Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
Want to design the life you desire? Here’s a question to start with: do you make life happen or is life happening to you? There’s a significant difference.
My mission is to help you instill habits practiced by the longest-lived people on earth. Why? So you can extend your healthspan and have the most heartbeats available to spend!
Stacey Aaron Domanico, author of “Where Do You Spend Your Heartbeats?” issues a gentle wake-up call in this episode to spend our time wisely and purposefully.
After two bouts with cancer, Stacey realized healing is hard when you’re not being authentic. During her second cancer diagnosis, she found herself caught up in pretending to be happily married and doing the same thing she’d done during the first battle against cancer.
I continued the same way of eating, worrying about what others thought, living in an unhealthy relationship, and treating myself like a foe and not a friend.Stacey Aaron Domanico in “Where Do You Spend Your Heartbeats”
Signs You’re Just Surviving
Does any of this sound familiar?
- You are tired and life is tiring
- Life feels painful most of the time
- You believe you have no power
- You’re keeping your head down
- Television is an escape
- You numb yourself with emotional eating
- You feel like a victim of life’s cruelties
- Walls are your friend, a prison of your own creation
- You’ve learned when it comes to life, it’s best to grin and bear it
- You feel stuck
If you’re struggling to make a decision, you’re not alone. Mental and emotional strain can lead to very real decision fatigue. In her book, Stacey has a five-step “stethescope gut check” that I found to be incredibly useful.
Ready to Design the Life You Desire?
What kind of life do you want to live? Are you living it? What legacy do you want to leave? Do you take steps that lead in the direction of your dreams?
Stacey is available for coaching, read her story here: coachingwithstacey.com.
Reading Stacey’s book was empowering. She asks questions that made me think. At the end of every chapter, she lists key reminders. I’ve gone back to them frequently over the past few weeks. As I mentioned in the podcast episode, I highlighted a significant portion of her book.
Below are some key points to focus on:
- Create a timeline of the milestones and experiences you want out of life (a bucket list of sorts)
- Find people who embrace life and seek their advice.
- Stop comparing your life to others – focus on your gifts, talents and abilities.
- Life has a way of filling our days, be proactive and fill your days in a way that gets you closer to your dreams.
- Understand that you can change your current circumstances but often there is a price to pay. As Stacey mentions, “The fear of change overpowered the pain and that’s really what the scale is. Once the pain became more than the fear (…) The ability to take care of [yourself] grows stronger.“
- “For just one week, visualize your dream life in as much detail as you can. You have nothing to lose but a life of joy.” page 153 Chapter 8 Key Reminders from “Where Do You Spend Your Heartbeats?”
Meet Author Stacey Aaron Domanico
Following a dynamic career of over 25 years at the executive level leading teams and coaching women in a Fortune 50 company, Stacey Aaron Domanico became a certified life and empowerment coach so she could focus on her first love of mentoring women: a role she began to enjoy while still in her corporate life. Today, as a two-time cancer and toxic relationship survivor, it is Aaron Domanico’s purpose and passion to help other women by sharing the lessons she has learned and tools she has developed throughout her own journey.
Against the backdrop of the fact that we all have a finite number of heartbeats in this lifetime, Aaron Domanico shares the message that our biggest decision each day is where and how we wish to spend them, and that we have the power to create the life we desire, one heartbeat at a time. She specializes in relationships, career change and advancement, as well as overcoming fear, stress, and anxiety. When not mentoring or coaching women, she loves to travel, entertain friends, ride her Peloton (especially after indulging in a seriously good thin-crust pizza), and spending time with her husband, their four children, and fur baby, Bella.
Rebecca: I wanted to talk about, how to decide what you really want to do with your life and how.
Rebecca: to make those decisions, even though sometimes we get stuck in a place where it feels like the decision you have to make might be between a rock and a hard place. And just how to be more present in where you are right now. A lot of people of all ages really struggle with always looking.
