Adventure, Blog, Happiness, Honeymoon, Life, Magic, Nature, Photography, Positivity, Self-Love, Wedding, Writing

Our Amazing Honeymoon

Hi,

Hope you’re well and that you’re having a lovely week πŸ™‚

So, Gareth and I embarked on our wonderful honeymoon in late September – it was my first ever trip abroad, and it couldn’t have been more amazing!

We ventured to Rhodes, where the crystal clear sea sparkled under blazing autumn sun…

Upon our arrival at the incredible hotel, we were greeted with champagne and the fantastic staff gifted us with a fabulous room upgrade – which meant we enjoyed a shared private pool and a beautifully decorated suite πŸ˜€

The food was excellent, especially given my lactose intolerance, vegetarian preferences, and general fussy eating – the hotel staff were so accommodating and welcoming; we couldn’t have asked for better; they even organised a cake on our last day, as it was my birthday!

Another benefit of the setting we chose for our honeymoon was the abundance of exotic wildlife and the spectacular scenery that took our breath away at every turn…

I also fought against my body confidence issues by trying out some new clothing styles, and even wearing bikinis!

Gareth and I also ventured to Lindos – what an incredible place. Lindos is steeped in history and aglow with Greek mythology…

What an adventure my husband and I had in Rhodes – we’re incredibly lucky and infinitely grateful to have found each other and be able to enjoy such awe-inspiring experiences together <3

Thank you, once again, for your continued support πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Author, Blog, Happiness, Life, Magic, Positivity, Wedding, Writing

Our Magical Wedding

Dearest Reader,

Sincerest apologies for not writing to you sooner, life has been pretty hectic!

(Although I’m not apologising for the ‘Bridgerton’ vibes, because I felt very ‘Bridgerton-esque’ in my wedding dress with my hair and make-up professionally styled :D)

I hope you’re well and enjoying the countdown to Christmas πŸ™‚

My husband (:D) and I got married in early September, and we couldn’t have wished for a more magical day…

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook in celebration of the best day of our lives:

“My husband (😁) and I are incredibly grateful to all who worked tirelessly to make our magical wedding so perfect πŸ‘°β€β™€οΈπŸ€΅β€β™‚οΈπŸΎπŸ₯‚

Our family and friends are beyond awesome, and there isn’t a moment we aren’t thankful for their support – you are wonderful, and both of us know how lucky we are to have you as part of our next, exciting chapter πŸ’

We’re also thankful for our amazing guests, who made sure our wedding was the fantastic celebration it turned out to be – we are so glad to have been able to share our wonderful wedding with you, and we hope you enjoyed it too 🌷🍰🏩πŸ₯³

Infinite thanks for the fabulous wishes from everyone sending messages, texts, cards, and gifts as well – we’re eternally grateful for your kindness and support 🎁🎊

After all the trials and tribulations of our respective pasts, Gareth and I know how truly fortunate we are and we couldn’t be happier… πŸ₯°πŸŽ‰

Thank you all for your continued support 😁

Lots of Love,
Mr & Mrs Johnson ❀”

While Gareth stayed at our house with his best man, I stayed at our wedding venue with my mum. The hotel room was gorgeous – straight out of Beauty & the Beast!

In fact, the entire venue was lovely – we certainly made the right choice. The staff were absolutely fantastic and we couldn’t thank them enough πŸ™‚

The excitement of marrying the man of my dreams far outweighed the nerves of having a hundred pairs of eyes watching me walk down the aisle – that was, until it was actually time to walk down the aisle. With the corset of my wedding dress pulled so tightly to keep it from slipping (it was still too big), the lengthy wait to be called, the heat, the dizzying striped carpet, and everyone talking to me at once, I very nearly fainted! However, while I was trying to keep it together, Gareth was pacing nervously in front of all our guests – so I imagine we were feeling about the same. Thankfully, the moment the doors were opened and I walked onto that aisle, I focused on the ground so as not to trip over or make awkward eye contact with anyone, and I didn’t feel so faint anymore. Then, I saw him. I saw Gareth and my nerves melted away; I was finally safe.

It was an incredible feeling, standing with the man I love as we made our vows to one another in front of family and friends. I can honestly say that marrying Gareth fulfilled a long-awaited happiness I’ve never felt before. Our wedding day was the most magical of our entire lives, and I couldn’t be more grateful than to have married my best friend in the whole entire universe ❀

Once the ceremony was over (in the blink of an eye!), photos had been taken, and speeches had been absolutely smashed out of the park, the party started – and what an amazing party it was! Those of our invited guests who gifted their time to support us, as we embark on the next exciting chapter of our lives, were treated to the most wonderful night of music, dancing, laughter, and joy as we all celebrated the power and the magic of love – thank you, all πŸ˜€

I’m hoping to write a full account of mine and Gareth’s wedding one day (when I can find the time to), although I’m always so busy it’s taken 4 months to write this blog post, and it still feels half-written! Haha. I hope you’ve enjoyed this account of the best day of our lives anyways πŸ™‚

Thank you for supporting my journey, literary and otherwise!

