Where’s Your Focus?

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Image from reddit.com because, well, pirates! And you know how I love pirates. 🙂

“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn’t suck.”
~ Joss Whedon

On Friday I posted about a beautiful ordinary day, and how much I had enjoyed such simple things as a trip to the farmers’ markets, clean sheets on the line, sunshine and crisp ripe apples.

After that post I received two emails, extracts of which are below:

That might be fine for you, Nicole, but not all of us live in Byron Bay. Not all of us have a beautiful life.

and

You obviously aren’t that sick, although you say you have lyme. No person with a chronic illness could enjoy the kind of life you have.

I guess that I need to be honest then, and admit that not all of my day was what you might consider beautiful. In fact it was downright ordinary. But I omitted those details from my Friday post.

I can list those things here:

  • As a result of my current course of drugs I have neurological urinary incontinence. I wore an adult diaper to the markets.
  • As a result of the drugs, the bacteria dying, and my poor liver not coping with increasing levels of toxicity I was covered head to toe in a fierce rash and weeping eczema. Agonising, and ugly too.
  • I was plagued by a sense of impending doom – the kind of feeling a psychic gets when they know something is about to happen, over which they have no control, but by which they will be impacted.

Here’s a photo of me a week ago, just before my last round of IV drugs. It was the best I’d felt in months and I was teaching myself how to take a selfie so I would have a picture of me for my new website. It was fun. I put on lipstick, and wore a jacket that made me look dressed for going out. I like this photo. I have clean hair, I’m standing in my garden on a bright autumn day, and it’s a headshot, so you can’t see my pyjama bottoms or my big-girl pull-up incontinence pants. About four photos later I worked out how to look into the camera instead of at my hand…

Nicole Cody

And here’s a couple of me taken last Thursday in Brisbane. Just before beautiful ordinary magical Friday. Here’s the rash that began to creep up my limbs and made me want to claw my own flesh off my bones.

lyme rash hand

Here’s my face, which was covered in blotches. I won’t share the photos of the weeping, bleeding rash behind my knees, under my arm and right across my chest and left breast. My face went that way too, by Friday morning.

Why am I sharing this? I have lived with chronic illness and daily misery for thirty years. That thirty years has taught me a lot. Once upon a time I would have been the person who sent plaintive, judgemental or whiney messages to others, whom I felt had no idea how much I was suffering and no right to say that life was good, when it plainly wasn’t.

But that kind of thinking ruins any chance you have of having a rich and satisfying life.

So I adjusted my focus.

No matter how crappy my day gets, I look for beauty. I look for the small pleasures, the tiny details of comfort and joy, the things that will make my day memorable, or at least tolerable.

It’s become one of my superpowers. And it could easily become one of yours.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react, we can control our thoughts, and we can control our focus.

On Friday I didn’t focus on my distress and discomfort. In fact, I worked hard to not focus on them and to look for the beauty around me.

As I ate my dinner in front of the fire early on Friday evening I reflected that it had indeed been a very beautiful ordinary day. That’s my secret. I know that every day can be a beautiful day, or at least have elements of beauty hidden within it, just waiting for an observant eye and an open heart.

So, I have to ask you…

Where’s your focus?

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52 thoughts on “Where’s Your Focus?

  1. Well said Nicole, I can see exactly what you do! Seeing beauty through pain keeps is what gives us hope, what is world without beauty in what we do and see xxxx

  2. Well said Nicole and I cannot believe anyone could send such emails – not if they have read your blog for any length of time. Since reading your blog and posts I face each day with positivity and if anyone asks how I am – I am fantastic because in my mind positivity breeds positivity and no one needs to hear about the little foibles that may just be going wrong in my life. So keep sharing your good days and your bad days because even though we may not all live in Byron Bay and we may not be suffering like you are – you make us feel like our lives are worthwhile. Much love to you and your family. <3

    • Thanks, Chris. I actually understand the emails I got over my Friday post. My traffic here is increasing daily, so many people are finding me and don’t know my own journey. Some come here thinking I have lyme, and then find that I am writing about happiness and sunshine. These messages are from people who are suffering, who are in that place of struggle and hardship and where they aren’t coping and can’t see a way out of that terrible existence. I know that place so well. I’ve walked its halls and rattled on its locked doors and found myself a prisoner there for too many years, just as they are there now.

