Fancy Gumboots – Perfect For Dancing!

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
~ William W. Purkey

 

Easter weekend is here again, and of course two things are a given:

  1. It’s Bluesfest here at Byron Bay
  2. It’s raining

And my old gumboots died somewhere around Christmas. But that’s okay. Yesterday Ben bought me some new ones.

I now have the world’s comfiest, warmest gumboots (or galoshes or wellingtons depending on where you are!).

They are soft but sturdy, and lined with fur. Completely waterproof, washable and light. And they even have little handles to pull them on and off.

Heaven!

These gumboots are perfect for tramping around the paddocks here at the farm, or for doing a little gumboot boogie if the mood takes me.

I’ll be wearing them tonight as I dance my heart out. Because unless I’m dead, I’ll still be dancing!

How about you? What do you have planned for the Easter weekend?

Hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xoxo

PS – Life is usually not perfect. Stuff rarely goes to plan. Celebrate anyway. Live anyway. Because you never know when the music might stop. Make the most of your weekend, lovelies, and do something that makes your heart glad, even if it’s a bit of a stretch for you. That’s my secret to happiness! (And yes, for some of you that might mean resting rather than crazy running around.) Love you xx

One of those days. One of those nights…

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
~ James Baldwin

 

I had high hopes for yesterday.

A few early morning pathology tests, and the rest of the day stretching empty and waiting to be filled.

But no.

Yesterday was pooping into jars. Bloods. And then meds. A big fistful of meds to kill what might be lurking in my gut.

After which my day went to hell.

And my night too.

A dose of this drug to treat  lyme would be a quarter tablet twice a week, and I took a fistful of tablets. Because I’m not treating lyme. I’m treating persistent gut bug that won’t go away. Too bad, lyme. You’re going down too!

My face is numb. My body’s arched in pain. I can’t see out of my good eye and my bad eye is all wonky and double visioned. Old herxing patterns.

Awesome.

So I’ve cried a bit and felt sorry for myself. But the vomiting is done. And there’s no more blood in my poo. And it all seems to be working. And I know the trajectory of this. I feel bad to get better. That’s something I know how to do.

I’m sure by tomorrow I’ll already be 100% more fabulous AND with less lyme.

Win-win.

In fact I can finally go home to the farm today. Hooray!

Sorry, lovelies. I’m a little more unreliable just now than I had expected.
Love you all heaps. A thousand apologies again.
Nicole ❤ xoxo

Travelling With Bukowski

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I always travel with a book. Sometimes several.

But this trip I decided to load e-books on my kindle, as well as a few audio books, and bring just a journal instead, to save space.

It worked for a while.

And then suddenly it didn’t.

 

In a bookshop in Manila I found the English Language section. They stocked a broad and eclectic range, and the books were mostly cheap paperbacks with impossibly thin pages and thin covers and several of every copy, impenetrable in their plastic wrapping.

I excavated a thin poetry book that was hidden behind new editions of recent best-sellers. The protective cover was gone; the small book was so well read that the cover was creased almost in two and every page was soiled and marked. Like all of the travellers before me I stopped and dipped between its pages for a moment. The world stood still as words fell around me like rain.

I dug around the shelves some more and then I found it. A volume of Charles Bukowski’s poetry. The cover was soft with wear. It was well read and loved already. It felt good in my hand, like I belonged to it, and it to me. I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I just held it tight, and stood in front of the shelves a little longer, pretending that I might choose something else. Wondering if I could take it home.

I couldn’t see for tears.

Once, long ago, I took a journey to another far-away place and forgot to take a book with me. I was living in the Kimberley then. The remote Australian outback. A terrible place to be without a book.

Not long after I arrived a group of American tourists camped at the station. It was their last adventure before they caught a plane to Darwin and then home. On the morning of their departure they dumped whatever they didn’t need, to lighten their luggage.

Later that morning I watched a cleaner empty the trash from the men’s toilet. Among the papers and bottles and debris I saw a book fly into the bin. Before I could stop myself I ran from the office and snatched it up. I didn’t even stop to read the cover. It was a book, and I was a junky starved of words.

