Rufous – Rescue Dog, At Your Service

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” 
~
Maya Angelou

Our beautiful young red cattle dog, Rufous, has found a new calling.

He’s certainly at home on our farm doing his chores and rounding up the cows. But he’s also discovered a wonderful hidden talent – he’s become a hit at the aged care facility where one of our family members lives. The home is for women with moderate to advanced dementia, and it has become his favourite destination.

Rufous is a gentle boy. He’s only just turned two, so you think he’d still have a puppy-brain (and if you watched him run around like a demented pixie with his dog brother Harry here at our farm you’d KNOW he is still just a pup) but when he is in the presence of these frail elderly women he suddenly becomes attentive, caring, responsible and wise.

He seems to know when someone needs extra love and attention. In his presence, the women smile and laugh. Some of them talk to him when they are silent for everyone else. He stands so still for them to pat him or hug him clumsily, and always seeks out the shy ones who stand back and would otherwise not get a turn to say hello.

This little rescue dog has paid the favour forwards.

I’m so grateful he came into our lives.

Lots of love to you from all of us, Nicole ❤ xx



Slipping Away

“It is best as one grows older to strip oneself of possessions, to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.” 
~ Sylvia Townsend Warner

One of our loved ones is elderly and in care. She has dementia and numerous health problems, but until recently she has always alternated between being determined to go home to her own home or being happy to be where she is, within the walls of a place that looks after her and helps her feel safe and connected to others.

Suddenly that’s shifted. Yesterday she told us she no longer wants to be here. She is tired of living, she said. So very tired. She’s had enough. She’s miserable and is it okay that she just wants to go?

She’s lost all interest in food. She’s struggling to keep up with conversations that were okay for her even a week ago. In every way we can see her withdrawing from life.

She’s easing away from us, and as much as it breaks my heart I am also relieved for her. There’s no more fight in her. No more strength. She’s down to her last meagre reserves. Of course it’s okay if she wants to go. It’s her life, and she’ll know when she’s ready. My prayer now is that she really does just slip away.

Sending you all so much love, and my wishes for peace in your life and peace in your heart,

Nicole ❤ xx

Telling Beautiful Lies


“There is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.” 
~ Edward Abbey

Ah, lovelies, I’m so tired just now.

We’ve been travelling endlessly back and forward between our farm and Brisbane the last two years as one of our elderly family members has become more and more incapacitated. Advancing dementia, mobility issues, deteriorating hearing and sight. We tried to keep her in her home as long as we could by sharing her care among family members, and then one day she went into hospital and the staff told us she couldn’t go home. We needed to find somewhere she could be looked after 24/7. When she went into care it was bittersweet – we cried that we had failed her but it was also such a relief to have that burden of her care lifted from us. It took weeks for her to settle in and then suddenly she was happy again and that new place became home.

Foolishly we thought life would go back to normal a little more. And then she fell.

Since then it has been an endless round of visits to her in the aged home or to be beside her bed on hospital stays where we try to visit daily to ensure that she is eating, and is comfortable and is not frightened or lonely.

Her mind is slipping. She asks us the same few questions over and over. The stories of her youth, once clear and well remembered, are merging into each other. She was a seamstress when she was young. Had loved dancing. Was courted by a young American soldier during the war, but married a local boy who played football with her brothers. We don’t correct her any more when she gets the details wrong. It just upsets her, and us. So we agree with what she says.

Even more than that we actively participate in the space she is in. In recent hospital visits she became distressed, aggressive, distrustful. All she wanted to do was go home. To the home. To her friends, she kept telling us. We could only calm her by telling her she would be released soon. Maybe tomorrow, we would say.

When she was delusional and told us she had been walking around (when she was actually lying in a hospital bed rigged up to countless machines and devices) we asked questions about where she went and what she did. Her mind created elaborate stories to explain what was happening and who these strangers were in her life. In the stories were tiny shreds of truth. We went along with it all if it seemed that it helped her to feel safe and at peace.

