Dare to be … me

I am me in the here and now.

I am my past from which I can never escape, nor do I want to.

I am my future in which I want to grow to be best me I can be. I recognise this is a well worn phrase, a cliche, but it’s true. I do want to be the best I can be. For me this means striving for continued personal development. Among other things, this means I want to develop my talents and potential, learn about myself, enhance the quality of my life, realise dreams and aspirations, help others and contribute to the universe.

Committing to personal development means I am willing to change. It means never giving up, putting myself in uncomfortable situations, experiencing challenge and taking risks. It also means looking after myself and meeting my needs. It means putting me first. This is not being selfish. It is being self aware. It is being where I want to be, doing what I want to do and being with who I want to be with. It is knowing wherever I am, whatever I am doing it is the right thing for me because it is only when I care for myself, can I care for others.

Attending to my personal development has led me to becoming a writer.

I dare to be a writer.

I dare to be me. 


Day 8 – Kinlochleven to Fort William – 15 miles

The last day of my West Highland Way walk and the last (for now) of my ‘Dare to be’ reflections.


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Dare to be … proud to be an introvert

I am an introvert. On one level I have always known this, but I have come to be content with this self knowledge only recently. I can now be open with myself and with others about this part of me. I dare to be proud to be an introvert.

My childhood shaped me. The truth of the absent father, the unavailable mother, the emotional neglect, the loneliness of being an unwanted child, the shame and silent secrets passed to me by my mother have all helped shape who I am. I believe I am a product of my upbringing but fortunately this is not the whole of me. 

I am and I can be so much more if I choose to be.

And I do choose to be more than a product of my upbringing. But I am proud to be an introvert. It is a place where I feel most comfortable. 

I suggest many writers are introverts. Writers spend time with themselves. They immerse themselves in their silent worlds of words and the page. They read, think, reflect, philosophise, create. They write novels, non-fiction, flash fiction, short stories, poems, articles, essays. They write because of a need to share of themselves, to speak through the written word, to give back, to create. 

All writers if they want to share and have their work published, need to place themselves in situations that, for an introvert, can be challenging and demanding. For example, literary festivals, writing groups, public readings, writing courses and retreats, marketing opportunities, meetings with editors and publishers.

Before I became a psychotherapist, an artist and a writer, I hid my natural state of being an introvert. It didn’t fit with my academic past, my corporate identity and the mask I wore to get by in life. 

But thankfully no more.

I dare to be proud to be an introvert.


Day 7 – Glen Coe Mountain Centre to Kinlochleven  – 11 miles

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Dare to be … a listener

As a qualified Psychotherapist, I have been trained to listen. I listen to others on several levels; the words spoken, the words unspoken, the physical body, the emotions displayed, the transference in the room and the transversal to name a few. Listening is a skill that can be learnt but it requires a willingness to give oneself wholeheartedly to the other whilst at the same time never losing connection with oneself. To listen to the other, caring for them whilst constantly monitoring oneself and ones responses and ones congruence requires a special listening which can be exhausting and challenging.

This is real listening and is a gift to the speaker.

I dare to listen in this way because I learn. I learn about the other, I learn about humanity but the most rewarding aspect of this listening is I learn about myself. Having self awareness, the ability to monitor my own responses, when I truly listen, I discover more about who I am and with this self knowledge comes the ability to grow and develop.

I apply real listening in my writing life. When I write, I am listening. As the words form in my head and are transcribed on the page, I am listening to the deeper meaning. I monitor as I write, constantly aware of what’s happening in my physical body, my emotional state, the visitations from the past or recent happenings. I believe writing this way facilitates writing with emotional depth and helps me flesh out my characters and scenes.

Real listening is rewarding in both my writing life and in my day to day life, but it can come at a cost. It can be frightening to discover things about people or oneself you may not have chosen to know. Once knowledge is imparted and received it needs to be processed and this may not be easy. I choose to listen but I listen with care.

Will you dare to really listen? Try it and see how it impacts your writing. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I dare to be a listener.


Day 6 – Invaroran to Glen Coe Mountain Centre – 9 miles

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Dare to be … silent

I have a daily yoga practice. Why? Because I dare to be silent. I dare to be silent because I dare to seek my supreme Self or my true identity which is universal and Divine.