I wiped it clean with a corner of my shirt and carried it home triumphant.

This same book.

For days back in that wilderness place I couldn’t even open it. I just read the cover over and over. The title said ‘You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense – Charles Bukowski.’

I felt like Bukowski was talking to me. I knew and he knew.

And as I chose and read a single poem, rationing them to every other day, I came to know that poets exist to sing breath back into our bodies when we can no longer breathe for ourselves.

I lost that precious book when we moved from the Kimberley. But now we have found each other again.

I read one randomly selected poem aloud each day, to entertain Ben and to nurture myself. It’s like travelling with an old friend.

It’s like coming home.

 

Mala Beads – How To Be Calm Anywhere!

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”
~ Pema Chödrön

 

 

Sometimes I find myself in stressful situations or noisy places where I want to calm myself, soothe anxiety or practice mindfulness, and where my normal meditation techniques aren’t effective or appropriate.

Take travel for example. Travel can mean crowded airports, uncertain schedules, crazy traffic, and jet lag to name a few common stressors. It’s not always possible to find a quiet corner, or to sit down, close my eyes and zone out.

When I travel I always wear a mala beads around my neck, or as a bracelet. It looks like fashion, but it is very functional fashion. I can discretely slip my mala off and then work the beads between my fingers.

This technique has worked miracles for me as I have sat stuck in an airport with a flight delay, or in an airplane during heavy turbulence, or in a hotel room where I can’t sleep.

As I roll each mala bead between my thumb and first finger I have a few simple options for my meditation. Here are my top four:

  1. For each bead I can consciously breathe in and then out, after which I move to the next bead and repeat. This is brilliant as a sleep aid. Sometimes I breathe in light and exhale grey – and I see the grey as fatigue, illness or worry leaving my body. Gradually the light fills me up and I come back to calm again. If you suffer from panic attacks this is great for you!
  2. For each bead I can pray for someone like this; ‘Imogen, I pray for you. I intend for you flow, health, grace, love and miracles. (or I might hold an intention for a specific healing outcome, which I name by saying ‘I intend for you ________’) Bless you.’ Then I hold their face in my mind’s eye as I breathe in and out, consciously sending love and energy to them.
  3. For each bead I can repeat a simple affirmation. One of my favourites, and the one that has been the most transformative for me over time is: ‘I love and approve of myself.’ If I am super anxious I affirm: ‘I am watched over and cradled in love. I am safe and all l is well.’
  4. For each bead I hold the face of a loved one, friend or client in my mind. Silently I say ‘I love you. I wish you well. Bless you.’ And then I move onto the next bead, choose a person and repeat the process.

I finish every round of my mala (from the marker bead or tassel, around the mala and back to the beginning) by saying ‘And it is so. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

Many of you may already have a mala that you wear as a decorative item. Some of them are so pretty! But I promise you, the real value is in using them as a focus tool for a pathway to calm in even the most stressful situations.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole ❤ xoxo

 

Here’s a little video of my silently praying my mala yesterday while I waited for my shuttle ride to take me to the airport:

 

Letting Myself Cry…

“The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the ocean.”
~ Isak Dinesen

 

It’s been building up for a while.

I do my best to manage it. I meditate twice daily. I ground myself. I sit in awareness and go gently when I need to.

But it’s never enough…

 

All the things I feel.

All the things I know.

All the things I see.

All the things I feel you hiding.

All the pain I feel inside you.

All the things of yours that I feel in me as I connect with you, hug you, work with you. Recent things, old things, things from childhood. Things sometimes from before even that.

All the injustices and terrible things that I see in the world or in some of my work where I must live with that knowledge, and the fact that I can’t change it.

All the times I can’t keep someone safe.

All the times my dreams become a continuation of the truth and suffering of others so that I might take some of that burden from you, or so that I can share that information with those who are empowered to act.

All the weight of all the things and all the feels and all that raw life.

 

Sometimes I find myself moving more and more slowly. Getting heavier and heavier in my body and my spirit. It comes upon me and I know that I can only hold it back for so long.