Rebecca: Towards the next stage you know, just anticipation of the next phase and the next phase.
Rebecca: Stacy, can you just tell me a little bit about why you decided to share your story with others?
Stacey: I have been in corporate America for over 25 years and I have had a career in corporate America, and I loved it. Absolutely loved it. During that time, I had Gone through breast cancer twice, and as a result, I’ve really looked at life differently.
Stacey: In addition to that, throughout my career, I really loved mentoring and coaching women. It was like the highlight of my career that I just love to do. And as a result, I started thinking about, you know, I have a message that I wanna share and how can my experience, because what I would love to see people not go through trauma to learn the lessons that I’ve l that I’ve learned.
Stacey: And people kept saying, You know, you really should tell your story. Tell your story. And you know, you hear things and you’re like, Yeah, that’s nice, but what’s my next meeting that I need to go to? But I sat down and I said, You know what? If this can help, if my experience can help others, why would I not tell the story?
Stacey: And of course, while I’m writing the story, fear came in because I’m being very vulnerable. I am sharing such personal, aspects of my journey. But you know what, at the end of the day, We are here to help each other, and if we can’t do that, then you know, it’s really a gift for me to share with other people my story, if it even helps one or two or three or a hundred other people.
Rebecca: Oh, that’s beautiful. And you mentioned fear, and that was one of the first sections that I highlighted In your book, you’re talking about rewinding and recalibrating, and you ask, What is your worst fear? How much time do you spend thinking about it? Be honest with yourself. Do you really want to continue feeding it with your energy?
Rebecca: That was really powerful to me. We do spend a lot of time thinking about our fears or the things that are negative in our life. How did you come to this realization? What part of your story brought about these questions?
Stacey: Thank you for asking that. while I was going through my second bout of breast cancer and going through, and at that point it was almost stage four, so I really statistically did not know how many, how much time I had on this.
Stacey: Beautiful Earth. And I said to myself, You know, you start thinking about the time that you spent, and I realized two words that kept coming up that I equate now to almost a curse word is “what if?” And I realized that I had spent so much of my precious time and my precious heartbeats with the. What if, and most of the time, the what ifs don’t come to fruition.
Stacey: So what happens if you spending all of this magical time that you have here on this earth, thinking about what ifs while missing what’s happening in front of you at the moment? So I really started thinking about that, and if we think about our worst fear and we lean into it, and then we switch the narrative, It frees up the energy around it and it, it, it weakens the intensity that we feel.
Rebecca: Wow. And so when it comes to like negative thoughts, and I know you, I don’t wanna give away too much of your book, but I know you had a lot of, I guess, negative thoughts and fears around cancer. I think a lot of times when people think about, how your thought life affects your reality, It can get into a little gray area.
Rebecca: Can you explain to me how you feel like your thought life may or may not have contributed to some of the realities that you were facing during this time?
Stacey: Yes, and this is my personal belief. I, for whatever reason, had an obsession with getting cancer. It wasn’t a, Hey, what if it wasn’t a, you know, it, it was really consumed almost all of my thoughts, and you would say, But you don’t have cancer in your family, and I really don’t.
Stacey: But I kept thinking about it now. I also believe that our thoughts affect our bodies. So the, the stress, when you have peaceful, loving thoughts, your body’s at ease, your body, we are meant to heal. That is how we are built to always heal ourselves, are ready to heal. And when we’re, we’re thinking about thoughts that may make us upset or stressed, our healing may stop.
Stacey: So that’s one, one piece of it. The other piece of it is I do believe that what we think we’re, we’re more powerful than we believe. And when we think things, I believe that we send them out to the universe and they may manifest. So whether that’s true or not, why take that chance either to affect how it affects your body, or how it affects your future and your existence and your, you know, your reality.
Stacey: It’s, we have so much control and power over that. Why not reverse it and make it really special and happy.
Rebecca: So true. And like you said, even if you don’t believe that your thoughts have power over your reality and the things that are gonna happen in your life, we do know and it is scientifically proven that your thoughts.
