Elisabeth Grover
07794351958

Author: thegard4 (page 1 of 4)

Vision Boarding for Beginners

For those who haven’t heard of vision boarding, I’d like to introduce you to this art form. Using vision boards for a few years now, I have found that it can be a simple method of seeing your goals come to life. I really enjoy the process too.

Vision boards can come in different forms and each one is as individual as the person creating it. I like to create a vision board in a book rather than a board so I have a Moleskine A2 watercolour book where I keep a few pages dedicated to my vision.

I create my pages as-and-when things change for me and my goals need to be tweaked. I’ll be doing another board this summer to adapt my goals after a winter of ill health.

Before you start

It’s important to think about your goals before you start. Otherwise, you will spend time creating a nice scrapbook and not much else. In order to create your list of goals, please check my posts entitled Living your Values . This link will take you to the first post so work through that one and then read the following four leading up to the conclusion.

These posts will give you an idea of the direction in which you are heading.

Equipment

Material

Creating a vision board can be quite reasonable – or you can spend a lot on various pieces of ephemera! If you are on a budget, I would advise you to surf the internet and take images from there to print off. If you have a little more ready cash available, invest in some magazines which resonate with you. 

By this time, you should know the areas you are looking at, so you may want to invest in some travel magazines or perhaps those dedicated to the home or health and fitness.

Perhaps you can buy a handful and then fill in the gaps with some print-off’s from the internet.

Board or book?

You can buy a board from your local art shop quite reasonably choosing the size you want. I think that A2 is a good size as A4 can be quite restrictive.

Perhaps you’d like to put your images on a cork-board instead?

I prefer to visualise in a book so I can use different pages for different themes. I also create mini vision boards in my journals to keep me on track but these are a lot smaller and more compact, printed off from the internet.

Pens, glue, stickers, scissors

Anything you can get your hands on to create an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment while you do your board.

If you are in the UK, you’ll find a shop called The Works is pretty good for stickers and glitter. I personally love Etsy for my stickers but they tend to be a bit more expensive.

You may not be a sticker and glitter type of person and that’s fine too.

Time

Yes, I’ve put time on the equipment list! It’s the summer holidays and time is a little less restrictive. No checking the clock for the 3pm pick-up so you can create some space in which to do some work.

I think this is a great activity to do with your children. They can do their own while you do yours. Of course, there’s wont be goal-orientated but they will have fun sitting at the kitchen table cutting and sticking with Mummy.

But how do I do it?

I gather my equipment together and start by flicking through my magazines and seeing which images catch my eye. I cut them out and put them to the side ready to glue into my book.

Sometimes, I cut out images that may not seem to ‘fit’ with my ideas as I find it interesting to see why that picture resonated with me, Sometimes I don’t find the answer straight away but it’s when I go back to it that I discover what it is about that image that drew me to it.

I have a break for a cup of coffee at this point and relax for a little while before going back to my book.

When I sit down again, I put my images in some semblance of order. I have different pages for different types of goals and sometimes I have pages for values that resonate.

For example, I have a page that says ‘peace’ to me and although that’s not strictly a goal, I like to collaborate all my pictures together into one section so I can go back to it and remind myself what peace means to me.

This can sometimes take longer than the time available to you and that’s ok. Simply put the images in a safe place with the book or board and return to it when you next have some time to spare.

So what’s stopping you?

Pick up some glue and a notebook or board from your local newsagents when you are next in town along with a handful of magazines. Work out your life values when you have some time in the evening.

Grab a pen and a notebook and work your way through the short exercises instead of flopping in front of the telly!

I know you’ll find some nuggets of information from doing these exercises as it really helped me when I had young children at home and no time to myself. So give it a go and let me know how you get on.

I’ll be running some short workshops in the autumn term for mums with very little time who would like to work on their vision board. Or perhaps you’d like to learn a little more about journaling instead?

Why not drop me an email if you are interested in joining me in the Garden Sanctuary for a session of arts and visioning.

You can find me on elisabeth@thegardensanctuary.co.uk.

In the meantime, have a great summer break.

 

 

 

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Journaling Prompts

Following on from last weeks post about being yourself, I thought I’d take a look at using journal prompts as a tool to self-discovery.

Why use prompts?

If your journaling practice is your Morning Pages or a simple diary entry in the form of a list of activities you have done that day, you may be curious as to how journal prompts can help you. I hope this short post will help to clarify a little.

A little depth

If you’re looking to add a little depth to your self-reflections then journal prompts are a great tool. A simple word or sentence can help you to think about what that word means to you and how you would like to express it.

The blank page doesn’t lend itself to writing if you don’t find it easy to put words on paper. You can sit and look at it and wonder just where to start.

