Elisabeth Grover

Author: thegard4 (page 1 of 4)

Five Tips from a Running Evangelist!

Are you looking for an activity that can help increase your fitness?
Something that will enable you to feel stronger, both mentally and physically?
An activity that fits in around other commitments in life?

I am a Running Evangelist, and I would talk about the benefits of running until I am blue in the face. “Why?” I hear you say, “It’s painful, tiring and hard work!” Yes, it can be all of those things, and that’s precisely why I love it so much! I have been on a running journey; indeed, I am ON that running journey, and I’d love to share that passion with you.


My running journey feels like a Very Big Adventure and one that I am thoroughly enjoying. The key message that I’d like you to take from today’s sermon is that you can do it too – if you want to. “That’s a bold statement, Liz!” Indeed it is, so, why do I feel so confident? Because I started at zero and I am now doing things I never thought I’d do, and I believe you can too.

I started running in Autumn 2017 after a long period of ill health. Beginning with walking and adding small periods of gentle running in between, I found it very challenging.  I understood that pacing correctly was important if I wanted to go further, and going further was the one thing I felt that I could do. At that time, I couldn’t run any faster as I still had health challenges, so I decided that I would add a little bit of distance at a time. I started running slowly for 200 metres and gradually built it up. I walk/ran three times a week and included a parkrun into this routine. I walked for most of my parkrun’s but added a few little runs in between trees so that I could get around the course in 40 minutes. I was happy with that.

The routine was essential to me. I kept my commitment to three runs a week and gradually built up the distance. I started to see small gains in the distance and, although my pace remained at around the 17min mile mark, I decided that I would work on running for longer as my first goal.

Top Tip No. 1: Commit to it

Commit to your running and stick to that commitment. Three times a week is a manageable amount, in my opinion, and if you include a parkrun, you can be walk/running three times a week for 30 minutes at a time. If this is important to you, you will find that time. Find your “Why?” and remind yourself of those reasons when you are struggling.

I joined Run Harpenden in March 2018 after hearing stories about how good it was to have a coach and a group of people who share your passion. I was the slowest in the group, but, at that time, I was just happy to be doing what I do. I loved the weekly sessions, enjoyed seeing what I could achieve if I stuck at it and met a wonderful group of people who I love running with now.

Top Tip No. 2: Get a coach

I used to run in my 20’s/early 30’s so I knew that I could ‘do’ it but having a coach has made so much difference.  I feel like I’m achieving things I wouldn’t have done had I not joined the group. Although mentally, I felt strong and capable, my body firmly disagreed with me! My head said “Do it! Do it!” my body screamed “Noooo!”. There was always a disconnect between what I thought I could do and what I could manage. Having a coach has helped my body catch up with my head.

Top Tip no. 3: Find your Tribe

Running in a group is a very different experience to running alone. I had always been a solitary runner in the past, my run time was my headspace, and that time was precious, but I have found a joy in running together that I didn’t think was possible. The encouragement and support from others have been life-changing, and we all look out for each other. When I watch the other runners, it gives me a place to aim. Being part of something bigger than yourself always feels good, and I love to encourage others on their journey.

Top Tip no. 4: Aim High!

As mentioned, I have difficulty with my mind thinking that I can do anything, and my body struggling to catch up. There must be a name for it?  This year has been an example of this ‘disordered thinking’. I ran my first half marathon in April 2018, a very wet and muddy Wimbledon Common Half. Following this, another half in June, along the Thames Towpath. August 2018 saw me celebrating my 25th Wedding Anniversary with a Family Half Marathon (disappointing that they all came in 50 minutes before me despite very little training on their part!!). The St. Albans Stampede followed In September and, a couple of weeks later, the St. Albans Triathlon – LOVED IT! October 2018 saw me step up a gear and tackle the Yorkshire Marathon followed by an Ultra in December. 2018 had been a good year.


I started 2019 in the same vein, January 2019 I ran the Fred Hughes 10 mile followed by the Canterbury 10 mile the week after. In February, the Marriott Way Trail Marathon and, for my 50th birthday, I had the pleasure of running the London Marathon. Two weeks later, another triathlon, a 53 mile ultra in June, 40 mile ultra in August and my third triathlon last weekend. In September,  I passed a goal of running 1,000 miles this year. My long term goal is to run 100 marathons by the time I am 65.

