For The Love Of A Small Dog…

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

This small red bundle of energy who we now know as Rufous Dog only came into our lives on Monday, but what a difference his presence has already made.

Harry hasn’t stopped smiling. He now has a playmate, a buddy, a brother. They play together for hours each morning and afternoon, wrestling and playing chasey.

My husband Ben’s happy too. Rufous is a lovely boy, he’s easy to train, and Harry (who in the way of cattle dogs bonding to one person is truly Ben’s dog) is also finally happy again after weeks of awful fretting and grieving for the loss of our precious Bert.

Rufous has even come on a Cafe outing and managed to behave reasonably well. Here they are at a cafe yesterday morning. Harry is staring at Ben. Rufous at me.

I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, truth be told. This small dog has made me his important person. This has never happened before. All of our dogs have been Ben’s dogs. All Daddy’s boys, although I know they loved me too. But Rufous has decided he is mine.

When we go somewhere as a family Rufous checks to see if I am coming. If I’m slow he comes back and waits for me. If I don’t go he doesn’t either. He parks himself at my feet and stares up at me with these big soft eyes. Everywhere I go, apart from morning and afternoon dog playtime, Rufous is right behind me.

He even sleeps between my office chair and the wall or under my desk while I am working, one paw always touching me if he can.

It’s a love explosion in our house right now. Which kind of makes up for the newly chewed shoes… 🙂

Meet Rufous – Brother to Harry Dog!

“ Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.” ~  Marc Brown

A little over a week ago I mentioned in a blog post that we had just begun to think about getting a new baby brother or sister for Harry Dog, who has been mourning the loss of Bert.

Only a few hours later my friend Monique posted some pictures to my Facebook page of a young red cattle dog pup who had just been rescued that very day and who was in need of a forever home. It wasn’t the kind of thing that Monique would normally do, but she felt compelled to share.

I took one look at that puppy’s face and knew we had to try to bring him home. I immediately contacted Janine who was fostering the pup and who had posted the pictures, and then Sharon who runs Australian Cattle Dog Rescue. Many messages and phone calls later and it all looked like this dog could be ours. Just as soon as he had been vet checked and desexed.

On Monday we finally brought him home. I’m still not well, currently treating the tummy bug we picked up from our last overseas trip and now dealing with a resurgence of the nasty antibiotic-resistant superbug urinary tract infection I’d hoped that I’d actually beaten. I was too unwell to travel, so our friend Carly went with Harry and Ben on a nearly five-hour drive (and then back again in the same day!) to meet this rescue pup and see if he could be a good fit for our family. Of course he was! So now we have Rufous at home with us, and he is just a delight.

He loves cuddles and being close to everyone, and he’s simply the best of mates with Harry. They run around like mad things and then collapse in a heap together and nap.

Rufous even went on his very first cafe outing yesterday morning and was very well-behaved and happy!

It’s wonderful to have a puppy at home, and even better is the smile on Harry’s face. He hasn’t stopped smiling since we found him a new brother. ❤

He Can’t Take His Eyes Off Me!

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”
~ Rudyard Kipling; The Jungle Book

 

Finally we are home.

Harry Dog was overjoyed to see us when we arrived back at the farm, and has not let us out of his sight ever since.

When I took a walk in the garden yesterday afternoon, to check on how things have fared since we’ve been gone, Harry followed me everywhere.

He kept staring at me with this look in his eyes.

Don’t leave me again, Mum.

He has gone backwards and forwards between Ben and I since the moment we first walked through the door, nudging us with his nose and licking us madly. When he sits beside us he sits right on top of us, pressing his body against any part of us he can reach.

This morning Harry was right on my feet as I meditated, but now he’s at the door, looking back at me.

Come on, Mum. Come on, Dad. Cafe time!

I’m sure you understand. I can’t write more. It’s been weeks since Harry had a walk on the beach and breakfast at his favourite cafe. We can’t keep him waiting.

Cafe Dog must have his outing! I’m still on a limited diet, but that’s not important. Family time and our old routines, that’s what matters today.

And soon, we think, it will be time to find a new puppy brother or sister for Harry. Even though he was well taken care of I don’t ever want Harry to be alone and without family again.

See you tomorrow!

Biggest love and hugs from Nicole and her happy dog, Harry! ❤ 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

Sneaking Back to Bed

“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired.
Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision.
Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.
Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.
Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see.
Frolic, even when you are made fun of. Kiss, even when others are watching. Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring.
Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.
And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.”
~ Alysha Speer

 

I’ve had a big few days, lovelies.

A big month actually, between having intensive IV therapy to combat my superbug, and doing a load of readings and coaching for clients, and of hand-holding souls at the end of their lives, and of supporting people I care about through hard times.

This morning I woke up after a restless night, did my healing meditation for the world and all my loved ones (that includes you!) and then thought I would write my blog and get onto my avalanche of unanswered emails and messages that keeps growing while I have been busy attending to more urgent matters.

But I changed my mind.

My husband is sleeping in a dark, cool room. Harry dog has snuck up beside him.

And I am still tired.

So I am going back to bed for some more sleep and cuddles with my loved ones.

Because that’s what self-care looks like.

I hope you are looking after yourself too!

Hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xx

Saving Dudley Dog!

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.” ~  John Grogan

 

Australia is in the grip of a ferocious heatwave right now. Late yesterday afternoon I lay down on my bed in our air-conditioned bedroom, thoroughly exhausted and grateful to be in the cool. I’ve worked a few big days, and been on call outside work hours too. So many people have been affected by the moon, and the energies of February. It’s been a time of high stress and peak transformation for many. Even my spare hours have been crowded with lending support to others. But that’s okay – it’s why I’m here.

