Coming back to myself

BB-Photo-3

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

I am sitting in a cafe at Byron Bay, and it feels like a small miracle.

After my six-week fever broke last night, and a powerful meditation shifted me past most of my pain, things have me believing that somewhere in the quiet dark hours of early morning I turned a significant corner.

Expect a return to normal blogging tomorrow. :)

Hooray!!! I have missed you. xoxo

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My Sweet Poison

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“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.” 
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.” 
~ Mitch Albom

 

What is there to say if we cannot be honest with each other?

Let me show you something.

Saturday morning. Sitting in a Byron Bay cafe, unbidden tears rolling down my cheeks.  I was there with my ever-patient and supportive husband Ben, who had managed to rouse me from my coma-like state long enough to get me out of pyjamas and into some street clothes that still somehow resembled pyjamas.

So there I was. Weak latte at one elbow, a pile of unread weekend newspapers at the other. Harry the cafe dog lying on my feet, while I drew strength and grounding from his reassuring presence.

These new drugs I am on are a nightmare. I count every day that I must take them. Two weeks, four days to go.

They are my sweet poison. I can literally FEEL them working from just after they enter my body. For the first two weeks I experienced massive body pain, insomnia and complete exhaustion. My brain was numb. I was numb. Couldn’t read. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t connect to anything during the day. Couldn’t sleep at night, when all of that disconnect would dissolve and leave me stuck in this misbehaving body.

I was so not like my usual self. Empty headed. No ideas, no ability to converse or articulate my needs. I would get one good hour, sometimes less, each morning between when I struggled out of bed and when I began the regime of drugs and herbs that are making me well. Thank god for that one sane-making hour. Then it was back to the place of disconnect.

At least in that space of disconnect I was feeling the pain, but often from a distance, during daylight hours anyway. Anyone who has taken Valium or other such drugs will know what I am talking about. If the house had been burning down my thought process would have looked something like this:

‘Oh, look. Flames.’ Observes them licking across the bedroom ceiling. Observes them set the curtains alight. ‘Boy, it’s really taking hold.’ Turns over in bed and readjusts the pillows.

At night my bed was burning, and I was still in it. But this time I knew it, and I couldn’t make it stop…

Image from Sodahead

Image from Sodahead

So after the trauma of no sleep and endless pain Thursday and Friday brought me two straight days and nights of sleep. Sweet sleep. Sleep with rich lucid dreams.

One good thing, though. My brain is waking up and kicking into gear although I don’t yet recognise the landscape.

I wake long enough to drink some water, take some tablets, go to the toilet. All in a shuffling half-awake space, like a turtle breaking the surface for a sip of air before returning to the depths and those crazy seem-real dreams.

It was in one of those cresting moments of wakefulness on Saturday morning when Ben magically transported me down to Byron.

Sitting there at an outdoor table with my coffee, music in the background, soft rain falling and friends stopping to say hello, I was overwhelmed with sensation almost too much to bear.

The muted sunlight seemed too bright. The background music so loud. Conversations washed over the top of me and I struggled to catch those shining bright words one by one in my clumsy fists. By the time I had captured enough and threaded them into some sort of meaningful order the friends were on their way, their questions unanswered, their faces kind and perplexed. Sorry, I want to shout after them.

But already I was forgetting what for.

On Saturday morning I sipped my latte, holding it carefully in both hands as a child would do. I am shaky and weak, and my spatial awareness is awry. I find it challenging to get food or drink neatly to my mouth. I hope no-one I know saw me as I put my breakfast toast in my nostril and fed coffee to my chin.

At meal’s end I insisted on paying, shuffling into the cafe to hand over my money. My balance is poorer than I remember and I lurched forward like a drunk. This was not one of my better plans. Cafe Friends who we met through our mutual dogs, looked up in alarm as they watched me surf on wobbly legs to the counter. They do not know I am ill. I am aware that I am walking like a Thunderbird puppet right now – all jerky clumsiness and startle reflexes. It’s not just my friends who were staring that day.

They whispered to themselves, shocked, and although I would have liked to go over and have a quick chat, assure them I’m okay, that this is just a bad patch on the way to being well, I knew it was too much to explain and anyway, there were so many steps between me and them.

Home again, to pyjama land. But not to sleep. Not yet. Someone had shoved a pitchfork in my skull and they were twisting it for all they’re worth. The pain? Exquisite.

I slept away the rest of Saturday and much of Sunday.

So how is my Monday? If I were a pirate I would make pain walk the plank and feed it into the grasping maw of a giant shark.

Meditation is the only thing that gives my waking hours real relief. Sleep is better. Sleep is pain-free, and my dreams entertain me better than any book or movie. I like to think that while I am sleeping I am also healing. That glorious battles are being fought in my name and that good work is being done. That these wretched bacteria inside me are dying in droves and my cells are bringing out the dead as the meat wagons travel through my veins.

Image from MOCpages

Image from MOCpages

I wish I could feel normal. I would like to be baking something. I would like to be walking my farm or going for a swim, or working on a book. But sleep is clawing at me, and I can feel myself turning to sand beneath those insistent fingers. Am I even awake? Was Saturday’s breakfast real or just a dream?

Please, when I finally wake properly from this, let me have morphed back into myself. Meanwhile, I’ll keep taking my sweet poison. I’m planning to kill all these bacteria before they kill me. It’s the best plan I’ve got, and anyway, I’m winning.

It really is true. That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

So my question to you is this: What medicine do you need right now? Even if it doesn’t taste good, if it’s what you need, chug-a-lug babe! This is our year of making things better.

Bottle of Poison by Julie-Chantal

Bottle of Poison by Julie-Chantal

The ‘No Blog’ Blog…

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“Sometimes even the mind’s greatest resolve is not enough to conquer the body’s own particular requirements. ~ Nicole Cody

Sorry, Lovelies. No blog today. Can’t get out of bed, nor lift my head and everything hurts. Agonisingly so.

Thank goodness for my iPad.

Still, I am steadfast in walking this path and in my mind the path is not something ugly. It is a path that leads to a beautiful place, and although I am weary to the bone and low in spirit I am on the path and I trust it will lead me somewhere better than here.

Let’s meet back here tomorrow and perhaps I will have turned a corner.

Much love to you xoxo

Two powerful insights on Change and Healing

creek

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” 
― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

 

These last few months have been hard. Hard, because I’ve been so ill and it’s not relenting yet. Hard, because I have this struggle going on inside me. It’s one that’s been going on for years. Maybe it’s also your struggle.

It’s a need to be productive. A need to work. To earn my keep. To make my days pay. A need to be doing something!!!

Perhaps it’s genetic. Perhaps it’s programming. Perhaps personality.

But whatever the origin, it has been causing me some grief. Lately my days have shrunk so small. From hour to hour I don’t know if I will have any energy to lift my head, or if my head will even function when I do.

Part of me feels immensely guilty for being so still. So useless.

I know, I know. It’s not useless. It’s ‘taking time out to heal’. If you were me, I would give you that lecture.

And yet…

Here I’ve been. Sick, guilty and frustrated.

My husband took me to the beach a few days ago, and waited patiently as I hobbled slow as an old woman down to the sand.

I stood with my feet in the waves a while, and then sat down near the water’s edge.

Image by Coastal Dweller

Image by Coastal Dweller

Inch by inch the gentle waves erased the footsteps of all those who had passed.

There were no dramatic moments – over the course of a few hours the tide simply crept up the slope of the beach.

I found myself having a cry, surrounded by beauty, and filled with futility.

“You’re getting there, Nic. Patience… faith…” my wise husband whispered in my ear as he put his arm around my shoulders.

I kept watching the ocean, swollen from the pull of the full moon above. The ocean that meets the shore every day. The beach that is swept clean by her actions every day. Moon pulling on water. Water pulling on shore.

That was a powerful realisation for me.

The steady application of a gentle energy, over and over, gets things done.

If you want to improve your fitness, one day of exercise won’t make any obvious difference. But if you make it part of your daily routine that energy becomes a force for change in your life.

Fitness, wellness, education, writing a book, growing a baby, starting a business, developing a skill – from day to day we may see little evidence of change, but cumulatively those results will stack up. All we need to do is hang in there and keep doing that thing.

I’m so impatient to be well. I’m so impatient to be working and writing and living larger in the world. And my frustration at not being there yet is immense.

What I’m doing to heal myself is like the actions of those waves edging up the shore. I can’t see immediate and dramatic change. Not necessarily in a measurable way from day to day. But month to month, season to season, year to year I shall see those changes. I need to cultivate some patience.

My second insight came when a dear friend of mine, a doctor, came and shared tea with me on my veranda.

I confessed my distress at not being able to work, to write, to think. To even create a simple blog is a stretch for me right now.

“Nic,” she said reaching out and taking my hands. “Getting well IS work. It’s important work. It’s a full-time job.”

Bless her, she made me cry! What a big realisation for me.

After she left I lay on my bed and thought about what she said. Healing is a full-time job. She’s right. It is for me right now.

My day is a regime. Wake up. Meditate. Drug number one. Wait thirty minutes. Oil pulling for twenty minutes. Blog. Followed by breathing exercises. Drug number two with food. Drug number three after food. Food must be of a healing nature, with suitable nutrients and anti-bacterial, immune-boosting qualities. Food must also be medicine. Deal with any side effects of drugs. Drink suitable number of glasses of water. Rest. Dry skin brushing and shower. Mid-morning supplements. Kefir, which must be taken away from antibiotics. Prepare chinese herbs. Drink herbs. Stretch and move body. Sunbathing. Lunch (of healing foods, proven to kill bacteria or do funky good things to rebuild my body) and more tablets. Afternoon nap. Gentle exercise if I’m up for it. Late afternoon herbs and supplements. Detox regime, including castor oil packs and epsom salts baths. Drug one thirty minutes before dinner. Dinner (yeah, you know the drill…). Drug number two after food. Wait one hour. Evening herbs and supplements. Meditation. Bed.

Sometimes the thing we want (for me – writing books, travelling, spiritual and psychic work) has to wait while the thing we need gets done.

It’s about patience. Priorities. Of putting our attention to what matters most. And doing those small actions over and over until we get that result.

I know things will get better. I will get better. And from the beginning I was aware that parts of this journey would be hard. I can deal with that. I certainly won’t quit.

So what do you need to do in 2014? What’s the priority for you? What’s the game changer?

Let’s get there together!

Thinking of you and sending much love. I might not have the energy to respond to all of your comments on my blog right now, but I read every one. This is a beautiful community. Thank you! xoxo

Together we can do anything! Image from The Soul's Journey

Together we can do anything! Image from The Soul’s Journey

Where did my day go?

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

 

I lost a whole day.

I lost yesterday.

One moment I was about to go to bed, ready to wake up in the morning and do, well… stuff, I guess.

The next thing I know an entire day had slipped past and I missed it.

It’s a little weird and disorienting to wake up and have no idea what time it is, what day it is, or what’s been going on. It’s ever weirder to learn that you’ve lost a day in the way that other people might casually misplace their sunglasses or house keys.

Where was I, while yesterday was passing by?

I know one thing. There were dragons. Friendly, with a preference for iced cakes and watermelon. That’s really all I remember…

Image from Orange Marmalade

Image from Orange Marmalade

Nurse Bert Reports

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“Nursing is a kind of mania; a fever in the blood; an incurable disease which, once contracted, cannot be got out of the system. If it was not like that, there would be no hospital nurses,  for compared dispassionately with other professions, the hours are long, the work hard, and the pay inadequate to the amount of concentrated energy required.
A nurse, however, does not view her profession dispassionately. It is too much a part of her.” 
~ Monica Dickens

 

Dear Peoples,

Today I am reporting on the progress of my patient. Nicole slept very well last night for the first time in three weeks.

She woke up feeling a bit better.

Thank you for sending all the good energies. It really helped.

It is a nice cool day after all that hot weather, and the sky is pretty outside right now. We can hear birds and morning noises. I can smell toast.

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I will ensure that Nicole stays in bed. I shall bite her if she tries to get up. Rest is best.

She starts nasty new drugs today. It might be a bit blerk around here. But we are ready for anything.

That is all for now.

Nurse Bert

PS – Here’s my ‘don’t you disobey me’ face that Nicole woke up to this morning. I have an expression for every situation!

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Small and Nasty = Bartonella

Musings

The little poets sing of little things:
Hope, cheer, and faith, 
small queens and puppet kings;
Lovers who kissed and then were made as one,
And modest flowers waving in the sun.

The mighty poets write in blood and tears
And agony that, flame-like, bites and sears.
They reach their mad blind hands into the night,
To plumb abysses dead to human sight;
To drag from gulfs where lunacy lies curled,
Mad, monstrous nightmare shapes to blast the world.

~ Robert E. Howard

 

I spent some time with my Lyme Doctor yesterday. I’ve not been travelling well on my current meds. In fact, since mid December I have been spiralling further and further into an abyss.

You might not know to look at me. I look better. For morale purposes I make an effort to wear a little lipstick, keep my hair soft and clean, and I choose lovely perfumes that smell of flowers and grass. I’ve had some sun on my skin, and my sister took me shopping for some pretty clothes.

Most days I don’t look too bad.

Until you get inside my skin.

After my retreat, when I went back on my meds, things went downhill.

I suffered a seizure during herxing just before Christmas. A seizure that threw me out of bed and left me tangled face down on the floor, unable to move until my husband found me half an hour later.

I cut the meds right back but still my symptoms piled up, which is distressing after having felt so much better just a month before.

My fatigue has become so bad that I usually get one or two good hours in the morning. Some days it’s all I can do to move from bed to chair. I keep waiting for it to get better, but so far it hasn’t. Bed is my happy place.

The soles of my feet are on fire, and they feel as if someone has beaten them with a truncheon. The tendons in my calves and ankles are so stiff that I can only hobble until I have warmed up sufficiently to gain some kind of normal movement. This has nothing to do with ambient temperature – here in Australia we’re in the middle of a heatwave. Of course I have chills some of the time, so I’m coping with the heat better than you’d expect…

Nerve pain keeps me awake at night, and has swollen my forearms.

Strange red scratch marks have blemished my skin.

My major joints have the sort of anguishing pain normally reserved for divers with the bends.

Arthritis has returned and the strength in my hands has gone. When we went for breakfast last week, my dear friend Carly had to cut up my food so I could eat it.

My vision has deteriorated. I have constant fevers and night sweats. Brain fog. My glands are swollen, I can’t sleep, and weird things are happening to my ears – which are hot, cold, burning, and giving me a range of hearing issues as well as pain and pressure.

My chest pain has returned, as well as shortness of breath.

I’m anxious, agitated, exhausted and despairing. The pain is only just bearable. It’s taking all of my skills as a meditator and optimist to keep myself afloat right now.

In short, I’m not having fun.

But my doctor is thrilled. From my new list of symptoms he is positive he can diagnose a big flare up of Bartonella in my mix of tick-borne diseases.

So I have a raft of new drugs to go with the ones that are already making me feel so awful. We’re going to hit this hard. And I’m totally okay with that. I’m ready for my big break-through!!!

On New Year’s Day I wrote about the energies of 2014, and the different types of year we might be facing. It’s dawned on me that I am facing the first kind of year:

1. Re-Cycling. We have not learned what we needed – travelling through life asleep, unaware or ignorant. Or perhaps we just weren’t ready to make that change. This year we can learn very fast – choosing to face the lessons head on, or cycle back to the very beginning of our pattern or our story and start the whole learning cycle over with the new cycle then lasting many years. It can be a pattern-breaking year, and a major turning point or a bend in an endless loop. The choice is yours.

That’s the thing about these Lyme-like diseases. You have one good chance to sort it all out and make a clean recovery.

This is my chance. I can’t be faffing about looking after everyone else at the expense of myself. I can’t keep putting on that brave face and struggling forward when all I want to do is collapse in a heap. 2014 is my year for looking these pathogenic monsters square in the eye, not backing down, and then hitting them with all I’ve got.

I’ve given the best years of my life to this illness. I can’t keep doing that. I want my life back. I need to live without rationing spoons, without planning and living within massive limits, and without playing nice when I feel like screaming.

So I will keep fighting this thing with everything at my disposal. Drugs, herbs, science, food as medicine, meditation, rest, nature, alternative therapies, prayer and good-old-fashioned stubbornness. There is no way I am giving in to this. Recovery is my biggest priority right now. It has to be. I don’t have the strength to keep doing this dance endlessly.

Meanwhile I keep reminding myself something I know to be true: My life is already blessed. It’s worth fighting for. Imagine how it will look when I am well!

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5 Steps to Create More Serenity in Your Life

Image from FamQuotes

Image from FamQuotes

“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

 

No matter how busy your life is, it is possible to find peace in your heart. It is possible to find a place inside yourself that is still, serene and tranquil.

When we connect into that quiet place our ability to cope with life’s pressures improves. We worry less, and begin to think more clearly. We bounce back, we develop resilience, and suddenly we are less troubled by things that once drove us to despair.

Here are five simple things you can do to encourage serenity in your own life:

1. Stand barefoot on the ground. Give yourself five minutes of the soles of your feet connecting to natural earth in all her permutations: sand, stones, dirt, grass, leaves, rock. Standing barefoot connects your feet chakras back into the Earth, discharges energy and grounds you.

Image from sodahead

Image from sodahead

2. Let the sun shine on your face and be energised by the sun’s rays. Sunshine gives us Vitamin D and bio-photonic energy. Sunbathing boosts our mood and helps us draw that ‘sunshiney’ energy deep inside ourselves.

Image from quoteko

Image from quoteko

3. Breathe deep into your belly, letting each breath relax and calm you. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Putting your hands on your body gets you out of your head and reconnects you to yourself. Breathe in slowly through the nose, letting your chest remain still while your belly expands. Let your breath slowly and guide you back to that place of peace that is found within all of us.

4. Go for a walk. Get your body moving. Breathe. Humans were designed for movement, and it is unnatural to sit still for long periods of time. Walking re-oxygenates your body, and helps get you back into a better head space. Many people find that their best ideas also come while they are walking. Go on your own, take a friend or your dog!

5. Sit quietly, even if only for five minutes. Don’t read, or text, or surf the net. Just be. BE alone with your thoughts. Be alone with nature. BE alone with wherever you are, and let that be okay.

Image from Anxiety Slayer

Image from Anxiety Slayer

Wishing you peace in your heart today, and always,

Nicole xx

2013 – My Blog in Review

Image from Techmest

Image from Techmest

 “And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.” ~ Simon Dumenco

 

It’s hard to believe that two years ago I started my blog with a humble post about a recipe for ice-cream plum pudding! Since then there have been 710 posts, 916 852 hits, and 6872 followers.

Something inside me has compelled me to keep blogging, to get up at an insane hour each morning to meditate and then write so that when you wake up there will be a fresh post for you.

I’ve taken my iPhone everywhere so I could snap pictures – of my farm, my food, my life.

I’ve written from my heart, and I’ve blogged almost every day. No matter where I’ve been. The only times I have not blogged have been if I have been simply too ill, and most times I’ve still found a way. I guess you could say my blog’s important to me. And more than that, YOU are important to me.

So today I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being part of my beautiful community. Thank you for being my friend.

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I’ve been struggling on this latest round of lyme meds. These drugs that were supposed to be a reprieve for the holidays have given me some of the worst herxing I’ve yet experienced, crippling me with overwhelming exhaustion, brain fog and massive unrelenting pain. It’s been hard to show up this past month or so. I’m behind on replying to your comments, although I read them all.

But I know it shall get better this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my life with you; a little metaphysical magic, some tasty recipes, a sprinkle of farm life and friendship, a dash of practical philosophy. My heart – on my sleeve as usual.

I love you. I’m so glad you’re here. And I’m so very grateful for your support.

I’m looking forward to a 2014 filled with writing, friendship, more great easy recipes and a whole lot of nurture and healing – for you and me both!

Much, much love to you,

Nicole ♥ xx

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 570,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 24 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What’s your Power Word for 2014?

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” 
~ Socrates

 

I long ago gave away the practice of multiple New Years Resolutions. Just the thought of it overwhelms me. You know; all the things you are going to do, all the things you are no longer going to do – and then dividing those up into areas  for finances, family, health, spirituality, matters of the heart, interests and hobbies, professional and personal development, global domination and so on.

Living with Lyme I have so little energy to waste on superfluous things. And lists like that exhaust me.

Last year I ditched the concept of resolutions altogether and went with a far simpler system. I narrowed my resolutions down to one word. A Power Word.

In 2013, my power word was HEALTH.

For 2014 my power word is PROSPER.

Every time I think of my word I am reminded of my intentions for 2014. I can hold up the word PROSPER and use it to evaluate my actions and decisions so that I may determine if I am moving towards or away from the energy of this word, this quality I want more of in my life.

Prosper to me is not actually anything to do with money, although money is a part of prosperity. To prosper is to add to, to succeed, to do well, to thrive.

With every action, choice or decision I make in 2014 I can now ask myself if it will prosper or diminish me.

Image from Richard Kong

Image from Richard Kong - And yes, I know it’s very Star Trek, which is one of the reasons it delights me! :)

It’s so easy to be guided by my power word. I simply think of my word and then apply it to any situation:

Will this meal prosper me (support my health and my healing efforts) or diminish (sabotage, weaken or lessen) me?

Will a nap prosper me or reduce me?

Will exercise today prosper me or weaken me?

Which of these work activities shall prosper me most, today and in times to come?

I’m thrilled with my power word. I know it’s going to help keep me focused and on track this year.

Now let’s work out what your word is.

JOURNAL ACTIVITY:

Image from Erin Feldman

Image from Erin Feldman

Finding your Power Word for 2014 is simply a matter of exploring what’s important to you. Is there a recurrent theme in your life you’d like to put more attention to, an area you’d like to shine in, or a dream that never gets air time?

Use the following Questions to help you arrive at your own Power Word or Power Phrase ( a Power Phrase has more than one word!)

  1. What’s the one key area of your life, that if you put purpose, passion and action to, would move you to a better place by the year’s end? Only choose one area. If you actually make all the change and improvement you need before the year is finished you can give yourself a well-deserved break, or choose another word!
  2. If you had this change in your life, what would your life look like?
  3. Write a list of positive words and phrases that embody for you the quality, activities, knowledge and actions of this key area.
  4. Choose one simple word or phrase that sums up this energy for you.

list-of-positive-words

Once you have your Power Word, commit it to memory. Write it in your diary. Place it on post-it-notes around your house, make it your screen saver – in short immerse yourself in this word, and the meaning of this word for you.

Let this one word remind you about what’s important to you this year.  Let this one word help you define and transform your life!