When I read the list of runs I have completed over the past 24 months, I feel so proud of my journey. Not because I am good at what I do, I am frequently at the back of the pack smiling at the tiny handful of spectators who have hung around long enough to see the ‘fun-runners’ arrive home. Neither am I particularly stylish when I run, fellow runners have asked me if I am ok as I shuffle along at snail’s pace. I am proud because I have put myself out there month after month, frequently at the very, VERY edge of my comfort zone and when I do a race, I am so happy to have got around the course. I have had tearful moments when I don’t feel as if I am improving, and that is very demoralising. I have felt very wobbly when it physically hurts, and I feel like I’m going to die, but I haven’t. I’ve eaten a large slice of ‘Man-Up Pie’ and carried on. This leads me to tip no.5.

Top Tip no. 5: Running is a Mind Game

Talking about the mind game is why I love running so much. Yes, it is a physical activity, and you need to train to enjoy the benefits; that goes without saying. But running is more than the physical; it is about the conversations you have with yourself about what you can and can’t do. Where are your limits? How will you feel when you hit that limit and reach for the next? Nothing feels as good as seeing those small steps amount to something. Your ‘something’ is different from everyone else’s, and there is fun in discovering what that something is. It might be five or ten kilometres; it might be longer. It’s for you to decide and that’s very empowering.

So, what’s stopping you?

Make that commitment to yourself, enjoy the time outside and expand your comfort zone a little. Do something that scares you. Book that 10k race and train for it. Go to parkrun and see if you can knock 10 seconds off your time the previous week. Just keep moving forward. You won’t regret it.


Take a look at these other blogs featuring my story:)

A Bump in the Road – Runr blog

parkrun blog

View at Medium.com

February Favourites

February is an interesting time of year. On one hand, we are in the middle of winter here in Hertfordshire with snow and sleet outside my window as I write this.

On the other, we are almost in March and the snowdrops are raising their little heads above the soil and this makes me very excited. I can’t wait for the beautiful bluebells to pop up in my local woods in the next coupe of months.

This time last year it was a very different story. My Facebook account brought up some images taken on my dog walk in February 2017, a couple of days before I was taken into hospital with sepsis. I hadn’t been unwell (these photos demonstrated that I was out and about with my dog) and I certainly hadn’t anticipated being critically ill so quickly and it was a shock for everyone around me. This episode has made me re-evaluate my life choices and has helped me to focus on the things that are important to me.

So what are my favourite things this month?



Part of my role as a Doula is an educator and I found this book to be a lovely addition to my Pregnancy, Birth and Post-Partum library. It’s beautifully presented using stunning images and reflective prose and talks about how we can care for the new mum without pushing her to get back to normal as soon as possible.

The First Forty Days

Even if your post-partum days are behind you, maybe you have a friend who would like a copy? I would recommend this lovely book for its recipes and ideas for taking life at a slower pace regardless of where you are on your childrearing journey.


Anatomy of a Scandal is a page-turner and I am loving it so far. It tells the story of a rape case told from different angles – the man who has been accused of rape, his wife and the prosecuting barrister. There are a few twists and turns along the way which really grip you and the writing makes this book unputdownable.

Anatomy of a Scandal

Thoughtful Living

I have been trying out new products in an attempt to ditch the plastic and here are my top four.

Bamboo Toothbrushes

Dental Aesthetics Bamboo Toothbrush

I have tried a few bamboo toothbrushes after ditching plastic ones last year but the ones I have used in the past are a little soft for my liking. These ones, from Dental Aesthetics on Amazon, have been my chosen toothbrushes for a few months now. They are nice and firm and have all the eco-credentials that I’m looking for in a bamboo toothbrush. Click on the title of the image to take you to the page.

My Bamboo Cup

Just take a look at this beauty! I was drawn to the William Morris styling and colours and the size is perfect for making sure that I take in plenty of water during the day. I carry this around with me in my bag and take it to the gym where I prefer drinking water from than the sports bottles that I have used previously.