If you can’t come up with something profound, then where does that leave you?

Different meanings

A set of journaling prompts can mean different things to each of us. I am working through two different types at the moment. For my Boho Berry Challenge I use an art journaling style.

This one tends to be more visual with photographs printed out from my Sprocket mini printer and painted around. I don’t use a lot of words for this type of journaling.

An example of this can be seen below.

The prompt was ‘Favourite Techniques’ and I printed off images of an abstract acrylic painted in squares with a layer of Gesso over it. It’s one of my favourite images.

Alongside this image, I have glued a watercolour to demonstrate another favourite technique that I like to use. There is no writing on this one except a painted header and a prompt.

Post on FB and Instagram

I like to post these on Facebook as they keep me to task and allow others to comment on my work. I can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Other Prompts

The other prompts that I am using at the moment are the Lisa Sonora ‘Root’ prompts. I use these as my written journaling tools and have only just started using them so can’t say much at this point. I like to mix it up with art prompts and written too so that I’m using different parts of my brain.

What journals do I use?

I love my Chic Sparrow Outlander travellers notebook for my written prompts as I can take it out and about with me on my journeys.

My Instagram feed has some images of my little adventures with my notebook so check it out here @gardensanctuaryjournaling

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Scribbles That Matter journal is better for my art journaling as the paper is lovely and thick and it’s an A5 size which is slightly bigger.

Next Steps

There are plenty of prompts out there for you to try – Pinterest and Instagram have some good ones. Or you could try googling to find prompts that resonate with you. Find yourself a nice journal, get your paints out and have a go today. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on!

If you would like to book an appointment with me, you can find my appointments page by clicking here

Or contact me : elisabeth@thegardensanctuary.co.uk

So, what’s the point?

I was thinking about my blog this week and what I should talk about with you all. The things that come to mind are my favourite life tools – walking, journaling, solitude and creating a calm day. My tagline for The Garden Sanctuary is Tranquility Within and I would feel incongruent if I didn’t incorporate some serenity into my life.

Search Engine Optimisation

I went to a Search Engine Optimisation workshop not long ago and we talked about optimising your website so that Google can find you amongst the crowds. I was sitting smugly when the presenter was talking about using a blog to optimise your website as I blog regularly until I realise that I hardly ever talk about reflexology and doula work! My face dropped and my smugness ran for the door!

It made me think about my blog and purpose for blogging.

I went away from the session thinking about changing the direction of my writing to incorporate more reflexology and doula work but something stopped me.

Why would I change the content if I enjoy what I do?

I’m never going to be a multi-million-pound industry and those who read my blog tell me that they enjoy it so shouldn’t that be enough?

Instagram and Me

I’ve been journaling about this in my Morning Pages as it has been on my mind recently. I feel the same way about Instagram as my feed (@gardensanctuaryjournaling) contains images of my journals and early morning dog walks. I I look at the feed and I think ‘that’s me’.

I browse through the beautifully curated images and wish I could reproduce them but I can’t. I’m not a white, curated kind of person and, although I enjoy looking at others work when they create beautiful flat lay images, they aren’t me. I’m a slightly messy, hippy-dippy type of girl.

My photography needs work and that’s ok.

I’m a work in progress too

Take the Lesson

So I will take the lessons from the SEO workshop, look at the white flat lays on Instagram in awe, and carry on improving my slightly quirky ‘look’ to find my voice in this busy world. The pictures can inspire and entertain me in the same way as a film about climbing Everest will. I’m never going to do that but I enjoy looking at the top.

What kind of images inspire you? I’d love to know if my readers are Instagram fans too and if you have any hints for being ‘discovered’ for who you are. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My daughter with her vibrant pink hair and Coco (“The Mrs”) can teach me a lot. They are both are very happy in their own skin and I love this picture of them together.

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My Life in Journals

I’ve been looking through my old journals recently and feeling amazed at the amount of history contained in all these little books. The image above is just a small collection of my writing as I have many Moleskine extra large journals on my shelf that I use for my Morning Pages.

Journaling Outside

It’s been a beautiful sunny week in the UK and the pleasure of being outside and writing my thoughts on paper. I have kept a journal since I was a teenager, making lists, enjoying stationery shops and creating en plein air.

 

I  remember my diaries from those days, the aspects of my life that I used to journal about and all the history those books contained. I was utterly devastated when my mum threw my books out during a house move. I don’t think she recognised the importance of those little books and how I would have enjoyed looking through them now.

30 years on..

