Tribe vibes

The gift of giving yourself a tribe

My friend Cheryl Stephens tagged me in this image recently. 

Show yourself - Meme "Scientists invented a bracelet that gives a shock when the user uses curse words"  "Me"

Me and my ninja (Mandy Smiler) nearly die­­d laughing, because #truth 🤷🏼‍♀️

Cheryl is part of our tribe. Cheryl knows me well.

And you know how many times Cheryl and I have met in person?

Exactly once.

She’s well known in the world of plain language, and I followed and fan-girled over her for a few years, and we connected on LinkedIn eventually, then we met at a conference.


But she knows me so much better than how we could know each other from meeting that one time, because #socialmedia.

I consider her a friend, and she GETS ME.

Show yourself - #tribevibes - "All you need is that one ride or die homie"

The power of social media

I once got a job teaching at a French university because a plain language colleague on Twitter recommended me. We had never met. But she knew me, my work, and my reputation because of #socialmedia.

LinkedIn, the world of the #notfacebook, naysaying, professional police. I use LinkedIn however the fuck I want. And I have a solid tribe of other professionals who feel the same way. Police our LinkedIn use and tell us “it’s not Facebook” and we will block your ass – and not quietly.

My world is richer because this tribe of mine around the world will randomly tag me in shit:

  • @ShellyDaviesCom – this might be your soul sister
  • Hey @ShellyDaviesCom – wanna weigh in on this?
  • Don’t let @ShellyDaviesCom see this 🤣
Show yourself - #tribevibes

This brings me joy.

It’s not because I feel popular or well-liked.

It’s because people GET ME.

Building connections

And because they get me, I feel known. I feel connected. I feel a strong sense of belonging.

 And I have MADE THAT for myself.

You can, too.

But how? 

  1. You need to show yourself (authentically)
  2. You need to show yourself (knowing you’re not for everyone)
  3. You need to show yourself (without fear)
Show yourself - "Know yourself, love yourself, have power, find joy" - Shelly Davies

My ninja

I mentioned Mandy Smiler earlier and there’s a reason for that.

Almost 4 years ago I hired her as my Life Ninja – aka assistant. I thought I was hiring admin support, and I was. But together over these years we’ve discovered her absolute gift: she knows how to help people SHOW THEMSELVES TO THE WORLD.

To me she’ll always be known as Shelly’s Ninja, cos that’s how it all started (and yes, I’m still keeping her skills for myself too!) But now, as Ninja-Savvy Socials, her business is giving other people the gift she gave me – the ability to show yourself to the world.

Authentically, powerfully, in a way that attracts YOUR tribe.

Show yourself - @ninjasavvysocials

Attracting your tribe

Want to invite the right customers and surround yourself with likeminded people?

You should talk to her. See here for more about what she does.

Show yourself - "Just sitting here on the corner of bombdiggity and awesome, creating magic" - by @ninjasavvysocials

Yes, we all know social media can be noisy and destructive.

Show yourself - "I have a ton of followers, but I need help improving social media engagement."  "Just misspell something"

BUT if you make it work for you, it can be SO powerful and bring you joy.

Me? I choose #joy. (And #badassery. Of course!)

PSA: this post does not encourage nudity (unless that’s your thing)

ALSO PSA: Connection isn’t just a nice to have. It’s the proven solution to so much of the pain we have in the world today.

Two car seats on my back seat

There are two car seats on my back seat.

My youngest child is 16 now, and here I find myself with 2 toddler car seats on the backseat of my car.

My beautiful, late model Mazda CX-5 that I bought for myself BRAND NEW because I could. And because I deserved it.

My beautifully branded car that replaced the people mover I needed when my kids were little and I was always taxiing them and their friends around, so we needed all the seats.

Making plans

This was NOT the plan.

To have toddler car seats again—not one but two—already.

It wasn’t my dream, to be a grandmother at 40. I fought it, hard. (How’s that for a futile battle?)

If you’ve read much of my stuff you’d know that one of my hardest journeys has been parenting and that babies are not my jam.

I struggled when my kids were little. Like, STRUGGLED.

I'm going to open up a bar called "Mommin' Ain't Easy" & name the drinks "I need a shower" "Fuck Laundry" "Mom, mom, mommy, mom" "I ain't your maid" "Please stop growing" & "Why the hell is this wet?!"

And when these beautiful baby grandsons came, earlier than I had expected, it was a shock.