      So I have nothing but compassion for them. I understand what they are trying to say. I hear how much they need someone to know how hard life is for them, how intolerable and unfair and awful.

      I wish my superpower was to heal them. But I don’t have that kind of gift. All I can share is my own strategy for coping. All I can do is write and hope that by sharing my story, others will find ways to cope, or find ways to reach out to those who are not coping. For me, gratitude and focus are the keys that unlock my prison doors.

      And we all have our own trials and struggles. Each of us, in our own way, is suffering.

      Much love to you too, Nicole xx

  3. It’s so hard sometimes to see the beauty in each day, especially when you’re fighting a chronic illness. But that’s the way to cultivate peace in your life, by focusing on the good. I’m sorry those negative Nancy’s haven’t learned that yet Nicole. I hope they do! I sorry they tried to rain on your parade. You’re an extraordinary person. God bless xxx

  4. Dear Nicole, I admire your strength and the depth of the love that you have for others who cannot see past their own pain, and want to cut you (& others) down – I find inspiration and motivation in your truth and you sharing your life – it helps me a lot……. much love Paul

  5. Thank you once more for such an honest post that contributes to my life everyday..I saw you on Friday and know that you weren’t running ‘on full power’…but as you left me that day even with your own pain and suffering you offered me ‘help & kindness’ in the midst of my own suffering…and in that you allowed me to see the gifts of what I did have…right there at that moment! Big love filled hugs honeybun…XOXO

  6. Hi Nic

    Please do not take any form of negative comments to heart.

    Reading your blogs have been and are so inspirational to me. Here you are with your illness writing these blogs that have been nothing but enriching and also teaching us (me) that even though there is so much crap happening around us, to always stop and smell the roses, to just appreciate the things that we have and our surroundings like your are doing.

    I can’t thank you enough for that reminder. I read your blogs religiously and have always wanted to thank you for them.

    Lots of love
    Charlene 💕

  7. Dear Nicole thanks again for your profound honesty. I feel I am currently in a place of negative emotion detox and attempting to be in the place of sitting with all those emotions when they arise and so often they are such little things but the inner reaction is big. It feels like each time in the past when I have said yes when I really wanted to say no are coming up to be felt. After my initial self beat up on that, I am being kinder to myself and simply being with the physical sensation without too much of a psychodrama. Witch Camp is really helping too. Much much love Nikki XX

  8. In terms of Western science and good common sense, Nicole is intuitively doing what she must to change her mind in order to change her brain. For some it may not be so much an issue of survival. For those with chronic illness, however, sinking or swimming may have to do with a change of perspective. Leading edge, neuroscientist, Rick Hanson, teaches that our brains are set up to be Teflon for the positive and Velcro for the negative. Ten positive thoughts can rewire one negative thought.

    With every post of Nicole’s I learn a little better how to create positivity bias. I breathe in the fragrant morning air, and I begin to sense it as a little miracle in my body. When I look at a sunset and see colors I swear I’ve never seen before, I realize my vision is changing from the inside out. Compassion, strength and clarity of vision are what increase when I venture into Nicole’s world.

    And with any luck, I’m learning to be a ripple for good, as well. . .first for me, and then for others.

    See:

    Teflon and Velcro – Hardwiring Happiness
    http://media.rickhanson.net/TIG/ResourcesChildren/HardwiringHappinessVelcroTeflon.pdf

    Overcoming the Negativity Bias
    https://www.rickhanson.net/overcoming-negativity-bias/

    Neuroscience and the Path of Awakening
    http://media.rickhanson.net/home/files/BuddhasBrainArticle.pdf

      • I have so much heart feeling for those suffering from the effects of Lyme and other debilitating chronic illness. I bow to each of you who are examples of how to co-exist in Presence and illness. Perhaps we each learn how to do this in our own way. I place a flower in your hand in gratitude.

  9. Dear Nicole, I don’t know you personally but I love reading about your daily life and journey. You are an inspiration to many. I can’t believe that people can make such negative and hurtful remarks. Keep doing what you are doing and I hope only peace, love and better health for you.

