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, Author, Creative, 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

Adventure, Animals, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Ghostwriting, Nature, Open University, Photography, Reading, Writing

Long Time, No See!

Heyy,

Long time, no see – 3 months, to be exact o.O

I’m always apologising for being busy, though this time, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to include a brief (well, brief in terms of my writing) update along with my hope that all is going wonderfully well in your life – if it isn’t, please know you are not alone πŸ™‚

So, I finally completed my Stage 2 modules as I study for BA(Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with the Open University. Due to my ridiculously heavy workload, I initially intended to complete one module at a time for the final Stage 3 section of my degree, though I’ve given deep thought into what I’d like to achieve, and have had endless discussions with my loved ones about my terrible attempts to forge a work-life balance – I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to relieve pressure long term, I’m going to follow their advice and study full time from Sept/Oct this year, so I’ll have less pressure on my time as of June/July 2022. That means I’m going to take a small step back from taking on new ghostwriting clients with lengthy projects – if you’re a prospective client with a lengthy project, I apologise! But I have to focus on improving the quality of my assignment scores, since I achieved 80%-95% for Stage 1 modules (though I did complete them part time, around part time employment) and only 65%-75% for Stage 2 modules (completed around self-employment; the hours for which I spend working I dread to count!). I am still accepting smaller projects, such as blog posts, website content, articles, and short stories πŸ™‚

I am not at liberty to discuss any aspect of ghostwriting projects – as I sign confidentiality agreements for every project – though I can let you know that business has been incredibly busy, for which I am exceedingly thankful! Unfortunately, I did experience my first (and hopefully last) setback in my ghostwriting endeavours, when a client failed to pay the final fee for their project; they disappeared the day after I sent them the final document. I admit that my trust in the basic, moral goodness of human nature was tested, and though I have chalked it up to being a valuable lesson learned, it was also the catalyst for my decision to pursue the completion of my degree full time as I reassessed what I’d like to achieve through ghostwriting. It saddens me that despite my best efforts to help people and make a difference for the better, someone could be so thoughtless as to waste my valuable time and effort – especially since I’d turned down other projects to help the client, as there was a tight deadline and I was told the project meant a lot to them. So, I have decided to focus on completing my degree, and whilst I will continue ghostwriting and proofreading, I am only going to take on projects I know I’ll enjoy, as I am going to spend more time on my own writing whilst I pursue a primary school teaching career (unless, in the meantime, I manage to emulate a fraction of J.K. Rowling’s success with my own novels, enabling me to write for myself full time; which is highly unlikely!).

I have always been driven to make a difference for the better, something I have strived to do through ghostwriting and proofreading – for instance, I’ve taken on many projects free of charge for charitable organisations, alongside my busy work schedule – though have found that my love of writing has been tested on occasion when I’ve had to work 14-hour days while struggling to juggle everything going on in my hectic schedule. Enduring a miscarriage – as well as suffering with my mental health as a result of the constant stress caused by the struggle against the rising pressure of everything – has taught me that life is too short not to do what I love for a living. Whilst I love writing – and have earned more money through ghostwriting than any other job I’ve ever had – I cannot sustain the level of work I have been. I’m not making as much of a difference for the better as I intended through the type of ghostwriting work I do. Although I am going to continue working for several of my fantastic clients, for whom I provide ghostwriting projects regularly, I will be dedicating more of my time to achieving success with my own writing (since I’m able to do so for my clients, I may as well try writing bestselling pieces for myself too!), and I am going to work towards becoming a primary school teacher; following in the footsteps of many amazing female relatives before me, primary school teaching is a career I expect to be as challenging as it is creative, but will allow me steady, structured working hours and the ability to work as part of a team and ‘switch off’ at the end of the day (instead of being immersed in my solitary work 24/7) – enabling me to make the most of my life, whilst still making a positive difference to many young people’s lives πŸ™‚

Moving on from my career aspirations, I created a special book for my niece (whom I hadn’t seen for a year due to pandemic lockdown restrictions) for her 5th birthday. She’s going through a tough time with her health, so I felt it would cheer her up to have a book created specially for her πŸ™‚ Whilst I still have a lot to learn in terms of illustration and typesetting a fully-illustrated document, I thoroughly enjoyed working on Evelyn-Rose’s book around my crazy work/uni/life schedule; it helped me channel stressful energy into something positive. In case you’d like to view it for yourself, the link to the listing for “Evelyn-Rose’s Magical Adventure” is here.

Something I’d been debating for many years was getting a second tattoo. My first experience was traumatic, to say the least, so I’ve spent years researching and pondering whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Though I am pleased to say that I did go ahead with getting a tattoo, inspired by a photograph I’d taken on the last family holiday we went on with my wonderful grandparents – something my late Nan and I talked about for a while was my getting a peacock butterfly tattoo, so I hope she’d have appreciated my decision to finally go ahead with getting it done πŸ™‚ As it happens, butterflies are also representative of the beauty of change, of hope, and of triumph through adversity – a fitting testament to my life experiences.

I have been revelling in the beautiful weather lately, taking every opportunity I can to get Cai walked and ride/spend time with my horses, as well as to delve back in to another of my hobbies – photography πŸ™‚ I’ve not been feeling quite myself, so I’m currently working hard to exercise more and eat healthier, in hope of losing weight, improving my strength, and toning up; I’m pleased to report that it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished my final end-of-module uni assignments, though I feel better already for spending more time out and about. You can follow some of Cai’s adventures on his Instagram page.