When the nurse came on his rounds, the same one who she said had been sent to torture her earlier in the day (she had thrown things at him, and at his fellow nurses, and threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave her alone), I introduced him as my friend – as someone new – and said he was the best and most caring nurse in the hospital. Suddenly she became polite and compliant and sweet with him. Every lie I spoke was worth it. For her and for us all. It broke my heart to see how trusting she was in what I told her. But it helped and she went to sleep calm again and comforted.

Last night she was back in hospital, less than a week after she was last discharged. For a new problem. She was in a lovely emotional space, calm and happy. The conversations we had were lucid and engaged. But she wanted to go home. Not to the nursing home, but her old home. It soothed her when we told her it was all ready for her, that it would be there when she was ready to be discharged. Even her doctor played along. Yes, she could go home soon. He was attentive and patient and repeated himself over and over with kindness and care.

Such beautiful lies. After the doctor left we talked about taking her shopping to buy a new dress or to help me choose one. We talked about Sunday roast lunches at her house and the whole family coming to visit. We talked about her independence when she gets out of the hospital. And none of it is true. And all of it made her smile and helped her settle down and go to sleep.

Such beautiful lies. And we will keep telling them until she goes to her final home, and all the loved ones who are waiting for her. It comforts her, and it comforts us, and that is all that matters.

Holding Hands Because It Matters


“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.” ~ Tia Walker

We have an elderly family member in hospital right now. It’s a place she has visited frequently these past few months after her the first major fall. She is old and frail and her health is failing. Things keep going wrong. And so she finds herself alone – a tiny body in a big bed in a big empty room, far from the friendships and care of her usual environment.

She has dementia. Everything is more confusing, more confronting in this space. Each time we visit she is surly to start with. Emotional. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes there are sharp words. We don’t take it personally. It’s just the time of day. Her mood is always worse at nightfall and in the evenings, but that’s just part of this awful disease.

We’ve learned to ignore those displays of hostility and to keep being loving and kind. We reassure her, and sit close by her, and we hold her hand. We repeat the same stories over and over, and answer the same questions over and over, and somewhere in that space she moves from distress or anger to laughter and a warm, open discussion of life and happy memories from the past.

I have learned that there is nothing like human touch to calm someone who seems otherwise unsoothable. I have learned to take lotion to rub into her hands and face, her arms and legs. To brush her hair. And always, always to hold her hand.

I have learned that she may not eat because the food is too hard to see, or she doesn’t know what it is or how to open it, or it’s too hard to cut up, or she can’t get the drinking straw or juice cup to her mouth. So an uneaten meal may not mean she’s not hungry but that she simply needs help to eat. I have learned to feed her like you’d feed a child. She opens her mouth like a little bird and I pop morsels of food in, and she smiles at me and makes me promise not to tell people I am feeding her when she could really do it herself. We pretend that is true and I keep feeding her until the food is gone or she is satisfied.

Every visit becomes a blessing. Something that soothes and restores something in me as much as it calms and reassures something in her. Once upon a time she was a woman who held herself apart. I am grateful that this illness has allowed me the chance to become close to her, and for us to find a way to say things that might not have ever otherwise been said.

Sending much love to you, especially all of the carers and those who are looking after elders, Nicole ❤ xx

When Love Keeps You Up All Night

“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

I’m late blogging today. We have an elderly family member in care whose health deteriorated last night, and it has taken precedence over everything else.

There have been endless phone calls back and forth in the middle of the night between family members as possibilities are explored, facts gathered and decisions discussed.

We haven’t had much sleep.

It’s all okay in the scheme of things. This is just part of loving someone, part of caring for elders, part of being a family.

So now I’ll make a pot of tea and some breakfast toast, and Ben and I will sit on the verandah with the dogs while the morning still holds a trace of cool. And we’ll wait to see what happens next. That’s all we can do.

Sending much love, Nicole xx

Navigating Christmas Without A Loved One


“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 
Anne Lamott

Christmas is not always an easy time. There are many of us for whom Christmas brings stark reminders of families broken, loved ones lost, and empty chairs at our tables.