  10. I love reading your blogs Nicole xx
    A beautiful friend of mine introduced me to your blogs a few months ago, and I have been reading them ever since.
    It’s actually become a morning ritual! 🙂
    I read your blog as I have my coffee.
    My friend introduced me to your blogs as I am not in a good place. And more than a little lost. She has been encouraging me to find and follow my path, and embrace my gifts..not fight them. Fighting them has caused some of my illness. Not being true to oneself.
    I find it unfathomable that those people felt the need to send and say those awful things.
    And it does make you wonder if they read and follow your posts at all..
    And shows too how they feel about themselves.
    Doesn’t lesson the sting of those words though, does it?

    I have recently been been diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic stress, and chronic fatigue. Its nice to at least know now what is going on. And reading up on these things explains a lot!
    With counseling, I am learning not to compare myself with others. I would read your stories and think “Wow, what do I have to be depressed about?” But I’m learning everyone is different. I cannot do that to myself.
    Your posts inspire xx They give hope. They are so well written. You have such raw honesty. Please don’t stop being you. Your journey, in all it’s elements, helps others. As much as it helps you.
    I loved your Friday post (and todays even more)
    Yesterday, I ditched the housework, and the negative thoughts, and had a wonderful day. The first in a looooong time.
    It was a simply gorgeous autumn day. My children spend sundays with the father. But we actually put all the hostilities aside, and spent a lovely day out at the river and in the bush. Sun was warm and shining. Felt so peaceful to watch the water gently flowing past, smell the eucalyptus trees, listen to the wild cockatoos screech, cook sausages, toast, and marshmallows over the outdoor fire.
    Sitting and watching the kids play in the water, on the old tree swing, in the cubby house they made in the willow trees, exploring the bush and logs
    We chatted. And walked. And watched. I haven’t felt so calm. So relaxed. So at peace.

    And I thank you xx Because your blogs inspired me to look for the good, not focus on the negative.
    The day was not without its dramas, but they were not as stressful or as painful. Charged with the positives, the negative was a little easier to cope with.

    Thank you for being you
    Thank you for sharing your journey
    Thank you for helping me to change my perspective and give me inspiration and hope

    Much love xx

    • “Yesterday, I ditched the housework, and the negative thoughts, and had a wonderful day. The first in a looooong time. It was a simply gorgeous autumn day. My children spend sundays with the father. But we actually put all the hostilities aside, and spent a lovely day out at the river and in the bush. Sun was warm and shining. Felt so peaceful to watch the water gently flowing past, smell the eucalyptus trees, listen to the wild cockatoos screech, cook sausages, toast, and marshmallows over the outdoor fire. Sitting and watching the kids play in the water, on the old tree swing, in the cubby house they made in the willow trees, exploring the bush and logs
      We chatted. And walked. And watched. I haven’t felt so calm. So relaxed. So at peace.”

      And that, dear one, is Magic. You did it.

  11. Good on you Nicole to show the before and after photos and good on you to notice and enjoy the beautiful ordinary things. If we did it all the time then when we die we could look back on a truly beautiful and happy life full of treasures.
    You are a treasure too bringing a smile to my face each day but I wonder what Nurse Bert does when Harry is taking coffee at the cafe?
    Warm regards? Elle from Pemberton WA

  12. Good advice Nicole and my best wishes for your journey with chronic illness. Savouring the small, actively seeking the good when life sucks is the only way forward. My husband recently had a fall in the north of Tasmania and was taken by ambulance to Hobart and the neuro-surgical team for treatment. I followed the next day not knowing what his diagnosis and prognosis would be but I still made time to pick up a good coffee en route and admire the recent snowfall on the hills during the drive. Even when things are bleak, there is always solace in nature and the everyday things. He is making a slow but progressive recovery for which I give thanks and gratitude. Bless you Nicole.

  13. Dear oh dear oh dear….may the negative ones find something positive in their day to brighten their hearts. Thank you again for sharing, caring and being who you are. Much love and many hugs xxx K

  14. Everything I would have said, has appeared already but I just want to say, I LOVE your Selfie!! It truly shows you as the kind hearted, gentle soul that you are who is always filled with truth, wisdom and valuable advice. Lots of love Nicole for your beautiful day today xx

  15. Nicole, please don’t let the ignorant opinions of the few outweigh the caring and support of the many. You give so much of yourself, your insight and wisdom, and your love of life are inspiring to many of us, although we have never met, yet feel you to be a friend.
    Continue to find the beauty and the joy in your life.