However, as often seems to be the case, my injuries have made being more active far from straightforward. Not only has my hand been more painful lately (due to increased exercise through following YouTube HIIT/Pilates videos, horse riding, Cai pulling on his lead, etc.), but I have discovered that my jaw is dislocated and has been causing me major issues in the form of pain, swelling, and headaches – I had mistaken the issue as being an impacted wisdom tooth for a long time; it was the thought of having another tooth removed that put me off making an appointment with the dentist, but if non-invasive treatments don’t work, I might have to go through some pretty unpleasant surgery on my jaw o.O

My boyfriend, Gareth, and I have a few events to attend this year, as well as a few days away in Edinburgh to look forward to this summer – and I’m working hard on improving my self-confidence – so, I’ve spent a little time practising using make-up. My skin has been terrible lately – which I imagine is largely stress-based – and that hasn’t helped me feel better about myself. Whilst I’m nowhere near as great at using make-up as I’d like to be, I’m hopeful my face painting/sculpting skills will continue to improve…

I’ve been working hard to improve my confidence whilst driving, and am pleased to be making progress πŸ™‚ I even went to the cinema a couple of days ago, for the first time in around 18 months!

Annndd I’ve decided to dedicate as much time as I can to my own writing by taking it more seriously – as such, I’ve signed up for Mslexia and WritersHQ, which will help me gain confidence by interacting more frequently with fellow writers. I’ll be making more time to read books from fantastically inspirational authors too, to improve my writing as much as possible and ‘switch off’ – just received a mega Waterstones order; anyone else love that ‘new book’ scent? πŸ˜‰

For more regular updates, please feel free to visit my Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter account πŸ™‚ I am also updating The Emet. Review as often as I can.

I hope to be more active in terms of content creation for my blog from now on, so you can expect more interesting posts than this – such as a short story series, book reviews, and a variety of posts about all things literary, equestrian, and mental health πŸ™‚

Anyways, I hope all is well with you; I look forward to reading messages about all the exciting things happening in your lives too!

Stay awesome <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Animals, Author, Ghostwriting, Nature, Uncategorized, Writing

Happy St David’s Day!

Hi Everyone πŸ™‚

Dydd GΕ΅yl Dewi Hapus, or, Happy St David’s Day (if you don’t speak Welsh)!

The national flower of Wales is the beautiful Daffodil πŸ™‚

Soooo sorry I’ve not updated my blog in a while, it’s been a busy few months… o.O

I’ve been struggling to manage my time effectively (so, nothing new there) – which has often led to me working until between 11pm and 1am most nights a week. Not only have I been busy with some great ghostwriting projects, I’ve also been working hard to keep up with both of my university modules. However, that has meant I’ve lost out on precious time I could have spent with my boyfriend, dog, and horses (if it weren’t for lockdown that list would be far longer!) – as well as meaning I’ve had to put the writing of my own novels on hold. Two weeks ago I decided enough was enough, I’d hit a metaphorical wall and felt completely burned out. Therefore, I caught up with all the work I needed to and gifted myself 2 weeks off to take a step back from work and enjoy my life. I’m happy to report that I’ve done just that! πŸ™‚

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Despite my mare’s attempts to get herself stuck in a fence whilst trying to remove her own shoe, meaning a few days of box rest and bandages while waiting for the farrier, I have managed to get some schooling done with my horses – which has been wonderful πŸ™‚

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Clipping is definitely not my forte… #oops
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The first time we’ve encountered a jump in years πŸ˜€
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What a mess πŸ™
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I’m pleased to report that my bandaging efforts were more successful than my attempts at clipping – this bandage lasted the entire night ;P
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I do need to get fitter and lose weight, though I promise I haven’t turned into a marshmallow – I was wearing about a thousand layers in this photo! #itwasfreezing

I’ve spent lots of time cwtched up watching films in the evenings with my boyfriend – who is amazing at keeping me from stress-spiralling and supports me through absolutely everything, for which I am eternally grateful πŸ™‚

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#snowday2021

My dog and I have enjoyed lots of brilliant walks, taking in the beauty of nature as it’s about to blossom into spring – he’s also needed a few baths, thanks to the muddy conditions clinging on after winter πŸ™‚

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#walkies
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Spring if finally here! πŸ˜€

And, last but not least, I’ve actually managed to enjoy writing my own novels! I’m in the ‘world-building’ phase at the moment, and am working on tidying up plots and storylines before getting down to business and getting the actual manuscripts written. I’d actually written a manuscript for the first novel around 4 years ago, though have pretty much scrapped that and am starting again. All I’m at liberty to share with you right now is that it’s a YA Sci-Fi series, that will eventually link to a fully illustrated children’s book series I also intend to write… I’m hoping to attain representation from a literary agent when I’ve completed all of the manuscripts, though because I’m so busy I have no set schedule for completion πŸ™‚

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#literarylife

That’s it for my relatively boring blog post today – I will try to get some interesting content written as soon as I have time to, promise! I hope you’re all coping as well as you possibly can with your local coronavirus restrictions, and I hope the arrival of spring is as inspiring for you as it is for me πŸ™‚
Infinite thanks for your continued support <3 

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Finding Self-Confidence

Hi Everyone, hope all is well πŸ™‚

I’ve just seen a post on Facebook by one of my friends and I suddenly felt compelled to write this blog post. I honestly have no idea where I’m going with this, but I have had enough of feeling inadequate and I’m fed up of seeing those around me feel less than good enough too.

The post read: When I say “please don’t take a picture of me” it’s not because I’m being bitchy and stubborn, it’s because if I see that picture I will seriously feel so bad about myself and think I am the ugliest thing on earth and sink a little deeper into self consciousness and hatred.

First of all, now I am totally guilty of this, we *must* learn to stop comparing ourselves to others.

Each and every one of us are unique. We are the only one of ourselves in existence. At this very moment in time, we are the only person living our life. You are the only one reading this post, my words, from your perspective. When we consider our existence from such a profound viewpoint, we realise just how precious we are.