Adjusting our perspective

But the other day I pulled into my garage after dropping them back to their respective homes after a weekend at my house, I looked back at those 2 empty car seats, and I was proud of myself.

Resilience is not about overcoming.  It's about becoming.  ~ Shelly Davies

Proud of the grandmother I’ve become. Proud of my own parenting demons I’ve stared down. Proud of the way I’m contributing to their lives. Proud that I’ve stepped up.

And those two car seats become something I can glance back at and say to myself,

Shelly, you’re doing a good job.

Be brave.  Learn to claim our loud the stuff you're good at!  ~ Shelly Davies

It’s one of the ways I’ve learned to feel compassion for myself – for today me as well as past me. It’s one of the things I mean when I say,

Know yourself, so you can

Love yourself, and that’s how you

Have power, and

Find joy.

What I want for you

I was at a new hairdresser’s today and he asked me what I do, and I explained the rockstar writer-trainer to joyful badass keynote thing… It rolls off my tongue pretty easily these days.

But as I left I realised I could have simply said, I show people how to love themselves so they can be more powerful in their world.

Because I love me. And that feels powerful. And I want you to feel powerful, too.

How can you love yourself more today?

Know yourself, love yourself, have power, find joy.  ~ Shelly Davies


Need a personal reminder of your worth?

I’m heading your way in November.

Grab your girls and some tickets for the Dairy Women’s Network Roadshow!

Evidence that I’m a good parent

Don’t let the evidence you’re a good parent, slip past unnoticed.

My children know that if I could go back I would not have chosen to be a parent. This is not the same thing as saying I don’t want them. They are (especially currently – keep reading) an absolute joy, and they’ve made me a good person. I would not give them back, NOW.

Instead, I tell them, it means that if I had ANY idea how painful and hard and soul-destroying I’d find parenting, I wouldn’t have done it.

What motherhood feels like everyday.  Blog post - Evidence that I'm a good parent. ~ Shelly Davies

It’s the pain that’s the worst part – their pain.

Empathy and parenting

Lil’ old empath me cannot handle their fucking pain. It’s too much.

I want them to be happy, but alas, it’s not a parent’s job to make their children happy. It’s our job to raise adults who can be functional and resourceful in the world – and by doing so, make their own happy.

And that kind of adult emerges from a child who’s had to tolerate enough times of being unhappy, because you say NO to them and have boundaries and shit like that. That’s the way it goes.

Quote - EMPATHY.  When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce.  You look for reasons it is not doing well.  It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun.  You never blame the lettuce.  Yet, if we have problems with our friends and family, we blame the other person.  But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce.  Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument.  That is my experience.  No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.  If you understand, and show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Anyway, I sat down late last year to list the evidence that I am, in spite of all the “evidence” to the contrary that I can find AT THE DROP OF A HAT, a freaking good mum. Not to sit down and write about how in my time machine, I’d be child-free (and a selfish bitch, for the record. But that’s another post).

The evidence

Because while the “evidence” that I suck as a parent – that I’m a failure in all the worst ways – has legs and wings and stands ten feet tall and bellows at 100 decibels, the evidence that I’ve done not a half-decent but an amazing job, can slip past unnoticed. And I’m completely over that bullshit. So I sat down one day and took stock.

Here’s what I came up with on that day:

  • I have a 22-year-old son who still calls me as one of his main emotional support people. And when I tell him I love him, he replies with, “Love you too, mate.” He addresses servers and shop assistants by their first name. He has a firm handshake and looks people in the eye. He’s set a career path for himself. He sings like an angel and plays multiple musical instruments. He’s faced his demons and he keeps getting up each day and trying to be a good human and a good dad. I couldn’t be more proud.
  • My 16-year-old daughter is milking full time. She gets herself up every day and leaves the house just after 4am to drive 40 minutes to the farm where she got herself a job, in a cowshed with mostly other women, milking 800 cows. She comes home, covered in cow shit, with sparkling eyes. She’s living her best life. She does dishes without being asked. She calls me when I’m travelling to liaise about meals and groceries for the household. She always notices when someone in her orbit is struggling. She reports to me every day on the “adulty” things she did, especially when it’s about her relationship. She is self-reflective and articulate. Holy fuck.
  • My 15-year-old is incredibly pissed that she’s not old enough to get her driver’s licence yet, because she thinks she’s every bit as capable as her sister, and she’s right. She got herself her first job completely on her own and didn’t even tell me when she had an interview. She saves money like her life depends on it. She plans. To go to art school in California. She doesn’t know yet how that’ll happen with the USD$150k/year price tag, but she’s set her mind to it. And I don’t doubt her ability to do that. This year, as an introvert who struggles to articulate her emotions out loud, she worked her way out of an abusive relationship like a BOSS, setting boundaries and then honouring them. Even more, a month or so later she got angry enough to punch the kid in the face. Yes – violence is wrong. And fuck, I was so proud of her.
  • My 23-year-old chose me. That is actually some of the evidence that I’m a good mum. Because she chose me, and she told me off for saying I’m a bad mum. In fact, she wrote me a list of why I needed to stop saying I’m a bad mum because that was offensive to her – see below. That list rocked my world. That and many years of therapy around parenting and my struggles and guilt and attitudes around it.

