselves.

I can assure you that there is no greater honor. Even if it means letting your belly hang out on the 'gram!!

JUST SHOW UP.

Every Friday when I send this letter out I am SO incredibly grateful for your feedback and the fact that many of you take the time to share pieces of your life with me. Your emails remind me that I'm on the right track and that I'm not the only one thinking the way that I do. You remind me that I'm not alone. But my reasoning for sending writing these letters is actually quite selfish. The truth is, I do this for me.

I'm doing this because for years I thought that being a writer meant that my name needed to appear on the NYT bestseller list. Or that I needed to have a byline in a major publication. Or that people should know my literary name--and my work--without my having to explain any details.

But these things do not a writer make. 

You know what makes a writer?

Writing. 

That's it.

Sitting down every day and committing to give breath to ideas by writing them down.

Even if it's just in my journal, or in a friend's birthday card, I know that I am a writer. I care deeply about the process of articulating my thoughts & find great JOY in the act putting them down on paper. These things alone make me a writer.

And I'm a writer because I said so--not anyone else.

But sometimes the best that I can manage to bang out is just a paragraph. Or all I have is the beginning of an idea that even I don't yet fully understand. Sometimes it's 6pm on Thursday and I have NO idea what I'm going to write for Friday at 6am.

And you know what??

I'm learning that's okay. 

Every week may not be a home run. Every letter may not hold some deep & profound truth or conversely, it may hold an idea that goes completely over everyone's head. But I'm realizing that NONE of that matters.

What matters is the act of just showing up for the work.

Judging how good it is--or how it should be changed/edited/condensed--is actually Step 4 or 5. But Step 1 is all about actually getting the work done. Giving life to the ideas. Creating sentences from the thoughts.

I thought about this last night at 10pm after I spent the majority of the day in bed with a rough upset stomach. A big part of me wanted to just push this letter off until next week but then I heard a voice that reminded me:

You need to write something. 

Because these emails are first & foremost about the discipline of doing the work I say I want to do. Everything else--how good, how long, how eloquent--is secondary. 

And just like that--at 10pm last night--I got the inspiration for this letter. What normally takes hours & hours took less than 90 minutes, because it just came pouring out.

The only thing that I have to do, every day, is find a way to honor my calling. Sometimes that's as small as a private journal entry, a thank you card for a kind gesture or public social media post but IT ALL COUNTS.

Every single bit of it.

I am a writer, so my job is to write and consistently show up to create this letter. No judging of the work is allowed in the early stages. Because when you do work that you love there is no "there"...you just keep working as long as there's something inside of you that wants to be born.

And the only way you can birth it is to show up.

Grab the pen. Pick up the paintbrush. Make the beat. Write the song. Create the code.

Today I've shown up to be a writer.

Who/What are you showing up to be???

RUMI. TINDER. AND DAYKA 4.0

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One of my favorite quotes is by the ancient Islamic mystic, Rumi. It reads:

Know then that the body is but a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.

I repeat that last part to myself constantly:

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

Every time I say it my spine tingles because as India Arie says, "You know the truth by the way it feels."

And this, my friends, feels like the truth to me. The more I decipher those words the more I understand the call.

Go in search of what is True.Chase down what is real.Deliberately strive for that which can't be seen. 

This stuff is sooo good!!

But here's the thing about expanding your mind--once you learn something new, you can never unknow what you know. People can't pee on your head & tell you it's raining anymore, so you have to start acting like you know better.  And once you truly understand that you've been called to chase down that which can't been seen??Well then that's exactly what you have to start doing.

But that's not very easy on an app like Tinder.

Over the years I've connected with tons of matches, sent hundreds of text messages, ki-ki'd on a handful of phone calls & even gone on a couple of "dates" (including an epic 6 hour adventure in Spain!) but nothing's really panned out for me. I blame it all on Rumi's directive.

The thing is--when I start swiping rightI don't like who I become.

The app encourages me to pick people apart based on their cloak--the outside stuff. From what they're wearing to what their house looks like, the second I open the app it's like I become this woman who has an opinion about EVE.RY.THING.

Well, wait a minute. Okay. I mean...I actually always have an opinion about everything but...the Tinder version of me feels super critical. And petty. Like Dayka 4.0. But trust me when say that Dayka 1.0 is more than enough--we don't actually need to go to 4.0.

Now some of these guys might be actually be funny & engaging but I'll never know because I'm too focused on things like why they have dark sunglasses on in every single picture. Why they're kissing their dog in the mouth. Why they're posed in a residential area with 15 shotguns. Or why they've taken multiple pictures of themselves bare-chested in front of a bathroom mirror with their underwear pulled down beyond their pelvic bone. These are the kind of things that bring out Dayka 4.0.