Rebecca: Can affect your attitude and your mood. So even if you don’t believe that your thoughts have power in the way that you’re speaking of and manifesting certain things, they do have power over how you feel even physically.
Stacey: That’s right.
Rebecca: And so why not err on the side of caution. So when you checked yourself and you realized that you were having these thoughts and wow, look at what it had brought into your life, It’s a really hard habit to break, I feel like but were there strategies that you put in place? What exactly did you do to change your thought life?
Stacey: Um, so for that, and I wanna, you know, we’re all human. Mm-hmm. , so when people, I, I made that really clear in my book that, you know, I’m with such a work in progress and it’s not like, I think happy thoughts and my life is magical.
Stacey: I’m human and I have times when I get into a place where my thoughts do start going, I, it’s being aware. It’s really being aware. I take a a timer test sometimes, and I sometimes. Place an alarm on my phone, and when that alarm goes off, I check my thoughts. What was I thinking at that moment?
Stacey: Because it’s so, we’re so on autopilot sometimes in our lives that we don’t even think about what we’re thinking. And I say, Okay, what were you thinking at that moment? Is this good for me or not? And also, when I do find myself going down that. Negative trail because we’re human. I pause, I say Cancel, cancel. And I, I really, I start reversing it and saying, I am healthy in this moment. Right now all is okay because guess what? In the present moment, which is really all we have, all is okay.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. . I know you talked about that in the book, just kind of rewinding and replaying a better record, I guess, in your mind.
Stacey: That’s right.
Rebecca: Is that something you still do?
Stacey: It’s really powerful because our visualization in our mind is really strong. I mean, we can picture. A bear running after us and our body will react. Mm-hmm. , I mean, think about it. A bear’s running after all of a sudden your heart starts getting faster.
Stacey: But if then you, you stop and you think about the bear going away and now you’re sitting at a beautiful lake. How calming! It really does affect our responses and our body. And it does really help.
Rebecca: It does. And that’s a technique actually, my therapist and I talked about with intrusive thoughts. Yes. And when you have those intrusive thoughts, Like you said, canceling them and then rewinding and playing kind of a different scene or a continuation of the scene where something better happens.
Stacey: That’s right. That’s right. ,
Rebecca: so yeah, that, I think that is so amazing and I just, I really connected with your book. I, I highlighted so much of it, but, , the title especially just grabbed my attention from the get go because my sister, uh, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 40. , she survived 23 months with ovarian cancer before she passed away.
Stacey: I’m sorry..
Rebecca: And at the end of her life, she was planning a trip to Florida. I remember we were in her hospital room and she was planning this trip with some of our relatives. And she was really looking forward to that. Right after she passed away, I had a little health scare myself at the time and I remember thinking, you know, Wow, what am I gonna do with the last bit of my life?
Rebecca: But, then everything was okay and life goes on and, you know, craziness sets in. But this is a subject that I talk about a lot with my friends and my daughters , You do only have so many heartbeats and we spend so much of our precious time worrying and being fearful and looking to the future. So I know you talk a lot about being present and making choices in this book.
Rebecca: What are some of the techniques that you use to really be present in the moment and make sure that you’re not just letting life happen to you, that you’re actually making choices that take you in the path you want to go. ,
Stacey: so first of all, I’m really sorry and for your loss of your sister.
Rebecca: Thank you.
Stacey: And, , I will tell you that it’s, it’s really hard for, for all of us to, to take that moment. And because we do believe, you know, we’re invincible. We’re gonna have, we’ll, we’ll deal with it tomorrow. And sometimes, you know, hopefully everybody will have beautiful long lives. But if, you know, we only have a finite amount of heartbeats I make every decision based on, and I talk about this in my book as well as if we have a bank account filled with heartbeats, and we’re really careful with our money, aren’t we? We don’t just throw money out the window or we’re driving in a car and we just throw all of our, We don’t do that.
