The Illusion of the Highlight Reel

I originally wrote this content back in May of 2018. Reading it again now I’m struck by just how relevant it remains.

In so many recent conversations the subject of invisible wounds has surfaced time and time again. Whether it’s navigating beyond (or through) trauma, grief, loss, divorce, the details are almost not relevant when it comes to connecting with one another.

From my writing last year:

Ever found yourself comparing and perhaps even brutally judging yourself based on the highlight reel of someone else? Me too.

And we’re not alone, this comes up all the time! Focusing on the highlights and polish, the very best of other people’s experiences, while denying the mess that lies beneath the surface is a slippery slope. It’s also a direct pathway to feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness and all around crap.

The thing is, highlight reels and polish are only and always superficial. They float upon and skim rather than scratch the surface and they don’t EVER reach the depths of our human experiences. Human experiences that always involve messiness: Everyone has a mess. Everyone. The only difference in whether or not you see it is based on whether you’ve earned the right to witness it.

Holding ourselves to a standard of highlight reel perfection is a recipe for dissatisfaction and disconnection.

What’s the antidote? Connection. Real, true, authentic, vulnerable and messy human experience connection that’s forged and strengthened over time and founded in trust.

Not everyone will earn the right to witness your mess and you won’t earn the right to witness everyone else’s. That doesn’t change the fact that the mess exists.

Developing genuine connection with others brings an invitation to go beyond the highlight reels that we all have. To go deeper than the superficial and see one another more fully. Highlight reels may look amazing but they don’t ever carry our full and truest stories. The stories that always include challenges, hang ups and insecurities, fears doubts and “failures”, the fullness of our human experiences.

Clinging to highlight reels may feel safer but it shuts off the opportunity to more fully connect with one another.

My absolute favorite and most trusted people are the ones with whom there’s deep mutually earned and respected access to the messes that lie beneath the highlight reel. Those are the connections that feel most true, safe, uplifting and inspiring.

Highlight reels foster disconnection and comparison. Drop the assumption that the highlight reel is the entire story, because it never is.

I’m not suggesting verbally vomiting all of your internal struggles, challenges and every hang up you’ve ever experienced at an initial one on one with someone. You can’t force a connection and there IS such a thing as over sharing.

There is such freedom in letting go of the highlight reel with our trusted connections. In being seen not as flawed or inadequate but as humans navigating life experience that includes messiness. The next time you’re scrolling or assuming that the highlight reel is the entire story, remember that it’s not. There is always far more beneath the surface than a highlight reel will ever convey.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Illusion of the Highlight Reel”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression


Exceptional Conversation Connections

If there’s been a theme for the past month or so it is most definitely communication. I’m really good at conversation and communication of all kinds.

The reality of that skill is that many people are simply not capable of navigating conversation at the same level that’s so natural for me. Which can lead to a lot of boredom at times on my end.

However, while it’s certainly more the norm for conversations to be at or below the level that I find fascinating and intriguing, that doesn’t mean no one exists who can meet me at that level.

Over the past several years MANY exceptional conversation connections have shown up and it’s always a little stunning when they arrive but also somehow delightful. And they just keep showing up, even as I continue ongoing relationships with those I love to spend time with in conversation.

These are the people I would without any hesitation spend any amount of time with, well beyond my typical hour threshold for meetings and social engagements. Whether it’s in person or messaging there is depth, humor, sincerity and trust woven into the thread.

When these connections arrive it’s usually unexpected yet somehow feels effortless, easy and fun. It just works with a level of synergy, alignment and depth that can be a little unnerving by just how strong it is and how quickly it develops.

This conversation aspect is totally a primary indicator for me when it comes to boundaries, security clearance and how close people will get to me. Without exception, those in my closest circles ALL have this component in common.

I am so grateful to each one of these people for arriving in my life when I was ready to meet them. There was a very long time when I didn’t have such people around me, so I’m also acutely aware of how valuable and special they are.

They’re unequivocally my favorite people on the planet and it is just so fun to know them. The brilliance of conversation and connection is in a way nourishing to my soul at levels I don’t quite have words to explain.

I suffocate in the superficial and strangely enough I am now a girl who randomly talks to strangers while out and about each day. But it’s these exceptional conversation people who are without question those who provide the joy, laughter, inspiration and connection that at times leaves me breathless, but always sparks gratitude for their presence in my life.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Exceptional Conversation Connections”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

Curious Optimism in Response to “What If”?

I have a very active mind and that is perhaps an understatment. One of my mind’s favorite activities is to play the “what if” game with myself.

The dark side of this game is actually fairly severe as it invites in worry, doubt, anxiety and is expert at telling me all about catastrophies and worst case scenarios. This negative and doomsday creating may be the default setting but they’re not real and the only one actually impacted is me. It’s a brutal form of self torment that is a slippery slope.

In fact I’m often reminded by people close to me that I either am or might want to reconsider over-thinking and analyzing. As Brené Brown would call it “the story I’m making up”.

