meditation pose in Iceland

Enjoy a Happy, Balanced Life

Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, works mainly in the events industry and through years of personal study, she is also an inspiring Healing Coach. Her coaching aims to help people find their way to a perfect and ideal self, whilst exploring the power of mindfulness.

Francesca Garola sat on steps

We’re really pleased to bring a regular blog from Francesca where she’ll address her expertise to help us mitigate the stresses and strains of working in events…

Being in a world of Doing

I’m curious, what does BEING mean to you?

We generally say “I am” to define a part of ourselves: our name, our job, our background, etc. This is how society defines “Being”… and it is so much more than that!

We live in a world where Doing has taken over Being; where Doing is the primary concern of our everyday existence. We live in TO-DO lists and we get trapped into “The Spinning Wheel of Doing”. The result is often what I call “The Claustro-Doing” which is nothing more than an increased anxiety due to over-doing.

Have you ever wondered why we do so much? Have you ever wondered why we tend to put so much on our plates that we are drawn into doing and clog up our mind, soul and spirit?

Doing can easily become an addiction and it works as a sort of patch so that we do not have to deal with our emotions, with our thoughts and with our subconscious.

Can we really stop doing? Of course not! And there is no need to. The idea here is to find a functional way of Doing without forgetting your Being.

sunset beach with lady stretching

Are you ready to step into the world knowing how to BE YOU rather than being a doing machine?

  1. Become aware of your language

How do you speak to yourself? How many times a day do you tell yourself “I have to”? And what would it take to replace it with “I choose to”? The way you talk to yourself creates the imprint of the way you treat yourself and how much you value self-respect. Would you be ok to start treating yourself with kindness and compassion? Talk to yourself as you would have wanted your inner child to be talked to.

  1. Be You as soon as you wake up

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you look at your phone? Have a coffee? Listen to the news?

Would it be ok to pause the doing and allow yourself to just be for a minute? Before you get up, take 3 big breaths to really feel your presence and wake up all of your muscles and organs. Get up, gently wash your face, smile at yourself and make the following statement: “I allow myself to be me and respect me today.”

When you step into the shower, would it be ok to use it as a cleansing ritual where you actually clear out from your body, mind and soul anything that is no longer necessary; anything that you no longer need to hold on to or any emotion that is ready to be released. I think this is something that can easily be integrated into your daily life. And if you rather shower at night, use this cleansing ritual before going to bed – what a great way to end the day and get a great night’s sleep!

  1. Be mindful of what you read and listen to

Reading or listening to dreadful news early in the morning can be pretty unsettling for the subconscious. If you can, choose to fill yourself up with good vibrations, comforting words and good intentions for the day. Whether it is vibrational music, your favourite podcast, a meditation or your favourite audiobook, remember that the morning can set your foundations for a successful day!

  1. Check-in with yourself

Are you willing to ask yourself “how am I doing?” every now and then? Is it ok to let your subconscious know you are there for you? Being You means you know you are there for yourself, it means that you do what you say and say what you do. It means increasing awareness of whatever goes on within and without. It means starting a brand new, beautiful, functional and life-long relationship with yourself.

With love and laughter,

Francesca

You can get more tips from Francesca by liking her Facebook page or following her on Instagram.

northern light over Reykjavik

48 hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is not only difficult to spell but it’s also crazy to get to grips with its extended hours of daylight or lack of it depending on what time of year you visit.

Located just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Its location means that during the winter months the city only gets four hours of sunlight on the shortest day. However, during the longest day in the summer months, when we were visiting, Reykjavik sees almost 24 hours of daylight!

sunset

We had almost 48 hours of daylight to research the best of Reykjavik and the surrounding area for our incentive travel programme, having wrapped up another successful client event in the city.

