Thursday, 14 December 2017

5 Habits of Hygge

Having come across this word some time ago, I recently finished a book that's all about it and wanted to share some of what it taught me. Hygge was a recent word of the day over on Facebook for anyone who's missed it and the beautiful definition of the word that I got, came directly from that book:

'Hygge is the removal of things that cause stress in our lives - it is the ongoing pursuit of a simpler, healthier, more fulfilled and happier existence.'

42 Habits of Hygge is Helena Olsen's easy to read guide on incorporating hygge into daily life, through easily applicable five minute habits.

Funnily enough, a significant amount of these are ones that I have the pleasure of being able to practice everyday living in Milford Sound without realising their contribution to my general sense of contentment. It's cool to see just how easily these can add up to create a strong sense of hygge. And of course, anyone anywhere can begin to adapt these hygge heightening practices, so here's just some of those suggestions to consider:

1. Decluttering

Clutter to me is chaos. I genuinely find it irritating and stressful to be surrounded by clutter or excess. So this makes obvious sense to me - decluttering will bring clarity and space and a more relaxed environment. The Minimalists and those with similar thinking of course have popularised this increasingly recently and it's not surprising to find that it's also recognised as pertinent to a more hyggeligt lifestyle.

Get rid of clutter, let go of anything that is not adding value to your life and wellbeing. This may not just be physical items either - social media, email subscriptions, toxic relationships - these can all add up to an overwhelming culmination of chaos. Take the time to trim the excess wherever you feel necessary, challenging though it may be initially, it's actually a very liberating process and can give a wonderful feeling of lightness and thus contentment.

2. Reading

I was a serious book worm as a child. Piles of books would return from the library and within little time at all, I was eagerly awaiting more. I always loved exploring the writing of others, delving into new ideas, worlds and the minds of those who are experts in their fields. But, when stress and a distracted mind came into play, the books went by the wayside, ironically at the time when I probably could've done with their stress-relieving capabilities most.

In the last year I've managed dive back into reading and can definitely advocate the benefits, I'm delighted to be enjoying again.

Reading is a known relaxing habit and with the above definition in mind, a clear way towards hygge. In whatever form it may be - novel, blog, autobiography, poetry or textbook, give reading a chance. Let yourself get truly immersed into a good book and see how it feels. It's such a solid source of learning, idea-inspiring, mind-opening, calming and enjoyment - once we give it our focus and commitment.

3. Music

Listening to music is something we may not consider to be overly important, but again it's actually a proven stress reliever and can have powerful effect on our emotions and mood. Spend time just listening to music, but give it that valued attention, engage mindfulness and thoroughly listen to and enjoy it.

Another practice that I particularly enjoy from this book that ties in here, is singing and dancing. Genuinely, not a day goes by that I don't burst into song or bust a few moves wherever I am (neither of which I have any actual skills for) but it 100% improves my mood, my day or even just gets my energy up. Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, both of which lower stress levels. And dancing, regardless how it looks, feels good, reduces anxiety and stress and can boost self esteem. Get the tunes on and get into it, in the name of hygge ;)

4. Gratitude

In probably anything I've indulged in that has the pursuit of happiness at its core, gratitude will be a part of it. When something comes up that often, it is obvious that this is one to take on board. Active practice of gratitude is something I'll always recommend and stand by. It'll only ever have positive results.

An easy habit to begin that will have profound effect is to kickstart a gratitude journal. This need not take any more than a few minutes each day, but could have the potential to significantly transform our mindset. It doesn't require any elaborate explanation or even that many words but just a conscious acknowledgement of 3+ things we're grateful for each day. It can be done mentally either any time, anywhere. All that's required is to start - choose to adapt an attitude of gratitude and contentment will no doubt begin to soar.

5. Connected Time

One of the standout messages I got about hygge is the value of togetherness and connection. There's a strong value in social interaction, belonging and community. This is crucial for any of us to give more of our time to. We get so easily caught up in busyness, loneliness or screen time that we forget the fundamental grounds of connection and belonging.

Whether it's family meals, playing games together, socialising, laughing, telling stories - all of these are hygge habits we need to ensure to include. Be present and truly connect with those that are close, give them time and attention and regain enjoyment of the company of others. Be a part of the interaction, include yourself and let go of whatever has been keeping you away.


There are so many things we can do to enhance our own feelings of hygge and these will likely be quite personal and individual too, but these are simply some to get started with and try to boost all those positive feels in our lives. 

Others I particularly liked in the book are; watching wildlife, using photos as decoration, having hot drinks and lighting candles - they all just remind me of the true contentment and warmth that comes from connecting to our senses and world around us. Pick and choose and see what works, and remember that habits require repetition to form.

Most of all enjoy it! And feel free to let me know how they work for you or if you have any habits of your own that have worked the same magic :)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Belief in the Blue

The lashing lullaby put me to sleep
The rainforest's favourite composition
A gentle roar, impossible to ignore yet by no means an imposition
Its energy seeps through its Sound, recharging the slumbering soul
Unmatched in its ability to dissolve the day's tiring toll.