So I’ll share it with you.

This list is from the perspective of someone who doesn’t take the simplest things for granted. She gets up each day and keeps herself alive, and is GOOD and KIND and SMART and STRONG even when her life could easily have shaped her so differently.

That was huge for me. It forced me to acknowledge that I had done some things right.

You’re allowed to say it – PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD

And finally, a shout out to Emily Writes and friends, because I had also just finished reading Is it bedtime yet? and it was the most glorious, loving, real, raw, accepting and forgiving thing I’d read in a long, long time. If you’re about to have a baby or if you have babies or someone else in your world does, and they need to hear that PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD and that’s NORMAL, you need to buy them that book. And probably the next book too.

Here’s an idea for you:

What’s the area in your life that you are best at punishing yourself about? What’s that part of your life that you feel literally SURROUNDED with things to beat yourself over the head with, because there is SO MUCH EVIDENCE that you suck at it? That you’ve failed? What’s your shame?

Because how about this…. What if you write a list of every. Tiny. Piece. Of evidence. That you’re NOT failing at that thing?

Would you do that?

Would you write that list? For you?

Sending love,

Shel x

(Oh, and PS. If you can’t see the flipside and all you read here is a list of ego-boosting bullshit, call me and I’ll give you ALL the details about the child with addiction and the child who started having children at 17, and the child who I hit and who called the police and had me arrested and rightly so, and the children (yes – REN, not CHILD) who have had the Police intervene in their suicide attempts, and the child who felt betrayed because I raised her one way and then changed the entire direction of my life. Or the children who were abused or assaulted. Or the children who had sex too young. I’m not going to keep going here, because you haven’t got the time. But rest assured – this post of self-love has been HARD WON. Parenting is fucking hard. That is all.)

Aaaaaand next!

“Must get caught up…must get caught up!”

I’ve just had 3 days of filming, and that’s something I’ve never experienced before. I adored it. It was intense. I feel shattered and exhilarated. And as the camera crew drove away, my brain said, Aaaaaand next!

It started cataloguing all the things that need to be done now that that’s over, and I’ve got time and headspace and it’s quiet. My brain thinks that means, Must get caught up.


  • Check emails
  • Get my head back into that client work
  • Tidy bedding
  • Do washing
  • Sweep the house
  • Make some phone calls
  • Do banking
  • PLAN WHAT’S NEXT, aaaaaaaaaand, GO!
Must get caught up! Some days I amaze myself.  Other days, I put the laundry in the oven.

Balancing truths

It is true that most of those things will need to get done at some stage.

What’s also true is that right now, after a really intense 3 days of being ON, taking some time to just breathe is not only completely appropriate but probably a whole lot healthier than just jumping straight into what’s next.

Aaaaaand next!  Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

So I sit here, on the deck with my coffee, and just pause. Reflect. Let the intensity and high energy fade away. Feel it dissipating.

And breathe.

Pause or pressure

So I’m wondering if right now, as you read this, if you need to either take a few breaths right now, or if you need to look ahead in your day and decide at what moment you’d be able to do that. When will it be needed?

When can you consciously, purposefully, pause?

I think I’m mostly speaking to the mums – the ones who still think about self-care only occasionally and when the idea pops into their heads, and they go, Oh, that’s right, I should take some time for me.

Aaaaaand next!  I never thought I'd be the type of mother who had to leave a post-it note to remind herself to shower.  Yet, here we are.  - The 21st Century SAHM.

That’s one SHOULD I think is valid.

You should take care of yourself.

You should claim moments from time to time to breathe.

You should be kind to yourself and say, OK, that was a full-on day. It’s ok to leave those dishes and just put my feet up for the rest of the evening.