Stacey: So why are we doing that with our heartbeats? If we picture. A beautiful bank account with heartbeats in them. I make decisions on, is this where I want have a transaction? Is this where I wanna share my time? And I think of it as, you know, as that, and being present is a really, it’s, it’s a muscle that we all need to build.
Stacey: It’s not very easy, right? It’s so, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna minimize the effort it takes to stay present, but when you are present with someone, and you are present with yourself. That is when magic and miracles happen. So really to be still in this moment and just take it all in and going to gratitude, I find helps.
Stacey: What to? To keep yourself in the present? Mm-hmm. , because sometimes when we think too far ahead, we get anxious and anxiety and gratitude is just two emotions that cannot happen at the same time. So when you go to gratitude, The anxiety goes away and it helps you to stay present in the moment. But the bank account and the transactions really is one tool that I use almost on a daily basis.
Rebecca: That’s, I think that’s fantastic to think about it like a bank account because that’s something that we can all pretty easily picture. We’re all pretty attached to our money. Mm-hmm. And , I mean, really time is harder to get than money and we can’t get time back once we’ve spent it. Right. We can, we can get a refund after we’ve spent our money sometimes
Rebecca: So it’s such a great analogy to use. , so you talk about heartbeat, stock taking in your book. Mm-hmm. and that really. It really struck a chord with me. So can you tell me a little bit about what your, , I just, I had never heard it put that way before. Heartbeat. Stock taking.
Stacey: It’s, it’s pay attention, do an inventory. We go through our closets once a year, maybe. Sometimes I don’t, It just adds up. But, you know, to clean out stuff or, or we go through a garage and, and it’s the same thing with heartbeats. It’s take a look at where have you spent this year, your heartbeats. And by the way, are you happy with those decisions?
Stacey: Are you surrounding yourself with people that lift you up, that make you feel good on things that you were passionate about? You know, just taking a look at where do you spend those heartbeats and then you have the power to change that in your life.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. , and I know that You practice what you preach here in your book because you were in a relationship that wasn’t serving you. And I think that a lot of people tend to be in relationships that they’re fearful or you know, they feel like they can’t get out of. How did you find the courage to break free?
Stacey: I, had, I was married for almost 20 years. I married my high school sweetheart who was foundationally built off of love, right?
Stacey: So there’s no, Ill will there. But for the 20 years as it evolved, it, it was a toxic relationship. It became very emotionally toxic. And I knew, cuz we know, we know when things are off and I ignored those, those signs because of fear. Because the fear of change overpowered how I was feeling, if that makes sense.
Stacey: The fear of changing of change overpowered the pain of staying in the relationship, and that’s really what the scale is. Once the pain became more than the fear, and you’ll say, Well, how did that happen for me personally? I got cancer twice. The second time I realized, and this was a really hard thing, to look in the mirror and say, Am I happy?
Stacey: Is this where I wanna spend my time? And. At that moment, that was it. I made the decision to leave that relationship, which was very, very hard. And I work with women all of the time, and I specialize in helping with relationships, helping with career, and I, what I do is I work with them on melting that fear.
Stacey: So the fear becomes less than the pain. And then, The ability to take care of themselves, grow stronger, if that makes sense.
Rebecca: It does. And so, I mean, you basically started over after 20 years. And what was that like? was there not so much fear on the other side of that relationship ending and then starting, it’s almost like starting your life again.
Stacey: It was, I absolutely had to rebuild. I had to give away things that I was used to. Right. And they were things mm-hmm. . So at the end of the day, as you mentioned, you can always, you know, build, build, rebuild. Mm-hmm. I actually was to a point where once you get past that fear, what happens, and I work with women on this all the time, the excitement comes in, you start feeling excited about what’s possible in your life.
Stacey: You feel like you can breathe. You feel like there’s a whole world that you’re ready to explore and the the most important thing there is surrounding yourself with supportive people. Take a look and do the, the, you know, the inventory on who you surround yourself with. You may need to evolve with new friends that are supportive, , because this is your life.