How devastating that we spend so much of our time – that should be filled with happiness, contentment and joy – allowing our own image to be destroyed upon the judgements others make of other people. Since if we think about it, we are our own worst enemy as far as self image is concerned – when was the last time anyone said you didn’t look nice?

Even though my family are brutally honest about my appearance (which is wonderful), I cannot remember the last time any of them said I look awful, or fat, or a mess (in fact, they constantly reassure me I do not) – nor have any of my friends ever said anything derogatory about my appearance, unless perhaps those times I slipped in sheep turd whilst helping out with shearing, or when I’ve fallen off my horse and landed in a muddy puddle; after which we all had a great laugh! I can, however, remember that when I looked in the mirror five minutes ago that I acknowledged how bloated I am, how I really need to lose at least a stone in weight because I dislike the fat blobbed over the back of my bra and want to be lighter for my horses to carry, as well as frustratingly sighing at the vision of spots appearing along my jawline. What I absolutely failed to notice was how amazing my body is for reaching almost 29 years so far, being able to write/ride/drive/do everything I do, coping daily with crippling anxiety caused by emetophobia, still managing to get on with everything despite a severe hand injury (that may never heal), still being able to breathe despite having a broken nose, and being recipient of some fortunate genetic attributes as gifted by generations of my ancestors. I forget to be thankful that when I do have a set routine allowing for time to ride my horses and take my dog on rambling adventures, I do get fit, tone up and lose weight relatively swiftly. I am grateful to be in love and whilst I do feel encompassed by every moment I’m able to spend with him, I have to remind myself that he wouldn’t be with me if I wasn’t remotely attractive. I have always had a dream to write for a living, this year I finally found the courage to take a leap of faith and I’m delighted to be able to write for a living, study, and pursue all of my dreams. I am beyond lucky to be loved, and be able to love, so many inspiring, wondrous people.

So, next time you look in the mirror, please cast aside any negative, self-deprecating thoughts. Look through them and see yourself. Appreciate absolutely every positive attribute you have, because I guarantee there will be too many for you to note in one staring-at-yourself-in-the-mirror session!

Secondly, after some lovely long chats with friends, I realised that it is likely one of the reasons I am feeling so negative about my body image is because I am subconsciously being bombarded with images of women with perfectly toned bodies and flawless skin, unlikely to have ever had an unflattering photograph taken of them in their entire lives, their routines in order and achievements projected from social media accounts saturated with followers telling them every day how great they are. It’s like some unspoken competition has been developed, whereby women have to be seen to support one another, whilst behind the scenes setting up images to share that show their lives only from an idyllic angle, as if in some subconscious form of one-upmanship with all other women. I’ve made a conscious effort to try follow more accounts that promote positive relationships with individuality in its natural form.

The truth is, the people behind those accounts that make us feel crappy about ourselves are unlikely to have it all together and probably have brilliant photography or photoshop skills. Because we are all human, there is absolutely no way on Earth anybody has their lives entirely together 100% of the time. We all have low moments. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives we all suffer pain, and loss, and grief, and have to face adversity. But, when we go through something terrible, we are never alone. And all of us possess the power to overcome, the strength to survive, and the ability to help others using our experiences.

Finally, perfection in its purest, true form *is* attainable, because it is subjective. What I perceive as perfect someone else will not. Therefore, those aspects of our self we see as imperfect are exactly what make us perfect in another’s eyes.

I’m not there yet. I wholeheartedly admit that I have a llooonnngg way to go to feel truly self-confident. And whilst I’ll still refrain from posting super unflattering images in which I believe I look disgusting (mainly to save your sight but also to avoid embarrassing myself), I am going to continue to encourage self-confidence in others.

Being a good person is awesome, but remember, in order to be selfless self-care is vital.

Having a goal to become physically healthier is amazing, but please do so to fulfil your own happiness – not to fulfil a vision of yourself you believe others would rather see.

Lifestyle choices involving exercise and diet should bring you joy, not feel like torture. Find activities you enjoy, eat what makes you feel fantastic, and make the most of every moment instead of punishing yourself for not being the size you were when you were a teenager. Our bodies evolve as our lives move along at their natural pace. We should buy clothes to fit us, not change our bodies to make ourselves fit into clothes (after all, sizes are different depending on their manufacture and materials). When photographs are taken of us during good times, we ought to cherish the moment we were captured within, as opposed to regretting having that photograph taken – I’m sure older generations would give anything to have treasured memories captured forever in a timeless form.

Some days you’ll feel positive and productive, you will complete your to-do list then go on to accomplish everything extra you set out to. Other days, you may feel too exhausted to do much more than wear your scruffiest clothes, eat chocolate and simply survive. Do you know what? That is ok. In fact, we all need a rest sometimes – it’s ideal that is enjoyed before our bodies tire.

Despite what you tell yourself at times, you are beautiful.

Embrace who you are and celebrate your self.

We are all doing our best, let’s give ourselves some long overdue credit.

Anyways, that’s it from me for now; my apologies for the essay! Haha.

Sending lots of love and positivity your way right now <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Animals, Author, Ghostwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

About Inspiration & Silliness

Two words unlikely to appear in the same sentence, yet have a fascinating connection, are ‘inspiration’ and ‘silliness’.

When we feel inspired it’s supposed to move us, to motivate us, to keep us moving forward in our lives. Whereas silliness seems to have little substance in adult life, apart from acceptance on television or during peer-pressured drunkenness.

So you may be wondering why I have chosen to write a blog post about these words.

Well, now I’ve officially been an adult for over a decade, I have learned many valuable lessons – one of the most interesting being that silliness can evolve into inspiration.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to make people smile and laugh. It drives me to do all I can to make our world a brighter, more cheerful, kinder place. Although it happens frequently, I still get a wonderful buzz when someone approaches me for help or advice. And to be able earn a living doing something I’m passionate about, whilst making other people’s dreams come true, is an honour as well as a privilege.