Best wishes,

Dannika <3

Adventure, Animals, Author, Creative, Happiness, Life, Mental Health Awareness, 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

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Crime Writing, Fiction, Mystery, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Where Are You Now?

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark…

Description:

“How far would you go to keep a secret?

It has been ten years since 21-year-old Mack went missing. A Columbia University senior, he walked out of his room and has not been seen since. Every year he calls his mother on her birthday, on his birthday, and on Mother’s Day. He assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frenzied questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father on 9/11 does not bring him home.

Mack’s sister, Caroline, has now endured two family tragedies. Determined to solve the mystery surrounding her brother’s disappearance, she sets out to discover the truth. But with it comes a secret that someone will do anything to protect, leading her to a deadly confrontation with an unexpected enemy…

A fast paced thriller perfect for Mary Higgins Clark many fans.

My Review:

Mary Higgins Clark (a.k.a. “MHC”) is referred to as the “Queen of Suspense” and she has been the favourite author of my Gran’ma for as long as I can remember. Gran’ma had bought several MHC novels for me as birthday presents over the years, yet I never seemed to have time to read them. Luckily, one rainy winter night, I discovered a collection of MHC novels on my shelf and decided to read one. Where Are You Now? is a fantastic, page-turning read that captured my attention and introduced me to one of the best thriller writers of all time.

Every character was masterfully painted, and MHC’s artistry with words illustrated their unique motives; some pivotal to the plot, others turned out to be red herrings. The characters seemed real, which I understand is a well-known skill of MHC.

The story moves along at an exciting pace, never offering opportunity to tire of the plot – which keeps you guessing, right to the end! However, if you prefer the perspective of a novel to remain consistent, this book will disappoint you. The narrative point of view flips from first-person to third-person, which did take a couple of chapters to get used to.

To conclude, I recommend this book if you enjoy mystery, thriller, and crime writing. It’s a great read that has it all; suspense, mystery, and excellent characterisation.

Adventure, Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

A Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams…

Description:

An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic,Β The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyΒ has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film. Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world . . .

It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed, in large friendly letters, with the words: DON’T PANIC.

The weekend has only just begun . . .

With exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by formerΒ Doctor WhoΒ showrunner, Russell T Davies.

The intergalactic adventures of Arthur Dent begin in the first volume of the ‘trilogy of five’, Douglas Adams’ comedy sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

My Review:

One of my favourite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a work of literary genius. This book is so incredibly ridiculous that I have laughed out loud at the hilarity of it time and again!

If you enjoy straightforward stories with a clear beginning, middle and end, this is not the book for you. This book is about as unconventional as advising the use of a towel in emergency situations, but that is exactly the catalyst of its brilliance.

Where to begin about the plot, storylines, and characterisation? Adams has created an incredibly diverse universe packed with complex detail, yet the complexity of it all is overcome by the ironically down-to-earth style in which the narrative is written. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy follows Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along a series of misadventures following the destruction of Earth to clear the way for a Vogon hyperspace bypass.

I cannot decide which character is my favourite, as they’re all so wonderfully written, though I can’t help but empathise with Marvin – the Paranoid Android. He’s a fascinating character whose astounding level of intelligence is continually underestimated; in a way, I wonder whether he’s a subtle reflection of the reaction to humanity’s inability to realise their own intelligence…

Dialogue is realistic, scenery is cleverly crafted, and the characters – whilst wildly wacky – are so believable that it’s difficult to imagine that they don’t exist out there, somewhere.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a truly inspirational work of science fiction that I recommend if you enjoy sci-fi, comedy, or out-of-this-world adventures!

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Foundation

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Foundation by Isaac Asimov…

Description:

“WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST ALL-TIME SERIES

The Foundation series is Isaac Asimov’s iconic masterpiece. Unfolding against the backdrop of a crumbling Galactic Empire, the story of Hari Seldon’s two Foundations is a lasting testament to an extraordinary imagination, one that shaped science fiction as we know it today.

The Galactic Empire has prospered for twelve thousand years. Nobody suspects that the heart of the thriving Empire is rotten, until psychohistorian Hari Seldon uses his new science to foresee its terrible fate.

