Animals, Equestrian, Happiness, Life, Writing

Eira Diaries – Post #1

Welcome to the Eira Diaries!

Why the ‘Eira Diaries’? Not only does the title sound poetic, but both words contain ‘Eira’ – which, I think, earns extra ‘writer points’ πŸ˜‰

This series of blog posts will feature not only my beautiful pony, Eira, but also our family’s handsome horse, TΓ’n, and, from time to time, my sister’s gorgeous horse, Kara.

The reason I’ve decided to create a blog post series is to document the journey Eira and I are taking to get fitter and healthier, after many years of struggling to get moving with our adventures.

Throughout this series, I hope to include stories of both mine and Eira’s past experiences, alongside the tales of our – inevitably winding – road to fitness. I also hope to include some useful product reviews πŸ™‚

So, this first post of the series will focus on the beautiful pony herself…

I rescued Eira when she was 11 months old, in the summer of 2013. Destined for the meat market, Eira was bought at auction by landowners who were inexperienced in caring for horses, but longed to save horses from slaughter. Eira was turned out in a huge field with countless other horses who had been rescued from various auctions. The people who’d bought Eira thought it was a great idea to leave the mismatch herd of horses and ponies (from huge cobs to teeny tiny miniature Shetlands) fight over crates of bananas left in their field!

Perhaps naively, I purchased Eira without being able to get anywhere near her. There were several horses and ponies available to choose from, though even from a distance, I fell in love with Eira’s scruffy chestnut foal coat and near-white flaxen mane. The next day, it took us hours to get her into a trailer. When we arrived at her new, temporary home, she was so terrified of us that she hid in the corner and trembled whenever we tried to approach her.

It only took a couple of days for Eira to realise that we weren’t going to hurt her, and, once she’d learned how to eat from a bucket, she decided she was happy to let us near – after all, someone who feeds you three times a day can’t be that bad, right?

By the end of her first week with me, I’d managed to remove the scraggly foal coat still clinging on since winter (it was June), and I couldn’t believe how beautiful my new pony was underneath all that grime and dust!

I chose the name ‘Eirawen’ for her because it means ‘snow white’ in Welsh, and at the time her mane and tail were so bright they looked almost white. Plus, it was clear from the get-go that Eirawen believed she was a princess, so the name suited her. It didn’t take long for her name to be shortened to ‘Eira’ – the name ‘Eirawen’ only resurfaces when she’s acting like a diva, or decides to stand on my foot.

Prior to Eira’s first vet visit, it was obvious she had conformational issues. As the years have passed, she’s developed a plethora of health problems that have meant her insurance costs are ridiculously expensive (#cry). Aside from having wonky legs that require specialist front shoes, Eira has very sensitive skin that turns into sweet itch over the summer, she had laminitis around 4 years ago so is now prone to that, she has cysts on her ovaries, a few small sarcoids, dodgy teeth that require 6-monthly check-ups, a flat back that makes it really challenging to find saddles to fit her, and she can’t seem to keep more than half of her mane at any given time. (Oh, and she likes to sit down in the field, like a dog!) So, all things considered, she looks pretty darn good for a pony with all those issues, if I do say so myself πŸ™‚

Eira has a naughty streak and can be stubborn when she wants to be – she also loves a buck when asked to canter, whether under saddle or on the lunge, which I’ve learned has nothing to do with discomfort or imbalance and everything to do with overexcitement. For all her cheekiness, Eira is the most gentle pony – no more so than when she’s with my niece, whom Eira adores. Of our family’s horses, Eira is the one we introduce visitors to, because she’s the only one who can be trusted not to accidentally headbutt, nip, or squish them! We may not be flying around show-jumping courses or dazzling in the dressage arena, though I am incredibly proud to have produced such a kind, willing – if a little stubborn at times – pony whose fate could’ve been totally different if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith 9 years ago…

Due to a hand injury 7 years ago (that still isn’t better 3 surgeries later) and having such a hectic life since Eira was old enough to ride, my poor girl is still extremely green under saddle – through no fault of her own. My parents and sister help take care of Eira when I’m unable to due to my ridiculously long work hours and when my hand is too painful to move, for which I am eternally grateful.