It always ends in tears.

But, after I have cried I feel better. Then I will take a walk, and then a swim in the ocean or a long shower.

Things go back to manageable again. The weight is lifted from me.

I have learned that it is okay to cry. In fact, sometimes it’s the only thing that truly helps.

How about you? What do you do to manage the weight of the world?

I am refreshed this morning, and sending so much love to you as I sit in meditation,

Nicole ❤ xoxo

 

 

Listening To My Body

2017-02-24-19-10-12

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”
~ William Wordsworth

 

Yesterday I stopped.

Although I am on holiday and had a million exciting events planned I decided to cancel all of them.

Instead I put myself to bed and slept. Rising in the late afternoon I took a short walk, ate a simple meal overlooking the world from the top floor open-air cafe of our hotel. I watched the river flowing. I watched the sun set. I watched the play of lights in the night sky, and then put myself back to bed again.

So much sleep, and I feel as if I could still sleep some more. So it’s likely I will.

 

Once I would have pushed through this exhaustion. I would have allowed stubbornness to keep me upright and engaged, no matter how fatigued I might be.

No more.

Part of my holiday plan is to listen to my body and give it what it needs. It needs sleep. So I will happily comply.

How about you? If you take a moment, close your eyes and tune in, how do you feel? How much charge is in your physical battery? Your emotional battery?

What do you most need right now?

Try to give yourself some of that today.

Thinking of you, and sending so much love,

Nicole ❤ xoxo

Only Someone Who Has Chronic Pain or Illness Knows…

“Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”
~ Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor

 

I’ve been unwell since my teens.

There have been so many diagnoses. (I won’t list them all here, although perhaps I should.)

I’ve pursued so many kinds of treatments. (Really. In over thirty years of continuous concerted effort I’ve done more kinds of diets, therapies, herbals, treatments, drugs and totally-out-there-hokey-but-I’m-doing-it-because-desperate regimes than I care to mention. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. And I’m still here. So some of it must have worked.)

There have been times where I have only been able to see myself through the prism of loss.

But that’s soul-destroying. It makes you die while you are still alive. And I want to live. So mostly I choose to view my life by framing it up around what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

I have read deeply and widely, in order to get an inside angle on my health. I have come to understand my body better. I have become a master at hiding or managing disability and at creating a life that works on my terms. Mostly.

Some days a pain comes. Or some other symptom. After which I spend hours backtracking and investigating. Was it because of something I ate? A chemical? Lack of sleep? A million other possibilities? Did I do this to myself or make things worse? I’ve lost days to this kind of hypervigilance. It never helps, although it can gift me a temporary illusion of control.

I have a long, long list every single day – of pains and problems and freakish symptoms which it long ago became too boring to mention, even to myself. Mostly it is background noise in my life. I live with pain. I live with the kind of things that would have other folk rushing off to the doctor. After a lifetime of discussing them with doctors and having no resolution these kinds of things become your new normal, and then, eventually, just part of your life.

Mostly, just like other people with chronic or terminal illnesses, I have continued to look quite unremarkable on the outside. Maybe just a bit tired sometimes, or a bit puffy or drawn or pale.

Image from www.wallls.ru

Image from www.wallls.ru

These days I’m actually doing much better. Especially after two solid years of horrendous antibiotic therapy for Lyme. After major surgery last year ( and then the superbug I acquired) and an avalanche of new drugs (and some old favourites) and then Chinese herbs, essential oils, modified diet (again!) and intravenous vitamin C.

I feel like I’ve turned a corner. I can function better, I have more energy than I’ve had in years. Life is opening out a little more for me. People comment on how well I look.

Although that better is comparative.

I still can’t drive. My vision is still impaired. I still need early nights and nana naps to get through the day. I have a horrible startle reflex. When I’m tired. I lose words. I sound like. A badly. Edited film. With pauses and breaks in. All the wrong places. Because. Brain not working properly.