Exiled to the desolate planet Terminus, Seldon establishes a colony of the greatest minds in the Empire, a Foundation which holds the key to changing the fate of the galaxy.

However, the death throes of the Empire breed hostile new enemies, and the young Foundation’s fate will be threatened first.”

My Review:

As an aspiring sci-fi writer, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation when I saw it in a bookshop. Upon reading Foundation, I realise why Isaac Asimov is referred to as “the father of science fiction”. The writing is insightful, and seamlessly describes the futuristic world you swiftly find yourself immersed in.

This book is, as defined by the title, the foundation of a series. Therefore, the vast majority of it explains the mechanisms of the dystopian world Asimov is introducing you to. So I’d advise approaching this read with an open mind, because there won’t be the usual ‘beginning, middle, end’ storylines you’d expect in a traditional fiction novel.

I believe it’s also worth noting the time in which Asimov wrote this series, because viewing it from that perspective truly does enlighten you to how incredibly ahead of its time Asimov’s writing was! For instance, Foundation was published in 1951 – when most of the technologies described in the novel were not in existence. An aspect of this novel that I found slightly disagreeable, yet not completely unexpected owing to the time in which is was written, was the lack of female characters. I do understand that the reality of the world in which Asimov resided was unlikely to boast powerful female representation, but, as female reader with an interest in sci-fi, I would have appreciated the novel even more so had the powerful leadership roles and characters depicted throughout Foundation been more diverse.

Asimov was a Professor of Biochemistry, which shines through in the attention he paid to every detail set into Foundation. However, if you aren’t as fascinated by reading the scientific and political detail that provides a backdrop for the novels to come, this novel is likely to struggle to maintain your attention for too long.

I haven’t yet read any other works written by Asimov – although I have seen the film adaptation of I,Robot, one of my favourite films – but I am definitely going to be reading the complete collection of Asimov’s science fiction works as soon as I have time, because Foundation was such an inspiring read.

If you enjoy science fiction as much as I do (i.e. you enjoy it enough to write sci-fi yourself), then I wholeheartedly recommend reading Foundation as the introduction to other works by Isaac Asimov.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Heroes

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Heroes by Stephen Fry…

Description:

“Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta – who was raised by bears – outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

HeroesΒ is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.”

My Review:

This book is referred to as “Volume II of Mythos” – though I didn’t read Mythos before reading Heroes, I did note a few small references that would likely have made more sense if I had read Mythos too.

Upon reading Heroes, it is impossible not to imagine Stephen Fry’s voice narrating! I’m not into audiobooks at the moment, though I have discovered that Stephen Fry actually recorded an audiobook version of Heroes that you can find here.

In the interest of being completely honest with you, when I initially took on the Herculean task of reading Heroes, I was disheartened by how challenging it was to keep reading. I became so frustrated that I kept falling asleep whilst reading it that I took a break from it for a little while to read something else. However, upon returning to Heroes, I realised that it isn’t written as novel to be read cover-to-cover, but instead, the book is separated into chapters that focus on specific characters. Therefore, I began to read Heroes as more of a ‘character story guide’ than a novel, which made it far easier to work through – I think it would be an incredibly useful reference book for writers who wish to include characters from Greek mythology in their work. I also liked the sections of colour images of paintings, pottery, sculptures, and other works of art that depicted some of the characters and scenes in the book – it was a great addition, and fascinating if you’re a bit of a history nerd like I am!

I appreciated the “List of Characters” in Heroes that illuminated many of the details I knew nothing about. There were also explanations at the end of some pages that described how to pronounce certain names, the interesting meanings behind names, and other information that provided an insightful interpretation of mythical particulars.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend reading Heroes if you enjoy Stephen Fry’s writing and would like to learn a little more about Greek mythology. However, I believe it may be beneficial to read Mythos before Heroes, in order to get the most out of this reading experience.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Equestrian, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Horse Dancer

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes…

Description:

“The 2009 novel The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes, the bestselling author of Me Before You and two-time winner of the RNA Novel of the Year award.

In a hidden corner of London, Henri Lachapelle is teaching his granddaughter and her horse to defy gravity, just as he had done in France, fifty years previously. But when disaster strikes, fourteen-year-old Sarah is left to fend for herself.

Forced to share a house with her charismatic ex-husband, her professional judgement called into question, lawyer Natasha Macauley’s life seems to have gone awry. When her path crosses that of Sarah, she sees a chance to put things right.

But she doesn’t know that Sarah is keeping a secret, one that will change all their lives forever . . .”