I am still keeping a journal but it’s moved on a little since then. I write my Morning Pages as soon as I get up. One page of an extra large blank Moleskine and sometimes it’s a struggle to know what to write. It may be stream of consciousness stuff but putting it all down on paper, and the routine of making it part of my early morning, is very therapeutic. I light a candle or burn incense and write…and write…and write……

Different Types of Journal

I get back from my dog walk at around 7.30 and I go into the garden with one of my faithful friends, sit in my hammock with a cup of herbal tea and I paint. I have different types of journal depending on how I am feeling that day.

Scribbles that Matter

An A5 dotted grid journal that I use for watercolouring in and journaling over the paint. I also create my daily spreads in my Scribbles journal.

I have been really impressed with the engagement of the company letting me know when the new Scribbles journals are back in stock and replying to queries on social media. Out of the three ‘Big Hitters’ – Moleskine, Leuchturm and Scribbles, the latter is my favourite.

My Travellers Company ‘Travelers Notebook’ (or TN for short).

I have looked at these TN’s for a while and not been convinced that they fit my needs but recently I have become rather hooked. They come in different sizes and are made by companies other than Travellers Company, and are rather beautiful.

I have the passport sized, which is tiny but fits in my bag and is ready to go. I create a basic weekly spread so that I have my week in front of me when I’m out and about, and I have a notes page too. I love the size and the flexibility of this cute little journal.

My Chic Sparrow Outlander

This is a brand from the States which I found by accident but I can see what all the fuss is about. Beautiful leather with pockets for all sorts of ephemera and is a good size. Mine is a pocket which fits the little Moleskine Cahier pads that you can buy in Waterstones. That makes it handy when I don’t have time to check out the amazing range of inserts on Etsy.

I use this one for taking out and about and writing notes in coffee shops using this. It’s such a pleasure to keep in my bag and bring it out when inspiration strikes.

I bought mine nearly new in the UK as the shipping is high. There is a FB group where you can buy the American planners second hand or nearly new and it’s been a godsend for me (and my budget!).

Journal’s Creed A5 size

I’m waiting for my new journal from Journal’s Creed to arrive so I’ll let you know what I think when I get it. I loved the look of it online as I could customise and choose the colours that resonate with me. Of course, I chose purple!

I’ve got some pretty inserts from Citridori which I am looking forward to using. I’ll use this one journal for painting and creating pretty lists of meaningful things.

Filofax A5 Malden

This is my business planner so all my appointments go into this diary and I take it out to appointments with me. I have had a custom made cover for my business and I am thrilled with the beautiful felting with a picture of Bumble, my therapy room on it.

 

Earthworks Journals

I have been a fan of Earthworks Journals for many years and the featured image shows my collection of different sizes and types. Beautiful leather and perfect for my ‘Dear Diary’ type entries.

Art Journals

These aren’t strictly journals as I don’t write in them, but I still find them therapeutic to use. I have a collection of different sizes and use each one dependent on how I’m feeling that day. I tend to use acrylic and gesso in my art journals and paint abstracts but I have been leaning towards watercolours recently.

I have spent a lot of time over the years creating a collection of journals that I love spending time with. There’s something wonderfully calming about looking at all of the journals on my shelf and thinking that each one is filled with episodes from my life. I liken it to my bookshelf where I look at each book and know that I have read it at sometimes in my life (apart from the big pile of non-fiction books by my desk clambering for my attention!).

I hope you have a great week with your journals, please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about. My next post, which is almost ready to publish, looks at the subject of comparison in the journal community. I hope to see you there.

 

 

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A Day in the Life of a Reflexologist and Doula

Whilst I’ve been recuperating, I have been flicking through lots of content on the internet, blogs and Instagram images and seeing how other people spend their days.

I am really interested in daily life and I enjoy reading blogs documenting the daily life of women. This gave me the inspiration to create my blog post “A Day in the Life of” to give you an idea of the daily practices that help me through.

5am – Yes, an Early Start!

Not sure why I wake up so early but I have never been able to lie in bed once I’m awake, and this time of year is perfect for an early start. I get up straight away, make myself a cup of herbal tea and sit down with my Morning Pages.

For those of you who haven’t read my blog from the beginning, here’s a link to more information about Morning Pages.

I love starting my day with a journal entry and, although most of the time it’s utter rubbish, it helps me to focus on the day ahead if I do a brain dump on my page. I use a large Moleskine blank journal as that gives me creative freedom to write as much or as little as I like. I always fill the page as I think it’s good practice to complete it even if it’s complete unintelligible!

6 am- My Therapy Walk with The Mrs

I have to drag my dog Coco out of bed –  she is really not a morning girl! Colloquially we call her ‘The Mrs’,  something my son named her after we picked her from a local rescue centre. It’s just stuck and seems to suit her.  We like to think it’s because she is The Boss in the family! No wonder she doesn’t come when we call her –  poor dog has so many identities, she can’t work out who she is.

