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

Turning Thirty – Life Lessons Learned

Heyy πŸ™‚

Hope all is well with you!

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

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

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

Anyways, to the task at hand…

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

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

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

2.) Trust your instincts.

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

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

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

3.) Kindness is key – in moderation.

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

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

4.) Perfection is subjective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

Dannika <3

Mindfulness, 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

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, Uncategorized, Writing

On the Importance of Self-Care

Heyy, hope you’re well πŸ™‚

Self-care sounds so indulgent, like it’s some sort of ethereal gift allowed only on special occasions – well, that’s what it seems to me anyway. I take care of my personal hygiene (perhaps a little too much, given my OCD for cleanliness), exercise, eat as healthily as I can and manage my responsibilities, but rarely do I spend time truly enjoying my own company.

Here’s what Google has to say about the definition of self-care:

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

I love my family (including the animals!), I love my boyfriend, and I love my friends, so any time I can I spend soaking up their company and making the most of that ‘togetherness’ we’ve all been without for so long (although sadly, we can’t yet see all our family and friends in person). For me, this is a form of self-care, because I relish being surrounded by loved ones.

When alone, however, I am absolutely rubbish at taking breaks whilst I’m working. I get so absorbed by what I’m doing, that I just let time run away with me; then when I’ve stopped working, all I can do is plan and think about work. On the surface, this is great in terms of productivity – because I am a perfectionist, I try my best to create quality, meaningful content, so being able to get projects completed in a timely fashion is a great feeling. Unfortunately, in the long run I find myself physically and emotionally drained all.the.time.

On Monday I decided this is no longer sustainable. I had to get my backside in gear and organise myself properly if I’m to make the most of my life. I’m missing out on a heck of a lot because I’m so damn focused on earning money to keep my animals, and my everyday life, going. I am fed up of living in a constant state of anxious stress. I admit, having my new car stranded in a garage for the last week after it broke down three times within the first two days of owning it has done nothing to help my anxiety or stress levels… Though I took my first steps toward enjoying myself more by making time to enjoy riding my horses and walking my dog instead of just doing so for exercise, I spent quality time cwtched with my boyfriend as we ate great food, watched films and celebrated being together for a whole year; and I actually read a book for fun as opposed to just reading for work or studying.

Taking time to breathe in your life is not a luxury, it is vital.

Making time to nurture your mental and physical well-being is allowed.

Please, don’t ever feel guilty for wanting to make the most of time for yourself.

Self-care is different for each of us. So, here is a brilliant article by Anna Borges that might help you along the path of contentment & if you’d like further advice, you can find some here from mental health charity Mind.

Take care of your self <3

Best wishes,

Dannika