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Road Trips and Self Care

Grace & Gala.jpgA car is, to me, an incredibly luxurious mode of transport. We can go whenever we like! It’s a private pod that can be made comfortable and it’s something that needs to be considered seriously, bearing in mind the impact journeys have on climate change.

A road trip can be fabulous, and difficult too. Travelling is tiring, something that seems to be forgotten nowadays. As though if one is sitting down then one is at ease. Not so!

As a child, my family always treated travelling or spending time in the cities as an exertion. One had to rest after travelling home from London by train.

Linus, my husband, was utterly bemused by this as he came from London to Wales to visit when we were first courting (salutes to Pre-Skype long distance relationships). He would arrive in Wales after a coach or train journey and my grandmother would immediately provide him with a huge meal and usher him to an armchair for a snooze. He whispered to me once, “She knows it’s not that far away right? I had breakfast in London, I’ll have lunch here soon, it’s not like I’ve trekked for days without food.” Well, it’s not that, but travel is still a big undertaking.

We went to London on Thursday for the Blogcademy Mixer Party. We left our house in Wales at 2pm and arrived in Dalston at 6.30pm on the dot. That’s a long journey.

So how to manage a long journey when a) you have chronic pain, b) you want to turn up at the other end looking reasonably presentable and c) you’re actually in a position to talk semi-intelligently and not just gesture for painkillers and silence.

Reasonable Expectations

If you aren’t super woman at home, travelling probably won’t make you morph into a productivity whirlwind. Just because you are away from your usual routine it’s easy to imagine everything will be different, and by different I mean easier. But you’ve set up your Healing Blueprint this way for a reason (and if you don’t yet have a Healing Blueprint to guide your Trail Blazing journey I recommend you join us in The Phoenix Fire Academy and get one). So look at your plans and see if you can’t stick to your healing or self care routine as much as possible.

Maybe you’ll do a shorter yoga practice?

Perhaps you’ll meditate in the passenger seat?

Or you’ll do stretches in a car park.

Then you’ll pop into the loo to take a 3 minute breathing space, and to check in with your body.

Take Breaks

Travelling can be more stressful than we imagine, so if you can anticipate this it makes it easier. Plan in lots of break time. If you think your journey will take 3 hours, plan in 4½ hours so you’ve got some breathing room. If you arrive on time you can always rest when you get there. That’s what the fully charged iPhone/iPod and audio book you’ve packed are useful for.

Make sure you have time for stops on your journey. We stopped several times at service stations so I could stretch out, rest, and get some space in my lower back, shake out the pain in my cramped limbs.

Dress for the journey

If I’m travelling a long way, I almost always have travelling clothes and event clothes. Travelling clothes are often a variation of leggings or soft jeans, boots, a sleeveless t-shirt with a long sleeve top over it and some kind of blazer and scarf combination over that. Which means layers for all types of climates and personal climates.

I take my event clothes with me and dress on arrival, or nearby. Hair, makeup, jewellery, simple!

And the Blogcademy mixer? It was utterly fabulous! Gala is a darling and a business wisdom powerhouse – we had the best time.

What are your travel tips? Share in the comments. And if you want my ultimate travel packing list, stay tuned.


Beyond Good and Bad

overhead shot of a cup with a hand wrapped around the side and  tea with lemon and ginger insideI don’t know about you, but as much as I appreciate and value people I know, choose and trust offering me refinement, celebration, feedback, reflection advice and wisdom…

I don’t much like people telling me what I can and can’t do.

Especially as most of it turns out not to be true.

I’ve turned Trail Blazer, remember?

I mean if I’d listened to all the people who told me I couldn’t do something, I certainly wouldn’t be here writing to you today.

And so I don’t really like categorizing my life into ‘that’s not for me’. Of course there are things I have no desire to pursue – recreational drugs, roller coasters, and alcohol spring to mind. But here’s the thing, I could do them if I wanted to, I just choose not to (apart from the drugs, that’s illegal. Stay legal, darlings).

Instead of saying, ‘I can’t do that,’ I focus on what I want and what behavior will support that goal.

I practice this philosophy in many parts of my life:

- I could stay up and finish this project, but I want to feel well, so I choose to sleep instead.