A lot of the time adult life calls for us to be serious. Whether that’s maintaining professional mannerisms when dealing with clients, or deciding which provider to choose for your mortgage, or even managing the expectations of those around you because even though you love them dearly and know they love you no-matter what, you still don’t want to disappoint them. All this seriousness means we live 90% of our lives in a heightened state of stress – the other 10% is spent sleeping, or trying to sleep. Some people deal with this stress better than others – I am reminded of this on a daily basis, since sooo many people I know ‘have it together’ according to social media, whereas I still forget to eat lunch most workdays, and have been known to accidentally use deodorant instead of dry shampoo.

This got me to thinking, why does life have to be this way? Why must we all be seen to live such bustling lives to be regarded successful? Why do I allow myself to feel like a blob, and want to cwtch up in my baggiest jumper, whenever I see photos of confident women, wearing whatever the heck they want, even when they’re curvier than I am and have already had like three kids? Why do I beat myself up about not being able to ride my horses often enough, let alone compete them like I used to, despite the fact I have a chronic hand injury that drastically limits my capabilities?

Realisation struck today that the answers to those questions lie heavily upon the curse of social media goggles. It’s that ‘rose-tinted glasses’ affect, but far worse. Glasses grace your face and help you see whilst allowing for peripheral vision, yet goggles give you no choice as to your peripheral vision since they’re strapped tightly to your head. So tightly in fact, that when you eventually take them off, you’re left with red marks around your eyes, the effects of which take time to fade.

Maybe it’s about time we removed those goggles and viewed social media in its true light – as a form of media. When you read a fiction book or watch a blockbuster film, you fully expect scenes written to perfection, every detail taken care of, every character the idealistic image of an aspect of humanity. Despite the fact social media was designed to represent our everyday lives, we forget that it is just another form of media. People won’t share what they don’t want us to see (unless they’re really, really brave!). Silliness seems to have no place in a world striving for perfection. But, just as with fiction books and blockbuster films, we shouldn’t trust what we see on social media as being the full story. Behind every book you read there’s been an entire production team, often including authors or ghostwriters, editors, agents, and publishing companies. Same goes for blockbuster films – I guarantee if it’s big budget, there’s an entire team dedicated to each minuscule portion of that film’s development and production. And whilst we’ve been fooled into thinking social media harnesses each individual voice, algorithms working behind the scenes are what determines the content we see. Therefore, it shapes how we feel about social media, as opposed to allowing us to connect directly with the hundreds of people we ‘follow’ or are ‘friends’ with, and making our own minds up about them. That masterful direction means we are being exposed to an edited version of people, even people we see every day in person. For all its awesomeness, social media cannot replace true human connection.

Social media should not dictate that which defines us as ‘successful’. We are unique. Success is different for each of us.

So, actually, life doesn’t have to be stressful in order for us to be regarded successful. If you look back over your life and recognise that you’re in a healthier, happier place than you were a year or two ago, then congratulations – you’re winning!

Social media makes me feel like I should be going to a gym then sharing my sculpted form with ‘followers’ or ‘friends’, and buying expensive clothes that flatter my figure that I should post all over my social media profiles to show off, and I should learn to perfect make-up/camera-angles in order to attract higher-paying clients, and I should be posting 50 updates a day about what I’m doing to reach to a wider audience, and I should have my life in such great order that every day is prosperous. But do you know what, my respect for all these amazing women and men who seem capable of juggling every aspect of their life shouldn’t end with them, it should extend to myself.

I have to stop caring what social media has conditioned me to believe represents success. I am a powerful woman because I have overcome some horrible experiences and worked unbelievably hard to get to the fortunate position I am in today. I shall continue to work tirelessly to inspire an even better tomorrow, so I am going to stop allowing social media to make me feel like I’m not worthy, because you know what? I damn well am! Are you with me? I’d love to hear your success stories – whether that extends to writing a bestselling novel, or running an excellent charity, or something as seemingly humble as being a good person in a self-centred world. Because you, my friend, are marvelous and it’s about time someone noticed πŸ™‚

And just so you know this isn’t empty narrative, I’ll include some of the silliness I’ve participated in over the last few days that inspired me to write this post…

Life can be tough, but it can also be amazing.

Stay well, stay safe, and please, keep smiling… <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Uncategorized

About Dog Walking

Here is my handsome dog Cai on his morning walk today πŸ™‚ You can find his Instagram account here: @cai_the_collie_xx

Dog walking isn’t only essential for your dog’s welfare, but in my opinion, it’s essential for my welfare too.

As the entire world seems to be on lock-down, human interaction is being kept to a minimum. I’m dreadfully missing loved ones I normally see on a daily basis, which makes dealing with anxiety surrounding the enormity of this COVID-19 pandemic evermore difficult.

However, there’s a ray of sunlight amidst this global crisis – and I’m not just referring to the glorious weather we’re fortunate to be experiencing in the UK right now – and that is my gorgeous dog.

Cai has been part of my family for five years now, since he was the cutest puppy on the planet (I’m biased I know; but just look at him!).

He has been by my side through the some of the toughest times of my life; he has also been there for me to make the best times even greater.

Although he was initially destined to become a working sheepdog – to help us manage sheep at the farm we keep our horses at – that wasn’t meant to be. So, my sheep-phobic Welsh Collie cross Border Collie not only became my best friend, but actually gave me reason to keep getting out of bed no-matter how horrific life seemed; because he was not going to let me avoid walking him! I love my Cai infinitely, he truly is wonderful.

My three fur babies, in one photo <3

Don’t get me wrong, there are trying times too – for instance, he recently pooped on two Nurses and a Vet who tried to clip his claws (oops!). He has the most piercing bark, which he uses continuously if there are dogs on the TV (real or animated, he doesn’t discriminate). And he has the same relationship with food as any overweight human; despite my best efforts to manage a balanced diet for him, turns out one dental chew a day was enough to push his weight over the edge. Cai ended up having to go onto a strict diet and exercise regime for his own good. We’re still working on that weight loss, though 26kg down from 31kg is a fantastic feat!

