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Photo of a fire pit with lit fire in woods shooting sparks

[Trigger Warning: Mentions of violence, racism, abuse]

In this month’s link round up, I want to put the focus on amplifying voices, especially BIPOC voices, that need to be heard.

I think it’s clear that #BlackLivesMatter and Nazism/Alt-Right/White Supremacist/Terrorism is wrong and needs to be stopped.

However, I don’t feel it’s useful to share my emotions around Charlottesville here because, as a non-U.S white woman, it’s not my place and the voices that need to be heard are not mine. But I can keep doing my own work of dismantling the white privilege that I as a white woman, (unintentionally but unjustly) benefit from and share the voices of people who do need to be heard. I am doing my best not to centre my white emotions…

It’s hard to know the right thing to say, at a time like this. I might stumble over my words and make mistakes in my communication, but I will not be silent.” – Bari Tessler

And I am opening up my monthly no fee listening space, so I can listen and support people impacted by these events.

No Fee Listening Support

I’m Grace_Quantock on Skype, and I am opening up no-fee listening space for anyone impacted by the current challenges our societies are experiencing.

I don’t have all the answers, but I can, however, listen. Just call in on Skype: Saturday 19th August 2017.

Times:
BST 6pm – 7pm
EST 2pm – 3pm
CST 1pm – 2pm
MST 12 midday – 1pm
PST 11.00 am – 12.00 midday.

Disclaimer: By participating in this consulting session over the phone/ web, you acknowledge that, though I am a professional, I am unable to conduct the extensive analysis that I would in an in-person setting. Therefore, the advice I provide during our consulting sessions is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for in-person professional work. The information provided in the consulting session should not be considered a substitute for in-person evaluation by a therapist to address your individual needs. By participating in my office hours listening sessions, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Listening is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counselling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations on my work and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the listening services offered as described.

Links for social justice: 

10 Ways to Fight Hate from the Southern Poverty Law Center (via Bari Tessler)

Diversity is an asset

Authentic Allyship subscription group.

What We Need White Allies to do about the White Supremacists in Virginia (via Bari Tessler)

These People Killed My Family with links to help (via Bari Tessler)

Calling in the New Age: Identifying Oppressive Ideals in our Spirituality

Equal Justice Initiative which confronts racial injustice, advocates for equality, and creates hope for marginalized communities.

An inclusive card deck.

Coaching as activism

My thanks to all the members in We Are the Culture Makers Group who shared lots of these links, which is how I found them.

General wellness links: 

Tools to transform tax day.

Illness as something other than brokeness

Personal Mythmaking: I can’t wait to begin. Plus, Janelle asked me to share that she has a couple sliding scale rates for folks that have financial challenges but sincerely want to participate, and they can get in touch with her for more details.

Experience of being fat, brown, femme and loveability.

What to say when someone tells you they have a mental illness. 

Disability and being seen.

5 ways zombies can inspire you in wellness and writing.

Lessons of late summer

Dreaming and woke up knowing

A book I’m so interested in

Painting your way through the mystery of grief

What resources should be here? What would you add to the list? Community contributions are welcome. Let me know in the comments. 

Photo by Timothy Meinberg on Unsplash

Cover of ebook Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom and Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition. Text over photo of a bed with rumbled covers and a bunch of pink flowers on the bed, top right corner.

 

I’m so excited to share that Beyond the Boundaries: Finding Freedom & Fulfilment Within Four Walls. Self-Care Edition is here!

If you are sick or struggling to live with limits then this book is for you.

I’ve been bed bound, house bound and spending lots of time within four walls due to health challenges. So I wrote this book for everyone who, like me, is living with limits but still wants to live well.

If you’ve wondered how to manage self-care when so much for it is so inaccessible…

My bath isn’t adapted!

I’m allergic to chocolate!

I can’t get outside to do ‘forest bathing‘!

…then you need this guide. It’s full of self-care that is approachable, accessible and affordable, not just aspirational.

And, there’s a list of 500 things to do when you are stuck in bed/at home and sick.

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.

What you’ll get:

– A downloadable ebook and an 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.

And, I’ve got 15 things for you to do when sick and tired or at home and bored here:

15 fun things to do when sick and tired. Text over a photograph of a blue tea pot and blue and white transfereware teacup. In the teacup is pink tea with rose buds floating it it.