My Review:

The Horse Dancer weaves stories of every character together through a tapestry of events. Moyes’ writing is saturated with such brilliant descriptive detail that it’s easy to become immersed in the story and empathise with the characters. I’m an equestrian enthusiast and horse owner, so I found the level of detail Moyes dedicated to her horse-related scenes absolutely wonderful! Although it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to know anything about horses to enjoy the equestrian aspects of this story.

All the main characters were adequately ‘fleshed-out’, though my favourite character has to be Boo, the horse – whose bravery was the most believable of all. I think it’s worth mentioning that there were a few plot ‘twists’ that I anticipated, and there were minor aspects of the story that were improbable – for instance, it is highly unlikely that a couple in the middle of a divorce could plausibly live together, and a young girl being invited into the home of complete strangers was difficult to comprehend. However, for any tiny details of the story that were improbable, there were exciting scenes and emotive storylines that made The Horse Dancer so readable it was difficult to put down at times!

The beginning of the book introduces two seemingly separate storylines as it develops the individual backstory of each protagonist – if you dislike stories that are set out this way, it might take you a little longer to get into the story itself; but I assure you it’s worthwhile. There are many well-written chapters in the middle of the story that are compelling – they offer suspense, emotion, and action-packed excitement. As for the ending, I felt it provided a satisfying conclusion and wrapped up the story nicely.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an indulgent read to enjoy of a chilly winter’s evening, cwtched up in a blanket as rain patters against the nearest curtained window.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Mental Health Awareness, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Midnight Library

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig…

Description:

“Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?”

My Review:

The Midnight Library is an incredible feat of literary magnificence. It is about the headspace Nora Seed has been forced to occupy by depression – as her soul is suspended between life and death – and the storyline follows her journey through lives she could have lived.

Although Nora’s character is so real and relatable, my favourite character is Mrs Elm (though I won’t go into too much detail about her, so as not to share any spoilers!). The book is written from a third-person limited perspective, which enhances the story’s emotive qualities without forcing the overwhelming intensity of a first-person point of view.

I enjoy ghost stories, and while The Midnight Library isn’t a ghost story, I found the scenes Haig depicted to be ethereal and compelling. In fact, I lost quite a few hours’ sleep as I read the entire book within two nights! It may have been the lack of sleep, but I admit to crying and laughing aloud as I read this book; something I haven’t done whilst reading for a long, long time.

The Midnight Library forces you to consider your own mental health, as well as recognise how deeply another’s mental health could be affecting their life and the decisions they make – even if there’s no obvious sign of that to the outside world. The book encourages empathy for fellow human beings too, without focusing wholly on the negative aspects of mental health that led protagonist Nora to become suspended between life and death.

While reading The Midnight Library, it quickly becomes obvious that Haig truly understands the state of Nora’s mind as she contemplates all aspects of her life throughout the book. It encapsulates the significance of choices, both major and seemingly minor, by highlighting the positive difference we can make to others’ lives without even realising it – as well as reminding us that we aren’t always in control of the tragedies that befall us.

Despite the dark moments depicted within the book’s page-turning story, ultimately, The Midnight Library is one of the most uplifting books I have ever read. I wholeheartedly recommend The Midnight Library to everyone; it is a work of genius not to be missed!

Adventure, Author, Creative, Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Photography, Positivity, Self-Love, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

Reflection

Hi,


I hope you’re having a lovely week πŸ™‚


After seeing so many wonderful posts about body positivity lately, I’ve decided to add to the positive vibes currently sweeping through the ether, by writing my views on portrait photography.


Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have caused many of us to spend considerably more time than usual scrolling our way through the confidence-destroying minefield of social media. I truly believe that photographs of ourselves ought to be pondered in the same light we perceive our own reflection in a pool of water. Much as a reflection distorts your features, a photograph captures one very specific millisecond of time at an often unrealistic angle (in that most fellow humans are unlikely to look at you the way a camera does); a fleeting glimpse into an entire life; an echo, impossible to replicate (without highly advanced technology). Meaning that all those ‘perfect’ portrait images we see plastered throughout virtually every form of visual media are just one split second, modified snapshot amidst a lifetime.

It has been said that an image conveys a thousand words, but in the case of social media, an image can conceal a thousand truths. 


Smartphones make it easier than it has ever been to adjust photographs to an advanced degree, with photo-editing software built in as standard – not to mention the plethora of ‘filters’ available to utilise on every social media platform, allowing people the opportunity to avoid ever having to share an ‘unflattering’ photograph again. 