But then I hear that familiar refrain--Seek the wearer, not the cloak--and I'm reminded of what I've been called to do. And I remember that the only thing that's real is what's unseen.  Who you are. The wearer. 

Because in real life, love has never found me because of a cloak.

On the contrary, it's always found me unexpectedly. Chance meetings. Random funny conversations. Unexpected connections. 4.0 loves to focus on the cloak.But 1.0 searches for spirit. And Truth.

The guys I've liked?? I was drawn to them because of their spirits..and their jokes...and their intellect...and their experiences...and their energetic chemistry.I didn't choose them because of how they looked---I chose them because of how they felt. And because the way a person feels can't really be articulated in a photo (well, it kinda can but that's another post)...I'll just loop back to my dear friend Rumi.

Seek the wearer, not the cloak. 

When I whisper that phrase to myself it's a reminder that seeking anything requires intentional action on my part. It requires me to chase, pursue & strive--so if I'm to be responsible for "seeking the wearer" in every situation, I know that what I'm looking for isn't going to be found on that easy, surface layer.Instead my job is to actually look beyond the cloak and find the wearer inside. I believe it's the only thing I'm really here on Earth to do.

But that's not an easy feat in a world that encourages us to focus on the glitz & settle for what's on the surface. Knowing someone requires that you first make yourself knowable. Vulnerable, open, available, interestED---all of it. You can only get to know others once you've gotten to know yourself...that's the only way any of this works.

So tell me: if the Wearers meet Wearers & Cloaks meet Cloaks....which one are you??? 

THE MOST POWERFUL QUESTION YOU CAN ASK.

Two weeks ago, on March 4th, one of my best friends lost his father very suddenly. He was seemingly healthy, active & by all accounts, led a very full life.

And yet one minute he was here, and the next minute he was gone.

His death came just seven days after my birthday, when I shared this post about my own experience with my father's death exactly 10 years ago. My father--who also transitioned very suddenly--passed away on the day before my 28th birthday, so it's a date I've never forgotten. And it's eerie how I publicly shared these words about that time in my life just days before his father's death, completely unaware that I was actually talking directly to someone in my inner circle.

As you can imagine I've spent much of the last 2 weeks thinking a lot about grief, death, friendship, love & how we care for those closest to us.  This post is about one of those things.

After my father died I quickly came to the conclusion that asking bereaved people that all too familiar, "How are you doing?" was quite possibly the dumbest question in the world. Every time someone asked I'd always think to myself, "I just lost my father--how the fuck do you think I'm doing right now???". The question seemed to be simple, thoughtless & terribly annoying.

But then, 13 days ago, one of MY people lost one of HIS people. And all I really wanted, every day, was to ask him how he was doing.

How is your soul feeling today? Where are you emotionally? How are you processing things? 

Because as much as we're socialized to automatically ask "How are you?" as a mindless form of greeting, there are moments in life when that question truly is the only thing in the world that you want to know.

How is your heart in this moment? How do you feel in the world today? 

And now I understand, in a way that I couldn't have before, why asking people "How are you?" actually isn't the worst question in the world.

You wanna know what the worst question is?

No question at all. 

Because not asking is to presume that you already know the answer.

And that in itself can be like an act of aggression.

You ask so that you can give people a space to own their own feelings. And you ask because inquiring how someone is doing--and truly meaning it--is actually an act of love. 

One of my favorite authors, Rob Bell, taught me that the simplest things are often the most profound. He reminds me of the importance of making old things new again & encourages me to constantly uncover new meaning in the midst of the everydayness of life. Because perspective, time & evolution have shown me that simple question--the one we mindlessly ask all the time & the one I once thought to be the "dumbest question in the world"--is actually one of the most powerful questions I can ever ask.

This experience, even though we're just a few days in, has helped me bring profound meaning to what has always been right in front of me.

My friend is grieving because he loved someone. And I'm here, writing this, because I love my friend.

I can't tell you much about the road he must now walk but I can tell you all about the one I walk beside him.

It starts & ends with four simple words:

How are you doing???

IT'S JUICY IN THE MIDDLE.

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A few years ago there came a point in my life where things got a little stale. Life was good but generally speaking, everything was very middle of the road.The highs weren't too high & the lows weren't too low. Living felt safe and easy. Too easy.

Because deep down I knew that I was selling myself short. 

So I put a tiny wrench in my predictable flow by deciding to book a solo trip to Istanbul--a place that wasn't even on my radar until I decided to go. I'd never been, didn't know the language & didn't know a soul. Everyone thought I was crazy to venture to Turkey alone & my mom strongly encouraged me to rethink my decision. I was scared to death because I didn't have all of the money to go and I'd even turned down a high profile design opportunity on the bet that I would be out of the country. But none of this mattered, because something was telling me that I needed to make that trip...and the minute I told the world that I was going to Istanbul, every single thing fell in line--I even scored an airline ticket at 50% off of the published price! 