In the West, people think of Yoga as exercise; putting your body into strange shapes and breathing deep, but this is only one ‘limb’ of an ancient eight limbed philosophy. Ultimately Yoga is about disentangling all that is human and finding contentment or a Higher Self.

I am one of those who have chosen to follow a spiritual path that is Yoga. We use the Asana (exercise) limb of yoga to train our bodies so we can sit in stillness and use the practice of mediation and the practise of silence to find (or for most people, glimpse) the Divine.

It requires commitment, dedication and is a journey that never ends. I began my journey in 2009, initially attending one class a week, then two. I have added a monthly yoga philosophy morning and my own daily practise.

But what has this to do with writing and writing with emotional depth?

I believe when we dare to be silent and sit in stillness, when we are able to quieten the constant chatter in our heads, our most beautiful Self is revealed and it is from this source that creativity emerges, our best and most beautiful writing.

Dare to sit with stillness in silence and see what you can create, what stories you can tell, poems you can craft and novels you can write.

I dare to be silent.


Day 5 – Tyndrum to Inveroran – 10 miles

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Dare to be … a sharer

As a writer, I have dared to share my work with other writers and seek constructive feedback. I have found the process to be invaluable. Creative writing like any craft needs to be learnt. There are guidelines (or best practices) to follow in writing prose and pitfalls to avoid (for example: repetition, overly florid writing, unauthentic dialogue and using cliches).

In common with many other beginner writers, initially I found sharing my work daunting, dangerous and daring. To overcome my fears I first shared my short stories with family and friends, people who I did not doubt would support and encourage me. I soon realised to progress I needed to share my writing with others who could provide a writerly critique with feedback to help me grow and develop as a writer of fiction and a writer of novels.

I dared to share and was rewarded by seeing my writing improve.

I believe as a writer and an artist when I dare to share my craft, I learn and I develop.

Sharing anything of ourselves (our creations, our thoughts, our beliefs) can be scary. We run the risk of rejection, humiliation, alienation and confrontation. We may be challenged, laughed at, provoked, ignored even. Daring to share means we are willing to be vulnerable, and open ourselves up to change and challenges. We invite encounters with others which we may find difficult. Most important, we make the choice to experience what it’s like to reveal ourselves as a human being. Why else would we dare to share if not to show our humanity.

To not dare to share is to be closed to encounter. A valid choice, but I believe ultimately a limiting and lonely one. It is thorough sharing that we grow. It is part of being human.

I dare to share.



Day 4 – Invaranan to Tyndrum – 12.5 miles


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Dare to be … a speaker


I dare to be a writer who speaks and a person who speaks out loud.

A writer of fiction is a person who speaks. When a writer tells their stories they are speaking through their words. They are telling the reader something. It may be an explicit message delivered through dialogue or a hidden meaning woven through the plot designed for the reader to discover as the novel concludes. The book may have a theme or reveal a moral message, it may speak of trouble in relationships, love, other worlds not known to us, murder or mystery. A writer speaks through their books and readers listen.

When I look back over my life, I see I have been a listener. I have been a person to enquire of the other, to listen to their stories. I have been a reader, a listener of the writer.

Until now, I have never dared to speak.

I am choosing to write as I want to speak through my writing.

My hope is that someone will listen.

A bigger challenge for me is to be a person who speaks out loud.

For many years, I was silenced by my mother. I was silenced because she passed me her silent message not to speak.

She died in 2007. Since then I have begun to speak. Initially I whispered, but now I shout (if I need to).

I dare to be a person who speaks.

Day  3 – Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 15 miles


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Dare to be … a walker

I dare to be a walker.

Why dare to be, you may wonder. What’s so daring about walking?

I’ll rewind – I dare to be a long distance walker.

I have walked many long distance paths, the most notable being the famous Wainwright Coast to Coast – 192 miles in 14 days.

I am currently walking the equally famous West Highland Way. It’s 102 miles and I’m walking it in 8 days. It’s not as strenuous, but still a challenge. I walk these long distance, point to point walks with my husband. I also walk circular routes with friends and in a Ramblers group.

