I graduated from The Open University with 2:1 in BA (Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing!!! 😀
It has been an incredible year for me, jam-packed with wonderful experiences and achievements I never believed possible, even in my wildest dreams. But, as I bid goodbye to undergraduate studies, I embark on brand new learning adventures in the form of a full-time role in education. I now work for the ALN department in a secondary school, where I am about to undergo a transformation from LSA to SpLD Co-ordinator as I take on the professional development opportunity to cover a colleague who is off on maternity leave.
Through my new role in the realm of literacy, cognition and learning as part of the ALN umbrella, I hope to be able to support many, many students to ensure their experiences of learning while at school are the best they could possibly be. I’m also excited to use the exciting training opportunities and responsibilities of the role to further enhance my literary endeavours, as I strive to create books for young people who are reluctant readers and/or have dyslexia and other associated superpowers 🙂
Although my new role means less time for blog writing during term time, I truly hope to make a difference through the work I do – and I look forward to sharing my future books with you all!
Sincerest apologies for not writing to you sooner, life has been pretty hectic!
(Although I’m not apologising for the ‘Bridgerton’ vibes, because I felt very ‘Bridgerton-esque’ in my wedding dress with my hair and make-up professionally styled :D)
I hope you’re well and enjoying the countdown to Christmas 🙂
My husband (:D) and I got married in early September, and we couldn’t have wished for a more magical day…
Here’s what I wrote on Facebook in celebration of the best day of our lives:
“My husband (😁) and I are incredibly grateful to all who worked tirelessly to make our magical wedding so perfect 👰♀️🤵♂️🍾🥂
Our family and friends are beyond awesome, and there isn’t a moment we aren’t thankful for their support – you are wonderful, and both of us know how lucky we are to have you as part of our next, exciting chapter 💝
We’re also thankful for our amazing guests, who made sure our wedding was the fantastic celebration it turned out to be – we are so glad to have been able to share our wonderful wedding with you, and we hope you enjoyed it too 🌷🍰🏩🥳
Infinite thanks for the fabulous wishes from everyone sending messages, texts, cards, and gifts as well – we’re eternally grateful for your kindness and support 🎁🎊
After all the trials and tribulations of our respective pasts, Gareth and I know how truly fortunate we are and we couldn’t be happier… 🥰🎉
Thank you all for your continued support 😁
Lots of Love, Mr & Mrs Johnson ❤”
While Gareth stayed at our house with his best man, I stayed at our wedding venue with my mum. The hotel room was gorgeous – straight out of Beauty & the Beast!
In fact, the entire venue was lovely – we certainly made the right choice. The staff were absolutely fantastic and we couldn’t thank them enough 🙂
The excitement of marrying the man of my dreams far outweighed the nerves of having a hundred pairs of eyes watching me walk down the aisle – that was, until it was actually time to walk down the aisle. With the corset of my wedding dress pulled so tightly to keep it from slipping (it was still too big), the lengthy wait to be called, the heat, the dizzying striped carpet, and everyone talking to me at once, I very nearly fainted! However, while I was trying to keep it together, Gareth was pacing nervously in front of all our guests – so I imagine we were feeling about the same. Thankfully, the moment the doors were opened and I walked onto that aisle, I focused on the ground so as not to trip over or make awkward eye contact with anyone, and I didn’t feel so faint anymore. Then, I saw him. I saw Gareth and my nerves melted away; I was finally safe.
It was an incredible feeling, standing with the man I love as we made our vows to one another in front of family and friends. I can honestly say that marrying Gareth fulfilled a long-awaited happiness I’ve never felt before. Our wedding day was the most magical of our entire lives, and I couldn’t be more grateful than to have married my best friend in the whole entire universe ❤
Once the ceremony was over (in the blink of an eye!), photos had been taken, and speeches had been absolutely smashed out of the park, the party started – and what an amazing party it was! Those of our invited guests who gifted their time to support us, as we embark on the next exciting chapter of our lives, were treated to the most wonderful night of music, dancing, laughter, and joy as we all celebrated the power and the magic of love – thank you, all 😀
I’m hoping to write a full account of mine and Gareth’s wedding one day (when I can find the time to), although I’m always so busy it’s taken 4 months to write this blog post, and it still feels half-written! Haha. I hope you’ve enjoyed this account of the best day of our lives anyways 🙂
Thank you for supporting my journey, literary and otherwise!
As I write, at this very moment, I have absolutely no idea where this post will lead…
I’m not sure how much you know of me, so as a brief recap: I was in a toxic relationship for five and a half years, married on 10th September 2016, left him on 20th July 2018 when I discovered he’d been having an affair, then was officially divorced on 10th April 2019.
That relationship left me with scars so deep I’m not sure they’ll ever disappear. However, with infinite thanks to my phenomenal family, wonderful boyfriend, and amazing friends, those scars are fading more with each passing day.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of that relationship, other than to share that because of the abuse (emotional and sexual), the betrayal, the torment I endured at the hands of a narcissist, I am who I am today. Though no, he deserves no credit. The strength it took to endure that relationship, combined with the courage to walk away, belongs solely to me. I acknowledge the reality that without him, I may not have realised the extent of my power – to which I allow acceptance of my experiences, as opposed to regret.
After being severely hurt by a person you believed loved you, many people advise you to ‘forgive and forget’. Unless you’ve been through the devastating emotive spiral following any form of betrayal, you could never understand how impossible forgiveness is. Having been raised a Christian, I can fathom the freeing effects of forgiveness – though something you’re never taught is how to handle hate. I’ll see the good in someone before I’ll see the bad; an aspect of my personality that has landed me in countless difficult situations that could have been avoided had I trusted my instincts, that aforementioned relationship a case in point. Something he forced me to feel that I had never, ever known before was hatred, akin to facing a nefarious inner enemy on a daily basis. While that could have easily led to me losing myself, I chose to live to the full instead.