Walking Cai helps me keep my weight in check too!

Dog walking provides unlimited possibilities for adventure. Cai loves walking in the field across the road from our house every day; he enjoys a stroll around the local park; now he’s decided horses aren’t scary, he takes great delight in walking around the countryside surrounding the farm; he’s fond of forestry walks; and he adores the beach.

However, one aspect of walking Cai does not like is going out in the rain. He has a wardrobe’s worth of coats, to keep him motivated to walk in rainy or cold weather.

How handsome is he?!

Whilst out walking your dog, I feel it’s important to reiterate that not all dogs are confident or friendly when approached by other dogs. Cai can become very nervous when unfamiliar dogs approach him; though if he’s chasing a ball, his focus is solely on the game of fetch – in his five years so far, he’s had three instances of loose dogs run full-force into him; each time they both rolled onto the grass, then Cai jumped up as if nothing had happened and continued to chase after his ball, leaving the other dog a little bemused. When walking with his best doggy friends Kally and Milo, Cai does get protective whilst on the lead. So far he’s only ever growled at other dogs who approach them – he’s fine off his lead – but being a collie, I am aware their behaviour can be unpredictable, so I don’t take any risks. If he’s on his own and another dog approaches him whilst he’s on his lead, he will cower and hide under my legs. Therefore, I walk him in a bright yellow lead with the word ‘NERVOUS’ in bold letters across it. That seems to have helped considerably, since fellow dog-walkers realise he’s a nervous dog and tend to put their own dog back on a lead until they’ve passed us πŸ™‚

It goes without saying really that with dog walking there’s a lot to be mindful of. Not only being mindful of other dog owners – I’ll put Cai back on his lead immediately if another dog appears in the vicinity – but also ensuring you maintain responsibility of cleaning up after your dog. I carry doggy poop bags everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I’ve been out to posh restaurants for meals before, and accidentally dropped doggy poop bags as I’ve fumbled for something in my bag. I find them in all my coat pockets, and even once discovered some in the hood of one of my coats. There really is no excuse not to pick up after your dog – thankfully, most people do.

If you’ve been inspired to consider adding a furry friend to your family, always seek expert advice from a Vet or qualified Canine Behaviourist before embarking on the wonderfully rewarding, yet at-times challenging, adventure of caring for your own dog – responsibility akin to having a child.

It’s advisable to re-home a rescue dog if you can. Had Cai not been intended for a working life, I would searched dog re-homing centres for the new member of my family. I’ve worked in a Veterinary Hospital and have seen first-hand the dangers of puppy farming, as well as the disgusting trend of purchasing a dog breed for fashionable purposes, or to make money from indiscriminately breeding the current ‘in’ breed – owners not realising the consequences of their actions (namely brachycephalic dog breeds with shortened noses, who tend to have a plethora of health issues derived from breeding defects, such as breathing issues). If you feel a specific breed of dog would best suit your family, then please do get in touch with reputable, certified breeders – make sure you see the mother, if not also the father, of whatever puppy you’re hoping to buy.

Just to get you started, here’s a quick checklist before searching for your forever dog:

  • Ensure your garden is completely secure, and large enough to incorporate space for your dog to run around/relax in the sunshine, as well as ‘do their business’ outside (also worth deciding on the best system for disposing of dog waste every day – dogs do produce a lot of it, especially as puppies!).
  • Check your house is ‘dog-proof’, meaning there’s no food or potential toxic substances within reach of your dog (some dogs do learn to open cupboards, so be careful!)
  • Be sure you’re able to set aside at least 1 hour a day to exercise your dog (depending on their breed, certain breeds require far more exercise than others), as well as all the time required to train and bond with your dog (there are plenty of qualified, insured dog-walkers out there to help exercise your dog if you’re stuck in work during daylight hours, especially during winter months).
  • Have somewhere safe to keep everything your dog needs, such as their food/water bowls and bed; along with places to store their food, toys, bedding etc.
  • Ensure they’ll have somewhere to access a constant supply of fresh, clean water and decide where and how you’d like their feeding regime set out (for example, some dogs enjoy trickle-feeding throughout the day, whereas others suit set feeding times best – always ask a Vet for advice if you’re unsure).
  • Be aware that your dog will need vaccinations at the same time every year, they’ll need flea treatment every month and – depending on the type of worming treatment – standard wormer every 3 months.
  • Also, make sure your car is ‘dog safe’ – whether that’s purchasing a crash-safe cage for your boot, or investing in a harness and seat-belt attachment (again, you can always seek advice from a pet professional about all of this).
  • Last but not least, get your dog insured! I cannot stress enough the importance of getting your dog insured. Obviously none of us dare even think about the worst happening, though should it, insurance will help you financially so you only have to focus on dealing emotionally with whatever the situation is.

Whether you’re already fortunate enough to enjoy the companionship of an amazing dog, or you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, or even if you just like to look at cute dog pictures, Cai and I hope you’ve enjoyed a short break from the panic-driven hysteria encompassing us all at the moment πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Cai and I on our walk this morning πŸ™‚
Uncategorized

On Losing Your Glasses

Ever experienced that irritating instance of losing your glasses, stressing and rushing around in attempt to find them, whilst panicking that you’ll have to live in a state of short-sightedness for the foreseeable future? If so, you tend to end up re-tracing your steps and racking your brain as to where you could’ve possibly lost them, only to make the embarrassing discovery that they’ve been on top of your head the entire time.

It’s a little like getting on with a situation that’s not right for you, as if your lack of vision forces you into an anxious state for fear of never finding what you need – when what you needed was easily within your reach the whole time.