William Morris Bamboo Cup

Sanitary Pads

I know that I may lose a few of you by talking about washable sanitary pads but bear with me if you can. As a society, we just can’t carry on throwing sanitary pads and nappies away in the rubbish without thinking about where they go after we dump them. The plastic alone is one reason to rethink our usage and, once you have seen images of the carnage that we are causing to our planet, I believe that we all have a responsibility to look at alternatives.

I buy mine from a company called Honour Your Flow who sell lots of different colours and materials to suit all women – including post-partum.  I have used reusable pads from them for a long time, I throw them in the wash and they come out clean and ready to reuse. They have saved me a fortune too.

White Vinegar

Lastly, my favourite friend. If you haven’t invested in white vinegar as a cleaner yet, please let me introduce you to this amazing product. Firstly, if you buy it in 5 litres bottles, it costs next to nothing.

Fabric Softener

I use white vinegar as a fabric softener in my wash. A cap full in the fabric conditioner section of my washing machine makes my clothes feel lovely and soft and doesn’t smell of vinegar at all. I often add a few drops of essential oils too. Check out my favourites here.


I use white vinegar to clean my sinks – put it in a bottle and spray onto any areas of limescale. Leave it for a few minutes and wipe it off. It cleans AMAZINGLY!

Descaling a kettle.

Descaling my kettle was the first time I found the many uses of white vinegar.  Chemical descalers were really expensive and white vinegar worked perfectly. Pour it in, bring the kettle almost to the boil and leave it for 15 minutes. It’s the only time that I find the smell a little off-putting but that’s fine if you’re saving pounds each time you descale.

Until next time….

I hope you have enjoyed my February Favourites. If you have any questions about moving towards a greener way of living, drop me a line and I’ll send you some resources that I have picked up along the way.













January Minimalism

I have been investigating minimalism over the winter period as I become more and more conscious about the stuff that I own. I am aware that in the past  I have flippantly bought more things because I just ‘felt’ like it. I have been looking at my need to buy from a number of angles – the ethical, the minimalist and the psychological and it’s been an interesting journey for me.


Ethically, I made the decision at Christmas that  I would buy from small businesses and that made life a lot more interesting. Previously, I  had always bought from larger businesses – pressing the ‘buy’ button on the Amazon app. made life easy but it didn’t feel right.

Buying gifts this year gave me a lot of pleasure, they were beautifully created and I knew that the person who had made them was a single trader or very small business. I think the gifts that I bought were well-received too. There is a real groundswell of support for the small business and it’s great to be involved in that from a consumer’s point of view.


On a minimalist front, I really think about the things I buy and I have been enjoying this way of life throughout January. I keep a simple budget and only buy things that give me pleasure or that I really need. I’ve been doing some research into minimalism and that brings me to some recommendations for you to read this month.

The Minimalists are Joshua and Ryan, a couple of young men who decided to turn their back on the corporate life and live by their values, getting rid of the junk in their lives along the way. I watched their film on Netflix over Christmas and it really resonated with me.  I have been reading the essays on their website and listening to their podcasts. I love listening to podcasts on my early-morning dog walk and The Minimalists episodes are all packed with thoughts and ideas to get your started. I would recommend them to you all.

I have also been reading essays by Joshua Becker who’s message inspires me and, coupled with The Minimalists, really helps me on my ‘less-is-more’ journey. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m making small changes along the way and these changes are helping me to feel more positive about my choices.

Remember that clearing the clutter isn’t just about making room in your house, it can mean clearing out the relationships which don’t serve you anymore.

  • Are their people in your life that you would like to see less of?
  • Do they drag you down and suck your energy?
  • What steps can you put in place to minimise your contact with them?

If you find it difficult to declutter your life space then this could be the most difficult step to take.


Psychological, I have been questioning why I buy so much stuff. I read a book a few years ago called Stuffocation and it resonated with me. I tend to buy art equipment and books so you could argue that they aren’t going to break the bank but all these little things add up. I buy books and store them to read at a later date but I now have a bigger pile to ‘To Read’ and it’s starting to feel a little overwhelming.

