I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Self-Care

I have to make a deliberate effort to prioritize my mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and I find that sharing what I do is empowering both for me and for others like me. I also am running a series called “Self-care is…” that documents my efforts to take care of myself.

Haikus With Dani: Splinter

Dating in general has taught me a lot of things about myself. About what I need in a relationship, what kind of dynamics are healthy for me and my partner, how those dynamics differ relationship to relationship, how to communicate and listen effectively. Perhaps what it’s teaching me most of all is how much of myself I hold back for fear of overwhelming someone with my Muchness. And, unfortunately, how much I need to hold back … if I don’t want to lose someone.

What I’m realizing, however, is that holding things back does make me lose someone, every time.

It makes me lose myself.

The Process of Being.

This Saturday, April 22, I will turn 30 years old. (Want to help me celebrate?)

Frankly, this terrifies me.

All my life, I never envisioned myself living past the age of 28. I figured that either the rapture would have occurred, or I would have killed myself. So you’d think 29 would have been my all-out panic year, but I spent 29 dealing with a lot of other things.

Now, with 30 at my doorstep, I’m caught in its headlights, awaiting its impact with an ever-increasing sense of dread.

Haikus with Dani: In Which There Is No Room.

It’s been a full year since I broke up with my spouse. A very hard year, if you recall. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process things as best as I can, and that often looks like distilling emotions into haikus. Something about the structure and limitation seems to lend itself well to expressing myself in succinct and powerful ways (much like how Twitter’s character limit can help focus one’s thoughts).

I don’t really want to offer commentary on this. There is so much I am still processing. But it feels important to share it, and to share it now. And one of my goals is to listen to my intuition far more than I’ve been able to in the past.

One thing I will say is this: it’s a terrifying time in our country right now. To be a woman, not white, not straight, not healthy in body and mind. Most of my friend group — myself included — are fighting the creeping despair as we watch this new administration work so hard to make our lives at best uncomfortable and at worst nonexistent. It’s easy to not take care of yourself in an effort to remain informed, to know what fresh hell awaits every morning.

But the little things matter. Little things like remembering to eat. Checking in with friends. Asking people to check in on you. Kissing your loved ones. Snuggling your pets. Or even daring to simply take up space.

Cognitive distortion and taking up space.

My brain is spinning with thoughts and conversations over the past weeks, the culmination of almost a year’s worth of introspection and mourning. “I looked through the journal section of your blog and noticed you haven’t really written lately,” a friend noted. No. I haven’t. I’ve been afraid, frankly. With some good reason and probably with some over-reaction. But sharing…

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

All you can do is survive

The final product: calligraphy and hand-lettering by me (with help from Showcase Sans for the smaller text). 2016.

It’s been a rough year so far. There’s been a lot of life changes and personal crises and accomplishments. Lots of good, lots of bad, lots of change.

As a creature of habit, change doesn’t usually bode well with me.

I’ve taken time away from 99% of freelancing work, aside from the occasional lettering commission that I take on only because I want to. I’ve cut out every single thing from my life that isn’t necessary for me to survive — because right now, all I can ever guarantee out of any particular day is that I will survive it.

The circumstances of my life aren’t shameful. And if all I can do is survive, I’ve done more than enough.

Want a free print-ready poster file?

Support me on Patreon by the end of the week, and I’ll upload Saturday morning!