Now that many realms of work are on lockdown, maybe the only perk of your employment situation – financial stability – is no longer there. With people all around the world tackling lack of wages, worrying about not being able to buy basic supplies (due to selfish people stockpiling), and feeling utterly lost amidst these unprecedented situations, it kind of feels like everyone needs to take a step back.

This horrific virus has, terrifyingly, not yet reached the peak of its impact. We are in fear for our vulnerable loved ones’ wellbeing.

Given the stark reality of this, considering individual health – both physical and mental – is of utmost importance. So, why not consider that career change you’ve always wanted to make? Or using this time in isolation to plan extensively for that adventure of a lifetime? After all, we have access to infinite internet resources. Alternatively, why don’t you try out that new hobby you’ve always wanted to but never had time for?

Being out in the countryside, it’s obvious there’s been a positive impact in favour of nature. One swift swipe of any social media site will display dolphins returning to Venice’s waterways, the pollution levels in China greatly reduced, and I’ve noticed that here in Cardiff there’s been more wild birds than ever braving trees close to houses that they’d never normally perch upon.

We need to work together, to help everyone emerge at the end of this COVID-19 outbreak safe, healthy and happy.

So before humanity delves into insanity, let’s take a deep breath.

We can do this.

We all need to be sensible, considerate, and patient.

Just as every time you’ve accidentally left your glasses on top of your head, you’ll find them when that state of panic is over and you’re calm enough to be rational.

Thoughts are with all affected during these difficult times. Focus on the light, and it’ll guide you through the darkness <3

I’m here for anyone feeling lonely during isolation. As you already know, I love writing – so please feel free to send an email if you’d like to share a virtual conversation πŸ™‚

d.e.kendall@outlook.com

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

About Emetophobia

Millions of people around the world suffer this debilitating phobia, yet shockingly few people seem to know what it is.

If you dont already know what emetophobia is, I wont be explaining it here; so as not to trigger any fellow emetophobes. It should take seconds to search on Google though πŸ™‚

I’ve suffered from it since I was around 7 years old. They say it can usually be traced back to one particularly horrific experience. For me, I’m almost certain it was the Christmas my Dad under-cooked a turkey.

For those who cant understand, whatever I am about to write will probably confirm whatever judgements you may have made about me being out-of-the-ordinary. If you happen to think my anxious habits strange, then I totally get it, I do. Heck, I have always stressed myself out over it, but it is part of me now. And I wont apologise for being me, just as no genuine, good, considerate person should – without our uniqueness the world would be a pretty boring place!

Anyways, instances of the phobic variety cause any emetophobia sufferer to go into panic overdrive. No amount of disinfecting, hand washing, starvation or self-isolation seems enough protection. It’s a guarantee an emetophobe will take weeks if not months to recover from being in the vicinity of an incident, regardless of the fact they almost certainly weren’t to experience it themselves. Should anyone around appear to show any sign remotely related to the instance that sends we phobics into a full-power nervous breakdown, we will not only keep our distance – we’ll also obsessively clean ourselves, often avoid food just in case our already anxious stomach is upset to the point of no return, and even lock ourselves away from the outside world for 24-48 hours, until we’ve satisfied the emet-demon that we’re safe from catching anything sinister.

As you can imagine, this makes virtually every activity an anxiety attack risk. Travelling in the car or public transport there’s a chance fellow travelers become a cause for concern – whether on the side of the road or within our immediate breathing space. Going clubbing, or for nights out, or house parties involving copious amounts of alcohol consumption never end well – the resulting effects are usually a source of hilarity for everyone else; whereas it’s the complete opposite for us. Going on holiday and trying new, exotic foods is terrifying enough to put us off going away in the first place. And don’t get me started on the agonizing strength of anxiousness experienced when attending or working in an environment surrounded by children – the majority of whom don’t seem to have a decent grasp on hand hygiene, and tend to find foul happenings funny. Watching films, especially in the cinema when relatives and friends haven’t been able to ‘vet’ it for you first, is a white-knuckle experience akin to jumping out of an aeroplane if you have a phobia of heights. You become superstitious, afraid to wear the same clothes as the day of any given incident – even if it was experienced by someone else – just in case it’s bad omen.

Emetophobia turns you into your own worst enemy, as you are petrified of your own body. Can you imagine living in this constant state of highly pressurized anxiety 24/7? It’s the reality for emetophobics.

Due to emetophobia, I developed anxiety, OCD and depression. However, after attending my GP, therapy (CBT didn’t work for me unfortunately, though I was thankful it helped me understand the phobia a little better) and going through some rather challenging times, I learned that any traumatic experience has potential to be a trigger for emetophobia. For me, being bullied in school, then sexually and emotionally abused as an adult, had a devastating effect on my mental health due to the added strain of living with this life-limiting phobia. Occasionally to the point I wasn’t sure how I could continue to live in this state of constant torture (I have my horses, dogs, family and friends to thank infinitely for helping me save myself).

Over the years I developed many habits a normal person would certainly consider odd. Whilst in school, I’d change my clothes and shower at least three times a day – wouldn’t allow any of my school clothes, bags, shoes etc. to ‘contaminate’ anything related to the rest of my life (most namely that which I considered precious, so primarily anything to do with my horses). If Mum expected me to leave school and go straight to the stables without showering and changing my clothes, I’d have a meltdown. I went through a phase when starvation seemed the best way to avoid the risk altogether. Since I was being bullied anyway, I figured losing weight whilst preventing any threat to my ‘safe’ existence would be a win win. So, I would eat as little as I possibly could. My lunch would end up fed to the seagulls hanging around the high school playing fields, and I’d do all I could to avoid mealtimes – my parents rarely allowed me to leave the table without at least a few mouthfuls of dinner. Even then I’d only eat bland food. I would spend as long as humanly fathomable at the stables, exercising off as much ‘fat’ as I possibly could, content in the knowledge I was safe from my phobia, as well as from bullies. I was never an overweight child, but I was 6 and a half stone until my late teens.