I admit that I may unintentionally perpetuate that style of editorial imagery to a lesser degree; I try not to share photographs I feel are unflattering of me because I don’t want my social media accounts to be less appealing, or for readers/potential readers to think less of me/my writing because I’m not what society might deem ‘worthy’ unless I am aesthetically pleasing to the majority of my (albeit limited) audience – I do understand that that is part of the problem. I suppose in order to remedy it, I have to determine whether I’m doing that to please myself, or to attempt to be noticed as a worthwhile writer amidst a sea of professionally managed social media profiles – something I promise to work on as best I can, to set a better example for younger generations. 


As an example of how a unique individual can be perceived in a variety of ways, I took these photographs within the space of 1 minute – note how differently I look in every photograph, thanks to changes in lighting, angles, and even the addition of filters…


Please remember when looking at photos of yourself: *Different Photographs; Same Worth* Although the camera has captured me differently in all these images, I’m still me πŸ™‚

Whilst it can be frustrating that the majority of social media accounts – both personal and professional – support fakery that funds the beauty industry, by making us all feel we have to live up to unrealistic standards in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ by society, it’s worth remembering that they are people too; and the more airbrushed, photoshopped, filtered their images are, the more insecure they’re likely to feel about how they look in reality. Their intention may not necessarily be to make you feel negatively about yourself, but to try feel better about themselves. And the truth is, there’s someone out there right now who admires a quality you have that they do not, and it’s almost certainly the person you least expect it to be.

In light of this, I’d like to add my voice to the increasing plethora of positive posts, by sharing some of my own story and commentary on the journey to self-confidence (that I am currently embarking on too)…


1.) I’ve been working on overcoming the countless insecurities I have about my appearance. For instance, I have extremely sensitive skin, e.g. I end up with a terrible rash when I shave my legs; I suffer with spots from time to time (caused by over-washing due to OCD linked to emetophobia); my hair gets oily quickly (so I wash it all the time which, ironically, makes it worse); make-up never seems to look flawless on me – although it seems to look nice on everyone else – and I get sunburned so easily that tanning naturally (to hide imperfections) is not an option (though the thought of using fake tan terrifies me – I’m certain I’d do something wrong and would end up looking/feeling ridiculous!). I’ve always been self-conscious about my nose, after it was broken by a horse when I was 10, as it doesn’t resemble the idyllic ‘button nose’ that various beauty/media industries suggest is most attractive. And I’ve recently found out that I have a dislocated jaw – that may have been caused by the misalignment of braces I wore as a teenager – to accompany the damage braces did to the enamel of my teeth (the glue they used left a few small yellowish stains on my teeth that the dentist can’t remove without damaging the enamel further), meaning I’m unlikely to ever have a lens-worthy set of perfectly straight, pearly-white teeth. That, together with the insecurities I have about having put on weight due to major life changes over the last few years (beginning with a serious hand injury 6 years ago that ended my equestrian career), led to my feeling awful about myself 99% of the time – which, as a consequence, meant I suffered more anxiety about my appearance than usual (I already have emetophobia and its associated anxieties), and it all became a miserable cycle of self-deprecation that had to stop before it spiralled into depression (again). Thankfully, my incredible boyfriend, wonderful family, and fantastic friends made me realise that all that stuff is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life – absolutely none of those aspects I’m insecure about take away from who I am, how hard I work at everything, or the reasons I try my best to help people/animals however I can. My insecurities are just that, my insecurities; my loved ones don’t love me in spite of all those things, I’m loved because I am me no-matter what. A realisation I hope you’re able to revel about yourself in too πŸ™‚

2.) Nobody cares whether you have strawberry skin after you shave, whether you have acne, or that you don’t have a flawless tan, nor does it affect their life that you’re worried about wearing tight clothes because your body doesn’t resemble the inhuman form of a mannequin, or that you have stretch marks/cellulite/scars on show if you wear certain clothes – you’re but a momentary consideration at most as they go about their daily business at the shops, or you walk past them on the street, or they are enjoying their day at the beach/park/restaurant (especially after a year and a half of lockdown!). And if you are still worried, it’s worth remembering that those who judge you negatively for such insignificant things (in the grand scheme of life) likely only do so because it deflects from issues they have with themselves. Also, it doesn’t actually matter what they think of you.


3.) I repeat as its own comment (and I suggest you repeat this to yourself): it *does not matter* what people think of your appearance (unless, of course, you’re at a job interview). What if someone does have a fleeting negative thought about your appearance; did it cause you physical harm? Do you care about the stranger enough to act on their fleeting, negative response (for instance, enduring some sort of barbaric cosmetic procedure to appease strangers)? And finally, what right does some random stranger have to make you feel negatively about yourself when they don’t know anything about you? Please don’t give power to the unfair, unhealthy culture and unrealistic expectations to look a certain way to be accepted – instead, accept yourself for the unique brand of wonderfulness only you can offer the world.

