Choose to let yourself shine

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Isn’t it a wonderful picture?  Yes – it’s me.  I have never felt this way about a picture of myself before.  It was quite unexpected; I’m choosing to let myself shine and enjoying it!

The photograph was taken by the very talented @aminart – someone I met through Twitter, who brightened my timeline with his wonderful pictures and gracious, open conversation.  He inspired me to be bold, to be brave – to choose to conquer a long-term fear about pictures of myself and trust someone to capture me without making me feel uncomfortable or threatened.

We met for cup cakes (at the fabulous Sweetie Pies in Twickenham of course) and a chat, and as we got more involved in conversation I forgot my fears, my doubts, my desire to run away!  I took a choice to allow myself to shine.  To see if this man, who I could tell I could trust, would capture the Dinah my husband sees, the woman my friends see, the woman I was ready to share with them?

I asked John (my husband of 25 years) what he thought of this picture; “it’s you.” he said.  But it was the way he said it – and the rather fabulous kiss that followed, that showed me I really had chosen to let myself shine.

Our “real” photo session is next week and I’m buzzing with excitement.  Thank you Amin – you’re amazing!

Dinah x

At any given moment – you can make the choice

you can choose your story


I’ve always loved this quote.  “At any given moment, you have the power to say ‘this is not how the story is going to end'”.  It’s tough to see it sometimes, when you’re so deep into your own issues, your own problems and head-talk.  It can be easier to say “there’s nothing I can do about it.”  And it can seem there is no choice because of illness or circumstances.  I do believe we always have some element of choice; whether it’s our attitude, the way we deal with a crisis or the challenges we take on to find a new way.

I’m facing my own story head-on and saying “I can re-write the next part.  I can choose a new ending and design it my way.”  I face daily challenges with my health and could easily embrace the ending that was written for me by “experts”.  It might save lots of energy and disappointment just to take their version and go along with the script.  Indeed, to many looking-on it would seem inevitable; why would you challenge your story? your destiny?

Well, with absolutely no due-respect, I say “I’m choosing to write my own ending.  Watch this space!”

How will you choose to write your story?

Dinah x

It’s not always easy to choose

when you're caught between a rock and a hard place it can be hard to see you have a choice

This morning on Twitter, I was reminded by someone that it’s not always easy to choose your mood; that for some, every day is a challenge and “managing a smile” is about their limit.  I can empathise with this position, with this choice.  I remember times when I’ve felt that everything was simply too much effort, too much like an up-hill struggle.  And I made a choice; a choice to embrace positive thinking, to allow that to influence my mood and my outcomes.

I am not suggesting that it is easy.  I am suggesting it is a choice and like many choices we make in our lives, there are times when it is more difficult than others.  Deciding that it is a choice and one that we can make, gives us back ownership of it, gives us responsibility for ourselves.  Many people will find this overwhelming and are, therefore, reluctant to accept that it is a choice they can make.

When circumstances present themselves that impact our lives, we can often feel we have no choice.  We are not in control of what is happening to us and therefore we believe choice is not part of the picture.  What we can choose is how we react to this situation; how we choose to deal with or embrace the challenge is very much our choice.

It is also important to keep it real.  Just because you’ve made a choice to be positive does not mean you’ll never have another day where you feel down, that it’s all too much.  As a family, after my accident, we created a “why me?” day every month.  Every member of the family got the chance to say “it’s not fair.  Why me?”  to openly talk about the things we were finding a challenge, the things that brought us down or made daily positivity a struggle.  By acknowledging what we were all experiencing we gave each other permission to keep it real.

Start with a small step; think about one thing you react to that always brings you down, zaps your energy and leaves you feeling deflated.  You can choose to change the way you react.  Create a new scenario – write it out if that helps – and detail how you will be reacting from now on.  If your current response is to get cross, choose to get sassy or feisty instead.  If you would normally get upset, choose to get determined or confident.  There is a person on Twitter who used to “get under my skin” and when I saw how that made me react, I decided to choose that, from then on, I would react by being grateful.  Grateful for the amazing people I connect with who make me feel positive and energised.

Give some thought today to how you’ve chosen to react to what’s going on in your life, right now.  Are you ready to choose to do that differently?

Dinah 🙂

It’s my choice

ownership of your choices
I really didn’t have a choice!

I have a real thing about people’s language when it comes to choice.  I’m tired of hearing “I didn’t have a choice” or “It was the only choice I had” used as an excuse, a justification for decisions taken without responsibility or courage.  The truth is, there are exceptionally few situations where we have no choice.  I’m lucky enough to say I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered such a situation as an adult.  Sure, I’ve faced situations where it felt like I had a tough choice or an even tougher choice, but there was still a choice.