It has been an arduous road littered with unforeseen pitfalls, though finally, I can say with deserved pride that I no longer hate the man who hurt me – I pity him.
I am thankful for every blessing in my life, however seemingly small. I love wholeheartedly, I embrace my flaws yet work tirelessly to improve, I truly care about making a difference for the better, and I am no longer a victim of the relentless inner torture that followed all the forms of betrayal I’ve known.
I’ve been reading Othello by William Shakespeare as part of my university course, and this line struck me, “To mourn a mischief that is past and gone / Is the next way to draw new mischief on”
The reason I spiraled in a whirlpool of self-doubt, lack of confidence, and depression for so long was because I worried over my own flaws to the extent I’d mistrust anyone who claimed to love or accept them. All I could see was my failures, my struggles, my physical imperfections. I suffered panic attacks and nightmares, drowned in flashbacks of the past as I tried desperately to force myself to see light in my future. I was so suffocated by the damage done to me that I was afraid to swim out of that darkness in case what I met with would be worse. If you’re currently in that headspace, please know that you are not alone. You never have been. And you know what? When you fight through that riptide trying continuously to pull you under, eventually you will reach the surface – and my goodness is it extraordinary!
I used to care so deeply about what other people thought that I ended up in a relationship that could have very well led me to a fate worse than divorce. Please stop trying to fit society’s idyllic image of who it expects you to be. So what if society dislikes your life choices – provided you aren’t causing harm to anyone else and you aren’t doing anything illegal, just be yourself. It does take a heck of a lot of courage to be yourself in a world so enamoured with convention, but you’ve got to embrace who you are because life is too damn short to waste.
The 10th September 2016 was fantastic, though my mind has blocked any record of him from it. All I remember when I recall that day is family and friends being together in happiness, laughing and smiling, forgetting miseries past, nor considering sadness yet to come – everyone soaked in a rare sense of togetherness on a day I unintentionally designed to evolve around the enjoyment of others. So I don’t regard it as ‘my wedding day’ because it wasn’t. The fact I married the wrong man that day was secondary to the joy that day brought to those who attended. Therefore, I have made a promise to myself that on the 10th September every year I will celebrate my power – whatever you have been through, I implore you do the same. Nobody’s experiences ought to be compared to anyone else’s, for we all have unique perceptions of what we’ve been through. Let’s make 10th September a day of compassion without comparison.
The strength you possess within may not reveal itself through convention. Be kind, but please, be yourself! Don’t fall into the trap of being controlled by the vision of yourself you believe best pleases others.
I have been using this time to inspire myself and my writing. After nearly 30 years of writing, I have learned many things. One is that writing can solve a multitude of problems; whether that’s writing the book you want to read because you’ve never been able to find it, having an outlet for creative inspiration, or helping to work through anxieties by journaling. Another is that writing is as beautiful, breathtaking, and life-giving as it is fulfilling – in my job as a ghostwriter, I love enabling someone to make their dream of publishing a reality, by putting their ideas in writing. Though the truth is, writing can also be exhausting. Writer’s Block can strike at any moment, and it’s with that in mind I am arming you with the skills to defeat Writer’s Block…
1.) TAKE A BREAK Yes, I did mean to shout that. I know it feels the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to do in this situation, because, if you’re like me, you want to just power through and get that writing done. I get it. But more often than not, that doesn’t work. However, I do have good news for you; walking away from your project works wonders! It gives you time to breathe and think about something other than the undiscovered intricacies of this project circling your sanity. It relieves the pressure, and reminds you that there’s more to life in the moment than clambering over the ever-growing wall of Writer’s Block. You’ll surprise yourself when you step away and allow that wall to crumble, freeing your mind to welcome a return of free-flowing ideas 🙂
2.) Go Outside! This follows on from the previous point, but I think it’s necessary to highlight this. Going outside is soooo helpful. Take a walk around the block; go eat a picnic in your local park; spend time with your pets; go horse riding; try wildlife or landscape photography; do something outside whilst enjoying fresh air. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Our world is inspiring, though you’ll never truly feel that if you never get outside to experience it 🙂 Something doesn’t have to have a divine or profound effect on you to be worthy inspiration – it can be the way a bird splashes in a birdbath, or sunlight dancing through leaves when looking up from the base of a tree, or even seeing a dog sliding on muddied grass to fetch their toy. Inspiration can be drawn from anything if you take the time just to look.
3.) Read. I love to read. It inspires us to write, because something someone else has written has moved us. Whether that first realisation of this was twenty years ago, or five minutes ago, it is still so important. Ultimately we cannot learn or grow as writers without reading, it teaches us our craft. Don’t feel guilty about reading when you’re struggling to write – just read something you enjoy and fall back in love with words.
4) Write! This is my final tip. This is one of the most useful tips for me. Forget what you’re currently trying to work through and write about anything in the world. It can be about your day, or your love of hats; or about a word you can’t get out of your head. You can Google search writing prompts, there are so many out there! The great thing about using writing prompts is that no one has to see it. It can be the worst piece of writing ever, but there’s no pressure. It is then that you’ll find writing becomes fun again – that’s the beauty of it 🙂
When you feel like the colour has drained from your writing, please don’t give up. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that wall will break. I’m rooting for you! <3
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 🙂
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 🙂
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