The Mrs and I head out to our local fields at 6am, me with my podcast playing in my ears and Mrs checking out the local squirrel fraternity. One day she may catch one but that hasn’t happened yet. I have an eclectic mix of podcasts on my phone and I pick one according to how I’m feeling at the time.

Our walk is a wonderful time for me to clear my head ready for the day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

8 am – Back for Breakfast

Our route takes 90 minutes and I feel great when I have completed it, rain or shine. I jump in the shower when I get home and get ready for my day.

My clinic space is a little round room in my garden called Bumble and I make sure that it’s warm and ready for my first client of the day. The underfloor heating is pretty efficient so I can put it on when I go out and Bumble will be lovely and toasty by the time I get back.

About 30 minutes before my client arrives, I light the scented candles so the smell is delicious when they arrive. I am currently using Heartwood Candles as I love to support local businesses and their range of essential oil candles is just what I need.

I bring in the warm fluffy towels and prepare the area for a spa reflexology session. My wooden pedicure bowl is filled with hot water and Arbonne Rescue and Renew Detox Soak sprinkled liberally allowing the scent to radiate around the room.

I lay out my scrub, the oils, and a spare towel to dry my client’s feet and I sit alone in silence, enjoying the feeling of the sun as it shines through the door and the little round skylight above me. My room is very special to me and I decorate it with meaningful items from around the world.

10am –  My Reflexology Client

My client arrives and I welcome her with a cup of herbal tea and a warm smile. I love to hear how my ladies are getting on in their day-to-day lives and to meet new women who have heard about me through social media or through the recommendations of friends.

It gives me great pleasure to treat them to a reflexology treatment as I know how much I enjoy having reflexology too. My ladies are often busy with the many demands placed on them and to give them a little space to themselves is a wonderful gift.

Whilst we are talking, and my client is soaking her feet in the warm water, I take each foot and gently massage it with the body scrub in the Rescue and Renew Range.  I can see her visibly relax as the treatment goes on.

After washing each foot and changing the towel, I lay her back on my reflexology chair and I offer her a soft blanket to keep her warm before I begin my foot massage with my Arbonne Massage Oil.

My clients tell me that they find a deep state of relaxation with my treatments and I love hearing that kind of feedback. It’s difficult to switch off when life is busy and to have the opportunity to leave the world outside my little wooden door is one that is too good to miss.

The ladies who come to me in the evening can often leave me and go straight to bed when they get home. What could be better?

Once I have gently woken her up and offered her a glass of fresh water we talk about how she feels and what I have discovered during her reflexology treatment . After she has gone, I tidy up the space, change the towels and prepare for the next lady to arrive.

12 pm – Lunch and Journal Time

I have been enjoying substituting my regular meals with Huel a vegan protein shake. I make up a Huel shake for breakfast and lunch and I have a vegan dinner in the evening.  I became vegan for a number of reasons, animal welfare, health, sustainability and weight loss and I am thrilled to have lost 3 stones whilst following this plan.

I became vegan for a number of reasons, animal welfare, health, sustainability to name as few and weight loss too.  I am thrilled to have lost 3 stones whilst following this plan.

On a summer day, I will take my shake outside and sit in my hammock, catching up on emails and social media posts. I have my bullet journal by my side and I will reflect on the day ahead whilst jotting down some thoughts.

13 pm – My Doula Work

My next client is a pregnant lady who I am supporting during an exciting time in her life. My doula work gives me a huge amount of pleasure as it brings together different passions in my life in a neat little bundle.

I offer couples two or three antenatal sessions and in these sessions, we look at their feelings towards their pregnancy and birth, ideas about positions for giving birth, alternative comfort measures, positive thinking during pregnancy, and my recommendations for books and websites.

I am passionate about women’s bodies and the power that they have within. I have utmost faith that they can birth their baby and I love to remind themselves of how amazing they truly are.

If I am taking her through my hypnobirthing course, I will arrange to see her with her birth partner as it’s important that her partner is supportive of the relaxation methods she will be using during the birth of her baby. It’s a great thing for them to do together during the latter few weeks of their pregnancy too.

We reflect on her feelings about her birth and what measures we can put in place to help her find her inner strength and deep feminine guidance. I love to help my women find this strength so that she can feel good about her birth experience.

I firmly believe that a couple can have a good experience regardless of how their baby is born. A woman can have an assisted birth with forceps or ventouse and feel that every decision was hers and she felt strong throughout. It’s important to remind couples of this and I really like to be part of this positive process.