I wish I could wave a magic wand to fix her health issues, fix my hand, and add a few extra hours into every day, but for now, we’ll just have to settle for trying our best under our given circumstances.

I’ve ordered a saddle for Eira that should be arriving tomorrow, so *fingers crossed* it fits because it’d be fab to finally return to ridden work after a month-and-a-half of lunging!

Anyways, I hope you’ll look forward to the next instalment of the Eira Diaries πŸ™‚

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes,

Dannika & Eira

Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Life, Mindfulness, Positivity, Self-Love, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

About Judgement

Hi Everyone,

Long time, no see (again)! Wishing you a Happy New Year – hope you were able to enjoy the festive season, whether or not you celebrated πŸ™‚

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been super busy so haven’t been able to write a new blog post for a long while. Although I felt inspired to write about this topic many months ago, recently, I’ve uncovered considerable inspiration for it that – I hope – will enrich my perspective.

So, in this blog post I’m going to write about judgement and misjudgement.

Judgement has several definitions dependent on context, though for the purposes of this blog post, ‘judgement’ is defined as: “an opinion or conclusion”. Whereas, ‘misjudgement’ is defined as: “the action of forming a wrong opinion or conclusion”.

As humans, we are hardwired to make judgements about everything. We have to, it’s an instinctive element of survival. However, the act of making unnecessary or unjust judgements of other humans has become toxic.

Of course, there are countless people out there who are dangerous and deserve to be judged as such – I should know, I’ve come across a few who I failed to judge correctly – but there are instances that unearned misjudgement causes intense pain for the recipient.

The blame isn’t solely on those who make misjudgements of fellow human beings, though. We live in a world where humans are pitted against one another in an atmosphere through which “survival of the fittest” translates to “survival of the selfish, forsaking the feelings of others”. We are quite literally bombarded with messages in the media and through advertising that tell us we’re not good enough. Constant messages that unless we conform to the impossibly narrow rubric of ‘perfection’ conveyed by the powers that be, we are unworthy of respect and therefore fair game for judgement by those who may or may not know us.

I guess, for those who enjoy making rash judgements of others without truly knowing anything about them, it’s easy to deflect their own insecurities when someone else is just ‘there’ awaiting deconstruction. Often, misjudgements don’t surface instantly – allowing the judgemental to twist and contort their vision of another person to fit their own fantastical image, instead of taking the time and effort to uncover the truth.

I’ll illustrate several of the misjudgements I have been subject to or have seen, that once ate away at what little self-esteem I had until I realised that someone else’s judgements are nothing to do with me.

Humans should support one another, not tear one another down – though if all conflict ceased (whether conflict with self or with others), imagine how many businesses would cease, too. Unfortunately, health and wellbeing β‰  wealth and aesthetic.

If someone wishes to concoct a dishonest, unrealistic judgement of me based on whatever misinformation they have access to, I have no power to compel them to think of me otherwise. Unless a person has the strength to escape their blinkered viewpoint, through making the effort to learn the truth before making a judgement, is their opinion even worth your consideration?

(Mis)Judgement #1 – All Equestrians are Wealthy

I’ve heard this judgement made of so many horse owners, and it couldn’t be more wrong!

Obviously, owning horses costs a lot of money – nobody’s denying that. But there are countless other passions, pursuits, and hobbies that are expensive but aren’t getting nearly as much judgement as that experienced by horse owners.

For those of us compelled to rescue horses, the years of going without ‘normal’ experiences such as eating out at restaurants, shopping for ourselves, and holidays abroad were made worthwhile by the joy of seeing our horses grow and thrive after suffering unmentionable mistreatment at the hand of evil.

Owning horses can make it impossible to lead a life of freedom. Horses don’t allow us to be selfish. They force us to consider another’s life and wellbeing every day, without fail. While we may enlist kind helpers to support us in the care of our horses on occasion, ultimately, the responsibility of their care is at the forefront of our minds 24/7. As worthwhile as horse ownership is, it consists of endless hard work, too.