  16. I am seething …literally jumping up and down and screaming at the computer . What is wrong with these people . If they had read your blog for as long as I have they will know you go through hell most of your life .’Not everyone lives in Byron Bay’ …TOSH. If you have beauty within you , and you certainly do Nicole , you could see beauty in a puddle, if only you’d look for it .
    I loved your post on Friday . It brightens my day . Ignore the knockers …what do they know .
    Cherryx

  17. I hate that you’ve had to imply somewhat of a defense in two posts this week now-that pains me. I’ve been following this blog every day for maybe three years now, and could easily say that one of my favorite parts of your spirit is to truly find beauty in the mundane, or even the painful. I feel deeply sorry for those who emailed you this week, and do hope they can come to realize that they have this superpower too in the midst of what can be a really difficult life. I feel so blessed to know that it is possible to shift first your perspectives, but to have that shift actually impact your soul. I hope you come to feeling better this week, and I am praying and sending my love always to you.

  18. You handled that so graciously Nicole, when you could have easily said F-you to them! You balance sharing the good and the bad well…you also give others hope and help us to remember that in the worst of times we still have choices…choices to find some good in our day…choices to share that bit of good, or not, or rant when it is necessary.
    You are you and that is who we love and why we love you. Don’t change a thing xx

  19. Nicole, as ever you are an inspiration. Hopefully your compassionate response will help those who emailed you to see how life can be very different depending on how you view it and what you are looking for. good luck with the eczema, know all too well how difficult that can be (and your selfies were fab, clean hair or not!). X

  20. DO NOT let people like that get to you..you are sharing your life and spreading joy and insight.
    I was a radio breakfast announcer for 30 years, and constantly attacked and abused doing that, then i came to take over my unwell mothers farmers markets in brisbane, and just today i had to go on the abc and defend mums legacy cos 2 stalls out of 120 had bought in some cheap bleached chinese garlic (9 real farmers were selling australian garlic…. and i got slaughtered for that on twitter.
    Unfortunately if you make waves some barnacles are going to try and scratch the boat. I can tell your hurt..dont let others take your joy.. we all have our hard times and i feel sorry for those people who wrote that to you.
    keep doing what your doing and I love the magic posts !!
    LOVE and HEALTH to you,
    Sammy Power

  21. Life has many moments. In fact each day does. We’re all free to focus on whichever moments bring us love and joy, peace and happiness…..the moments that build up our strength and resolve or the ones that leave us sinking and desolate. Every time I read one of your posts Nicole, I find moments of joy, inspiration and motivation to keep to the simple, pure things of life. No need to ask you to stay with your Truth regardless of what comes your way…. you ARE your Truth. Thanks for that! xx

  22. You are such an inspiration to a lot of people. Keep strong and keep on doing what you do best.
    Much love and angel kisses. xxx

  23. Nameh Nicole. Your Way of Focus reminds me of the most memorable dialogue for me from the movie ‘Wild’. Cheryl Strayed sharing something her mother used to tell her “There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty”. I have found ‘putting myself in the way of beauty’ is way easier than feeling miserable, not that I always have the presence of mind or heart to do so.

    As an aside I want to offer a heartfelt thankyou to you for being the messenger and inspiration that you are. I find myself reflecting again on a most memorable piece of dialogue, this time something Oprah Winfrey shared in her book ‘What I Know For Sure’. She was sharing a letter she had received from a young 12 year old boy Mattie, who had a rare form of muscular dystrophy and who had become a friend after appearing on her show to share his poetry. In part Mattie wrote of his journey with his own illness ….”I am personally hoping that my message still needs me to be a messenger a while longer …”. When I read that it stopped me in my tracks. What an amazing young boy and OMG what an awesome aspiration to live by, to sincerely and actively be the messenger your message needs you to be. Which brings me to the other gratitude I wanted to share.

    Obviously like many others, I look forward to reading your blogs as part of my day. As I read through the many comments again today, I also want to say thankyou to all those Cauldrons and Cupcakes Kindreds who choose to share there comments. Many times the comments are equally as inspiring as your original message, even if it is only in acknowledging the beauty of connections, shared struggles, pearls of wisdom, hope for each new moment, knowing someone else cares. So thankyou to all the messengers who find themselves touched by what you share and willing to reach out and share the beauty of their own humanity. May you all be blessed.

