From her Lockdown refuge in the King Country Dani Darke set out to learn new stuff.

Hopefully by the time you read this Lockdown is all but a distant memory. As I write we have just had the news that we will be heading down to Level 2 in a few days.

As lockdown hit, I fantasised about a beautiful time with my hubby and kids – farming, riding ponies and getting lots of jobs done.

Then I checked my expectations, realised I wasn’t going to get 10 years’ worth of digital photos printed out into stylish and well-organised albums, and that it turned out I didn’t really care about getting the house Marie Kondo-style cleaned out.

I love learning, so with that in mind I decided to spend some energy through lockdown learning new stuff: specifically getting to know more about Brenè Brown’s work.

Brenè is a researcher and writer who is interested in vulnerability, courage, belonging, empathy and shame.

You’ve possibly heard of her – Brenè’s TED Talk on vulnerability is one of the most-watched globally with 48 million views. Through Lockdown I devoured her TED Talks; two of her eight books ‘Daring Greatly’ and ‘Rising Strong’; a Netflix Special: ‘The Call to Courage’; all of her podcast episodes; and two books by authors she interviewed on episodes of her podcast ‘Unlocking Us’, while saving several more to my list. I feel like I have learned so much about myself and humans in general.

One of the things that has immediately impacted me is Brenè’s research about the usefulness of getting curious about our moods or feelings rather than letting them rule us or judging them as good or bad. It turns out our feelings have things to teach us if we pay attention.

I decided to get curious about why some mornings I felt really energetic, bouncing and singing out the door; whereas other mornings I felt frazzled and anxious; and other mornings I just felt a bit off.

By spending a bit of time reflecting and back-tracing my steps, it became clear that the mornings I turned on music or had a chat to a close friend or my sister, I felt really good and ready to take on the world.

An early coffee without any physical activity left me with a frazzled mindset, and the mornings I slept in often left me feeling a bit irritable. I’m stoked to know this now – I feel like it’s given me a real insight into how I work, and I can have an influence on how I feel, and therefore how I show up.

This is only a tiny wee snippet of the stuff Brenè talks about, but look her up on YouTube if you want to know more.

Why have I chosen to write about all of this? Mainly because I didn’t want to write about drought or Covid-19. Really though, I feel like sometimes we show up to life in a way that is the sum of our experiences, and perhaps fall short of the way we would like to show up.

When we get curious about ourselves rather than judging ourselves, we get the space to nut out some stuff that could have a really big impact on our lives and those closest to us. I plan to continue reflecting and finding stuff out, but I won’t lie, it’s an awkward and uncomfortable process.

In true Brenè Brown fashion, I am now feeling really vulnerable writing about feelings and self-discovery in a farming magazine so to make me feel better I’m tacking on some photos showing the awesome results we had with our deferred grazing we did this year.

These are areas that were shut up in November and break-fed to bulls over February – April, and have come back like new grass. Hopefully this ensures my farming cred.