Awakening to a softer silence, the sun radiates through,
An open armed embrace of the sky's beautiful blue
The backdrop of a happy commute,
Illustrates the resolve of the night's dispute -
Nature's message as usual, ringing true -

Gently reminding us to continue that blue sky pursuit.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Word of the Day: Resourceful

Resourceful: 'having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.'
antonym: unimaginative

I love the word Resourceful and was just reminded of it by an old blog here where I explored how to bring it into our lives more.

To me, being resourceful is empowering. It means taking responsibility and action in your life. It's not a passive word, it's not about sitting down and wallowing in our troubles, instead it implores that we use what we have and know to overcome our challenges.

In recovery and life in general, it definitely pays to be resourceful. Instead of accepting defeat, we decide to optimise our resilience and resources. We take control and ownership and find our own path through. We help ourselves create this path, using what's available to us in the given moment.

It's a valuable skill; a word that can transform obstacles into opportunities.

I left in the antonym of 'unimaginative', with the definition because blunt as it may seem, being resourceful also means channeling our imagination, our creativity and our curiosity. It means keeping an open mind and seeing possibility instead of problems. Being unimaginative makes me think of stagnation whereas resourcefulness promotes progression, development and change.

Today, use your imagination and a resolve of resourcefulness to seek your solutions. Take responsibility, power and control over making your own way through whatever challenges life throws at you 😊

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Recommended Reading: Braving the Wilderness

As may be noticeable throughout this blog, Brené Brown has been a particularly inspiring influence to me. Since I first heard her Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability, I've sought out, enjoyed and benefited from just about anything she's publicly created.

The work that she dedicates herself to is not only of great interest but also significant importance to anyone wishing to live a more whole, authentic life. Her natural flair for storytelling makes her years of thorough research easily accessible and her genuine, honest humanity always shines through to make her work relatable and applicable.

So yeah, basically I'd recommend all of her Ted Talks and every one of her other books.

But the one I'll stick the spotlight on for now is her latest which is titled, 'Braving the Wilderness'.

Having just re-read her book, 'Gifts of Imperfection', I refreshed the concepts of embracing our imperfect, unpolished selves and knowing and believing that we are enough exactly as we are. This ties in nicely with Braving the Wilderness' call to become aware of our need to connect, genuinely feel as though we belong and have the courage to contribute.

She defines True Belonging in Braving the Wilderness as:

'The spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.'

We're meant to connect, to both ourselves and others and glean a true sense of belonging wherever we are. That can be such a tough thing to harness and I know I've definitely found it challenging to cultivate true belonging for a long time. But Brené beautifully shows how it's done and the path we can take to get there.

As a bit of an enthusiast for words, I love her many definitions throughout the book too. She has a brilliant way of explaining her understanding and translation for the key concepts she uses.

One of these lovely definitions was that of spirituality which I thought was helpful, as that can often be a tricky one to define:

'Spirituality is recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.' 

Her book calls us to become brave in finding our feet and place in the world we live in. She implores us to 'step out from the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild.' She makes a strong case for overcoming our differences, strengthening our capacity for compassion and ultimately finding a way to navigate through conflict towards connection. 

As usual she shares very relatable insight into our behaviour around belonging and loneliness, our unwillingness to lean into emotions and vulnerable experiences and the ways in which we can take the steps to overcome these. She encourages finding more helpful methods of communication - 'We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.' and 'the most courageous, is not only to be open-minded, but to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective'.

The main ideas that emerge I think are authenticity, love and compassion, connection, open and honest communication, perspective taking, understanding and another beautiful definition in the form of civility:

'Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.… [Civility] is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and no-body’s is ignored.'

Overall, I think again she definitely presents an important and necessary movement, one in which we could all very much benefit from investing in.

Monday, 16 October 2017

3 Musings on Meditation

You might have seen recently here that I've decided to dip my toes into the world of meditation. It's something I keep coming across both recently and in the past, thus far without getting particularly into it.

So I'm giving it another go. This time, using some guidance from Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm's book 'Kindfulness'. This is his method of kind mindful meditation and an overall kinder, more compassionate outlook on life and our experiences of it.

I've been giving it a shot over the last week and in tune with the teachings in my book, here's what I've learnt:

1. Priorities

So I did that post about exploring meditation, got myself all ready to really commit to it, had my book to hand and then, well, nothing really happened. I was thinking a lot more about how I should start trying it than actually doing it. I was putting it off til later or just not getting to it at all.

Like anything, if we genuinely want to achieve it, we need to prioritise it. We need to make space for it and incorporate it into our day to day. Even if that means just doing it mechanically until it feels natural, cultivating new habits will require us to create space, time and a place of importance for them in our day to day.

2. Compassionate Vs Controlling Mindset

Probably the most common (and frustrating) obstacle in meditation is trying to quiet the mind. I've found once I start trying not to think, I just think about how much I'm still thinking. Brahm addresses this saying, 'What if you meditated by treating your mind like a best friend?'

"Treating your mind like a best friend involves approaching it with warm, engaging attitude: “Hey buddy! Do you want to meditate now? What do you want to watch? How do you want to sit? You tell me how long.” When you treat your mind with kindfulness, your mind does not want to wander off anywhere. It likes your company. You hang out together, chilling out, for far longer than you ever expected."