I dare to be a long distance walker because of psychological insights. When my body hurts, I breath, I dig deep and I discover things about myself. When I walk, even when I’m in company, I am alone. I am absorbed in the oneness of being me. I feel my body, I see the landscape, I hear the sounds around me, I smell the countryside, I taste the food that fuels me and the water that hydrates me, I reach out and touch the flora and fauna.

I dare to be a walker to clear my mind and to listen to my heart. What I feel, what emotion, what revelation, what ‘ah ha’ moment may come up. I may take a walk through my past, I may replay an encounter in my head, I may consider my future, I may even make a life changing decision. And the exilerating thing about this is I am always surprised. And the daring part? Just sometimes, something comes up that’s scary and challenges me. But this is wholly good.

And what about the writing?

When I walk these long distance paths, I often write scenes in my head, tackle a sticky chapter or muse over the structure of my book. My writing progresses and I grow.

I dare to be a walker.

Day 2 – Drymen to Rowardennan – 15 miles


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Dare to be … a writer

I dare to be a writer.

I write to make sense of the world, to feel my place in it and to give back to it.

No. Correction. I write to make sense of the universe and to feel my place in it and to give back to it.

I write to discover who I am.

I write to find connection with myself and with others.

I write to find connection with a Higher Power who I know resides in me and around me. Everywhere in and around the universe.

I dare to be a writer because of these things.

I dare to be a writer because I need to tell stories. When asked what I write, one of the things I say is I am writing fiction based on truths.

There is a ongoing debate in fiction writing and it’s this; how much biographical writing emerges when a writer writes fiction. Some writers say none, others acknowledge all writing says something about the writer. I am with the latter. I know through my writing I am revealing who I am. It’s exhilarating, it can be scary and for me it is daring.

I dare to be a writer.

I am walking the West highland Way and this is the first of my daily ‘Dare to be’ reflections.

Day 1 – Milngavie to Drymen – 12 miles




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Truth No. 15 – I am Vulnerable



I was vulnerable as a child (we all are), I remained vulnerable through adolescence and into adulthood and I am still vulnerable. I am proud to be be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is being open to truth, not only my truth but a universal truth.

The universal truth is we are all vulnerable. Listen to Brene Brown speak on TED about vulnerability and you will see why.

Because we are mortal beings, vulnerability is a universal feature of our human condition. Our suffering, injury, illness, death, heartbreak and loss are experiences that define our existence and loom as constant threats. To be human is to be excruciatingly vulnerable. Using the adverb excruciatingly is a conscious choice. Fellow writers will know we learn to avoid using adverbs in our writing, but I choose to use excruciatingly to emphasise how painful and distressing feeling vulnerable can be.

It is natural for humans to avoid suffering and so we deny our vulnerability. “We’re fine,” we say when our truth points to the opposite. No, we are not fine, we are vulnerable. Of course, to have a temporary sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges of being human and especially of being youthfully human. As we mature and grow older, we understand this privilege must be surrendered as we must surrender youth and as we succumb to ill health, accidents and experience the loss of loved ones. After all, ultimately we have no choice over these things.

So, why not reveal your vulnerability now? Try it and you will be rewarded with richer, more fulfilling relationships.

What happens when we risk showing another person our vulnerability? We become real and being real is wholly healthy. Why? Because we can be ourselves and being ourselves is a lot easier and less stressful than keeping up a pretence and wearing a mask. Hiding and pretending can be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting (I know!) and the more you allow your essence to mature and acknowledge your vulnerability, the more you will attract authentic people into your life and create a network of supportive, real friends.


Now, what lessons are there here that can be applied to our writing?

If you search the how-to-write section of any bookstore, you might conclude good stories are all about craft, plot, character, suspense, dialogue, etc. Of course these things matter but what I believe matters more is an author’s ability to be vulnerable on the page; to be open, daring, unabashed and unashamed; to be fearless and willing to blow away any taboo and to resist heeding any notions of embarrassment.

As Brene Brown says in her TED talk, to be vulnerable is not a weakness, rather, it’s “our most accurate measure of courage.”

My urge to be a writer is a measure of my courage, but more it is a generous act at its core. I want to share my story to give a reader an insight into a world they haven’t experienced. This is my gift, the gift of vulnerability, of being human.



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