Here are our top tips to make the most out of a city break in Reykjavik…

ONE

Absolutely hire yourself a car. You’ll find a theme running through this blog – Iceland is expensive. Getting the cheapest travel option from the airport to the city is by bus but, if you value your time, the 1 ½ hour ride is pretty unbearable whilst a taxi will cost you at least €100 – and so your wallet starts to become a lot lighter before you’ve even reached your hotel! Having a car not only gives you the obvious flexibility for sightseeing but it works out significantly cheaper when there is more than one of you travelling together.

TWO

Eating and drinking (and doing most other things) in Iceland is expensive and even more so in the city. Your concierge is likely to offer you the chance to buy a voucher booklet when you check-in – our advice is to go for it! In 48 hours we managed to work our way through our favourite restaurants and bars using these discount vouchers saving us in excess of €200. If you’re with a larger party than just our two average-size tummies, you will save a fortune. We love sushi and didn’t find a bad sushi bar in the whole of our trip.

Discount vouchers

Read more about the voucher booklets on Reykjavik’s Grapevine

Alcohol is so expensive here that we were willing to give it up for the weekend, that’s right, tea-totalling event profs! Of course, that didn’t last for long and here are our two favourite bars we stumbled across. Slippbarinn is part of Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina near Old Harbour, Reykjavik’s first ever cocktail bar and because imported beer is so expensive Kaldi Bar is a great option as they serve several of their own locally-brewed lighter beers.

THREE

The hotels in the city centre are fantastic and great if you’re planning to just spend time walking through the city but, if you plan to go farther afield, we found choosing a hotel on the outskirts much more convenient – and it meant we could park our hire car for free.

Reykjavik Lights hotel

FOUR

If you like horses, this is the destination for you. Did you know there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland with a total population of just over 330,000 people – one horse for nearly one third of the people in Iceland! Whilst the Icelandic horse is a prized breed, don’t be surprised to see horse on the menu in some restaurants.

Icelandic horses

FIVE

Do plenty of research if you’re not visiting via one of our organised, luxury incentive travel programmes. We wanted to fit a couple of tourist destinations into our short visit and were given some great advice by Guide to Iceland. We’d recommend browsing their website before you go to plan in your excursions.

We love a spa like any girl, so were intrigued by the Blue Lagoon tour – apparently one of the 25 wonders of the world. This famous geothermal spa has silica mud under your feet which is said to have healing properties so we smothered it all over us – we have not included a photo for that! You can choose all sorts of premium spa packages but, as this was Erin’s favourite tour she says, “Be aware that you’ll be sharing the facilities with people who don’t mind picking up the bathing robe you’ve paid for!”

You might have noticed our love for a bit of Richmond’s nature on our Instagram so we couldn’t miss out on the whale watching tour run by family-owned tour operator, Elding. We chose to get as close as possible to the action and took a rib tour – this is also the fastest way to get to any wildlife activity. Just bear in mind that it’s extremely chilly, even in the summer months so dress appropriately.

Whale watching tour

SIX

From horses to cats… if you’re more of a cat person then Reykjavik has the country’s first cat cafe – Kattakaffihusid. This isn’t just a cafe where you can take your cat for a saucer of milk, this cafe now hosts 3 homeless cats at a time from the organisation Villikettir and approved guests can give them a forever home. Visit their Facebook page to find out more about their range of tasty cakes and cute kitties looking for a home.

 

SEVEN

We actually found the cat cafe whilst walking in the city to find one of its most well-known landmarks and possibly the most funky church we’ve ever come across, Hallgrímskirkja. Named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of Hymns of the Passion, the church’s impressive stepped, concrete facade is an ode to modernism and a reminder of the Icelandic landscape. It’s well worth a visit and they have a varied programme of concerts on throughout the year.

STUNNING REYKJAVIK

We packed in quite a lot in 48 hours but we also got some time to stop and reflect. My absolute favourite moment of the whole trip was driving round the Golden Circle Tour.

Golden circle tour map

We came round a bend in the road and the landscape opened up in front of us to show the bluest sky I have ever seen. The beautiful scenery around Reykjavik is enough to make anyone stop and feel grounded to the Earth and all of its natural wonders. Definitely worth a place on our incentive travel list.