3. Payday 

The third thing I noticed was the potential impact of impatience. Expecting quick results can put pressure on the process hindering our enthusiasm for it. Brahm resolves this frustration with a payday analogy, saying we have to work to earn our paycheck.

"Why can’t every meditation be a payday? During the difficult meditations you build up your credit, the reason for your success. In the hard meditations you build up your strength, which creates the momentum for peace. Then when there is enough credit, the mind goes into a good meditation, and it is a payday. But you must remember that it was in the so-called bad meditations that most of the work was done."

* * *

This week I want to ride out the difficult meditations and continue towards the meditative payday.

Have you had similar experiences or other challenges when getting into meditation? How have you overcome them?

Monday, 25 September 2017

Belonging: Brave the Wild

Thought for today: "Step out from behind the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild" ~ Brené Brown

Relieve yourself of the restrictions of saving face, avoiding vulnerability and attempting to 'fit in'. We expend so much energy trying to​ dodge discomfort in these ways that we're actually keeping ourselves stuck.

Get into it, get real and raw and open to life. Let the guard down and ditch all the attempts to be something you're not. Trying to protect ourselves from uncomfortable emotions and experiences is not helping us, it's just denying our own humanity, the validity of our authentic emotions and the person we truly are.

Embrace the imperfect self that's living behind that barrier. Let yourself be seen. We're not all meant to be robots or replicas of each other.

We're here to be human, to live humanely and to enjoy that experience. Exactly as we are, we belong here as much as any other human. Belonging does not require us to bullshit, it requires us to brave the vulnerable territory of being who and what we really are.

"You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself and your work in a real way.” Steve (Braving the Wilderness)

Cultivating Kindness: Accept Compliments!

Treat compliments as gifts. People are not obligated to say nice things to us, so when they do, take note! Without thinking, we often dismiss compliments, we don't believe them to be true and we reject what they say. How kind is that..?

Compliments can build us up and make us feel good, it's time to start treating them as truth.

On wonderful advice, I actually used to keep a notebook of compliments I received. This gave me the opportunity to take them on board, be grateful for them and read over them when a reminder was required that I'm not all bad 😊

Compliments are valuable, beautiful, and very kind things definitely deserving of our attention and appreciation.

From now, begin to enjoy and believe in the compliments you're given. And if you're really feeling kind, start dishing them out too 😊

Cultivating Kindness: Find Your Way to Compassion

“Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly.” —Martha Beck

"Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”

—Tara Brach

When we're used to beating ourselves up or putting ourselves down, compassion is likely lacking.

But if we want to start responding to ourselves and our lives in a kinder way, compassion is going to be key.

We need to create a new path, one that is built on self-care, forgiveness, understanding and self-respect. A path that doesn't lead to negative self talk and criticism, one that is free of judgement and poor self image.

It may be one we haven't gone down before, maybe a little overgrown and unknown, but it's ours to nurture, it's ours to shape and establish. Learning to be compassionate to ourselves will lead us so much further, it'll transform our experiences, outlook and attitude to others.

Today, let's take the first step down a new, kinder path towards genuine self compassion 😊

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Cultivating Kindness: Commit to Credit 📝

Throughout the day, how much attention do we give our achievements or accomplishments? How often do we give ourselves​ credit for how we've gotten through, handled situations and overcome stresses?

Instead, I think we sometimes focus more on what went wrong or mistakes we've made. If we were to actively write a list of things we can give ourselves credit for, imagine the boost we could feel. Bit by bit the credit adds up to build us up, to acknowledge our positive abilities, to transform our outlook into one that focuses on how well we're doing instead of constantly putting ourselves down. We cultivate a supportive, rewarding mindset rather than one run by a harsh, negative critic.

So today let's create more kindness by beginning to give ourselves the credit we're due 😊

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Project Kindness

September often instilled a somewhat unsettled feeling for me. The theme of change that Autumn brings just kind of made me yearn for a shake up, something different, a dabble of change. Maybe it's the habitual new start that the time of year signified through schooling, maybe it's the transformation throughout nature, I don't know. But I love it as a time of year for this; for its transient nature, its colourful expression, its demonstration of letting go.

Here in New Zealand, we're actually coming into Spring instead. Another time of change, but this one more synonymous with growth, beginnings​, new life.

This season feels like the precursor of change. This time is perfect, regardless what season we're calling it, to lay our very own foundations of change.

The specific change I want to cultivate is one of more conscious kindness.

Kindness is generally quite a valued quality, we like to think of ourselves as kind and we'd aim to be kind to others too. But I think we need to have another look at kindness, a deeper look.

Maybe we need to check in on how we're actually doing with this concept. Are we fully embodying it? Are we living by it as a value entirely? Are we more kind than critical - to ourselves? - to others? Do our actions show kindness - to ourselves? - to others?

I recently began reading 'Kindfulness' by a Buddhist monk whose work I'd highly recommend, Ajahn Brahm. His commitment to opening his heart to see the world, his experiences and himself through eyes of kindness is staggering. He uses it beautifully and in a way that I definitely don't think is very common. And it's that which inspired a renewed commitment to kindness for me, the fact that there is so much more to kindness than we think. The fact that we can completely change how we react, experience, interact and ultimately live our day to day.