  24. As you already noted Nicole, the more popular the blog gets, the more “drive-bys” you get. People who jump in after reading one or two posts who suddenly think they understand the entire complex issue that is you and your situation, and who then run their mouth off with verbal diarrhea using their keyboard. Do you need Luther, Obama’s Anger Translator? 😀

    Wishing you the best this week and hoping things are getting back on a medical upswing.

  25. Hi, Nicole. You are very understanding of the critical commentators. I applaud your bravery in being so honest, but you really shouldn’t have to. I do hope you’re feeling better soon – hang on in there. For me, sometimes my gratitude list can consist of – ‘I’m grateful that I’m not living in a warzone, that I don’t have to walk 10 miles to get water, that I have food on my table, that I have people who care about me’… but you know this. Thanks for your blog – you give so much to us all.

  26. Such doubters… It seems people find it extraordinary for someone to be upbeat in times of sadness, death, sickness…etc. …but, what else do we have to hold on to at times…and something we CAN control to some sense…Good for you on your post… some have to just SEE to believe!

  27. Once again you’re an inspiration, teaching us how to see the best in life when things seem dark. As a sufferer from a chronic illness i get so much hope from your blog. Please ignore the nay-sayers and keep on doing what you’re doing and I hope you feel better soon. Sending love and healing xxx

  28. Unfortunately it is hard work to look for the beauty in everything, but it makes life so much better when we do, especially when going through a tough time. If only we all learned how to focus on beauty instead of suffering. The world would be a different place. Your blog sure does help focussing on the small good things in life. Thanks for that Nicole!! 😘

  29. Don’t take any notice of them! Perhaps the best thing is to make your blogs more balanced. Show us the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. that what life is anyway, its never all good or all bad. I read your blog every morning and I don’t even bother with Facebook anymore because it’s always “all good” which can be depressing when you aren’t having a great time yourself. I don’t know what its like to have a chronic illness but you face yours with courage and dignity and not only that you have given me and many other people the hope and inspiration to make the most of ourselves and our abilities and get the best out of our lives no matter how trying and challenging the circumstances are. Bravo!

  30. Wow! I’d break out too if people were saying stupid things to me like that. You are so spot on with where you focus makes all the difference. Ask me how I am and I’ll tell you I’m fantastic. I got up this morning even if it takes awhile to roll over and out. It’s fantastic even if I need a cane to keep my balance, I can still walk. I’m fantastic even if my eye won’t open far enough to see well, I just make the print bigger and sew by feel. I’m fantastic even if I have to drink everything out of a straw. My taste buds still work and that’s why napkins were invented. Everyday has the potential to be a good day. I get to make the decision on how I see it. You did an absolutely wonderful job of telling them how that hog ate the cabbage. Too bad you had to do it. We all struggle with something, I’m glad what I have isn’t meanness. 🙂 I so wish they’d find a cure for that.

  31. Well, ffs. I am (nearly) wordless.
    So now you’re not allowed to focus on the good things that happen in your life (good things apparently only happen in Byron bay?)
    seriously :/
    *flings down iPad in a funk and storms away to write a good long, whiny post about how much everything sucks*
    (actually does not do that because it’s boring).
    Keep shining Nicole xo

  32. Thank you Nicole for this post, this reminder that : What We Focus On Expands. We do not have the power to control the world ( usually) but we do have the power of how we choose to respond to what the world gives us. When I need a boost of positivity, when I need a gentle reminder that we are more than simply clay and star dust, and that we are infinitely powerful beings of divine light…when I need to laugh a little more, when I need that perfect recipe…I always find myself returning here to your blog. Thank you for your compassion, your passion and the Love and Light you send out into the world. You are loved and appreciated more than you can truly know. Thank you for the reminder that we should be kind to all beings, for we are all fighting hard battles that often no one else knows about.

  33. It bought tears to my eyes to read what those people said. I find you amazing and you have helped me so much. I pity those narrow minded people, their days must be so long without beauty and compassion.
    love and sunshine to you xoxoxo

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