4.) Fact: our bodies change constantly. Therefore, it is as unhealthy as it is unrealistic to believe that you cannot be beautiful or handsome or worthy of adoration unless you fit into those jeans you used to wear a decade ago, or that top you used to love that you wish you still looked great in, or, unless you fit a specific image bombarded by all forms of visual media as being the ‘ultimate specimen of human perfection’ (an image which, if you study the ‘ideal body shape/size/configuration’ through the ages you’ll discover is constantly shifting and evolving). Eat your favourite food guilt-free, wear clothes that are comfortable, and find a way to exercise that you actually enjoy instead of counting calories, avoiding clothes you’re afraid people might ‘judge’ you for wearing, and forcing yourself to participate in exercise that doesn’t bring you joy in pursuit of unattainable ‘perfection’. The human body is an incredible vessel of evolution; love yours, nurture it, and appreciate every fibre of your being for the masterpiece it is!


5.) The universe needs you just the way you are. Please stop comparing yourself to others when there’s not a person on this planet capable of comparing to you because, honestly, they’re not you – the knowledge of which ought to provide you with an untold sense of power and self-belief πŸ™‚


5.) As challenging as it is, in order to improve my own self-confidence, I practice what I preach and continuously push myself to become the beautifully confident person I deserve to be…

For example, I am taking action to improve my health and fitness, to help me feel better for myself – as opposed to that motivation being to look beautiful just to please the world (confidence is attractive in itself, so I’m told!). I am also trying really hard to ease my anxiety over my skin issues, and though it may sound minor to many, I felt a strange sense of accomplishment the other day when I didn’t shave that morning (I usually shave my legs every time I intend to wear shorts or a dress – which takes ages because I obsessively remove every hair I consider unsightly) yet still wore shorts all day and even went shopping! There were a few stray hairs I couldn’t reach on my right leg (thanks to my hand injury) that I hadn’t noticed until I returned from shopping, which was the moment I realised I survived without any negative effects of having not shaved that morning – I didn’t notice one person give so much as a glance at me, let alone the dramatic reactions of displeasure I believed might accompany my decision not to overthink going out with strawberry legs. It was more comfortable to wear shorts than to have worn jeans, yet I almost made myself uncomfortable by wearing jeans because of the reaction I thought I’d receive for having a teeny tiny amount of stubble on my legs. As it happens, it didn’t feel like anyone cared about the fact I had a few stray hairs on my right leg – the fact people just carried on with their own business felt great; who’d have thought being invisible could feel satisfying! But then it struck me, the reason we strive to fit in is for that reason; because no reaction is better than a negative one, no-matter how minor – and in order for all that hard work that goes in to looking nice to be worthwhile, a positive reaction provides a flash of acceptance that makes us feel incredible about ourselves, even for a millisecond.

However, it really shouldn’t be up to other people to determine how incredible we feel about ourselves. Of course, we want to look attractive to encourage self-confidence, to help ourselves appreciate what we see in the mirror (or on a smartphone camera app), and to please our partners – though my amazing boyfriend has assured me that when you’re in love with the right person, it doesn’t matter if you have spots, or you put on a little weight, or your hair needs a wash, since that love is deeper than one’s superficial appearance (I believe the reason the right person loves you is because their soul connects with yours on a cosmic level – your partner loves you in your entirety because of who you are; which makes you the most attractive person in the universe to them, irrespective of your self-perceived ‘physical imperfections’). If you don’t have a partner to remind you of your awesomeness, consider how much your family and friends love you – and I guarantee that love has absolutely nothing to do with what you look like; what feeling could be more incredibly confidence-inspiring than that? πŸ™‚

Life is short. Please don’t waste a moment feeling insignificant because of your insecurities – you are so much more than your portrayal in a photograph <3

Anyways, hope you’re having a happy Wednesday!


Best wishes,

Dannika

Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Relationships, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

‘That’ Interview

Hi Everyone, hope you are well πŸ™‚

So, I have decided to incorporate a social media post I wrote into blog post form, in case someone who doesn’t follow my social media accounts might find it helpful…

Rarely does a news story interest me enough to comment upon, though Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah has shed light on the fact that there are still those who give fellow human beings cause not to speak about whatever struggles they are facing because of how those struggles may be perceived.

This is the twenty-first century not the Middle Ages – humanity is now aware that mental health issues are a form of illness, and that mental health is as significant as physical health in terms of maintaining the human body in a healthy state.

Whether or not you believe that Meghan struggled with suicidal thoughts, at least she has spoken about them on a highly public platform – that action in itself will hopefully be enough to encourage others to find the courage to reach out for help.