Once I’d left school I learned to manage my phobia far better. Without skipping by my adult experiences, during the couple of years of fighting continuous phobic tendencies, I ramped up my usual OCD handwashing and personal hygiene processes. I started using excessive amounts of hand sanitizer, to the point I developed severe eczema on my hands. I stopped having to change clothes every five minutes, but I ended up trying out many different stomach settling medications and meditation to try calm myself down. I had a few exceedingly wobbly days and took to the drastic measure of staying awake all night when I believed myself most vulnerable to all manner of horrors – worst of all that phobic instance. Quite sad really, that because I was so focused on dealing with the hellish mental state emetophobia forced me into, I didn’t realise the extent to which I should’ve realised how terrible other realms of my life had become. I daren’t risk getting pregnant, for the crippling fear I experienced just thinking about what might happen to me relating to this dreadful phobia. Perhaps that was why my situation was fraught with frustration; I couldn’t bring myself to provide what everyone so desperately wanted.

Thankfully, that phase of my life ended. Divorced from the shackles of fear controlling my every manouvere, freedom seemed all the more wondrous. It took quite a long time to recover, and I’m sure that perhaps deep down I will always be recovering, but I want to assure you there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you suffer emetophobia.

You don’t have to be terrified of your body every second of every day, despite the fact that’s what we end up being.

I get my bad days like everyone does with this awful phobia-demon, though my protective habits mainly consist of:

* Being vegetarian (I admit my phobia isn’t the only reason I chose to be veggie).

* Keeping my hands clean as possible at all times.

* Always avoid touching my face unless I’ve just washed my hands.

* Carrying extra strong mints with me if my stomach does feel a little off (which tends to do the trick by settling such sensations).

* Taking great comfort in learning that the only real cause for a phobic instance is poisoning (even then it could manifest in the opposite direction; through pregnancy or catching something it isn’t a necessity either) – there are people who have genuinely lived their entire lives without remembering an instance.

* Reminding myself that I’ve survived many awful episodes surrounded by phobic triggers, and I’ve been absolutely fine once I’ve looked back – which makes it feel I’ve wasted time worrying and overthinking.

* Working as a vet receptionist and having to repeat trigger words literally hundreds of times a day, means I can say trigger words without experiencing a spike in anxiety levels.

* Having an amazing boyfriend/wonderful family/fab friends who keep an eye out for phobia triggers in films so I know when to avoid them. I’ve improved to the point that I’ll even watch films with phobic instances in, provided I cover my ears and close my eyes until the offending scene is over – something I’d never have done even two years ago (I’d have avoided watching the film at all).

I’ve also been following some Instagram pages that review films and post whether they’re ‘safe’ for emetophobes or not. In fact, I decided to do something to help others in my situation, using the fact I was noting TV programs and films as being ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ for fellow emetophobics as a sort of self-therapy.

If I get enough of a response, I may well post what I managed to list if I can find it. I may even start adding to it again if there’s demand…

I do really feel it would be worth having films, TV shows, books, magazines, even plays marked with logos such as the following. It would make life a heck of a lot more bearable for those of us with emetophobia – what do you think?

<- Image Copyright 2020 Β©D.E. Kendall

(I’m aware it’d be virtually impossible to roll out, as there are countless phobias that could be triggered by any of the entertainment vessels mentioned above, but it may be a consideration for a particularly ambitious collective to create some sort of listing for anyone with varying degrees of different phobias, to make consuming entertainment more comfortable for everyone.)

Now you’re fully aware of my idiosyncrasies, I hope I’ve helped you feel a hundred times better about yourself – regardless of whatever mental health issue(s) you’re dealing with πŸ™‚

Please know that you are never alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling. We are all stronger than we believe – the fact we’ve fought our fears up to this very moment prove that; we have no reason not to continue being courageous.

You’ll be fine <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Sheep

Heyy Ewe!

Thought it might be nice to write a blog post about sheep – the underrated heroes of the British countryside.

They graze and fertilize pastures to allow for improved grass growth in the future; they cross-graze land with other livestock such as horses – consuming plants that horses cannot; and, let’s face it, there’s no lovelier sight on a glorious spring day than newborn lambs pinging and springing around our fields.

I confess, I am not fortunate enough to have my own farm. I pay to keep my gorgeous horses at a beautiful (arguably the most beautiful) place around a 30 minute drive away from home. In the spirit of helpfulness, my family and I try our best to assist with the care of the 100-or-so sheep who live at the farm. All baaa (see what I did there?) one are female, with just one castrated male – we helped hand-rear him a few years ago – who blends in perfectly with the girls.

We’ve had countless adventures whilst helping look after the sheep over the last decade; far too many to fit into one blog post! So to summarize, most winters are spent trudging through thigh-high (well, almost – maybe mid-calf to knee level on average) mud in all weathers to feed and check over the girls. Most of them are polite, standing back until their feed is in the trough and we’ve stepped away. There are a few Welsh-breed ewes who were born with attitude, however. They’re the ones we have to watch, because in their falsified state of starvation, their enthusiasm and affection are exaggerated; they’ve been known to knock us over accidentally – we’ve all face-planted the mud at some point. Then there’s lambing – wondrous and stressful in equal measure. Since a serious hand injury 5 years ago, unfortunately I haven’t assisted with any births. Before that, I am proud to say that when called upon I was able to save the lives of quite a few ewes and their lambs. One lamb was named Dannika by the lovely lady who owns the farm, after I saved both the lamb and her mother from what would’ve been an impossible birth. I am pleased to report that Dannika has grown up beautifully, and has since gone on to have twin lambs of her own πŸ™‚

We’ve also helped hand-rear a number of lambs over the years. Again, just as with lambing, there are sad times accompanying that delightful sense of achievement when the lambs you’ve helped raise are able to join the flock. There’s no feeling quite like watching the lambs bounce around with joy in the spring sunshine, after you’ve worked tirelessly to keep them happy and healthy.