1. Check out positive coping techniques from Heads Above the Waves [trigger warning: mention of self-harm]

2. Give yourself a sound-bath by listening to Bethan’s amazing healing harp music and get your own copy here.

3. Check out Briana Saussy’s Astro Rx 2017 and get those dates in your diary.

4. Follow in Gala Darling’s (gorgeous) footsteps and make a Radical Self-Love Bible. Looking for extra inspiration? Look here.

5. Begin a painting of a big canvas or paper, add one mark + per day to document your experience. If you are happy, what does that look like on the canvas? A golden dot? five blue swirls, circling over each other? A line that follows the shape of your fingers? If you are mourning something, how does that express on the canvas? See how your celebrations and heart-aches build into beautiful art, through your year. (Inspired by IMAGINE.)

6. Learn to shuffle a deck of cards like a pro.

7. Sing an advertising jungle from your childhood. Sing it in the style of your favourite musical artist.

8. Download Eyecare and protect your vision. Future you will thank you.

9. Try cloud watching. What will you see?

10. Record a message and send it to a friend or loved one.

11. Request a song on a radio station, dedicate it to someone you love or something you are proud of.

12. What’s the makeup/hairstyle or accessory that you always admire in others but never have the confidence to try yourself? Do it today and wear it around the house, see how you feel. If you are comfortable with it at home, you could one day expand to wearing it outside. My pick? Cat-eye eyeliner.

13. Listen to or read a biography of someone unexpected. Who knew I would enjoy the autobiography of Ozzy Osbourne so much?

14. Listen to something that inspires you while you clean your teeth or have a shower.

15. Experiment to find the most comfortable cushion arrangement for you.

Like this? Want more? There are 500 fun things to do from home in my new ebook. Get it today…

July Trailblazing Healing Resources: Fuel for Your Healing Fire text over photo of a campfire outside

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.

I love and deeply believe in boundary work. I can testify to Randi Buckley‘s work in this area –

“Boundaries are the infrastructure for your life and relationships. 
You want them to be healthy, easily articulated, clear, & kind.” – Randi Buckley

I’m also honoured to be a guest lecturer on Healthy Boundaries for Kind People.

Next up, I want to investigate the Hawthorne Heart – a femme boundary workshop

More on boundaries: thoughts on fencing

Related: how to advocate for yourself, with Mara Glatzel.

Can chronic illness bring magic into your life?

Mary Magdalene’s feast day is July 22nd and I have some resources for you:

Why is Mary Magdalene relevant to our healing?

“For the radically reverent, She is courage embodied; specifically the courage to bear witness to trauma, heartbreak, and death.

Like all great lovers, Mary Magdalene is one who knows the limits of pleasure because she also has first hand knowledge of pain.” – Briana Saussy

Briana Saussy’s Feast Days for the Radically Reverent

And a fantastic *free* lecture on Mary Magdalene by a scholar and artist.

Can chronic illness bring magic into your life?

Have you checked out the Brain Online Health Summit?

Let’s celebrate midsummer (ok, a little belated) with dace and a safe fire ceremony.

OMG – Finding your patronus – yoga for depression workshop. I am SO THERE.

I am really, really grateful to have discovered Maranda Elizabeth’s writing on magic and disability, yes.

If you love myth, story and want to re-write your own, please do check out Janelle Hardy’s Personal Mythmaking

A yummy free painting video.

We’re holding Flower Crown Friday in the Wellness Trailblazers’ Facebook Cafe, come join and get your flower power!

Songs and videos:

Close up photograph of tree roots and moss. Text: Self-Care Sunday: Reality & the Triumphant Narrative GraceQuantock.com

Self-care is not always big, beautiful or glamourous.

Sometimes, self-care looks like surrendering, stopping pushing, stepping back.

Sometimes, self-care is wiping down two cupboards and leaving the washing up for tomorrow.

Sometimes, self-care is not being mean to yourself when you don’t accomplish your ‘to-do’ list.

Sometimes, self-care is action over affirmations.

Self-care can even be putting less on your to-do list and leaning into the reality that we aren’t robots and that’s ok.

There are times when healing can feel very far away. When we’ve tried everything and then we’ve tried everything else. If you are here, please hear me when I say this doesn’t mean it’s your fault you are hurting. 

We live in a society which has glorified personal power to a warped degree. It’s insinuated that if you are ill, struggling, short of money, in pain, then it’s because you haven’t tried hard enough yet.