We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented situation that our generation has never known the like of before. This pandemic has forced many of us to spend a heck of a lot of time in our own company, and as such, should have taught humanity the importance of acting responsibly and respectfully in order to save our loved ones from an illness that has proven devastating for so many. I have seen countless examples of the kindness this bizarre situation has been catalyst for, and long may that continue once this pandemic is over – though it has also revealed the ugly side of humanity, the selfish and the judgemental, for which there should be no tolerance this day and age. Had every person on the planet acted with consideration for others, this pandemic would likely have ceased to be a long time ago.

It’s time to talk about taboo topics. It’s time to make a difference for the better. It’s time we stopped tolerating trolls and dishonesty. It’s time to stop snap judgements and stop comparing ourselves to others as if we’re all in some sort of ridiculous competition.

The orchid is beautiful, as is the rose – in fact, there are thousands upon thousands of beautiful flowers in existence on our glorious planet; not everyone will agree that the orchid is beautiful, just as others might not consider the rose beautiful – yet those differences of opinion do not take away from the fact that in their own way, every individual flower has a beauty and significance that cannot be compared to another – after all, the sun still shines upon every one, irrespective of their differences πŸŒ·πŸŒ»πŸ€β˜€οΈ

Please, for the love of goodness, stop comparing everyone and everything to everyone and everything else!

You are unique: your body is capable of incredible power and your mind is without limitation thanks to human sentience. Though absolutely none of that wonderfulness is lessened by the fact that you have difficult days sometimes – we all do.

If you are struggling in any way, please reach out for help.

We’re continuously being bombarded with messages, both subliminal and direct, that anything less than ‘perfection’ is unworthy – yet by our very nature humans are, in fact, imperfect. It is our imperfections that define us and shape who we are as we strive to become a better version of ourselves – so why are we allowing those messages to prevent us from appreciating our-awesome-selves wholeheartedly?

Instead of being made to feel insignificant or inferior by the media in order to fuel their greed through conflict – whether that conflict is within ourselves or with others – let’s remove everything from our social media feeds that perpetuate misery, and instead celebrate all that makes humanity wonderful πŸŽ‰

You matter. They matter. I matter.

No-matter our race, beliefs, sexual orientation, interests, jobs, or mental health situation, we all ought to treat fellow humans with kindness and respect – and should expect nothing less than to be treated with kindness and respect by fellow humans in return; that is a basic human right not a privilege.

We’re in this together ❀

#mentalhealthawareness#reachout#talk#youarenotalone#wegotthis#writer#literary#shareyourstory#inspire#itsoknottobeok#bekind#strongertogether#makeadifference

I am here if you need someone to talk to <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

Moment.

Heyy,

I suppose this is a bizarre way to find out whether those close to me read my blog; if you’re a relative or friend of mine ‘in real life’, I’m so sorry you’re discovering this experience here – though please know that I chose not to tell you because I believed that you didn’t need to share in the sadness too, there’s already enough of us upset by this without extending that beyond our parents and siblings. Besides, everyone seems to have more than enough on their plate right now, so it’s no use causing further distress about something nobody could do anything about. (If you’d like to speak to me about it, please send a private message as opposed to broadcasting anything publicly on my social media accounts – I certainly don’t want my grandparents finding out, as due to lockdown I haven’t seen them for a long time and this would only upset them unnecessarily!) I’m writing about my experience because I find writing cathartic, and I long to help others who have experienced/are experiencing/will experience similar situations – it’s so important that nobody feels alone, especially going through something like this.

** Warning: there may be content some might find upsetting – read at your own risk! **

Before I share my experiences, I send my sincerest condolences to anyone who has ever experienced pregnancy loss, miscarriage and stillbirth. Unfortunately, I am now a member of the (sadly) not-so-exclusive miscarriage club.

I understand that there are those who have had more traumatic experiences than I have, for which I am truly devastated and my thoughts go out to every one of you. Though I’d like to remind anyone grieving that your experience is not lessened by the perception that someone else’s experience seems worse than yours for whatever reason. The loss of a baby is devastating, irrespective of their stage of development – they still had a life, however briefly; they will always be part of you, and it’s important to remember that they existed, you created them, and it’s perfectly acceptable to mourn their passing.