Aaaaaand next!  Breathe.  It's ok to press pause - Shelly Davies

A reminder to pause

Maybe I’m not only talking to the mums. Maybe dads can relate.

Maybe other people with busy lives and obligations and responsibilities other than kids (aka money-sucking vampires).

I’d love for you to reply and tell me how this reminder to pause (breathe, be kind, reflect) is relevant in your world. Especially the boys. Cos you guys are a bit alien to me.


So, does that email really need to get written right now?

Does that next task really need your attention in this exact moment?

Are the pressures and urgency you’re feeling right now, reality? Or self-imposed?

As for me in this moment?

I’ve got some being to do.

Aaaaaad next!  What does being look like to you? - Shelly Davies


Upcoming events and keynotes




I’m excited to be teaming up again with the amazing humans at the Dairy Women’s Network (thanks Fonterra!). We’re hitting the road nationwide for daytime writing workshops and keynote dinner events and I can’t wait to see you live and in person!

And just in case you’re looking for that keynote (not an average keynote. That keynote!)

The one they’ll remember for a lifetime? The one that invites authenticity, captures the heart, and encourages you to live a more joyful, badass life?  

Hit reply and let’s talk!

What are you doing for fun?

Finding fun

Make time for joy.  What have you done for fun today?

There’s this thing I like to do when I’m at home on Aotea (Great Barrier Island). My house is right by a waterhole, and I like to spend time there doing what I call “landscaping.” 

You know how kids like to build damns and make sandcastles and dig holes just because?  That’s what my “landscaping” is.  I move rocks.  Build damns.  Dig channels. Even pull weeds.

What you need to know though, is that I do this with no particular purpose, and also with the clear knowledge that the next storm will wash away anything I create.

I do it for fun. It just feels good!

And faaaark it’s hard work and I feel so physically weary afterwards, and I LOVE that.

The older we get the less time we dedicate each week to fun

I’m 46 as I write this.  And I’ve been reflecting on how, as we get older, we spend less time with the intention of just having fun – doing things that just bring us joy.

Look back over your last month. How many things made you smile, or belly laugh or go mmmmmmm with that deep sense of peace and satisfaction?

How many of those times were planned? What kinds of contexts and activities were happening?

Can you PLAN to do any of those things more often?

Make time for fun: Be a fountain, not a drain ~ Rex Hudler

I don’t have any answers for you – just those questions. You have to find the answers yourself. Maybe you need to look back a few years to a time in your life that you had a lot of fun.

What’s fun for me

Seriously this could be an unending list.

I like to make fun everywhere I go.

Like when I picked up 3 young guys hitchhiking and I had just started blasting Lizzo and I said I hoped they could sing like a large back woman. Two of the guys pointed at the other and he said, “Oh yeah. I am definitely that bitch” (it’s a Lizzo reference, if you didn’t know). I belly laughed and had to fist-bump him. Best come-back!

Fun is:

Riding an inflatable pink flamingo while drinking iced coffee. Long story. But it was FUN.

Walking by water with my headphones in listening to P!nk or Six60 with the sun on my skin. That is SHEER JOY for me.

Just dancing while I wash the dishes. Turning up the music and moving my body. That feels sooooooo good.

Make time for fun: Goals-more joy.  More laughter.  More love.  More friendship.  More intentional fun.

Your fun might be so vastly different from mine.

But the question really is –

are you having enough fun, and can you plan to have a bit more?

The keynote you’ll never forget

I’ve always had this thing against putting “keynote” or “speaker” on your LinkedIn headline

I mean, anyone can say that right? And everyone does. (OK, eventually I caved and put it there anyway, cos #expertadvice.)

But what differentiates the amazing speakers from the solidly decent ones?

What lets people see your worth on a stage?

The journey

Figuring out how to show the world I’m fucking good at what I do – that’s been the journey. 

SHOW [don't tell].

In developing my speaking career I’ve looked for advice, joined professional groups and organisations and you know the main message I kept getting? 

“You don’t want to offend. You don’t want to put people off. Be enough but not TOO MUCH.”

Well, fuck that. 

The world needs people who bring their whole selves to each moment. 

The world needs people who are imperfect and can revel in their imperfection. 

The world needs people who are vulnerable and courageous enough to show up that way, so that others feel safer to do the same. 

If that means offending people who are #notmytribe? BRING IT!

So, here’s me SHOWING UP

Shelly Davies – The keynote you’ll never forget

Love you.

(And if you need an unforgettable speaker, hit me.)

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