15 pm – Painting and Relaxation

My client leaves and I have some time to rest with my journal at hand. I will get my watercolours out and create a small painting, or I’ll do some writing. My bullet journal gives me ultimate flexibility to create the kind of content I like at the time and I recommend it to everyone to give it a go.

I say to people who ask me about my art that it’s the process that matters and not what it looks like at the end. It can be really quite intimidating to look at the lovely images online and it can put you off creating if you aren’t particularly ‘arty’.

What it looks like is really not important as there is something very calming about choosing your colours and putting them onto paper in either swathes of colour, or circles, squares or other shapes. I love it.

 

17 pm – Walking and Talking

Another walk with The Mrs, this time with my daughter who uses the time to tell me about her day. Walking provides a perfect opportunity to talk about things that matter to her and we enjoy our afternoon strolls whilst The Mrs frollicks in the long grass looking out for a doggy friend or that  ‘Squirrel that Got Away’.

19 pm – Home for Tea and finally……Bed

Home for tea, a lovely easy vegan feast of puy lentils with a tomato and chilli sauce, black olives, tofu and fluffy rice, accompanied by some ciabatta bread dipped in Spanish olive oil. The candles and incense are burning in the background and my salt lamp provides a calming light to accompany my evening meal.

A quick catch up on my favourite boxed set episode or a chapter in my latest book and it’s time for bed at 9.30, ready for that early start.

The Mrs has snuggled up on the sofa after her busy day and is catching up on some rest before I wake her up ready for our next morning walk.

Conclusion

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and you’d like to come and see me in The Garden Sanctuary, please book an appointment by clicking here. I’d love to welcome you to my little sanctuary of calm and relaxation (and a nice cup of tea!).

 

 

Journaling Your Way

Ideas for your Bullet Journal

In the last post, I looked at the basics of journaling your way and the process that can give such pleasure. Looking through others ‘Bullet Journals’ I have found lots of inspiration for spreads that resonate with me.

Weekly Spreads

Most of my spreads are weekly. The benefit of this kind of journal is that you can choose how you format it and I like to experiment. I have tried vertical and horizontal versions depending on how I feel at the time. I enjoy creating the boxes and thinking about the week ahead and how it will work for me. There’s something quite meditative about drawing the lines and lettering.

I feel envious when I look at others lettering as there are so many amazing accounts with beautiful lettering but then I remind myself that it’s the process and not the finished art.

Daily Spreads

At the moment, I haven’t got enough to write about in order to create a daily spread but when I start work again, I will use one. I have done this one as a practice to see how useful it would be for me.

Monthly Spreads

A monthly spread is good as it provides me with an overview of the month ahead. I tend to use a standard calendar type monthly and paint around it with my watercolours to create a little interest. I love the work of Little Coffee Fox and this is one of her monthly spreads.

Step Tracker

As part of my recovery, I have been measuring my step count daily. Having my step count in list form inspires me to continue on those days when I don’t feel like going out. It’s also good to see how far I’ve come.

I use a simple list form for my step tracker with steps, mileage and hours of sleep which I take from my Fitbit data.

The Mind Garden

I have a couple of pages for my thoughts and scribbles and I call it the Mind Garden. I have used some watercolour paint to create an interesting background and I sit down with this page when I have random thoughts.

Sometimes I use it as a Morning Pages kind of journal as I find it really helpful to write my thoughts and feelings on paper. There’s something about switching off from the laptop and the phone, finding a pen that I enjoy writing with and finding the space to write.

The Garden Sanctuary Goals

I have a few pages which I dedicate to my business goals. To separate the areas in my journal, I use Washi Tape so that I can look at the journal and immediately distinguish each part. Washi Tape is similar to masking tape but comes in a range of colours and patterns and is so pretty. For those in the UK, Susie B and Colour Splash Supplies have great shops on Etsy.

Values and Quotes

I love having a page of my favourite values on one page. It helps to ground me when I can surround myself with words that resonate with me. Quotes that motivate me are part of this page too with simple watercolour shapes.

Other Spreads

Pregnancy Spread – a month by month account to help visualise where you are on your journey. You can add your appointments to this and also news items or personal diary items that you’d like to remember. It’s a special time in your life and this is a great way of remembering it.

Birth Plan Spread – the power of visualisation to create your birth plan in your head has been shown to be hugely beneficial to your mental health. How about making a spread with all the aspects of birth you’d like to incorporate.

Birthing Affirmations – in the same vein, you could use your birthing affirmations in a spread.

Relaxation Spread – Ideas for self-care activities on one page.

Exercise Tracker – A log of the exercises you do in a week.

