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Empowering Women Through Art and Mindful Fashion: A Conversation with Dijo Life Founder, Sarah Turner

House of Coco Magazine is thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Sarah Turner, the visionary founder of Dijo Life. In this candid conversation, Sarah opens up about the mission driving Dijo Life, the fluidity of her vision, and the powerful impact she envisions for women around the world.

As the driving force behind Dijo Clothing, Sarah shares her passion for creating a movement in fashion that advocates for mindful choices and ethical production.

Prepare to be inspired as Sarah discusses her journey, the challenges faced in establishing Dijo Life, and the resilience required to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of sustainable fashion. Join us as we delve into the personal side of Sarah, exploring her travel dreams, motivational mantras, and the influences shaping her Irish heritage.

Discover the story behind Dijo Life and get to know Sarah Turner—the entrepreneur, artist, and advocate empowering women through original healing artwork and authentic leadership.

House of Coco Magazine invites you to step into the world of Dijo Life and be inspired by Sarah’s commitment to making a positive impact on women’s lives globally…

Inspirations and Beginnings

Dijo Life focuses on empowering women to own their authentic stories. Can you share a pivotal moment from your own journey that inspired you to create this platform, emphasising the importance of authenticity?

I remember holding my newborn daughter Dixie; she must have been a few weeks old. I had just turned 30, been medically retired from the military, and was so lost.

It was a dark period in my life, perhaps even darker than I realized at the time. She just stared at me, and I had this beautiful moment of clarity. She was so defenseless, perfect, and innocently trusting.

I understood in that one moment that nothing in my childhood was my fault. I had been looking at my past with hindsight, rather than kindsight. I cried for how hateful I was to myself. I had no idea how to start, but in that one moment, I promised myself I would do whatever it took to be the guide she deserved.

The thought of her ever not loving herself made me feel physically ill and I knew little me deserved that same fierce love. Why was I not doing this for myself?

That was my pivotal moment, the commitment to learn to love myself was made, and I have never left my little self alone in the darkness since.

Embracing Vulnerabilities

Creating a space for removing the “mask of perfection” is powerful. How do you encourage women to embrace their vulnerabilities and turn them into sources of strength and resilience?

By reminding them none of us really have it all together. Some days it flows and others we cannot even face the thought of a shower. Both versions of ourselves are worthy of our love. Both versions of ourselves are asking us to listen to internal needs.

When we allow our vulnerability to show we create safe spaces for others to be their authentic selves. When expressing these vulnerabilities become our norm they lose their power to shame us and a shameless woman is a force to be reckoned with.

When we are authentically, unapologetically ourselves, we know our strengths and weaknesses better than anybody. You cannot shame someone who is already friends with their darkness. They do not seek external validation and that is their greatest strength.

Guilt-Free Self-Care and Boundaries

Guilt-free self-care and healthy boundaries are fundamental aspects of Dijo Life. In your experience, what are some effective self-care practices that women often overlook, and how do these practices contribute to overall well-being?

I think practicing gratitude for your wondrous body is the most overlooked self-care practice. We criticise our weight, we hate our wrinkles, we tan our spotty skin, dye our mousy hair and starve ourselves to meet a notion of society’s beauty.

A secret price we pay to be accepted, but how often do we give thanks. Thanks for the strong heartbeat, eyes that see beauty, ears that reveal the wonderful symphony of nature, tongues that can tell a morning latte from a midnight chamomile tea. We are each an incredible mini universe, literally born from stardust.

If we practiced more gratitude for this phenomenal connection, many of life’s complexities would become a lot simpler. True self-care begins when we make peace with the vessel we will journey in.

If you love something and are grateful for it you will naturally want to take the best care of it. A simple daily gratitude practice will foster this connection and bring infinite joy to your relationship with your body.

Healing Journey and Support Strategies

Your personal experience with PTSD and childhood trauma led you to create Dijo Life. How has your own healing journey influenced the strategies and support you offer to survivors within your community?

I try and teach others to be their own guru. You already hold the answers; the trick is learning to nurture and love yourself enough to not get in your way. Trusting in your own innate intuition and wisdom. I have also learned to not stress the hard times as much. Life is a cycle and sometimes I’m in the dark, but the light will come again.