Across this wonderful season, I want to explore the idea of kindness and how we can truly cultivate it in our lives. I want to actively practice kindness towards myself and others. I want to transform our self critical commentaries, to eradicate our harsh judgements, to silence our conditioned comparisons.

I want to lay the foundations for more kindness - authentic, entire, wholehearted kindness.

If you'd like to get on board, keep an eye here and on the Dare to Live social media to see how we're going to bring more kindness consciously into our lives.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Freedom of the Fjord

The twinkle drop rainfall tattooed my mind in smiles, 
Its dynamic dance decorates this canvas of grey
Come what may, here, we're reminded to embrace, instead of endeavouring to erase,
To partake, in our own powerful and personal dance, 
To step into our unique authentic stance,
We're called to overflow into who we are,
Reviving our being with vitality and vigour
An empowered roar of contentment - the welcome trigger - to boldly cascade rather than fade, to stand tall, feel strong & validate the self we have made.

Rainy days on the fjord freeze my toes and warm my soul - entirely majestical; 
Lovingly lost within my stormy surrounds, Senses alive with nature's dark yet dulcet sounds,
I'm awake, connected, engaged, 
Though the sky lays laden with the remnants of rage,
The mountains breathe water; a network of veins, valiantly pump throughout each range,
Their exhale, a water bird diving into the body of sea, carefree - 
A reminder of how we can be
When we let ourselves indulge in such a mesmerising scene

Friday, 25 August 2017


I suppose a little update is more than somewhat overdue here!

Firstly apologies for the lack of content recently. I had thought that my travels would provide so much more focus on regular writing and blogging. What's actually happened however, is that it's thrown me into life more, which ultimately is what this blog is all about.

Back in late January, I came to New Zealand to travel and work. Over the last 7 months I've seen incredible places of dazzling diversity, met amazing people and 4 months ago landed a dream job in the magical Milford Sound. Along the way I've laughed, cried and contemplated. I've read, chatted and written. I've re-learnt lessons and overcome challenges. I've looked inward and outward and know from the accompanying pains that at the end of it all, I've grown.

The absence of posts over this time definitely made me uncomfortable at different stages, feeling obligated to share something or work through a certain topic. But the call to just live and enjoy each moment was louder and simply felt more right.

Anything I've explored on this blog is still relevant, it's still work that means a lot to me and that I believe in. It's also quite sufficient, by which I mean, there's a fairly sizeable catalogue of varied content available at any time - continually adding to it is not really crucial. What is more important for me, is to be practicing it.

Dare to Live has a heart of learning - about ourselves, about life, about the positive possibilities awaiting each of us. These learnings are tricky to cement without practical application. So lately I guess I've been writing less and practicing more.

That's not to say I want to stop writing altogether, (there's posts on Facebook and Instagram now and then and writing is a passion I don't wish to part with), but I want to be immersing myself in my learnings and my current experiences. I want to be living by my values, authentic and wholehearted and keep figuring things out, keep improving, keep growing. I want to be the change I wish to see in the world and create an example I would be proud of.

I want to encourage you to do the same too. Maybe make the move into more 'doing' than 'knowing'. Sometimes our quest for acquiring knowledge and figuring our shit out becomes more intellectualised than instinctive. We chase information instead of embracing experiences. We want the step by step guide rather than actually using our feet and taking those steps. We put life off, promising to get involved when we know x, y, z or have found all the answers.

Dare to just do it. Get out there, get into it. Be in the life you have. Be a part of the bigger picture.

Dare to live your life now. Dare to trust that you'll find your way. Dare to believe that you know more than you realise.

We won't always get it right, we'll never know it all but we must make the most of it anyway. Because this is our life and we're going to dare to live it.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Word of the Day: LEARN

- gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught

"If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you".

Learning is a gift, a skill and a choice. Seeing it as all three has allowed learning to transform both my perspective and experience in life. We all have the capacity for it, we can all learn to use it - but like anything, we need to choose it.

Life doesn't come with a manual so if we fancy trying to figure it out, learning simply has to happen. We have to open ourselves to the things we don't know, all the knowledge we can't possibly have already, how to move forward - all of this can't be ours if we refuse to learn.

Choosing to embrace learning is definitely a game changer.

Choosing learning means we change our mistakes into teachings - not failings. Our challenges become stepping stones. Our experiences become rich resources. Our world becomes a classroom.

Learning gives us the capacity to grow, to progress and to see our story differently. It gives us the opportunity to take something from every experience and use it to our advantage. It equips us with the power to progress and find our way.

We might be averse to the idea of learning at first. Maybe we think we're beyond it, or we know enough already or we honestly just don't want to. It's not easy to admit we don't know it all or are still seeking more answers, but realistically we'll never know it all. Learning is a lifelong process. If we want to grow at all, we've got to learn.

Today, enjoy the opportunities for learning that present themselves. Use difficult situations as a lesson, get curious about how to do things and don't be afraid to ask questions. Become a student of your own experience. Take notes, revise old lessons, rise to tests. And don't always expect an A 😉

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Word of the Day: ENCOURAGE

- give support, confidence, or hope to (someone); persuade (someone) to do or continue to do something by giving support and advice; stimulate the development of (an activity, state, or belief)

The word encourage comes from an Old French word 'encoragier', meaning "make strong/hearten." These definitions are beautifully effective in giving a real sense of the active support and strength it exudes at its core.