I always say that the Universe will honor us when we honor ourselves, and this is just one of MANY times I've seen this principle work in my own life. Following my intuition to Istanbul ended up being one of THE best gifts I've ever given to myself.

It was there that I learned my strength, adaptability & capability aren't just limited to the United States. Or to English-speaking countries. And it was there, while eating baklava along the Bosphorus Strait, that I understood the cost of playing it safe & easy meant I would be settling for an undiscovered life. And being in Istanbul showed me that was a price I couldn't afford to pay.

It's a lessonI haven't since forgotten.

Here's the thing about settling for the lesser life:it will never get you to the juice. 

It's like hanging on the side of the pool because you know you can get wet without exerting any effort. You've got your bathing suit on & you're out there having fun, feeling like you're really getting the best of both worlds until one day you look out and realize you've been had because the real merriment is actually happening in the middle of the pool!! Everyone is doing all kinds of exciting things with both hands because the people in the middle decided to let go of the edge so they can have more experiences. The Middles are lit AF!! They can swim underwater, do cannonballs, play Marco Polo & even get in a friendly round of water polo, all while you're looking on from the outskirts, missing the action 'cause you're still hanging onto the side of the pool. Over there trying to "take it easy".

But the edge isn't as appealing once you realize the secret--the middle is where the juice is.

It's the metaphorical place where you become the storyteller of your journey.Moving across the country for new love? Leaving a secure 9-5 job to follow your passion??None of it can happen unless you let go of the edge & swim out to the middle. Because making a better story is all about opening up to the unknown.It's about letting go of who we are to make space for the potential of who we must become. 

So how exactly do you get to the juicy middle??  You do it by constantly asking yourself, "What will give me an opportunity to grow into a deeper version of myself??" and "What will make for a better life story??".And then you act accordingly. It could be as small as joining a new social group or it could be as big as finally leaving a stale relationship. No matter the move, you know when it's your time to move and you go--even in the face of uncertainty. For me, it was going to Istanbul alone, led only by the guidance of a deep knowing in my soul--my intuition.

This is the epiphany led me to launch "Lost & Found Marrakech", which is my unique way of creating a space for community & adventure to co-exist along the backdrop of the North African desert. It's my attempt to gift to other women a little bit of the same freedom, confidence, & thrill that I experienced in Istanbul. The kinda things that can change your life.

So if you've been thinking about joining me in Marrakech, knowing that you need to go but paralyzed by your what-ifs, think about what I said earlier and honor yourself so that the Universe can honor you.Deposits are due today & there are still a few spaces left--could one of them be for you?? Take inventory & ask yourself, "What will give me an opportunity to grow into a deeper version of myself??" and if coming to Marrakech feels right for you, I'd love to have you.

Hop over here to learn more. And feel free to email me if you have questions!

Masalama.

REAL ONES.

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They say that making friends is harder as you get older but I don't buy into that theory.

I say that the more you grow into YOURSELF--and commit to pursuing activities/groups/places you really love--the more you attract similar people who genuinely love the same things you do. 

I think it only gets hard when, somewhere along the way,you stop going after the things that set your soul on fire. 

Now I will say this: I definitely see a difference in the QUANTITY of friends I have now, versus when I was younger. Back then there were more people to club with, gossip with, shop with, hang out with. I was young(er) & on my own for the first time--clear across the country--so all I really wanted to be was "grown". I wasn't looking for anything except to finally fit in somewhere and to know that I belonged...and I'm sure you can guess how that story goes....

But there was also a difference in the QUALITY of people I had back then, too. These days, everyone I'm close to is someone I met effortlessly while being 100% myself--the Dayka with the witty, sarcastic sense of humor, who asks a bunch of questions, loves curse words & has a naughty habit of interrupting people when she gets excited about a good conversation.We are held together by a strong core belief that God is always conspiring in our favor, even--and especially--when it doesn't look like it, and we constantly affirm this for one another.

We speak of crystals...and energy fields...and oracle cards...and possibility...and Grace (and we hit on the ratchet stuff, too!). The width of the crew may be smaller these days but the depth is the deepest I've had yet. I know I've got some amazing friends but the truth is....they are all just reflections of me.Because you can only attract who you are. 

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to create a kindred tribe of friends because your success, however you define that word, is absolutely tied to it. I'm not talking about the "good time" people who are always down to turn up at a moment's notice--instead I'm talking about the kinda friends who will gladly "hold space" for you when you can't do it for yourself. The kind of friends who really, really like you just as you are right now. The ones you can send a text saying "Do you have a minute to encourage me?" and your message will barely hit their inbox before they're dialing your number seconds later (I know 'cause I just sent this text last week!).