Melancholy can be beautiful and reflection does not need to be filled with shame. There is a time for every season in your life. Reflection is a powerful tool. As I look back at my journey I see how the dark times allowed me to now fully embrace the glorious gifts I am given.

Diverse Talents Intersecting

Being an international author, fashion designer, and speaker is a unique combination of talents. How do these diverse skills intersect in your work, and how do they contribute to the multifaceted approach of Dijo Life?

For so long, women have been taught they are one thing. Women were stereotyped to fit a mould, serious scholars didn’t wear frilly frocks. A beautiful woman could never be a true intellect. A woman who spoke her mind was inevitably a bitch.

For a long time I restricted the creative part of my soul because I was the warfare officer, the serious science lady in a military uniform. I wanted to break these notions. I wanted other women to feel safe to follow any path that sparked joy.

That a life without creativity and authentic expression was a life half-lived. So a pivotal idea for me is that we are not trees; we can move, morph, and constantly change direction. No woman is one thing. You do not owe anyone the version they have created of you. Spice it up, explore your creativity, keep them on their toes.

Unconditional Love and Community Support

Unconditional love and support are core beliefs of Dijo Life. How do you cultivate a sense of community and support within your platform, ensuring that every woman feels valued and heard?

I don’t actively encourage community; there is no need with women. We are amazing at supporting each other, particularly when we are in safe places. So I create safe places. I have found the easiest way to teach is to lead by example. I expose my vulnerabilities while still modeling self-care and unconditional self-love.

Women don’t need to be taught community or support; they just need safe spaces to find compassion for their own stories. The telling gets easier, and then these women naturally create their own safe spaces. This is my foundation of community.

Navigating Complex Relationships

Navigating relationships, both with ourselves and others, is a complex journey. What advice do you offer to women striving to establish healthy boundaries in their personal and professional lives, especially when faced with challenges?

I am still a work in progress with boundaries, I think I will be to the day I die. As an empath, the thought of hurting others pains me. So firstly I remind them they are not alone and unlearning a lifetime’s worth of self-soothing behaviors.

We don’t honour our boundaries because we have learned it is unsafe to take up space. Unfortunately, it is still unsafe for most women. My best advice is to start small. Saying an outright “no” can be hard, so start with something simpler like, “let me get back to you on that”.

I have found boundaries get easier to set when I remember to honor myself and my own needs. I often have to repeat to myself that I am not responsible for the emotions of others. Women want to be strong and fearless, but for a lot of us, this is not the reality.

We are super sensitive and nurturing and really bad at confrontation. Age definitely helps; hopefully, in my next decade, I can master the compassionate boundary.

Challenging Traditional Notions

Empowering women often involves breaking societal stereotypes. How does Dijo Life challenge traditional notions of womanhood and promote a more inclusive and diverse definition of femininity?

A woman is not one thing! I am a mother, a War Veteran, an artist, a businesswoman, a clothing designer, a scientist, a badass, and sometimes a scared little girl. These are all parts of me, but they do not define me. I am fluid and will continue to morph as I age and discover different parts of myself I want to explore.

This is what makes me feminine, my joy of life and all its possibilities. My support and connection with other women, no matter the path they walk. The only challenge I ask of women is to live their most creative lives. Take up space and shine; we need more lighthouses.

Community Impact

Community plays a vital role in healing. Could you share a story from Dijo Life’s community where the support and empowerment provided made a significant difference in someone’s life?

My greatest joy is when ladies find the support to leave toxic relationships. We have supported many women through this journey. Supporting them as they learn the tools to begin a journey where they are worthy of better. Often becoming the cycle-breaker for their own little tribe. These women always go on to flourish, and it’s truly beautiful to be a small part of their journey.

Transforming Pain into Strength

Resilience is a common thread among survivors. How do you help women transform their pain into strength, encouraging them to view their experiences as sources of power rather than hindrances?

Growing up, I was always taught “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This is rubbish advice. What doesn’t kill you inevitably gives you poor coping mechanisms and repressed trauma. Trauma doesn’t make you stronger; your resilience does.

Your ability to take another breath when you just want to curl up and quit. Resilience will pull you through, but eventually, you must face this darkness and reclaim your power. My trauma enabled me to understand the darkness in others and learn that it was my choice to carry this darkness or leave it with them and choose love instead. Again creating safe spaces for women to talk and process this trauma is key to this shift.

Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Incorporating mindfulness and self-reflection is crucial in personal growth. What mindfulness practices do you recommend to women, and how can these practices help them connect with their authentic selves?

Mindfulness doesn’t need to be sitting in meditation for hours. Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment as it unfolds. When starting it can be helpful to set yourself an alarm that goes off 3 times throughout the day. When it does, stop what you are doing and take 3 deep breaths, holding and exhaling for at least 4 seconds. Then look around you, what can you see, smell, touch. Be completely in the moment.

Check in with tension in your body, release your shoulders and jaw. As you practice this more, you will find yourself naturally doing it throughout your day. Breath is the key to everything. Mindful showering is also a great start. Every shower consciously chooses to breathe slower and wash away anything that is not sparking joy.

Then stay in the moment; how does the soap feel against your skin? As you rub your arms, give thanks for everything your strong arms allow you to do. Paint a love heart on the shower screen….sing!

Evolving Conversations

Dijo Life has been empowering women since 2011. How have you seen the conversation around mental health, trauma, and self-empowerment evolve over the years, and what positive changes have you witnessed within your community?

When I first started on this journey, not many safe spaces existed. It is so empowering to watch this conversation change. We are starting to be much more aware of mental health and trauma. Women, in particular, are leading this resurgence of empathy, compassion, and mindful leadership. Within my own community, I am seeing less shame and more self-acceptance. It is my greatest joy that I have played a small part in empowering this change.

The Power of Storytelling

The power of storytelling is evident in your approach. How do you believe sharing personal stories within the Dijo Life community helps in breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health and trauma, fostering understanding and compassion?

Without a doubt, and for so long, women have been holding their breath. When we are given a safe space, we exhale. We exhale because we are surrounded by other survivors.

We exhale because we are seen and heard. We exhale because our pain is understood. We are no longer alone, we are no longer isolated in our shame, but validated in our struggles. This naturally fosters a sense of understanding and compassion. Safe spaces are the key.

Embracing Self-Acceptance

Many women struggle with self-acceptance. What steps do you suggest for embracing one’s true self, flaws, scars, and all, and how can this self-acceptance lead to a more authentic and fulfilling life?

I mentioned earlier the importance of practicing gratitude for your wondrous body. I think it is the most overlooked self-care practice, probably because it is the most difficult. We have watched generations of women hate their bodies.

We learn to criticise, fight and change ourselves. Very few of us were ever taught to honor, nourish, and celebrate our uniqueness. Practicing gratitude for your body shifts this mindset. When you are truly grateful for your ability to dance, there is no space for cellulite shame; it just becomes a silly notion. You shift from fighting yourself to asking what your body needs for nourishment.

Dijo Life’s Vision and Empowering Women Globally

Looking ahead, what aspirations do you hold for Dijo Life? How do you envision the future of your platform, and what impact do you aim to make on the lives of women worldwide in the coming years?

I have never had a specific vision for Dijo Life; it remains a fluid idea with one clear mission — to empower women. Dijo is as much a source of healing for me as it is for other women.

I cannot perceive it as a mere business; it holds too much significance for that. It’s a higher calling, empowering my voice as much as others. I aspire for Dijo Clothing to initiate a movement in fashion that promotes mindful clothing choices, recognizing the potency of patterns and ethically produced clothing to effect change for both the wearer and the producer.

I strongly oppose fast fashion and its detrimental social and environmental impacts; we must strive for better. Dijo Clothing is my passion, providing a tangible way to physically empower women through my original healing artwork. It allows me to practice authentic leadership and create employment opportunities for other women.

Wanderlust Dreams – Top Destination on the Bucket List

Our readers love to travel; what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I am incredibly privileged to have traveled extensively across the globe. My heart longs for an extended holiday in Northern Ireland to retrace my father’s childhood and gain a deeper understanding of how my Irish heritage has shaped me.

Born in Belfast, my father emigrated to Australia in the 1950s. My nostalgic dream involves a winter retreat in a cottage on the West coast, surrounded only by my books and an in-house potato bread chef.

Igniting Motivation – A Go-To Quote in Times of Need

When lacking motivation, what’s your go-to quote?

“The only person you need to impress is your 5-year-old self.” This quote always propels me forward because that younger version of myself is always eager for an adventure.

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