Horses become part of your family. So, when there’s a choice between a new car and vet bills, joke! There is no choice. Saving money is near impossible, because horses have this uncanny skill of injuring themselves or suddenly becoming poorly just as you start to feel on top of your finances – even if it has taken years of working long hours and forsaking a social life to have saved that money.

So, to conclude, horses are incredibly wonderful and while those of us who are fortunate to love them don’t regret our choice, we have to work sooo much to afford the basic care costs of horse ownership that we do end up missing out on several elements of life non-equestrians take for granted. If you love living paycheck-to-paycheck, enjoy having next to no free time, and appreciate shovelling wheelbarrow-loads of poop every day, invest in the ownership of a horse πŸ™‚

She’s worth it all – I love my special pony <3

(Mis)Judgement #2 – Self-Publishing Invalidates Literary Ability

In the publishing world, there’s a common misconception that unless your book has been traditionally published, it isn’t worth a reader’s time.

While there are a lot of self-published works out there that deserved an extra few rounds of editing before being released (my first attempts at self-publishing being a case in point), there are hundreds of thousands of incredible self-published works out there that are going unnoticed because their route to publication wasn’t ‘traditional’.

For those of you unfamiliar with the publishing world, I’ll give a brief explanation of the traditional publishing process and the self-publishing process…

Traditional Publishing: 1 – Write manuscript. 2 – Edit manuscript. 3 – Rewrite manuscript. 4 – Edit manuscript, again. 5 – Repeat steps 1 to 4 at least 3 times. 6 – Craft individual query emails to literary agents and publishing companies that accept unsolicited manuscripts. 7 – Wait at least 6 months, either receive several rejections or don’t hear anything back. 8 – Repeat steps 6 and 7 for years, hoping one literary agent or publishing company will notice your literary efforts. 9 – Can go one of two ways, either let the rejection eat away at resolve and give up, or, finally get lucky and get your manuscript published, perhaps getting a small advance that amounts to less than minimum wage over the time you spent crafting your literary masterpiece. 10 – Attend any literary events as requested by literary agent or publishing company, perhaps attend some speaking engagements, and look forward to writing your next manuscript.

Self-publishing: 1 – Attempt all steps of Traditional Publishing process to step 9, except don’t get lucky by having your manuscript published and also don’t give up. 2 – Muster courage to forge your own path to publication and edit your manuscript, again. 3 – Pay an editor to edit your manuscript. 4 – Pay a proofreader and beta readers to work through your manuscript. 5 – Work on edits suggested by reviews from proofreader and beta readers. 6 – Hire a cover designer. 7 – Research the inconceivable number of options for publishing routes. 7 – Finalise all aspects of your book, from typesetting and metadata, to content and self-publishing platform. 8 – Publish your literary masterpiece. 9 – Market your new literary endeavour, receive very little support from family/friends/acquaintances who don’t quite understand how to help market your book, jump at any opportunity to sell more copies of your book, accept direct criticism, and spend money on advertisements for various social media platforms. 10 – Work on your next manuscript while juggling the marketing process of your published work, as you need to have a fairly substantial backlist in case you enjoy future literary success.

Of course, everyone’s journey to publication is unique, containing many diverse realms of experience – and it’s important to remember that every literary experience is valid (whether positive or negative). However, as you can see, self-publishing is not as straightforward as it may seem. Anyone who has the courage to write works that make a positive impact on readers is deserving of respect and fair pay, no-matter their route to publication πŸ™‚

(Mis)Judgement #3 – Showing Cleavage is Unacceptable

As someone who was bullied in school, suffers emetophobia, has been sexually abused/controlled/manipulated/cheated on/received negative comments about my body in the past, as well as having to deal with chronic pain/issues with dexterity since experiencing an injury to my hand 7 years ago, my relationship with my body has been turbulent. The manner in which I present myself is constantly evolving, in line with my confidence.