I resist this narrative. I don’t believe it. I don’t experience it in my own life. I worry about its implications; the silent denial of all those forces impacting us like racism, sexism, ableism, class prejudice, LGBTIA+ prejudice, fat prejudice and all the other ways in which we are marginalised, judged and persecuted.

I don’t believe all that is grist to the mill of the triumphant narrative.

“People want a triumphant narrative. They want to know that you have solved the problem of your body. But my body is not a problem and it’s certainly not something I have solved yet.” – Roxane Gay

When I wheeled to the bus stop in my village to catch the bus to clinical placement, with the camber so steep and the street so badly maintained, it was impossible for my wheelchair to grip the pavement and so I fell into the road, in the path of an oncoming car. This isn’t inspirational.

This doesn’t make me more amazing or determined, it makes me a citizen living under policy that prioritises austerity over safety. It’s not ok. It’s not a personal challenge I’ve overcome, it’s an environmental issue that needs to change.

(Don’t worry, despite osteoporosis I thankfully didn’t break any bones. Thank the Divine for riding boots that act like amazingly cushioned leg braces).

Today was an ‘ideal’ day is so many ways, it’s just what I’d worked towards in terms of work, appointments and fun. And it still had hard times. To me, that isn’t a failure. Dealing with the discomfort is something I’m committed to learning. As a human, I will experience these things. I don’t want to fight to try and eradicate difficulty, pain, suffering or death but to learn to live well through these and shift the injustices that make them harder than they need be.

For me, this week, self-care has looked like:

Staying with my practices, even if my ‘morning routine‘ of art/yoga/meditation took all day.

Remembering how much I love writing, staying with it. Coming back to this each time I pick up a piece. Minimising distractions to stay in the flow.

Taking in the thanks offered from clients and customers when they have found my work useful. Letting it fuel me.

Listening to my body and it’s needs. Sometimes I just needed to lie still. Or to allow myself to feel the sadness in my body, the anger, the tears.

What small but potent acts of self-care have you experienced this week? Let me know in the comments!

 

photograph of woman from the back, her body is overlaid with a topographical mountain landscape. She has black hair in a bun. Text overlaid: Diagnosis Denial for Experts Part 2 - Miracle Seeking

Read Diagnosis Denial for Experts Part 1: Shame, Blame and Adulting here.

Sometimes, after difficult health news, you feel like going back to the doctor and saying “There must have been some mistake. I am supposed to be brilliant. I have a life, I don’t have time to be sick. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me, I have other plans.”

You feel, quite frankly, done, over, finished with all this illness stuff and now the doctors can do their job, sort it out and you can get back to the thousand things you have to do, which make up your LIFE.

Looking for Miracle Cures

I spent a year looking for miracle cures. Or any cures really.

I suppose I spent a year looking for hope. Except this wasn’t hope, this was an extended form of desperation. I was trying to turn back the clock.

It was a frenzy of researching – trawling through page after page on Google, calling up obscure numbers and speaking to weird people that I hoped had the answer, or someone had passed a card to somebody saying they’d helped somebody and they were really good, as long as you paid £100 a month and bought all their supplements!

I read everything. Everything! I became what my doctors called an expert in the disease.

At the start, I read without reflection, and not from a reasonable standpoint, but compulsively. I felt I had to read every single piece of literature about the illness, every website, every source possible. Because if I didn’t, if I missed one, that could be the one with the cure.

People sent me letters with articles torn out of magazines saying perhaps I should try lymph drainage or go and see a certain practitioner. Sure, they may charge £1000 a treatment and be dubious, bet hey, it might cure me!

People just wanted to help, but at the time I knew all there was to know in the standard literature. And people ringing me up saying “it’s on the news, they’ve found what might be a cure… One day… If the clinical trials go well… If they get research funding… If it’s approved on the NHS.”

But at the start, I wasn’t cynical. I followed everything. I’ve got qualifications in a whole lot of healing modalities and if you’ve heard of it, I’ve probably tried it, yes, including wheatgrass and urine therapy (don’t ask).

After a year, no cure, and Google fatigue, I gave up. I began to believe what the literature said – that there wasn’t a cure. And that the ravaged bits of myself and my old life left around me were now my reality.

This wasn’t acceptance as such, more moving on to a more insidious form of denial.