Over to You

I hope I’ve inspired you to get your pretty pens out and find a nice book to journal your life in. If you have missed my previous post about starting your own journal, you’ll find it by clicking here. Good luck and let me know how you get on.

Creating your own Journal

Bullet Journaling – a beginners guide

My last post looked at bullet journaling as a new life tool. I have talked about the joy of writing things down on paper in previous posts and the enjoyment I get from creative journaling. Bullet journaling can be a hybrid allowing me to combine both of my passions in one notebook.

My last post looked at bullet journaling as a new life tool. I have talked about the joy of writing things down on paper in previous posts and the enjoyment I get from creative journaling. Bullet journaling can be a hybrid allowing me to combine both of my passions in one notebook.

Having said that, it is suitable for people who feel that art isn’t their forte too. A simple design or a printout courtesy of Pinterest can really help you in the early days until you work out what design you would like to use. A good place to start is with Boho Berry  as she has some great videos to watch. The original website is also good from the founder Ryder Carroll but personally, I find the system of symbols a little confusing. The joy of this kind of journaling is that you can make it fit your needs so if you are creative, you can paint some watercolours around your diary entries, but if you aren’t, then a list version will work equally as well.

Social Media

I enjoy looking at others journals and Facebook is a super place to start. My favourite group is Bullet Journal Junkies. Despite being US based and so the Etsy links don’t work for me (postage prices) and we don’t have a Michael’s (which sounds like my idea of stationary heaven!), the designs are great to look at and it’s nice to be part of a community of journal lovers.

I also belong to Bullet Journal Junkies UK and UK Bullet Journal Junkies which are also great for inspiration. If you put in Bullet Journal into the Facebook search box, you’ll find lots of choices to suit you – groups for beginners, professional people, artists and those groups where you share your spread for the week or month (your design).

Instagram is also a great place to search for inspiration. My favourite people to follow are:

Tiny Ray of Sunshine

BohoBerry

Show me your Planner

Pretty Prints and Paper

Bumble Bees and Ladybirds

Alexandra Plans

Roz makes Plans

Stina Journals

Show me your Bullet Journal

Little Coffee Fox

Page Flutter

and there are many more to look through. I like these accounts as I find them inspirational and I enjoy looking at other’s artwork. I am constantly amazed at the level of detail that some people put into their journal and it inspires me to try different ideas.

Tools

Notebook

You actually don’t need many tools in order to start but it’s fun to look around and buy some supplies that give you pleasure.  I have researched the various notebooks and the pro’s and con’s of each and I have bought myself a Scribbles That Matter dotted journal. You may wonder why dotted journals are the favourites of bullet journalists and the answer is that they offer some guidance without being too obtrusive.

Blank notebooks are clean and ready for your jottings but they can be difficult to keep neat and tidy. Some journal writers use squared paper but I find the squares too obvious. A happy medium for me is using a notebook with dotted paper. I love to put a few drops of essential oils on a small piece of kitchen towel and lie it in between the paper. This gives you a lovely surprise when you open up your journal and the smell is divine. I use Rosemary and Petitgrain oils as their scent really resonates with me but you can check out my other favourite oils in previous blog posts.

I love the Scribbles That Matter journal because the paper is so thick (100gms) and I can paint using my watercolours without any ink showing through on the other side, known as ghosting. The other journals of note are Moleskine Dotted Journals and Leuchtturm 1917  both of which come in lots of different colours and the reviews for these notebooks are great. The paper is thinner than the Scribbles That Matter so you may get a little ghosting but that will depend on the pens that you use.

 

Pens

I love trying different pens to see what I enjoy writing with. I have a selection of black writing pens:

Uniball Gel Impact – a broad pen which is nice to writing large amounts of journal entries.

Uniball Air – also broad nibbed and a good pen to write with.

Uniball Vision Elite – a medium roller ball.

PilotV Pen – a great disposable fountain pen but the erasable ink means that your writing with fade over time. Such a shame as I love writing with these pens and they come in lots of different colours.

And drawing pens for creating the diary boxes or drawing doodles. Both pens are filled with archival ink and waterproof so you can draw over your watercolours.

Pitt artist pens 

Sakura Pigma Micron 

Watercolours

Not everyone will use watercolours in their journal. Some may worry that it will make the pages buckle or the paint will show through the paper. I find that the Scribbles That Matter journal is perfect for this as the pages hold up to a generous amount of water and I like the slightly ‘lived-in’ look.

The paints I use are Kuretake Gansai Tambi  which are lovely paints and a great selection of colours (super price on Amazon too). I use the gold a lot in my journals as it has a lovely sheen to it.