Taking responsibility for our choices is critical to moving forward and letting go of things that hold us back.  I recall being told at a personal development event that I had chosen my parents.  I was furious!  What a ridiculous suggestion it seemed to me at the time.  However, as I pondered this statement, I realised that if I took ownership for this choice, it put me in control of what I did about it; choice on how much interaction I had with my parents, what  boundaries I could put in place, whether or not I continued to choose to have them in my life.  In that moment, when I took ownership and responsibility for this choice, I grew up and took charge of a very unhealthy relationship in my life.  I chose to change that relationship and the impact it had on my well-being.

It was a turning point for me which allowed me to see choices in a new light.  I embrace choice with a real level of anticipation and excitement now, knowing it is up to me. Tough choices are always going to be part of our lives, but we can choose how we react to them.  I know that I have a physical condition that has certain implications.  Having this condition was not my choice.  How I accommodate it, how I challenge it, how I work with it and around it – those are my choices.  And each new aspect of my condition brings new choices that I’m ready to own in the same way.

Which choices are you still allowing someone else to own for you?  How might it feel to be in control of the outcome, to decide how much it influences or impacts your life?  Start with a SMALL step – something that you know you regularly blame someone else for, and get to grips with your own ability to do something about it.

What choice will you take ownership of today?

Dinah 🙂

Making new choices


My husband John and I have been married for a quarter of a century next April – and this July we celebrated 29 years since our first date; and yes, the time has flown by.  We have grown-up and taken an amazing adventure together (we first met when I was 16 and John 17) and made many choices together.  Some that were long-term, planning and progressing gradually towards a purpose, a dream.  Others were taken in haste, reacting to a situation or outcome we had not planned for.  Either way, the choices we made along the way have influenced where we are today.  They’ve become part of our routine.

Making new choices can feel uncomfortable – and that’s okay.  When we are too comfortable we don’t make changes so feeling this way is a sign we’re ready to choose to make that change.  Choices can feel out of our control and in truth, while a situation may have been something over which we had no influence, the way we react to it is down to personal choice.  Have you ever found yourself, half-way through an argument with someone and thought “why are we arguing about this?” the answer is that you choose to argue.  You can always choose to react differently.

There are many steps to successful choices and I believe the first one is ownership.  It’s time to stop giving responsibility for your choices to others.  It can be easy to say “I didn’t have a choice”  when actually what you’re saying is “I didn’t want to make a choice”.  When we take real ownership and accept we do have a choice, we can decide how to react or how to move forward, real choice becomes something we are delighted to own.

One of the key choices I’ve made on my journey was when I decided to deal with my weight (I literally doubled my weight over a period of 12 years in a wheelchair).  I knew I was responsible for my weight, but had decided I had no choice and blamed my immobility.  When I took ownership and admitted to myself that I was choosing to comfort-eat and I could therefore choose not to, everything turned around.  Now, less than half the weight I was five years ago, I know it’s my choice to stay this way.

Today, take an honest look at the choices you are allowing others to take for you and decide which one you’re going to start owning.

Have a great week



I choose not to celebrate

London 2012 can boast many “firsts” on it’s list of considerable achievements, many reasons to celebrate . I do not believe, however, that Women’s Boxing being included for the first time is one of those.  I am choosing not to celebrate it.

Should I really be celebrating that my sex is now equal to men in the ring? Should I experience some sense of joy that women can now beat each other round the face and body in public, encouraged by cheering masses? Call me old-fashioned, but I take no delight, or pride in this “progress”.

I have never understood the justification for boxing. I do not doubt that it requires months, no years, of dedication and training. I am simply stunned that, in 2012, we believe it is “sport” to watch people fighting and gaining points for inflicting injury.

Surely this is only one step removed from Gladiators and the jeering crowds who savoured every moment, every blow, every gory injury. As a woman who is passionate about equality, I would like to see all boxing removed from the Olympics – for men and for women.


There were so many examples of real progress, real reasons for celebration,  for and by women at the London 2012 games – not least the first woman athlete from Saudi Arabia ever to compete – Sarah Attar. That’s progress worth celebrating.

Or Helen Glover and Heather Stanning – who became the first British women to take an Olympic rowing Gold Medal – that had me jumping for joy in celebration.

Or Italy’s Josefa Idem who became the first woman to compete in eight Olympic Games – that’s astonishing!

As I watched Mohamed Ali being supported on either arm, to allow him to stand at the opening ceremony, I was moved to tears and found myself questioning, again, how far we had really progressed from Roman times.  When would they be throwing people to the Lions?

Let’s see some real progress – some brave decisions – how about NO boxing in the 2016 games? In my opinion, that would be something to celebrate.