- I can eat a huge plate of chips with loads of hummus (I’m vegan, I eat hummus with everything, it’s like our butter) but I want to feel good in yoga tonight, so I choose a quinoa salad with miso tahini dressing (want recipes? Head here gracequantock.com/plantbasedwellness)

- I’m upset and I really wish I drank alcohol because something to dull the emotional pain sounds pretty good right now. But I’d rather be congruent and stay present with my feelings so I check in with what I need and nourish myself with journaling, horse/dog/furry therapy and ritual.

If I want to feel optimum, I choose optimum behaviors. (Click to Tweet!)

If I’m ok with feeling less than optimum, then maybe I will do something that doesn’t feel quite so good but that I need right then.

If you’d like to read more about my Optimum and Non-Optimum practice, it’s all in my new ebook, along with interactive worksheets and examples. Grab your copy here.

How do you differentiate your activities? Do you grade yourself bad/good? Please respond in the comments below.

Featured image courtesy of Dominik Martin (via Unsplash.com)

overhead shot of a cup with a hand wrapped around the side and  tea with lemon and ginger inside

Lindsey-libesar-150x150“Grace’s e-book is like being spoon-fed that delicious, juicy, green drink you’re craving in the morning, but too lazy to make for yourself. I’ve dabbled with plant based and raw food eating in the past, but never had a compass to guide me through the process. She takes the guess work out of preparing and planning your food adventures, as well as lovingly guides you through the transformational process of how we can use food to heal our bodies. This book is a gift for your mind, body & soul!” - Lindsey Tibesar, Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Passionate Entrepreneur, Marathon Runner.

Buy it here.


In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions – Mindfulness-Based Practices for Mastery and Wellbeing. Larry Berkelhammer, PhDDr Larry Berkelhammer first appeared on GraceQuantock.com in a Trail Blazer Interview (here). A psychotherapist, author and researcher, Dr. Berkelhammer believes millions of people who live with chronic medical conditions can manage their pain through various mind-training techniques. As a sought-after teacher on pain management, and with 19 years in private practice treating patients, Dr. Berkelhammer’s interview resonated with the GraceQuantock.com community. Now, his book, In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions (Empowered Patient Coalition Press, Jan. 2014, 978-0991243709) has arrived, and it’s one that connects just as deeply.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer lives with seven chronic illnesses himself and has made it his mission to help others live fuller lives in spite of chronic conditions. It’s a timely tome; today, 133 million Americans – nearly half of all adults – live with some sort of chronic medical condition. A Johns Hopkins University study reports 75 percent of health care costs in America are spent on people with chronic illness, including cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disease. America’s most common disability, arthritis, affects a staggering one in five adults. With the number of people affected by chronic illness rising, Dr. Berkelhammer notes that In Your Own Hands not only deals with chronic illness, but is “about how we live our lives. Readers will learn how to identify value-based behaviors and live in accordance with those personal life values to maximize well-being.”

Indeed, the doctor combines his personal and professional experience as patient and licensed psychotherapist, then proposes an action-based approach to change the lives of those with chronic illness. In Your Own Hands is a pragmatic guide that uses science-based practices invaluable for empowering readers to truly take their lives into their own hands, despite physical limitations. His philosophy on the nature of disease and suffering coupled with his expertise as a licensed psychotherapist, prove compelling cornerstones for a book unafraid to tackle both science and solutions.

Dr. Berkelhammer’s work is a hefty 417 pages, but reads like a well laid out anthology. Chocked full of so much – and such powerful – information, this reader found it best to take all the wisdom offered in measured sips rather than large gulps, to appreciate it fully.

In Your Own Hands skillfully guides readers through Dr. Berkelhammer’s unique three-part mindfulness-based mastery system and his scientifically proven mindfulness-based mastery practices to improve overall health. Additionally, the book delivers his methods for discovering – and living by – one’s personal values, and a series of well-being practices that focus on a variety of useful skill sets, from embracing gratitude to finding humour.

These exercises alone ensure the book is an excellent investment, but what’s made it priceless for me personally, are the comprehensive appendices that have served as easy to use resources over and over again. They include specific sections for caregivers, the science of mindfulness, conscious breathing, and the cultivation of medical self-efficacy – how to become an empowered patient. Many of these critical areas are often overlooked in similar publications, and much of the practical advice for medical self-efficiency and advocacy simply cannot be approached in Dr. Berkelhammer’s authentic way unless you’ve been a patient yourself.

In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions is, quite simply, the book I searched high and low for when I first became ill, and could not find. Now, this vault of richly layered, easy to digest information and principals is available to all.