I’m still immuno-compromised. (And please, will you quit rolling your eyes and commenting about how it always seems to be one thing after another with me? Yes, that’s true. Because I am immuno-compromised after so many decades of illness. The bugs that barely register with you or that inconvenience you for a few days still have the power to take me down, or even out. Don’t visit me when you’re sick. Wash your hands more. Practice good hygiene. Rant over.) Incontinence issues? Yep. Not quite nailed the superbug? Yep. Foods that send me spiralling into misery? Yep. Exhaustion? Yep. Pain that wakes me up and keeps me up? Yep. No libido? Yep. Tendon stiffness that sees me hobble when I get out of bed, or up off a chair after sitting for a while? Yep. Pay for increased activity levels with increased night-time pain and exhaustion the next day? Yep.

Yep.

Still, I have coping strategies, and meditation, and healing foods and emergency triage treatments. I have a wonderful local GP and acupuncturist. I have an incredible husband who is my full-time carer (although I hate to think of it like that, it’s the truth.) I have a beautiful group of friends and an online community who lift me up every day.

My life is good. It’s precious and wonderful and I am grateful for every breath.

Mostly.

I am one of millions just like me. People living with or despite conditions and illness. We’re doing our best. For some of us that’s actually pretty messy and awful at times. Most of which you won’t ever see. Some of us can’t get help. Some of us aren’t believed. Some of us don’t have the financial resources or the energy or education or support to even try to get past what ails us. Some of us will fail, decline, die despite help and treatment. Some of us have trajectories that are all downhill.

So, what can you do?

If you’re one of the millions, try to find some small thing each day to focus gratitude upon. Look at what you can do. That’s a big ask at times, but I’ve come to realise that what we focus on magnifies. I’d rather focus on the pleasure of savoring a cup of tea than on the fact I can’t see the bloody thing clearly anymore. When I focus on what still works and what’s still good, peace comes to me. You can heal or endure when you’re peaceful, more than you ever can when you are stressed or angry. (I know this from experience, but I won’t say ‘trust me’ – it’s better if you experience this yourself too, so that you can own it as truth in your body rather than just a concept in your mind.)

If you’re not one of the millions yet, know that it’s entirely possible that one day you might be.

If you’re not one of the millions, please stop pandering that New Age drivel to us about how this is all a beautiful learning experience, or that our souls chose this, or that we somehow created it, or perpetuated it. Or how we can turn this into a wonderful soul-growth opportunity. Or that God only gives us what we can handle. Don’t hang that judge-y guilt-trip on us. It’s not helpful and it’s not kind. Especially when we are having a bad day, which, incidentally, may be invisible to you. If you are one of the millions, stop hanging that guilt-trip on yourself.

Know that if a vegan, paleo, superfoods, raw diet, prayerful contemplation, soul-searching, vibration lifting, better exercise routine, detox or no-negative-thoughts regime actually worked for everyone there would be no more cancer or depression or chronic illness, or genetic abnormality or disorder already.

Don’t hang judgement on us when the network-marketing-product, special diet, cleanse-in-a-box, worked-for-your-neighbour or someone-you-read-about-online cure, doesn’t work so well with us. Or when we just don’t want to try one of those things. Again. For whatever reason.

Don’t tell us we’re heroes or warriors. We’re only dealing with the hand we’ve been dealt. Don’t tell us that you don’t know how you’d ever cope or that we’re incredible the way we are coping. Some days we don’t cope. Don’t perpetuate the myth of the incredible brave-warrior-ill-person. It’s just one more pressure we don’t need.

Please don’t treat us like we’re invisible. Please keep including us and inviting us. Even when we’re unreliable, or can only attend for a short while or not in the way you (or we) would prefer.

Unless you’re going to be mean or judge-y. In which case it’s actually better if we’re invisible.

Let’s not hide illness and disability anymore. Let’s bring it out into the open where it belongs, instead of shaming ourselves and each other around our perceived frailties and failings.

Every single one of us will know illness or injury or critical failure of something we had previously taken for granted at some stage in our lives.

Let’s treat this with kindness. Kindness isn’t a cure, but it’s a very helpful medicine.

Holding you in my prayers and meditations,

Nicole ❤ xoxo