If you are navigating Christmas this year while also grieving loss or going through great struggle I want to reach out to you. In the midst of the barrage of happy Christmas movies, fairytale endings and Hallmark Moments I want you to know that I am sorry for your pain, and the hardship this time of year can bring. Please also know you’re not alone. There are many of us whose hearts hurt at Christmas, even as we celebrate, because of loss. If your grief is raw and new it’s also okay to put things on hold, to do things differently, or to let the anniversary days like Christmas slide by unacknowledged until you are ready to face them again.

I’d like to share something I do at Christmas that may be useful for you too. I have found it helpful and healing to make a private little Christmas Altar each year. This way I remember the dead, the absent, the lost. An altar is simply a small dedicated spiritual space that is meaningful to you in some way.

On my altar I place fresh flowers, a candle and some favourite crystals. Things that bring me comfort, and a sense of sacred. Then I place photos or objects that represent a loved one who will not be at my table. That way I can still have them near me, and I can flow love to them and have them be part of my life over the festive season.

The beautiful big owl in the photo above was given to me one Christmas by my friend Angela. She passed away a few years ago. It will be central to my display.

I’ll place a tiny wooden boat for my brother, and a ceramic pelican for my dad. A sparkly stone for my sister and roses for my mum and all of the women in her family who have shaped and grown and loved me. My family all live far from me. But now they are here on my altar even if they cannot be here in person.

I’ll add a photo of Ben’s parents from when they were young, and pictures of my grandparents too. I have cupcake-shaped candles for my darling Kate, who passed away too soon in 2010 ( I went back to her facebook page last night and was lost in there for an hour reading her old posts and laughing at what a dag she was and crying cos sometimes I still miss her more than breathing), and Julie who passed away in 2014. My Grandparents, all now passed, are here in photographs too and I will place a glass of sherry, Christmas Cake and some gingernut biscuits out because these are all the things they would have loved to eat, and later I will eat some and think of them. On Christmas Day I will play The Twelve Days of Christmas by the Ray Conniff Singers, because my Pa used to play that for us every year, and shed a few happy-sad tears.

It’s not the same as having them at my table, but it’s the next best thing. People coming to my house will think that I have simply gathered flowers and candles and photographs and a few ornaments together, but for me it is something healing and emotionally significant that helps me to feel the reassuring weight of my loved ones around me.

Perhaps making your own Christmas Altar will help you this Christmas too.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

Panettone Heaven – Our Trip to The New Farm Deli


“If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?”
~ Martin Scorsese

Tradition has always been important to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo. Or perhaps I have Royal Blue in my Aura. Or maybe it was the way I was brought up. I’m not sure.

One of my favourite traditions when I moved from the bush to New Farm in Brisbane, back in the 1990s, was to visit the New Farm Deli. A family owned and run delicatessen it had first come onto my horizon because my Italian-food loving grandparents Marga and Ceddie would take me there as a child, to source the many wonderful ingredients my grandmother would cook with. Suddenly I lived just blocks away, and it had incredible coffee and food and shelves and cabinets full of marvels that just weren’t available anywhere else in Brisbane.

When I was growing up, Christmas was always a family thing. A coming together of grandparents and cousins and groaning tables full of food, and always a card table to some other small table where the excess kids were sat. It was also a full-on cooking saga of epic proportion.

As I grew up it was me who became the cook. Often I would spend almost my entire Christmas Day in the kitchen, prepping, cooking, serving and then cleaning up. I didn’t mind. It was my idea of heaven, to make and serve food to the people I loved. Most of antipasto came from the New Farm Deli. It has become a new tradition for me.

Now I am grown, old even, married with no kids, and with our families greatly diminished in numbers and scattered to the winds. That really ended my previous family Christmas traditions, and so we started a new one – Orphans Christmas – where we invite other lonely people to share a meal and some company. With supplies from the deli, of course!