There’s also the Winsor and Newton Cotman paints which are a great price too. You can mix and match these paints as the box allows you to buy half pans with colours you like, unlike the Kuretake set where the colours are set.

Give it a go

I appreciate that life is busy enough without creating your own journal, but this method of planning can really help you to slow down and take notice of the things around you that matter. Taking time out to create a page is a great way of making time for yourself, and the flexibility of the bullet journal allows you to make a planner that actually works for you.

In my next post, I will be looking at ideas for pages (or spreads) that you can try for yourself. Remember that making art is a process and you don’t have to show anyone your work. It’s taking time out for yourself that matters, not what the finished product looks like, so try it yourself and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Three Life Tools for the Journey

My last post described my story and I wanted to follow it up with another looking at the tools that have got me through.  Before I was affected by sepsis, I was an active person running my own business and coming to terms with the post-sepsis fatigue has been quite challenging for me.

Creative Journaling

I have enjoyed painting for many years but lately, it has been difficult to find time whilst establishing my business. My enforced rest has given me an opportunity to revisit my love and start creating again.

Initially, I could only do a little at a time from my bed but as time went on, I found it useful to stand while I painted. This helped me to start getting upright again and move gently but it also gave me immense pleasure to create.

I started small with little Moleskine watercolour books where I used watercolours to paint shapes of different sizes and colours. I was never going to win any art prizes with my work but, in a similar vein to the plethora of adult colouring books on the market, I found it mindful and calming.

I enjoyed watching the watercolours blend together and create patterns and I enjoyed looking at them the next day as the images changed.

Painting is something that we can all do if we let go of our expectations of creating a piece of art. It’s the process of creating can therapeutic, the gathering of supplies together – my paints, brushes, pens – and letting ideas flow.

This led to creating my own planners, also known as Bullet Journaling.

Bullet Journaling

There are times when I really wish I lived in the States! Whenever I mention bullet journaling to friends over here, they look blankly at me.

On a very basic level, a bullet journal is a planner that you create yourself.  The original idea came from a product designer named Ryder Carroll in New York and you can see the original work here.

I have always loved buying planners and trying them out for size, but they never quite fit my needs, the monthly calendar is in the wrong place or there isn’t anywhere to write my goals where I can see them. As I’m not doing much at the moment, I can adapt the calendar to my needs with this system.  I create the spread according to whatever is going on at the time and I buy the planner that fits in with this. I place a few drops of essential oils onto a kitchen towel and lie it between the sheets of paper so that I have a lovely scent when I open my journal.

I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at others bullet journals too. Although the original design is beautiful in its simplicity, there are some amazingly creative versions out there and I feel inspired when I look at the work. My favourites are:

Little Coffee Fox

Boho Berry

Page Flutter

Christina 77 Star

Alexandra Plans

Tiny Ray of Sunshine

and they can all be found on Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.

I will be following this post up with one dedicated to bullet journaling for those planner-addicts who would like some more information.

Walking

I’ve always found an immense amount of pleasure in walking in nature. My goal during recovery was to make a trip to the local bluebell woods and I was thrilled to have made it in time to see the little blue flowers pop their head above ground. I am very lucky to live between two small wooded areas so I can choose which bluebell wood to go to. They both give me immense pleasure to walk through and enjoy the magic that is springtime.

The great thing about walking is that it really clears my head. Being outside in the fresh air surrounded by the wonders of nature is such an antidote to life. I used to go out very early in the morning with my dog Coco and walk for miles.  I would take the opportunity to catch up on my podcast episodes (Sprogcast ,The Cord and Dearest Doula ) interspersed with a little classical music.

Nowadays I take short walks with Coco and my family or I take a wander around town but these walks are just as good in a different way. I know that it will take time but that’s fine, I’ll go with it.

Onwards and Upwards

So that’s my story so far. I’ve found my inner strength during these weeks and I’ve reminded myself of the simple tools that are companions in my life no matter what happens.

 

 

My Journey to the Dark Side.

It’s interesting to me when I look back at the previous post talking about the dark times, little did I know that I was going to be thrown into my own little abyss later that night when I was admitted to hospital with sepsis, a little known but lethal condition causing 44,000 deaths per year. This is more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined but not everyone knows what it is. 

Sepsis is a life threatening condition where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as a reaction to an infection. 

My Journey

Unbeknownst to me,  I had developed a kidney stone which blocked my ureter causing urine to stagnate and the kidney to swell. The kidney infection travelled to my bloodstream causing septicaemia and my body started to attack itself in a condition called sepsis.  I felt utterly dreadful – unbearable pain, shivering, high temperature, vomiting, terrible colour and no urine output.