I am starting another Open University module shortly and so my time for reading for relaxation will become shorter and shorter. I’ve also noticed that my attention span isn’t as good as it used to be and I’m very distracted by my phone. It makes me sad that I am so distracted and it’s something I really need to work on.

I need to go through my books and take some to the charity shops but I enjoy being surrounded by them in my living room. I see them as old friends who have been there with me throughout and it gives me pleasure to see how my tastes have changed over the years. So I’m not sure what to do about it. If you have any ideas to help me deal with this conflict, leave a message for me in the comments.

Next Steps

The message I have taken from my research is to start where you are.

  • What one step can you do today to clear your life of all the junk and mess?
  • If you don’t have time to physically do anything to take you one step nearer the goal, can you make a plan to clear a space over the weekend?
  • Can you look through your books and take some of those to the local charity shop? (that’s one for me!)

I’d love to know how you get on but in the meantime, have a great January. I’ll be back next month with some February Favourites.







December in The Garden Sanctuary

I was thinking about a new direction for my blog posts and looking around at others blog posts I enjoy reading and reflecting on why I enjoy them so much. They tend to be centred around living a slower pace of life and savouring those special moments. The images are beautiful and the writing evokes happy memories.

I have looked back at some of the posts I have written in the past and I think that my favourite was the  ‘My Little Box of Comforting Things’. There is a theme running through and that is the enjoyment of all things peaceful and quiet.

I’d like to start a series of posts looking at some things that I will be enjoying this month.

My Non-Fiction Book of the Month – ‘Making Winter’ by Emma Mitchell

If you haven’t seen ‘Making Winter’  in your local bookshop, and you like a bit of art and craft in your life, I’d urge you to order it. Focusing on the slow life with plenty of prompts to make you wrap up warm and go outside, even in the coldest of days. There are some lovely ideas for crafts for you to browse through, even if you haven’t yet found the time for a bit of art in your life.



My Fiction Book of the Month – ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman.

‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is an absolute joy to read, a wonderful mix of humour, sadness, intrigue and the vagaries of life all in one volume. A debut novel by a fresh new talent, it follows the life of Eleanor who lives a very simple life. Written in the first person, we get a real feel for her character with the immediacy of what she is feeling and how she deals with the people she interacts with on a daily basis.

The book is about change and her relationships with those around her. It’s unpredictable and beautifully written.

Scented Candles

I have found three wonderful independent candle makers on my travels recently and I can highly recommend all three for service, beautiful scented candles and lovely Instagram feeds. 

The Botanical Candle Co.

Bous UK

The Bearded Candlemakers 

My Favourite Journal

Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I have quite a collection of journals. I like to have a different book dependent on my mood at the time and the many different ways in which I use my journal.

I have been a big fan of bullet journaling since I discovered it this year and my Scribbles That Matter is perfect for my needs. The dotted paper gives me the flexibility to create my monthly and weekly spreads and the thickness of the paper allows me to be liberal with my watercolour paints.

My Favourite Gloves

I was absolutely thrilled to win this pair of beautiful fingerless gloves from Moonlight Wovens in collaboration with Jessica Rose Williams. I was involved in a Twitter conversation about the best accessories for the winter photographer and I had an idea about creating My Hygge Clothing List so these beautiful handmade gloves came at a perfect time to include in my list. I’ll continue with some favourites next month.

My Favourite Blog

Finding Jessica Rose at Christmas is a perfect tonic to the busyness of consumerism. Her blog talks about minimalism and how to cut down on all the stuff we have that clogs up our lives and contains beautifully curated photographs of her life and work. The piece entitled ‘Embracing a Simpler Christmas’ is perfect for the stressed woman looking for some sanity.

My Favourite Shop

I’ve really enjoyed making better choices at Christmas over the past couple of years and this means buying gifts from smaller and local companies. I bought some gifts from Aerende last year and was really impressed with the quality of the products and the story behind each product (each item has been handcrafted by people who have been unable to access conventional employment). Emily’s website is beautifully curated too so take a look.

I hope you have enjoyed my little list of goodies, I’d love to hear about your gems so drop me a line with your thoughts and ideas and I will check them out. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year and I’ll see you ‘on the other side’! Here’s to 2018…





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.



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.


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.









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.





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.







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.


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

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.


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