I closed myself off from hope. I decided to try living in TV land for a while. It’s easy to get there but it’s not so easy to get out. You crawl out of bed and slump in front of the TV. That’s it. Although I can’t say I recommend it.

I left pretty quickly. Even my brain fogged mind and exhausted depression could only stand so much mindless television. (You may soon become aware that I don’t like television. You can if you want. I just can’t stand it. I think it sucks energy, creativity, and motivation and they’re ugly. When we had one I kept a yoga mat over it).

I expected there to be something that would solve everything. I thought that I could still be fixed.

I felt broken and thought I still needed fixing.

Turning Trailblazer

So, to put it bluntly, I had done nearly overdone denial and desperation and it was looking like I could get stuck there. But acceptance came, or rather I made a conscious effort and moved towards it.

And then one day I woke up with the realisation that somehow, quietly in the background, over minutes and hours and days and weeks and months, the pain and desperation gradually receded, and acceptance had arisen and was lighting the landscape of my life.

That maybe it wasn’t so bad, my situation. It was tough, and I wouldn’t have chosen it myself, but it was here, and actually, I could deal with it.

(At this point I hated it all so much that the idea of thinking about benefits the situation had or what it could teach me would have made me feel sick. It would have felt like cheating, or like I was opting to be ill.)

I was wholly stuck in society’s stereotype of the abject and pitiful sufferer. But I was slowly climbing out.

My life was coming back together, even growing.

I found that there were other ways to live. Not necessarily ignoring the illness and the struggles and limitations it placed on my life and my loved ones who live with it by proxy.

Neither did I have to frantically search for cures and grasp at the past in my ‘old’ life.

I could just live now. And yes there are some difficult parts, and ups and downs, ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ and pain flares and relapses, remissions, celebrations and survival.

Truly, when I look back at my ‘old’ life I see that had its challenges and its problems too. Everyone has got something going on. I just had a name, a ‘diagnosis’ for mine.

Before I was ill I was not awake and aware in my life. Not noticing what was going on. Not identifying issues, making a change and creating the life I wanted, I stumbled and fell, through running at full tilt at I don’t know what.

Now I could identify the problems in my life. Accept that they were there, see around them, learn to work with them. To ask ‘okay, now it’s here, what am I going to do with it, about it?’

I was now alive and awake, accepting my power and my choices, standing up for my life even as I couldn’t stand in my body.

Sure I’d rather it hadn’t taken illness to do that, and if somebody had just told me all the lessons I’d learned from being ill without me having to be ill, I would listen. Really, truly I would believe them. But I know it doesn’t work like that.

I’m not saying that we’re sent illness to try to teach us things or that it’s a gift, just now that things are here, and it looks like were going to have to live with it. Then let’s make the best actually Live with it.

For me this is acceptance: stopping pushing, saying ‘okay, this is the way my world is right now. So let’s work with it and get on with it. Pass the (virgin) pitcher, darling.’

Spectrum of Acceptance

I came to acceptance after exhausting every other route.

Here’s the bad news; acceptance, unfortunately, is not like a study course. You don’t pass it, get your certificate at the end and then you’re done.

Acceptance is something that you come to and then maybe you relapse or you get a new diagnosis, or you’re suddenly forced to let go of an old dream, then your emotions throw you around the room and you feel like you’re six months back, just as angry and tearful as you ever were, and you’ve got to get to acceptance all over again.

Acceptance gets easier. Once you know what it feels like, you’ve been there, somewhere in your mind there is a map to it.

Acceptance is not a destination. It’s a practice.

Something that we practice and come back to again and again, we hold it for a while, maybe it slips away, maybe it becomes a deep part of us and then another layer comes up and we practice acceptance on that.

I believe that these strong emotions, sufferings, peace and practices, are part of being human, and I gain strength from the fact that I’ve reached acceptance from the past.

When difficult things happen, which are also new opportunities to develop and deepen my acceptance practice, I just bear in mind my long experience with navigating the spectrum of acceptance and trust I will find my way back to my centre there.

Personally, I ride out my hurricane of emotions until all that’s left is the acceptance, like peace after a storm.How do I do that? I work on it with my therapist (if you’d like to work we me on this read more about my coaching services here) and I use tools like coping when feeling emotionally overwhelmed, packing an emotional toolkit, having a bad day? Head here, creating joy on bad days and 7 gentle, generous, restorative ways to feel better.

What miracle cures have you sought? Where are you in acceptance today? Let me know in the comments

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