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TEDx Here I Come

TEDx Here I ComeAlthough I’d wanted to be a TEDx speaker for a long timer – after all, the TED stage is legendary – the experience is quite different to what I’d imagined.

If you are wondering what it’s like to be a TEDx speaker, or how to manage a big event when living with chronic illness and life challenges, then I’m here for you. I’m sharing my experience in the hope that it’s useful – which in many ways, is what speaking is all about.

TEDx begins with an idea worth spreading.

Once you find your idea worth spreading, it needs to be summed up in one sentence. If you can’t do that, it hasn’t been refined enough yet.

We can always go deeper. @Grace_Quantock (Click to Tweet!)

Once you get down to the core, the key message is usually simple and concise. But there’s a lot of digging to get to that point.

You have your key idea, the message your soul wants to share. Then it’s time for polish and refinement.

I was very lucky as TEDxAylesbury put me in touch with Ginger Public Speaking, our official TEDx coaches, and Memory Master and Coach Mark Channon.

Within all this professional development of my speech was a hidden whirl of personal growth.

When getting ready for significant events, it’s not just professional preparation that’s needed.

Working on this level can have deep emotional repercussions around your work, your identity, your brand, your message, your presence, your self.

If you are living with chronic illness or an emotional struggle, this is only intensified.

How to meet this challenge?

Prepare for the emotional aspects:

- Build in Buffer Space: when planning our days we often plan how long we think a task should take, not how long it will actually take us. When planning your TEDx speech or event prep, consider how long a task will actually take, including rest after, or time to settle and regain your equilibrium if the task is an emotional one. Build in Buffer Space before and after a task, notice how the difficulty of the task itself and your energy levels shift.

- Leave Crash Space: do you often find yourself emotionally exhausted after seemingly ‘simple’ tasks? It’s helpful to give yourself a Crash Space – a time to just ‘crash’, stop, pause, rest. To feel your emotions, to express them. So often we are too focused on being ‘together’ and ‘efficient’. Crash Space is your place to be emotionally messy. You can let it all out, and then take action to come back to balance when you are ready.

- Take Your Emotional Toolkit: what do you need to have on hand while you do this deep preparation? I rely on my journal, my iPod stocked with meditations and space outside to breathe and ground myself. When you feel upset or emotional, what is generally helpful to you? If this seems like a difficult question, can you think of the last time you were upset? What did you do then? If what you do to self soothe needs supplies, gather those now and have them on hand.

This is deep work, wellness warriors. Some days it’s true revolutionary struggle, and you need your kit bag with you on the journey.

I can’t wait to take the TEDx stage and see you stepping into your big, brave dreams too!

Image courtesy of Ally Mauro.


Disability Creativity- Co-optingLiving with disability can ignite creativity – at least it has for me in terms of my wardrobe. Check out Disability Creativity: Co-opting Clothing for Accessibility Part 1 – Outerwear here.

Companies design clothes for people with disabilities, however, most of those clothes are what I imagine the companies think ‘elderly’ people will wear.

But I’m sure most of us will value style and self expression, as well as comfort, at every age. (Click to Tweet!)

Clothes that work for your body and life can be challenging to find. Maybe you need Velcro, not buttons, or perhaps things that are easy to pull on and off, or don’t get caught in your crutches or leg splints are essential.

For example: are you looking for something to wear when using your wheelchair?

Let’s think outside the box a moment – who has to stay seated for hours, stay comfortable and not get pressure sores or clothing rubs?


And what do riders wear?


Which come in a hundred and one fabrics, styles, colours, sizes and price points. Super, let’s go jodhpur shopping…And while we are at it, can we borrow clothes from any other disciplines that fit our needs – I think we can!

My favourite clothes to co-opt for accessibility wear:



Great for wheelchair users, designed to be comfortable to sit in for hours, plus lots of fashionable styles available and very affordable.


If like me you want to use to go swimming but don’t move quickly enough to warm up in the chilly water, try the surfer’s solution!

Skater Shoes

Struggling with laces? Skater shoes are stylish and often have Velcro instead of laces or buckles.



If you sit all day, or if you have abdominal issues, you may find the waistbands of trousers dig in uncomfortably. That’s why dresses are so useful. Look for an empire line with flowing fabrics, like bamboo, and organic cotton jersey. I love KOMODO.

Wide Waist Band Yoga Trousers


One way around the waist band struggle is just to go bigger! Try a wide waistband that spreads the pressure and creates comfort all day. Try Gossypium’s fantastic range.

Sports Bra in the Scanner

A tip from the ever fabulous Kris Carr – if you need to go for a scan, try wearing a sports bra with no metal in it – that way you get to keep your underwear on and still get your scan done!

What’s your favourite item of clothing to co-opt creatively? Let me know in the comments!

Image courtesy of Emily May.


Disability Creativity- Co-optingPeek inside my wardrobe and you’ll see the evidence of a life spent in pursuit of adventure. From wetsuits and jodhpurs to ski wear and jewel-bright dresses.

But the mix is misleading – they’re all ideas I’ve borrowed from other disciplines to make living with disability and dressing for wheelchair use easier. What’s neoprene got to do with life on wheels? Read on…

I’ve lived with disability for 13 years and learned to get creative.

Disability doesn’t have to mean dismal dressing. (Click to Tweet!)

I’ve yet to find disability clothing brands that suit my sense of style, so instead I’ve co-opted clothes from other areas that work for wheelchairs and disability needs.

Often people tend to ‘stay in their own lane’ and not look into other fashion areas. If your trousers don’t work with your wheelchair then you can struggle. I ask, who else spends lots of time sitting down and are their trousers more comfortable? If so, let’s borrow them!

My favourite clothes to co-opt for accessibility wear:


Outerwear (sign up to my list below for Part 2: My List of Everyday Wear, next week)


How do you go out in a wheelchair when it’s cold and wet? I live in Wales – cold and wet is something with which I’m very familiar.

Up until now I’ve used a wheelchair cosy toes, which works, but it’s not exactly stylish and if I want to get up and stretch a little  then I have to unzip, climb out and face the cold. Not fun.

Instead, try ski trousers, or salopettes – they are warm, lined, waterproof, snow-proof, lightly padded, and you can wear your usual clothes underneath. Warmth and movement!

Riding Gloves

If you are self- propelling your wheelchair you may have noticed those rims are slippy. Grippy gloves are essential. Lots of people use weight-lifting gloves as they have grips, but they are nearly always fingerless.

I can’t stand fingerless gloves in the winter!

A great alternative is riding gloves. They have grips (for holding the reins), and come in amazing insulated and smart-phone friendly versions. There are even little cotton grippy gloves available for summer rolling.

Riding Boots and Thermal Socks

If you don’t move your feet a lot they can get dreadfully cold, especially if your circulation isn’t quite up to par. Thermal boots designed for walkers or riders can be ideal. And let’s borrow their socks too.

Walking socks, from my amazon store and bamboo socks are my favourites. It’s a balance to find socks that don’t dig into your ankles if your legs become swollen, but also don’t slip off your feet so you struggle to replace them every 30 minutes.

It can be a matter of trying out what works for you but always bear in mind that bulk doesn’t necessarily guarantee warmth, it often just makes you less mobile. The newer thermal materials are fantastically warm yet thin and stylish.

Platypus (it’s not clothing, but I couldn’t leave it out)

When I was bed bound I really struggled to drink. I couldn’t lift a glass. The adult beakers tended to leak, or just open and spill when dropped (and if I could lift a glass without dropping it I wouldn’t be needing a beaker!) The leak/drop proof weaning/babies beakers were no good as adults don’t have the suckling reflex and so I couldn’t get anything out of them.

What’s the solution? What long distance walkers and hikers use of course! The Platypus is a great option for those who struggle to drink. It’s leak proof (from bag and mouth piece), and drop proof. To get water just bite down, suck and the water flows. If it falls from your mouth the water stops. And it holds 2 litres so you can easily track your water intake.

I can’t wait to see what your wardrobe will look like when you expand your sartorial reaches!

What clothing/products have you ‘borrowed’ from other areas to make life with disability better?

Image courtesy of Emily May.