They don’t only provide entertainment as lambs though. We’ve encountered an array of colourful characters, the most infamous being Dot. She was the biggest character of all. A seemingly straight-forward, normal, run-of-the-mill sheep with a black dot on her knee, to the average observer Dot was no different to the thousands of other sheep gracing our Welsh mountains. To us, however, Dot was a legend.

Confidence permeated her fluffy white fleece. No obstacle was too much for her to take on. Even dangerous dogs with sharp teeth posed no threat to Dot.

Sometimes we wondered whether Dot actually realised she was a sheep, and not an adrenaline junkie horse-dog.

If Dot had a CV, the opening lines would read something like this: “I have the ability to escape any field. Doesn’t matter how reinforced the fencing is, I will defeat it. I teach my offspring to attack on command; they establish the weakness of their enemy and exploit it (with humans it’s the back of their knees, with dogs it’s their face). If you need a tack shed or barn broken into, I’m your girl. I boast excellent lock-picking skills; I’ve been known to terrify the living daylights out of liveries, by appearing in their tack sheds unannounced. There isn’t a creature on the planet I’m scared of. Dogs, horses, cattle, cars, tractors, cyclists etc. flee at the mere sight of me. I can walk up to any horse on the farm and demand they share their dinner with me – they never refuse. All-in-all I’d say I’m pretty well-rounded, as I work well as leader of a team (sheep seem to follow me everywhere), but even better as an individual. I’m a champion lawn-mower too, having escaped into many a garden to save homeowners expensive gardening fees.”

Sadly Dot disappeared two years ago, never to be seen since.

One of the newest characters in the flock is Janet. Once a shy, retiring type, the day-before-yesterday she waltzed up to me for the first time ever, demanding I feed her.

Janet says, “Hi!”

I will undoubtedly keep you updated on various sheep shenanigans – I’m sure you’ll be introduced to many more characters over this series of blog posts – but for now, I’ll sign off. Leaving you with this photograph of Janet and I from the other day…

Janet & I πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

About The Pandemic

Another grey day here in exotic South Wales πŸ™‚

Though a new day brings with it further panic and confusion about the dreaded COVID-19 outbreak, a.k.a ‘Coronavirus’.

Not only have workplaces, entertainment venues and schools been closed, but people seem to be divided into two types; the helpers and the hoarders.

‘Helpers’ are those who selflessly ensure all around them are safe, entertained and catered for.

‘Hoarders’ are those who have lost sight of humanity and choose to act like raving wild animals, hoarding supplies as if settling down for a year-long hibernation.

From what I have seen, there are thankfully far more helpers out there than hoarders. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by level-headed, sensible human beings, who have put their caring hats on to make a positive impact for their local communities.

Whereas hoarders seem to have pushed any form of thinking hat aside, in favour of useless face masks that will not protect them from catching COVID-19. These are the people stockpiling ridiculous amounts of toilet-roll, hand sanitizer, washing-up liquid, tinned food, pasta and potatoes – though to be fair to them, they have graciously left plenty of Pot Noodles available for the rest of us. It is disappointing to see this in the twenty-first century. A time of plenty, in which more people are aware of goings on in the world than ever before.

I can understand the sense of panic, but what I cannot fathom is the fact they’re leaving vulnerable loved ones at risk – because most people, particularly those who are vulnerable, simply can’t afford to stockpile anything (I know I can’t!). All we can hope is these people see the error of their ways, and share supplies with people in need.

My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this pandemic in any way… <3

I have awesome relatives and fantastic friends working in front-line services, such as the NHS and social care sectors; my infinite appreciation of their efforts will – I’m sure – be echoed by everyone, as they keep the UK going.

In case anyone is unsure of the symptoms of Coronavirus, or protocols surrounding self-isolation, here’s the link to the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

There’s a heck of a lot of false news floating around, creating incomprehensible levels of hysteria. Please be very careful and selective about the information you share on social media! If none of us are careful, social realms will be ruled by dodgy individuals intent only on causing further havoc. Likelihood is, those spreading incorrect information about are the very same people who are selling basic sanitary products, such as hand sanitizer, online for extortionate prices. Let’s not fall prey to their deplorable dealings; let’s keep looking out for one another, focusing on staying positive instead.

Luckily, I have no reason to self-isolate at the moment. Although, because I am not risking contact with my grandparents – as they’re in the highest risk category – I realise how much I take for granted being able to see them whenever I’d like. Which is why it’s so important to keep one another’s spirits lifted right now; despite having to remain 6ft apart, we’re all in this together.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Author, Uncategorized, Writing

A Blog!

Hi πŸ™‚

So, given the state of the world right now, thought I’d add some consumable content to the ether…

Welcome to your daily dose of Dannika!

It’s my sincerest hope that you gain something from my ramblings. Whether that’s a smile, a laugh, a new viewpoint (we readers are naturally nosy after all), or simply some entertainment for a few minutes of your day.

I want to ensure everyone remains connected during these uncertain times of isolation and toilet-roll hoarding. My wish is that this is a safe place to go when you’re feeling overwhelmed, alone, or bored. I’d love for you to share your own ideas and stories too, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Together, we can try to turn this devastating reality into an amazing adventure. Are you with me?

If so, please visit whenever you’d like – I will be writing to my heart’s content. Even I have no idea what I’ll be writing about, so I cannot tell you what to expect – all I know is it’ll be a fresh experience for us all πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika