A Slow Start is Better Than No Start

Image from xojane.com

Image from xojane.com

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

 

It’s fair to say that, thanks to Lyme Disease, I’ve experienced chronic ill-health for a long time. Over thirty years, in fact. And certainly in the past six or seven years, as I have battled with cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, severe breathlessness, low blood pressure and fatigue that was exacerbated by any form of physical exertion, it is also fair to say that I have done little exercise apart from stretches and gentle walking or swimming.

But I’m beginning to feel better.

Better enough that I want to exercise. And finally I have my doctor’s blessing to do yoga after not being allowed to for so long.

So, I dragged out my yoga mat, and in the privacy of my own home, all eagerness and optimism, I began the routine I had done easily and every day for years before my lyme-induced heart attack. Forgetting, of course, that I’d last done this yoga regime with grace and ease seven long years and twenty kilograms ago.

Except that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t bend, I couldn’t move my poor stiff body into any of the positions, and I fell over. A lot.

Do you know what I did then?

I cried.

I cried with frustration. I cried because I’d lost so much ground. I cried because I was so much worse than I’d thought I would be.

Honestly, I should have known I had no hope of getting through that advanced routine, but it was the only one I knew off by heart, and I hadn’t stopped to think that the thing I’d always been able to do would suddenly be so hard. After years of illness I’d lost my flexibility, my balance, my confidence. What was I to do?

Be kind to myself is what.

I turned to my trusty iPad and downloaded a cheap little app called Yoga Studio. From its clean screen of images I chose a fifteen minute beginner routine for back pain. To my delight the fifteen minutes flew by, and although I was not elegant or graceful, I managed to do some semblance of each of the poses. By the week’s end I’d progressed enough that I could complete the routine with a kind of flow, and I’d also noticed an improvement in my flexibility and co-ordination.

It will be a while before I am setting the Byron Bay yoga studios on fire. That’s okay with me. I have found a beginning place, a place where I feel the joy of success rather than the sting of failure.

A slow start is better than no start at all, and slow starts often lead to deep and lasting practice.

Is there some place that you can make a slow start this week?

Commit to something simple and small. You can build on it later, when you’re ready. But do start. There is so much power in starting. And continuing. Slow starts give you room to move and improve. They build confidence and skill. They set you up for success.

And gee, it feels lovely!

If you need a little motivation, this short and inspiring video should do it…

 

 

On Overcoming Obstacles

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

 
I have always wanted to be a writer.

I wrote my first full book when I was four, complete with illustrations.

Writing was what I did. It was who I was.

But contracting Lyme Disease at sixteen changed all that. I began to lose words.

By the time I moved to the Kimberley, when I was in my mid-twenties, things were significantly worse.

I write about it here, in the draft of my memoir, based on that period in the Kimberley with my Aboriginal Aunties. At the time, my diagnosis (I’ve had many before Lyme) was relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis.

“I stepped out of the laundry block and looked up at the sky. It was filled with beautiful streaky…

It was filled with beautiful…

You know.

Those white things.

What were they called?

For the life of me I couldn’t find the word. White was all I could come up with. I knew they weren’t called white. I knew they had a name. But that word, whatever it was, remained dangerously elusive.

Fluffy?

Bear? No, that wasn’t the right word. I sighed with exasperation. Now I couldn’t remember what bear was. But it was brown. Like a tree trunk?

A quiet horror awakened in me. As I ticked off the possible causes – lack of sleep, dehydration, low blood sugar – I knew it would be none of them. I dreaded to think that it could actually be multiple sclerosis. This dull worry exploded inside me, and a moment later my inner warning lights came on. My vocabulary had shrunk dramatically over the past several years, but I’d never lost a word before. I’d always been able to find another word that worked. If I couldn’t say beer I’d say ale or tinny or cold drink. I had good coping strategies. Even when my cognitive function hit a major low I’d managed. Point in case: I had been coping with my new lack of ability with numbers. After all I could still read words, I could still read numbers. I found a way around the problems.

This was the first time I had looked at something familiar and gone completely blank. Words, knowing how to string them together, writing them, speaking them, crafting them, had always been the one thing I could do well. Writing was my fall-back plan. My secret love. What if I lost my words? I couldn’t bear to think about what my life would look like if that happened.

All week it worsened. I never did remember that word for the white things in the sky, and couldn’t even cheat a little by looking them up in my dictionary because I didn’t have a starting point. I also noticed that things didn’t stick in my brain. After reading and re-reading a fax and still struggling to make sense of it I resorted to a list of short bullet points, summarising as I read each paragraph. The bullet points kept my thoughts in order, and jogged my memory. I was reluctant to ring my doctor back in Brisbane, worried that he’d tell me to leave the Kimberley and come home immediately, from which I’d eventually end up in an aged-care facility with all of the old people who had also lost the ability to think and do for themselves.

I became suddenly, stupidly, enormously insecure. Carefully I observed myself, keeping notes in my journal each day. My cognitive dysfunction became worse when I was tired or stressed, and my best time was from when I woke up until lunch. There was a black hole each afternoon where my brain function was massively retarded, and it picked up a little again after four in the afternoon. I rearranged my day so that my mornings were all about problem solving, writing and math. My afternoons were filing, tidying and simple tasks that didn’t need much brain power. No-one else noticed that anything was wrong. I still managed to work each day and complete my duties. However, no matter what I did, the sudden decline in my mental ability was terrifying.”

 

That terror, that dumb incapacity, that lack of ability to find the right words, to remember the plot or the characters, to hold a train of thought? Those things have plagued me my whole adult life. The last paragraph from my memoir extract? That sums up living with Lyme. That sums up three decades of my life.

Sure, I’ve still written. I’ve compensated. I’ve found ways to get words on the page. But they haven’t always flowed, and as the number of pages increased so did my confusion.

Now, after two years of hard-core drug treatment, and a host of other helpful modalities and herbs, my brain is healing. I am healing. My function is coming back.

At my writers’ boot camp this weekend, words have been pouring out of me. Good ones. Words, that when I read over them later, make me weep.

Because I have found that place again. The one that has been lost to me for thirty years. I can remember plots and characters, I can see where something needs to be edited, and I can reach into that wellspring of ideas and still find my way back from the catacombs.

That’s a handy thing.

After thirty years I have so much to say!

Your take-home on all of this?

Don’t ever give up.

Ever.

Be resilient. Be determined. Trust that you will find a way.

Holding you, and those intentions for you, in my meditations and prayers,

Nicole xx

Image from danhilbert.wordpress.com

Image from danhilbert.wordpress.com

Lyme Eyes, Magic Eyes

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
~ Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart

 

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know:

a) that I have Lyme disease

b) that Lyme bacteria in my optic nerve wreak merry havoc

c) that I am psychic.

I’ve had some ongoing issues with my eyes since beginning treatment for Lyme. There’s been pain. Lots of pain. Vision disturbance. Vision loss. Nystagmus. Some of it is related to my optic nerve. Some of it is neurological. Some of it is herxing. No matter the cause – Ow!

But the past few days there’s been something new.

Out of the corner of my eye I have seen darting shapes – wispy, thin, undefined shapes.

At first I wrote them off as being a Lyme issue, and didn’t pay them much attention. Today I’ve changed my opinion.

As I sat in the garden with Harry Dog after my meditation, my eye was caught by yet another darting shape. As I looked at it, the shape stopped for a moment.

Harry saw it too.

Image from forargyll.com

Image from forargyll.com

And then I realised I had seen it this time with my ‘good’ eye first.

So now I’m not so dismissive of this whole latest ‘seeing things’ thing. After all. I’m psychic. I woke up on my thirtieth birthday and I could see auras. I work as a medical intuitive and ‘see’ things within and around the body.

I’m not quite sure what’s catching my eye yet, but I’m quietly excited to see what develops from here.

I promise to keep you posted!

 

Poems, Prayers and Promises

Image from miriadna.com

Image from miriadna.com

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver

 

I saw a new lyme doctor yesterday. Why a new doctor? It goes like this:

The first doctor I saw diagnosed me but wouldn’t treat me because ‘lyme was contentious and he was trying to fly under the radar’. My second doctor treated me aggressively with antibiotics and herbs, saving my life. The AMA put restrictions on his practice and prevented him from offering treatment to lyme patients. My third doctor – highly respected as a lyme physician here in Australia – had one appointment with me, where he prescribed a new and intense drug regime, shortly after which he took leave of absence for health reasons. I waited and waited for him to come back to work, and then found out in late December that he was no longer treating lyme patients as their immediate physician.

Meanwhile symptoms I’d not had for a long time had flared up, new problems had emerged, and I was keen to find someone who knew what they were doing and who could offer me continuity of care. After realising there was no-one in charge of me and not likely to be for some time I’ve been winging it, with a little help from my kind and courageous GP, and my own intuition. Winging it, I think I’ve done quite well, but still, I’m no doctor.

As you might imagine, I woke apprehensive. Discussions with other doctors had suggested that this year I’d have an even more harsh offering of drugs to take. That this year would need to be hard-core to make up the ground I’d so recently lost. I’d been told I’d need to see this new doctor and follow her own strict protocols as well as conventional lyme protocols for at least a year to get results.

I’m so tired of the pain, the brutality, the isolation imposed by both the disease and the treatment. As I lay in bed yesterday I offered up a prayer to the Universe. Let me get my answer today, I affirmed. I promise that whatever I am shown, I will honour that path.

In my mind I’d already decided that this doctor would be the last one. Intuition had led me to her. I’d already been given guidance in my channelled sessions that this year I would eventually forgo drugs. I would eventually forsake the last vestiges of traditional medicine, and I would find a way to heal, thoroughly and well.

This is it, I thought. My last roll of the dice.

But it didn’t feel like luck. It felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, from which I would either fall or fly.

Paradigm shift. They were the words that kept playing in my head. Those words and the fragment of a Mary Oliver poem, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Image from Terri Pope

Image from Terri Pope

I knew I was missing something. Some vital thing. A  key that would unlock this whole mess. A clue that would break me open and in the same breath begin to piece me back together again; gently, gracefully and with meaning.

I sat in the doctor’s office and we talked shop. Drugs, stats, bloods, symptoms, history. The usual. All the things she’d asked for.

‘You’re psychic,’ she said, reading my file, where for once I’d been bold enough to list that as my occupation. ‘That’s a real gift. Intelligent too, I can see. No-one would have developed this complexity of treatment protocols for themselves without deep intelligence.’

She looked at me, and held my gaze. ‘This isn’t my usual approach. But I assume you’re good at what you do too. I can see you have most of this under control. I don’t need to spend time discussing diet and nutrition with you. You’ve done most of the things I would recommend. I can see how sick you’ve been. How sick you still are. And you and I both know I can’t heal you – that healing comes from some other place. So, what do you need to heal – quickly, easily and with grace? How could you love your dis-ease?’

This wasn’t how I’d expected the session to go. I’d expected that she would tell me.

‘It’s funny,’ I said to her after pausing to gather my thoughts. ‘I fought so hard not to be psychic. But lyme stripped everything else away from me until it was the only thing left that I could do.’

I thought a bit more, and a realisation came to me like rays of light penetrating a deep dark forest. ‘You know,’ I said, leaning towards her, ‘when I do my psychic work, no matter how ill I might be, I move into a different space. A higher vibration. For that time I operate as if I don’t have lyme. And the effect lasts for a few hours afterwards, before I eventually come back into this disease state.’

She kept looking at me, holding that space for me, and suddenly I knew. Words tumbled out of me…

‘I’ve been so ashamed to be who I am. To be psychic. I’ve felt so guilty that I did not turn out the way my parents and teachers expected. The way society expected.’ I knew it to be true as they were coming out of my mouth. Guilt. Shame. Judgement. Such low vibration words. The complete opposite of the way I felt when I was firmly in my truth, owning my gift and living as a psychic, a shaman, as a spirit woman, guide and teacher. There I was open, I was light, I was in flow and everything in the world was beautiful and good. I was everything and everything was in me, and it was all as it should be. Peaceful. Blissful. Oneness.

There was more. I realised that I’d always held an expectation that when I eventually became well, that I should go back to my corporate life – the life in which my family and I had been so invested.

How could I ever be well when being well would mean walking away from my soul truth and my integrity to go back to living a life path dictated by others?

The shift in me was strong and immediate. Peace surged through me and calm lit every cell.

All I needed to do was own who I am. The beauty and the power and the strange rightness of this life. Of my skills and talents. Of my passion and my gift.

Image from wallarthd.com

Image from wallarthd.com

We both decided I need a light amount of drugs for a mop-up of one of my co-infections. A little retweaking of this and that, some healing and rewiring at an energetic level. I’ll keep using my herbs and essential oils. I’ll keep using my meditation and energetic healing. We’ll play it by ear, listen to my body’s own wisdom and see where that takes me. There’s some rebuilding to be done, some repair. But it is all fixable. It’s already shifting.

Finally, I have found a doctor who speaks my language and who can respect and mirror back to me what I most need to hear.

When I got home there was a message in my inbox. Dana, my PA, had forwarded me a poem sent by a lady called Illona. Thank you, Illona. It was so very timely.

It’s no coincidence that it’s also a Mary Oliver Poem.

I present the message in its entirety below:

Message: Nicole, I see this so much as who you are:

 

Today again I am hardly myself.

It happens over and over.

It is heaven-sent.

 

It flows through me

like the blue wave.

Green leaves – you may believe this or not – have once or twice emerged from the tips of my fingers

somewhere

deep in the woods,

in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song, the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the tumbled pine needles she toiled.

And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.

And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength

is she not wonderful and wise?

And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything

until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand, I have flown from the other window of myself to become white heron, blue whale,

red fox, hedgehog.

Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!

Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

— Mary Oliver

 

big hugs

Oh my goodness how that validated everything I had seen and felt and known earlier that day. It was as if the Universe herself had turned up in my inbox to reflect to me the truth of that insight I was finally brave enough to own in my heart.

There is such wisdom and grace in the world when you open yourself to it.

Bless xoxo

Pomegranate, Kale and Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

2015-01-06 19.28.15

“Fun fact #1 about pomegranates: Pomegranates are awesome.
Fun fact #2: Pomegranates are like little explosions of awesome in your mouth.
Fun fact #3: A lot of people think you’re not supposed to eat the seeds of a pomegranate – but that’s not true, people who tell you that are liars, and they don’t know anything about life, and they should never be trusted.”
~ Tahereh Mafi

 

This is a tasty and nutritious salad that is also very visually appealing. You could enjoy it on its own, but I chose to serve mine as an accompaniment to roast lamb.

In truth, I’m in the middle of my planning summit, and I wanted an easy dinner that was quick to make. This was a winner on both counts. Plus, my garden is overflowing with kale right now, so I’m afraid it’s kale in EVERYTHING around here. :)

I’m quite in love with kale. You can read more about the many health benefits of this awesome leafy green here.

If you don’t have access to kale use spinach leaves or rocket (arugula).

This is also a terrific meal if you have Lyme disease or co-infections as the pomegranate is a great biofilm buster! Food as medicine, and so yummy too. It’s an idea that might catch on…

 

Ingredients:

3 cups of kale (leaf only – rib removed), seeds from one large pomegranate, 1/2 cup macadamia nut pieces, 1/2 cup of fetta cheese, 2 cups of sweet potato (any variety!) and a little olive oil or coconut oil for roasting.

Oil of your choice to dress salad – I used a lemon-myrtle infused macadamia oil.

Note: For a vegan version substitute the fetta for a vegan cheese or use avocado.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit) and prepare a large tray by lining it with baking paper (Prevents sticking and saves on washing up later.) If you’re already cooking a roast or some other dish in the oven all the better!

Wash and dry the sweet potato and then cut into small chunks. Coat lightly with oil (I chuck all the pieces in a bowl, pour in a slug of oil and massage with my fingers to get the job done) and then place the pieces on your baking-paper lined tray. Place into the oven and cook until golden – about 40 minutes, depending on size of pieces.

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De-seed the pomegranate, and wash the arils (seeds) to remove any pith. Drain well and set aside.

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Wash and dry the kale leaves and then shred finely with a sharp knife.

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Cut or crumble the fetta cheese.

Toast the macadamia nuts over moderate heat in a dry frypan. Push them around with a spoon so that they cook evenly and don’t burn on one side. Watch them while you do this.(Note that some of mine got a bit toasty due to talking too much to Dana and not paying attention to my nuts!).  It only takes a few minutes but it’s worth doing as it gives a beautiful complexity of flavour.

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Place the shredded kale in a bowl and dump the hot roasted sweet potato on top.

Tip in the nuts and fetta cheese.

Now add the pomegranate arils. Toss together with a slug of your favourite oil.

 

Serve and enjoy!

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Last night’s dinner. Totally delish. :)2015-01-06 19.32.02

 

Talking to Dragons

“Always speak politely to an enraged dragon.”
~ Steven Brust, Jhereg

 

It’s after 3am. An odd time to be posting a blog. Still. I’m wide awake.

I might as well stay up now so that I can do my morning meditate soon, as is my daily practice.

It’s been one of those nights. The kind of night I’ve not had for a while. I guess Lyme wanted to remind me…

So I’ve lain awake all night, staring at the ceiling, roaming the house, trying whatever remedies I have to tame this pain beast. My body aches. Electricity arches down my limbs, and stabs behind my eyes. It feels as if someone has lodged an ice-pick in my skull and is twisting it violently. Random pain assails me. But it’s okay. I am becoming quite skilled as a Lyme Dragon Whisperer.

I’ve not quite got the dosage right on my latest drugs and herbs yet. Which include, of course, the dreaded Drug Number Four. Once again it’s giving me grief, and yet I know that the pain is bacteria dying, so I’m celebrating even as I want to scream. (I won’t though – too dramatic and it will wake Ben and the dogs!)

I’m hoping to slip back to bed after my meditation. I’m hoping that the meditation will take enough of an edge off, and combined with my massive exhaustion I’ll just fall right asleep.

Fingers crossed, hey?

Meanwhile I’m going to fly the night sky, and send you all some healing. I might as well be useful for something. Anyway, when I’m in that meditation place I am free of my body and its limitations. The pain is gone. It gives delicious respite.

Okay. I’m ready now.

I’ll see you in your dreams. Know that you are loved. xoxo

Image by Mike Rae

Image by Mike Rae

My Day’s Best Medicine

Image from BourilDesign.net

Image from BourilDesign.net

“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.”
~ George Gordon Byron

 

There is one thing Lyme has taught me that is well worth sharing. Some of the best medicine isn’t prescribed by a doctor.

Here’s some of my favourite medicine.

The smell of pine trees and sunshine.

2014-12-09 08.13.57Posies of sweet little flowers from the garden.

2014-12-07 09.22.40-2The promise of rain on the wind.

2014-11-25 17.50.57Company, love and cuddles, and a soft bed with clean sheets.

2014-07-23 16.20.12Homemade ginger kombucha in my favourite ballerina glass.

2014-05-16 10.33.18Nurse Bert, the ever faithful hound, keeping me company even when it would be more fun to be outside chasing cows or going on farm exploration adventures with Harry.

2014-01-27 20.23.30Good books, sun-bright mornings, the smell of the ocean, music, wind in the trees, friendship, kindness, meditation, the softness of nightfall, cups of tea, moonlight, laughter, afternoon naps, love.

All of these things help heal me.

Maybe they will work magic for you too.

Thinking of you and sending love, Nicole xx

l

PS: Here’s a lovely song about letting things be the way they are, from the inimitable Tim Minchin.