One of my favourite quotes about encouragement is "Be an encourager the world has enough critics already."

I love how this directly promotes embodying encouragement. The decided contrast shows that in becoming one who encourages, we reject the role of the critic. Encouragement holds more impact, more necessity and more kindness. We need it more.

Choosing to encourage means we are looking to make something better. It means we're inciting confidence, stimulating progress or strengthening hope. This word is exactly what we need to build each and every one of us up. In any connotation it maintains its heart; its origins of positive potential continually advocate uplifting, inspiring support.

But do we use it? Do we encourage or do we criticise? Do we feel encouraged? Particularly within our self talk, which voice is louder - the encourager or the critic? Do we tell ourselves we can or can't? Do we support or sabotage?

'Encouraging', to me, is the crucial choice because it holds powerful possibility, especially when we embody it. When we become an encourager, not only are we encouraging others but we ultimately learn to encourage ourselves too. This means we are gentle and patient with ourselves, that we work through our mistakes rather than judge them, that we pick ourselves up rather than put ourselves down.

Learning to encourage ourselves transforms how we feel about ourselves and our abilities. Opting to encourage softens our tone, it fosters a kinder inner relationship and actually gets significantly more output.

When we make a conscious effort to encourage we'll boost our self esteem and as it becomes second nature, we'll increase our confidence, our solution seeking abilities and finally see ourselves moving in the direction we really want. We become good enough - we realise that our skills and ideas are worthwhile, that our possibilities are endless. We hearten who we are.

Today, be your own cheerleader. Encourage yourself consistently, refuse to allow the critic pipe up. Use this word to lay a foundation of solid self support. Encourage others too, spread it round and let those good feelings flow 😊

Friday, 16 June 2017

Word of the Day: WONDER

- [noun] a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
[verb] desire to know something; feel curious, to think or speculate curiously

Wonder to me is a beautiful word that more than deserves a spot in our ever-growing positive vocabulary. It's a feeling, it's a question - it's a word that chooses to see the magnificent in the mundane.

Imagine observing the world through eyes of amazed admiration. Imagine opening your mind to a sense of wonder; of charged curiosity and a renewed interest in life's happenings.

Wonder reminds me of that sense of childlike fascination. It's the awe of seeing something incredible, it's the burning questions that it ignites. It's a change of perspective and feeling that bursts open the doors to a positive, connected and curious view of the world we live in.

Wonder is also a brilliant gateway towards our dreams. We can water the seeds of dreams with a consistent commitment to wonder.

Wonder nurtures our goals and allows our imagination to grow vivid visuals. Beginning to wonder what we could achieve, see or seek is a soft, playful approach to big goals. We can break them down and really let our curiosity run away with the possibilities. We don't have to put pressure on or think all the details through, but simply wonder and allow an exploration into the potential.

Today, seek the wonder in the normal everyday things. Find the beauty, discover the unfamiliar and enjoy the wonder that they bring. Use the word to dream, to wonder what life could be like, how things could be more positive, what opportunities could lie ahead.

Take a tumble into wonderland for the day and see the difference it makes 😊

Monday, 12 June 2017

Word of the Day: EMPOWER

- give (someone) the authority or power to do something; make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

These definitions beautifully depict the strong presence of power; of confident pride and authority, that empowerment creates. This word is fierce and fighting and is one we could all do with bringing into our lives. It allows us embody power, harness strength and put this renewed energy into our lives. 

I love how its meaning is captured here by Nora Ephron:

'Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim​'.

Empowerment to me is this amazing heroic and necessary asset in our lives. We need to be there for ourselves, believing in who and what we are. We need to be our own encouragers and cheerleaders. We need to claim our right to get the most out of life.

We can't do that if we're constantly putting ourselves down. If we're neglecting self care and using negative self talk. We lose our power when we don't realise our own strength, when we don't let ourselves speak up, when we don't prioritise our needs.

Every time we keep ourselves small and don't chase after our passions and dreams, we're just stripping our own strength, demolishing our own source of power.

If we empower ourselves, we'd go after what we want, we'd become confident in who we are. We'd exude this to others and encourage the practice of building ourselves up rather than tearing ourselves down. We wouldn't lose our energy to negativity, victim mode or destructive self talk. Instead, we would become the people we want to be in lives we're excited above living. Empowerment drives us, it guides and directs us.

Today empower yourself. Build yourself up and learn to believe in the person you are right now. Make empowering choices, choose empowering self talk. Give yourself authority over your day 😊

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Word of the Day: IMMERSE

- involve oneself deeply in a particular activity.

I think immerse is definitely a noteworthy word as it's so wholly inclusive; it's an all-consuming word, one that evokes the sense of an entirely engaged experience. To be genuinely immersed in our lives to me, would be a success in itself.

I don't think it's a word we think of often though, as we zoom through the day-to-day, do we give ourselves a chance to be immersed in what's going on? Do we get truly submerged in the sensory experience of the world around us? Do we involve ourselves deeply or do we just go through the motions? Are we really taking part or just watching it all pass by?