And you know how you meet these kinda people? By telling the truth about who you are.Because when you lead with the truth about who you are it becomes a lot easier for your life follow suit. You start going to events that truly interest you, whether that's a quilting conference (hey Ari!), a private gemstone sale or a night at the symphony.You're more likely to get on a site like Meetup.com to find interesting new social groups or to buy a ticket to hear your favorite author speak out of state...even if that means you have to go alone.You start intentionally doing the shit that interests you for no reason other than the fact that you like it. And because that kind of behavior is energetically attractive (you know,the whole taking responsibility for you own happiness thing), other people will see you and say, "You know, I have this friend I think you should meet..." and you start getting connected to other amazing people with little to no effort on your part.

All because you're honest about who are. 

Don't fall into the hype that creating genuine relationships is hard. Don't hang around people who want you to join them in complaining about how awful life is, how fucked up men/women are or who folks who love to lament how things are "never gonna change". Don't hang around people who always talk about how "broke" they are, who never take personal responsibility for their behavior or people who can't be grateful for the good stuff even when it's right in front of their face. I could give you a laundry list of reasons why you shouldn't hang around these people but here's the most important one: what they're saying simply isn't true. 

You're only as good as the people you allow to share & speak into your life. Get you some friends (yes, "get you") who will lift you up, encourage you, support you...fill your squad with people whom you ADMIRE. If you don't have friends who will speak LIFE into you...make that a priority in 2017. The people you attract in life are just a reflection of YOU. If you don't like the company you keep, well then...the first place to start is in the mirror.

ALL YOU NEED IS 1%.

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In Numerology it's said that 2017 is the year of New Beginnings (2+0+1+7=10=1+0=1), but new beginnings aren't always as simple as just walking into a new life. Big, new beginnings are actually just a bunch of tiny endings in disguise--and never has this been more apparent than now, as I prepare for a new life in a new place. I know I'm not the only one experiencing this itch...everyone I know who's undertaking something fresh and new is feeling a bit uncomfortable & scared, while simultaneously being 1000% certain that they must do the thing that is calling them. Welcome to Vulnerability 101...

This weekend, while spending my 38th birthday relaxing in bed, the scripture about "faith the size of a mustard seed" randomly popped into my mind & I started thinking about just how TINY a mustard seed is. I thought about how doubt, confusion & discomfort are intimately tied to the process of change and it made me remember that the amount of faith required to do amazing things is actually really, really small.

You only need a little bit more faith than fear to get you through uncertain times. Like, 1% more. You don't have to immediately know who's gonna help you or how things are gonna line up--you just need to have faith that the help WILL be there when you need it. And thinking about it this way makes embarking on those "impossible" things a bit easier 'cause 1% feels like a no-risk kinda investment. It feels like something I can happily sign myself up for.

So I pulled myself out of bed & went off to buy some mustard seeds--I needed to feel what that kinda faith felt like in my hands. And then I went to a dollar store & bought some tiny gift bags. I searched online for my favorite version of that scripture, typed up a few copies, hit "print" & then rolled them up like scrolls and placed one in each bag along with a little mustard seed. I knew I wanted to give my friends a gift at my dinner later that night & I'd just stumbled on the perfect thing--a "portable faith kit". (lol)

In the restaurant a few hours later, I gave the bags out to my friends & explained that my gift was to be a tangible reminder of the fact that embarking on all of the amazing things in our "new lives" also meant that much of our "old lives" had to die.Which of course feels scary.And not a lot of fun. But that if we can just remember to tap into that 1% more every day, it will be enough to carry us through the uncomfortable places.All we need is 1%.

Holding this bag in my hands & rolling this seed between my fingers helps me to really FEEL what this means.  I carry mine in my purse so I can touch it often & every time I do I'm reminded that I don't have to move mountains, I just need to believe that mountains can be moved.And that alone is good enough. 

I shared this message on social media & got a lot of messages/comments from people who shared that they were going through much of the same thing, and because I know that I'm not alone--that we're not alone--I wanted to send out an email to share this you all, too.

Never forget that the big things in life are just a bunch of little things in disguise. No matter what anyone says, you actually don't have to know the entire game plan before you start--you just have to start.And you start by deciding you want something different than what you have & by choosing to believe that something new is possible. From there anything can happen...and it will.

All you need is some faith the size of a mustard seed. All you need is 1%. 

And if you feel like you could use one of my "portable faith kits", just let me know by commenting with your email address & I'll contact you directly to send one in the mail!