So, when I feel like wearing an outfit that happens to accentuate my breasts, it’s because I’ve garnered the confidence to do so. Yet I still receive derogatory comments – surprisingly, most often from people I know – or am mocked, as people seem to think it acceptable to say something unnecessarily unpleasant about how I look. I wouldn’t even begin to explore the reasons they feel the need to do so, though more often than not, those reasons are clearly not to empower me or to help improve my self-confidence. (Unending thanks to those who always try to build my confidence, however, your efforts are truly appreciated!)

I wouldn’t dream of saying something negative about someone else’s appearance, let alone write disparaging comments about their appearance on a public platform for all to see. In fact, I make a conscious effort to compliment others – online and in person – in recognition of their efforts to look nice, because I know it makes them feel more positively about themselves.

While I acknowledge that superficial beauty should never be regarded the essence of a human’s worth, the way society has been formed forces us to recognise the superficial and gives us little choice but to begin improving the world by making the effort to raise people up with compliments about their appearance instead of insulting them for the way they dress. Misogyny has a lot to answer for and really does need to be addressed. However, I don’t see those who comment about my appearance making complaints about BeyoncΓ©, or Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, or any other famous women for leaning on societal notions of attractiveness by using sexuality to propel their brand? I wish I had their confidence; you’d see a lot more of my writing if that were the case πŸ˜‰

If you don’t like how a person presents themselves on social media, just scroll on. There’s absolutely no need to make damaging, negative comments about other people, especially when you don’t know their story.

In light of this, I’m making my point with a plethora of images of me in varying states of appearance – cleavage, no cleavage, make-up, no make-up, indoors, outdoors, filters, no filters, etc. – to illuminate the fact that it doesn’t matter how I look, I am who I am. In every photo I’m still me, I still have exactly the same sense of morality, exactly the same capabilities, exactly the same worth. The same goes for other people, too. Nobody else has the right to judge you for your appearance – so please keep being yourself, because the universe needs you just as you are πŸ™‚

Moral of the story (or, blog post): DON’T MAKE JUDGEMENTS WITHOUT COMPASSION.

I’ve said (written) it before and I’ll say (write) it again, we are unique – and, provided we strive to be kind in all we do, we do not deserve other people’s misjudgements so we shouldn’t let their misinformation taint our joy.

You are the only you in existence – please don’t allow others to let you feel unworthy because they cannot comprehend every complex facet of your brilliance πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Animals, Author, Creative, Happiness, Life, Mindfulness, Positivity, Self-Love, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

Turning Thirty – Life Lessons Learned

Heyy πŸ™‚

Hope all is well with you!

So, I’ve reached the big ‘three-ohh’ :O And I felt it pertinent that I share with you those invaluable pearls of wisdom I wish I’d been privy to before turning 30…

First, however, I’ll just say that my 30th birthday was made so special by loved ones – for which I am eternally grateful! Not only have I received the loveliest birthday wishes, cards, and gifts, but I have been reminded how very fortunate I am to be loved by so many wonderful people (and animals!) – I cannot thank the universe enough πŸ™‚

Here are a few photos from yesterday, when I: ate a marvellous chocolate cupcake for breakfast (because, you know, I’m officially an adult now, so I’m allowed to do that sort of thing); walked through an autumnal landscape on the cusp of transformation with my lovely dog; spent some rare quality time writing for my own literary projects; rode my beautiful pony for the first time in forever, and didn’t fall off when she bucked into canter (#winning); went for a deliciously indulgent meal with my wonderful fiancΓ©, during which time I polished off an entire glass of wine (those who know me know it usually takes me so long to get through an alcoholic beverage, that I rarely have time to finish them!) – then almost fell over on the walk home… πŸ˜›

Anyways, to the task at hand…

Please note: these ‘life lessons’ are not in order of importance, though I hope at least one of them will be of value to you πŸ™‚

1.) Love is a life force – never take it for granted.