I was shocked at how quickly it took hold and very soon I was unable to maintain my blood pressure and needed extra support to stay alive. It was an uncertain time for my family and difficult for my children to see me in such a condition. A central line was inserted into my jugular vein in order to administer life-saving antibiotics, an arterial line in order to measure blood gases and a peripheral drip to give me fluids to raise my blood pressure. When the body has shut down, it’s very difficult to find veins so all of these procedures were deeply traumatic.

A catheter was inserted to measure my limited urine output and oxygen to help me breathe. The care I received in the High Dependency Unit was exemplary and I am very grateful for the support of the staff and the medical team. I was in the Luton and Dunstable Hospital for just over 2 weeks before being discharged home.

Recovery

I am now two months down the line after a long stay and I’m getting there but very slowly. It takes longer than normal to do my day-to-day activities and I have a brain fog that hasn’t lifted.  I am listening to my body and taking it easy, building up my walks daily so I can get back to the healthy person I was before all of this happened.

I wanted to write this short post, firstly to raise awareness for Sepsis and to thank the Sepsis Trust for their fantastic literature which has really helped me in these early days. Sepsis can happen to anyone of any age and I wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness of this condition. It can start in a number of ways from a urine infection to a chest infection, in the early days post-partum or through a cut that doesn’t heal.

Could it be Sepsis?

I’d like to raise awareness of this condition so that others can seek help as soon as possible. I can’t stress enough how quickly it can take hold and prompt treatment is vital.

The symptoms can be memorised by using the following:

Slurred speech

Extreme shivering or muscle pain

Passing no urine in a day

Severe breathlessness

I feel like I’m going to die’ (feeling of doom)

Skin mottled or discoloured.

One of the things that have surprised me is the lack of education and post sepsis care when I was discharged. I know that leaflets cost money and professionals are very busy, but some signposting about sepsis, and what to expect on discharge would have been very helpful to me. I found the Sepsis Trust by searching the internet and I was very glad I did.  

The Sepsis Trust leaflets are clear and easy to understand and it’s been great to read so you can prepare yourself for post-sepsis recovery which can take up to 18 months.

So that’s my story so far. I will be following up this post with some reflections on my journey and the life tools that got me through but I thought I’d start with a short introduction to explain why I have been off the scene for a while. I’m looking forward to writing again and sharing my thoughts with you. 

 

 

Support During The Dark Times

Sometimes life can throw us curveballs and it can be difficult to navigate through these difficult times. It can seem like the pain will never subside and day after day you wake up with that horrible, dark sadness.

I listened to a podcast on my dog walk this morning and the presenter was talking about depression in relation to a cancer diagnosis. His openness prompted me to write a short piece today with a slight slant on how reflexology may be able to help.

Openness

The more open we are about our struggles, the better, and deeper, our conversations. This depth of dialogue can have far-reaching effects for those involved.

I am immensely proud of the people I talk to who are open and frank about their difficulties as I know it can be hard to open up and be present with that level of pain.

I find sitting with someone and holding the space for them while they make sense of the world around them can be very helpful. I’m not a therapist so I don’t employ any ‘techniques’ but I do enjoy listening and really hearing what someone is saying to me in these moments.

Cancer Support

In my reflexology journey, I have seen clients at the beginning of their journey with a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan, and moving towards the end when the care I offer becomes palliative and supportive.

Some of those who have been given the all clear find life difficult to cope with after such a difficult journey.

My therapy can help people in their dark times and a listening ear is invaluable in supporting these people and their families. Although it is hard to measure the efficacy of complementary therapies, and therefore research is problematic,  there is strong anecdotal evidence that reflexology can help with symptom relief.

Sometimes clients can feel that a treatment is helping without knowing what part is providing the relief. It’s like an inner knowing and that can be very powerful to the client.

Depression

Talking with my clients about their thoughts and feelings before offering a treatment can help promote a positive mental state. Feelings of being supported, and walking the road together for a period of time, can help relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety and overwhelm.

This article by Mental Health Daily  looks at the systems of the body that reflexology can help with when someone if suffering from low mood and/or anxiety.  Similar to studying the efficacy of reflexology in cancer care,  it is difficult to measure the efficacy with treating depression but this research study has shown that statistically, it made a difference

Life’s Challenges

Although these two issues may not affect you or your family, I’d like you to think back to times when life was challenging for you and what helped in your darker moments.

I know that having friends who will just listen and be present with me was immensely powerful. I also enjoyed walking alone with my thoughts, taking in the energy of the trees and being mindful of my surroundings really helped me. Looking up at the tree tops and listening to the birds, the crackling of the fire and the smell of scented candles.

Simple things.

I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and ideas about what helps you to find that peaceful place in your heart so drop me a line in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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