So what if instead of running on auto pilot, a sense of curious optimism was allowed in? What if shifting thoughts to even just slightly more curiously optimistic ones was the antidote to the negativity spiral?

Our thoughts do impact us and while they only exist within our own minds, there’s tremendous power in their influence. They absolutely impact how we feel and how we choose to behave. Thinking, feeling and action are all inextricably intertwined and thinking is the first link in that chain.

Curiosity is a favorite word of mine and it just feels expansive, full of possibility and compared to the rabbit hole of negativity it absolutely feels a whole lot lighter.

I’m far more aware of my own thoughts than ever before and I am better at noticing when I drift into imagining worst case scenarios. Curiously optimistic thoughts just feel better and I can choose to reach for them at anytime.

What if wonderful things are unfolding? What if I trust myself more than ever before? What if…..the possibilities really are infinite? What if there’s an opportunity I just haven’t noticed yet? What if they’re just having a really awful day? That last one I often find particularly helpful while driving.

Curious optimism just feels more fun and that’s one of the things I want more of in all areas of my life, even within the thoughts floating through my own mind. Maybe most especially there.

Mental attention is a resource and will expand whatever you choose to focus on whether that’s worry or curiosity. The choice in every moment on where to focus is always and only ours to make.

Sometimes the most meaningful shifts are simply a pivot in a slightly different direction.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Curious Optimism in Response to “What If”?”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression


Magic and Synchronicity

I’m not at all unfamiliar with synchronicity and have often noticed and appreciated it. I do not believe in coincidence.

The synchronicity and magic currently surrounding me is at a level and intensity I have absolutely never before experienced. It is certainly proof to me of the inherent value within decluttering of any kind. It’s also non stop and everywhere I turn lately.

Back at the end of April some things I wasn’t anticipating happened, and the end result of it all was that my calendar was effectively wiped completely clean.

To the degree that it became a blank slate which inherently held an invitation for me to consider how I’d like to fill that space.

In the weeks since this all happened, new: people, connections, experiences, conversations, invitations, messages, anything and everything new have been flooding into my life. And the BEST part of this entire process is the deep awareness that I alone get to decide what I say yes to.

I get to decide who I talk with, who I meet with, who I spend any time in any type of engagement. I also get to allow space for myself. Or for writing or for whatever the hell I feel like doing.

And I cannot even express how amazing all of this feels. Sovereignty of my own life indeed.

My last one on one meeting this week was with someone I’ve actually known peripherally for years. One of my closest friends is one of her close friends. Our mutual friend texted me later that day after hearing a favorite song of mine, because…. that’s how things go for me these days. Magic.

And yet, in all that time we’ve never had a private conversation until now. And it was brilliant, vulnerable and fascinating. It was a level of depth that not everyone is capable of navigating. Oh, and she wrote a book about synchronicity that clearly I need to read.

Being someone who’s known me for a while it was interesting to get her perspective because at one point she said “you feel different, I’ve never seen you this grounded but also aligned”. And that perfectly expresses it. I am trusting myself more than ever before and that alone feels incredible.

All of this magic is also apparently enhancing my creativity. There’s a topic I’ve known I’ll write about because I still catch myself doing it despite knowing it’s totally unproductive, but for 8 months it’s just been swirling around me. The other day listening to someone talk, I got the words I needed to tether and pull it into a framework I can actually use to write about it.

New people keep arriving in such a wide variety of pathways and yet they all bring such clear and beautifully aligned aspects it almost leaves me breathless. From professional meetings to fun and social ones my calendar has gone from empty to very intentionally full of both space with others and space to be by myself.

One of the things that is most surprising to me right now is the fact that I’m ok with NOT knowing what’s unfolding. I’m shockingly good with trusting, allowing and not having expectations. I have standards and boundaries all over the place, and while it is still a process and I certainly have my moments of doubt I’m so much more willing to just focus on what feels best for me.

That awareness alone is stunning. And while all of the things, roles, versions of me that ended just weeks ago did hurt when they left, I have to say my life right now feels so exciting, aligned and brilliantly magical. Those endings truly were an invitation to step into an even more authentic version of myself.

I caught myself googling travel locations the other morning and as I wondered what exactly I was doing, realized: whatever the hell I want to do. That sense of freedom and liberation is just delicious and I totally want more of it.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Magic and Synchronicity”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression






Where Is The Available Joy?

I heard this phrase recently and it stuck with me, “Where is the available joy?”

I’m currently having a rough few days and am asking myself this question rather often.

Physically I am feeling exhausted at the moment which just isn’t fun. And it’s impacting my social calendar which adds an additional layer of crankiness to my mood. I don’t like cancelling wine dates with friends.

But ok, FINE. If curiosity is a core value where is the damn available joy?

In many ways I’m pretty good at locating, noticing or witnessing joyful moments. This time of year is my favorite – driving with windows and sunroof open while music is turned way up is totally joyful. Conversation, connection, friendship, quality time are all so often inherently joyful to me.

I have a harder time shifting to noticing available joy when my mind wants to take me down the rabbit hole of fear, anxiety and doom, not to mention questions of worthiness.