Choosing to immerse ourselves in our lives gives a sense of real feeling, of wholehearted experience, of awareness and presence. It gets us to open up to feelings and emotions, unlocking the gates to vulnerability. It calls for us to really 'be', in our entirety - to be mindful, aware and an active participant in our daily life.

When we're lacking enthusiasm about our lot, we turn instead towards numbing it all out. We look for escape or avoidance - we get apathetic and disengaged. Changing our intent towards immersion means we move into the driver's seat, we choose the activities that feel good, we immerse ourselves in exactly what we want to be involved with. We create and are part of our own experience, fully.

Today, immerse yourself in your own life. Breathe in the fresh air, actively listen, connect to your surroundings. Take it all in. Be grateful, be present, be involved. Laugh out loud or cry crocodile tears - let it all in. Be a part of it. Get immersed 😊

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Word of the Day: TENACITY

- the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip; the quality or fact of being very determined; determination; the quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.

Tenacity is the ability to hold on when the temptation to let go teases us. It's the sheer dogged determination to persist, to persevere against the odds and to overcome challenges head on. To me, tenacity is the raw, relentless refusal to give up.

I love the sound of this word and how it reminds me of truly tenacious people. It makes me think of the qualities needed for us to get where we want to be. It's a word and trait that is of significant value, particularly in times of struggle and doubt. From experience I believe that tapping into our tenacity powerfully propels us towards both our solutions and our dreams.

Regardless what our goal is, approaching it with a tenacious attitude is how we'll achieve it. It's a fighting word, a word of strength and belief and staunch commitment to coming out the other side.

Today, choose tenacity. Be ferocious in your fight and choose to follow through. Affirm your own capacity for tenacity and use it to pursue exactly what you want to get out of the day 😊

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Word of the Day: JOY

- the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

CS Lewis cranked it up a notch and wrote "real joy … jumps under ones ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights”.

For me, it's a word that just oozes goodness. Joy is short and simple but you can see in the above definitions just how significant it is. The positive connotations simply radiate from this word. It's playful yet powerful.

When I think of joy, I think of the warm and fuzzies you get in moments, you know those pure and peaceful moments that instantly ignite a big ol smile on your face. Joy is that smile, it's that beautiful sense of well-being and connection to bliss.

Having joy in mind is a great focus for the day. It helps us seek it out and find it even in the seemingly ordinary moments. Connecting to joy is only going to make us feel good, so if we're not paying it attention already, it's definitely worth starting now.

Today, notice joy. Take note of what it is for you, where it is in your life and how to incorporate more of it. Look on the day with a joyful perspective and see how it grows 😊

Monday, 5 June 2017

Word of the Day: COURAGE

- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Courage is a beautiful word. I love that strength and perseverance are at the crux of how it has been defined here (from the Merriam Webster dictionary). Yet this definition doesn't quite get to the meaning I connect to this word. Courage for me has more depth, it has more gusto and in my eyes no one defines it better than Brené Brown as she breaks it down:

"Courage is a heart word.. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.”

I love the connection of our heart to our courage; of telling the story of who we are in a wholehearted way. This view of it is what I always think of with this word; I see it as the strength that empowers our ability to dare, a strength entirely empowered by listening to our own inner feelings. Courage is what gets us standing up in life, firm on our own two feet.

Engaging our courage is about showing up and as Brené says 'being seen'. It gets us involved in the scary, messy and challenging parts of life that are really going to help us grow.

This word is what we need to help us become truly active within our own lives. We can call upon it to help us embrace vulnerability, to overcome our fears and to pursue what we really want.

Fuelled by pure heart, courage drives us forward. Fears fall away and we begin to embrace the life we were hiding away from. We learn to take direction and use our voices. We transform our 'can'ts' into 'can's. We take ownership and control of where we're going and how we're going to get there. Without courage, we don't conquer, we don't overcome, we don't dare.

Today, think of this word often and greet the day with the courage of your whole heart. Venture, persevere and harness the strength that this lovely word has at the ready for you 😊

Word of the Day: HOPE

- a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen; grounds for believing that something good may happen; a feeling of trust.

The dictionary's definitions almost get there but probably my favourite encapsulation of this word is in Emily Dickinson's image of it:

Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all.

For me this hits the nail on the head of what Hope truly is. I see it as a defiant voice, a free and unwavering persistence. Hope is the anchor, the core and the soul of Dare to Live, so it felt fitting to kick off with it as the first word of the day.

When I think of Hope, I think of a strong held belief, a vision of better, a driving force to keep going no matter what. Hope is the voice that fights any negative narratives we find ourselves in. It has the power to push us to persist; the power to chase our dreams and the steely strength to never give up.

I know personally it was what kept me going. It told me that this too would pass, that better times were coming, that I could find positivity regardless the situation. Hope tackled thoughts of despair, it quashed concerns and again and again it fuelled the journey to freedom.

Hope is what I want to impart, today and any day to anyone who needs it. Its always there for the taking. It belongs to all of us, so we might as well start using it.