As I was almost asleep I heard a loud but insistent voice. A squeaky, childlike voice.

“Wake up, wake up!” the voice said. “Dudley Dog is in trouble.”

It was my fairy friend, Sokli. She sounded quite agitated.

“Hurry up,” she said. “You have to call his mum. He’s too, too hot and there’s no water and no shade and he’s in big trouble. You have to help him NOW!”

Immediately I thought of a friend, and her dog Dudley. But she would never leave her old dog out in the backyard in a heatwave! I struggled to think who Sokli might be talking about.

“You know his mum,” she said. “The Jo Anne Lady. She just moved houses and she isn’t allowed to have a dog inside. You have to call her!”

Suddenly I did remember a Joanne lady who I haven’t talked to for over a year, possibly longer? Yes, that was the one. I turned on my computer and found her phone number. Joanne was still at work in the middle of the city, and surprised that I was calling her. Did she have a dog called Dudley? Yes, she did, a German Shepherd cross. He was a rescue dog, about four years old. She’d had him for six months and he was the love of her life. How did I know? Joanne’s surprise soon turned to panic as I told her he was having problems with the heat. She promised me she would leave work straight away and go home to her pet.

I hadn’t been off the phone ten minutes when Sokli began yelling in my ear again.

“TOO SLOW. SHE’S TOO SLOW! She has to hurry up or Dudley won’t make it!”

I called Joanne back. She was just leaving work, and still had to catch a bus and then walk the rest of the way home. The trip would take an hour. Maybe more if the traffic was bad.

Joanne moved to this house last weekend, after taking a transfer to a new city. She hadn’t met the neighbours yet. She didn’t know anyone who could check on her dog for her. “Call the RSPCA,” I urged her, “or your closest vet. I promise, it’s a genuine emergency.”

That was all I could do. I did a healing meditation for Dudley, and I called on every energy and entity I could think of to help him until someone turned up at his door. I put a post on my facebook wall, asking my friends to send love and energy to him and his mum too. I figured it would help both Dudley dogs and both mums.

Late last night Joanne rang me back. Someone from the vet’s office had rushed to Joanne’s house and found Dudley collapsed in the back yard. He was dangerously dehydrated and in severe heat distress. If they had found Dudley even an hour later they may not have been able to save him.

Joanne had left two bowls of water out for Dudley before she went to work, and he had a doghouse to shelter in too. But in a heatwave a doghouse becomes like a sauna – and offers no protection from the heat at all. In the late afternoon Dudley had absolutely no shade, and his water was long gone.

Image from www.vetary.com

Image from www.vetary.com

Joanne texted me again this morning. Dudley is being moved from intensive care, and they expect he will make a full recovery. The vets are quite amazed at how well Dudley has bounced back. What a lucky thing that Sokli was paying attention yesterday afternoon, and that so many caring people sent love and energy Dudley’s way. Thank you to all of you who helped. I know it made a difference!

Please, if you are experiencing a heatwave or a hot day, think of your animals and do all you can to provide them with a cool shady place to rest, and lots of water in multiple locations in case one gets knocked over. Shell baths with water or ice are good too. If possible, let your pets come into the cool of the house until the heatwave has passed.

There are some excellent suggestions for keeping your pets cool here.

It’s also a kindness if you can leave bowls of water out for the birds and the wildlife. Everyone is affected by this kind of heat.

Thank you again, and lots of love from Sokli and I,

Nicole ❤ xx

Picture Zak Simmonds - from The Townville Bulletin

Picture Zak Simmonds – from The Townville Bulletin

Rain, Birdbaths and Melbourne Breakfast Tea

birdbath

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”
~ Victor Hugo

 

Yesterday was Friday.

Friday in our household is also now our official Nicole and Ben Day.

It’s a day that we have chosen to dedicate to spending as a couple. Not a day of leisure – that’s what our Unplugged Sunday is for. Nicole and Ben Day is a day where we sit together and talk about our plans. We discuss our long-term dreams and goals, and our shorter-term projects. We talk work. We talk farm stuff.

It’s a day for doing things together. Home maintenance, tax, business and creative projects. We get to go on expeditions – yesterday it was a trip to the Farmers Markets, and then into Lismore, our closest big town, so that we could visit an office supplies chain, the rural produce store and do a quick grab of some dry goods groceries. Which also meant lunch at Steve’s Bakery! (One massive cheese and salad sandwich and one egg and lettuce sandwich and a pot of tea for two to share – deluxe!)

Friday’s also a day where we can just be together.

I’m tired right now from all of these treatments I’m on. So after our busy morning we made a pot of tea (Melbourne Breakfast – it’s a robust black tea with a hint of smooth vanilla) and sat on the veranda, watching the rain and relaxing with Harry Dog at our feet.

There is a birdbath under the jacaranda tree, just across from where we sit. It’s one of my great pleasures, watching all the birds come down to drink and to bathe. All spring and into summer it has been unseasonably dry here at the farm. Ben or I have hauled a hose over to refill that birdbath every day. But the last two days there has been enough rain to fill it for us.

And finally, after I got my hands into the dirt and planted new seedlings in the rain yesterday afternoon, we went for a swim while it rained. The rain was cold. The pool was warm. It was glorious.

But what was most important was that we had an entire day to consciously connect, and to talk about and work on what matters most to us.

How about you? Do you have dedicated time for yourself, or time for being with your partner or family members, where you can deepen communication and focus on personal projects and plans? I highly recommend this as a practice.

Sending much love to you, on the wings of happy-dancing birds, Nicole ❤ xx

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