he turned us into dog people

March 23, 2018

Dear Bohdi,

It was on a five-hour drive to Cornwall to visit our pals Penny and Cam, when the idea of you started to become real.

We’d been talking about getting a dog for years, but work and study and the furs and is our house big enough? There was always something that convinced us it wasn’t the right time.

Halfway to the beach, we stopped for a sandwich and there was a floppy-eared red spaniel in the cafe and I  just knew it was time.

I spent the remainder of the trip yammering on about why we should just do it. Ash though, as you are probably learning, has never been that convinced by a good story, he likes reasoning and facts. So before we left Penny and Cam and with the vital assistance of their pooches Jake and Cujo, I presented a power point presentation with costs and benefits and images of furry little beasts with just enough sadness in their eyes. He didn’t take much convincing.

Later at home, we found the lady who owned your Mum, pregnant with you at the time. We went through two interviews before she agreed to let us adopt you.

The day we took you home, we realised that even though we had read the books and had all the puppy stuff, we had no idea what we were doing. Thanks for sticking with us.

I am so glad we took you to puppy school, even though it was clear from the first ten minutes that you already rocked at being a puppy, and this was schooling for us.

It was like learning a new language and there were a few moments when you seemed to understand what ‘sit’ meant, and then ‘wait’ and then how to walk on your lead. To be fair, Maureen, the French bulldog who didn’t understand any commands for weeks and never left the class without poohing on the floor, made you look really good.

It was the night you were the ‘demo dog’ for recall commands that I finally felt like we were connected. I called your name across the hall and you immediately came running towards me with your ears whipping behind you, your tail windmilling around. I cried with joy and pride.

When Ash comes home from work, no matter where you are, you will scamper along the hallway in a similar style.

We’ve spent every day together since you came to live with us.

There have been so many moments when I felt like your energy was just too much. When I am trying to work or you are trying to convince Badger that she is also a dog and you should both totally play together and she gives you a Hard No and chaos ensues.

But you are pretty fearless when it comes to other dogs, you are first to say ‘let’s play’ and you adore your pals at the park: Bosco the St Bernard/pony and Bella the rescue greyhound who you love to play chase with. I have got to know the other dog owners in our community because of you.

You respond to Bodhi, Bohdipoobear, Bodles, The Bohdster, BOHDINO!

We took you back to Cornwall a few months ago and you had your first day on the beach with Penny and Cam and Mr Cujo (as you came to know him).

Watching you run crazily along the sand with your ears pinned back in pure unadulterated joy, is one of my favourite moments.

I’m so glad you came to live with us.

You turned us into dog people. You made our family whole.

Happy birthday little dude.

Love, Sas.




we are the village :: the five foundations of children’s self-esteem

March 03, 2018

Zora, being spectacular, by her fiercely loving Mama, Rida for #mycourageousselfie</re aem>

Do you remember ever feeling like this?

I have so many memories of New Zealand sunshine and riding my red Raleigh 20 down to the beach. Roller skating featured heavily. And getting off the bus one stop early to spend hours at the library after school.

My work is about helping grown-ups make sense of their self-doubt. It’s a fascinating journey into memory and meaning-making, as we try to recover some sense of the feeling that Zora so wonderfully shows us.

Self-belief cultivated in childhood is compounded in adulthood.

All the research I have inhaled over the last five years, suggests that the crucial years are between five and 15, when children learn to assess their abilities and form expectations of themselves.

But because it’s so subjective, there is no sure method of assessing self-esteem.

It’s not simply high or low; in childhood, self-esteem undergoes daily shifts in shape and intensity, influenced by the emotional safety of the situation, the task and the support of others.

One child may declare herself confident in maths, but freeze when the teacher invites her to work on a new type of question. Some children want to the next YouTube star (yes this is an actual career option now) but could be tentative about sharing their ideas with others.

If asked directly whether they think they can do something, or whether they ‘like themselves’, children may speak with a confidence that is not really felt: they learn quickly that they shouldn’t be down on themselves with adults they care about.

And a child who gives away little personal information may be reserved – but she may also feel she has nothing of interest to say.

We do know that nothing tears down self-belief as much as a sense of powerlessness.

I believe it’s our job to empower the children and young people in our lives, in whatever small and big ways we can. And to do it imperfectly, messily, humanly.

We just have to listen to what the kids say, accept their own statements about how they feel and what they think.

We can help them find safe ways of expressing the full range of their emotions.

We can ease anxiety about their capabilities by getting specific about their concerns, acknowledging them, sharing our own worries and coming up with creative solutions together.

We can be generous with our encouragement when they demonstrate the characteristics and traits that each family values.

These are the five foundations of self-esteem.

Not all of us are cut out to be parents. And not all parents enjoy every aspect of raising tiny humans.

Sometimes we need to rope in siblings, teachers, aunties, pets, after-school clubs, grandparents, neighbours and other parents at the school gate.

Also: movies and tele that shares the stories and messages we want our kids to hear (nb: sending a solemn ‘you’ve got this’ to all the parents who are currently rocking in a corner as the snow falls, and the kids are singing loudly to the 49375th viewing of Frozen).

Get involved! #mycourageousselfieproject

On my to-do list this year, was to create a social enterprise project to support organisations that work with children and young people to build self-belief. And I’m delighted to say, it’s here!

If you pop over to Courage & Spice, you’ll find we now have a store. There are five original t-shirt designs available for you to purchase. The tees are:

  • Made from 100% organic cotton.
  • Use vegetable dyes and recyclable packaging.
  • Made in the UK and shipped worldwide.
  • Available in a range of sizes and styles for Grown-ups and Kids.
  • All priced at less than £20.

100% of profits will be shared between the Self-esteem Team in the UK,
and the Graeme Dingle Foundation back home in New Zealand.

When your tee arrives, join the #mycourageousselfie project!

Post a pic of you in your tee on Instagram with a note to your younger self in the captions. What did little you long to hear? Include a note of reassurance, encouragement or advice. Don’t forget to tag your pic with the hashtag: #mycourageousselfie so we can all benefit from your words.

If it takes a village to raise a child, we are the village.

Let’s make the world a kinder place, one tee at a time. Check out the Store now >>>

on starting (to write an actual book)

January 30, 2018

We have lickety-split fibre-optic broadband. However, due to 125-year-old unfathomably thick walls, the wi-fi signal within our Old Lady house is awful. Especially in my office. In early January, I received an almost £100 bill for my mobile data charges for the three weeks since we moved, and a lightbulb went off in my brain. […]

twenty seventeen: my top nine

December 31, 2017

According to the numerologists, 2017 is a ‘one’ year, signifying the start of a new global energetic cycle. Here’s what I’ll remember 2017 for: Self-doubt. After years of researching and studying this fascinating phenomenon, I got super clear that the work I am here to do is to help people transcend self-doubt. I staked a claim […]

beware the well-rested woman

November 22, 2017

I spent five days last week running my annual retreat. Usually, I would be pretty much back at my desk asap, under some delusional notion that I had things to do that couldn’t possibly wait. Back in my corporate days, I would actively choose to fly into Heathrow at 6 am and go straight in […]

reclaiming bossy

September 19, 2017

Usually, there is a word. Some phrase or sentence that when uttered, has the power to leave us feeling small and powerless. Diminished. Childlike. I wonder what is it for you? For me, that word is bossy. I have a vivid memory of being eight years old and being called a ‘bossy little girl’ by […]