But maybe that’s why this phrase stuck with me. Because it’s in the moments that are more shadowed that I really need to remind myself to stop and notice anything that sparks joy.

I swear, life would be exponentially easier if not for other people and their rage inducing ability to make their own decisions. Or maybe that’s just my occasional response to it while refusing to recognize the fact that I can also make my own damn decisions.

So even in those darker, less than “fun” moments does joy still exist? Maybe.

Maybe joy isn’t always blissful, though of course such moments are beyond fun. Maybe sometimes joy is noticing beauty in far simpler things. Maybe even small and fleeting moments of joy and appreciation are always available and on offer to us.

Perhaps joy can be found in presence rather than projection. What if there’s joy to be discovered even in darkness?

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, not even to my own questions. But it kind of feels comforting to at least consider the possibility that joy can and does exist regardless of what’s unfolding around or even to us. If only we’re paying a bit of attention and seek it out.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Where Is The Available Joy?”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression


The “Right” Way

There’s only ever and always only one “right” way of navigating anything within this human experience: Your Way.

Whether it’s trauma, grief, overwhelm or maybe simply the mundane navigation of day to day life experience, there is no right and there is no wrong way to handle it. There’s only the unique to you way that makes the most sense at any given moment.

I often debate with myself whether or not to share my own recent trauma with people. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but it’s always my call.

Yesterday I was at a bank I hadn’t been to in a while and did share  what’s been happening in my life. One of them insisted on hugging me before I left and it wasn’t inappropriate, it was sweet. But other times I decide it’s simply not worth the energy it takes to share with people.

Talking with a close friend this morning she cautioned me not to run away. She knows me well and indeed it is my first instinct to avoid. But in this case, I’m not running but rather discerning what it is that I want and making decisions from a self-considerate space.

Discerning and allowing myself to choose based on what feels most right to me. In SO many different ways and aspects of my life, allowing myself to navigate my own life experience without judgment.

As I write this I’m curled up in bed. I’m in yoga pants, have no makeup on, my hair’s piled on top of my head and I’ll show up  just like that to the one meeting I have today. For now, I work from bed because it conserves my energy.

It is frustrating beyond belief to be physically tired while healing. My mind resists it but over the past few months I can’t escape the fact that my body needs significantly more rest than is typical.

That’s a huge part of what is right for me, right now. Honoring that and allowing my own “right” way to unfold isn’t always comfortable.

The logical and linear part of me wants there to be a rule book and well defined pathway. But the often harsh truth is that there simply isn’t one. No one can walk our path for us and it’s only ever up to us to choose our own next right step.

Illuminating our own unique pathway one step, breath, moment at a time.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The “Right” Way”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

What Are You Waiting For?

The taste of my own medicine is incredibly bitter and the brutality of awareness is that once something is seen, it can’t be unseen.


In reading Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis this weekend, awareness and clarity snuck up on me in a way I didn’t expect. (I’ve since finished reading and do recommend it)

Maybe about halfway through the book I realized yet another way I’ve been holding myself back and resisting in my own life.

See, a little over 3 years ago I started writing a list. It was almost a joke at first titled “Gifts of Divorce” but it quickly turned into something much larger and took on a life of its own. It turned into my first book, inspired by my very deeply personal story of navigating through and into the territory beyond divorce.

My first book has a name and everything. I wrote it over many months and once I had enough perspective even wrote the intro earlier this year. And that’s where I stopped.

If I’m honest as to why I stopped and have continued to talk about it but resolutely refused to take any action with regard to publishing it? I’m afraid.

All of my writing comes from my own life experience and even in face to face conversation I’m very open and honest. I joke that if you hang with me long enough you’ll probably end up mentioned in my writing and there is truth to that.

But when it comes to moving forward on publishing this first book (even while the second one continues to write itself) I’ve resisted. Actively. And now I can’t un-see that resistance which feels wildly uncomfortable.

So this morning I asked myself, “Di, what are you waiting for?!” and I don’t even really need an answer to that, all I know is I don’t want to wait anymore.

Even though it’s scary, even though it’s unknown, even though I can mentally come up with an impressive list of “reasons” to continue letting it gather dust. The illumination of clarity reminds me that those are all only excuses.

I wrote this book very much as a love letter to my younger self who couldn’t see the light of joy, possibility, connection, FUN awaiting her if she’d just be brave enough to save her damn self.

It’s what I’d love for my niece to read (and THAT has me crying) because I want a different world for her. I want her to have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom I gained by walking through those fires.

This book turned into something far more expansive than divorce, which is why “divorce” is not in the title. It’s truly part of a journey back to myself.

It feels hypocritical to encourage others to share and express their stories while actively refusing to follow through on sharing a chapter of mine held within this book. Hypocrisy is decidedly NOT a core value of mine.

So later today I’ll be writing out and brainstorming book publishing pathways. And I’m saying that publicly very much to hold myself accountable. Because this book wanted to be written and there’s not a single valid reason for me to keep standing in its way.

I’m finally and fully out of reasons to wait.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “What Are You Waiting For?”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression