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February Trailblazing Resources: Fuel for Your Healing Fire white text on photo of a bonfire at night, distant trees shown behind against the sky, sparks flying in the night air. Text at bottom in white: gracequantock.com

The best of the wellness internet. Lovingly curated trailblazing healing resources for fun and wellness fabulousness to fuel your healing fire. Relax and dive in!

My favourite trailblazing healing resources, inspirations, proclamation and motivation this month.

How to support your disabled friends in winter and beyond.

Also: winter magic and herbs for support ourselves through the darker, colder times. I’m celebrating spring on the way with snowdrops, birdsong, trees budding and even violets and primroses emerging. But still – the ground is icy, it’s snowing intermittently and still feels a lot like winter here. I’m supporting my body accordingly.

Do you recognise a biopsychosocial model in illness? This is a new term to me and I’m still exploring it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mindfulness can be misused by medicalisation and individualisation of health struggles. I love and adore mindfulness and that’s why I believe we need to guard it carefully against misuse.

Let’s resist the Goopification of Self-Care. I have always seen self-care as resistance, survival and radical. One of my most influential yoga teachers developed her practice in a war zone. I first learned Reiki as an activist as part of emotional first aid in crisis situations. Self-care can be keeping ourselves alive another day. Self-care can be what keeps us in the game, long-term. I love and recommend Christy Tending‘s teachings on self-care.

Speaking of, I am still working on my evening self-care rituals, Christy has a great primer here.

I love getting emails about how working with Turning Trailblazer has shifted people’s lives and perspectives…if you’d like to check it out, you can get a free copy here.

If you are building a business, do you follow my Accessible Business Pinterest board?

Disabled artists and creators and how we can support their amazing work (by buying it).

Each week we set our intentions in The Trailblazers’ Cafe and support each other through the week, so powerful!

Isn’t this just beautiful:

“…I don’t owe anyone anything. Not my healing. Not my happiness. Not my redemption story. I was not put here to be a source of entertainment or inspiration for anyone. I am more than the story that I’ve lived...I am allowed to be human. Flawed. Floundering. Finding beauty in the most unlikely of places. Meaning in the mess. Healing when I haven’t any hope leftto remember to challenge myself to go further. Not beyond my reach, but beyond my fear. Beyond the mental limitations that I’ve gotten used to. Beyond the excuses that I’ve let become an authority on my abilities.” -Chani Nicholas (complete post here)

via. Asali and her amazing work.

Want more? Head here to Chani Nicholas

A person holding a smartphone displaying the front cover of Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition

Also, did you know I’ve written a new book? It’s called Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom and Fulfilment Within Four Walls. It’s a guide to living a loving, joyful life…from home.

If you’re here because you are stuck in bed or at home (short or long term) and wondering how to cope, you aren’t alone…

If you’re stuck in bed and bored,

If you feel isolated, stuck or left behind,

If struggling with self-care (or lack of it) drains your energy and leads to spiralling self-criticism or shame,

…then Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition is for you.

Buy it now!

When you live beyond the boundaries, you see your bed as a launch pad for living your life.

When you live beyond the boundaries, you learn to transcend your limits in everyday life.

When you live beyond the boundaries, you don’t have to wait until things are perfect to be happy.

You aren’t broken, you’re breaking boundaries.

Inside this ebook is empowerment, inclusion and accessible coping tools.

 

Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition is delivered as an audiobook and a PDF ebook. You can read it on a device or lie back and listen to me read to you.

This is an experiential, inclusive experience. Through the book, you’ll be guided to create your own Limits Liberation Plan, your own guide to living well, (wherever you are).

You’ll finish with a completed, accessible self-care plan that fits you.

Get your copy here

What you’ll learn in Beyond the Boundaries:

– You’ll be guided in designing your own Limits Liberation Plan.

– Meet role models for self-fulfilment and learn about the world-changers making a massive impact from their homes and beds.

– Create a morning routine of self-care that’s accessible and sustainable for you.

– Learn to create a beautiful environment, no matter your location or circumstances.

– Discover 8 ways to make your bedroom gorgeous.

– Explore dressing for comfort and joy.

– Find accessible, energy saving, stylish ways to dress.

– Reveal the secret of what to wear all day instead of pyjamas.

– Meet the challenges of how to actually get dressed when struggling with pain.

– Top tips on managing personal care when you are too tired to get to the bathroom.

Yes, please!

 

What you’ll get:

– A downloadable ebook and audio version. In total, over 30,000 words of wellness support, inclusion and action!

– A list of 500 Things to Do When You are Bed Bound and Bored (if you liked my viral blog 49 Things To Do When Bed Bound and Bored, you’ll LOVE this!)

– Exclusive Beyond the Boundaries manifesto to super-charge your intention.

– Special bonus resources including:

An interview with Vivienne McMaster, founder of Be Your Own Beloved: exploring self-compassion through self-portraiture. We talk about ways to make this accessible to people who are bed bound or house bound and how working with our image supports healing.

An interview with Huffington Post blogger Heidi McKenzie, founder of Alter Ur Ego wheelchair fashion company on how style can transform perceptions, conversations and connections, her experience as Ms Wheelchair Kentucky and creating an adaptable style solution/revolution.

You’ll also get exclusive printable posters of all your favourite fun things to do from bed to brighten your walls.

Buying the book also support the no-fee resources, interviews and community I run here. Thank you in advance.

What are you reading/enjoying/loving? Let me know in the comments.

P.S Check out all the healing resources and my top healing apps for chronic illness, healing and caring part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

 

Photo of 3 candles in jars on a tray, text above: Turning your journal into an altar- a how-to guide

In difficult days, self-care can feel like a luxury that we cannot afford, delicious journals or artful altars can feel ever-so-far away. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And painful times are when we most need compassion.

I believe self-care is a way of including ourselves in our compassion (credit: Karuna training)

My favourite self-care activities are non-aspirational, they are in the moment, accessible for those of us on the front lines, those fighting to help or suffering at the sharp points of this world.

A challenge for many of us is making self-care accessible. I don’t know about you, but I have spent far, far too long scrolling through the #altar tag on Instagram. And while there are some beautiful creations there, I am literally never going to make an ombre mandala of roses and then meditate in front of it.

And my journal looks far from the gorgeous pages I see displayed online. And I’m ok with that, because my journal is sacred and it’s mine. A space in this world I can tend to without expectations. A space I can tend to myself, without expectations.

For those of us who need assistance, have carers or are living in shared spaces, setting up a physical altar space can be difficult to improbable. Small children, rambunctious animals (I’m looking at you, Doris), or overly interested/critical family members can make it impractical to set up a physical space for our dreams and devotions.

I’ve had altars on window sills, bookcases (no candles – fire safety!), on dashboards while driving over the darkening mountains. I’ve built altars on a hotel dressing table, over a bathroom sink (hot-pink lipstick prayers on the mirror and feminist postcards NSFW), on my hospital table and…in my journal.

Yes, our journal can be our altar – let me show you how…

Continue Reading Turning Your Journal Into an Altar: a How-To Guide

Image of Elizabeth Cooper with arms above her head showing underarm hair. Wearing a navy tunic and silver link necklace. Text: Trailblazer Interview: Elizabeth Cooper & Queer Body Love

Elizabeth Cooper is the founder of Queer Body Love, a coach, artist, guide and queer performance artist. She holds a vision with us of feeling alive and free in our bodies. She has a BA in anthropology, gender and sexuality studies and performance from Princeton, and has studied coaching, yoga training at Kripalu and has explored her own personal journey with healing too.

In this interview, we talk about: 

  • What we mean when we are talking about queerness
  • Elizabeth’s journey with her queerness
  • Intersections of disability and queerness
  • Body love for those of us with marginalised identities
  • Body shame and systems of oppression
  • What we can do today to incorporate a queer body love practice into our lives

Continue Reading Trailblazer Interview: Elizabeth Cooper & Queer Body Love

The Benefits of Bad Weather: a winter love list challenge. Text over 2 photos, top photo frozen hawthorne haws, bottom photo, snowy fir branches.

[Vintage Post: While I’m on a wintery writing retreat I’m sharing this updated vintage post. Thank you for your patience while I write, I’ll be back with new articles soon. Thank you for being you, being here and wishing you warm days and good things, Grace xx]

I’m writing this by the fireside, I’m wrapped up, wearing my almost-pyjamas (hint: check out what to wear all day instead of pyjamas.) It’s a grey day, too dark even to go outside properly yet. But when the bad weather, dark-days-doldrums kick in, I have an antidote. And I’d like to share it with you here…

I used to love winter, it was the time of year when I finally felt like I fitted in. The illnesses I was struggling with meant that I spent most of my time tucked up in bed and was often wearing earplugs (with ear muffs over them for stylish camouflage), and lots of layers to keep my sore, tired bones warm. Naturally, winter was when my lifestyle was the one everyone wanted to follow. In the coldest times, everyone yearns to be warm in bed or resting in an armchair by the fire.

But winter was also the time when the grey, dim days seemed to stretch forever. It never got light, it seemed, until the drear days blended into one another and I lived in a dark world – rising in darkness, going to bed in the dark, and my whole world artificially lit in between.

Winter also tends to bring more coughs and colds, and infection is something I do my best to avoid. Having had two pretty difficult lung infections in previous winters, I was very nervous about this winter. Summer felt bittersweet as each warm, easy, sunshiny day felt like another day closer to the coldest times.

So I decided to flip that script, and shift my fear, I set myself a challenge. I made it my mission to learn to LOVE winter. My tools? A manifesto, a winter love list and allies to adore the cold days with me.

All through the summer, I put together a list of wonderful things about winter. Everything I could look forward to. I got ready, gathered my kit for a sustained winter joy campaign. I’m very serious about this, I was ordering ski wear on eBay in August! But now I have warm clothes, and a list of joyful smiling-worthy winter delights I’d love to share with you here.

 

Manifesto Mojo

Winter contains so much magic. A manifesto can help us find it.

The manifesto is your mission, your commitment to the challenge of cold-weather smiles and your guide of how to get them.

Simply fill in the prompts below and post it somewhere you can see it. If you’d like, share on social media #turntrailblazer

My Winter Manifesto

Today I commit to celebrating all the benefits of each day, whatever the weather.

I believe in myself, and know that my ________, ________ and________ are always with me.

Days are made bright by my actions and the three things I know can always lift my spirits are

1. _________

2. _________

3. _________.

Winter is a beautiful season, my favourite parts are _________, _________ but most especially _________.

I will take this season as an opportunity to _____________. Always remembering that _____________.

I look forward to each day and just like winter, I am magical!

 

Build Your Winter Love List

What do you love about winter? At the beginning, it can be hard to think of anything, but I’m sure if you turn your mind toward this question some thoughts will arise.

Can you begin with a winter free-write? Simply start by writing everything you feel about winter. The idea with a free-write is just to keep the pencil moving/your fingers typing/dictaphone speaking. When you have finished, take a break and then you can come back to what you’ve written. Grab a highlighter, read through, pull out any ideas (or seeds of ideas) buried in your words. What does winter joy look like for you?

I’m sharing my winter love list below for inspiration and fun.

 

Grace’s Winter Love List

Comfort at Home

Take the bad weather of winter as an opportunity to make the place you spend your time as lovely as possible. It can often be the case that when we live with illness we spend so much time focusing on surviving we can miss out on opportunities for the icing of life; pretty clothing, gorgeous home-wares, art which moves us. It’s also a common occurrence that our homes become filled with disability aids. These can be functional and beautiful but when they are not, it is hard. Can you make beautiful your equipment (check out my article here for tips and tricks)? And check in, does your home reflect you?

 

– Burning gorgeous candles – I can’t wait to try these Harry Potter scented candles

– Double duvet days – the ultimate luxury. A high-tog duvet over and under you, for total cwtchy comfort

– Decorating the house for festivities. I adore hanging holly over all the paintings, and homemade advent calendars!

– Planning the garden, get the seed catalogues out. Read Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West for inspiration

– Decorating the chimney-piece with squash and pumpkin boxes from Riverford Organic Farms and then eating them!

 

Body Nourishment

Winter is a beautiful time to turn inwards and nourish our bodies. So often it can seem the world is moving so fast, that everyone wants to do more, go more, see more, be more.

Winter is a great leveller. It slows us down to the human pace of our bodies, we haven’t subjugated nature, and we all bow when the wind blows. This relentless pace of life can be especially difficult for those with chronic illness as the fast pace can be far beyond us. Yet in winter the world slows down, people walk at our pace through the rain and wind.

Can you draw on your wisdom and give your body what it needs in the cold times? Nourish yourself with what feeds your soul and your body. Take the rest needed and just be.

 

– Making warm and nourishing foods like black bean pot, sweet potato soup with vanilla, smokey tomato lentil stew with spinach and olives and scrummy split pea soup

– Drinking hot gingerbread rooibos tea with a good book

Supercharged vanilla porridge

– Pickling and preserving vegetables

– Gingerbread – fresh and warm from the dehydrator

– Enjoying blood oranges in season

– Making kale chips

– Mixed nuts in their shells and clementines at Christmas

– Making up festive hampers of homemade goodies

 

Fabulous Fun

With little to gaze at in the garden and fuel prices rising, winter boredom can set in and bring a reactive depression with it. However, I believe proactive plans can be made to prevent this occurrence. Can you begin by thinking what you might like to do, what you enjoy – like reading, movement, socialising, warmth, excitement etc?

Then mind shower activities that can fill these roles, what can be done around reading, for example? Perhaps a book club, a visit to a rare book shop, reading aloud for the Gutenberg Project etc.

Next, look at anything that might be preventing you from enjoying these activities and find ways to circumnavigate the winter-induced issue. It could be that you get so much pain in the cold that travelling to a bookshop would be a punishment rather than a joy – but great quality thermal hiking clothes might keep you warm enough to travel (and if so, eBay may be your friend here).

– Going to the spa or swimming pool and being in warm water when it’s cold outside

– Camping out in the sitting room, make a bed or tent on the floor and tell stories

– Listening to favourite audiobooks

– Cuddling up with the dogs

– Festive music on the radio

– Grey days are good photography days:
Cloudy grey days can produce surprisingly beautiful results because the clouds act like a diffuser around the sun, dispersing wonderfully even light across your scene and minimising the risks of harsh shadows and hot spots.” – Instant Love by Jen Altman, Susannah Conway, Amanda Gilligan

– Knitting

– Stargazing

 

Advantageous Allies

I don’t know about you, but accountability and support count for a lot with me. I am writing about this because to love winter I need allies, and I’d like to invite you to join me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article let me know by posting on social media with the hashtag #turntrailblazer and let’s love winter together!

If you’re looking to have a care kit to help you on your way this winter, check out the Original Healing Box, complete with super-soft warming bamboo socks (perfect for this time of year), luscious lip balm, a beautiful journals and more.

Originally published in The Pillow Fort Magazine. Photo by Galina N on Unsplash. Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

gratitude and grace list: hygge edition

Inspired by my dear friend Gala Darling, I’m taking my love lists out of my (midnight blue, star-spangled) journal and sharing them with you.

It’s been so misty here. I’ve been enjoying our woodburning fire, essay writing for college and puppy cwtching time. I am truly grateful for every beautiful day and for all the safety and support I have in this time and place.

Here are some more things I’m grateful for…

Little Things I Love:

* Crunchy leaves under my wheelchair wheels.

* Finding two marvellously iridescent feathers and trying to imagine what bird they could be from (what birds have rainbow feathers?).

* My peace lilies blossoming.

* Switching from a smartphone to a retro phone.

* Getting a pencil torch (metallic scarlet) to replace my smartphone torch and playing with it ALL the time ‘Do you need a torch? I HAVE ONE HERE!’ <-- me, constantly. * Watching the dogs be amused/bemused by pumpkins. * Drinking tea from a beautiful handmade teapot. * Making up gorgeous and delightful ethical self-care subscription boxes

* Listening to radio programs.

* Drinking goji berry and rosehip tea.

* Getting ready for winter – check out my winter wellness gratitude list here

* Planning my 2018 with Leonie Dawson’s amazing planners

* Reading period mystery novels.

* Planning the garden for next spring.

* Getting lovely letters about my new book on living well when house bound and bed bound. Check out Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom and Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition here

What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments!

P.S Want more gratitude prompts and opportunities? Check out all my gratitude and grace lists here.

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