Use this word today to believe in better, to know that there is always a silver lining and to ignite your own fight 😊

Words of the Day

We do love our words here at Dare to Live, so we're going to start sharing a Word of the Day (when internet permits!). These are particular favourites of mine, ones that I've found helpful or motivating or just sit quite right with the mindset I've worked on cultivating.

Our words and our language carry significant power and influence over our mood, actions and everyday experiences. As we know from our April Affirmations, shaping our intentions with positive language can be highly effective in transforming the negative to positive.

Utilising and engaging with words that bear positive connotations gives us focus, it gives us a new tone and a more engaged and positive perspective. With each word of the day, we'll bring the word and its meaning to the fore, seeing how we can implement it to improve our day.

Along the way feel free to contribute your own and we'll begin to build a new vocabulary of positivity 😊

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Apply What You Know: Why Action not Knowledge is Power

We've likely all heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” 

Many of us will also have eagerly endeavored to be more educated, study countless books and actively pursue knowledge in whatever means we can - all in the hopes of bettering ourselves.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with that; knowledge is a fantastic asset, and it can take us so far. But, that’s only if we apply it - knowledge is our fuel, but action is what drives. When we take what we know and transform it into action, we ignite a new energy in our lives, we create movement, we manifest change.

From my own experience, I had gained plenty of knowledge: about myself, about life and about how to get what I want. I inundated my brain with “Ted Talks,” myriads of articles and a sizable chunk of the inspirational quotes available on Instagram.

I could dish out advice left, right and centre, and even lay out plan after plan for myself to achieve my goals. But, until I actually took those steps, I wouldn't have what I wanted. Until I took my own advice, I would be a hypocrite.

Theory is wonderful, but if it's just waiting on the tip of your tongue ready to preach, it might as well have stayed in the book you got it from. Until we get practical and turn our words into actions, the knowledge we acquire is merely potential, not power.

Knowing heaps and doing nothing led to incredible frustration for me in the past. So if that feeling sounds familiar, here's a few reasons to ditch the talk and start walking the walk.

Talk is cheap.

Communication is only 7 percent verbal, and you can learn a lot from people by their actions, their experiences and how they conduct themselves.

Without intending to fill this point with clichés, actions do speak louder than words, and I really believe that to be true in all avenues of life. You can tell me that you know it all and you've read every single book there is, but if you haven't been through it, you don't really “know” what it's like. We can tell people what we're 'going' to do, but if our moves don't match up, we lose credibility. 

Words are wonderful but action is substantial; it hits the senses, it's more alive than the many words littering our lives.

Whether it's relationships, work or our mental health, our knowledge is only as expansive as our own active experience of them. Proactive engagement is what will enrich us, not cheap talk. 

It kicks fear’s ass.

Little by little, I’ve come to trust that action is the antidote to fear. Overcoming our fears may kick off with a lot of convincing self-talk, but ultimately, diving in and “just doing it” is how sh*t gets done. 

I've had a litany of irrational fears rule my life over the years, and I eventually realized that one by one, they could be beaten by taking action.

Whether it was letting big things go, trying something new or just putting myself out there, no amount of knowing I could do it would get rid of the fear. I had to actually take that leap and wholly believe it'd be okay.

Obviously, it's no walk in the park to just jump right on in; but from practice, I trust that every time a fear comes up now, the only way out is through action.

It sparks experience.

Taking action gives us experiences we'd otherwise miss out on. We can do relentless research, knowing exactly what we want to do and how it needs to be done, but if we put it off day after day, we never really know what it's like. We don't get to enjoy our dreamed up experiences until we act. 

Acting on our ideas, practicing our plans and doing what we know is good for us gives us the experiences that'll help us grow.

There's no point knowing you deserve more but never looking for more. There's no point having goals but doing none of the work toward achieving them. Our power comes from getting involved, getting stuck in and cultivating whole, human experiences.

Without it, there’s no change.

At different times when change was what I wanted most, my inner frustration quickly crept its way in. Because, I knew the theory of change, I knew exactly how to get what I was seeking, and I knew what needed to be done... But, I just wasn't doing it.

Motivation was low, and procrastination was high. So, I was stuck, bursting with knowledge that I was busy ignoring. 

Change begins with awareness, which leads to acceptance and then, finally, to action. Action is the turning point; the catalyst to change. Without it, we end up just sitting here, feeling lazy, having all of the answers and none of the results. Using our awareness to create change in our lives is powerful, but that power only arises from implementing what we know. 

We can’t just do it once, either. It's not about ticking a little box and saying we've done it. The consistent action in forming a habit is what creates lasting change in our lives.


With any goal or plan in life, action is the key. Knowing you're in desperate need of a holiday is quite different to actually booking one. Knowing 101 ways to self care but never caring for ourselves is similarly missing the point. Social media is rich in information now; self help, advice and life tips ooze from our screens. However, it's no use simply 'liking' them, we need to start living them. 

We need to stop collecting and hoarding all this potential and finally turn it into power.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

April Affirmations

The sun is springing into action and it's about time we started brightening up our outlook too. So, for the month of April on the Dare to Live Instagram and Facebook, we'll be posting a daily positive affirmation to help achieve this!

Positive affirmations are a useful tool widely advocated by people who focus on positive living. They are generally expressed as a specific statement and when used positively they can have a powerful impact on our self talk, self esteem and overall perspective. 