Whatever form love takes – whether from family, friends, your romantic partner, or your dog – cherish it. I am incredibly fortunate to never have known life without love, though after some pretty devastating experiences in my 30 years on this planet, I have come to realise that love is enough to keep you going when times are tough, and it should never be taken for granted. Tell the ones you love how infinitely you love them every day, make time to spend with the people (and animals) who let you know how important you are to them, and be thankful; you never know what’s lurking just around the corner.

2.) Trust your instincts.

I don’t mean fleeting thoughts or impulsive feelings, I’m referring to those innate, soulful vibes that indicate from somewhere, deep down, whether or not a situation is right. Trusting your instincts requires a significant amount of soul searching, and it doesn’t always lead to pleasing those around you. I’ve made the dreadful mistake of failing to trust my instincts, of ignoring the indicators that something wasn’t quite right, and landing in situations that have not only cost me my sanity, but my sense of self-worth, too.

It can take years to escape a situation if you’re tricked into believing it’s as life is supposed to be, or that your happiness is worth less than the acceptance of people surrounding you at the time. This is your sign to respect the gift nature has bestowed upon you through your instincts – from my own experiences I can tell you wholeheartedly that if something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

Likewise, listening to that inner voice can lead to true contentment, if you let it. Sometimes, the right path is not the path forced upon us. Trusting your instincts can be difficult, and can make you feel a cacophony of mixed emotions, but, ultimately, there’ll come a day you sit back and realise that trusting yourself was the best thing you’ve ever done.

3.) Kindness is key – in moderation.

Generations of my family have been documented as having lost everything in pursuit of kindness. I’ve been taught to sacrifice consideration of myself in favour of caring for others. Kindness has brought me so much joy, but it has also led to mistreatment and disrespect.

I implore everyone to treat others with kindness; you never know what someone else is going through. Kindness keeps the world turning, and saves lives every second of every day. However, showering people with kindness, respect, and affection does not necessarily guarantee that you will enjoy such treatment in return. Every aspect of my being has been taken advantage of in the past, which is the reason I recommend that it’s vital to be kind -though it is just as essential to be cautious of whom you help, and how.

4.) Perfection is subjective.

I have wasted countless hours of my life comparing myself to others, worrying about how others perceive me, and fussing over my appearance – yet yielding no confidence as a result.

Life is precious. It may sound clichΓ©, but every moment truly is a gift – yet it’s easy to forget that our bodies are a gift, too. Alright, sometimes our bodies don’t work the way we want them to (I lived with recurring bouts of tonsillitis for 16 years before having my tonsils removed, a hand injury changed the course of my life drastically, my skin is super sensitive so often looks blemished, and suffering with emetophobia can wreak havoc on my perception of my body), but the fact we’re able to continue living despite physical challenges proves just how incredibly resilient we are – and that deserves to be celebrated!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet perfectionism steals that acknowledgement from us when we perceive ourselves as anything less than perfection. But do you know what? You are perfect. At this very moment, you are perfect, just as you are. Your unique experiences tell a story through your body, so comparing your story to someone else’s is utterly futile.

Please don’t waste a minute that could be spent feeling good about yourself on making yourself feel unworthy. I admit, I still have some body image issues to overcome, though with the incredible support system surrounding me – in conjunction with a lot of effort on my behalf to change how I see myself – I’m improving every day; so can you.

All the issues I possess surrounding my appearance, alongside my lack of body confidence, stem from various sources – such as being bullied in school, being cheated on, being subject to sexual/coercive abuse, and years of bombardment of photoshopped/heavily edited imagery through all media/social media outlets designed to instil self-loathing that funds the conglomerate gluttony of the ‘beauty’ industry which eats away at our sense of self-worth. My point is, there are so many reasons to feel bad about ourselves and to put ourselves down, but at the end of the day, there are infinitely more reasons to feel good about ourselves; a primary one being that perfection is unattainable. Why are we wasting our time and energy in pursuit of a state that doesn’t actually exist?

Each of us has a unique vision of what we believe perfection is. The only aspect of your life stopping you from being perfect, from feeling perfect, is you.

