Women’s Life Link would like to introduce, Dafna Michaelson. By a random Google search for the “best women’s blogs”, her assistant found us and emailed about Dafna’s extraordinary journey around the US in search of unsung heroes. With enthusiastic interest, I replied and am pleased to announce that we will be featuring some of her blog posts to assist in getting the word out about her “change the world” project. I hope you are as inspired by her as I am. Here’s a closer look at a priceless new friend to WLL.
WLL – Who is Dafna Michaelson?
Dafna – Start with the real toughie why don’t you! Who is Dafna Michaelson? I’m an ordinary woman. I’m a daughter, I’m a mom, I’m a girl friend, I’m a best friend. I’m an actor. I’m a singer. I’m a community member. I’m a believer that I can change the world.
I live by the value “I will not complain about a problem unless I am willing to work on a solution.” I love this about myself, and I love digging in and getting my hands dirty solving a problem or being part of strengthening a community. I also love to go to the theater, read, write, listen to music, ski, meet new people, and travel!
WLL – What is your life focus at this time?
Dafna – I am at a point in my life where I am discovering that focus. I have spent my career as a non-profit professional for the past 15 years. Right now I am collecting inspiration from role models around the country who are ordinary people doing some truly extraordinary things to help others.
Through the 50 in 52 Journey, I am traveling to one state per week for the 52 weeks of 2009 and interviewing the people I believe will return America to the land of prosperity, the people who recognize a problem and come up with a solution that helps them and the people around them.
WLL – How did you get inspired to start your unique 50 in 52 Journey?
Dafna – The inspiration for this Journey came from the people I saw all around me in Denver during the years that led up to the Presidential election and the ultimate demise of our economy. My peers and neighbors were just plain down and were so focused on whomever the new person inhabiting the White House would be as they would be the one to save them at home from all that ailed them. I felt that was a misguided view. I knew that the true people moving America forward are not in Washington DC, they are all around us at home, in our states, in our communities.
I felt that if I could point out who these incredible people are others would regain some hope in the knowledge that those who will move America forward look like them, sound like them, and furthermore, live in their very own state or on their very own street. I also hope it inspired people to say, “Hey, if she can do that/fix that/build that I can do it too!” I’d love to see a groundswell of civic engagement around the country as a result.
WLL – What one thing inspires you the most about the people you have met on the road?
Dafna – When I hit South Dakota, state 16 along the Journey path, I came to the realization that each of the people I had met to that point (and it continues to be true) share the same spirit as the Pioneers who built this country. The Journey subjects understand the fundamental knowledge the pioneers had- in order to be successful, I not only must build my farm but must help you build yours too; and together we must build the school-house. The people I am meeting get that and together they are building networks and communities and non-profits…to make us stronger as a group, as a community, as a nation.
WLL – How do you stay healthy and fit while traveling so much?
Dafna – Staying fit is truly an issue. In the very beginning months of the Journey, I managed to pack on a whopping 30 pounds and became very ill. I am in a battle against diabetes and a few short years ago had been told that I needed to start taking insulin. I refused and the doctor said glibly, “that’s fine, just lose 40 lbs.” And so, I did, in three months under a doctor and nutritionists watchful eye. People asked me how I did it, and I told them it was easy to control what I ate when I thought about shooting up insulin three times a day, talk about an appetite suppressant!
Putting that 30 back on was a significant blow and my body could not take it. But the stress of starting this Journey with no known source of income hit me hard and I regressed to my comfort eating habits and quit exercising.
When my mother, who kept telling me I was too skinny, pointed out my weight gain on a Journey stop in Ohio, I realized I had a real problem and I got help from my doctor and nutritionist and took the weight back off.
It’s a daily struggle on the road and sometimes I’m not strong enough to make the right decisions for my body (case in point: got stranded in Spokane, WA for a canceled flight and the built up stress broke down my resolve and I consumed a margherita, and the special steak on fetttuccini Alfredo topped with fried onions. I knew with every bite that I was hurting my body and indeed about six hours later my body thanked me with violent trips to the porcelain throne. When I feel bad decisions coming on, I try to remember that I love myself and I deserve the best; so why not give myself the best by filling my body with foods that nourish me and bring me energy.
I am still working on bringing exercise back to my routine. I enjoy Tae Bo and Yoga, talk about polar opposites!
WLL – What is the most important life-lesson you have learned thus far?
Dafna – I have learned that fear of the unknown goes away once you give it a try. I was terrified when I realized I was not going to be able to raise enough money to have someone travel with me on this Journey, and here I would be this single woman gallavanting around the country with my itinerary on the web for all the world to see. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I ever knew. I’ve learned that there is nothing in this world like meeting a new person and sharing their story. True connections make life long friends.
WLL – As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dafna – I’m still growing up, and I want to be a Broadway star. My dream role is Elpheba in Wicked. I often drive down the road belting her song Defying Gravity, “Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m through with playing by the rules of someone elses game…it’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap…”
WLL – How do you think other women perceive you?
Dafna – The first thing most women say is “your crazy!” but the emails I get and the prayers I have been offered from all over the country are people thanking me and telling me they are truly inspired by my Journey. Several of the moms in my kids’ school admitted to living vicariously through me. I hope I am giving them the courage to take the leap and create their own journeys.
WLL – What plans do you have for after the Journey?
Dafna – After this year the real work begins. With successful fundraising we will be launching the 50 in 52 Journey Foundation which will hold four summits a year in Denver. The goal is to match people from all over the country who are trying to launch grassroots initiatives to solve community problems in their corners of the world with necessary tools through business plans, fundraising plans, and new networks of like minded people. We will then send them off to their communites armed with the tools to take their ideas off of the couch and put them into action.
WLL – Any regrets?
Dafna – I’m too young for regrets. Always time to do more!
Please visit www.50in52journey.com for more information about Dafna and her country-wide quest to find inspiring people.