My story is an unusual one, however, because my boyfriend and I didn’t know that I was pregnant. We believed I might have been for a couple of weeks, though at-home tests returned negative for pregnancy and although the GP claimed there was no need to test for pregnancy through blood tests because at-home tests would’ve ruled out pregnancy, the results of routine blood tests I had indicated that my hormone levels were all fine, aside progesterone being a little low (it’s normally high in a healthy pregnancy), so the GP believed I was likely to have an ovarian cyst that was stopping my menstrual cycle from happening for 15 weeks. As I write this, I’m still awaiting an ultrasound appointment to assess whether I had or have an ovarian cyst or something similar – though my body seems to be healing, so I imagine my issues were, in fact, pregnancy related. The symptoms I had were obviously pregnancy related, though I had no choice but to explain them away with whatever excuses I could think of at the time, since tests told me I wasn’t pregnant and I was made to feel it would be foolish to believe what my body was telling me.

I started getting menstrual-like cramping to the point I felt faint one night, so I assumed it was the long-awaited return of my menstrual cycle, which happened to be attacking with a vengeance after being MIA for so long. A week of mild cramping then became a week of ‘spotting’ and back ache following all forms of exercise. Then, 2:25am on 4th March 2021, I experienced the most severe menstrual cramps I had ever had in my entire life, accompanied by heavy bleeding. That excruciating pain continued in waves over the course of the day and night, to the point I could barely move off the sofa and struggled to get comfortable. Finally, at 1am on 5th March 2021, I managed to fall asleep. When I woke with one last wave of cramping at 7:30am 5th March 2021, I rushed into the bathroom, after feeling the strangest sensation I’ve ever experienced, to discover I had miscarried something that appeared to resemble part of a fetus and accompanying ‘mass’ whose development must have ceased between 8 and 9 weeks according to my own research; after which the relief was almost instantaneous – all the cramping, heavy bleeding, and uncertainty had gone. I took a photograph in case the GP might need to see it to check it was all there or whatever they do in such situations, though I couldn’t bring myself to investigate the ‘mass’ to check what the complete (that’s if it was indeed ‘complete’) fetus looked like and my boyfriend agreed that it could prove more traumatic and wouldn’t help wrap my head around it anyway. I called the GP surgery at 8:30am, having composed myself after an hour of sobbing; the receptionist was lovely and checked that I had someone with me – though I didn’t receive a call back until around 2:30pm. There was absolutely nothing the GP could do apparently (it wasn’t the GP I’d been dealing with throughout all this) – though they informed it was more than likely a miscarriage despite negative pregnancy test results, I was shocked that they didn’t advise of any organisations I could contact for further support, advice, or comfort; in fact, they were keen to rush off the phone. At least all the pain, discomfort, and confusion I’d experienced for the last few months had suddenly disappeared.

I realise that, for whatever reason, my pregnancy wasn’t viable because there must have been some chromosomal abnormality that meant the fetus couldn’t develop. Without any medical advice, from what I can fathom, the negative tests meant that there wasn’t enough pregnancy hormone in my body to sustain a full-term, healthy pregnancy – which was more than likely due to the fact that the fetus simply wasn’t viable. As for the reason my body held onto the fetus for weeks after it ceased to be, I could only hazard a guess that because my body wasn’t 100% certain of the pregnancy in the first place, there was no way of realising the pregnancy needed to end until my body came to terms with the fact that there was definitely no live fetus to care for anymore, instead there was an ‘alien-like mass’ that needed to be expelled before it caused a problem. I do take comfort in the fact that even for a short time that fetus was alive and growing – which is why I have decided to refer to them as ‘Moment’. I know it would be ridiculous to give a name to an undeveloped fetus whose existence I didn’t truly know about until they were no longer connected with me, though I feel it important to recognise their existence whilst simultaneously acknowledging my experience of losing them.

It seems that everyone around me are able to have happy, healthy babies and share with the world the wonders – as well as the stresses and pressures – that accompany their adventure into parenthood. I truly am delighted for every one of them, and wish them well – but it certainly doesn’t help the grieving process I’m having to endure that I hadn’t prepared for in any way, shape, or form.

Maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough to become a mother – though maybe I’ll never have the chance to embark on the adventure of motherhood due to circumstances out of my control; who knows?

What I do know is that this devastating, excruciating, shocking experience has brought my boyfriend and I closer together. We both believe that everything happens for a reason, we’re infinitely grateful for all the wonderfulness we already have in our life together, and we know how lucky we are to have one another <3

I haven’t sought professional support for my experiences (primarily because I keep pondering whether this experience is less valid because the pregnancy was never detected let alone viable), although I may choose to sometime in the near future – however, just in case you’re in need of support, here’s a list of organisations I’ve been assured are amazing at helping people through any form of pregnancy loss, miscarriage, or stillbirth:

* https://www.tommys.org/about-us/contact-us

* https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/about-us/

* https://www.sands.org.uk/contact-us

Thanks for reading.

Best wishes,
Dannika