Elisabeth Grover

Category: Uncategorized

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

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.







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.


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.


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.


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.