Stacey: You have one life. There’s no shame. There’s no blame. There’s. Anticipation of a beautiful life that you can create. So I was excited after that. , fearful of course. I mean, I’m gonna be, you know, at times because you don’t know what you don’t know, but the excitement overpowered the fear at that moment.
Rebecca: Did you have doubts?
Stacey: I think as humans we sometimes have doubts.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. ,
Stacey: but then you trust your. , and that’s what I did. I really, I I, I focused on my gut and my guide and, , the doubts started going away as each day passed.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. . And as you got to the point where, you know, before you decided to write your book, but kind of, you know, in the process of healing, in the process of learning to be present, How did you know that you were on the right track? What were the signs of a healthier body and mind that you experienced?
Stacey: I felt at peace. Mm. And I say that, and you may say, Well, that’s a simple statement, Stacy, you felt at peace. Well, what does that mean? we have a monkey mind that is constantly going, right? It’s constantly going and it’s constantly testing us.
Stacey: When I was not in the right place, I felt uneasy. I had anxiety. My mind would constantly go When you are in the right place, and I all, I really do believe we’re always in the right place where we’re supposed to be, whether we’re learning a lesson. To get to that next, you know, place. But we’re, we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Stacey: But it’s trusting your, your intuition it’s feeling if you’re at peace, if you’re calm. And I held onto that pretty strongly of that feeling inside of myself. I had to get it from myself and not anybody else. That feeling of calm and peace.
Rebecca: Mm. And physically have you had tests? how are things going in that area?
Stacey: Knock on wood, it’s been 12 years from the first time I was diagnosed. 10 years from the second time. I have had along the journey a few health scares and, I don’t think the PTSD ever goes away when you’re, when you’ve had that. So I don’t take a day for granted. And my tests are actually, they come up in the next few months.
Stacey: And I, I share that in my book that I could crumble and cry in a moment’s notice if the phone rings the wrong way, because it’s such a, a human reaction. But I also know that, you know, that experience, I don’t wish that on anyone. But that experience led me to my message to help other people. And for that, for that I am.
Rebecca: Yes, and I think finding a way to be appreciative and grateful for these lessons is another huge lesson in and of itself. So what’s next for you?
Stacey: My plan is, right now, I’m, I’m really just staying in such over overly, you know, over gratitude of that it’s out there and, and, and so far, the po the messages have been positive and that it’s helping people so that I’m, I’m so thrilled with, I did leave my.
Stacey: Corporate job of over 25 years. I was a leader leading teams for many, many years in a Fortune 50 company, and I decided to get my certified life coaching, certification. And I now, I do group coaching. I do life coaching, I do executive coaching. That is my passion. That is what I love to do. It’s what I love to do in my career and I feel like I’ve lifted that passion and placed it in my life now and this is what I’m doing.
Stacey: And, , I’m just, yeah, I’m very, very thrilled about that.
Rebecca: Well, I think you’re well suited to life coaching. I wore out a highlighter reading your books, if people are listening and they wanna find you or contact you, where can they get in touch with you?
Stacey: Absolutely. My website is www.coachingwith stacey.com.
Stacey: My Instagram is at coaching with Stacey and my website. If people want to reach out, , my number, my email, everything’s there. They can set, you know, set up, , an appointment or even a conversation, a, a complimentary conversation, which I love to do, just to, to get to know people. So I am here to help.
Stacey: I’m thrilled for these, for this time.
Rebecca: And that’s s t a c e y. Yes. So, make sure to go and check the show notes. I’ll have links to Stacey’s website and where you can find her book, which I do highly recommend reading. It will, definitely hit home. You’ll need to have a brand new highlighter, , when you read Stacy’s book.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for joining us today. you’ve got a very powerful message and I’m, I’m so thankful that you wrote the book.
Stacey: Thank you for sharing your heartbeats with.
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