But, positive or negative, every thought is an affirmation.

Everyday in our thoughts, words and actions we're creating our version of truth, affirming what we think about our lives and our selves. I strongly believe from experience that how we think shapes what we see, feel and experience. Our self talk is the author of our life so if it's not spinning a story we want to be a part of, it's time to change it. 

Repeated theory becomes fact, meaning each thought we consistently have is becoming ingrained in our beliefs. When we speak critically about ourselves, that's what we're listening to, that's what is shaping our image of ourselves. 

That's why positive affirmations have such significance. They have the power to transform our negative thinking patterns into positive ones and with that, ultimately change how we feel about ourselves and perceive our experience. 

Initially, yes affirmations do feel silly. They do. I remember listening to Louise Hay's positive affirmations thinking it was all bull; it's easy for her to say and isn't she full of it etc. (Sorry Louise!) But now, I would wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone. They do genuinely work, if you choose to stick with them.

To begin, open your mind to the idea. We need to remember that this is a suggestion that has worked for many people and as such, it's probably gonna be worth a shot. Believing in the power of repetition is key too; even if we're not particularly feeling or investing in the words we're saying, just affirm them anyway. Speaking in positive language gets into our subconscious, it'll do the work if we commit to the words. 

Affirmations have been of significant help to me personally, providing mantras against anxiety, confidence boosts and solidifying self worth. They have helped give my mindset a complete overhaul, even with my initial doubts and discomfort in using them. 

For the next 30 days, why not try to just follow along and say aloud the affirmations shared. Even feel free to add your own or share some of your favourites and tag @daretolivesos , I'd love to see some others and discover new ones!

Saying affirmations is a positive practice, this could be a great beginning to a new habit :) 

Friday, 27 January 2017

The Value of Recovery

The Value of Recovery!

For a long time I bore witness to,
the condition of behaviours
and the behaviours of condition.

I listened to the I am not good enough,
To the, I can’t do that rebuff.
To the panic attacks and the black outs
To the anger and many shouts
To the, I can’t go out the door
To the self- hatred from her core.

I watched the person I once knew
Take on a persona completely new
A shell of the person she used to be
The beautiful girl was hard to see.

But,.... she was still there, just a little bit lost,
And our journey started at whatever cost
To re-discover that person who once was
And build here back up, with a new buzz.

The journey was hard with its ups and downs,
It caused both her and me many frowns,
But, she stuck with the programme to the very end
And now is reaping the benefits with her boyfriend.

To find full freedom was her ultimate goal,
So, one to ones, group, doctor, she did them all.
Continuity was the key to her success
Along with lots of hard, work during the process.

But now, now she is free, as free as a bird,
She packed her bag for travels with language unheard.
It was language of freedom, of confidence and joy
Of I can do this, I deserve this, life ahoy!

Life is for living in every way
Of being present in each day
Of seeing the beauty that lies all round
From high in the sky to low in the ground.

Life is a gift, so enjoy the unwrapping
Instead of all the stress and flapping
Do whatever it takes to get you through
To full recovery, take the journey for YOU

I am one proud mama, of what she achieved
And know that now, she is safe and believes
That life is worth living, there’s so much to see

And the journey to recovery, well...... the value is plain to me!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Year, New Adventure

'dare,' verb
1. have the courage to do something.
synonyms: be brave enough, have the courage, pluck up courage, take the risk; venture, have the nerve, have the temerity, be so bold as, have the effrontery, have the audacity, go so far as; take the liberty of doing

Dare to Live, to me, is a place in which we can call on our courage to explore the ins, outs and roundabouts of truly, authentically and wholeheartedly living. It has allowed me delve into the discovery of different ideas, the implementation of learning and the opportunity to share those lessons that were hard learned but wholly needed. 

The core (or maybe cœur being more applicable here) always seems to come back to daring; to showing up and standing proud, to trying new things and conquering fear, to going after what we want, to wading through the uncomfortable feelings knowing that it'll be better on the other side, to taking the liberty of doing.

Holding 'daring to live' as a value has encouraged significantly more action in my own journey, knowing that walking the talk will always cover more ground and that embracing life is a sure way to get the most enjoyment out of it. 

So with that in mind, having had the call to adventure ringing in my ear for some time, I realised that now is the time to dare to answer it. 

As a result, with the new year's pages still fresh to fill, I'm lucky enough to be jetting off travelling New Zealand at the end of the month for as much of 2017 as we can get away with.

It's a pretty big world out there, and having grown to actually care about my surroundings and some previously dismissed lil things like scenery, nature and beauty, this is the ideal time to actually appreciate some of the stunning wonders that are out there on offer. One of the many gifts of overcoming personal challenges is the capacity for appreciation, the ability to be in a moment and the wherewithal to experience life fully, indulging each and every sense.

Travel is an incredible privilege and being in a mindset to actually be able to enjoy it makes the experience even richer.

Dare to move closer to your own dreams this year. Believe in them, work towards them and do what is necessary to put yourself in the position to answer that call too.

While I'm away I can't promise frequent blog posts but I will definitely be Instagramming the life outta everything we see and updating Facebook as much as possible too :)