My husband’s Mum comes from a proud Italian heritage, and because of her (and my own maternal grandmother’s love of all things Italian) I was introduced to Panettone, an Italian sweet bread loaf a little like a cake – fluffy and risen and studded with candied and dried fruits or amazing fillings of sweet custard or chocolate chips. The New Farm Deli was where we would buy them and over time I learned the many ways of serving or cooking with them – although my favourite still remains eating a slice fresh with a good coffee or a glass of sherry or prosecco.

You can start a new tradition at any time! Ours now is to have Panettone, a freshly squeezed orange juice or glass of champagne for breakfast, followed by good coffee and perhaps one more slice… We also save our very best Panettone for New Year’s Day, and eat it on the verandah with our friend Carly who stays with us at that time of year. We make coffee, eat Panettone and pull cards for the year ahead. Glorious! Panettone will also make the basis of our Christmas Lunch Dessert this year, but I’ll blog that recipe and a few others next week.

Vince Anello and his staff have added a fine selection of Panettone over the years. I defy you to find a better selection in Brisbane, or perhaps Australia. If you live in or close to Brisbane why not go visit, grab a coffee or a meal at the cafe and then wander the deli, choosing your Panettone and a basket full of other delights for yourself or as gifts. It’s a lovely tradition and a delicious one!
Hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xx

PS. If you want to start another new tradition for yourself why not grab one of my YOM Planners to help you live a more mindful, grateful and connected life in 2019, or get my Meditation Mala and bonus online course so you can start a tradition of regular meditation for yourself. It’s all here in my shop.

Bon Voyage!

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 
~ Maya Angelou

 

We’re off on an adventure this morning.

Ben and I are taking a short vacation.

While we’re away our dogs and farm are being looked after by a trusted friend, and our business is being looked after by my fantastic team. So our plan is to spend an entire week off-grid. No computers, no phones, no social media. Just us, some friends and the wide blue ocean. Oh, and 45 bands from the 1980s and a couple of thousand people. LOL. Just a quiet week at sea! (You can check out our holiday here at Rock The Boat 2018)

I’ll be back before you know it, and meantime I have a lovely oracle card challenge planned for you. And then it will be November and #GeShiDoMo (Get Sh*t Done Month) time.

Not long after it will be our Pop-Up shop, Christmas Party and Channelling night, weekend workshops and Planner launch.

After which we’ll cruise on to the end of 2018 with a full calendar of psychic readings and intuitive coaching sessions.

I’m waving goodbye as I head out the door for this much-needed break. See you very soon,

Lots of love, Nicole ❤ xoxo

There’s a Problem With Your Mother – My latest psychic experience

“The phrase ‘Love one another’ is so wise. By loving one another, we invest in each other and in ourselves. Perhaps someday, when we need someone to care for us, it may not come from the person we expect, but from the person we least expect. It may be our sons or daughter-in-laws, our neighbors, friends, cousins, stepchildren, or stepparents whose love for us has assigned them to the honorable, yet dangerous position of caregiver.” 
Peggi Speers

 

I woke up this morning at 2.10am. I know it was 2.10am because I looked at my watch, bleary-eyed and thinking it was way too early to be waking up yet.

As I rolled over in the dark, ready to go back to sleep, I thought of Steve. Steve’s a client of mine. I haven’t seen him for maybe five years. I saw his wife maybe two years before that. Why was I suddenly thinking of Steve?

In my mind’s eye I saw an elderly woman lying on a bathroom floor, frightened and frail and unable to stand. She must be Steve’s mum, I decided. Now what would I do?

I hauled myself out of bed and came into my office, where a staff member has recently returned a large box of my paperwork. There were two huge manilla folders filled with client profile sheets, none of them in order, and I knew Steve’s details would be in there somewhere. I flicked on a light and sat down to go through the hundreds of pages. It took me ten minutes but eventually I had his number. I called it, and it rang and rang before finally going to message bank. I left a message to call me back immediately.

But as soon as I put the phone down I knew I’d need to try again. So I called back. Me calling a man I’ve met twice, at 2.30am on a Saturday morning. Steve picked up on the second ring.

‘Oh, you’re that Nicole,’ he grunted. And then he swore at me.

I get it. It was the middle of the night, and I’d just woken him from a deep sleep.

‘Steve, I’m sorry, but this is an emergency. Your mum has had a fall, and she needs help. Can you go check on her?’

‘Mum’s dead,’ Steve said. And then he swore at me again and hung up.

For a moment I didn’t know what to do. The image of the old lady came to me again. She was crying and distressed. I rang Steve back.

As he swore at me I kept talking, describing the tiles on the bathroom floor, and the layout of the room.

He stopped swearing. ‘That’s Karen’s mum’, he said. ‘Sh*t! Why didn’t you say so?’

‘What do you call your mother-in-law?’ I asked.

‘Mum,’ he said, and then he went quiet for a moment. ‘Sorry, Nicole. Look, she lives the next suburb over. I’d better get round there.  I’ll call you back, okay?’ And then he hung up.

I couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and meditated, put a load of washing on, and waited.

At 5.30am Steve called back from the hospital. His elderly mother-in-law, Beverly, had slipped in her bathroom and fallen over, breaking her hip and her wrist. She’d been on the floor for almost two days. She was in surgery now and Steve was waiting to see her when she came out and was allocated a room.

Then Steve told me that he and Karen were undergoing a trial separation. Karen’s overseas on a holiday so no-one’s been checking on Bev. Steve hadn’t seen Bev since he and his wife split up late last year. And he’s only been talking to Karen and his adult kids via text message.

While he’d sat on the bathroom floor beside Bev, waiting for the ambulance, he’d promised her that he would talk to his wife. Karen still loved him, Bev had said. They all still loved him. So Steve rang Karen and they talked for an hour. He still loves her too. They want to find a way to work things out.

Steve rang off, promising to update me on Bev’s progress and wanting to book a session for himself and his wife, who is going to catch the first available flight home today.

I made myself a pot of tea. It’s going to be a long day and I haven’t had much sleep. But Bev is taken care of and Steve and Karen are talking again and there is hope where there was none. So, all in all, it’s been a good start to my weekend!

Look after each other, and yourself. Much love, Nicole ❤ xx

Guided Meditation and Activities to connect you to your Heart Wisdom

 “Don’t love to be loved in return. Love for the sake of loving.” 

~ Connor Chalfant

 

Our heart, and Heart Chakra, is both a receiver and a transmitter for love and wisdom. The more we open our heart by giving, the more we can connect into receiving. This positive flow of loving energy allows us to live from our hearts as intuitive, connected and compassionate human beings.

Activity:

Our hearts love to love. Here are some suggestions for expressing that energy in the world this week:

  • Play with your pets, or go feed ducks in the local park. Animals are wonderfully intuitive, loving and giving.

  • Make a connection that expands your own heart. Read to a child, or even to an adult.

  • Catch up with friends for a coffee, a meal or a movie.

  • Play tennis with a friend, or go to a yoga class together. Do anything athletic that involves someone else, some encouragement, some sharing and some laughing.

  • Visit or call an elderly relative or a family member who’ll be glad to see you!

  • Spend an hour giving random but sincere compliments to strangers. Tell the waitress you like her earrings or the supermarket attendant that you’re grateful for the skilful way he packs your bag so your bread doesn’t get squashed. Smile.

  • Leave a kind and supportive message on a pillow, tucked into a pocket, or posted on a blog.

  • Volunteer, and care for others in some way. Humans love to give, and to help, and to be united in the energy of that caring.

  • Plan a party or a special event to bring together people that you love, even if that event doesn’t take happen straight away.

  • Join a retreat, workshop or holiday tour and meet new friends. Be open to connecting with others.

Journalling:

Meet your heart on the page. Take a minute or two to calm yourself, by closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Focus on your heart, and build that energy within you. Visualise the colour green. (If you wish, work with the energy of the meditation below before you begin!) When you are ready start writing, starting with the words,

“The thing my wise heart really needs my conscious mind to know is…”

Meditation:

This six-minute meditation will help you tap into your heart’s own intuition and wise guidance, opening you up to deeper and deeper levels of spiritual connection.


Sending love from my heart to yours,

Nicole  xx