Choose positive language

Create a positive message not a melodrama

As I looked at my Facebook timeline today, I was so disappointed to see how many people are posting messages with negative rather than positive language.

They include a commonly used sentence on these posts now “I know 99% of you won’t re-post this….”  What a strange choice of  language;  If they choose to focus on negative language, then many people – like me – will indeed choose not to re-post their message.  If they choose positive language I, and many more like me, are sure to engage in a positive way.

So why would they choose this approach?  Why start by assuming people will not respond, be moved, care enough to share something that matters to you?  I believe they are hoping this comment will work in several ways:

1) If none of us re-post their message, we help them reinforce the negatives in their head.  Those voices that tell them “you are not worth it” “people don’t care about you”.  By setting us up in this way, we can prove they are right in their minds.  They would, of course, deny this is the case and would probably attempt to make your lack of response all about you.

2) Emotional blackmail.  They somehow hope to make us feel sorry for them, to believe that we are the 1% who will post it and prove they do matter.  This approach may get some people to share – once.  They are, however, likely to get bored of the “victim” approach pretty quickly.

3) They enjoy the attention.  When you see a post that contains this phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is often “oh dear, sounds like they’ve been let down in the past” or “they are obviously having a tough time”.  There is a chance you will contact them and simply say “hope you are ok” and bingo, they got your attention.

What response do you think you could create with positive language instead?  I would suggest more people will engage, more people will want to share your posts, more people will take notice.

Today, choose positive language and let me know how people respond.


Choose not to “Try”

Choose to DO not Try


“I’ll try” – what do you really mean when you say these words?  “I probably won’t”   or “I’m sure I won’t be able to”?  That’s a choice.  A choice you make regularly and without thinking.  “I’ll try to stick to it this time” becomes your mantra and your choice to accept failure, before you’ve started, pre-sets your outcome.  Today, choose not to try – choose to do.

I often wonder what “try” looks like – you either do something or you don’t, how can there be a third option?  There really isn’t; trying is not doing something, it is quitting without being honest enough to say “I’m not going to do that”.  We kid ourselves with “try” and say things like “I did my best, I really tried hard.”  The only person we’re fooling is ourselves.  And by being less than honest with ourselves, we can reinforce our own negative language – “I tried and I failed”  “I tried my best but it wasn’t good enough” messages that confirm for us our lack of worth.

Choosing not to try and choosing instead, to do or not do, is an equally easy habit to get into – you just have to make that choice and start actioning it today.  Will this be easy?  If you choose to make it, yes.  It’s a habit – and you’re already great at plenty of those!  Add a new, positive habit to your repertoire – and if you’re thinking “I could give that a try”…….

Language is key to our results, and adopting a language that is positively reinforcing rather than negatively so takes practice and patience.  No quitting, just doing it, every day – reminding ourselves constantly with positive stimulation like a favourite quote on the wall above the desk, a picture of the dream you’re working towards or simply sharing what you’re DOING with a friend or colleague will all assist you in leaving the trying behind you.

Have a fabulous Thursday

Dinah 🙂

Choose to take control

How often do you find yourself lying awake at night, or waking in the early hours, dwelling on something that’s worrying you?  Going over and over in your head all the options and possible outcomes, seeing blocks and obstacles in your path.  This is a choice.  The issue may be a very real one, but choosing to hang on to it in this way, to allow it to disturb your sleep, your well-being, that is a choice you are in control of.

The main reason we worry in this way is because we have not yet taken real action.  We may feel there is no choice about our situation – loosing your job, being diagnosed with an illness, are out of our control.  The real thing keeping you awake is the lack of action you have taken to address the situation.

Debt is a common cause of sleepless nights; however it is not the debt itself that people lay awake worrying about; it is what they have, or more often have not, done to deal with it.  “I must write to the bank” “I have to go through the accounts” “I must speak to the credit card company”, these are the thoughts that keep people awake, night after night.

If, the following morning, they  made the choice to take action – to make the calls, to write the letters, to bring their accounts up to date, the debt might not be gone, but the worry about lack of action, lack of control, would be.

When I was told I would be dependent on a wheelchair after an accident at the age of 26, I had plenty of sleepless nights.  I was not worrying about not walking, I was worrying about how to tell people, how to continue driving, how to be a wife and not a burden.   I had to choose to take action and take back control.

So whatever it was that kept you awake last night, or got you out of bed at silly-o’clock this morning, take control today – you deserve a good night’s sleep.

Have a wonderful day

Dinah 🙂

Choose not to fall

I loved this video from Daniel Ilabaca speaking about parkour and how it allowed him to see his choices and the power he had to embrace them.  Embracing our choices and taking responsibility for where they can lead us is demonstrated beautifully.  Enjoy.