Practice plenty of self-love, take care of your body and nurture your mind – it helps.

And even if you never feel perfect yourself, I promise there is someone out there who truly knows you to fit their perception of perfection πŸ™‚

5.) Talking is tonic – and animals are the best counsellors!

Communicating your deepest, darkest fears can feel intimidating – not least because we’ve been conditioned to believe that vulnerability equals weakness. As someone who spent years hiding away from the reality of a situation, and failing to tell anyone what I was suffering, I am in a qualified position to say that talking is vital – not only for maintaining your mental health, but in many ways for the good of your physical health, too.

The toll of secrecy devours your soul until there’s not much of yourself left to salvage. Fear held me captive for such a long time that I almost had no route for escape.

If you are going through something, whether it feels harrowing or humdrum, talking about it to a trusted loved one – or even to a professional listener, such as a psychologist or GP – can make all the difference in strengthening your resolve to endure it.

There are sooo many services out there you can reach out to for help, support, and advice; please don’t ever feel weak for talking about your worries – instead, realise just how strong you are for having the courage to share.

I cannot stress enough how wonderful animals are in any healing process. By sharing your innermost concerns, memories, and regrets with a listener whose judgement will never be anything but positive, you’ll feel far better. So, whether it’s a cwtch with a cat, adventuring with a dog, chatting to a budgerigar, or exploring glorious countryside with a horse, connecting with animals can provide a purpose beyond ourselves that can help us realise that there’s incredible beauty to be discovered in every realm of life, if we just learn to let go of our self-limiting inhibitions.

Best wishes,

Dannika <3

Adventure, Creative, Edinburgh, Engagement, Happiness, Life, Magic, Positivity, Uncategorized, Writing

Our Edinburgh Engagement!

Hi, hope you’re having a fantastic week πŸ™‚

I am writing this blog post to document our magical holiday in Edinburgh…

I love him, infinitely <3

We travelled to Scotland anticipating a tiresome, lengthy drive and sooo many restrictions, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the drive was pleasant and offered sweeping views of incredible landscapes, and the main restrictions included booking restaurants before eating there and having to book visits to places such as Edinburgh Castle. Despite being unable to book a visit to Edinburgh Castle, we couldn’t help but admire the stunning architecture as we wandered through the streets of Scotland’s iconic capital city.

We arrived at the hotel to a friendly welcome, and settled into our room before freshening-up, booking somewhere to eat, then making our way to the hotel bar to enjoy a drink before walking to the restaurant. It was our first evening in Edinburgh; I had no idea it’d end in euphoria! Gareth and I enjoyed our meal, though it started tipping down as we left the restaurant and we’d forgotten our coats – so we raced through the winding Scottish streets back to our hotel room, where Gareth claimed to have left something in the room’s safe. For those of you aware of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Gareth had joked earlier in the evening that he wanted to put his sandwiches in the safe like Captain Holt did, so, naturally, I expected to open the safe to find sandwiches, socks, or something equally silly. However, Gareth had changed the code on the safe to the date we first met, and, as I opened the door I was presented with a delicate, sparkling engagement ring! I turned around, in shock, and almost tripped over as Gareth was down on one knee. I may be a writer, but there are simply no words to explain how amazing that moment was; I didn’t have to think twice about saying “Yes!” to the most wonderful man in the universe πŸ™‚

The euphoric haze in which we were cocooned was enhanced by the awesome food, glorious architecture, and breath-taking sights spanning Edinburgh’s spectacular skyline.

Gareth and I strolled through the glorious park and historic streets as we soaked in the atmosphere, relishing every moment of our dream engagement without the pressures and expectations of everyday life. We couldn’t have wished for a more magical beginning to our future together πŸ™‚

Happiness is being with him πŸ™‚

After the disappointments, the struggles, the betrayal, and the tragedies we’ve both experienced, we realise how incredibly lucky we are to have found one another. Gareth is my other half, just as I am his. We’re excited to be planning our future together, and we are beyond thankful for the chance to do so <3

Best wishes,

Dannika